As a PhD student just starting my dissertation research I happened to meet the department chair of the theology department at a major Catholic university (my interlocutor and his university will remain anonymous). When he asked about my dissertation, I told him that I was researching Henri de Lubac. In a condescending voice he replied, “I didn’t realize anyone was still studying him.” I sheepishly responded, “Well, yes. Yes they are.”
To those familiar with a Western account of the incarnation, Native American frameworks can provide illuminating and challenging alternative perspectives. Within such perspectives, rather than the grand cosmic flow of history, it can be our more immediate spatiality that comes to the fore.
There’s a fable I often heard growing up, about a Mennonite man (or Amish or Brethren, depending on where the story is being told) who was asked whether he was a Christian. His response: “Ask my neighbors.” The story encapsulates a certain historicist impulse in the Anabaptist tradition: the commitments we claim matter less than the commitments we embody. I first learned to care about the history of my community for just that reason. We learn who we are by considering honestly how we have lived.
“That which does not kill us makes us stronger,” Nietzsche wrote.
As the global neo-liberal order slowly unravels before our eyes, that recognition holds more true today than ever.