Tuesday, 24 December 2013
Monday, 23 December 2013
Mt23v1-2 The law is universal regularity. It is steel structure as well as golden sunlight, as well as five-dimensional tapestry. Freedom is bound to the good as much as it is true, & so unyoked ones act in accordance with the law. An accordance dance, a paisley pattern of goodness, stretched through time&space, depthed with a hundred diamonds.
Mt23v3 Texting leads only to poverty Pr14v23, therefore, let my words be few Ec5v2. Economy of words: Christianity is not a doing we instruct but a done that we explain. Jesus rose. Use words if you have to, use those, Jesus rose.
Mt23v4 However, to cut a short story long, consider weight. The Pharisees' burdens are barea and dysbastakos: heavy and awkward, the rucksack is weighty and poorly packed, you're pulling a train and by hooks in your flesh, you know when your muscles shudder because the load is both very massive and very unstable. Mt11v30 Jesus' burden is elaphron and chrestos, light and delightful, nice and easy, chrestos appears also in Lk6v35 and Eph4v32 well-fitted actively kind. However. While Jesus accuses the Pharisees' burdens of being heavy barea, in Mt23v23 he will criticise that they neglect the heavier barytera issues. Christianity is heavier. We carry more weight, but with more help. Much more help. We carry a negative net weight. We're walking in the air.
Mt23v5-6 'the person accustomed to the ways of society is always outside herself & knows how to live only in the opinion of others' - Rousseau. Do I flog this horse to death? Only because Jesus has to keep bringing me back to life from this particular death, folding my paper facade back into flesh & breathing. Clothes, food & the spatiality of seating: prime vehicles for reified ideology. 'Talita kumi!' says he to me.
Mt23v7-8 Those who can, teach. Can you? Do you? Should you? 'Teacher' is used here pejoratively because it is ascribed exclusively, violently, and asymmetrically. By contrast with such teacherly powerplay we are a brotherhood, Jesus says. How we brother relates to how we teach relates to how we truth. I offer three kinds. There is a brotherhood who huddles unteachably from the world, defended by a warm blanket of aggressive subjectivism, what's true for me is true. Hey! Teacher! Leave us kids alone! And so Pink Floyd catalyse a brotherhood of resistance. Is this what Jesus means? .. Second there is the brotherhood that forms around a genius, the learnt mystique of architecture school's tutors, where 'teaching' is initiating into a dark art, a brotherhood of blood and late nights in the studio, learning the secret knowledge by which one day we will be a somebody, a brand, a tutor at the AA. .. Third there is a brotherhood that forms around superabundance, who truth not defensively as the first, nor defiantly as the second, but derivatively, teachable teachers passing on what they freely received. Thus Christianity advances schools with an urgency foreign to worldviews that consider knowledge to be useful but not saving. Aspire to the role of teacher in an unglamorous economy, that by whatever means or mediums the world would know. It is a noble task.
Mt23v9-10 So this feels like a silly extreme sort of thing to say, like hating one's mother & father. & we're told to call teachers Eph4v11, leaders 1Tim3 & fathers Eph6. So what's going on? The Jesus-is-anti-family crowd want to use this, the disestablishment of particularities & justice-is-radical-equality: impartial & impersonal, 'cause there's no marriage in heaven yeah, you should get amongst the subversion of it now? Which grieves not only the desire for particularity, & belief in the greater depth of life as such, but also the sense of what the best sort of justice could be, where all are family-found. Families in heaven? Jesus' own choices to be invested particularly, & the right order of the NT church are families by another name. Does Jesus make extreme statements to force us to reflexive equilibrium, an ongoing recalibration, of our understanding of family & church? What's going on?
Mt23v11-12 Pride comes before a fall, etc. Is this just a true truth, a general maxim? Is Jesus merely a karma policeman issuing an you-get-what-you-give-ticket under the jurisdiction of what-goes-around-comes-around? And what is pride anyways? Where does pride begin? None of us so naive as to be actually proud, not in the pantomime broad phylacteries sense of it. But sometimes I lack humility. Sometimes I can be passively tacitly unteachable. Humility is a choice. Pride is my resting state. I was born proud. There is pride in nonchalance. And, counter-intuitive though it seems, humility requires hard work in trying to achieve it. Just as Jesus actively humbled himself Ph2v8, we are to actively humble ourselves 1Pt5v5. By actively servanting, by becoming skillful in seeking out the thankless tasks of invisible servitude, by rendering all of life secret service.
Mt23v13-14 Thinking about ones we know, & thinking about me. Thinking about the painful & lonely space. What keeps persons from inhabiting with confidence the kingdom of heaven? Our words & our ways, our language, our silences, our premises, our conclusions, our forcefulness, our arrogance, our blindness, our narrowness, our shut-down, our simpering. Its been said, & unsaid, & needs saying again. Sorry but it does. Come Holy Spirit, upon raw wounds. Come under the bell jar. Come under the door, through the door, wrench it off its hinges. Doors doors. There's a crack in each shut door; its how the light gets in. Light get in, light get in. Please. Light of life of the world get in. There's a gate, you see. Its the light, & declare again, its how the light gets in. Praying. Forgive us our trespasses, & let us pass, let them pass, let's get in. Light. Get. In.
Mt23v15-16 'Ye compass land and sea' has less to do with internationality per se, rather, it denotes any energetic intentionality producing the export of your kingdom's worldview. What am I zealous to achieve in 2014? (New Year's Eve being the most zealous day of the year) What Resolutions am I making? What will I thus export? 'Sons of Hell' There's nothing like misdirected missionary zeal to innoculate children from the kingdom of heaven.. so, be less zealous? Seek less evangelism? Risk less, speak less, travel less? By. No. Means. What then? In v14 the Pharisees lock people out the Kingdom of Heaven, this is because in v15 they lock people into a Kingdom of self-relation. Belockedness is found in self-relation of the for-itself. First, in v15's critique of missionaryism - when 'crossing land and sea' becomes honorific it is an idol exporting idols. Second, in v16, when language becomes self-related, it becomes but nuanced nonsense: the export of superstitious powerplay. Oh Phil, beware christianese, beware the small talk that leads to destruction. .. What am I resolving in 2014? Timely these verses. I want to be zealous against my pride - to be drawn out of my self-relation, by Jesus, through prayer, especially prayer with others and for others. What are you resolving as 2014 begins? How can i pray for thee?
Mt23v17-18 'Blind fools.' The blindness of the arbitrary distinctions of religion, layers of self-related interpretation. The blindness that is a foolishness, that will never woo the world, never take flesh-heart joy in Jesus, but is stony, unseeing. 'Purge our sight', we prayed the new years prayer, & today is the day for our vision revision. Wisdom sees, it differentiates light & dark, depth & tone. Look again, He is more beautiful than you thought.
Mt23v19-20 Good news: Covenant-keeping is a binary thing to God who promises us Life! How freeing it is that there's no partiality with God Rm2v11! By contrast with magic (Weber). Magic is powerplay by the adepts, whereas Christianity is radically a plebian religion. Holy cows make secondary things primary, and swearing by gold makes an arbitrary thing sacred (& so also offers insurance collateral?) but if everything is spiritual, I can let my yes be yes?
Mt23v21-22 Meaning making. There are no symbols in a vacuum, no super-spontaneously-self-created meanings, but a shared framework required. What binds your promises, what premises your claim? What is the thing behind the thing? This is what philosophy done well does, it strips back to reveal things behind the things which makes meaning meaning making. & the ultimate shared framework: the throne & temple: the God of glory, the God who dwells close by.
Mt23v23 "What would Jesus make of Foodbanks?" I was asked out of the blue last week. Jesus loves feeding people, no? Contrast two charitable giving accounts: Mt23v23 and Mk12v42's widow's mite. When Phil gives a bag of pasta to a Foodbank, which is he?  As a proportion of his wealth: pedantic or sacrificial?  As a heart attitude: to look busy or to effect change?  As an ambition: addressing the symptoms or causes of injustice?
Mt23v24 Strain. I think the Jesus who loved to pun has also enjoyed that this has been variously (mis)translated 'strain at' and 'strain out'. The strenuous nature of divisive and excessive hygiene is visited by another playful and polemic poet, Lecrae: 'Christ rebelled by shunning the kosher, he eatin' with sinners, giving Pharisees ulcers..' Let Jesus take the strain. Let Jesus take the strain. So you can give yourself away.
Mt23v25-26 On the phenomenology of cup-cleaning, squelchy soapy sponge scraping out, rinsed a hot or cold shock. Gutted. Hollowed. Tipped upside down to steam dry. This now, for interviews, sermons, essays & friendships, easy to clean from the outside, to just keep together, to look okay. I want to be scraped out not scraping by. Create in me a clean heart oh God, & renew a right spirit within me.
Mt23v27-28 Why wash tombs? Demarcation and hygiene, minimalism and refinement, amnesia and denial. My self-whitened white is proud as chalk on a blackboard, yet lost and obscure as a polar bear in the snow. Silly, I already have a whiteousnous, not my own Ph3v9. Boast in that. .. Is1v18 'Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow..' Who washes whom and how? Cleanliness proceeds from Godliness only as a gift from the God who cleans Jn13v5.
Mt23v29-30 The existentialism that is not a humanism, as the response to the act of killing. Apt in our comfort believing we are good, separated by history & geography sufficiently to believe ourselves not that evil, not that evil. But bones & blood & death in my heart. I know, i know, you're right, i know. Christ the light of the world came to dispel the darkness of our hearts, because it's dark down here, you're right.
Mt23v31 Son of a wha'? Name-dropping Nelson Mandela. Moi? Pity the powered-by-association: proof-texting, back-biting, and half-believing their own striving veneer of authenticity, founded on a reconstructed history. Back in the day bitches, after photoshopped pictures, Moses and me in felt-board stitches, history is written by the victors. The prophets? They had it good / they had it coming. As the Pharisees were towards the prophets, so it is possible for me to be towards Jesus, just another name-dropper.
Mt23v32 Jesus bates, bring it. This the crescendo of his battle rap. This the call-my-bluff, this the but-if-not, this the 'Come and kill me now while my name's hot. Shoot me twenty-five times in the same spot...' Jesus bids us come and kill, knowing we will. Both barrels, filled up to the full measure. To abstract Jesus to an ahistorical idea or ideal, to speak of him blithely, to say nothing new, nothing now, nothing alive, is to have killed him, is to kill him. Why not just go all the way. .. Maybe such confrontation is the only way to prise me from my religione? Jesus waits for me with broken heart v37.
Mt23v33-34 I started by thinking about the intellectual difficulties of not being a hypocrite, but this is not what Jesus is calling out. Jesus doesn't condemn real wrestling for truth. Jesus calls out the heart attitude that resists telling & being told the truth, that Jn3v19 loves the darkness. A heart like a brood of vipers, like this woman's dream i read yesterday: goo.gl/OXd5XE, the poison of resisting the truth, resisting the light, snakes on snakes on snakes. & of the brood, thinking on its multi-use in the English: broods as in brooding, brooding on something, dwelling in it, steeping deeper & deeper in venom. & broods as in breeding, begetting. The GNB: you snakes & children of snakes! Lies beget more lies. But light had come into the world. But the truth shall set you free.
Mt23v35 A tidy accident of translation that the Pharisees murdered from A to Z through history. When you censor prophecy you have to be comprehensive. When you start censorship, intractably, it escalates. Fear to anger, anger to hate, hate to the dark side / fury. Thence to all the righteous bloodied - such good intentions and insecurity made the murder of Jesus coherent to some. What trajectory am I a part of? Where do i despise prophecy? Danger.
Mt23v36 'this generation'. Jesus is no longer woing the Pharisees, he woes the whole crowd. He no longer woes those who have gone before, he woes you. Now. Talking about my generation. Some sin lies latent: unpunished patterns of encultured disbelief and systemic nominalism.. Ac17v30 In the past God overlooked.. but now. Who is this generation? v33 How will they escape being condemned to hell? How have I escaped being condemned to hell? Have I? Danger.
Mt23v37-38 Christ the eternal maternal. For the chicks nestled, the babes at bathtime, the mother is alpha & omega, beginning & end. How quickly & fickly children resist the mother, smiles to screams & yeses to nos in a moment, because of our own caprice. How much more do we resist Christ as mother because this has been systemically covered over? The peace required for sound sleep comes with the safe, dark, secret place of the lap of the mother God.
Mt23v39 'O Jerusalem..' The urban condition is one deserving special pity, concern and lament for Jesus, as for Nehemiah before him. Thusly should we weep for London. So must we pray for London - a city with an Eye that does not see, blinded by the lights, with selective hearing, resistant and rebellious, as I. Aren't we all, chicks dispersed to a hen of our own making. Note that worship precedes sight. When we speak the 'Blessed is he', then we'll see.
The interest of our group was particularly in those buildings which were like teeth hollowed out, rotted within, shot through with the cavities of disuse. Unlike a missing teeth investigation which notes the absences, omissions and demolitions; this inquiry looks to the ruins and remains that hint at what was: which offer scope for adaptive reuse, imaginative reinvention, and building back better. We are interested in those sites which represent rotted teeth ready for gold-fillings.
Dental ontology: a tooth is alive, and regularly, it would itself maintain the integrity of its pearly white outer and the root which that protects. However, it can happen, by trauma or neglect, by accident of circumstance or the specific conditions of its immediate location that the structure of enamel comes to be damaged and gradually demineralised, or otherwise, from within the life of the living tooth inside is cut-off or poisoned. This relationship between integrity of external form and successful function of its internal use is true also for buildings.
Mapping the site, the so-called rotten teeth make their neglect conspicuous: the wildly overgrown St Clement's Hospital Site, the richly graffitied office block opposite Bromley-by-Bow station, the locked and rusted underground toilets at Bow Church. In each of these places the original life has gone out of the organ and left it vulnerable to the parasitic colonisations of squatters and the natural elements. On these sites, our investigation proposes to imagine a new life by a new use, which would restore in gold the neglected teeth, rendering them as the crowning glory in the smile of Tower Hamlets.
Saturday, 21 December 2013
Friday, 20 December 2013
"We left the house in Alderney Street together to walk a little way out of town along the Mile End Road to the large Tower Hamlets cemetery, which is surrounded by a tall, dark brick wall and, like the adjoining complex of St Clement’s Hospital, according to a remark made by Austerlitz in passing, was one of the scenes of this phase of his story. In the twilight falling over London we walked slowly falling along the paths of the cemetery, past monuments erected by the Victorians to commemorate their dead, past mausoleums, marble crosses, stelae and obelisks, bulbous urns and statues of angels, many of them wingless or otherwise mutilated.."
(Austerlitz - W.G. Sebald p320)
Following in the inquisitive footsteps of Sebald’s protagonist we went forth, criss-crossing the dense and varied social topology that extends from Mile End to Bromley-by-Bow. For our initial project, a ‘test strip’, the 2013 London-based group of students from Diploma Unit 6 were tasked with exploring and surveying a diverse but deprived borough - one with the highest rate of child poverty in the city.
The exercise involved mapping the metabolism of a region, outlining the spirit of a place and gaining a fluency in the ways the site’s character surprises and delights as it permeates a range of spatial scales: building, street, neighbourhood. As well as uncovering some of Tower Hamlets’ energy, novelty and history. Such mapping finds also that the physical and cultural artefacts betray the vast urban anxiety, dereliction and madness so vividly captured in Austerlitz.
The site in question falls in an ambiguous fringe between the energetic hubs of the City, the Olympic Park and Canary Wharf. Locally, the area selected for our investigation is bounded conspicuously by major transport arteries: pieces of massive civic infrastructure which threaten to dominate the fragile feel of this small district, suffocating the life of it by their impassability. To the North stretches unbroken the loud and unforgiving Mile End Road, hailed as Highstreet 2012 during the Olympics, this road was the site of three of November’s shocking series of cyclist deaths. To the South, the intersection of three Victorian railway lines generates a web of divided urban pockets in a warren of low-density industry and intrigue. The effect of these rail tracks on the site typifies the urbanism of the ‘East End’ - a term which gained a pejorative sense in the social fallout from the 19th century’s rapid and unplanned expansion of a desperate population alongside the ruthless industrial spatiality of docks, mills and the railway.
To the East, access to the River Lea Valley and historic mill district beyond is abruptly cut short by the Blackwall Tunnel approach. The limit of the site is marked at the North-east corner by Bow Church, where a statue of William Gladstone with bloodied hands overlooks a traffic island before Bow roundabout. Further down, to the South-East Bromley-by-Bow is another edge marker made boldly visible by St Andrew’s recent addition of towering residential blocks. Lastly, to the West, the long Millennium Park following Regent’s Canal offers an edge to the site, sympathetically, but absolutely. This greened strip now sits atop the rubble of the houses intensively bombed in some of the worst of the destruction wrought by World War Two on London.
Somewhat hidden behind unkempt trees, but commanding a strategic position at the centre of this metropolitan block stands the former St Clement’s Hospital: a workhouse, before it was an asylum. The walled site begins on Mile End Road and backs onto Tower Hamlets Cemetery park, (a 27 acre woodland in zone 2!) This large central piece in the mosaic of the site aptly presents two quintessential heterotopias, in the terms of Foucault, asylums and cemeteries are spaces of otherness, altered microcosms of city life, found typically on the fringe of society, where life crises can be processed, or deviations perpetrated.
It is on this site, closed since 2005, that London’s first Community Land Trust is being developed. On our first visit we were introduced to the Trust and their Shuffle festival, whose aims parallel those of the unit: to be a catalyst for adaptive change, cultural exchange and authentic revitalisation, at the heart of a hinterland marked by the volatility of migration, rash regeneration and a lack of legible public centres. And in the vein of the ELCLT’s ambition, the preliminary project, following the survey, was to conceive adaptations, subtle erasures and additions to the existing found fabric of Mile End and Bromley-by-Bow.
This exercise sent us to draw out the jewels in the metabolism, like Kingsley Hall, which embody a memory with many layers, here the temporary home to Mahatma Gandhi in 1931, elsewhere thousands of stories of historic Huguenot refugees, Irish weavers, Ashkenazi Jews and, in the 20th century, Bangladeshis - who have shaped the landscape, defined the economy and rendered this topology rich with potential for an architecture of exchange.
Thursday, 19 December 2013
"this still and private place,"
"something of a jungle, scattered with ruinous buildings from which birch trees grew in profusion."
(Gerard Morgan-Grenville on Llwyngwern before CAT)
Small is beautiful. Here it is exquisite. At the Centre for Alternative Technology, the case for appropriate building methods is made phenomenologically: when on a crisp and early dappled dawn, the late autumn’s mellow fruitfulness hangs moist in the valley, one emerges from the wood-fired snug of an eco-lodge to a curious collection of exemplary improvisations, adaptations loosely fitted but perfectly suited to their place, each standing as living pictures of an other way to conduct our building on earth.
Between the 8th and the 11th November, the UK-based group of Diploma Unit 6 students shared the six hour overland journey to the renowned but remote enclave of experimental architecture and technological demonstration. As a field-trip, CAT near Machynlleth in Wales, by its affordability of access and by the understated and unexotic brand of its location, represents exactly the wealth of possibilities available at the neglected frontier of architecture for the unpublished 99%.
The current global climate of rapid change and scarce resource affects every locality and it needs for a radically unprejudicial reappraisal of the notion of the ordinary and its neglect in many localities. Resource scarcity demands architects give themselves to the ernest uncovering of the hidden and extra-ordinary, natural and human, physical and cultural energies latent in that environment into which they are thrown. In this transformative view of the world, even the entirely ordinary motorway expedition is rendered as an adventure or a pilgrimage, an extension of the destination where intentional but unknown, creative but cooperative enterprise And at the journey’s end, the red and yellow hues of the valley enveloped a frenzy of activity. Our brief was to take the earlier London exercises of mining the site at different scales by survey, and translate these to a mining of the site at different scales by production: a learning by doing and by so doing, making real the latent potential of the waste we found on site.
"..we know by instinct that outsize buildings cast the shadow of their own destruction before them, and are designed from the first with an eye to their later existence as ruins"
(Austerlitz - W.G. Sebald p19)
The history of CAT is the history of many exploited natural landscapes, sites where the ground itself is commodified for the one dimensional extraction of a briefly lucrative resource before the shifting tide of profitability renders the enterprise, the equipment and related infrastructure obsolete. Such was the case at the Llwyngwern Slate Quarry, which dates from at least 1835, and maintained production under various proprietors during the 19th century. However, the efficient disposal of waste rock began to become a problem and production volume dwindled, work ceased in 1941 and the final sale, closure and the scrapping of machinery took place The quiet site was gradually colonised by birch trees, until this landscape of a spent resource and the detritus that proceeded from its exploitation found a valuation as an entirely different resource to serve an imaginative end, in the vision of Gerard Morgan-Grenville in 1973. The site thus became a mine for an alternative economy. CAT was founded as "a project to show the nature of the problem and show ways of going forward.". Such a project begins with an attitude to the site, which values place and material differently.
In four small groups, we set about to undertake a large scale modelling exercise, cooperatively. Each group was concerned with a single building element, each a single piece that corresponded roughly with a major programmatic concern from the group members’ London proposal. Thus we variously developed four elements: a monolith, an arched window wall, a frame and a roof structure. Each Working in a single material crucially distills the design focus, forcing the emergence of only the forms which come most readily to the properties of that material. Bricks behave in their own unique way, with their own unique strengths, limits and inexhaustible poetic potential. Thus, standing alone, the material is freed to display its innate qualities without the ambiguity of intra-material subjugation or pretence that complex and compound material structures risk. However, the challenge was not only to draw to an excellence the individual piece in its respective woodiness or stony-ness, as if fetishied and willfully puristic, but rather, to do so in a way whereby the components interact interdependently, mutually, cooperatively, even conversationally with one another. The excellence arrives when the elements speak to one another, bear up and bear upon one another and sing together as more than the sum of their parts: working thus so cooperatively that when considered together, this community of objects can be considered as a single actor set upon the stage of a larger scale: the neighbourhood or landscape or larger organism. Thus, in playing this game with materials, setting one scale of construction in the context of another, one is caught up in recursive communities of cooperating elements made out of cooperating elements made out of cooperating elements. It is a fluency in this vocabulary of scales which is the primary language of architecture, and the poetic basis for sustainable living.
Wednesday, 18 December 2013
Tuesday, 17 December 2013
Wednesday, 11 December 2013
Tuesday, 26 November 2013
Mt22v1-2 The Kingdom of Heaven *is* like a wedding feast. Carson distinguishes this feast metaphor from Revelation's messianic banquet. This Kingdom feast is, we are, we do. Is-like-feasting (present tense ~ or more interestingly, literally 'has become like') at a feast for which invitations (aorist ~pluperfect tense) have already been sent out, invitations which (imperfect tense (v3)) are being rejected. Therefore be feasting, be savouring the feast of human experience that we enjoy convivially with-God. Be glass-is-half-full, be glass-is-running-over. It is a more-than state of mind, but also, it is more than a state of mind. Understand that a belief in the already-ness of the feast is an active and transformative affront to defensive and protectionist notions of scarcity. Also, consider that you live amongst a world invited. The feast is on and we, who are in on the secret, are simply to make it known, and to make it known by feasting. One beggar to another, from joy to joy.
Mt22v3-4 Questions on the particularity & universality of God, which is a multipersonal question ... I'm not sure how to interpret the mind of God here? Also on the multipersonal here the old questions of mercy, justice & grace. If mercy is between 2, & justice between many (maybe), grace pushes beyond mercy & justice both ways, as it were, always inviting in the more, many more, where few would make more sense, whilst remaining a gift between persons?
Mt22v5-6 What is going on? Just honest farmers declining a random wedding invite? Prudent to put business before pleasure to get anywhere in this world, wise to be wary of free lunches, got to at least look busy.. KJV says they 'made light of the invite', there is something in the lightness which is their undoing, somewhat as when a generation assumes the gospel, their children will forget it, and their children will deny it. The wedding-feast-iness of Christianity is easily obscured, lost in the busyness of life. ... then v6. What is going on? Who shoots such messengers? Whence cometh such mischief? It seems so utterly disproportionate as to alienate the audience. But what if this analogy is proportionate. Martyrs and the persecuted church aside, what about the ways my lukewarmth allows the world to deny God, allows evil and chaos to prevail, sets up the gospel for a slow death. Am I complicit, by my unweddingyness, through my busyness, in the undermining of the message and the resulting shameful treatment of its messengers?
Mt22v7-8 Kant had something right when he said our aim is not happiness, but becoming worthy of happiness. Remembering to fast in order to feast? To remember my dizzying need of the christ. Resist the life of sleepy comfort, dear heart, for it leads to a city of destruction. Trembling, hand in His, we ask: fit us for heaven, to live with thee (t)here.
Mt22v9-10 '..anyone you find' (NIV) 'everyone you see' (NLT) 'as many as you find' (ESV) 'everybody you meet' (WNT) 'as many people as you can' (ILT). Tha's a lot of people in London. 'Bad and good' - who are we to addle by conservative estimation, moderation and limited invitation, the radical heterogeneity of God's guest list, he is the otherest otherer bringing us all together. Go, do, speak, invite, be a hyperactive togetherer.
Mt22v11-12 Was it pride that kept you silent? were you speechless in the exposure to your own irrationality? Were you there to celebrate ironically? did you follow the crowd without knowing why? were you too cool for school (uniform)? did you come to do anthropology rather than celebrate a wedding? Who's getting married anyway? I like to keep my options open for a better offer. I reckon we can fit in another party after this one. What was I doing again?
Mt22v13-14 John Peters has said: God blesses those who turn up. Yes, but. Are you also dress-coded. What does what you wear mean? Do you wear your Christianity on your sleeve? Metaphors aside, I wonder that this text might not also be read as an affirmation of fashion and an encouragement to attend to your literal attire? How is your faith integrated with you accessories? How should the elect be clad? Does your church architecture bespeak a wedding-attending sense of being in the world. Nothing extravagant, but maybe a perhaps some visual flourish made conspicuous occasionally to mark the occasion? It's a wedding after all.
Mt22v15-16 on manipulation. A real sin in my heart, both hidden & self-conscious. A reactivity, a desperate freedom, chasing after the roles we're modeled, the false security we cling to, the oughts unjustly expected. Manipulation is supremely self-defeating because even if it works, it doesn't work. To manipulate to a desired effect bypassing the other's freedom means they didn't really do it, & you didn't get what your heart ached for after all. So on it rolls, like a snake eating its own tail. It slithers away only banished by holy light.
Mt22v17-18 [The Pharisee passages are the hardest. So complex. So close to the bone.] Is it "lawful"? Exestin (Gk) the phrase comes again and again and always from the Pharisees: Mt12v2, Mt19v3, Mt20v15, Mt27v3.. Are you law-full? Are you concerned with thresholds of permissibility, housing regulations, minimum standards, abstracted principles? This passage is boring if it only shows Jesus as a skilled rhetorician eloquently bating the Pharisees, boring if we condemn the Pharisees as pantomime baddies plotting one-dimensional evil. I feel an almost unbearable sympathy for the Pharisees. Imagine. The Roman state has a clamp hold on your tiny community. Imagine. The military precision, the vast market economy with all of its bureaucratic force has defined your total reality, coloured everything, recalibrated all values. Imagine you are tasked with leading a Jewish people, a formerly peculiar, formerly distinctive, formerly chosen group of helpless humans.. Imagine this several generations in. Imagine the viscosity of the cynicism in the staff-room, apprenticing similar sophisticates into mute risk aversion, dead-end leadership and moral burn out. Imagine then, the temptation to play with words, to mask your duplicities, to deflect the unbearable weight of responsibility for your bottomlessly catastrophic compromises - consider the appeal of simple moral formulae, branded and certificated, codes votes on by collectives in suits, and supra-human bodies of appointed experts, kosher and Fairtrade and acronymed: LTH, CfSH, HQI, SbD... What political comfort there is in knowing your good intentions are said to be doing some good. What horror that you might be called to account for your lukewarm imperial architecture. What shame at the unveiling of the elaborate, impersonal, dis compassionate, mercenary mechanism of blame-shifting you have been so quietly but so energetically supporting.. Jesus calls my bluff. The lies I live and lead by. Jesus is strangely unfamiliar with the consensus of helplessness and hypocrisy. Jesus has no stake in the approval of any approving body. Jesus is the headlamp shining on my mediocrity that I must extinguish.
you're not for show,
they said, as i,
said for show,
because I do not show
but He knows,
and he asks me to show.
'Show me.' So,
and he knows,
and he shows.
He shows me,
behind the show, and
behind my show,
He shows me,
Mt22v21-22 Church and state. Death and taxes. The Kingdom of God plays in the deep end and wins. His opponents 'marveled'.. Is this because Jesus was especially clever, had he a preternaturally gifted legal mind? Maybe. However, that is not to say the power in his words here is not available also to all of us. If you simply speak plainly about the nature of the mustard seed Kingdom, you will knock over a lot of moral sophistry. We have a God who does not need to violently overthrow the existing state through obstreperous non-cooperation. Such is the wealth of his supply, we can pay our taxes out of love, even while we usher in a redemptive and irresistible revolution.
Mt22v23-24 I have real questions about the eschatology i am to put my faith in. Bodies & marriage & memory loom large. Where I ask these questions as a way of trying to catch God out, trying to be right for the sake of being right, I end up with ashes in the mouth. But how then do I ask? I really have these questions. & how do I teach a philosophy of religion course to the glory of God? Skipping ahead, what v29 preconditions are there, and what kind of v30 answer is Christ's? How then should I ask? I ask about asking that I might receive...
Mt22v25-26 Your theology of life-after-death can render your life-before-death deathly. What is death? Rm8v6 'To set the mind on the flesh is death' Death begins in the mind's attention and intention. See the waking dead Sadducees, deathly, deadly. Somewhat as Bothersome Man, as your eschatology goes, so follows your marriage: your wife's like kind of what your life's like: a chore, an endurance of serial murders, a legal technicality, an absurdity. No? No! Except for the absurdity. Marriage is absurd, just like resurrection is absurd. This is why it is such food for the riddlers: one man and one woman committed forever - Who can fathom it? Who can insure it? What laughable presumption that you, frail you, should pretend the strength to commit. But we do. Because we believe in more-than: Jesus is more-than David v43, God's covenant is more-than OT deaths v32, so Life is more-than being-towards-death.
Mt22v27-28 I started a lament on the cloud of unknowing. The dizzying of injustice & ugliness & confusion of text & tradition. But then God spoke with words & a face on the tube, her name was Rebecca, & I stopped. & I ceased to wonder.
Mt22v29-30 Texting Matthew is getting harder, I don't think it is just my busyness: the topics taught and tone of Jesus are both more controversially claimed and confrontationally framed, as the narrative climbs a gradual crescendo to Calvary. So. Sadducees. Different, I discover, from the Pharisees who are ragged poor radicalisers grizzling into their conservative beards. Saducaism, by contrast, consists in a wealth's vague and liberal at-easiness. They are the scriptural pick'n'mixers, blended naturalists, hybrid sophists, politically-correctists, sceptics, preaching the mild middle-classianity of no-supernaturalism-please-we're-British. Don't be. Oh be more dog. See Jesus, spaniel amongst the religiones. Resurrection and Marriage. Marriage is a quintessentially good-life-now sort of commodity, and yet somehow it is deemed a more noble acquisition for its being also a mysterious thing. How we define marriage, describe its nature and assess its value can be seen in the way we speak of its eternal endurance, which derives from our framework regarding eschatological contiguity. For all Belinda Carlisle and NT Wright's best efforts to offer a corrective to gnostic elsewhereism, there should be an unfamiliarity, a radically paradigmatically more-than nature to things in the not-yet age. Marriage, intimacy, love, pleasure - surely the 'power of God' is eager and able to do abundantly more in the age to come? Limiting God to the familiar is to doubt his eagerness to do more-than. Convolutedly, sorry. This parallels the mix of marriage values now. We're prone to make it everything or nothing: an idolatrous end-in-itself, or a mere legal technicality, an arbitrary accident of relationship management. Oh know the power of God, know the scriptures, know that marriage is a gift, and one which God can and will and longs to exceed.
Mt22v31-32 living¬dead. what is living? Dasein's present-continuous, turned over again again today: onion layers & angel bodies, morning light & a mental archaeology. How could living be other than this fresh nearness? As i sit, the word 'subvert' buds up, turning from below, to raze, destroy, overthrow. & i concede for the first time, that maybe life after death will be Other. Maybe i am an ant on a patchwork quilt, maybe Hume's problem of induction has more to say for itself on this day of re-reading than I knew, until now. Maybe (super)nature is not uniform, & so neither is my own (super)nature. Maybe the Kantian categories of space&time will be undone, & i will die & i will be made alive. I will be the living in another dimension. It will not just be a better version of this, or this with add-ons. It will be undone, unzipped, unconfigured completely. I will be put to death. But the dead are alive, not dead. Death will be no more. Maybe. Maybe i will be unmade by this horizon. Maybe it is so. Praise to the God of the living & not the dead, for varieties of life unimaginable. Glory glory.
Mt22v33-34 Crowds and ways we are we towards a Christ who silences. How hears you? How hears we? How do y'all and we hear in our first personal plural collective ear? And how do you hear silencing?? The crowd heard the God of the living v33. The Pharisees heard the silencing v34. The Pharisees, listening through the airshaft of diFranco and Lives of Others, listening with group ears, listening with ears but not hearing Mk8v18: joint inattention, mute surveillance. They are the herd begaggled, hurt and hagged, they heard and gathered: regrouped as a murder of crows. How hears you? Be still, be astonished, be still astonished, after all this time.
Mt22v35-36 On trappings. To try to trap is to manipulate, pathological in (i) its comparative nature, entrapment stems from an insecurity that ultimately turns sadistic, the belief that my better comes with the other's beating (ii) the use of the other as means, & so the missing of their glory (iii) the further illusion (as (i)&(ii) are illusory) that i can ultimately control the other, that my constructing the narrative will make it true. Manipulation is the clearest example of sin as self-defeating, we trap to try to believe a resulting story, in which we win. But our hearts know we won by cheating, & we are left all the more dissatisfied, the more hiddenly convinced of our own stupidity & worthlessness beneath the painted layers of pride. Here i am, God. Take it from me, my striving conniving energy towards trying to believe myself worthy through lies & competing. Simple story of belovedness sing.
Mt22v37-38 [LOVE] Love God, where God is Love, so Love love. Love to love. Love a pleasing surrender. Love a discriminating affection. Love a love which eagerly cleaves to, affectionately admires, and constantly rests in God. Love loves by imitation. To love God, don't 'like', love. Love like God loves. (slipping into v39) Love the loving and the unloved, love the lovely and unloveable. Love. Love chooses the Other. Love prefers God. Love gives itself. Love loses itself. Love wins itself. It is its own reward. [WITH] How do you love with-heart without-sentimentalising? How do you love with-mind without-intellectualising? How do you love with-strength without-religione? Love tools and it tasks, employs and applies. We love with withs plurally and crucially combinationally. With-'s are the modes of your being, facets of your whole, unique utensils in the toolkit of your totality, instruments innumerated as integers each to be integrated integrally. Consider, loving-with-heart is its own discipline, wholly distinct from loving-with-mind, yet each dependent on the whole. Go therefore, list and learn, to task and tool, the parts you love-with together-with, forthwith. [ALL] "All" risks saying everything and nothing. But here, when 'all' is said and done, it is either tautological or terrifying. Love God with all of the above. Give it your all. Where do I begin, where does it all end, how much is enough? Waking and sleeping. All. E3 and SW8. All. Sacred and Secular all. Because, at the cross, Love was all'ed in Welby's words: Love was all of this for thee, so now, Love is all of thee for this. Let it thus be said that your All is full of love.
Mt22v39-40 The golden rule, overused, & misused? & my over-appeal to fuzzy concepts of the Other, without clarity or care. Who is my neighbour? To love the other person, to fully feel their separateness from me, their apartness from me, & still to will their best, their very best, as I automatically will my own best. Even to pray without bad faith that they may be blessed more than I, with joy. Love looks like. This is a powerful work of the Holy Spirit.
Mt22v41-42 It is easier to talk about 'the Christ' than 'Jesus'. This is not a linguistic accident. The Christ, the ahistorical abstraction, sum of our utopias, the convergence of our myths. What do you think about the way the world is to be fixed? Easy to have a theory. What is yours? What is your neighbour's? ... 'Whose son' - from what tradition, from what discipline, tribe or science will salvation come? From ecology? From financial reform? From a military coup? From medicine? What is your box or category? Where is your insurance, allegiance or investment? Is your hope in x a way to alleviate responsibility for the complexity of human brokenness? A deflection from the self-evident limitations of any given discipline? Salvation comes from David's line, but even David knew it would be more than. Salvation will come through philosophy, but the philosophers know they are not enough. Salvation will come through social architecture but architects know it's not enough. There must be more. More to life than this? More-than. All more-thans find their yes i Jesus. The Christ, the answer, the trump card, the ultimate solution must be personal eternal and powerful. Jesus is personal eternal and powerful. What do you think about 'the Christ'? What does your friend think?
Mt22v43-44 Realising Wednesday an awkwardness still about churchiness, about historical tradition & its seeming arbitrariness. The philosophy of God i can speak of, & slowly learning a philosophical language for the trinitarian God. In this sense i find it easier to speak of the cosmic Christ, than of the historical Jesus, the Jewish questioner & Psalm quoter. An odd sort of problem to have. I read Ps110 the 2nd time this week, I wonder & want the words.
Mt22v45-46 Jesus winks. When you say nothing at all.. lets me know that you need me. Be needy. Be silent. Be surrendered. Without shame. It is finished. He has done it. He has won the war. He wars for you, not against you.
Monday, 18 November 2013
"..we are dust." Psalm 103v14
This opera is environmental pornography. Strangely erotic, strangely intense, strangely clinical, strangely self-related. Fuck it. Break up. Break down. Piss pity on the smouldering carcass of modern romance. It was an oil-derivative anyways. Modern life is petrol, plastic, a well-oiled machine. Modern sex is petrol, plastic, a well-oiled machine, androids daily grinding in cybernetic space, the City’s slick sick sliding, phallic and forceful, breathless in late capitalist delirium. We are man, nature our whore, the City our money shot. But for how long, this opera asks.
This piece of musical protest, aptly, ironically, plays out in the private, internal world of your earphones: a palliative and cathartic augmented reality. I would argue that there is a form of environmentalism which is a part of the problem, which, by well-intentioned pessimism aids and abets the violence of society against nature by conditioning a learned helplessness. Be careful in choosing your mythology. Be wary the license you give melancholy.
And so, musically we follow a very modern man’s mumbling, meandering.. Divorced from nature following irreconcilable differences, we enter into his being towards death. Being: from fire we have come, as dust we are, and, like the Buddhist nun he so admires, we are bound towards immersion in the cosmic flood. Longing to be one with all that is.
Sunday, 3 November 2013
Mt21v1-2 The with-Christ life: voice-prompt-address-call-prophetic-command-listen-obedience-adventure. There is to be a literality to our listening & an unlikeliness to our joy.
Mt21v3-4 Jesus at his most Yoda. Christianity will be a prophetic adventure or it will be nothing. There are several prophetic knowings propelling the narrative here, the action is thick with impossibility. Prefigured in the old testament, predicted the donkey and colt, preempted the questions. Am I thus prepared? .. 'Anyone..anything' Discipleship training is being always being prepared to give an answer: 'the Lord needs it.' It: my life, my donkey, my all.
Mt21v5-6 Filmic; the divine use of foreshadowing, of recurring images, of cutting to, & back to, a portrait of the saviour, incongruous images, of the infinite inside the finite, of majesty on clunky donkey, of unofficial channels & unlikely heroes. Of this specificity, silently observe a moment, the director offers a long shot of the man on the donkey, he looks you in the eye. Then we cut to the scramble of disciples obedience, the film continues..
Mt21v7-8 Ornament. I don't even have to do violence to the text. Jesus loves ornament. Jesus is worthy of ornament. Jesus makes life worth decorating. The Christian life is the exuberant life of emphatic festivity, blazing celebrations of life, hope, song, foliage, colour, embodiment and the city transformed. The first Palm Sunday was no fusty stilted Anglican processional, no tidy column of the anaemic middle classes awkwardly clutching dry dessicated dusty present-at-hand palm crosses. No. Witness this exemplary piece of urban choreography that surpasses Holi or La Tomatina. The crowds lay out the robes in the aorist-tense, and then branch cutting ensues in a frenzy of imperfect-tense continuous action. Fresh cut, blood sweat and cheers, electric in its Zuhandenheit: unselfconscious participatory pop-up urbanism. Palm Sunday is a whirl of re-Edening a corridor through the city, engardening. Go.
Mt21v9-10 'the whole city was stirred', says the NIV, 'stirred up' says the ESV, 'thrown into an uproar' the GNB. Stirred: awoken, restless, roused, riled, moved, perturbed, wrestling at/with the Christ. & the whole city! The communal affect that comes with a hurricane, bending the city's thoughts, so we pray today the Christ would be for London.
Mt21v11 'from Nazareth' Where are you from? I urge you to consider your current 'from' in its very specific qualities, limits, needs and opportunities. But more than that, I urge you to consider 'from' as a key quality of our saviour and of all true salvation. 'Salvation is *from*' Jn4v22. God is concerned with the irreducibly specific, working out of personal places and necessarily humble origins. Being-from is vulnerable and offensive: fromness, locality, and particularism are associated with parochial presumptuousness and powerless poverty. The good life for minorities, the misfortunate and me, must come by generic means, regulations, impersonal minimum standards. Thus, I suggest a life learnt under social bureaucratism undergirds theological universalism. See also, our mythic saviours are orphans, superheroes with obscured origins. Being-from an offense to Jews and a stumbling block to us.
Mt21v12 Timely for my essay, this familiar passage comes today to suggest a comportment architects might adopt towards the marketplace of 'ethics', quacks and quangos, peddlers of certificates of legitimacy, arbitrary constructions of moral justification, green intermediaries between the 'environment' and business, coercive carbon-money changers, organic kosher fairtrademongerers, opportunistic legislators, regulators, obligators: civil disobedience.
Mt21v13-14 My body is the temple of the holy spirit, yet I populate it with cluttered, shallow, exploitative, self-serving desires, exchanges & propagations. My heart is a den of thieves, pockets of enemy stronghold: Jn10v10 robbing, killing, destroying. But the Christ comes to turn over the tables, to strip away, to make me again a place of prayer & meditation, to still me, to heal me, to reclaim this temple for his own.
Mt21v15-16 Inconceivable! Incontraceptable. Us kids know.
Mt21v17-18 Sleepy hungry saviour, limbs & brain tissue. Wanting to note more than wonder at the incarnate God. What does it mean to be incarnate? What is it like to be hungry? What does it teach us? Levinas states a man-god would be too great a triumph of immanence over transcendence, jarring with the God who veils & unveils. Many replies, but as i think on the hunger-lack, the in-between of sleep, these themselves contain perhaps a veiled/unveiled?
Mt21v19-20 Figs. The found figs of Bonnington, the harvested figs of the Doddington: these are heaven breaking in. This fig however faces a more annihilationist eschatology: this little figgy went to hell. The ax is laid to the foot of some trees Lk3v9. Jesus is not only a hippie riding a donkey. He will be judge and king Ps105v33. Judge my fruit? Jn15v2. Assess my flavour? Jm3v12. Are my texts fruitful to multiply? Or are they fig leaves to cover my shame? Gn3v7
Mt 21v21-22 on having a high view of words, just as listening for the specificity of worded commands about donkeys needed by the lord, so too speaking worded petitions & commands...these exemplar words are words spoken to the mountain itself, an act of joint attention with God? A heart so surrendered in faith, so sured in the face-to-face, paying attention to Her voice, that words spoken to objects continue as acts of communion. Words from Faith = Power.
Mt21v23-24 Exousia. I'm in charge now. Jesus was killed for this. INRI is his death sentence. Jesus is King, and kingship is... I forget. Our constitutional monarchy displays all the trappings and none of the substance of personal sovereign authority. Thus the challenge for the Christian is to live as legible definitions of a forgotten obscured (and as J. encouraged last night, impossible) concept: being-in-authority. Authority demands, obliges, structures. Authority rules, reigns, directs. Authority is hierarchical, and singular in its source, non-Inclusive. Jesus' authority confronts the committee of me, myself and my iphone, who generally vote for ourselves. The authority of Jesus is total, terrifying and utterly undemocratic. Yet it is good? The servant king's authority empowers, envalues, defends and takes responsibility. Jesus is Lord is the gospel. Jesus' authority is contested while teaching. We teach. If we live we teach, we preach with our lives, we structure the world towards his authoritative pattern. Preaching contends both that 'authority' is, and that 'authority' is from of for Jesus Mt9v6. And we know 'authority' by experience of being-under-authority Mt8v9. And Jesus gives us authority Mt10v1 to minister; Jesus, with all authority in heaven and on earth, sends us Mt28v18. Therefore go.
Mt21v25-26 Arguing amongst them(one)selves, the mark of the compartmentalised, the many-faced, the double-minded. There are different rooms of this house for the Christians & the philosophers & the parents & the hipster cool kids I wish I were like. Different answers in different rooms, so the awkwardness of the compartmentalised life, out of step with itself. The integrated life begins with the i-surrender-ALL to Christ, who has authority, & makes-whole.
Mt21v27-28 Do not know, cannot know, will not know. Indiscrimination, agnosticism, willed ignorance, feigned epistemological humility. Be careful, if you resist knowing, you may resist the one who longs to know you, be careful, Mt7v23. v28 Christianity wants your convictions to become words, and your words to become actions. You 'know' John's baptism is from God? Show me. You believe Jesus is the Christ? Feed his sheep. If you know you're loved by the King, sing sing sing; if you know you're loved by the King, live for him, live for him. Evil prevails when good people say nothing and good speakers do nothing. Daughter, go.
Mt21v29-30 on having a low view of words, or rather, holding together with v21-22's text, their insufficiency. That is, words without substance or embodiment become ashes in the mouth. 'the testimony of the Lord is sure', says our late night Ps19v7. Testimony is storytelling, claiming, promising & persuading, but in a way that is true. Go & do likewise, as you see your Father doing, uncompartmentalising your words & deeds.
Mt21v31-32 Oh fidgety Phil, flimsy and fickle, faffing and fussing, never quite getting all the way to work, not actually achieving the doing of going and telling, perpetually theologising inaction as 'waiting on the Lord', incorrigibly perfectionist, ponderously religiouse, exporting a lackadaisical theology of grace to legitimate my addiction to indecision. I am the second son. I'm not not-going, just, you know, not-yet. My very-long-engagement to Jesus has been over-thought no small amount. Ours is an age of epidemic dithering: having been given such unprecedented opportunity, it seems reckless, presumptuous and unchristian to be other than uncommitted towards our present particulars. Christianity speaks of 'the father's will' with some expectation that we, in our broken limited ways would apply ourselves to pursuing it, doing it, going to the vineyard. You will, however, be more highly thought of by non-Christians and Christians if you construct your life more primarily as an epic epistemological struggle, rather than a worksy reductive application of doing. Oh Phil. Go to the vineyard. The harvest is plentiful. The *workers* are few. Do it. Go for it. Have a go. Learn by doing. If you say you're on mission, go, mission is a going. How's it going? How are the vines? Where's my wine? Have you seen my vat? ..No condemnation. Perpetual re-invitation. There is a girl on crutches here. Will I pray for her? Will I seize the pray? Carpe Deum? And other Latin puns, symptomatic of one resisting the vineyard. No more buts, no more ifs, no more not-yet. Today, I, with what little I know, commit to live the but-if-not.
Mt21v33-34 This is Gn1-3; what is the vineyard, the winepress, fence, watchtower? What is the journey the master goes on? To another country, the hidden God, the invisible God. I don't meditate on the invisibility of God much, preferring to focus on the 'visible' of Col1v15. The God you cannot quite put your hands on, an uncanniness aching at the winepress, a longing, Heidegger's not-at-home-ness, like waiting for your husband to come back from Wales...Where is He? Because these traces tell me He is real.
Mt21v35-36 How beautiful aren't the feet that bring 'good news'? Jesus is Lord is not good news to natural ears, and it is on the issue of his Kingly sovereignty that Christianity transitions from vague fuzzy salvation metaphors to efficacious redemption. I am in that transition. Oh we all are gradually, but I think there is a line you cross, a stance you take, a knee you bow, a totality of a submitted life which I yet resist. This passage is about a landlord, it is about a father, it is about a king. It is about the rage you feel against your father and the contempt you harbour against all authority. If you could kill God would you? You would. I would. For every ounce of toil that has gone unrewarded, for every systemic injustice suffered that he could have prevented, for every unreasonable command I couldn't keep; for every expectation and taxation, for all that God allows, for every derivative abuse of authority, for all misogyny by male masters, all latent withholding of my squatters rights and every neglect of His duty, for every institutionalised structure that disempowers and displaces, at the gate of every absentee landlord I will rail against their export of the indifferent and the abstract. I will edit God, mute his prophets, distort his reflections, soften his claims, dilute his absolutes, muddy his expression, tarnish him by association. I will water down his sovereignty that I might increase and he would decrease. .. Kingship is an abomination to my modern sensibilities, and thankfully there is a mode of Christianty sanitised of such anachrona. We can have a grace with holiness, sex without marriage, freedom without responsibility, a theology of Kingdom with no king. No king! No king! Woe is me.
Mt21v37-38 What is happening in my heart when i try to kill God? I want the inheritance, that is, I want to appropriate God, I commit to the illusion that i control, that i have power, to manipulate even the mind of God. A poverty of imagination is at play, both in failing to glimpse a fraction of God's reality & holiness, & in failing to conceive the joy possible. I think joy is found in my own status as vineyard owner, I really do, I like the way it makes me look in photographs, i like to see it written down on paper, I love it, the image of myself with these vines. I AM THE VINEYARD OWNER. Forgetful that joy comes swellingly, ungrasping for free in being the adopted daughter of the house. The Son comes to ask me to be his sister, but i have traded the truth of God for a lie, & so I kill Him.
Mt21v39-40 "What will he do?" Jesus asks, knowing that you know the answer. Every runner knows the answer. Every escapee dodging their comeuppance. I am shot through with guilt and shame. All of life is Bonnie and Clyde, On The Road, through the Badlands. Because we know what he will do. We construct our universes around this question. Epistemological smoke and mirrors, incognito browsing, net curtains, distractions. They are profitable enterprises that supply services to the displacement industry of running away and the deflection industry of disguises. New Year, new you, no history, no relations, no knowledge, no condemnation. Niggas can't hit niggas they can't see. So I hide, not in God, but from God, in my job, my busy-ness, my Christianity. Because I know what I deserve. Because I know what he will do.
Mt21v43-44 Taken away away from you, once-Christian England. What were we with, what is it to be taken from, withouted, withdrawn-from? There were stones our house was built on, England, there were patterns, predicates, principles, and ultimately the good news of a person who saves. How did those becomes offensive? How did a gospel become so distasteful to a people who had so known its fruit? Because is an affront to our self-reliance.
Mt21v45-46 my deepest hope & greatest fear, longing & terror, knowing that Christ is talking about me. That conviction exposure which pierces the everyday complacent i'm-okay, forgiveness&healing-are-for-other-people, and also the deeper belief that i am not seen, unworthy of recognition, voyeuring on other people's stories because there's nothing of me to be seen. There are no wallflowers left my this holy fire, not even me.
Saturday, 12 October 2013
Mt20v1-2 Like on this parabler! The Kingdom of Heaven is like. Like a master, a responsible authority, the head of headship, a pioneering personalist, the entrepeneur. Like early in the morning, eager, childlike o'clock, because it's a new day dawning, because time is short. Like labourers, industrious, hands-on, hardworking though/especially if the workers are few. Like a vineyard, the cultivation of flavour, aroma, tradition. Like. What is your life like?
Mt20v3-4 The master, seeing folks standing idle, gives to them good work. The payment at the end of the story is usually understood as the salvation metaphor, but it is also surely found in the employment itself of these two verses. Freud suggested that Love & Work were the two basic life-dimensions that humans need to thrive, & while Freud's model goes all wrong, the idea that it is Relationship & Task that we need to flourish seems right. Redemption makes right & good our relationship & our task. & here we see the God who does this, who looks & loves, who sees & employs. God gives us good labour, & this is part of the substance of our redemption. It is good work, something that needs doing, not movement for the sake of it: it is a task the master is invested in, it is specific - a this-&-not-that. Let us thank the God who moves us from unseen idle-atry to love & work.
Mt20v5-6 'Why do you stand idle?' Surprisingly little speculation in the commentaries as to 'Why?'. So permit me. 1. Mischief. Who gets up at the crack of noon and goes looking for employment at dusk? The criminal classes (and students). Drunkenness is associated with the later hours of the day Ac2v15, and Christianity is contrasted with the night Rm13v12. Is there an insinuation in Mt that these latecomers are up to no good? Jesus says 'Come anyways.' 2. The addictive cycle of low self-esteem. Eeyore's preemptive defeatism. It's not worth it, I'm not worth it, it's late in the day, I'll never catch up now. Jesus says,'Come anyways.' 3. Legitimised passivity. Like our father Adam we are inclined to protest, 'but i didn't do anything wrong.' Epidemic inaction by escapist absentee men in our day, of which i am the worst, purposelessly hanging about, logged in but far away. Jesus says, 'Come anyways!' [(*regarding one reply, perhaps I'm not 'the worst', I'm not fishing for compliments. But, one knows one's own passivity most, and it is not small negligence I find in me.)]
Mt20v7-8 Though the 3rd, 6th, 9th & 11th hours can refer to different people's moments of repentance situated chronologically, I read this morning these hours as different aspects & depths of the self. The surface bits might be pretty punctual & acceptable looking, grace will do for them - but the hidden bits, prowling around at midnight, psychologically (or maybe ontologically) speaking, they cannot be saved, not really. But no. Not so with the grace on grace, the grace that covers equally from first to last, & penetrates equally from surface to core. All of me can be saved. To the scratching spitting swearing child who sits in the middle of my heart Jesus says: ' you go into the vineyard too.' & I discover again I am the recipient of grace. I really needed it, & I really receive it. & suddenly all our talk of grace takes form again, & takes my heart.
Mt20v9-10 There's no Tuesday in this parable, no day after on which a queue of labourers only appears at 5pm (that grace may abound). The problem with communism is freeloaders, and that some in the Animal Farmyard end up 'more equal' than others. It seems sensible not to push this parable too far ~ keep it in the realm of Jew/Gentile salvation equality/chronology, but don't presume to extend it to a critique of graceless meritocratic employment. What if we do? What would it look like to represent this parabolic truth in our treatment of others and in our finances as a community? Grace is bonkers, it's no equal and opposite counterpoint to justice, grace won't conform to sensible expectations of return on investment. Is my life observably spent on the offensively uneconomical, irrationally generous concern to distribute superabundance urgently? Time is short, and I have been forgiven much.
Mt20v11-12 Grumbling, & the attitudes behind the grumbles is both the two-personal attitudes of envy, pride, resentment & the three-personal attitude of jealousy. Where we resent God's generosity to others we are jealous, jealous of their grace-given relationship. Envy & jealousy in different ways stop us wanting people's best, they choke love. Jealousy comes from insecurity, but God desires to meet every need, quiet every fear, jealous pang & grumble.
Mt20v13-14 'Friend' (gk) 'hetaire' only used elsewhere in Mt22v12 and Mt26v50. This is not a cheery greek word study. Jesus, you keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.. Devastating. What pain of betrayal, what latent longing, 'hetaire' denotes 'a mutually binding relation disregarded by the hearer' (Rengstorf), implies 'generosity abused' (Trench). See how my mercenary mind breaks Jesus heart. It is almost too much to bear.
Mt20v15-16 Be/grudge. On the phenomenology of the grudge, it is like being tied to a post, & the jarring of the rope as it pulls taut; it is like the scrape of slate that prevents movement. The post, when you look at it, is another beloved child of God. & the grudge that ties you to them both means they dominate your energy & they do not have a face. Pray for them. Rather than straining against the rope to be free, pray for the face of the post, pray for their person, lift them up, that is, elevate them, ask God to bless them more than you. This kind of more-than taps the logic-breaking of v16, that is, its steps outside of a logic & economy of comparison. I do not think this Jesus is simply reversing a scale here, but inverting it, calling us away from the more-thans & less-thans, our firsts & lasts, that fuel our jealousy & begrudging. Welcome to a different playground, beloved.
Mt20v17-18 Jesus died. On purpose. Why did Jesus die? I want to communicate a revelation that has unsettled me this morning, without just playing with words. The idea is 'died-for'. Do you understand what it means to be 'died-for'? How does 'died-for' work? What are the preconditions for 'died-for's logical coherence? Consider London. Work backwards from Jesus' very intentional dying. Is London's brokenness a need for a died-for? If not, why did he bother?
Mt20v19-20 The normalisation of the crucified god is one of the problems, leading to the nonchalance of v20. It becomes a tired myth or an intellectual game between many internalised voices, if one doesn't return to the foot of the cross, to look again.
Mt20v21-22 The Kingdom of Heaven is a drinking competition? Smothering mothering and the agendas of the genders in leadership, many issues hover at the fringes of this encounter. Chiefly, the misconstrued rights/responsibilities of headship: no one is famous for being famous in this Kingdom. Who dares rule in this Kingdom of suffering? Not many of you should presume to lead Jm3v1. And pray for those who have had headship thrust upon them 1Ti2v2.
Mt20v23-24 Suffering, servanthood & status. Jesus speaks twice in the last few days about the first-last-last-first, & then the ways we are apt to misunderstand this. He speaks both to those who presume too much, & those who express indignance at those who presume too much, the indignance betraying its own presumptions about sin & spiritual status. So Christ speaks this twice to me, am I listening?
Mt20v25-26 '..about to be a bigger star than my mum thought..' - 'The Gentiles lord it.' Interestingly Jesus makes this observation (/sweeping generalisation?) a national (/racial?) one. The quality of servant leadership is contrasted with the quality of brash authoritarianism, and as a refute to the other disciples' indignant faux egalitarianism. And Jesus makes this a national distinctive. Our tribe is a royal priesthood, but this monarchy is upsidedown, holy, peculiar. 1Pt2v9
Mt20v27-28 (i) What distinguishes Christ-like kenosis from people-pleasing, or inauthentic ways of trying to offset privilege just-enough? (ii) What is the good life? For to serve others is to serve them in some articulable direction, as Christ talks of redemption here...what does the redeemed life look like? It means the healing of certain brokenesses & the meeting of explicit needs, but it can't only be the negatively defined absence-of. We can easily busy ourselves with trying to serve in this negativity-reducing way such that we do not know what good we are serving people toward. (i) & (ii) are connected, i think. & the distinguished must be the perpetual motion of springing-up grace, & the breath of the holy spirit. That is, the good life of orderly worship & community is prevented from becoming stale or desperate or comfortable where the always-overflow of surplus pushes out, to extend, to invite in. The giving from surplus, on knowing the inexhaustible wealth of Christ, immeasurable unquantifiable riches, orders (i) & preserves (ii). Life in all its fullness is quite the giveaway.
Mt20v29-30 They cried out, or NIV, shouted. Shout. Raise a shout with ragged voice. Shout what? Lord. Lord-who? Lord, Son of David. Who is Jesus? Have you 'heard him going by', through all the 'large crowds' and despite your blindness, do you know he is there? Do you know he hears you specifically and he is the Son of David. The Son of David is The Anticipated One and more than, better than the bus you were waiting for, faster than the ambulance you dialled, he is powerful to save. Name him. Shout, with ragged voice.
Mt20v31 & then shout louder. Know your desperation for God, as in AA's step one. Know your desperation, & do not budge, keep shouting for this Christ. Shout your need & your anxiety & your abandon to this God, knowing you will never be well without him. This is your one chance.
Mt20v32 & Jesus stopped & called back. (wonder & mystery.) WHAT do you want...? What specifically as SC last night praying Paul's specificity of known belovedness to his Ephesians. What do you WANT...not just what do you think you should pray, but what does your heart cry out? ...To DO for you...Jesus the active, on whom we throw ourselves. ...for YOU?...Intercede first yes, then petition for yourself, speak your need, know the Christ calls back to you.