Borrowed Language

We watched a 5 minute promotional for a political party (elections again in June in Spain) yesterday. It has a strong focus within it to blame another party for the failure to come on board and bring about a coalition (this would not be our perspective of why the discussions failed…) The party they blame for the failure has a phrase ‘Sí, se puede’ (‘Yes we can’, or ‘yes it can be done’). The campaign slogan for the party with the video promotion also has a slogan: ‘Sí, un sí por un cambio’ (‘Yes, a yes to change’). The party they oppose had a major march for change in Madrid Jan 2015, there they spoke about the year of change and they used the imagery of the clock to proclaim ‘tick tock the clock is ticking’. The end of the promotional video is of four ticking clocks.

No political party holds the keys to the future. Jesus did not come to start a political party but a political movement, and as I wrote a few days ago the huge challenge is whether or not a movement can sit at the centre or in seeking to be true to its calling will always live at the margins, existing in the liminal space. It is not about the rights and wrongs of political parties I wish to write about but about language, for the interaction between what is established and new upstarts seems to follow a pattern.

This established political party has been and will continue to be rocked and destabilised by the new upstart, who in its origins declared that they wanted to be part of a political method and not to be swamped by politics of parties. Any new movement will always be a threat to what is established, but will soon become the bigger threat to what is established and should in theory be closer. The charismatic movement was a threat to the Pentecostal movement in the early days. ‘Toronto’ to third-wave etc. Once a threat of that nature appears there is a process that unfolds. The new movement is not normally an immediate threat so does not need to be taken seriously. It can be ignored, or even made humour of. When it becomes apparent that it is not going to go away any time soon, the ignoring phase goes and a hostility rises. Post hostility comes the phase of seeing if the new movement can be colonised in some way. To colonise is to both benefit from the resources and to blunt / control its cutting edge, to domesticate it. After all domestication is important as a new movement does not have the experience of how to live within the boundaries of the ‘house’!!

I perceive a new phase has now opened up in the inter-relationship of these two entities. Hostility continues as there has been no colonisation to date, but all is not lost! Language. Take the language, and speak it oneself and of oneself. Language is so closely tied to identity – Adam is told to name the animals, for example. So the next phase is take the language, and rather than submit to what the language is calling for, take it, apply it to what is already taking place, and in one quick movement energy for change is nullified while claiming that future change is firmly where it always belonged – with the status quo. The changed future can then look very much like the present.

The process of the powers!!

The process of the movement though is to go to the heart of power and eventually be crucified, or so was the Jesus-narrative that the disciples, and in particular Judas did not get.

There are so many movements that take their impetus from Pentecost (consciously and unconsciously). Those movements have language, and probably have spokespersons, but if they are to make a significant lasting impact they will learn to live with stolen language, stolen resources (oh yes what did Judas look after?) and when they face their own crisis of identity, which will take place whenever they discover the liminal space has moved again, they will humble themselves and submit to the reality that new language is carrying.

These are enormous challenges to movements that are engaged in the political arena. Likewise it is a major chalenge to the political movement that Jesus began, one birthed not from seeing what needs to change but that change begins in the heart, with a personal ‘think again’. Movements that look not just to the world, but see the other world, the one that is the other side of the resurrection. Crucifixion is not the end. Even at the cross there was a battle over language, so we know that ultimately not all language can be stolen.


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