Friday, 20 January 2017

texting romans fourteen

Mixed veg messages. 07729056452

Rm14v1-2 Weakness. Unity. Diet. [In the same week that St Marks have had preached the vegan verse Gen1v29. In the same week that 41 have pondered how to eat as a house of 9 different diets. Aslan is on the move.] What is strength? Voracious oblivious omnivores binging on the synthetic goosefat of empire, shovelling the minced ape and polarbear of palm oil and air miles? Or worse, the anaemically aloof conspicuously supping on glibly organic virtue signals? ~ Own the boundaries of your own weakness, and self-understand all diets in this way, for the sake of unity. Promote a tenderness to a diversity of conscience to enable unity. Unity is key, and God's strength is made perfect in weakness.

Rm14v3-4 He will stand, she will stand, for the Lord will make this happen. Get into the habit of declaring and praying the success, the good, the blessing of the other, without caveats, as a way of committing them to God. Our prayers can be simple: make him to stand, make her to stand. Amen.

Rm14v5-6 "The day" One of these days.. is not like all the other days?
~ Don't Sabbath. Christianity is total freedom. Christianity knows no ritual, brooks no compunction, and shreds the obsequious fuss of Jewish calendar nerds. Christianity is iconoclaustic, restless for justice, a muscular faith of the great outdoors, it is tireless to cross borders, languages and cultures to set ablaze a pragmatic reformation of authenticity. Paul can redact the fourth commandment because the Gospel renders the everyday sacred, it is an explosive and ecstatic imperative to unstinting prayer and rejoicing 1Th5v16, hard work 1Co15v10 and emphatic irreligion. Over and against the suffocating sentimentality of sickly Sunday-Christians garbed in their Sunday bests, Christianity is man alive, we are bound only by the law of love. For the Christian, every day is Easter Sunday, every day an adventure, every day a new creation. The Christian is not bound to Sabbath, and indeed should not.
~ Sabbath. Christianity is the why of life. Christianity is a fierce question. Christianity is a chink in the infinite extension of a twenty-four-seven mechanised universe. Christianity is poetic jiujitsu against the tyranny of technological civilization's excesses. Against the savage insomnia of super-heated global capital markets, by resting, we are the plausibility structure of heaven, the rehearsal of eternity, the why and how of sustainability. When all is noise, silence is the signal. Christianity is a deft ting, the brakes on the juggernaut entropy, the pause, the resistance, the skipped-a-beat of love, a weaponised calendar tooled for the task of moderating modernity. The Christian must Sabbath, it must be literal, it must be collective, it must be deep and it will invariably be political.

Rm14v7-8 Your life & death are not your own, not only because 1Cor6v19-20 you were bought at a price, but prior to this even (for v9 goes on 'for this reason') you because it is a true truth that you belong to God as part of His creation, & you belong to others as part oc the same created order. Yesterday in conversation a musing on how the philosophical tradition which asks how it is possible that we encounter other persons at all (the so-called problem of other minds) is flipped on it's head if we take seriously the experience of childbearing - we all spring from other persons, other minds, other bodies, & the real question is not how we connect, but how we separate. This is not to say we are indistinct, but that we are far more intertwined than we think we are. Our lives belong to others, & so do our deaths. You can't opt out of belonging to others, you can't opt out of belonging to God. As such these verses can as a description as well as a promise, a reminder as well as an invitation, a calling as well as a challenge, a comfort as well as a confrontation.

Rm14v9-10 We cannot be-toward-death as if it were a great unknown any longer, as if the here and now were of peculiar insignificance, or as if after a final curtain somehow different rules apply. Our friend and brother and Time Lord, Jesus, has been there. It is all one domain. It is all his domain. And as, and if, and when, we pass judgement on and pour scorn on and cause to stumble, those other brothers and sisters who sabbath or not, who vegetariane or other, who arrange to serve God in all manner of appropriate callings and consciences, we pass judgement on immortal beings, we pretend authority over eternal destinies.

Rm14v11-12 "The false god punishes, the true God slays." ~ Iris Murdoch

Rm14v13-14 [41's morning prayer this morning pondered Mk9v42.. what. does. it. mean?!] What is sin? // How does one stumble? // What is it to cause another's? ~ And how do you risk manage that?
You cause others to stumble. You planned the route, you packed their bag, you checked the weather. You chose their school, you bought their kit, you set the exam. You made the conditions, you gave the permissions, you taught them shame. Clean and unclean. You set them up to fail. You left the gas on, you left the knife out, you left the engine running. It was your omission, your indiscretion, your absence, your lack financial planning, your unresolved father issues. You set the precedent, you embittered them, you gave them cause to fear, and to hate, and to stumble. You cause others to sin.
Man hands misery on to man. All around is manslaughter on the hopscotch of etiquette. Decide never to put a stumbling block in the way of a brother. Actively. Clinging desperately to grace.

Rm14v15-16 Do not let the good get a bad name. One's theology of food, or theology of anything else, might be full of integrity in all kinds of ways, but if you hold it in such a way that it's goodness is obscured, then it's goodness cannot be obvious. Do not let your conviction, your system, your tone, make the goodness of God less than obvious. Otherwise, quite straightforwardly, the good will seem bad. The good will get a bad name. This is how the word 'Christianity' is used in much discourse - it has a bad name. 'God' too, has a bad name. Today trying to help facilitate a discussion on the problem of evil - pray for me, that I would define & (more importantly) demonstrate the Good, that I would not give God a bad name.

Rm14v17-18 Be free to be vegan. But.
- The Kingdom of God is not vegan, it does not require veganism, it does not affirm or even suggest veganism.
- The Kingdom of God is not a law, it is not an ethical position, it is not a strategic response or even a measurable solution to environmental problems, except ultimately in a gradually redeemed eschaton that is truly complex, infinitely surprising and necessarily beyond analysis.
- The Kingdom of God is no ism, it will not lend its brand to any form of _ought_ or _must_, it is not allied to behaviour modification, it does not broadcast advice, it does not respond to statistics.
- The Kingdom of God cannot be inferred from the data. Proportional responses to the projections of climate scientists cannot and must not make your actions _more Kingdom_ than another's.
- The Kingdom of God is not an adjective, it is not comparative, it does not exist in degrees.
- The Kingdom of God is a true truth, accessible to all, comprehensible to all, interactable by all, the schooled and the unschooled, the one and the ninety-nine.
- The Kingdom of God is accessible to all who are open to the Spirit, accessible to those who seek first the King ~ his qualities and activities are added-unto-thee as side effects, oblique bonuses.
- The Kingdom of God effects change in neither a strictly top-down nor bottom-up way, it is from the outside, whilst being already within you.
- The Kingdom of God cannot be homogenised by populists nor calibrated by experts. It is not gestural, it is not generisable, it is granular and artifactual, it is site-specific and person-centred.
- The Kingdom of God is absurd and wasteful and counter-intuitive and risky and parochial and offensive.
[Knowing the flaws of syllogisms..]
- The world will be sustainable when it is populated by gardeners-fully-alive.
- Gardeners come fully alive when they encounter the Jesus story.
- They encounter the Jesus story if we pour perfume out with reckless abandon.
∴ The world will be sustainable if we pour perfume out with reckless abandon.
This thoroughly modern PJ struggles to believe the above. I like the good-enough that I can measure. I like a piechart. I like conspicuous cause and effect. I want to tithe my dill, I want to be busy, I want to _feel_ alright, I like a code of mere damage-limiting ethical minima that I can at least control. I believe arrogantly that I can work back to a description of God through inferential reasoning via that which seems to have greatest impact for the visible good in the now. Right living, ethical living, and a conscience clear ~ these proceed from a life of faith, a life of prophecy, a life in dialogue with _the_ author of all good, _the_ stakeholder in everyone's good, and _the_ host of all contingency, consequence and circumstance. The hilarious, hedonistic and aggressively amoral life He leads us in will effect abounding peace and a riot of joy and food-ethics righteousness.

Rm14v19-20 A similarity between v15 & v20 - both speak of how it is possible to damage (destroy, ruin) the work of God, by damaging the people of God. How vulnerable God makes himself, in making us so vulnerable to one another, for we are. Every unhelpful conversation we have with a brother or sister stands against the power of the resurrection. This is why Jesus speaks in such hard-hitting terms with regards our capability to harm each other Mk9v42. Praying this morning that I would know where to repent, where to pray for redemption, where (& how) to speak, where (& how) to stay silent.

Rm14v21-22 We keep to a stricter (or, in other contexts, a more liberal) diet than we might otherwise, for the sake of others.
~ pursuing an empathetic teetotalism for to strengthen and to put-at-ease and to normalise and to woo to freedom those historically alcoholic.
~ being compassionately vegan so to allow those addicted to the meat of empire to be weaned off.
~ going conspicuously social-media-free to invest ourselves for others in creating rich offline social worlds of recouperation for addicts.
~ we compassionately forego fleeting pleasure and disadvantage ourselves in the world's eyes, for the sake of others' freedom.
In the landscape of conscience, we, with the grace gifted to us, with energetic vigour seldom applied to amoral categories in areas not of your own struggling, each according to their own call, we carve out arenas for freedom from guilt and freedom from shame, we build the infrastructure for others' flourishing, we spend ourselves and shape our lives with precise contextualisation, precise to a tolerance of ± 1 person.
~ Giving up alcohol is like this: If your life is a living sacrifice, fill four pitchers with water and pour it on your offering. Do it a second time. Do it a third time. Then let them watch you burn like a Christmas pudding at Pentecost. 1Ki18v34
~ Time is so short, your context is so narrow, and of the thousand Londons behelden to a thousand specific prisons, you are amongst but a handful, you have access to their pain, you have a platform to show Christ's satisfying sufficiency over-and-against their precise addiction.~ Whose freedom are you called to?

Rm14v23 Whatever does not proceed from faith is sin. Sounds a bit extreme,  but only because I tend to have such a narrow understanding of faith, as the bit of life I do when explicitly referencing BibleJesusChurch things. Faith is a posture. I'm either in the right posture or the wrong posture, and so often I'm in the wrong posture. There are two different ways of thinking about reality - one where entropy ultimately prevails, one where redemption ultimately prevails. I either understand myself to exist inside the one or the other, & will act according. I can only exist in faith or sin. I really want to live in faith.

texting romans thirteen

Against Theological Trump cards. What a week to be reading Romans 13. 07729056452

Rm13v1-2 'Obey the state', says Paul, a man famous for making trouble for religious & political authorities, and getting himself thrown in prison. Confusing. The language, at least in translation, seems so absolute, it's hard to know what to do with it. One wants to insert 12v18's 'so far as it depends on you' as a prefix here, does this help us frame our responsibilities more humbly and yet more courageously? Perhaps as important as a lens is 12v21. Do not respond to the evil of the state with evil, do not let the evil of the state defeat you, instead, overcome evil with good. Our response to the state shouldn't be merely reactive, complaining or demanding our own rights. Our response must be love. And love is so deep a thing that it can be many things: 1Cor13v4-8, my response to the state must be patient & kind, my response to the state must not be selfish or ill-mannered or irritable, my response to the state must not hoard up wrongs against me, my response to the state must not be happy with evil, my response to the state must delight in the truth. I must not give up on the state. I must approach the state with faith, hope & patience, which never fail.

Rm13v3-4 "Rulers are not a terror to good conduct" That maxim is not my default setting. Individualism's version of history has taught me that such statements are dangerous. And so, self-righteously adrift, fed by soundbites from Adbusters and Klein and Wink and Ellul and Mr Robot and my own mix of angry intellectual sorrow, I wallow in cathartic anarchism  which would have me tear down everything, every thing, especially Paul's apparent pro-establishment oily sycophantism naively licensing the withering of vitally critical democracy. Doesn't he know all relationships tend towards control, all association towards cronyism, all order towards bureaucracy, and that all power inevitably corrupts. So, I congregate with those who share a vague sense of conspiracy, a seething father-fury, an escapist desire to build a lonely utopia of total subjectivism. This is not the revolution that Jesus or Paul intend, it is not love, it is not wise, it will not last.
"Rulers are not a terror to good conduct" We pray for Parliament, we speak well of leaders, we assume the best, we let them know we are on their side, we give them a generous license to inhabit their role, we become the sort of citizenry who so dignify the poor, who so rigorously refuse violence, who so transparently conduct business honestly, that we would get the politicians we deserve, and we get the national border policies which we practice ourselves in the microcosm of our household.

Rm13v5-6 A verse for tax return day! Let's pray for God's work as and through filing our tax returns, putting aside cynicism and praying God's blessing on state-funded medicine, libraries, schools, systems, benefits, etc. May those in power in this country, at the front-line and in the high echelons, work holy work. Thank you God, for all that is good true & beautiful in the work of our state. May all that is less-than be redeemed continually by your spirit. May it be.

Rm13v7-8  "Pay to all what is owed ..taxes ..revenue ..respect ..honour."
"Such are the paths of all who go after ill-gotten gain; it takes away the life of those who get it." Pr1v19
"Give honour to your wife .. that your prayers may not be hindered" 1Pt3v7
I remember reading Pr1v19 in the days of Napster circa 2001. Ill-gotten mp3s sucked the life out of music for me, I robbed myself of the magic of physical album, the surprise of the mixtape, the responsible adventure of selecting this album and not that one in exchange for pounds and pence. Instead, hoarding gigs of data from the delicious borderlands of illegality, relishing a petulent sense of entitlement, sticking it to the proverbial man.
It is not quite 'karma' that is in play here, but nevertheless there is a comeuppance, a certain personal zero-sum-game, I create a deficit, a debt for myself, (and in this case an unpayable debt to the abstraction of the music industry in a complex ethical era growing exponenetially more opaque. Who do I now repay?)
Debtors are the walking dead, the brittle and the twitchy, imposters in the land of the living. This is not just CAP's Wonga-poisoned millions holding their breath at the peephole as the bailiff pounds the door. All dishonouring another creates a debt, all late-payment creates distrust, all freeloading creates shame, and you withhold forgiveness to your own detriment ~ broken glass clenched in palm.
However, the bond of reciprocation with the community of a gift economy is different, there is no tit-for-tat in love, one cannot pay infinity back in installments. The individualist achieves the illusion of debt-free existence by social dissociation and buy-out. The Christian lives debt-free through love by the grace of Christ's sacrifice which has paid it all forward.

Rm13v9-10 LOVE is too big a word to meditate on, the word is like a brick wall to my mind, exceeding my vision, it is like trying to meditate on infinity. But just as Blake, To see a World in a Grain of Sand / And Heaven in a Wild Flower / Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand / And Eternity in an Hour/, so too might be behold, know, engage the depth of Love which is curled up inside each of the commandments, so Ps119v20 towards a meditation (& response) on & to Ex20v1-17 promises to be a lived encounter with the unthinkable absolute of Love via the concrete particular of the commandments, through the concrete particular of the neighbour.

Rm13v11-12 You know what time it is. Christianity is daybreak. Christianity is the cockerel crowing. Christianity is the ping ping of your upstairs neighbour's iphone humming the vibrated heatbeat of morning to the floor boards. Christianity is a time. Christianity is an awakening.  And, for Paul, such an awakening is both the suggestion of a code of behaviour: '..light is at hand, so then..' and the facility for it: 'put on the armour of light' tools or weapons (hopla ὅπλα) of light (phōtos φωτός) Lightsabres, if you will. We are found in the light, we are children of the light, we are lovers of the light, we are the light of the world, and light is our instrument of choice, task-lighting is our metaphor and simile.

Rm13v13-14 A condensed version of Eph4&5? All the same themes, which suggests they're presented together non-arbitrarily: light, sensitivity, attentiveness, decent behaviour VS darkness, insensitivity,  sensuousness, immorality. Good talk by Clarke Scheibe on how we quash the Spirit by becoming comfortably numb // Darkness & excessive sensuousness function in the same way - filling our cognitive, emotional, visual etc space with something total, so nuance, detail, particularity, cannot be felt, seen, attended to. It's why we comfort-eat rich foods, to 'fill' feeling space with something that overpowers the senses, and helps me not-feel anything outside it (Eph4v19). But the Light shows up detail, sensitivity shows up detail. Just as thinking about the Magi responding with gold frankincense myrrh are specific gifts to specific revelation, the prayer to be filled with the Spirit is a prayer to see hear smell touch taste in spiritual high resolution.

texting romans twelve

Hearts and Minds. The battle is with yourself. We are on the same side. 07729056452

Rm12v1-2 "Therefore:" on the basis of all the Romans we've been reading since 25th April 2016..
"Therefore .. worship": worship is spiritual is bodily is sacrifice. Paul, master of polysyndetic coordination, feels no need to add water to this extra-strength-concentration memory verse. Everything everything, and all "by the mercies of God". After eleven chapters of pulling back the slingshot's elastic, Paul switches from the theologically descriptive to the imperative, in a what-the-how-to.   What: "Worship" //  How-to: "Sacrifice" ~ this is how we apply, embody, interpret, understand, export Paul's preceding thesis on the Jewish roots and Gentile fruits etc. v2 The nonconformist doing of this worship/sacrifice in a manner which is 'good&acceptible&perfect' is a skillful task. Doing the 'not-conforming' is a 'being-transformed', which comes by knowing ie. 'renewal of mind' which comes by doing via 'testing' (Gk dokimazō ~ "finding out the worth of something by putting it to use or testing it in actual practice") inorder to know. The Christian life is a project of interrelated right-doing and right-knowing. The knowledge of God is a tacit knowledge, an embodied knowledge, a depthed domain of conceptual and preconceptual progressively grasped understanding. And so today, we worship by sacrifice which is a testing inorder to know inorder to do ~ all on the basis that we already are.

Rm12v3-4 The humility exhorted here reads this morning reads not only as against pride, but also against self-contempt. Self-contempt is a kind of pride, perhaps. You can only act on the information you have. So: Be modest in your thinking. Judge yourself according to the faith that you have.

Rm12v5-6 At all scales of being a body corporate (she&me, work, 41, to the CofE and much wider networks) diversity is difficult, less because of antagonistic division ~ if only we might be so plain spoken ~ but rather more because of dull homogenisation. Self-selecting self-similarity willing to congregate around a dis-Othered one-size-fits-all, a race-to-the-bottom of the lowest-common-denominator lukewarm less-than-the-sum-of-its-parts community of sameness, forming a bloated megachurch rendered in the image of one leader, styled by his preoccupations and tribal creed, shaped by her gifts and the measure of her faith. The PJs could be such a bloated megachurch, 41 could be such a monotonous narrowing, unadventurous in our diversity, unaccountable in muzzled faith and anaemic in the Venn diagram intersect of gifts we license. And v6 prophecy is so often the first to go, and the tacitly cessationist congregation kettles a stale male pale distillate, the residue of a stagnant pool as the awkward holy fool is evaporated early, the death of the artist is the canary in the church coalmine. Imperatively you must use the gift of prophecy.
You ~ qua you as a body corporate at all scales must use the giftings of prophecy.
Must ~ not as a legalism, but for dear life.
Use ~ employ it for a purpose to a cause to an end to move mountains, to strengthen church, to speak truth to power.
Prophecy ~ attuned to the unseen, the not-yet, and by so listening and so speaking, draw heaven into all of life, lyrically poetically playfully politically.

Rm12v7-8 Reading from Peter Leithart's Traces of the Trinity this morning, which includes a meditation entwined with Paul's picture of the church as the one body of Christ: we indwell and are indwelt by one another in our use of these gifts, as Christ indwells us and is indwelt by us, as the persons of the Trinity indwell and are indwelt by one another. As we teach serve share etc, we polyphonically participate in worship: "The Spirit who indwells inspires [worship], an expression of God's dwelling in us, us dwelling in God, & of believers indwelling one another. In the eternal praise of the new creation, we will become one mighty sound, like the mighty waters, like the voice of God himself.  The Spirit breaks us open so we can host others within us; the Spirit expands us so that we can house multitudes; the Spirit drives us ahead so that we gladly, redemptively, take up residence where the Son dwelled, in the slums of human hearts." This is Christmas, that the Son indwelt the world as the world indwells the Son. May we see every small action in the context of this chiasm, the reality of mutual indwelling.

Rm12v9-10 Fakers gonna fake. But you, you love with an unaffected love, a love unconfected, unalloyed, unreserved and completely unsentimental. You love without compensation, without simulation, and without hypocrisy. You love with a total love, thorough, final, comprehensive. A love that counts the cost, a love that casts out fear, a pro-active love that loves despite my unloveliness, a superabundant love in which there are no shades or degrees.
But I, I love with a veneered love, partial and pretensed, a people-pleaser's lying love. Opaque, cynical, and exploitative. My love is an extractive industry, a corrupt barter, a codependent blackmail. I love you as a means to an end, I love you for something in return, for the brief buzz of bodily sensation in my zombie cybernauseous existence. I am a love machine, well oiled and invulnerable, I love with a painless love, I am a fair-weather lover, an I♥NY lover, I appreciate a subset of your parts at no cost to myself. I love you in a complex role-playing make-believe, a choreography of learnt responses in the erotic collision of a narcissist into a stationary object. I love with a cloying sentimental love, selfish in extreme. In my veins, synthetic and saccharine crystals of tawdry aspartame curdles with the putrid glitter and oil of ingenuous affection, choking the arteries of my organs for goodness truth and beauty.
Oh Phil, let love be genuine. Allow it. Fear not.

Rm12v11-12 Be fervent. I tend to think of fervour as extreme emotion, to be contrasted with weak emotion. But what if we thought of fervour as extreme depth? Not arbitrary capricious passion for its own sake, as a way of reactively pouring scorn on indecisive lukewarm mediocrity, but rather, constant depth, constant pursuit of meaning. How I long to be so faithful. v12 goes on to say more about what this fervour-depth is like: joyful, hopeful, which is the antithesis of mere survival, mere people-pleasing, but also patient, constant, the antithesis of caprice or manipulation. The life of prayer is the life of depth. The life of constant prayer is the life of constant depth.

Rm12v13-14 Hospitality is a good universally acknowledged. But it needed commending and it needs commending. Why? 1. It gets neglected because it involves risk. 2. It can be brought to ever greater excellence but who can be bothered?
Christianity is a peerless and extreme how and why for hospitality.
~ Why? Because our universe is one in which an hospitable God welcomes ill-deserving strangers into his domain at cost to himself. This fundamental truth and the display of its poetry is its own imperative and it is the license to so seek our joy in exuberantly prioritising hospitality, hedonistically we give home away because it is more blessed to give.
~ How? Our daily experience is a God who supplies for this project, over against the scarcity mindset of individualist renderings of home and national borders, over against security fears. George Muller and countless others have scaled their hospitable provision according to the God they follow, the God who is able to feed five thousand, the homeless God who is yet able to host dinner in an upper room.

Rm12v15-16 Thinking about pathological ways that we might rejoice or weep with others, as Black Mirror's S3-E1, a social media dystopia where we simply live to 'like' each others' projected highs & lows, or the immaturity of codependency or oversensitive emotional contagion. But it's easy to use such examples, or to mutter about Jesus having good boundaries, as a way of deflecting the command and the opportunity of this verse. We are to be 'with' one another, 'alongside' rather than merged with. We are to weep with them, to carry their burdens, but to know that the other remains distinct. We weep and laugh with them, not because we are them. But we are to weep and rejoice with them. Our movement towards to other is always to be one of recognition, empathy, love. Love is so great a thing that it can be many things. Not all rejoicing-with has to look the same. There are seasons and intimacies which determine what it looks like to rejoice-with and mourn-with this particular person...and it must be particular otherwise it is not 'with'...but the movement is always to be one of love, which is minimally to not treat others' joys and pains as in some way in competition with one's own, nor to outlaw anyone from the outset as excluded from your empathy. 'Love them anyway' says a note on my parents' fridge. T reminded me of the sacrificial nature of the love we receive in abundance from God. So love, as you were first beloved.

Rm12v17-18 'Do what is honourable in the sight of all' The commentaries seem to agree, the 'honourableness' is not moderated by 'the sight of all', ie. it is not a maxim to do actions which are viewed as honourable by some subjective consensus. The emphasis is rather doing that which is concretely honourable and doing it in plain sight.
Do good in public. Do public good.
There is a time for the private abstinance of discretely ethical consumption, the ninja gifting, slights of left-hand to right-hand giving with the door closed and the curtains drawn. But it is not enough. The world needs to see, the city needs to know, Christians need to proactively and creatively devise excellent things, honourable mechanisms, conspicuous displays, accessible metaphors, corporate expressions, public enactments of the ingenious common good on the stage of the urban theatre.

Rm12v19-20 Revenge. The addiction to revenge is a plummet that gathers momentum towards greater evil, both for self and other, this is why v21 exhorts us not to be overcome by evil. For revenge always prefers one's own broken over one's own healing, so long as the other is hurt too. I choose, for example, to stay inside my own pain, and hope that he sees it, and feels guilty - that is my revenge on him, but it comes at the cost of my own inability to be healed. Melanie Klein argued that envy was the one emotion which hates the good, but I think vengefulness is similar. Revenge tries to pull the other back into a circle of self and suffering,  rather than asking God's spirit to place one's own feet in a spacious place. It is utterly self-defeating, inverted, self-perpetuating. All this even before the truth that a vengeful act on my part is apt to lock me into a vengeful response on his, ad infinitum. May grace deliver me from my vengeful heart.

Rm12v21 Life is played to-the-pain and anything other than ultra-non-violent vengeance is impatient and anxious and ineffective. We will outlast, outgive, outrisk, outabsorb all slings and arrows of evil.
Where is evil located?
~ All evil, within and without, my own evil self-contempt, my own will-to-power, my own trespassed-against-us, my own thought-word-and-deed, my own negligence-weakness-and-own-deliberate-fault, my own comission and omission. All evil is overcome by my pursuit of the good.
Does Paul address you individually or yous corporately?
~ We overcome evil individually, I overcome my selfishness by displacing it with generosity, bitterness with grace, barbs with bants, theft with gift, lies with a bigger truer truth.
~ We overcome evil corporately, as a house, as a church, as a nation through the aggressive and proactive and exuberant and organised pursuit of the good at a sacrificial cost to ourselves. We overcome organised-crime, systemic-social-injustice, the housing crisis, climate change, terrorism, but this pursuit of good at this scale hinges on a sufficiently strong we-experience to collectively-intend the good. If only we could practice this in some sort of large shared house.

texting romans eleven

The Eleventh Our. Us and them. Join us and our pronouns. 07729056452

Rm11v1-2 Christians. The chosen? The few? The elect? The first-among-equals? Some-more-than-others?  More-than. Our God is more-than, our experience of being loved by God is more-than. The closest we get to a language for God's love is the comparative praise of exclusive selection, of romantic preference, the being a 'this one' over against 'that one'. The closest concept finite lovers have for infinite love is the infinitely selective love. The superlative force of forsaking all others is the closest analogue to the experience of the superlative all-abundant love of God. There is a poetic, an embrace of the infinite, anathema to the conservative's literal and liberal's metaphorical mind. It is possible to lose none of the truth of elective foreknowing and none of the mystery. To live a more-than life, to speak a more-than gospel from a more-than God, to savour his more-than favour and more-than delight, and to export such with that same urgency that the binary that loved-vs-cast-off conjures. Has God rejected Britain? Would you still have broken the vase if I said he hadn't said anything?

Rm11v3-4 They. The they. The 3rd-person-impersonal-plural. What have they done that you're angry or resentful about  this morning? Pay attention to the 'they's in your language, even in your prayers. What is God's reply to [you]?

Rm11v5-6 The remnant. The residue. The elect distillate. The Leftovers, in the HBO sense ~ confronted with our own unanswerable 'why?' we must yet live in the light of this strange selection. It is a deafening privilege, a terrifying responsibility. We are the 1%, an emergent reform movement, but the call is not to action, not to works. Every day the blackest Black Friday free gift, windfall, giveaway. 100% off? How do you live to v11 'provoke to jealousy' those who have fallen asleep at the wheel.  Today, poetically, we will unblock the rainwater pipe at the back of the house, a narrow path, blocked, ehem by a remnant of dead branches.. (a mixed metaphor too far.)

Rm11v7-8 So God was first revealed to the Gentiles through the failings of Israel. J wanted to impress on us this weekend ways that God uses our weakness to deliver more good than we can imagine, a slip of the tongue in a board meeting. Hard to know how to position myself in relation to this thought - noting 6v1-2. Sin is to be resisted, and future slips of the tongue are definitionally unknown unknowns. Maybe the double surrender of the latter is the point. Maybe the orienting oneself into full belief that my failures are entirely and here, doubly, within the redemptive capacity of God changes the 'newness of life' we 6v4 walk in.

Rm11v9-10 🙈 Paul's Notes on Blindness, and just as devastating in our preeminently visual age, we are snared in our own neon oblivion, so busy sightseeing we're blindsided. Or I am, plank-in-eye religiouse, blinkered and navel-gazing, short-sighted and eyes-averted from the real of the world's needs, I blacken the darkened glass we see through dimly with my own grime
Jr1v11 What do you see? // Mt13v13 What do you not see?
Gloucester stumbled when he saw // John Hull lectured in the prophetic.

Rm11v11-12 If there's beauty in the breakdown then how much more in the makeup? Full inclusion, says Paul, what a lovely four-syllable meditation. As the kingdom of God extends it transforms people, relationships and events. How much richer they become! A richness for the commons, a multiplication of new meanings as more is included, more are included. In life are we more apt to point to the first two 'riches' of v12, namely those produced by exclusion? Paul acknowledges these riches, some goodness, beauty, wisdom, to be found in this way of thinking - but he doesn't want us to stay stuck here, because there's more. He invites us into deeper riches: 'how much more will their full inclusion mean!' How much richer, how much more beautiful,  how much more of a blessing, is the work of the spirit towards redeeming all things, not only me and mine.

Rm11v13-14 Jealous like his milkshake brings all the boys to the yard. "Taste and see.." flaunts a better flavour. Go and tell. Sow and sell. Hundredfold hedonism.

Rm11v15-16 All or nothing, each part is whole.

Rm11v17-18 🌲...🎄 Nature is? And we are bound towards death by natural causes? That is just? The Bible is full of roots and leaves and shoots and sheaves of a nature altered by the cosmic topiarist, pruning intention, willing unexpected fruit. God cultivates. He offensively addles. We have salvation because nature has been interfered with. The natural blood ties of genetic allegience and tribal solidarity have been reengineered, realtared (pun is Mark C Taylor's). It's not natural. We don't live in a closed universe.

Rm11v19-20 Praying for she far-from, her physical, emotional & spiritual healing. For her relationships, her work, her sense of the deep down reality of God as a joy, for the visceral experience of being a branch of a tree with deep roots, soaking up living water.

Rm11v21-22 New branch, new sap, new wine, new style, new soul, new world. Brave and emergent, reactionary and reforming. We are cuttings at the cutting edge. We are the freshest fresh expressions. Even so, I am not immune from the creeping decay of nominalism, the glib rot of self-satisfied moralism, the blight of comparative praise. I am prone to the veneering of faith, presenting as the simulacrum of a plant, having resplendent leaves but no fruit, being all bark and no bite. I am just as capable of distorting this Abrahamic inheritance, just as prone to cultivate ingrown and stunted expressions of a spiritual life. Just as fallible, prunable, and probably a measure more self-righteous.

Rm11v23-24 Christianity is Jewish. Real Talk: this year Hanukkah begins on Christmas Eve. How can we mark it? How can we find meaning untokenistic ways of celebrating Christmas in the context of Hanukkah, of situating the Christ light in the festival of lights, acknowledging the apogee, the alpha-omega who comes from and runs throughout our Hebrew roots. What can we learn? How can we remember?

Rm11v25-26 I am 'wise in my own sight'. Conceited. Impatient. I am 1Pt3v15 trigger happy. Smug married and middle class. I am cliqued with scoffers. Educated beyond my intelligence. I've had answers without questions.. Against this God has intended mystery. (mystērion μυστήριον) Paul uses the word elsewhere for very particular structural elements in God's universe:
Eph3v3 Admission of Gentiles // Eph5v32 Marriage // 1Cor15v51 Resurrection // 2Th2v7 The Anti-Christ
In my experience, in the battle against modernity, wounded advocates of a theology of 'Mystery' have weaponised the idea of intellectual humility, as epistemelogical suicide-bombers, carrying out sentimental raids on the universe being knowable at all, furiously content to resign the ability to make statements about anything. This over-compensating form of warfare renders the world as terrifying, wisdom as anathema, marriage as meaningless, and language altogether as the gravel and shrapnel of a decimated city.
The theology of election is not intuitive, and neither is a Christian theology of marriage. The theology of election is not the shapeless caprice of a volatile deity, it is not impossible to make contained and definite statements about that which is beyond my final, utter and comprehensive understanding.
In a parabolic universe, we participate in practices which are deeper than we know, and which are purposed beyond mere pragmatism. Just as the elect are not such merely for themselves, so too the married. This is a great mystery.

Rm11v28-29 Paul speaks to and about his own people, how do I do the same? Dear White People, Watching the English & Middle-Class Woes. Is all I have to offer 'my people' just a bit ironic and awkwardly apologetic? Various interesting articles after the US Presidential election aimed at young white hipsters and the fact that they increasingly refuse to go back to families for thanksgiving, citing not wanting to have to deal with racist family members...various authors calling this out: these are your people. You've got to talk to them. Talk to them, as Paul talks hard truths to his people: there is no-one better placed to do it. Christmastime is coming, so as we gather together to eat with those from whence we came, may our conversations be as strong as Paul's, as full of grace and truth.

Rm11v29-30 Paul's 'therefores', and 'in-order-thats' sometimes feel overcausal and underjustified, ascribing exaggerated and arbitrary divine intention to the landscape of hardened hearts and saved nations etc.
I can more easily get on board with the notion that Mercy is for something. You are a conduit for grace: your forgiveness is a means to other forgiveness: every salvation exists in a chain reaction propagating salvation stories which beget salvation stories which beget salvation stories. You have been shown mercy for something.
But v30 "because-of-disobedience", and v31 "disobedient-in-order-that". Disobedience is "for something"?
We are thrown into the drama of diverse peoples with diverse revelations "for something", seasons change "for something", branches of the church mutate, generations come and go, you too will grow old, "for something".
It might not change the fact of the matter to consider that there is purpose to someone's disobedience, to a brother's falling away, to a whole generation's preoccupation with a stilted prosperity theology. But it should change our vigour, God is not absent in this, rather he has calculated all things as an opportunity to minister, as an excellent platform for the display of the timeless and the timely best good news. Their disobedience and your mercy-received have been coinicided for exactly such a good news story, for exactly such a time as this. Be of good courage.

mercy was spoken / mercy still speaks /
morning by morning / in ruptures and leaks / untidied myself up / tied myself up undone / thy mercies they fail not / thy kingdom is come

Rm11v33-34 'Oh.' Ō Ὦ Hollering Paul puts the rly in o rly. First things first, he's the realist doxologist peering into the cauldron of God's mystery with unsarcastic wow and wordless awe. OMG and Oh come all ye. Why Oh? Because of the Depth of [1. Riches; 2. Wisdom; 3. Knowledge] of God. Transcendental triptych, each depthed. 1. Stuff, 2. Meaning, 3. Facts. 1. Goodness, 2. Beauty, 3. Truth. Oh my.

Rm11v35-36 It's perhaps even harder that usual to keep the cosmic Christ in view at Christmastime, with it's obvious and delicious focus on the incarnation. The Christ is not only the historical Jesus but the one whom the all things were created by, through and for. Christ authored and ordered the substance and law that would be His own flesh, just as He authors mine.