Mk8v1-2 Sometimes Jesus gives commands in the second person ('I tell you, love one another') but here he seems to invite his disciplines into joint attention towards others. He tells them what he sees & feels, inviting them to look-with him, & see differently according. How is your looking-with-Jesus today? Do you see what he sees?
Mk8v3-4 'Faint' or 'fall apart' or 'be dissolved'. Look around. Who is far from home? In London, everyone. And they're eating each other out there and we can't send them home (housing crisis innit) and we can't/mustn't feed them (like pigeons). So much election hot air is bluster resigned to an entropic trajectory of diminishing provision, and the NHS goes to the wall, and foodbanks patch up vast poverty, and we're still out in the wilderness.. So, if you can, suburb yourselves, enclave your loved ones against free-loading dependents, batten-down or evac. Without miracles there is only so much compassion you can allow yourself to feel without becoming overwhelmed by London's hunger. Without miracles? Oh Christians!
Mk8v5-6 again for the apathy / insistence since the sin of cynicism / returns and burns / those bridges between / each face /real grace/ still I'm saying it like I'm paying it and I'm not / it's still forgot / but I'd like to remember there's this seven / here from heaven
Mk8v7-8 Gentile leftovers, for the Syrophoenician woman: crumbs, lots of crumbs. Note that the baskets here, are not the 'kophinōn' wicker baskets of the 5000 miracle, these are 'spyridi' rope baskets as lowered Paul out of a window Ac9v25. Abundant excess. Lavish providence. Comparative graze? It's even-more-than. Jews then Gentiles, everytime more-than. The cascade is exponentially expansive, a bottomless outpouring, multiplying through dividing distribution, it's more blessed to give than receive in a counter-mathematical equation.
Mk8v9-10 I've been putting this one off because I don't know what to say. Didn't we Mk6v30-52 do this already? Why this repetition? Repetition can be rhetoric or poetry. Again again. Repetition was part of the confused mish-mash of Cloud Atlas, the slightly vague things-that-repeat-are-important something something...Tutorials with students this week on Nietzsche's Eternal Recurrence of the same - can you say Yes to Life? Would you, could you, say Yes, if the demon in the middle of the night offered you an eternal recurrence of your life, forever and ever. Isn't this also the Christian question? We believe the the eternity set in our hearts, do we not? There will be grace on grace, miraculous feeding on miraculous feeding. To seek to live as Christian is to will one's life repeating, in a sense, in all it's Kingdom-glory, all its fish multiplication, for eternity. Not a cycle of striving, but rhythmed endurance of the good, the true, the beautiful, repeat repeat repeat.
Mk8v13-14 Mixing metaphors maybe, but this reminds me of Danny B's breakfast meditation on the irony of Jesus' temptation by Satan to create bread Mt4v1-4 given the reality of His status as Jn6v35 the bread of life. So too the disciples are forgetful of bread, but the irony is - the bread is in the boat, they're out on the waves with the bread of life itself. Can't see for looking. Forgetful. He's right here. Take, eat.
Mk8v15-16 The yeast of the Pharisees, the yeast of Herod. Different strains, same virus, different politics, same insidious permeation. Yeast's allegory is manifold: Leaven leavens 1Cor5v6, there is an active activity to the theology-as-organism: self-replicating, multiplying, consuming, colonising, distorting, entrenching. Yeast of all kinds is a corrupting infusion, souring those who imbibe it, and puffing them up. And there is a smell to this fetid festering fungal rash, a potent oxide brewing in dark damp dank lukewarmth. Pharisaism's yeast consisted a vicious conservativism, distilling self-righteousness, multiplying a blooming corpus of legislative prohibition, a suffocating expansion of doughy religione and power-play. The yeast of Herodianism, aligned with Sadducee sympathisers, is the flip-side, a virus of unfettered blazé liberal political expediency, entangling secular skepticism in a preoccupation with the urgencies and appetites of the imminent world. Both theologies are ruinous, both theologies iteratively entrench tribal self-definitions of Christ-less self-sufficiency. I have been struck before by the contrast of yeast with mustard seeds. Thinking of the Vanishing of the Bees, I'm struck today that Christ's gospel is particulate, pollinated, day-lit, wind-carried, and bears fruit. By contrast with the asexual vegetative reproduction of religione, which is amorphous and parasitic.
Mk8v17-18 Memory and faith. Life and architecture has a duty to be didactic and mnemonic. How do you learn? How do you remember? When Alzheimers threatens Tony's access to the real real, when collective amnesia wills to redact the gift of Christendom's heritage, when my fragile map of how I came to be here is swamped by a tyranny of urgencies. Where is my journal, what is my testimony, whither my Ebenezer?
Mk8v19-20 Repeating to remember, leading question to learn by heart - what exactly? Divine excess, Christ's abundance, the Spirit's multiplication, the myth of scarcity. This is why I hoard & binge & grasp & lie about it, this is why I begrudge & fear & exclude. Because I forget. But 'Christ's message in all its richness must live in your hearts' Col3v16 so 'Say what happened', as Elizabeth Gilbert, 'and be thankful' (Col3 again). Say it over & over as in Sunday school. I realised yesterday reading Simon May on love that the Hebrew scriptures are deeper in my bones than Greek philosophy. Ruth & Naomi's story is part of me in a way that Paris & Helen's isn't. Because I learnt it, & now I can't forget it. So LEARN the abundance, Sarah. Learn it by saying what happened, so you don't forget.
Mk8v21-22 How do you not understand? How? Jesus wonders at the mystery of unbelief, baffled by the resilience of agnosis, as if Jesus considers the default state is belief, and that there is a 'How' to not-understanding. How have I come to not understand? And so thus to empathise with those whose winding route of trauma, early schooling in self-reliance and culturated reward for conceit, graduates them as epistemological battleships, a fortress of masks rendering them immune to surprise. How? And how then? How to then offer understanding? See Jesus has a sort of impatient patience and a relentless supernaturalism.
Mk8v23-24 I see trees walking around like people, as do you. This healing oft said to symbolise the disciples' incomplete understanding of the Christ in v28, towards Peter's 'everything clearly' declaration of v29. So we are apt to think that we are post-peter clear-eyed Christians. Yet still when we behold the Christ we still see 1Cor13v12 as in mirror dimly, what I know is partial, only then will it be complete, be Rev22v4 face to face. As Blake via Testament reminds us: 'If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro' narrow chinks of his cavern.' The Christian must remember that they see the Alpha & Omega in part too. But we do see in part. It looks like trees walking around. Simile & metaphor, sing your Christ-like songs. What is a tree? How does it move? Let us reason together.
Mk8v25-26 Trees walking. With Greenbelt's inimitable contrarian epistemology still tickling my theology bones and the utterly ravishing trees of Boughton Hall shimmering on the back of my retina.. what are we to make of this? Shakespeare and Tolkien did not consider trees walking to be outside of the realm of credible fictionality.. But this is not a passage about animism and occult ecology, and yet it is sympathetic to those humbly wrestling with incomplete revelation. Insofar as we yet know-in-part because we only see-in-part, we too are bound to speak in similes about God and reality, to speak God-is-like-x. This is different from the New Age elephant encountered by blind men, a device designed to affirm relativistic perpectivism. No. While Jesus-is-Jesus irreducibly, there is something rich to be gained in pondering how Jesus-is-like-Elijah.. (and how Trees-are-like-People?)
Mk8v27-28 In our mindfulness prayer yesterday, our guide, after leading us through our breathing, said 'gradually, turn your full attention to Christ himself', a weighty invitation. Should I meditate on stories from the gospels? On other people's testimonies? On attributes of Christ's character & work? Can even meditating on these good things sometimes keep me in the 3rd person of v27 rather than the 2nd person of v29? As with trees, this isn't just about recognising the divinity of Christ, assented to via culture or sub-culture, but whether one can know oneself indwelt by Christ, united to him, in enjoyment of his presence. This is my prayer.
Mk8v29-30 There is an infinite chasm between the definite article and the indefinite article. The One. 'Who do you say that I am?' is always asked over-and-against 'who do they say that I am?' The hearsay of the hive, the consensus of the committee, the speculation of scientists, cannot arrive at personal knowledge. That is not to limit Jesus' messiahship to your subjective estimation of his messiahship, and yet.. The personal God has humbly established that the experience of Jesus-as-The-One necessarily begins with the personal experience of Jesus-as-The-One-for-you. v30 injuncts a don't tell, but you can tell people, but ultimately you can't tell people, they must experience Jesus directly.
Mk8v31-32 likely Nietzsche is right to say that often we cannot stand the suffering of others for the wrong reasons. Simon May on Nietzche: 'Our culture [is] geared to eliminating the reality of suffering...It's science, ethics, politics & society are geared to minimising risk & danger, & acheiving a state of undisturbed well-being. It's watchwords are comfort, convenience, predictability.' Peter denies the suffering of the Other for the wrong reasons & these wrong reasons can muddy all our right reasons for wanting to minimise suffering. I am not very good at this, separating emotional reflex & my own comfort from genuine loving-kindness & a willing of the good to others. Christ & his suffering, & his reply to my small-minded shutdowns - this is the place to start, to have one's niceness challenged & one's heart expanded.
Mk8v33-34 A mind's mindfulness. What is on your mind, what is your mind set upon? There are, it would seem, Satanic systems of logic, deathly presuppositions, qualities of thinking, moralities of inference. What is on your mind, what is your mind set upon? Paul considers, Rm8v5-7, that there are things-of-the-flesh and things-of-the-spirit that a mind can be set upon. What is on your mind, what is your mind set upon? To set upon, set like an orientation, a compass point, or set like a foundation, the grounds we build upon. Either way, set your mind, with intentioned fixity and energetic pursuit. What is on your mind, what is your mind set upon? By contrast with a mind-on-my-money,-money-on-my-mind mantra of rap and the market economy and its closed loop lowest common denominator mindedness, we set out minds on the unabstractable personal God, that irreducible externality, Col3v2 things above this system, Ph4v8 lovely things, heroic things, counterintuitive things, things which could move mountains.