Thursday, 20 March 2014
In an I-Am-A-Monument effort to preempt its signification and pre-caption its portraiture, St Paul's Bow Common claims: 'This is the Gate of Heaven'. The unpearly threshold of this gated community, however, gives one to understand that Maguire and Murray intend a brave anarchic assault on our bourgeois presumptions about heaven through this wry caption. Yet, for me, wry becomes glib wherever their prudent frugality becomes ungenerous economy. Celebrated as humane brutalists, their work has a powerful beauty while also suffering regular Brutalist shortcomings of affected humility, laboured austerity, wilful abstraction, iconoclastic disfigurement, fearsome monotony, formal introspection, defensive indestructability. This protectivist bunker provides liturgical architecture for a world in a cold war, a bullet proof space for the huddled hoping for help, praying for escape, petitioning that the prismatic cupola topping their missile silo would slide aside and launch the faithful few into eternity. Rightly is Lutyen's Christ outraged. What is heaven here? St Paul's gives a foretaste of a platonic paradise, where the infinite isometric divine descends, suspended on steel sections. That same reactionary gnosticism gives rise to the ignominious plonkedness of the church's street comportment. And yet, on this blazing sunny Sunday, the great barn doors are yawned open to the buses rumbling by on Burdett Road, and a Heaven of hospitality leaks out. I love it.
St Paul's Bow Common
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Lutyen's Outraged Christ
Wednesday, 19 March 2014
Monday, 17 March 2014
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Mt26v1-2 And then.. 'The Son of Man is betrayed..' Then, and now. The Son of Man is betrayed: paradidotai (Gk). KJV retains the devastating urgent present tense. The Son of Man is betrayed, by me, in daily denials, minor forgettings, major omissions? Like, where's my oil? How are the least of these? Jesus' preamble of Mt25 and preceding sets up a convicting passion narrative.
Mt26v3-4 Which bits of my mind are chief priests & elders? My comfort-driven id, my legalistic superego? & as I kill God I go to my own grave with my song still in me, come holy spirit, be free to be God, make me wild to sing. Wonder & amazement.
Mt26v5-6 An interesting pair of verses, we contrast  the chief priests' abstract and fearful notion of 'the people' against  Jesus' warm and hospitable encounter with exactly one of those, Simon the definite article. Interrogating the nature of those relationships:  You may not be prone to riot, but do your leaders know the strength of your affection for Jesus? Do you comport that affection politically? Chrstian Concern may be a bit wild at the edges, but at least they are not doing nothing.  Simon-the-Leper comes with some speculation about his name - most popular is the claim that he is an ex-leper healed by Jesus, as Matthew-the-Publican Mt10v3 retains he ascription after his transformation as a what-some-of-you-once-were brand of testimony 1Co6v11. Named and unashamed. What is mine?
Mt26v7-8 secretly we're all utilitarians about something, at some level of justification or frustration. A worldview in 2d not 3d, as though with one eye shut. You look but you do not see, you do not see the depth dimension. & how you see & don't-see changes your behaviour, it changes how you use your resources, as this woman, it changes your attitude to others, as the disciples. Where is my extravagant 'wasteful' worship today? In what way does our use of time, money, thought, gaze, making, wording come to a waste unless there is a different economy? Give us eyes to see.
Mt26v9-10 Contempt for smells and bells is a curiously Protestant predisposition. To the utilitarian that I am, olfactory ministry is frustratingly invisible and temporal, difficult to justify as impossibly to measure and duly disregarded by our strangely pragmatistic church. So, Phil, seek to be more five-sensed and fully embodied in your worship, it is biblical. Charity which is not the toxic, reductive and self-serving kind, consists in seeking the fully-personal dignity of the individual otherwise classed and abstracted as 'the poor'. Good charity should seek less to give-for-the-alleviation-of-discomfort but rather, by demonstration and aggressive liberation to free people of all poverties into an agency of giving extravagantly themselves, worshiping extravagantly, living poetically. Thus should SpaceMax by judged by its aroma.
Mt26v11 There is a difference between our relationship with the risen Jesus, and the disciples' relationship to the embodied Jesus, both pre- & post- resurrection? We stretch out to the incarnation with our imagination where they could stretch out with their limbs. Their experience of Christ, his words & his way, his resurrection - these would have been a paradigm shift different to ours in some ways. We can imagine, empathise, learn, open ourselves to what it might have been like to experience Jesus as the disciples did, and that we do too. But as this is often the emphasis, we should also think about how our experience of Jesus is different to that of the disciples, to respect their otherness. Not as a resignation to not-knowing or even knowing-less, but knowing-differently. Knowing by analogies & traces, as well as words & spirit-flamed imagination, & more. Questions on this still, but looking to see.
Mt26v12 So it is lent, we are journeying towards the cross, preparing Jesus for burial, preparing ourselves. Each Easter I pray to understand something the cross, for it is a difficulty & a mystery. Dear Christ, as the woman at Bethany prophetically prepared you for death, so in these Lenten weeks please prepare our hearts for your death, help us to understand & enter into the work of redemption spoken & given by your death & resurrection. Please, give us new eyes to see Good Friday & Easter Sunday, as you see. amen.
Mt26v13-14 Spilt ointment, spilt beans. The tell-tale and the tale told. Good news travels fast, so does gossip. Generosity is contagious, yet also, greed infects. It is for his fame that we are made famous. Go, into the whole world, find a platform, tell a story, be a story told.
Mt26v15-16 What are my 30 pieces? I betray the real faces around me for the 30 pieces of daydreams in my head, daydreams of images of my own cleverness, sexiness, braveness or visible kindness. I'll betray the church for a quiet life, i'll betray my husband for the rush & the rage. Betrayal exchanges the truth of God for a lie. Betrayal is always the worship of a false god or gods, & when they have you, you're v16 always looking for the opportunity to betray the true God for the false one, because it feels so good, & its so easy. Betrayal can happen at every level of life, in thought, word & deed. All betrayals are betrayals of Christ. Betrayal is the opposite of hospitality, it does not know how to give, it will always use self & others as means not ends. Betrayal rots integrity like a bad apple. Dear Christ, scrape me out, make me new. amen.
Mt26v17-18 And don't worry about the vase.. What vase? - One way or another Jesus-as-Oracle has a prescience of future contingencies. And that changes they way his disciples enter the City. And it should change your comportment towards the city-as-space-for-celebration. And it should change the City. 'In 2011 in England and Wales, Dorling notes, 66 million bedrooms serviced a population of 55 million. Even in central London there are more bedrooms than people.' Where should we prepare a feast for our homeless saviour? The housing crisis that needn't be is a hospitality crisis that shouldn't be. Go, with an attitude of treasure hunting to a supernatural geo-caching to appropriate the invisible geography of London. Be bold to borrow space, be generous to give rooms away, be imaginative to improvise: urgently and obediently should we celebrate.
Mt26v19-20 Preparing food together, sitting down to eat together. Lets prepare a Passover meal this year? Trying to imagine-into those hours of preparation, a ritual for both remembering & foretelling, the Passover meal laden with the symbolism of a shared history, of God's faithfulness to ancestors, & for each of these Jewish disciples - the sights & sounds would be connected to each celebration of the Passover since childhood, each family surely having its own quirks as to how-to-prepare (wondering if they swapped stories as they worked about how mum did the unlevened bread). But also a rite of preparation, like the woman at Bethany preparing Jesus for burial without even knowing it. Let us be mindful of each meal preparation, for each meal can be something of this, of how shared food speaks to past present future, to sustenance provision community, in remembering, in prophecy, in joy.
Mt26v21-22 This morning's prayer: "Is it I, Lord?" - Is it I? For you know me better than I know myself. Is it I? Presents the 'I' neither motivated to deflect a guilty conscience rendered in 'What I do wrong now?' nor in the mock rhetorical deflection of 'Pretentious, moi?' Is it I? This is a humble and humbling, baring and desperate question. Is it I? As Ps139v23-24 - Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! Is it I? Protests nothing, submits everything. Is it I, Lord? Lord contrasts directly with Judas' address of 'Teacher' (v25). This downgrades your confessional to a mere exercise in words, a teacher does not know your heart, a teacher does not command your allegiance. Jesus is Lord. Jesus please be my Lord, and search me, and sustain me, and let me be faithful one more day.
Mt26v23-24 The classic tension of the 'as it written' & the 'woe to you' of betrayal, the tension between determinism & freedom, between God's sovereignty & my personal responsibility. Yes yes, we've had this conversation hundreds of times. So what are we to do? How does jesus try to have this conversation? He just states that this is how it is in the fabric of things, that God does & will weave together narratives with meaning, & also that we are free to be culpable. It strikes me on this point that the surrender of prayer is very much not a quietism. Surrender just lets the spirit rush in, to reconfigure the way it is in my heart, that i then have a more-than resource for my individual & collective responsibilities. It's a glorious dance; the opposite of betrayal is a beautiful dance.
Mt26v25 'You have said it..' is not a million miles from the playground taunt: 'I know you are so what am I? I know you are so what am I?..' Jesus, however, aches to draw us to a true knowledge of ourselves and a true knowledge of himself, by taking us back to our own words, wherein are found our selfdeceptions. Maybe Judas doesn't even realise how deep in he has fallen. Oh Phil, listen to yourself, thinking you are so clever with words. Phil, beware your own charade of faith, in which I am not that bad, and in which Jesus is a mere teacher.
Mt26v26 This is my body. Parabolic realism  What is a body?  What is it to injest it? 'This is my body' - Body as the vessel Jesus was carried by is to be shattered for the distribution of his substance, like a seed planted to multiply, like a million sparks kicked from a burning log igniting a sea of dried leaves. Jesus' body was a finite whole, a singularity, miraculously however, when divided it is no less effective a vehicle for his ministry, now limitlessly viral.  'Take, eat' - Taking Christ into your own metabolism as a flavour craved, an appetite quenched, a strength regained. Be therefore ravenous for spiritual milk, be satisfied with the bread of life. Come hungry, and go feed my sheep.
Mt26v27-28 Blood & the christian mystery. Gather round. The new covenant is both like & unlike the old, for, if there is a God, then parabolic realism works in its own hermeneutic circle, with God using symbols to draw us into more symbols, meanings to draw us to deeper meanings. If Lv17 feeds back into God's meaning-making project, God speaks redemption truths into human history, where symbols beget symbols, meanings beget more & new meanings. In such a place, God saves us. & so, as I pull at the boundaries of my skin, I think of the way bleeding comes always as a transgression, it is the deep parts of the self brought out to the surface. So Christ for me, & he says: 'Daughter, your sins are forgiven'. God, through Christ, is reconciling us to himself. Thanks be to God for this new covenant, deep & wide.
Mt26v29 'I will not drink again' - One last drink and then his wine had run out, as the family in Jn2:1-11. Jesus begins and ends his ministry with wine. Apt that in a few verses Mt27v34, on the cross, he will be offered wine vinegar. Wine is perpetually a picture of heaven in-breaking Is25:6, Je31:12, Jl3:18, Am9:13-14 the ecstatic sensation of joy, the abundant economy of creation crafted excellently, so now, when the bringer of Heaven is to be abused and rejected, his work of parabolic realism sours and ceases.
Mt26v30 'After singing..' Why do we sing? When do we sing? OvalHouse Theatre yesterday advocated, somewhat dryly, the dramatic arts as a programmatic means to therapeutic conditioning and self-conscious self-reflection. Earlier that day Peter had encouraged singing as a start to each day and as a route into tongues. Peter's seems both the more ordinary and the more radical. When do I sing and why? The disciples were launching out into the night (illicitly? Ex12v22). Somewhat like Acts16v25, this is weaponised worship, and Paul will later advocate doing likewise Eph5v19, Col3v16. Before anything, worship. # I can feel it in my bones, in my bones, its a fire. goo.gl/glZZzM
Mt26v31-32 A perfect pair of verses, as i'm sure jesus intended, in the speaking of these side-by-side, so conjuncted. History & narrative, meaning & truth. You will run away from the Christ, but in his resurrection, he will always be ahead of you. I wondered what to do with the first verse as i walked this morning, when one knows one's traitor heart, and is still in one's treachery. You will run away. I will. I do. I am. What to do with the knowing-your-betrayal and still not feeling motivated to turn away turn around turn back? The second verse comes as the answer. Jesus says to my face and from all sides: I am always already ahead of you. You will never be able to outrun my grace. You can't draw back to anyplace that my mercy won't reach. Easter is always before us. Easter is always waiting to meet us at the shore.
Mt26v33-34 There but for the grace of God go I? There go I. Where I have committed myself to Church, to HomeGroup, to SpaceMax in Phil's flimsy strength and not in Jesus' powerful supply, there am I being sifted (Lk22v31), on those points am I being brought to a knowledge of myself, there, by crisis after crisis, am I having my arrogance laid bare. Apt that my body should give out under this pressure. And yet, may it be that I might be so bold as Peter and bolder: ardently committed, not to the box I have put God in, but to God and through God and with God and from God. A prematurity of boldness, as Peter's, misses that God who is wilder than you think, a God whose crucifiction that is more real than you imagine, a God who helps you in a ministry that is way harder than you expected and a God who yet loves you, you who are more frail that you know. 1Th5v24 correctly locates the agent of faith.
Mt26v35-36 Never say never, never say always? But more, the belief that faith will never crumble, integrity will never slide, that one's marriage will never break down, one's community will never scatter - just because they musn't, is apt to thingify something that actually depends on one's free responsibility. Jesus' 'sit here' is a command, an invitation & a choice. It won't happen by default because the baddies are out in the woods too, & running away will quickly fill up the foreground. So: quietly now / for she is very near / & though she doesn't frighten easily / you must know by now / that you do / ~ Padraig.
Mt26v37-38 # "why does my heart cry feelings I can't fight.. It's more than I can stand.." gets me every time. Moulin Rouge's El Tango rushes to mind partly as an unsurpassed crescendo of tragic expression, but I refer you here also for the devastating power of polyphony, the harmonic power of joint voices yearning, as I ponder, why did Jesus take these disciples with him at this moment? For company? For witness? For support? For accountability? For a bass note counterpoint in his miserere? Or all of the above, and more basically, because life is lived withwards. Jesus elsewhere adjures us to live pray go eat preach withwards: the two or three gathered in Mt18v20; the two by two sent in Lk 10v1; the two or three witnesses of 2Cor13v1.. etc. But why here? Unlike Tiny Tempah, who walks alone, cause he was born alone.. Our God relates, he's more than sort of known. Am I? Do I suffer-with? Do I bottle it up or do I let people in? Is mine a grief observed? When the shit hits the fan, who is with me, who triangulates me?
Mt26v39 Trinitarian tangles, & the look of love. What is it to experience the will of the Other? What is it to align one's own will in the same direction? If the first is that identified in the phenomenology of a 'reverse intentionality', then there is more identified here in the God-life, the choice of an 'inverse intentionality'. The Godhead is an ongoing inversion of will, the 'circle of love' pictured in rublev's icon. & there's a seat at the table for me, to learn & to join in this kenosis.
Mt26v40 spiritual sleepyface, still. Rouse my soul, wild spirit, for a new season of worship with words, and more than words. amen.
Mt26v41-42 Jesus' disciples were likely teenagers goo.gl/MUwQSL. He calls them to do hard things goo.gl/xMvMqe. Contrast this with the sleepwalkers tragically addicted in Beeban Kidron's excellent/terrifying documentary inreallifefilm.com. Jesus issues a call to to wakeful maturity out of our slumber of extended adolescent, in a call to active engagement out of good intentions, a call to integrate flesh and spirit out of a partitioned faith. Watch and pray. Often, I'm not prayerful because I'm not watchful, other times I'm not watchful because I'm not prayerful, I'm sleepy, spiritually dozed off, I'm logged on but checked out, adrift and drifting off, treating life as one long nap time.. So watch and pray. &. Open eyes & open mouth. To give & receive. Listen & learn. With your flesh & your spirit. Holy Spirit come and caffienate me out of a woozy la la land, that I that I might have night vision to be a watching watchman in dark places, urgently.
Mt26v43 The exhortation at the end of the freedom course: 'keep going.' 'Keep Going!' 'KEEP GOING'! Again again. Wake up, Sarah. 'wake up!' WAKE UP! AND KEEP STAYING AWAKE!' sing yourself to standing.
Mt26v44 The rule of threes applied to prayer. 'Once is an incident, twice a co-incidence, thrice, a pattern.' Not for a forgetful audience, but for a speaker's failing heart.
Mt26v45-46 "Sleep now." There is the sort of confusion in the commentaries that tends to arise when Jesus is using irony. Sleep now, yes, but it'll have to be a power nap, things are about to get extremely unsleepy. Prayer parallels sleep, with eyes closed and body prostrate, both comportments seek a strength restored. But in one the mind is engaged ferociously, in the other it is an acknowledged absurdity to sleep furiously. Sleep is generally a negative concept in the bible eg. Pr24v33 with exceptions like Ps127v2. So, how much sleep is enough? How much prayer is sufficient? Perhaps this is not the point. When I am weary, I sleep; when I am anxious, I oversleep. As when I am hungry, I eat; when I am frustrated, I overeat. Ways our fickle appetites are met, assuaged and compensated reveal our dependencies, our sources, our idols. In this lent of fasting caffiene, I have learnt that I trusted espresso more than the Holy Spirit to strengthen me for the day. Trial is coming, God, please, teach me to take my appetites to you in prayer now.
Mt26v47-48 Giving-signs. You live semiotically, whether you like it or not. You are a sign to the world you inhabit, you are thousands of signs, signals & signifiers. Reading yesterday that the linguistic (& non-linguistic) system of meanings is open, we are always free to make up new words, to sing a new song, to be part of the holy task of living out deeper & wider symbols. Your sign life can be signs subverted, signs disturbed, signs made new - but will they be for the glory of Christ or for his betrayal? Let us push in, that in our words & bodies we may be signs & wonders, rather than a Judas kiss.
Mt36v49-50 We've met this 'friend' hetaire (gk) before in Mt20v13 and 22v12. One of the most haunting ascriptions in the bible, the affectionate word is repurposed as cautionary, yet one cannot hear it as glib, there is a plaintive yearning-yet-ness to it. By contrast, Judas plays the antagonist in this masquerade of friendship, repurposing a kiss, and here kataphileó (gk) is a kiss in the superlative. Awkwardly over-enthusiatic in some renderings 'kiss profusely', it is the same word as in Lk7v38's sinful woman anointing Jesus' feet. Pasolini's film has this as an embrace comforting a fearful Judas. So we, trembling, complicated, frustrated, treacherous, yet even then embraced.
Mt26v51-52 A deeper & less likely logic to Jesus' pacifistic statement than might first appear. Easy to read as the idea that violence begets more violence (it does) & to infer that therefore non-violence begets non-violence, that if one does not live by the sword one will not die by the sword. But of course, we know that Gethsemane leads to Calvary, that Christ, in not living by the sword, is about to die by the sword. So 'die by the sword' must mean something more than it means. There's death and death, because though Jesus was about to die by the sword, he was also to be raised to life on the third day. The non-violence that dies by the sword is to hear Jesus say 'i am the resurrection & the life, even though you die by the sword, even shall you live,' knowing that eternal life is a quality of life found in those overlapping circles. The basis of Hauerwas' christological pacifism.
Mt26v53-54 On what basis do I presume the privilege of pacifism? Non-violence is not reckless gambling, not callous unjustice, not lazy negligence *only* if it is supernatural. It is cruel folly to choose suffering for yourself and others, it is pointless and ungodly masochism to choose to endure needless hardship and defeat, it is costly cowardice to choose to lose this battle, unless victory is assured and you have already won the war. Without that final assurance, it is right and loving to be as Peter or Samson - go down fighting, raise hell, impetuous and impotent but at least you tried. Jesus doesn't gamble with possible outcomes of fist fights with flimsy weapons, there is no risk in his plan, calmly decisively he makes his outcome certain: he chooses to lose his life. How could you lose yours?
Mt26v55-56 Both the cowardice of the crowd's two faces & the cowardice of the disciple's self-justified fleeing are in my heart. Or were. For. Rather than wallow in my coward heart, worship the Christ that today is a new day, new mercies. What wonder, what joy! 'Be obedient to God, & do not let your lives be shaped by those desires you had when you were still ignorant. Instead be holy in all you do ... For you know what was paid to set you free from the worthless manner of life handed down by your ancestors .. it was the costly sacrifice of Christ ... & so your faith & hope are fixed on God.' 1Pt1 Amazing.
Mt26v57-58 [Scene change] We transition from the garden to the city, we enter the holy of Holy Week, we enter into an architecture of power, conspiracy and murder. I feel Peter's urban anxiety. "# Weep for yourself, my man, / You'll never be what is in your heart / Weep, little lion man, / You're not as brave as you were at the start.." I woke up this morning with the call of Gideon Jg6v11 on my mind. Oh being in the wrong place, at the wrong time, with the wrong tools, for the wrong job. Fear keeps you there. Lies keep the fears there. Don't be huddled round any fire except the fire that burns lies and fear away Jg6v21 Ac2v3.
Mt26v59-60 I'm in this courtyard and I don't know where I am. Am I judge or jury, false witness or watching in the wings? And why is he not speaking? And I've already decided how the verdict should go, I just need some references to back up my claims, no blows to the back of the head here please. And why is he not speaking? Should I be speaking for him? Where are his friends? These references aren't very good, no-one here is convinced, but then, they don't need convincing. What even is evidence? He's unsettling me a bit. I really don't know what he's thinking. He's sort of annoying me but i don't know how to look away. What is truth? And why is he not speaking?
Mt26v61-62 Witch hunts, terror and imperiled architecture. There is a familiar and specially urban quality to this fear-mongering. Buildings embody the thin resilience, indeed the fundamental frailty of the system in which we have put our trust, they are tasked with carrying an absurd symbolic weight of security, comfort, identity and eternity. Tate's current Ruin Lust exhibition dabbles in the power of this anxiety, the sense of impending future ruination profoundly affects life in the now. As Caiaphas', so our Ruin Lust makes defensive and litigious the ways we dwell, risk, build, relate. .. Read another way, we see God in the dock, standing accused of intention to commit an Act of God. Jesus anticipates this attitude of accusation in Mt25v24: a 'hard man reaping where he hadn't sown'. We want to pin the problem of evil on God, we want to scapegoat him, I want that this mess of my sin, selfishness, architecture, cowardice, and fallibility would not be my fault.
Mt26v63-64 The high priest asks in a way that no Jew cannot answer. & Jesus responds with the promise of sight, of vision, of revelation. So we always find ourselves, in the midst of sound & vision, command & disclosure, rumours of rumours & promises of illumination. The trace of presence within absence, all the impatience of hope, and the demand that we answer the other. Oath-maker, cloud-breaker, I am gathered around Him and His story today.
Mt26v65-66 v66 'What do you think?' Twenty-six chapters of evidence textees, what conclusions do you draw from it? 'What do you think?' See last Easter Saturday we read Mt12v27-28, also a blasphemy question, also with Pharisees, also demanding a decision: Is Jesus power from God or the Devil? 'What do you think?' I think I'd say the Devil, I think I'd vote to kill Jesus. 'What do you think?' Jesus' teaching is obscenely Jesus-centred. I am the way, the truth. I and the Father are one. You heard it said, but I tell you. I have authority to forgive sins.. He comes making outrageous claims about his identity and power, dangerous and manipulative promises to the very vulnerable, he lays the foundation for a personality cult of the vilest and most pathological kind. If such a teacher came to St Marks and sought to commandeer the flock, to woo them as a pied piper, to excite in them a premature expectation of a new age, imagine the damage he could do. 'What do you think?' Consider the language you use to condemn prosperity gospel preaching. Summon a memory of the squalid flats on estates where a larger than life preacher on a glowing screen adds cruel misery to their situation by promising an easy exit. Multiply the righteous anger for justice you feel at that slick TV blasphemy. And then consider the peril to a whole city by the rising of a besotted rabble of fanatics irrationally destabilising the pax romana of our dozy capitalism, this is urgent - your world will be undone. Swiftly silence this catastrophe, nip it in the bud, head it off at the pass. .. Apt that Jesus should die for blasphemy. Blasphemy allows for only one God, and if Phil is that God, the virtues of any other candidate for the role become precisely their vices. I kill God for being God. .. Oh Phil, rend your heart, not your garments this Easter, come humbly and answer Caiaphas' question honestly: 'What do you think?'
Mt26v67-68 'Nothing is more destructive to a human personality than a slap in the face. It is so humiliating, so demeaning, so deeply dehumanising. It destroys something very basic to our personhood. But our wounded Healer understands. He knows what it is to be slapped in the face. He is touched with the feelings that arise in you from that hurt...He understands.' - David Seamands in 'healing for damaged emotions'. Seamands emphasises Christ's knowing/understanding our infirmities & woundedness, having lived through his own, as key to the healing of our own damaged emotions. Hb4v15-16: 'for we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathise with our weakness, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are -yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy & grace in our time of need.'
Mt26v69-70 Our fishy fisherman, lumbering with a broad accent, now twitching by the fire, nervously awkwardly. With tragi-comic pantomime excess, Peter, the hammy actor affects a not-so-cunning disguise of extreme ignorance. Who was this girl that she could so addle our Peter? A crucial question, for we live in such a courtyard. What is London, if not a huddling round the fire of the High Priest? Who are Londoners if not such servant girls as these? Who is this girl? Some enfant terrible? Lolita? Dirty Diana? Some femme fatale agent of the system? Or most likely, a nothingy naive innocent who merely has a mouth-of-babes and the eyes to other our duplicity and false confidence? If she is such, and you are such as Peter, then you are surrounded, you could be found out by anyone, and you should be afraid everything, and you will live a life constructed around concealment, omission and denial. But see, Peter changes after Pentecost Ac2v14. We live after Pentecost, unafraid.
Mt26v71-72 Patterns of behaviour. Habits are increasing harder to break, mindsets increasingly harder to shift. Once denied, it is easier for the mind to cling to the unconscious justifications & fears and to deny again, and louder, than to reconsider, refocus, realign, readopt. Habits are hard to break because they are underpinned by deep fears, and they are a double hardness in requiring both the turning around from the path you are on, and the choosing of a new path. A conversion is needed, otherwise its like treking back up a steep hill, your body will want to keep going down, you'll go back to your denials even though you don't want to and you don't know why. A conversion is needed, a renewing of the mind, you must become a new creation, and this must be founded on a revelation of the truth and love of the Christ-reality, perhap's sometimes through peter's v75 bitter tears. So help me God.
Mt26v73-74 Oh Peter. Swearing and cursing is a funny thing, the Matrix's Merovingian expresses it thus: "Nom de dieu de putain de bordel de merde de saloperie de connard d'enculer ta mère. It's like wiping your arse with silk." Exactly, but why? Why the fuck aye? Verbal violence is in view here, beyond proscribing blasphemy Ex20v7, and beyond ῬΑΚA - the barbed invocation forbidden by Jesus in Mt5v22 and beyond letting-your-yes-be-yes Jm5v12, how should we then swear? I would vote not at all, but then, what is swearing and cursing? Some help is found by considering the context for Peter's motives for weaponised vocabulary. He, the country mouse, is now a cornered animal, caught out by the mannered urban sophisticates in the courtyard who pour scorn on the lisp of a provincial Galilean accent. Seeing his claim's weakness, his cultural uneducation, his naive unimperial unRoman vulnerable Personalism, they are playing with him. Swearing, in this case (and many), is an ornamental flourish of obscenity to add leverage to Peter's claim. This exercise deflects the emphasis of the claim from its substance to its style and thus swearing is a crisis of faith in the thing uttered - an exercise of power and masking. This afternoon with P, when he asks about Christianity's tricky parts, I may not veer into such explicit denial and cursing but the temptation to deflect by humour manifests the same faithless forgetting that Christianity is folly, offensive, unPC, unclean and uncool. I should expect to be baited, tried and shamed, but to do so unashamed, undefensive with a gentleness and Ph4v8 vocab. For, while I worship dead washedup underdog, I worship the only one who rose again with power. Christianity may be a crutch, but in so far as it is the only sufficient crutch, why swear?
The death unto bitterness,
& the bitterness unto death.
Beauty from ashes?
From this mess?
as we confess.
in this distress.