A Fool’s Economics

DollarBy Ched Myers

*Originally posted on the Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost, July 31, 2016 (Luke 12:13-21)

In Luke’s gospel, the deep memory of Sabbath Economics is shown in Jesus’ wilderness feedings of the poor (Lk 9:12-17), and told in the central petition of the Lord’s Prayer:

“Give us today enough bread” (Lk 11:3).

But nowhere is the old vision more clearly asserted than in Jesus’ teaching in Luke 12:13-34. Continue reading

To Do Is To Know

the-good-samaritan-1907By Ched Myers, a short commentary on this weekend’s Gospel Story (Luke 10:25-37; right: “The Good Samaritan” by Paula Modersohn-Becker)

Note: This piece was originally posted on Radical Discipleship on July 7, 2016.

The famous Parable of the Good Samaritan is often sentimentalized, but its subversive character and genuine profundity can never be exhausted. It comes on the heels of Jesus’ sending out of the “seventy,” and his long “missionary discourse” (Lk 10:1-24).  How different the history of Christianity would have been had disciples in every age followed these relatively simple but incisive instructions to travel with the gospel in a vulnerable and provisional mode, rather than a dominating one! But if the unholy joining of mission and empire has been the first pillar of Christendom’s apostasy, surely the second has been the church’s tendency to define faith through dogma. It is this religious bad habit that Luke addresses in this Sunday’s parable. Continue reading

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