Wednesday, December 14, 2011

sin at Niagara Falls overcome and dismantled by an atomic wiki- dance

I collect definitions of sin.

I know: some collect stamps.

But that would be sin for me if I'm called to collect definitions of sin.

And though it is a dusty academic job, it beats collecting dust.

Here's a definition: corporate mistrust.

If that's the definition, than it  can only be overcome by the Coroprate Truust in us which the  Shematic Trinity offers us in Jesus' death.

We'll get to that.

Joel Green and Mark Baker helpfully remind us  that even though we have been told that the key theory of the atonement is penal substitution, it is more helpful  and biblical to view and consider  a  "constellation of images."    And they remind us that if there is indeed a ":controlling metaphor,"  it may well  be a surprising  subversive one (like Christus Victor); one with biblical evidence; but one that most American Christians have never even heard of. (Better watch more Matrix and C.S. Lewis!)...

And so it is with definitions of sin.  Though  faithful and hugely helpful...and it will preach (this may be the problem, we are pastor types fall into the seduction of reductionism)...the  evangelical  definition of sin as "missing the mark/bullseye" (an archery image) ; that commonly-accepted sermon and sound byte   (see Stein's great section on the fallacy of interpreting biblical terms only by etymology.., in fact, "etymology of  a word is of little value in biblical interpretation"  p. 193')ay lead to us missing the multifaceted "constellation of images" for defining/picturing/seeing (ask Mark DeRaud about seeing) "sin."  And again, if a controlling metaphor  does emerge from a  holistic study of the text and context,  it may well be  a surprising one, subversive to eveverything we've learned in Sunday School.  Everything we know may be largely right; but radically wrong if seen in isolation.

Speaking of isolation, no one can sin in isolation.  All sin is relatio and relational, even if it is committed alone (lust, angry thoughts..etc).

It's corporate mistrust.

Using a gift ..or just my default modus operandi ..that Tim has identified in me.."pushing toward the unobvious"..let's push.  I will   integtrate  "obvious" arguments from "obviously" relatred sources as  we progress, such as the shocking story of Niagra Falls and dance theory.. addition to some more classically theological sources of course..

First up is Scot McKnight, in his penetrating book] "A Community Called Atonement."  As you can see by the title of the book, he winds up suggesting that what we have often seen as the ultimate individual act of God...the death of one person, alone on the actually instead/also the definitive act of community/communitas/communal act (he doesn't necessarily say all this directly, but I am drawing from his inspiration.

Could it be that all sin is "sinned" corporately, part of a matrix/mileuex/machine and system/ systemic/syn?

With decades of research, Keith Sawyer ("Group Genius") has telliungly concluded that all acts of genius are corporate, relational, even/ especially the ones (Thomas Edison did not invent the light bulb, etc).. This is just how the brain works, we are never alone...even in the lonely lab.

We are never alone.
    We never walk alone...and never sin alone,
                             and are never saved alone.

Walter Wink is insighful on systemic evil and "the powers."
And consider revisiting a scripture we know  (or not) too well:

Often, due to our Western/modernity/Christendom mindset-worldview,

we completely misunderstand ..and "misundertake" Scriptures..

especially in an individualistic (and dualistic) way.

(see "I am in sin if I 'avoid the appearance of evil'")

How many have heard a sermon on "our righteousness is like filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6) which was all about our individual sins/filthy habits...

not grasping that it actually says "All of us (as one, together) have become like one who is unclean/Together, our (one, corporate) righteousness is like filthy rags. "

Sure, we were found individually unrighteousness; but the "more than the sum of its individual parts" corporate unrighteousness is what is primarily commented on here

As usual, the King James only trips us up even more:

"all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags"

Sounds like each individual has several "unrighteousnesses"...which of curse we read as bad habits..

But it's more akin to, we are a "committee of buzzards" (see "A Crash of Rhinos...a Committee of Buzzards"); or better yet one bad buzzard.

(Not to be confused with "One Bad Pig")

Sure, we go bowling and do "Judo Alone"...and that is sin, but we are worse off as "alone together."
Likewise, Isaiah 53:

" We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to their own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all."

..not fundamentally "the iniquity of each individual one," but "the one iniquity (and inequity) of us all as one."

 -LINK:   "We is one bad rag"

Let's take on the "corporate mistrust" definition.


"Mark Biddle concludes that sin's essence is basic mistrust that manifests itself as pride and fear--as seeking to be both more than we are and less than we are.."  (p, 47)

Note this definition eschews a radically PealeSchuller/Osteenish definition of sin as sourced in low self esteem/low self-worth'; or in the prosperity gospel's "little gods" theology.  The definition is not complete with "less than we are" and "fear."

It is complete with the inclusion of "more than we are" and "pride."

And ironically, I am proud of my humility!  That's a pair of doxes.

And read on:

"Ted Peters sees sin as the 'human attempt to fixate the present and resist God's future--that is, to absolutize our own part and  sacrifice God's whole.'  Here again we have mistrust shaped by hubris.  p.47

And we might spotlight the corporate/community nature of mistrust and absolutization by coining a phrase hinted at it McKnight's title:

"A Community Called Sin."

If  sin is communal-collective-corporate.
  it must only be overcome by corporate re-demption and at-one-ment.

Green and Baker stress that we cannot subvert and individualistic gospel with an individualistic gospel (see All That Matters to Me is..._)

Which leads to a definition of sin I have stolen from the brilliant chef and prophetic provocateur
Robert Farrar Capon:

Sin is to not "get" Tr-Unity of The Trinity.


In the Old Testament, the single sin most inveighed against isn't murder, adultery or theft.  It's idolatry.
the worship of any god or gods who aren't the one and only true is the principal sin...And the doctrine of the Trinity stands as firmly against all such idolatries  as anything in the Old Testament.. The Trinity stands forth as one God..It's the coherence, the mutual indwelling... the dancing into relationships...Nothing in creation acts or exists by itself; everything interacr5s with everything else (p, 29, Genesis The Movie, emphasis mine)

Together, we fall into collective systeemic sin, Together, coropfrately we are  redeemed by Jesus, who is inevitably  interVenned and interconnected  (not intermeshed, see Len  and Rabbi Friedman on family systems theory and the Trinity)with the ultimate/intimate  corporate community of interrellationships:the Tri-unity.  And since  Trinty is intrinisically missional,   He/They are out tio rescue us from our sin and redeem our corporate rag.

That's something to dance about.
Dance is something we can't truly do alone.
And neither can the Godhead.
If you have never heard of perichoresis, get dancing and read  .

And then dance all over death and destruction and dismantle a bomb or two at Niagara Falls.


Every visitor to Niagara Falls notices the unexpected messiness of the US side, and the immaculateness of the Canadian side   I'm glad someone finally said it in orint: Ginger Strand, "Inventing Niagara"":

"McGeevy once suggested that for Canadians, Niagara Falls acted as a front door.  Thus, they landscaped and decorated it, the way you do your front walk, so that arriving guests get a good impression.  In contrast,for the United States, McGeevy proposed, Niagra Falls was a backyard: the place where you park your old bicycles, pasture your broken down couch, and stick your trash.  It's a nice, neat theory...But of course, America, no less than Canada, sees Niagra as an emblem of itself.  It's why we have spend so much effort 'remediating' it, disguising the effects of our use and abuse of the waterfall and its landscape  (p. 255)

An intriguing book, to say the least.  And especially when we consider how much atomic/nuclear waste is found in the (US) shadow  (see casting shadows on the city)[city6173244_669508244_3705713_861776_n.jpg]
of the falls.  The city of Niagara Falls (and the Falls itself) are an amazing example of what the Bible calls "principalities" are often literal principalities of systemic and embedded evil

How does one subvert systemic evil of cities (cities as a symbol of corporateness).

Ask Bono:

Let’s rehearse the oft-repeated anecdote in which Bono, prior to the CD release, winkingly asked Christian musician Michael W. Smith, “How do you dismantle an atomic bomb, Michael?”. After a proper pause during which Smith admitted agnosticism about the answers, Bono replied “With love, with love.” (link)

If God isn't Love, who is.
If God isn;t a community of love, who is?

Augustine defined the Trinity as Lover, Beloved, and Love.

Bono, as itinerant pastor to various cities   (see U2 can pastor the city);
seems to know just what to say to the cities and principalities he visits
(note his words to Nashville; Bono acting all evangelical at the Nashville Revival ..
  Wonder what he said/sung to Niagara Falls? ...or Fresno?

Love that is  itself inherently Trinitarian  community, love that is fully  consummated on the  cross and its  Christus Victorious corporate (all membvers of tronty erespoind) prophetic act.

Doesn't that evoke a dance?
A dance among the communitas of God's people?
Like it did the first time the Kingdom of God landed on earth (see Exodus 15:18)?

Hate to end this post with the Bee Gees..but I gotta go.
And you get to dance.

You know you want to,
It might be a sin not to:

"feel like dancin..yeah!"

If the Bee Gees mess you, up, dance to this: dare you!

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