London Diary I - On Great Global Cities

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Though I lived in Toronto for years, I have been surprised by the sheer diversity of London. Walk two blocks and hear a dozen languages. There is great energy and vitality in the city, and many argue that this is related directly financially and culturally to immigration. See Richard Florida on this, as well as Saunders' theory of the “arrival city,” where upward mobility pulls others up as well. All this is good to recall in a contrary moment in American politics. 

That walk I spoke of ended-up at Marlyebone Street and All Souls' parish. The street is mentioned in “The Wasteland,” soon-to-be-Anglican, T.S. Eliot's great vision of modern fragmentation and alienation. This too is part of the urban reality, and perhaps part of the reason evangelism in great and daunting cities has historically been so successful.  

Once at All Souls' I found a truly global congregation, a reflection of our Communion itself. Here we have a reconciled version of global city life. Thus, it is a sign of the true nature of the Church itself. Of course, in all these aspects, diversity, fragmentation, and “catholic” promise, greater Dallas too may be found. 

Peace,

+GRS

Reflections on Trauma

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Maybe you too have been riveted by the recent Ken Burns and Lynn Tompkins series, Vietnam. It is full of tragedy, heroism, folly, the closest thing we have to Shakespeare. And as we as Americans deal with protest and race, global threat and intractable foreign war, with harsh cultural divides, I am struck by how very close to us the Vietnam legacy remains - history isn't gone, it isn't even past (Faulkner). 

Since that era, and in part because of it, a word figures prominently in our understanding of the human: trauma. Its scope in our veterans we have come to see, as well as its pertinence to other populations. Therapists and brain scientists break new ground in the physiological consequences of trauma. First in the academic realm, but from there into the political and legal, we wrestle with the limits of the concepts in what activists call “micro-aggressions” which collide with free speech. 

Pathe mathos “by suffering, knowledge” said the Greek tragedian Sophocles.  I would only add that, to these dimensions, truly to understand ourselves, should be added the theological. We are, contrary to deep post-Enlightenment assumptions, enfleshed souls. Our victimhood and victimization are connected. The past is more present, its wrongs more effectively passed on, than we might supposed. The pertinence of Christian ministries of healing, and of the deepest human need for absolution are most clear anew. Finally, the notion of eu-catastrophe, as Lewis most recently thought about it, of a divine - human trauma that would deal decisively but non-coercively with trauma, appears brightly on our horizon. 

Peace

+GRS

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