The Torah's Vision of Worship

By Samuel E. Balentine | Go to book overview

9.

ANOTHER WORLD
TO LIVE IN

A CRITICAL FEATURE OF RELIGION, AS SANTAYANA HAS NOTED, IS ITS power to propose “another world to live in.”1 But this claim for the religious perspective is precisely the claim that is in serious question as we prepare to cross the border into the third millennium. The crisis we face has been long in the making; T. S. Eliot's 1925 assessment of the human predicament still resonates. In many and varied ways the contemporary world exacts from us the concession that we remain, now as then, “hollow” people, groping sightlessly in the “valley of dying stars” for “our lost kingdoms.”2

In this world of hollow souls—where an abiding sense of God's absence works to nullify faith even as it compels a restless yearning for the transcendent—is there some more revelation at hand? The Torah's vision, I believe, affirms that there is. In this chapter, I will recapitulate the discernments made earlier about this vision, then suggest specific ways they might address our present situation.


The Torah's Invitation
to a Counterimagination of the World

The Torah preserves a rich reservoir for imaginatively construing new realities about God, the world, and humankind. As Brueggemann has observed, “counterimagined worlds” offer alternatives to “presumed worlds.”3 They assert realities that extend the truth about God's intentions beyond those that current hegemonies may seek to promote as

1. G. Santayana, Reason in Religion, cited in C. Geertz, The Interpretation of Cultures: Selected
Essays
(New York: Basic Books, 1973), 87. See above, chap, 1, p. 36.

2. T. S. Eliot, “The Hollow Men,” in T. S. Eliot, Collected Poems 1909–1962 (New York: Har-
court, Brace & World, 1970), 81. See above, chap. 8, pp. 214–15.

3. See above, chap. 1, pp. 31–32.

-235-

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