Home > Feminism, Society, Theology > urbanism, wonder, and the depth of things

urbanism, wonder, and the depth of things

Tuesday, 19 December 2006 Leave a comment Go to comments

I enjoy learning and “digging deep” as much as I can; therefore, I am subscribed to a number of listservs. The listservs to which I am subscribed are not entirely pro-women, pro-worker, theological, liberal and/or conservative, postmodern, socialist, Marxist, or feminist. I maintain a critical eye as I evaluate the variety of listserv emails I receive and subsequently read.

I have been trained as a theologian by biblical scholars, theologians [feminist, colored, queer and otherwise]. Though today and in the recent past I have found myself wanting to sever my relationship [read: love and emotional investment] w/ Christianity and ultimately with the church, I find that I am unable. The following post offers me some semblance of hope in the midst of urban-ism, urban decay, wonder, the deep things of life.

In 1362, the man elected pope declined the office. When the cardinals could not find another person among them for that important office, they turned to a relative stranger: the holy person we honor today.

The new Pope Urban V proved a wise choice. A Benedictine monk and canon lawyer, he was deeply spiritual and brilliant. He lived simply and modestly, which did not always earn him friends among clergymen who had become used to comfort and privilege. Still, he pressed for reform and saw to the restoration of churches and monasteries. Except for a brief period he spent most of his eight years as pope living away from Rome at Avignon, seat of the papacy from 1309 until shortly after his death.

He came close but was not able to achieve one of his biggest goals—reuniting the Eastern and Western churches.

As pope, Urban continued to follow the Benedictine Rule. Shortly before his death in 1370 he asked to be moved from the papal palace to the nearby home of his brother so he could say goodbye to the ordinary people he had so often helped.

What is it about the lives and memories we read about? Memories come from the past, the dead and give power to and [sometimes over] the living. We are all haunted and in awe by the wonder and mystery of the other–by what is dead and other to us. I find myself in that place today: haunted, in awe and wondering. These are the deep places in life–profound and full of wonder. How might the story of Pope Urban V give voice, meaning, and wonder to today?

I am not so much Roman Catholic as I am moved by the Spirit who accompanied those who deep down believe in something so great as the community of the faithful, practices that invoke the deep things in life, and goodness. I was once among that remnant, and how ever desperately I seek to flee from the systems that have a history of manipulation, indifference, and sometimes hatred and insensitivity, I am finding myself in the story of Pope Urban V.

“Out of the depths have I cried unto thee,” the Psalmist wrote in the Hebrew Bible.

Time passed and Nietzsche wrote:

“The world is deep, and deeper than the day could read. Deep is its woe. Joy deeper still than grief can be. Woe says: Hence, go! But joys want all eternity, want deep, profound eternity.”

Perhaps we all will continue to move between power and the less than powerful, the privileged and the less than privileged and the ordinary. Where is the deep? Where is the profound? Where is the Ultimate? I want to think that the place of the urban is where wonder and the depth of things are found. Depth brings us truth and we find ourselves there. And, in the deep of things we find hope, which is the wonder of Urban and perhaps the future of urban-ism?

Categories: Feminism, Society, Theology
  1. Tuesday, 19 December 2006 at 11:13 am

    I recognize that in urban places there is the perpetual history and practices of gentrification. I am looking to the Ideal of Urban-ism as something that might very well transcend the isms of life and though modern, find its way to be with the ordinary. That journey towards the ordinary is profound, and I think it is something that is central to urban-ism–journeying toward the other…perhaps?

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