While at UC Davis I took a class in Cultural Ecology.  We looked at the paradigms through which a handful of anthropologist studied the relationship of culture and ecology.  It was super interesting and the prof was fantastic.  But besides recalling that the first paradigm we studied was “Classificatory  Cultural Ecology” and that one anthropologist thought that cultural/religious food rules were based on resource scarcity (Marvin Harris),  I don’t remember many specifics.  What has stuck to to my intellectual ribs from that class was the manner in which the anthropologist’s perspective was shaped by their own current socio-political setting.  And so on to my current study of Church history.

As we hear lectures on the development of the Church,  I’m constantly aware of the setting from which we are studying it.  As we look at the development of hierarchy, exclusivity of the leadership and the disparity between clergy and laity, I see it as reflections of problems in the church today.  When we talk about the shared meals, care for the widows and needy, and communal/familial emphasis my heart kicks into longing mode.  These are ideals that float through the air among my contemporaries like so many cell phone signals.

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