Jennifer Egan's novel won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and a clutch of other awards this year. It is at once a sharp social commentary, a showcase for the author's virtuosity, and a constellation of stories so good they invite fast, compulsive reading but also reward more careful attention. It is also a book with particular relevance for Christian theology and ethics.
The interface of Jewish and Christian theology has always been vexing. Partly this is because of the intrinsically incommensurate realities of the two faiths. And partly it has been because of Christian interpreters' uncritical practice of supersessionism, which has been combined with political power that is used in controlling and abusive ways.
Pastors have long known that there is more going on with food and eating than the mere filling of the stomach. We know that the Eucharist is more than bread, wine and people gathering around the Lord's table.
"The disciples were obviously astonished to see Christ in glory," said our pastor. He was prepared for questions about the Transfiguration. Instead, one first grader asked, "what does 'obviously' mean?"
Developmental psychologist Erik Erikson, who wrote psycho-historical accounts of both Martin Luther and Mahatma Gandhi, became interested late in life in how Jesus changed the trajectory of history. Following the lead of New Testament scholar Norman Perrin, Erickson published an essay, “The Galilean Sayings,” which examined the sayings of Jesus. He reached two conclusions from his study: that humanity is one universal species, and that by responding to the teachings of Jesus one could discover an inner, numinous core that connects one to something larger than the self. Of Jewish background, Erikson occasionally attended church with his Episcopalian spouse but never claimed to be a believer (Theology Today, April).