Saturday, December 24, 2016

kenosis in transitional/liminal space

 Martha Reineke in René Girard and Creative Mimesis:

Winnicott's work proves useful at this juncture.  As his work is interpreted by Ulanov, religion is  an environment "provided by a God who holds us in being."  This environment is healing to humans because each human's infancy and childhood inevitably has included gaps which have led them to falter in their reconnoitering of transitional space.  Ulanov finds Julian of Norwich's words descriptive of God's work: God "knits" humans into divine being, "oneing" them into God's being.  Likened to a mother, God stays with humans through all their ruthless attacks, surviving these attacks
"out of her own resilience" and, remaining empathetic, "mothering us into one whole persons living through her shared experience with us."

..Winicott's vision, Ulanov claims, has profound theological implications. She understands that “good enough parents” can facilitate in humans the development of a capacity for a capacity for symbol-making that supports creative explorations of being within transitional space ...In conversion,
new relationship is forged by a God who "eternally, graciously, enduringly offers relationship."  Ulanov describes in precise ways  how the Christian community of faith supports transitional space.

To meet God within this space, one must undergo kenōsis, emptying oneself in ways that mirror Christ's emptying himself in order to enter into human life. -René Girard and Creative Mimesis
pp. 45-6, link

Thursday, December 22, 2016

update on Sonya...and the "I'm a mess but I'm in love" guy

Those poor doctors and others who predicted Sonya Wainscott
would be dead by now.. Sorry, they don't know my wife the warrior-princess . It looks to be a lot of years until that day .

That doesn't mean it's been easy on me , and she would be the first to tell you that I need prayer and love big time . I'm a mess but I'm in love ! Why do I need prayer? Well, let me answer with one of my favorite The 77s/ Michael Roe lyrics: "I know your strength is in my weakness/But my weakness is gettin' a little strong" (song below).

Thanks to everyone for praying . Here below is a new update on St. Sonya Wainscott and Sonya Wainscott's Healing from Cancer: prayer and fundraiser:

Thursday, December 01, 2016

perichoretic and polycentric church structure

 Ask ten random churchfolk:

 "What are the practical implications of the Trinity for church structure?"

After the first few responders offer blank stares, maybe one will catch something profound (like these folks), and as the Q man (Quentin P. Kinnison) does below in a highly-recommended book.

From a section  headed Trinitarian Implications for Church Structures: 

...From Trinitarian themes, an ecclesiology forms which expresses serious concern regarding the specialization of ministry.  Any specialized ministry in the church occurs within the ministry of all members--the universal priesthood of all believers.

...Viewing the relations of the Trinity as  complementary  perichoretic  subjects, Volf concludes that ecclesial structures must be viewed as complementary and egalitarian. Therefore, he forcefully states:

If one starts from the Trinitarian model  I have suggested, then the structure of ecclesial unity cannot be conceived by way of the one, be it the pope, the patriarch or the bishop. Every ecclesial unity held together by a mon-archy, by a "one-[man!]-rule,  is monistic and thus  also un-trinitarian.
In such a church, the Charismata are recognized as universally distributed and are practiced by all in a "polycentric community" where members are participative, fulfilling their calling to serve God and the community in God's mission.
-Quentin P. Kinnison, Transforming Pastoral Leadership: Reimagaining Congregational Leadership for Changing Contexts, pp. 83-84 

For more on what polycentrism might mean, see pp. 96-99 of the book.
Yes, buy it now!
 I am intrigued by how best to draw/chart out  polycentric.
 Here are some starting points from Google Images.
Or maybe  this could be attempted through set theory. See:

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Lord's Supper sans supper: a skeleton outside of real life, kissing grandma under a half-built bridge

Charles Kraft:

The Lord's Supper [is] probably the most potentially meaningful of the codes regularly employed within Christianity, at least when it is practiced as a full meal.

When, however, the Lord's Supper is practiced (as in most of Western Christianity) as  a skeleton ritual with precious little resemblance  to a participatory meal  (or to any other part of real life), the communication value is radically altered.  The excessive ritualization of such a code destroys its value by pushing the experience to an extreme diametrically  opposite that of the example above...enacting the drama is such a way that it was [incorrectly] interpreted as real life.

In the case of the excessive ritualization of the Lord's Supper, the communication value is lost (or at least radically changed) when it bears no resemblance to anything else in the participants' experience.  This means that our attempts to interpret the event via analogy with other life experiences are frustrated.  But since we are taught that God commands us to do it, we tend to interpret the strange, unique thing as sacred and magical.  That is, we interpret this meaningless ritual as we interpret any meaningless ritual (e.g. kissing grandma)--as required by the one in charge (in this case God) and entered into to please him rather than as a participatory experience..

...Since eating together already exists as a meaningful code within the society, all that needs to be done is to practice the Lord's Supper as a real meal (as the early church did).  This would allow the sacramental significance of the activity to develop naturally from the associations between it and real life, on the one hand, and between it and the  historical experience of Jesus with the disciples, on the other.

These [dead codes} (like poor Bible translations) are like bridges halfway across a river that require the receptors to build their own half from the opposite bank if they are to be able to make use of the part of the bridge that has been built.
-Charles H. Kraft, Communication Theory for Christian Witness,  pp 115-116

"every time the culture changes, the church becomes unfaithful..."

"Which Atonement? How Scripture Speaks Anew to Each Generation" by Len Hjalmarson

....The dominant view of atonement for the first 300 years of the Church was not Penal Substitution, but Christus Victor. Jesus death and resurrection made him Lord, and established him as sole victor over the forces of death and destruction. Jesus death was a ransom paid to the devil. The Penal Substitution view was there in Scripture, but the early church was less interested in that view. Under Anselm in the 11th century the Church changed position, and began to put its weight on the other foot. It was the legal and forensic climate of those times that provoked the switch.

In other words, it was a cultural shift that provoked a theological shift. That’s a pretty important point, because we are in a time when culture is changing dramatically, and here we are having a lot of theological debates.

We could conclude from this that every time the culture changes, the church becomes unfaithful. Or, more wisely, we could conclude that when the culture shifts God speaks in new language..

.....Scot McKnight expands on the meaning of reconciliation by listing the atonement metaphors.
 He writes:
"Atonement language includes several evocative metaphors: there is a sacrificial metaphor (offering), and a legal metaphor (justification), and an interpersonal metaphor (reconciliation), and a commercial metaphor (redemption) and a military metaphor (ransom). Each is designed to carry us to the thing. But the metaphor is not the thing. The metaphor gives the reader or hearer an imagination of the thing, a vision of the thing, a window onto the thing, a lens through which to look in order to see the thing. Metaphors take us there, but they are not the 'there.'"

Well said! We are prone, when we don't recognize the way language and symbols work, to mistake the menu for the meal. It then becomes nearly impossible to actually talk about how and why we do theological work, because we are too busy defending our symbols. And atonement debate is mostly theology – not Scripture, but language that interprets what we read in the Scripture, and language that represents the dominant understanding in our faith communities.

And what do you know? Both major views – the early and the late -- can be found in a single New Testament passage in Colossians.

Penal Substitutionary: “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.” (Colossians 2:13-15)

 Christus Victor: “And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” (This is the next verse, Colossians 2:16)

 The dominant view of atonement for the first 300 years of the Church was Christus Victor. In the 11th century, and in the legal and forensic climate of theological thought, the Church began to put its weight on the other foot. Cultural shift provoked a theological shift. But God is the Lord of both culture and theology. When the culture shifts, old questions are asked in new ways. In response, God speaks in new language. God speaks to a new culture in new ways through the Scripture because a new culture HEARS in new ways.

To be more provocative, the voice of the Holy Spirit did not highlight the penal-substitution (PS) view for the early church. What was it about the context of the church in those days that required one approach (Christus Victor) more than the other? And is there something about our own changing world that now requires a return, or at least a much greater emphasis, on the earlier view? Might it even be possible to hold the two views side by side, like a pair of glasses, and see in 3D? Or to ask the question in reverse, why are western evangelicals so stuck on one view, to the extent that holding other views as equal provokes an emotional reaction?  ...
 continued here 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Nurses rock...and lead!

Here's  “Nurses : Vital Leaders in our Valley, a column I submitted to our local newspaper (The Fresno Bee)'s "Valley Voices" column.  They didn't print it.  Can you guess why?  I have a theory.

They have printed me before; see a previous column they printed here:

Search ResultsSearch Results

"Some Confessions from a Christian Pastor"

Anyway..  Maybe the powers that Bee will see this and change their mind.(

PS: Video  below of me  speaking to nurses as they graduate; related to this article's theme (click the "backstory link" if you don't see video embedded below):
video backstory

“Nurses : Vital Leaders in our Valley” by Dave Wainscott
Dave Wainscott is pastor of Third Day Fresno, and adjunct instructor at Fresno Pacific University.

Nurses are crucial to vital, visionary leadership in our valley.

But not all nurses see themselves as leaders.

Indeed, not all nurses are always leaders.  But all nurses are sometimes leaders; and any great nurse can and will lead successfully and courageously, if…no, when… summoned for a season into leadership. Such leadership may even extend far beyond the walls and halls of their hospital or institution.

As a pastor in our valley for thirty years, and thus one who has logged countless hours at hospital bedsides catching close-up vignettes of nurse/patient interactions, I am in awe of the selfless care…and profound leadership…that nurses provide.

 As one who also teaches nursing students in the RN to BSN program at Fresno Pacific University’s various valley campuses, and thus one who has personally witnessed the astounding extra-mile commitment of hundreds of local nurses, I am in awe of the tireless tenacity…and profound leadership….that nurses provide.

As one who was has occasionally needed the services of nurses and hospitals myself,  and thus one who has willfully surrendered my healing and very life to capable nurses, I am inspired beyond words, and must brag to our valley about the relentless self-giving …and profound leadership…that nurses provide.

“Are you an angel?,” I almost asked  a nurse aloud once.  As I was finding my way out of the fog of anesthesia that accompanied a procedure, the first thing I saw upon re-entry was the unfeigned smile of a nurse, and the first voice that nurse gently calling my name.  She acted as if she had nothing else to do in that moment.  As if I was helping her.   I was not client or customer; not an annoyance or another number, but her current sacred opportunity to extend grace and practical help. It seemed her only calling in that moment was to ensure that I was oriented, alright and welcomed back to reality with extraordinary encouragement. You can see how for a split second, the thought crossed my mind that she was literally angelic.

As much as you may appreciate along with me that nurses can be helpful and even life-savers, I am aware that some are not finding my thesis that nurses make stellar leaders immediately obvious.   I invite us to consider the same thesis, as articulated by Grossman and Valica, in their exceptional book, “The New Leadership Challenge:  Creating the Future of Nursing” (F.A. Davis, 2013):

“One of the areas in which nurses are most skilled is communication.  Nurses know how to listen.  They know how to encourage people to keep trying when there seems to be no hope of success..They know how to encourage others to respond openly.  And they know how to avoid barriers to communication.  Therefore, nurses are particularly advantaged when one examines this element of leadership.
book link
The public puts a great deal of trust in nurses, and the credibility of nurses is strong in the eyes of patients, families, legislators, and the general public.  Nurses who are providing leadership would therefore do well to take advantage of this trust by communicating their vision at every opportunity.
Such opportunities are, in fact, more available than many nurses realize: serving on a committee at one’s institution or in one’s professional association, speaking at a conference, writing for a professional journal or local newspaper or organizational newsletter, meeting with a legislator, talking with patients and their families, being interviewed on a campus radio station, holding office in one’s professional organization, campaigning for a candidate or a  particular cause, confronting a healthcare team member, networking at professional meetings, forming alliances with other health care professionals, seeking and using a mentor, and so on.  We are limited only by our own imagination and our willingness to take risks.” (Grossman and Valica, p. 14)

I don’t know about you, but that exhortation resonates with me. I wish you could feel firsthand the endless potential  that Drs. Stacy Manning, Stacy Wise and Peggy Avakian  (directors of nursing and health care programs at Fresno Pacific) and I, see in “our” brave nurses.  I’m sure other local educators of nurses agree.

Allow me to use this public forum to offer heartfelt thanks for the thankless job that nurses routinely bless us with.

And allow me a throw-down; a challenge, to any nurses reading: step out, risk well;  trust and lean into your “angelic” leadership instincts.  Precisely because of your self-effacing “I’m not a leader,” you may well be summoned to a next-level leadership in your city, valley and beyond.
Lead on.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Trump and Jesus both seem to love racist walls, and both called a woman a dog

If that title wasn't clickbait, I don't know what is (:

                                But it's true.

Don't worry....

 It's all explained in a fantastic section of A J Swoboda's  book
 "The Dusty Ones: How Wandering Deepens Your Faith."

Click  here..


 and start reading with "A Gentile mother.."

  You won't be sorry.

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Do dogs go to heaven? (Rob Bell says no). Cats? (Bell says no). Ferrets? (Bell:yes). Penguins? (TBD as soon as you take David Crowder's survey)

I'm find a hidden gem from Rob that, though published, has never been quoted on the interwebs or Googled.  Let me change the course of history as soon as I hit "publish" on this post.

The first time I found a Bellism that had been missed, it  had to do with his "watermelon in the garden" thesis.

This time it has to do with a  question I once tackled years ago, in a former life, when I had a "Dear Abby"/Ask Dave column online.  It's THE question; one that has dogged many: do dogs go to heaven?

Here you go, hidden in  back of the teen edition of "Love Wins":

Of course, we know his theology on cats (they apparently don't make it, as God didn't even make them) from this clip. (:
Gee, for someone being accused of being a universalist (which he denies, watch this), it's nice to know he can exclude.  (:
-Cat and DogTheology
-Another overlooked  and unGoogled classic:the credits/copyright  page of David Crowder's book.  I wonder how many think they've read ever word of the book, and never caught this life-changer.
And it has to do with a bias  towards penguins.

Bono and Peterson's Psalms film follow-up

Of course, the recent film of Bono and Eugene Peterson on the psalms  was fantastic.
But one can't help what cutting edge quotes were left on the cutting room floor;
what  takeaways between takes were take away.
(I remember reading about a Disney film where what some saw as the best seven minutes of the film were cut, as they didn't fit the flow).

I knew there would be some leaks (re-leaked below) .
But I didn't know I would get my  2004 question of the first questions in my first post on this blog ("Does Bono read Brueggemann?")..,
                                  and I didn't even have to meet Bono to ask him.

First, from Scot Calhoun's post, "Behind The Scenes: More From Bono & Friends On The Psalms":

David Taylor’s two meetings with Bono left him thinking Bono was “frightfully intelligent when it came to the matter of the Psalms. He is a serious student of them -- their history, their poetry, their themes, their various uses. I was thoroughly impressed.” Knowing Taylor is an associate professor of theology and culture at Fuller Seminary, I asked him what impressed him so much.

During our conversation in Montana, he anticipated where I would be going with a certain line of questions. I mentioned the pattern of praise and lament psalms at one point, to which he interjected, with a chuckle: ‘Orientation, disorientation, and reorientation. Guess which one I’m good at!’ Those three terms, as you probably already know, come from language that biblical scholar Walter Brueggemann coined in his research on the Psalms. That terminology isn’t exactly common knowledge. I was amazed not only at the fact that he was familiar with the terms, but also at the careful manner in which he handled them.”
When they met again in July, “it was patently evident Bono had more to say,” Taylor remarked.

“Prior to our chat in New York City, I learned that he had spent the early morning re-reading the Psalms alongside various biblical commentaries and notes that he himself has taken on particular Psalms. I also found out that he had spent some time with a friend in a lively exchange about the Psalms, to get ready for our conversation. By the time I got him in the early afternoon, he was buzzing with excitement about certain themes related to the psalms of ascent, that section in the Psalter that runs from Psalm 120 to Psalm 134. Bono felt that there was something significant, not just for the Christian or the pilgrim (per the context of the Psalter) but also for the artist, in the themes that emerged in this collection of 15 psalms. The themes include a concern for peace, protection, cities, mercy, thanks, security, laughter, hubris, rage, tears, humility, searching, unity, blessing and so on. Bono had something to say about each of these themes. It was striking to see how his reading the Psalms involved a scholarly, personal and artistic lens. Aware of the near-constant demands on his time, I was impressed with how seriously he took our conversation, not least because of his longstanding care for Holy Scripture. I sincerely appreciated that kind of preparation and attention.” -LINK
From the filmmaker:

Through the windows behind Bono, I can see Hughes Bay opening out onto Flathead Lake, and beyond it, the snow-tipped Mission Mountains. Bono leans forward at the table, hands gesticulating. What he admires about Eugene, he says, is Eugene’s capacity for stillness. It reminds him of U2’s former chaplain, Jack Heaslip, who, it seems, had perfected the art of laziness. But it wasn’t “lazy to do nothing,” Bono insists.

It was laziness in the sense of an unworried carelessness. For Heaslip, this translated into an ability to be present. This presence had an expansive quality about it. To be present in this way meant that you had “all the time in the world” and the future neither threatened nor demanded that you leave the present moment for the sake of a “better option” or a more “useful employment of time.”

When Bono first walks into the Peterson home, he carries under his arm a copy of Seamus Heaney’s book of poetry, Human Chain. Bono hands the book to Eugene, only to be told by Jan they already own it. Bono laughs when he hears this. And he doesn’t appear embarrassed the redundancy of his gift. Bono tells me that Eugene reads the way he listens to music, so it’s to be expected that he’d already own the book by the Nobel Prize-winning Irish poet.

In speaking to Bono’s assistants earlier in the day, I learn that gift-giving is one of Bono’s “love languages.” It is one of the peculiar ways he tries to communicate care to people. One could be excused for thinking that this behavior is a form of showmanship. “It’s simply what famous musicians can afford to do, because they’re wealthy and surrounded by an army of ingratiating assistants.” That’s possible, sure, but it’s a rather cynical way to read a sincere gesture.
At the beginning of our time together, I see Bono greet each member of the small film crew by name. Three hours later, at the end of the visit, Bono thanks them each personally, again by name. The “by name” part does not escape my notice. The larger-than-life personality that I’ve witnessed on television is here, in the Peterson’s home, replaced by a generous, somewhat-awkward, often deferential person.

...As a competitive runner in his early years, Eugene could still be a man “in a hurry” in his latter years. But he isn’t. And his non-hurried way of being, part by nature, part by choice, means that he has time to pay attention—to people, to place, to creation. As he tells me later in the day:
“I guess what I would like to convey through my writings, mostly, and through relationships, is that creation is a huge thing, and that our faith has to reflect the basicness of creation to what we’re doing. The minute you leave the place, the contingency of place, you lose the story. You’re thinking about mystical things, or dogmatic things, or religious things, but this is where it all happens. I think we’ve been pretty deliberate about making sure that we’re staying in touch with the things, with the stuff, with the rocks and the birds, whatever. That doesn’t come just at the end of your life. You have to start pretty early.”

...Halfway through my on-camera conversation with Bono and Eugene, before transitioning to our discussion of the psalms, I ask them if there is anything else they wanted to say about the calling to friendship.

His eyes drifting over to his writing desk, Eugene says, “You know, as you ask this question, I hadn’t thought of this before, but I think my friendships now are carried on mostly in correspondence. I write a lot of letters, and they’re people I liked but I didn’t really know, and then through correspondence, I feel like I know them. And they know me.”

Bono wonders whether Eugene types or writes his letters by hand.
Eugene chuckles to himself. “I used to handwrite my letters,” he says, “because I thought it was more personal, but I got a letter from a guy in South Africa, 10 years ago or so, and he said, ‘If you reply to this letter, please use a typewriter. I spent two weeks deciphering your last letter.’ So I felt that writing letters by hand was just a matter of pride. It didn’t work.”

I turn to Bono to see if he has anything else to add. Not surprisingly, he does. The trick, he tells us, is to hold on to your friendships through difficult times. Especially in America, he thinks, people move around a lot. The U.S. Census Bureau figures that a typical American will move 11 times in their lifetime. Under these circumstances, Bono suspects, it’s very hard to hold onto friendships. But “it’s really important,” he says. “So I don’t take it lightly.”

As I observed Bono and Eugene’s exchanges on that Sunday afternoon in a small town in Montana, I saw the virtue of hospitality at work. In this particular relational context, it meant the habit of paying attention and the habit of generosity of spirit. It is a gift to me to have witnessed this exchange, for many reasons, yes, but not least because it rebuked my own poor relational habits and it inspired me to want, yet again, to be a better friend.

Link: Bono, Eugene Peterson, and the Vocation of Friendship


 See also:

This from Charlie Peacock's ArtHouse blog...on the wives (Peterson's and Taylor's.  Too bad, not Bono's_ behind the film


Meet the Man Behind the Bono and Eugene Peterson Conversation

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Dylan's subversive song selection, and prophetic sermon on Psalm 27 and Rabbi Hirsch commentary, at 1991 Grammy Awards

First, watch this:

For commentary on  what just happened..
see this link , this link, and see  the two posts  below.

See  also

Bob Dylan's Top Five Awards Speeches 


 From Greil Marcus' 
"ranters & crowd pleasers: punk in pop music, 1977-92":

1. Bob Dylan:  at the Grammy Awards, 20 February 1991.
Thirty years after arriving in New York from Minnesota, Bob Dylan stepped
forward to be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award.  With the Gulf War in
progress, the blanket of acceptance that had been draped over the show was so
heavy the WAR SUCKS t-shirt New Kid on the Block Donnie Wahlberg wore to the
American Music Awards a few weeks earlier would have been forbidden here;
maybe that's why Dylan sang "Masters of War", from 1963, and maybe that's why
he disguised it, smearing the verses into one long word.  If you caught on to
the number, the lyric did emerge - "And I'll stand o'er your grave/'Til I'm
sure that you're dead" - but lyrics were not the point.  What was was the ride
Dylan and hid band gave them.  With hats pulled down and dressed in dark
clothes, looking and moving like Chicago hipsters from the end of the fifties,
guitarists Cesar Diaz and John Jackson, bassist Tony Garnier, and drummer Ian
Wallace went after the song as if it were theirs as much as Dylan's: a chance
at revenge, excitement, pleasure.  You couldn't tell one from the other, and
why bother?

With this career performance behind him, Dylan took his trophy from a beaming
Jack Nicholson; he squinted, as if looking for his mother, who was in the
"Well," he said, "my daddy, he didn't leave me much, you know he was a very simple man,
but what he did tell me was this, he did say, son, he said..

- there was a long pause, nervous laughter from the crowd 

[well, he said so many things, you know.
-more laughter]-
"he say, you know it's possible to become so defiled in this world
that your own mother  and father will abandon you ; and if that happens,
God will always believe in your own ability to mend your ways."

Then he walked off.  He had managed to get in and out without thanking anybody,
and this night it really did seem as if he owed nobody anything.

From: Martin Grossman (
Subject: Re: 91 Grammy Performance
Date: Mon, 10 Aug 1998 11:16:33 -0400

It seems to me Ronnie Schreiber nailed the source of Bob's Grammy speech
some time ago. Said Ronnie:

At the time of the acceptance speech, I turned to my wife and said that
Dylan's comments were an allusion to Psalms 27:10: "When my father and
mother abandon me, HaShem (G-d) will gather me up."

I went back to the sources and discovered that Dylan's remarks were
almost a verbatim account of the commentary of Rabbi Shimshon Rafael
Hirsch (the spiritual leader of traditional Jewry in Germany in the mid
19th century) on that verse:

"Even if I were so depraved that my own mother and father would
abandon me to my own devices, God would still gather me up and believe
in my ability to mend my ways."

Now, we have no way of knowing if Abram Zimmerman really taught this to
his son or if Bob simply picked it up from a commentary on the Jewish
prayer book (Ps. 27 is recited at the morning and evening prayer
services during the month before the Jewish New Year), but in any case,
the wording is too similar to Hirsch's to ignore. Note how both Hirsch
and Dylan reversed the "father and mother" of the original verse to
"mother and father" and Dylan's use of the phrase  "believe in your own
ability to mend your own ways" directly parallels Hirsch's "believe in
my ability to mend my ways". 

It's unlikely Dylan's father was familiar with the writings of Rabbi
Hirsch, the 19th Century leader of German neo-Orthodoxy. Dylan's
involvement with Judaism over the past ten or fifteen years has been
mostly through Chabad -- also an unlikely place for him to have been
introduced to the Hirsch commentary. It's more likely Dylan saw the
quote in the Metsudah Siddur, a prayerbook popular among Baalei Tshuvah
(as "returnees" to orthodox Judaism are know, although many of them are
encountering serious Judaism for the first time). The lines from Hirsch
are cited in the Metsudah commentary and represent its translation from
Hirsch's German. And we can speculate that it's their language that
Dylan echoes. 

Note from MG: By attributing the words to his father, Dylan is following
a long tradition of attribution in Judaism. He can be said to be using
"father(s) in a wider sense, meaning his heritage.

Martin Grossman

From Mark Aldrich:

It took him less than a minute, even with his nervous hat fumbling and pauses, but Dylan had just delivered an Old Testament sermon (Psalm 27:10) about the disfigurement of a life spent enslaved to the material things to the bejeweled, genial, war-applauding, music millionaire crowd.
Here is the speech:
  There is a rich history of commentary in Jewish tradition. There is also a rich history of commentary in interpreting Bob Dylan’s every public utterance. Psalm 27 begins (in the King James Version): “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?” In King James, verse 10 reads, “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up.”
Where does “defiled” come from? “Mend your ways?” A couple Dylan interpreters suggest that his language is straight out of the works of one the founders of Orthodox Judaism in the 19th Century, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch. Hirsch’s commentary on the psalm verse reads: “Even if I were so depraved that my own mother and father would abandon me to my own devices, God would still gather me up and believe in my ability to mend my ways” (Yaffe, Bob Dylan: Like a Complete Unknown, Yale UP). As David Yaffe, the author of the Hirsch discovery points out, Dylan in the late-’80s and early 1990s was a frequent performer on the annual Los Angeles-area Chabad telethons that usually offered entertainment from great (and far older) performers like Norm Crosby, Jan Murray, and Sid Caesar. Perhaps he was reading a lot of scriptural commentary; Rabbi Hirsch is not an obscure figure in that field.
Who better to receive a scriptural pronouncement such as this than a bejeweled, genial, war-applauding Hollywood audience? I am no Talmudic scholar, nor am I a Bob Dylan interpreter, but this is one of the many reasons I enjoy Bob Dylan’s every appearance.  link

Monday, May 09, 2016

a woman can teach me, as long as i can't see her/a female boss can give orders as long as it's not to any man in particular

Do check this link below, where John Piper clarifies that, in the church realm,
men can learn from a woman as long as they can't see her:

John Piper: A woman can teach me as long as I can’t see her 

Now, he's made it clear that this belongs to the secular/vocational realm as well:

Piper says is okay because she (female engineer)’s not personally giving directives to any man in particular. However, he warns that other scenarios– those where a woman must give direct instructions to a male– would violate their sense of manhood and womanhood.   link

No comment..
               I'll let Benjamin Corey do that. (:

                                                       PS What would Junia say?

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Eugene Peterson and Bono film on Psalms: cussing without cussing

Here is the new Fuller Studio film of Eugene and Bono on Psalms.
                      Links and quotes below

Gotta love so much about this Eugene calling Rolling Stone Magazine "Rolling Stones"..
and a mosh pit a "mash pit." (;

If you like the hilarious story  (excerpted above) about how EP first turned Bono down, there's  a whole video of EP on that and more here.


"At twelve years old , [the psalms] showed me that imagination was a way to get inside the truth.

  ....translating a psalm...To try to get them to realize that praying  wasn't being nice before God.. The psalms are not pretty; they're not nice...just pray this psalm..  It's not  smooth; it's not nice, it's  not pretty; but it's honest.  And I think we're trying for honesty..which is very, very hard in our culture.

We need to find a way to cuss...without cussing. And the imprecatory psalms surely do that.
 We've got to some way in context; and the context is the whole Bible; whole tell people how mad we are.

...We have crosses in every room in this house.  But when I look at those, I don't think of decoration; I think 'This is the world we live in..and it's a world with a lot of crosses . '  And I would just like to spend my life in doing something about that through Scripture, through  preaching, through friendship.  My years are getting shorter, and I don't have many  left; but I don't want to escape the violence..."


"The only way we can approach God..if we're through metaphor; through symbol.  So art becomes essential; not decorative.

..The psalmist is brutally honest about the explosive joy that he's feeling and the deep sorrow or confusion, and it's that that sets the psalms apart for me.And I often think,
'Why isn't church music more like that'? ..

...I'm talking about dishonesty. I find in a lot of  Christian art ..a lot of dishonesty. I think it's a shame because these people are vulnerable to God (in a good way)...porous; open.. I would love if this conversation would inspire people who are writing these beautiful.., gospel songs:  write a song about their bad marriage; write a song  about how they're pissed off at the government. Because that's what God wants from you: the truth... The truth will set you free; it will blow things apart. Why I'm suspicious of Christians is because of this lack of realism..and I'd love to see more of that in art and life and music."

(answering "What is the work of the acknowledging the intensity; the reality of the feeling without indulging the feeling?").
Having feelings is perfectly normal. ...David danced naked in front of the troops; that's one reason I like him .. abandonment... very important... understanding our bodies as well as our minds and ourspirits.  The Three-Personed God --The Trinity--is reflected  in our body, mind and spirit..,We really  do ignore this.

EP  prays:

"Be with us as we continue our lives of serving You with poetry, with the arts, with psalm, finding ways to enter into what You're already doing:  not calculating the chances, but doing what's right there, what You've already started doing..."

Listen for the prophetic summary in the last two words of the film
 ...from Mrs. Peterson.




Saturday, April 02, 2016

women, artists, outsiders and introverts: strong church leadership

 From Mandy Smith's The Vulnerable Pastor, pp. 122-124:

Being a woman can feel like weakness.  When you are a woman, your  own body teaches you your limits. From the time you're small, there is always someone bigger, with a stronger body and a deeper voice. And as you grow, you learn how little control you have over your own body, from a sometimes painful, often embarrassing inconvenience that will visit you every month to the strange season of having a person growing inside of you for 9 months. When the little bundle makes its appearance, your body goes from creator of life to sustainer of life. All kinds of new systems kick into gear. It's a miraculous process but one completely beyond your control. As you go from mother to grandmother, your body begins to change again, throwing you into a state of confusion as the steady cycles you have grown accustomed to become syncopated and erratic and then finally stop altogether.
If being a woman teaches humility and collaboration, isn't it a strength to be a woman?
Inhabiting this ever-changing form forces you to acknowledge (even celebrate) your limits and to sense your responsibility to and reliance upon the broader community.

 So if being a woman teaches humility and collaboration, isn't it a strength to be a woman?

In the church, these are leadership skills.
Being an artist can feel like weakness.  If you're an artist, you are spurred on by an unending search for truth and beauty. You can have your breath stolen by the smallest, seemingly insignificant thing and be unfit for anything else but crying or singing or writing about it for the rest of the day. And once you've found that tiny sign of hope, you must make sense of it. And so you make things to process and express it, trying to capture all the feeling and meaning for others through the limited media of notes and words and paint. You step into a creative process that is sometimes cruel and raw, a little too close for comfort. Then, with shaking hands, you put that outpouring of your soul into a public form and hope that someone understands.
If creative people know how to find truth and beauty, even when it's hidden in brokenn
 ess, if they're comfortable with mystery, failure, and vulnerability, isn't it a strength to be an artist?

In the church, these are leadership skills.
Being an outsider can feel like weakness. Being on the outside means always having that vague sense that you didn't get the inside joke. You feel like a child again as you have to learn things that are obvious and basic to everyone else. But over time you compensate. You learn not only to speak but to listen in other languages. You become self-aware as those things which were once transparent about yourself (back when everyone around you was the same as you) are suddenly glaringly visible. For the first time you feel the weight of the lens of your own culture, your own assumptions, and eventually, you learn how to switch glasses.

If being displaced helps us relate to the ways God's people have always been the sojourners, isn't it meaningful to be displaced?
If outsiders know how to be flexible and self-aware, to communicate in a relevant way in many contexts, isn't it a strength to be an outsider?

In the church, these are leadership skills.

Being an introvert can feel like weakness. Thinking of the perfect answer a day after the question makes you feel dumb, even though your belated but perfectly-worded response is more insightful than the one given by the quick-thinker in the room. Needing to recover from extended periods with people draws labels like "anti-social," even though you may have great social skills. Longing for depth and complexity and silence makes you feel like a precious egg-head in a world hungry for sound bites and noise.

If introverts know how to listen, and are unafraid of silence, depth, and authenticity, isn't it a strength to be an introvert?

 Similar article

More by Mandy on women and weakness

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

"The pope, Donald Trump, and Stephen Colbert walk into a bar..."

photo credit/buy the T shirt
" Soooo..
                   ...The pope, Donald Trump, and Stephen Colbert walk into a bar..."

That of course sounds like the into to a crazy joke,

but if it were literally true..
(Okay, if it were literally true, they all might get hurt from the impact!  (:
Click here to see a joke told by Jesus about the time a rabbi walked into a bar;
 it took me awhile to get it!)

                   that would be a meeting I would love to be at
                                                 (even if only as a barfly on the wall)!

 Maybe it should happen for real.. Colbert has offered  to broker a peace between the other two men.

See  the video, and these articles (good reminder in the articles that the pope can easily be misunderstood)

Allow Stephen Colbert to Explain What Pope Francis and Donald Trump Have in Common

What Pope Francis Meant

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

"Examined Life"--the "Moving Head" film and the backtracking booktrack which "calls philosphy down from the heavens" Cornel West and Slavoj Žižek

I love that Astra Taylor assembled the "Examined Life" film, which interviews
public and ethical philosophers as they walk  (usually in a city or context that connects to their theme)..

I love that this surely turned out differently as a  somewhat spontaneous lab (not a scripted talking head flick, even though there are talking heads, they and their bodies are in motion) and a peripatetic exercise, and thus a "geography of place."  (see

sideways city-texts )

I love that I found the book version (the "booktrack" to a movie?) first, which features complete transcripts of each interview, including scenes edited out of the film.

Of course, I love that Cornel West and  Slajov Žižek were featured, and that their venues or vehicles were slightly different than the other stars.

West is interviewed in a car moving through Manhattan.  At one point, this is eerily similar to the Matrix scene when Neo realizes his greenview  out the car window is of a world that is

not "real"  and people who are not "really" alive (What is the opposite of simulacra? )
 West, who is  well aware of the Matrix hyperlink (He was even in the second Matrix film!) quips that someone studying in a  library is "more alive than the folks walking by us"...

Žižek's vignette...of course..set in a  garbage dump. (:

I'm sure you have trainspotted the title to Socrates' maxim about the "unexamined life is not worth living, butTaylor adds that also draws from Socrates' way of (per Cicero)"calling philosophy down from heaven."  Bring it, down.

Here's the Cornel West "chapter":  Truth below.
Some takeaways: centrality of music, why he's a "Chekhovian Christian," Jesus' anger (better yet, righteous indignation) in the temple, the "kairotic dimension of being in love,"  Charlie Parker riding on dissonance, "blues sensibility," "natural piety," As Christians, "nothing human ought to be alien to us", a "Kierkegaardian leap in Beckett's universe,"
- Here's Žižek's chapter: Ecology (in two languages no less):  Just watch(:
Most of the rest:
 -- Avita Ronell: Meaning:
Peter Singer: Ethics:
Appiah: Cosmopolitanism (Sadly, this is the only section not online, so here is a more traditional talk of his on the same topic):
 Martha Nussbaum: Justice:
Michael Hardt: Revolution:
Judith Butler & Sunaura Taylor: Interdependence:

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

"The answer to 'Why?' is...."

Maybe the answer to everything is 42.
But more than once a week at my house, I ask

                "Do you know why  [fill in the blank]?"

                                       The answer is always..well..
                                                        Watch  this  classic "Dream Team" clip.

Friday, January 15, 2016

welcoming refugees on the shore

For the record..and probably no surprise to anyone heteroclitic to be reading in this neighborhood of the interwebs, I can't endorse everything Franklin Graham  (of Samaritan's Purse) or Pat Robertson  (700 Club) says, but do check these powerful videos from each ministry on groups welcoming refugees:
(link if first  video doesn't show) --- Second video: Jump to 12:12 and watch through 24:10: (link if  second video doesn't show_

Johnny Cash, Sting, and rifles that go off in our hands.. even when we are not in favor of it

Reading Rodney Clapp's wonderful "Johnny Cash and the American Contradiction: Christianity and the Battle for the Soul of a Nation",  I was caught off guard that in a list of "Cash's songs," was one I wasn't familiar with:

                                  "I Hung My Head."

The lyrics mention a rifle that "went off in my [the narrator's] hands."

I immediately connected that to a vintage U2 lyric  in

God Part II:


"I don't believe in the Uzzi; it just went off in my hands."

Knowing Bono is a huge Cash fan, I figured he was intentionally referencing the Cash song (After all, he references a Cockburn lyric in the same song  (and the title of course references Lennon's "God").

But then checking the footnotes in the book, I found that even though "I Hung My Head" was included in a lineage of Cash songs, it was a Sting-written song that Cash covered.  It is in the league of chilling covers from his late-era American Recordings (Drop eveything and watch "Hurt" for the definitive example) that Cash owned, and the listeners feel "how could Cash not have written that?!"

Here's the song-- by Sting, and as covered by Cash, and also by Springsteen.

I cite it as way of tipping you off if the song is also new to you;
also to get you into the "Violence and Peace" section of Clapp's book; which can be read (almost) in full on Google Books.  The section on the song at hand is p. 102ff   here.

Of course, some Christian fans will be freaked about yet another "controversial" Cash song or cover.
To those folks, I invite you to consider these clicks:

--Beth Maynard on "the naive thought that any artist who writes about sin must be in favor of it." - 

"Here is the easiest way to explain the genius of Johnny Cash: Singing from the perspective of a convicted murderer in the song ‘Folsom Prison Blues,’ Cash is struck by pangs of regret when he sits in his cell and hears a distant train whistle. This is because people on that train are ‘probably drinkin’ coffee.’ And this is also why Cash seems completely credible as a felon: He doesn’t want freedom or friendship with Jesus or a new lawyer. He wants coffee. Within the mind of a killer, complex feelings are eerily simple. This is why killers can shoot men in Reno just to watch them die and the rest of us usually can’t.
("Chuck Klosterman, "Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs", page 186)