The final short video interview with Michael. I realise that we touched on the surface of so much, so please feel free to interact with Michael in the comments.
Use the comment facility to interact with Michael in this second video where he touches a little more on a faith perspective.
A while back I wrote a post and Michael commented on it. I realised there was much more knowledge and first-hand experience behind the comment so I worte and asked if he would like to write a few posts. Eventually we got round to connecting and ran through 3 video interviews.
Michael is a social worker and speaks to the issues of social care. His context is the UK so the content is shaped into there. He outlines where we are today in this video – how we moved from the monasteries as the centre of care to our current scenario.
Use the comment system to communicate directly to Michael and if there is more traction he is willing to engage deeper. I, coming at this with a lack of knowledge, found the historical development intersesting.
The second volume of ‘The Kenarchy Journal’ is out. This one carries the theme of Starting Points: children, strangers, prisoners.
Here is the link:
A short while back Roger Mitchell (as lead editor) launched The Kenarchy Journal. Here is the link:
Volume 1 has been there since the start, and now there is the drawing together of articles for Volume 2… and they are also welcoming submissions for that volume. (There is also a forum for the interaction with all current articles.)
Here is a short note from Roger:
If you are not aware of it already would like to draw your attention to The Kenarchy Journal, www.Kenarchy.org, a new online academic resource launched this summer embracing a wide and interdisciplinary perspective relevant to the politics and theology of love. Its purpose is to advance applied research, and it includes a forum that we very much hope will provide the opportunity for thinkers and activists beyond academia to engage with the online material. Volume 1, Starting Points, deals particularly with the theology of Incarnation, Trinity and Lament and then focuses on reinstating the feminine, advocating for the poor and reintegrating humanity and the creation. Volume 2, Spring 2021, will continue to explore Starting Points focusing on the remaining themes central to kenarchy, namely the priority of children, welcome for strangers, justice for prisoners, and health for the sick. We are currently inviting submissions exploring the theology of the child, immigrants and asylum seekers, restorative justice, and health and wellbeing. Please encourage students and colleagues or fellow researchers to consider submitting an abstract for an article relevant to these themes via the website, or to let us have sight of an unpublished article they may have already prepared on one of these themes. We would of course, be delighted to have a submission from you!
The second chapter in the awesome first volume is going head on with a view on humanity. (I am on zoom with a small group Sunday and we will be gradually working through this booklet. The full booklet I will publish here in due course.)
I look up at your macro-skies, dark and enormous,
your hand-made sky-jewelry,
Moon and stars mounted in their settings.
Then I look at my micro-self and wonder,
Why do you bother with us?
Why take a second look our way? (Ps. 8).
Many views of post-fall have humanity as basically evil, totally depraved. Better forms might suggest that totally depraved means affected in every area, but the final result is whatever good is done it is but ‘as filthy rags’. Having no value before God. It is easy to pull together Scriptures that prove a point (I would never do this!). filthy rags has a context, and it the context is not – regardless of who you are it is all rubbish whatever you do. The context was concerning religious behaviour.
Jesus is fully human, not semi-human. Although never ceasing to be God he becomes full human, sharing in our humanity (for those interested I am pretty much in the kenotic camp that he does not draw on his divinity while on earth). Beyond that, and unlike all of us, Jesus is also TRULY human. Coming to faith is a journey toward being truly human, final transformation will be ‘we will be like him’.
In this chapter I am seeking to establish (from my bias) that humanity is not evil but fallen. What is fallen can be redeemed, what is evil needs to be judged. Hence all behaviour that humanises is ‘Godly’ behaviour. dehumanisation is the work of the demonic. So sadly we can do ‘Christian’ things in a way that dehumanises and therefore does not resonate with godly behaviour. And by way of contrast, even someone who expresses no faith, can do genuine good, godly acts.
Where this is going is not in a therefore ‘all are saved’ direction. I want to take it in a value of human life; and beyond that the ‘ekklesia’ (this will be volume 2) is responsible to create a shape where the good that is in people comes through and the bad held back. Of course if we have a Gospel that is but if people are bad they need salvation and we don’t reach those who are ‘good’. For me that is a challenge to the gospel we believe and present.
This chapter is to bridge us into the next ones – Judas comes first, the disciple who is very like us, but whose human weakness was exploited. Then to Peter and with both of those disciples how their view of the Messiah is what messed them up. Our tendency is to be always on hand to be there to help Jesus out. Good motivation!! However, gets us in trouble every time. Passion + (our) vision of the kingdom = trouble.
Want something a little deeper than I write here, some writers worth engaging with. OKAY – don’t all shout ‘yes please’ at once. I don’t want to be too disturbed. Into my inbox came three posts simultaneously that I thought would be of interest…
Andrew Perriman does a quick review through John Piper’s ‘Coronavirus and Christ’ in this post:
The divide not simply between the Reformed and a more Arminian position will be clear, but Andrew who seeks to operate within a full-on narrative-historical approach makes it very clear about why he objects to the Piper position. The Reformed position that Piper articulates requires a healthy dose of (un-???)healthy faith. Piper writes:
The secret… is knowing that the same sovereignty that could stop the coronavirus, yet doesn’t, is the very sovereignty that sustains the soul in it.
I wrote recently that: I am more in camp of the atheist on the issue of suffering than in the camp of ‘God is sovereign, we do not understand his will, but he has foreordained all things’.
Scot McKnight is a prolific writer – where does he find the time? In this review of Lee Camp’s book Scandalous Witness he posts:
Please do not simply think this is an ‘American’ question or critique. McKnight and Camp are north American hence the focus. I can substitute any other nation for the ‘America’ word.
In short he states that ‘Nation-state and Christianity are too much at odds to become partners’.
Finally Roger Mitchell re-posted in the current context a post he wrote a while back. I appreciate there are different perspectives on the ‘Brexit’, and maybe at some levels that is how it should be as all choices of that nature are never perfect, however there are underlying principles that inform our choices. In the post he engages with Anthony G. Reddie, who puts forward a critique from a black post-colonial liberation theological perspective. Vital we are critiqued from outside our own context.
Advance notice: Roger is working on launching a site for a Kenarchy Journal: articles grouped together exploring how the outpoured life of heaven engaged with sets our priorities for engagement with the world.
OH – almost forgot Roger’s post! Read it here: Why we must not let last December’s election result or the Pandemic obscure the roots of Brexit
Well what strange days indeed. We have just entered our second week of being allowed out for an hour a day – FREEDOM, after for us 9 weeks inside. But I think hugely rich days, and we continue to pray for the reset that is over-due. In it all there are a few subtle re-definitions coming to the surface. Essential work being one of those. (I have suggested that Paul was clear that if one does not work then one does not deserve to eat… our ‘we can monetise everything’ world has changed the text to ‘if one does not earn money’…. thus distorting any theology of work.)
There are places and times that are leverage points – the wider effect is greater in those places and at those times than we have previously experienced, finding that we shifted more than we anticipated. This is such a time. And no, this is not just going to disappear, indeed I have been saying this time is more of a sign than a simple reality as I consider 2022 being when there will be a combination of situations that will converge at the same time. Now is real, only too real, but at the same time it is a sign; signs point somewhere; it is the alarm, and the alarm is to wake us up into a new reality.
We have had to make practical shifts but the number of connections, particularly via ‘zoom’ has increased with a mix of old and totally new connections. At the same time I have been writing. In the mid-90s I coincidentally met Mark Dupont who did not know me from a bar of soap and immediately said ‘books, books, books… I see a stream of books.’ Since that encounter I went on to write 6 books, with chapters in some other, and translations into 4 languages. That was that era.
I have now entered the final phase of my life (no death wish I can assure you!). The final phase is to be the least public, but most effective, and I would love it to rock on for at least another 30 years. It probably needs to last that long as it would be nice to at least achieve a level of maturity that one might expect in a 21 year old. (Hey I was 21 once and was achieving a level of maturity back then that was frightening; the last years have been about growing down to the level of immaturity that I really have.)
A few years back I met Mark again, and again before there was any ‘hello’ he said ‘writing, writing, keep on writing… there is more to come.’
I have thought about that many times since. Books are strange, they are strange for an author as they catch something in time. ‘I wrote this back then because that is where I was, but it is in print so cannot change the text.’ Also strange because there is a practical element of how one publishes and sells. I suspect if I were to publish I could move around 150 -200 (such impressive influence!). So I have wrestled with the what, how questions.
I have no idea if I have answered the what and how, but I have completed what I grandiosely have called volume 1 and have entitled it ‘Humanising the Divine’. How, and whether I publish I am not sure, but on Sunday I will begin with a zoom to 6 other people where we will go weekly through a chapter.
I am beginning with a high view of humanity, although clearly acknowledging that God is not simply a bigger version of us. There is an otherness in God, but humanity carries the image of God; Jesus came in human form, and retains that; the hope is for the resurrection of the body not some spiritualised life after death.
Theology’s norm is to start with the doctrine of God (after all it is THEOlogy), while having a logic to the order also starts with what we do not know. Quickly the omni- words kick in. Then down the line comes the anthropological section and the human race is put in their place. Sin with all its wonderful words, often with ‘original sin’ right bang in the centre.
I am not suggesting the above is illegitimate, simply that is not the lens that I have had or used these past years. There is such a need to draw a distinction between ‘evil’ and ‘fallen’. Even creation is fallen, but has a voice calling out for the right rhythms – there has been a response to that voice in this crisis. Humanity too!
I will eventually post what I have written on these pages, and if the guinea pigs survive and find it moderately helpful I will look to multiply the zoom calls. Oh… and now I am on volume 2 so later today will be pushing those keys once again.
Our good friend Noe from Calpe sent us a link to this article. It is from Marcos Zapata who both leads a church (in Lugo) and the Evangelical Alliance of Spain. He hosted us, Noe & Loli, and Samuel Rhein a few years back when we began to look at praying into the expulsion of the Muslims. A humble person well respected, including inside a number of government situations, due to the serious impact they are making not just spiritually but socially.
It is a really good read. I wish, for example, I had come up with the following:
The leadership by those who seem alien to suffering will never produce disciples but only admirers. My time of suffering and fighting against the illness has reminded me once again that the Father already sent a Savior—and it is not me.
And Jesus spent time in prayer in order to choose some ‘Admirers’!!!
Today was a big day to close a loop in Spain, and of course what I write here is a perspective on the events. The Valley of the Fallen was a burial place for Francisco Franco (driving force in the Civil War (1936-39), dictator until his death in 1975), José Antonio Primo de Rivera (founder of the Fanlange party, shot in Alicante, 1936) and 33,000 combatants from the war – from both sides… but many of them were also left in unmarked graves. (Spain is said to be second behind Cambodia for mass unmarked graves.)
In the Civil war there were terrible atrocities committed by both sides, so a one-side reading cannot do justice to what went on. However, the inappropriateness of Franco being buried in a place of honour along the dishonouring of those crushed has been an offence to many Spanish. And of course for Gayle and I this has been a focus for us for many years. It has taken us to the (now previous) actual grave of Franco, his birth home – the day after which parliament passed that he was to be exhumed. We have also been to the grave of Franco’s daughter which is in the main cathedral of Madrid, and was the place the family had wanted Franco to be buried if the exhumation went ahead. Gayle placed a blade of grass on it, declaring that all of us are as a blade of grass. Transient, and the effects of Franco’s domination was over. There followed many court cases fight both the exhumation and seeking to ensure that following any exhumation that the remains would be placed in the Almudena Cathedral in Madrid. Nice to get a result – though we are sure that whatever difference the above made, any shift that takes place is almost always due to the many unknown acts of people who have stood for the future.
So 80 years after the end of the Civil War, 44 years after Franco’s death and 41 years after the (supposed) end of the Transition to democracy, a HUGE event has taken place. We are so pleased that his remains were not moved into the main Madrid Cathedral. We have been praying and declaring – with some huge setbacks – that ‘Madrid will be the tomb of fascism’. Had his remains been moved into the Cathedral it would have become an easily accessible shrine to fascism.
The prime minister with great perception said a few days ago that this will bring the Transition cycle to a close. Those words sparked faith in our spirits as we had been praying into the completion of what was in its time, a good move forward, but increasingly was being shown as lacking completeness.
This day marks something enormous!! And we love days such as this. Now there are some real possibilities… and also perhaps even greater challenges. For the past 3 weeks I have had 2 nights of unbroken sleep – last night being one – so it seems to signify that there is a peace that had come…. that peace marks the closure of an era. ‘Tomorrow’, whenever that is, we will move forward from a place of rejoicing to put our shoulder back into things. As one wise politician said today (with a play on words), the remains of Franco have not been moved, his corpse has. The remains of Franco are in and through all the institutions… now is the time to move the remains of Franco.
A significant peg that was holding things in place has been removed. A brindis (toast) is in order, and tomorrow we will be calling for tomorrow. If the past cycle has been closed, now the only immediate question is what shapes what is to come.
Below is a provocative photo. The flag is a republican flag. Bottom line we do not give our allegiance. I was tempted to photoshop Gayle on the photo as this was something she might have crazily done!!