Destroying or making history?

The seven last words of the Unarmed

If you don’t get time to watch it right through try 16:00 to the end.

A statue that honoured a slave trader being pulled down in Bristol was commented on very astutely in the Guardian that this was not an act of destroying history but of making history. I note that tonight there is a possibility of action targeted on the statue of Cecil Rhodes – an interesting one as Gayle was born in Zimbabwe and we have inevitably focused prayer into the effects of his life into the ‘soul’ of Africa.

Some days I pinch myself. What era are we living through? Is this simply a pause and all goes back to where it was? Or are we really living in one of the of the greatest resets in all of history? There are some incredible momentous epochs, and for believers in the resurrection of Jesus, we should anticipate that. Time moves forward a day at a time, a tick of the clock, and when that happens little seems to change, but the resurrection distorted the time line (Matt. 27: 51-54).

‘All lives matter’ is a retort at this time. Yes but only once ‘black lives matter’.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…’

(I quote from the USA declaration for two reasons, it is easier to find a good quote there and the USA is the child of Europe, if any schisms become visible there be assured they are present in our soil. I am not quoting it as a criticism of ‘there’. My critiques are of here and of ‘me’.) In the era when that was written ‘all men’ were all ‘men’ of the male variety, and of the white European descent. We can look back to criticise, but the gift of looking back is to slowly help give us present (time and place) sight. There are truths that are so self-evident, but are totally obscured to our sight because of where we stand. The gift of the moment is not simply that voices are being heard that have been silenced but we could possibly have our ears unblocked and our sight unveiled.

I have written that many might never come closer to seeing God than to see someone… really see them. To see humanity. That for me primarily is why this could be one of the greatest moments in history. To see Jesus was (is) to see the Father. To ‘see’ and really see humanity… that is the path for many to see Jesus.

There is a madness

I am very grateful that I was copied in to a video that Steve Watters put out privately to a few on WhatsApp. I have asked permission if I could post a transcript from the video. It is of course not a short but I think an important read. We are living in a season at least of huge shifts and redefinitions, with the West losing its hold on the future, and maybe something even bigger is happening. For the kingdom to come, imperial strength must go. For the multiplical-diverse voice of God to be heard (as in Pentecost where they all spoke or the book of Revelation and the sound of many waters) the voice of the beast has to be silenced. In this current throw the beast has not just been given a voice but is shouting so loud that all voices of the demos are being silenced.

Below then is the transcript from Steve’s video:

Like me, you might have struggled to find hope in the midst of some of the things going on in our politics over the last few years and the way that we’ve not been able to ‘talk to each other’ across different viewpoints.

I was reminded last November of the dream that a king had. King Nebuchadnezzar dreamt of a huge tree – the tallest tree in the land. The birds sheltered under it and the animals ate food from it. Then it was chopped down. The king was really worried by this dream and couldn’t find an explanation of what it meant. He eventually got an interpretation – Daniel said “Bad luck king, I’m sorry to tell you this, but you’re going to go mad and you will be mad for ‘seven times’. You will lose your sanity and you will lose your kingdom – the tree is like your kingdom. You will eat grass like the cattle. But then after ‘seven times’ your sanity will be restored to you and then your kingdom will be restored to you too.”

That has felt like a fitting analogy to me over the last 9 months or so of where the UK is at. It feels like we have gone mad. Plus it feels like there is something in that madness that is to do with losing some of our kingdom, some of what the UK has been.

I’m not suggesting that to support Brexit is ‘madness’ – I think that’s totally legitimate. For me the madness is about the way that we haven’t been able to talk to each other, haven’t been to have a conversation. It’s about the division that we have seen sown across our communities and across our country.

We’re normally a ‘conservative’ country – agreed? I don’t mean the political party – I mean that we don’t change things very quickly as a country, we don’t like rocking the boat. We’re not like the French – we don’t have revolutions and things like that. We’re very slow to change.

So here we are… A normally ‘conservative’ country, willing to throw the baby out with the bathwater, willing to rock the boat. Even willing to really seriously rock the financial markets – something that we never want to do as a country, especially not under a tory government. Here we are ‘going mad’, with things changing.

So why? Where’s the hope in that? For me, the sense of hope is that there is a new identity to be found for us as a nation. We’ve never really shed our identity as the ruler of the British empire, as a colonial power, as a nation that expects to have a seat at the top table around the world. I think there’s a new, more redemptive identity for us to find as a nation, where perhaps the only way for us to find it, it seems, may be is that we need to be humbled. It certainly seems like we are being humbled – that our sanity is temporarily gone and that maybe our kingdom is going as well. So I see the chaos that goes on at the moment in politics, in communities and in conversations and I feel we need to pray for new identity and for new beginnings. Because we do need the old way to die.

I’ve been looking out for a sign… If you remember back when Greece was in chaos and reeling after the financial crash – yet in the middle of that Greece suddenly win the football and it felt like a sign – a moment in which Greece seemed to be losing everything and yet, really unexpectedly they won the football. So I’ve been watching out.

I thought earlier this year that perhaps England might win the football. We didn’t. But then it came to the weekend of the Cricket World Cup finals and I suddenly was struck – what greater symbol is there of British Empire than cricket! I was convinced that we were going to win the cricket final and I kept telling people watching the cricket final who were all really nervous – “Don’t worry, we’re going to win!”. They didn’t appreciate this, but sure enough, we won the cricket world cup.

To me that felt like the ‘last hurrah’ of the old way. Great to win the cricket, but it’s a symbol of the old identity that the UK has had, that needs to go. It felt like the last hurrah. It chimes for me with the style & personality of our current prime minister – it feels his style & personality is also a bit like a ‘last hurrah’ – it’s like going out with a bang of an old way of doing things that simply won’t serve us in the future, pushing to an extreme.

I also took note of the really big power cut that happened around the UK a few weeks ago. Again, that felt to me like a sign of the need to change and the need for new beginnings – the power being cut from the ‘old ways’. It was reported to be the biggest power cut in the UK since 2008 – the year of the financial crash. So I took note of it being the biggest power cut since 2008 – it’s a moment of disruption for us as a country. I also took note of the fact that the power cut happened on the 8th August. So the 8th of the 8th and the last one since ’08. The number 8 often symbolises new beginnings. After the 7 days, then there was the 8th day – the first day of a new week. So I think there’s an opportunity to pray for ‘new beginnings’ – for that 8th day to come, for that day when things are made new again.

We need a new beginning, a new identity as a nation. And as we know, people up and down this country in different communities need new beginnings & new starts for their situations.

Simply profound

Ever find something hard to understand – or is it only me? I was once told that truth is both simple and yet profound. Sometimes though getting hold of what someone is saying / writing is not always so easy. Words used, and wait for it, the ‘presuppositional pool’ might mean we don’t quite get it. In this post I am going to recommend a video and a post from two important contributors in the realm of theology and its application.

I am grateful for Roger Mitchell’s work and also for having the privilege to dialogue with him so (I think) I have some grasp on his important writings. In his introduction to the video that appears below he writes:

If you find me hard to read as some do, although by no means all, then this talk will help hugely!! As an activist I find it s much easier to make sense at a popular level when I’m in context hands on. Here I am!

There is so much meat in the talk and his explanation of why he pursued his PhD is very clear. He came at it with three questions:

  • why do the rich and powerful always end up at the top?
  • why is it the same way in the church?
  • and why has the church actively supported / endorsed and strengthened that scenario?

Let the ‘ouch’ of those three questions sink in and then here is the link to the video:

The second post I suggest that is more than worth a read is one by Andrew Perriman. The opening paragraph reads:

Here I want to try and answer some questions sent to me by someone who grew up in the “reformed, fundamental, SBC” tradition but has spent the best part of the last year deconstructing his faith “down to nothing.” He has been reading the work of historically-minded interpreters like Pete Enns and NTWright, but has been having a hard time finding a way forward. His faith is sinking. “I currently don’t see any reason to be a Christian or to continue in the Christian way.”

Sinking faith feeling

I do not find and agreement with the perspective that Christendom is the fulfilment of the hope that God is acknowledged as Lord of the nations, so on that I do not go along with Andrew, but his writings and his insistence on the narrative shaping theology is invaluable. This post I reference above will help enormously in understanding this.

Essential Kenosis

I have always leaned toward ‘Open Theology’, ever since meeting Gordon Olson who taught in many YWAM schools in the 70s. I visited him in California in 1976, stayed in his house and used his library. He had in those days the best library on Charles Finney and many books on Open Theology. Clark Pinnock, who moved from being a Calvinist to being a key figure in articulating Open Theology likewise influenced my thoughts. However, for me, the best writings to date are from Thomas Jay Oord, and his articulation of God’s love as uncontrolling is both releasing and challenging (in what sense is ‘God in control?’).

Oord has made a short introductory video of ‘Essential Kenosis’. If it whets your appetite then his book ‘Uncontrolling Love’ you just know is the one you want for Christmas!

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Art – the gift to expose

Chris Bourne sent me this link to Doris Salcedo in Bogota. She says ‘Art cannot explain things but it can expose them.’

Very powerful in undermining the oblivion the government sought to place on the people. Opening up the gift of lament to the people.

Art touches the imagination (future), the memory (past) as it engages the people in the here and now. Enjoy! Though that is probably not the appropriate word to use…

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