For our final Sunday installment celebrating 30 years of Ched Myers’ Binding the Strong Man: A Political Reading of Mark’s Story of Jesus, radical disciples weigh in on both Ched and his book.
From Jennifer Henry, the executive director of Kairos Canada, reflecting on the viral image from Ossie Michelin’s cell phone in 2013 (left), portraying resistance to fracking led primarily by indigenous women:
What I have learned from the witness of Ched Myers is that we can bring kairos moments like these into conversation with biblical moments, in ways that deepen understanding of the present day struggle and inspire prophetic action. His life’s work does not just demonstrate that we can build this bridge, but that we must, for the integrity of our faith and its call to justice. It is an intersection that enriches both our grasp of the historic texts and our commitment to current struggle. In Ched’s hands this process is never theoretical, but embodied, wading deep into the bible, but just as deeply into social change movements so that we’re grounded in, both rooted in story and struggle.
From Wes Howard Brook (right), professor of theology and author of numerous books, including Becoming the Children of God: John’s Gospel and Radical Discipleship (2003):
Binding the Strong Man was, without any hesitation, the single most influential book I had ever read, other than The Brothers Karamazov. I devoured its 500 pages like a novel. The excitement I felt was electrifying. How could this ancient story be so relevant to our own struggles?…Ched’s work, done in community and on the ground, opened up Mark’s Story in a way that ivory tower academics and institutional clerics could not possibly do. It was indeed a revelation.
And, lastly, from Laurel Dykstra, the gathering priest of Salal+Cedar, who joined a parishioner in an act of civil disobedience this Spring. They chained themselves to a tree on the property of Trans Mountain’s Burnaby Mountain tank farm with bicycle U-locks around their necks (below left).
I first encountered Ched Myers’ work when a copy of Binding the Strong Man made its way to the Tacoma Catholic Worker in 1992. My response was visceral; the book made my heart beat faster. In part with euphoria that some one was writing “bible scholarship for us.” And by us I meant Catholic Workers, and what later I came to call the radical discipleship movement–white majority, self-proclaimed radicals who as Daniel Berrigan put it without irony in the introduction to Strong Man, “tend to regard ourselves as a species of occupied people, striving to free ourselves from the yoke and lash of the culture.” In Ched’s political reading of Mark’s Gospel “we saw our lives being both honoured and beckoned.” Here the incendiary quality of scripture, which I had sensed, for a long time and was alluded to in other readings, was meticulously documented and argued.
Binding The Strong Man! Here’s to 30 more years of reading and resistance!