Wild Weeds and Imperial Trees: Reading a Messianic Parable at the Crossroads of Settlement and the Wild

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wild mustard (public domain)

By Jim Perkinson, some timely scholarship for this weekend’s Gospel story

*Note: these comments from Dr. Perkinson are a summary of his “ground-breaking” essay on seeds and soils in Political Spirituality in an Age of Eco-Apocalypse: Essays in Communication and Struggle Across Species, Cultures, and Religions (Palgrave McMillan, 2015)

The seed parables of the gospels are “heirloom” for modern readers. They come across time, hard with unpacked dynamism.  As bare kernels, they sit unmoving before the eyes. But given the right nutrients from without, they may sprout with a surprising prolixity.

I want to treat these little Galilean riddles like transportable spore, and see what they do in a plot of contemporary “compost.” Continue reading

Why Faith Must Learn the Language of Flood: Water as Apocalyptic Witness of Last Resort

J Perk, ShoesBy Jim Perkinson (09.01.2019)

*Note: This is a sermon Dr. James Perkinson (right, performing spoken word at the Heidelberg Project in Detroit, MI) did  for the liturgical “season” being adopted by some churches including St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Detroit. It is called the Season of Creation (Sept 1 to Oct 4). The focus on this Sunday (September 1, 2019) was on the oceans. J-Perk included a number of biblical passages related to the seas and water and asked a few questions/made some comments [as indicated], before getting into the sermon proper. 

Background

In the beginning, God created the Heavens and Earth. The Earth was without Form and Void, and Darkness was upon the Face of the Deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the Waters—Canaanite Mythology (Gen 1:1-2).  Continue reading

To Enlist

J PerkAn excerpt from Detroit-based theologian Dr. Jim Perkinson’s classic piece “Theology and the City: Learning to Cry Struggling to See.

*To live in a suburb “neutrally” is to participate in the American fiction of innocence.

…In complex, globally interdependent societies like those we now live in, theology that is not simply ideology requires a kind of militancy. It must enter a fray that is neither gentle nor innocent. But it has not ever been different for Christian “God talk.” In the first centuries of the church’s life, for instance, the early meaning of paganism was both “rural-dweller” and “noncombatant.” To become a believer in the early church meant to enlist. In the Roman imperial order, a sacramentum was an oath of loyalty taken by a soldier to Caesar. For Christians living under that imperial regime, celebrating “sacraments” like the Eucharist was a practice of political resistance in a struggle that engaged war-making as its nonviolent, but combative opposite. From the beginning, Christianity has been about spiritual warfare, when it has not forgotten its calling. And Christian theology in the mix is the articulation of where God is most likely to be encountered in the ongoing conflict.

The Advent of Stars and “Pagans”

MagiBy Jim Perkinson, on Matthew 2:1-12

So, the stage is set. Matthew has an old horny codger taking up a young nubile teenager (could be a headline on CNN tomorrow) but then discovering he is late to the freshness. She already has a loaf in the oven. He resolves to part in quiet but is accosted by a Dream-Time appearance counseling adventure—the child is Spirit-born, the event is “Emmanuel,” the promise is deliverance. He wakes and tries to stay “woke.” Continue reading

Radical Discipleship in a Time of Extinction

Puck JPerkBy James W. Perkinson 

*This is the first of a year-long series of posts from contributors all over North America each answering the question, “How would you define radical discipleship?” We will be posting responses regularly on Mondays during 2019.

“Radical discipleship” is one way of stating the call of the gospel. At face value, it means something like “following the root” (“radical” comes from the Latin “radix,” meaning “root”). But Christianity since Constantine has become so much the creature of urban imperial regimes that we typically approach the language of roots and plants as metaphor—nice “conceits” from earlier times that we have more literally “left behind” in our collaboration with a high-tech takeover of the planet. Indeed, in evangelical circles the great hope of the age in books going by the “Left Behind” nomenclature is to be “raptured” out of the mess of history and the barbarity of nature. The vision of salvation is one of exiting everything to do with earthly living—such as plant bodies growing, root-systems exchanging with soil, or animals eating and reproducing. Indeed, if heaven offers any “food” delights (like pizza or beer, in my paradise)—they will surely not issue in bacterial-driven metabolic processing and defecation or entail beheading of wheat or fermenting yeast or fungi handing off nitrogen to roots! (Not to mention anything as scandalous as sexual intercourse!) Continue reading

I Am Wind

JPerk1By Jim Perkinson, a sermon on John 6:1-12 for the radical disciples who gather at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church Detroit (July 29, 2018)

I preached here earlier this year on Jonah and fish and began that sermon by saying “I am not a fish person.” But then offered that fish were central to the gospel, that Jonah had in fact been saved by a fish, that fish were on par with bread in feeding the multitudes in the wilderness, and that Jesus was even called, in subsequent tradition (notably North African theologian Tertullian) “The Great Fish.” Continue reading