Anyone who reads these posts on a regular basis will realise that I pretend that I am a simple imbiber of truth and then write about it… which being translated is I am a biased person who ignores any material that disagrees with my viewpoint! And if anyone reads between the lines of my posts you will also realise that I think most of us live that way.
A while back we had in our home for a few days, a Brexiteer, an advocate that humanity’s ability to create money out of nothing was reflective of us being created in the image of God, who viewed ‘woke culture’ as being negative, that ‘BLM’… Get the picture? Such a biased person, I think to myself!!! Yet, how good it was. Someone who on most of those key points would take a diametrically opposing position to my own. It was so good because when in the same space for a few days there are two options, argue and fall out… or listen.
We all operate with a map that helps us understand the territory, but the map is not the territory. The map simplifies things, and in so doing helps us navigate; but the map is not the real world, the territory is.
I have recently posted on same-sex issues and a response to that. In making a shift over the past years I have sought to listen to stories; I am well aware that there are stories to be told on both sides of the divide; stories in themselves cannot dictate how we should respond, but they help us make adjustments to the map, for they put us in touch with the territory. The danger is that the stories we select we think tell the whole story, that they map out the entire territory. They do not, and there will be days when we walk the territory that the map does not help us.
The Christian world operates by a map, a map that simplifies so much. I have commented in the past that Jesus who taught post-resurrection to the disciples about the kingdom of God clearly either did not do a good job, or what he taught (and maybe more important to for us to understand: what he omitted) exposed that we are not doing a good job when we have all the answers.
Questions. Questions often come when we meet situations we did not expect, or they encroach on our world uninvited. Questions. Where are you Adam? The inability to really answer that question meant he had no idea where God was: and there are two stories told since then as to where God positioned Godself – one told incarnationally by Jesus, and one that fuelled a lot of division. If Adam (male and female) had understood where they were and where God was the original temptation would have held no power at all. Adam, made in the image of God, stoops to eat some fruit to be like God! That was an incredible ‘falling short of the glory of God’, the glory that was present in their humanity. Failing to be human, shuts down questions.
That original temptation and Christendom line up. Move over, I am coming to the centre, being the strap line for both. A view of God, a God of power (true but not the essence of God), a God we can be like, one we can represent. Defending God… or defending the god that we believe is God.
I have been reading Paul Kingsnorth’s material on why he has come down on the side of being a non-vaxxer and an advocate for that position. (https://paulkingsnorth.substack.com/p/the-vaccine-moment-part-one – and two subsequent posts.) He rightly exposes the hostility and division that is present, the setting up of an ugly divide (I think most of his statistics he quotes are highly suspect… comparing like with not like, but this does not nullify what he is saying.) In it he also infers a regrettable loss of the shaping of the world that Christendom gave the West. Those days have gone, and are not coming back… thank God!
I, like many, wrote of the great re-set that was signified by the COVID-19 phenomenon, and have to look painfully at the lack of reset to the economic world. Far from being reset it has accelerated in the woeful direction of the ever-widening gap. Sad that those who are pro ‘God’s law for society’ (theonomists) don’t critique their hopes with a healthy does of true reset – Jubilee. Given that there are aspects where there has not been a reset I am torn. I could be persuaded to say – we need more to truly reset things… But that I do not hold to. The reset has gone as far as it can. An exposure of what is there is visible, and in part Kingsnorth’s articles are saying that.
Jesus came at the ‘fullness of times’, not I believe as some (past) have suggested, the time of global communication, roadways etc., but in the context of Galatians and the hostile powers (which included the law!) the fullness of times was the time when the captivity to powers had reached their peak. It was then that Jesus came.
Maybe, maybe… and again a maybe. Maybe the reset is allowing a re-evaluation of what is present. Powers that divide, that sow seeds of dehumanisation. The book of Revelation remains ever so pertinent, the beast receives a voice. The voice might be human but the beast is non-human and anti-all-things-human.
The powers might be coming to a peak. At such a time there can be a manifestation, a revelation of glory, glory being a description of what it means to be truly human.
We can resist mess by bringing all people to our side of the table. Or we an cohabit the same space and listen. If, I as a three-times vaccinated person, and pro-vaccination it is not because it is the godly way to go. Life is a compromise (look at Paul in Romans, the theological text-book to read about compromise!). There can be good reasons for, and there can be good reasons against a given position. Governments have some hard decisions to make, but we do not need to jump on a conspiracy to shape the map we use to journey on the territory.
We have entered new territory. The vaccine issue might be one sign of that. However, for us as believers we have to see beyond the simple right / wrong judgement (I think there might be something early on in the Bible about that being a real mistaken path?)
Mess is here. Dialogue needs to be companion for us all. Jesus is coming again to teach us about the kingdom of God. We will have so few notes from what he teaches. We will hit situations that we don’t know how to respond to. We will have trances that we think will be simply a test to hold to the proven buy history to be the right response, only to discover that God has moved on. And yes, I mean that last sentence (nothing to do with God ‘growing up’, or ‘changing a set of beliefs’, but everything to do with where we have set up camp.)
We will continue to use maps. Maps simplify. They can find the statistics that are needed to prove the rightness of the map; the stories will underline the grid I use. But the territory is the territory… and it is messy.
Who would want to be like God? S/he is where we are, hence the tarnishing of reputation that takes place. There comes a time though when, for the future of the planet, God moves on and invites us to move position. These are not absolutes, as in now step here as this is where the TRUTH is. The movement is incremental. Hence ‘let’s just go back to normal’ is not acceptable. Let’s stumble forward, get our feet dirty.
And as a footnote: the mark of the beast is something much more sinister than a vaccine chip. More subtle and more damaging. Speaking with a human voice… yet listen to the language for the voice dehumanises.