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worth

Is ekke beter as Jack Parow of Die Antwoord? ‘n Soutie praat.

Ek’s original, jy’s ‘n copy, ek’s ‘n flashdrive, jy’s ‘n floppy [Jack Parow]

In English, that’s:

Am I better than Jack Parow or “Die Antwoord”? (“The Answer”)
I’m original, you’re a copy, I’m a flashdrive, you’re a floppy [Jack Parow]

WAARSKU! WARNING! De-tox in progress! If you are easily offended, let what lies in shadow lie… Continue reading “Is ekke beter as Jack Parow of Die Antwoord? ‘n Soutie praat.”

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“Wild man wise man” session 3

Power and powerlessness

Lazarus and the Rich man

We were led by Sergio into a reflection on power. Specifically, we considered what we understood it to be, this included wealth, freedom, influence, eloquence, strength, good looks, manipulation, and all the manifestations of outer success.

Then we considered “inner” power, and listed things like dignity, love, authority, non-resistance or passive resistance. We spoke of Ghandi and Jesus, and how the might of empires had no hold on them, for their power lay within. We were reminded that no one can take our inner power away, regardless of changes in circumstances where our outer power is apparently stripped, such as in job loss, divorce, or other times of tragedy. Continue reading ““Wild man wise man” session 3″

The “Kingdom”: of God?

Part of a syncroblog on the “The Kingdom of God.” For other posts, see below.

“In essentials, unity; in doubtful matters, liberty; in all things, charity.”

netsMost people agree that these words are deserving of full acceptance. But I’ll guarantee that despite their elegance, determining what exactly constitutes “essentials”, always seems to prove their undoing.

However, as far as Christians go, one notion that holds a considerable place as an “essential” is that of the “Kingdom of God.” This is after all the deep uniting theme that emerges from the known words of Jesus. The Kingdom of G-d, (Gk Basileia tou Theou) is for many the overarching raison d’être – the fundamental descriptor of G-d’s purpose in history, a notion bigger than say “salvation” or “Church”. Continue reading “The “Kingdom”: of God?”

from alpha to omega : an adventure

I have written an article for emergentvilliage, called “From Alpha to Omega: an adventure.”

protest.attest

“You pro-test before you can at-test” Paul Ricœur, in conversation at the Taizé community.

“The removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.” Heb 12:27, NIV

“What would Jesus deconstruct?” John Caputo

Those who have been part of a transformation from a culture of protest will know, it’s far easier to oppose something than to create it.

It’s easy to destroy. Destruction takes a measure of anger and a short sharp shot, and it’s “over”.

The card pyramid that took 5 minutes to erect, flattened in a second. The act of courage which took many months to build up, quashed. The trust which gently overcame fear, vanquished. The slight that was cast on a families pride, avenged. Continue reading “protest.attest”

A Chernobyl Meditation

//www.angelfire.com/extreme4/kiddofspeed/spring2008.1.jpg

I’m a-goin’ back out ‘fore the rain starts a-fallin’,
I’ll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest,
… Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters,
… Where the executioner’s face is always well hidden,
Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten,
Where black is the color, where none is the number,
And I’ll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it,
And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it,
… And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard,
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.
 [Bob Dylan : A Hard Rains a’gonna fall]

The third angel sounded his trumpet, and a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water— the name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters turned bitter, and many people died from the waters that had become bitter. [Revelations 8:10, 11]

We cannot say how the wind blows. From whence, towards where, how strongly, how varied, bearing good or ill omen. The wind remains, even in this proud scientific age, a profound mystery.

And so it is that the fateful events of April 1986 have been blown into my ambit. I have been reminded of something that is part of the wallpaper of the 20th century, something I saw from afar, the implications of which I clearly did not grasp at the time. I am in the grip of this tale of horror, and feel compelled to make some sense of it. Continue reading “A Chernobyl Meditation”

The treasure in the field

Trifari India Maltese CrossThe Dream (“Kingdom”) of G-d is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. [Matthew 13:44 paraphrased]

The simplicity of this account is deceptive:

  • What is the Dream/Kingdom of G-d like, the treasure, the field, or the story of the treasure in the field?
  • Why didn’t he buy the field with the proceeds from the treasure, rather than the proceeds of his possessions?
  • Is the treasure made more valuable by being under the ground rather than mined or extracted?
  • What does the man want to do with the field?
  • Who having found something of great worth, willingly and immediately looses it again?
  • Surely we are taught by many religions that the good is to be held on to, as we struggle against the bad?
  • How is it that his joy leads not towards publication (making public), but away from it and towards increased circumspection?
  • What is the difference between the treasure and the field in which it is hidden?
  • Does true ownership comprise of securing, or relinquishing?
  • Is the story more than good re-investment advice?
  • Is it making a distinction between commodities (precious metals/minerals) and real estate (the field) as types of value?

I wonder.

one punk under god

“I do not feel shame, I AM shame.” [Jim Bakker]

“As Christians, we’re sorry for being self-righteous, judgemental bastards.” [Jay Bakker]

I have just watched the Sundance Channel series “One punk under God”. This features Jay Bakker, son of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, the disgraced televangelists. It is a tale of the truly miraculous – how one man survived being a PK (Preacher’s Kid) in severely twisted evangelistic subculture, and has gone on to proclaim a heartfelt message of grace and forgiveness.

Jay is in many ways the antithesis of his media-, religion- and money-crazed upbringing. Of course, things have moved on, Jim served 8 years of his 45 year prison sentance for fraud, and reinvented himself as the “New Jim Bakker”, but somehow never saw much life beyond television. Tammy, she of the false eyelashes and guarenteed-to-run-mascara, died last year of cancer. Despite it all, and approaching the end, she said (paraphrased) “A son needs his Mom to tell him everything is going to be OK, but his Dad to tell him he’s proud of him.”

Never denying his parents, Jay nevertheless places himself in a very different mileau. He is essentially postmodern punk: piercings, cigars and cigarettes, tatoos. He seems quite at home in his skin, too. His wife of 7 years, Amanda, similarly has almost as many tatoos and a shrieking vermillion hairdo. She just wants him to be happy (but does wish he’d quit preaching and find another career).

Jay took the bold step of declaring his belief that homosexuality was not a sin, which cost him the support of a major backer. Of course (especially in the USA) homosexuality is a big political issue. But perhaps the main story running through the series is Jay’s attempt to reignite a relationship with his father.

With great pains, after several ignored calls, he eventually manages to visit him in his studio and appears on his show. Clearly strained after a pre-airtime summit in which his pro-inclusion views are discussed, Jay diffuses the situation and appeals to the basic need for love and acceptance. Jim (who knows with that guy what is real) breaks down at one point and confesses that Jay is doing what he should have done, but cannot.

This conflict epitomises the deep tensions which underlie so many lives: generational, theological, political and cultural, but most of all, with attitudes of the heart. And one pressing difference has to do with Inclusion, or ones ability to live generously and non-judgementally. Clearly, religion, and specifically Christianity, has failed miserably to live up to the inclusiveness of its founder.

I marvel at the grace that has allowed Jay be himself. At how he walked the narrow path, holding the tensions between breaking away from what he loaths and yet honouring those he loves, and seeing them for who they are … such discipline is the deep stuff of the spirit.

Jay … to merely be who you are, a punk and a christian, goes a long way towards the meaning of Incarnation. Holding that “disgrace” who is your dad so in mind, though left bereft of his affections yourself, is a true act of courage.

See Jays church website, Revolution NYC .

Punishment

“I thought that Mr. Clutter was a very nice gentleman. I thought so right up to the moment that I cut his throat”. [Perry Smith, “Capote”]

“Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”  [Book of Hebrews]

“I want to feel that I have lived my life.” [Gabriella, “As it is in heaven”]

In the last week I have seen two contrasting and strangely related movies.

smith-capote.jpgFirstly, “Capote” starring Phillip Seymour Hoffman in which famous American author Truman Capote writes a brilliant novel, “In cold blood”, based on the senseless murder of a Midwestern family. In which he develops a close relationship to the condemned but is unable to transcend his spectacularly selfish motivations, and leads him into a web of deception where the salvation of a man becomes subject to the needs of an authors ego.

Secondly, “As it is in Heaven” depicts the return of a famous conductor to the village of his birth. He is ill and weary, and seeks involvement with music in such a way as to experience its magic in community, rather than on the grand stages of the world. He becomes involved in the Village Church’s choir and soon finds life erupting in the middle of a stale, brittle, protestant religious subculture. This life is accepted to varying degrees; blessing ensues for the majority, but some attempt to remain outside of the circle of grace. Those who come off worst are either deeply damaged victims or deeply pious, and form the distinct minority.

kills2.jpgAll around us, tabloids bay for “justice”. They create an appetite for the consumption of the punitive spectacle. This allows us to place a divide between ourselves and an evil which is “out there”.

There are 2 kinds of justice, retributive justice and distributive justice-compassion. (For extensive treatment of this theme see Sea Raven’s blog) True justice consists not of what man meets out to man either directly in anger, vengeance or vigilante activity, or institutionally via the justice system (law, law enforcement, courts and jails).

Rather this has to do with Love, whereby the blessing of G-d is distributed, rather than the wrath of God re-tributed. “Tribute“, the common aspect of the words, means something given or returned. In our tributes, do we give out blessing or meet out punishment?

Love is the ultimate punishment. Even if we do not find love, or we reject it in this life, Love will find us. It won’t “hunt us down” as though we will be able to hide, it will inexhorably reel us in. 

Our encounter with Love, once the deceptions of this world (vanity, fear, anger, myopia, materialism) are stripped away, and we “know as we are known”, will purge us. The torment described in the Lazarus tale in Luke’s gospel (which many mistake for God’s punitive condemnation to “hell”) is the torment of hard transformation.

The word for torment in this passage comes from the Greek βάσανοσ which talks of a standard, or touchstone. This is the standard of Love and Truth. The transformation which is forced on the rich man is by radical change of circumstances (such a physical death or traumatic loss), rather than a willing and ongoing co-operation with the transformative spirit. Punishment in the Kingdom of God is a by-product of transformation, not the wrath of some insecure, schitzophrenic deity who delights in “Eternal Love” on the one hand and “Endless Punishment” on the other.

In “Capote”, an opportunity to reveal selfless Love to a desperate and deeply damaged criminal, goes to waste because the one given the chance has chosen to “gain the world”, and thus “looses his soul”, as well as that of the one whom he might have helped.

In “As it is in Heaven”, the village pastor is forced by circumstances away from his illusions of pious grandeur, coming close to killing both himself and the one who channeled life into his world, a great depiction of Hard, and yet incomplete Transformation. As for the majority, they were only too happy to be happy…

How do we view punishment? In determining the answer to this question, surely the chief focus needs to be on the models given us which pertain to mans ultimate destiny, not our more base and short term addictions to retribution? And can we apply all our thoughts about punishment to every case, especially that of ourselves?

Most of us will manage to stay on the right side of the law throughout our lives. But can we see that the punishment all of us will encounter will the the purging fire of Love? The quote from the book of Hebrews is not aimed at the criminal, the sinner or the miscreant, although one might think so based on popular preaching.

Don’t do the mistake of coming to this scripture through the filters of a retributive culture or theology. The uncovering is achieved via consummate love, and its painful or “punitive” elements are only the result of our need to be made whole. The entire process is by grace, not a work of our own righteousness.

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