Fellowship of Saints and Sinners

Fellowship of Saints and Sinners


Simone Weil and the Church Uprooted

Simone Weil, despite leanings towards Catholicism, never joined the church. I would argue that her exile from the institution was not only central to the integrity of her thought but modeled itself after Christ Himself.

Some of you know that one of my favorite thinkers is Simone Weil.  Last night I read a short chapter on this twentieth century French philosopher and social activist by another of her admirers, the historian John Lukacs, in Remembering Past.  Lukacs notes that what makes Weil’s thought so compelling is her reactionary resistance to the materialism of her context and her unwavering commitment to truth above even justice itself.

Then this morning cleaning out my bedside drawers I stumbled upon a quote from Weil in one of my journals.  Weil, in my favorite work of hers, Waiting for God, writes: “It is necessary to uproot oneself.  Cut down the tree and make a cross and carry it forever after.”

Weil’s biographer takes this statement as evidence of Weil’s capacity to love people as they really are- not as the product of an illusion.  In Weil’s time, much like in our own, it was tempting to view people and the world in terms of “categories” (the oppressed “proletariat” in a struggle for liberation being one example)- to place them in ideological “homes.” The challenge in loving, though, is to disrupt one’s own “at-homeness” in any institution or ideology so that we can encounter others as they really are (not as we would have them be). And, maybe this is a bit of what the apostle Paul is expressing in 1 Corinthians 9, when he says he “has become everything to everyone in order to save at least some of them.”

Not long ago I heard Morgan Chilalu, the pastor of a small African church in the middle of the A.I.D.S. pandemic, say this: “A church that lives within its own four walls is no church at all.”

God’s mission requires at the most fundamental level a willingness on our parts to uproot ourselves.  By this I don’t mean that we all have to sell our homes and move to the Far East to become missionaries.  But I do suspect that it does mean that any time we find ourselves becoming too comfortable in the church, we need to ask ourselves why- because what Weil is talking about, is, I think, at the core of Jesus’ message to take up our cross and follow Him. Real church as Jesus envisions it, I suppose necessitates our exile.

 



Previous Posts

Mental Health Break—"Stile Antico"
Since it's been a while since our last mental health break...today's feature is the choral ensemble "Stile Antico" singing Thomas Tallis' "Miserere nostri." A friend introduced me to the group, and I'm so glad she did. Now they accompany me often in the car. En route to work sites. Picking up the ki

posted 11:00:20am Apr. 23, 2014 | read full post »

Easter Tremors
16 When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. 2 And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. 3 They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away

posted 12:30:19pm Apr. 20, 2014 | read full post »

The Witness: A Good Friday Sermon
For the last three years I've had the privilege of participating in an annual ecumenical and interracial Good Friday service, "Women's Views o

posted 2:50:15pm Apr. 15, 2014 | read full post »

The Vatican Diaries: A Review
Sex. Money. Power. Corruption. Controversy. Scandal. Since the 1980's Catholic News Service reporter John Thavis has been covering all of it and more—not from a post in Las Vegas or the nation's Capitol but from (of all places) the Vatican. Which may explain why Thavis prefaces his New York

posted 11:06:12am Apr. 11, 2014 | read full post »

Lent Madness
In an effort to infuse this often somber season of Lent with a little humor and motivational pizzazz, one Episcopalian priest in Massachusetts has invented "Lent Madness." Four years ago Rev. Tim Schenck started the initiative, which pits some 32 saints in a basketball-type bracket squaring off as r

posted 9:58:05am Apr. 03, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.