By Jim Perkinson (right), an excerpt from “Jesters, tricksters, taggers and haints: Hipping the church to the Afro-hop, pop-‘n-lock mock-up currently rocking apocalyptic Detroit,” a November 2017 article in Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies (HTS):
In many places today, the joke is all we have left to pry open the prison gate – a jest and a belly laugh rooted in the deep past and the abandoned margins. But its truth remains absolute, despite corporate pretention otherwise. We all finally will come apart at the seams and decay into streams of composting liquid and molecules – even US drones and bankers’ computer screens, blinking with algorithms. The only question is when and for what.
In recognition of such an eventuality of equality, may we choose well where to expend our breath and exercise our push back and dreaming otherwise. May we become soldiers of the unrepentant joke, militant laughers learning our hope from the least. May we keep our jest visceral and its spear-point like a razor, ready for whatever crack of freedom the Mystery of Wild Hilarity that created this planet may open. May we do so, even if that possibility is ephemeral and uphill as a spray-painted st and a stenciled demand on a tower and the political struggle to ‘free the ow’ that follows! Indeed, may we finally be strong like water and as insurgent as a tower growing from concrete!
By Jim Perkinson, a sermon on Jonah 3:1-5, 10 and Mk 1:14-20, January 21, 2018, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church (Detroit, MI)
I am not a fish person—which is why I volunteered to preach this Sunday, where the lessons focus on fish, in the stories of Jonah and the whale and of the disciples on the Sea of Galilee called to become “fishers of humans.” To “catch” the significance of the latter, we need to reel in the former carefully. Though not included in the lectionary, the heart of the Jonah story turns on the following verse:
And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah; and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights (Jon 1:17).
The text is clear. Jonah was saved by a fish. But we need to go slow, since we often read it the other way around—that Jonah was saved from a fish. So in the interests of getting us hooked on the story-line, I want to string out three pieces of bait. Continue reading
By Jim Perkinson, from Political Spirituality in an Age of Eco-Apocalypse (2015)
Undoubtedly anxious, perhaps even terrified, Mary breaks water under the bureaucratic duress. Motel 6 is filled, as is the local youth hostel. Tradition has it she camps out in a cave—likely one of the rocky caverns around Bethlehem that shepherds used as corrals. In short order, she has her newborn in a “manger,” feeding trough for domesticated livestock, enslaved creatures whose own wildlands grazing has been reduced to slopping beheaded grain from a wood or stone container.
Meanwhile local herding folk, out on the hills with their flocks, reading the stars and weather, tending to the night cacophony for any hint of danger, schooled, not in texts of Torah but in the sensuous spells of the wild holiness that is their “bible,” are struck with an apparition, an emergent power of the outback, taking shape on the rocks, whispering omens, filtering light into a strange miasma of significance. They hear, are terrified, then comforted. Offered “good news.” An event has taken place. Continue reading
PC: Valerie Jean (Detroit, MI)
by jim perkinson (St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Detroit, 11-26-17)
the sheep and the goats
the goats and the sheep
nothing here about church
but the good fundies all say
you must believe with your heart
have the word on your lips
insist jesus is lord
or you will have no part Continue reading
By Tommy Airey
Like every good Evangelical, my adolescent faith was about giving all glory to the Lord. I sang praise songs to a “high and lifted up” Jesus and always concluded my prayers “in Jesus’ name” (I signed off my emails “Fool For Christ,” but that’s a story for another time). I was taught to utilize “apologetics” to defend the faith and prove that Jesus was, in fact, Divine. I revered C.S. Lewis whose Mere Christianity made a water-tight case for my beliefs. Lewis left readers three choices for who Jesus really was: a lunatic, a liar or the Lord Himself:
Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher.
Lewis claimed that, when it came to the people who actually met Jesus, they responded in three ways: hatred, terror or adoration. There was no middle ground. Continue reading
By Jim Perkinson, a sermon (10.29.17) for a turning Season
In the Lectionary gospel for the day, the stakes are high. Jesus has just side-swiped the annual Passover parade, organized an Occupy-takeover of the Temple the next day, held a teach-in naming the site “Thug Central,” “Den of Robbers,” opened the space to the blind, the lame and children, gone underground in Bethany overnight, come back up to the central shrine, which is also the national bank, begun his word-joust-defense of his action—and the clock is ticking. The contract has been out on his life ever since the early days of his community organizing in Galilee where he led his inner circle in a civil disobedience action, poaching wheat from fields on the Sabbath. Continue reading
Detroit, Michigan: Six sold-out shows to open up the new $800 million Little Caesar’s Arena
Dr. James Perkinson, Ecumenical Theological Seminary (Detroit, MI)
The signs of our time shout! Harvey hammers Houston and the entire Gulf Coast camps out in a boat or a grave. Then comes Irma with Jose and Katya in Her wake, raking an entire peninsula with rebuke. While fire ungraced with gendered traces of naming, blisters the west. All on top of Charlottesville, itself evoking Trump, chopping restraints militant and policing, channeling a large chunk of the dominant demographic of the country! As I write, Kid Rock readies his concert of hate in downtown Detroit, as front for the Ilitch family take of Motown turf, faking concern, raking in tax dollar support, celebrating white vituperation in the gala opening of a new ice hockey stadium at the core of an 82 % black city. Little Caesar indeed! But what do all of these events have to do with each other? How might a community aspiring to some measure of humanity and morality “hear” what these events sound out? I do not yet even dare to say, “Respond.” Continue reading