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Holy Disunity por Layton E. Williams
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Holy Disunity (edição 2019)

por Layton E. Williams (Autor)

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These days, there's no dirtier word than "divisive," especially in religious and political circles. Claiming a controversial opinion, talking about our differences, even sharing our doubts can be seen as threatening to the goal of unity. But what if unity shouldn't be our goal? In Holy Disunity: How What Separates Us Can Save Us, Layton E. Williams proposes that our primary calling as humans is not to create unity but rather to seek authentic relationship with God, ourselves, one another, and the world around us. And that means actively engaging those with whom we disagree. Our religious, political, social, and cultural differences can create doubt and tension, but disunity also provides surprising gifts of perspective and grace. By analyzing conflict and rifts in both modern culture and Scripture, Williams explores how our disagreements and differences--our disunity--can ultimately redeem us.… (mais)
Membro:Becca.Crate
Título:Holy Disunity
Autores:Layton E. Williams (Autor)
Informação:Westminster John Knox Press (2019), 235 pages
Colecções:A sua biblioteca
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Holy Disunity: How What Separates Us Can Save Us por Layton E. Williams

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Summary: Proposes that difference ought be viewed as gift rather than problem, that difference, and even disunity, as messy as it is in the church, can be a source of growth.

Within the Christian community, the existence of difference, disunity, and division is viewed as problematic. These seem to betray the oneness, the unity of the body of Christ of which scripture speaks. Layton Williams makes the argument that difference, disagreement, and sometimes even division, is a gift. She roots her argument in the Trinity where three distinct persons exist as one being. She argues that we do not create unity but that we are one, and this is a unity that does not obliterate difference but treats it as a gift.

Williams observes that often our strategy is to suppress difference and the undesirable in the various forms it takes, which she unpacks chapter by chapter: doubt, argument, tension, separation, vulnerability, trouble, protest, hunger, limitations, failure, and uncertainty. Often, our posture is to try to act as if these things don't exist, or address them with over-simplistic solutions, or to normalize a certain position to the exclusion of others. Worse yet, we often marginalize, demonize, and dispel those who persist in honestly differing. By the same token, sometimes we sacrifice deeply held convictions and perspectives to "keep the peace."

Instead, she contends:

"We don't have to fear difference. Difference--our own and others'--is how we know who we are. It's how we distinguish ourselves. Our own unique place in this universe and the experiences and qualities that define us allow us to interpret the world around us and make our own particular mark on it. The world is the way it is--different from how it might otherwise have been--because of us. It's also different because of others. The ways that others are different from us, their unique experiences and qualifications, expose us to new ways to understand the world."

Each of her chapters explore how the various facets of difference save us. Each includes a reading of a biblical text that develops her position. In the chapter on tension, she contends for the hard work of wrestling with tension with a discussion of Jacob's night of wrestling with God in human form, emerging both blessed with a new name, and limping. Difference often means walking into hard things that both leave their marks on our lives and lead to growth and greater self-understanding.

There is an important autobiographical element running through the narrative that makes Williams wrestling with and embrace of difference significant. Williams self-identifies as LGBTQ, and with other "out" LGBTQ Christians. Her own perspective of the gift and "holiness" of difference emerges from her own experience of growing up in a home, and a church in the South where she both experienced deep love, and yet also deep pain as neither could fully embrace her LGBTQ identification. In a chapter on "the gift of separation" she writes movingly about what this has meant for her and her mother:

"It isn't that I don't wish, deeply, that my mother and I could be equally at peace in the same church. It's that I know that it takes at least as much love and commitment to look in the face of one of the people you care most about in this world, and to know that at this time you cannot be theologically reconciled, and to let them go to pursue faith in a way that doesn't prevent you from doing the same, hoping all the while that your paths might one day come together. For all the ways we disagree, my mother and I have both done that for each other."

I was impressed with the perspective that allowed for the possibility of disagreement and even separation, whether of individuals or church bodies, while also allowing for the possibility of continued love and charity toward one another. It is a perspective that refuses to diminish or disrespect the theological commitments of either, without minimizing the disagreement, or allowing the disagreement to degenerate into rejection of, vitriol toward, demonizing of, or hatred of the other. This note is exceedingly rare and welcome in what has often been a hurtful area of contention within the contemporary church.

The question I might pose would be how far would the author extend her argument about difference within the church? How would she have responded to the differences in the church in the United States around the issue of slavery? How would she respond to an embrace by the church of a nationalism that diminishes the value and worth of other human beings and obligations as Christians to them, as occurred in Nazi Germany? Is difference always a gift? And if not, by what criteria ought such difference be deemed unacceptable; not a gift but a matter for repentance and re-formation?

At the same time, I found much that resonated deeply. Allowing room for doubt and dispelling the false god of certainty has been a vital part of ministry among university researchers. Getting further on in life, I recognize the gifts of limitations and failure. When people can be more vulnerable in a bar than among the people of God, this challenges the church with the question of what we must become to be places where people can truly disclose themselves. As a cis-gender heterosexually oriented male who might identify more closely with the theological commitments of the author's mother, it was illuminating and important for me to listen to and sit with this LGBTQ woman's journey and to see the church through her eyes. I needed to read of her fears and hopes, and to be challenged with the call to love across our real differences, and to believe with the author that even in the mess of the moment, "[w]e can trust that God is at work."

____________________________

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary advanced review copy of this book from the publisher via LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. ( )
  BobonBooks | Oct 27, 2019 |
Esta crítica foi escrita no âmbito dos Primeiros Críticos do LibraryThing.
"Disunity is so often seen as an evil: the breakdown of relationship, of community, of cohesion. But disunity doesn't have to mean destruction... Our hunger can turn us into enemies, seeking to deprive one another so that we ourselves might have enough. But our hunger also reminds us that we need more than ourselves; we are not sufficient alone. And even when our disunity puts us utterly and irrevocably at odds, when it demands that we be separate, that gulf between us offers space for each of us to grow -- perhaps even toward each other." (p. 190-191)

In her first book (which is hot off the presses!) Layton Williams pushes against calls for unity, compromise, and conciliation in a way that may at first seem at odds with her work as an ordained Presbyterian minister. Williams looks at how states that we try to avoid like Doubt, Tension, Protest, Hunger, Limitations, and Failure can also be gifts, both for ourselves as individuals and in our relationships and communities. Weaving together her personal experiences growing into her call as a queer, female minister from a conservative family in the South; vibrant re-readings of familiar stories from the Bible; and observations on the larger church and society, she makes a strong argument for embracing the uncomfortable, messy, hard, and unavoidable conflicts and using them to grow in both our convictions, faith, and understanding of others. Williams has an engaging and open writing style that makes this a real joy to read: if you are struggling with the divisive state of the world today and a Christian perspective is something that speaks to you, I'd strongly suggest picking this one up. ( )
  kristykay22 | Oct 2, 2019 |
Esta crítica foi escrita no âmbito dos Primeiros Críticos do LibraryThing.
While theologically I don't agree with much of what Layton Williams claims, I'm not giving her book a higher rating than three stars because it is unevenly written, not because of my disagreement. While there were chapters that I found very engaging, others were pedantic and difficult to get through and made me not want to finish the book. ( )
  SherylHendrix | Sep 22, 2019 |
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These days, there's no dirtier word than "divisive," especially in religious and political circles. Claiming a controversial opinion, talking about our differences, even sharing our doubts can be seen as threatening to the goal of unity. But what if unity shouldn't be our goal? In Holy Disunity: How What Separates Us Can Save Us, Layton E. Williams proposes that our primary calling as humans is not to create unity but rather to seek authentic relationship with God, ourselves, one another, and the world around us. And that means actively engaging those with whom we disagree. Our religious, political, social, and cultural differences can create doubt and tension, but disunity also provides surprising gifts of perspective and grace. By analyzing conflict and rifts in both modern culture and Scripture, Williams explores how our disagreements and differences--our disunity--can ultimately redeem us.

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