Binding The Strong Man

BindingAs we transition into the summer months of Ordinary Time, we are celebrating the 30th anniversary of Binding The Strong Man, Ched Myers’ extraordinary political reading of Mark’s Gospel.  Each Sunday, we will post excerpts from Myers’ comments on the lectionary reading of the day.  Today’s passage is Mark 3:20-35, the episode in which the book is named after.

But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered. (Mark 3:27)

Mark has come clean: Jesus (a.k.a. “the stronger one” heralded by John, 1:8) intends to overthrow the reign of the strong man (a.k.a. the scribal establishment represented by the demon of 1:24).  In this parable the oracle of Second Isaiah lives again: Yahweh is making good on the promise to liberate the “prey of the strong (LXX, ischuontos) and rescue the captives of the tyrants” (Is 49:24f).  Imperial hermeneutics, ever on the side of law and order, will of course find this interpretation of the strong man parable strained, offensive, shocking.  Yet Mark drew the image of breaking and entering from the most enduring of the primitive Christian eschatological traditions: the Lord’s advent as a thief in the night (Mt 24:43 par; I Thes 5:2; 2 Pt 3:10; Rev 3:3, 16:15). Continue reading

The Ideal Human Being

Jon SobrinoSalvadoran theologian Jon Sobrino reflecting on the Good Samaritan in his The Principle of Mercy: Taking the Crucified People From the Cross (1994):

This parable is a presentation of what it is to be a human being. The ideal, total human being is represented as one who has seen someone else lying wounded in the ditch along the road, has re-acted, and has helped the victim in every way possible…The ideal human being, the complete human being, is the one who interiorizes, absorbs in her innards, the suffering of another—in the case of the parable, unjustly afflicted suffering—in such a way that this interiorized suffering becomes a part of her, is transformed into a internal principle, the first and the last, of her activity. Mercy, as re-action, becomes the fundamental action of the total human being.

Kings Bay Plowshares- a poem

cards.jpgBy Kate Foran

Dissent without civil disobedience is consent. Philip Berrigan

Our friend Mark sits in a jail cell again
and I stand in the lunch hour line
under fluorescent lights
at the post office with my toddler
to buy a stack of pre-stamped postcards,
the only kind acceptable to mail,
written only in blue or black ink,
no stickers, glue, glitter, or pictures,
no letters or packages. Continue reading

Wild Lectionary: Imperial Logic and Creation

cows enslavedProper 5(10)B

1 Samuel 8:4-20, 11:14-15
Genesis 3:8-15

By Wes Howard-Brook and Sue Ferguson Johnson

Then Joseph said to the people, “Now that I have this day bought you and your land for Pharaoh, here is seed for you; sow the land. And at the harvests you shall give one-fifth to Pharaoh, and four-fifths shall be your own, as seed for the field and as food for yourselves and your households, and as food for your little ones.”  They said, “You have saved our lives; may it please my lord, we will be slaves to Pharaoh.” (Gen 47.23-25) Continue reading

We Are Not Anti-Police But Pro-Community

FirstFirst Congregational Church of Oakland recently made a decision to reduce their reliance on the police with the goal of not calling them, period. This is a statement they made to the media. We just had to share this.

First Congregational Church of Oakland is a multiracial church, and some of our own members have been followed, harassed, and even sexually assaulted by police officers. In addition, we live in the middle of an urban area experiencing an extreme housing crisis, so there are many unhoused people on and around our campus, some of whom struggle with mental illness and addiction, and the statistics show that Black and Brown people suffering from mental illness and addiction are among those most at risk of being shot by police even when unarmed. Continue reading

The Seminary, The Sanctuary & The Streets

Valerie Jean

PC: Valerie Jean

By Bill Wylie-Kellermann

There are a number of sweet connections between Word and World and the Poor Peoples Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. As the campaign heats up in the midst of these 40 days of action and witness, it’s worth remembering a few of them.

In 2003, we did one off our Peoples’ Schools, a week-long institute in Philadelphia. It was framed around a close study of Dr. King’s Riverside Church speech, “Beyond Vietnam: Breaking the Silence” which focused his national call for a “revolution of values.” In addition to the Plowshares Movement, that school included attention to the Kensington Welfare Rights Union in Philly, specifically their homeless union tent city which subsequently, as winter approached, broke open and moved into a boarded up Catholic Church, St. Edwards. Continue reading