These men came to him and said, “Teacher, we know that you are an honest man, and are not afraid of anyone, for you pay no regard to a person’s position, but teach the way of God honestly; are we right in paying taxes to the Emperor, or not? Should we pay, or should we not pay?”
if at first
flattery doesn’t work
pile it on
stacked upon virtue
side-tracked from content
affected ego preens
a considered response
is lost with only
a needed provisional
stumbles carrying eternity
Three lines of imputed integrity and morality are followed by a legal question and a religious one. If the first question doesn’t get you the next one will and there is an unending line of questions.
Here in the Temple, hearing all these accolades, even second-hand about someone else, raises my desire to come up with a definitive response. This raises a tendency to double-down and risk every previous truth-telling by saying just a little more than is needed and making one clear statement intended to stand every test of time.
This is a wilderness moment in a setting that attempts to ban all wilderness doubt and rely only on an assertive certainty.
When we have lived long enough in a wilderness we begin to have a quicker apprehension of what questions are our questions and which questions belong to someone else.
While we live in a world not of our constructing, that attempts to shape us in its own image by giving one no-win situation after another until we are conformed, an appreciation of wilderness brings an openness to additional responses beyond the expected.
In a palin-esque way, we can even return to the widow and her half-pennies. In his chapter on “Postcolonial Criticism” in Anderson226 Tat-Siong Benny Liew refers to Seong Hee Kim’s “dialogical imagination” to see the widow respond to these same questions and pay her tax, “giving everything back to the imperial power”. Liew has reservations about this interpretation but still it pushes him to “return to re-read and reassess Mark”. May these questions so push every Reader.