Saturday, March 25, 2006

RELUCTANT CARPETBAGGER
"Holiness" roots claim me, holy imagination beckons me

"CALLED UNTO HOLINESS." Taking the predominant cues echoed from my ecclesiastical forebears, I have usually approached this strain of Christianity called holiness as an experience to be had, a thing to acquire, a work to be accomplished. I have tried to fit into its homiletically-described terms. I have also tried to fit it in to an American middle-class way of life. I am certain of its spiritual centrality, but I am convinced its acceptance has been limited by the terms and modes in which it has been presented--a tonic for all that ails you. For all my efforts to not repeat the pitch in my generation, I sometimes feel like a reluctant carpetbagger.

ENCASED IN REVIVALISM? Why does holiness seem like it has to be pitched? Or defended? Perhaps it is the context of a revivalism that stiffly framed the doctrine in nineteenth-century America. Perhaps the two are inseparably wed. If so, I despair that godliness will ever be woven into and revealed through the fabric of the ordinary.

BEYOND PETTY PIETY. I work in my heart and head to reframe in terms of dailyness what the Bible shares as God’s holy intention (and graceful provision) for human life, for the sake of living its realities in my own life and in the hope of seeding its possibilities in a community context. I struggle to imagine holiness beyond the known and typical, as if to release it from its cultural entrapment and heighten its trajectory above petty piety. But much of the time it seems I am not doing very well. Still, I try.

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