Monday, November 18, 2002

Living in the Margins

I find the following subject a fascinating dimension of thinking and reflecting on Church and mission in a 21st century Aotearoa New Zealand context…what are Christian authentic communities? Where do they live out their communal existence? How do they live that ‘existence’ out in terms of the missional challenge of the “gospel”? And, how do they contextualise and communicate that gospel? New Zealand is a mission field with very real challenges for Jesus-followers. Both challenging and exciting!

"Ah, who will ever count the centuries examined in the margins of our books?”
This is a quote from the Jewish poet/writer, Edmond Jabes, and it forms the central inspiration of my book, “Living in the Margins” (appears to be out of print).

“…To live in the margins of tradition is to live in a vital space of interpretive activity that keeps the "book" living, growing, expanding with new commentary and enlivening questions. Many small Christian communities occupy this marginal space, living on the edge of tradition -- in the margins -- attending both to the claims of the tradition to which they belong and to the claims of new, unexpected situations. In a sense, marginal Christian communities are both "inside" the book and "outside" the book, with the margins of interpretation mediating between these two spaces…”

Terry A. Veling (Aussies and Kiwi’s will find an essay distillation of the above book in his essay – “Margin Writing and Marginal Communities: Between Belonging and Non-Belonging” – Published in Pacifica 9 / February 1996.)

Not an easy read, but who knows who reads this, and what they like reading, so, for an on-line example of his writing see: "Levinas and the Other Side of Theology." He has some good things to say.

(In academic circles, Emmanuel Levinas (1906-1995) is recognised as one of the most important philosophers and religious thinkers of this century. His work has significantly influenced many "postmodern" thinkers such as Jacques Derrida, Maurice Blanchot, Luce Irigaray, Paul Ricoeur. He has also influenced Jewish and Christian leaders and educators, including Pope John Paul II. However, his
thinking is not generally well known to a broader audience.)

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