Thursday, May 30, 2013

a photo of me with Moses on Masada, and a theology of farting in the general direction of empire

For many reasons (including the memorable nuclear power plant field trips that Rev. @Scott Allred took me on), I will never forget our first trip to Israel.

One highlight of course was Masada ( מצדה , only reachable by cable car), where Moses (tour guide, OK?) asked me to read/reenact Elazar ben Yair’s 73 AD speech given  before
Moses and me, and some folk from Scott Allred's church
 the stalwart Jews committed mass suicide  as Masada inevitably fell to the Romans .  So there atop the historic fortress...with wind whipping through my hair for dramatic effect (see video here)...and with the Roman attack ramp (amazingly) still in place and in view, I read/preached:

Since we long ago resolved never to be servants to the Romans, nor to any other than to God Himself, Who alone is the true and just Lord of mankind, the time is now come that obliges us to make that resolution true in practice...We were the very first that revolted, and we are the last to fight against them; and I cannot but esteem it as a favor that God has granted us, that it is still in our power to die bravely, and in a state of freedom.”

It was stunning and moving.
But of course, as good tourists, we soon came down the mountain and had a snack and visit to a souvenir shop (see "Holy Hamburgers").

In a maddening but entertaining book, Scott Korb (p 173) relates a pivotal event as things came to a head, and the Masada standoff loomed:
Some blame even has to fall on an unnamed Roman soldier,who in the spirit of Monty Python, farted in the general direction of a crowd of Jews.  [Josephus relates the following]:
'The people had assembled in Jerusalem for the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the Roman chort stood on guard over the Temple Colonnade.armed men always being 
on duty at the feasts to forestall any rioting by the vast 
crowds. One of the soldiers pulled up his garment and bent
          over indecently, turning his backside towards the Jews and
          making a noise as indecent as his attitude. 

Some would even attribute this..uh, shot.... heard around the world as the catalyst for the destruction of Jerusalem at the hands of Rome.

If you imagine the roles reversed, and the Jewish freedom fighters offering a similar noise and attitude towards the Romans....maybe such is  a model for prophetic spiritual warfare against empire.


Beats violence.
If you didn't get the Monty Python reference, check this out,and consider reenacting this response the next time someone/something pressures you to cave into empire:

Most have never heard of the Sicarii,, theradical Jewish sect )Often confused with the Zealots) that Josephhus credits as staging the resistance at Masada...but they were pretty much a terrorist cell of freedom fighters.
Why not subvert violence, not with violence...but with a radical, peacefully violent "noise and attitude"?

Heck,, Eugene Peterson (suh a distinguished Presbyterian I bet he's never farted) might approve.  Do read  Eugene Peterson on loud farts

A later saint  (Francis no less_once suggested a similar strategy for spiritual warfare.
(I am not making this up):

But when the devil says to you again: ‘You are damned’,  you answer him confidently: ‘Open your mouth and I will shit in it’, and let it be a sign to you that he is the devil that when you say those words, he will immediately go away…
             -St Francis, Little Flowers, Part 1, Section 1. chapter 29 

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