Book Reflection: A Spirituality of Perfection

Category: , , By Christian

A Spirituality of Perfection is not a particularly lengthy book. And yet, it took me for freaking ever to read it. Not because I didn't like it. Not at all. It's a book I read a couple of years ago in a class I took, and I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to go back and read it without the pressures of academia breathing down my neck. The reason it took so long is because it is incredibly dense and was authored by a very intelligent professor from the University of Gonzaga. It was all meat. No stories, anecdotes or jokes. Pretty much a commentary on the book of James, but totally worth a read.

There are two particularly helpful theological lines of thought that Hartin brings out from James. The first is a great discussion on what is meant by "perfection" in the book. Among the plausible definitions are completeness and friendship with God, which he discusses in detail. The paradigm of completeness has been one that keeps standing out to me in my Biblical readings, as well as in the ways that I feel God is calling me to live out the gospel. Striving for my own completeness while at the same time joining others in the struggle to realize their completeness. I think it's a way healthier paradigm that striving to never ever ever ever do anything against the "law", because it's a more constructive concept than one that leads us to a place where we are living in fear and guilt.

The other concept that has had me pondering a lot is the idea of community ethics. That one is a little harder to chew on right now, because we are so often taught that we as individuals need to do the right thing. But what does it look like for communities to strive for completeness, and for entire communities to befriend God and God's values. And while you might think, "isn't that what the church does right now?", I would argue that our focus is way more on getting individuals to do the right thing as opposed to making decisions as a community that lead us down the path of completeness.

But, community ethics require vulnerability and honesty, and those things are hard to come by. And, as I'm finding out now that life is CRAZY, Elli is difficult to get out of the house on Sunday mornings and church is optional, it's also hard to invest the time needed to plug yourself into a community in a way where people really know you and you know them. So shame on me. Or, should I say in the spirit of community ethics, shame on US.

Fair Dinkum

0 comments so far.

Something to say?