The Eye of the Needle

Binding30 years in and Ched Myers’ Binding the Strong Man: A Political Reading of Mark’s Story of Jesus (1988) is more relevant than ever. This week’s commentary homes in on Mark 10:17-31.

Mark’s wry joke about the camel and the needle in particular has received ingenious “manipulation at the hands of bourgeois conscience-tranquilizing exegetes” (Jose Miranda). The famous medieval assertion that the “eye of the needle” referred to a certain small gate in ancient Jerusalem through which camels could enter only on their knees (!) is only one of the more obvious ways devised to rob this metaphor of its class-critical power. The proposition is plainly an impossible one. Bailey points out that the Babylonian Talmud records a similar hyperbole–an elephant going through the eye of a needle–and comments that “the elephant was the largest animal in Mesopotamia and the camel the largest in Palestine.” Mark’s stinging sarcasm is perhaps more recognizable in Frederick Buechner’s contemporary paraphrase: for wealthy North Americans it is harder to enter the kingdom “than for Nelson Rockefeller to get through the night deposit slot of the First National City Bank!”  Continue reading

A Known and Familiar Workplace Hazard

Bernice YeungAn excerpt from Bernice Yeung’s recent release In A Day’s Work: The Fight to End Sexual Violence Against America’s Most Vulnerable Workers (2018):

After looking at various industries that hire the most vulnerable workers, I’ve been forced to conclude that low-wage immigrants laboring in isolation are at unique risk of sexual assault and harassment. While it is not possible to know how often these abuses happen, they are not anomalies. The federal government estimates that about fifty workers are sexually assaulted each day, and in the industries that hire newcomers to the country in exchange for meager paychecks, such assault is a known and familiar workplace hazard. Continue reading

So I Sang

OnneshaAn excerpt from Onnesha Roychoudhuri’s recent release The Marginalized Majority: Re-Claiming Our Power In a Post-Truth America (2018): 

It was my Uncle Bill who I was thinking of when, one day recently in Brooklyn, a man boarded my subway train and let loose an impassioned and bigoted tirade. My fellow New Yorkers did their job of ignoring him admirably, but he didn’t keep up his end of the bargain, which was to move on after a few stops and pester the next car down. Continue reading

Wild Lectionary: Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees!

shaggy manes

shaggy manes

Proper 23(28) B
21st Sunday after Pentecost

Mark 10:17-31

By Wes Howard-Brook and Sue Ferguson Johnson

This week’s Gospel from Mark is a familiar one, in which a rich man comes to Jesus seeking the path to inheriting “eternal life.” As Ched Myers noted three decades ago now (!), the key to the story is the “ringer” command Jesus adds to the familiar ones from Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 6: “You shall not defraud [Gk, apostereō].” Continue reading

Blessed are you…

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New Hampshire Public Radio

By Rev. Anna Blaedel
(re-shared from Facebook circulation)

blessed are you who are raging.
blessed are you who are mourning.
blessed are you who feel numb.
blessed are you who feel sick. and tired. and sick and tired.
blessed are you who refuse to turn away.
blessed are you who need to turn away.
blessed are you who keep breathing deep.
blessed are you who are tending to your own needs.
blessed are you who are tending to the needs of another.
blessed are you who have been calling.
blessed are you who have been organizing.
blessed are you who have been testifying.
blessed are you who have been hearing.
blessed are you who have been resisting.
blessed are you who feel broken open beyond repair.
blessed are you who are raw beyond words.
blessed are you who are working hotlines and crisis care centers and bearing witness to the forces of violence and trauma unleashed and unloosed.
blessed are you who are marching.
blessed are you who are weeping.
blessed are you who preach and know that divinity resides in despised, abused, violated flesh.
blessed are you who know deep in your bones that you are good. and beautiful. and beloved. and sacred. and worthy. and believed. and held. and capable of healing beyond your
wildest imagination.
blessed are you who remind others they are good. and beautiful. and beloved. and sacred. and worthy. and believed. and held. and capable of healing beyond their wildest imagination.
blessed are we when we dare to dream of a world without sexual violence, without white supremacy, without misogyny, without police brutality, without anti-trans and
anti-queer violence.
blessed are we when we stay tender.
blessed are we when we stay fierce.
blessed are we when we dare to imagine repair, and transformation.
blessed are we when we labor together to make it so.

A Reflection on Mary Oliver

mary oliverThis piece was developed during the third Bartimaeus Institute Online (BIO) Study Cohort 2017-2018.  These pieces will eventually be published in a Women’s Breviary collection.  For more information regarding the BIO Study Cohort go here.  

By Kristen Snow

Mary Oliver spends her life offering her view of the world as a gift to anyone, and everyone. She has lived a poor and simple life, not seeing the interest in wealth or possessions, but finding her sustenance in the fruits of the ocean and the earth. Her spirituality and belief in the Creator is deep and wide. She is not framed in the specificities of theology or religion, choosing to see the reality of God in the natural world and through the words of Rumi, a similarly gifted seer. Her poems have reached millions. Continue reading

Howard Zinn on the Real History of Indigenous Peoples Day

ColumbusAn excerpt from the first chapter of Howard Zinn’s classic A People’s History of the United States of America (1980):

Columbus would never have made it to Asia, which was thousands of miles farther away than he had calculated, imagining a smaller world. He would have been doomed by that great expanse of sea. But he was lucky. One-fourth of the way there he came upon an unknown, uncharted land that lay between Europe and Asia–the Americas. It was early October 1492, and thirty-three days since he and his crew had left the Canary Islands, off the Atlantic coast of Africa. Now they saw branches and sticks floating in the water. They saw flocks of birds. Continue reading