Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Giver

This weekend I read The Giver by Lois Lowry.  Here is a link to it at Barnes and Noble.

So many thoughts have been swirling in my head from this book.  I won't be able to talk about them all, but I do want to talk about one(ish).

The scene when Jonas first experienced snow and a hill reminded me of this verse from the prophet Isaiah:

Isaiah 40:4New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) 

Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.   

There is was.  No more hills.  It was all even.  Sameness was the word used in the book.  Sameness of people, dwellings, experiences, the land.  All the same.  

It seems this book was written in response to something.  At least at an intellectual level.  Perhaps playing with ideas, seeing where "sameness" might go.  It was written shortly after the Cold War, so some reaction to communism could be part of it.  It also reminds me of other stories from the 1990s such as Pleasantville and The Truman Show.  Both were artificial communities and not dissimilar from the community in The Giver.  

As Christians we strive to live in Community.  God calls us into Community.  The world of The Giver is called community, and the valleys had been lifted and the mountains had been made low.  

Despite this there is something very wrong feeling about the community in the book. There is no strong emotion.

Revelation 21:4-5

4he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.”

They achieved this.  

But they also got rid of Love.

That's the difference.  And it is BIG!

The community we find with and in God, in and with Jesus, is grounded first and always in Love.  Because God IS Love.  

Are we co-creators with God?  Do we use our hands to do God's work in the world?  For the second one I would most definitely say YES.  That is what we are called to do.

We are called into community, but our community is formed in the Love of Christ shared and proclaimed in with and under, in a declaration of Grace, together at the communion table.  (Oh, I am so Lutheran.)  It is from that place of renewal, again and again. we are called and sent to proclaim good news to the captives.  (Just as it is declared to us because I am certainly captive to Sin.)

That is what is different between the Community in The Giver, and the Community of Christ is pulling us into - The Kingdom of God.  It matters where you start.  It changes where you end up.

Ok, that seemed a little "Sunday school" to me, but it really was a genuine thought I needed to work through.  Using a utopian society is a common theme in many stories.  Sometimes they break down, but other times they remain "lifted up".  I needed to think through what makes something a utopia and what makes something Kingdom.