Thursday, 18 December 2014

texting mark five

This little piggy got caught in spatio-spiritual conflict.. Tricky texts and good news, gleanings morning by morning on 07729056452

Mk5v1-2 "the other side of the sea" preachers advocating missionary endeavour sensitively are apt to over-compensate, "It's not about crossing the sea, it's about seeing the cross.." A ludicrous counter-dichotomy. Jesus crossed the sea, Paul crossed the sea. EasyJet has made it easier than ever to go for the most literal interpretation of this, so why not start there? Geography serves as perhaps the superlative analogy for the spiritual and the very spatial experience of entering the territory of enemy-occupation, crossing the otherwise impermeable threshold of water which boundaries an other domain in which other rules apply. Like the Americans en-moating their new Battersea fort, there is power in such spatiality. In the meantime, consider the other less tangible spatialities of Shari'ah, or the seemingly less spiritual fob entry divisions of privilege in this city. How am I going to get to the other side of that sea? What 'furious squalls' have kept me from ever setting sail?

Mk5v3-4 The Gadarene Demoniac finds exquisite contemporary rendering in The Dark Knight Rises' Bane. Sociopathic superhumanity, the terror of a total evil which is limitlessly strong. And by the strength of these demons came a certain freedom: a being-untetherable. There are surrogate strengths that technology affords which likewise untether us, and marketing's maxim of Freedom sells landrovers, wireless devices, credit cards.. Now, I take for granted that the Christian is free more truly Gal5v1. What, however do we do with a theology of 'strength'? How strong are you? What is your strength for? What is your body for? It is tempting to blur a God-is-our-strength sense of dependence with a cyborg disembodiment which despises incarnation. I would argue that it is a semiotic absurdity to be singing Hillsong's Stronger while working actively to undermine the excellence of imaging physical strength, hoping to borrow signifiers from elsewhere. Meekness is strength restrained, distinguished from weakness. Jesus carried his cross ~ 135kg. God breaks chains Ac12v7, Ac16v26, Ju16v12, and so should we Is58v6 - wary of which strengths we cultivate for such freedomings.

Mk5v5-6 "Night and day" - how do you distinguish these and mark time? If God's truth is found in thesis-antithesis, truth is distorted in the blurry merge of the synthesis of days without end pursuing the abstract ideal of a 24/7 culture. The city that never sleeps is in many ways a tormented city, unboundaried, unrhythmed, out-of-sync, insomniac, frenetic. However, we do not run away from the city, we do not despise the lonelified denizens spun out with selfharm symptoms. Christianity is an emergency service, and Ps121v3-4 our God stays up for us, let us do likewise 1Th5v6. "saw Jesus from afar" what distance is your visibility? To reach a 24/7 culture, you may need to be a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night Ex13v21. Apply.

Mk5v7-8 "Do not torment me" there is some ambiguity as to who is voicing this - the demons or the demonised? If we take for granted the sort of no-holds-barred, Geneva-convention-less, enhanced interrogation that demons deserve, and so fear, perhaps we could consider the alternative voicing - the possible ambivalence the demonised might feel, faced with Jesus. I know that schizophrenic feeling towards idols myself ~ forgetting what is ahead, I strain for what was behind (contra Ph3v13). Often I am afraid that following Jesus will be a torment, the all-I-once-held-dear stripped away, the previous presumptions of aptitude, worth and self-righteousness. It is an alarming thing to be a free as Jesus offers you to be.

Mk5v9-10 "What is your name?" - Why do you ask? Jesus would have known this already, and even then, what does it matter - the rose smells as sweet, no? Perhaps Jesus is asking a neutral question to cut through the demon's bluster, almost by way of distraction ~ yes, but it doesn't really get to the nub of naming. Perhaps Jesus is narrating to make teachably explicit this lesson in defense against the dark arts ~ yes, but if so, what lesson is Jesus teaching? Names are very important in all contexts. Words create worlds Gn1v3, names order realities Gn2v19, names (and new names) are supernatural identities: Gn17v5 Gn32v28 Jn1v42. Fundamentally, names are Personal, they conjure the Person in the Person's irreducibility. Spiritual warfare is personal. Naming, therefore, is a crucial corrective to impersonal thinking about evil. When you are seeking to make Kingdom inroads into Islam, or Capitalism, consider asking for a name. Evil is active, personal, specific, stealthy and intelligent. See their reply: "Legion" = 'many' ~ or so I have thought, but it is more interesting. 'Legion' denotes a multitude *organised in a unity* and, what is more the term had synechdoche application to the principal leader, (ie. as England might play France at Tennis, a Legion might go to speak with a Rabbi alone) there is power, authority, delegation, subordination and subjugation bound into the phrase itself ~ how does this change the way you consider evil's organisation? There is something of a Riddler's jousting in the response "We are Legion", it obscures their precise number location and conjures a supra-personal entity - a terrifying dark mass of indefinite extension which we have also allowed into our notions of Islam or Capitalism.

Mk5v10 "not to send them out of the country" Again the under-explored notion of spiritual territoriality, genius loci, a national character? There is evidently an area the demons would like to be allowed to remain, contrasted with some other place. What spatio-spiritual inheritance have we in England, what sort of place is South London. Attack the Block considers the expectation that an attack would necessarily be universal. "This ain't London-wide. This is localised."

Mk5v11-12 Kamakaze demons, demonised pigs, a swinocidal saviour, what do you want to do with these? Jesus appears either to affirm food law or to senselessly kill a herd of his creatures. Riddle me this. Perhaps we can allow that there is a staggered timeline of liberalisation, Jesus has permitted unwashed hands Mk7v2, but not yet pork? Not sure this satisfies. Perhaps cleanliness law remains conceptually intact, honoured as a culturally relative language of obedience, and so here swine represents a sin against their conscience, even if not sin in an absolute sense, ie. 1Co8v9-10. Uncleanliness as a category is renounced as far as it is a constraint to missiology Ac10v25, and we can take for granted that it is not what goes into a man defiles him Mt15v11, but none of this makes food amoral. There is a mode of disobedient farming which both Jesus and the demons recognise, the swine here are an unhygienic open wound of conscience which the demons would make their gangrenous home. What might Legion beg to be cast into today? ~ battery farmed hens, hormone fed cattle, dyed pink salmon, the many and various dark infrastructures of our global food economy.

Mk5v13-14 The conspicuous destruction of these pigs functions like charred lungs on a cigarette packet. We carry so much invisible death around inside us, barely aware ourselves of the full death of it. So much of my minor substance addictions, petty jealousies, unresolved bitternesses, my intellectually prideful identity, lustfully damaged visual imagination, privileged value system of poisonous entitlement.. - these only occasionally surface with proto-demonic force in power-over displays of technologically enabled strength or punishing self-destructive manifestations. Perhaps God my give me the health-warning grace to cast my caffeine addiction into a spider and watch the web it spins then. Jesus' porcine illustration fails like the justification for all animal testing fails to be absolute, but, THE PIGS DIED, you probably want to put down the shampoo, and reckon on an enemy who seeks your ruin. And quickly, before you are the carcrash the madding crowd swarm to see.

Mk5v15-16 "Clothed". The association of demonisation with disrobement is interesting to apply. Clothes are not merely nudity-mitigating, nor indeed is nudity a straight-forward ethical issue for Christians. Noah gets drunk and gets naked Gn9v21; Nebuchadnezzar goes mad and grows feathers Dn4v33; while Vashti refuses to dance in only her crown Es1v11; yet David gets spiritual and gets naked 2Sm6v14; Peter goes fishing and gets naked Jn21v7; Jesus calls us to be non-violent and get naked Mt5v40; the young man in Mk14v52 is presumed to have been recently baptised naked; linen cloths in the tomb suggest Jesus was raised naked Jn20v5.. So we are now to dress ourselves somewhere between these Galileans Gone Wild and the Victorians who put skirts on piano legs. There is an MTV-derived madness with demonic overtones that leads to culturally normalised underdressing, which would relate to materialistic and disintegrated notions of the body-as-mere-animal. Being clothed starts at non-nudity, but is more importantly containment, composure and communication, it completes and frames the person, it will be your final state Is61v10 Rv7v13. What excellence of clothing bespeaks a post-exorcism comportment of your fullest Humanity? Wear that.

Mk5v17-18 Lots of geography-based begging to Jesus. v10 the demoniac begs, v12 the demons beg, v17 the people beg, v18 the ex-demoniac begs. It seems there is universal acknowledgement that power for radical contextual change, for better or worse, can be found in this man Jesus. Jesus responds to begging: the demoniac is set free from a mountain exile, demons are not sent out of the geographic area, and Jesus concedes to retreat from the region. BUT, he does not allow the demoniac to travel out with him. Spatial relations and conversion give one again to think of Islam and contextualisation. If C6 unlimited syncretism, and C1 is the imposition of totally alien church praxis, the demoniac's request here is for C0, an airlifting of the convert out of that geography altogether. But no, whatever the danger, Jesus will not allow it. Speculate why and apply. The strategic power of specific testimony relevant to a context of acute resistance represented a sufficient opportunity to justify the risk of likely non-acceptance. Cultures are boundaried, even hermetic, self-protectively-thung and exclusive, self-contained economies, languages, traditions. An 'Insider Movement' is a spatial concept (with perhaps occidental overtones), it conjures an impassable architecture of the Other, and suggests organised approaches to thresholds, structures and Trojan modes of import. Jesus' strategy is fundamentally personal, it has no qualms with an airdropped approach of brief encounter, the strategy puts exclusive responsibility on the converted individual, is irreducibly Charismatic, and puts massive faith in the power of story alone.

Mk5v19-20 How is your "much"? Muchly? or Much of a much? Much is a relative term at the best of times, being in the eye of the beholder. And the much in play here is a reciprocal exchange of muches, as Lk7v47, the one forgiven much, loves much. How much have you been forgiven? In this way, muching is contingent on transmission, appreciation, consciously ascribing much to the much, the bottleneck is at your end, not God's. As von Trier's Dogville considers, grace-reception is our great struggle, we are a proud gift-averse people, resisting the giftyness of gifts (and then thanklessly absorbing them.) The demoniac, it seems, has no such struggle. I am seeking today to be a much and more-than person, like a little light bulb plugged into the hydroelectric dam of God's grace,the 101% being, the lake of grace over-flowing, he is more-than, the potential difference is infinite, deserving of nothing I have been given everything, open the sluice gates wide Mt81v10 and the people will "marvel" ... Mt19v11-12 in another context emphasises reception as the barrier to the impossible grace required for marriage and for singleness. Ref also the Mt11v9-10 prompted survey of more-thans goo.gl/pDbAkn

Mk5v21-22 Scene setting verses are skimmable, unless you are reading two verses a day. Mark takes time to make emphatic the nature of the unrelenting crowd. Jesus sailed away for 24 hours, calmed a storm and that.. then sailing back, the shoreline emerges back into view and the fader brings in the still pounding bass-line of a hyper-dense throng, the zombie mob of concentrated human need pressed up against the glass. Jesus was "nigh unto the sea" in a don't-push-me-'cause-I'm-close-to-the-edge sort of teetering, twitching switches on the pressure cooker of first century Palestine, a dot before a heaving ocean of desperation, cinematic extras extend indefinitely like a Nuremberg Rally or a Salt March. Against this backdrop, a figure emerges, characterising the anyone, the everyone, the you and me. Face planted into the crowd-trodden earth, dust to sweated brow. Daughters were ten-a-penny in the old days, primitive times? No and never. And the ache of powerlessness fails to form full sentences in the Greek. Please God, daughter at point of death, help.

Mk5v23-24 "lay your hands on her" - to be contrasted with Mt8v8's 'only say the word..' - proximity, touch and the body are more Jewish sensitivities than Roman perhaps, but both are expressions of faith. Driscoll speaks of an air war and a ground war - there is a balance of approaches, mediated and direct, virtual and physical, mechanically reproduced and irreducibly there. Chapman makes touch one of five love languages - different folks, different strokes ~ however you are gifted to give and receive, Jesus meets you there. In this Advent time we are put in mind that Jesus came and comes as close as breathing, as near as hands and feet. Before baby Jesus had words he had a body. He set about touching, go and do likewise - so many of your friends are at the point of death, so many of them exist in the pathological touchlessness of web2.0, so many of them would be transformed if you would lay hands on them.

Mk5v25-26 I imagine this lady in the cowed tragic wasted image of Hannah Danby towards the end Mr Turner. Mark layers a vivid portrait of a chronic degenerative condition with attention to cost ("all she had") and trajectory ("worse not better") and, crucially, with allusion to the social-spiritual price of privatised medical care: the cruelly crushing condition of utter abasement at the hands of "many" discompassionate profiteer physicians. Prudent business models target those chronic conditions with social repercussions (see the trivial example of the anti-aging products industry yet valued at staggering $261.9bn last year ref: goo.gl/OnPV62 ). The cure sought here is as much a social-emotional need for dis-isolation as for healing of the physical ailment. And the isolation is layered also: the health condition was an uncleanness, and the uncleanness was putatively punitive ~ divine judgement on some hidden sin. The Daily Mail keeps us very fluent in this ugly mode of vilification, 'benefits scroungers' are demonised by the suggestion that they are culpable for their dependent condition. Imagine. In desperation I would be driven to a similar superstitious faith in magic, touching the hem is not faith in the fullness of the person of Jesus. But. Jesus honours it. This woman, twelve years a slave to an invisible impersonal master, rendering her an outcast exile, incurably unclean. Jesus honours her fledgling faith. And just as Jesus ruins pork farming (Mk5v13) divination dealings (Ac16v16) and religiouse indulgence marketing (Mt21v12) etc he wars against privatised medical care.

Mk5v27-28 "Reports about Jesus." Have you heard reports? Have you published reports? Christianity as reportage is in view here, and you are the religious affairs correspondent, you are the foreign correspondent, the frontline embedded journalist, you are at the newsdesk, you're in the satellite broadcast van, copywriting to a deadline, choosing words with an urgency.. Consider the paparazzi's appetite for a scoop and the infrastructure of newsagencies and the technology of camera lenses and the risk of motorbike chases, all propelled by the fuel of a gossip column's fleeting headline, a momentary newsflash in the pan. Consider the striving twitterers seeking to retweet themselves into an aggregator's trending recognition. How much more is Christianity the sort of reportage the would cause flashmobs, if we would only publish. Faith comes by hearing if the signal can be distinguished from the noise of the rumour mill.

Mk5v29-30 Who dat, who dat? That do that, do that? I-g-g-y knows that the 'Who?' calls out an ascription of value, naming has a power to locate and distinguish, honour and promote. Jesus asks a question after the event, a question to which he already knows the answer. So, why the who? Questions are central in Jesus arsenal of love, they summon a response and draw to the surface a questionee's personhood that otherwise would lie passive. Without question-prompted dialogical encounter, we are inclined to take the gift and run, see the sunset, eat the meal, and construe an impersonal cosmology of things in which we are not obliged, indebted or dependent. Jesus cares for your healing, but it is a means to an end which is you. "Who are you?" Jesus asks. I don't know how I would answer that. "Who are you?" God help me to learn to take such an essential interest in Others.

Mk5v31-32 "..and He looked around", Jesus came to seek and save the least, the last, and the lost. Contemporary lost-ness is preeminently lost-in-a-crowd-ness. This description of Jesus 'perieblepeto' is precious (Gk - to look closely with high personal involvement (a Markan favourite)) The search-in-a-crowd is more pertinent, more resonant, just now than perhaps the lost coin or the lost sheep, today's lost are obscured in the mass, absorbed in the city. Personalism makes such a plea to recognise this lostness: "The lowest level on which a human universe can subsist, .. is .. to be simply aggregated with the others, ceasing to be a lucid and responsible subject. This is the world of consciousness half asleep, ... of the crowd, the anonymous mass, of the irresponsible apparatus of life." Into this Jesus makes the difficult search for a needle in a stack of needles, needles melting and melding like Dali's pocket watches. And crucially it takes time at a moment of narrative emergency, time, as Mrs Gardiner recounts of Darcy's search for Lydia "He had been some days in town, before he was able to discover them; but he had something to direct his search.." Jesus' search is directed. Tenuous but the "One who" and the "done it" are in the Greek's feminine - he knows the hairs on your head, he seeks you out in the crowd.

Mk5v33-34 "Fear-and-trembling" recurs as a mode/symptom/quality of faith. Ps55v5 'fear-and-trembling came upon me..' Ph2v12 'work out your salvation with fear-and-trembling..' The suffering lady had reached Kierkegaard's point of infinite resignation in her journey towards faith. As we, when the pain is too great, the paradox too paradoxical and overthought, then fear-and-trembling emerges as the brink of faith. She leaps. She leaps and reaches but a magic touch. The leaper who truly vaults the chasm is Jesus: bridging to her, laying a hold of her, seeking her out, he does not wish any to settle for superstition. Fear-and-tremble thus and utterly, every defense stripped in that moment, all categories of uncleanliness bared publicly risking all people's good opinion, everything you have ever sinned, every infirmity you have ever carried, every prejudice, every timidity, every chance you could be wrong. Only through true trembling is there proper peace.

Mk5v35-36 "is dead" (aorist indicative) Faith is the difference between Lk24v21 'we had hoped' and Dn3v18 'but if not..we will'. An infographic of your use of tenses would display a marked shift your use of tenses as you phrase your reality more and more by faith. If death is not a finished occurrence but an impermanent state, our grammar changes, no longer had-hoped, but hoping which does not disappoint Rm5v5. .. "do not bother the teacher" Faith understands Jesus is bovvered and can be bothered and encourages his followers to be God-botherers, persistently insistently faithing in the face of propreity and probability Lk18v5.

Mk5v37-38 Faithing in the face of hysteria. There is a form of nameless worldly sorrow pent up, visible where it finds tangible a public grievance to grieve. As in first century Israel, one could hire professional mourners to amplify the wailing, today the mechanisms for release and reinforcement are different, but the tabloids still selling with Diana and Maddie leaders give comparable vent to the lake of unmourned devastation in the life of the everyman next to you on the tube. Jesus wept, even knowing the hope of ressurrection, Jesus wept because life hurts, we suffer wild injustice, God weeps more than words Rm8v26. But. I would say that appropriate grief is qualitatively different from manufactured and massive sentimental transferrance. You will faith and lead and pray in a context of legitimised hysteria, a public not surprised-by-hope but entrenched-in-despair. What resurrection have I to offer them? Tomorrow evening I'm preaching Exodus 16 at St Marks - the Israelite congregation united in a hungry plea, public and vocal, against God's representative. Faithing as mere private persuasion offers little foundation to stand before any suffering throng and lead them to any promised land. That is, if Christ has not been raised, my faith will manifest futility.

Mk5v39-40 "sleeping" ~ 'and I'll go to bed at noon..' Jesus the original holy fool, interjects profound comedy at a moment of Shakespearean tragedy - and it is rendered rhyming in the esv: weeping to sleeping, (and to the G they be the same thing..) "..and they laughed at him." - Less, I consider, as ridicule but as a laughter serving for release at a moment of cognitive dissonance: when heaven's possibilities collide with our presuppositions, laughter is the circuit breaker, for Hope is sometimes too much to bear. We are tragicomic fools for Christ, his Kingdom is upside down, and resurrection is absurd, folly 1Cor1v23, but more pity the fool we would be without it 1Cor15v19.

Mk5v41-42 "Talitha Cumi" - Here is a different sort of language game to speculate on. Jesus is recorded in Aramaic, Mark makes the language explicit, why? The best I can give you is this: By contrast with 2Ki18v26, where Assyrian Aramaic is devised as a mode of privileged educated concealment, for Jesus in 30AD, Aramaic had become the ordinary language of the people, the mother tongue, the heart language. Jesus draws close and speaks your love language. Mark wants us to note this particularly. Who needs healing? How will they hear your? ~ Heart languages reach parts other languages don't reach. Hebrew high brow academic languages. Greek imperial languages. Overly conscious conceptual latinate derivations.. These are such temptations for me. Jesus says pray Abba, pray daddy.. if in doubt, pray in tongues.

Mk5v43 "no one should know.." and yet we know. The Ninjas become the Ninjees.. What are we to make of the command for radio silence? A Seelonce Mayday orders a period of quiet so that faint distress calls can be discerned. Maybe that, amidst the tumult, let's not add noise to noise? Or perhaps the contrast 2Co4v18 makes: 'For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.' So, conjuring invisibility? And yet this is not invisible, emphatically not ~ the child is eating - the same resurrection evidence Jesus offers in Jn21v13. How can they but tell? And what are they going to tell the professional mourners outside? My stab is that Jesus highlights the limits of broadcast for effective heart change. A timely damper on hysteria in an age of mechanical reproduction, electrical amplification and twitter, perhaps?

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