Tuesday, 26 November 2013
texting matthew twenty two
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.