As part of my continuing education, I’m currently taking a class online. Our group is studying St. Paul’s epistle to the Galatians. It has been a paradigm-exploding class already, and we’re only one month in. One down, five to go.
The texts our instructor chose for us include J. Louis Martyn’s commentary on Galatians from the Anchor Yale Bible series; Henri Nouwen’s The Wounded Healer; and Zondervan’s Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals.
Here’s my cross-over post.
For my class on Galatians, we’re also reading Henri Nouwen’s “The Wounded Healer.” I’ve tried on multiple occasions to read Nouwen, and kept coming up flat. It turned out that I liked the *concept* of Nouwen, but couldn’t really connect with his works. But it’s been my experience that sometimes things kind of need to come to me in the right season. What didn’t make sense to me last year, might hit me like a 2×4 this year.
So, I’m reading Nouwen this morning, and he’s talking about the struggle for older people (or people with what he calls a “prenuclear” worldview) to understand the mindset of the current generation. (Kids these days, eh?) What they/we can’t understand is that, while prenuclear people saw themselves in the midst of a grand narrative that has a past, a present, and a future (which opens up the possibility to despair for the future), the “nuclear” person is historically dislocated. Since we have the technological potential to wipe out all current life on this planet, end even effectivily eliminate the possiblity for all future life, there is no real sense of future to dispair of. No responsibility for that future. Ennui.
This is part of the issue the traditional church faces. I’ve heard several people in the congregation say, “I don’t understand why this isn’t important for the young people.”
To that, Nouwen responds: “When we wonder why the language of traditional Christianity has lost its liberating power for nuclear man, we have to realize that most Christian preaching is still based on the presupposition that man see himself as meaningfully integrated with a history in which God came to us in the past, is living under us in the present, and will come to liberate us in the future. But when man’s historical consciousness is broken, the whole Christian message seems like a lecture about the great pioneers to a boy on an acid trip.”
OK, Henri. I think you’ve caught my attention this time.