Emotions are really terrible things to live with. I find that especially true since I was brought up in a church environment that places such a high premium on the awareness of my personal guilt as a sign of my human depravity that stands against the will of a holy God. That’s why there is always that lingering feeling of guilt on my part whenever I would say that I am a Christian. This statement is quite interesting and at the same time hypocritical as far as I feel, ultimately because for the past couple of years I’ve found myself detached to whatever semblance my Evangelical Christian heritage has prescribed as becoming of a follower of Christ.
A review of Gustavo Gutierrez’s We Drink From Our Own Wells
Title: We Drink from Our Own Wells: The Spiritual Journey of a People
Author: Gustavo Gutierrez (Translated by Matthew J. O’Connell)
Publisher: Maryknol, Orbis Books, 1983
Gustavo Gutierrez is probably the best-known liberation theologian as he has written what remains to be the classic exposition of this movement, A Theology of Liberation: History, Politics, Salvation the book that has permanently altered our modern theological landscape, by challenging us to hear the Gospel message from the “underside of history,” from the perspective of the poor and the oppressed.
Born in Lima, Peru, Gutierrez is of Native American heritage, being of mixed Quechua descent he earned degrees in psychology and philosophy (Leuven), and obtained a doctorate at the Institut Pastoral d’Etudes Religieuses (IPER), Université Catholique in Lyon. Ordained as a Dominican priest in 1959, he lives and works in a poor slum in Lima, dividing his time between pastoral work and teaching at the Catholic University. He holds the John Cardinal O’Hara Professorship of Theology at the University of Notre Dame and has been a professor at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru and a visiting professor at many major universities in North America and Europe.
“Well, for one thing, the culture we have does not make people feel good about themselves. We’re teaching the wrong things. And you have to be strong enough to say if the culture doesn’t work, don’t buy it. Create your own.” – Morrie
We live in a lonely world in spite of the fact that recent communication technology boasts that loved ones can now be reached with a few clicks of a mouse or dial of a phone. The sad truth remains that it seems implausible that the number of solitary deaths have been on the rise in countries like the UK and Japan in recent years. Alienation, dubbed the “great emotional sickness of our era” by Italian filmmaker Michaelangelo Antonioni, remains a disease that even email, cell phones and online networking has been powerless to remedy.
I am and will always be thankful for the fact that mealtime in our household is a family affair. My parents never failed to see to it that we drop whatever it is that we’re doing in order to sit and eat dinner together –sharing a common meal, sharing our lives in the company of those whom we love.
It only just occurred to me that this common scene at our house is a theological-goldmine-of-sorts as this portrays a very vivid picture of God, salvation and the fullness of life that God intends in Christ, that only dawned to me after reflecting on it for a couple of days after listening to a lecture on the spirituality of sleeping, eating and drinking.
In order to better appreciate this theological construct we must first come to a realization that life in itself is already a gift.
Writing about the apparent meaninglessness of life in today’s commodified society Craig Gay proposes that: “indeed, the single most subversive and ultimately redemptive idea that we can set loose within the capitalist world today is the simple recognition that life is a gift.” For me this implies that life in all its facets and its utilization are to be conjured up on the things really matter in life –and that is life in the context of community –that can be found in the web of human relationships.
I remember ending my week with a goodbye that underscored a sense of lonesomeness as it means that for a time life will be lived apart from a loved one. While, the following day I started the week with a celebration of my father’s 85th birthday that also coincided with Father’s Day.
Thinking about it now further reinforces my conviction that our humanity if we are to look at human life it can be summed up in terms of relationships. It is in relationships that we discover ourselves and our tenacity to live and make meaning in living –because to be human is to stand in a unique relationship to God, to one another, and to all creation. This, of course is because God, as Trinity, is relational. The perichoretic God makes perichoretic people. God’s being-as-communion overflows in humans’ being-in-community. Therefore we as humans have no being apart from others. Humanity is co-humanity.
To paraphrase the words of Gordon Fee: ‘The ultimate task of exegesis is spirituality,’ as he proposes the need for an interface between exegesis and spirituality which can be found in between the historical exercise of digging out the original intent of the text and the experience of hearing the text in the present terms of both its presupposed and intentional spirituality.
Accordingly if the goal of exegesis is spirituality it is crucial now for us to ask what spirituality is in the first place –for it is in framing it into a working definition that we start what Fee, portrays as the circle of approaching the Scripture from the vantage point of a serious exegete and a earnest followers of Christ that are seeking for a genuine encounter with the God who has revealed Himself in the Word.