A Wayward Leaf

Faded Leaf 2

Faded leaves honest all, lost, fall.

They sleep together great and small.

Unlike the sunlight’s warm laughter

They bait not nor bid hereafter.

They die in faith death has not won,

‘Til wakened by their Champion.

Let me too Lord a wayward leaf

Fall to my death in this belief.

It is enough since we have heard,

Sleep is blessed buried in Your word.

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Published in: Uncategorized on December 3, 2017 at 5:41 pm  Comments (1)  

Happy Birthday to 500 Years of Troublemakers

Gifts+in+Common

There’s no other choice: either we’re making trouble or getting in it.

Here we are.  Where? They say, “Nobody knows,” but, everybody knows.

The Secular-White World of Western Hegemony is in Trouble

“Every effort at re-enchantment is an effort to tell the story of the world and of our place in it. This is what lies behind our voraciousness for, say, Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter. (Haven’t we all felt like there’s another world just behind this one in which even our scars are signs of chosenness?) We’re ravenous for something—even as distraction, even as fiction—that can tell us both who we are and how we belong together, and we are deeply resistant to it at the same time.

“Here is our dilemma[:] we want to build a society where our lives make sense not just personally but collectively. But in a disenchanted world nothing—no person or institution, not even nature—can tell us how to do it. Nothing can take away the burden of freedom, of our having to make meaning ourselves. The dilemma we face is how to connect these two live wires, how to hold tight to both ends of the rope so as to preserve the freedoms we have gained while building a re-legitimated social world in which our lives can make sense.  This is the dilemma of re-enchantment.  We react to this dilemma in all kinds of ways. For many, the tension is too great and they let go of the rope, opt out of either freedom or community. Very often in our increasingly isolated and isolating world, it is the latter that is let go. It is not that the desire to belong to a community in which our lives make sense goes away, it is that it’s easier to disappear into our phones and make the world go away.”[i]

The keepers kept in the grip of secular whiteness fight to buttress the bulwark of immanence thrown up against transcendence.  Nonetheless it is threatened with rupture.  Like the Berlin wall it will give way without the experts’ expectation or catastrophic event.  The global distribution of the Bible in the languages of the nations will sweep it away.  Believers in the God of the Bible unite, exercise your conscience, you’ve nothing to lose but the effects of stratagems and intrigues designed to divide you.

Now this is an amazing thing.  Charles Taylor in his A Secular Age has the academic capacity to speak of the things he does without any reference to race, which is an intrinsic element not only of that of which he speaks — the “Modern Moral Order” — but is also a significant factor that empowers him to speak about this order in the way he does.  Speaking as a western scholar Taylor does so with a racialized dialect.  It is a mere variety of speech, a cognate of western expansion and encounter with other people designated neither western nor white.

Taylor speaks of the “social imaginary” as a term encompassing “the ways in which [we] imagine [our] social existence, how [we] fit together with others, how things go on between [us] and [our] fellows, the expectations which are normally met, and the deeper normative notions and images which underlie these expectations.”  The term “imaginary” takes in the “whole of society,” including “the way ordinary people ‘imagine’ their social surroundings” as these are “carried in images, stories, legends, etc.”  Therefore, “the social imaginary is that common understanding which makes possible common practices, and a widely shared sense of legitimacy.”  Taylor writes,

“Our social imaginary at any given time is complex.  It incorporates a sense of the normal expectations that we have of each other; the kind of common understanding which enables us to carry out the collective practices which make up our social life.  This incorporates some sense of how we all fit together in carrying out the common practice.  This understanding is both factual and ‘normative’; that is, we have a sense of how things usually go, but this is interwoven with an idea of how they ought to go, of what missteps would invalidate the practice.”

The social imaginary extends beyond immediate understanding and practice, it takes in “a wider grasp of our whole predicament, how we stand to each other, how we got to where we are, how we relate to other groups, etc.”  This “background” is “that largely unstructured and inarticulate understanding of our whole situation, within which particular features of our world show up for us in the sense they have.”  Unlimited and indefinite in nature, it is best to speak of this as an “imaginary” because it cannot be concisely captured as theory or “adequately expressed in the form of explicit doctrines.”

He is totally oblivious to the reality of racialized socialization.  He hasn’t a word to say about how whiteness and white supremacy are essential factors at work within the western imaginary.  Yet, unwittingly, Taylor indeed expresses how whiteness does work in the imaginary he describes.  It manifests its effect upon his heart and soul through his not mentioning it.  Crucial to our sense of identity and understanding Taylor tells us, is “a sense of moral order.”  This moral order is “more than just a grasp on the norms underlying our social practice, which are part of the immediate understanding which makes this practice possible.”  The moral order “through which we understand human life and history” is “what makes these norms realizable,” which in turn give sense to our actions.  Taylor examines “the change-over, the process in which the modern theory of moral order gradually infiltrates and transforms our social imaginary”[ii] without any reference to or realization of the power of whiteness at work in his thoughts.  Let the blind lead the blind.  May the Lord give them eyes to see, because what they do not see is rapidly becoming as irrelevant as it is anachronistic.

The Reformation principle of sola scriptura and the reformers commitment to translating the Bible into the ordinary languages of daily life exponentially accelerated translating the Bible into the languages of the world, and with this, its global mass distribution.  This has promoted world-wide study, preaching and singing of the Bible’s content.  This phenomenon became the major element in the birth and growth of world Christianity. In the twenty-first century millions of people in a wide array of different cultural and historical contexts rely upon the Bible daily as a guide for life in this world and look to it as a source of hope in happily living in the next world they believe is to come.  Historian Mark A. Noll observes that this ongoing translation of the Bible may be the most enduringly significant feature of the global expansion of Christianity.”  The church is enriched through this undertaking because this means, as he puts it, the ongoing “history of Christianity constantly unfolds new depths and new understanding of the Christian faith itself.”[iii]

But the benefits of this translation work are not restricted to the church.  Yale Divinity School scholar Lamin Sanneh of Gambia, Africa writes, “Christians became pioneers of linguistic development with the creation of alphabets, orthographies, dictionaries, and grammars.”  He goes on to say, “The resulting literacy, however limited, produced social and cultural transformations.  A culture that for the first time possessed a dictionary and a grammar was a culture endowed for renewal and empowerment, whether or not it adopted Christianity.  The fruits of Christian labor on this matter were undiscriminating.  The benefits of mother tongue literacy spread without precondition or preferment, with the rule of popular access inducting a commensurate process of local awakening.”[iv]  There are now “innumerable, major cultures in the church” with the “majority of Christians now belonging to Africa, Asia, and Latin America.  These regions will increasingly be the places where creative theology will become a necessity and where the materials for constructing that theology will be such as have not been used for that purpose before.”

This theological work will take place in the context of partnerships and controversies between what Lamin Sanneh calls “global Christianity,” which is the colonial vestige of Christendom and what he calls “world Christianity,” as that “movement of Christianity that takes form and shape in societies that previously were not Christian, societies that had no bureaucratic tradition with which to,” as he puts it, “domesticate the gospel.”[v]  For Sanneh, global Christianization or Christendom is the establishment of a primarily western religion, replicating western culture and sensibilities and often suppressing local religious expression.  This is a kind of Christianity that scholars/healers like Charles Mills [See The Racial Contract (Cornell University Press, 1997)] give us eyes to see as having been severely crippled by secular whiteness.  By contrast, world Christianity is the movement of indigenous forms of Christianity, expressed through a variety of local idioms.”[vi]  According to Sanneh, the ongoing outworking of the ‘vernacular principle’ of the Reformation “turns out to be the defining difference between ‘global Christianization’ and ‘world Christianity.’”[vii]

Translating the Bible into all the languages of the world announces that “no culture is so advanced and so superior that it can claim exclusive access or advantage to the truth of God, and none so marginal or inferior that it can be excluded.  All have merit; none is indispensable.”[viii]   The research of American political scientist Robert D. Woodberry presents the empirical evidence to clearly demonstrate that on a global scale those Protestant missionaries that took the Bible to all corners of the earth have made the unexpected contribution of improving the political social conditions of the people – men and women — wherever they have been encountered.   His research confirms that, “In particular, conversionary Protestants (CPs) were a crucial catalyst initiating the development and spread of religious liberty, mass education, mass printing, newspapers, voluntary organizations, most major colonial reforms, and the codification of legal protections for nonwhites in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.”  “These innovations,” he adds, “fostered conditions that made stable representative democracy more likely regardless of whether many people converted to Protestantism.”[ix]

While the Bible will continue to play this important role, it will do so in a new social environment that points to the twenty-first century becoming the first postsecular era of global modernity. The term postsecular refers to the ongoing vitality of religion in tension with secular norms ordering modern life.  Increasingly, religiously motivated men and women refuse to recuse themselves from affairs addressed in the public square or from entering the political arena to speak their religious minds.  “Religion,” as political scientist Samuel P. Huntington put it several decades ago, “is central, perhaps the central force that motivates and mobilizes people.”[x]  Professor of Religion Stephen Prothero more recently has acknowledged that, “Religion is not merely a private affair…but is one of the prime movers in politics worldwide.”[xi]   The postsecular perspective recognizes the “presence of religion in modernity is not restricted to the private character of religion but accents the relevance of the relationship of religion to the public sphere.”[xii]  None of this will please the secular-white academy ensconced behind its generic abstracts, concepts and methods.

The secular-white academy finds itself entering a postsecular phase of scholarship.  Less than ten years ago sociologist John D. Boy reported that the term postsecular “has been appearing at an ever increasing rate in academic debates in a number of different areas.”  Boy notes interest in the perspective is expanding in the fields of sociology, philosophy, cultural studies and theology, political theory, and postcolonial and feminist thought.  Boy concludes that “both established and emerging scholars are staking their work on the concept of the postsecular.”[xiii]

Like a species presumed extinct and thus neither looked for nor seen the Bible passes through the postsecular framing of global life without notice.  It continues to be distributed on an unprecedented scale throughout the world.  At the same time, work is being done around the clock to translate it into all the languages of humankind.  The United Bible Societies, the world’s largest Christian mission organization, reported in its 2015 Scripture Language Report that full Bible translations were available to 550 languages, spoken by 4.9 billion people. Through formal agreements the United Bible Societies collaborates with the Catholic Bible Federation since 1969.  Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, then president of the Catholic Biblical Federation in 2008 stressed that the Bible remains the most effective “place” where Christians can meet. The UBS has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Orthodox Churches in 2010.  The evangelical Wycliffe Global Alliance reports that as of the end of 2016 there are 667 languages with the complete Bible, giving over 5.1 billion people access to Scripture in the language they understand best.  The New Testament is available in another 1,442 languages, reaching another 685 million people.  Selections and stories are available in a further 1,145 other languages spoken by 434 million people.  As of October 2016 the organization is involved in 2,422 active translation projects, recognizing that work still must be done to reach “an estimated 160 million people without access to any Scripture in their heart language.”  At present out of the total world population there remains “at least 1.5 billion people without the full Bible in their first language.”[xiv]

As evidenced by recent events the entrenched hierarchical authority of the Roman Catholic Church will be increasingly challenged by a Bible-based global imaginary or any institutional worldview it might bring to bear upon a new global postsecular moral order.  The apostolic exhortation “Amoris Laetitia” or “The Joy of Love” issued by Pope Francis has generated controversy over the pope’s authority.  The instructions Pope Francis issued have been challenged by members of the college of cardinals.  Among other doubtful teachings they claim it alters traditional Catholic teaching on “the existence of absolute moral norms prohibiting intrinsically evil acts; that circumstances or intentions can never transform an intrinsically evil act into a subjectively good one or into a defensible choice; and that there can be no ‘creative’ role for conscience to authorize legitimate exceptions to absolute moral norms.”[xv]  In a measure not employed since the 14th century a group of 62 Roman Catholic theologians issued a “filial correction” to the pope, accusing him of seven heretical positions.[xvi]  Pope Francis responded by insisting this month (November, 2017) that “priests must inform Catholic consciences ‘but not replace them.’”  The Jesuit journal America reported that the pope “stressed the distinction between one’s conscience – where God reveals himself – and one’s ego that thinks it can do as it pleases.”  Pope Francis added, “The contemporary world risks confusing the primacy of conscience, which must always be respected, with the exclusive autonomy of an individual with respect to his or her relations.”

The crisis of authority facing the Roman Catholic Church is not an evangelical Protestant concern except as a matter of prayer.  May the Lord answer our prayers through His intercessory ministry in behalf of the entire Body of Christ.  Evangelicals can celebrate however, that Pope Francis, the first Jesuit pope in the history of the Roman Catholic Church, has taken his stand in solidarity with Martin Luther.  It was Luther who said 500 years ago before his Most Serene Emperor, Illustrious Princes and Gracious Lords,

“Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason — I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other — my conscience is captive to the Word of God.  I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe.”

Pope Francis has confirmed Luther’s declaration, for where else but in the word of God does God reveal Himself?   Pope Francis teaches the conscience of each person must always be respected, thus he aligns himself with Luther’s judgment that to go against conscience is neither right nor safe.  In this he should be commended and encouraged.  We would now be in a far better place if Pope Leo X had advised bishops and priests as does Pope Francis, that they are to guide a person’s conscience and not replace it.  The pope is a far bolder soul than well-known scholars who recently were quick to fault the Reformation for its causing secularity, hyperpluralism and spawning Christianity’s dangerous idea that each person is responsible for his or her rightly handling the word of God; yet in doing so somehow hadn’t either time or the inclination to examine this critical truth of the primacy of the conscience, which always must be respected because that is “where God reveals himself.”[xvii]  The Spirit determines the time of travel that truth requires to reach each person’s heart.  As regards the primacy of the conscience standing before God in examining the Scriptures and receiving the teachings of the church the Spirit delivered truth quicker to Jorge Mario Bergoglio than to Gregory, McGrath, or Taylor.

Without wanting it or planning for it we have entered a similar kind of religio-political arena into which Luther stepped when he launched the Reformation, only that today the institutional worldview being challenged is based upon secular white norms and demands.  We may call this a global challenge to a secular Magisterium grounded in whiteness.  Will we witness the resacralization of secular law?  Will Roman Catholics and Protestants of world Christianity as a de facto priesthood of believers act upon their consciences together before God?  Who knows.  In this new, postsecular context, it has yet to enter our hearts what role the Bible will play in producing a new global imaginary, moral order or institutional worldview as God unfolds what He has prepared for those who love Him.  Perhaps with German pastor and pro-democracy dissident Wolfgang Ullman (1929-2004) we can see wisdom in the understanding of the church provided in the late 1920s by Lutheran scholar Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy and Roman Catholic scholar Joseph Wittig in their joint work on church history.  Assessing the church historically over the long term they said it was best seen “as an alternative to society in all of its historical forms of manifestation,” and that what distinguishes it “from everything else is the fact that the church is a living unity that forms institutions, groups and mentalities – often of completely opposing kinds! – without however being identical with any one of them.”[xviii]

Whether we agree with this or not, what we can anticipate is that given the rapid growth of world Christianity and the continued translation of the Bible into the languages of the world, with its accelerated global distribution, this effect of the Reformation will continue to have unexpected relevance and undoubtedly will be the source of more unintended consequences because men and women from literally everywhere, Roman Catholic and Protestant alike, will be handling its content in their own language in search for answers to the question, “What makes life really worth living?”

Read globally the Bible will no longer serve as a warrant for whiteness.  Instead it will be the authority by which the so-called god on earth of this accustomed idol is exposed, exorcised and cast down.  No longer will “white supremacy make whiteness possible because it allows whiteness the space of moderation and normality that it needs to survive.”  No longer will whiteness be tolerated as possessing status “as the non-threatening, as the good.”  No longer will white supremacy serve as a “scapegoat for whiteness, the convenient location of white violence and lawlessness, distracting our attention from the violence and lawlessness of whiteness itself.”[xix]  In this let each of us seek the Lord’s wisdom.  We do not want to ruin the brother or sister of weak conscience for whose sake Christ has died.  We do not want to wound their conscience when it is weak and sin against Christ.  For we know that there is no such thing as an idol in the world, and that there is no God but one.  Let us be quick to remind one another of what the Holy Spirit gave the apostle to the nations for our instruction:

Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels.  And the Lord’s servant — His bondservant — must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness.  God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

This same apostle of Jesus Christ by the will and commandment of God the Father, our Savior, according to the promise of life in Christ Jesus our hope, urges us to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which we have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  See how the Holy Spirit is drawing us together from every continent and from all nations!  The Spirit is bringing us together, gathering the church in all her fullness, her richness and her beauty in preparation for her universal, final display.  The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.”  And let the one who hears say, “Come.”  For Jesus has said, “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” Come, Lord Jesus!

May the God of endurance and encouragement grant us to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus that together we may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Now  to Him, the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power of the Holy Spirit at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever.  Amen.

[i] Patrick Gilger, S.J., “Re-enchanting the World, America (8/16/2016), accessed at http://americamagazine.org/issue/re-enchanting-world.  Read (again) 11/13/2017.

[ii] Charles Taylor, A Secular Age (Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, England: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2007), pp. 171-176.

[iii] Mark A. Noll, From Every Tribe and Nation, A Historian’s Discovery of the Global Christian Story (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2014), p. 97.

[iv] Lamin Sanneh, Whose Religion Is Christianity?  The Gospel beyond the West (Grand Rapids, Michigan/Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2003), p. 99.

[v] Ibid., pp. 22-23.

[vi] Colin H. Yuckman, “The Jesus Film: Between Global Christianization and World Christianity,” in American Society of Missiology, Missio-Logoi, Contextualization, eds. Robert A. Danielson and William L. Selvidge (Wilmore, KY: First Fruits Press, The Academic Open Press of Ashbury Theological Seminary, 2016), pp. 35-36.

[vii] Ibid.

[viii] Lamin Sanneh, Whose Religion Is Christianity?  The Gospel beyond the West (Grand Rapids, Michigan/Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2003), pp. 105-106.

[ix] Robert D. Woodberry, “The Missionary Roots of Liberal Democracy,” American Political Science Review, vol. 106, no. 2 (May 2012), pp. 244-245.  Woodberry defines Conversionary Protestants as Christians who (1) actively attempt to persuade others of their beliefs, (2) emphasize lay vernacular Bible reading, and (3) believe that grace/faith/choice saves people, not group membership of sacraments.

[x] Samuel P. Huntington, “Response, If Not Civilizations, What?” in The Clash of Civilizations?  The Debate, A Foreign Affairs Reader (New York: Foreign Affairs, 1993), pp. 191-192.

[xi] Stephen Prothero, God Is Not One, The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World – and Why Their Differences Matter (New York, NY: HarperOne, 2010), 7-8.

[xii] Hans-Georg Ziebertz and Ulrich Riegel, “Europe: A Post-Secular Society?” International Journal of Practical Theology (2009):293-308, p. 294.

[xiii] John D. Boy, “What we talk about when we talk about the postsecular,” The Immanent Frame – Secularism, religion, and the public sphere (3/15/2011) accessed at https://tif.ssrc.org/2011/03/15/what-we-talk-about-when-we-talk-about-the-postsecular/.  Read 10/24/2017.  The Immanent Frame publishes interdisciplinary perspectives on religion, secularism, and the public sphere. Founded in October 2007 in conjunction with the Social Science Research Council’s program on Religion and the Public Sphere, The Immanent Frame features invited contributions and original essays, and serves as a forum for ongoing exchanges among leading thinkers from the social sciences and humanities.  https://tif.ssrc.org/about/.  The Social Science Research Council (SSRC) is an independent, international, nonprofit organization founded in 1923. It fosters innovative research, nurtures new generations of social scientists, deepens how inquiry is practiced within and across disciplines, and mobilizes necessary knowledge on important public issues.  https://www.ssrc.org/about/mission/.

[xiv] World Council of Churches, https://www.oikoumene.org/en/press-centre/news/united-bible-societies-a-world-fellowship-serving-the-churches. Read 10/16/2017.  See Catholic Online (10/15/2008), accessed http://www.catholic.org/international/intetrnational_story.php?id=30064.  For Wycliffe see, “Scripture & Language Statistics 2016, Resources, Scripture Access Statistics,” Wycliffe Global Alliance accessed at http://www.wycliffe.net/.

[xv] Louis J. Cameli, “Pope Francis still hasn’t responded to the dubia.  He has good reason not to,” America (1/5/2017), read at https://www.americanmagazine.org/faith/2017/91/05/pope-francis-still-hasnt-responded-dubia-he-has-good-reason-not.  Read 11/13/2017.

[xvi] America Staff, “Pope Francis critics continue to seek answers on ‘Amoris Laetitia’ in ‘filial correction’” (9/23/2017), accessed at https://americamagazine.org/faith/2017/09/23/pop-francis-critics-continue-seek-answers-amoris-laetitia-filial-correction?page=1. Read 11/13/2017.

[xvii] The index of each of the following works fails to include “conscience” as a reference heading:  Brad S. Gregory, The Unintended Reformation, How a Religious Revolution Secularized Society (2012); Schott W. Hahn and Benjamin Wiker, Politicizing the Bible (21o3); Alister McGrath, Christianity’s Dangerous Idea (2007); Charles Taylor, A Secular Age (2007).

[xviii] Wolfgang Ullman, “Eine ökumenische Soziologie der Kirche, Zum Neudruck von Rosenstock-Wittige, Das Alter der Kirche, Bd. I-III, 1927-1928,” in Eugen Rosenstock and Joseph Wittig, Das Alter der Kirche, Bd. III (Münster: Agenda Verlag, 1998), pp. 353-357.

[xix]  George Yancey, Who Is White, Latinos, Asians, and the New Black/Nonblack Divide.

 (Boulder, London: Lynee Reinner Publishers, Inc., 2003), p. 15.

Image from Calvin Institute of Christian Worship for Study and Renewal of Worship.

Published in: Uncategorized on November 14, 2017 at 3:46 am  Comments (2)  

Pale Romantic Death

John_Henry_Fuseli_-_The_Nightmare.JPG

The Nightmare by Henry Fuseli (1781)

Holy imperialists romantisieren.

Charming uncircumcised reason,

Tracing young Werther’s navel,

We’d stare at ourselves and taught others to pray

With every word we read.

We kissed the ring of Hegel,

We wiped our tears away with draggled hair

Descending from our dappled heads.

Where?  is this?  the after?  life?

Nulla scriptura littera vulgaris,

We stole oral folklore.

We took as ours the Ossianic tradition.

We turned yearning – Liebesrausch — into the higher vision.

We fused every youthful muse to the erosion of emotions.

We turned the straw of lust into the wisdom of God-damned maturation.

We gave names to our raves – the self-contradictory dialectic,

Dérive, decentered, the I is no condition,

Whatever thinks is a suspicious shift, as

Unwelcomed as it is unbidden.

The permanent things have passed.

The spirit of irony, our self-made ecstasy,

Our deliverance from evil, indwells

Those we supplant, map and rape.

Now outnumbered, senescent and weak,

We’ll plead anything — frailty, disability, insanity,

Anything so we can still hide, stalk and seek.

We offer indulgences, audiences and answers

Part paradisiacal, part parasitical, promised

Arabesque accessed as the thing in itself dismissed:

Behold the apparition: the self-determined self self-transcending.

Halation, openness, elusive fragments, inconclusive, clueless,

Pieces without fullness, an indissoluble contest,

The absolute absorbed antagonizing incestuous release,

The delirious dressed in academic redress,

As if disavowing every detestable delight,

Precise as ice, cold as death,

The apotheosis of neurosis,

Nightmares and mustang stallions,

Nordic runes and Spanish ruins, English

Secret prisons and the French foreign legion,

Marche ou crève without prophet or medium,

Chiliastic bones jousting nihilistic clones,

A never ending finitude of beginnings pressed

Between burning tongues of torrid speech and

Silence broken though forbidden to speak.

Like us, let us set you free to take the freest license.

Forgive us our crusades, our inquisitions, our drives to enslave.

Accept our crushing the competition’s children as God’s given mission.

Let the modern economic order grow.

Let the imaginaries run wild.

Destroy the home before the time to return arrives,

Picture Madonna aborts the Child.

Please, proclaim our history innocent.

Commit hideous crimes with us.

Learn to label them sublime.

Patent grace a commodity codified.

Anoint our moods sincere.

Announce our feel for things distinct and clear.

Sanctify our natural law prescient,

Our saints decent,

Our sacraments subtilized.

Bless our decadence,

Our voyeur cloth and iconic lay tourists,

Celebrate our festivals, mark our calendars,

Light our candles,

Visit our museums and cultural centers,

Go to our movies, watch our parades,

Haunt our graveyards advertised as entertainment

In our bars and brothels and all-night arcades.

Enlarge our palette, sing of our dreams,

Fatten our wallet.

With us sweat the fever, starve the soul,

With us never suffer the martyr but for silver and gold.

Fast food, fast moves, fast money,

The con seen has no meaning if not believed.

Novelists, artists, and tax-exempt hosts

Tonsure the Word to gratify us,

Your first-name only, global fleshly ghosts –

Who stand both blind and naked

Before the bench of God’s incarnate truth:

Our portraits are the indicting proof,

Our faith unassailed,

Raceless, placeless, faceless —

Turns a whiter shade of pale.

Catholic apologist and devotee of romanticism Charles Taylor openly admits, “The Reformation as Reform is central to the story I want to tell — that of the abolition of the enchanted cosmos, and the eventual creation of a humanist alternative to faith.”  In the name of a Latin Christendom that could not reform itself he condemns Reform — that evil engine of disenchantment — “inflamed by a hatred of idolatry, which animated the grim-faced worshippers Erasmus saw emerging from the Church in Basel.”  Whatever is ignored is absolved, for apart from the law there is no sin.

For you, being so wise, bear with the foolish gladly.  For you bear with anyone if he enslaves you, if he devours you, if he takes advantage of you, if he exalts himself, if he hits you in the face.

Taylor catechizes the Reformation’s children (for the academy is Christendom’s kindergarten), indoctrinating them to think, “one can see how all this disciplined order-building prepared a great reversal.  On one hand, we have people who develop the disciplines of character, so that they can put some (for the time) impressive degree of moral order in their conduct.  On the other, some of these people in association find ways to impose an unprecedented degree of order on society, or at least come to believe they can do so, given the right conditions.

“Now both their action in expelling the sacred from worship and social life, and the instrumental stance they take to things and to society in the course of building their order, tends to drive out the enchantment from the world.  This becomes progressively voided of its spirits and meaningful forces, and more and more the disenchanted world we are familiar with.  In consequence the understanding of the subject as porous fades more and more away.”

Charles Taylor, A Secular Age (Cambridge, Massachusetts, and London, England: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2007), pp. 77, 83.

His evangelical popularizer adds, “In a way, Taylor suggests all conversions to Christianity in our secular age are, to some extent, reconversions, conversions back to a social imaginary that animated Europe in the past.”  To confirm this he quotes Taylor,  “‘The hold of the former Christendom on our imagination is immense, and in a sense, rightly so.’” James K. A. Smith, How (Not) to be Secular, Reading Charles Taylor (Grand Rapids, Michigan/Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2014), p. 134.

The Myth Beneath Latin Christendom’s Mask Means Nothing as Much as Everything

The_Abduction_of_Europa,_Jean-François_de_Troy

Jean François de Troy, The Abduction of Europa (1716)

Only a Wissenschaftslehrer committed to the pure ‘I’, playing the role of a colonizing myope could hold fast to such a closed-minded and narcissistic outlook.  The West’s heart readied for repentance and reparation must realize the daughters of Latin Christendom, the two together, the Catholic imaginary and the Protestant drive for order, have made globalization what it is today, both in terms of its hegemonic secular state and its long-standing service of providing a safe haven for whiteness.   The Holy Spirit’s postsecular caldron of indigena coming to a boil in the twenty-first century, that is, the rising up of religious-based resistance to the secular-white West and the explosive growth of world Christianity, sets His desire against these tares sown in the world by the devil.

Professor Willie James Jennings has shown us a better way that we might learn how not to take secular whiteness so serious.  Read Willie James Jennings, The Christian Imagination, Theology and the Origins of Race (New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 2010).  Begin by listening to “Can ‘White’ People be Saved: Reflections on the Relationship of Missions and Whiteness,” available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wRvaG9j53g, an address given by Willie Jennings, Thursday, November 2, 2017 at the Fuller School of Intercultural Studies Conference, “Race, Theology, & Mission.”

A fuller and more fair understanding of this, A Secular Age, is to pronounce it the Age of Secular Whiteness, a project of Latin Christendom, entered into and advanced by both Roman Catholics and especially, magisterial Protestants, who together imagined, mapped and built the present scholastic, humanist, colonized and racialized moment we call modernity.  As Dr. Jennings makes clear, this distinctive type of inner identity, personal discipline and social order holds up male whiteness as the standard, the meaning, and the purpose of achieving the fullness of being human, of reaching complete cultural maturation and receiving the benefits of perfect salvation.   This is a deformed program in edification that was conceived by and cast upon the world through Latin Christendom.  It distorts the gospel and troubles the church.  Anyone can be secular white, but upon realizing what secular whiteness is, who would want to be?  Anyone who thirsts and wishes to take the water of life without cost may do so, and who, upon coming to know Jesus would not want to do so?

I do not believe, trust in nor rely upon the words of either Charles Taylor or James K. A. Smith. The “strange rituals of Christian worship” offer no exhilarative antidote to the carcinogen of secular whiteness, which their academic discourse enables to remain unnamed.  With the Book of Books He has given us, we who have been bought by His blood walk this the biblical landscape of life where He has put us to live before the eyes of the Lord, whether counted among the people of the nations or as a member of the Jewish nation.  We believe in His name.  We trust in His life of righteousness, passion, death and resurrection.  We rely only upon Him today to live His Father’s love through the power of His Spirit.  We are not waiting for Godot, or for Saint Francis or Martin Luther.  We are waiting for Jesus, for He has said, “Yes, I am coming quickly.”  Amen.  Come, Lord Jesus.

Reliance upon Hans-Joachim Hahn, “Germany: Cultural Survey,” in Christopher John Murray, ed., Encyclopedia of the Romantic Era, 1760-1850 (New York, London: Taylor & Francis Group, 2004; Routledge, 2013), pp. 415-418.

Apologies to Procol Harlum (1967)

A Non-Ironic Postscript

The irony of irony is that it is not ironic.  We bend the knee to the imaginary “state of nature.”  We ensconce ourselves behind the laws of nature and nature’s god.  We accept as normative the concept “social contract.”  We have built upon it our political temple devoted to freedom.  However, although we all either enjoy or suffer its provisions we refuse to give any consideration to another idea that actually describes historical reality: the concept of a “Racial Contract.”  The long-standing and on-going ignoring of this concept is itself an indicator of its validity, because such a rejection is precisely in accordance with it requirements.  As the scholar that worked hard to make visible this binding fasces, Charles Mills explains.  The “Racial Contract prescribes for its signatories an inverted epistemology, an epistemology of ignorance, a particular pattern of localized and global cognitive dysfunctions (which are psychologically and socially functional), producing the ironic outcome that whites will in general be unable to understand the world they themselves have made.”

This is the case because “in a racially structured polity, the only people who can find it psychologically possible to deny the centrality of race are those who are racially privileged, for whom race is invisible precisely because the world is structured around them, whiteness as the ground against which the figures of other races–those who, unlike us, are raced–appear.”

Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, ‘The Lord knows those who are His,’ and, ‘Let everyone who names the name of the Lord abstain from wickedness.’  No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.

“A genuine transcendence of [the] terms [of the Racial Contract] would require, as a preliminary, the acknowledgment of its past and present existence and the social, political, economic, psychological, and moral implications it has had both for its contractors and its victims.”

The Racial Contract (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1997), pp. 18, 76-77.

And thus the lie to the title of this postscript.  In a postsecular moment of collages and collapses our cultural constructs come and go (Isaiah 40:8). The political concept of the “social contract” is an example of mauvaise foi, masking truth from a unitary consciousness in the midst of our tinkering about collecting oddments and ornaments like mushrooms in this, our darkening forest of flux.  If we rely upon Olivier Roy to name this rummaging ritual, we would call it Holy Ignorance, “the worldview of those who,” as the New York Times reviewer of his work put it, “having lost both their theology and their roots, subscribe to ideas as incoherent as they are ultimately futile.”  And, as the reviewer points out, quite correctly I believe according to Scripture, “The most important thing to know about those urging the restoration of a lost religious authenticity is that they are sustained by the very forces they denounce.”  He of course is referring to the religious style coined ‘fundamentalism’.  I read him to mean secular modern political science, and its apostles Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Hume, Rousseau, Kant, Hegel, Marx, Mills, Weber, Habermas and Rawls.

Olivier Roy, Holy Ignorance, When Religion and Culture Part Ways, trans. by Ros Schwartz (Columbia University Press, 2010), reviewed by Alan Wolfe, “Faith and Modernity,” The New York Times Sunday Book Review (12/24/2010).  Accessed at http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/26/books/review/Wolfe-t.html.  Read 11/12/2017.

It is amazing that the lawyers, executors and keepers of the collective combination of memory and amnesia that makes up the imaginary secular community of whiteness have said so little about the single most powerful event happening everywhere right under their noses.  This event is bringing into existence an alternative imaginary, a shelter for all of us caught up in the daily disruption of global unfolding and re-wrinkling, as we draw closer to that fretful and homeless state of mind that comes with what Bhabha calls cultural hybridity.   Charles Lemert asked in his work Postmodernism is Not What You Think — Why Globalization Threatens Modernity (2005),  “If there is a global WE, might we call ourselves the dispossessed?”  And the answer is yes.  God is shaking the nations making us all wretched migrants of the earth.  At the same time we are witnessing the translation of the Bible into the languages of all nations, laying down the groundwork for a far more inclusive, coherent and inviting alternative to the gibberish of both “globish” and global English.  This is not an abstract process.  As Bauman made clear in Modernity and the Holocaust (1989), the entire modern project has been put on the spot because it was bureaucratic planning and administration, university education and scientific research, technological instrumentation and rationality in service to the modern state that produced the methods and motives of its implementation.  Any theory of modernity — secular, postsecular or postmodern — and any claim to modern civilization must face this horror and chart this abyss.  The Holocaust will not go away.  It is not peripheral to what we now are going through.  Tens and hundreds of millions of people reading the Bible every day in their own language know this.  Muslims know this.  The people of Israel know this.  The Jewish people know this.  The sin of supersession is universal.  But for it too He said, “It is finished.’

With Walter Benjamin we confess, “Every second of time was [and remains] the strait gate through which the Messiah might enter.”  And this is waiting, we press on sorrowful yet ever joyful, going out, not knowing where we are going, to greet Him.

einbahnstrase

Proverbs 30:2-9; Proverbs 5.

Published in: Uncategorized on November 8, 2017 at 9:39 pm  Comments (1)  

We Listened, therefore, We Live

While information understands only facts and action, wisdom finds truth even in misunderstanding.

God’s revelation is not a product of advertising; it is the Word, the Power and Provider of our untouched, deepest and most intimate desire.

God neither needs to pay heed to nor observe the Word, for the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  This One was in the beginning with God. He is God’s whisperer to all dead souls.

Without bullhorn or billboard, He who explains God will not cry out or raise His voice, nor make His voice heard in the street.  From out of the bright cloud that overshadows us all the voice of Majestic Glory spoke only to Him, saying,

“This is My Beloved Son,

My Chosen One, with whom I am well-pleased.”

[Followed by the Spirit’s flair for the pleonastic additive of mnemonic effect]:

“Listen to Him!”

Blessed are the children of God,

Who give constant heed to Him,

For they shall see God,

Even as they purify themselves

Just as He is pure,

Who see by faith from hearing

Through the Spirit the word of Christ,

Waiting, their hope fixed on Him:

To be like Him because they shall see Him as He is.

“The logical point of departure for all philosophical speculation is not the I, nor is it representation (Vorstellung), that is, the world as it immediately appears to the senses, but rather it is a mediate or historical representation, humanly elaborated and given us principally in the language through which we know the world; the point of departure is not psychical but spiritual representation.  Each one of us in thinking sets out from a point of departure based — whether we know it or not and whether we want to or not — on what others before us or around us have thought…. And so it is: everything made was made by the word, and the Word was in the beginning.”[1]

“The logic of passion is always

imaginative, polemical and ‘agnostic’.

And the Gospels are filled with paradoxes, with burning bones.”[2]

“Agony is struggle.

And Christ came amongst us to bring us agony:

Struggle, not peace.”[3]

“The fact is peace grows only out of war, just as a certain kind of war can be won only in peace.  And this precisely is agony.  Now someone [from within or we meet] might observe that peace is life — or death — and that war is death — or peace, for the manner in which these two are mutually assimilated is almost a matter of indifference: peace in war — or war in peace — is life in death, the life of death and the death of life: and this precisely is agony.”[4]

Whoever says I have found life shall lose it.

Whoever wishes to save this life shall lose it.

Whoever seeks to keep this life shall lose it.

Whoever hates life in this world shall keep it to eternal life,

If we have drawn near to God through Him

who was lifted up from the earth to draw

all to Himself.

He alone is able to save us forever since

He always lives to make intercession for us.

Whoever has an ear, let that one hear,

this is what the Spirit says to the churches.

Before our very eyes

Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified,

when God disarmed and divested Himself of

the Rulers, Authorities, Powers,

and the World Forces of this Darkness,

having made a public display of them,

having triumphed over them through the cross,

so that the manifold wisdom of God might now

be made known through the church —

The House of the Living God, the Pillar

and Support of the Truth —

to the spiritual wickedness in high places,

who accuse us before God day and night

through their crudelis dominus the Great Dragon,

the Serpent of Old who is called the devil and Satan.

“To negate life is to die,

And to negate death is to be born again.

And this precisely is the dialectic of agony.”[5]

Nailed to the cross we carry, we have no cross but

His — who was crucified, died and was buried —

God’s damnation of damnation who led captive

a host of captives when He ascended on High

that He might fill all things.

(Let God arise, give the word and the women

who proclaim the good tidings are a great host!

“Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden,

The God who is our salvation, to Him belong

The truth and the life and the new and living

Way of escape from death that we may endure it.”)

Remember, from the public view

[Away with decadence,

Away with petty presumption,

Away with ‘worldviews’],

Our Champion’s “greatest attribute was that He was

mocked and conquered;

For being conquered was His way of conquering;

He mastered the world

by giving the world cause to laugh at Him.”[6]

Here is wisdom,

God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom,

Predestined wisdom before the ages to our glory.

Misunderstood by the rulers passing away,

They crucified the Lord of glory,

The power of God and the wisdom of God,

Vindicating God’s weakness as stronger than men,

And upholding the foolishness of God as wiser than men.

But who listens to the foolishness and weakness

well-pleasing to God?

“And the wilderness heeds [advertises], though men hear not, and one day it will grow into a resounding forest, and the solitary voice which falls like a seed upon the desert will bear fruit in the form of a gigantic cedar singing, with its infinity of tongues, an eternal hosanna to the Master of life and of death.”[7]

“And may God give us no peace but glory!”[8]

Proverbs 1:20-33; Ezekiel 13:8-16; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11.

[1]  Miguel de Unamuno, The Tragic Sense of Life in Men and Nations, trans. by Anthony Kerrigan (Princeton University Press, 1972, orig., 1912), pp. 336-337, 339.

[2]  Miguel de Unamuno, The Agony of Christianity, trans. by Kurt F. Reinhardt (New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., 1960, orig., 1925), p. 18.

[3] The Agony of Christianity, p. 17.

[4] The Agony of Christianity, p. 18.

[5] The Agony of Christianity, p. 23.

[6] The Tragic Sense of Life in Men and Nations, p. 353.

[7] The Tragic Sense of Life in Men and Nations, pp. 357-358.

[8] The Tragic Sense of Life in Men and Nations, p. 358.

Postscript —

Bringing things back to where they belong…

Paul as the apostle to the nations proclaimed the gospel, an event neither received from man nor learned but through a revelation of Jesus Christ by the Spirit.  According to Alain Badiou, “Paul’s general procedure is the following:

“If there has been an event, and if truth consists in declaring it and then in being faithful to this declaration, two consequences ensue.

“First, since truth is evental, or of the order of what occurs, it is singular.  It is neither structural, nor axiomatic, nor legal.  No available generality can account for it, nor structure the subject who claims to follow in its wake.  Consequently, there cannot be a law of truth.

“Second, truth being inscribed on the basis of a declaration that is in essence subjective, no preconstitute subset can support it; nothing communitarian or historically established can lend its substance to the the process of truth.  Truth is diagonal relative to every communitarian subset; it neither claims authority from, nor (this is obviously the most delicate point) constitutes any identity.  It is offered to all, or addressed to everyone, without a condition of belonging being able to limit this offer, or this address.”

Alain Badiou, Saint Paul, The Foundation of Universalism, trans. by Ray Brassier (Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 2003, orig. French, 1997), p. 14.

Or, taking it easy taking things just as they come…

“Contemporary (post)political thought is caught up in the space determined by two poles: ethics and jurisprudence.  On the one hand, politics — in its liberal-tolerant as well as its ‘fundamentalist’ version — is conceived of as the realization of ethical positions (on human rights, abortion, freedom…) which pre-exist politics; on the other hand (and in a complementary way), it is formulated in the language of jurisprudence (how to find the proper balance between the rights of individuals and communites, etc.).

“It is here that the reference to religion can play a positive role in resuscitating the proper dimension of the political, of re-politicizing politics: it can enable political agents to break out of the current ethico-legal entanglement.  The old syntagm, the ‘theologico-political,’ acquires new relevance here: it is not only that every politics is grounded in a ‘theological’ view of reality, it is also that every theology is inherently political, an ideology of a new collective space (like the communities of believers in early Christianity [or a variant mimesis of ecclesia] the umma in early Islam).  Paraphrasing Kierkegaard [thus, proof of the mimicry], one can say that what we need today is a theologico-political suspension of the ethico-legal.”

Slavoj Žižek, Living in the End Times, revised, updated (London, New York: Verso, 2011), p. 119.

“If the misfortune of the age is to have forgotten what inwardness is, then one should not write for ‘paragraph-gobblers,’ but existing individualities must be portrayed in their agony when existence is confused for them, which is something different from sitting safely in a corner by the stove and reciting de omnibus dubitandum (everything must be doubted.) Therefore, if the production is to be meaningful, it must continually have passion.” Kierkegaard, Concluding Unscientific Postscript

“When the Scriptures are read in the Church, God Himself is speaking to His people, and Christ, present in His own word, is proclaiming the Gospel.”  Roman Missal

O Father, our Father, Lord of heaven and earth, “You are the Truth and the Light of our heart.  Let us listen to You and not to the darkness within us.”  Father, we cannot know the knowledge night reveals without guilt.  We cannot hear the speech of day without corruption.  Let us heed the prophetic word of Your grace until the day dawns and the Morning Star arises in the hearts of those who have hope in Jesus Christ the righteous as an anchor of the soul.  Lord God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, “speak that we might see You,” for all creation is a mirror, a painting, and a theater of Your divine glory — and “every phenomenon of nature is a word” telling of Your glory and declaring the work of Your hands. “For the Lord manifests Himself by His powers, the force of which we feel within ourselves and the benefits of which we enjoy.” Indeed Lord we confess, “We must therefore admit that in Your individual works — but especially in them as a whole — that Your powers are actually represented as in a painting.  Thereby the whole of mankind is invited and attracted to recognition of You, the Author of all Blessings and Life, and from this to true and complete happiness.”

“For God — by other means invisible — clothes Himself, so to speak, with the image of the world, in which He would present Himself to our contemplation…. Therefore, as soon as the name of God sounds in our ears, or the thought of Him occurs to our minds, let us also clothe Him with this most beautiful ornament; finally, let the world become our school if we desire rightly to know God.”  Amen

Augustine, Confessions 12, 10; Hamann, Aesthetica in Nuce; Calvin, Institutes, I, 9-10/Comme. Gen. (Quoted in Randall C. Zachman, “The Universe as the Living Image of God: Calvin’s Doctrine of Creation Reconsidered, Concordia Theological Quarterly, v. 61:n.4 (October 1997): pp. 299-312) — inclusioinclusio

Luke 9:32-36; Hebrews 1:1-4; 2 Peter 1:16-19; Hebrews 10:19-25; 1 John 4:17.

 

 

 

 

 

Published in: Uncategorized on October 14, 2017 at 8:12 pm  Leave a Comment  

Seeing the Wind

Seeing the Windhttps://www.pinterest.com/.

If we chose to listen, if we could, we’d see ourselves being asked, why is it Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights, painted over five hundred years ago, is now being mass-produced as a design on school-girls’ leggings, to illustrate popular children’s books, and getting name-checked by cool bands, all dressed up like grownups in fashions of indifference for strutting wasteland’s catwalk of despair?

We have Everything Now.  All messed up.  Like a bad joke.  Whoever’s laughing has nothing to show for it but the profits horded in tax shelters drenched in adolescent debt.  All the way to the bank these scoffers skillfully garnered their boasts selling banal mediocrity bundled up in the cheap rhetoric of mockery. They’ll play as many games as the coins dropped in their slot of a lap lets them. Perhaps Bosch would have depicted this aesthete-type as a taraxacum with a fender guitar shoved up its peduncle. These pissy-bedded, apomictic false prophets were called to be the lion’s teeth for healing and to offer culinary delights for nourishing young hungry souls.  Instead, they spread themselves everywhere, weeds for the weeding, stuffing children with infinitely infantile content.  They have chosen to be robust in their rivalries and revelries, soiling themselves by reviling angelic majesties. “With a Good God Damn,” postsecular living makes postmodernn playfulness blasphemous.  “Could there be a good God? Damn.  Maybe there’s a good God. Damn. Well maybe there is a good God, damn.  Maybe there’s a good God if He made you.”

Thus spoke the dandelion Zolpidemite: “It’s always the Christ-types” telling Mary, Larry, Curly and Moe, “roll away the stone.”  “maybe ‘We Don’t Deserve Love.'” How could we know?  Does it matter? “Put Your Money On Me.”

Those with ears to hear already have heard, “Deserves got nothing to do with it.” Unforgiven as exposed or pardoned to be revealed; the last word we’ll see following our last appeal is that blast of light when all things become visible – all things chided by the light – for everything that becomes visible is light.

Planted on the cross,

Placed between the heavens and earth where

His Father and ours put Him,

He refused to come down.

He stood His ground

With nothing above or below Him

But the tree that cursed Him.

Why?

The very last reason we could possibly give is the only reason that is true.  It always comes to us last whether as either too late or to one untimely born in an acceptable time.  The one good God damned damnation’s death, having paid in full the debt every addict owes.  He received the sour wine.  He said, “It is finished.” He bowed His head.  He gave up His spirit.  To Him has been given all authority.  To this everyone takes a knee.  Wherever we are, wherever we go, the last name we will believe in is Jesus.  Until then in the now not yet we drone on about our own plight, our own feelings and our own tastes.  God help us.  And He does.  Get out of here alive, and some will with none delivered deciding. Deeply grieved, who asks Him, “Surely not I?”

Craig Harbison, UMass. professor emeritus in art history, tells us Bosch is relevant today “because people feel like everything is sort of falling apart.”  Dissipation and decadence, according to the retired professor, evidently ignite “an artistic burst of fantasy and imagination.” Wisely he also notes, “Over and over, Bosch painted the Biblical idea of man being ‘born to trouble as the sparks fly upward.’” Bosch being a Bible bent man “held profound distrust of historic institutions.”  With an eye honed for cutting through bullshit and slicing open hypocrisy, Bosch “pilloried the gilded clergy of his day. He had our millenarian taste for apocalypse.”

“First take the log out of your own eye.”  Nathan’s nodding.  The given’s given.  Who’s listening?

We live by a consuming vision produced by those who generate our desires and promise us they have what can fulfill them. They teach children a way of seeing that blinds us to the biblical landscape of life and to the single most amazing moment of change, whether by death or by capture – as the mundane turn of the wheel or by the hand that at the sudden stops it.

Yet by neither dirge nor making merry do we care –

Ephesians 4:14-16; Matthew 15:13-14; Hebrews 2:11-13

Garden of Delights

The Garden of Earthly Delights, 1490-1510 (Hieronymus Bosch/Wikimedia), http://www.britannica.com/topic/Garden-of-Earthly-Delights.

Read sometime, Tim Wainwright, “Hieronymus Bosch, The Trendiest Apocalyptic Medieval Painter of 2014,” Atlantic (11/24/2014) at http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2014/11/hieronymus-bosch/381852/ and Richard Wightman Fox and T. J. Jackson Lears, The Culture of Consumption: Critical Essays in American History, 1880-1980 (New York: Pantheon Books, 1983).

JR Everything Now Arcade Fire

“Everything that happens in the world is surrounded by a whole cloud of other garbage, some of it fake, some of it real, some of it true, it’s just a sheen on existence.”  Win Butler

Written listening to Arcade Fire, Everything Now (2017)

“Christian theology must renounce all implication in the means of violence, but simultaneously — and for the same reason — theology cannot surrender its claim to be simply about the way the world is, which includes what we have learned to call the political and the social.  Once the imagination’s underlying modern political processes have been exposed as false theologies, we can begin to recover true theological imaginings of space and time around which to enact communities of solidarity and resistance.”  William T. Cavanaugh, Theopolitical Imagination (Bloomsbury, 2002)

Yes ‘Win,’ Jesus already said,

“Take heed that no man deceive you.

For many shall come in my name, saying,

‘I am Christ and shall deceive many.'”

It’s always “the Christ-types”

the world waits on, but only,

“Lord Jesus Christ the Son of God

(have mercy on me, a sinner)

Sings our New Song.

 

 

Published in: Uncategorized on September 30, 2017 at 2:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

Begging the Question

Whiteness permeates the body politic in intercourse and interstice, its invisible skin damp with guilty sweat from every pore.  Whiteness circulates back through every vein artery delivered, heart pumped as ordered by the brain.  Healing or bleeding?  Stealing or feeding?  A flurry to fix or fury from neglect?  Cursory, hurried, pounded out and picked at half-finished and half felt.  Just a single breath length of time to figure it out. différence|différance. Once delayed always denied.  Yet maybe from the majority of color. Forgiveness?  Asked for by whom?  Those who begged the question and caused the problem?  “I do not know.  Am I my brother’s keeper?”

Published in: Uncategorized on July 26, 2017 at 7:33 am  Comments (4)  

A Footnote’s Unattended Indictment

Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age restrains us.  It straps our minds down with the moral order we need for subjecting ourselves to a program of compliance, which serves as that regiment of life professional administrators of the invisible condition of whiteness prescribe as best for us.  This finely-tailored mental straight jacket constrains its readers to the contours of a constructed historical reality approved as appropriate for assuring that this madhouse-world remains committed to the white-western style of sanity. The makers and masters of whiteness of course have no names and no one knows who these archons are because everyone knows except those of no import that whenever whiteness “becomes” now (known), it is immediately explained (excused) as not.  There has never been a time when it was because back then without legitimate dissent or authoritative awareness it was merely a quality of cultural context, simply the way everyone (who mattered) thought and did things. Whiteness as long as it persists remains as discreet as it does magisterial.  As C. S. Lewis made clear, the apologetic of choice in behalf of any diabolicalness, whiteness included, is not to have need of one at all. Nonetheless Taylor offers us an excellent example of how whiteness works.  His handling of the thought of Frantz Fanon illustrates how to effectively discard by disregarding a humanitarian view held by a man of color, taking hold of it to instead turn it into a working part of a “colorless” ideology that is in fact an extension of institutionalized whiteness.  The Index of A Secular Age (Cambridge, Massachusetts, and London, England: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2007) lists one reference to Fanon, giving the page number on which to find the footnote in which he is mentioned.  In this footnote Taylor uses Frantz Fanon to support a point about condemning “sacred killing,” which Taylor himself makes in the main body of his work.  In this footnote however, Taylor proceeds to ignore Fanon and instead quotes Sartre as giving expression to the “glorification of anti-colonial war” for his example of “sacred killing.”

In the one instance Taylor turns to Fanon he does so to seize him and force him to serve as a prop, a man-bridge, in a dialogue between two white writers.  The reader is given no opportunity to hear Fanon speak for himself.  He is cited as an archetypal example worthy of indictment, and then censured without giving him any opportunity to defend the cause of universal justice for which he was so passionate.  He is there simply to serve two white philosophers by enhancing their desired end.  This is a micro example of whiteness imposing the condition of color on another to be used in such a way so as to preserve the normative status of whiteness.  Taylor extends into the realm of a footnote the very oppression against which Fanon so eloquently spoke.  It is a stunning example of how whiteness continues to run the operation of knowledge production, being successful in keeping its privileged status intact while remaining anonymous.  Taylor takes his readers on a nearly nine hundred page journey on his tour of the historical changes to our western-white moral imagination and yet, he refers to Fanon only once; and then only to call him over to set a table to serve two white men he is told are to be seated immediately!  Here in a nutshell is an example of nicely setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep the tradition of whiteness.  Taylor does this in plain sight for anyone with eyes to see, yet his action stays invisible nonetheless for the blind who choose not to see. See Taylor, A Secular Age, pp. 842, 686.

Useful to him in a subservient role and that only in a single footnote, it is mere parenthetical commentary to point out that in this capacity Taylor makes Fanon the man of color twice suffer violence meted out at the hands of whiteness. First Fanon is forcibly censured, not allowed as a man of color to speak up for the people of color who were the victims of the numinous violence perpetrated under the cloak of whiteness by carriers of western Christian and secular modern culture upon indigenous peoples of encounter so that through this act of ‘sacred killing’ the people who teach their children they are white may protect their own western sense of purity and separate themselves from the bad.  And second it is Fanon the man of color who then is condemned for articulating ‘horrifyingly…a justification of purifying violence’ at the hands of those judged ineligible for the benefits of whiteness against a people who go out into the whole world and tell all creation they are white.  Taylor accuses Fanon of promoting bloodshed yet prevents him from speaking out for himself against the injustices people of color suffer that are inflicted by white perpetrators of violence.  Adding insult to injury, Taylor relies on the testimony of another white man to justify violence at the hands of people of color against those who call themselves white.  Thus, even in terms of rhetoric advocating violence the white author prefers listening to another white voice, whom he judges gives a more apt articulation of the view originally spoken by the voice of color.  In a double sense then, all inclusively and literally, black lives do not matter.

Whoever declares universal dignity by defying it being denied people of color, if not silenced is simply dismissed as either corrupt or incompetent or inconsequential.  And again doubly so.  First, because by the rules of whiteness only those who have robbed others of the dignity deserved by all have the exclusive right to draft the admission of how they had done so, and this at the time when they decide it is most beneficial for them to do so. Therefore, whoever insists on non-white terms universal dignity is true, and does so by refusing to stress the defensive (reactionary) colorless credo, “All Lives Matter,” is immediately smeared to be an enemy of decency, a person who advocates violence, and one who harbors hatred and murder in his or her black heart. Secondly, the same rules of privilege and priority require whiteness appears to recede only by the courage and exceptional character of its beneficiaries and those few whom they accept as their allies. The condition of whiteness disappears into the vacuity of ubiquity without admitting having received any help from those with non-white hands, like Emmett Till’s mother, full of justice, mercy, faithfulness and good fruits, who saw the benefactors of whiteness stripped, beat and half dead, who felt compassion for them and took care of them — who spoke to them and nursed them in terms they could understand so their conscience could see what they had done, which she did by insisting upon having an open-casket funeral service for her murdered son. Black Skin, White Masks indeed, unbelievable, but only for the rich, naked and blind who are neither cold nor hot, the self-awarding wise, who die leaving reconciliation among brothers still outstanding (Deuteronomy 16:18-20; Matthew 5:21-26; 1 Corinthians 5:9-13/6:1-8; Romans 15:1-2; James 2:1-13).

Who though is surprised?  Are we not the children of those who condemned the Jews and their children for all time of the most heinous of sins, while at the same time formulating the definition of this sin on the basis of logic and blood in such a way that we guaranteed our own children could never be stained by the guilt of having committed it?  (Matthew 23:31-32) Praise God, for He whom He sent has died for the sins of the church, including this act of accusation which is more heinous than the false charge itself. (Exodus 20:16; Matthew 16:23; Mark 8:33-38; Acts 4:24-28; 2 Timothy 2:10-13)

As to his living, breathing, actual thoughts “Concerning Violence,” Fanon teaches us the colonial world was a Manichean world in which its totalitarian nature depicts “the native as a sort of quintessence of evil.”  The native – that is the person of color exploited by the occupying infrastructure of ideas and institutions that make up whiteness – “represents not only the absence of values, but also the negation of values.”  From the vantage point of whiteness the person of color then is “the enemy of values.”  Those enjoying the benefits and privileges whiteness bestows do not want to hear these things.  Those of us who confess to follow Jesus are even less comfortable hearing what Fanon says about Christianity.  Fanon rebukes us, telling us, “The Church in the colonies is the white people’s Church, the foreigner’s Church.”  His explanation of why this is the case is an indictment against the long established method by which the gospel was distributed globally by western nations.  “She [the Church] does not call the native to God’s ways but to the ways of the white man, of the master, of the oppressor.”  The logical outworking of this Manicheaism is to identify the native as demonized in need of being humanized yet the very gift (das Gift) given to bring this about at the same time confines the person of color in a suspended state of being perpetually semi-human, partially dehumanized because of the stigma imposed by a system of whiteness that upholds the true meaning of human flourishing as being white.  The indigenous person’s color fixes him or her in a hierarchical moral order closer to animals than to the divine. This is the dominant violence, the victorious violence, the violence that in Taylor’s narrative remains invisible, anonymous, and protected from critical scrutiny.  Fanon writes, “The violence with which the supremacy of white values is affirmed and the aggressiveness which has permeated the victory of these values over the ways of life and of thought of the native mean that, in revenge, the native laughs in mockery when Western values are mentioned in front of him.”  Westerners undermine the values to which they ascribe by how they judge and treat non-Western people of color. Whiteness makes white people in the eyes of people of color devour widows’ houses and make them out to be like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness, outwardly appearing righteous but inwardly full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.  For Fanon’s thoughts see Wretched of the Earth, trans. by Constance Farrington (New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1963), pp. 41-43.

How are we to overcome this dialectic of hidden hatred and blatant hypocrisy?  Cultural sanity will gain a step only if the producers of professional knowledge and bearers of the gospel together admit that the crisis of relativism in the garb of postmodern multiculturalism in this “Age of Authenticity” is formed to some substantial degree by the psychic wounds inflicted and endured as racialized terror, shame and trauma.  Septic effects still fester in each of us by way of an underlying dichromatic dialectic between imaginary whiteness and the shadow of color it casts upon others.  These wounds and their effects cannot be diagnosed by science alone, nor can they be healed by secular policy.  The bereavement and honor due can only be dispensed by the Holy Spirit. Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty to hear what the Spirit says to the churches. There the brother of color will call his self-proclaimed brothers of whiteness to draw near to him, and he will say to them, “I am your brother whom you sold into slavery.  And now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life…. Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place?  And as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.  So therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you, and your little ones.  And so he will comfort them and speak to their heart with kindness (Genesis 45:45/50:19-21).” He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches:  Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good.  The one who does good is of God; the one who does evil has not seen God.  We love, because He first loved us.  If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God he has not seen?  And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.

Woe to the one who cannot see his brother.  Taylor prescribes for us the wrong remedy. He cannot give us the eye salve we need to anoint our eyes, that we may see.  Ours is not a world controlled anymore by western-devised, secular knowledge.  God has placed us in a world in search of a kind of global, postsecular knowledge with a broader and higher horizon. The west has disqualified itself as the provider of that which is perceived as missing.  To regain a participatory voice humility would help but first helplessness must be admitted (Hebrews 12:12-17; James 4:6-10). Taylor fails to draw us to the things needing our attending, such as generational guilt, calls for remorse, and offering spiritual counsel as to how to make a good confession as a prerequisite for rectification, restitution and reparations in hope of reconciliation.  These are matters for a minister of the gospel.  Instead, Taylor relies upon a white atheistic existentialist to make a point about the “glorification of anti-colonial violence.”  The footnote is an indictment.  In a postsecular world in which the spirits are returning to the west from waterless places, his style of discourse rings hollow and is vainly anachronistic.  Even as before all time and through all the ages yet to come, only the humble One who is the God who suffers can save us now.  Yes, let the dead bury the dead, nonetheless, in this acceptable moment which is the day of salvation, whoever confesses ‘Jesus is Lord” must be ready and equipped to confess the sins of the church.  Praise God we have an Advocate with the Father — Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for our sins only, but also for those of the whole world.

To Him who is able to keep us from stumbling, and to make us stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority to all generations forever and ever. Amen.

Time passes.

The ellipsis bears excuses.

No repentance, no recantation, then

A sudden benevolent conception, 

A second but separate edition celebrating

Bold risk-taking and daring exposition,

A rare awareness heightened,

The all inclusive call enlightened

Homologates integration:

Announced to great fanfare,

And again we pretend,

A February proof we care!

Another Martin Luther King Day!

(“communist,” “philanderer,” “plagiarizer,” etc., etc.)

A peremptory maneuver and the book

Is closed forever because we say,

“It’s over.”

Only, it is not.

Genesis 4:9-11; Hebrews 11:4

Lord, let me live the faith of Rahab the harlot and not die the death of Ahab the king.  Let me stand upon Abigail’s ground.

Published in: Uncategorized on January 7, 2017 at 6:08 pm  Comments (1)  

Lion Down

Never met him.

He let me know him.

I miss him.

No sense waiting for something.

Or, wanting someone.

What’s here still can’t fill.

He’s missing.

He’s gone, leaving us

This dig with one less layer,

This debt with one less payer,

This world with one less prayer.

We’ve one less secret to unveil.

One less telamon to hold us up.

One less sea upon which to sail.

One less servant to fill our cup.

One less elder to show us how to grow old.

One less rebel refusing to do as we’ve been told.

We’re left with less than before,

When he was somewhere and together

We were becoming less unprepared.

Without choice the parting is conceded

Without plea or need to attend anything.

Without love’s passion or peril

The perennial burial of his faultless songs of sorrow

continues.

Invisible morticians and data magicians

Make business-school decisions how best to mix

The disembodied chantor’s remains for market share

And commercial gain.

We’re left with the bloom without its forge or bulb,

Listening to his ghost repeat itself without relief or resolve.

But the man —

the living, breathing, kneeling, bleeding

Man — proved to be our neighbor,

Making us better ready to lay this burden down.

When first was it he heard, “Why callest thou me good?

There is none good but one, that is, God”?

How many times did he overhear,

“Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house”?

How many times did he dread the commandment ordained to life?

How many nights did he collect straw for his enemies?

How many times did he pass through the bars?

How many times like angels

Did his words slip him past the sleeping guards?

How many laden ashtrays in arrears?

How many survivor meals shared?

How many moments of incarcerated misery?

How may phrases heaped up as pyres for burning

Backstairs poetry?

How many Gideon bibles?

How many empty bottles?

Throw another chair on the fire.

His litter, his stretcher, his beautiful letters.

He taught us of the divine glory and told us of truth’s shadow

Cast by the lie we die unloved.

Helping us to overcome despair he sung of how

Tired hope leans on the wall of defiance beat and cut and

Marlon Brando style stares back at the tyrant spitting out,

“Whatta ya got?”

He carried us.

He carried the grief he gave us.

He was a kind friend to every soul without wings or

The eyes to see the lights in the firmament for signs,

And for seasons and for days, and years.

He reminded us who crawl this earth as if without end or worth,

There is One who calls us from out of the burning bush of tears and tears,

Who wants those bitten with the serpent’s curse healed from

Ancient stains and stares to restore our stolen noble end

Dying to live within in us.

May his papers be found in order.

May they have the proper stamped time and date.

May he who draws us extend to him a permanent state of grace.

May he be shown his home, his residence, his peace and place.

A park bench perhaps with his hands at rest in his lap,

Seated between the heaven sent and the hordes drunk on

Decadence.

Receive his frail frame drained of prayer and stained by sin.

Take him where the pain that hurt him so can’t hurt him again.

Like a passed pawn of the eighth rank let him enter

Your house of song and of giving thanks.

Seat him among the last and least where no one asks,

“Who are ya?”

If it be your will, have it known you’ve said, “He’s Mine.”

Hallelujah.

Leonard Cohen (1934-2016)

Thank you sir for the scars

Requiescat in pace

Published in: Uncategorized on November 13, 2016 at 8:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

Hard Eight

Seven days of creation without a Sabbath.
Seven generations delivered and received one bad habit.
Seven sighs escape our aching eyes.
Seven steps in the line of descent with
The veil of the temple still not rent.
Seven beads of stolen sweat and the fever hasn’t broken yet.
Seven signposts mark America’s journey,
Our stumbling pilgrimage from Independence Day to the
Twenty-first century.
Sick from waiting and working in the house of hate,
We’re looking for the dice of life to roll a hard eight.
How close our lives live to the dead.
We hold their names in our
Handful of history like good luck charms
That guarantee we keep good company.
How pressed down and shaken together are our
Crops and cemeteries by which the dead are fed
And their secrets are buried.
How near are our neighbors and parishioners,
Our ancestors and friends,
Our enemies and strangers and children of
Masters and children of slaves and children
Of those who fled from being either a master or a slave.
All of our children and our children’s children
Have been godly taught that forgiveness
Given should gladly greet forgiveness sought.
But when did we meet?
When did we ever with one voice rejoice over
Avenging  wrong  for the innocence we say we’re seeking?
When was the longing, the mourning, the zeal and the sorrow?
When was the weeping?
During our separate but unequal segregated days?
During our civil rights ordered “equality” before the law days?
During our racialized ellipses and awkward silences
Over the sentences given and the prisoners taken and
Nobody’s listening days?
In this land of opportunity well-oiled in crime
The American soul is running out of time.
Who will climb the sycamore?
Who will hurry down to confound the fraud to
Restore beyond the law by a formula of four?
Who will be honored?
Who will be remembered?
Who will replace those it is now time to let go so they
May be gathered to their people and be forgotten?
In the land of the light and the glory who decides
What part of the greatest story gets told always and only and why?
Who fulfills the duty to give succor and who is nursed?
Who decides what will be censured and who is cursed?
Who decides who matters?
Who decides what does it matter?
Who decides how long until the sons and the daughters of
The robbed and the robbers agree together it does matter?
Who among the living or the dead will tell us how it is stopped?
Who will strip the system of its whip with handle trimmed,
Plait undone and belly cropped?
Who will tell the children unless they greet those
Their elders refused to see but had to be seen with, it does not?

Published in: Uncategorized on November 3, 2016 at 10:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

Down Here

Tell them down here everything begins in the depths, in the Jewish womb of Mary and in the earth’s iron ore fire forged and hand formed for the Roman nails driven into her son’s yielded body. See him outside the gate drooped and draped in flood drenched blood, naked, cursed, hanging on the tree — see how he finished. In the eyes of the world he bowed his head, he breathed his last and he gave up his spirit between two thieves beneath the gaze of angels as it was written for him to do, between the overshadowing power of the Most High and the empty tomb hewed from rock in which he was enclosed and blocked by a large stone.

Tell them down here everyone watches the movies to hear what the Spirit has to say:  “I don’t understand.  You’re admitting evidence of a flight that never existed?” 

“We believe it did, sir.”

Tell them down here everybody arrives alone.

Tell them down here in the velvet underground darker than five hundred shades of gray, knowledge makes arrogant – deadifies – but without favoritism by the law of freedom love edifies.  Tell them down here in its own house death is a guest to mercy, without victory or sting or the power to take anything, entertained with no more aces up its sleeve, relieved of the keys to the grave; retired and fired, no longer the grim reaper or keeper of its ball and chain. Tell them down here everybody knows everybody by the same first name. Tell them down here everything exposed – reproved – by the light is light. Tell them down here everybody knows what time it is, and it’s never too late. Tell them down here we’re gathered at the bend by the river where the train goes slow. Or send them back up there where only they matter, where Aunt Jemima whipping up that pancake batter is still wearing that field-hand bandanna. And everybody knows.

Tell them down here it is better to be swallowed whole by a great fish than to die the death of a beached whale. Tell them down here captain Ahab came to see he’d been chasing his own damned tail. Tell them down here America’s white idol of old doesn’t fit the Master’s mold. Tell them down here with eyes to see we see.  We have fornicated with what we fabricated and taught our children to worship the idols we fabricated for them so they would fornicate accordingly. Tell them down here God is not mocked and without doubt is not deceived. Tell them down here ain’t nobody singing it ain’t necessarily so.  Tell them down here everybody agrees with John Jasper, that only if God wants it to, “De sun do move!” Tell them down here, “Salvation is from the Lord.” Tell them down here He knows the Bible too. Tell them down here everybody has nothing and nobody is put to shame. Tell them down here we have been found by the One we were not looking for. Tell them down here empty-handed we remember and recite His words night after night with the end of night in sight, the very words the Lord Jesus lives by, the words He Himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  Tell them down here we bear his disgrace continually offering up to God a sacrifice of praise, the fruit of our lips that confess his name so that God may be glorified through Jesus Christ in everything. 

Tell them down here because He descended to the lower parts of the earth and ascended far above all the heavens the glory and the power belong to Him, forever and ever.  Tell them His kingdom will have no end who said unto us, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.  Tell them.

Amen.

Mark 5:19-20

Published in: Uncategorized on October 29, 2016 at 6:52 pm  Leave a Comment