Saturday, April 28, 2007

Realizing Eschatology

Theologians often critizice forms of "realized" eschatology. What if the proper form of eschatology were "realizing" eschatology? James Alison provides this parable.

Please go back in your memory to 1989. Now please imagine that you are in Albania. November comes along, and through the ether comes news that maniles to the north, in Berlin, the wall has come down. You know exactly what this means: it means that it’s all over, the beast which ran your lives is mortally wounded, has lost its transcendence, is dead. It’s all over bar the shouting It may take some time for the thrashing about of the beast in its death throes to calm down. It may take some time for the effects of that to trickle down through Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia, but fundamentally it’s over. You and some friends begin quietly to dance and celebrate in Albania. The very fact that you are dancing and celebrating is itself not only a sign that the beast has lost its transcendence, but is something which is, itself, helping the loss of transcendence, because you can have a party in its face. Something has been undone, somewhere else, and this means that you don’t need to undo it yourself, the rejoicing in its being already done is part of what universalizes the undoing so that you do find yourself participating in the undoing, but as a recipient who is spreading the effect.. Some people, of course, do not accept that the coming down of the wall means that the beast is dead. They want to say: no, that’s a temporary blip, and we’re in charge here. So they turn up grunting and shouting and bullying to try and make it look as though nothing has changed. But it has, and even they are losing faith in the old order. Part of the celebration may be learning to help the apparatchiks of the old order discover themselves a place in the new one Giving them a soft landing: something the old order, built on revenge and triumph over enemies, couldn’t possibly understand. While they’re around, of course, your celebration will look like, and be made to look like, dancing in the face of the evidence. And that is what True Worship implies: the beginning of the celebration of a new regime even while the old regime hasn’t yet grasped the news of its own fall (Undergoing God, 40-41)

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