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And here we observe the rarest of all phenomena: Bonnie Swafford in the act of ironing!
– Emilie M.Townes cited in Sharon Welch. A Feminist Ethic of RISK (Other Feminist Voices) (Kindle Locations 331-335). Kindle Edition.
Townes states, this is not a “success” ethic but an ethic grounded in the stories of those who did respond creatively to injustice:
"How often and in how many places have our ancestors gone before us and found a similar set of challenges? How did they respond? … This strength is not founded on certainty, but on trust and belief. Therefore this strength does not depend on a faith community or a faithful person "getting it right" or ‘being right’ Rather its byword is faith. A spirituality of life that is social witness does not revolve around a success ethic that is grounded in measurable gains and regrettable losses. Rather, it moves in the midst of degradation to proclaim the dignity of life. Such a strength measures its power in its ability to continually call forth hope and righteous agency."
If then Paul is announcing judgment on them for their abuse of the body, why did he use the verb “recognizing/discerning” and what does it mean? The answer to this> seems to lie in the wordplays on the theme of “judgment” that dominate the paragraph. No other forms of this verb would be appropriate for expressing the need properly to take cognizance of the whole church that is seated as one body at this meal. The meaning here probably comes close to the English word “discern,” meaning to distinguish as distinct and different. The Lord’s Supper is not just any meal; it is the meal, in which at a common table with one loaf and a common cup they proclaimed that through the death of Christ they were one body, the body of Christ; and therefore they are not just any group of sociologically diverse people who could keep those differences intact at this table. Here they must “discern/recognize as distinct” the one body of Christ, of which they all are parts and in which they all are gifts to one another. To fail to discern the body– Gordon D. Fee on 1 Corinthians 17-34
in this way, by abusing those of lesser sociological status, is to incur God’s judgment.