Sunday, May 7, 2023

#127 / A Lesson From The Book Of Kells


Charles Williams stated that the master idea of Christianity is “coinherence,” mutual indwelling. If you want to see this idea concretely displayed, look to the pages of the Book of Kells, that masterpiece of early Christian illumination. Lines interwoven, designs turning in and around on each other, plays of plants, animals, planets, human beings, angels, and saints. The Germans call it Ineinander (one in the other).

How do we identify ourselves? Almost exclusively through the naming of relationships: we are sons, brothers, daughters, mothers, fathers, members of organizations, members of the Church, etc. We might want to be alone, but no one and nothing is finally an island. Coinherence is indeed the name of the game, at all levels of reality (emphasis added).
Not everyone finds a "Daily Gospel Reflection" in their email inbox each day. Such reflections do appear, however, with unfailing regularity, in mine. One of them, partly duplicated above, claims that "coinherence is ... the name of the game." Clearly, in a reflection on the Christian Gospel, the Bishop is talking about religion.
In this blog, I mainly talk about "politics," but if you have read my blog postings before, you will likely remember my oft-repeated claim that we are "together in this." You don't have to look to the Bible as the authority that backs up this claim. You can look to your real life, human experience - and that is, in fact, exactly what the Bishop did, as he endeavored to make his point. We refer to ourselves, and define ourselves, in terms of our relationships. If you are a literary type, you can repair (as the Bishop also did) to our authoritative literature, and specifically to the poetry of John Donne
Our differences are real. We are, each one of us, truly different from everyone else. We are each unique. But... that doesn't mean that we are isolated, and that we should understand the world we inhabit as a collection of millions of different "individuals." 
Churchgoing Christians can talk about the "Body of Christ." Political types can talk about the "Body Politic." Any one of us can use what sounds like a scientific term, "coinherence," to relay the realities of our existence.

Whatever term we want to employ, and however we want to explain the reality we inhabit, we are - in fact - "together in this." That's the truth of our human existence, whatever metaphor we chose to proclaim it. 

If that's true (and I, personally, am convinced it is), that truth trumps the divisions and differences that seem so important to so many of us (except, perhaps, in times of real emergency, when we figure out that we actually do depend upon each other). 

This Sunday, with or without the assistance of the Bishop, let's not forget the lesson that he suggests can be gleaned from the Book of Kells; let's not forget "coinherence." 

We are all together in this life!

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