Wednesday, 27 July 2016

texting romans six

Sin system engineering? Be a spanner in the works-righteousness. Tooled up, together, alternate days on 07729056452

Rm6v1-2 Paul's 'By no means' a call to shed our misunderstanding of sin. Why would you ask if you're allowed to put the old self back on? Why would you ask if it's okay to go back to the false reactive damaged self if you recognised that this is what has been put to death? Why would you ask if it's okay to stay inside illusions & defense mechanisms & an anxious enslaved way if being in the world, if you understood that this is what you had been freed from? Taste & see.

Rm6v3-4 Shall we carry on sinning? No, obvs. But it's not obvs. Because your definition of sin has to change. I am trying to move my own understanding from:
- Sin-is-naughtiness and Grace-is-an-alibi
- Sin-is-a-code and Grace-is-a-hack
- Sin-was-a-system and Grace-is-a-revolution.
- Sin-was-a-microcosm and Grace-is-a-tidalwave
Fundamentally: *Grace is bigger than Sin*
It makes sense to carry on sinning, if it is a get-out-of-jail card within a code of sin, a glitch that would allow us to game the system, to get one over on our fellow sinners. As if a small God had introduced a patch into a system bigger than him. In our experience sin is a total system, a zero-sum whole, a hegemonic paradigm. Sin is all we know. So, shall we carry on sinning? No. Not because you oughtn't but because you needn't.
And the language here on new birth is vital:
~Grace is not free cocaine offered to one with a prenatal coke addiction. Grace is a cure, it is a new appetite, for a higher high.
~Grace is not good money after bad to one with unmanageable inherited debt. Grace is the collapse of a debt based banking system.
~Grace is not flattery to those insecure, raised on lies and unreasonable expectations. Grace is a bulletproof new identity.
You're a new soul, in a new and strange world.  And so, you're in all kinds of trouble now, the kind where you wake up on a train and everything, everything’s strange.

Rm6v5-6 Meditating on hiding this week I realise that the theology of the cross I have assimilated or myself mangled in the past is one of trying to hide from God using Jesus. This mechanism of hiding from God has to be broken,  it is grounded on the same denial & fear as every other kind of hiding from God. It is an unstable theology leading to anxiety. So listen to Paul, dear heart, he repeats the mystery of the cross: Jesus does not 'stand between' you & an angry God, Jesus does not trick God into thinking you're better than you are, when all the while you continue to know your own dirty truth. Jesus does not 'hide' your sin in this sense. Rather, Jesus offers union with himself, just as you are. Through union with Christ, the old self of sin is exposed to be (actually) put to death with Christ, & a new self, which can (actually) stand before God is resurrected with. For v8 we live WITH Christ. This theology will save my life. I believe, Lord, help thou my unbelief, purge the ghosts of a bad theology of a cross & bring me into your glorious new creation.

Rm6v7-8 'Has been set free!' Matrix analogies breakdown, but I'm really fixated right now on this idea of sin as a system, a closed, bounded subset of reality, a construct of lies, and its greatest coup is convincing us that it is all, that sin is all and that there is nothing outside of it. Sin, a state of incurvatus in se, has even convinced itself of its own totality, death is its trump card, holding us to hostage. Death is the mirrored black wall of our cell, the precipice that holds us compliant in sin's system. With Christ we plunge through death, we drop off sin's radar, outside of sin's domain. With Christ we are nursed back to health. With Christ we live on the basis of another system, the wide open real world. And from that we plug back in ~ in but not of the Matrix, to dismantle the sin city from the inside..

I am also interested as our own paradigm as a system of restriction in the same way in which society creates/sun create our paradigm, and we find it hard to break free. We take the normal academic route because it's safe, because we worry of hitting into sin. When we need to learn to set ourselves free, creativity, on our own path finically (self employed), love life (our own decisions from the heart rather than from friends or family), making decisions  is about breaking with paradigms

It reminds me of what I read on Desiring God's Solid Joys devotional today: Resist him, firm in your faith. (1 Peter 5:9) The two great enemies of our souls are sin and Satan. And sin is the worst enemy, because the only way that Satan can destroy us is by getting us to sin. God may give him leash enough to rough us up, the way he did Job, or even to kill us, the way he did the saints in Smyrna (Revelation 2:10); but Satan cannot condemn us or rob us of eternal life. The only way he can do us ultimate harm is by influencing us to sin. Which is exactly what he aims to do. So Satan’s main business is to advocate, promote, assist, titillate and confirm our bent to sinning. We see this in Ephesians 2:1–2: “You were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked . . . according to the prince of the power of the air” (NASB). Sinning “accords” with Satan’s power in the world. When he brings about moral evil, it is through sin. When we sin, we move in his sphere, and come into accord with him. When we sin, we “give place to the devil” (Ephesians 4:27). The only thing that will condemn us at the judgment day is unforgiven sin — not sickness or afflictions or persecutions or intimidations or apparitions or nightmares. Satan knows this. Therefore his great focus is not primarily on how to scare Christians with weird phenomena (though there’s plenty of that), but on how to corrupt Christians with worthless fads and evil thoughts. Satan wants to catch us at a time when our faith is not firm, when it is vulnerable. It makes sense that the very thing Satan wants to destroy would also be the means of our resisting his efforts. That’s why Peter says, “Resist him, firm in your faith.” It is also why Paul says that the “shield of faith” can “extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:16). The way to thwart the devil is to strengthen the very thing he is trying most to destroy — your faith.

Rm6v9 Almost more astonishing than the fact that Christ created a wormhole and broke out the sin-death system is that He entered into it in the first place. In incarnation Christ subjected himself to the mastery of death, that is, his body & being really was subject to entropy, resurrection wasn't an illusion of death, but a rewriting of the principles of life within cells & spirit.

Rm6v10 To God. v8 with Christ and v10 to God the Father, sounds like a joint attention structure to me. Though I realise I'm too quick to try to tidily codify the trinity and I can't at all...if anything the members of the trinity are always shifting their attention and always attending to everything, and to each other, and to me directly all at once and it's a big weird divine tangle if love and revelation. Nevertheless useful to think about such structures in turn. How does 'facing' the Father 'with' Christ in our periphery change what we see?

Rm6v11-12 Self-pity's cool tonic. Lust's warm embrace. Pride's heady rush. Sin reigned in me as it rewarded, I contracted my mortal body to sin as a calculated transaction, I gave my pound of flesh, my blood for oil, I obeyed its passions for the buzz, the flex, the power. Previously sin reigned, it had a right to rule, I had signed away a tenancy agreement on my soul. I am given to think of the mechanics of compulsion, how was I obliged to sin? I allowed sin to hold my security, my identity, my pleasure to ransom. Subtly complicit in a system, I was a hostage with Stockholm syndrome, willing the enterprise on, entrenching my own captivity. But now, there is no profit in propping up that racket, perpetuating boasting, covering lies with lies, exploiting the weak, seeking sordid and illicit versions of the the pleasure God intends, Now, sin can threaten me with nothing worse, and sin can bribe me nothing better, sin cannot compel my participation. Sin reigned in me, but now. I am as a dead light bulb in sin's circuit, and inert element in its furnace. I drift through McDonalds after a wedding feast, I smell the simmering burgers, the richly melting cheese, the scintillating salty nuggets, but I have no appetite, I am already sated. ..ok, maybe just a few chips, I know they're made of cardboard, but Rm7v19.

Rm6v13-14 Give yourself. My imagination immediately pictures myself reaching inside my chest and handing over my neatly packaged chunk Cartesian soul to Jesus, but this imaginative exercise has consequences, it fails to embody what it is to give oneself. To give oneself is a disruptive restructuring of subjectivity itself. To give *up* oneself evokes something closer to this. 'Surrender your whole being'.// 
Mysterious God,
Whose love holds us captive, whose freedom binds us fast,
Master us, we pray,
That we may no longer live in fear of every death, but in humble surrender to every resurrection,
Through Christ our Lord

Rm6v15-16 You were a laboratory opossum, locked in the belly of the Francis Crick Institute. The earthquake of God's grace tore a hole in the vault. You are free. 6v1 rhetorically asks if you're going to go back round to the front door on Euston Road, ask to be locked back up, because, you know, another earthquake would display grace again again? 6v15 rhetorically asks if you're still lingering at the threshold of the shattered wall, sniffing the Somerstown air as the dust settles, nipping back inside to lick at some leaking agar culture trays, dithering, no longer captive to sin, but still captivated by sin, no longer under the occupation of sin, but still preoccupied by sin. Dear furry friends, do you not know the vast open road?! The slave metaphor is an imperfect one, but hits me between the eyes. Paul with deft rhetorical force, is seeking to prise open the clamshell of my worldview, he shines a light on the elective slaveries I perpetuate. I beslave myself simply because I haven't acclimatised to the agrophobic freedom of grace. I cling to the familiar fix, cuddled, coddled, I slink around the subterrain procrastinating the adventure of faith. I'm so used to framing austerity negotiations, exploiting minimum standards, winning acrymonious prenup disputes, pursuing a career of box-ticking, I'm expertise in risk averse value engineering. What would I do with superabundance? Paul invites us, knowing the imperfect metaphor, to take the slavery you know, the code you understand, and apply that mode of viseral compulsion to a flipped paradigm. You were handcuffed to a rusty bar in a dank cell, now you are handcuffed to an eagle soaring a mile high, a spiritual adrenaline junkie, addicted to adventure, captive to the open road.

Rm6v17-18 two types of freedom, the kind where we're free to choose the less-than-best and the kind where we're so gripped by the good that we are necessitated by it, just as epistemic freedom is the capacity to be necessitated by the truth.

Rm6v19-20 You gotta serve somebody. A one body. You cannot serve two masters, it is not possible to serve two masters. Be all in. Be all in because you cannot but be all in. There is no halfway house, there is no no-man's-land, there are no part time roles. You are freed from sin, but not free-floating. Sin is a ship, righteousness is a ship, no one has a foot in both, no one is adrift. I am thinking again about the sin system, the singularity. When I was a slave of sin, I was a member of its crew, an oarsman in the engineroom of a battleship, I derived my wage, my security, my identity, my pleasure from this exclusive membership. Aboard this ship I was unconnected from the final economy of participating in righteousness, I had no way to access the eschatological project of the good. My random acts of kindness were vain as gifts exchanged between Kamikaze pilots. But now. I can derive no wage from sin, no pleasure, no forward movement. Cannot. So, rally my members to the gift of good work, I'm aboard a wholly other vessel, cooperating in a project of lasting worth, why would I not be all in? My tricksy members, zombie disembodied hands clawing their way across the floor to old habits. I think of Liar Liar's "this-pen-is-blue", but the slavery to righteousness is not so robotic, automatic, or coercive. You are on a new ship, free to make all things beautiful.

Rm6v21-22 Fruit that leads to life & the fruit that leads to death. Thinking about different ways that the fruit of fruit trees can 'lead to' life or death, the mix of causation & constitution in a favourite tree metaphor. Fruit can lead to it's own death if it is sterile, if it contains no seeds within it that lead to resurrection after death when blown on the wind of the spirit. Fruit can lead to death when eaten by something that isn't supposed to eat it, in a clash of purposes, a failure of wisdom to co-ordinate flourishing - fruit leading to the death of others. Fruit can lead to it's own death & the death of others when it looks good but contains poison, mould, inorganic chemicals, which can damage a whole system. Fruit that leads to life springs from the deep roots of prayer and depends on a healthy integrated system in which all parts are considered, it is capable of reproduction and compatible with the biology of it's recipient, which is to say aligned with the purposes of the Spirit.

Rm6v23 In the great hereafter there is eternal cake or eternal death, but in the mean time, we conduct life and death transactions piecemeal, we self-understand, we anticipate, we practise, we are owned by one system or another, we are active in a market economy of death in a closed system of scarcity, or we are engaged in a gift economy of Life in an open system of superabundance. Paymaster General Sin pays contractual wages: portioned death, death by installments, ever diminishing remuneration at ever greater cost, mercenary iterations of exploitation and depletion, scraps divided parasites feeding out of a finite system subject to corruption and decay. *Shame (v21) is death by installments.* Paymaster General God gives covenental unmerited gifts: pieces of sanctification v22, ever-increasing 2Co3v18, life in its fullness, foreshadowings of glory, gifting the basis and the substance of your holiness. *Sanctification (v22) is life by installments.* And this Life is (v23) *in Christ Jesus*. That infinite quality of Life expanded in depth now is deep *in Christ Jesus*. That infinite quantity of Life expanded in length then is long *in Christ Jesus*. Are you in?

texting romans five

Hoping for the best. 07729056452

Rm5v1-2 Faith is Peace is Grace is Hope is Glory is Bla de la bla bla. These vanilla honourifics, lowest common denominator keywords.. am I alone in battling for a fresh linguistic encounter? Jargon Creep is a cancer of the lectionary, a trap of tropes, a diabolic plague stultifying once vital words, hollowing out these nimble crustacean idioms to leave only ossified verbal coral pieces: pretty and brittle and sunbleached and dead. In aggregate, a seashore of cliches waiting for fridgemagnet platitudes to plant tired footsteps across. There must be more to "life" v17 than this.. So, textees, let's electrify somber Christianese. Take every abstract noun in v1-2 in turn, and then play with each verb and preposition. Hence we stand in grace struck me as a glowingly odd phrase to lectio, and to read back to the rest of the passage, so to ponder the stance of standing and the domain I'm in. What strikes you?

Have you read Kenneth Bailey on 1Cor?  He critiques western translations for being too abstract, and highlights concrete imagery in Paul. eg. 1Cor13 contains three refs to Corinthian brass work apparently. Not sure how he wd treat Rm5 but maybe important link to theme of access in Eph2.

Rm5v3-4 Wondering about the inverse formula: comfort produces resigned entitlement, which distorts character, leading to rage, cynicism & despondency. A caution. Rather rejoicing in hope, to play prepositions & nouns as per yesterday's invitation. Rejoicing-in hope, & to be inside it you must be immersed in it. When hope springs from perseverance rather than cheap or empty words then you are already inside it, it will be your landscape, your materials,  your breath, your tacit knowledge of the world. I want to build my hope muscles.

Rm5v5-6 "Hope does".. what hope does and does not do is presumes on it's present tense substantiality. Hope is not the ephemeral hope, the floaty middle-distant future wished away, that hope deferred which maketh the heart sick Pr13v12. Neither is Hope the had-hoped Lk24v21, the been-and-gone backed-the-wrong-horse hope. Hope is very present, immanently within you 1Pt3v15, a living Hope 1Pt1v3.  Then there is this image of Hope not putting us to Shame, like an unburstable balloon, we are filled with Love. The Love that casts out all Fear, gives a Hope that casts out all Shame. By this volumetric displacement, I consider Christians as the timber formwork to poured concrete Hope, casting Hope and casting out Shame, all air bubbles vibrated out by God's holy hammer drill of suffering? Perhaps. Your Hope is a done deal, has been poured in, has been given, so now, now, live in, on and through that Hope.

This unpacks one of my favourite concepts. Hope that is both present and eternal. Hope the noun

Rm5v7-8 Sat in the Electric Elephant a while back, I said to God: 'I feel so helpless'. The next thing I read was 5v6: God does speak, though I am quick to forget. & v6 builds to v7&8 to make up a life verse. This is the substance of Christianity. This is the good news that my hungry hurting heart forgets it knows. I have been finding it hard to pray because I feel that I do not do at the same time. Maybe there are shades of untruth in this thought itself. But even if it true, that the most true thing about me is my egoism or hypocrisy,  it makes no difference insofar as I am beloved nevertheless: For while I was still. Even here. In the midst of all this. God loves me. But God. Even so God. And yet God. Nevertheless God.

We are justified by Jesus' blood, yes,
→ (much more) we are saved by *Jesus*.
We reconciled by Jesus' death, yes,
→(much more) we are saved by *Jesus' life*.
→(much more than all that) we *rejoice*.
I think I am arriving at an appreciation of Paul's many "fors" and "therefores", which I have tended to find logically tenuous and so expositionally nauseating.
Rm5v1-11 Is the gospel according to *more-than*. The cumulative effect of each more-than clause in between is not necessarily served by being carved up into memory verses. More-than takes your default paradigm, your resting pulse, your you-have-heard-it-said, and cranks it up, and cranks it up, and adds kerosene. Rhetorically working up through almost a parody of boyband key changes. If you thought that Jesus unicycling was cool, zoom out and see he is pedalling across a highwire, zoom out and see that the wire is held in flamingos beaks across a ravine.. etc. The effect leads us not, as key changes, into emotional affect, but into the true truth of more-than.
Rm5v1-11 is bookended by rejoicing (v2, v11) and the poetic emphasis of the passage carries us from glory to glory, from a rejoicing hypothesis to rejoicing conclusion, from an meditation on the legal technical *reconciling power* of Christ's death to a meditation on the expansive *saving power* of living with his new life. If you thought that was cool, there's more, there's always more.

Rm5v11-12 The 'one man' of Adam here of course to mirror the 'one man' of Christ in v18-19. It's not mathematics or mechanics or linear literalism that's important here, but rather another astounding picture of the two ways: the way of nature and the way of grace. Entropy and reverse-entropy. In the way of nature one drop of poison contaminates the whole. Tearing at one's skin just once leaves them damaged even if the rest of the week was ruled by peaceful self-control. The way of grace is like light: shining in the darkness, the darkness cannot overcome it. In the way of nature evil overcomes good. In the way of grace, goodness has the final word. And the Sun will rise with healing in it's wings.

Rm5v13-14 Ah Adam, the first in a line of dominoes leading to Philip Larkin's fucked up parents, who filled him up with the faults they had, and added some extra, just for him, and who taught him this verse:
Man hands on misery to man.
  It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
  And don't have any kids yourself.
So, Sin: a systemic contamination, a family affair, an inherited foible, a blood disorder, even a Y-Chromosome deficiency? Christianity satisfies a hunger reflected in the trope of the orphan superhero? Christianity grafts us into a new patriarchal line because Christianity springs from an immaculately conceived Jesus? Christianity changes how we have been fathered and how we father.

I wonder if there are any self inflicting stress related human only conditions not shared with animals. And if that stress is societal based. Does sin = stress, or society compound the need for that stress.

Christianity - the one birth that conquers death?

Rm5v15-16 The gift is not like the trespass. Interesting to note that both are kinds of transgression, both move across a boundary and break something. Sin breaks the order of the cosmos, & grace breaks us out of ourselves. One breaks life down into death, the other breaks the power of death by resurrection. We are broken down by trespass & we need to be broken open by the gift.

Rm5v17-18 "What is sin?" asks J, "Is sin a human condition distinct from our animal counterparts?" "Is sin society's self-inflicted 'stress' wounds?" I have never thought of sin in this way. Between Paul and J, I'm being opened to a bigger Christ, whose healing is vast. You have heard it said, that sin is the naughty things your mother told you not to do, demerit points for willful culpable misbehaviours, a black book of guilty thou-shalt-nots. But, what if sin is not simply you weeing in the swimming pool? Sin is the pre-weed swimming pool, hence, I was Born This Wee. The preexisting contamination of all social activity, an inherited set of CAD drawings where the reference grids are out of align, and iteratively exponential confusion means objective right angles are now utterly impossible. We, socially, we, intergenerationally, we, back to Adam, we are inflicted by and inflict sin, we are told half truths and we pass them on.

And so, stress. The anxiety and mental-emotional strain when social demands exceed your personal resource. Those demands are distorted, they are part of a sin system of untruth that is self-inflicting, self-re-enforcing and self-re-entrenching, as Hans Selye said of Stress: “Stress in addition to being itself, was also the cause of itself, and the result of itself.” Adam caused the first sin-stress, Adam weed in the pool, Adam referenced the wrong grid.

Faith in Christ's death and resurrection fixes this? Part of the offence of Jesus' substitutionary atonement is the personalist intensity of the claim, it is a kind of Ad Hominem fallacy, unless an infinite personal universe is in fact structured that way. My liberally religiouse proclivity twitches to fashion a filtration system, a salvation by water works, a vast impersonal program to clean the pool. But Christ has drained it, That vast pool of lies that told me who I should be, that demanded what I should do, that ocean of condemning voices, all the dirty water of pathological stress, the drew me under a poisonous rip tide of despair. It is all gone, absorbed, finished. Freely. v17

If your born with your sins, as in the pre-weed, then doesn't that make a farce of trying not to add any extra sons to your list? There is a difficult paradigm to understand between living in sin and not sinning (new sin presumably)

Re inherited sin: 1 Pet 1:18 ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers. This encourages me that we are not bound to copy all the faults of our parents.

Rm5v19-20 Grace abounded all the more. A meditation on the english word 'abound'. It means 'existing in great numbers or quantities', & so yes, there is a greater quantity of grace than sin: infinite grace that never bottoms out. The translation to 'abound' evokes more than greater quantity in my mind though, I think of bounding, moving, teeming - that not only is grace bigger, but it is more dynamic than sin. This morning I picture grace as a spaniel, limitlessly excited & energetic to fetch back the things sin hurls into in distance, to lay them again at one's feet. And a-bound, like bound-less, also evokes the tireless conscious personal energy & intention that is God's grace, & the transgression that grace is. Enjoying chewing this word, even if not from the Greek... 'hypereperisseusen' sounds like spaniels to me though. 🐶

Rm5v21 Sin reigned, but now Grace reigns. In the cosmic cake or death, cake-on-the-plate is in charge now. I often think of Grace as merely reparative, an ontological Toupret, talking of Grace 'covering', Grace as sufficient Savlon in response to life's bumps. Yes, but no, Grace is more than ~ it abounds quantitatively, and it does so superlatively, it is the more-than-est force in the universe. In this way Grace is structural and directive. Grace is the new order of things. Grace calls the shots. Your life is now within Grace's jurisdiction. Grace is no mere new code of life hacks, it is new life. Grace is not a reshuffled cabinet for the same austerity regime, it is a total coup upside-downing all norms. Grace is a new power from a new source. And Grace is in charge now.

Sunday, 10 July 2016