Anger in a time of pandemic

Anger that our country wasn’t prepared at all.

Anger that the key leadership of this country is a fail.

Anger that the virus even exists.

Anger that some people think “the economy” is more important than thousands, or millions, of people dying.

Anger that “the economy” is clearly now a “power or principality”. An idol that must not be worshipped.

Anger that Mac computers and PC computers are so different and my fingers are all flummoxed and I have to learn new things.

Anger at all the rain.

Take care everyone. Take care!

Salvation theory in a time of pandemic

 I have really like learning about “narrative Christus Victor” as a theory of salvation — my class was born online so the work continues smoothly. This approach to salvation envisions that Jesus’ work and purpose and methods worked through nonviolence and worked because of nonviolence. Now there is a lot to this (much more than I have studied or could explain) but I just want to dwell on one thing that surprised me.

It turns out that the basis of each society may include a myth of a foundational murder, however disguised. This was a rather shocking thing to learn (Weaver p. 47) [1]. Oddly in the March 11 Christian Century, there is a book review by David Hoekema on “The Goodness Paradox: The Strange Relationship between Virtue and Violence in Human Evolution” by Richard Wrangham that applies here with a new perspective. Wrangham argues that humans are not all that violent, especially compared with our nearest genetic neighbors, such as chimps. Wrangham argues that “we have evolved into a species in which killing is rare precisely because men (the gendered pronoun is intentional here) have come together to identify and execute other men who use violence to get what they want.” [2] (Envision an airplane full of chimps — utter violence (apparently, what do I know of chimps). Envision an airplane full of men. They buckle up and fall to sleep, right?)

When mythology and evolutionary science seem to align is something to pay attention to, I think. Recognizing that violence hurts civilization now whatever it might have done in prehistory – both violence that is unseen and violence that is historical/mythological — is what narrative Christus Victor reveals best, I think. Christ’s death on the cross and his resurrection from that death reveals the actions of a violent society from the Romans to Peter. By revealing the violence, Jesus can free us from the violence, point us to a better world, a better way, with an in-breaking of God’s love that might take us beyond violence . And heal the pain of the past.

I never knew or thought about any of this before. “This refusal to exact vengeance by Jesus is contrasted to Abel, whose death was the founding murder of the biblical tradition. Where Abels’ blood cries from the ground vengeance (Gen. 4:10), the author of Hebrews wrote that Jesus’ blood “speaks a better word than the blood of Abel” (Heb. 12:24). Rather than crying for vengeance, Jesus’ blood speaks “a word of mercy and forgiveness” (Weaver, p. 62-63).

So in a world with a pandemic — that I never thought would be something I would experience — a friend told me that gun sales are going through the roof so that if this is the end-times, then those people can protect themselves. That reaction — however human and primal — is not the right relationship to loving Jesus. Jesus — whatever happens — has defeated evil and doesn’t need us to do more . Jesus needs us to join in the healing of the world. What I have been studying in narrative Christus Victor is truly powerful and truly applicable to our lives. Be free of fear, my beloveds, because we have been freed from fear.

Start with a walk and smile at people.

[1] The Nonviolent Atonement by J. Denny Weaver. 

[2] March 11, Christian Century page 42.

Inheriting faith

Various places in scripture, it uses the term (or at least is translated as the term) “inheriting faith” or the “faith you have inherited.” Both the Hebrew scriptures and the new Testament — for example, Timothy inherited faith from his mother and grandmother. It catches my eye every time because I did not inherit faith, in one sense. And in another I did.

As I have blogged about before, it was shock when God zapped me with golden melting beautiful timeless boundless supernatural love. And that led to discovering Christianity and scripture and Jesus and church. I did not inherit faith at all. I discovered it and learned it. I’m always, all these decades later, still learning. It is mystery and deep and beautiful and challenging and strange.

And in another sense, even if my Mother did not practice when I was growing up, she was and is Jewish. And in her old age, she has reclaimed her faith community, joined a small Jewish congregation. She is even learning Yiddish!

My mom says she has no problem with my being Christian (although I’m not to talk about it to her nice new Jewish friends). She says what ever her kids and grandkids believe, so long as we’re happy, she’s happy. “Whatever gets you through the night.”

I want you — whoever you are — to find meaning that gets you up in the morning. Connected with your ancestors or forging a new path — does it make you glad to wake up? I wish the whole world could rest and sleep and wake up and be filled with the joy and delight and miracle of another day, a new day, a day to live…. “For the Glory of God”.

For some higher meaning, some good purpose or task, some joy or beauty. Something more than just another day working and cleaning and fixing. And worry. So much worry.

Joy. Love. Peace. Hope. My readers, this is my prayer to you.

Blogs/Podcast/Web things I like

Sarah Bessey

Jen Hatmaker

The Feminist Survival Project

The Liturgists Podcast

Don Merritt

Jon Swainson at 300wordsaday

Now — you all share things with me — who should I listen to routinely? Who is funny? Who is part of increasing the goodness of the world?

The thing is, I can’t drive and listen so my “listening time” is not all that abundant. But I thought I would share these and ask for more just to try to expand out of my rut!

What feeds your soul?

More about Salvation

It’s because I’m taking the class about salvation and science fiction and fantasy; so everything is salvation all the time. I’ve learned already in new module 3 that all the substitution/satisfaction theories have fatal flaws, one of which is violence. Violence begats violence. One part of one reading looked at “mythologies” and …. wow…. I had no idea. Humans are horribly violent. So one possible reading of what Jesus did on the cross was to use nonviolence to change the world, defeat evil, defeat death, break the power of evil and evil systems. In fact, his life (as another reading detailed in a once-over-lightly of a big topic) can be seen as non-violent and countering violence, countering systems of oppression, countering and defeating “powers and principalities”. He has already fought the battle and won. (This is the “Christus Victor” theory of salvation for those playing at home.)

Just not quite yet. The salvation represented by this victory of the cross, this in-breaking of heaven, or shalom, or whatever word you want for the healing and love and God-with-us is not just for ourselves but for the systems on Earth and the very Earth itself. And it is sure and certain.

Just not quite yet.

This is a deeply complex view of things. It is completely realistic — in fact the world is very far from being free of oppressive systems of violence and injustice. And yet it is hopeful because the victory is assured. Hope, because love and peace and mercy and justice — it will all happen.

This is harder to understand that Jesus-forgives-me. And harder to have faith in. Maybe I don’t have a big enough brain! There is so much to learn! This is just the skim! I am so daunted.

And yet of course this solves all sorts of problems left entirely untouched by the Satisfaction/Substitution theories. Especially it clarifies that God had no role in Jesus dying on the cross — God does not need Jesus to die, like a sacrifice, to be appeased.

I think it was just last year, on Maundy Thursday or Good Friday or something — we had a cross at the front of the sanctuary and buckets of nails and hammers and note cards and pens. You put a sin on the card and you nailed it to the cross. Everyone participated, sort of row by row but not quite that formally. The noise! The noise of the hammering made me want to cry. The many sins we nailed up, for personal demons and societies’ evils, and nature’s ills — that made me want to cry. It was profound. Besides the sound of hammering — it was completely quiet. Not a song, not a violin, not a baby crying.

If I had a hammer…..

FTGOG

Interrupted by Salvation

What did Jesus save us from?

What chains are broken? What freedom is released? Are we “saved from death”? Are we saved from “hell”? Are we wiped clean of the guilt of sin?

I have learned that the very first thing is to consider is what are we being saved from? And this is so much a part of the era in which you live and breath and work. Right now, right here, what do we need saving from?

Saved from hate?

Saved from despair?

Saved from guilt?

Why we need to be saved is to solve some problem that we cannot solve, yes? We need God’s help. We need humility maybe, forgiveness, hope.

Perhaps the problems are concrete and systemic and the whole society needs saving. Perhaps it is as private as your own secret heart. Perhaps it is important to be both. Perhaps at different life stages or in different societies what we need saving from changes; that makes sense to me.

Because God is that big, the cross is so centered, that God’s love, grace, mercy, justice can roll down and out from it in all directions.

I like John 15:1-12 — verse 12 is “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” This encompasses, I think, more than dying. In fact, dying to save is what the “very God” is about. We, my friends, we have to live and care and enjoy and help and work in the work. We have to encompass love. We need to love one another. And that can easy somethings and very very difficult other times.

And I think that growth of my heart (like the Grinch) is how salvation is working on me. Freeing me from fear, forgiving me for mistakes, and letting me breath in God’s love, join the dance, and try somehow, some times, to add to to it.

Love will win, in the end.

Interrupted by Poetry

I wrote this in early 2017. Seems a million years ago. The tension between “just live your life” and “the rule of law and everything invisible that is the ground we walk on is breaking” is hard to navigate, and hard to discuss. I take everything to Jesus… doesn’t that sound strange? And poetry. And thus the combination. (“the deaths” refers to my circle of life not a national event or anything — the tension thing again between personal and political. Is that just me?)

Afterword

That Easter after the deaths and the election
felt more like Good Friday than Advent
More Tenebrae in our mourning selves, no bells to ring
How can we sing of resurrection joy?

Life is always thus someone will say
Someone is always dying and someone else 
Is always grieving until you just stop listening and
See a glimpse of a red bird in a green fir tree. 

Those left behind in the past’s dream keep saying 
Remember our parades our feasts our holy days?
While others know the past’s lynching tree could return,
The night could take back the day, rule of fear over law.

It could be worse. But is God helpless to help, bound
By some mysterious force that offers only a gift of myrrh?
Turn, see His small face, feel tiny fingers, hear the fragile heartbeat. 
Turn, He is nailed up there, bleeding for us, more than we deserve.

Interrupted by learning more about story

I learned a bit about the role of the villain in a story this past week. Now that sounds either obvious or dull, right? But what the professor said, paraphrasing, was “Knowing what the villain wants, drives the story.” If the villain sees humanity as a virus (I’m thinking about the Matrix movies), then the villain wants to destroy the virus. Perfectly logical. Just….wrong. Since “our” role, the “hero’s role”, is to defeat the villain and save lives/the world/something. Yes? So, the professor went on, the more complex your villain, the more complex the story.

This is just amazing. It is sort of like that saying “Everyone is the hero in their own story” only more complex. I don’t think that I think that everyone does think they are a hero. I think the people who take a bunch of guns and ammo are not thinking they are the hero. I think hate/evil is a real force. Maybe I’m wrong? Maybe I’ve been too simplistic?

The real thing about thinking about the villain that I felt at first was: anger. How dare the hero’s life be driven by what someone else wants? How unfair is that? And then the second thing I realized was that “this is why some kids/teens get so rebellious to their perfectly wonderful parents.” They are perceiving the good stuff parents want them to do — pick up the towel, brush your teeth, get enough sleep, don’t leave this house wearing THAT — to the demands of a person who wants world domination, and they want freedom.

Or it could make looking at an enemy something a tiny bit more than just “holding a space for hope.” It could be listening to figure out what that person perceives as the problem to solve. You might think the “problem to solve” is some countries are so broken and violent that some people living there find the only rational thing to do is to flee and try to start over. You might want to help. Someone else could see the problem as “people not staying and fixing their own country but just running away”. They might not see the vulnerability but see something completely different. And then either way, within whichever viewpoint, there could be a whole range of difference. But by taking some tiny step to share the different views of “the problem”, then arguing about the solutions could be more productive. It is a new thought, however shallow that makes me!

Jesus fought to save us — I think, I’ll be learning more — from… our own innate tendency to the temptations of evil; Jesus fought to save us from hate and greed and so on; Jesus fought to save us from brokenness, from illness, from death, from a violent world, from rulers who do not care for the vulnerable, from injustice; from a lack of love. Jesus — what he means depends on what you see. He’s the healer of a broken world or an unjust world or disease-filled world or all of the above and more. And he did this in a context where he was not perceived as being the savior, the good guy. He was seen, outside of a few, as rocking the boat. Huh?! It makes more sense now, the whole story, yes? Maybe?

I think my brain is still trying to wrap around all this. I have so much to learn! I’m just thinking that Jesus was a hero, so to speak, not acting merely in reaction to a villain, but trying to sort out the whole mess.

For the Glory of God!

How do we love our enemies?

So I can only speak for myself but I am so very tired of hearing stuff like, “the problem is the country is polorized”; “the problem is the country is split”; “the problem is both sides won’t compromise”.

That’s complete nonsense because their side is wrong.

Wrong on the environment. Wrong on immigration.Wrong on mass incarceration and gun violence prevention and mental health care and women’s rights to control their own body and …. everything big basically.

If they want to apologize and step out of their extreme zone and step closer to the middle, we could listen.

But we’re here. We’re in the right. We’re in this zone where right is. I am not being funny. The world is at stake. Democracy is at stake. Basic humanity and civility and the rule of law is at stake.

So no, I’m not going a step toward them.

So how do I love my enemies?

One way is to say all that I just said, like a prophet with a word of truth. One way is to vote, which I am very eager to do. One way is all sorts of postcards and letters to my politicians and so on. Which I do. And all sorts of the things, yes? You know, fighting the good fight for honor and democracy. Which is a little funny because how can that not be a little funny?

But as a Christian — really truly all-in loving Jesus Christian — that’s not quite enough right? There’s that whole love your enemies thing. There’s the that whole do onto others and love the sinner and we’re all sinners, we’re all far from the mark, we’re all cloudy mirrors for God’s glorious light on even our best days. So what in the world do I do with this tension?

I don’t have an answer.

Some days I rage. Some days I block it all out. Some days I just make conversation and don’t get political. Some days the anger and fear and frustration gets into my writing. Some days it gets into my bones.

But every now and then, there is just a glimmer. Not really hope exactly, but a glimmer or a flutter of a wing that says: hold space for change. Maybe just an inch. But the story that God is writing isn’t over, and in God’s story love wins. So let’s take a step back from despair if not toward compromise of principles and lets just hold space for change.

Maybe that’s enough. Today. For the Glory of God.