Friday, 24 November 2017

texting luke eight

Luke Eight: Her. 07729056452 

Lk8v1-2 "..also some women.." And what is a woman? What is the intended emphasis in Luke's mention of women? Notable as an historical anomaly, but are women here invoked to pattern incidental adjacency, normative equality or strategic egality? What womanhood is pertinent here? A political class? A social archetype? A biological form? And what can be inferred and applied to our own gendered lives and churches? 
That women are present is a corrective to crude exclusions from ministry, and bland maxims around economic roles and reductive gender stereotypes but I find these nowhere in my own day-to-day experience of Christian community. I am uninterested to fashion over-compensated fuel for the over-stated fire of injustice in someone else's sex-war. I want for something nuanced and positive to extract from this portrait, according to which I can conduct my own subtle, deliberate and more-than-the-sum-of-its-parts gendering.
It is notable that here, women of financial and political means thought it not beneath them, and that women of physical and spiritual disadvantage thought it not above them, to follow Jesus. 
It doesn't pass the Bechdel test but these women, whilst mentioned as wives-of-x and former-victims-of-x are not (as culture so often does) foregrounded as bodies or mothers, but rather as storied participant agents stewarding resource towards the aggressive export of good news to cities and villages. 
"with him.." So they are women. And they are women-with, with Jesus. What is the with-ness here? Babe-magnet JC gathers ungroupies to an antihareem? Suggestive as a portrait of Jesus' accessible attractive character? Representative of the sort of gendered relational whole which his gospel movement makes possible, makes meaningful and makes urgent? 
"provided for.." He brings the women and their cards out. Indicative of an upside down economic dependency?  Are these women prescriptive as a lesson in church finance? That feels like an extrapolation too far, but how then?
"evil spirits and infirmities.. demons.." Women, contrasted with men and the preoccupation with former selves and tragic backstory (like Mary and the women at the Cross and Tomb) contrasted with present-tense incompetence in the case of men (like Peter and all the disciples at the Cross) - as it pertains to what we need saving from. 
I have been thinking about the peculiarly assymetric portrait of two genders in Channel4's Humans  and whether it speaks to a more universal condition: Unfaithful feeble passive impetuous male characters (Adulterous Joe, Sloppy Pete, Angsty Bitter Leo, pervert Toby, two-faced Ed, oily insecure billionaire Milo - exceptions being perhaps kind Max, fearless wise George and gentle Odi) contrasted with capable go-getter active STEM hacker female characters rendered 3dimensional via complex tragic backstories (Fighter Niska, Legal Laura, genius hacker Mattie, genius scientist Athena, synthie Renie ~ who have clear stories of extensive emotional neglect and sexual abuse)- The above is a passing observation, rather than a strong claim. Speculation to discuss sometime?

Lk8v3-4 A triad of women, with allusions to a bigger posse. I wonder how they engaged with each other - we're left somewhat to wonder. The sparse biographical info we're given suggests they may have come to Jesus and to each other with quite different experiences. Mary with the explicitly traumatic past, Jo who presumably lived in Herod's house, familiar with wealth & politics. Clearly the women between them worked out how to co-ordinate their means and their service in joint action together for a bigger cause, clearly they'd worked out how to communicate to each other to get things done. I wonder that as they followed Jesus and watched each other beholding him they learnt all the more how to minister to each other, how to ask each other the right questions. I wonder. 

Lk8v5-6 This parable encourages us to be as good soil. Is that all? Metaphor misuse mitigators would caution us to see all other aspects of the parable as either incidental or hyperbole. But I am not a metaphor mitigator, I'm a parabolic realist, an allusive extremist, a metaphoric maximalist. Sometimes Jesus suggests a portrait of God by argumentum a fortioti, like the Lk18v1-8 Unjust Judge which illustrates an if-this-then-how-much-more.. But is this sort of caveat needed here with the sower, the seed and the sowing? Or can we extrapolate a theology of seeds as well as soil, and principles of sowing as well as recieving? 
๐Ÿ– Should we imitate the reckless squandering of good seed on bad soil? Good seed trampled upon (katepatฤ“thฤ“ ฮบฮฑฯ„ฮตฯ€ฮฑฯ„ฮฎฮธฮท) as pearls before swine are trampled on Mt7v6 (katapatฤ“sousin ฮบฮฑฯ„ฮฑฯ€ฮฑฯ„ฮฎฯƒฮฟฯ…ฯƒฮนฮฝ)? What is the difference between seed and pearl? The seed is the word of God (v11). What is seediness (contra pearlesence?)
๐Ÿ’Ž Pearls are an end in themselves, an exquisite by-product, singular, inert. Trampling of such is an unambiguous travesty and cannot be rendered as costable collateral.
๐Ÿฅœ Seeds are multiple, light, cheap, but such a reading of seeds as mere corn kernel per cob (800:1) ratios does nothing to limit value-less pamphletification of the word of God, the mechanical replication of inert words. 
๐ŸŒฐ Seeds, pertinently, are fertile, having each been fertilised, by the meeting of gametes with a unique dna. Seeds are fecund, alive, varied, even bespoke. But still copiously multiple. 
๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐ŸŒพ So should our sowing be: in proportion to the seeds we would have if we were so fertilised. So should our lives and words be: dynamically propagated, littering a world with words which bring exponential life. Hilarious handfuls of testimony, witness, speculation, allegory, provocation.. 
❓Am I doing it right? Hurling seeds into the Clapham Road, wouldn't an incubator be better, couldn't we prime the soil, shouldn't we engineer better seeds for this context?

Lk7v7-8 The older I grow the more I'm aware of the ways that ideologies I'm sympathetic to and training I've submitted to has compromised my capacity to see, hear, think. I would like to receive Jesus' declaration here as a promise not a threat, I would like to be resurrected into a humility that enables sight.

Lk8v9-10 ๐Ÿ‘พ๐Ÿ’œ Christianity as an Imitation Game : encrypted messages cracked by love. Every enigmatic parable is prefixed with your name · − − · | · · · · | · · | · − · ·  There's a war on, and the codes to Zion are tailored to those with eyes to see. An encouragement, not to willful obscurity of language, but to the necessary and emphatic exclusivity of Personalism. No one is loved generically by God.

Lk8v11-12 These specific seeds on the path suggest a hearing that doesn't hook at all, the word bounces off, it isn't recognised at all, unlike the other seeds, where something is recognised but this gets smothered or starved. I know the word of God often bounces off my heart, because I can hear the exact same thing another time and recognition of its truth dawns or springs upon the heart in a way it hadn't previously. Perhaps most of life is life as a path, life-giving seeds raining forth from an unlimited divine stream, bouncing off my blind and hard heart,  just a few making their way through to soil. The response to this is surely first prayer, that the Spirit would soften me, that God would do the work of preparing the way for God, which is God's work to do. But it is also to consider the kinds of things which harden our hearts ahead of time (a slightly different question, perhaps, to thinking about the things that smother or starve our hearts). 'What hardens your heart' is definitionally a difficult question to answer, requiring superhuman self-awareness. Maybe ideologies harden our hearts, maybe previous experiences. I want to be prepared to offer these up to God, even where I don't know how to.

๐ŸŒ‹๐ŸŒŠ Seedlings I've known fell away when life got too hard.
๐Ÿž๐ŸŽช Seedlings I've known choked on a life too full of ease.
But what about me?
~ Can I choose the soil of my soul into which the word of God roots? In the Venn diagram of life choices it must not be that I would navigate a not-too-hot not-too-cold intersection of moderation, as if culturing yeast in a luke-warm agar tray, abstracted ideal laboratory conditions. Life's experiences come at me unbidden, searingly hot, blisteringly cold. The Christian faces a Venn union of lived experiences within a world replete with rocks and thorns, trials and comforts. A neutralised, disemotional universe that is escapist in times of trial and austere in the midst of plenty: the highly selective engagement with an emotional universe as a simulation of good soil is not Christian.
~ Can I affect the soil of my soul into which the word of God roots? The seed falls to me as a heart rock-hardened by bitter grief - can I break up this rock and irrigate this arid patch? The seed falls to me as a heart overgrown by addictive entanglements - can I strim this verge and douse with spiritual herbicide? Maybe. It cannot be that the seed is God's word and the soil is immutable context and the meeting of these two contains no question of my responsibility. So how?
~ Can I alter the soil for others who have fallen amongst thorns or stones? The Robin Hood ninja gardener, labouring to change the circumstances of the world: as christians working towards the alleviation of poverty and the mitigation of extreme wealth. This is back-to-front, putting the gini-coefficient cart in front of the Kingdom horse.
~ Can I advise others whose seed has fallen to them as amongst thorns or stones? Can I offer to introduce new top soil? Can I brush the seeds into the field proper? Can I, should I, labour to change their disposition to circumstance, their attitude to poverty or wealth? How?

hold it fast
don't take it fast
self ordered last 
grows fruit to last
tied to this mast
the harvest vast
a fractal blast
from a humble past

Lk8v16 'But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light' Eph5v13-14 Anything. That becomes visible. Is. Light.

Lk8v17-18 ๐Ÿ’ก๐Ÿ‘‚ "Take care how you hear.." Hearing light, what does that sound like? Absorb, reflect, glow and tell.
๐Ÿ•ฏ The transfer of the gospel is as the passing of a flame from candle to candle, take care that the wick has infact been ignited. Then you will have light, and give light.
๐ŸŒ  Light is a strange substance, being bodied in a flame and yet, for the most part light's being is ephemeral, invisibly passing through space, apprehended only in the visibility of that which it illuminates.
Light is not so much a thing as it is movement, hence a covered light has ceased to be. Doubly poetic for the living breathing life of a candle's light is quickly and permanently extinguished by so covering. In the light of this light, then, treat words like candles.

Lk8v19-20 Prayers this morn for natural siblings, that we would ever more deeply know with them the Eph2v11-22 unity of supernatural siblings too.

Lk8v21-22 Fam, get familialised.
๐Ÿ‘ฉ‍๐Ÿ‘ฆ‍๐Ÿ‘ฆ Far be it from me to overread meaning where none was meant. But. Maybe there is to be more-than incidental maternality and fraternality in the relations of believers. Between me and you, let's be good enough mothers, a brilliant band of brothers.
๐Ÿคฐ And what is a mother qua irreducible mother? Distinct from the fatherheart, distinct from the sisterhood. As Mothering Sunday celebrates the church as supreme surrogate, spiritually suckling, postively coddling, tender the hand that rocks the cradle, feather a nest for a brood. Don't merely aunty, be more mother.
๐Ÿ‘ฌ And what is brother qua brother? The brethren born and raised to be a brother's keeper, with all kith associations of proximate intimacy and sharpening competitivity, we are the &sons, be brothers blud.

Lk8v23-24 We are perishing. We both truly are perishing, and, at the same time, and even more truly, we are not perishing (for Jesus is in the boat, his 'waking' and his ''resurrecting' the same word, both secure) but we believe we are perishing, so we fear, and the fear itself leads us to live a perishing way. I spend so much time panicking, insisting to Jesus that I am perishing. In fact, I am no longer perishable, because it is not I who live but Christ who lives in me. Is31v3 yes, but Rm6v9 forever.

Lk8v25-26 "Where is your faith?" A question of geography? ⛵๐ŸŒ
๐Ÿ”ญ Jesus calls to absentee persons "Where are the other nine lepers?" Lk17v17; "Where are the pharisees to accuse you?" Jn8v10; and ultimately, "Where are you?" Gn3v9 A calling out to the corners, to the many wheres, the Lk14v21 streets and lanes, Lk14v22 highways and hedges, the wherevers. Where are you?! Here I am!
๐Ÿ”Ž Jesus calls also to absentee faith. Here in the midst of the wide lake of Galilee, if your faith was not packed onboard this boat, it's too late ~ the needle-in-haystack is a drop-in-the-ocean expansive Where?! So I look inside myself. How have I misplaced faith? What displaced it? Wary persons that are here but spiritually elsewhere, they/we/I must be moved from an awareness of faith, to a where-next in faith, through more confrontational questions: "What do you want me to do for you?" Mt20v32; "Who do you say I am?" Mt16v15; "Who has bewitched you?" Gal3v1
~ Where is your faith? Here, I am.

Lk8v27-28 when in a spiral of darkness, the last thing I want is the light, Jn3v20. I can identify this in myself - lethargy begets lethargy, lust begets lust, listlessness begets listlessness, greed begets greed, anger begets anger, unkindness begets unkindness. To she who has, more will be given, to she who does not have, even that will be taken away. I know when I'm in the darkness, and it is when I am in the darkness that I least want the light (when light-filled I am baffled that I would ever choose otherwise). In the dark Jesus is a torment, not a joy. Thank goodness it is not I who is responsible for banishing my own darkness.

Lk8v29-30 ๐ŸŽŽ The devil is cleverer than me, and the devil is stronger than me. I am a marionette: flopsy and coercible, I wobble limply, I waltz mindless, ceding control, my loose threads trail eccentrically from a frail mind, strings tweakable, I'm tugged about, my paddle hands clasp no handle
๐Ÿ–ฅ The devil is cleverer than me, and the devil is stronger than me. He volleys a blustering DDoS of lies and false positives, my ports are insecure, my identity is hackable, I don't know what I don't know. I run a flawed operating system with a compromised conscience - a back door left open for cyber squatters. I am not alone in my mind, I am preoccupied by an occupying force.
๐Ÿ‡ The devil is cleverer than me, and the devil is stronger than me. Left to my own devices, I am mental putty, an impressionable addictive character with a corrupt appetite , I eat short term gain, a sucker for a dopamine buzz, I am merely animal, a beast of burden, knowing only the carrot and stick of faceless exploitation.
Welcome to my dis-order, a parasetic augmentation, a military fixation, my periodic paranoid paroxysm. Note the intermittent intervals, bouts of a mood, seasonally affected torment. Jesus addresses this condition by name. Calmly. Personally. Jesus is cleverer than the devil. Jesus is stronger than the devil. Jesus' perception is perfect and his power is ultimate.
We drift in mental dinghies, the devil pulls the tide, Jesus is the bedrock.
We see in part, we know in part, the devil can write in the gaps, but Jesus is the whole.

Lk8v31-32 Pigs. All of my other readings this morning have been about sheep - Is40v11, Ps95v7, Mt9v36 so I have been thinking about Jesus the good shepherd and me the sheep. What are the differences between sheep and pigs? Holding lightly,  aware this is a comparison that may break a metaphor, but it strikes me the Bible doesn't make much of us as pigs relating to our pig-keepers, but there's lots of sheep-shepherd relating. Why is this? Both are argricultural animals that need rearing in this context and landscape. Why are we to be sheep and not pigs? Pigs are more intelligent than sheep, but more prone to anxiety? We can picture the demonised pigs in this story as the zenith of what we see in common or garden terrified pigs - shrieking squealing running, refusing comfort or challenge. Pigs apt to Mt7v6 damage what is precious, to 2Pt2v22 fixate on what is damaging? Sheep on the other hand can be frightened and confused, but their straightforward proclivity to teachability and trust makes it possible for the shepherd to lead them beside quiet waters. Keep calm and listen for the shepherd's voice. Be more sheep.

๐Ÿ–๐Ÿ–๐Ÿ– "..pigs.." Och, the saving bacon, the great exchange, the atoning animal like Gn22v13 Ram-instead-of-son.. The right answer is that Jesus was such a pig's death, such a scapegoat slaughtered. But I don't tend to think of salvation's collateral, I have no fluency in animal sacrifice's mechanisms, or do I? BluePlanetII is showing the global scale of our civilisation's fundamental dependence on sin's very real transferability. Physical matter is a pliable conduit for moral content, ethical effluent and conceptual pollution: See the sea soiled by plastic porn, the detritus of post-consumer guilt and shame, the failed idols littering the shore, strangling seagulls, choking whales. It is them-for-us, them-for-us, them-for-us. Our demons can be cast into the sea, Jesus makes this diagram legible. But now. Every Primark disposable disguise, all synthetic makeup warpaint, every escapist plastic toy, every polystyrened comfort food, every bottled addiction, every packaged device to distract you, they are redundant and obsolete in Christ.
๐Ÿƒ‍♂๐Ÿ’จ "..fled.." If God showed up at your church service, there'd be pandamonium. The spark to boom, the starter's gun to an ec-static motion, a centri-petal great commission: Run. Many of the Bible's runners appear in my imagination as joggers, really. Steady-state endurance Hb12v1, present-tense continuous Gl5v7, finishing well eventually 2Ti4v7. But there are other runners, sprinting urgent, strong as a horse Jl2v4, competitive 1Co9v24, hasty the return from Emmaus Lk24v33, Peter runs earnest to the tomb Lk24v12, Elijah outruns chariots 1Ki18v46.
๐Ÿ”‰๐Ÿ”Š "..told it.." Pray. Tell.
๐ŸŒ†๐Ÿž " and country.." Urban and Suburban Saviour. Beyond these Ends, to the ends of the Northern Line, to the ends of the Earth. Far and wide. The image I have of these pigs farmers fleeing, arms flailing, breathless expletive, tearing through a landscape in panicked proclamation. City and country would sufficiently merely refer to distance measured by sheer diversity of environs, land and sea, further and far.. But it is not nothing, the qualitative difference of encounter, the word proclaimed into different soils, in languages peculiar to the the city-ness of cities, and the country-ness of the country.

Lk8v35-36 Right mind. A simple prayer today for my own healing and restoration, that I may demonstrate Jesus power. That I may be seen 'clothed and in her right mind', and that it might prompt the fear of the Lord in others.

Lk8v37-38 "asked him to depart" .. "begged that he might stay with" The polarised responses to Jesus are two sides of the same tribalistic impulse. Clique with what you know. Like for like. Holy huddling. Vs. Your healing is for something. For other others. Awkward adjacencies. Go to them. Stay with them. Have them to stay. Be alongside. Your story is their good news.
The polarised responses to Jesus also strike me in their very binary form, Marmite's radicalisation, all-in or nothing. Are there semi-Christians? Do we drift into belief on a gradient of acquiescence, sort-of convicted? Do we drift away by a linear depletion of faith? Or are all shades of grey a lie, a misconstruction? I think I live like, and comport myself to others, with a tacit supposition that faith is like David Cameron's Magic FM in the Chilterns.. But Jesus is superlative or nothing. Life to life or an offensive stumbling block. I cannot serve two masters. I am for him or I am against him. There is no neutral ground. No foot-in-sea-and-one-on-shore. And so those in our life who have heartbreakingly dropped off the radar suddenly and utterly, the landscape is precipitous cliffs and exponentially self reinforcing barriers. The binary state of life should summon me to waking urgency. My healing is for theirs.

Lk8v39-40 Return to your home and declare how much God has done for you. Return to your home. The most obvious witnesses to the transformation of our lives are to those who knew us previously and know us well. Christmas is coming, which brings with it the rituals of family, origins & returnings. Would this, as such be a time of declaring what God has done in our lives. It is also hard to declare God to those who know you well and knew you previously, because they are entangled with your old self from which you have been redeemed. Remember,  you have been healed, you are made new. Return to your home and declare your healing in a new way. God, we pray for the languages to do so.

Lk8v41-42  ๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿ‘ง "only one daughter" Luke draws on this elsewhere Lk7v12 an only son is carried in the funeral procession, Lk9v38 an only son is thrown into convulsions by an evil spirit. Misfortune in these is amplified by the child's special singularity ~ sharpened to a point of total tragedy, utter terminality. This only daughter is the end of the line, a seedling sprout on a drought-vitiated family vine, she is the narrow generational thread which holds Jarius above barren nothingness and his family's non-existence. Was Jesus moved by this plight peculiarly? Should we care specially about familial endurance? [see note on maternality and fraternality last week]
๐Ÿ™ "implored.." ฯ€ฮฑฯฮฑฮบฮฑฮปฮญฯ‰ appeal, beg, beseech, entreat, exhort, plead, urge (the NAS exhaustive concordance goes on..) Earnest intecessory fatherhood. How is yours? Interceding, that is, on behalf of another, as Lk5v18. How is yours? Raging against the dying of another's light. How is yours? For we are all dying.

Lk8v43-44 I'm reading these passages about miraculous, sudden & longed-for but unexpected healing next to Is48v6-7, which has God declaring that He does unexpected and new things in part as an affront to our pride, to really show us that he weaves time and causality, that reality is alive, that nothing we bank on - good or bad, habit or personality, sin or sickness, comfort or alienation -  is inevitable, but that we are always subject to His great re-making. Important after 12 years of bleeding, important after Is47 acknowledged screw-ups. We are in the Great Remakery, let us not forget.

Lk8v45-46 ๐Ÿค "Who touched me?" Thandi, 41's adopted stray kitten, little fur bundle of metaphors, thus far untouchable, sits on the table opposite, fixated on my mousey typing hands, alarmed occasionally to discover that they belong to the head at the top of the dressing gown. The Hand of Rob that passes through our reality, does so in search of relationship, who to whom, whole person to whole person.
⚡ "power" 41 engaged Gary Chapman's Love Languages, of which a fifth is touch. I have some reservations about Love Languagising love, I am reconciled to the descriptive but wary of the prescriptive application of Love's Languages. Identifying my own primary modes of giving and receiving not only love but all communication is a healthy self-knowledge with which to plumb the origins of my mysterious predilections. But as prescriptive formulafication of love, actions without sacrifice, robotic interactions, useful to make love happen by taking power over, less so. "power" ~ see Jesus knows power had gone out of him, power under, if anything. Power made available, free sockets in a cafe, power to be free-loaded, by touch.
๐Ÿ’ƒ๐Ÿ•บGifts, service, even words can be ninja'd. Touch, less so. As Tango take two, so our dance with the trinity, is a mutual, tactile, embrace.

Lk8v47-48  'Some days I don't know whether my faith is riddled with doubt, or, graciously, that my doubt is riddled with faith.' ~ Lauren Winner

Lk8v49-50 A dead ting. Placed first in the Greek for emphasis: Dead, is your daughter..
๐Ÿ”š There is the eventual event of death, the statistical, biological, ebbing of vitality. The conclusion of breathing, worn out to expiration. We all die at last. It happens sooner sometimes. She, snatched as a redaction of a thing, plucked from happening. She that was, is not any more, prematurely. We may die sooner. These consider death as momentary, the mere punctuation.
๐Ÿ•ณ What of deadness. The vast void, the not-ness, the substantial absence, the thick bellowing abyss, the infinite extension of total dark that rushes into the crevices under an extinguished light. The death which is just so full (And man so small). We meet death daily.
๐ŸงŸ‍♂๐ŸงŸ‍♀ What of the dead. Death's denizens. The cold inert insensate bodies, turkey in plastic shelved stolid under a white fridge light. Mere matter, mechanically present but animated by no appetite, responsive to no signal, relating to nothing. Entropic zombieform humans, eyes averted, in a mute freefall of silent sound and fury. Rehearsing an eternity of mere accidental movement, wafted unbearably light as hollow spaceships passing in endless night, a grinding grand decay of unmeaning. Without God, we are such living dead.

Lk8v51-52 'maybe we're dying' I wrote in my journal yesterday. Maybe Jesus would speak that we are only sleeping. That we should not mourn. Maybe He says 'arise'.

Lk8v53-54 [Diabolical Laughter] At the scene there were hired mourners, contracted to cry, pantomime actors paid to give articulation to another's grief by simulation. Death is a peculiar force, commanding ritual, wielding taboo, generating a specialised economy of experts. There is comfort in his strong and stable certainty, death's bankable infinity, for he comes to us all. We are death's entourage, and we become such a mocking mob, tragicomic laughing stock. We, with our cynicism, our being-merely-towards-death, our zombiform nihilism, we backed the wrong horse. And we get in the way of resurrection.

Lk8v55-56 Spirit returned...he instructed them to give her something to eat. Jesus knows we are body-mind-spirit, and he invites us to (i) breathe (ii) eat (iii) move one's limbs with a resurrected spirit.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017