Thursday, October 15, 2015

You and I Need to Need

Eugene Peterson:
We human beings learn early and quickly to acquire expertise in using our plight, whatever it is, to get those around us to do far more than get us through or over the conditions. We learn how to use the conditions of need as leverage in getting our own way. Not our health, not our maturity, not our peace, not justice, not our salvation, but our way, out willful way. This impulse to make oneself the center, to shrewdly, or bullyingly manipulate things and people to the service of self is what we, at least in our theology textbooks, call sin. Incurvatus in se was Augustine’s phrase for it, life curved in upon itself.
We are created to be open. To be open to God, to open out towards our neighbors. We can only be whole and healthy in so far as we do this. When we are in need, ... [Our n]eed rips gashes in our self-containment and opens us to the neighbor. Need blows holes in our roofed-in self-sufficiency and opens us to God. But not necessarily.
For the self-willed self does not give up easily. It makes a persistent and determined stand to use these need-generated openings not to move out, but to pull whoever is trying to help it, into its service, put the neighbors to its use.
-- Subversive Spirituality, “Teach Us to Care, Teach us Not to Care,” p 158 (emphasis added).

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