Monday, October 30, 2006
The Poverty of Dissention
I have been challenged this year in a way that I thought I would welcome. I have put myself in places of discussion that has broken down some of the tired and fruitless ways of being in community and faith.
I have crossed boundaries that kept out love and yet am confronted by the lack of connection within my own fences.
I have been reading Wendell Berry and he is illustrating community for me in the context of the deep social contracts which are grounded in marriage, extending to the preciousness of trust and forbearance for those who gather together.
This comes on the heals of discovering the conditional description read in one of Brennan Manning's books: the poverty of uniqueness.
Berry is a dissenter, an observer of community that can only offer his true observation from within the bounds of community. He says only community has the grace within it to shape it's change. A dissenter must speak out the truth that can offer fruitful change. A dissenter must remain within the community it criticize in order for the community to trust what the dissenter observes.
If the community doesn't trust the words of the dissenter, then membership is broken by their inattention or ambivalence.
It's feels like hard work to be a dissenter. Within even the best and most affectionate communities, the dissenter must be respectful of the irregular paces she might put them through. A seed planter is not experiencing the same fellowship as the harvesters.
Artist and poets who are often dissenters, if not always, create their own sub-communities in order to teach each other the proper social steps which engage the encompassing community.
I am coming to this artful community with more energy and purposefulness lately. I have to name myself Artist. No one else can.
I must also deal with the dissenting quality of an artist, who is not so named to satisfy a hunger for notariaty or position, as I am learning, but merely a word of description.
People may admire art or poetry for the mystery of it, but if doesn't effect change, the community is itself poverty stricken. Artistry is not always rewarding. It has within it a mysterious fellowship. An artist can find her life within that fellowship. Each unique person, no matter what their labor, has their fellowship which then nurtures the other members.
There is an interdependence within the community that must loosely grasp by respect the unique poverty of each of its members. We don't belong to each other because we must, but because each one of us contains a unique gift with the freedom to give when it's fruition comes in season.
Even if it's the gift of dissenting.