An update…

I posted a few hours ago about the leaky bag with the salt and our small prayer time. Just after posting a protest movement has communicated via social media indicating it is time now for the corruption to be flushed out, so come to the same address (the same party headquarters that we went to yesterday) at 8.00pm tonight with pots, pans and spoons. It is time to flush it out. Maybe we’ll get along too.

Four days ago we are told ‘This is how it is and will never change…’ Today my faith is stronger. If we pray then possibilities open up.

In the next few days I want to post a little bit about my convictions. Steve Lowton paid me a very high compliment when we were together (they left today for the UK). He said the good thing about being with you is to see that you, Scotty, still believe this stuff! I do.. and am naive enough to believe Jesus’ death was for the transformation of society. So don’t have a pot nor a pan here, but surely we can carry something of the presence of the Peacemaker into all kinds of situations and pray let your kingdom come… on earth.

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This is normal?

We are in Madrid a few days and have been with Steve and Kathy Lowton. We have been privileged over years to follow their journey of faith, and for us it has been truly one with a capital ‘F’. They have made incredible choices and not flinched when self-preservation would kick in for most of us. Truly we are privileged to (literally and relationally) walk with them.

Our timing of being in Madrid has been very interesting. On our first night we were able to be in the right place at the right time when a well-known British journalist was speaking at an outdoor rally. At such outdoor rallies there is security and all speakers are on stage then off back-stage. He ‘happened’ to wander and we ‘happened’ to be in the one place where he wandered! A quick exchange and a few words of encouragement. What we have to do is sow what we can when we can… This journalist we know is one that has been held in prayer by one of our close friends over years. There has to be a new media. Not necessarily perfect, but one that allows us to see what powers are holding situations. This is increasingly necessary as the extremes manifest.

Yesterday we took a little time to pray at a political headquarters in Madrid. We are at a time when the levels of corruption being exposed is unparalleled in Spain’s history. As we walked I was informed that my bag was leaking salt! A quick ‘gracias’ and surprisingly the bag continued to leak salt. Salt – (the salt of the dead sea) used in Jesus’ illustration was good as fertiliser to promote good growth and acted as a disinfectant on all forms of pollution. Within a few hours a key resignation of one of the spokespersons from that party who is currently under investigation was announced. A direct hit!

Or so it would have been in the old days, and maybe the two are connected. I hope they are. The challenge though was that the day before at yet another protest against the levels of corruption in Spain, someone we do not know, but pray for regularly was one of the speakers and actually said that we have to push till Spain is free of corruption and there is a new Spain. He said, and naming the very person who the next day resigned… ‘if she resigns that will not be a sign, that is just the beginning, but we have to go deeper. That will accomplish nothing so do not see such things as signs.’ If those kind of events had happened in the old days we would even then have gone further than claiming a hit… not only a hit but ‘even the prophet had said such and such the day before!’

The day before we came to Madrid we had to make a trip to the bank to pay some taxes. As per normal we talk at length to the bank recipient who served us. We talk about corruption… she says to educate us, what you need to understand is 1) this is normal and 2) this will not change. Normal… we recollect my dream of the facades coming up and everything returning to what the powers called ‘normal’, what was actually termed ‘the status quo’ and ‘back to where they were’.

We are encouraged and are happy for our bag to leak salt! We are provoked not to simply accept this as a sufficient sign – though as a sign it points as to what is yet to come if we hold through. We are learning that the outworking will increasingly not be in the church box as we take responsibility for what happens in the ‘world box’. We are responsible, not for the choices that are made, but so that right choices can be made. We have to remove (bind the powers – take away their legitimacy) so that in the public space just shapes can be developed.

We have a long way to go with the shifts we are looking for, but the increasing tensions seem to indicate that we are in a time when change could take place. The dream I refer to put the release or rejection of change in the hands of the church with either the swing to the familiar or the willingness to walk away from the familiar.

We will leave Madrid tomorrow. Deeply encouraged, but even more so provoked. We will be provoked not to rejoice at what might / might not be a sign, and provoked till the word normal does not become a controlling word in the narrative for the same old same old.

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The alternative society?

I have been in the camp of the church as the alternative society. A people who were not nationalistic, and certainly not patriotic as they saw themselves as trans-national and bonded together in the Spirit. How alternative should they be? When I was 21 onwards I was part of a wonderful community where we shared much together, extended households, sharing of goods to some extent etc. Probably viewed by some within the wider community as weird, yet nevertheless a valuable and very shaping history. The hope was that the church – as people not as institution – would model something and the obvious attractiveness would draw people in. And there was certainly an ‘in’ and an ‘out’.

Western society has been, for many, a good place to grow up. We are not exposed to the wars, such as in Syria; there are opportunities for education; most of us are not starving. There are of course many stories also of oppression and injustice, of institutional violence, racism and sexism. From a global perspective there are privileges in the West, and within that there are those who have been highly privileged. The wealth and power gap is enormous, which does not make those at the top evil, but does indicate something about the system that is at fault. That certainly would seem to be the case if we allowed the 8th Century prophets to critique us. And it is always a challenge as to to who to target: the top 1%, or do we draw the line at the top 10% – then that gets very uncomfortable indeed.

Cracks to a collapse?

If, as many of us suspect, the cracks that are all over Western society are indicative of a level of potential collapse how do we respond? Prophetic critiques of collapse have always been there. A cursory reading of Revelation gives us the collapse of Babylon in a day! Yet Babylon (as symbolised by Rome at the time) did not collapse in a day. In the big scheme of things the days of the glory of Rome certainly suffered immensely, and the ‘merchants’ and ‘sea captains’ would have mourned as many were affected. Yet ‘Babylon’ continued and continues. We SOOOO live in a tension. Scripture continues to declare collapse on all Babylonish systems and yet we continue to live within them. My take is that every small collapse is part of THE collapse that is to eventually manifest. Every step forward is a small picture of the millennium. In one sense they never fully come, neither the collapse of Babylon nor the millennium. One day they will fully and finally come at the parousia. Anyway that is my take!

In the ‘before that time’ we will have partial collapses, manifesting in greater measure at times, and partial manifestations of the peace and health of the age to come. And maybe there are times that see them both happening together. I am so hesitant to make comment on aspects I do not understand, and refer to the angst over health-care in the USA, but living in the UK as I did for the majority of my life, the health provision was phenomenal. As a wage earner to pay into a nationalised system and to get whatever we needed out of it was incredible. Not to face insurance issues when, for example, Sue was diagnosed with cancer, was a blessing with a capital ‘B’. Now there seems to be a challenge on the future of the NHS, and perhaps a move to make health care eventually subject to market forces. For those, like Andy Knox, who is a great voice within that sphere, I am sure there are many challenges, and not simply practical but theological.

Do we have faith, should we have faith to work within, or is our faith for all Babylonish systems to collapse?

So after a few paragraphs I am getting to the point of this post! Here are some bullet points that would need a lot of expansion:

  • There are collapses of dominating systems that take place at key times of history. Those collapses are not total, they give way to space for something new to rise (or maybe to come down from heaven) but at the same time there is a re-grouping and fresh systems seem to develop. Some people who benefitted from the former centralised control seem to transform themselves and appear at the centre of the new structures also.
  • As believers we ultimately look for something to come down from heaven at that time, and have to be clear of any investment in the dominating system that gave us security.
  • That we are of a different spirit… part of an alternative society value-wise.
  • That we understand that the call of the church is not to pull everyone into an alternative society but to be the salt so that society becomes an alternative society. This has been the theme that I have sought to pursue of the ‘church as royal priesthood’.
  • We take responsibility for the future. I think we could see greater collapses, and more of heaven come down if we did so in reality. Our task is to take responsibility for the shape, so that there is an opportunity for something to rise (come down?) that helps society. Gayle and I, carry at some level, a sense of responsibility for the political well-being of Spain. This does not mean we support a party, or look for perfection, but want to hold space where a new future can arise.
  • And a new future is what we are looking for in the West and beyond. Too many want something from the past. The language of independence, and of nationalism, of ‘making our nation great’ etc., (and I am not referring to the USA here, but to the strong winds blowing across Europe that have not blown for some 50 or more years) that seems to be backed by believers does not bode well. By eschatological definition change comes from the future, from heaven, from the throne, and comes down. All alternative societies have to draw from that.
  • I consider that believers are the key to the world. The same as Israel was to be a prayer house for the nations, but had become a den of robbers – which raises the question who were they robbing? Selling ourselves into a nationalism is dangerous. Leaving a Scottish identity, and leaving a UK identity has been invaluable, but only in that they are part of the bigger picture of entering into a ‘royal priesthood’ identity for the world. It can only lead to a prayer that whatever society I am part of becomes a greater giver of life than ever before for the marginalised.
  • This is a time of incredible shift. Keeping buoyant faith alive is a challenge. Not faith at a personal ‘bless me’ level, but faith at a transformation of society level. That faith is essential as we see only partial collapses, and only partial shifts of society truly becoming an alternative to the consumerist, power-driven one that feeds from and feeds Babylon.
  • And growing faith – through losing self-preservation – that we can see greater collapses than before and more transformation than before will be necessary. Otherwise we will also be guilty of becoming a den of robbers. Personally prospering, becoming ‘great’ again, but robbing others.

This post set out to be a follow on from the last one. I have rambled in the process but end with these thoughts. Every investment today is a contribution to the final New Jerusalem. We invest into the Babylon of today to make sure it is an unfinished project and that there is a coming down of heaven to a greater measure than ever into our world. The fruit of which will be the marginalised will prosper and the knowledge of God will spread. That we take responsibility for the shape where God places us. We cannot take responsibility for the choices that are made, but we become responsible so that good choices can be made.

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This day a long time ago

‘Semana Santa’, Holy Week is quite something in Spain, particularly in Andalucia. Penitence features big time, and emotions relating to mother and Son are high. A school teacher told me that he had a close friend who is an atheist but every year is one of the many thousands who offer themselves to carry the ‘pasos’ on their shoulders and process through the streets. ‘Why does he do it?’, I asked. And the reply was it was a deep and privileged experience to see the tears and emotions on the peoples’ faces.

The first Easter when we were in Spain (2009) I was not happy seeing all of this, and Gayle with her wisdom quickly pulled me across the street while I was standing in the street to confront the procession… I have moved on from those days – after all I was way young back then! The shock though of the alien scene is what was provocative. I am sure there is also genuine faith among some who are attracted to the tradition and procession – same as with the Camino to Santiago.

Wright’s wonderful title ‘The Day the Revolution Began’ is of course all about the Easter event and its context. What kind of revolution is portrayed by the processions complete with statues, huge crowds and those hooded to mark the penitence surrounding the whole event? Certainly, for me with my background, it only portrays a cross that affects the spiritual, or maybe religious, part of life. But what about a narrow ‘evangelical’ gospel understanding of Easter? What kind of revolution is indicated in that message? Beyond that gospel we can have the ‘seven mountains’ of influence with its reliance on Kuyper and Reconstructionism, and of course a strong reformed theology of the sovereignty of God. At what point are we able to suggest that those are all ‘sub-‘gospels. Of course if I were to suggest that I would also have to accept that any understanding of the gospel I have is also ‘sub’.

I have had two provocative conversations in the past couple of days. One via email, where the issue of the Western world and how it is falling apart, with the cracks becoming ever more visible, raises the inevitable question of how much can we prop up, redeem the structures and how much are they simply to fall? I might not be representing the brief email conversation well, but the questions are vital ones for those of us who believe a revolution for the world began in Jerusalem that Passover time, and that the cross was not simply about making sure there is ‘a going to heaven ticket’ available from then on.

The second conversation was with Gayle who challenged my language that the body of Christ is to take responsibility for the world. I don’t think she was challenging the concept but the language. (Any volunteers to help me get her to a more compliant place????!!!!!) Language is so important. We might never get the right language and ultimately language is always co-opted by the powers to nullify what the language originally meant. So these two aspects have provoked me and in the light of the ‘sub’ nature of our understanding I will return to these elements in the next few days. I don’t plan – as if I could – to give anything definitive in response, but if there was a revolution that began, and we are in the midst of some of the greatest paradigm shifts, both in the theological / ecclesiastical realm, as well as in the world as a whole, I will at least give some attempt to some responses.

So on this great day… Blessed are the revolutionaries!!

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Time marches on

Relentlessly and often it would seem repeatedly. The rhetorical question of what history teaches us can be asked with some cynicism, yet the question makes a clear point. I have just finished the book Blood and Faith, the scapegoating, the xenophobia, the fear, the ‘alternative facts’ that were clearly at work then are alive today. The atrocities were moderated by those of good heart, and ironically through economic greed (and necessity) the treatment given to a people who were making a huge contribution to their land was both moderated (we need them to do what we can’t and won’t do) and also intensified (they are not us and they are robbing us culturally and economically). Sounds familiar?

Giles Tremlett (author of Ghosts of Spain) wrote today in the Guardian The absurd British-Spanish rivalry, from Henry VIII to Gibraktar. The first Brexit from Europe he suggests was with Henry VIII resulting from the divorce from Catherine of Aragon. He then tracks in broad brush strokes the British relationship to Spain through Gibraltar and Franco. The article concludes with

The suggestion that all this might now get out of hand and that gunboats should be used is a purely British one. Which seems as absurd now as Franco’s decisions to close the border did back then.

My first time in Spain – early 2000’s my prophetic input to a land I knew nothing of any depth about was that two major signs would take place when Spain was turning. Bull fighting would be banned and the British flag would not be flying over Gibraltar. I should have added and ‘pigs will fly’ but held back on that one. A few days ago article 50 was actioned. Negotiations regarding a ‘soft’ or a ‘hard’ Brexit will now unfold. The ramifications, the complications, and certainly the rhetoric will at times be soap operish. There will be some good reads to come from the pens of journalists.

History marches on. There will be resonances to past events. There will be enormous changes for individuals, but through it all the powers will seek to safeguard their economic interests, and that will determine the lines of who gets what, all confirmed by treaties (Gibraltar in history… and now?).

There are cycles to history. Not simply to let us learn that we have learnt nothing, but to give an opportunity for something fresh to occur. If the geography of the Samaritan well (Sychar, John 4) is the same geography as that of Genesis 34 (Succoth) the two passages make for interesting reading. Rape, unforgiveness resulting in anger and murder maybe locked into the land all kinds of issues that many centuries later were exposed in the noon-day sun and the conversation that took place. The xenphobia, objectivisation of the other, religious taboos were all confronted, and I suggest along with the history back to Genesis 34.

Cycles to history. The Brexit – right or wrong – is a sign that there could be incredible moves forward. Not a move forward because of ‘leaving the EU’, for at that level there will be winners and losers. Always are. But moves forward if we learn how to truly relate beyond our borders (and writing as an immigrant in an accepting culture I write as a privileged person).

Our prayer focus in Spain (and this is our year for Spain as the focus) will touch on the deepest aspects of the land historically. We will almost certainly this year have to visit Gibraltar. 711 the door in for what soon became the Moorish kingdom of Al Andalus, and 1000 years on with the Treaty of Utrecht (1713) confirmed which flag would fly over that piece of land. We focus as we believe that new futures can be found, if the past can be confronted and healing brought into it.

We could easily prophesy the changes that are right here now. 1517 + 500 years (95 theses and Martin Luther); 1492 – Granada, Columbus + Jewish expulsions. Yet all prophetic words are conditional. A new media… new ways of politics being done… and alternative economics… Possibilities right on the horizon. Changes that can take place will not simply be what we probably expect as sticking the label ‘moral’, ‘conservative’ or even ‘Christian’ on something does not necessarily mean it is Jesus-aligned. And changes will be resisted and challenged. History tells us that. And I consider that history has a living voice, as today sprang from yesterday, and tomorrow is connected to yesterday… unless we begin a new story.

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We continue…

In a short break from Blood and Faith, but almost completed it. A tough (emotional) read. The author does not suggest it is simply bad ‘Christians’ and good ‘Muslims’, but given that those professing Christian faith were the ones with the power the responsibility has to come down on that side. It does seem a number of the Muslims had found faith in Jesus and found themselves in a particular hard place. Thrown out and then not welcomed where they went. There is a report of a group sent to Tetuan who refused to enter a Mosque as they were now Christians and were subsequently stoned to death. Thrown out of their land to their death.

It was in September 24, 1609 that the decree went out for the Valencian communidad that all Muslims were to leave within 3 days. On 27th the bishop in the Cathedral of Valencia preached, praising the action of the nation to purge them of ‘domestic enemies who wish to drink our blood and take over Spain.’

The end-result of the expulsion? One-third of the population of Valencia (the communidad and not simply the city) was expelled. It did leave issues as many of the ‘moriscos’ were the stewards of the land. There are even villages in the mountainous areas that were left so desolate that they had to import people from Mallorca (complete with language and customs) to look after the land.

To this day, along with a bizzare number of other titles, the king of Spain carries the title ‘king of Jerusalem’. All a throw back to the crusading era. Just a title? Probably, but when the Spanish troops went into Iraq they were given a flag of the Cross of Saint James (Santiago) to go with them – James who is known as the Moor Slayer.

1517 and one of the issues that riled Luther was that of Indulgences. The church was offering forgiveness in exchange for money… however, indulgences continue in the catholic church. Probably the harsh abuses have gone, but the church can still give out indulgences to lessen the length of time spent in purgatory the other side of death. This past week we have discovered that there are a few places (five) in the world that can offer ‘permanent indulgences’. Jerusalem and Rome – no great surprise there… and three other places. Two ‘holy’ places. The first one Jesus went to (no prophet can die outside of Jerusalem….) to break religious power and the compromising relationship with Imperial power, so that Paul could set his face to get to Rome, the centre of the ‘basileia’ (empire) of Rome and from the law and the prophets proclaim the ‘basileia’ (kingdom) of God!!

Three other places – in Spain!!! Santiago de Compostela… and,

Santo de Toribio de Liebana one of the main ‘holy sites’ in Europe. There is probably evidence that it is from this place the squashing of the Priscillian history and the promotion of the Santiago camino arose.

Caravaca de la Cruz where two angels flew in and delivered a cross when a priest was holding back from demonstrating the eucharist / mass to a Muslim ruler!!! This is not a large place but last time there was a Jubilee (2010) over a million pilgrimages came to visit.

So we have a focus and some work to do…!!!

We are amazed at how at the right time what has been tucked away somewhere hidden gets revealed.

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Three years, two books and one focus

Three years ago today – March 24th – we had arrived in Oliva and this was the first night we slept in our apartment. Boxes everywhere, not knowing what we would really be involved in but having found this place through by means of two dreams. Pursuing our understanding of the two dreams we had driven the geography that was in the dream over four days and were about to go back to Cádiz as we had found nothing that we connected with. Then right at the end when we were literally 7 kms from the end of the geography we felt this strange connection to where we now are. Then came the battle to buy the place… a timely phone call from Michael in Germany, a connection to one of the angels he described and within half an hour out of the blue the agent called saying ‘I don’t know what has happened but you now have your apartment.’

Three years so off to Gandia for a sushi lunch. A big celebration!

In the first couple of months of this year it has become clear that we are to focus on the ReConquista – the driving of the Muslims out of Spain. We believe there has to be repentance for this. Having got hold of a lot of information (thanks Noë in Calpe!) and adding to it with our own research we then were told of the book Blood and Faith by Matthew Carr that was originally published in 2010 but has now come out in paperback.

In April 1609, King Philip III of Spain signed an edict denouncing the Muslim inhabitants of Spain as heretics, traitors, and apostates. Later that year, the entire Muslim population of Spain was given three days to leave Spanish territory, on threat of death. In a brutal and traumatic exodus, entire families and communities were obliged to abandon homes and villages where they had lived for generations, leaving their property in the hands of their Christian neighbors. In Aragon and Catalonia, Muslims were escorted by government commissioners who forced them to pay whenever they drank water from a river or took refuge in the shade. For five years the expulsion continued to grind on, until an estimated 300,000 Muslims had been removed from Spanish territory, nearly 5 percent of the total population. By 1614 Spain had successfully implemented what was then the largest act of ethnic cleansing in European history, and Muslim Spain had effectively ceased to exist. “Blood and Faith” is celebrated journalist Matthew Carr’s riveting chronicle of this virtually unknown episode, set against the vivid historical backdrop of the history of Muslim Spain. Here is a remarkable window onto a little-known period in modern Europe – a rich and complex tale of competing faiths and beliefs, of cultural oppression and resistance against overwhelming odds.

Timely or what!!

Then a few days ago Stephen Hill emailed to say he was sending his commentary on John to us. In Chapter 12 he has a quote from me on a talk I gave ‘The Empire is over’. He quotes where I talk about Judas. The last part he quotes:

The Judas spirit is a spirit of betrayal. ‘But Lord if we do so and so, look how good you could be. Look how far you could go.’ That is the Judas spirit, but I believe God is going to take the Judas spirit out of the Church.’

The Judas spirit is that which knows better than Jesus the ways of the kingdom. It does not submit to the revelation that his kingdom is not of this world, otherwise his followers would have taken up the sword. Rather it takes up the sword on his behalf (and there are many swords from the literal one as per the Crusades and the ReConquista to the dehumanisation of those we objectify).

The two books arrived the same day. Up the stairs our delivery came. She left. We opened them and were deeply impacted reading the prefaces. The two books are related. The purity of the love of Jesus and how John experienced and perceived that; the Judas betrayal spirit of Empire.

Three years and two books! We are planning the year. This is the year for us to dig deep into the land of Spain. We were sent a dream a while back of someone watching as we pondered over invitations and different nations written on pieces of paper on a table. We thought long and hard, then responded with:

We will go talk with the man of Spain and he will tell us where we are to go.

This is what we are to do… indeed he has been calling for some time. We will begin (as far as we are aware) in and around Santiago… then comes Toledo… Granada is an obvious one (1492 and all that)… maybe Gibraltar is a necessary destination… maybe north Africa… but the book has opened our eyes to where we live. The expulsion post 1492 was highly ‘efficient’ in the communidad where we are, that of Valencia. Many (maybe some 300,000) were expelled violently being ripped up from their land.

Three years today. Very grateful and so much to say about these past 3 years. Two books… A lot of pages to read!! And a focus – many things we all should get round to doing, but to quote Paul (and take him out of context) we need to make sure that ‘this one thing we do.’

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Conspiracy and the Camino!

Last year we travelled in our ‘furgo’ to the north of Spain. Not a great hardship – great cuisine, ocean views, wildness and civilisation. The north, Asturias and Galicia in particular are Celtic lands. Gayle was really sure there was something in the land from the Celtic days of Christian faith, though there was no evidence on the landscape of that, so as we travelled we called for the re-awakening of that manifestation of faith.

SantiagoThe ‘camino’ (pilgrimage) to Santiago de Compostela is over 1000 years old and has been increasing in numbers. In some recent years over 1/4 million pilgrims have been on that path. For many it is a path of faith and they find a renewal of their faith. We have locally a friend who went on it last year. He confessed to not having personal faith, but was convinced that there was great value in journeying where others had found what they were looking for. So a mix of people go on the journey. We have even talked about whether we should make the journey to connect with people who are seeking faith… then Gayle said in one of her responses – maybe we should walk away from Santiago, do it in reverse! That quite appealed.

We are always amazed that whenever something new comes up for a focus that a pattern seems to follow:

  • A conviction that this is what should be done.
  • A beginning of research that seems not to be too fruitful.
  • A setting of one’s heart to the journey thinking ‘and so what are we going to do?’
  • A coming together of random dots.
  • Information that was probably always there becoming visible.

Well that is what seems to be happening. But back to the north and the Celts.

There was a Christian movement in the north and it was strongly in evidence in the 4th Century. The main leadership for the movement came from, Priscillian, whose views were at odds with the established bishops. He was opposed to hierarchy, pushed away from the centre, encouraged meetings in homes and in the country. All of this proved too much for the powers and he was arrested, taken to Trier in Germany. The Christian powers in conjunction with the Imperial powers had him tried for heresy and killed.

  • He seems to be the first believer killed by fellow believers through co-opting the civil powers.
  • That part of the story is very reminiscent of an event in Jerusalem!
  • The sibling rising against another is a repeating pattern of history inside Spain – indeed one could argue across Europe.

The startling part of the info we are working with is that far from James being buried in Santiago (as if!!) that there is a strong suggestion that it is in fact Priscillian. The late Henry Chadwick, who was an Anglican and a scholar has strongly argued for that – quite remarkable as Priscillian has been labelled as a heretic by many in the more mainstream background.

There is the strong suggestion that the very camino was invented to crush out the continuing memory of Priscillian. A myth created to solidify both political and religious power and control.

Although a myth God can and does meet people in the midst of it all. That is the nature of God! In line with our perspective of the parallel journeys of Jesus to Jerusalem (‘no prophet can die outside of Jerusalem’) and Paul’s journey to Rome, the first to expose the alignment of religious and political power and to break their power. Once that is done Imperial power can be addressed.

So we will be off to Santiago. Walking away from there – the jury is out on that.

Living here on the east coast. Why? Well dreams took us here, but now we discover that the centre for the expulsions (post 1492 and the fall of the final Islamic city of Granada) was right here in the communidad of Valencia. Nice to be in the right setting… days after discovering the material on Prisicillian / Santiago we discovered that the Guardian newspaper had just reviewed a book on the expulsion of the Muslims, with the focus on this region. The book is on the way in the mail… another release of info once the timing is right.

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This is what we are up to

2017-03-19 14:30:37

This post is a kind of an update as to our main focus. I will try to make it short, but not likely to succeed!

The big focus for us now is the pull to pray into the ReConquista. The ReConquista is the description given to the period of history in Spain when the Moors (Muslims) were finally driven out and Spain / Portugal were reconquered for ‘Christianity’. We have heard on the street when listening to guides the shorthand description of: ‘We were Muslims, now we are Christians.’ That is quite a worldview!!

We have done some prayer work into the expulsion of the Jews (the Shephardic Jews both of the OT and of more recent history). We have also been deeply encouraged by those who have done so over years. We are sure that the shift in response from the Spanish government has been as a result. The government will now give back Spanish citizenship to those who are genuinely of Shephardic descent. It is often not too difficult for Christians to repent for what has been done to Jews in terms of abuse. There is both a right connection (‘because of the patriarchs’) and also at times a false connection (confusion over the centrality of Jesus), but the result is repentance and for that we are grateful.

But repentance into Islamic history? That is another aspect all-together.

The ReConquista was the re-conquering of the Iberian peninsula (Spain and Portugal) for the Christian rulers and the driving of the Moorish (Islamic) kingdom out of the land. It began in the north and over centuries it eventually completed its goal when the final stronghold of Granada fell in 1492. Into that scenario why repent?

Repentance does not mean that we want to turn the clock back and see Islamic rule restored!!! It is crazy to write that but better be clear than leave any doubts! But neither are we looking for some kind of ‘christianized’ rule, the sad effects of the Constantinian paradigm. The alternative to Sharia law is not some form of Christianised law, indeed we consider the root to the Islamic spirit is Christendom.

The original taking of Spain by Islam occurred in 7 short years in the 8th century with a smallish Islamic invasion taking place through Gibraltar. (Gibraltar – a physical reason for the entry there but also this is contested land spiritually.) Generally speaking, though, the Islamic rule was benevolent. Christians and Jews alongside the Muslims were allowed to co-habit and work together. The level of the arts and education was high. A huge question we have is:

The ReConquista (the ReConquering of Spain)… but for what?

We do not for one minute suggest that the Islamic rule was good and the Christianised rule that replaced it was worse. The issue is that what was done in the name of Jesus carries such weight and ‘we’ have to take responsibility for that. The ReConquista had as its vision that of militarily restoring the lost lands to their version of Christianity all the way back to Jerusalem. We consider that vision to be deeply anti-Christian.

We also consider now is the time for the push and it will entail us getting on the road visiting some of the key places. If we do not do this then the land is very vulnerable to terrorist attacks. We consider that where there is a Christian push to see Islamic people as the enemy and dehumanise them that the effect is not to strengthen defences against terrorism but to seriously weaken them. In recent months Dayesh have released videos particularly featuring Cordoba and Granada with the warning that they are coming for their lost lands. The Western end of the Islamic world was once Spain, the Eastern centering in Constantinople.

1492 – quite a year!!!!

This year saw:

  • the fall of Granada,
  • the edict for all Jews to convert or be exiled (and if not persecuted), and
  • Christopher Columbus sailed off to the New World to conquer it for King and Queen, pope and for the power that appointed them to rule: God and his sovereign king, Jesus. That mission to the new world was accompanied by those who proclaimed the sovereignty of Spanish royalty and the one true God. Proclaimed in the Spanish language those who were ‘privileged’ to hear the message were given the opportunity to respond! When they did not respond the conquerors were then free to do whatever they needed to to extend the boundaries of both the Spanish domain and the domain of Christendom.

There are times in history that are ‘full’. Obviously the coming of Christ was at the fullness of times. A threefold cord as we have discovered in 1492 puts that year truly on the radar. The possibility of the effects of praying into that culmination seem amazing.

We have prayed into the issue of Columbus day and have been glad to see the greater level of unrest that has been visible since. We were able 18 months ago (probably under the watchful eyes of security cameras) to place a piece of art, calling for a shift on the issue, right under the largest Spanish flag in Madrid in Columbus Square on the eve of the large military parade that passes through there. We did not understand the link of the three fold cord of 1492 back then.

Then into the mix… last year we travelled through the Celtic lands of Asturias and into Galicia. So wonderful to get to the furthest north point of Spain and then the most westerly point of mainland Spain on that journey. While travelling through the land Gayle was very stirred (her Celtic blood!!) with the Celts and Christianity. ‘They have been here’, she would say. No concrete evidence, such as Celtic crosses or the like, but her conviction persisted. The land is Celtic – and for the historians the concensus is that the Celts came to the lands of Britain up through Spain.

Making some enquiries about the presence of Celtic Christianity has opened up something incredible. Well that can be the next post…

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Provocative or what?

We have recently begun some research on the overthrow of the Islamic (Moorish) rule of Spain, a rule that lasted some 700 years. Yesterday we were put in touch with an extended article in the Guardian on this very thing and last night ordered the book, the reviews of which suggest it will be invaluable to our research. Again and again when the timing is right the information needed just seems to surface. Pursuing a repentant journey on this will be necessary and might cause just a few questions, as there are not a few who see the Crusades and the defence (e.g.) of Malta as truly ‘Christian’. Constantine and subsequent Christendom not being an aberration for a number of them.

The other extreme can be to spiritualise the message of Jesus in a way that makes it non-political. This is something that we cannot see as possible from the NT. The message, indeed the very terms, such as ‘gospel’, ‘son of God’, ‘ekklesia’, ‘kingdom’ and even ‘repentance’ are deeply embedded in a first century political culture. We would need to make the actions and words of Jesus non-culturally applicable and somehow ‘timeless’. We know we are not supposed to take a text out of context, but what is more important is not to take a (the) life out of context.

The entry into Jerusalem was certainly very provocative. Many scholars suggest that there were two entries into Jerusalem on that spring day. From the east came Jesus into the city, cheered on with the cries of ‘Hosanna’. Most of his followers were not the elite and powerful. On the west side of the city entered another, Rome’s representative, Pilate. One proclaimed the kingdom of God, the other the kingdom, power and glory of Rome. The entry of the Roman governors of Judea had become standard practice for Jewish festivals. As Jerusalem swelled with the huge influx of people, so Rome, probably both for practical reasons (increased security) and political reasons (an opportune time to flex muscle) always increased their mighty presence.

So on the west side a visible demonstration of power. Cavalry, foot soldiers, leather armour, shields, banners, golden eagles as standards, the beating of drums. A visible display of power and might. A timely reminder that peace, Roman style, is in the land. Peace enforced through force, and displayed visibly for all to see when necessary through the brutal practice of crucifixion. An open display of power – that was the cross. Another aspect involving a political statement then is Paul’s words in Col. 2:14,15

He took away the weapons of the powers and authorities. He made a public show of them. He won the battle over them by dying on the cross.

A faith statement in the extreme, and an extremely pointed political statement. The cross displayed the ultimate Imperial power, so went the narrative of the Empire. The gospel narrative absolutely negated that Imperial narrative.

From the west came the power of Rome into the city. From the east side Jesus entered on a donkey manifestly fulfilling the entry of a prophesied future king to Jerusalem ‘riding on a donkey’ (Zech. 9:9). This king will not parade weapons of war but rather banish war from the land:

I will take the chariots away from Ephraim. I will remove the war horses from Jerusalem. I will break the bows that are used in battle.
Your king will announce peace to the nations. He will rule from ocean to ocean. His kingdom will reach from the Euphrates River to the ends of the earth.
I will set your prisoners free from where their enemies are keeping them. I will do it because of the blood that put my covenant with you into effect.
Return to your place of safety, you prisoners who still have hope. Even now I announce that I will give you back much more than you had before. (Zech. 9:10-12).

Rome’s path to peace was through conquest and war (the first rider on the white horse in Revelation). Jesus’ path to peace is through the shedding of his own blood (the rider on the second white horse in Revelation).

Political and deeply provocative. There is a build up over those days. A coin is shown to Jesus when he is asked about paying taxes to Rome. The image on the coin is of Caesar, the divine Caesar, the son of god. His reply is not a ‘there are two realms and never do they mix’. Rather echoing the final words of Mattathias to his sons who had called them to gather the people and avenge the wrong that had been done to Israel, saying

Pay back the Gentiles in full, and obey the commands of the law.

Judas (his son) then subsequently led the Maccabean revolt, cleansing the Temple and refortifying Jerusalem, establishing a new royal dynasty. That indeed was paying back the Gentiles.

Now it is no longer Greece but Rome that is the overlord. Give to Caesar what is his due! Those words could have been taken at the same level as those of Mattathias. An armed rebellion could have been sparked by those words, and I think that was exactly how Judas Iscariot (did he want to live up to that name?) understood them.

Yet it remains that if Jesus kingdom was of this world that his followers would have taken up the sword. His kingdom comes from another source all-together. Deeply political, but the entry to the city was of a different order then, and needs to be so again today.

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Perspectives