Monday, 1 December 2014
texting mark four
Mk4v1-2 // some text missing.
Mk4v3-4 The Kingdom of Heaven is like The Lorax. It is valuable when considering the potency of this metaphor to ponder what is not a seed. Life conceived not in living-and-active terms, but inert-and-plastic, dull-and-reactive, manufactured-and-repetitive, stagnant-and-mechanical. Seeds as seeds conjure a magic irrepressible: springing into being, surprising, explosive, expectant, contagious. A germinating seed can break apart concrete. Therefore sow.
Mk4v5-6 Depth. You need to have depth, an interior. "The inside of an object can be viewed as a volcano, kaleidoscope, witch's cauldron, steel mill, or alchemist's flask in which one thing is somehow converted into another" (Graham Harman) By contrast the paper thin affect of humans considered as nodes in a web, fleeting surfaces, soulless images of a thing, hollow men, stone hearts. Not so. Sous les pavés, la plage!
Mk4v7-8 Liable to frustrate the naive gardener, weeds. So too the Christian with an under-realised theology of sin's very active activity. Consider the way a weed works, a living organism with a life of its own, a parasitic barbed vine that grows entangled amongst you, drawing life from the crop, sapping and stealing water and light.. The consequence is less death as fruitlessness. I am one among many Christians choked to a fruitlessness. Trotman rallies that we are Born to Reproduce... A hundredfold? Bring it on, holy weedkiller help me.
Mk4v9-10 Hear me now hear me now. Christianity is a listening hard, a close reading. The Christian looks twice, rereads, pours over. The world around you is speaking, the very fabric of reality is encoded, encrypted, enriched with parables. If you are struggling to decrypt and decipher, first v9 use your ears, tune your senses, pause long enough to receive the data that is there, then, v10 ask Him. Go to Jesus, when he's alone, and ask him. In the quiet space hear and ask, hear and ask. Christianity's cliched 'quiet times' are your keys to the parabolic reality of the Kingdom of God.
Mk4v13-14 "Don't you see?": Jesus earnestly wants you, Christian, to be a parable-perceiver. "How then will ye know all parables?" He tells stories for the story itself, for the meaning of that story, AND as advocate for stories generally as the language of a parabolically accessed spiritually total reality. What are "all parables"? Jesus' '32' or '46' by various counts? Or the parable of all things which God is constantly speaking through? I have a picture for you, one of no-unsacred-spaces, the re-enchanted all-parable universe, a bottomlessly recursive fractal narrative of perpetual wonder. The sower sows the seed of seed-sowing of seed sowing.
Mk4v17-18 Be buried deep in God, rooted, grounded, immersed. Sprouting is easy, and almost irrelevant given my willed soil poverty. Sappling faith supporting a fragile and half-formed Christian identity, imperiled by both circumstantial affliction, and targeted persecution: I wither readily and needlessly, paddling in the shallow end of God; shying short of the water table I choose a faith experience of surface fertiliser, caffeine and adrenaline. What does such digging consist in? Morning by morning Is50v4.
Mk4v19-20 Christianity is about multiplication and I'd argue that there is parabolic license to talk across metaphors to interrogate the implications of the go-forth-and-multiply imperative that makes of Christianity an ecstatic wonder, over-and-against everything that is dead, dry, inert and choked in the world. Consider three spiritually contraceptual motive forces Jesus invokes, and contrasts with a Kingdom framework: 1. "cares of the world", the overwrought anxieties of the poor, the indignant "99%", inventing a godless license for impetuous limited ambition. Pragmatic considerations as constraints to conception need be calibrated radically in the context of divine superabundance. Are there any 'cares' legitimate in this world to dink for? 2. "deceitfulness of riches", the obliviously 1%, blinkered by wealth's relativity. Grayson Perry said last week that 'rich people on the whole don't create culture..', am I that rich? The narrow Kingdom way feels often like a needle's eye for me, perhaps I am too enured to wealth's lies to imagine this other way. So, so-called over-population is a risk-averse crisis of imagination pertaining to means and modes of just distribution and the exuberant sufficiency of a life well-shared. The population 'crisis' is not a crisis of human quantity so much as humane quality, where that quality is Life, and Life is risk, and no greater risk exists than other people, dependents, children. 3. "lust for 'other' things", that is, sensual vice, the pornographied virtual existence we indulge which is definitionally necessarily decidedly infertile. One could expand other 'things', objectified objects, and the static array of trinkets that populate the worldview of unKingdom. In the unKingdom, measured impedence to fecundity via premeditated sterility finds coherence in the context of a total world view which also births entire sexual and spiritual landscapes as sterile as Canary Wharf. We're damaged goods, people are stupid ~ as B said last night, and in this way multiplication is exponential folly, utterly unconscionable, unless people can be redeemed, unless there is a power in the world that is infectiously restorative, a Jn20v15 good-gardener's creed of relentlessly nurturing new growth, building-back-better, turning death into life, unclean to clean, draining and unstaining the cup of pollutants. The cares of 'the world' conjures that hegemony that prefers to divide rather than multiply, when we dare to multiply with an urgently fecund parabolic imperative it will be controversial.
Mk4v21-22 A light is lit, actively, intentionally. From nothing to something. Into your great darkness is spoken a "let there be.." (Hear Jez on this poetically goo.gl/ODSs1v ) You were lit for a purpose. You were sparked at a price. The gospel in you is an ignition bringing to blaze all the fuel God put in you, an uncontainable fire hazard. And light lights, the rectilinear propagation of that which is in you cannot but bring a richness of colour and texture to visibility in the room and along the street and across the sky. Katy Perry gets it, boom boom boom, even brighter than the moon moon moon.
Mk4v23-24 'ere we go. Jesus commends the examined life in four verbs: 1. Hear; 2. Listen; 3. Consider; 4. Measure. 1. Engagement with the parable-woven reality is phenomenological, sensed with your senses, encountered in the now. Jesus relentlessly unblocks ears and unblinds eyes and condemns those willedly senseless and desensitised: Mk8v18 Mt15v14 Mt23v16 - as Ps135v16-17 emphasises: contrasted with inert idols, we have a God who is there, and is not silent. 2. Receive, then perceive, tune the signal from heard noise and so discern. I want to hear God, but I am easily distracted. I want to hear God, but I have too many tabs twittering, I'm not here and now, and so the message is out of sync, truncated and shot through with interference. 3. Consider and 'carefully'. The listener's duty of care is to take care of the message: meditating and memorising. As Jm1v24's scripture amnesia, you have to hold on to revelation, lest we forget. 4. Jesus: the original Karma Policeman promises to give you a taste of your own medicine? Perhaps. As he leads us from hearing to doing, we are lead to externalise things received out into the world beyond, a world of equal and opposite reactions, a Newton's cradle of reciprocity and return. What is your 'measure', what weight of glory, what portion of grace. Give that, 'use' that, reinvest your full measure.
Mk4v25-26 Have/have-not. Have you? I think 'having' must entail also a conscious appreciation of what-you-have. Despising and so discounting what-you-have is tantamount to not-having and will result in a depreciation of what-you-have. But as a maxim it seems too much to write a true truth of virtuous cycles of spiritual ROI. God doesn't necessarily 'help those who help themselves'. God doesn't necessarily 'bless those who turn up'. You cannot 'give to get' on any cosmic vending machine. The misappliance of these verses can render a tribal, exclusive, capricious universe where Christianity is an agent perpetuating and entrenching the spiritual privilege of the 'haves' over against the 'have-nots'. However, the notion of haves-getting-more ought to be an encouragement to hope when the crop looks to have failed, and the battle seems lost: there is a bigger truth, a coming harvest, a war that is already won. If you get this, you'll get that.
Mk4v27 'he knoweth not how..' Tis mystery all.. Do you need to know how salvation works? At what level? If two-ways-to-live or four-spiritual-laws are an approximate diagram of the mechanics, is that enough? At some point you have to black-box it, concede a finitude of knowing and surrender before the efficacy of a fundamentally supernatural otherly process. Philosophically unsatisfying? Epistemelogically humble? Pragmatically urgent? We know-not, so there are limits to growth-strategy.
Mk4v28 'all by itself the soil produces..' I'll say it again, we live in a parabolic-realist universe, freaky things going on out there.. Agency is ascribed to soil by Jesus. Spontaneously, like the prison door in Ac12v10. In all there is something processual and organic about the growth. An oak tree looks nothing like an acorn, and no two oak trees are the same ~ who knows the shape of christian T could be. Christianity is not topiary.
Mk4v29-30 Jesus wants you to *say* literally: 'Who do you say I am?' Mk8v29 but also, and importantly, to say 'What shall we say the Kindgom is *like*?' Arguing by metaphor, wooing by allegory, interrogating the parabolic quality of a thing is biblical mode of accessing the real. Dwell poetically, as God's poiema Ep2v10 and say as such. Live likeably as similes and speak to one another in psalms Ep5v19.
Mk4v31-32 S, M, L, XL Do you consider the gospel as a scaleable thing? Church pain follows from too fixed a sense of right size. From the Bigness of the tumourous mega church to a bonsai approach of confected authenticity. Hospitality should be the governing principle of appropriate and expansible scale and there is a fractal reciprocity to the principle: the seed is planted in the soil, so then birds are roosted in the resulting tree. We are hosted to host, nurtured to nurture, grown to grow, housed to house. As Jn14v2 In my father's house there are many mansions.
Mk4v33 'with many such parables..' What is a parable? A story? What stories do you tell? How many stories do you tell? Are they good stories? What makes them good stories? What story does your life tell? Is it a good story? Madeleine L'Engle quotes Aristotle's Poetics: ‘that which is probable and impossible is better than that which is possible and improbable.’ Do you tell those sorts of stories?
Mk4v34 'he said nothing without parables..' What is my parable to prose quotient? How much of the gospel am I able to explain in literal language? Is there a figurative imperative in my speech? .. 'he explained everything..' Does my story demand an explanation? Is there depth to my life, or am I all surface?
Mk4v35-36 It was a dark and stormy night, and the captain said to his men.. there is a Scooby-Doo sense of ham ominousity: 'Evening came.. "let's go to the Other Side"' And yet, apt: the Christian life is a launching out into a stormy maritime analogy, we are tiny boats, specs of white casting off at dusk into the dark, perilous like astronauts in Cuarón's Gravity, timers ticking a crescendo before satellite detritus shreds all semblance of security. And, like the disciples in this moment we too exist at a junction of impending environmental calamity.. Climate change is coming, if for no other reason than to prompt Christians to pray for the weather, as Jesus did.
Mk4v37 Is the NIV taking poetic license too far in rendering megalē as a "furious" squall? ESV's "great" is more balanced.. But maybe the squall was furious - the demons are.
Mk4v38 Does Jesus care if you drown? Jesus contrasts the care of the Godhead variously with caricatures of God: Lk18v2 "A judge in a certain city who neither feared God nor cared about people." ; Jn10v13-14 "The hired hand who ... cares nothing for the sheep" ; and Lk19v20's "hard" (NIV) "severe" (ESV) "exacting" (NASB) "austere" (KJV) "tough" (HSCB) man. There is something Malickian about these Gods. Zvyagintsev's film The Return also powerfully considers this concept - is God uncaring? And, what happens if we believe thus?
Mk4v39-40 Jesus, the great millponder, issues a meteorological cease and desist, laying Henley booms across Galilee, calming with implausible instantinaity: what of momentum's inertia, whence reverb, and where does the wash go? My life is turbulent, it will always be, the toothpaste won't go back in the tube, the existentiallist's being towards death with a sense of unravellment's chaotic but just inevitability is bad maritime analogising. Jonah was a bad maritime analogiser, who slept in a boat, woke to a storm, and Jh1v15 caused it to stop instantly - we can do better than that.
Mk4v41 "What manner of man?" And what does this mean for all humans? Do we distinguish Jesus' 'humanity' from our 'humanity'? Yes, in terms of it's execution, but in terms of its potential surely not, and if not, what form of glorious supernaturally enabled humanism do we arrive at by allowing this? Shakespeare speaks of man noble in reason, infinite in faculty; in form and moving express and admirable; in action like an angel, in apprehension like a god. Ps8v4-5 speak of man a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned with glory and honor; given dominion over the works of God's hands; with all things put under his feet.. Schaeffer speaks of no little people. C S Lewis claims there are no ordinary people, no mere mortals. What manner of man is your notion of a man? Jesus came as perfect humanity to radicalise your humanism. goo.gl/njiPuV