Thursday, 17 January 2019


127 - battersea venue map

126 - ex libris

125 - farnham wedding map

124 - work sketches

123 - rings like trees graphics

122 - christmas letters

121 - misc presents

120 - misc places

texting luke twenty one

The beginning of the end of pessimism.
But first, this is going to hurt.
Alternate mornings. 07729056452

Lk21v1-2 We often say that we give out of our abundance. I agree with this principle of sustainability and joy, but Jesus words are a challenge. The Greek 'perisseuontos' translated as 'out of their abundance', 'out of their surplus', 'out of what is abounding'. Let us be careful, then. This is not the only way to give, this is not the only principle to reach for. There is such a thing as giving 'out of one's poverty'. This also is not a rule to fetishize, and we see countless examples of how this story has been used to guilt or shame the vulnerable. How do we give out of our abundance and poverty both, in the right ways? I am struck for the first time that this woman is a _widow_. In part this emphasises that she was poor, dependant on others for care, but it likely also means that she was freer than a married woman to make decisions about what little she had. The money she gave away was hers to give, and as such there was a greater freedom to give out of her poverty, for the consequences could be born fully by her, rather than also by spouse and children. So our recent conversations that it is harder to be spontaneously generous when married or as part of a household, as this sense that you are giving not just of yourself, but taking away from others. It is hard to give from the poverty of others - surely you can only give from your own poverty? We are praying for understanding on this at the moment, and any wisdom would be gratefully received. How do you give 'out of your poverty' as a collective? Can you? If you can, how do you do this well? Or should collectives give out of abundance and only individuals give out of poverty? If so, how do you conceptualise what is individually yours to give? How do you have these conversations well?

Lk21v3-4 "..all.."
➗ There is a reading of this passage that claims it illustrates a principle about relative giving:
- The rich gave a small % of their networth
- The widow gave a large % of her networth
~ Jesus commends the widow, therefore you should move the dial on your giving towards a larger, more uncomfortable and sacrifical % of your networth. True.
🏹 But. That considers the sacrifice in view as a mere percentile. Sacrificial giving is not novel to the world. Means-testing and Robinhood-Taxing and a no-pain-no-gain approach to wealth depolarisation and calibrated proportional redistribution, etc ~ the sense of this sort of sustainably moderated economy is popularly understood (if not not responded to) in the precarity of societies with high Gini coefficients and is reflected such perennial studies of giving by income bracket:
Universally, sacrifice is honoured and privilege is scrutinised. Christians do not have a monopoly on this principle, and it is a thin reading of Jesus countercultural financial extremism.
πŸ’― This morning I am unsettled by the "all" of her giving "all she had to live on.." We're no longer in the realm of proportionality, but of absolute abandon, she gave it all.
Two questions arise in my mind:
1. If I was going to give likewise, what would I give that money to?
πŸ˜‡ What is it to give to God?? The idea of giving to God is rendered absurd in such passages as Jb35v7 "..what do you give to Him, Or what does He receive from your hand?!" which Paul extends in Rm11v35 "Who has given to him that is might be paid back?!" Furthermore, the whole pious notion of "giving to God" is problematised as tending to hypocrisy in Mt15v5 "Whoever says to his father or mother, "Whatever I have that would help you has been given to God" he need not honour is father.."
πŸ₯§ If I was to make a pie chart of my money, all the out-goings and try to colour in what proportion of it is "given to God.." ~ there is the easily categorised pizza slice which is the standing order tithe to church, then, misc charitable giving and other gifts could be "to God", then, that which is invested into a generous commons but which I share the benefits of, then there is that spending which I would defend as robust stewardship ~ food received as a gift, art which is constitutive of worship, and leisure which is properly sabbatical. What slice of the pie remains as not-God? Purely private indulgence, wealth-as-hoarded-wealth, gambled waste, power play and personal empire building? Maybe. But what of all the ambiguous expenses in between? How do you give it all to God?
2. If I was going to give likewise, what would I then live on?
What did the widow then live on? It is not said. 
2.1 You will live on God.
πŸ¦… Others like Elijah, George Muller et al have happily subsisted by faith in God's provision through the charity of others and the carrion of ravens. And to some extent that is the emphasis here and in all encouragements to give: give, give sacrificially so it costs you something, give injuriously so that it leaves you properly dependent on God. 
~ If giving contributes some fungible aid to statistical social needs it has some value - although that value is debatable ~ teach a man to fish etc, rice-Christians etc, complicity co-dependence etc.. 
~ If giving changes the giver, if it pricks human pride, if it populates the world with one more humble, joyful, God-dependent gardener of paradise.. that changes everything, that is the sort of catalytic and durable change that might actually stem the tide of anthropogenic climate change, amongst other things. Giving must change the giver.
So, I am trying to give in such a way that I am transformed toward a more God-dependent Phil. Give until I live on God. 
2.2 You will live on church.
⛪ How to? How to common purse? Is it appropriate or even possible to pursue a much much higher view of a contemporary temple offering box? Ac4v32 suggests we can "give all" so to then exist on the basis of a pure commons, giving to God by laundering all money through God's people? Ac5's Ananias and Sapphira suggests the allness of a declared "all" is a deal-breaker. And, while it doesn't mandate total dis-ownership or independent stewardship, it does paint a picture of community that takes a great deal of shared stewardship for granted, of a kind which I cannot imagine in any instance of church I have so far experienced.
πŸ‘› How to? How to meanwhile, over and against the welfare state, and in light of historic monastic excess. How to start such a common purse from our present private and taboo enshrouded mode of being moneyed? What are the baby steps of a common purse? What design of social/church structure would make it more plausible and more sustainable to give in this extreme way? 
πŸ’―πŸ’― And then, having given to the temple the alleviation of need (Ac4v34) and the promotion of corporate effectiveness to be church .. how then can the church corporately "give all" as Paul commends the Macedonians in 2Co8v104 etc. I feel a long way from this sort of fractal sacrificial generosity in my experience of being-church.

Lk21v5-6 Buildings & 1Pt1v23-25 Flowers. We tend to separate things into inorganic and organic, thinking the former are not susceptible to the cyclic forces of nature in the same way as the latter, but this is an illusion of our perspective in time. In human time we should build buildings to last, but in geological time both buildings and flowers are perishable. We should see the life of flowers as a metaphor for all we labour for in the work of life and culture - beautiful and glorious and finite. This is not to advocate that we build things that are quickly ripped down on a human time scale (this is nothing like the organic life of a flower)...But we should also recognise that buildings are finite things taken up into the infinite, rather than themselves infinite. All finite life is taken up into the infinite through death and resurrection. Buildings (and all human work) have a cycle of death and resurrection, even where they endure for millennia. All that is good in this world will be taken into the new creation in some way, but in a way that is mysterious, a way that is resurrected and transformed, a way I don't think we can say much about. An eschatological eye is less an obsessive waiting for a particular moment and more a humble bow to the reality of death and resurrection as we see it in the world, surrendering to this as a picture of God's mysterious work at a cosmic level. We must submit to the patterns of 'the continuous and the discontinuous' as N.T. Wright puts it, for this is what resurrection must be. Seeds fall to the ground, flowers fade, temples crumble slowly...but the word of the Lord endures forever, and with it Love is the last word - seeds burst again into new bloom, the honest worker labours restoratively in the work of repair, rebuild and new build. We image the making of All Things New in our work as Christians, and we can only do this intelligibly where we acknowledge the forces of entropy first. I pray for this eschatological eye in all I labour for today.

Lk21v7-8 ❔❕ "Teacher, when will these things be .. what will be the sign..?!" History pictures the disciples stroking their beards pondering this cerebrally. The tone of their question is surely more WTF? Jesus' tone and content, properly understood, allows me only to be utterly alarmed or quite dismissive. If someone came to dinner here, and spoke as Jesus spoke about the world, he would be welcomed and cared for, but handled with a degree of that patronising pity preserved for the ambiguous category of liar-lunatics. I think of M, or M, or J, or T..  They are not Jesus by any means, and their language and motives are far from straightforward, but the exceptionality of these cases and my pathologisation-as-paranoia of their extreme sensitivities and left-field cultural criticism illustrates how very little room for contemporary apocalyptic there is in my life and in the imagination of the church at large.
πŸ§–‍♂ The landscape of Christian rhetoric is muchly a doughy plateau of mild disinterested compassion for the fatalistically uncaused brokeness of a lost world just out of reach, and at the edge of that plateau there is a policed precipice, at the bottom of which are discretely no-platformed persona non grata, cult leaders, holy fools, prophets, conspiracy theorists, Westboro Baptist, poets, exorcists, artists, autistics, communists, charismatics, paranoia and loud voices in general. When it is said of 41 that we are bourgeious, it is in part because we do not sound like Jesus in such passages as this.
🏺 The world's brokenness is not static. It is not the shards of Adam's ming vase, dusty tragic pieces of a one-time fall, now analysed in a steady state. 
πŸŒ‹πŸŒͺ🌊 The world's brokenness is a writhing tumult of perpetually escalating conflict. Human selfishness alone would be a powder keg of dominoes rolling a snowball down a valley towards a hydro-dam above a nuclear power plant. The precarious and exponential build up of injustice, rebalanced only moments before escalation by revolution and bloody counter revolution. Beyond mere selfishness, the world contains active and dynamic personal evil fixed on a non-linear trajectory calculated towards a cosmic clusterfuck day of reckoning. The fall of Jerusalem is always about to happen. And meanwhile, churches debate their fairtrade coffee and the government rolls back its green commitments. There has to be an uncensored untabooed serious stern cautionary language, pessimistic in proportion to the impending apocalypse that rightly triggers urgent action. Would that I could without cowardice, self-consciousness or pride.

Lk21v9-10 Nation against Nation, Kingdom against Kingdom, Me against You. So it is and will be, for a season. Do not be frightened, says Jesus. Stand firm, says Jesus. May we find the right place to stand, the right posture, may we be ruled in the end by Love and not Fear.

Lk21v11-12 "..earthquakes, famines, pestilences.."
πŸ›⚠ There will be a state of national emergency. 
↪ But. ".. before all this they will lay hands on you.."
πŸ‘‚ When the going gets tough.. and before that. If you put your ear to the ground you can hear the sound of hooves, the roll of tanks, the barbarians at the gates, the steady crescendo of overwhelming force. 300 or Dunkirk
Life is a dance with telos, an eschatological anticipation, a negotiation with the end game. We know what is coming. We know that modernity is built on borrowed time. 
When civilisation is threatened, when the end of the runway is in view, when bankruptcy looms, the preemptive blame game of the middle managers begins. The predicament is the fault of immigrants, bankers, boomers, the aristocracy, gypsies, Jews, liberals.. Christians. 
Christians are perfect scapegoats, excellent human shields, likely candidates for cannon fodder sent first to the wood chipper. Christians, with their uncompetitive lazy grace, promiscuous antinationalistic abandon, uncomfortable truth-telling..
Christianity is played to the pain, physical pain, relational pain, financial pain, political pain.. The blood of the martyrs is the seed of church. If the church is in decline, reseed it.  ~ Embrace the blame in Jesus name.
v13 "This will be your opportunity to bear witness.." 
Perhaps what we need is more of this.

Lk21v13-14 Defence. Defending yourself. Thinking a lot about if and how one defends oneself. Jesus here seems to suggest that we shouldn't invest a lot of energy behind the scenes working out the perfect defence, fantasizing or planning the perfect combination of superior tone, wit and argument that sures up one's defence. Rather, we are to arm ourselves with the eph6v10-18 armour of God. We are to invest energy in our defence, our resistance, our resilience to all that comes against us, not by practicing speeches in the mirror, but by clothing ourselves daily with gifts from heaven: the love of truth, the daily practical habit of righteousness, a readiness to speak beyond one's comfort zone or current mood, ever-returning to God in faith, belief that I myself am not excluded from God's saving work, even now, and immersion in scripture & honest ongoing prayer. These are your defences, you need no more.

Lk21v15-16 🧠 "..not to meditate beforehand ..  for I will give you a mouth and wisdom.." We've been thinking about 'creativity' definitions and applications in the prep for the Big Weekend [8-10th March - come all!]
When we read Lk12v11-12's " not be anxious about what you should say.." I'd mused that apologetics must be prophetic. That is, as opposed to by-rote or by-formula, there is something in contending apologetically that must be creative in order to be prophetic? What is the prophetic? The novel, the unseen? Where does it come from and how does it come? How do you hear? 
🚰 Creativity has an aspect of being in a state of flow - channeling preconceptual understanding with a purity of connection to the unfiltered world-as-it-actually-it unafraid. 
⚗ Creativity involves a certain alchemy - a more-than-the-sum-of-its-part, a unexpected outcome, an abundance. Creativity is predicated on abundance and it generates abundance.
🎁 Creativity is a gift ~ and not as some gross downpayment dolloped, but as a goose laying golden eggs. It is a perpetual potential, which is given in the moment of a performance. At the moment that risk is mitigated by formula, the electricity of creativity is evaporated. Creativity is a gift of "mouth" and of "wisdom" ~ Jesus gives us the what and the how, the means and the ends, the medium and the message. Creativity is a gift given and a gift to give. 
πŸ‘¨‍πŸ‘©‍πŸ‘¦‍πŸ‘¦ "delivered up by parents, brothers, relatives.." We are family?
Lk12v53 "They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.."
Lk14v26 "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters .. cannot be my disciple.."
Lk18v29 "..there is no one who has left .. wife, brothers, parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive more.."
Luke is on a campaign to caution Christians against family. Why? 
- Partly idolatry of family was acute in that eastern ancient culture in a way that it is less so today under western individualism. 
- Partly the power of family allegiance, and the way it muddles personal  identity formation, financial and physical security, socialised notions of duty, honour, virtue, and the way generationality embeds fears about mortality and shame into a suprahuman entity .. these are universal, and will always contend against proper gospel freedom.
- Partly, family love, for being a high good is a preeminent candidate for distortion, and when distorted it is especially effective at unravelling a person who would be an effective disciple, missionary, minister, witness to the world, and indeed to their own very family.
How shall we then?

Lk21v17-18 Everyone will hate you. To everyone else, you will seem worthless and contemptible. It's possible for those of us prone to self-contempt to wallow in this verse in the wrong way, perhaps. There's a way of wallowing but also denying this idea that go hand in hand. Not everyone hates you. But what if they did and that were bearable? (To wallow in it is to deny that it can be borne). What would it be like to be able to bear the contempt of others? Not as I do at the moment, by absorbing it and then allowing it to resurface in pain and anger later. But what if it were possible to not absorb the contempt of others at all, such that not one hair on my head would perish as a result of the toxicity of any environment I find myself in? What of this was what 'standing firm' looks like? Standing firm in Christ, becoming like the Christ such that I less absorbed the world into myself and more was an agent of transformation, being a site for absorbing the world into God. Come Lord Jesus.

"Stand firm, and you will win life." NIV
"By your endurance you will gain your lives." ESV
"In your patience possess ye your souls." KJV
By your endurance you will endure. Tautological much? 
- patient endurance is the premise and symptom of salvation
- patient endurance is the proof-of and the participation-in salvation
- patient endurance is the sign and the substance of salvation
Like, true love waits.
Patient endurance is the third way that is not over-realised eschatology, nor under-realised. This is not delayed gratification, per se, it is gratification of/in/through delay. Our being within time that would otherwise be momentary, an uncaused, uncausing flash in the pan, is made weighty. We are given a currency of tokenised immortality, that is never spent but can always be used - a true utility token, which appreciates in value to the degree that you appreciate its value. Heaven's eternity and God's infinity is accessed within our temporal finity as perfect assurance, deathless derring-do and the rich freedom of perfect creative abandon. 
Christians, by patience, are creative. Christians, by perfect patience are the creativist ones. 
Thusly, as Ruskin, when we build let us think that we build forever.

Lk21v21-22 Flight from the city. We've said we will and we must.


texting luke twenty

Money, Sex, Power and riddles. Alternate mornings 07729056452

Lk20v1-2 Authority. What kind of authority did Jesus have? What kind of authority did John the Baptist have? And what kind of authority do I have? Jesus answers the question with a question about human authority vs heavenly authority, and this functions at lots of levels. It brings into the light, of course, that the priests' motives here are to trying to catch him out. It is worth noticing beyond this the content with which he does this, and what this content reveals about assumptions about authority that we might hold. It is interesting to me that he counters the question of his own authority with a question about JTB's authority. Do Jesus and John the Baptist have the same kind of authority? And by extension, do Jesus and I have the same kind of authority? We might answer: in some ways yes, in other ways no. This in itself is interesting for how we hold our understanding of authority, types of authority, and boundaries around authority. Jesus offers back to his accusers a binary: God's authority or human authority? We are apt to reply, with shiny-eyed enthusiasm: 'God's authority!' - accusing the priests of failing to answer this way because of their own devious political ends. There is something in this, but let's stop and examine this binary a moment, and the tangles we can get into as a result of framing questions in this way at all. Perhaps this is part of what Jesus was highlighting, in putting the question back to them in this way.
I am thinking about L's reflection this week that Christian language which absolutes one's sense of self in both directions is problematic from a mental health perspective - i.e. the 'you are nothing without God' AND 'you are everything with God' could be read as both undervaluing and overvaluing ourselves (including our own authority) in a cognitive dissonance sort of a way, leading to an unstable sense of self & authority, liable to crack as it strains under the tension of holding together an extreme self-denigration and a messianic complex together at once. What do we make of this? In once sense these extremes are true, but in other ways, neither is true in a pure sense. I would venture that while God's authority is absolute, all human authority falls within God's authority, in ways that are relative, but not relativistic. There are degrees of authority. Ultimately authority ends in a binary way - something has to submit to something else, but this does not mean that there is not complexity behind this simplicity. 
Engaging this complexity can be important in understanding ourselves and our lives with God and one another. The dance between the human and divine is complex, messy, and through-a-glass-darkly such that there is no human being that has no authority whatsoever, and there is no human being that has total authority, and within this there are degrees of authority, as  human beings draw closer to or reject the ultimate authority of God. Attunement to the Spirit, internalisation of the Word, the wisdom of tradition, the light of reason - these can all offer contact with absolute divine authority which can we either tap into or bluntly ignore. We *can* speak with God's authority, but we must recognise that even at our best we can handle this treasure clumsily, in limited ways. We never have perfect authority. But it is also true that as imago dei beings, created as good and within the infinity and authority of God, there is some sense in which we always have some kind of authority, insofar as we bear this dignity. We have the dignity and authority of an opinion, an experience, a perspective. We should always and in every circumstance afford one another what Darwall calls 'recognition respect', even if we don't afford them 'appraisal respect' - Darwall recognising that dignity, respect and authority are tied together: there is a 'second-personal authority' that is unhelpfully dismissed as 'mere' human authority - this kind of authority is still important. 
So, because we are created 'very good', but because our brokenness runs through us and this images is something that is always in need of renewal Col3v10, it is hard to split our utterances cleanly into 'heavenly' and 'human'. This of course, makes life very difficult. It takes wisdom and a life in the Spirit to navigate where someone channels a right divine authority over you, and the call is to submit, and where authority is yours through Christ to own, it takes wisdom to navigate competing authorities. It would be much easier and tidier to split the world into things that can be categorised in black-or-white 'pure God' or 'pure human', pure light or pure darkness, as the priests try to do here. 'Why are you asking the question in this way?' Jesus seems to ask us here. We are called of course to absolute submission to the authority of God, but this contact with God is a throbbing, troubled, incarnational of a thing, which God does not offer to take us out of, but invites us to plunge into the mess of tangled human relationships and insights, authority-over and authority-under. Let us not pretend it is tidy. May this not stop us from full engagement with all we are called to speak into and submit to.

"..a question." The Son of Man is a Destiny's child.. throwing shade at the Pharisees.  # Question. Tell me what you think about me.. # Question. How'd you like this knowledge that I brought.. ~ The weaponised Socratic method. Do likewise. Agnostics should bear a burden of proof - it is not loving to enable them in their playing weightless word games on the fence.
Question. Who. Do. You. Say. I. Am?
Question. Liar. Lunatic. Lord?
πŸ“€ "..from.." Provenance. # That's where I get my name from, that's why they call me Slim Shady..      # Where'd you get your Rollie from? Where do you know me from? ~ Single malt, single batch, single origin. Traceable supply chains. You are where you come from. You are your maker's mark, Eph2v10, you are as much as you have an underwriter to underwrite you. Not all presentations of power or flavour or material deserve their face value. God looks on the inside, he looks up the supply chain, he looks at the synthetic ill-gotten bribe-bought slave-sewn source material. Manifestations in the present are rendered illegitimate according to their source. Man-made and self-made are pejorative. I was made by God. That's where I get my name from.
🏊‍♀🚿 "baptism.." Do we baptise in any other context? What would a from-man baptism look like? I recognise Jesus' question is rhetorical, but he takes for granted that there is more than one currency able to claim to trade value on the baptismal phenomena. For them, in that time, baptism sits within a tradition of annointings and ritual cleanings in the Jewish tradition, the world after Noah's flood, the crossing of Jordan, the high-priestly washing, Naaman's healing and generally imbuing the physical with supernatural efficacy.  Was the baptism of John surface or substance, psychosoma or something more? Is all of Christianity merely a convenient, therapeutic social contract? Are you being transformed only as far as you self-actualise into a self-fulfilling prophecy or are you being transformed? Is your baptism a rebranding of your packaging, or it is a change in your recipe? Lipstick on a pig, or a totally new animal?   Friends. We have become embroiled in something so much deeper than surface affect glittering a turd. You are a new creation. No mere software bug-patch or rezhuzhed old tat. Died and reborn new.
πŸ˜‡/πŸ‘Ή "..heaven or from man?" Are we half way between the gutter and the stars? Are we neither nor? Are we both and? Heaven, man, it is a considerable spectrum, it is a terrifying dichotomy. What if it was from man?
~ "..what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet.." Ps8v4-6
~ "..What a piece of work is man, How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty, In form and moving how express and admirable, In action how like an Angel, In apprehension how like a god, The beauty of the world, The paragon of animals. And yet to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me; no, nor Woman neither; though by your smiling you seem to say so." WS Hamlet ActII Sc2
~ "There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations - these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit - immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously - no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption." CSL Weight of Glory.
It is a sublime irony that the Pharisees were too afraid of men to deprecate it is from-Man and at the same time too contemptuous of the man to credit it is from-God. This is the religious mind's logical extension, tortured by the incoherent inconsistency of this ambivalence towards being-human.
Jesus is not ambivalent towards the condition of being human.
~~ [Extrapolating tentatively] Jesus' baptism on the Cross was from-Man, it was calculatedly the most extreme treatment we could possibly give him, a perfect punishment, a perfect anti-coronation, a superlative desecration. But in-God and from-God this is a baptism into a death that renders Jesus the peerless King, he inaugurates a perfectly bottom-up kingdom, shifting the signs and signifieds of death on its foundations. Now we who died in a Christian baptism, are baptised in a substantial baptism, from-God not as a scaffold or dress-rehearsal for resurrection. But as new Man.

Lk20v5-6 An emergency meeting, to hastily manage this crisis. So tragic its comic. We laugh but we all have such internal board meetings in order to save face, in order to resist the  Christ. Oh my friends, we were made for more.

Lk20v7-8 "..neither will I tell you.." πŸ™ˆπŸ™‰πŸ™Š Pen in hand, I am redacting redemption; fingers in ears I seek a silo's silence; I watch a shadow play with no lamp.. I opt out. Doubt's doubt here deafens, dictating a divine don't ask, don't tell, as if I won't ask and he can't tell. By my own self-fulfilling filter, God's on a mute mum mime mutual NDA, that I signed. I encrypted God's word and burned the key and made a hash of all reality.
The walk of faith would be one of reciprocal disclosure, it would be a holy show you mine if you show me yours; a promise that what you look for you will find. I am without excuse Rm1v20 to seek and so find Lk11v9.

Lk20v9-10 Went away. As we approach the season of advent it seems right to meditate on the distance of God, the not-yet of God, and ways we must hold the posture of waiting. A receptivity that will not allow itself to turn to the self-centric, small-minded, short-termist violence of those in this story. I have to learn to wait for God, to hold myself  and do nothing to make a pretence of God's presence in His absence. I must wait. The poets say it best. Welsh priest & poet R.S. Thomas invites us to sit with the not-yet of God..
'It is this great absence
that is like a presence, that compels
me to address it without hope
of a reply. It is a room I enter
from which someone has just
gone, the vestibule for the arrival
of one who has not yet come.
I modernise the anachronism
of my language, but he is no more here
than before. Genes and molecules
have no more power to call
him up than the incense of the Hebrews
at their altars. My equations fail
as my words do. What resources have I
other than the emptiness without him of my whole
being, a vacuum he may not abhor?'
The Absence, R.S Thomas

🍹 We are tenants In the life parabolic, we are tenants. We may want to believe ourselves as liberated rugged individuals sipping pina coladas on hammocks thumbing a real estate portfolio of self-made autonomy, but we are tenants.
πŸ“„ We are tenants in this mortal life, born naked into temporary accommodation, loaned out from a world that is not our own. Accordingly, there is a mustness, an ought, a cosmic landlord who must be assuaged, a rent that must be paid, a deposit that you won't get back if you damage the flat. We are tenants obliged to the future, contracted to our neighbour, duty-bound to pay the dues of a life in which you cannot do nothing. You cannot do nothing without neglecting your proper duty, reneging on your basic commitment and wreaking a havoc of the sins of omission.
🏚 We are tenants in a corrupt world, a fractured universe, in which our tenancy is coloured by distorted power dynamics, cumulative debt of generations of toxic tenancies. We a born into endentured and exorbitant tenancies for squalid flats, we are the disenfranchised precariat of contemporary serfdom who eek out pitance on a patch of polluted ground subject to entropy and decay, negotiating against inherited arrears on borrowed time.
πŸ™ˆ We tenants in denial, raging against the dying of the right to buy. We are Thatcher's mythological nation of homeowners (and/or we are her imbittered children who are still mentally a nation of would-be home-owners, who thusly pejorativise "generation rent" out of a sort of tragic jealousy).
😀 We are resistant tenants, rent striking out of a sense of grave entitlement, chaffing with a petulent and unholy impatience for our future Rm8v19 inheritance, glowering our visceral horror at a life of negotiated disautonomy, kettling antipathy for the viciously transactional relationship we have our archetypal, allegorical and actual landlords.
πŸ‘¨‍🌾 But. A mindset of tenantry is a noble mindset of appropriate stewardship, rightly humble, submitted to the hierarchy of a benign universe. We are tenants operating joyfully on the basis of abundance, tenants also with the fear of God giving weight and permanence to our temporary being in the world.
πŸ€• We are also servants. Rent collectors for Jesus. v10 beaten, v11 beaten and shamed, v12 wounded and cast out. Christianity is played to the pain. Three rounds of messenger-servants are sent, sheep to the lemming slaughter. Carnage.
πŸ§–‍♂ The tedious cowardice of a fluffy theology of grace, that subtly smothers Jm2v17 with Eph2v9. A lazy theology that shirks the dynamic tension of gift and works, and supposes a passive liberal vaguery to be a more victimless approach than a robust conscientious urgency that more spectacularly goes awry in Pharisaism.
πŸ’· We are servants. The servants are prophets. The prophets are rent collectors in Jesus' rendering. As someone who would identify as more prophet than priest or king, how do I feel about the rent-collector mantle?
πŸ‘₯ I need to be better at this. I need to be braver. Octavia Hill's use of rent collectors as proto-socialworkers is inspired at a number of levels, chiefly in the way it enobles the disadvantaged to be participant agents, and lays the basis for legitimate access into authentically challenging personal relationship, which is a precondition for growth towards maturity, for both the visitor and the visitee.
πŸ’ͺ By contrast, (even as a literal rent collector for 41), so much of my 'Christian' manifestation to those in my care is based on charitable condescension that muddles my own saviour complex with timid people pleasing and the result is patronising to them, proliferates pathologies of immaturity in us both. A rent-less gospel subtly sanctions the defacto anarchism of a fatherless world of inconsequence. It is my not loving them enough to put myself forward to be beaten and shamed for a speaking a message of enworlding rebuke and divine lament that would provoke them to beat and shame me.

Lk20v13-14 It is interesting to reflect that the impulse that is being ascribed to the vineyard workers here is one that sees the Son as a competitor to their own good. The focus here is not so much that they reject his prophetic voice, speaking to them the truth, as the servants before him did (though this is no doubt in play) but specifically in this case they plan to kill the Son so that ‘the inheritance will be ours’. Careful as always to hold lightly what can be read into a parable, but this emphasis seems to invite reflection on resistance to Christ insofar as we see him as a competitor. This strikes me a strange thought. I am used to the thought that I resist Christ because he challenges me by his words, his love, his lifestyle or his sacrifice – as a divine invitation that I fear to take up. But do I think that I resist Christ because I think that his very existence robs me of something of the divine, something that is withheld from me because He has it? Do I think that I need to assert myself over Christ himself in order to try to take from him something – something I want that I have to fight him for?
If I centre the Christ in my theology, does this de-centre me? If I behold his spiritual riches, does this illuminate my poverty in an unbearable way? Better perhaps to talk about the generic divine, and to hold myself as the measure of the spiritual life. Perhaps the way to convince myself of my own divine inheritance is to try to deconstruct or destroy the paragon of sonship that Christ reveals, to destroy the Christ as model of Humanity-fulfilled. Perhaps it is in this sense, in the Christ as human, that I see him as a competitor, come to rob me of my sense of the vitality and sufficiency of my own humanity. If Christ is out of the picture I can dictate for myself what ‘the inheritance’ looks like, and can claim it as mine without a sense of triangulation.
Of course, this is entirely self-defeating. I do not get any real inheritance by excluding the Christ’s example from my life and trying to construct my own sense of the ownership of the vineyard. Of course I don’t. The logic of spiritual inheritance is that Christ multiplies it like loaves and fishes as I accept that he is the true Heir to the vineyard. In this recognition I am adopted into the Master’s family as a sibling, not a rival, to the Christ - Rm8v17 – a co-heir with Christ, receiving the whole that He receives. What a beautiful logic, what a banquet of grace.

Lk20v15-16"..killed him.." That escalated fast. As things do. Because life is non-linear, it is always exponential. Life is a death spiral, an asymmetric dual, an out-of-kilter vortex screaming a tailspin into a chaotic oblivion. Why did we kill the son? We, existentialist tenant farmers.. ~ perhaps all sin is cutting our losses, perhaps the best we can do is engage in preemptive pre-crime and learn to shoot somebody who'd outdrew you? We play an infinite stakes game, gambling our all on a single token into a precipitously leveraged debt market. We obviously kill the son, we've been losing unbearably in straight sets since Adam. Oh make it stop. We live by the sword, because we're still going to die anyways.
πŸ’£ "..destroy those tenants.." Tit for tat for tit escalates via an inflationary deterrent premium. "Destroy" is uttered subsonically in this movie trailer. Destroy. αΌ€Ο€ΟŒΞ»Ξ»Ο…ΞΌΞΉ apΓ³llymi from apΓ³ _"away from"_ which intensifies ollymi _"to destroy"_ so, fully destroy, cut off entirely, violently/completely perish, implies permanent absolute destruction, i.e. to cancel out and to die, with the implication of ruin and destruction", cause to be lost, utterly perish by experiencing a miserable end .. to destroy, destroy utterly, be blotted out, to vanish away. Jesus is deadly serious about my unrepentance. Jesus is the sharp edge of the urgently real, that needles against my zombieform ectopic adolescence, he is a thousand volts through my suspended animation or he is nothing. God-as-holy-God would destroy me-as-tenant as a pudgy nothing of ductile human collateral sucked through a crack in the pane into the frigid vacuum of infinite outer space.
😡 "..When they heard this, they said, “Surely not!” I bet they did.
But this death,
while we were yet tenants,
while were still weak,
while we were still sinners,
was for us, if only we would let it..

Lk20v17-18 Read slowly and literally, there are two claims in v18, one to do with actively falling on the cornerstone who is the Christ and being broken into pieces, and one to do with being fallen upon, passively crushed. Is there something to draw out of this distinction? Maybe this is just a chiasmic literary device for used for rhetorical purposes with similar meanings intended for each clause. Indeed, most of the commentaries I have looked at treat these two clauses as a whole, with both clauses reiterating the spiritual death that is definitional outside Christ the Cornerstone. But I wonder if there are multiple ways of reading this, or ways of reading the two clauses as involving a contrast. Christ comes to bid the old self to die. He comes to kill us, to dismember us, to circumcise us Col2v11. Either way, Christ comes to 'break us into pieces', and this is a good thing, and wonderful, kind, holy redemptive thing. We are put together so that we may rise with him in glory. To 'fall' on the cornerstone - the Greek 'peson', is the same word used as to 'fall down in worship', Mt4v9, etc so I can't help wonder then that we are 'broken to pieces' on the cornerstone as we fall on Him...we surrender and he takes us apart. This is what Jesus does to and for and through us. If we do not fall on Him He will fall on us, for He is sovereign. Do not resist. Fall on him.

Lk20v19-20 πŸ‘€ "..they perceived that he had told this parable against them.." Perceptive? Do you perceive it? [Is43v19] "Perceiving" as a word neatly ambiguates the locus of the responsibility for the meaning being interpretted. Within the scribe's subjective perception, do they rightly infer Jesus' meaning as he intended, or is their perception only their own projection?
πŸ›‘ "..they perceived that he had told this parable against them.." Parables against. What are you against? What are you for? And how? Do you tell parables against? The world doesn't need placard waving Christians being antagonistically anti. But the world does need thesis and antithesis to structure reality. Whether in the strong claim of Mt12v30 (Whoever is not with is against) or in the contrapositive Lk9v50 (Whoever is not against is for) Jesus suggests there is a starkly binary oppositional dichotomy of necessarily active positions ~ you can only be either actively-for or actively-against.
πŸ—Ώ "parable against.." A parable-against is perhaps the best way to enact againsting because it nuances to specifics but is applicable universally, it is powerful without being power-over, it is an invitational mode of communication, that reveals meaning to the willing. As SPJ has said of Lk20v21's use of coins as excellently concrete external particulars, thung things performing as perfect synecdoche for the whole of our shared material but unwieldy world - so too parables, give right and proportional and awkward particularlity to jointly joust with realities within and through.
⚔ Nathan in 2Sm12 tells obliquely the story of David's murder of Uriah - this is perhaps a blunter form of allegorising-against. Jesus tells a parable to a multiplicity of hearers, but it is parable-against only to the reader-response of some, deftly such that those with ears to hear-againsting perceive-againsting.
πŸ¦”πŸ‘‘  "..against them." What is being-against? How do you experience being on either side of antipathy? What is it like to feel againsted by the universe? What does it feel like to be disenfranchised by the good and the true? I have this image in my head of Jesus playing Cards Against Humanity in the market place in a manner of grave lamentation. The snarky barbed cards are played not as porcupine bristles defending a vulnerable nihilism, rather, the barbed cards are taken on as thorns borne heavily through skin to skull, weaponised words, absurdist allegories structuring an truest possible ironic critique of and by a shattered humanity. Jesus' parables provokes a humanity to edginess, ultimately so that he can die for a humanity that is set against a humanity set against him.
πŸ‘Ύ "..pretend to be sincere.." Don't we all? I am the #problem. I am the bug in the code. I am the mole. I am the exploit. I am the weakness. I am the turncoat. I have been rewatching some of Mr Robot. Everyone is a code to crack. Everyone is an interface thinly veiling a dark web. Everything is ulterior built on another's weakness.
πŸ€ It is not easy to discriminate what, in Mr Robot, is searing truth, rendering a raw portrait of the actual darkness of human deceit and depravity, and what, in Mr Robot, is merely alluring therapeutic pessimism. I'm a sucker for the later, I'm a freak, I'm a weirdo with a penchant for a subsonic minor key. But the former is also true, and needs attention. Throughout history we have worn masks, adopted roles, and played parts, since we first adopted figleaves, but now, online, it is nothing but a dense thicket of figleaves. That sincerity is impossible distorts everything.
🎭πŸ’ͺ Mr Robot is about power and pretense
- We all pretend, for our own protection
- Society is a pretending as a mask for distraction
- Hacking people behind their pretense is the only authenticity - (note the glowing crossed mullions in this moment of pseudo salvific omniscience)
- Power as the only real end
- Power through self-hate
- Power used by the protagonist as the compromised tragic good (2)
πŸ•΅‍♂ "..spies, pretending to be sincere.." Those faux friends who feign faith. They are not merely ingenuous. They are agents of the other team. Spies-for. How do I know what side I'm on? I have spent the last six months in zero gravity nurturing an imposter syndrome, untethered from previous coordinates of self-knowledge. I am Cordelia in the court of a millenial King Lear. Or am I? It is an awful thing to know, even part, of your own corruption.
πŸ˜‡ "..sincere.." Iggy Azalea wants us to know first things first she's the realest, and this idiom speaks to the cult of authenticity in hipsters more generally, and it is, ironically, especially cooptable. In thinking about this, I was reminded of this piece by Southborough L'Abri: "A recently declassified intelligence document written during cold war - explaining to field agents the kind of person who could be turned, that is, convinced to commit treason and spy against their own country. Look for this sort of person:- emotional fragile, immature and insecure, disconnected from strong community, accountability and deep relationships, yet who seeks to make in impact in order to gain a sense of self-worth.."
We are all spies now.
But we don't have to be.

Lk20v21-22 Jesus demonstrates a simple principle here, one I recognise would help me engage better in difficult conversations. The principle is: when presented with a false dichotomy, turn the conversation to a concrete particular, to something in the shared material world. Use a prop, use an example, direct attention jointly to an object which will ground the spin of subjectivities locked in a conflict of absolutes. Jesus uses a coin, with a humility and a strength, to subvert the conversation. So often I find myself locked in the heady insistence of ideas, so often statements made seem absolute on both sides, and require defending with a heat, but little light. Draw your eyes back to the real world and the complex wisdom found in natural and cultural artifacts, and begin the conversation again, like Jesus.

Lk20v23-24 What is Money?
πŸ‘Ώ It is popularly and bluntly sloganised that the love of money is the root of all evil, and there is a universally held suspicion that the world is run by a cabal avaricious rich people.. so this passage is read convolutedly as a call to flee money to some higher plane, a call to be in-but-not-of a financial world. So, Christians only touch awkwardly the icky world of money but equally Christians are always shy of proper sympathy with anarcho-agrarians rallying for a return to bartered goods.
πŸ€‘ A theology of greed is different from a theology of wealth is different again from a theology of money. What is money?
Bitcoin has broken the ice of a now inevitable era in which entities other than the state can mint currency, entities other than banks can administrate the storage and distribution of fungible tokens of trust.
✅  Money as money must do these:
1. store of value
2. unit of account
3. medium of exchange
~ How does have Caesar's face help with those 3?
~ Imagine if you could use a different token than pounds/dollars to achieve those 3?
~ How will we perform those 3 in the Kingdom of God? How can we work to image that Heaven now?
πŸ’΅ You have to have trust that this elaborate IOU system will retain its value, relevant to all goods, acceptable by all people. If that trust is shaken, a currency collapses. Because that trust can be shaken, we build banks too big to fail, we allow exorbitant remuneration for men in suits in towers.
🀝 What if that trust couldn't be broken? What if you could tokenise all identities and all contracts on an immutable eternal covenant ledger?
❓ I don't want to over-read Jesus here. But. It seems to me that the Caesar-centralised mode of dollarised currency stabilisation is a sub-Christian and very high-energy way to conduct trade, predicated on a pax-Romana sort of defense budget. If we have the technological possibility to now decentrally tokenise that-which-is-God's and so render-it-to-other-than-Caesar.. what ought Christians to do for money now?

Lk20v25-26 They became silent. This phrase comes like a promise, like a chink of light, in these times. After raging and protesting, that Jesus might leave me so dumbfounded that I become silent. Silent not just on the surface but all the way down, down to the deeps. Silent in contemplation and stillness and waiting and non-verbal attentiveness such that I might actually have a chance of hearing the voice of God rather than my own constant chatter. They became silent. May it be so with me in 2019. Amen.

Lk20v27-28 People don't die in sequences of seven without interference. This morning I read the Sadducees' counter-parable as a very thinly veiled threat. As if to say, "Jesus, it would be unfortunate if something were to 'happen' to your disciples.. We have ways of making men disappear." Locked in a fishtank world without resurrection there is no hope, there is only taking-power-over ~ in that world, religion and politics (and race, and gender..) become a protection racket. For a portrait of this, see, Steve Mcqueen's Widows - perhaps my film of the year for 2018. There is a stark lack of self-awareness by the Sadducees, in this ham-fisted thought experiment. I have, in the past, pictured them as wheedly word-game types, needly jousters, blinkered somewhat and incompetent.. but I read them now as Widows' Jamal Manning, lumbering, bloated and braggadocious school yard bullies, so blunt is their rhetoric, their tone deaf mysogyny, fixated on sex and death.
A belief in resurrection changes everything.
But I consider particularly my metaphors, which assured resurrection would baptise with hope and humility.

Lk20v29-30 Wondering this morning if and how belief in the resurrection of the dead changes how we marry. All sorts of dangerous Love, Sex, Death & God puzzles and pains in this passage. Of one small fragment, I speculate (perhaps speculate wildly) whether a culture shaped by the imaginative sense of resurrection is less likely to marry their kin, marry for convenience or protection. In a universe which stops at death, it makes sense that marriage is primarily about survival and reproduction, where marrying into sameness and familiarity best ensure this. In a universe where death is a whole new vista of meaning, and marriage symbolises the great facing of God, marriage is more about otherness, risk & desire. Flicking through The Book of Common Prayer in Canterbury Cathedral this week, I note the 'Table of Kindred & Affinity' on its final page: A warning not to marry certain members of your family. Songs and psalms to the God of our life, punctuated by the reminder that how we marry is too a Common Prayer.

Lk20v31-32 ⚰⚰⚰⚰⚰⚰⚰..⚰ "all seven died.. the woman also died" What is death?
πŸ’ƒ What sort of a mind writes such a parable? How does one end up authoring such weaponised absurdity of romping pitiless sex&death carnage implicitly slut-shaming this man-eating femme-fatale? The mind set on the flesh is death Rm8v6 - Is this what that looks like? How do you think of death?
πŸ›‹πŸ›‘ To the trite sophist and the expedient hedonist, Death is an alluring shield and a comfort.
😱 Because everything dies, nothing has consequence, everything is flattened to an unthreatening absurdity. With my sophist hat on, I export a philosophy that is being merely towards death, and on this I build an absurdist castle of protectionist rhetoric. Everything is always dying in this my tragic-comic parody which eats itself. Life is an hysterical Faustian cult under the banner of the Jolly Roger. Death is no leering antithesis, it is a Norwegian Blue shuffled off 'is mortal coil. Life compels me to nothing, obliges me in no way. In my death-addled logic, I consider those who find death incoherent as sentimental. Why mourn what must be, rather than to stand forth with Kamakaze bravery submitted to a given biological brevity? To hope in resurrection is to permit death to be unnatural and so tragic. Mocking resurrection's logic is to safeguard the nihilist's existential fortress.
🚬πŸ₯ƒ Because death will come for me, indeed it is always already coming, I am a cosmic victim, and as such I have impunity to eat, drink and be merry. Death is my trump card, my get-out-of-jail-free card. See the protagonist in Avicii’s perfectly appalling modern parable #I Could Be The One: "I feel like I'm trapped in someone else's masterplan, go to school, get a job, get a mortgage, all I'm really doing is dying.." The universe owes me. And so a culture of death weaves a narrative of imperilment as license. We touched last night on the appeal of media narratives of terrorisation - that is, beyond the mantra that bad-news-sells, news which establishes you as a victim within a global plot of calculated evil is particularly attractive.
❓ Consider the difficulty of fully embracing resurrection. Consider what reckless abandon it robs you of. Everything is weighty now. Everything matters. Everything persists. If I am not going to die, how should I then live?

Lk20v33-34 I remember a friend weeping at this verse, at the idea that in the beyond-death she would longer be her beloved's, that they would no longer belong to one another as husband and wife. The idea that couples remain interlocked into heaven remains prevalent, I noted it reading the inscriptions on graves as I walked through the cemetery last week, and in the short animation Ladder to You on the BBC this week.
Culturally and personally we are still much romanticised by the idea that marriage is eternal. The alternative does strike me as unattractive, I don't really know how to think of it - the picture that Jesus paints here somewhat leaves me cold. The prospect of an asexual heaven, with no family units, no particular attachments and no special relationships very quickly appalls me, it sounds like an impersonal totalitarian nightmare. If marriage is a metaphor for heaven, I  want marriage to last for eternity, as a picture of this, swept up into it but retaining its distinctiveness. But the thought that Jesus gives here is that marriage is dissolved into its metaphor. These are hard words. And I am not sure what the answer is for thinking of this best, I don't know how one hopes for such a state, it is a sheer cliff in my mind. I am not sure that we are even called to want such a state - we are called to want God, and in wanting God, trusting in the goodness of a future that seems inexplicable to us, rather than trying to make it explicable with our current categories. There are ways of thinking conceptually about how this new marriageless resurrection will be a good - it will be a liberation from all that is broken about human marriage, it will be an expansion into a cosmic marriage, etc. These are interesting and helpful things to meditate on, but I don't think they are sufficient for understanding - or even accepting - what this resurrected way of life will look like, and I don't think we are called to understand this. We are called to want God, and this is enough.

πŸ₯‡πŸŽ“ "considered worthy to attain" we know that this worthiness is via Jesus' worthiness, over the Bridge to Life because of Jn3v16 etc. Something in the phrasing here refreshes the non-mechanical nature of this bridge. Someone is doing the considering-of, you are being scrutinised by an audience who comes to a considered opinion. On which basis you are given access. Me. Phil. Being estimated as worthy to make the cut to join the team of the chosen few in the inner circle. In the very cross hairs of God's laser-sighted selection. Problematising the injustice of so-called election short-circuits wonder, the ecstatic and unnerving experience-of belovedness which would effect its own essential and sufficiently infectious mode of personalistically enacted gradual universalism. That I have been considered worthy, despite everything that had been on my CV, now bends the universe towards me.
πŸ—ΏπŸš€ "this age .. that age" If the coming age is not an black box of perfectly unknowable discontinuity.. if Christian faith is not blind hope in the nebulous anythingness of an arbitrary heaven. *What is it?* How do you think of these things, by what analogy do you imaginatively consider yourself within an age, towards a coming age, in which the chasm of language signifiers is not infinitely incompatible, such that there is something not-absurd that it is possible to conjure ~ so to lay a hold of this promise in ever fuller ways?
πŸ“Ί This age is a TV broadcast and the coming age is a hardware update, a digitisation, a resolution upgrade. We are characters cast from VHS plugged into a 4K monitor and on that silver screen we brush up against digital natives, and our fuzzy static rwd skewed ghosts encounter the immutable polygons of uncorruptable digital versions of ourselves and the world as it more accurately actually is?
πŸ”΄πŸ”΅ This age is a red cellophone tapestry, red plastic people squeaking in red plastic cars glinting ruby, and occasionally we overlap with a coming age which is blue cellophane and a purple suffusion leaks refracted into the whole narrative?
πŸ’± This age is a zero-sum economy, bartering tit for depreciating tat, and then a new currency is introduced, a bottomless payday loan that you can spend now, a cosmic IOU. The age to come is transparent and frictionless abundance, and you can spend tokens of that now?
πŸ‘₯ This age is a feltboard drawing, cutout silhouettes of a people shadow-playing across an infinite two-dimensional plane. You are the paper person who can sit up, however, peeling away from the holon ice rink shimmering surface, you can confer with those bulbous, erect and aerial beings who cast the shapes and plays of our laminate present age?
πŸ’Š What relationship between this-age and the-age-to-come accurately and redemptively reflects not an unseen opiod wish-fulfilment but rather, a genuine encounter with the substantial under-girding of everything that is? This matters so much. Language for it matters so much. Lifestyle praxes, long-suffering relationships, sacrificial values, unescapist priorities, all the accoutrements which instantiate a world view of true truth - they matter so much. A frankness about not-knowing-perfectly, a robust engagement with the messy not-yet-ness - this matters so much. How do you speak of the age to come?
πŸ‘°πŸ€΅ "marriage" So, then marriage, this side of eternity in the light of eternity. I consider that we are paper people, but our lives of Christological allegory and purpose are origami, corrugating a world parabolically. We participate in something that will be supplanted by a more-than that is more-than-you-can-ask-or-imagine. And that understanding makes marriage more-than in the now. We are bound not towards annihilation via negotiated scarcity, but towards exponential exultation via attuned abundance.

Lk20v37-38 'For to Him all are alive'. Spending All Souls and All Saints Days with more catholic brothers and sisters this year I sense the goodness in inviting remembering the dead in a way that is quite alien to this British Protestant, and in inviting the saints who have gone before us to pray for us and with us that God's kingdom may come, that all may be swept up in the Good, that all dimensions of reality may become ever-more sensitised to the presence and work of the Holy Spirit. Not that we pray to our departed brothers and sisters but with them, for they are our great cloud of witnesses. This still does not come naturally to me, it is self-conscious and jarring. I do not know how to ask for prayer from those distant across the divide of death and resurrection. I ask that God might lead me into more natural and holy ways of greater communion with all the saints. Dearly loved ones, resurrected, please pray for me too.

⏲ Christianity is a windup?
🎲 Christianity is a checkmate?
🎀 Christianity is a mic drop?
🎴 Christianity is negative space in an antiphonal universe?
πŸ•³ Christianity is an argument from ominous silence?
πŸ”‡ Christianity is the squeal of feedback, then tumbleweed?
πŸ‘ Christianity is a slow clap, a download buffering, a patent-pending, a cheque in the post, a dramatic pause, a not-yet?
πŸŒͺ Christianity is the calm in the eye of the storm, the receded shoreline sucked out to sea by an approaching tsunami of rhetorical reinforcements?
πŸ’― "you have spoken well.." Commentaries seem reluctant to call this completely ingenuous. "only half sincere" says one. Jesus has admitted the resurrection - which is ammunition on a partisan issue - Convenient point scoring for some; Fuel for embittered fire for others. At face value this "spoken well" is praise - the word  ΞΊΞ±Ξ»αΏΆΟ‚  kalΓ³s carries connotations commending winsome and accurate expertise. At a concordance skim, however, it does seem to recur in passages with a hint of irony:
Lk6v26 ~ woe to you when they speak well kalΓ³s of you..
Mk7v6 ~ Isaiah spoke rightly kalΓ³s when he criticised you hypocrites..
Mk7v9 ~ you reject God's law very skillfully kalΓ³s..
Jn8v48 ~ "are we right kalΓ³s in thinking you, Jesus, are a Samaritan possessed by a demon..?"
Jn4v17 ~ "I have no husband" .. "You are quite right kalΓ³s .. you have had five.."
πŸ€₯ What kind of "well" do I ascribe to Jesus' wisdom? And to what selective portions of Jesus' teaching do I offer this kind of praise? Jesus' opus is replete with convenient and cooptable soundbites. I am especially drawn to Jesus-as-wise, and my religious life is a long hymn to Jesus speaking well. He does speak well, and often not as I think it. When Jesus is at his most well, it is in an inconvenient call to repentance.
πŸ™Š "no longer dared to ask him any questions.." When am I a silenced scribe? In mute rage, fuming the unspoken passive aggression of a seething rebel, a simmering refusenik. When am I the older brother who will not come in to the party. The spoilt ballot paper. The hunger strike. God will not be guilted.
😢 When do we stop asking questions? We-as-we mutually assure an embargo on a detailed taxonomy of taboos. When the questions stop: we don't ask and don't tell. And so we-as-we commit our shared life to being an unexamined life, made most manifest at the thin gruel of a family Betwixtmas, firing blanks blandly down a bowling alley with the barriers up. Crippled by shame, gagged by cowardice, resigned to the entropic, afraid of honest answers, we ask no honest questions. Presuming no invite, nothing is explored; so with nothing formed, nothing can be filled. We become immasculΙ™t shadow selves in a tragedy of faded agonism.

Lk20v41-42 These 4 verses 41-44 are self-contained as a little snippet of dialogue. We're not really given context, interpretation or resolution. In another context you might assume that Jesus is arguing against the incarnation, against the coming of the Messiah. It's an absurdity that the divine could be the descendant of anyone - therefore we must be mistaken if we think that one of David's descendants could be the Messiah. You would think that having acknowledged this half of the paradox of the incarnation there would be a second half to it, an 'and yet'...but there isn't. Why is this? I don't know, but perhaps Jesus was so unanxious about the truth that he didn't feel the need to give the people he was speaking to the full story? Like a good film or book, which does not try too hard to be didactic, Jesus is perhaps content to simply show people what a ridiculous idea the incarnation really is, without needing to make sure that he also offers them a list of reasons as to why it is also true. Sometimes the best thing we can do is show people the absurdity of the incarnation, safe in the knowledge that the disruptiveness of the idea is often enough to woo people to look at it further, that its truth can show itself in its reality as a mystery, a paradox, far better often than shorthand accounts of the complete gospel. This is not to say that there is no place for the latter, but just that this is not the only way. Jesus was content to speak of himself in fractions and parts, knowing that each glimpse might be a window or invitation to explore his mystery at greater depth. Let us inhabit this kind of confidence also.

πŸ‘΄ In a gerontocratic culture of exaggerated respect for elders it would be unthinkable for any father to call their son "Lord". Such deferential nostalgia is not far from actual ancestor worship ~ wherein salvation will come from the past, by a reversal to a purer time, a reliving of the glory days, a restoration architecture of historic forms. Over-conservativism that predicates an exaggerated caution on a sense that the universe is a vast zero-sum entropy cannot abide novelty ~ presuppositionally, the best has already been and the best we can do is to stem the tide of cultural unravelment. In this view all youth is necessarily and only the Scrappy-Doo of humanity.
πŸ‘Ά But, what of our culture that idolises youth and denigrates the old? This, just after a festive season fetishising the palatable baby-Lord-Jesus. Silicon Valley sets the terms of an world run by twenty-somethings ~ see Zuckerberg's senate hearing there are plenty Lords saying "my Lord.." to a millenial generation running circles around the boomers
❔ What does Christianity have to say to these modes of generationality?

Lk20v45-46 ' to be greeted with respect in the marketplace'. I've been thinking about the difference between Jesus and the other teachers' relationship to the marketplace with this verse. Kara Martin points out that Jesus spends a lot of time in the marketplace - meeting and preaching and healing  Jesus is amongst culture, but he does so by doing things, by shaping the space by his words and actions, rather than as a passive recipient. In today's verse we have a picture of 'the teachers of the law' also in the marketplace, but in order that culture might reflect back to them their own goodness. This is a passive absorption of culture, used to and prop up their own sense of validation. So we might think today of how we shape culture in a healthy and engaged way, vs how we let culture shape us in an ultimately narcissistic way. The Navs are looking at this at their upcoming Big Weekend, asking the question - what is it to Create? vs to Copy, vs to Consume, vs to Critique, vs to Condemn? 

Lk20v47 🀱🀼‍♀ Working my way through Piper's biographies, and on John Ryle, "a man of granite with the heart of a child.." he makes a passing observation on the tone of Jesus as comparison. He suggests reading through the four gospels and marking up when Jesus uses a 'tough' tone and when Jesus uses a 'tender' tone. There is so much of Jesus' spoken work where his tone is tough, combative, acerbic, agonistic. What of me?
πŸ‘¨‍⚖ It would obviously be egregiously abusive to use a tough tone where a tender tone is needed, and the risks are high, and I am a fallible user of blunt language tools and a dull receptor of relational nuance. Immediately the lawyers in my mind populate a defense of my predilection for non-confrontational, evasive, Britishisms with casestudies of victim-blaming and the privileges of those who presume a tough tone..
πŸ’ͺ Nevertheless, Jesus embodies a way of being in the world that has learnt to speak extremely strong words without sinning in so doing. His is a harrowing that never deviates from perfect love. What must I do to rightly emulate the strength and proportion of Jesus comparatively tough tone?
Reflecting on how I do speak and how I could speak compared to Jesus:
πŸ¦πŸ™ I speak to Scribes less than Jesus did. I am less often in demographically diverse public settings. I am less often outside of my siloed bubble of relatively similarly aged, schooled, and politically disposed people. I am shy of influencers and defer to specialists. I don't need to be tough because I'm not in the lion's den.
πŸ™‰πŸ™ˆπŸ™Š I speak about holiness, justice and culpability less than Jesus did. I tread around taboos. To shield my own shame I don't initiate conversations about domains in which I have compromised. I lack assurance of my own holiness in Christ, I lack definition in my own testimony, and so I can offer no confidence to those in sin that it might be possible for them to go and sin no more. My own life's comfort is too entangled in the injustice of modernity's cheap fossil fuels and market corruptions to critique it. I am a prophet gagged by my own pride.
πŸ‘‚ I speak on the basis of a less defined mandate than Jesus had. Not everyone is called to be John the Baptist haranguing Herod. But even if I was called, I'm not listening for that call. The ability to be tough and humble would come from the knowledge that the specific work I do is called from and submitted to a higher authority - that they are not my words by those of a more primary authority - without this, toughness is mere bluster and bravado.
⏱ I speak with less urgency than Jesus did. I tend to think I have all the time in the world. At 32, Jesus had a year left on the clock. I tend to think that my part is a walk-on extra. I tend to think I am a non-load-bearing part of the structure of the Kingdom. I tend to think that others more qualified will say what needs to be said when it needs to be said. I am complicit in a fatalistic kind of cosmic procrastination, as if the reform of Britain can wait for another generation.

Sunday, 13 January 2019