Friday, October 24, 2008

NirvanaMan, Righteous Mischief, SuperChurch, Supreme Synagogue

In an intriguing lecture last night on election reform,
self-described (mellow) activist Krist Novoselic...

oh, by the way he is also former bass player for Nirvana...and that is actually him at left)..and him throwing his bass in the air only to have it land on his head at the close of this vintage
(and not so mellow) MTV Awards performance..

characterized his mission as

"righteous mischief."

Now that phrase is a keeper; if not my mission motto and new nickname.
It's commentary/targum on Matthew 10:16.

But the phrase that brought delight to us three pastor-types in the back pew..uh, row..was

He meant megachurches, and soon switched to that more standard term...but I'll hang onto "superchurch"...(suprachurch works well, too).

And I shouldn't have been surprised at the return findings when I googled that phrase!

The context was a suggestion that when superchurches host their own daycare or addiction recovery center, such is good for the culture, economy, fact, it is kind of a "anarchic socialism."

That phrase sounds like church to me, too. Book of Acts, baby.
Who is this guy?

But one negative vibe of some superchurches us they might be selected by Jesus as a site for one of his temple tantrums...remembering of course that the cleansing of the temple wasn't so much (or at all) about "selling stuff in church" as it was a righteous mischief against the racism of the dovesleller and moneychangers who set up their table on the only place/pew of the Gentile races...Thus, 'My house shall be a huse of prayer foir all nations/ethnicities.."
More on this here..even a poem here.
But it wasn't good for the anarchic democracy of the Kingdom.

All that to say, superchurches/McChurches can often default to bounded sets, including only folks the same color, style or size as the head pastor dude. Or as a visiting seminary professor once told us, "the homogenous unit principle of church growth is from hell."

Oskar Skarsaune, in his masterwork , "In the Shadow of the Temple: Jewish Influences on Early Christianity," also coins a delightful phrase in the line of "superchurch": the temple was a "supreme synagogue." By that he doesn't necessarily mean a worship set where The Supremes sing (though we might be down with that), but temple as supreme-synagogue by its primary purpose of prayer and teaching gatherings...and decidedly NOT sacrifices anymore...even in Jesus day.

Skarsaune suggests that

The earliest community were in the temple "day by day" (Acts 2:46). But what did they do there? First we should note that with one exception, we never read that they brought sacrifices......What we do read is that they went up to the temple to teach and pray (Acts 3:1). We have already seen the significance of their teaching in the temple. Their praying there should probably be seen in the light of Jesus' words when he "cleansed" the temple: "It is written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer'; but you are making it a den of robbers" (Mt 21:13).

It seems as if the early believers purposefully ignored the sacrificial cult going on in the temple. To put it a little more pointedly, they treated the the temple as if it were the supreme synagogue. In the synagogue you teach and pray, but you do not sacrifice. While the cessation of the atoning sacrifices posed a problem for the rabbis after AD 70, there is no trace in early Christian literature that this situation was ever considered a problem.On the contrary, in Recognitions 1.33-71 it is rather the continuation of the sacrifices between AD 30 and 70 which is seen as a grave sin...

The early Jerusalem community seems to have regarded the temple as the supreme synagogue, the ultimate place for teaching and praying The remission of sins was no longer obtained by the sacrifices offered there, but by the supreme sacrifice of Christ.."

In the Shadow of the Temple: Jewish Influences on Early Christianity," 160, 167
entire book searchable

Thus, Jesus' temple tantrum, targeted at racism and denial of Gentiles space to pray, was also "righteous mischief" and a rant against the dovesellers and moneychangers supporting the sacrificial program at all! Skaraune namechecks early sources that attributed the destruction of the temple in 7o as, in part, a final dismantling of the sacrificial system. The den of robbers were those who robbed the worshippers of the new wine and way by perpetuating a pre-Jesus worship-worldview.

That a shift in the primary purpose of a sacred space is hard is understandable.
But even Isaiah (56:6-8) spelled out the original intent:
not a house of sacrifice; not a house of preaching as we have made it today;
but a house of prayer for absolutely all.

Any real estate than our real ESTATE is suceptible to the idolotary of place.
"Church buildings are sacred..," Mark Driscoll procliams, " everything else."
(See "Holy Hamburgers" for more).

Now that we the Corporate Body (not individual belivers or their bodies, as evangelicals often misqoute 1 Cor) are the temple, the Place, the holy ground..

Rob Bell and Don Golden note that revelation happening "not in the midst of a nation or city or province where someone could make ownership claims, it was for all the people of the world..

God needs a body so that..all of humanity will know this is how God acts in the world."
"Jesus Came to Save Christians: A Manifesto for the Church in Exile," p. 29.

Bell and Golden:
"there is blood on the doorposts of the universe."

And that includes me.

"I'm worse at what I do best
And for this gift I feel blessed
Our little group has always been
And always will until the end "
-Nirvana lyrics, "Smells Like Teen Spirit"

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