Not that I have the last word on anything – nor do I suspect does anyone else… There are words that won’t pass away but as for the rest of what we say and write???
Anyway I am still working on boundaries / borders, so this will not be my last word on this, and once it is my last word there will be much more to say!
My entry to this is stimulated by Paul’s hugely optimistic and ‘wideness in the mercy of God’ approach where he positively quotes a poet that we (all) are God’s offspring and that in God we all move, live and have our being, and he relates this back to God setting for the people the boundaries and times (kairos) where they live with the purpose / hope that God might be found. A very positive view of ‘God-set boundaries’… So the converse – we are in a war zone (spiritual) – would be that if boundaries are brought in that are not ‘God boundaries’ the ‘stumbling so that they might find God’ would be resisted. Then loads of stuff in Scripture about boundaries…
War – Ukraine currently – re-drawing boundaries… colonialism likewise.
In a forthcoming biography on Mitt Romney the author describes how:
Romney has become obsessed with a large map, printed in 1931 by Rand McNally, charting the rise and fall of the world’s most powerful civilizations. “But what struck Romney most about the map was how thoroughly it was dominated by tyrants of some kindâ€”pharaohs, emperors, kaisers, kings. ‘A man gets some people around him and begins to oppress and dominate others,'” Romney told his interviewer. “It’s a testosterone-related phenomenon, perhaps. I don’t know. But in the history of the world, that’s what happens.”
Surprisingly I do not have a downer on the male gender (I wonder why?) but I do believe there is an underlying critique of patriarchy / so called male ‘headship’ throughout Scripture that culminates in God in male form submitting the Incarnation to the cross – to bring about a new humanity that does not have the Genesis narrative to categorise it as ‘male and female’. As Romney puts above the grab and take (moving ancient boundary stones in biblical language) lies at the door of the male gender (a generalisation that is all-but an absolute).
So in this season – and this is an indication of where my thoughts are headed:
- I expect boundaries to be challenged. In a few days time I will with family – 3 generations – visit Orkney. Might seem far fetched that there could be a push for Orkney to align with Norway, but it is a sign. The earth yields signs. I expect conflictual pressure with respect to national / regional boundaries. Alongside boundary challenges, new alignments that indicate partnership and travelling together – so watch trade agreements, and (as indicated at the beginning of the year) currency alignments. Not all of these will establish new ‘God boundaries’ but some of us need to be alert enough to help with the new distribution.
- Old categories that simply circumscribe ‘maleness’ and ‘femaleness’ will be increasingly challenged. There will be a pushing to escape! The Spanish football team (the women) recently won the world cup on the field and beyond the final they are engaged in exposing male abuse of power… Spain has a long way to go; the world has a long way to go, but Paul said if we are in Christ the old categories no longer should be drawn on, for there is ‘new creation’. This is more than a new world, it is more than re-ordering the kosmos, it is about seeing that there is a new creation (ktisis) that can be seen. That new creation will appear to be ‘feminine’ not because it is, but because it will be in contrast to the kosmos we have created from the first ktsis (creation).
- I suspect there is a close relationship between gender and land… for land to be free there has to be something to follow (land follows people), so that then land releases its gift for the freedom of people. People and land are like two legs – one moves, the other follows, then the other moves. Hence I see a people / land relationship that Paul draws on in Romans 8 as being parallel to the Israel / Egypt relationship (or maybe we put it in more up to date terms church / world). Shelter and protection became oppression and bondage so that there might be liberation with a resultant shelter and protection – I know that is a bit obscure, but it is a work in progress – so we see it in the life of Jesus: down to Egypt, release from Egypt so that there might be salvation for ‘Egypt’.
- A time to see boundaries expand… and shrink.
And I guess when I do write about boundaries I might need to put something in there about our internal boundaries… if they are in good shape that will help us find God. And part of finding God will be that with healthier internal boundaries we might cease to see others in the artificial categories we create – and maybe if we see them… we might just see God (a little clearer)?