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.