Dublin Made Me

This reflection post is by Seán Mullan, a professor at Irish Bible Institute, and makes me wonder — and ask you today — about the connection of place to our formation. How does your location shape you?

Dublin Made Me

Dublin made me….

the Dublin of old statutes, this arrogant city

stirs proudly and secretly in my blood.

Donagh MacDonagh

Life forms and shapes us. As CS Lewis put it, “the world is a great sculptor’s shop.” You could say the same of Dublin, or any city. A day on its streets is a day of inner change – seen or unseen.

Aristotle spoke of the poverty of an unexamined life. Many of us who live in Dublin have unexamined years behind us, unaware of the changes taking place in us as the city made us.

What shapes and forms a person in the city is the interactions with people, events, work, surroundings, media, beauty and all the other stuff of life. A single day can leave you exhausted or exhilarated. A week can leave you despondent or delighted. A year of days has deeper, long term effects. We are all “becoming” but living in the city makes the forming and shaping process more intense, accelerated, pressurised – more work, less rest, more stuff, more events.

A common Christian reaction to this formation is to counteract it with periods of withdrawal –

Sunday worship, small group gatherings, quiet times, retreats or conferences all give space, perspective, renewal and refreshment. But the intense and unrelenting pressures

Of the city are hard to overcome. The conference notes soon gather dust on a shelf because life again becomes too busy and pressurised. And withdrawal becomes another guilt inducing dimension of a pressurised life – a “some day” yearning unfulfilled.

The alternative is to allow life in the city to become the primary means by which we

become the person God intends us to be. Instead of work and all the other events of life becoming

the enemy, they become the context in which we learn how to follow Jesus and the means by which we become like him.

Irish Christians of another era saw life this way:

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ within me,

Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ at my right, Christ at my left,

Christ in the fort, (i.e., at home) Christ in the chariot seat (travelling by land)

Christ in the stern (travelling by water)

Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,

Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me.

Translate this view into present day Dublin and you have a Christ infected city – a place where the citizen can have their life shaped more by Jesus than by the city in which they work and play – a place in which they learn to be and become, led by the Christ who knows how to live in the city.

 

 

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than fifty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • http://c-far.blogspot.com/ josenmiami

    thats good. Makes me feel … perhaps a little substandard in my spirituality .. but it is still good.

  • http://c-far.blogspot.com/ josenmiami

    life in Miami has a lot of accelerated pressures … internationalism, hedonism, beach life, night life, South Beach, academia, cuban coffee, esspreso, pseudo-cuban cigars, Brazilian caipirinhas, Cuban mojitos, salsa, bachata, samba, Spanish, English and Creole mega churches and cell churches, Interesting people … i don’t remember to pray St. Patrick’s breastplate nearly as often as I should, or nearly as often as I used to. Makes me a little sad. Christ help me.

  • http://restoringsoul.blogspot.com Ann F-R

    hmmmm, yes & “well, it’s a lot more difficult than simply that!” I’m responding to these words, in particular:
    We are all “becoming” but living in the city makes the forming and shaping process more intense, accelerated, pressurised – more work, less rest, more stuff, more events.
    A common Christian reaction to this formation is to counteract it with periods of withdrawal … But the intense and unrelenting pressures of the city are hard to overcome. …The alternative is to allow life in the city to become the primary means by which we become the person God intends us to be. Instead of work and all the other events of life becoming
    the enemy, they become the context in which we learn how to follow Jesus and the means by which we become like him.

    I offer these examples to illustrate what I mean:

    Last night, I was watching part II of PBS’ Frontline: Money, Power & Wall St., and was considering the pressures I’d faced as a Christian while I worked in swaps/derivatives, while the men & women who currently or more recently worked in the same areas were interviewed: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/money-power-wall-street/ One former trader reflected that he’d resigned from trading because he’d come to the realization that the work, in itself, was corrupting who he was, as a person. Derivatives/ swaps traders are charged with selling products to people, companies, municipal & national governments who have no clue what they’re buying, do not understand the risks, and frequently use them to hide the abysmal state of their accounts, temporarily. (cf. Italy & Greece’s financial problems due to swaps & derivatives) Another math wonk for a hedge fund reflected how her job was to anticipate mathematically when Pension Funds would make major moves in the market place, for the purpose of beating the Pension Funds into the financial markets, minimizing the Pension Funds gains by skimming funds off for the hedge fund, before the Funds’ activity.

    Yesterday, I conversed with a business man who had been working hard to deliver a major project. The client was so happy with his efforts that they expanded the scope of the project with his help. Rather than award him the commission for the project’s expansion, the company’s Sales Dept. swooped down and “stole” the commission even though they’d contributed nothing & exerted no effort, at all. They took the “credit” (i.e., monetary reward for hard work) simply because they could, and the CEO affirmed their actions.

    This morning, I read Luke 9:21-27 and was meditating on what it means to
    *deny oneself, take up the cross and follow Christ
    OR
    *gain the whole world, and lose or forfeit oneself.
    Sometimes, the context within the worldly corrupt systems are an embodiment of the enemy, ISTM. We need to understand when it’s appropriate to continue being shaped within a work context, and when being faithful means taking up the cross and following Christ out of a particular context. The Holy Spirit may use the context to reveal that God is not there because of the very nature of the work. I.e., some work contexts oppose Psalm 90:17, for instance, because to confirm the work of our hands would be to rob others of the work of their hands.

  • Sean Mullan

    That’s helpful Ann – at times there may be no option for the Jesus follower but to leave a particular context – but leaving the whole system is not an option. I can resign my job but I still live in the world, the city – we still shop and converse and study and think and vote and eat and relax “in the city.” Should I stay or should I go?” can be an important question. But more important, and more radical, is the question of how I might be shaped more by the ruling activity of God than by the “system” of the city I live in. Or to put it another way, did God really think that the activity of a tiny group of exiles might bring “shalom” to Babylon, (of all places!) or was he just spoofing them in Jeremiah 29 to think that his work in their lives might achieve more than the sum total of Babylon’s evil system?


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X