Thursday, November 02, 2006

True Worship

This is by way of a follow-up to the Hauerwas quotation and my post on Tearing Down The Curtain.

This is from James Alison's book 'Undergoing God':

"I'd like to close with a story which I think illustrates the elements of what I think True Worship in a violent world looks like, and is about. It is a story which I have gleaned from Chris Hedges' book War is a force that gives us meaning... Hedges, a war correspondent who covered the Bosnian war extensively, tells of meeting the Soraks, a Bosnian Serb couple in a largely Muslim enclave. the couple had been largely indifferent to the nationalist propaganda of the Bosnian Serb leadership. But when the Serbs started to bomb their town, Gorazde, the Muslim leadership in the town became hostile to them, and eventually the Soraks lost their two sons to Muslim forces. One of their sons was a few months shy of becoming a father. In the city under siege, conditions got worse and worse, and in the midst of this Rosa Sorak's widowed daughter-in-law gave birth to a baby girl. With the food shortages, the elderly and infants were dying in droves, and after a short time, the baby, given only tea to drink, began to fade. Meanwhile, on the eastern edge of Gorazde, Fadil Fejzic, an illiterate Muslim farmer, kept his cow, milking her by night so as to avoid Serbian snipers. On the fifth day of the baby having only tea, just before dawn, Fejzic appeard at the door with half a litre of milk for the baby. He refused money. He came back with milk every day for 442 days, until the daughter-in-law and granddaughter left for Serbia. During this time he never said anything. Other families in the street started to insult him, telling him to give his milk to Muslims and let the chetnik (the pejorative term for Serbs) die. But he did not relent.

Later the Soraks moved, and lost touch with Fejzic. But Hedges went and sought him out. The cow had been slaughtered for meat before the end of the siege, and Fejzic had fallen on hard times. But, as Hedges says: When I told him I had seen the Soraks, his eyes brightened. 'And the baby?' he asked. 'How is she?'

This for me is the sign of True Worship: not only the complete lack of concern about his reputation within his own group; not only the refusal to believe the lies about the despised other whose fault it all was; not only the daily trudging, for fourteen and a half months, through the dawn with milk before the snipers could see well enough to shoot. But the brightening of the eyes at the contemplation of the baby in whose jagged-edged creation he had found himself playing a part.

This attempt of mine to dwell with you in the maior dissimilitudo leaves me with a certain fear. It is the fear that True Worship in a violent world is going on all around us, particularly unnoticed by those of us who have a strong interest in Worship and liturgy, and are thus particularly likely to succumb to the attractiveness of the similitudo and to be blinded to that of which it is supposed to be a sign. I ask you to pray with me that our deliberations and our liturgies be part of our being inducted, even if it be kicking and screaming, into finding our role in the jagged edge of creation and the brightening of the eyes.

(The full text of this chapter, with an explanation of the obscure terms at the end, is available here. Which I wish I had discovered before typing all of this out :o)

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