Wednesday, 25 April 2012

the big relink

the big rethink
(See Architectural Review May 2012, 1383. Vol CCXXXI - p26-27)

It goes without saying that I have hugely enjoyed the initial essays in this series. The glorious permission these frank articles have been given to nip at the hands that typically feed contemporary architectural journalism suggests that the editor believes a nominally hypothetical tone and green paper stock forgive much. Many many thanks for these infectious articles which delight in all of their prominent zealous idealism and a rigorous philosophical depth which generation Y are said to have forgotten.

The expectations you raise by your critique place a possibly unattainable demand on your subsequent articles to provide means for a promised alternative. I have desired the integrated architecture you espouse, the following are some of the challenges I find:

“Pathological polarisation of wealth” (Jan-p75) I am a rich young man, I am the 1%, even without car or pension, I have clean running water, a tertiary education, a personal computer; I need your future articles to tell me how to live up to, and what to give up to enter, your integral architecture – perhaps illustrated by less Oxbridge college projects, and no inordinately expensive private houses or vehicles of corporate and state power. According to the footprint which you and Michael Sorkin describe at Future Frontiers, please illustrate your Rethink with the Ghanaian Guatemalan standard of delightful but achievable architecture such as the meeker 99% will inherit.

“Integrating externalities” (Feb-p87) The externalities that I can discount are my competitive edge. As10p for sustainable carrier bags fails to convince the unwilling and even threatens to fatigue the willing by such a bombardment of religious bullying, your future articles need to cover the cost and demonstrate workable incentives on issues of capital outlay (eg. Rifkin's Hydrogen cells, Feb-p97; Mar-p24) rootedness (Feb-p87) and obligation to descendants (Feb-p87). Architects cannot predicate an integral theory on the limitless charitable beneficence of their client, and, as Kevin Rhowbotham warns, you risk a tyranny of sentimentality to achieve the 'all joined up' vision. (Mar-p25) And yet, and yet, I have seen architects working for the joy alone. I have worked for the joy and it was joyful, but these are too few and far between, the theory you propose needs to quantify a time-scale of urgent adoption commensurate with the doom mongering you are motivated by.

To this end, I also need help with the problem of the selfish human heart, which I remain to be convinced is evolving in any “huge evolutionary leap” (Feb-p88). As the Villa Savoye is “self-contained and selfish” (Feb-p83), I too am selfish, I am incorrigible, I do not do the good I want to do, and ultimately I should like to be self-contained, I would like just a little more space, as a buffer between me and a painful world. The “paranoia” of the Smithsons (Feb-p86) is a valid comportment towards a world of the violence we have known and so this selfishness is self-defence against a dangerous world.

By contrast, a world in which “lonely” (Apr-p78) people could lower their defences and drop their distractions is a beautiful design, especially given the environmental cost of these wallings-off. You propose that “We defended ourselves against a meaningless, dead universe ... but once we understand ... the cosmos is alive we will want.. to better embrace ... this ever-evolving being.” (Feb-p91) However, not all spirituality is good spirituality, as “transmoderns” we need to discriminate; if you are suggesting that we could open ourselves to a spiritual reality, you will have to argue that the living cosmos or Gaia is benign. My own experience of such communities of faith has been of ones marked by fear.

Furthermore, anxiety related to “rain and harvest” (Mar-p73) persists in drought today and is not really assuaged by the development of a higher spiritual consciousness that would distinguish a “Pre-Trans Fallacy” (Mar-p71), we are still finite knowers in a volatile world. To coax the Rethink readership out of their defences, future essays need to offer a convincing risk assessment.

Such a cost-benefit analysis seeks an inspiring vision of “what the good life would be” (Feb-p89) which I think you offer an answer to within the essay. The good life comes by right knowing (As Corb knew the classics – Mar-p78), right thinking (As Einstein, on a higher level – Mar-p68), right doing (In accord with one's values – Feb-p92) and ultimately right being (As in a “City of Being” - Mar-p77). A “City of Being” is assuredly preferable to a “City of Doing” but it did not attain a quality of 'being' retrospectively, the builders had learnt to dwell before they built, and so must we first learn how to Be. But how? Surely Being is a given into which we are thrown? At its most active, Being is a posture, perhaps future essays could assist our posture. And if, as I would agree, the posture is to be one of “gratitude and reverence” (Apr-p66), future essays need to direct us to whom we are to give our thanks, for certainly I have much to be grateful for.

Concluding, I would like to be helped in the application of the decompartmentalisation you propose. The appeal of an integrated future is universal, however, the intermediate steps need to be translated for diversity of participants in a building's genesis. For example, the promised happiness of integral architecture's “ceiling heights” (Apr-p82) needs to offer builders a tangible value such as would eventually offset the sacrifice now. Likewise, the “broad external stairs” (Apr-p82) needs to exceed 'access'-related tokenism to more than satisfy legitimate litigation anxiety. Otherwise such utopian writing serves to fan the flames of miserablism amongst architects who seem to relish the futility of their disempowerment. In this way, the question of “who we want to be” (Apr-p79) needs to be offered to each member of the design team, and it needs to actively free them from the “who” in which they are presently imprisoned, it needs to give them the means to change.

Finally, the TBR's gospel of quadrants needs a cosmology, that is, it needs to be shown to have independently and actively existed before knowledgeable New Age authors voted for its wisdom. Somewhat in the manner of St John's Prologue, which could be rendered in quadrants thus:“In the beginning was the UL, and the UL was with the Holon, and the UL was the Holon. The UL was in the beginning with the Holon. And the UR, LR and LL were made through that. In the UL was Life and that Life was the Sustainability of humanity. This Life shines through the Big Rethink, though the readership may not recognise it.” (John 1:1-4) And in this vein, I would argue that the Big Rethink then needs to become incarnate in our “living room or piazza” (Apr-p78) As Alain de Botton needs to build his Living Architecture (and his temple of humanism), and as Christopher Alexander has needed to realise his Nature of Order, and as Christ, the decompartmentaliser par excellence, demonstrated the sacred and abstract in amongst the sweat and dirt of the here and now: “And the UL became flesh and dwelt amongst the LRs..” (John 1:14). So TBR must step off the pages of AR over the next few months and build.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

found flowers: 001

heart beats skipped raided

texting jeremiah

City hopes and fears, hoped and feared daily in texts. Always and ever invited to speak truths in texts to us. Withwards: 07729056452

Jr1-2 God presses in Jr1-2. 2v14 You are not a slave, Jn15v15 a friend not a slave, to Jesus you are 2v2 Rev19v7 A bride not a slave, Gal4v7-9 A daughter not a slave. So it is to be a Gal6v17 slave of Jesus, gloriously, no longer my own, I am all I was 1v4 formed for, chosen for. How 2v32-33 quickly we forget that we are the bride of Christ. how frequently we act as 2v8 strangers of God rather than friends. how we find ourselves believing that 2v27 we are not children of God but of an impersonal universe. Dwell again in the shades and colours of the God who loves like a spouse, a friend, a parent, as well as 2v19 the sovereign. So the God who comes close enough to 1v9 touch us, and put words in our mouths. This I am praying today, that I might be specifically & powerfully full of God's words. Speaking words that 1v10 uproot and pull down is difficult; directed to Gal6v1 in seeking wisdom for hard words: be gentle, do it as a way of sharing the burden, do it uncomparatively, as a means of avoiding hypocrisy, self-righteousness, inauthenticity. 1v11-15 God gives Jeremiah both the picture and the interpretation, so ask God for both, and take heart, both will come.

Jr3-4 v14 I will take you, one from a city, two from a family.. God goes after a remnant, he hounds after tiny worthless ones, the one lost sheep, the one lost coin, he cares for you uniquely and renders you as an infinitely indivisibly invaluable individual, individually. God's love for you is as light bent through the magnifying glass of the gospel to kindle a fire on a square millimetre of a chosen dry leaf. We are thus ignited one at a time, saved one at a time, commissioned one at a time. God and do likewise. Imaging the depth of God's urgent affection for the individual is necessarily communicated one-to-one – that is not to say that diluted or more carbon-copied modes of a mechanically-reproduced comportment of the gospel are unprofitable. I am just texting aloud my conviction this morning that there is a level of God's intimate personal salvation which is imaged exponentially, paradigmatically more powerfully in the person-al pursuit. Who is your one in the city? Who needs to know the pursuit God makes of them? .. v22-25 Amongst the powerful wisdom in No Greater Love was the emphasis on confession and preparing for death in the last prayer of the day. this is no being simply towards death in the sky when you die, but a repentant being towards the devastation of judgement on the plate while you wait. Confessing our sins to one another, and Eph4v26 and lamenting 4v22-25 these are a part of the gospel we express, these seeds of the community manifested amongst the nuns of No Greater Love.

Jr5-6 The heart of the human problem, and all that, as we look to transform 5v4 individual face-to-face grass-roots transactions and v5 systemic issues of power and policy, in both we run up against the problem of human nature. Neither the large nor the small scale can be held up against the other as the inherent means of transforming culture, this would quickly become idolatry, both scales need Godly transformation. of systems and cities, 6v1-8 an Ellulian critique of the city? v7 how does a well keep water fresh? By drawing from a source that springs up. So the city at its worst draws from a source of evil that springs up. Where does evil spring from? From the human heart, in the desire to be God, as in the beginning. So might this be the trap of the city, that it can cultivate a self-at-the-centre-of-the-universe worldview? because all these distraction are here for me? These distractions also cultivating 5v12 6v14 self-deceit and inauthenticity, 6v15 shamelessness and 5v22 boundarylessness. More than Heideggerianisms, teach us to examine our hearts, oh Lord, listening to 6v18-19 your words and your way, that this is not 5v31 the final word.

Jr7-8 Of cities. (5v1 Running as a mode of prophetically being-towards the city. 5v4, v5 paganism and depravity are no respecters of class. Amongst Social Realism's failings is the suggestions of a depravity disparity, although Breaking and Entering, and Naked, illustrate the rich also profoundly breaking yokes. If Britain is broken, it is the fault, the woe, and the debt of all so-called classes) 7v6 Some, however feel it most acutely – the fatherless and the widows as the obvious vulnerable. Fatherlessness describes the situation of so many in the city, but also, serves as a metaphor for so much of the city. This is not to posit the nuclear family as salvific of itself – v18 idolatry can be a family-run business too. On this, the father gap in these films is at its deepest root a longing for Jesus to be our husband, our father, our friend, however, the substance of British filmic miserablism is possibly more concerned with mourning the loss of the family which it tacitly, by its absences, infers is salvific. .. v4 'This is the temple of the Lord.' 'Where would you like to be, Brandon?' A 'place', as 'where shit happens'? Faith in place is idolatry, faith that you can be saved by an eternal Other by simply going to another place, another estate, out of the city, into the city, anywhere but the Heygate's HERE and NOW, away, to a compartmentalised temple of the Lord. This is idolatry. We are saved by repentance not travel – not to dichotomise or diminish the value and power of place, but I more than many need to guard against the escapist idolatry that would like to conjure God by arranging the formal qualities of a 'this is a temple of the Lord' – even in small group, even in this house. Only by repentance. v29 Repent and mourn boldly. .. 8v1 Living repentantly before death in confession each evening. v8 If place can be an idol, how much more words? Special words, sacred texting. Sigh. .. v14 Gathering to the city, as an alternative to repentance, as Naked's opening. How and why do we 'gather'? .. v18 'My joy is gone.' How mourn we for our aching lost world?

Je9-10 9v1 10v19 Crying. When did you last cry? 9v17-19 Crying wailing lamenting, crying for others, crying for oneself. Lamenting contrasted with 9b8 hypocrisy – right crying makes us rightly vulnerable, straightforwardly subject to our bodies and hurts, defying our rationalising and theologising, which we need, oftener than we think. 9v20 teach your children to cry. Crying reaches our, expresses need, crying ask a question. Laments come to this: 10v23 knowledge that the way is not in the self, but in God. God, the healer, restorer, way-maker, meets us in these tears and groans.

Je11-12 12v4 Prophets count their days. For how long? God teach us to number our days Ps90v12: counting up our blessings, counting down to the Olympics, to our coming bridegroom. In enrhythmed days, counting out evening confession in daily accountability. .. Prophets count the cost 11v21 12v6. What will it cost us to be a prophetic voice in SWLondon? Where have we already Lk14v28 sat down, counted the cost, and found it too high? .. So, prophets, count on God. Count on God. He will have compassion 12v15, and He fights for us.

Je13-14 Clothes & shame revisited. 13v11 God intended us to be his clothes, to fit him, to be close to his skin, his comfort, cover & adornment. 13v22 v26 14v3-4 Our shame, like a disrobement, the outworking of our shaming of God. Have I thought before that God can feel shame? Not for himself, but for us. If we are ashamed of Christ, he will be ashamed of us. 14v21 We want a short cut out of our shame, but we cannot cheapen grace, it is far too awesome, it must change us. Grace is more than undisgrace. Teach us, God, unabstractly, as we feel our clothes against our bodies, what it is to be for you your clothes. Fit us for yourself, put us on like a coat, as we put on Christ.

Jr15-16 Between the depths of God's wrath (15v2, 16v13, etc) and the heights of saving grace (15v19,16v15, etc) there are fishers of men 16v16 plying their trade on the surface of a maritime analogy. Jesus knew this and employed fishermen Mt4v19 in order to apply and fulfil this vision. A meditation on fishing, to consider how my life measures up on an evangelistic scale of fisherliness. Fishers go in seaworthy boats, built and maintainedto weather the weather. Fishers leave safe harbour, skilfully navigating, adventuring, risking on an overwhelming vast ocean of possibility and danger, cast on the wind. Nothing disembodied, white collar, or pretentious about fishing. Fishers go to the fish, to the end of Eastbourne pier late at night, in a team on a trawlers training against the elements, 50yards out on a lake in waist high wellies, casting a line, casting a line, casting a line. God, give me a fish.

Jer17-18 17v14 In the GNB reads: 'Lord, heal me & I will be completely well; rescue me & I will be perfectly safe. You are the one I praise.' This works as a truth to repeat over & over, let this enrhythm the the next week, for even though 17v9 the human heart remains a mystery, in its akrasis and self-deceit, this is not the final word. 13v22 does not apply, because we are not leopards. 17v1 sin may be written on our hearts, but I know a good re-writer, the potter, the engraver, who promises to Dt30v6 v14 to remake our hearts, to write his word upon them. God fights for us. God fights for us in our own personal fight between good and evil, for we are both, but God is goodness itself. This is more mysterious even than our sinfulness, 18v1-12 prompting the mercy justice mercy justice can God destroy our evil without destroying us? God the original remakery, pottery preserved & yet made beautiful. We can be healed completely, not, Jeremiah, because 17v9 our sickness is not too great, but because our healer is perfect. God can heal us perfectly, not just to a certain degree, God heals and rescues from our habits & hatred. Reading Lk1 this week, & reading Jeremiah through the lens of v50, 55, the God who chooses mercy, who can v37 do anything, even make us perfect. Lord, heal me & I will be completely well; rescue me & I will be perfectly safe. you are the one I praise.

Jer19-20 It is so easy to analogise or cartoonify these verse. All to distance God from the difficulty because somehow we believe that God can't account for himself in these sufferings, we feel the need to pre-emptively distance him. 19v9's sons and daughters.. If we could just make this metaphorical, render it financially, nibbling at the nest egg, oh squanderous generation; or render it as in a podgypanda cartoon, how much easier to digest cruel violence would be. Sons and daughters, bloodied ruin of our sinful selfish ways, this is the logical progression, this the outworking of the way we live, this is why sensible Fahrenheit 451 citizens don't have children – we will only end up eating them. .. Hard times and super hard times come upon us to strip from us the glut of beliefs that somehow we deserve this comfort, that somehow we are alright, that we have earnt the right to an easy life, that there is a way that needs no constant grace to sustain us. The environmental movement grazes the surface of our fragility, we are constantly moments away from infinite grief. All of this to say Jer19 strikes me not with the problem of suffering, but with the problem of not-suffering. What gives me the right? Dear ones, hope in God, hope in the one who sustains us in spite of what we deserve, savour every ounce of not-suffering, and joy, joy that I, in my reckless faithless, Christ-denying, boring, escapist ways, do not deserve. Oh undeserved not-suffering and the debt I owe.. Leads to this: the knowledge of God, how can it but be fire in your bones 20v9, the knowledge of God! Author of all this, the one with the answers. Fire, like Arcade Fire, you have to hear this track, come and see Jn1v46, taste and see Ps34v8.

Jer21-22 21v5 God fights against us, which would seem to contradict God fighting for us, as 21v10 seems the inverse of the far-ofter quoted 29v11. God has harm for us as well as good because, picking up from 17-18, Solzhenitsyn's line between good & evil runs straight through the human heart, so God does violence to us because God does violence to our violence. God cares too much to let our evil hearts be, God will devour us 21v14 like fire, and it will be painful. But. Good. The clich├ęs are true – sometimes we hear God more profoundly in our pain, in the hiding place of our shame 22v22 where we do not listen in our prosperity. Jesus, thank you that you refine us, that you work on scraping out our hurt and evil, please continue your refining work, even when it hurts. We love you.

Jer22 v13 Woe to the Unjust house-builder, for surely housing is justice issue. v15 Seek first the Kingdom and housing will be added unto you

Jer23-24 Woe to the bad church planter, sower of church pain, multiplier of false gospels and chaos and division. The antidote to long historical church pain: A Branch. (Jr33v15 Jn15v5 Ze6v12) esvsb is not giving me much on the branchiness of a branch ~ fruitful? healthy? new? sheltering? connected to one stem (Jerusalem oriented)? fractal? .. 23v33 'You are the burden.' Jesus bears us? Not in this verse. Know that we are part of the problem, the essence of dead weight, a quintessential stumbling block. It is only, only, by absurd grace that God comes and carries us, bearing the cross that is us. .. 24v3 'What do you see?' - One of God's favourite questions – all of life that we see before us is full of the pregnant potential of a God who wants to reveal himself. House prayer dwelt on one such image – why gold in Ex29? 'What do you see?' // 24v3 'Bad figs very bad.' How bad are you? As # John Piper is bad.. Oh the absurdity of grace.

Jer25-26 God speaks. God is always speaking, for 23 years and more, 25v3. Through others v5-6 God is speaking. God speaks loudly v30-31 & painfully 26v12. 25v27 v29 26v2 v4 So often we do not listen 25v4 v7 v8 26v8-9 We are to be Mary, Lk1v29 deeply moved by what God speaks to us, then v38 submitting, that it might happen as God says. We are always free to 26v3 listen, & listening makes all the difference. God speaks that 26v2 v12 we might speak, but 25v10 God will silence us, like (Lk1v20) Zechariah, if we do not listen. God I believe you, that you are always speaking, and that if only I would make sacred space, as the most important thing, I would hear. 26v5 Pay attention. God, we are listening for our colleagues this week. Soft hearts and hard feet, listening and speaking, that they might know we 26v16 speak for you.

Jer27-28 v5 'It is I who by my great power made..' - because we forget this. All of our discourse, our argument, our reason, our being and being-toward, our speaking, needs to begin with 'in the beginning God.' There is a God and that God is not me, God is bigger, is saviour, is sufficient, is before all, is over all, is Yahweh, he is Jesus. .. v6 'My servant Nebuchadnezzar' – God was in the beginning and is now nowhere absent, he is actively weaving this complex world, its people and powers, its heroes and villains, for his glory, for our good. This is a word for one such as I, that the winding way that God works is messy at ground level, without a prophet's-eye-view. Often, in housing etc, we have to work within structures of exile, under superpowers – in all these things, however, we are more than slaves, more than victims. Because we are more than conquerors. This is little help in the question of when to politically resist. For such discernment is necessary and necessarily prophetic. So, before we jump the gun to activism, a meditation on God's sovereignty is necessary if we are to go forward without fear – fear that God cannot save; and to go forward without idolatry – idolatry that I must save myself. So, v5 God was, v6 God is, v18 God speaks, v22 God will save – so listen, so to work in his will with his strength for the sake of tomorrow's 29v7 'well-being of the city' .. 28 By contrast to the yoke of Nehemiah's prophecy, Hananiah's yoke-broken is cheap grace masquerading as salvation. Rather as: By contrast to the yeast of the kingdom Lk13v21, the yeast of the Pharisees Lk12v1 is religious works masquerading as salvation. In the world of kingdom allegory, holy fooling and wordplay, not all that glitters is 'gold'. Oh discernment discernment discernment, by prophecy for prophecy.

Jer29-30 We are Followers of The Way in London, like Jews in Babylon. We are in exile, but we have a task, we are on mission. I'm not sure how far I can mix these city metaphors..we believe we will be unexiled, but that this is the ongoing transformation of London from a Babylon to a Jerusalem, perhaps, rather than a waiting to be taken elsewhere. Instructions for those in the city: by in the city but not of the city – do not ghettoise yourselves, be immersed; v5 plant & build & marry & put down foundations. v7 Work for the good of the city, bless the city, v8 pray to the living God on behalf of the city, pray for the city that doesn't know God, like nuns in Notting Hill. But you are not Babylonians, you are Jews & you must not give up your work for redemption & the hope for this completion because this is still 30v5-7 a dark place, but v8 God liberates, & v11 will liberate fully. These are such glorious, grace-filled passages. After 28 chapters of sin & woe, after v10 seventy years of exile, after a dry season, after one's own failure, again, God always comes with extravagant grace, which hits with all the greater force for the recognition of the constancy and intensity of our depravity and darkness, so let broken perfume jars of worship be our response. 29v13 God still wants us, seeks us, and will be found. We are loved, we are graced 29v10-15 30v11 v17. Noting that two of Acts11's offers strike us here also – 30v1-2 the importance of writing down, making an account, telling your story & showing your reasoning, as a way of expanding the kingdom in an emergent way. Also 29v24-32 on navigating disagreement and public prophesy. Jeremiah rightly prophesies hard words in public and is resisted – maybe I resist this for wrong reasons, & so repentantly seek wisdom here.

Jer31-32 There is a not-yet coming, the nowness of which coming is measured by dancing v4 v13 we dance between the now and the not yet. The not-yet is measured also by our dinner table: at our house's banquet let there be the blind, the lame and the pregnant. .. 31v21 set way-markers, leave a breadcrumb trail of prophetic acts, score intentional traceability, showing your working, blazing a trail and signposting it. We are thus saved to save, led to lead, fed to feed (fred to free). There is something of retaining a sense of not-fully-at-homeness, even while we build houses and live in them, investing and becoming stakeholders in the city, we need to know where our imperishable estate is and how to get there, where our unbreakable investment is kept and how that lets us out-live and out-give the city in which we risk ourselves by being amongst. That path back is vital, you can dive the deepest darkest oceans with an oxygen line, you can drown in the shallow end of a splash pool without. We are called to the deeps, we are sent with supplies: our oxygen is the certain promise of future hope. .. 32 Home is where the heart is. Where your treasure is, there shall your heart be also. Are you feeling my syllogism? Buy to let your heart's treasure be known. .. v17-24 When you pray say.. The ascription we offer to God should grow as we journey with him. Father God, the God who provided a house, who healed our skin, who did x, is y and whose character we know to be z. Although there is a minor sense in which Jeremiah is extrapolating an introduction because he is about to question God, nevertheless, it seems a good practice to calibrate up your expectations in prayer by first giving testimony of answered prayer. Speak it, that is the challenge to me, giving shape to my life's path up to this point of travelling with God, giving it shape by words for the sake of others, for the sake of memory, for the sake of God's glory and my good. So, God's endless splendour of creation, of spring time, and all of my favourite things, God of grace who pursues me, intensively, specificaly, who knows my weaknesses, who has a plan by these present house challenges to refine me. Thank you God, please, for boldness today.

Jer33 Much of this chapter is about returning - v7 a rebuilding, v11 to prosperity, v6 healing, restoration & v8 purification all include a sense of recapturing a lost good, once known, but forgotten. And so it is in some sense, God made us to be perfect, we have 'fallen' from what we were made for. but lest this becomes simply a nostalgia for the innocence of childhood or the simplicity of the agrarian, God tells us v3 that in his redemption he will tell us things that are completely new, not remembered, but things that come from without, transforming everything. Great & hidden things, wonderful & marvellous things, which before we know nothing about. God restores us to what we should be, but in every proper sense this is a terrifying adventure. Jesus, you are both our first love and our new life. This is true for the ways we, & those with us an be restored today, so listen.

Jer34 v15 Do you not know the holiness of your covenant with God? It is as faithful and mysterious as the way 33v21 day follows night. Let's not mess around. God, as we find ourselves 34v3 face to face with others, we would v4 listen for your voice, taking you seriously, fleeing our proclivity to v17 disobedience. You are our joy, and as such I pray you keep us in obedience. show us even now what that means.

Jer35 What say we to this? O Methodist offspring, O mish-kids. Perhaps I am unhelpful, this passage is not here to make much of teetotal tent-dwelling, but it does demand some critical consideration of our inheritance - discerning and designing our legacy. The way we carry the baton of certain temporal, mundane, earthly ways, rhythms, and disciplines is useful of itself (v7 to live many days) but further, it is teachablistic picture of carrying and transferring the heavenly baton of the gospel from one generation to the next. It concerns that neglected wisdom of grandparents. I take for granted that this 'command' v6, as we would practice it, is not an intergenerational imposition, but a Godly inheritance that asks: what have I found in my spiritual life in my context, in my language amongst this culture with my genes towards a commission to love to reach my neighbours in a locality in all of its specificity that I find I profit by and the gospel advances through? What have I learnt? How can I bequeath it robustly? How can I have a transferable, imitatable faith? I have been considering a Navigator's word on 1Cor3v10 and 2Tim3v10-11. The first emphasising the skilfulness of Christianity-as-apprenticeship, the second as a call to make your discipleship program nameable in its patterns of Life which bring life. .. To the same extent that marriage finds it primary purpose in imaging the church's betrothal to Christ, so inheritance of habits (and property) find their purpose in imaging the Way/work (and grace for it) that we gain in Christ?

Jer36 We exclude prophets we close our ears, the doors of the temple of our body. But see: God is desperate to reveal himself. Please hear me, I'll come in disguise, I'll come by messengers you don't expect, I'll come in by a window, I am the God who makes a way to get my message into forbidden cities. ..v32 As Lk20v11 and he sent another servant.. Ours is a God of absurd patience. Why does he do it? Why? To spite all my faithlessness? What kind of love is this?

Jer37-38 Zedekiah holds a mirror up to our own mixed motives and conflicted faithlessnesses. We long to hear God, knowing deep down that God is the source of our life, and we long for people to pray, we know there is something worth pursuing, that touches our inner being more profoundly than we could say..but we do not want to be obedient, and we are afraid of public shaming, and we do not quite trust God to be God...has it not been said that some things are too good to be true? We hold ourselves back from total surrender. To recall this week - total daily surrender. Daily, because even 37v10 a day of victory will be followed by defeat if you are not surrendered to God. Your addictions and shortcomings will always be waiting for you, and only in Christ, in total surrender to the glorious kindness and power of Christ, can we by more than overcomers, thank God

Jer39-40 What God says 38v18 will come to pass 39v8 - God directs history 40v3. Hiding in the city will not save you from judgement, as fleeing 39v4 the city will not save you from judgement v5. But trust in God and he will surely save you v19. .. Of trust and empire: 38v17 'surrender to..Babylon then your life shall be saved' 40v10 'dwell in the land, serve the Babylonions' - in the question of our relationship or resistance or boycott or bearing-with the imperial powers of our day there is a time for everything, everything except disobedience to God. How can we obey unless we hear God, how can we hear without listening for instruction? Perceiving a God who is actively prophetically making his will known is crucial to any Christianity that hopes to be more than deathly religion. So the poetry of blinding Zedekiah 39v7 joins him to the blind guides of Jn9v40 Mt23v16. Come and see, taste and see..

Jer41 I am somewhat numbed to such inexplicable tales as Gedaliah & Ishmael's, like watching My Beautiful Laundrette.. what does it mean? What are the motivations of these characters? Why am I reading this? God, show me what I cannot see, forgive me for rushing away and cruising through, for not taking you seriously, for skewed priorities and empty words. Please flood upon us, with words and wonder, please put joy and conviction in our hearts, please make us boldly and specifically prayerful. For these things today I ask.

Jer42 v2-4 Pray. Pray fervently and intercessorily. Pray especially when people v2 ask and you have v4 committed to doing so. v4 Pray for an answer, even when your conviction in answers feels strained, v7 wait for your answer, 10days, or 10 years, continuing to prays as you wait. v11 pray to know God's heart (it is longing and closeness and mercy) v6 pray that obedience will follow, v20 pray even when it doesn't. Pray fervently in a world of difficult things; God is no mere superhero.

Jer43-44 Hard words. v3 We accuse those who we know to have sought our best interests in the past; we accuse those who we know to have spoken truth prophetically in the past - such is our irrational attachment to the hope of Elsewhere, as if our destination (rather than our disobedience) was the source of our difficulty. In receiving from ones who love us, words we don't want to hear, let us be open, let us know and overcome our (fertility prosperity etc) idols which deafen us. In bringing to ones we love, words they don't want to hear, let us risk rejection, risk being called a liar, risk. .. 44v17-18 Idols are manufactured in selective memories - we remember a golden age that wasn't and ascribe it to a goddess who didn't. Journalling prayers and answers would moderate my worst self-deceptions, if only I would in a less sporadic fashion. Prayers for you, for an impossibly comic-ly Acts12 day worth journalling.

Jer45-46 Mercy justice mercy justice. 45v4-5 God;s heart is more broken than mine. I was wondering if this were really true, in every case, and it surely is. God feels not only my hurts but everyone' half-twinges of empathy for a self-selected few others is such a fraction of this world's brokenness. Sometimes I don't even listen to my own broken heart, let alone others. God hurts for all the years of hurt in all the places & all the ways that brokenness & pain make their way in. God hurts for intergeneration traumas & learned destructive behaviours. For sadistic masochistic secret ways, for exhaustion that leads to being less. 46 in knowing the pain of pain, v10 God loves to be just. But how is God just? v28 God will punish us fairly? How could this be? If we deserve death, which we do, then our fair punishment must be death or nothing. We are not only a little bit guilty, deserving a little bit of punishment but not total desolation, as one reading of v28 might suggest. The passage ends v27-28 with restoration, with mercy, with grace. In restoration, I understand mercy &justice to come together. In retribution, they seem to come apart. So I have understood God's way as a way of restoration rather than retribution, as a way of trying to understand mercy justice. This is now as abstract as it might be, I feel the weight of these questions in my heart. Theological muddles & things of these scriptures that I don't understand. What makes punishment restorative, & how does Jesus transform this? I want to be here, wrestling, believing that God feels the weight of these incomparably more than I. God knows the price and the value of mercy justice, it is this God that we love.

Jer47-48 Two verses seem pertinent. 48v10 'Cursed is he who does the work of the Lord with slackness.' This is to Babylon in their destroying so perhaps there are better out-of-context verses to emphasise working 'as for the Lord' and 'doing whatever your hand finds to do with all your might'.. If I have economised time with God, it has been for less profitable things, which threatens a vicious cycle of slackness, slackness which counter-intuitively gives way to exhaustion. And for no good reason, for he renews the strength of those who wait on him, and every morning, for yesterday's mercies are as faded, even rotted, manna. The work of God primarily? Is to know God (and knowing is best known in making known (sometimes?)). Do not be slack in this. You will not be disappointed. You will be like a tree planted by streams etc. … The other verse which struck me is v28 Leave the cities and dwell in the rock.. I am over Ellul, but this strikes me pertaining to fasting. The 'city' has its analogy in collaborative codependent Christian discipline. God wants you, his own beloved, treasured one, to grow tall on one rock, on one foundation, Christ. Leave the 'city' of exaggeratedly horizontal Christianity. Fasting as self-discipline is a fruit of the.. If we need encouragement, there is a wonderful counsellor who is the.. The man of the world gonna let you down but.. If we do not know there to be a Rock beyond the city which can sustain us in our fasting, we will have no sure bedrock to help build fasting into other people. Too strong? This is preached to myself and the ways I relentlessly cushion the rawness of God by constructing too much church. A proclivity which terrifies me. This man of the world texting gonna let you down, but Jesus will never fail.

Jer49-50 Sheep metaphors. We all like sheep have gone astray, undone by the flesh, the world and the devil, distorting the voice of the good shepherd. 50v6 sheep astray, because of our faithlessness, the forgetfulness of our fold amongst distracting things. 49v19-20 50v17 v44-46 little flock, you are hunted by lions, you are hunted by the lion who 1Pt5v8 prowls around, feeding you lies, waiting to devour you. Be alert & self-controlled little flock, we forget we have an active enemy. But take heart, the good shepherd promises 50v19 restoration to the pasture, despite our straying. And God is God is God, still, stop and listen to the voice of the good shepherd, the God who has 49v19 has no shepherd and answers to no-one, who cannot be manipulated. Silly sheep, still trying to outfox the shepherd. In trying to filter God through others I do not let Go be my shepherd. Forgive me. This to learn, that, committing your loved ones to 49v11 God's care, one's trust and allegiance begins and ends with the good shepherd's, who knows us each, who Lk15v1-7 leaves the ninety-nine for this one lost sheep.

Jer51-52 v7 The nations went mad, like the Guardian's $1,000,000,000,000 headline this week, it is a sort of madness. And v17 every man was stupid, and v43 the cities became a horror. Etc etc. These are how the end looks, how it happens, but it doesn't have to look like that, men don't have to be like that, we can be sober-minded, we can CAP our budgets, we can have sufficient grasp of survival that we could v45 get out of the city in the sense of dependence, even while being amongst the mess. Anyways, this is thinking aloud about madness and civilisation, about Johann and the ubiquity of it all.. I desire that Swallows and Amazons dimension of Christianity, that could survive a wilder weathering. The words that came to my mind early in the music this evening were to be 'urgently human'. Then 52, the sovereign promises of God come to pass. Bring on Lamentations.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

200words: the robinson institute

Conspiracy theorists trade in insinuated causality, but we forgive this here for the pleasure of being swept along on a 'fictional' bucolic romp across the land we love - and love to hate, apparently. Dirty Old Blighty is rendered in Koyaanisqatic maximalism with a laboriously concocted miserablism, and the capitalist fish in this globalised barrel are poked at with Keiller's gift for statistics, hyperbole and dour visual association. Is this a guilty pleasure? Am I part of the problem by participating, by attending, by blogging? Haven't we Adbusted all this already? Curating on the brink of collapse: it's all a bit mundane now, a bit tired; car crash auto-voyeurism of a self-piteous kind has run its course, welcome to the age of post-environmentalism, a new age, an age so convinced of collapse, so aware of human depravity that we entertain the desperate 'fictional' fantasy that a 'network of non-human intelligences' might 'preserve the possibility of life's survival on the planet'. Keiller taps this superstitious sentiment in both the style and substance of the Robinson outings, free-associating fact and meaning in a wilful act of cognitive dissonance. ... Father, forgive me my oil for I know not what I am doing.