Sunday, 26 May 2013
texting matthew fourteen
Mt14v1-2 To see Jesus but not see him, to mistake him for something else. A bit like Baudrillard's observation that consciousness is now so shaped by the Image of the Real, rather than the real itself, That when we find ourselves confronted with the Real (which is what we desire) we are deceived that it isn't what we're looking for, & instead continue to pursue the frenzy of the Image, even when the Real looks us in the face. The idol of not seeing a thing for looking at it, the danger of vague or academic theisms which don't acknowledge the Christ scandal of particularity. We tell ourselves that the images have moved us enough. John did cause Herod all kinds of holy trouble, & having had such experiences we'd like this to be the limit of our spirituality, please. But Herod would find himself Lk236-v16 face to face, with Jesus in the end, but not patterned after his expectation. Like Mk8v11-13 Jesus does not confirm miraculous expectations where these are just fit into our own idol of God. Sometimes the deeper rupture of the Real comes with silence not sensation. Dangerous prayers for the unmaking of habits & raw exposure to Christ the Real.
Mt14v3-4 Elsewhere in Palestine.. Zoom out, zoom in, the scene cuts to the Bond villain's lair. In life you will face many conflicts, dangers and difficult people. being a prophet will set you against micro village politics. Being a prophet will set you against macro international politics. It's glocal. In your biopic where will the flash-forward cut to? Storm clouds brewing over the Congo? The higher High Courts fighting housing injustice? Or, what bloodied faces of martyrs will your film flash-back to? If you speak against Shell in the Niger delta, it's not going to go well for you. Surely as Jesus, surely as Paul, you'll be in danger in the city, in danger in country, in danger at sea 2Co11v26. We have a but-if-not. Via FRMaltby: disciples get to be completely fearless, absurdly happy, constantly in trouble. This is the life we get to live.
Mt14v5-6 Fear, people-pleasing, self-centredness, objectification, power-play, jealousy, rage..this story is of death within death, lostness leading towards more lostness, abuse spawning more abuse, dysfunction perpetuated. It is a dark & frightening thing, this story. As women normalising their own objectification, children normalising their own abuse. Jesus, for the systems & individuals we see spiralling, please break in, hopeless without you.
Mt14v7-8 "Iokanaan! Je suis amoureuse de ton corps. Ton corps est blanc comme le lis d’un pré que le faucheur n’a jamais fauché. Ton corps est blanc comme les neiges qui couchent sur les montagnes, comme les neiges qui couchent sur les montagnes de Judée, et descendent dans les vallées. Les roses du jardin de la reine d’Arabie ne sont pas aussi blanches que ton corps." Note how Oscar Wilde, in a play devoted to ambiguating morality, here, in a near Herodian act of cowardice, elects to sexualise and thus mature and make culpable a ~12-year-old Salome, subtly, to then allow us some sympathy for anti-hero Herod, and thus to allow us to lust after Wilde's stage performance with assumed impunity. Dark/ Out of what account in my conscience's bank do I pay for my proverbial porn? How do I defend my offenses? Where do I outsource my sin to? How do I deflect culpability? Herod wants sex without cost, power without responsibility, luxury without questions, to have his cake and eat it. We buy in and say nothing, we swear in by an oath to the market economy, but climate change is never my fault.
& the details of its gaze,
The inner beast,
& its hungry snarl,
And the screaming voices
& their well-established lies
The tug of God,
Mt14v11-12 We always kill to the glory of our highest god. Just as we spend to glorify our gods, we lie to bring them praise, we take oaths to defend them. When that God is self, when that god is oil, when that God is comfort, when that God is Allah.. Oh pick a God that demands mercy not sacrifice. Pick a God who was killed to stop the killing. Pick a God sufficient to let your yes-be-yes. Pick a God who is knowable. Wilde has Herod exclaim: "ta fille, elle est tout à fait monstrueuse. Enfin, ce qu'elle a fait est un grand crime. Je suis sûr que c'est un crime contre un Dieu inconnu." which would set him up for Paul to offer: "Celui donc que vous honorez, sans le connaître, c'est celui que je vous annonce.." Actes17v23. Wilde wills an unknowbale God for fear: "Dieu est terrible. Il brise les faibles et les forts comme on brise le blé dans un mortier. Mais cet homme n'a jamais vu Dieu." But we have. Therefore. Go.
Mt14v13-14 'The complex of melancholia behaves like an open wound, drawing investment energies to itself from all sides...& draining the ego to the point of complete impoverishment' - Freud. Melancholia, the ugly inversion of mourning, tangled in self-hatred & without love for the other. But Christ teaches me how to mourn, how to grieve one's cousin as water laps at the boat. This is for all seasons, each moment, for every loss, even at the smallest scale or even in the anticipated or imaginary, elicits either mourning or melancholia. It is all manner of small twisted-up, hidden melancholias which prevent life-in-all-its-fullness. Teach me to mourn, dear Christ, to mourn well, a being-alone & being-with, you show me here, the seeking of the secret place, & the openness of heart to the real troubled others in front of me, the opposite of melancholia, which is neither solitude nor togetherness, so Mt5v4
Mt14v15-16 There is a mode of Christianity that is individualised microscopically, which disregards discipleship, and critiques leadership, and considers a BYO policy a safer distribution of responsibility. Jesus believes in leadership via discipleship. He's advancing a kingdom, leading humanity from an enslaved A to a promised land B via desolate places. He does so with discipleship as the primary practical and pedagogical vehicle. Disciples lead, and leaders feed. Just like the God they imitate: leading and feeding in the wilderness. Jesus commissions as leader thus: Jn21v17 'Feed my sheep'. Feeding is practically necessary, parabolically consistent, and plausibilistically foundation: God's work, done God's way, never lacks God's supply. You're the mouthpiece for this cry, you are dependent on its promise, and you are the evidence for it's claim. Therefore. Go. Leave, lead, and feed people from out of Egypt, Babylon, England, the market economy, old ways, addictions, slaveries. You give them something to eat.
Mt14v17-18 Bring them here to me. Bring them here. To me. Jesus speaks the seduction of 'come here' & the faithfulness of 'I will'. All wry & wild & authoritative & tender & for-me. Yes. You. Them. Here. Now. Because I do something better than magic.
Mt14v19-20 There's a tense moment, in v19, where 20,000 people are dutifully sat down with but five small loaves before them. Absurdity. On the scale of Four Yorkshire Men's cup o' cold tea with no milk, no sugar and no tea. A ravenous megachurch of desperate rural needy, sores exposed, the run-of-the-mill destitute and the cold, scruffy ragged kids, beleaguered mothers, weathered men. Patiently waiting? Sat orderly? Expectant of? Not grumbling Ex16v3? Sit thee down.. A brave pause. This is what it is to have authority, this is what Godly leadership looks like – dangerous. I. Predict. A. Riot. George Muller seats the orphans before there is food in the larder.. Because, against the myth of scarcity, he believes in a great multiplier. Ours is a theology of multiplication. Gen9v7 Go forth and multiply bread, multiply the arts, multiply space. Multiply children? Steady now, how you going to provide for them?
Mt14v21-22 What could it mean for Jesus to send us on ahead? Both that there's a time for us to leave something so that Jesus can be alone with it or them, to have been obediently useful for a season, but then to know when to get out of the way so that Jesus can have his way. & of going somewhere where Jesus isn't yet, & waiting. How do these speak to planning-praying-decision-making about these current things? God?
Mt14v23-24 Solitude, going away, sending away, putting space between. There is an authentic and healthy being-by-oneself which Christianity uniquely permits, and to which, indeed, Jesus bids us. This individuation not individualism: being alone for a quiet time is radically different from culture's background loneliness or Buddhism's solipcism. Partly in its purpose: you divide temporarily in order to serve the reunion and strengthen the communion. But also in its danger: up in the mountains, out to sea, away from the crowds and dry land, away from church and the disciples, away from leaders, lifeguards, daylight, fair weather, and plain sailing, go out to the danger zone and tumultuous maritime analogies. Take your quiet-times there, get thee our of reach of all but miracles, to the very brink of obliteration..perhaps you are already there? God comes to you, distinctively you, differentiated you.
Mt14v25-26 Terror at the Christ. Thinking this yesterday, all hormones & hunger, vulnerability before the veil. For God is the Lacanian Real, the Blazing Glory. Terror. & in our walking-working-going-about-things life, even very prayerfully, we have to put down barriers & put up filters, so as to even think of the Glory. This is necessary, it is what God gifts us in being-incarnate & joining us in going-about-things. But sometimes. The Real presses through. Not all the way, because it would kill us, but the embodied God then comes, walking on water. Glimpses of Glory. Terror. These moments are necessary. Tired bodies, forth watch of the night, working the sea, marking exams..there He is, there He is. Feel the fear, & remember.
Mt14v27-28 What does walking on water mean? What does it mean to you? Jesus waterskis with no boat, no rope and no skis.. Why? Sheer power? Sheer play? If I prayed on a mountain until 3am, I'd probably get up to some holy mischief. Our is a God who laughs, his is a pedagogy through humour. .. L'Engle' 'Walking on Water' wants us to consider Peter's forgetting learnt limits to the possible. Her's is a book for all who would be artists but whose tactics never hatched, and whose plans were never mapped, because we all *learned not to believe*. Believe. Forget that you can't walk on water. You can: goo.gl/3CT6B Can't you? Impossible. This story is trivialised if it is applied to merely difficult trials. No one walks on water. Just as, no one lives the Christian life, it's impossible. Forget everything they tol you about it being hard. Take heart. Do not be afraid. Come play impossible.
Mt14v29 This is Jesus' response to Peter's 'If it's really you' inquiry & test via second-personal knowledge in v28, well beloved of pop culture ( xkcd.com/1121 , goo.gl/jZrCV ) Jesus' identifiable trope? 'Come'. Come here. Come closer to me, & come closer than you think you can. Come on, dear heart! This wry, knowing to-&-fro between Peter knows Jesus is the inviter-into, the champion-of, the risk-inspirer..in just one word.
Mt14v30 The strong wind speaks to some secret fear, a fear within a fear, an original fear with the circumstantial fear, a fear of annihilation, a fear of being lost & forgotten, all there, as it blows hard against my body, bending me out of shape, aware of unbalanced unsolid foundations, thinking I am alone. I am not alone. There He is. 'Save me, Lord.' Save me this new morning.
Mt14v31-32 If you want to walk on water you have to step out of the doubt. What is doubt? Or, Jesus' question to Peter/me: Why is doubt? From what cause? TO what end? Why? Superficially, the material cause of doubt is incomplete revelation, the formal cause of doubt is enquiry, the efficient cause of doubt is a finite knower, but the final cause of doubt is, perhaps, more complex. What is doubt's goal or appeal? Father Flynn's first sermon in 'Doubt' preachs: “Doubt can be a bond as powerful and sustaining as certainty..” Doubt, Descartesian doubt, is the supra-ideology of our time. Attractively, doubt never killed anyone, agnosticism never started a war. I find that my doubt is therapeutic, addictive and increasingly self-related. Russell's “Not enough evidence” plea wants to have proof, we however, get to be proof. Walking on water is an epistemology of small steps on revelation towards revelation.
Mt14v33-34 Then they worshipped him, reminds me of Rv1v17's then I fell at his feet as though dead. At the heart of the terror of holiness is the awe usually blotted our by Jesus' familiarity. So he comes, with a sword in his mouth & the stars in his hands, levitating on the sea. Even now awe is at a distance...Come Lord Jesus, to frighten & amaze me, as I profess to believe you can.
Mt14v35-36 On touch and nearing. Jesus was an haptic tactile tonkable touchy feely thingly sort of a thing. What would it mean for me to have such a ministry of being-touched? Rubbing shoulders with the unwashed (see the very next thing is a washing debate 15v2)? Holding and containing the never-been-toucheds? Going forth as a blond four-year-old to the cheek-pinching south east Asia: 'So cute nya..'? There is a cost to being-touched. It gets under the skin of our notions of literal and metaphorical hygiene and pollutions. It spills a rash intrusion into notions of detachment, privacy, individualicity, autonomy. It is embarrassingly embodied and frankly unBritish. But here is a call for all those who'd prefer a nothing-touches-me I-am-an-island mode of compartmentalised podularity, come and meet the Eph2 Christ who, in his flesh, has broken down dividing walls, and thus has come-near and brought nearness.