Thursday, 7 December 2017

200words: Bloomberg

Oo err, Bloomberg.

Bloomberg's bloatware is a prune purge, bland bling in a cartoon turd. Feathering his nest like a plumed bird, frilly milled gills on a schooned gird. Spooned curd in millennial pink: puce curves, in a Boolean merge of obtuse NURBs. Foster's teardrop loam legs astride a grater grid in a tuned third: astute work by a groomed nerd. Or a smooth perv, a colluder, dresses her in a reeded glass see-through skirt. Oo err, Bloomberg. Skin tone stone of a nude blurred in pixel mottled censor. And, Walbrook crotchless portals ooze venerial, unshorn, gruesome. Down in the crypt of this new church to the Cult of Mithras' lucre. The new turn is an aviatored super trouper, all seventies twinkly couture. Whilst bristling bronze portcullising keeps out the acute hurt of a cruel world.

Ooo err, Bloomberg.

web

Friday, 24 November 2017

texting luke eight

Luke Eight: Her. 07729056452 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lk8v13-14 
๐ŸŒ‹๐ŸŒŠ Seedlings I've known fell away when life got too hard.
๐Ÿž๐ŸŽช Seedlings I've known choked on a life too full of ease.
But what about me?
~ Can I choose the soil of my soul into which the word of God roots? In the Venn diagram of life choices it must not be that I would navigate a not-too-hot not-too-cold intersection of moderation, as if culturing yeast in a luke-warm agar tray, abstracted ideal laboratory conditions. Life's experiences come at me unbidden, searingly hot, blisteringly cold. The Christian faces a Venn union of lived experiences within a world replete with rocks and thorns, trials and comforts. A neutralised, disemotional universe that is escapist in times of trial and austere in the midst of plenty: the highly selective engagement with an emotional universe as a simulation of good soil is not Christian.
~ Can I affect the soil of my soul into which the word of God roots? The seed falls to me as a heart rock-hardened by bitter grief - can I break up this rock and irrigate this arid patch? The seed falls to me as a heart overgrown by addictive entanglements - can I strim this verge and douse with spiritual herbicide? Maybe. It cannot be that the seed is God's word and the soil is immutable context and the meeting of these two contains no question of my responsibility. So how?
~ Can I alter the soil for others who have fallen amongst thorns or stones? The Robin Hood ninja gardener, labouring to change the circumstances of the world: as christians working towards the alleviation of poverty and the mitigation of extreme wealth. This is back-to-front, putting the gini-coefficient cart in front of the Kingdom horse.
~ Can I advise others whose seed has fallen to them as amongst thorns or stones? Can I offer to introduce new top soil? Can I brush the seeds into the field proper? Can I, should I, labour to change their disposition to circumstance, their attitude to poverty or wealth? How?

Lk8v15
hold it fast
don't take it fast
self ordered last 
grows fruit to last
tied to this mast
the harvest vast
a fractal blast
from a humble past

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

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

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

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

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

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

...

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Monday, 23 October 2017

texting luke seven

Head over heals? Well healed? In my head, I get overwhelmed # the strange problem of goodness. A problem shared. 07729056452

Lk7v1-2 Heidegger is quite wrong that in being alongside the death of another I am 'just there too'. Being-towards-the-death-of-others shapes our own horizon in revealing our needs, dependency, fear and love. Prayers for those I know grieving this morning, for those with news of serious sickness in those they love, and for us all, to receive the seriousness of the mortality of those we love, & to take those fears and longings to Jesus.

Lk7v3-4 Who was this centurion?
~ An agent of empire? A noble savage? A killing machine, bristly-in-muscle and sleek-of-face? An authority on authority, he is listed on the leadership chart of a brutal regime - a centurion who commands the loyalty of a hundred men, to instill the Pax Romana in a volatile corner of an unstable country?
~ A member of the served classes with servants, the well-to-do waited-on, the middle-management middle-classes? A sensitive diplomat? A controversial compromiser? A synagogue-building appeaser? A faux philanthropist, the soft-touch, good-cop, bread-and-circuses, corporate-social-responsibility, agent of empire by stealth? Or a genuinely good man, a person of peace?
~ A homosexual? A pederast? (If we allow the Gk ฯ€ฮฑแฟ–ฯ‚ pais to carry the meaning that such as Jeffrey John convincingly, if controversially, want it to have, it is intellectually lazy to then be so quickly selective about what we infer Jesus would affirm). Is this centurion best read as a sensitive sentimental man trapped in the role of a soldier? A jealous-lover, a shame-carrying, frightened and far-flung victim of abuse himself?
~ ~ This miracle is as bizarre a proof-text for sexualities, as it would be for military-empires or for forms of slavery. Not simply because these details are incidental, but because these details precisely illustrate this passage's emphasis as the contrast between the Jewish elders notion of "worthy" (v4) and the only effective faith which is the recognition of "not-worthy" (v7)
~ ~ The centurion's beloved servant is not healed as an affirmation of anything the Jewish elders consider as qualifying as worthy, but quite the opposite. Jesus will hear the prayer of a imperially-violent, class-privileged, faux-philanthropic, sexually-broken Phil, if I can only recognise my unworthiness.

Lk7v5-6 Initially reading this, it sounds like the Roman officer is being problematically self-deprecating. I want the story to end with Jesus going to the house to demonstrate that he not only wills the healing of the servant but also declares the officer beloved and worthy. But Jesus doesn't go to the house. I want him to, otherwise it feels to me that Jesus is affirming the officer's statement that he shouldn't. Reading it a second time, however, I realise that this has more to do with how I use and receive statements such as these - I self-deprecate as power play, and try to meet other people's self-deprecation as people-pleasing. I see that the officer had a kind of maturity, confident enough in both Jesus and himself to not need Jesus to do the basics with him. How I long for that spiritual muscle memory - not that takes itself to be independent of Jesus, but the very opposite - so trained in walking the way of Jesus that there's no need for Jesus to keep walking me through the same steps again and again,  as though for the first time. For spiritual muscle memory, this I pray.

Lk7v7-8 Power and Authority. Dirty words to we freelance free-range libertarians, to we adolescent agitating anarchists, chaffing at the bit, raging against the machine, untethered from any shackles of responsibility or deference. Power and Authority - it takes one to know one.  In Authority <-> Under Authority : I cannot have one without the other, it would seem. I cannot understand the being-in-authority without appreciating being-under-authority.
- *Jesus has all authority* in heaven and earth Mt28v18
- *Jesus gives us authority* eg. over snakes Lk10v19
- *That we might contend with authorities* Eph6v12
and we must.

Lk7v9-10 Surprised by faith. Jesus responds. So often I feel like the Jesus of the gospels is locked in a glass box in my mind, separated from the cosmic Christ of the rest of the NT. I know the historical Jesus responded to people, but those were other people, limited by time & space. I know that the Christ is the way and the content of my salvation, but this quickly becomes something like an impersonal force field. After all these years of reading the New Testament I am praying for new and fresh understanding of the living connections that run between its two halves.

Lk7v11-12 "a great crowd with him ... a considerable crowd with her" ~ Two tribes ala Beat It ala West Side Story, two masses, two bodies corporate, both a humming teaming with emotion.
~ The one a funeral procession on their way to sepulchral caves beyond Nain, a Lacrimosa march. See she nameless that heads the dark column ~ eyes like sluices scarcely stem a crystal tide, sighs an infinite stormy day, harried by grief bent double to the loss of husband and now of son.
~ The other a parade, twelve feet tall and staggering, tied with bright red ribbons tinsel spangled raucous rambunctious.
~ She treads the path that she will untread again.

Lk7v13-14 Crying. What is crying like for you? Some of us cry easily and some of us don't, some can cry publicly and some of us don't know how, sometimes tears are a clear linear response to difficulty,  while sometimes tears come out later, after the fact, over some small thing that represents the bigger thing, sometimes we cry over the same thing repeatedly, sometimes we don't know why we cry other than an unnameable quiet desperation, sometimes we cry, like this woman, because life has been brutal and we have no idea how to bear our grief. The gospels record many people crying: Mt2v18, Lk7v38, Lk8v52, Jn11v33, Lk23v27. Jesus' responds each time, with compassion, truth, words and demonstration. In all cases, he works towards resurrection, though in some of these cases resurrection happens quickly, & in other cases not. The substantiality of resurrection is nevertheless central to all of Jesus' response to our tears, & our subterranean grief. When Jesus meets Mary crying in the garden post-resurrection Jn21v11 his words to her are different to those in the interactions above - he asks her why she is crying, offering not just comfort but reasons for the unmaking of her grief - that is, the resurrection of Jesus is the hope for all time that no grief has the final word: Rev21v4 is not a one-dimensional utopias but a ten-dimensional reality built on the foundations of resurrection.

Lk7v15-16 "Jesus gave him to him mother." You are given new life. Then, you are given. Resurrection is a gift, in-itself, for-itself, for-others. You are a gift given, symbol and substance, container and content, you, wrapped up in ribbons, are perpetually for someone. You are gifted. To whom? //  v16 Life, new life, which is within you, which in conquering death, is a fearsome force, a prophetic utterance, an affecting interference, restlessly benign, ecstatically in motion. Give your life to others. Give yourself away.

Lk7v17-18 Reports. Rumours. Stories. Sights. Each report contains the Eph3v8 'unsearchable riches' of Christ. Let us not cease to wonder at the treasure we bear.

Lk7v19-20 And so we are back at Lk7's John the Baptist. Today I'm struck again with a force by the couplet: the question by John in v19 is then repeated verbatim by John's disciples in v20. This parroting is a legitimate, effective, and urgent mode of discipleship for these under-directed times. Imitation is inevitable, therefore seek to be intentional in what _can_ be imitated from your life. Teaching your tutees to parrot is pathological only if they parrot pat answers. But *parroting questions*, opens up universes. What questions would you like the world to ask more? "Is Jesus the One? Is Jesus the One?" What other questions do you ask others to ask?

Lk7v21-22 It's ok if you don't like the word evangelism, & all the churchy forms of it you've been taught make you squirm. Just behold what Jesus is doing. And then just speak the truth.

Lk7v23-24 "..and blessed is the one who is not offended by me.."
*"blessed"* happy, lucky, better-off by..  vs.  *"offended"*, scandalised, embarrassed by..
~ Who finds Jesus offensive? My mind goes immediately to those who, today would find Christianity to involve a morality too conservative, a sacrifice too great, a philosophy too rigorous, too high a bar, too long a wait, too great a price, too vulnerable, too foolish ~ because they are Gentiles.
~ The statement here, however, is addressed to John and John's disciples. Very Jewish Jews scandalised as 1Cor1v23 at the stumbling block of Christ's liberty. The prodigal son's older brother, offended by too permissive a Jesus, too gracious a religion, too forgiving a judge..
~ To the extent that I am so scandalised by Jesus I forego blessing. More devoted to my own good works, my fragile ego cannot bear the idea that my energetic religious labour counts for nothing. I remain convinced that I have to earn something. I must be allowed to repay my debt. Outrageous and chaotic a universe that would be unleashed if everything was just forgiven. Och, I am so easily offended by Jesus, to quick judge, so slow to wonder, so averse to trusting in the capacity of his grace. And so I forego blessing.

Lk7v25-26 What did you go out to see? Jesus asks this as a kind of rhetorical question, leading straight to an answer. Rhetorical insofar as Jesus seems to want to convince his addressees that the most noble parts of themselves, are more real than the base parts. Initially the question as to whether we're searching for someone in 'fine clothing' might seem like a dig at our worst selves, dabbling 'in the shallows' of the fashions of instagram. But Jesus affirms that this isn't what we're looking for. We're looking for the prophetic, & for that which prophesy for beyond and for. That this isn't obvious is part of our fallenness, but our imago dei is still a more true truth about us, and the seat of our hunger for redemption. We tell ourselves we'd rather watch youtube than read poetry, but it's not in fact true. We tell ourselves that we more naturally crave entertainment than the gospel, & we have to work hard to desire the latter,  but this gets something wrong. We are hungry for the glory at the centre of the universe, let us not speak over ourselves and others that this is alien to us.

Lk7v27-28 *Later than:* Chronological mission: The world needs to know. But first. The world needs to know _that they need to know._ How will they know?
~ Christian harbingers, who are conscious of being within an unfolding, and humble to be invisible preliminaries, content to scaffold staggered stages of the Kingdom main event. Christ is always coming, always into Christ-shaped holes, holes given a delineated articulation by John the Baptists.
~ The world is a building missing it's capstone and cornerstone, if only we will draw it. The world is a story missing it's beginning and end, if only we will call it. The world a centrifuge without counterweight out of kilter chronically, if only we will spin it. The church is the world in miniature. We must be and speak a straightening, trust it, embody it, image it: proclaiming by doing by proclaiming the sufficiency of Christ for the Christ-shaped hole in all things.
~ *Greater than:* Hierarchies of greatness: Bigly, exponentially more than. >>> The later wine is better. The past is past, greater things are yet to come. There was no golden age but now. We carry the same truths forwards with resurgent force, on the wind of testimony, with the confidence of concrete history, but never nostaligic.
~ We embody the not-yet.
~ We proclaim a more-than.

Lk7v29-30 The tax collectors 'declared God just'. First, I note that I find this a funny turn of phrase in this context. The ESV notes the Greek is in fact 'they justified God', which, when contrasted with the alternative, namely 'they rejected the purpose of God for themselves', begins to look more like 'they recognised that God's purposes are justified' - that is, they were persuaded by reasons and reality outside themselves, and submitted to it. The people and the tax collectors recognised that the prophetic reality John declared was more true than their own wills, and they put themselves under it. Second, it is notable that the tax collectors here submit to God but the religious leaders do not. With yesterday's news about the Paradise Papers I would say that tax avoiders are comparable to the tax collectors of Jesus' day: seemingly using the leverage of power to play the system for financial gain, at the expense of 'ordinary folk'. As in Jesus day, it is easy to hold them in high contempt. We think them the furthest from submission to God. And yet here, the tax collectors were closer to recognising God's purposes than those in religious authority. Let all of us who hold some authority in ministry hold this fact in our hearts with fear and trembling: let us pray for the 'tax collectors' of our day, that they may 'declare God just', and let us pray for ourselves and our churches, that we would constantly scrutinise where we 'reject the purposes of God' through ignorance, weakness and our own deliberate fault. Come Holy Spirit.

Lk7v31-32 "We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not weep." ๐Ÿšซ๐Ÿคก๐Ÿšซ๐Ÿ˜ข *Pharisaism is a numbing.* Definitionally. A bulletproof superego, overburdened with cerebral fortifications and self-made mendacity. Such cannot dance, and cannot cry.
๐Ÿค– Like a tinman tank engine, with stiff upper lip rusted into a wry grimace.  ๐Ÿ‘จ‍⚖ Stoic, legal and conservative, conserving all energy, risking no emotion, preserving the rigid justice and perfect peace of stasis.   ๐Ÿ™Š Can't dance and won't dance. How do we get this way?   ๐Ÿ˜ถ How is it the limber lisson Peej comes again to be creaky curt and counterballetic?    ๐Ÿ’Š How is it that again I retreat inside the makebelieve mood-stabilisation of glazed-over dull unadventure: aping faith as a language game and mere remembrance, simulating grace by synthetic forgiveness for respectable sins?   ๐Ÿ™‰ Against my better judgement, despite everything I've been through, forgetting all utterly, I am again a Pharisee, a weary robot couched in a coward's castle of verbiage, dancing nothing, mourning nothing. Why?   ๐Ÿฐ Numb Pharisaism is a safe place to save my pride, a mask of silent aggressive competencies, inert invulnerable inaction, closed from eye contact, deflective of probing questions, busy.   ๐Ÿ™ˆ Busy, busy. *No one must see me presume to dance, no one must see me concede to cry.* No one must see me fail to be the impregnable Pharisee I pretend to be.

Lk7v33-34 Fasting and feasting. I'm interested in how v37, the assertion that Wisdom is justified by all her children, read through Jesus' claims about the kingdom of God is like and isn't like, illuminates the nature of wisdom. I am thinking about wisdom as I prep Eph5 at the moment, & this nugget speaks the same message. Wisdom is attunement to the Real, which feasting and fasting both do, but grazing, comfort eating and fad dieting do not. The latter enclose, entitle, muffle, cover over, and they do not align with the needs of the body or the soul, they are out of place, as per Jesus' previous criticism re dancing and mourning. Prayers for the week, prayers for the season: let's tune up, let's tune in.

Lk7v35-36 "Yet wisdom is justified by all her children.” ๐Ÿ‘ผ๐Ÿป๐Ÿ‘ผ๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ‘ผ๐Ÿฝ๐Ÿ‘ผ๐Ÿพ๐Ÿ‘ผ๐Ÿฟ
"Wisdom['s] .. Children" ๐Ÿคฐ Ponder wisdom's fecundity. Ponder fecundity's wisdom. Multiply.
๐ŸŒฑ *~ What is wisdom?* Not surely mere dusty truistic platitudes. Wisdom is the very structural glue of truth itself, integrity's lively task force, the substance of sustainability, the blossom, leaf and root of flourishing. Wisdom, as the character of God, is the active personal weighty essence of holistic-being personified, an agile agent of the good, the true and the beautiful, and she is pregnant. Wisdom is the great grandmother of the church, the cosmic adoptress for every lost fool adrift, she calls us to herself, she raises us in the way we should go.. See, for example, Rm8v18-25 wisdom's children display and defend the fruit of wisdom in the care of creation. Multiply.
๐Ÿคบ *~ What isn't wisdom?* See, Jesus parries with Pharisees, always, with rapier wit tickling the armour of religione, if his "wisdom" is read instead sardonically as "so-called wisdom", as pejorative invective against the counter-wisdom of Pharisaism. Thus with equal force we can say, "unwisdom is justified by all her children.." As in Mt23v15, those religiouse who cry-not and dance-not, they are twice the sons of hell. Twice perhaps because of the entrenching mechanisms of genetic disease, recessive alleles exponentially visiting the sins of the forefathers with redoubled cruelty and dogmatism onto subsequent generations. Multiply.
⚖ "..justified.." Ponder the reciprocal double entendre:
~ wisdom being justified *by* her children *actively advocating* a case *for* her justification
~ wisdom being justified *through* her children *passively exemplifying* a case *of* her justification.
So we are living justifications speaking justifications for the wisdom or unwisdom we make ourselves the children of. Multiply.
๐ŸŒ "..all.." Ponder "all" ~ for it is not all-each-individually, but all-only-in-sum. We children justify wisdom by our collective conduct, all together, all the time, in season and out of season, mourning and dancing with appropriate wisdom. Individualistic holiness is incoherent. Morality is relational. Wisdom's fruit is measured by the health of the whole of society, the multiple.
✖⚔ So, St Mark's evening services has Ephesians on my mind. Wisdom, in the character and event of Christ's sacrifice, makes the two one Eph2v14, every two, every division. Over and against the active forces that seek to disunite and divide the church against the church, gender against gender Eph5v22-33, generation against generation Eph6v1-4, colleagues against collaboration Eph6v5-9. Wisdom is justified by the diverse unity of all her children behaving, even eclectically, as a legible "all", according to the freedom given by a triune and all-wise God Col2v3 Rm16v27, who unites all things under him Eph1v10. So, wise ones, rather than dividing. Multiply.

Lk7v37-38 Thinking this morning about sinfulness and preciousness. Sin is complex, sin is many things: responses of fear, indifference and so on, but it usually involves some kind of disordered desire.  Sometimes Jesus calls us to go looking into those desires, to work out what's precious in them, and to pour them out at his feet, like perfume from an alabaster jar. We are bundles of energy, & where we just shut down thoughts & desires, they're just pushed further down into the deeps. Rather, the more laborious task of sifting through sin, looking at what these thoughts & desires tell us about ourselves, including what is precious - & then bringing it all to Jesus. Bring your energy to Jesus, every bit of it - bring every thought, every desire, everything that populates your imagination, bring your seeking, every eros yearning, every connection, all that your heart seems to treasure - for better or worse, bring all that causes you to wonder. Bring all your energy and pour it at Jesus' feet, re-direct it, don't repress it, let it be first transfigured into worship of Him, and then, let Him re-order your energies, using all that is in fact precious and beautiful in them to transfigure reality for good, not for ill. Perhaps all repentance needs this kind of extravagant worship, a true 'turning around', not only as thankfulness for God's grace, but as the very rechannelling of energy that repentance is by definition.

Lk7v39-40 _"If he were a prophet.."_ Things get iffy for this pharisee. Like Mk9v22-23. "If you can..!" As if! F'ing effetes 'if'ing the ineffable. Jesus' prophetic power is not if, but when. ~ v40. O rly. Have I got something to say to you?! ..  Send for me bruv. Mention my name in your tweets, oi rude boy.
_"..what sort of woman.."_ Jesus touches the untouchables conspicuously, putting himself in the way of society's disapproval, in plain view provocatively. *How can I do this today?*
Contemporary society treasures a self-identity as a tolerant, diverse, secular, cosmopolitan age, post-apartheid, equal-opportunities. sans-frontiers.. The modern person holds no taboos, no dogmas, no unscientific cleanliness codes. Do we not..?  And yet we have rarely been more siloed than in this exponentially divided new gilded age of gated access developments and social media bubbles, demographically stratified by age, education and wealth, brittle to shame by association. There is an underclass which is icky, not the noble rustique of idealised artisanal poverty, not the low hanging fruit of the Victorian philanthropist's 'deserving-poor', but _American Honey_'s icky scourge and unsolvable mass kept in invisible quarantine, lest they sully our illusion of progress.
_"..touching him.."_ Hugging hoodies / grabbing pussies: Touch is contentious, politicised, confusing, precious, dangerous. All while we disembody in so much of life, we remain bodies, touching and touchable.
I want to move from Nothing-Touches-Me mode of embodiment, to being better-in-touch, to being, as Jesus, proactively provocative of society's disapproval, available to the invisible classes, carousing with the infectiously poor, associated with sinners, skin to skin.

Lk7v41-42 So yes, Sarah finds this statement of Jesus difficult to interpret. At one level it seems to be a descriptive claim about what is going on in this particular situation - the woman has a greater grasp of God's loving forgiveness, & thus a greater grasp of God's Being, than the pharisee, leading to greater worship. But the monetary metaphor rubs because neither love nor forgiveness follow the logics of the financial system. One response is just to say that Jesus is using this metaphor casually, all metaphors have their limits, we should just focus on where a comparative analysis of 'debt paid' as a metaphor for grace is helpful, and consciously navigate the problematic disanalogies. I wonder if there's also a critique in Jesus words about our tendency to think of sin as though it were debt. It is precisely because Simon thinks he has little to be forgiven that he fails to worship as he could and should. Surely Jesus isn't agreeing that he has in fact been forgiven 'less' than the woman. Forgiveness doesn't divide like money. They have both been forgiven the whole. They have both been forgiven totally. They have both been given, not 50 or 500, but infinity. Our failure to worship happens when we position ourselves on a scale of 'a bit bad, but not that bad', & so see our forgiveness is small. It isn't small, my friends - we must all go through total renewal, it's just that some of us are better at pretending we don't need to.

Lk7v43-44 ๐Ÿ’ณ๐Ÿ“‰ In this world there are two types of people?: Negative-equity-holders and Embezzlers // Those-who-know-their-own-debt and Those-who-think-they-know-their-own-debt // Sinners and the Religiouse. // The Untitled and Entitled // The Messees and the Messers // Barren-robbers and Robber-barons
~ All have sinned. // All have fallen short. // All are walking dead. // Surely guilt and shame shall follow us all?
In this world there is one type of person?: Profligate offspring haemorrhaging cash // Bankrupt debtors in over our heads // Exponential liabilities infinitely in the red
Fifty denarii, Five hundred denarii, it's a trick question, the value is relative to your perspective on infinity.
~ Christianity knows no refinancing, offers no debt-restructuring.
~ Christianity is FightClub's or MrRobot's debt erasure, all gone.
~ Christianity is the levelling binary of all debts all cancelled.
~ And so, Christianity brooks no hypocrisy, no shades of enoughness, no partiality, no comparators.
๐ŸŽต๐ŸŽ‰Exuberant worship is former-debt-acknowledged, exuberant in proportion to the honesty of your own self-examination.

Lk7v45-46 Oil & kisses speak in ways words can't. Let us worship extra-verbally, let all things declare His glory.

Lk7v47-48 Your Sins Are Forgiven.
๐Ÿ‘€ 1. FOR "for she loved.." The "for" here is not causal in the forgiveness, but corroborating in the observation. Is yours? Is mine? Have I an evidential faith? What proof is in my pudding? What displays outwardly the inner work of my forgiven-ness? Who knows? Who cares? Who sees?
๐Ÿ‘‡2. YOUR v47 " *her* sins are forgiven.." v48 " *your* sins are forgiven" Jesus' forgiveness: declared, explicitly, in a second-person address. You. Thou. Eye-to-Eying you. Ich und Duing to. Full frontal forgiveness. Beyond a theology of atonement in the broad third person applied to the abstract sinner, have *you* heard *Jesus forgives you*?
๐Ÿ—ฃ 3. SINS ARE FORGIVEN Does forgiveness need to be said explicitly? A very recent question between the PJs, (the world's wordiest couple?)  // 3a. Whereas an *apology* has a necessary verbalisation, it must be said: the articulation of mea culpa, with precision, cannot be inferred from contrite action only. I must say sorry for this (and not that), this which was my reasonable responsibility to you whom I have offended / aggrieved / wounded / disadvantaged in this measurable and acknowledged way. Without speaking an apology we risk mere emoji-face vague remorse, worldly sorrow, imprecise and lingering shame (and often, by way of over-compensation, or by way of obfustication of the more difficult specifics of an apology, we settle for the disposition of over-apology, perhaps a very British foible?) So,
~ *Say sorry.* I am sorry for x. It is reparative to the other. Repentance makes the healing of a relationship possible.
~ *Confess your sins.* Jm5v16. Confess generally. AA Step 4. Make a fearless moral inventory of yourself. It is reparative to yourself. There is a therapeutic benefit in repentance.
3b. But then. Does *forgiveness* need to be said explicitly? Forgiveness is an active comportment, a forgetting combined with a proactive rebuilding, but must it be worded? This morning I am convinced so. Forebear and forgive Col3v13. Be kind and forgive Eph4v32. Let it go and let it me known that it is let go. Beyond broad kindness and generic forebearance, the speaking of forgiveness is important. Words are vital because the truly Christian life demands explication. Words are vital because the war we are engaged in is one of truth against lies, unravelling untruths and unwriting the lies which keep people hostage. Satan sows doubt into silences, exploits ambiguity, cultivates lies wherever nothing is said to counteract them, culminating in the exquisitely destructive logical conclusion: "He/She hasn't forgiven you because you are unforgiveable..". Never assume forgiveness has been assumed.
*Preach the gospel.* Use words, because you have to.
*Repent.* Use words, because you have to.
*Confess your sins to one another.* Use words, because you have to.
*Forgive one another.* Use words, because you have to.
*Speak God's forgiveness over one another.* Use words, because you have to.
I forgive you. As God forgives you. Because God forgives you and me.

Lk7v49-50 Jesus forgives. This thought struck me with a new peculiarity over the last few days, and leaves me with more questions than answers. Of course the main take home point here is that Jesus is God, but is there anything more specific? I can identify in myself different ways of understanding salvation through the cross. One pitches the Father as the forgiver of sins, and Jesus as sinply the means to this. This model alone runs the risk of making Jesus a mere means. On the other hand I often think of the Pauline articulation of particpating in the death and resurrection of Jesus himself, through my union with Him. This allows Jesus to be the substance of my salvation as well as the means, but this model used alone perhaps runs the risk of knocking the idea of forgiveness out of the picture. Our theology of the cross must be multidimensional,  & so both of the models above can be helpful when triangulated by each other, & by other biblical pictures. This morning I'm specifically asking what should I understand by the fact that Jesus himself is a forgiver of sins? Jesus is a forgiver of my sins. Does this bring together participation in Christ with a substantial appreciation of forgiveness? Is this a gateway to understanding the connection between the historical Jesus and the cosmic Christ? Unsure. Thoughts welcome.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

200words: Sackler Courtyard at V&A

A white wash that wasn't, more a blue rinse mottled in sum, grimey on the whole, London's no clime for a pastel piazza darlin'. The jazzy pinstriped porcelain patchwork of semaphore nautical flags would shimmer in Nice, but here, Blightily bedrabbed, the effect is all dusty soil scuffed self-pity. This bathroom refurb on a urban scale is the more gauche for it's boorish cafe lurching insoberly into the square, a shapelessly jagged axial jaunt, which instagram forgives, but, closer-to the junction details despise their inconvenient materiality. The adolescent squiggle of a lightwell, lurks murky, basking sharky and euphemistic. Downstairs acrobatically accomplished manouvres swoop and bevel in a tight latex of treacle black-lacquered lustre, beneath a ceiling rendered in an embarrassment of angles, sheared and gorged with murmurs of disquiet and..

"'ello Sir, I'm Angela [anxious.], and this is my colleague Lee [oleaginous]. He noticed you hanging around inside earlier, would you like to tell us what you're doing. [flashes badge]
"A spluttering architect, honest gov. Loves a white tile me?" 

No, my cordial exchange with the zero-hours class of London's privatisation enforcement was entirely without wit and was received utterly without humour. With a wimper, I went, out through the inch-thick milled metal barricade.

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200words: Plywood at V&A

Walking round the plywood exhibition asking, “Why is ply hip?” Wherein and wherefore the wiring of the zeitgeist that has bubbled forth this vogue for succulents in terrariums perched on coffee bars made with ply?

Made.com sponsor the show, wedded as they are to crystalising the myth of ply. The mythology of simpler times, elemental materials shaped by chipper chippies in the first industrial revolution, for dreamy surfboarders riding a wave of mid-century optimism. Things were good back then. Oh to be Post-war perennially, swinging home with the swagger of the sixities, all tongue and groovy with military derivatives into domestic contexts, a sailor home on leave. I'll make you a chair to remember me by, bent gymastically, a mandala warp, a mobius loop..

Ply, a synthetic and compound material, ever an allegory for modernity's pliable masses,  the chips and splinters of empire pressed into a mould.

Ply, a precarious material, ever an allegory for modernity's fragile self. Halfway between cardboard and CLT, ever a prototype for something else. It's fairface scratched by a careless mover, and in tearing the veneer, one shatters the whole.

Ply, a weaponised material, then, as now, the robots take over and nature is bent to concentrate wealth and slicken our future.

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Tuesday, 19 September 2017

texting luke six

Calling time. 07729056452

Lk6v1-2 Many questions follow from this irreligious grazing incident. What is the rest of rest? What do you do when you stop stopping? What doing is permissible, what doing is profitable, and what doing is actually rest? I regret to say that I have no great new thoughts about Sabbath.

Lk6v3-4 Chats about this via Moses & Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration. There are specific laws and specific prophecies - there have been and there still are and there will be to come, but there some deeper structural form to the Law and the Prophetic which is timeless, universal, part of the fabric of Godself. Here I don't think that Jesus discounts Law, but demonstrates that specific laws manifest a bigger Law, that is, the shimmering, dazzling Order of Things that is the God-structure of Reality.

Lk6v5-6 "On another Sabbath." Week in, week out. I love the way Luke draws out the labour of Pharisaism. Into v7 "watched him" eyes asquint and bloodshot, the watcher a'waiting, the sun comes up on their stake-out shifts, gonna getcha getcha getcha, that Geezus, up to no good, frackin' varmit.. The law is infinite, and policing it is a superhuman task. We don't keep the Sabbath, so much as the Sabbath keeps us. By Grace.

Lk6v7-8 Jesus knew their thoughts. Knows my thoughts. Meditating on this a little I realise that while I believe that God knows my thoughts I've internalised a sense that God must relate to human thoughts a bit like I relate to the internet. If God has access to everyone's thoughts then God must not care about any of them too strongly, apart from the really extreme ones maybe. My thoughts must blend into the dull roar of the ocean of all the thoughts in the world, a boring and exhausting wave of information for our deity, in which I probably don't expose myself too much by comparison, and I can probably slip by unnoticed or am quickly forgotten by something else making the headlines in an heavenly infinite scroll. As such this is how I relate to my own thoughts, taking neither sin nor inspiration very seriously for very long, easily compartmentalising thought and behaviour. Jesus here reminds us that the divine knows our thoughts at infinite depth as well as infinite breadth. God holds each thought as weighty, God is prepared to speak into every thought. Pay attention, oh my soul.

Lk6v9-10 Sabbath is a true truth, a maxim that pervades the universe, an objective eurhythmia beating a drum through eternity. One in seven, one in seven, one in seven. If you do not take rest, rest will take you, it will catch up with you, and time takes no hostages. Just as also, the Year of Jubilee is a latent imperative, a self-fulfilling force, not so much an advisory principle to note, as an active force in the universe to be ware of: the debt-based society will collapse in periodic financial crises unless we recognise the Year of Jubilee. Time itself is setup that way, rigidly karmic ~ the hands of the clock are against us, reaching to grip a creature by the throat, time polices it's own law and is a stickler for justice, order and timeliness. Time is jealous for her Sabbaths. But.
But Jesus is the Time Lord, he can pause time, stretch time and turn it back ~ reverse entropy is a turntable in rewind in many senses. The rules which he wrote are his to bend and break. Jesus makes time for you, he can hold the sun in the sky for you, he can remix and syncopate rest into your rhythm, his heart is to skip a beat for you, a semibreve ahhh. Be chill and know that I am Lord, of the Sabbath.

Lk6v11-12 The night. As summer dies and nights draw in, let's see the invitation to pray at night. Night time tends to be the time of exhaustion, the let's-not-have-difficult-conversations-after-10pm night time. But let us pray in the dark. Jesus' actions reflect today's psalm (playing catch up): Ps42v8 'By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me - a prayer to the God of my life.'

Lk6v13-14 "Jesus chose..":-
"..and all night he continued in prayer.." Jesus had to pray all night, wanted to pray all night, decided to pray all night by way of demonstration, and Luke feels led to make this emphasis, that this _is_ leadership? Pray long, pray hard, pray late? RelationalThinking refreshed the notion that the currency of relationship is time. And time is depthed by it's exclusive investment - prayer such as this is time spent alone together, and nights are reservoirs of undistracted unalloyed time, mainlining relationality with the Father, only out of such prayer time all effective action proceeds, all wisdom is gained, all power is supplied ~ all depth dimensions of ministry are plumbed.
"chose .. twelve" What is happening in the formation of this group? A crack team. A small group. A motley crew. Shortlisting, and whittling down to Gideon's arbitrary elite division Jg7? What paradigms of group-size do you carry? I'm interested in certain thresholds of critical mass in community size. Our household is quite different when it is 6, different again when 8, different again when 12.. Why 12, what is the twelveyness of it? Whom are you 12 with? Who are you when yous are 12?
"chose .. twelve" In making this selection, the disciples are formed as the first church? So we, under Christ should be and do likewise, united under him, patterned as an elect hierarchy of equals, gathered, divisibly, organically, fractally, self-identifying as teams with a subsidiarity of delegated ministry. We are chosen into his church as a team for a task. At great cost, at great length, Jesus has prayed for you in the role he has brought you to, to the people he would have you serve.
"chose .. twelve" In making this selection, Jesus is the first church leader? With finite time, we make choices. We are agents with agency. We choose. Towards a finite cause, within a finite geography, with invest selectively, choosing this and not-this, them and not-them, now and not-then. We choose. A sleepless night is not enough for the sprawling contingencies which follow from such selections, subtle, divisive, them-and-us's. God, please meet me in prayer, in the choices I must make, in the people I am with, in the task that we are called to.

Lk6v15-16 The subgroups within subgroups of Jesus' disciples which make up a healthy relational stucture for life and church is often mentioned, & I spend quite a lot of time thinking about how subgroups can interact with each other in different ways. So too here, the 'we' of the inner circle of 12 gets to interface with as well as alongside with the wider circle of disciples. I've never really appreciated however this picture of Jesus picking the 12 in the context of the others - it could read like a kind of american high-school basketball film - a cruel act where the cool kids get chosen and those who don't make the cut are publicly exposed as not-good-enough. This however perhaps betrays more about the human need to be in the inner circle, in C.S. lewis' terms, than it does about our desire to know and love Jesus. There are contexts in which I'm on an inner circle and contexts I'm in an outer circle, and both provide opportunities and relationships to be pressed into. What are the contexts (family, work, church, etc) in which you are in the outer circle - in the 72 but not in the 12? How do you interface with and alongside the inner circle well - serving their particular needs, giving them space when needed, doing behind-the-scenes work that would slow them down - knowing that you're part of both a we-yous and a bigger we. Jesus carved out this space, let us celebrate it and press into it in the places we find ourselves in it.

Lk6v17-18 "Now I saw in my dream, that just as they had ended this talk they drew near to a very miry slough, that was *in the midst of the plain*; and they, being heedless, did both fall suddenly into the bog. *The name of the slough was Despond*. Here, therefore, they wallowed for a time, being grievously bedaubed with the dirt; and Christian, because of the burden that was on his back, began to sink in the mire." (Pilgrim's Progress)
"he came down with them and stood on a level plain.." There is something to be gained in pondering the up and down of stage directions in the gospels (as in Babel's Gn11v7 "Come let us go down..").
Matthew's sermon on a mount, Luke's a sermon on a plain, these both/and/either are a similar sermon spoken in two locations, a relative term for topology in Matthew vs Luke's estimation, or a plausible synthesis in a single event of a sermon spoken from a mound towards a plain. The effect however in invoking a plain, a wide expanse of vanilla geography (and mainly rainy for Henry Higgins), reinforces in my imagination the vexed tumult of the helpless mass. This congregation is not of the hill walking set, no rambler's association booted and begoretexed. Not even just-about-managing, these are left behind leftovers beneath the bottom rung, Jesus comes down to such as these, such as we, mired in the slough of despond.

Lk6v19-20 Blessed are the poor. Not 'the poor in spirit', here in Luke, which I feel more comfortable interpreting vaguely, but rather 'you who are poor', contrasted clearly with the woe to the rich in v24. My inclination here is to panic that we have too much money, feel guilty, try to give some away thoughtlessly to assuage the guilt, & then to forget about it completely. This is not the point. Let's take this slowly, let's not panic. I think that Jesus is highlighting a true spiritual principle in this two-sided blessing and woe, which is that where money and comfort fill our practical, emotional & spiritual space, such 'consolations' quash the spirit of God, they dull our spiritual senses. As per my thoughts on Rm13v13-14, & as per Paul's invitation to be very-alive in Christ in Eph4v17-24 & 5v14-21. If you have already received your consolation insofar far as you are rich and can subsist without hard work or hard prayer, normalise luxury, can distract yourself with 'treats'...these things are apt to dull the spirit, & it takes more work to wrestle them into submission before God. God, teach us how to live more simply, closer to the ground,  closer to the spirit. Not as a trendy 'simple living' movement, not to tell anyone about a 'lifestyle', but to be set free to be more alive to your spirit.

Lk6v21-22 ๐Ÿ’ฐ๐Ÿ’ฐ "hungry now" Rather have a dollar in my pocket than a million? Mo' money mo' problems is a true truth, a perpetual reality. But that is not to advocate crude "poverty theology" as an bludgeon antidote to the middle classes' essential-but-tacit "prosperity theology", or is it?
⬇⬇ Could we should we always go for downward mobility? How poor is poor enough? How hungry is hungry? You can always be more humble, you can always give more away, your meek modesty will ever be but pale shades of God's condescension in his ever becoming man, even less in his living homeless and dying a criminal. Go low go low fam.
The church (that is the church of me, to speak for me and my household) could go a long way down before it was accused of brinkmanship in this department, or of overegging the ascetic dimension of spirituality. Veins clogged with the banal detritus of bland entitlement, stodgy status quo status symbols, treacly tawdry normed wealth calibrated against tv's confected fantasy and the filtered flickering glitz of other people's newsfeeds.
"when people hate you" not if but when fam.
"Blessed" in being "hungry" and "weeping" ~ these are states of longing, a recognition of the present state and an openness to future promise, a conviction in the fulfilment of future promise.
๐Ÿ˜‚ "shall laugh" Faith is a hunger, faith is a weeping, and then faith will have the last laugh, the hilarity of the long comic arc of eternity's narrative, that bends towards poetic justice, that arrives at last at the God who laughs Ps2v4.

Lk6v23-24 Having thought about the law of the law & the prophets last week, this is an invitation to think about the prophets, overlapping with our conversation with E last night, & with Richard Rohr's morning provocations. RR says: 'Prophets, by their very nature, cannot be at the centre of any social structure. Rather, they are 'on the edge of the inside'. They cannot be fully insiders, but they cannot throw rocks from outside either.' So in thinking about being on the outer circle of a group a few days ago - this is a prime position for inhabiting the prophetic voice. And just as it is blessed to be poor or hungry insofar as this can make space to be alive to the pricks & promptings of the spirit, not numbed by food or comfort, so too, a good reputation & a comfortable network of friends is a easy substitute to dull the voice of God, unless we work hard to bring these things under God. This is not to fetishise hunger, poverty or social alienation,  but rather an invitation to look at the shape of our lives and where comfort and social ease cover over the pressing things of the spirit just below the surface.

Lk6v25-26 Sting in the tale of woe. Those who weep will laugh. Those who laugh will weep. What goes around comes around, and my eschatology is thrown into Confucian.. Do we _really_ believe what Jesus is saying? The full upside-downness of the good life, the counter-intuitive register of what is worth aiming for? Do I consider these principles without caveats, with a strength of conviction sufficient to make sacrifices by, with a strength of conviction sufficient to warn others by? Flee from wealth's trappings, be ware the tendrils of entitlement, the poppy field of mild-mannered privilege, the slippery slope of creature comfort. Those fallen parts of me are quick to debate for my exceptions rather than calibrating the principle of the matter, I'm quick to caricature ascetics, to bogeyman iconoclasts, to paint as irrational and unsustainable those who advocate abstemious Christianity. Whilst I wallow in the illgotten fullness of petrol-fed beef and slave-sewn brogues. Mine own comeuppance is coming. But more than that, wealth is its own comeuppance. I am robbing myself of adventure in the now, the good life in the now, the buzz of the downhill slalom of faith, the nimbly unburdened and balletically uncluttered life.

Lk6v27-28 Bless those who curse you. There is a holy non-reactiveness which is a real fruit of union with Christ. I have in the past been suspicious of such an idea, as it sounds like a form of Buddhist detachment that I've tended to think is counter to the Christian life, arguing that the latter is one of greater attachment not detachment, deeper desires not serene calm. And there is something quite true about this, the holy life is not one of an absence of desire or emotion. But I have come to see that it's quite true that Jesus teaches us to be non-reactive in the way that we're so apt to. There's a chasm of difference between staying inside cycles of response and responded-to that follow the emotional patterns subconsciously laid down by childhood emphases and lacks. Jesus wants to put my reactive spirit to death, to resurrect a spirit of grace & nonviolence - a spirit that does not deny pain or injustice but which is able to respond with blessing. Convicted very much this week by the Vow of Nonviolence made by members at the Centre for Action & Contemplation. I have been trying to make this vow each day. Pray that I might be non-reactive and resurrected today.

Lk6v29-30 Love Your Neighbour.*

*Terms and Conditions apply? Christianity: "A condition of complete simplicity, costing not less than everything.."  youtube  genius

Lk6v31-32 Jesus makes the case for other others. This means that the golden rule can't be conceived as a copy-paste identical mirroring between dyads. Sometimes this universal principle is bandied around this way, I think, as though you were to transpose your own needs and desires onto all others identically, and to then treat them as though they were identical to you. But Jesus already notes at least this one distinguishing feature between the various others in your life: there are those that love you, and those that do not. The call is to love each one regardless, but the shape of reciprocal love and non-reciprocal love is different, there are different virtues and pitfalls to each. The call to love the neighbour is hence not a call to treat everyone exactly the same, nor to love 'humanity' abstractly, but to be responsive to the particularities internal to each relationship with the grace of God.

Lk6v33-34 *Love.* Love all. Love long. Love hard people, in hard places, at hard times. Love without exception. Love without assessing the risk and without counting the cost. Love without discrimination. Love til death. Love to the pain. Love to the very bottom. Love and seek the unsiloed wellbeing of all, love lands yet unseen, love generations yet unborn. Be love as a total disposition, love with an holistic unfettered, uncaveated love.
*How?* How do I fight my tendency to be tribal, swimming against the tug towards merely loving those whose reciprocal love is more easily won, whose experience of life is more like my own, whose language is simple, whose approval is forthcoming, who cost less and reward more? How?
Because I must, we _must_, if love is to be love. I've pondered this quote often lately (not quite by Luther) , that to retreat in some small part is to compromise the whole, in the domain of truth, so also, in the integrity of love. “If I profess, with the loudest voice and the clearest exposition, every portion of the truth [/love] of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christianity. Where the battle rages the loyalty of the soldier is proved; and to be steady on all the battle-field besides is mere flight and disgrace to him if he flinches at that one point.”
So London. I ❤ London. But selectively. I love London as a scarcely symbiotic and largely Faustian pact, an exploitative codependent bond, I love to consume London. I love its goods and services. I love London on my terms, as a means to an end, I love the boost it gives my brand, I love the importance it makes me feel. My love for London is a sort of lust, warm fuzzies for the novelty of of new powerplay.
Love. Really love with a real love. Even sinners do CSR, there is honour amongst thieves, and even (/especially) loan sharks lend to the needy, it is the opposite of charity, the antithesis of love.
Love. Love hard. But how? Start with the trickiest in your neighbourhood and work upwards from there. Love as if you love with a resource from the outside. Love on the predication of a benign universe of abundance. Love without fear because all fear has already been loved out of you. Loving begins with belovedness, daily, hourly. The quiet time is the bank vault of love, the armoury, the fuel. Be loved to love.

Lk6v35-36 Measure rattles round the house anxiously, while Mercy chills in the hot tub singing songs that fill every room

Lk6v37-38 "Judge not, and *you will not be* judged.." " *will not be* condemned.." "*will be" forgiven" "*will be* given to.." " *will be* measured back.."
Jesus uses the passive voice ('will not be judged' which ESVSB wants us to read as 'God will not judge'). Jesus uses the passive voice. Why? Because, it's like that, and that's the way it is? It's the what will be that will be? It's just the way it is? A truth universally acknowledged regarding the self-fulfilling moral fabric of the universe? What is the implication? What is Jesus' emphasis? True truths become mere truisms in the blink of a nuance. Is there a cosmic promise I can lay a hold of in this passage?
1. Horizontal? People who are judgmental will invariably be judged harshly by others? People who give freely are freely given to? Smile and the world will smile back at you? Is this your experience? Sometimes. The cause and consequences are subject to chaos and complexity, sometimes the diagram of virtue's reciprocity is clear, sometimes a smiling giver is kicked in the teeth.
2. Vertical? People who are judgmental will be subject to God's vindictive retributive judgement? People who give to get, get from God's cosmic vending machine? God helps those who help themselves? God shines his light specially on those who have the self-made moral fibre and mental fortitude to be good upstanding citizens? God offers a hereafter reward scheme, an incentivised behaviour modification. Is this your faith? Is this Christianity?
I am judgmental. Chronically. Vicious and in a vicious cycle of judgement and self-fulfilling condemnation. In this passage. to my mind, Jesus describes the condition of sin which he has come to save me from. I will not be judged, because I _can_ now judge-not, but _only_ because I have not-been-judged already by Jesus. Jesus is the chicken and the egg of reverse entropy, Jesus is the cart and the horse of new life, Jesus supplies the new heart with new desires for new ethics with new consequences.

Lk6v39-40 Leading blind and blindly led. I am both. A call to both humility & responsibility to others on one side, & self-respect & responsibility to self on the other. The flight from hubris and the flight from self-contempt. These are two sides of wisdom, two sides of discernment, two sides of responsibility to God. Notable that this little Christ aphorism comes between thoughts on not judging others. Wisdom is itself a process of treading a golden mean, as is the relationship between the good judgment of wisdom and the bad judgment of judgmentalism. Jesus surely puts these thoughts together so that we would pay attention to the excesses we are apt to fall into on every side of wisdom, to keep us tentative in our footing, ever consulting our guide.

Lk6v41-42 "..your own eye.." The new Blade Runner opens with a shot of an eye, a vast orb gazes out of the cinema screen, an azure landscape in microcosm teaming within the detail of an iris. A world, created by a worldview, is itself in view in the film. And the shot cuts to a boundless extra-urban landscape of grey solar arrays, glittery geometries of light refraction bent to serve up the neon and holographic fantasisies of a projected dystopia.
- God is light. 1Jn1v5
- We are eyes. Mt13v15-17, Eph1v18
- But, we don't understand light. Jn1v5
- And, if we see at all, it is through glass darkly 1Cor13v12
The bible has a low view of sight:
- Blessed those who see not but believe Jn20v29
- We live by faith, not by sight. 2Cor5v7
- Faith is faith in the unseen Hb11v1
The bible has a low view of sight. Apt for an age of simulacra, such as our own, such as our own as portrayed in Blade Runner. The concern of these verses is not the blindness of v39, but *partially-sightedness*. Perhaps the more dangerous. Those who believe they see impartially, those who drive recklessly through their blindspots, those who build greyscapes because they tint it rosey, the fantasist wedded to a lie. Dangerous. Relationally ruinous. And illustrated at a macro level by the way democracy is imperilled by the partiality of our sight, the cooption of our view of the world through the sale of our lenses to the world, the ad-funded and algorhymically filtered social media feeds which show us the reality we want to see.
"..your brother's eye.." How do you take the spec out of your brother's eye? How do you take the spec out of your eye? Physician, how does one heal thyself Lk4v23? Being beloved before loving. Being qualitatively fathered before presuming to father. P drew my attention to Rio Ferdinand's moving documentary. Here briefly and abridged. Just so, how am I going to love 41? *I need help.*

Lk6v43-44 A good tree fruits because her hidden roots of prayer go deeper into the ground of God than the height of her branches. A fruiting tree remains connected to her source and humbly allows the work of the ground and the elements to produce life, and so thrives without trying to control the process herself: Jn15v4.

Lk6v45-46 As we considered in Lk5v37-38 ๐Ÿถ We are vessels, containerised content carriers. What is in you? When you are cut, what do you bleed? When knocked, what do you spill? When pushed, what comes out under pressure? What, in your vino, is your veritas? You are a vessel, more than you are face on a screen, name on a badge, node on a network, a cog in a machine, meat in a foodchain, more than these, humans are a vessels. You are a vessel, more than you are what you do, who you know, where you're from, rather, you are what you carry. The heart is a pantry, a reservoir, a filing cabinet, a tanker, and in this verse, a treasure chest. You are what you carry, and you carry what you treasure. What is in you? What is your treasure? // It is the alchemist, engaged in magical thinking, who believes you can treasure a catalogue of evil and then give out good from that tank. Less superstitious than that, but only slightly, are we who believe I can CBT myself into a modified moral entity, as if filtration by strength of will were the answer, as if there were a face mask sufficient to keep the contagion contained. I have wrong appetites, I am a hooverbag of death, I've been hoarding evil upstairs for 30 years, I am the swamp, my pump is primed with pride, murder, adultery, slander.. Ph4v8 suggests I feed on the noble, pure, just and lovely.. God, give me such an apetite.

Lk6v47-48 The parables of the wise and foolish men have been so Sunday schooled, I have always thought about them with cartoon pictures before my mind, jingly tunes through my brain. I don't think I have ever taken this parable slowly as an adult, breathed in the ancient wisdom of Jesus in the picture of digging deep as a long arduous labour of prayer, worship, discernment & obedience. Like tree roots going deep, the invitation for my soul is a road into the rock, into a deep deep stability that I know I do not yet have and deeply long for. To live unshaken because one's soul is so well founded. What a stunning picture for my adult heart.

Lk6v49  Floods vs Architecture rendered in perspectival sublime are currently adorning bus-stops to promote the film Geostorm: hackneyed visual shorthand which tvtropes.org dubs Giant Wall of Watery Doom ~ images in the familiar tradition of 2012, Day After Tomorrow, Poseidon.. etc.
I'm struck by three things in this parable: 1. The Flood // 2. The Ruin and // 3. The doing
๐ŸŒŠ 1. "..the stream broke against it.." Cliched film posters are windows into widely-held hopes and fears: a literal and metaphorical flood. The posters market the escapist experience of therapeutic adrenaline, tickling primal fears, before tidily resolving a happily ever after ~ disaster movies are an existential palliative, and history will judge our escapist and nihilistic auto-destruct complicity as spectators of disaster capitalism. The flood _is_ coming. Whatever form it takes, a very literal outbreak of environmental chaos looms. "The stream broke against..", in KJV "beat vehemently against.." active and intense. [NM will offer a view on "Christian Animism" 17th Oct 4pm here at 41 - I'm open to his provocation, because I firmly believe that contemporary Christianity's theology of nature is insufficiently spooky to motivate proportional action on climate change, amongst other things.]
๐Ÿš 2. _"..the ruin of that house was great.."_ This is not Schaeffer's 'Glorious Ruin': there is nothing noble in the collapse of a load-bearing Christian, there are children trapped in the rubble. Those who built the schools in Sichuan knew what risks they were taking. Christian, you live in a flood zone, you walk across a warzone, the life of faith is a race against time, a battle of the mind to combat naivete. Not-if-but-when the World, the Flesh and the Devil come to your door; not-if-but-when Money, Sex and Power draw up their cannons for a broadside. I'm so tired of the attrition of friends and family, so impotent to hold them, so furious at those who told them peace peace. Ez13v10
๐Ÿ— 3. "..not doing.." "..without foundation.." Foundations: the substructures of a building that bind an edifice to the bedrock, heavy dirty noisy expensive excavation work to create a void before any mass is even begun, and then steel grit and lime curdle a caustic mesh of inflexible ligaments deep into the earth, establishing a building in the place that it is, the one place, immovably. So, we approximately understand that unseen groundworks are likewise the basis of character, a hidden place of prayer builds a reserve, etc. But. I'm wrestling with human responsibility. Jesus is my salvation, but I am responsible for "digging deep" v48, as I am culpable for the calamity if I failed to "hear and do" v47?[3rd Dec 6.30pm St Marks I'm preaching Eph6's armour for spiritual warfare, which presumes on Eph1-5, but nevertheless a same dilemma: Doing:"..that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, .. having *done* all, to stand firm.."Eph6v13 If anyone has a diagram to preach this responsibility clearly, sketches on a postcard are welcome.]

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Thursday, 31 August 2017

texting luke five

Fish food to the adrift wooed in mixed moods we text truths. 07729056452

Lk5v1-2 "pressed in .. to hear the word of God" Have you known such a biblestudy mob surge as with a Boxing Day sale throng, pressing in, suctioned to the speakers tightly to glean a gram of life. Millennials, for all their privilege, are yet the tired, the poor, the wretched refuse teeming, the homeless tempest-tost. Where will they hear the word of God? Who will explain it to us? Who will explain it to them? What practice of an integrated life will make it real? Who will lift a lamp to such a golden door? The magnetic attraction of the coherence of the bible ~ I must not take it for granted, or grow glib, or settle for limited expectations. If anyone in the sound of my voice wants to read the bible together, let's.

Lk5v3-4 Jesus and consent. Interesting that in these few lines Jesus takes, assumes upon and uses that which is Simon's, then asks him to push the boat put further, then commands him to push out even further, to which Simon responds with submissive doubt. Acquisition, request, command, dialogue - all ways that Jesus will engage us. Sometimes Jesus seeks our permission and sometimes he doesn't. I don't think there is a single formula for how Jesus engages or captivates our will, though catchphrases abound insisting that there is a right way to understand this, from John Wesley's 'God does nothing except in answer to prayer' through to John Peters' 'the Holy Spirit is not a gentleman'. What then is our posture? I think: always seeking to give God permission, always grateful that He might not choose to seek it.

Lk5v5-6 "toiled and took nothing"  Jesus calls you to a task less nothingy. Jesus calls you to implausible mission fields (trawling in broad daylight) precisely after the shame of failure (no fish) and precisely at the point of exhaustion after exertion (all night).
Jesus calls the foolish to confound the wise, the weak to move the strong, the obscure to calibrate the consensus, the unfortunate to counsel the lucky. So, who is on Jesus team? Fishermen that can't catch fish. Followers who can't follow Jn14v9, stammerers Ex6v30, sinners&stockbrokers Mk2v15, nobodies 1Sm9v21 from nowheres Jn1v46.
Jesus calls those in a dry and weary land Ps63v1. Jesus calls you when the figs #fail, the grapes #fail, the olives #fail, when we've no flocks no folds no herds in your proverbial stalls Hk3v17. Jesus calls those whose wine has run out Jn2v3.
"..at your word I will.." Jesus calls you specifically. You in particular for a particular task. General revelation counsels that there's plenty more fish in the sea: little comfort. Special revelation is a hotline to that cosmic power who moves the tides, who speaks to fishes, who brought ravens to Elijah 1Ki17v4 and a whale to Jonah Jh1v17.. Christianity's sense of call must be predicated on a spooky universe which is interfered with, otherwise all callings to go fish are simply a religiouse call to work harder and try more.
"..nets were breaking.." Jesus calls us to a task less nothingy. Jesus calls us for our joy and for his glory. Where he calls he equips. Where he calls he empowers. And he will not call you to more than you can bear 1Cor10v13.

Lk5v7-8 Go Away. Peter's response to Jesus here is so fascinating, so telling. Not-being-able-to-bear-being-near-Jesus. Trying to create distance between ourselves and Jesus is a classic shame response. Remembering Helen Merrell Lynd's profound analysis of shame: 'Experiences of shame appear to embody the root meaning of the word - to uncover, to expose, to wound. They are experiences of exposure, exposure of peculiarly sensitive, intimate, vulnerable aspects of the self...Discrepancy appears between us and the social situation...We have acted on the assumption of being one kind of person living in one kind of surroundings, & unexpectedly, violently, we discover that these assumptions are false. We had thought that we were able to see around certain situations and, instead, discover in a moment that it is we who are exposed; alien people in an alien situation can see around us.' Shame is a disorientation which begets a certain kind of fear. Jesus, of his nature, unmakes our world and alienates us from who we thought we were, it is wholly appropriate that we might respond violently, wanting distance. Yet Jesus words to Peter are those magic ones spoken again again so many times in scripture: 'do not be afraid'.

Lk5v9-10 "Jane looked; and instantly her world was unmade. .. Of course he was not a boy.. it was manifest that the grip of those hands would be inescapable, and imagination suggested that those arms and shoulders could support the whole house. .. the bright solar blend of king and lover and magician stole upon her mind ..  King, with all linked associations of battle, marriage, priesthood, mercy and power.. her world was unmade; she knew that. Anything might happen now" [CSL - That Hideous Strength]
๐Ÿ˜ฑ "..astonished" (Gk ฮธฮฌฮผฮฒฮฟฯ‚ ฯ€ฮตฯฮนฮญฯƒฯ‡ฮตฮฝ thambos perieschen) is literally "amazement *laid hold* of them.." Are you? Do you? Have you been? There is an *in-His-grip-ness* to Christianity. Ph3v12 "..but I press on to take hold of that for which *Christ Jesus took hold of me*." To be Christian is to be firmly grasped, seized by amazement, welded-into the vine, and the surgery of being grafted in begins with the wound of conversion. True and total union with Christ is precipitated by the crisis point Peter faces here as his world is unmade, his categories are exploded and his affections are taken captive, seized like fish out of the water, summoned gasping into the light.
"Do not be afraid.." I should need to hear this. God is big, and I am small, infinitely. Every quiet-time encounter with God, if it is an encounter with God, will pass across the high-wire sublime, to within the blast radius of the kabad (ื›ָּื‘ַื“). Be afraid. And only then, do not be afraid.
"fishers of men.." I picture this as with dynamite. But it doesn't often feel that way.

Lk5v11 'You could not have been born at a better time than the present, when we have lost everything. ' - Simone Weil.  // Holding before God the desolation of this generation, believing that there is a loss here, a death, from which a resurrection is possible. For revival, we ask to know how to pray.

Lk5v12 "Make me clean." Cleanliness is deeply rooted in the mind and the body as a Metaphor We Live By, and is so visceral and obvious that it almost doesn't feel worth trying to unpack. But meditating on this a little bit I was prompted to think about Kolnai's work on disgust - the claim that both physical and moral disgust are elicited by the mixing of organic & inorganic, of life & death, of health & decay. Leprosy, illness generally, and all small instances of uncleanliness speak more metaphysically of a world where entropy and decay rule. 'Make me clean' is a plea for grace, for reverse-entropy, for resurrection.

Lk5v13-14 "Be clean.." *What is unclean?* I would distinguish between the biologically unclean and culturally "unclean" ~ it matters little because Jesus cleans both, redeems both and renews all. However, I've spent a little time meditating on these, not quite arriving at an answer to this nor to the question *who would be the priest we show ourselves to today?* Answers on a postcard.
๐Ÿ’ฉ *Unclean is not just ugly, is it dangerous* Unclean goes beyond the mere unattractive aesthetic of the slowly scuffed and sullied, beyond the sad inconvenience of entropic decay, unclean is more than merely worn out to be worn away, born bent to be broken down: the cookie crumbles calamitously. Unclean is urgent because it is unsafe, like shared needles and asbestos in the walls, dirty as dirty water, we are unclean and increasingly so, as yeast diffuses to contaminate the whole, as worn brakes put third-party lives at risk, we carry contagious liability chaotically, we carry nuclear waste in clay vessels, breath-takingly precarious.
๐Ÿ”ž At the same time *"Unclean" is myth signage* - (Ac10v15) the cultural codification of "called-unclean" conditions calculated for the maximum preservation of the fiction of clean-enough enclaves, and on this basis, human cultures unite as cleaning machines, boundaried by exponentially over-engineered damage-limitation quarantines. "Unclean" is unclean gone awry, co-opted by vested interests, weaponised by the have-yachts to justify the land and sea they put between themselves and the untouchable have-nots. "Unclean" is the denigrated Other, that I am given license to look down on. "Unclean" is the distortion of compassion, the misdirection of our best efforts' best intentions to keep vulnerable valuables safe by a coordinated apartheid of perceived risk. "Unclean" is a value judgement, given credence by the consensus of a personal populace, whose personal opinions are ratified by some dignified personality. The high priest. The priest as judge and jury, author and perfectionist, the squeaky obsequious clean freaking queen of OCD. As far as I have pinned my colours to their "Clean", I must participate in policing the brand of kosher, preserving the value-added of 'fairtrade', enshrining the mystique of clean-enough, differentiating the virtue signal from the virtue noise.
๐Ÿšฟ *Jesus cleans.* As a reverse-entropy tactician he wars against the unclean and the "unclean", touching the unclean, and dismantling the "unclean". "..tell no one .. show yourself to the priest.." Jesus' ninja healing for discretion designed to dampen hysteria notwithstanding, and Jesus' culturally appropriate and biblically mandated mode of restoring an invalid to the social notwithstanding, Jesus wars against religione with exleper torpedoes fired at the control room of project "clean". Have you been released from an "unclean-ness"? Such healing is an in-itself gift and for-itself gift, but it is also a testimony against death-as-death, an affront to all disease. No healing is merely some good news, (although it is), all healing is the good news. God is there and is not silent. God is involved and he is on your side. Project "clean" is over, the job-creation scheme of priesthood is redundant, logos on foodstuffs will pass away, everything everything is changed.
๐Ÿ™Š Why then "..tell no one.."? Pearls before swine notwithstanding, saviour-as-cosmic-slot-machine notwithstanding, I'm interested in the sort of effects Jesus would look to avoid, vain or counter-productive effects in a population so invested in project "clean". Jesus wars for the freedom of all. In this way, your testimony is not to become mere hearsay to be filed under general quackery, cosmetic surgery or hygenic fakery. Healing which does not dismantle project "clean" from the top is mere fuel to the fire of superstition, anecdotal reinforcement to the suspicion of a capricious God and the futility of all things. But cleanness ratified by the high priest, a cure acknowledged by the analgesic-monger, is game-over for religione.

Lk5v15 Simple prayers for healing for those on our hearts who are sick: L, R, V, D

Lk5v16 Comparing the lonesomeness of Jesus with the lonesomeness of the demonised man at Gerasa Lk8v27. Jesus' solitude pushes him towards God, the solitude of the man at Gerasa pushes him further towards demonic voices. As Henri Nouwen's contrast between loneliness and solitude, I identify both in myself. Prayer for good solitude, esp in this season where the call is to roots of prayer.

Lk5v17-18 "Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there, [having] come from every village.." The boa constrictor tightens its grip, the KGB have tapped the phone of this boy genius, this unhinged rabbinic prodigy plays out a coldwar cipher, a synchodochal cosmic joust on a microcosmic board.
Not knowing the end of the story of Bobby Fischer, I was totally gripped by Pawn Sacrifice last night. Does he win the game? Will the CIA get him? And, who is behind the zoom lens we occasionally find we're viewing him through? Oh what it would be to have the story of Jesus unfold, episode by episode, game by game, as for the first time, with the ending yet uncertain.
Fischer is the pawn sacrifice, but who sacrifices whom? He goes out on a limb for the crazy joy of chess, or is he left out to dry by the American political machine, abandoned to wind up less than the sum of his mental health issues?
Jesus is the pawn sacrifice, he sacrifices himself, it is his initiative, his will, his glory Jn10v18 "No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord." And this message of the cross is foolishness 1Co1v18? And we should do likewise? A similar holy madness, battling an unseen enemy, trusting in unseen help, losing our life to gain it Mt10v39, laying down our life for another Jn15v13, offering our bodies as living sacrifices Rm12v1.

Lk5v19-20 In the parlance of our day, Jesus calls out victim-blaming Jn9v3, but he also doesn't allow the existence of victim-blaming to caricature the victim, as though the existence of systemic (and what seems like cosmic) injustice were the last word in a person's identity. Jesus dignifies all humans by allowing us to be complex, always a mix of sin and sinned against, dignifying us all by holding us responsible for what we are responsible for. In doing so He makes a path for transformation that is high, long, wide deep.

Lk5v21-22 "Why do you question in your hearts?" Why? From what cause? To what end? Toting up coincidences, the reading at 41's morning prayer today was the remarkably similar Jn18v19-24 "Jesus asks Caiaphas, "Why do you ask me?"" Why? Not all questions are equal, neutral or valid. Not all questions are honest. Not all questions actually want an answer from Jesus. Interrogating the motives of our own questions tells us much about ourselves. But there are better questions.

Lk5v23-24 Rise.
'You've seen my descent / now watch my rising' -Rumi
The Ps29 word of the Lord  has done this.

Lk5v25-26 What is the practice of a post-healed life? What do you do as healed when you are healed as healed? "Rose up.. picked up bed.. walked home.." The doing of life's mundane necessities and in merely so doing you glorify God? Yes, but also, as-healed you cannot but do life necessarily newly in a self-aware and so proactive and so emphatic performance of life to the exploration and display of its restoration. And in this way, you can stick a present-participle *glorifying-God* on any other verb. You can wash the dishes, glorifying God, go to work, paint a wall, cook brunch, write a paper, glorifying God, doing all in an adverbially doxological mode, doing all of life glorifially. What does that look like? In my mind I picture him rising with a breakdancer's kip up and walking home like John Cleese, limit-testing the creative expression of all embodiment. If one can picture a choreography for the post-healed life, what might be a post-forgiven life's expression? The gait of one whose chains have fallen off, the affections of one whose heart was free, the adventure of one whose conscience is clear, whose sense of the possible is infinite. Therefore go.

Lk5v27-28 Reading again Wendell Berry on exploitative economies in his collection of agrarian essays is again thoroughly convicting and thoroughly overwhelming insofar as he articulates so eloquently how our economic system is set up to destroy itself and all of us with it, starting with the poor. This system is set up to alienate us from the land, the air, the water, from marriage & communities, from our own bodies, from God. Levi here is a picture of part of the exploitative economy, charging arbitrary and unfair rates to his fellow Jews for the middleman task of collecting taxes for the Romans. And yet here we have a picture of the redemption of economy, a personal jubilee. 'Leaving everything,  he rose and followed Jesus.'  I am aware of the danger of this just being words, of the dangers of the money and status I still have, of the exploitative systems I still lean on for food and comfort. Jesus, this year, I pray for your fearsome work of jubilee in my life and in this whole global system. I pray for Levi transformation.

Lk5v29-30 Follow me, as I put these crayons to chaos, like getting the Mighty Ducks back together. Levi prepares a feast, like the Lost Boys in Hook. Let's do this. There is, and always should be, a boyish adventure to Christianity, a whirling winking winsome parade of exuberant bravery, a festival feast laid in the presence of mine enemies: Aggressively intentional hospitality fam.

Lk5v31-32 I've been reading Jude [and finding it difficult - recommendations of Jude resources welcome] and picturing myself as the v12-13 fruitless tree, foaming shame, wandering star. Thanks be to the Great Physician, who came for the sick. He has, will and continues to heal me.

Lk5v33-34 These few days we are in the middle of Luke's catalogue of Jesus stories on the theme of food. ๐Ÿœ๐Ÿ๐Ÿฒ
1. Food: the controversial politics of eating with whom (Lk5v29-32)
2. Food: the cosmic symbolism of eating at what times (Lk5v33-35)
3. Food: the pursuit of the excellence of storage and culturing (Lk5v36-39)
4. Food: the provocative urgency of harvest's hunter gathering (Lk6v1-5 & Lk5v4-7)
๐Ÿฅ›๐Ÿฏ The whole food supply chain is sacremental.
⚔ The whole food supply chain is a pitched battle between two world views:
๐Ÿ˜‡ *A. The religiouse diet*: restrictive, risk-averse, hysterically hypochondriac, exponentially ascetic. The calorie-counting worldview of gaunt anaemic guilt appeasement that eats timidly, pushing peas around the plate of proscriptive propriety, crushed beneath the snowballed schedule of a self-reinforcing, over-engineered How-Not-To-Eat exclusion diet tending asymptotically towards zero.
๐Ÿ– *B. The Jesus diet*: sucking on the marrow of life, munching through an all-you-can-eat ontological buffet of utter abundance, fundamental surplus, brimming over with the both-and of pie-in-the-sky and cake-on-your-plate. A view of food that is celebrating-about, we eat meaningfully about a greater reality, we eat parabolically, as parables-about.
๐Ÿ‘ฐ๐Ÿคต The parable in view is the *wedding feast*: Now, weddings are complicated animals, often not more than the sum of their naivete, mired in a commercialised saccharine sentimentality, the wedding feast is so co-opted by cloying entitlement, lumbering as a virtue-signalling, people-pleasing millstone of debt around the necks of newlyweds. But even through all that, there is something in the wedding-feast-as-symbol which is resilient to still catch us off guard, the exception that defines the rule, a universal exemption where, for some reason, we suspend our disbelief and permit a diet consistent with partial, particular, personal universe. At the wedding we eat-about-something, we eat with abandon towards something, in view of, in the light of, towards the affirmation of something personal and peculiar.
~ So it is with Jesus. Such is the Christian's diet. Whilst we may fast sometimes, we have unlimited cause to feast, to build cathedrals with our food, to articulate a universe of infinite freedom and harmonic coherence in how, and when, and with whom we feast. ๐Ÿฐ

Lk5v35-36 A fasting that springs from the epistemology of the heartbroken wife. As I meditate on this I note that the few times in life I have fasted with my whole spirit, not constantly looking for loopholes, have been in moments of sorrow and loss in relation to my husband. I recall G and I identifying this phenomenon together in conversation, she similarly identifying times of distress in relation to men as the only times she would refuse food. Together we came to the conclusion that only when faced with pain this important do we dignify ourselves by refusing to numb this pain with food. Bridegroom pain is too important. But usually I am quite content to numb all the background things that are not-ok with food. Perhaps ways of fasting are gendered in ways that food is gendered - numbing the spirit with food a more typically female pathology? The fact that I can only fast when it really hurts shows that most of the time I'm happy to ignore what's really going on simmering underneath my literal and spiritual skin. So maybe I need to transpose these experiences of the loss of the bridegroom at a cosmic scale for all times and places, and let that motivate my fasting, which is to say, to dignify myself more readily by acknowledging my existential condition more honestly. Maybe this throws new light on v36 too: fasting is a refusal to patch over pain. Not pretending it's not broken. But grieving the torn garment, receiving from God the new one.

Lk5v37-38 ๐Ÿถ We are vessels [we are clay jars 2Co4v7; clay jars formed by a potter Is64v8; clay jars for variable uses Rm9v21; clay jars of variable strength 1Pt3v7; containers to be filled and poured out defilingly Mt15v11; cups cleaned on the outside and inside Mt23v25; liquid spirit containers Ev36v27 (I'm sure there are more and better refs, if you want to send me some)]
๐Ÿถ We are vessels. The quality of a vessel, the jugliness of a jug, it's Heideggarian thinghood consists in the void sculpted by the potter. By contrast with the notions of a human person as:
๐Ÿ– a solid lump of biologically thick matter
๐Ÿ•ธ a hyperconnected node in a data point cloud
๐ŸŽž a 2dimmensional image of a projected surface.
๐Ÿถ We are vessels,  cavernously depthed, ๐Ÿ•ณ๐Ÿ•ณ peer into the eyes of an other and see a chasm fathoms down. The verse today considers what ruptures that vessel, the split and the shatter. When we fail to contain, we fail to be, we are devesseled and unthung.
We are filled. We are vessels remade to be refillable, new covenant vessels, elastic and tonkable, no longer the card prototype of a human, no longer the dry-run dress-rehearsal prop, we are now the real deal. We have to be, and everyone you know has to be. Grace's superabundance will overwhelm your frail frame unless it is fundamentally reengineered. The split wineskin is such a vivid visual of superabundance, the effervescent liquid which presses up and bubbles out of a person. ๐Ÿพ The idea of an active and expansive liquid captures my imagination: the gospel is champagne, ready to pop, take the muselet off the bottle, it must be preached Ac4v20 Je20v9.

Lk5v39 This perplexing final statement to my mind makes an already ambiguous set of metaphors all the more so. For old wine (if this means matured wine) IS better...A standard reading of this seems to be that those who say 'the old is best' are resisting the new thing,  which is the Spirit (vs the Law), so the old/new distinction here is one of chronological difference rather than mapping oenological quality. But maybe, as I tried to chew over when I preached on this passage a while back we'd do well to note that Jesus doesn't condemn 'the old' here, but rather notes that there are destructive ways of trying to put the old and the new together - ways that damage both old and new. Rather, we need ways of bringing together the freshness and the maturity of old and new testaments in a way that understands them singing in harmony. Chatting to P about this over potatoes he observed the dangers of trying to assume too much of new or immature Christians - that we can give them too much, causing them to 'burst', destroying new faith, rather than tracking the Spirit's own fermentation process. Things to ponder. (It's been interesting reading Luke over different timescales this year, it leads to a kind of virtuous looping back into sayings and stories at a high resolution, wheels within wheels.)