Sunday, 10 January 2016
texting mark thirteen
Mk13v1-2 Christians do not deny entropy. Indeed, entropy must be welcomed in to remind us again & again that we are apt to make idols out of all and any of what we find in nature & culture. We must live with momento mori scribed into all our work & love, for without it resurrection is mere resuscitation. We do not deny decay, we rather say 'and yet'. Ec1v2-11 and yet Ec3v14-15.
Mk13v3-4 'Privately' because GCHQ listens in to rumours of architectural iconoclasm as terror plots. What do we make of the apocalyptic aspects of our faith? There is an inquisitiveness into these things which Jesus seems to encourage. When all that is solid melts into air, what gospel do we offer to this imminent urban interregnum? What alternative is there to the imperial status quo of consumer capitalism? And how shall we then dance on the brink of precarity?
Mk13v5-6 'Be on your guard'. Such a phrase is apt to bring to mind the kind of anxious defensiveness that Tobias Jones ascribed to the modern nuclear family as a fortress last night. But let us bring to mind the guarding that is unanxious, but fierce. The protection I promised you in 'to love him, comfort him, honour and protect him'. The way that God guards us, as Jacob: 'He sustained him in a desert land, in a howling wilderness waste; he shielded him, cared for him, guarded him as the apple of his eye.' Dt3v10. Pr4v23' famous 'guard your heart, because from it flow springs of life'. To guard rightly is to cherish, seek out, brood over, protect, cultivate, delight in. Here we are to guard the truth, and the Christ himself, who is the Truth. Forsaking all others, be in faithful pursuit of the Truth.
Mk13v7-8 'Do not be alarmed.' There's a pill for that. There's an entire culture system of globalised entertainment tailored to anaesthetise alarm. Jesus confronts two distinct alarms: wars (military, financial, environmental global upheaval) and rumours of wars (hyperbolic jeopardy-based journalism conspiring with anxiety-predicated marketing to cast a click-bait metanarrative of apocalypse). The epidemic of Keep Calm Carry On Verbing tote bags bears tribute to a ground swell of epicureanism masquerading as stoicism. Neither of these war-and-war-rumour responses actually constitute a grounded not-being-alarmed. As in Jer6v14's "Peace, Peace.." we seek out prophets 2Tm4v3 to legitimate escapism. By contrast, Jesus, and Paul Rm8v22 suggest a birthpang hermaneutic for facing the world's woes. Is that possible? Genuine question. Can we really say Isis, birthpang, sealevel rise, birthpang, housing crisis, birthpang.. WTF is being born? And, how long oh Lord?
Isis, birth pangs -- http://www.succathallel.com/2014/06/re-drawing-the-middle-east-map/
Mk13v9-10 I usually respond to such passages with guilt and avoidance. A chance to self-flagellate the fact that I have never been handed over to neither council nor synagogue, and yet not really believing that this verse has anything to say to me other than 'you're doing it wrong, try harder'. I'm done with using the Bible to bellyache, feel bad and do nothing. I'm also not going to anxiously become the kind of 'missionary' that Christians have a rubric for just to prove to myself and the world that I'm doing something. Rather, breathe deep the good the true the beautiful for Jesus and breathe out. Start here, our passage for the week: Jn1v39 'come and see'. Start here: David McPherson yesterday: 'if there's a thread I'll be hanging on it': a truthfulness that I trust, and want to be so to be trusted by others, in together discovering that the Christ is the most existentially satisfying ground beneath my feet, air in my lungs, telos for my feet, come see.
Mk13v11-12 Access to knowledge via an unseen realm that gives you confidence to stand before imperial powers. StarWars innit. I'm fascinated by the zeitgeist coup which the franchise has exacted, astutely tapping a hunger for a spiritual reality which would empower our rebel alliances to confront the dark imperial forces of modernity which have threatened our own fragile humanities only increasingly since 1977's EpIV. Prophecy is no mere Jedi mind trick and the Spirit is not some midichlorian extension of mysterious personal goo. But. We do faith by hope in things not seen, a not-seen realm that yet speaks. Christianity, if it is Christianity, will confront suprahuman powers, and to do so, it must be prophetic. We can stand fearless before the Vaders represented by a savage housing market economy's hegemony or a corrupt SE Asian government's deathly censors and know not merely good things, but the exactly pertinent right things that would woo them to love to hope in another Kingdom.
Mk13v13 Holding out to the very end...because we have always already been loved to the very end: 'Jesus had always loved those who were in the world who were his own, & he loved them to the very end.' Jn13v1
Mk13v14 If Advent made itself salient as the season of apocalypse, of waiting for not only the incarnation, but the eschaton, then how do we meditate on this analogy post-christmas? One risks mixing metaphors of course, & the text warns against muddles on this point. We still wait to see Christ face to face, the smaller advent within the fractal of the bigger advent. But Christmas (& Easter & Pentecost to come) remind us of the 'come' of the Kingdom. This January we live with a sense of God breaking in. Healing things we thought could not be healed. Building things we thought could not be built. This inbreaking comes as a great peace, joy, hope. But what in it might be an 'awful horror'? Christ bids us die to ourselves, & if we are to live in the stream of his inbreaking this year, it will cost something. Mixing metaphors yes, but wanting to hold on to the end for the pearl of price.
Mk13v15-16 There is a time to run like hell, but where are we now in this fractal eschaton, in these endless end times? The abomination has come, still comes and perpetually stands on the event horizon to come again. Hell and Heaven swell swirling about us, moment by moment, we are kites in a hurricane muddle of life and deaths. Am I ready to run? Am I alert to the Mt16v3 signs of the spirit of the age? Judeo-Christianity is a faith of flight, an exiting exiled exodus religion that has no lasting city Hb13v12 but is spread abroad on the wings of calamity so to evangelise the ends of the earth, in all the cracks, nooks and fringes, the shadowy nowhere places. But we yet seek the good of the city Jer29v7, and we repair Nh3v8, and we make it beautiful as Ex31v3 and storied Dt11v20, but we do so as boy scouts adept to fashion loose-fitted, light-footed, make-shift and make-do shelters, so when the death star comes, we are nimble.
Mkv13v17-18 Pregnancy & maternity: states of particular suffering & vulnerability, like being exposed to winter elements and more. Suffering & vulnerability: emotionally, spirituality & physically. This is a prayer for all those known to me, pregnant & mothering, that they would find themselves caught up in the strength & the kindness of God, & not lost in the place of awful horror without him. God is close by, dear ones.
Mk13v19-20 It is interesting to be reading particularly these verses while also watching The Leftovers ~ a harrowing and bleak portrait of accelerating acrimony amongst an ambiguous 'elect' in certain end times. The series (so far) is savagely nihilistic, furious excoriating polemic against faith and it demands an answer as how we should be-towards-turmoil. Misinterpretations of verses like these birth exactly the pathological Christianities which I suspect wounded the writers of Leftovers: 'cut short the days for the sake of the elect..' like a Dignitas for a our terminal condition? My heart is tempted to soften the verses, rather than live in the tension of 2Co5v8 or Ph1v23, and soften rather than to plumb the pain and so see grace abound Rm5v20.
Mk13v21-22 I am struck by the similarity of the 'look, here is the messiah' that Jesus warns us of here, & the virtuous 'look, the lamb of God'...'come & see' that we have been considering in Jn1 this week. This reminds that that joint-attention-to-Jesus depends on the substantiality of Jesus, just as all joint attention to the world depends on the sunstantiality of the world. When we're invited to look, don't just take their word for it, really look!
Mk13v23-24 The great eschatological told-you-so.. But how to live in the light of this? Jesus sets up a seekable something, supposing that we should be seekers of it, and by so seeking we might summon others to similarly seek such, for the joy, for dear life. Jn1v38 "What are you seeking?" on Tuesday some suggested people today don't seek a sinner's saviour because they don't self-identify or self-understand themselves as sinners. How can they? Only to the extent that Christians understand our own many sins of commission omission thought word deed are we able to articulate a sense of the saving from such that is on offer. So too, being-toward a Christ-as-climactic-telos to the universe. Who seeks such except that they observe Christians living in the now with a visceral sense that out of every scale of conflict, blackout or desolation can emerge a sight of the Son of Man and by such substantiated expectation draw a source and motive to live out self-sacrifice in outrageous generosity.
Mk13v25-26 Things fall apart. The language here reminds me of Nietzsche on the death of God: 'What did we do when we unchained the earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving now? Away from all suns? Are we not perpetually falling? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there any up or down left? Are we not straying as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Is it not more and more night coming on all the time?' Yes. And yet. 'Then the Son of Man will appear.' Things fall apart and then the Son of Man will appear. In some cases the 'appearing' is perhaps more like an awakening on our part, all our idols turned to dust, the world-collapse that we fear leaves us with nothing else. We have no immunity against such devastation. And yet, then the Christ will appear. This is the 1Tim3 secret of our religion. You can't teach this in Sunday school.
Mk13v27-28 The cryptic and apocalyptic geometry and teleology of Jesus' universe is magic and mystic. Here his angels ministrate the ends of the earth, combing the fringe hinterlands of heaven, the shores of that more-than wormhole. Today the earth is no longer flat, so how do you picture the periphery, what edge condition does your mind's eye trace, where do the wrinkles crease to fold time as if eternity's continuum was an origami pick-a-number fortune teller? Perhaps this universe is a snow globe, perhaps we are princesses in a game of Monument Valley. Dream eagerly, with geometric abandon, dare to advance claims an imminent ultimate climax. A Beyond Belief panellist recently expressed the psychotic diagnosis she would make of Jesus goo.gl/tY6Rsw, just as the Leftovers also explores mental health explications for being-towards-end-times. How do you read the signs? Figging daffs in December, the end is near.
Mk13v29-30 The beginning of the end which is always a new beginning is already happening, it was happening then & it is happening now. In the midst of death we are in life. For you died with Christ & with Christ you are raised Rm6v8 Col2v20 Col3v3 again & again & again. Jn11v25 Christ is the resurrection & the life, though we die, so shall we live, in thought, word & deed, as well as body. Resurrection, Resurrection: here & now, in my generation.
Mk13v31-32 Words, words for when the world has lost its glory, words that could move mountains, we too are outlived by memes we made. And so perhaps this verse is for me today, day two in my adventure seeking subsistence from the toil of wordsmithery. But Jesus is the virtuoso, peerlessly deft in puns and poetics (Gnats, camels, lilies and pearls.. goo.gl/vntL4v) polemics (John's baptism of heaven or man? he without sin cast the first stone..) and remixing traditions and coining neologisms ('Daily' Bread). Jesus verbal prowess pours forth from his own innate wordness, all former words anticipate him Jn5v39, and he himself is a word, the word Jn1v1, a greek alphabet soup Rv1v8, he's a typographic punch in the face, a jot and tittle muscle and bone transcendental signifier. Out of a semiotic quarry, we fashion the building blocks of grammatical constructions, but he is the cornerstone and the bedrock, the source code and the punch line. Every truth ever scribed is but footnotes of Jesus.
Mk13v33-34 Keep awake. If you're going to lie awake all night, at least do it for the right reasons, praying ceaselessly, be on your guard for the beloved coming home. Don't lie awake in distraction boredom anxiety obsession. Pay attention instead to the sharp edges of things, & rejoice.
Mk13v35-36 goo.gl/dy1unE Wake up. We who would float down the Liffey in a dulled torpor of mental absenteeism. Wake up. Out of that stasis, as Hans Solo in carbonite, we who are frozen in fear, in debt, in slavery. Wake up. Away from your devices, resist regression to the womb of television's totalising anaesthetic [see Seller's Being There, Carrey's Cable Guy, Carpenter's They Live, Fincher's Fight Club - prophetic alarms for those raised by television to sleepwalk] Wake up. I tend more often to think of sin-as-cancer, or sin-as-calculated-commission, and less often to consider sin-as-coma ~ that neglecting to be sensate, omitting to do anything at all. Oh, light in our eyes, awake my soul. Wake up, it is a beautiful morning.
Don't think, look!
Don't believe me, just watch
Come & see
Taste & see
God of the Real,
Who waits to be gracious,
Re-conscrate our attention,
Teach us to watch, wait and witness, and to name that experience,
that we may find you at the heart of it, knocking,
And that we might invite you in to eat with us.
Through Christ our Lord.