The exile and the promise

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This section contains all of Luigino Bruni's editorials of the series entitled "The exile and the promise" dedicated to the Book of the prophet Ezekiel and published in Avvenire from 11 November 2018


Faith that may “convert” God

The exile and the promise/5 - The prophet’s job also includes the “second prayer”

by Luigino Bruni

published in Avvenire on 09/12/2018

Ezechiele 05 rid“Evil gossip kills three: the one who says it, the one who listens, and the subject of the gossip; but it does more harm to the one who listens to it than the one who says it.”

Moses Maimonides, Norms of Moral Life (rough translation)

Religions and faiths are also places for the satisfaction of human needs, because no religion has neglected the material and corporeal dimension of life. Fish, bread, manna, quails, water, focaccia, crushed grapes: the Bible could also be read as a story of food, conviviality, or goods. The promised land is a land flowing with milk and honey. But also because of their concrete and whole dimension, faiths have an intrinsic tendency to shrink and be reduced to a market where every good on demand meets its offer paying the price, thus becoming idolatries or magic. Authentic prayer can only live and grow in an encounter of gratuitousness. Providence cannot be bought; it comes as a surplus above our small contractual register. The biblical God is the God of the Covenant, where the actual good offered is a kind of proximity, a presence. Just like in communities which satisfy essential needs (emotional security, warmth and also concrete and economic needs) if everyone knows how to draw on an interiority that’s deeper than needs, where the most intimate and beautiful part of the communities is generated. The prophets are jealous custodians of this greater beauty that is able to live with a need that nourishes the dream and the need for God.

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“Remember” is a verb of the future

The exile and the promise/4 - Knowing how to be faithful to the true “remnant” of our heart

by Luigino Bruni

published in Avvenire on 02/12/2018

Ezechiele 04 rid“By seeking the beginnings of things, a man becomes a crab. The historian looks backwards: in the end he also believes backwards.”

Friedrich Nietzsche, The Twilight of the Idols (English translation by Anthony M. Ludovici)

Religious signs are what most affect the earth and communicate the character of a culture. Temples, altars, aedicules, crosses, stems separate the areas of the sacred from those of the profane, they reveal and give names and vocations to the land, transforming spaces into places. The land bears our vices and virtues inscribed in its wounds. It accepts our traces meekly, it lets itself be associated with our destinies, and it communicates with us through its mysterious and real reciprocity. Among the marks of prophecy there is also the ability to interpret the language of creation, to tell it to us, to speak in our place and in our name. What would the prophets say today seeing the wounds we are producing on our planet? What words of fire would they utter in front of our "high places" populated by idols? How would they prophesy in the face of our collective myopia and selfishness? Maybe they would scream, compose new poems or sing - they do actually sing Laudato si’.

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Between the robe and the heart

The exile and the promise/3 - The task of announcing the hard test and sowing the future

by Luigino Bruni

published in Avvenire on 02/12/2018

Ezechiele 03 rid“But there remains always this paradoxical fact (...) that it is the sacred that is manifesting, and thereby limiting itself and ceasing to be absolute. (...) this is the great mystery, the mysterium tremendum: the fact that the sacred accepted self-limitation.”

Mircea Eliade, Myths, Dreams and Mysteries (English translation by Philip Mairet Eliade)

We are tireless seekers of consolation. We have such a need for it that we almost always barter it for illusions. Prophecy is a great generator of true consolations, but since they are neither predictable nor on sale, we queue up in department stores where cheap illusions abound. The non-illusory consolations of the prophets live together with an absolute need for truth, they arrive only within this truth offered at full price-value.

“And you, son of man, take a brick and lay it before you, and engrave on it a city, even Jerusalem. And put siegeworks against it, and build a siege wall against it, and cast up a mound against it. Set camps also against it, and plant battering rams against it all around” (Ezekiel 4:1-2). After the first visions, Ezekiel now receives the command to make a sort of a model to represent the siege of a city. And once the work is finished, under the most probably surprised eyes of his fellow countrymen, he does not say 'this is Babylon', as perhaps his exiled companions expected and hoped, but "This is Jerusalem" (5:5). It is precisely the holy city that is about to be besieged by the Babylonians. There is no consolation for those who, following the oracles of the false prophets, wanted to believe that the city of David is unassailable because it is protected by its different God.

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But every call is a test

The Exile and the Promise/2 - The value of the word between radical freedom and radical neediness 

by Luigino Bruni

published in Avvenire on 17/11/2018

Ezechiele"Are there no more prophets? We can't say that; the important thing is to distinguish false prophets from the true ones, and this applies to all eras. Perhaps the fundamental element to distinguish them is this: the false prophet feels like a prophet and the true prophet doesn't feel like a prophet".

Paolo De Benedetti, Elijah (rough translation)

Anyone who finds themselves writing to respond to an inner call will have experienced, at least once in their life, that those words they are writing were first received and "eaten". Written words that are not vanitas are born of flesh and blood - and thus manage to reach the flesh and blood of those who read them, and leave their mark in them. When, every now and then, we feel that a different word touches us, teaches us and changes us (and if it has never happened to us we haven’t really begun to read yet), that word has already touched and marked the body of the person who wrote it, because it had come out of a wound. Prophecy is an event of the word, of words and the body. Because between the word received and the word uttered and written there is the body of the prophet. The whole of his body is the instrument with which the prophet plays his melodies of heaven and earth. All prophets, especially Ezekiel.

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