The point of this volume is simple enough: to live is to give up and give away parts of ourselves. This is not just a comment about the social character of our lives. Giving up parts of ourselves fuels our very being as persons: it is how we learn, it is how we think, it is how we grow, it is how we make decisions, it is how we love. In giving up, of course, we are also gaining something new, although that is not entirely obvious, just as it s not always clear what we are losing as we live, at least not until the very end of this or that process. To live is to give up parts of ourselves, and to live fully is to give ourselves away fully. This is the simple Christian corollary of the fundamental character of human living, and it is not a novel claim in the least: "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Ephraim Radner, A Brutal Unity, p. 1
Patheos was nice enough to give my a copy of A Brutal Unity as long as I wrote a short blog post about it (see previous post). Since I am always game for free books I liked the idea but the real reason is that I find Radner's writing to be a challenge for me in the places I live. For instance, the quote above from the opening paragraph is one I haven't be able to stop think about since I read it. It is a simple quote but its one that cuts to the heart. It gets me asking about what it means to give up, and the knowledge that is how we live, we learn, and most importantly, love. The idea that giving away of ourselves is fundamental to our living is a difficult truth but one that me must live with. It pushes me into prayer. Prayer being the place where we can learn the ability to what it means to give oneself away, and also to know where we can find ourselves again.