Lk14v3-4 🙊 "but they remained silent.." Religione today is very present by omission, imposing vast silences according to its taboo around artefactual haecceity which renders a vast catalogue of unmentionables in an amnesiac minimalism of vapid architecture without ornament. Mute modernity is deafening in its quietude, gagged by the shame of its own obnoxious and self-reinforcing self-fulfilling abstraction. Why Beauty Matters considered the dearth of such discussions.
Robert Green Ahmanson - Why Beauty Matters
Ben Quash - Why Beauty Matters
👽👤 "to heal.." Healing connects two controversies: power-from-the-outside with the-dignity-of-the-individual. This is a nuclear broadside against a worldview which believes in a closed universe populated by accidental biology.
🛫 (v1) "Jesus went to dine.." Go. Do the going. Leave the house and go attend. Show up. At dinner parties. Go.
📺 (v2) "they were watching him carefully" The world is watching.. Everybody is looking for something. Give them something worth looking for.
🗣 "Jesus responded.." He responded to their watching ~ so, be responsive even to their passive watching. The burden of proof is on we who carry the supernatural presupposition. The burden of proof is on we who presume to have tapped in to superabundance. The burden of proof is no burden but a joy to bring more people in to the party of superabundance. Take the fight to those locked in naturalism. Initiate. Be anything but silent. Make beauty.
Lk14v5-6 Is Jesus problematising the boundary between Work and Rest? I don't think he is so much as he is identifying that Love is a more fundamental category than either. When Freud said that 'Love and Work are the cornerstones of our humanness' this gets something wrong in setting them up as though they were equivalent symmetrical categories. Rather Love is a category that includes and transcends Work. God works and God rests but God _is_ Love. Love, then, is neither Sabbath's reward nor what we Sabbath from. Love is a work and love is something we rest in both, and it cannot be neatly packaged into its labour-intensive and sabbatical elements, for it is more fundamental than this distinction. Love has to interface with Work and Rest, of course, but I think it is crucial to recognise that the negotiated rhytmns of Work/Rest sit inside the bigger law of Love, rather than that these three are negotiated on the same terms. Love has it's own internal logic about duties and releasment and the urgent and the non-urgent, and this law of Love is the first law that we are to be submitted to. Work and Rest follow. The demands and joys of Love are 24-7. Love endures.
Lk14v7-8 Wedding seating plans? What is Jesus talking about? I tend to dismiss this parable as self-evident or self-defeating, but surely I have been misreading it.
🛋🔄 "sit..don't sit.." Jesus baits us to play musical chairs? And it seems that the dance that follows cannot but be all the bally ballieness of gaming social niceties in a frankly British, faux humble faux mild-mannered, passive aggressive, blustering oh-no-please,-after-you-ism.. Christianity practised with a Woosterish air of the absurd, becomes a more serious pathology when an obsequious committee of shrinking violets and second-handers instigates a defacto DDoS attack on the front door of church, first-will-be-last-will-be-first-will-be-last squeals paralyzing feedback through the mic of an infinite regress of inaction, as no one dares be the first through the door.
🛋🔚 There is a terminal point in this loop, when the music stops, in death, those Mother Teresas are sainted in perpetuity, whilst Rhodes has his statue toppled. Is that it? Go low, go low and wait for death? How shall we then sit and not sit in the meantime, in a world where we are relatively positioned and thusly someone always has to be the tallest poppy?
🤗😶😳 In all seriousness, I struggle with cowardice dressed up as humility. I struggle with it in myself, and I struggle with it as I rub up against it in others. I resent nothingy structures of undirected churching and banal multi-personal faith expressions which conspire to be less than the sum of their parts by the misapplication of such parables as these. There must be a better way, courageously to stand up, stand forth and to stand against, whilst also engaging the downwardly mobile race to the bottom of the pecking order, amongsting with the least last and lost, forsaking all to gain all, considering is all joy to suffer all. Running hard to win a race that is won by losing competitively Hb12v10, Rm12v10 outdo one another.
🛋🔀 Redistributive seating plans relates to the equity debate that has recurred this week via theequalitytrust.org and other discussions at 41. Two issues that bear on equitable wedding seating:
- the presupposed liberal individual as the object of equity, is not properly aligned with the radically diverse and necessarily interdependent beings that we are. 1Co12v21 _"Can an eye say to the hand etc.."_ Against equality of outcome and against equality of opportunity for the individual, why not consider singularity and peculiarity of the opportunity for appropriately diverse intermediately scaled groups.
- financial capital as the currency of the value we are trying to equalise is too abstract, too linear. But dinner seats as public honour or social power are still too blunt and one dimensional. What are the seats? What are the seats for you? Could they be arranged in a circle at your proverbial wedding feast? Could they be arranged in a matrix with more dimensions? Do we need to sit down even? How would you make an appropriate account of collective privilege in self-understanding the place of honour one finds oneself sitting at, in the great scheme of history?
Lk14v9-10 I find it easy to get caught up over-reading this parable when I think it is more a straightforward call to humility. Humility is born of an inward posture but it's fruits are outward facing, are always tied to the relative and the contextual, as the language of 'more' and 'less'. The call is not to get caught in an infinite loop of second-guessing the motives of oneself and others (as may be my proclivity) but rather to step back and see the context as a whole, and to ask what humility required of my place in this context, recognising that different situations and different people have present different needs and opportunities, and that the principle of making oneself low looks different at different times. Reading Ps38 this morn gives a helpful and timely example for a current context: v14 'I have become like a woman who does not hear, and in whose mouth there are no rebukes.'
Lk14v11-12 "do not invite" 🕵♂ Jesus issues the ninja gifter's charter, a holy summons, your mission should you choose to accept it: to no-platform all privelege always. Do not invite the who's who in their gladrags, do not oil the tits of Tatler, do not retweet influencers, do not shake the mason's hand, do not scratch his back, do not cluster with closed ranks, do not throw your younger sisters in the way of other rich men, do not play the game, do not clique, do not network.
"lest they also invite you.." 🎟 Self-serving is self-defeating. Orienting your life and your dinner parties towards the reciprocating classes is a slippery slope, the oleaginous codependent gravy train is a greasy pole, a pyramid scheme's slick elite machine, a self-fulfilling hell of schmoozing begetting more schmoozing. Gilded hospitality is a dull arms race to one-up the Joneses in cahoots with the Joneses.
🎰 Do not invite your friends or rich neighbours. Do not live transactionally. Do not sit at the blackjack table of a transactional economy because there the dealer always wins, it is less than a zero sum game, you are conspiring to embezzle the gift economy. Do not invite your friends or rich neighbours. Jesus could not be clearer. Time is short. Pray for localwelcome's grant application. July 11th. (link, link)
Lk14v13-14 Righteousness and resurrection. June has had me speaking in the tongues of poets, where my own words have failed me, and worse. Raleigh, then:
"Even such is time, that takes in trust
Our youth, our joys, our all we have,
And pays us but with age and dust;
Who, in the dark and silent grave,
When we have wandered all our ways,
Shuts up the story of our days.
But from this earth, this grave, this dust,
My God shall raise me up, I trust."
- Sir Walter Raleigh
Lk14v15-16 🍞 Bread. Why spend your money on that which is not bread? Is55v2 Don't love only for the loaves Jn6v26 True bread is doing the will of the Father Jn4v34 🎟 This exchange sits between Jesus condemning bad invitors (v12-14) and condemning bad invitees (v16-24).
❔What Kingdom bread are you inviting people to? Are you inviting? And who are you inviting?
❔ What Kingdom bread are you invited to? Are you heading? Are you responding?
🌁 Working for a social justice blockchain startup, we are inviting people to a sort of Kingdom economy, a total counter culture, a future frictionless and transparently just supply chain, equal access to capital, a total economy not reliant on interest. Blessed is he who eats bread in that Kingdom. Surely. It's not that easy to invite the right people for the right reasons, wise actors in this for the long haul. This spontaneous encounter with this anonymous recliner at table with Jesus, complete with its excitable naiveté has the feeling of an ICO speculator, which has the feeling of Peter's response to Jesus Mk14v29 "thought many fall away I will not.."
Rather, steady the bread, and feed my sheep Jn21v17
And that bread is Jesus body broken 1Co11v24
And Jesus body broken is yours Jn21v18-19
Lk14v17-18 I'm a product of my upbringing and also I'm really tired and people are so exhausting and it doesn't really hurt anyone and I've always done it this way and it's been fine and I'm really busy at the moment and I'll just have another one and I'm allowed to think about myself once in a while and the new regime starts tomorrow and there's lots to do and money doesn't grow on trees and I'm not really in the mood and I've heard this before and I don't really like their emphasis and I find her a bit too intense and I've been treated really unfairly and my mind is quite cluttered at the moment and it's not really our style and I'm just quite a chaotic person and it's fine not to plan ahead in case it stifles my spontaneity and I think I'd rather buy my own and I really need my own space and institutional religion has lost its way and it doesn't really gel with me and it doesn't matter anyway.
👑❔ What is the Kingdom? Precision on this question matters utterly.
🏢❔ What is good work?" ~ this, it seems, is the question of the house in this season. Precision on this question matters utterly.
💍❔ How should I get married? ~ this, it seems, it the other question of this house. Precision on this question matters utterly.
Very basically, in this passage, the Kingdom is an invitation to a banquet. The response is binary: come or don't-come. And Jesus reflects on two common and compelling reasons given for not-coming:
🏢 the demands of practical commercial urgencies.
👰 the demands of romantic familial relationships.
Surely the simplest way to adhere to Jesus' Kingdom banquet invitation is to forsake these:
1. Don't have possessions Lk18v22
2. Don't get married 1Co7 esp v33-34
Now, I could argue at greater length that forsaking these is not necessarily an appropriate interpretation, some might go further and say that this forsaking is obviously wrong, and so swing to a different pole of a dogmatic dichotomy. To me, it's not obvious, it's not self-evident.
- I don't think we can invoke a practicality maxim (as if, without marriage we would become extinct, ergo, all and any marriage is a legitimate Kingdom activity)
- I don't think we can soundbite contradictory verses in the Bible which affirm commerce (Pr31v15, Je29v7 etc) and marriage (Mt19v4-6 Jn2v2 etc) as if that flattens all distinction of context and negates the responsibility to obey specific radical callings to be extremely peculiar in response to an extremely peculiar God.
- I don't think we can merely pay lipservice to 'holding work-home-church in tension' where that tension is a euphemism for the tense tension of tacit contention simmering stifflingly unresolved on all matters of elective application in the domains of marriage and commerce as they relate to Kingdom participation.
We must urgently make a detailed and specific case for 1. commerce and 2. marriage, a case that they are legitimate Kingdom callings, yes, but that is less that half the fight, rather, my life has so long lacked a credible, substantial and practical account of how they are legitimately to be enacted when and insofar as they are Kingdom callings.
🐄🐄 1. "I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused."
- Why do oxen qua business conflict with the Kingdom?
- What does commerce cost you?
- What does it look like to expend yourself for the Kingdom in a way that creates a brilliant business rather than competes with it?
- What does it practically look like to have just bought some oxen and to come to the Kingdom banquet anyways?
🏢 Business must be. Oxen must be inspected. Due diligence must be observed. Traders going to trade, and in doing, you are to be as wise as serpents. Competitive business must be? Even operating on the basis of abundance, it's still a jungle out there, you're still an operator in a winner-takes-all market place, there's still a long tail governed by the Pareto principle. Oxen must be inspected.
🏢 Business must be. But how. Christian engagement historically in business, Quaker candy makers and all, have blazed a trail we have rarely revisited, and desperately need to.
~ There are self-righteous Christians out there who have no oxen, willfully, flimsy citizens, bearing no responsibility for anything in the economy, weightless cogs of emotionally-manipulative charitably-dependent inconsequence. Driftwood hunkered in the belly of an opaque civil service position, naive as doves and disengaged, part-timer middle managers noodling on a theology of permanent garden leave with a cosmic non-compete clause, proliferating mere busy-ness, having abandoned responsibility for excellence, I render all work as only the worst form of meaningless unredeemed toil, I thusly am a dead weight on the spaceship earth, having no oxen to inspect.
~ There are self-righteous Christians out there who have oxen and who labour the gymanastic cognitive dissonance of Sunday Christianity, living two lives which never ever meet. Monday flexes all the God given gifts to an alternative immutable infinity, diligently constructing fungible pieces for export to a sordid empire, clean hands yet complicit by omission, I am guilty of divine non-disclosure, hoping to sit at the banquet having outsourced the inspection of the oxen.
There must be a better way.
🤵👰 2. "I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come."
- Why is marriage in conflict with the Kingdom?
- What does marriage cost?
- What does it look like to expend yourself for the Kingdom in a way that creates a brilliant marriage rather than competes with it?
- What does it practically look like to have just married a wife and to come to the Kingdom banquet anyways?
[Incidentally, of marriage and banquet invites.. Maths advice for marriage-prepping couples, when you get married you will have as many as twice the number of friends/family/contacts who will invite you to dinner and you will be able to attend/host less than half as many as you could when single. Ref annual alternate exponential Christmas dinner expectations etc.]
Kingdom participation, showing up at the banquet, showing up appropriately dressed at the banquet is a very serious endeavour, costing not less than everything. (Mt22v12 is a verse that should hit you in the stomach)
~ Marriage is the most high cost identity realignment you can possibly engage, a perpetual trauma to the foundations of all pre-existing sense of self, changing not less than everything.
~ Marriage is not to be undertaken lightly, bla blah bla, but for why? It is all-in on a high stakes table, collateralising your entire net-worth on a single bet, and, divorce stats being what they are, a probable majority of you will lose.
~ Marriage is an intensive investment, a high maintenance houseplant, rightly is the young Christian couple encouraged to labour to nurture this complex entity, rightly to set aside time to maintain it. Rightly, lest it go awry explosively or extensively. But do you have the time for that, can you make sufficient time, is it worth it?
~~ Explosively. See thoughtlessly calibrated asymmetry sets in motion a catastrophic tailspin like an unequal yoke ploughs a bitter vortex trampling ground already sown; see the vertiginous collapse of an unstable and loosely joined scaffold imperils all nearby; see two elaborately incompatibly shaped objects hurtling at high velocity through the narrow confines of matrimonial cooperation scratching nails down paint to the bone of torrid potholing; see the toxic sour cocktail curdling the vindictive feminisity of warm dairy in the bitter lime of abrasive and abrupt masculinisty. Hence if one has just married that proverbial wife (slash person), one cannot come to the banquet..
~~ Extensively. A demise no less costly. See the widespread banality of Christian marriage, marked by material privilege, shame-opaquing domestic isolation and an exhausting charade to cover ossified spiritual lukewarmth, defaulting to a lowest common denominator in a collusion of codependent mutual self-sabotage and cooperative self-deception. You rule yourself out of the banquet by a commitment to a sentimental marriage, a totalising for-itself lock-in tethered by people-pleasing to unregulated infinite social and family expectations. Those mismarried are frozen out by their own entanglement, bound inside a contract of preemptive inaction, a committee-of-two's paralysis of agency, a complete inability to risk, where risk is the most important currency of the Kingdom, the very life blood of faith.
A third way, a marriage which is by/with/from/for the Kingdom, and from which Kingdom all other things are added unto we. Living that marriage is made not impossible by Christ. I believe this.
👑❔What is the Kingdom?
Precision on this question matters utterly.
Lk14v21-22 And still there is room. And still. There is room. There is always room in God's kingdom for more people and more of people. There's still room. 'And still', is like 'But God', but perhaps speaks particularly to the wearier, more resigned, quiet despairs. You think you have exhausted the terrain, dear heart, but you haven't. With God, still, there is room.
Lk14v23-24 💯💯💯 "..that my house may be filled.." I'm endlessly amused at the filling of Phil. Lord fill Phil that he might feel full so to not fail to fulfil his fullest Phil. What does a full house look like? Poker's diad plus triad is no royal flush. A full house. Lambeth's HMO register be twitching a moral panic past one and half nuclear families per residence, lest they be bidding beds in sheds. A full house. No midding, more moshing, the standing-room-only house party. A full house. The hospitality imperative, which is compelled to compel, a mustered mustness, a magnate's magnetism, the centre of a centripetal celebration of dwelling. God's full house is predicated on superabundance. God's love is an overcatered banquet a'wasting, it is sheer excess, it is beyond indiscriminate, it's a bottomless all-you-can eat, it's a bus when the oyster reader's broken, it is tamped down and spilling over, it is more-than.
🕵♂ A has introduced an vital concept of not depleting a finite commodity from a sharing platter or a common cupboard which you only-sort-of-enjoy, knowing that others more flippin'-love the Stilton in question, for example. It is a tactic that is more than thoughtful generous stewarding of the common good: the brilliance of invisibly foregoing is stealth ninja gifting of the highest order, it is the magic. God's banquet rests on different presuppositions, however, authored on a foundation entirely without scarcity.
~ How should we then live? How to model infinity in our finity? The world needs to know the height and depth, the length and breadth, of God's reckless hospitality. This mere verbage needs a plausibility structure. It needs simulation by analogy, it needs parabolic symbolisation, it needs to be visceral in precisely the pertinence of its superabundance.
A full house is a relative term, a small house is quickly filled - what does your house look like? How full is it? The world-facing visibility of the essential challenge and fundamental risk is the same, however, regardless of size. Compelling randoms to a prepared banquet has been bonkers in all generations. Go, compell. And to do so, you will need to have prepared v17.
Lk14v25-26 Loving Jesus more than family. A cut to the heart, again, a call to redirect energy and longing towards Jesus. A reminder that while there are all kinds of truths in our relationship with Jesus which inform our human relationships, the bigger metaphor goes the other way - our human relationships are shadow forms of a bigger reality - my love for family is to be a metaphor for the more substantial love I am to have for Jesus. How do I love Jesus? I have been revisiting 1Cor13 this last week, but in thinking about love's definition here I tend to apply it either to God's love towards me or the love I should have for other people - I don't easily translate it into how I love Jesus. But I am called to love Jesus the most. How then am I to love Jesus? Let us allow the famous passage on love to guide our love of Jesus into more-than-these love today: What does it look like to be patient and kind towards Jesus? To be unjealous of Jesus' work in others, to be humble and unconceited towards Jesus? To not be selfish and irritable towards Jesus? How do I let go of every wrong that my heart wants to attribute to Jesus, to my feelings that he has treated me unfairly? How do I grieve evils done to Jesus specifically, and how do I rejoice in Jesus' specific truth? How do I protect Jesus, how do I trust him? What shape does my hope in Jesus have if I love him? How do I never give up on Jesus?
Lk14v27-28 ✝ ❎ ⚔ ☠ 🤞🏻 "bear his own cross.." What is the crossness of the cross? Death? Merely the termination of life? There is very little bearing in that, it is over in an instant. The cross is no mere execution, it is peerless torture porn, perfected cruelty, stress-testing the human body to the point of failure. The cross is a definitionally excruciating death, caused typically by asphyxiation, where the exertion of lifting one's broken body to breath exceeds the tormented body's capacity to resist the pain of so doing. The cross is organised persecution by a calculating enemy, gratuitous enhanced interrogation with no questions and no answers, it is a political death fashioned to be emblematic of failure through perfect public abasement and superlative shame. You need to have made some very serious and determined enemies who believe you deserve to be made a spectacle of.
🐉 "..his own.." a customised demise, bespoke death, a limited edition form of torment. There's no one size fits all. Like Harry Potter's boggart, your cross is tailored to your fear, it is the dragon, it is your worst-case worst-fear in the worst-of-all-worlds, it is the opposite of the good life. It is antithetical to every measure of success, everything that makes it worth getting out of bed in the morning, every worthy cause, every reward scheme and incentive, the cross is the barbarian just beyond the border of your city, the city you have been building your whole life as a fortress to resist. The cross is chaos and nothingness, shredding all freedom, the end of all power, it is being hung out to dry, slowly and meaninglessly.
💹 "count the cost.." can you afford to be a Christian? Pounds and pence, how does your life of faith stack up. Cost:Benefit ~ what leads to misestimation? What is unforeseeable? What is contingent? The Monty project met with a cost consultant on Tuesday. We'll make it stack up. We'll hedge the bet. We'll play the game. The cost will be covered. But only an individual can be crucified. Only an individual can be a Christian, you cannot have a Chrisitan committee. Somebody has to face death. There is no collateral you can substitute for a soul, no one can die for another Ps49v7.
👥👥👥👥 What accountancy protocol exists for the costs of corporate Christian exertion? Who leads, who pays who dies? At all scales of collective endeavour, from the PJs one&other, to the blur of WeWork, to the hegemon of the EU, how is sufficient cross-bearing apportioned to make of these things productive Christian expression?
Lk14v29-30 Better not to start at all than to start and not finish? Confrontational at this moment when I'm contemplating starting a new project, wanting to count the cost but finding the variables hard to weigh. Better, with such uncertainty, not to start? To continue rather with that already committed to, to foundations already laid, rather than starting new foundations? As a metaphor for following Christ the takeaway surely isn't that we shouldn't start laying foundations because the cost is high - in no circumstances is that the wisest or most prudent course of action. It's a call to step up to the hard costly labour of building. With Jesus it is always an invitation to Eph4v1 live life in a manner worthy of the calling received. Go big, don't go home.
Lk14v31-32 ❓ "..War.." what is it good for? Good for metaphors. Good, also, for correcting social inequalities, apparently. 💣 I've been thinking about war variously this week, via CCL on Revelation, via a contact presenting denuclearisation at General Synod this weekend, and via Margarent MacMillan's current Reith lectures.
🦁🐑 Last Sunday, we visited CCL, where thissermon was convicting, if a little confusing, about Jesus' qualities "as-Lion" and "as-Lamb". Seeking to parse the paradox risks, as he did, semantic circularity, word-salading a mashup which veered in interpretation between both-anding and neither-noring the essential qualities of lambliness and lionliness.
🦁 A Lion is archetypal strength, warringly savagely severe unmuzzled ferocity exuding peerless peril. A lion is pure muscle and claw, the size of a room, embodying comprehensive danger, flexing a proud pride's jealous vengeance at the very top of the food chain. A lion should inspire total dread. God could have chosen a different metaphor, an anticipated Holy Cow, a Mother Hen.. The Lion of Judah carries the prophetically-anticipated-one mantle but incidentally. The Lion of Judah is lion, unabstractably. See Monty P's insightful disambiguation on Lion. 🐑 A Lamb is archetypal innocence, perfect passive fragility, cowering tremulous at the precarious bottom of all possible dominance hierarchies. A lamb is beautiful dependence. In early muddy spring, scattered on the hillside of weather strewn mangy mutton stock there appear frolicking shining unblemished unsullied unpolluted whitest Persil white bundles of novel frail perfect beauty. A bleating lamb inspires pity and maternal affection, stirring a yearning for a Romantic bucolic idyll that is emphatically not-yet. These two archetypes are quintessentially antithetical.
🦁🐑 The world is familiar with Lions and Lambs as eschatological ambitions, ultimate paradigms for the good life, and we all, secular and religious alike, bend our lives towards realising the benefits of power and purity in our public lives. We all want to be found as strongly conscientious as a lion and as gently agreeable as a lamb. Both. At the same time. Hence the spurious double-think gymnastics of recent Army recruitment videos.
🔃 The bible claims that Jesus is both. And by extension, we can be both. And more than that, mysteriously the highest form of Lionliness is found through Lambliness, and vice versa. This appeals. A clever jiu jitsu quippy epithet corroborated by the beatitudes's "other cheek" and "second cloak" and such as Rm12v20 ~ "feed your enemies, and by so doing heap burning coals on his head.." But, it's not that easy. The theology of as-Lion and as-Lamb goes awry in two ways:
1. we redact the essential supernatural presupposition and so do lioning/lambing in our own strength, and so unremarkably.
2. we hear only the emphasis that aligns with the psychometric profile of our style of church, and so proliferate the skew.
1. 🔲 In flat land, in a closed universe, in a world where it all depends on you, you are responsible for the means of effecting justice and mercy, you are responsible for the supply of resource to pay the ransom, you are responsible for collateral damage. It is all on you.
🐑 Being as-Lamb is risky and often immoral. Encouraging others to be as-Lamb is as unconscionable as leading cult members blindfold across a motorway at night. Equally, being as-Lamb yourself when there is something in peril is cowardice: lazy and escapist Peterpanism, shirking flimsy, irresponsibly privileged, blithely ungritty, shameless.
~ But with the God hypothesis certain, when someone breaks into your house and threatens your family, you can achieve a lionly outcome by being extremely lambly without accusation of cowardice, if and only if you have perfect confidence that the necessary lioning stands behind you to protect and ensure final justice.
🦁 Being as-Lion is risky and often immoral. The passion to structure reality and blaze brightly, to stand-firm, to contend-for is risky. To presume to use power to exercise dominion in a world of competing agendas while you are yet imperfect-to-judge, this is everywhere contentious, callous, cruel and risks exponential escalation.
~ But with the God hypothesis certain, when you are tasked to form the world, to call sinful systems to correction, to press bravely into the unknown, and to establish a structured rule of law, to speak hard words - you can pursue a lambly outcome of compassionate care by being extremely lionly, without accusation of vindictive, patriarchal will-to-power, if and only if you have perfect confidence that the necessary lambing sits within you, to purify your conscience and pervades beyond you to translate apparently hard-words into the transformation of soft people.
2. 👺🗯💪 CCL's sermon set itself against Mark Driscoll, who, for his many flaws, (flaws which give me to hope that God could also use one so flawed as I) - was, I think, not wrong to compare Jesus to a cage fighter. Truly, we do not worship a saviour we can just beat up. The cosmic Christ is not a tame lion, the God of angel armies was beaten up only because he planned at great length an exquisite choreography in which he would conspicuously let us believe we had beaten him up - lion-and-lambing is not incidental hybridising, it is not Venn-diagram intersecting, it an infinitely massive lion's mind-bending and very calculated choice to be meek, the extremely powerful's very intentional electing to forego the use of otherwise unlimited innate power.
⛪ CCL appears in the familiar St Mary's category of shiny metropolitan charismatic evangelicalism, erring towards a noodly definition of love which many people (as I) do need to hear, but many more (as I) will absorb only as sentimental license to remain comfortably entrenched in our silo of saccahrine privilege and British middleclass inoffense. Problematising lion allegories betrays the bent of CCL, just as Driscolls caricaturisation of hippie decaf sipping lambs betrays his. I speculate that those preaching at CCL are of an age and a gender, as I am, to have been personally hurt by Driscoll, and so is susceptible to developing his ministry, as I mine, in knee-jerk reaction to Driscoll's. Brothers, let's not. There is such a greater freedom.
☢ Last night A raised the issue of denuclearisation which a friend of hers will be presenting at General Synod this Sunday This is where the rubber hits the road, where the metaphorical Christian soldier must, at a personal, local and national scale practice the metaphors he/she preaches, and demonstrate to risk that being lambly properly as a nation state is not only possible, but effects a greater justice, strikes a greater fear, instills more shock-and-awe.
🌎 How should the Lion Lamb paradox be applied on the stage of international relations? I believe that unless we pursue the searing risk of being-as-Lamb and create locally and personally the Kingdom we would like the UK to be by a ferocious force of kindness rendered in untold sacrifice, then we will get the government we deserve, who can only express executively, what we ultimately given them license to offer, which is a nuclear nation state.
👥👥 The rest of today's verses conjure something of the *multi-personal dimension of this conflict*. And they illustrate a different nuance to the tower-building metaphor of the previous verse. The spiritual realm is a contested territory.
☮ "deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace" Negotiating from a position of weakness with the world that comes against you. The terms will not be favourable. This is not peace making, but terms of surrender and assimilation. This is not a decision to put off regarding the building a tower which you can't afford, this urgent action required to avoid submission to enemy rule, the dissolution of your identity, the end of the road.
There is a we-experience to choosing for or against participation in the Kingdom of God.
There is a clash of opposing sides, we must go into the world, and it is a world in which there is no neutral territory.
~ without God, we go into that world on the basis of scarcity, and must negotiate terms on that basis.
~ with God, we come to the denuclearisation/PCC/maritaldispute table on the basis of abundance, and we-as-we can thusly be extremely Lamb and extremely Lion.
🦁🐑💪 Come on!
Lk14v33-34 Can salt lose its saltiness? According to my (not very extensive research) salt can endure forever, it forms and sits on the seabed for millennia, after all: https://realsalt.com/can-salt-go-bad/ Jesus then selects a substance that, in its fundamental ontology, is eternal. Salt goes bad only when it is mixed with water or other additives. This makes a sense of v33's exhortation to 'give up everything'. We are wary of (unmixed) metaphors, decrying the Christian life conceived as vacuum-packed. And yes, salt is no good if it doesn't salt food. But in order to salt food forever it must be unalloyed, priestly, submitted in total not in part. We know this, and there is a danger in rehearsing the call to total submission as a cliché, a going through the motions. Practically speaking, I have been stirred to think about what it looks like to walk in purity in being at the Heythrop farewell conference this week, packed with reflections on the Ignatian traditional central to the Jesuits'. The commitment to pray the _Examen_ daily, or several times a day, in truth, to take time to daily discern the additives and the water spoliage, to discern one's own spirit before God, including a discernment of the spirits of the age and their influence - this is a commitment to high saltiness that I want to cultivate better with such rhythms. See: ignatianspirituality and manresa-canada.ca
Lk14v35 ⚪ What exactly is the _-iness_ which Jesus is talking about? We know what salt is. Salt is salt is salt. No fifty shades of sea spray, salt is salt singularly. No? Perhaps http://www.losalt.com/ is in view here? Perhaps salt refers to simultaneously the active added agent and the total package - like alcohol-free booze? So the salt-based fertiliser which degrades, loses its vital ingredient - salt without salt.
☣ What exactly is the _-iness_ which Jesus is talking about? Do you consider your Christianity to be degradable? Dilutable? And when that happens, is it an unfortunate mishap to be mourned? Or repulsive offense to be spat out Rv3v16? Or hazardous waste to be cordoned off?
🚫 What exactly is the _-iness_ which Jesus is talking about? Desalted Christianity is not fit for food or soil, it is to be actively avoided, even kept from the compost heap. Even rotted down to a mere mulching ground for future seeds it is less than unsuitable.
👩🔬 What exactly is the _-iness_ which Jesus is talking about? This well-worn allegory, chivving good Christian Union members to condiment their worlds to flavour and preserve the meat market of uni, to bee a saline solution to the world's problems.. These encouragements move the metaphors sideways only, into the realm of equivalent honorifics without narrowing the interpretation into application. Tricky, as salt is fairly irreducible and unabstractable. There are no spiritual saltmines from which to extract this mineral. There is not a spiritual sodium and spiritual chloride, which, when combined, form spiritual flourishing. It is its own thing. Salt is salt. How do you muster it? Whence and whither?
💸 What exactly is the _-iness_ which Jesus is talking about? Faithiness? Riskiness? Costlyness? Spirit-fillediness? Mysteriousness? Happiness? Truthiness? In this context, costlyness would seem the primary allusion. Having laid out conditions for discipleship, illustrating it's cost: v26 hate your family; v27 bear your cross; v28 consider the cost of construction vs failure; v31 consider the cost of battle vs defeat; v33 renounce all. The implication by juxtaposition is, paying this cost is what salty looks like.
🤮 Saltiness is costlyness. The world knows this. Your kids see this. Your colleagues can smell this. Faith that costs nothing is a flaccid faith, a fair-weather hobby, limp chips slopped soggy into newspaper grimly starch sodden, abandoned on a bandstand bench, several generations ago.
🍺🍊⛵ We've brewed a Gose at 41, it's just coming ripe, it's a grapefruit zest slap in the face, a lungful of citrus steeped sour brine bubbled hissing across the prow of a catamaran cutting like a knife through all former flavours. It is fizz tang and kapow.
👂 Jesus adds the "let him hear" for emphasis. Take heed.