Sunday Readings: The Beloved Community

This book… is a portrait of the Christian faith as a set of social disciplines shaped by gratitude, forgiveness, and reconciliation. Biblical religion offers peacemakers and activists much more than pep talks and consolations, indeed a potent arsenal for imagining freedom, energizing social reform and forging solidarity with the poor. It is all well and good for Anthony Appiah to advise us, “live with fractured identities; engage in identity’s play; find solidarity, yes, but recognize contingency, and above all practice irony.” But what might it mean to settle down after all the fracturing and decentering and assaults on identity have run their course, to build community among the hopeless and excluded in places where irony is a condescending shrug? It is unlikely that anyone has ever read Friedrich Nietzsche’s Thus Spake Zarathustra or Jacques Derrida’s Disseminations and opened a soup kitchen. But the Christian peacemakers who yesterday and today build beloved community with the poor and excluded “drink the earthly cup to the dregs” (D. Bonhoeffer) and bear glorious witness to the spirit of life in concrete and practical ways.

– Charles Marsch
The Beloved Community


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