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Wow. A powerfully written piece, Kirsten.

I find your writing very encouraging and thought provoking (in an uplifting way-a way that reflects care and breadth in your thinking).

So much in this piece, is worth reflective dialogue about.

But as you summarize from Smith, the internet doesn't provide an adequate interface for such dialogue...

But maybe substack does, to some degree.

This article touches on something very important; the 'communal response of individuals'.

I think we see this quite well in the way Tolkien gives us pictures of 'community' or our 'engagements in unity of mind, heart, spirit and purpose' at several important levels, or in several 'circles of relationship' that we can separate out. We see a key 'communal' joining in a shared mission, one that had the most impact, but was the least noteworthy, during its duration-the willingness of Samwise to commit to the mission Frodo chose to undertake, as the 'ringbearer'; this was a circle of two-which is not insignificant, when we consider this in the light of the 'one flesh' mission that is meant to be visible in marriage (which, as an academic, I would feel obligated, normally, to write several pages about to fend off the many different objections i could envision someone bringing against this simple statement...). But we have the 'fellowship of the nine' which came about as a result of a larger community, gathered at the bequest of Gandalf, to consider 'what to do about this Ring of Power'? That fellowship was commissioned; and even after they were fragmented, the fragmented groups 'returned to their core mission', with those not in the smallest circle still undertaking the original mission, reconfiguring their goals-Merry and Pippin choosing to engage in a deceit that would distract the enemy from the real mission carried out by their fellow hobbits; Aragorn and Gandalf setting things up in an opposition that was but a feigned one, intended to keep the enemy distracted.

But we see others engaged in various levels of 'individual joining together into a communal focus and mission'; and we see how some were led on paths away from the right path, too.

When I was younger; it was not so difficult to forge 'communal' unity of mind, heart, spirit and purpose, and the erosion has been gradual enough that it has allowed even the church to become much like the culture around us, permeated by the 'polarized, divisive spirit' of our age.

Yet our call is still one of 'ambassadors of reconcilation' in a Kingdom 'not of this world' that operates VERY differently from the culture we live in... which goes beyond the point of this article's focus, but is worth discussing at another time, in more depth, as it relates to the problem of developing a 'communal sense of mission' at the multiple levels required to engage with the gospel of love, in our hurting world, today.

I enjoy your writing; you write well and 'not like an academic' in this substack space; (I read today's post--so have that in mind).

keep writing, keep encouraging others to walk in faith and love!


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