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?
🐖 Should we imitate the reckless squandering of good seed on bad soil? Good seed trampled upon (katepatēthē κατεπατήθη) as pearls before swine are trampled on Mt7v6 (katapatēsousin καταπατήσουσιν)? What is the difference between seed and pearl? The seed is the word of God (v11). What is seediness (contra pearlesence?)
💎 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.
🥜 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.
🌰 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.
👨🌾 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?