The Traumatic Somatic

MamieTillFrom the conclusion of a sermon that Ched Myers preached at Garret Evangelical Theological Seminary Chapel on April 24, 2019. Access the entire sermon here

Our gospel text—and the excruciating lesson of Emmet Till’s funeral, which launched the most significant social movement in U.S. history—challenge us to embrace the beat up bodies of both marginalized people and degraded places around our earth mother. As we do so, we will be motivated also to embrace the militant evangelistic vocation Jesus leaves his companions at the end of Luke’s Emmaus narrative: to “proclaim repentance and forgiveness of sins in my name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem” (24:47). It is we who must continue the prophetic struggle to turn history around from its captivity to our terminal addictions and compulsions—that’s the meaning of “repentance.” Resurrection as Insurrection! And as Jesus notes, this good news is not just for individuals, but nations and systems, starting at the centers of power— for Luke, Jerusalem, for us, Washington DC. Continue reading

Jesus Still Goes Before Us

BindingAn excerpt from Ched Myers’ Binding the Strong Man: A Political Reading of Mark’s Story of Jesus (1988), reflecting upon the open tomb ending of the first Gospel.

We should not be surprised that the women are overcome with “fear.” The disciples have in fact been described as “fearful” (phobeisthai) at several important “passages” in their journey with Jesus: both stormy boat crossings (4:41; 6:50), his transfiguration (9:6), the portents of his execution (9:32), and the journey up to Jerusalem (10:32). And does not this closing scene represent the most difficult passage of all? For in it the martyr-figure beckons the disciple to take up the journey afresh, to return to the beginning of the story for a new reading-enactment. The young man’s invitation ought to provoke trepidation in us, if we take it seriously. As Bonhoeffer paraphrased Mark 8:34 in Cost of Discipleship (1953), “When Christ calls a person, He bids them to come a die.” Continue reading

Risky Midrash: The Jubilee Pertains to Our Enemies Too

NaamanHappy Birthday, Ched Myers!!! 

To honor Ched, we feature this piece he wrote three years ago on Luke 4:22-30. Behold, the lectionary cycle always comes back around! 

Also, we’ve got 48 hours until registration closes for the 2019 Bartimaeus Kinsler Institute. Join Ched and others conspiring for indigenous justice and Christian faith. Click on and sign up!!!!

The audience reaction to Jesus’ inaugural sermon in Nazareth is somewhat ambiguous (4:22). Though they “witness to him” (the Gk emarturoun with the dative is usually positive), they also “wonder” about him (ethaumazon, which can connote surprise in a negative sense; see Lk 11:38), no doubt skeptical about how such eloquence can come from a humble construction worker’s son. This explains Jesus’ immediate move to the defensive, then quickly to the offensive. Continue reading

The Nazareth Sermon as Jubilee Manifesto

Nazareth 2By Ched Myers, on Luke 4:14-21, for the 3rd Sunday of Epiphany (originally posted Jan 24, 2016)

Note: This post was part of a series of Ched’s occasional comments on the Lukan gospel readings from the Revised Common Lectionary during year C, 2016.

The setting of this famous story is significant. The obscure village of Nazareth has already been well established in Luke’s narrative as the home place of Jesus’ childhood, from Gabriel’s annunciation (1:26) to the Holy Family’s comings and goings (2:4; 39; 51), to the phrase in this week’s lection “where Jesus had been brought up…” (4:16a). Continue reading

Nature Against Empire

chedAn excerpt from Ched Myers‘ must-read article “Nature against Empire: Exodus Plagues, Climate Crisis and Hardheartedness.” Digest this taste-tester and then spend time with the entire piece, where Myers weaves together climate science and our sacred Scripture. Join Ched and other theological animators at the 2019 Bartimaeus Kinsler Institute in February.

British theologian Michael Northcott’s important 2013 Political Theology of Climate Change argues that our modern worldview offers no frame of reference for the “politics of slow catastrophe” stalking our history through ecological catastrophe.  He shows how traditional cosmologies, including the Bible, saw climate as political.  That is, the actions of nations influenced the health of nature; when people behaved badly, the earth behaved badly back.  Modernity, however, banished that notion as superstitious and unscientific.  Humans and our technologies are now in control, we believe, while nature is depersonalized, demystified and at our disposal.  That paradigm may have “worked” for a few centuries, but now we are realizing that nature seems to be biting back. Continue reading

World on the Scales: The Apocalyptic Season of the Church Year

King CrimsonBy Ched Myers

Note: These thoughts were shared on the 26th Sunday after Pentecost at Farm Church to give context for the readings and theme of the service. They are germane to this long but informative issue of the BCM Enews.

Yesterday Elaine and I attended the memorial service for my oldest friend’s mother. She was the last of the parents of our tight-knit neighborhood group to cross over during the last year, a string that began with my mom’s passing. We gathered at the venerable old St. James Episcopal church in South Pasadena, where I was baptized as an infant. The memories shared yesterday were about the halcyon days of our little suburban community—and it was by all means a very privileged and insular context in which to grow up. But as I listened, I was mindful of the fact that actually, from puberty onward, I was a pretty alienated kid. In 1970, I was 15, a vegetarian, and already marching against the Indochina war, to the great exasperation of my father, a veteran of two wars. This was on the heels of the 60s, and my older brother was stuck in Vietnam, sending me coded antiwar letters—in Elvish script! Continue reading

Rooted in Story and Struggle

BindingFor 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:

OssieWhat 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.

Continue reading