9 Comments
Aug 23, 2023Liked by Melissa Florer-Bixler

This is a brilliant piece that articulated many of my concerns on Bacon's piece too. As a Black person who grew up within and still tends to the life of Black faith, I mourn how the space of Black life together such as church, where we pushed past the dehumanizing nature of this nation, are being forsaken. There is no civic equivalent for the Holy Spirit.

Expand full comment

I resonate with your last statement: "there is no civic equivalent for the Holy Spirit." Thanks for that thought!

Expand full comment

Really trying to take that seriously. That should help us disentangle our deepest hopes from that of the State, where black folk are still 3/5 a person on the constitution.

Expand full comment

You are a much deeper thinker than I am. I am so glad I signed up; you make me think! I am thinking about "by reworking the form of our bodies". Is it reworking or replacing? Or form and function? Does church as we know it even support the Kingdom? We meet on Sundays and worship: ie, listen to a preacher, sing something, give money, pray, etc. The gospel does not really illustrate or recommend that. WWJD is simplistic, but maybe we should ask what Jesus would be doing or what would he have us be doing as an element of the Kingdom?

Expand full comment

My sticking point, whether we’re talking about the secular or the non(e) secular continues to be “universal values.” I’ve belonged to religious communities where adherence to those values was demanded as the price of belonging to the community (Roman Catholicism) and those where it was not--or at least not overtly. For a several years I attended a predominantly white Quaker meeting which did a much better job of pretending to be open that actually practicing it. But I’ve been in secular communities (academia) that had the same problem.

Honestly I haven’t experienced it as a secular-religious divide. I think that in a healthy community, values have to be negotiated in actual good faith, not once and for all but continually.

I also think “religion” is a Huge umbrella that can include (or not) doctrine, sacred texts, spiritual practice, moral codes, relationships, rituals, and much more--or much less. Religion can also range from the global to the extremely local. What some people call their religion other “religious” people would call little more than superstition or witchcraft. I’m not here to critique religion; it sounds to me like we’re making broad assumptions about what both “religious” and “secular” mean, and I’m not sure how that imprecision gives us clarity. So I find the idea of universality a more productive place to focus.

Thank you for the discussion!

Expand full comment
author

I’m just using the op-Ed author’s language of universal values, but I do think he’s in a larger post-Christian tradition that believes there’s “universal values” on one side and woo-woo on the other, and he’s just wants to figure out a place where we can invest in the universal.

And you’re right! There are healthy communities of all kinds! My concern is this shift toward thinking getting out of religion gives us a pass on the work of sorting out genealogies and their influence. Nothing is above this work.

Expand full comment

Thank you for clarifying that, and I'm sorry if I didn't read what you were saying closely enough. And absolutely, yes, the belief among some who are outside of (and who denigrate all) religion who believe that if we only jettison religion and commit to universality everything will be fine are operating on their own version of, well, faith.

Expand full comment
author

No problem at all! And yes you’re summarizing my argument well. Or Asad’s perhaps. There’s no purity because we’re all working within human structures. We’re at our best when we work what means for living towards wholeness - in whatever form that takes

Expand full comment
author

*work out

Expand full comment