Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Baking Bread, Leavening Dough: A Thanksgiving Meditation from Steve

Steve, as he and I walked this morning (we were talking about an essay I read yesterday by Michael Weingrad about why there's no Jewish Narnia): 

Yes, that's why I've always liked the parable of the leaven and the dough in the gospels.  The leaven disappears into the dough so you don't know what's yeast and what's dough.  (This in response to Weingrad's observation that Judaism is inherently suspicious of the kind of dualism on which the good-evil dichotomy of much Christian fantasy literature depends . . . .)

My sister, though (this is the one who is a leader of the orthodoxy faction in their home parish): she's so certain she can distinguish the good from the evil.  Draw lines.  Separate out the evil.  I am the good!

Let that worldview have any power, and it always uses its power to oppress.  It always trends in a fascist direction.  It wants to impose its "good" on everyone else, and to suppress what's "evil."

And so I wonder if she even understands what being leaven in the world is supposed to be all about.  The leaven's supposed to disappear as it does its leavening.  Our vocation's supposed to be letting ourselves leaven the world around us, not deciding what's dough and what's leaven.  The judging belongs to God, doesn't it?

And that conversation reminds me just how much I learn daily from fellow pilgrims, which keeps me on my path, relatively sane, feathers trimmed when they need to be trimmed.  And chugging along, since the spiritual journey is always, isn't it, lifting one foot after another, and putting each foot down as we step along step by step together.

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