Abstract and Keywords
There is no shortage of figural language for the Church. Much of it is biblical, and still more is woven into the fabric of the Church's hymnody and prayer. The Church is, according to her own account, wife and mother, city and garden, kingdom and diaspora, people and body, sign and sacrament, warrior and peacemaker, seed and harvest, pure and defiled, virgin and whore, lover and taskmistress, and lamb, eagle, hen, and doe. Christians are not formed morally only, or even principally, by the language they use. They are formed morally by the practices they perform, among which the deep and repeated use of figural language is only one. None the less, thought about what Christian figural language for the Church might provoke and intimate by way of understanding the Church as a theatre of moral formation may itself be an instrument of importance in furthering and deepening the conformation of Christ's body to Christ. Such thought is the focus of this article. If the figure is language's dreamwork, it offers an interpretation of dreams whose goal is to help those who dream the ecclesial dream to do so more fully, and perhaps also more interestingly.
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