Monday, 7 December 2015
Let's pray names with clicks to the clock,
Best we lay shame to the school of hard knocks,
Text its all gain. Or its not.
~ Alternate mornings. 07729056452
Mk12v1-2 Apt that we enter a parable about our relationship to the God who has left us, on this first week of advent. The God we either wait for or forget, as Caroline's sermon last night goo.gl/42bwKB and Simone Weil on 'the absence of God' as 'perfect love' to me this week. I am forgetful and complacent, and yet I breathe in the possibility of another way in this renewed season of waiting, of letting the head-knowledge percolate to the heart and the hands as we together meditate on the fact that I did not plant this vineyard, I did not build the fences or the watchtower. Traces. And further, I know in my bones that I am a tenant here, not an owner, and when I act as though I am the latter I end up faced with the existential incongruence of it. The memory of the tenancy contract is seared into my chemistry, if I would just let my body remember. God, I'm waiting.
Mk12v3-4 The pathos of 'and' 'and' 'and' invoked again as Jesus builds a cascade of prophet punchups. More subtle than the simple illustration that mutineers mute modes of mediation violently, Jesus is developing a portrait of entrenchment mechanisms. Beware, Christ-avoidance always escalates. But, note also, grace escalates, God ups the ante, desperate to make contact, relentless.
Mk12v5-6 I have more sanitised ways of killing the prophetic, with food, fantasy and philosophy. Why do we kill? To pretend to ourselves that we are the owner of the vineyard. Such fantasies have a bloody cost, unsustainable self-denial and violence towards the other. v6 the Son is coming, this Christmas & at every moment, into the midst of this murderous hot-blooded self-defense of my heart (bad king that I am). I can shut him down & kill him. Or. Or.
Mk12v7-8 Heir of the God and a slippery slope argument. We kill Jesus for many reasons, violence inevitably begetting more violence being one of them, but in these verses 'inheritance' is invoked. There is something of the goose laying golden eggs about this. There is an attitude towards the divine that looks to cash-in a one time dividend. This a risk-averse comportment towards providence, that is selfish, impatient and anti-relational, but above all, it is a static and entropic understanding of reality. Like the prodigal son, we take our inheritance now, because there is only now, in a futureless short-termism, we spend our fossil fuel capital as if it is income, we burn up a world bound for destruction.
Mk12v9-10 Jesus speaks of his own rejection, his own pain, his own hope. Following the paper trail back to Ps118 we are reminded of the way that Christ enters into every corner of our humanity. Imagine Jesus inhabiting this Psalm he is quoting, the v5 searching distress, the v10-12 experience of being overwhelmed, & the v1-4, v28-29 assurance & worship of the true God. And of the rejected cornerstone we feel all the contingency of being chosen or chosen or not chosen. This contingency, the arbitrariness of things: this is much harder to accomodate than suffering, in many ways. Yet Jesus enters into even the contingency of our humanity, & overcomes it by being both the unlikely cornerstone of the temple and the v19 gate to its heart.
Mk12v11-12 There are two architectures (see Malcolm Hardman's case against secondary arch vs Levi Strauss' bricoleur) divided by the approach they take to cornerstones. Top-down architects: whose utopian and propagandistic forms exist in a gallery-hung vacuum, chiselling brittle monoliths polished to exquisite precarity. vs Bottom-up barefoot architects: tooled up with Zuhandenheit, rooted in landscape, reconciled to the accidents of a material world. Observe the quarried mass rejected by one world system is the other's treasure: this is more than a biblical mandate for recreational upcycling, this is a description of all redemptive reality being irreducibly and fundamentally dedicated to energetic upcycling at all times. We, the redeemed, reclaimed and restored follow such a saviour, the chief dumpster-diver, the relentless recycler. "Parable against them" recycling is not merely an economic convenience, environmental imperative or vintage aesthetic, it is a weaponised mode of making that wars against a religiose market economy.
Mk12v13-14 Jesus in a double bind, the system designed to damn him however he responds. I want to learn from the master the skill of transforming the conversation like this, rather than submitting to the rage or resignation that wait on either side. We often note that Jesus subverts question with question, but I note also (looking ahead to v15) that he responds by engaging the Pharisees in Joint Attention. I wonder if this is a levelling move, designed to shift the power dynamic of the frontal-accusative face-to-face to a more equal footnoting. In joint attention one is invited to co-experience, even in a minimal sense - to co-recognise the same coin, the same figure. Maybe there is something in this that jars the original question and is part of the subverting act. Further I note that v17 Jesus doesn't try to offer them any new information or to propose a new system, but rather states something obvious, to make salient their game-playing. Jesus, teacher, show us how to speak like you.
Mk12v15-16 What is money? Hold a tenner in your hand until it becomes clammy, fold it long, fold it short, hold it to the light, run a montage in your mind of every transaction this note has witnessed. What is money? Bare paper bruv. A faith-based system of IOUs. An arbitrarily valued scarcity-predicated gold-backed mechanism of empire control. The root of all evil. What is money? Jesus is less interested in tax advice than he is in disentangling our hypocrisies. Texting this text has been a strain all week. While Jesus *is* an economic revolutionary, 'render unto Caesar' seems to me to be rhetoric, unconcerned with tax politics, weaponised only to highlight a Pharisee's complicit duplicity. The question of tax remains. Should we pay taxes to Trident?
Mk12v17-18 I haven't ever really drilled down into this phrase...of course everything belongs to God, so Jesus is not suggesting that there is some golden percentage distribution between God and emperor. Rather, one should give to the emperor as part of the whole one gives to God, & only then. I realise this question is even more subversive than I think - an invitation to dialogue with Roman interlocutors about the nature of living within the whole that is the true God? Reading Simone Weil yesterday: 'we are a part which has the imitate the whole.' Fractals innit. Jesus invites us to consider how each monetary exchange (taxes, each small part) imitates the whole (all belongs to God)
Mk12v19-20 A conundrumathon, now taxes, now death, text on this. I feel Jesus' heart break. Jesus, whose mind crenelated conch shells, whose eyes dazzled butterflies into being, Jesus, architect and engine room of a boundless more-than reality. Here, amongst his bickering children, taunting tangles of their own sophistry. The faulty premise in our pharisaic problematising philosophy is a less-than reality, less-than life before a less-than resurrection, less-than marriage before a less-than eternity. On these less-than foundations we seek the wrong less-than answers to the wrong less-than questions, we are a cruel parody of ourselves. Such small-minded ambition seeks only damage limitation, devising contingency for an eternity spent with some spectre of se7en serially killing Shipmans. My own bleak forecasting is built on the same less-than foundations. May it never be!
one or two
zero or seven
looking for the formula
of marriage and heaven
wanting the doctrine
priming the sums
Jesus the disturber
leaves my algebra undone
Mk12v23-24 As I was going to St Ives, I met Elizabeth Taylor, whose seven husbands' cats' kittens riggled and riddled me into an Interstellar resurrection hypothesis of wormholes and nonsense. No, it is not that. Jesus is countering cynical pragmatism with more-than but he is not merely arguing that infinity addles calculations as if to undermine all reasoning, as if marriage's mystery legitimised unlimited sentimental interpretations or as if eternity's complexity was pure license for convoluted eschatological not-knowing. He reasons with the Sadducees, presuppositionally. The prerequisites for right thinking are right reading and right relating. A Godless hermaneutic will always make a muddle of marriage. Without the sails of my knower being filled with an experience of God's power the scripture I soundbite will be but a millstone round my neck, when it could be a wind-powered breadmaker.
Mk12v25-26 Confusing at first glance that Jesus seems to offer corrective knowledge in v25 followed by a chastisement of the premises of the conversation itself in v26 (which would surely include his own corrective), but meditating on the claims of v25 a while I think that both points funnel towards the same point, which is to demarcate the horizon of our contemplation. To tell us that in some way we will be like angels post-resurrection is to tell us nothing concrete, to tell us nothing of how bodies, space, time, relations & romance will or will not in fact be in the new creation. These questions are beyond our horizon. But Jesus invites us to make the burning bush the centre of our vision, the blazing I AM who is at the centre and at every point and beyond the circumference of ourselves. Take off your shoes. For here. In Jesus.is Holy ground.
Mk12v27-28 v27 Quite Wrong (NIV) Serious Error (NLT) Badly Mistaken (ISV) Badly Deceived (HCSB) Greatly Astray (YLT) Ye therefore do err greatly. To err as the Sadducees do in their theology of marriage and resurrection is to err (planasthe - Gk) greatly (poly - Gk). What work is this 'greatly' doing? To establish the gravity of such error as more than semantics, beyond the divisions of technical nuance into the realm of paradigmatic waywardness and fundamental contradiction. In so far as your theology of marriage and resurrection is derived from the character of God, erroneous theology directs all consequent life and worship towards the wrong God, the God of the dead. Jesus thinks it right to establish priorities of wrongness ~ this need not denote actual distinctions between the infinite rebellion of every/any sin, but Jesus' selective emphasis should give us heed to consider action with urgency commensurate with degrees of consequence and in proportion to our propensities. v28 Jesus thinks it right to establish priorities of rightness. He makes a case for focused partiality discriminating between commandments, based on our finity. Surely 'love God', technically covers all the commandments like a category umbrella, but this is more than reign-protecting word-play. Explicitly and actively to love God - how is that discerned as a legible priority in my life?
Mk12v29 The Lord is One. I need to hear it again, living as I do against bad Oneness Hypothesis & emphasis of sameness. In my work I want to emphasise the multiplcity and otherness within the Truine God, in our relationship with God and with each other. But the Oneness folks are right in some crucial sense. God is One. God is Total. God is Infinite. God's centre is everywhere and circumference nowhere. God has total integrity, bearing the same mark all.
Mk12v30 'What is the love of God that is befitting? It is to love God with a great and exceeding love, so strong that one's soul shall be knit up with the love of God such that it is continually enraptured by it, like love-sick individuals...even intenser should be the love of God in the hearts of those who love Him; they should be enraptured by this love at all times.' - Maimondes.
Mk12v31-32 'As yourself'. Love, tend, nurture, defend, cherish, esteem and bless your neighbour as much as often as deep as long and as thoroughly as if they were you, as if they were ontologically a part of your youness, an extension of your being. Terror. Pick a neighbour, insofar as love is necessarily personal, love must be one to one, one at a time. Love one that cannot repay you Lk14v13-14, love sacrificially without limit Jn15v13 and without expectation of return Lk6v35. Value them above yourself Ph2v3, above your net worth, above your utility value, above your indexed status or priority, position them with every privilege above you. And do unto them as you'd have them do for you Mt7v12, do serve, do encourage, invest in, seek specific enrichments for.. this is not the justice of don't-do-what-you-would-not-want-them-to-do-to-you damage limitation. This is a 'do', to do actively, imaginatively, do maximally invent novel ways of seeking the well-being of the ill-deserving.
Mk12v33-34 Two things to ponder here. 1. Jesus affirms the teacher for what could just be parroting back what he has said, but clearly isn't. Jesus the good teacher sees that this one gets it. Explain it back to me, give an example or an application. Animal sacrifices, yes exactly, you've got it my dear. Perhaps something in the way, the manner, the face-ness, that the teacher gives his reply that Jesus recognises the cognitive & existential 'got it' which is the breaking-in of the kingdom into the heart & the mind. We must long for such moments in all those under our pedagogical care. No parrots please. 2. Why does nobody dare ask Jesus questions after this exchange? Is this a right fear or a bad fear that holds them back? Do they fear competitively & anxiously that they will not hear the 'you're close my love'. Do they see an authentic interaction & (rightly) feel their own inauthenticity? Let us remember our blamelessness & belovedness, on which we might fulfill the mandate to Hb4v16 approach His throne of grace with confidence, so that we might receive mercy.
Mk12v35-36 Advent, aggressively. Advent against the myth of a closed universe. Once upon a time, just beyond the horizon of living memory, there was a golden age of good old days, a nobler time, back then there were heroes, in a time before facebook, a time before cancer, a time innocent of modern vice. That time is over. Pluperfect. We had hoped Lk24v21. The DNA of those heroes has been diluted with the mudbloods, and now we're a species capable only of 1.5-2° damage limitation as our priests strain to stem the great entropic tide of corrupting inertia. You say that out of this swamp can come a cure? You profess that from this many times re-re-translated text can come any authoritative truth? How? Really how? How can the derivative have authority over its original? How can a faxed copy correct the Mona Lisa? In an open universe. In a more than universe. When the one yet to come is greater Mk1v7. When he promises you will do greater things Jn14v12. Unto such as us such a child is born.
Mk12v37-38 Brewing for days how to say in a new way how the desire to be greeted, seen, & seen to be greeted recurs in an infinite mental regress of magazine cut-outs and blog posts, but Auden says it better: 'Because in Him the Flesh is united to the Word without magical transformation, Imagination is redeemed from promiscuous fornication with her own images.' Amen.
Mk12v39-40 A priest's gotta eat. At the end of a year which has seen the death of Olive Cooke and the collapse of Kids Company, how should we then charity? Is it good/best/helpful/sustainable/christian to give to charity, to receive from charity, to ask others for charity money? From chuggers to suckers-lists, what does the trajectory of fundraising do to the soul? And what does a conspicuous gift instill in the giver's identity? What incentive to brand oneself as the pliable and useful poor of the philanthropists does organised giving give platform to? A priest's gotta eat. But. When you need to eat, ask rightly Jm4v3 to the one who feeds the birds Mt6v26. And when you ask, pray and close the curtains Mt6v6. And if you're going to give, don't let your left hand know Mt6v3. Be pious but don't eat the widows. Be radically in-need, but finally dependent on God alone. Be charitable but be so ninja, as your Father in heaven is ninja.
Mk12v41-42 Being a poor widow is premised on knowing oneself a prodigal son welcomed home. This is my prayer for myself and my people this 2016.
Mk12v43-44 We all know Jesus' analysis of the giving of the widow is a lesson in proportional-giving-as-a-symptom-of-a-heart-position, a moral tale about sacrificial giving. But, I am massively more willing to hear the critique of the scribes and (eg goo.gl/1BocKF) the ineffectiveness of the Chan Zuckerbergs' $45bn than I am to hear an exhortation for a Pawlett Jacksons' £450.. Conspicuous philanthropy is just paternalistic power-play, corrupt, self-aggrandising, and famously counterproductive.. But the effectiveness of my widow's mite, that's just magical thinking.. The world has a heart problem, and hearts change hearts, stories move hearts, and sacrificial risk ratios create the only stories which change hearts, and that drama is your finances and the world is the stage. A human life is of infinite value, stake that in giving 'all she had' and the multiplication is vast. No one is stirred to match-fund the billionaire's earnest but recreational exercise in conscience-clearing.
Saturday, 28 November 2015
Thursday, 12 November 2015
Mk11v1-2 John Lewis hails the official start of little-donkey-little-donkey season, a time of year marked by widespread openness to metaphor and public hunger for the allusive. Advent waits for Jesus ~ the geocaching jedi, the loose-fit intermediate-technologian, the bricoleur party-planner, the mystery urbanist with an acute sense of magic, and the colt is his metaphor of choice. The colt declares non-violent resistance: you can have political revolution without a million masked marauders. The colt declares unexploitative exuberance: you can have pageantry without power-over. Oh let's have a parade.
Mk11v3-4 Riffing on a donkey I note 2Pt2 in the series we're following, the v15-16 divinely inspired asses that speak to us about our addiction to being less-than. As Christ called the disciples to untie this colt, his intention is to set us free from v19 all the slaveries that have conquered us. Don't be a Ps32v9 stupid mule, be a carrier of Christ.
Mk11v5-6 Oi oi GTA donkey rustlers I see you hauling ass.. No, you misunderstand, this is a biblical mandate for car-sharing schemes. Srsly, we booked it via a cloud based app. Ponder today, what have you got in your garage that *someone else* could use for the Kingdom. Allow it.
Mk11v7-8 Coverings. We tell the world what we value when we ornament it with a covering, like laying a tablecloth. And while there's a time for Ex39 custom-made high-concept fashion, there's also a time for finding the beautiful-to-hand and framing the divine unselfconsciously and unanxiously with whatever presents itself. #hand-me-downs & #found flowers to the glory of God.
Mk11v9-10 Hosanna, as in Ding Dong Merrily.. Verily, its all vowels ecstatic. Out of densely abbreviated constipated all-consonant Hebrew, the Jewish hallels soar silken vowels of breathy bellowed joy, dissolving into preconceptual prelinguistic exclamations, cascading as jubilant glossolalia in Hallelujah's pure tone A E U I A.. And Hosanna, literally translates the supplication Save-Us-Now, but is long since evolved into a Saved-Us-Now declaration, like surplus distress flares let off as fireworks as this make-shift victory cavalcade winds up the hill to Jerusalem.
Mk11v11-12 Hangry Jesus? There's more going on, but it is apt to meditate this morning on the hunger of Christ, He steps into our gnawing, chemical-induced, memory-laden, sensation-craving, world-totalising desperate dependent hunger. There is a hunger behind my hunger, and Jn6v35 He is the place to go with it.
Mk11v13-14 This little figgy's going down, for being all bark and no bite. Am I? Texting mere foliage? Living a life of verdant sterility? Trotman built an entire ministry on the metaphor of fecundity and the biological impediments to childbearing, citing: disease, immaturity and a chaste non-communion. So too, this barren fig tree? Afflicted with busyness and fear-of-man; being too theologically underdeveloped to engage in the discipling labour of spiritual parenthood; abstaining from polleny intercourse of a spiritual nature? While true concerns, it was infact not the season for figs, and so we disanalogise from Trotman's thesis. Jesus has the faux leaves in his sights. At Bethphage (Hb) 'House of Figs', this particular fig tree among the many makes itself conspicuous by making an unseasonal display of leaves. Do I?
Mk11v15-16 Jesus doesn't just disallow active moneychanging in the temple but also the mere carrying of things through the temple courtyard. A helpful call to reflect again on all the ways I am a passive carrier of toxic capitalisms & other ungodly worldviews & practices, by being of the system, by giving it passage through what should be sacred space, by allowing it space, by not resisting. Jesus resists, Jesus re-sanctifies.
Mk11v17-18 If my body is a temple 1Co6v19, where are the outer courts? If I am a priest 1Pt2v9, how am I managing access to the spatiality of God's presence? The temple was intended to be missional, inclusive, hospitable for all nations. My life and resource are meant to be missional, inclusive, hospitable for all nations. But. Those liminal thresholds, the generous porch on the front of my soul, the grace of time and sabbatical space that allows lingering-alongside with the rightly inquisitive: I clutter these zones with the business of busyness, I close the borders and sublet the living room, I cost-engineer a stream-lined and privatised life, and so, by degrees, the market economy dis-places the gift economy. If we are to bring 'em all in, we will first need iconoclasm to restore civic space, as a nation, and as a household.
Mk11v19-20 It is good to know that Jesus destroys things as well as creates. These ugly fruitless pathologies which are wound into and around my being - Jesus can wither them. And not only that, but wither them to the root, to the first point, the first habit, hurt and hunger from which it grew.
Mk11v21-22 Have faith, but how. Figgy in a pickle, or even a fig jam. Stuck sticky stalled viscous sap in vein coagulated to a coronary full stop clot. So clenched, my closed clasp grips a crisp cut metal twist. I cannot forgive (v25) what isn't past. I will not hope for (v24) what cannot change. Former tree faithless, bitter seeds poison leaves withered, is driftwood floating underwater, is kindling (Jn15v6).
Mk11v23-24 Pray believing that you have *already* received? Because there is always a deeper prayer behind the prayer? Because the answer to all prayers is God Himself? Because he has 2Pt1v3 already given everything we need for life & godliness? Because we trust the healer and not the healing, the creator and not the creation? Or is this a tidy way of trying to sanitise this verse? Taken seriously it wouldn't be. I believe, help thou my unbelief.
Mk11v25- Unforgiveness. We're traders holding debt portfolios, I have no intrinsic networth, only what people owe me, I've printed money in the form of tabulated petty grudges, and I'm speculating on IOUs. Looking to God the great reinsurer, the cosmic quantative easer, hoping that He will help my liquidity ratio, and prop up my financial instruments.. Let it go.
Mk11v27-28 As you spoke picture-words about the kingship-authority of Christ, the tree sprung into life & I caught a glimpse of it, the divine authority that is self-evidently glorious. The Pharisee's causal question can still be asked, & has an answer: trintarian superabundance. But it's the wrong question, & Jesus jousts with them show the right response is to put oneself in the way of the authority that bids me to life and bloom, & submit to its joy.
Mk11v29-30 Answer me. Jesus' semantic tit for tat, a rhetorical riddle-me-this, messiers: would you still have broken the vase? And what is baptism? And what is of-ness? 'Baptism' here functions as metonomy for JtB's total ministry. So then, Phil's 'baptism' - whence comes its effective power and whence comes its symbollic-liguistic power. There is a point source, or there is a crowd source. Does my life gain its validated legitimacy from the mob, or from beyond? And do I care who cares?
Mk11v31-32 Comfort-seeking vs reality seeking. Both of these are looking for a certain 'fit'. The Pharisee's former is like trying to hack down a peg to fit into a pre-ordained size of hole, manipulating and maiming the peg, and ending up with something that is kind of clumsy anyway. Vs the kind of fit that is discovered, that contribute nothing to other than picking it up and trying it to see...the peg that clicks perfectly into the right hole, like a jam jar lid or magnets clicking together without me. The latter is a better joy.
Mk11v33 'Cannot tell' (KJV) ~ Saviour, saviour? I know you aren't so what am I? Genius Jesus jiu jitsu shaming us to face our whitewashed actual-worship, to face what we omit to admit we emit, he dynamites our DADT defeat device. The Pharisees function to illustrate particularly collective forms of Christ-avoidance, joint inattention, irreducibly group modes of organised sin-by-self-censorship. You are culpable for culture's unasked questions, you are culpable for taboos, for no-platforming, for the dilution and debasement of language that deflect questions of divinity with semantics. In this world, there are those who 'cannot tell' and there are those who Ac4v20 'cannot but tell'. Can lah, can lah, can lah.
Saturday, 17 October 2015
hop on, hop off, hope less is more?
one foot in sea, and one on shore?
the religiouse bid for divorce law's mores,
the fickly split pick the lock, they'd thrown the key for
He made the two one who'd do or die for
they made the one two who'd sue and lie for
yo ho, do-si-do, rent asunder. man's a giddy legal
oh Jesus, snakey friends? dis-Adam&Eve 's'all
Mk10v3-4 Do not put your marriage to the test, like, do not put your Lord God to the test. This is not a drill. This is not your insurance package. This is not convention or religion. This is not a contract. You don't get to use your marriage as a theory, a test exercise, a business deal or a means to an end, just as you don't get to use God as such. Take off your shoes, and don't mess around.
Mk10v5 Hard things. My heart is a hard thing, renitent, adamantine, # I am titanium.. Marriage is a hard thing. A hard thing, concrete and inelastic, not yielding to expedient redefinition, it is a thung thing. Tricky then when two hard hearts like square pegs seek to be hammered through the round hole of marriage in lived experience. What doesn't bend breaks? And so the preacherly dictate might issue: don't bend the rules, bend the knee. Yes, but see, marriage may be immutable, yet God bends himself to minister grace, contingency and healing to everyone facing every exceptional circumstance.
Mk10v6 And why is marriage hard? Less how, more why? From what Aristotelian four causes, to what final ends? Why is marriage hard? Why? v6 because gender. And why is gender? From the beginning of creation God intentionally created difference and assymetry. From the beginning of creation God made marriage hard, infinitely complex. We are purposively gendered, purposed toward the display of God's grace. Is it a text of terror, that claims that gender is? Jesus, the deft logician, is navigating fraught waters, fraught then, fraught now. Rabbis Hillel and Shammai espoused respectively lax and strict interpretations of marriage's permissibility. These positions are shades of grey on a sliding scale made possible by the tacit presumption that marriage is socially constructed powerplay. Jesus, the presuppositional apologist for stark and extremist theological positions, defers to a gendered created order to explain marriage. It is meant to be a hard text. Marriage is meant to be a hard thing.
Mk10v7-8 Leaving & cleaving. Timely, I know. Helpful to note that it is written that a man (rather than a woman) shall leave because in this culture a married couple stayed in the male family. It was assumed that she would 'leave' her family, but not so he. In what ways now do we assume we do leave & we don't leave? What does leaving look like, when presupposed here is that it needn't be a physical leaving? I know the textbook answers, but I want to know specifically particularly for me for us for now. Oh God, please give us your wisdom your kindness your words your pictures, that we might both leave & cleave more fully really deeply fearlessly.
Mk10v9-10 Yoked by God's joinery. We are cabinetry of the great ontological dovetailer. God's desire to unite, reconcile, cooperativise is pictured in marriage as but one of many sacred pictures crafted in God's obsession to illustrate a manual for overcoming division and for creating modes of relating that reflect the true truth of triunity. It has been helpful for me to consider marriage as the smallest church ~ the closest-to-home iteration in a fractal of modes of one-and-otherness. So church is a two-made-one Eph2v14 Gal3v28. One. One but not in an androgynous disindividuated symmetricality. How to? We moderns have almost forgotten. Sensations of oneness and immersive connectivity are for sale all around us, but this is the we-are-not-two-we-are-one of the Kinks and the New Age. Souping ontology in the Buddhist blender does profound violence to irreducible personhood. Jesus prays we would be one Jn17v22 in a yet-we-are-two-we-are-one oneness.
Mk10v11-12 Having mulled I think that the primary way to receive this is as a personal & specific claim rather than a claim about society at large. Jesus always calls me up on it, usually in the middle of the night, when I try applying such categories to others, probably because this always leads to some shameful or self-righteous comparison. (& our marriage is not in competition with anyone else's, the thriving of all marriages is our aim) But, like A&M say, "Divorce is not an option for us".
Mk10v13-14 We pondered what a Christian sibling looks like on Tuesday~ curiously commentary suggests the pronoun in 'they brought' implies siblings. 'Rebuked' Scolding as seeding and spring-loading adult unbelief: much atheology is post-rationalised cover for emotional compensation, intellectual balm for the once-rebuked, the great thou-shalt-knotted. Much church-pain is manifest in chronic acute sores of clipped wings chafing the shackles of prohibitive prohibitions. The emerging adolescent brain stifled, wounded by a well-intended disciplinarianism that wants church to be so decently-and-in-order 1Co14v40 that nothing gets done. Jesus calls not for permissivity per-se, but for welcome's emphatic and tactile embrace. And why? Because, Jesus-as-Rafiki, the babe-in-arms multi-tasker, claims v14 'the Kingdom belongs' to them, and the Kingdom is the ideal city, the world we all want. It is better that intergenerationality be energised by a self-interested pursuit of the good life than by tedious philanthropy.
Mk10v15-16 'Sarah Susannah, for you Christ Jesus came into the world, for you He died, and for you He overcame death. All this for you, before you even knew it.' Why infant baptism and dedication are one of the truest witnesses to the rest of the church and the world of the reality of Christ. How do we receive like a child? Precisely by doing nothing. All this for you little one, before you did a damn thing. Hallelujah.
Mk10v17-18 Far from the Christianity that trades in goods and services, Jesus deals in an infinitely polarised black-and-white morality. To we who are naturally religiouse, Jesus is a terrorist, a despairmonger issuing perfectionistic edicts: there are no shades of grey, there is no good-enough mothering, this is not a meritocracy, there will be no runners-up, no brownies points, no best-improved, your strongest efforts count as nothing. I have wasted so much life trying to earn life, so much energy spent on vain remorse, overcompensation, pedantic negotiation, post-justification. The only goodness is faith-in-the-God-who-is-good. You too have failed, you are fallen, you will fall short, only fall on Christ.
Mk10v19-20 Did the rich young man really believe that he'd kept all the commandments? By what measure does he (& we) think such a commandment is kept? Just-enough? Is his tone anxious, arrogant or ambivalent? 'Happy are those whose sins are forgiven, happy is the one whom the Lord does not accuse of doing wrong & who is free from all deceit' Ps32v1-2 Jesus frees us from our self-deceit, our deceit that we are without sin. This is freedom's way.
Mk10v21-22 'Sell all' but he doesn't mean it literally. This is bluffing brinkmanship in game theory, like a strange Rabbinic game of chicken, played to the pain.. He doesn't mean it literally Lk12v33. Zacchaeus didn't take it literally Lk19v8. The early church didn't interpret this literally Ac2v45, Ac4v34. 'You lack' lacking that essential have-less-ness. A humourous, counter-intuitive recalibration: To have-not is to have. An alien notion to we possessed by possessions, consumed by consumerism. On an evening, a few years ago, two fellows pulled me into Durweston Mews and relieved me of wallet, phone and ipod, emerging into York Street, I realised an entirely novel being-towards-the-city, a lightness that now no one could intimidate me or hold me to ransom for my possessions. 'loved him' Jesus in love raises the stakes, in love calls us to lose the game inside the game, in love seeks to save us from our stuff: to have without holding, to give without counting and to follow him.
Mk10v23-24 So. Yes. Hard. The costly cost of discipleship. Christian climbs the hill Difficulty, for 'better though difficult the right way to go'. Why is it hard? 1. Because to be faced with Christ is to be faced with oneself, which is hard, because there's a lot there I don't want to look at. 2. To face Christ is to know that there is a reason not to ignore, coast through or excuse the demands of this broken world. 3. To face Christ is to know ahead of time that you will face difficulties in your relationships with others for the sake of the Good, up to and including 1Th3v4 persecution. Money and its equivalent idols provide a buffer against all of these. But Christ leads us pilgrims up a mountain where all money runs out.
(and can I highly recommend a visit to Bedford's John Bunyan museum)
Mk10v27-28 'Jesus looked at them' or in the GNB 'Jesus looked straight at them.' Like 'The Look' in Sartre, here we know Jesus as subject, as person. I am apt to think of divinity as a vague cloud, a sort of progressive force underpinning the world that I have to try to situate myself in, but not a Look, a face that addresses me. Forgive me, I'm always talking about this, but only because it's still so hard to believe. Sartre was wrong about the looked-at, though. I don't become an object before Jesus, I become a subject, a person to. Dignified, worthy of specific personal divine address. I am not left behind. Jesus hard sayings are for me too.
Mk10v29-30 'Left' 'aphēken'(Gk) forsaken, abandonned, neglected.. (and Luke includes wife in the parallel Lk18v29). Gee. Zus. Who can live nuancing this savagely heightened language? After raging this morning against damage done by these verses, I have simmered down. It is 6am, London hums quietly outside. There must be reason for his hyperbole. I take for granted that Jesus intends a critique of nuclear family idolatry, and the paralyses of codependency, and the sick spiritual stiflement of sentimental romance. But could he not have said so in as many words. I am interested that he thought his divisive language a risk worth taking. There must be a reason for his hyperbole. Reason, perhaps, in the proportional force needed to prise us from the vice-like grip of our tacit default state. By default, no one who has wealth does not trust it to save them, unless they have reclassified their wealth-ownership as gift-couriership. No one. So too that other asset class of roots and relations, family and friends. We trust it to save us and to provide us an identity, we believe we deserve it, we enshrine the right to defend it, we idolise and embezzle it. Family-friendly commentators (and wounded MKs) fall sprawling: what about 1Tm5v8, 2Co12v14 etc? Yes, but only so far as provision for your family is for something beyond the fattening of self-relation and the enabling of escapism. There is a reason for Jesus' hyperbole, and I would do well to calibrate my attachments and focus my familying, with commensurate force.
Mk10v31 We love this verse, don't we? But what is firstness and lastness? Surely Jesus wants to challenge the idolatrous 'firsts' of our own hearts as well as the systems which favour the 'haves' over the 'have-nots'. What is your first? What is the total shape of life that you are a 5 for on the cardinal scale of desire? What if in this verse Jesus flipped your 1s and your 5s? So that you couldn't just use this verse to feel smug that you were lesser than a banker or a politican or a religious leader, but rather that you had to lay down the image of yourself according to whatever you value most, lay down even your false humilities, and discover that God is sufficient, in the midst of shattered idols.
Mk10v32 Amazed and afraid. I realise how afraid I am to come into the presence of God, always fearful that God will demand something of me that I won't be able to come up with. Afraid of being convicted. And then God shows up again and I remember that He is Good and Strong and Glorious and there is no-where else I want to be and I am amazed. Ben talked last night about the lack of perspective and terror of the storm outside the presence of God, but that when we enter the inner sanctuary, things change perspective - it's a phenomenological claim, the shifting of the whole world around the centripetal point that is the Jesus that the disciples walked on the road with, and were afraid, and amazed.
Mk10v33-34 'And' Jesus is about to get chewed up And spit out And booed off stage. Jesus died for our sins. In stages. If Jesus had just wanted to die for our sins, orchestrating a single sniper's bullet would have been sufficient. What is irreducible about the distinct experiences of Jesus' total assassination: of being mocked And of being spit at And of being flogged And of being killed? In the mechanics of of salvation, somehow, suffering in every way allows Jesus to sympathise in every way and to atone in every way. His intellectual cause was mocked And his person's character was spat on And his body's physicality was flogged - the total devastation of mind And soul And body. // What is important about delivery to the priest And then delivery to the gentiles? Jesus saves all by being killed by all: the rich And the poor, the left And the right, the religious And the irreligious, there is a universal culpability in the agency of Jesus death. You And me And everyone we know.
Mk10v35-36 This question keeps coming up, no? It's why I keep coming back to Stalker. One feels that Jesus asks it with a smile or a knowingness: Jesus asks what we want in order to show us that what we think we want is not really what we want. Jesus questions us in order to show up our own bullshit. We are all lovers of kitsch, thanking Scruton & Kundera: we love to love ourselves loving something, we love the image of ourselves in the right seats. I am reminded of Reginald Williams short essay in Think 29(10) in which he argues that there is good reason to reject the existence of God 'because people have a deep-seated need to believe that good things exist when in fact they don't'. Maybe. But not this Christ-God. He takes all the good things our psyche thinks it wants and smashes them to pieces, destroying the wish-fulfilment god with His questions. He is our Desire Map, our true redemption.
Mk10v37-38 Here, Jesus-as-Zazu, counselling the excitables who just can't wait to be King. On Nov 22nd I'm preaching the St Marks evening service on Christ the King from Jn18v36: He's not that kind of King, it's not that kind of Kingdom, but. King Jesus, cryptic and patient, does not quite condemn J&J's desire and ambition. Contra Mr Robot which administers a defence of anarchism as a subtly escapist pill: Tyrell's caricatured power-as-only-and-always-delirious-machiavellian-lust-for-power comforts me in my immature wallowing, self-medicating, worldly sorrow ~ Thank God I am not like one of the suited. Rather, does not Jesus call us to raise our game, drink deep, be baptised by fire, and become elite CTOs exceptional in their turbo charged meekness?
Mk10v39-40 Jesus is our drinking buddy. Mixing my drinks and my metaphors, the Bible talks about the cup of wrath Is51v17, the cup of salvation Ps116v13, the cup of suffering Jesus faced Mt26v39.....What and how do we drink with Jesus? What is drinking? It involves the intimacy of taking something inside yourself and internalising it as part of yourself. It is lived and sensory, the balm of water and bitter of coffee harder to reify than where-we-sit (though still far from immune from the corruption of branding.) We are to drink-with Jesus, that is, experience-with Jesus, through prayer, meditation and Christian witness, to internalise-and-metabolise with Him, as his body, the sins of the world. And it is presence-to-him at the party of heaven at which we'll be drinking together forever Mt26v29. But also, He tells us that he is the drink as well as the drinking partner. Mt26v27. Jesus is the drink our soul longs and aches for Ps42v1 and the excess with which my cup overflows Ps23v5.
Mk10v41-42 The power of power-over, flaunting (NLT) absolute (GWT) power. 'katakyrieúō' (intensified 'kata' over-against + 'stréniaó' wantonly run riot luxuriously) and 'kateksousiázō' (intensified 'eksousía' wielded power) are in view here, the two words are used only here and in the parallel Mt20v25. The picture of the 1%'s very very very wild lifestyle, yes but, they are the tip of an iceberg we're all on, striving to build the slippery slope of a pyramid scheme, exerting tyrannical downward force to the diminution of the ruled, the manipulation of the voiceless, the trampling of nature, the dehumanisation of sweatshop labourers, contempt for the humanity of makers, growers, carers - those lowest geared cogs in the industrial machine. The exploitative structure of authoritarian concentrations of power is eventually and totally ruinous, draining the gift economy, bankrupting the NHS, stratifying London by have-nots housing crises.
Mk10v43-44 Head down, straight on to the tube, it's busy, but I really want a seat. I've got a long way to go, man. Easy to criticise DC for using the dehumanising language of 'swarms' of people...that's exactly my attitude at this moment. It doesn't register that these faceless obstacles might have more pressing needs for a seat. To live in a me-first world is necessary to live in a me-only world, it is to de-face the other. It is to live inside Flatland's hellish zero-point with no outside. As Levinas & the 12-step programme knows, the healthy & holy do not serve others as a nice optional extra once they are sorted. Service-of-others is a dimension of being necessary to the healthy & holy. & Christ, to whom we are united, is always driving us towards this health & holiness.
Mk10v45-46 'but to serve' The Son of Man ran the race to the bottom of the downwardly mobile. There is a race marked out. There is a great cloud of witnesses. The winner's podium is a step well ~ can we go deeper? Jesus comes, and by subverting subservience he knocks the teeth out of indentured slavery. I'm particularly struck by v43's 'not so among you'. Who is this you? Contra the system of leadership amongst the Gentiles, 'you' ~ the community of believers, the counter culture, the alternative economy conscientiously objecting to the market's hierarchy. We are that 'you' among whom exploitation is 'not-so'. We are that microcosm of financial restructuring, that proof of concept for a gift economy, that pilot of the possible in extreme and sacrificial service.
Mk10v47-48 Taking up space. 'Have pity on me', 'Have mercy on me'. Maybe there's a technical conversation about how when one asks such things for oneself one is asking for mercy, while when asks for others one is asking for justice. Interesting, but perhaps a distraction from how blind Bartimaeus might speak to my life. Who do we shush as they make petition? When do you allow your voice-on-behalf-of-yourself to be shushed? When do we feel the prickle of annoyance that someone or some group is playing the victim, always talking about how they're discriminated against or disadvantaged. Isn't it a bit embarrassing now? Aren't you a single issue party, a broken record? Bartimaeus knows his need, his lack, his disability, his disadvantage. He is unafraid to shout it louder, and the Son of David is listening. Speak up.
Mk10v49-50 Take Courage. tharseó. Be bolstered from within. Radiate warm confidence. Go forth with unflinching boldness. Take courage because your sins are forgiven Mt9v2. Take courage, because you know the ways your faith has made you well Mt9v22. Take courage, because Jesus is Jesus and Jesus is really real Mt14v27. Take courage, in the face of the world's tribulation, because Jesus has overcome the world Jn16v33. Take courage in the face of conspiracy against you, because God is invested in preserving your testimony Ac23v11. Take Courage, because He. Is. Calling. You. Mk10v49
Mk10v51-52 He's asking questions again: 'what do you want me for you?' One version of this question, paraphrased by JP on grace: 'where does it hurt?'. Please can we take the bible seriously? Jesus stands at the door of your heart this morning, this morning after the night before, and says 'what do you want?', 'where does it hurt?', 'what do you want me to do for you?'. Finding the words to reply is the first step to healing. Replying with hasty, inauthentic words will not do, just replying with the first thing that comes to mind or with the surface emotion will not do, shrugging your shoulders and not replying will not do. So many of our unhealings linger because we have not really tried to reply to Jesus as Bartimaeus does here. 'I want to see again'. Come Holy Spirit, give us the insight and truthfulness to tell Jesus what we really need.
Thursday, 17 September 2015
Mk9v1-2 'As they looked on, a change came over Jesus.' It was Jesus who was first transfigured, not the disciples. We strive so desperately to take hold of our own transformation, but it has to start with seeing Jesus transformed. Seeing Jesus changed, different, anew. The transfiguration mountain top is like the point at which the curtain ripped, a glimpse of John's second sight: Rev1v13-18. This is the point of meditating on Christ himself. This is the purpose of meditating on Christ himself, to see him a fraction more clearly, more as he really is. Transfigure mine eyes, oh Lord.
Mk9v3-4 When Jesus was transfigured, his appearance changed, his clothes changed. We have considered elsewhere the reverse entropy of Jesus pouring contagious light into the system, so, what of clothes as conduits? This question would draw us up and beyond Mt6v25 or 1Pt3v3's idol-limitation or KMC's ethical emphasis on injustice-limitation toward a transfigurational understanding of the clothes we wear. Clothing in the bible is onticological (Bryant), spooky, basically. The bleeding woman touches Jesus' cloak Lk8v44 and the sick are cured by Paul's handkerchief Ac19v12.. This is the Catholocism your mother warned you about. Currently reading Hans van der Laan who considers architecture to be liturgical insofar as it transfigures ordinary material. The Christian life of culture-making relentlessly is to transform the ordinary as water-to-wine, we anticipate the coming wedding, and so seek to dress the world accordingly Mt22v11, (like MJ in the Billie Jean video).
Mk9v5-6 The connection between being afraid and not knowing what to say. In all the ways I find I don't have the vocabulary, in all the ways I say stupid things, things I regret. In all the feeling of the truth of things but stumbling to articulate it, leading to the unpoetic, to frustration & argument. Because I am afraid. 1Jn4v18. Help my unbelief.
Mk9v7-8 Talking clouds and the meteorological paternity test. We too are children of light (Jn12v36 you have the light, 1Th5v5 the light has you). Light. God is Light. A point source, an energy, a wave, a particle, a spectrum, a speed, a mere metaphor? God chooses to reveal himself as a light bright cloud. Why? Consider the way a cloud's droplets crystalise light's infinite extension into a momentarily bodied presence. Consider the luminous precipitate, the diffuse substantial, fluorescent suspension. Put from your mind mechanically ventilated church sanctuaries and ponder the fascination which Diller&Scofidio's Blur goo.gl/ehfZDu holds, or Gormley's Blind Light goo.gl/Djxf8w .. James Turrell speak thus "I'm interested in the revelation of light itself and that it has thingness." God is Light. From Light you were begotten and are beloved.
Mk9v9-10 'What does this rising from death mean?' It means Rm6v5 'for since we have become one with Christ in dying as he did, in the same way we shall be one with him by being raised to life as he was.' v8 'Since we died with Christ, we believe we will also live with him.' Col2v12-13 'You were spiritually dead...& God has brought you to life with Christ.' Col3v1 'You have been raised to life with Christ!' It means through our union we participate in death & resurrection over & over again, freely. So know the fruit of your union with Christ: Every morning is a resurrection, every breath is a second chance.
Mk9v11-12 Elijah comes. Would you know it if you saw it? Three connected misapprehensions keep the disciples in the Scribe's dark. 1. Form. Wrongly venerating Elijah as an Old Greybeard historic character ~ literal, specific, limited, pluperfect (woe to that Mt23v29-31), as if prophecy was. Prophecy is. Elijah comes. 2. Function. Wrongly considering Elijah's sufficient Elijian role as completely completing moral reform and political overthrow. A whitewashed and rosy-tinted account of the good-enough prophet will disqualify John-the-Baptist, and we would-be-way-preparers, as not-Elijian-enough. 3. Messianic prerequisites. Wrongly limiting that the Messiah only comes to an already perfected people, that the Saviour comes only when there is nothing more to save us from. Elijah comes and Jesus comes. We participate prophetically in preparing the way and pointing the way, imperfectly, incompletely but supernaturally and substantially.
Mk9v13-14 'Elijah has been', & other things we're apt to miss. Apt to miss that the rhythms hold the one who is silent, apt to try to reinvent church & community when Jesus is already doing it on the doorstep? Apt to think that The Way must look different to engaging the ones in front of us? I don't quite know what to pray for the next season, but perhaps for eyes, ears & humility enough to recognise the declaration that God is already making.
Mk9v15-16 Mark juxtaposes an intensity of Jesus presence v3-8 with the fraught scene of his absence. Commentators differ on Jesus manifesting a Mosesface afterglow or not, but into the darkness downstairs he strikes a contrast. So: amazed crowd. Actually amazed. When was the last time I was amazed by grace, surprised by joy, faced by Jesus, disturbed by the gospel. It's rare that I let myself be affrighted, with lip stiff and eyes-righted, status quo's up-tighted, everything's alright-alrighted, better to live lukewarm than fight heat? Not so the incautious disciples. Jesus had left them alone and the sparks fly? Sparks fly. Why? asks Jesus in v16. When I can keep my fellowship undisputeacious by exercising low expectations, indeed exorcising no expectations. Mellow, risk averse and caveated. Is this the right response?
Mk9v17-18 'Could not'. The little words that betray my incompetence, my limits, my failure. To know I should be able to do better, to know what's expected, what would fit the circumstance, or what would glorify God...& to experience oneself as incapable of bringing it into fullness. Here I am. Would Jesus meet me, cut me open to heal me and help me to be a new kind of human, a different kind of capable. Surrender, leading to a new dimension.
Mk9v19-20 Talking about my generation. Gen X, Gen Y, boomers, millenials: convenient herd caricatures by pseudo-anthropologist ad agencies? Reductive, yet there is currency in tailoring remedies to a current diagnosis and in speaking healing in the lingua franca of a contemporary zeitgeist, but even more, over against individualistic renderings of being, ponder corporate sin, collective responsibility, intergenerationality, ubuntu and ways that the We goes awry. The bible considers that iniquity's repurcussions endure generationally Ex20v5, that asmuch as humanity has a timeless sin-nature, there is also a contextual sin-nurture, a specific schooling in this moment's iteration of human rebellion. How would one paint the sum of our generation? Dt32v5 crooked and twisted? Dt32v20 perverse? Faithless facebookers adrift on a wayward web? Into such a hegemon Jesus comes, patiently impatient. Into culture to call a counterculture. To restore a covenant that endures to a thousand generations.
Mk9v21-22 'From childhood': the temporal site of the core of all our brokenesses. A simple prayer this morning, bringing the child that I was, we were, you were, before Jesus. May he grant us increasing understanding of the way the child was hurt & numbed, so that he can heal us fully, so that he can take us by the hand & help us up.
Mk9v23-24 If you can keep your head.. Can lah? Jez we can. In contrast to Salena Godden's Can't and Ludwig van Bebothered. Can you? Faith comes in cans but where do the cans come from? Faith is a sense of the possible substantiated. Faith risks, reasonably but, reasoning with premises that not everyone holds, reasoning from precedents that not everyone deems plausible, reasoning by means improbable to ends impossible. Faith triumphs over unbelief and pushes ajar those doors we had thought it prudent to keep closed. Faith speculates and projects boldly, exceeding necessity, pragmatism or just desserts to a more-than. Immeasurably more than. Eph3v20
Mk9v25-26 After crying & convulsing terribly. There's been a bit of that. I am convinced that this has been Jesus, throwing up all the death all the unclean, all the muteness and the deafness, splaying it out, so that he can put me to death, so that he can raise me to life. Thanks be to the Christ, who does not leave me as I am. Help us to see the resurrection that all the crying & convulsing is for: it doesn't end here.
Mk9v27-28 "Why could we not cast the demon out?" v29 Only by prayer. That is, logically iff prayer. There exist some maladies for which prayer is the exclusive, necessary, sufficient cure. By contrast, the mechanistised medicalised disposition of modernity magnanimously might view supplication as supplimentary, euphemised to complementary therapy. But there is a paradigm difference between saying of a given condition: 'if you pray, healing might happen' to 'only-if you pray might healing happen'. Jesus claims there are some such maladies. How would you pray if you had only prayer? How would you pray if housing injustice was such an only-by-prayer demon? How would you pray for Islam, for L, T, B, P ... I want to learn to pray only-by-prayer prayers of frank unselfconscious undeserved desperate dependence.
Mk9v29-30 Pray. In tongues & questions & liturgy. In silence & breathing & strangled wailing sobs & with the muscles of your limbs & the forced out-loud prayers for friends and strangers. In petitions & swearing & poems & songs: they can all take on their own holiness. Pray. Rowan Williams says prayer is like sunbathing: it happens to you rather than you to it. But you do have to find the source of Light & put yourself under it. You do have to take your clothes off and expose yourself. And you do have to be prepared for it to take longer than you want it to.
Mk9v31 The Son of Man is delivered. What is delivery? Deliverance.co.uk, deliveroo.co.uk, consider Justin Welby's woes goo.gl/0pT4JX .. amazon prime-now (in 1 hour!), addison lee ('delivers people too').. Delivery trafficks the objectified from the powerful to the acquisitive. It shouldn't happen to people, least of all the Son of Man. But Jesus incarnated, carnal, like a piece of meat to be handled and traded, he made himself transactable, and his use of the present tense, 'is delivered' suggests the auction is already in process. In this he means no reproach, he paid the postage, his gift to you is himself.
Mk9v32 Understand? Jesus' meat-by-mail concept, suffering-servant concept, Jesus' resurrection schema ~ these are not facts among equal facts. These are disruptive premises. If you permit them in your understanding, everything else must be reordered around them. Do I understand? What is interesting is that the disciples believe without understanding, they follow without fully comprehending. Just as the father in the earlier verse prayed without believing, while the disciples tried to exorcise without praying.. There is grace for all of this.
Mk9v33-34 'What were you discussing on the way?', a bit like the Bible's very first question, the Gen3v9 'where are you?' in the Garden of Eden. God asks, not because God doesn't know the answer, but because we need to hear the question. What question does God ask you today? At which question do you stay silent, like the disciples here? From which question do you hide, as Adam & Eve? Which question threatens to expose your shameful places? God asks.
Mk9v35-36 Put a child in the midst of them. As Peterpan for a previous generation, MonstersInc offers a prescient parable perfectly executed to describe the tacit terror that industry has of children's unabstractable innocence youtu.be/z7PUWdrLQR8 Contemporary labour has frayed intergenerationality, alienating the non-adult to suburban enclaves, setting up a chasm between a trivialised infancy and an enbattled adulthood. While youth may be venerated as far as it is fashionably nubile, marketable, pesterpowerable, monetisable, cutely cooptable, cosmetically simulatable, but children as children are marginalised. Like contraband breastfeeding, so safeguarding risks totalising prohibitions problematising the presence of conspicuous vulnerability. Put a child in the midst of them. Dare to raise a child in the city.
Mk9v37 as I sat in the Abbey yesterday I felt God say that this whole season is a preparation for being a mother well, which is, I guess, receiving a child in the name of Christ rather than the name of Sarah, moving from child-as-anxious-repository-of-my-own-need, used to try to meet my own lack, to child-as-their-own-christ-bearing-glory, to be loved out of the overflow of my own belovedness, for their sake. To receive a child as such is to receive God.
Mk9v38 Christ's truth & love is everywhere. Where is your opportunity for truth & love for, with & from a non-Christian today?
Mk9v39-40 Jesus is calling all cliques to a brand with no style guide. With Sunday Assembly on my mind, such is a broadchurch but we're broader, let's push things forward.. All are welcome at this inclusive church, a holy catholic and apostolic club magnetically aggressively and sacrificially existing for the benefit of its non-members. And yet. This is not a mandate for laissez-faire ecumania. Note three things that Jesus presumes of this leftfield applicant to the tribe in question here: 1. 'doing mighty works' 2. 'in Jesus name' 3. 'speaking of Jesus'. Qualification for membership would seem to bear on active supernatural participation, explicitly invoking Jesus qua Jesus' power, so then to make known Jesus qua Jesus' glorious person. Am I?
Mk9v41-42 The Christ-cosmos is much deeper, more interconnected & more magic than I know. At any moment I am apt to be ignorant of what lies behind the other's gift or gesture, neither how a turn of phrase, a silence or a forgetfulness can shape a person's worldview. How quick to presume, & so how quick to do violence. The Christian life of living in union with Christ must be a life of always asking Him what's going on, asking for a glimpse - of what of what the cup of water means, of the meaning the little one absorbs through my body language. Oh, holy spirit, light up my imagination to see more Your Real in the small interactions with our fellows. Praying esp for H & B this morn, God bless then & keep them, & lead us into right midwiving of their faith. For all those we have, do, & will mother & father, grant us a bigger understanding of the spiritual forces at work. Amen.
Mk9v43-44 Serious, like 127 Hours serious. So visceral is this image of savage self-surgery it is apt to obscure the worldview Jesus is lampooning. While it is true that Jesus' hyperbole functions at the level: sin-is-grave, like amputation-is-grave;~ I would argue he is being more targeted than that: sin-involves-detachment, precisely like amputation-involves-detachment. "If your body causes you to sin.." is only utterable if your you is alienated from your body. Canet's Little White Lies, a many layered meditation on a community of total dishonesty and disengenuity, includes the encouragement to adultery by one character with the expression 'your body will thank you for it..' A whole world of sin follows from the duplicity of the dichotomy of body+soul. There are manifold other ways I achieve a form of cyborg sinlessness, compartmentalising sin-causes: my genes caused me to sin, my upbringing caused me to sin, some secondary or circumstantial scapegoat is surely to blame for the mess I have made with my depraved heart and corrupted will. Cut it out, Phil.
Mk9v45-46 In a different way don't we have repentance-as-detachment too? Not as the compartmentalising of sin, but the turning away of repentance? Louis Newman on repentance: goo.gl/Maq8uQ is a helpful articulation of the work of turning, through the eyes of a Jewish ethicist and recovering addict. We have much to learn on cutting out sin from the communal confessions of both Yom Kippur and the 12 step programme: owning our own sin, and believing that transformation is possible, though painful (like an amputation). Steps1-3 remind us of the conditions of this work though: admitting our weakness, faith in God, surrender of our whole self. Here are the conditions which transform self-mutilation into holiness. The recognition that God is working to sanctify us already, and we choose to play, or not. God's first work: 'You will tread our iniquities under foot. You cast our sins into the depths of the sea.' Mc7v19
Mk9v47-48 An eye for an eyefull: wandering, avaricious, lusting. I'm a visual thinker trapped with eyes pinned open in a visual age where image is everything and everything is porn. Jesus, the holistic criminologist, tries the lusty for thought-crime or pre-crime offences, Mt5v28. So Job, knowing his frailty, covenants with his eyes, Jb31v1 - (does that even work?) Lear's Gloucester considers it best that he lost his sight: "I have no way, and therefore want no eyes; I stumbled when I saw." Obi Wan trains Luke to duel lasers with an opaque blast visor down ~ your eyes deceive, stretch out with your feelings.. But this is not what is in view here. Jesus is calling all patched pirates to the pearly gates, who have lost stereoscopy for the sake of the Kingdom. Christians look different.
Mk9v49-50 Is this Mark's version of Mt5v13? There is no 'you are the salt' here, & perhaps this is helpful for re-reading Matt. For Mark, salt is God, not me. Salt is the fire of the moment of standing before God, as the Is66 quote indicates, like finally making it to The Zone in Stalker only to find yourself devastatingly laid bare. Salt cannot be made salty again because there is no substitute, no complex of E numbers which can be added to that which is not salt to make it salt. Not because things cannot be redeemed, but because they cannot be redeemed without God, and God is the saltiness that you're looking for. This way of thinking about salt pictures the self-defeating striving for saltiness without salt, for redemption without God...they are the same thing. If you find true salt, you'll find the spirit brooding nearby. So have salt in yourselves. Stand alone and naked before the fire of God. Only when you allow God to speak devastating truths to you about yourself can you live in peace with one another, as per this chapter's final exhortation.