Monday, 19 December 2011

texting psalms 42-72

Poetry pslamming and that. Come seek a God who is there, withwards with words. Happily of a morning. 07729056452

Ps42 Pants. There are those who see breathless and knackered Christians staggering through a fruitless damaging Christian life. With one who sees such, last night was a long v3 'Where is your God?' conversation and a remembrance of throngs past. A Lk24v21 'We had hoped..' (Resurrection comes in tomorrow's chapter) Be lead, beloved and believe. We are the belead, lead by a Jn1v9 light full of grace and Jn1v14 truth. Hopesing all things for today, for us, for our households, for sober conversations with tipsy colleagues.

Ps43-44 43v3 'Send your light and your truth; may they lead me, and bring me back to Zion' – puts me in mind of what we wait for this advent. Waiting for Jesus, the explosively scandalously incarnate God. I feel like I only touch the hem of Jesus' cloak but I want to look him in the face, for I believe that Jesus is v4 the source of my happiness. Bring us back, God, bring us back to Zion, bring us back to the nativity scene. 44v1 The nativity scene is like this, as all the gospels, as every individual testimony – we've heard stories, but Jesus we desire that you walk off the pages of the text. you are v21 the God who knows our secret thoughts, you know who we love, how we hurt, how we bear false witness. you come to us, light and truth, among the mixed motives and schizophrenic emotions of the psalms, among questions, frustrations & sufferings let those we love see the incarnate God meeting us in these, especially those in church pain.

Ps45-46 Stirred and skillful, learnt and scriptural // here is a worshipping word: marital // In singing harmonic lyrics of love // Together Up In and Out we are of // a God we are known by // Oh God would we show thy // Wedding day allegories from above .. Form over function frequently in my poetic excursies. There are affirmations offered here to the He and the She which need not be exclusive or sufficient or definitive. But they are a necessary starting point, to speak these over the He's who would seek God in their gender, and the She's who would seek God in theirs. Prayers for He, v2 for grace graced lips, for a joy annointment, imparted gladness, v2/4 for humble handsomeness (vs vanity, vs contempt for his body) v4 for the leaving of travelling away from home in the defence of justice, v6 for the royal confidence and its respective submission to a duty to serve the gift of inheritance, v5 for the excellent targeted use of technology to achieve God's commission. And She, that she would know that she enthralls, you enthrall the King, you are a desired delight, embellish celebrate frame and declare, unambiguously, this is a body and person that God made v13 glorious, wonderful in its form, and for She, for companions, praying and wishing the excellence of this for you, against mere association of all the poisonous ways of gathering and cruel lonely unknownness, oh for sagacious discipling companionship, for wise women and their apprenticing an excellence in the tacit ways of womanning. 46 Very present help. Image this God. May we be present and very present to those who need help. Oh He is with us, He is God.

Ps47-48 Adoration first. God I do, I will, I will choose to worship you even if all else falls apart. You are God. 48 I read this Psalm on my birthday this year, in a time of desperate prayer. Cement these words in us God. This is a psalm for the desperate. Knowing our v3 v8 safety in God is sufficient for our being able to risk all things, you know? Hear this again. We are safe in God, we can risk all whilst smiling. Taking v6-7 out of context, thinking about maritime analogies vs birthing analogies (falling slowly playing in this afternoon's coffeeshop. God?) Let us embrace the hope and the fear of the birth metaphor for this time, teach us the risk, the adventure, of new things, of unknowns, of responsibilities. Speak into us what this metaphor means concretely in the present, in real life. Come Lord Jesus, thank you that you teach us patiently, thank you for being my fortress.

Ps49-50 Issuing a call for more riddling v4 hymns in our hymnal. The plated cake and Christianity's excellent answer to the question of suffering. We are not only free to choose to calibrate our suffering (as Buddhists) on an eternal scale, but we can flip the scale which measures suffering upside-down. Indulge me a little confectionery exploration. There is a relationship between cake on the plate and pie in the sky. Can we say that if we deny pie we will know not how to bake cake? Could we even say that the very ingredients of our cake are but pie crusts and crumbs that fall from heaven's table, that all culture is only a doggy-bag take-away trickle-down from the communion table? Outside of this metaphor, the 'understanding' that distinguishes v20 from v12, is a resurrection reality, and in that is a death-subverting, suffering-redeeming joy that surpasses all cake: our suffering redeemer who redeems suffering: the baked goods (Jn4v34) on his plate were shame, pain and death. Food and aforethought: let us plan for suffering, even let us plan to suffer. Ps50, briefly. As we do bread and eat suffering, let us never presume it is a duty paid to a God who needs performance. v12 He is the cake-baking, pie-making, all-sufficient One. Every other purveyor of cake and circuses is a fake, oh 49v14 sheep, beware the lights of London, beware the yeast of the Pharisees. Come Jesus to a ravenous London. Come Jesus, v12 unhungry one, give us today, make us today, be for us today our daily bread.

Ps51-52 Psalm 51 Oh everything I love about this God, truth in the inmost parts, truth deep in my bones, deep deep truth, deep mercy, deep love, unspeakable mysterious life. Oh joy and gladness, the old has gone the new has come. Keep us away from boring objectifying and that, keep us in your temple, keep our hearts broken and contrite and wondering at this beauty truth. So 51v10-12 repeated today, a sinner's prayer, again and again. 'Renew' has been the word of the day. New-ness, surprising and unexpected, like being in a foreign country, alive to the sights and sounds... & 'steadfast' – feels like the anti-thesis of (re)newness, if newness is a child-like unexpected pleasure, the steadfastness is a bit grown-up, it plans ahead and puts down deep roots. but oh, both of these. How these come together is a mystery to me, but they do, this is the life possible. God we need you more than breathing, this is why you cannot leave us, oh Holy Spirit, come close, to restore the joy of your salvation, remembering the freedom of this God. Sustain us, gifting us with willingness, a plea to remake us, reconfigure the architecture of our minds so our wills align with yours. Being here (52v8-9 be as a tree)

Ps53-54 54v4 Behold, God is my helper. When we are beheld, is God, conspicuously, our helper? Let us make public our predicaments, publish our problems, and live a life examined that 53v6 when, not if, God saves, God would get the praise. We live as demonstrations of our convictions, as demonstrations of the possible, before a watching, waiting, doubting, hurting world; a v3 fallen away world, an v4 ignorant world. We live in a God-made God-saved world. This needs to be said, this needs to be sung, this needs to be leant upon as flying buttresses in our plausibility cathedral, with a passion for its beauty and an urgency to its structure.

Ps55-56 The fear of intimacy is the fear of this, of abandonment, of love unreturned. There are wounded people all around us, betrayed by those they love, and wounded people wounding other people, and begeting wounded children. v22 God is the defender lover healer of this pain, and I feel in this our call to image God in being safe places for people, for being trustworthy, as God is v23 trustworthy. God let us be unforsaken unforsakers, the hands that hold the hands of those in relational pain. It is such a fearful thing, that which people can do to other people, both these psalms are full of warring. I am more exposed to BBC News 24 in this house than normal: our world is full of warring. Persecution, abuse and unkindness, and I am overwhelmed and afraid as 55v4-5 I want to hide from this volume of war: on why we wish for wings v6 like Conor's eagle in FishTank, escapism not real freedom. Jesus teach me neither flinching nor numbness to war, teach me to pray for a world at war, I don't know how to. v9-10 There are riots in this city, there is destruction inthis world. Let me not read these lamenting Psalms as a bourgeois individual existential angst, but a plead for deep mercy justice peace restoration for a world at war. There is no hope without God. But. There. Is. A. God. Christ the suffering servant, the prince of peace, Christmas miracle, we believe in you to make beauty from ashes. We plead that 56v13 the world would walk in the light of your presence.

Ps57-58 Till the storms. There is a memory of ones I have known who have been weathered by hurricanes, and they are marked by a right sense of awe. v8 Awake my glory. My glory, interchangeable with 'my soul', (with perhaps an emphasis more on the centre and pinnacle of your being, where 'soul', to my mind, connotes a certain sum of your invisible/visible parts?) People disbelieve in the soul, or at least problematise it, or at least neglect it. Let us speak with them of their glory, that which is noble in reason, infinite in faculty, admirable and angelic. That which, beneath woozy eyes and fickle heart, is there is them, albeit disfigured. So my glory is disbelieved, it can also be asleep. The process of waking profits some meditation. I, and neither my soul, am not a machine to be simply switched on. A spiritual rousing, a caffienating cold shower collecting of ones thoughts and arranging of the imagination's furniture, a flinging open of the eye's curtains, a muscle-stretching of the heart strings, a sun-warming on the skin. Awake my soul, in all of my sense and sense of the possible in God's world. 58 Refearing God, lest we forget. This passage is directed at the powerful v1 you gods, you mighty lords. This is not them, this is us. We, western white young professionals, are tyrants by default, unless-otherwise-stated, from the womb, v3, and we stop out ears v4, that by willed ignorance we might go on in comfort while the world that serves us goes to hell. Our privilege is not unrelated to the underprivileged. FishTank is real, is near, is within my power to alleviate, albeit in small ways. Boring Christianity internalises faith, domesticates God and trivialises injustice: By. Doing. Nothing. Oh God, awake my soul and put me to work among the nations. For joy.

Ps59-60 God, we give you thanks & praise, that when we were still far off, you met us in your Son & brought us home. We are far from you in our 59v2 evil, v3 cruelty, v4 hurriedness, v12 pride, false witness. We are like snarling dogs. And Jesus, you have come to transform this. You have heard the Psalmist's cry to 60v2 heal the wounds of the Earth, this is your project and purpose in Jesus (thank you), but you have not done so by the kind of destructive might envisaged by the Old Testament worldview 59v11 60v5. No, you saved, save, will save the world with the kind of vulnerability that makes possible a love that is stronger than death. Impossible extravagant God, we wonder worship marvel around the manger this morning, believing in our bones that everything is different because Christ was born, the universe has imploded and been made new again. From yesterday: Christ, who by his incarnation gathered into one things earthly and heavenly, fill you with peace and make you partakers of the divine nature; & the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son & the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. // So I am spoken to about the way that Bethlehem's birth is that through which the new earth and heaven come to be, through Jesus God makes our home and his the same, through Jesus we can imagine a starry London.

Ps61-62 Awake my soul 62v1/5 O wait my soul. Patience. Waiting when it is hard, waiting when it hurts, waiting when it is called foolish, we wait to listen, we wait to be stretched in faith, stretched out like pre-stressed concrete, we wait because true love waits, we wait because those who do renew their strength, we wait because waiting qua waiting anticipates and conspicuously speaks, to everyone who sees you on the platform, that you believe God's train will come. .. We are transitive verbs in transition. Playing with words perhaps muddies the truth I want to express. We are not faithing into the void, God is there, a rock. When I express, 'I trust God' (transitive) the God there is less than fully rockish in my sense of his substance. Would that I might become (transition) one who knows God as I know rocks, bricks and solid ground. .. God save the Queen 61v6 and prayers for our country. My neither/nor position of detached critique defined sceptically against the excesses of our state and the failures of capitalism take for granted that which is God-given in the peace of the governance of England, and hold in contempt the police and everything that works well. Pray with me against my tendency to unteachable scorn, aloof idealism and ingratitude in the face of social v10 riches. .. v8 Ever sing and daily vow. So this is public and worship, but what is a vow? How do we vow? What, actively, is our part in the covenant, daily? .. 62v2 He alone. There is a false refuge at play in the regressive immaturities that surface in me at home, and it is a running from (refugee) the battle of serving the parents well by speaking and strengthing such as to differentiate this season as their loving loved but undependent offspring. This is a desperate prayer, for growing up. My emotional sufficiency and grounds for bold adventuring must come from God first and should be sufficient from him if they were to come from him alone, because the gospel we preach with our lives must be good news to orphans. Have a phrased that without dichotomising? It is to fight escapsim in my life, that holds me back and indulges the fantasies of both me and the parents. Happy homes yes. But we are a mission home. We rest in God's refuge and eat from God's supply and it is urgent to do this conspicuously. Oh God, grow me up. Our refuge, rescue us.

Ps63 v1 God you are my God and I long for you, my whole being desires you like a dry and worn-out land, like the desert in need of water, like the Arctic tundra in need of sun. Longing, aching, hungry, thirsty, desperate. God we are desperate. I cannot pretend I don't long for you, need you. I do desperately do, it's the reason I cannot leave. v2 let me see you, please let me see you, let me glimpse your face to look you in the face, please be near, be close, do not be far off, please do not hide from us. Please let me touch you, brush my fingers up against you, v8 I cling to you, I need you, I need your assurance God, you are my safety. Nothing and no-one else will do. I cry out to you. My body knows it was made to worship a God who is real, my voice made to worship, we need you. My mind is small and cluttered and confused without you God, my heart heavy and oppressed without you, and v5 my soul starved without you. But v7 in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy. Oh I love to be here, shadow of God's wings.

Ps 65-66 There is a spiritistic worldview that considers all of nature to be animated by a host of spirits. The hills are alive here, and all of creation's tree's Is55v12 hands clapping and rocks Lk19v40 crying out are but a poet's inflection away from an Avatarian delight in a thoroughly personal universe. Avatar goes awry in divinising a closed system, but the personal universe, we live on the cusp of that allegory, the fulcrum of that head of a pin, the wire walked between heresy and vacuity, but there dance we. .. v4 Dwelling in your courts.. the goodness of your house. Nearness. Who has courts today? Is this language of proximity still current? God, we dwell in your zone 1? Perhaps/ We work for an alternative, redistributed nodality, but there is a centredness to our being-with God gatherings. Ours is a festival clustering, contrasted with the financial fortress clusterings of the City. 66V11,12 We and us. Let's sing about us, a Londonist hymnal. Let's tell a story that's not in an international style, not in a lowest common denominator language, let's write lyrics only we can sing, about somewheres only we know, irreducible Places. For everything that is bizarre and wrong with the Jerusalem hymn at least it frames the picture and asks the question: Did those feet? Did they build? Could we? Here?

Ps67 Still Jesus. Still Jesus, born to transform mercy justice. Still Jesus who tells us of the kindness of God. Still Jesus who sets about transforming us to that others take notice. Still Jesus who restores relationships, who is salvation itself, the hope of nations. This sixty=seventh for Jesus-centred missional dwelling.

Ps68 Evil melts like wax in the prescence of God. This is why I melt in the presence of God. (Even now, God, would you allow me close, confessing, to be me melted down again). This is why we cannot really come before God and stay the same, the heat of His holiness will destroy what we are, He can't but not, as in Ps22v14, my heart of stone melted down to be transformed into a heart of flesh Ez36v26, even now. This is a song of triumph, but one has to play, participate and perservere in order to taste this. The GNB translation of v13: “why did some of you stay among the sheep pens on the day of battle?” - Why did you do what was convenient but better good? Let's not be in the wrong place, let's be in the thick of it.

Ps69-70 Visiting Shame throughout, because persecution, fellowship and worship are all intersubjective. .. I find here: Zeal. Humility. Seeking. Thanksgiving. ~ which I have resisted manhandling into an ACTS correspondence, but it almost could... Zeal. Zeal v9 entails a profound shamelessness Rm1v16. Zeal's zealousness is somewhat like Marmite by analogy of distinctiveness. Love it, Hate it v4. Without [moral] cause. Perhaps our psalmist is not bated from a cause, but for a cause. Rebels without a cause delight to hate, and the zealous, by their marmite aroma, 2Cor2v16, present themselves for reproach v9 on God's behalf. Humility. The repentance of v6 recognises our unity as a church. As with church pain, there is also church shame, we are one body because we are all tarred with the one brush. So, repent, when you bring reproach, and remember, when you bear reproach, that we are not better than them. Seeking. 70v4 69v5. Let us be and be known as those who seek, who love, who hope, who seek: we are seekers Mt6v33, sought Lk9v10. .. Thanksgiving. V30 Magnifying glasses and the optics of making God visible. Sensitive seekers, with your senses seek him, pore (and pour) over his world, with wide eyes, that by the light in your eyes, he would be known.

Ps71 A Psalm for New Year's Eve, a prayer for the steady rush of days ahead, thankfulness for what has been, hope for the future, and desperate dependence in the present moment. God, thank you for all that is swept up in you, the womb's nurturing and the faithful grey-haired. Our necessarily intersubjective existence includes our being necessarily intergenerational, try as we might to escape it..prayers for our grandparents, parents, siblings, children. For those unborn for whom we will be especially responsible, for those so old we are especially responsible. v17-18 Thank you for what has been, please keep us faithful.

Ps72 When Jesus reigns in fullness, people will v16 blossom in the cities, ah. There is so much we cannot say about this fullness, about how (v7) the sun and the moon may be transformed, the fabric of existence so other than at present, but we can taste, embody, pursue taste something of the heavenly city: it's v12 deliverance, v13 salvation, v14 liberation, peace, recognition of the value of each life, v15 continual prayer, abundance and flourishing for all. Come, Lord Jesus.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

200words: mcelheny at whitechapel

“For now we see through a glass, darkly...” 1Corinthians 13:12a
McElheny gifts us with a kaleidoscopic remix of the end of history, a disbelieving backward glance through a shattered rear-view mirror. We, twenty-first century gallery goers, delight to piece together the glittery pluperfect remains of an abstracted past we don't even believe in?
“So either you can believe there is this thing called history, which is [...] a linear narrative with a definable thrust to it, or you could say that there's just a lot of different stories” Josiah McElheny, 2010
There is a lot of different stories. The safest story is the story of me, myself and my subjectivity: that on peering down the well of so-called history, we see only our reflected, storied selves staring back at us. The mirrors, which abound in this piece, reflect this notion of history while also conspiring to manifest a narcissist's rogues gallery?
“The more fearful this world becomes, the more art becomes abstract.” Paul Klee, 1915
So, in a difficult world, as moths to a proverbial lamp, we cluster in galleries for the comfort of flickering globes and ambient sound, the therapy of an abstracted reality, for self-medicated hypnosis under the legitimating guise of high culture?
“..seeing one of these moths that have met their end in my house, I wonder what kind of fear and pain they feel while they are lost.” WG Sebald, Austerlitz p133
What images we do make out through the haze and fractures: the lightening strikes, lolloping storks, and corridors, are intriguing and beautiful, as glimpses into a hope deferred, a modernist's heartsickness, signs of a definable thrust? Dear ones, it's not too late to know, be known, and to be reconciled to our past.
“...but then shall I know even as also I am known.” 1Corinthians 13:12b

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

texting psalms 1-41

Text and texts will be given unto you. Come ascend the psalms of a morning with we. 07729056452.

Psalt for preppers: be ready: bring a new new song for a new new wine. We come to the Psalms right on time, a prayerbook for a prayerful season. What are the chances? .. 1v1 Let us be the blessed nonscoffers if we possibly can. Oh God give us grace for that. Note the progression: whose counsel have I let in? What cause did I pause for? And where have I ended up sitting? Reverse engineer your seating plan. 1v2 The law must be read kept understood through the frame of delight. Delight and not duress. My meditation is this: Pharisees pacing about a dry empty swimming pool, muttering devising even celebrating that the water-tightness of the structure keeps out the elements.. Only we know, the water-tightness is to keep water in, so that we can play, swim and be delightedly buoyant. Delight that we have a reciprocal covenant of exclusive love with the God of everything, ridiculous aye. 1v3 Be as a tree in you metaphor and simile: an oak of righteousness, be green and full of sap in your old age, be a mustard 'tree' to nest in, be shelter and be shade. 2v1 Our intercontinental ballistic rattles thrown from the pram in a storm on teacup earth. It is laughable, in retrospect (a perspective God is able to take of past and future) how much energy we waste raging and plotting. 2v4 What sort of laughter? Surely a laughter of love. Would that I laughed at least as much as Tony. Laughing like kids in the playpool, entirely safe, haptically delighted, holy mischief makers. Oh to laugh at myself much today, for God's grace is more than a little ridiculous.

Ps3-4 4v4 I have been thinking about how my prayerfulness is helped and hindered by risings early or layings in bed, openness to learning to pray better asks for a re-examination of these. Let me ask 3v5 4v8 God be in our bedtimes, in our lyings awake, in our sleep, in our dreams, and our wakings to new days. In you, God to live and move and have our being, so be welcomed into our sleep lives. God our shield, safety and salvation, our glory and joy, be welcomed into this new day, I want to meet with you.

Ps5-6 Words: boasts v5, lies v6, flattery v9: sins of propagating unreality. Sins of thought and words indeed: failing the onefold by dualising? failing to have our yes be yes? failing to keep it real? failing to be steadfast as God is steadfast. God's steadfast love is our means 5v7 and our end 6v4, he is our beginning and our end. .. Beginning with morning sacrifice 5v3, before the day has happened, we expectant anticipate, pay-it-forwarding, confident to spend our first fruits first on him. .. Singing 5v11: Reverse engineer your singing plan, where singing is a fruit of confidence is a fruit of knowing you are loved is a fruit of pausing to sing. This is the virtuous cycle of tacit knowledge, of knowing through doing, of integrating faith and works. Sing to love to sing. .. 6v3 How long? How long will we not have for not having asked Jm4v2?

Ps7-8 Small meditations to bring forth trees of life.. God the judge, who searches hearts and minds, make me transparent.. Thank you for your glorification on the lips of children, let us learn.. What are human beings that you are mindful of us? Who am I that you care for me, know my name? Human beings, human beings, all around us today, these image bearers crowned a little lower than the angels, in the library, across the table, buying tube tickets. Let us glory to God by loving human beings, and being very fully human.. Dominion and dominioning and the urban landscaping, God? Glory to God, let us glory to God, glory glory glory to God.

Ps9-10 9v1-2 I will give thanks, I will recount, I will be glad, I will sing. Will I, will you, will we? Will I stand? Arms high? Heart abandoned? God willing, I will: future tenses risk a presumption of grace. God let me be faithful one more day, as in 13-14 the if-then and because for our worship is God's graciousness, his sustaining, his permission. .. 10 The silence v13 of a forgetful v11, hidden v1, distant v1, blind v11 God, who is not there v4, and does not care v5. Should we speak so when it feels such? {LACTS?] Our lamentable laments are shallow because we cushion ourselves with cheap grace and simulated salvation. The 'blacks' I mangled in last night's exposition might be these, the dark dark places on various spectrums, the extremities of God's apparent absence. Pray that I would cry better and more often, in better accord with the emotional range demanded by the scale of grace I have received.

Ps11-12 Topping and tailing with God's trustworthiness and our corresponding safety 11v1 12v6 v8 for 11v3 there is something for good people do when everything falls apart., and this is a trusting God. Reading Psalms after reading Job, the Psalmic and Jobic worldviews correspond here: God is so good. God we can trust and keep trusting.

Ps13-14 v3 Light up my eyes, light up my eyes, light up my eyes. To theologise sleep and so to both allegorise and practicalise. What is sleep? What is waking? How, practically can we rise like children, Tiggers for Jesus, on Christmas day every day.. Awakeness contrasted with a deathly sort of sleep, depressive day-sleeping, a curtain-closed numbness, the escapist dulling of the senses in an overindulged haze. My indulgences in bought and word and feed: in retail, in irony, in the gap filling saviour of comfort foods. Help me beyond help, save me. Oh God, rest us well, rise us well, rouse a fearlessness. Wake a waker within us, among us, for this winter time, as the darkness closes in. God we wait eagerly for your breaking dawn, we are now with Mary in her advent pregnancy. Come Lord Jesus Come. I need you. v7 Let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad. Let us? He has let us. So, let's. Let us. Lit eyes.

Ps15-16 Regarding security, both of these. v15 words and money, recurring themes, how they are patterned in our lives depends on our knowing (or lack of knowing) security in God. We should talk about this less abstractly soon. v16 secure in God's goodness we can bear the knowledge of our conscience. So I come to Psalm late at night, v7 in the night my conscience warns me. Not the angst of laying awake at night indulgently tortured or regretful, but conscientiously conscious of who we are to be made better. In favour of one's nighttime conscience, as with mirrors: because not all self-knowledge is self-indulgent... So lay us down to sleep, God, in holy knowledge. Thank you for v3 our community, v8 your presence, v9 our security in you, v11 you our joy.

Ps17-18 God our knight and day. v3 God our nocturnal mystery shopper: surely God was in this place. 18 v19 Have we our hands tied? So long we for release from the claustrophobia of our sin. v29 The Lord is my Matrix, my blue pill, my rabbit hole. By him we can take time to make time to bend time and walk on water. v35 By gentleness we are overcome to overcome. .. God's way v30 becomes our way v32 when we follow him down it. Blamelessness is in the following: we are that following following. Singing as we go.

Ps19-20 Sky yes. Today's confident cool blue. A sky with a purpose, not ad hoc and not unconstant. The sun with a happy purpose and a linear narrative, from one end of the sky to the other. God what a mystery. v12 No-one can see her own errors, deliver me from wilful sins, don't let them rule me, as they do. You can rule me, God, really. God in these thoughts, from the centre to the edge, reconfigure my thoughts and my imagination. I need a way of imagining Jesus so that he can rule me. 20 So trust. And trust, it begets hope.

Ps21-22 This the show-and-tell of Jesus' body broken: I'll tell my brother v22, our congregation v22, the world's end v27, unto a generation yet unborn v31. What are we telling? What have we been shown? Treasuring Christ and the call to suffer. I am called to suffer. That is my calling. To do hard things, bear heavy weights and stand in the way of bullets. Ps22 tells how and tells why. The how requires calibration and perspective. Calibrating our suffering against the innocent-sufferer-par-excellence here prophesied. And history's perspective's assurance v5 v9 v10 v21 v24 on which basis we have faith in future grace, and a vision for what will be achieved by suffering by Christ via ou bearing our cross in/of/as witness. Why am I so troubled this morning by the shortcomings in my theology of suffering? Fruitlessness and the fear of pruning perhaps? Yesterday's challenge's to risk: by Y regarding communication, by Driscoll regarding marriage and hospitality and by the Navs regarding Sabbath. Suffering is key. Indulge me in a little wander longer than a text is a sensible medium for. The cake-on-the-plate-while-you-wait corrective to an underrealised eschatology would be helpful if we lived in a Danish Lutheran fishing village before Babette. But we don't. Our generation knows no not-yet. And the why of our suffering and the pie in our sky is this: that Christianity would endure to our grandchildren's England. There is no cake in that, we will be dead. Part of me is convicted to take every comfort, luxury and advert-elevated-'need', and not to throw it away, and so become a Danish fishing village, but to throw them in to the Sabbath, The whole lot, meat cake espresso hot-showers lie-ins.. So by suffering their absence 6 days a week, we might image a heaven worth waiting for and create Sunday worth resting on. And this is not legalism, to delay gratification to heighten pleasure is hedonism. Enough. And I am being flippant in the light of Jesus body broken. v17, hear the sound of bones cracking today. The life we live is amazing. Bought at a cost. Grateful also, God, for my parents v4 who trusted.

Ps23-24 So the Lord is my shepherd. THE: the definite article, there is only one God. The LORD: and none else, no other idol, not myself, not these other gods, may it be. IS: not a might be or a was or a will be, but present, definite, matter of fact. MY: even mine, even me, for I am know, not as impersonal data, but as a lover, mother, brother. And also in this the call to our always choosing – something of the truth of existentialism's dread, our kirkegaardian on this God I stake my life. SHEPHERD: Jeus the good shepdherd who lays down his life for the sheep, I want to imagine you thus, the sheep know hiw voice, because he gathers us, cares, keps, intends good for us, sacrifices, risks for us. I know Jesus loves me, because he risked himself for me. Thinking about Otford's sheep, there is something honest and uncomplicated about the shepherd-sheep relationship, though it may be hard. Hard but not complicated. So I shall not be in want, because the Lord is my shepherd and he alone is sufficient. And surely goodness and mercy will follow me. They are not hidden in boxes under the sand, they follow me where I go astray. God pursues the grumpy with goodness and mercy, one over one shoulder, one over the other. Remember as you walk today, this is the grace-full universe we live in. So God's house will be my home all my life, 23 to 24 and God's house is the earth, cake on the plate. But this poem full of the not-yet also, God is still coming, we are not complete, so prepare, prepare, for your unrealised pie, fling wide the gates, prepare a way in the desert, for all of life in an advent.

Ps25-6 v2 Trust vs Shame, v3 Waiting vs Shame, v20 Refuge vs Shame. Not sure that I am being terribly profound, simply to say we are safe inside a steadfast beloved unashamed shamelessness.. v7 Remember God's great forgettery. Tattoo it on a friend. .. v14 Friendship. We should image this mode of our relationship with God, against facebook's damage done, oh to be a friend, substantially, unambiguously. .. In that vein. v15 Pluck us from the net. .. 26v12 I'll link you to McCracken on Tebow. Shameless unirony. God, let me be so simply Christian in a single-minded pursuit of excellent witness. Psalms in the evening dredge the day's detritus, it is a different experience. God, forgive forget what I have been and done.

Ps27-28 These Psalms need to be read aloud, read them aloud to remind of our embodied dwelling in the house of God, words from your body to your mouth to spoken declaration. v4 There is one thing I want, to dwell in the house of God. Dwell dwell, with heart body mind soul strength, deeply. Dwell with every footstep and every word. v8 Hear God calling us to worship. Let us, let us settle into worshipful ways, dwelling in God's presence, here now, in all these tasks, transformed by templing. The Psalms connect worshipful delight in God, pleas for salvations and the pursuit of wisdom. From beginning to end 27v1 God my light and salvation, 28v9 the Lord is still my shepherd. We dwell in him.

Ps29-30 the bigger your notions of God, the more offensive Jesus' claim to be him. Our God is a great big God. Jesus was a nobody from a nowhere with nothing. Just like us. We have a great big God within us, among us, for us. This by his voice, which is our voice, if only we would. Let us with creative voices speak urgently his healing, proclaim boldly his kingship, and advocate justice, and imagine the possible, and speak a storm of hope, a flood of love and rebuild a word-damaged world:You are forgiven. It is finished. We are free. This our banner, these our bricks, this our medicine, these our roadmaps. O saints sing! Dear saint, beloved, believe in the blood bought freedom you've been set free for.

Ps31-32 32v2 Blameless, 31v7 Beloved, this is for sharing, let all those we love stand under these banners. 31v12 the fear of being forgotten, as she of the end of Life In A Day, the pain of much church pain, the vulnerability of love. God in gathering today would we demonstrate that you, the God who forgets sins, does not forget anyone. Gather all near in unforgotten knowness, so for knowing, as we are fully known.

Ps33-34 v1 Befitting. It is right to give him thanks and praise. Right for him, right for us. This is our right (and our joy), it is what we deserve (apart from death wages) 34v1 and 1Th5v17 Continually. That irony might not get a word in edgeways. v3 Together. As FirstAidKit, as the Laurels, as those Life In A Day ladies hammering out the grain, let us live with polyphonic glee inviting all to join our chord, the welcome enclosure of notes between, and so expertly executed, and so deliberately together. 34v5 Radiance. Lit eyes. Where I have seen this in others, I have longed to know Christ their way. Turn us out, turn us on, lights to worlds, cities on hills. God, ablaze might we be, eyes affixed on you and hearts affirmed. Alight us, aflame us. Come Jesus, rescuer, rescue me.

Ps35-36 God fights for us. Protect us today, oh Lord, protect us together and apart, protect us from the evil that comes against us, & protect us from ourselves. Confessing that I am wicked, that I am 36v4 one who makes evil plans whilst lying in bed, I am prompted to pray in the morning for the day ahead, and in the evening for the night. Forgive me, & protect me from myself, for I am my own worst enemy. 35v2 God's armour, let us this morning consciously put on our Eph6v10-18 armour, to battle evil, to risk romance adventure journey, fight for all that is holy, & so be all we were made to be, knowing that truth drives our falsehood, righteousness destroys my own wickedness, readiness is quicker that complacency, faith proves itself strong, our salvation is the safety we live from, steep in God's words. That you God for your 36v5-12 constant goodness love righteousness justice care.

Ps37-38 Fret not. Lk2v10etc Fret not. Ph4v6 Fret not. Stealing a host of Piper's pictures of the unfretted Christian life, I would adjure us thus: be coronary Christians, (vs twitchy adrenal), and put ballast in your boat, place your feet on a concrete platform just beneath the waves, be sages, deep rooted oaks. Be chill. And know. .. I have this morning attempted a bridge between this fretting and last night's fleeing discussion. Bear with me. What flees? The healthy flee a plagued town, a dog flees the kicking of a cruel master, the lazy flee hard work, the naked flee sight, the anxious flee fright, escapists flee generally, and, I think, most usefully in this discussion, the hungry flee famine. I should like to establish this as an understanding of the Devil's flight. It is a flight from pain to pleasure along a path of least resistance. This is why we resist. We have something the Devil needs and we can withhold it. The devil, can we construct the devil as incomplete, an unstable isotope, a starving parasite? We have in Ps37 v19 and v25 the image of God's nutritious supply, and within this dynamic of sustenance, I will hop skip and a jump via Mt4v1-4 to our Jm 4v7b. Fretting not is trusting God is feeding on him is resisting the Devil is starving him is putting him to flight. Another way: either we can feed on God Jn6v35/53 and so feed his sheep Jn21v15/17 OR we can feed on our sick 2Pt2v22 and so be devoured by the Devil 1Pt5v8 (and each other Gal5v15). Resist the Devil, feed on God. And what is feeding on God? Doing his work Jn4v31. And what is his work? Mt16v24. Thus Christ's pièce de [peaceful] résistance is the cross. Let us. Fret not. With apologies for mixed metaphors.

Ps39-40 The conflictual emotions expressed throughout the Psalms (39v12 'come near me..leave alone.) Is not be celebrated so much as understood it. We are to know when to be silent, and 39v2 when not to. On the value of questions, complaints and honest expressions of emotion communicated rather than repressed and left to grow at the back of the mind, becoming bigger than they are. Rightly we are to critique an understanding of authenticity that is simply 'doing what I want' but this is not what this is, this is an articulation of feelings explicitly in the presence of God, to make sense of them, to seek God in them, with them, through them, & depsite them, intentionally. Forgive me thoughts repressed, God, teach me helpful communicative articulation of difficult and painful emotions before you. Let us be Jacobs wrestling and let us not romanticise this wrestling. Brought to mind Lauren Winner's description of her conversion as admitting that she'd been fighting with Jesus in the way that one fights with someone you love. Honest wrestling makes a way for 40v1-2 salvation, safety, singing. Yes yes let us sing together, let us sing together. These circling pleas and praises, a spiralling deeper into God. v6 God today, give us ears to hear you, whatever is specific to hearing your speaking spokenness, let us be attuned and attentive. I mean it, here I am, here we are.

Ps41 v1 Faith works and salvation by social action. There is no need to problematise this so. I need to be reminded that it is by positioning myself to serve the poor amongst the poor for the poor, there will I find blessing, and from the open handed, hands-out-of-pockets, heart abandoned position am I to receive blessing, unknown in another place or position. At some level serving is its own rewards, the joy of cooking, at some level serving creates a rewarding return, the investment in community, and at some level there needs to be a reward that comes as you give yourself to death, the reward that God will meet you there and you will never outgive him.v7 Whispering and imagining the worst. Let us rather, speak plainly and imagine the best best.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

200words: 33 bond street

When in Rome, the insecure become Greeks to the Greeks, second-handers, emperors with no clothes but new clothes; as such, the clotheshorses and the celebrity art buyers of Bond Street unveil here a nostalgic tragic Trojan conceit: social injustice has always been a timeless way of building. The haves and the have-nots have nothing in common, except the view over the brinks of the chasm in the recession wrought landscape which now divides them, and on this side, the Mayfairer side, the revivalists are resuscitating old oligarchic structures, while the 99% grin in their vendetta masks and bear market it. In the post-post-modern world we revisit the past without irony.

Too much, too strong? Definitely too oblique.

With regrets I couldn't get inside, I enjoyed this handsome addition to Bond Street, the confidence of its stone composure, the pictures in the picture window, the unstriving sense of proportion, the playfully handmade handcrafted claim that things can yet be done well by humans in a technopolised world. The lighting design is mysterious, showy and counterproductive. Why highlight, with grazing-incidence uplights, the warp and joints in the stone columns and not light the frieze? Many whys. And whos and hows?

Saturday, 5 November 2011

200words: postmodernism at the v&a

“And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich.” Luke 18v23

Postmodernism is at once eminently exhibitable, being image-based and knowingly conceptual, yet at the same time it resists any comfortable boxes necessary for a coherent exhibition. A narrative imposition is needed, and fortunately our subjects, the PoMo set, with their cinematic bent, lend themselves to being fashioned as protagonists within an heroic narrative. So, we journey with these young provocateurs emerging from self-made ruins, through pseudo-ruins, unto the wealth of Disney's megastructures built with a Sebaldian eye to their future existence as ruins, (and finally we visit Ai Wei Wei's ruins rebranded). Sorrowful stuff. We are a curious breed of mischief makers, writing our histories before we have finished, picking over the corpse while it is not even fully dead; the curator's unhappy task of post-justifying the adolescent fumblings of post-modernism poses the complicating difficulty that post-modernism is still current as a philosophy and question. Protection is available by constraining it to an era, consigning it to a style and by ascribing it to periodised social-economic factors. Symptomatic of this, I am now writing about lecturing about exhibiting about drawing about architecture, illustrative perhaps of the over-thought intellectuality of post-modernism.

img: flickr

texting job

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Job, more than the right response to every prosperity theology, but to every way in which we think we can make God's agenda fit our own in virtue of doing it right. Noticing for the first time 1v5 Job the parent, as I think a little on a theology of parenting. We should offer sacrifices for our children we are to play a part in raising, because they are given to us to be responsible for. Parenting together so that no-one parents alone, an unconditional love for children involves a radical Levinisian asymmetry of responsibility, let us learn better the cost of this, the sacrifice to be brought. So anyway, God and Satan and that.. why do we love God? For the sake of fear or pride or intellectual apathy? For the sake of an easy label? For a superstitious reward? If community & marriage & children & friendships were taken from you. If your happy home & your good health fell apart. If all hope of good work were denied you. If your mission proved to be a dead end, if all your gifts went to waste. Would we still love God? Would we? Let us try to glimpse out of the corner of one eye what it means to say that we have no rights and that grace is sufficient. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord.

Jb3-4 ESVSB: Job is not suicidal. And neither am I, only let all of reality be different.. We do laments an injustice if we psychologise them, or as The Matrix's Cypher program an ignorance for them. The case Melancholia makes for the sanity of those who recognise the futility of things almost has mileage, and yet, and yet.. The image of being hedged in here 3v23 should be recognised as God's good greenery 1v10, and as we walk this path it is less The Shining's maze as it is a labyrinth prayerfully walked towards God and step by step scripturally illuminated by God. .. As a correction to our use of irony, which we employ to talk around hard and painful things, let us learn to lament, and so let our oh no be oh no. First rue what might have been in order to hope that it might yet be. Let us be lament-able, so to heal, so then to weep well with those who weep.

Jb5-6 Distilling a three point sermon from an anguished stream of consciousness is possible only up to a point, much of this text is to be entered as a poem, I think, let us dance a little. There is a conversation here, a dialogue, an exchange of worldviews: unabstracted because it is Job's own reality in question, his frame of reference, the meaning of his meaning. Are all dialogues about what God is like, really? This is a conversation about justice, about salvation, about whether God is a God who answers. When circumstances challenge our world view, which they will, what gets transformed and what remains? This is the way of a difficult I-Thou wisdom. Some conversations will not be life-giving, let us not believe we've found streams of living water where we haven't. But let us continue to ask, examine, speak, listen, in the hope of seeing God's face. What did we learn?

Jb7-8 Is it problematic that Job is 'blameless' 1v1? So for us who sinfully sin, where all sin is infinitely deserving of judgement separating us from an infinitely pure God, then no suffering is undeserved. In which case, the rebuke of these so cold so-called-comforters is right, we are in the v4 'hands of our transgressions'. But. But what if we are blameless? Eph1v4, Rm8v1.. Then Job's words can be ours? On this basis we can confidently go forward against systems of suffering which stake a claim to our lives (or claim a stake in our lives. Tangents..) When accused by voices within, when despondent, when called to account, we can give an account of the way Christ bought our blamelessness. In this he strengthens us Rm16v25. Let us Live today in all that we already are. Blameless and beloved. Blameless and beloved. Blameless and beloved. Overcome with gratitude, we will overcome.

Jb9-10 God the other, God the wholly other, God the holy other. Ranting and reality, with perspectivism's permission: I know my heart and will speak my mind before this God, knowing that my heart is not the measure of all things, God's otherness not reducible to my small epistemology. So 9v35 returns to v3 in a virtuous circle. & in this form let us return to remember our belovedness, formed in the womb with care and intent 10v8-12 (Is45v9-10) and our blamelessness transformed by Jesus 9v31 becoming Rev19v8. Blamelessness & belovedness speaks the end of 10v22's despair, there is no no-way-out, no inescapable darkness, rather: Jn1v9 inescapable light.

Jb11-12 Why is Job in the bible and as long as this? Is it a measure of our resistance to God's sovereignty? Is it a measure of our presumption on God's sovereignty? Either way it will not let us rest. We see in Job's comforters unmercy justice taken to its logical conclusion. This is a position it is possible to hold by omission, that is, in not feeding the hungry we express a Zopharian conviction that they deserve to go hungry; in not preaching the gospel we express that they deserve to go on in ignorance.. Rom1v14 Unto the gift of grace we are obliged. If we only know how undeserved our life is it would render inaction impermissible. Let us fight our own proclivity to passivity which would have us laze in a because-i'm-worth-it cheap grace. Undeservedly blameless, undeservedly beloved. For the joy. x

Jb13-14 The lines between fruitful dialogue and unhelpful argument can be easily blurred aye, this is something I need wisdom for. 14v1 We are all born weak and helpless – so I have been reading this week, with an academic analyst's spin..all these questions, incredulously probed mysteries of birth and death, these belong to us all, we are surrounded by people asking these. And we believe with Job 14v15-17 that we have found the place to ask these questions, a God who transforms them. Forgiveness changes everything.

Jb15-16 Do you fight 'injustice'? Do you protest your 'plight'? Do you defend your conduct and their consequences based on your understanding? Do you claim to understand? Do you know anything, let alone enough to claim that the balance is misweighted? Do you presume to pray? What are you praying against, as if you had not received, by breathing, more than you could possibly repay? You do not know the half of your shame, you do not know your debt. How much of my talk is v3 unprofitable, and my fat is v27 the defence of a proud God-disregarder, and my pre-ruins are v28 the habitations of the postmodern wicked. On shame and the over emphasis of total depravity: it is easy to caricature Job's comforters, their language of shaming is powerplay, however, without an unpayable debt there is no Christ-shaped-hole. We should heed the tutting of the v10 grey-haired, but then out-Live them. Uncondemned Blameless Beloved. You are.

Jb17-18 Thinking about 17v6 the use of proverbs, soundbites and tidy theological formulations as weapons. These ostracise those whose experience falls outside their prescription. God is the God of the real so doctrine without experience is empty, (experience without doctrine is blind). This is why we listen. Oh and 18v4? God might just move mountains for us, actually. Grace comes extravagantly.

Jb19-20 v3 The shame of shamers is their presuming the right to judge, this presumption invariably leads to false accusation. ESVSB links this with Dt19v19 which decrees false accusers should themselves serve the sentence which they pronounce on the other, so obv Mt7v1. If our lives are false gospels, false witnesses and presumption manifested in unsympathy, apathy and social disengagement, then we will be visited on by unhappy judgement? v23 Publish when you are damned, when you are at your lowest point, when faith is needed most. The faithful write their biographies before they are triumphantly concluded because they know already that their story ends well, because they know these things will be resolved, because they Know their redeemer lives. Our redeemer lives. 20V27-8 In this way, by living these stories, by writing them, we integrate seen and unseen realities, making true on earth that which is true in heaven.

Jb21-22 Sort of that sadness here, of different people all seeking God and yet concluding differently. .. There is so much truth in Bildad's accusation. .. 22v25-7. So I like the honesty & complexity of this book. Knowing as we do, how this story end, the thing to do when in disagreement with holy people is to keep seeking, keep praying, keep talking, keep listening, as we do things, even to the end of time. 21v21 when our lives are over do we really care whether are children are happy? Phrased as cynical rhetoric we might transform it into one benchmark for our attitude towards stewardship & all we leave to the next generation, how we parent, how we cultivate life and Life.

Jb23-24 v8 God on mute. Is he ever? Or has our Jesus film just been poorly dubbed? Or are we simply hard of hearing? .. 24v3 “They” [who put angels in the electric chair..] - Who are 'they'? Why do they persist in history? 24v18-20 “You say..” - Who is 'you'? This is the 'you' of the them-and-us of all church pain. The Jobic dimension of church pain is: graceless comforters confronting the problem of evil in the face of suffering. 24V13-8 Those who dwell in darkness have likely been on a night-shift. The question of what is done at night and the morality (/sustainability) of a 24hr society is a current one for one here roused at 3am to arbitrate just such a dispute. We are silly men. .. Though the darkness closes in, Lord, still I will sing: v10 God knows. Our blamerless belover, he knows. Our redeemer, he knows you, he sees your best, you are the apple of his eye.

Jb25-26 Inescapable light 25v3 there is no place where God's light does not shine. As James told us last night, Jm1v17 God is the creator of lights, God does not cause darkness. And Jn3v18-21 the light has come into the world but people love the darkness..we fear light because we fear our evil deeds will show up. We fear shame. Shame is exposure, vulnerability, pain. Shame is an experience of our v6 worthlessness. But back to John we are blameless and beloved, because, here, of Jesus. Jesus is shame's healing, before Jesus we can be exposured, vulnerable and loved into freedom. It is the tone of Bildad's words that are not truthful, rather than their content .. They have a 'you can run but you can't hide' God as a Hollywood villain. But rather: you can't hide, as shame would have you do, you can't hide, but the light inescapable is all love. Seen & loved. Seen & loved. Seen & loved.

Jb27-28 The wicked wicked are to get their comeupance? This Bildadic 27 is perhaps hyperbolic-ironic, perhaps intended to emphasise the wickedness of self-righteousness, perhaps to be framed in terms of v8 judgement after death? .. Now, 28, slowly sumptuously. Wisdom is. The whole bodily experience of mining bears some meditation. The intrepid, in far flung places, beneath the surface, with strength for faith to risk for a reward. Dig deeper gold diggers, treasurehunters, London our rockface, Oval our seam of: localist wisdom, natural knowledge, experience, persons saving persons saved. // The bible our rockface, and early mornings are dark places we go to find rich things: doctrine to see by, doctrine to sow with, we mine the iron here with which we form a plough to turn the soil above? Wisdom out there, wisdom in here. And what is wisdom The particulate and the precious. Let us make our home an NHM rock room.

Jb29-30 Injustice will befall us, at some scale at some time. Why do we think that a good week will be followed by a bad week? Not because God is like karma, and not because God is not to be trusted. Rather, God is to be trusted, without condition, when bad follows good follows bad, which it will, in some way. Let us not dwell in the past as 29 but turn to God in the present, 30. If only sometimes to weep. God is here.

Jb31-32 To covenant with my eyes: the theology of thought-crime and self-covenance in one. Guard the ports of your mind, rigorously, accountably. There are sins we admit, commit and omit: sins that we let in, let out and let go: be sure to let the right ships in. .. If. If I have not filled every minute with 60 seconds of distance run, I repent. .. Elihu: don't self-justify, for it is God who justifies. You cannot but protest too much. Oh holy fools and Elihus, come, and call us to account, call us out of our self-deception. .. v22 “I do not know how to flatter..” One day, God-willing, I will forget how.

Jb33-34 Found in here, imperfectly, adoration 33v26, v30, confession v27, thankfulness v28, and supplication (ish) 33v1, 34v31. So prayerfully and more prayerfully to 33v14 listen, v15 dream dreams, vision visions and v17 be so radically transformed. Prayerfully today.

Jb35-36 ESVSB: “Again, he seems more arrogant than he realises, as young men sometimes do.” Elihu's wisdom has limits, and what truths he does manage unsympathetically to express are invalidated by Job's blamelessness. But. Helpfully these: 36v5 God's sovereignty, which is ultimate power of infinite knowledge of power: God knows, he know the backstage of the backstage, he knows the context's context, he knows and alone justifies. So rest. 36v15. The disciplinary function of suffering: true even for we saved. I want to insert a discomfort vs 'suffering' clause in this discussion. In love God opens our ears, uncomfortably? 35v12 The proud oppressee and the problem of feminism: isms predicated on the unjustice of victimhood go awry by pride? This can only be uttered internally, because one can only call oneself to radical meekness. We compound our sin by the pride of claims to deserve a wage other than death. .. And yet and yet. In Christ we have that wage paid. This whole Job problem of blamelessness should be our daily amazement. No suffering the suffering of meaningless blind suffering, only refining, only hoping, only reforming. Everything we ache now is God drawing us into his likeness. There is nothing to run from. On this basis, as we have strength, let us look to bear another's pain. Love my love to love this Tuesday, be eyes wide open.

Jb37-38 37v7 Bring me to a stop. v14 to pause. Prayerfulness is a stopping constantly, within a doing and a going about. My prayerfulness is a fumbling because I have not let this now-platitude about pausing soak deeply into my being, for I am still ugly noisy clatter chatter. v21-22 sky sky sky and the glory of the God who is real. For 38v12 it is God who commands the day to dawn, the sky to splendour light and colour. And here is the God who is real, who speaks, before whome there is shivering smiling silence at this mystery. God the imaginer, creator, sustainer, lover and sharer of all that is good and true and beautiful. God who walks in beauty. I submit surrender soak. God of mysteries we love you.

Jb39-40 The problem of extinction, domestication and the David Attenbrisation of our encounter with a wild God from the comfort of our settee. Let us strive against over-familiarity with nature by seeking unmediated encounter. .. The colours of the winds and the limits of pantheism's natural wisdom. There are somethings to be learnt from the bird who do not sow (and the lilies who do not sew) chiefly in the area of unanxiety. We as behemoths before turbulent waters, but not because we are strong, but because he is. .. Shall a faultfinder contend with God? Am I, do I? What an occupation it is critical we lay down. Critical. Not a tame lion, aye, can we build our epistemologies on that. For the fun, for the joy, for the wonder.

Jb41-42 Would I write more poems, on present mysteries, to the glory of God. Divine conclusions... This book offers little from a detatched third personal perspective, it only works as an engaged first person meditation in discovery of a second personal God. Job only works if God is real and if God speaks. But see hear.. 42v5 in the past I only know what others had told me about God,not God is closer than breathing, not I have seen for myself. A God who shows himself amidst evil & suffering's reality with his own sufficiency and the capacity to bring new life. This hope changes everything: restoration.

200words: occupylondon

i'm preoccupied.

five, already awake, wait, muffled alarm, tiptoe round mitch, kettle, tea, nehemiah's eleventh, one in ten to live in the city, one in ten tents occupied, trust we the telegraph?
i'm preoccupied.

five-thirty, texting texts, emails, gatti, geri, small world, this city, a global age, a globalised good?
i'm preoccupied.

six, pre-packed paniers, dark, outside, wet, switch, light, keys, lights, cleats, clicked, clapham road, waterloo bridge, streaks of taxi headlights, glistening tarmac, and there. where london's dark streets shineth, was it a night like this? did the Word tent so among us? john1:14
i'm preoccupied.

six-thirty, canvas clusters bask in an eerie glow, reminds me of geri's, all tulips budding, in plastic tents, under floodlighting, beyond utrecht, pregnant with protest's possibility, this their winter, when their spring?
i'm preoccupied.

pedal, pedal, trafalgar square, pedal, bond street, pedal, bond street again, how long have i lived in london? lost in shopping, is this a parable for the problem? regent street, and i've gone too far, haven't we all?
i'm preoccupied.

seven-ten, late, the one i love, pain quotidien, is this 'quotidien'? is this the problem?
i'm preoccupied.

'what did you see?', had i but eyes..
i'm preoccupied.


Sunday, 30 October 2011

texting esther

Tricky texts. 07729056452

Es1-2 Meekness is not weakness. .. Problematic passages this morning. What is the beauty of a woman for? You should ask this, why am I beautiful? For it is a form of power, it is a currency, it is a gift, it carries consequences. There is the question equally for men, perhaps given less mileage in Esther, to what end is their strength? .. We have a portrait here of a culture not unlike our own. With any culture we can absorb+assimilate, we can reject+escape, or we can engage+subvert. What do we do with a culture's gendered notions of sexiness and strength? Vs a chauvinist tyrant Xerxes, Mordecai the meek seeks to save the King's life anyways, confident that God will vindicate him. Vs Vashti's aggressive bid for feminism, Esther the meek seeks a culture's favour complying with the powers that be, confident that God will vindicate her. How should we then live? These are uncomfortably non-purist provocations. Meekness is not weakness.

Es3-4 Haman and Mordecai offer pictures of ourselves, our mixed motives, poles of what we could be, could we decide who our God is – ourselves, or the true God? Hamanian hubris begets pride, alienation from the other, isolation, violence. Vs Mordecai the brave, the secure, the humble. The king and Haman sitting down for a drink while the city was thrown into pain and confusion initially reminds of bankers in trendy bars so alienated from the consequences of their actions, the chaos around. But this will not do to blame bankers – it is my actions, my compliance, these consequences. Esther the brave makes a commitment, a covenant: speaking out her intent so that she can be held to account for that which has convicted her, that which she has promised. Let us speak our convictions to each other that we can hold each other to account, then let us fast and pray for each other. I cannot do this alone, I need my community.

Es5-6 For such a time as this, and with such an attention to timing as this. Wait, watch and pray, fast, wait. At one level patience and associated non-violence are true truths, but even this 'god'-less passage won't let us rest there, these are Jew truths 6v13, because of specific revelation we are free to be so bold. If only we would. There was a JP talk in which he advocated Life Course inviting motivated by a basic self-interest, that is evangelism for the sake of survival, because time will come, unless we act, when Christianity will be illegal in this country. Insofar as there is truth in this, Esther is a model of a Godly application of self-interest. Not so much that we-are-going-to-die-anyways, but rather that the good life calls us into such as drama as this. Oh dramatically to live and expect much of God today, this Tuesday.

Es7-8 Of 8 this seems like a strange victory in many ways, it is a victory constrained by the limits of bureaucracy, the well I've signed the forms now sorry, nothing I can do about it – only create a further, reactive legislation that begets war rather than peace. Maybe we should take from Esther's story that victories within the system, on the system's terms, can still be understood & celebrated as victories. But how much better a changed system, a transformed understanding, rules remade rather than elaborated ad infinitum. Jesus, teach us how to engage & subvert. Skipping back to outing oneself as identified with this God, this is powerful. With every new meeting we are coming out of the Christian closet. How we do it is powerful, it will change things. So today, so today's conversations.

Es9-10 If we are to apply this, who are the Jews, who the Hamen? For God is not a tribal deity (if he ever was?) Rm3v29 or even Jn2v4. Who then? Hamans as the world, the flesh, the devil? But yet his kingdom is not of the world Jn18v29 and our battle is not in the flesh Eph6v12. I am mixing my metaphors? Are we our own worst enemy? If in the cause of non-violence we spiritualise/allegorise/internalise Esther to such as extent that we relativise the universe out its very real theses and antitheses then we will lose the foundations for the drama of the good life. I have said nothing to answer who the Hamen and how? .. Legislation used excellently, obligatory feasting, gladness and social justice. There is a relationship between sabbathing's best and a community's submission to a coordinating synchronising authority.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

texting nehemiah

Come text, without money, without price. Our life dialogical is yours if you like. 07729056452.

Ne1-2 More lamenting. This is a way God's heart is known to us. Sometimes there need be no struggle in discerning the right and the good, for the Holy Spirit breaks out in us a lament over brokenness, which should be resource and motivation enough. We cannot be accountable for what we cannot discern, but to fail to respond to God's prompting is to be ugly and small and dead. To seek God only to not see it through is the greatest tragedy perhaps. Nehemiah demonstrates that faithfulness begets faithfulness and is possible. Stop doubting, and believe. God in our proclamations, God in our secrets, God in our sadness, God in our work..

Ne3-4 Of 3, there is a redeeming of work, when it is done so, rather as Cool Hand Luke sanding the road, there is a rhythm to the muscling in alongside, above him and the other and after and then and so. Oh a rush and a push, dear brothers and sisters.. Then, of 4, of that which is true in pantomimes, Sanballat he's behind you.. We live in such a world, where we would do well to see in higher contrast the forces that conspire to 'cause confusion' by force of weapons of mass muddling, by an assault on language itself.. That our yes should be yes is a military imperative. So, with courageous unambiguity, go, be unconfused in this: our God is great and awesome, he is, he is, he is, and our God will fight for us, he will, he will, he will. So build, rebuild, the unbuildable.

Ne5-6 I feel like I'm reading Nehemiah anew. I forget this hero of faith, a model of one who convicts, communes and compassion cares for with those with whom he shares his life and work. Able to speak authoritatively about the wrongness of wrong, and able to model and instigate a better way. This is a way to walk in, the forfeit of our own rights, the cancelling of debts owed to us, the sharing of our food, a happy feasting image. To honour God thus is to take part in saving the world. This a hard road, people tried to kill him y'know. But what a way. Let's let's.

Ne7-8 Should we number ourselves? Being and times-tables.. We should number ourselves, in accountancy-as-worship, for by numbers God makes himself faithfully known by his promise to multiply. .. 'Faithful and God-fearing..' necessary and sufficient to govern a city. .. Celebration. God is this and not that, here and not there, he inspires and enables, event and place, specific and intentional. We, exiles, ought to celebrate, to re-centre our identity in The God who laughs Ps2v4, The God who rests Gn2v2, The God who dresses the lilies Mt6v30. Today reading Gottfried Semper: “ perpetuate commemoratively a festive or religious act.. ..the idea for monumental art was in an analogous manner suggested by similar festive celebrations.. ..improvised scaffolding.. ..special splendour and frills that indicate more precisely the occasion for the festivity.. ..draped with carpets, dressed with bough and flowers.”

Ne9-10 Go through looking at all the divine verbs, summarised by v9 'heard' and v13 'spoke'. This is what I hope to articulate today, the God relationship is intersubjective, dialogical and alive, and this changes everything. Keep us alive and unabstracted in conversation with you, God, in confession, praise, remembrance and promise, responding to your creation, care, covenant, keeping. In thought, word and deed.

Ne11-12 What is a wall? Why do we sing? Where is Jerusalem? Who should we station there? Interesting that the Telegraph reports only one in ten tents at occupylondon is slept in. Perhaps a tangent. But the city is a difficult and dangerous place, with or without a tent, with or without a Georgian terrace. This ceremony of commissioning volunteers to the city for the city is something we could learn. Let us come to the city, a place of intensified brokenness and of centralised conflict and meet it with intensified worship and centralised compassion. Come prophets priests kings, be curbside prophets, street pastors and urban servant kings. Christian hedonist, rejoice with great joy, God is for your joy, moment by moment for your joy. Battle for your joy, study for your joy, protest capitalism for the joy, I adjure you, I enjoin you, live for the joy who is there and is not silent.

Ne13 Such passages about segregation do of course have things to remind us about holiness, and purity of heart, but let us also remember how a Jesus-shaped community transforms all this. This is a shadow of holiness and a shadow of community where these things in their fullness are as Jesus, who transgresses boundaries of native and foreigner. Jesus transforms our honest work and our serious Sabbathing with his words and his way. Jn6v29 Mt11v28

200words: tacita dean

Let the dead bury their dead..” Luke 9:60

So, we're not scaremongering, this is really happening, 16mm film is no longer printed at Deluxe, and so no longer in England. This, apparently, is no mere passing of the cinema baton to younger model mediums, this is a death marked by a Unilever-sponsored season of mourning.

Only living things die.

Film lived. Any of us who have ever stood, like children, spellbound before the flickering light on a screen, delighted, know that it lived in the currency it carried: the holy moment of the creative act conveyed, unabstracted, uncoded, from the cinematographer's eye to yours. Film's creative act comes at a cost: that cost is a risk: that risk is the power of art.

Digital production is about another power. Power over time by the elimination of cost by the evaporation of space. It is not nostalgia to decry the rising tide of this infinitely expedient medium. To live digitally is to live a pixel's life, as discontinuous, reductive, isolated packets of data without meaning.

So, film went out with a fizzle. A silent dirge, a bitter 11 minutes of carefully made, forgettable imagery, raging against the digitalising of the light. I have seen too much, have you seen enough?


Monday, 24 October 2011

texting ezra

Easily Ezra. Game for for texting texts? I continue to be 07729056452.

Three things temples need: (1) stirring, (2) freedom, (3) supply. (1) God's work done God's way never lacks God's stir-ply: v1 'the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus..': God will make an evangelist and reformer out of a gentile if need be. v5 'every [jew] whose spirit God had stirred to go...': Christians need the will to want it (and a little self esteem) .. (2) Like leaving Pharoah, it's ever a freedom to worship. So for us. If it were for freedom that we were set free, then it is for worship that we have our freedom, and it is in music and temples and food and colour that we have our worship. How free are we? How worshiplessly fritter we our freedom away? (3) Supply. Can we be, could we be? Is mine a life that a Cyrus could give gold towards? Perhaps the Dod is.. How do we put ourselves in the way of supply? .. Be stirred and know that God is God.

Ez3-4 rebuilding the altar, rebuilding the altar first, before anything else. Worship first, sacrifice first, seek first the kingdom of God. Every day sacrifices morning and evening. Life is hard, and seeking God first is an every moment breathing living surrender. The altar ius rebuilt when afraid. & there is much to legitimately fear. We build and re-build now when we're not afraid, but when we are brave. Rebuilding. Re-building. Building something that has been before, building it again, trying to build it better, building it again because it was important & valuable but got destroyed. Building it the same but different a crying and a rejoicing. We are mixed motives, mixed feelings, we live in these tensions. Yes we do. To not feel tensions is to stop being alive, but God is the God of the living, God of the crying wailing rejoicing hurting celebrating worshippers. Go the God of lives that feel tension, God of the higgledy piggledy here and now. And bribes and discouragement and fear come against temple rebuilding, but a temple rebuilt is still a rebellion against all that rebels against God. So all this. Holy rebels let us be.

Ez5-6 Dear rebels, go, with unrelenting rejoicing, go be kind, remind, reenvision, so to rebuild. .. vs Phil's irrational fear of buereacrats: God knows the forms they have for you, and they are already signed, sealed and Eph1:13ed. .. When asked for your name 5v10, asked, 'who are you?' tell them whose you are, give an answer for the hope, tell them by whose authority you presume to be and to do and to have any claim on anything. This is how to bring the gospel into introductions and small talk. .. 6v10 Pray for king and for country and for the good of the city: there are legitimate ways to procure funding from the city in exchange for spiritual services and prayers-on-behalf-of-the-city? .. 'Huge stones .. diligently .. prospered.' Heave ho dear rebels.x

Ez7-8 the gold and silver we are given to spend wisely, towards the right sacrifices to God. This is our responsibility. Artaxerxes institutes a system that seeks to honour God because God 'blesses' v7, it is 'by grace' v28. So our responsibility and God's responsibility, and discerning what is ours and what is God's. Both are here, in these two chapters, in the repentance of our hearts and the leading of the spirit. This is hard, Gof, wat is our to do and what is yours? This discernement is a wisdom to be sought & what is wisdom? Looking at Pr3's advice for the young.. loyalty, faithfulness, trust, humility, obedience. Teach us their application today. I am struck also by a similarity in Ezra's prayers & Jesus' prayer for his disciples read yesterday. A prayer for knowing God to be God, a prayer for protection and a prayer for knowing one's belovedness. So God I pray for thee that you would know that you are v28 sacred to God. God, protect you from the eveil that will seek to destroy you. God, keep you safe to know who you are and who He is. v21 'lead us on our journey and protect us.'

Ez9-10 Today a marriage of convenient timing and a shallow exposition. Apologies if I don't do this important text justice. We can speak of marriage generally, specifically and metaphorically. We can ask of Ezra, who was wrongly marrying how and why? We can ask of our time, who should rightly marry, how and why? .. Marriage needs Law, insofar as it is the contractual propagation of a line by the intimacy of mutually motivated Others? Marriage images heaven in being a united unity in single-minded worship? Marriage is the public promise of a future fidelity by finite and broken beings, a promise predicated entirely on God's possibility, a possibility only available to those who will receive it? So, if they were not one in propagation, in praise nor in predication, they were marrying wrongly. How and why? Why would they marry like that? Ezra's not illuminating here. How and why might we marry wrongly? Generally, specifically and metaphorically. So generally, there is some mileage in extending the notion of a holy nation to the new covenant israel, in so far as there remains a biological multiplication imperative, and the need to retain the currency of a language of symbollic cleanliness, but. And we can speak specifically, less the question of whom it is impermissible to marry, but rather, why does anyone so compromise, and who can we serve those in a tangle? For surely it is a settling for less than God that is the why. And finally we can speak metaphorically, for we are married to many wives in this way. I am not tearing my clothes for my church promiscuity, I am not pulling out my beard for all the adulterous comfort capitalism's excesses afford me. Was it love or fear of the cold 10v9 that swept us into the arms of Rv17? Oh I am undone. .. 9v9 Yet our God.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

200words: john soane's house

Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones..” Mark 13:1

For all that is playful there is yet a beautiful sadness in the Soane house, perfectly suited to a clear October afternoon, the whole construction, permanently on the cusp of autumn, waits for a Piranesian shaft of light to some time grace the corners of its rooms and usher in the total ruination of contemporary empires. Obsessive compulsive, this ordering of the past by an exquisite eccentric, or by a salesman dwelling amongst the tombs, or a narcissist dwelling on himself through a glass darkly, was he a happy man?

Mirrors preside throughout as passive 'recollectors' (Furján, 1997), panopticon flies on the wall, trapping one as the protagonist in his own Truman Show, and as brothel ceilings and fairground distorted mirrors, you seek yourself out for the reflected glory of a hero in this Romantic mythic structure.

If this building is the image of the form of the mind of John Soane, what a mind it must have been to be inside, what a sense of a layered and dramatic universe he must have held, what a wilful pursuing of the joy of measured light falling onto crafted form he sustained over such a period.


Tuesday, 18 October 2011

200words: hunterian museum

"...bone to bone. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.." Ezekiel 37:8

A museum of a museum, a remembrance of a remembrance of things past. An aptly cold interior celebrating the birth of the clinical existence we now enjoy. And aptly bulletproof display casing for the Glass Menagerie our contemporary self-understanding clings to. We cling to this understanding: that the age of naïve surgery and capital punishment and surgical errors, is behind us: we live in the future now.

The too crisp effect, the needles of light, the clumsy perspex labelling stand cautiously at odds with that fascinated time, when everything was new, dangerous and undiscovered, when in warm wooden galleries, handmade specimens, held in handmade jars were handled by bold adventurers, daring in their enfleshed embodiment. Could they but see us now, all blanched bodies in glass postwar reconstructions.

This Pandora's cabinet of curios presents at least two difficulties, and does so frankly: the category of the 'freak' and the death of the deserving criminal. Architecturally, designers can navigate these by irony or fastidious neutrality: the grey of this exhibit is to cover our shame.


Wednesday, 12 October 2011

200words: oma/progress

“For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost..” Luke 14:28

The cost for Koolhaas has been paid in “despair ... and vast foreboding..” (Harbison, 2009) which surface in pained essays like Junkspace. The delightful junk on show in this hyperexhibition for the tumblr generation: the material offcuts, grainy pictures, architectural detritus and self-deprecating anecdotes, are a deflection or a veiled apology for the guilt of complicity in architectural giantism: that utopian genetic disorder.

Stylistically and philosophically, OMA, as graphic designers with a penchant for cantilevers, have established a globally conversant mode of masterplanning consistent with an unstable profession in a volatile economy. In between the truss fetishising there is brave engineering, amongst their best laid plans, sketched from a thousand feet at a hundred miles an hour, there is a phenomenal creative energy, a frank and critical self-awareness.

In the exhibition, which is more a 1:1 scale model improvised in found-materials to demonstrate a possible exhibition, the strange veneration of process, and the relics of process, is total. We are invited to become the two dimensional cut-outs in another diagrammed proposal: we are exactly the statistics they love.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

200words: the ambassadors

“What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing?” Matthew 11:8

We go out of our way to be told the messages we want to hear, in the comfort of places we want to be seen in. Catering to this felt need sustains galleries, cinemas, car-showrooms, coffee-shops, all the contemporary contexts we exhibit ourselves within and in which we are exhibited to. The Ambassadors exhibits exhibitionists just so, in a meta-commentary on the place of the arts in society.

The endurance of Holbein's piece in popular fascination is a tribute to his mastery of technique in paint and in provocation, in drawing and in drawing a crowd. The Eastpak uniformed swarms each pause, kneeling dutifully to honour the artist's perspective, each bestowing a 15 seconds of fame on this marketeer's tour de force of trompe-l'œil.

Fire Exit signage is the momento mori of contemporary life, and art is our game of distraction. Here, in The National Gallery's Room C, the painting stands boldly proud of the wall, for the fame of its being famous, for the screening of the dark emergency doors behind and for the better oblique appreciation of death.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011


Not having seen the companion pieces to this, and being unfamiliar with the various public von Trier episodes, and also my ignorance regarding manic depression renders me as but a pair of eyes before a spectacle, it was nevertheless a worthy cinema outing.

The film, in its length and tone, is indulgent, rather as Tree of Life, and the parallels I would draw between the film go further. Both legitimise their indulgence as an expression of the grief of their characters, both concern the decadent wealthy, both define themselves against hard men, both have ambitions to cast the aches of the human condition onto a cosmic canvas, both spend the length of the film waiting for death. And I enjoyed both, considerably.

Untouchable unhealth. The film, largely, leaves undiscussed melancholia as clinical condition of imbalanced biochemistry except to consider the aspect of mental health highlighted by the strained, even slapstick moments where the wedding-planner steers to avoid looking at Justine. For Justine, wishing-the-earth-would-swallow-you-up leads self-fulfillingly to a self-destructive self-exclusion. But further, and crucially, the fear, by others, of melancholia as leprosy - as contagious - constructs an apartheid. How plan we our weddings, whom do we exclude and who are our planners? Who are we that we should turn a blind eye to depression? Who are we to make untouchable those wounded victims of a vicious world?

But there is for discussion more mileage in melancholia as philosophy and as social reality. So.

You are your eschatology. This is the purpose of beginning with the end: the notion that our stories track out intractably towards our foregone fated destinations with a mechanical inevitability. But more than that, what you look for you will find: we believe in an end, and we will it into being. And this is by choice, by belief in a fatal fatalism, that we are resigned to and complicit in our future tense definitions.

Environmentalism and the end of God's world. The Earth's cruel inglorious end, fading to silence, coming to nothing: does Justine know this will happen? Then the atheists are right. Does she cause it to happen? Then the atheists are to blame? I earnestly believe that among the reasons for the failure of environmental rhetoric is the failure to convince the carbon burning public that anything other than annihilation awaits them and all of planet earth. Of environmentalism, only future hope and its present joy-of-anticipation can move us to the present sacrifice needed for future salvation. Please believe.

I have been simplistic.

There's no driver at the wheel. The elegantly absurd stretch limo sequence establishes our difficult relationship with the God who may be there but is yet silent. This incompetent God hands the reins to a sentimental groom who hands the reins to melancholia who promptly crashes spaceship earth into a rock on the side of the road.

This very night your life will be demanded from you. You aesthetes, this is the tragic demise that moping preraphaelite hipsters predicate their decadence on. This is a film for a double dip recession, whose brief reprieve is the undoing of men who have identities built on and defined by doom denial. It is John's false confidences that collapse face down in a horse's stall.

Nothing tastes. The tragedy of bigger barn builders is not simply a moral tale for the end of time, it is a tragedy in the now. Affluenza's ruinous ruin sees us, with all our trappings, in dresses like the clouds of a planet, bounding in slow motion through the garden of space where everything is heavy, all tastes like ashes, all is but an entanglement of grey yarn through which we trudge. Ours will be a slow death by slow motion, as when an LP's turntable is unplugged, we spin slowly slower to a stop, unplugged from joy we wind down to flatline.

Sex and death. As the camera here pours obsessively and too close over Dunst, the whole film is a tailback crawling past a car wreck, oh curious beings-unto-death are we. Lust lusts after that which is death in the other? Justine, a type of Salome, parallels the planet in her destructive force, and in her being the subject of voyeurism, we see the power of Melancholia to captivate through the telescope as through illicit websites. Melancholia renders Justine exhibitionist and delayed-gratification-averse. Are we, do we? Parallels abound for we are planets crashing.