Parody Exposing Power

BindingWe continue our celebration of the 30th anniversary of Binding The Strong Man, Ched Myers’ political reading of Mark’s Gospel.  Today’s passage is Mark 6:14-29.

The portrayal of the Herodian court intrigue gives an even sharper edge to the episode; the dinner party (6:21-28) becomes the occasion for the murderous whims of the ruling class of Galilee to be revealed.  The guest list of his birthday banquet (6:21) reflects, in the words of Sherwin-White, “the court and establishment of a petty Jewish prince under strong Roman influence:”

  1.  his court nobles (tois megistasin)
  2.  his army officers (tois chiliarchois)
  3.  leading Galileans (tois protois tes Galilaias).

Mark accurately describes the inner circle of power as an incestuous relationship involving governmental, military, and commercial interests. Continue reading

We Begin to Flow

Alice WalkerBy Alice Walker, from a talk she gave at Auburn Theological Seminary (NYC, April 1995) in Anything We Love Can Be Saved: A Writer’s Activism (1997):

It is fatal to love a God who does not love you. A God specifically created to comfort, lead, advise, strengthen and enlarge the tribal borders of someone else. We have been beggars at the table of a religion that sanctioned our destruction. Our own religions denied, forgotten; our own ancestral connection to All Creation something of which we are ashamed. I maintain that we are empty, lonely, without our pagan-heathen ancestors; that we must lively them up within ourselves, and begin to see them as whole and necessary and correct: their Earth-centered, female-reverencing religions, like their architecture, agriculture, and music, suited perfectly to the lives they led. And lead, those who are left, today. Continue reading

Wild Lectionary: Baptized in Dirty Water

08b16ba9-5421-4489-912d-90b3f2b9ff43Proper 10(15) B
By Tevyn East and Jay Beck

Some were saying, “John the baptizer has been raised from the dead.” Mark 6:14

No shape. No symbols. Everything fluid. Everything wind and water.
God created chaos.
Swirling swamp potential of formlessness.
Only out of this swirling chaos can any creation be born.

I see.
I hear.
I feel. Continue reading

Rekindled by Ritual

bonfire.jpegBy Joyce Hollyday

How to hold the heartbreak and the outrage? Hundreds of babies and toddlers, schoolchildren and teenagers wrenched from the embrace of their parents, many now sobbing inconsolably in immigrant detention centers—some unbelievably lost in the system. My friend Rosalinda, who used to earn just pennies an hour working in a U.S. factory on the Mexican border, who had a nephew who was murdered there, felt a need to tell me her own family’s story of escape from desperate poverty and rampant violence. She related a harrowing saga of vulnerable hiding places, grueling river and desert crossings, capture and release by Border Patrol agents, and a second attempt—all endured so that her children might have safety, enough food, and the chance to grow up. It is unimaginable to think that they might have been stolen from her here. Continue reading

A Prayer for this Disaster

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Photo by Meg Marshall

By Micah Bucey

You are trying to kill our joy,
But you have no idea
How strong disaster makes us.

Joy is permanent, not temporary or erasable,
As it seems civil rights are.
Joy is sturdy, not weak and shifty,
As it seems our leaders are.
Joy is deep, not shallow or fleeting,
As it seems our democracy is.

Continue reading

Strategies of a Subversive Movement

BindingWe continue our celebration of the 30th anniversary of Binding The Strong Man, Ched Myers’ political reading of Mark’s Gospel.  Today’s passage is Mark 6:1-13.

There is no indication that Jesus’ “orders” are unique to this mission; they are for “the way” (eis hodon)–that is, paradigmatic of discipleship lifestyle (6:8).  Their narrative significance lies not in some model of heroic asceticism (which would contradict Jesus’ ambivalence toward, e.g., fasting), but in the emphasis upon the utter dependence of the disciples upon hospitality.  The “apostles” (so designated for the only time in Mark upon their return from the mission in 6:30) are allowed the means of travel (staff, sandals) but not sustenance (bread, money bag and money, extra clothes).  In other words, they, like Jesus who has just been renounced in his own “home,” are to take on the status of a sojourner in the land.  We might note that the “donning of sandals” as a Markan metaphor for discipleship was missed by both Matthew (who forbids them, Mt 10:10) and Luke (who omits the reference, Lk 9:3). Continue reading

Wild Lectionary: Wild and Unpredictable Incarnate Word

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Photo credit Holly Rockwell

Proper 9 (14) B
7th Sunday after Pentecost
Mark 6:1-3

By Holly Rockwell

 Jesus left that place and went to his hometown . . . he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded.   They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joseph and Judas and Simon. Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.

“Where did this man get all this?”

The townspeople hear and comment on Jesus’ wisdom, note his healing power, and are “astounded.” And still they are blinded by what they think they already know. Continue reading