“Not Sure” Improves the Situation

“If you know that you are not sure, you have a chance to improve the situation. I want to demand this freedom for future generations.” ~Richard Feynman, The Meaning of It All: Thoughts of a Citizen-Scientist (p. 28).

E.E. Cummings announces in his play, Santa Claus: A Morality,

Ladies and gentlemen: If you have been
deceived by some imposter—so have I.
If you all have been tricked and ruined—so have I.
And so has every man and woman, I say.
I say it, and you feel it in your hearts:
we are all of us no longer glad and whole,
we have all of us sold our spirits into death,
we are all of us the sick parts of a sick thing,
we have all of us lost our living honesty,
and so we are all of us not any more ourselves.
—Who can tell truth from falsehood any more?
I say it, and you feel it in your hearts:
no man or woman on this big small earth.
—How should our sages miss the mark of life,
and our most skillful players lose the game?
your hearts will tell you, as my heart has told me:
because all know, and no one understands.
—O, we are all so very full of knowing
that we are empty: empty of understanding….

To get out of the built-in traps of every life grown within the limits of any family or society there needs be an appreciation for holding light and lightly in a finer sieve than those of prior generations. To not do so is to constrain self and future generations to the limits of yesterday.

Future freedom is based on that of past and present. The more active observational investigation has been and is, the freer the opportunities we provide to nurture and nourish any who may follow after (contingencies of imaginative sclerosis and ecological disaster also need to be honored).

Our starting spot is the simple one of noting a different point of observation and finding a next metaphor that will not deny but enlarge to the point of moving to a more specific and thus, mysteriously, encompassing set of data and consequences.

Of course, this simplicity is increasingly more difficult than can be anticipated until it arrives and we exclaim “Of course!” and set about dethroning the latest king-of-the-mountain by way of an intentional and innocent affirmation of, “I’m not so sure.”

A Rule’s Exception

“The exceptions to any rule are the most interesting in themselves, for they show us that the old rule is wrong. And it is most exciting, then, to find out what the right rule, if any, is. ~Richard Feynman, The Meaning of It All: Thoughts of a Citizen-Scientist (p. 16).

The appeal to a rule qua rule needs one more look at the observational data—the experience of today’s ability to record observations in a new setting with new tools of measurement.

This ability to hold old data against new data is to have eaten from a tree of knowing outcomes and a willingness to alter them based on new information. When such connections to a new world are outlawed from the beginning, we don’t need to simply wait for some next great shoulder to stand on and with. When different outcomes are dismissed out-of-hand, we can be as certain as ever we can be that it is but a matter of time before the old rule crashes.

Such a crash has never been pretty or sweeping. There are still people aplenty who can only respond positively to a hierarchical structure where they know their place, their rule, and it will always be within a right-wrong binary—Heaven is up; Earth is flat.

Theology, the old queen from generations of incest, is always tested at the point of its current certainty. Ironically, it is its loyal opposition that carries its best hope of reinvigorating its line. The parade of religions seems never to end, like the parade of tectonic plates rising from below and diving deep below—mixing and sifting their moment in the sun, their dance of respiration featuring a coordinating atom of magnesium in chlorophyll and of iron in hemoglobin.

Of G*D & g()d

I’ve been reading Lloyd Geering’s From the Big Bang to God. The last section wonders if we can still use the old term “religion” for a new commitment to a structured form for meaning in a global setting beyond our fascination with clan. Geering offers no suggestion for an alternative.

The reliance of his text on Pierre Teilhard de Chardin is leading me to transition my usual marker of an evolutionary and mutating G*D to g()d.

This moves from othering capital letters and an asterisk encouraging a reader to look elsewhere for “more” to a more familiar lower case with space for a seed to be planted and evolve as it does (there is less here than we have come to expect).

These two:

G*D    and    g()d

are the current bounds or spectrum within which I find a delicious playground. and invite you to join me in playing with them as a way of sensitizing our awareness beyond cares of every night and noon.

Fair Warning

It is time for me to get back into a bit of more regular writing. I thought of starting another site to do it but figured this might be as good as any to begin.

The main topic will be Genesis with occasional forays into other bits and pieces.

Note that those who use the subscription process always have an opportunity to unsubscribe at the bottom of the email you receive. If there are others you think might appreciate reading here, you can refer them to http://eepurl.com/cqvRmT to sign up to receive postings at 9AM the day after they are posted. If someone wants to taste this series, you can refer them to http://wildernessurgency.org.

First Post tomorrow.


Mark – Historical Fiction

You might be interested in a new book by RW Holmen—Wormwood and Gall: The Destruction of Jerusalem and the First Gospel. This is a story of Markos (who wrote the Gospel of Mark).

Holmen uses current historical and archeological findings to give credence to one background possibility for the currently invisible Mark. The lens through which he works is the image used by James Carroll that the Christian scriptures are “war literature”. Holmen uses his experience of being an Army Ranger to inform his telling the time of Mark from the expulsion of the Roman Army to their return and destruction of Jerusalem and subsequent years to the writing of the first gospel. I can highly recommend this telling.

Holmen has also written: A Wretched Man: A Novel of Paul the Apostle and Queer Clergy: A History of Gay and Lesbian Ministry in American Protestantism. I also highly recommend both of these. He has additional books about his Army experiences available on Amazon.

Closing Off

Thank you to those who have visited and left comments.

I would appreciate any “review” of this verse-by-verse approach to Mark. There is the possibility of this being turned into a self-published paperback book several months down the way. It obviously needs some editing.

There is also the reality that my next three months will have a primary focus on a Special General Conference of The United Methodist Church as it wrestles with how close to grace it will come regarding its own LGBTQ+ members and LGBTQ+ persons in discriminatory settings. I work with Love Prevails and would appreciate your support of our work through your prayers/intentions/meditation and donations.

One of the outcomes of this work is a new translation of Mark—
Slow-Reading the Gospel of Mark. Any reviews of this book on Amazon would be appreciated.

May you be awed enough in life that you will leave an empty tomb of the past and proceed to the yet-to-be-seen.

Wesley White
wwhite (at) wesleyspace (dot) net



Marking Time

betwixt and between
be and ing
fits and starts
we begin and end
with a provisional
beginning and ending

never a definite article
a the beginning
a the end
flowing again
remembering anticipating
are ing and tomorrow ing
our each is ing

wilderness at core
tempts and restores
within each boundary
unsettling every settled
feeding off certainty
to retreat deeper
until urgency pauses

a living heart
pushing onward
repenting again
with wounds near and dear
and Johnny AppleEater far
betwixt and between

Announcement of a new book

There is no posting today as I am out-of-town to speak at a District UMW gathering on “Sacred Spaces: Encounters with G*D and Neighb*r”.

This gives an opportunity to announce that I have just self-published a translation of Mark that is available on Amazon—Slow-Reading the Gospel of Mark.

The format invites a reflection on some of the smaller connective words in Mark’s telling his Jesus story. The text pushes back at our desire to scan and rely on a familiar story. Hopefully, there will be a new opening to this old story as a Reader faces an awkward style not smoothed with familiar language choices.

Should you take a look at it, I would appreciate your posting a Review on Amazon (negative as well as positive, so we don’t get too far away from reality). Reviews help me as an author to see how to improve and assist potential readers to dive in or move on.

Thanks for your traveling with me through these long months—with a couple more to go.


A Return

Hopefully the pause just taken was fruitful enough.

One outcome was the development of a draft of a paraphrase of Mark. I’m willing to send a PDF of this draft to anyone who is willing to give some feedback on it. As in any draft I have already found both errors and things I would now phrase differently. Additional eyes would catch more such as well as react to the format.

If this might have your name on it, write to me at wesley@wildernessurgency.org

A Pause

Thank you for reading here.

I am taking 11 days off from this part of my Mark project. I have been offered an opportunity to present a narrative approach to reading the Bible, using Mark as a focal point. To prepare for this I need to finish a draft of a companion piece—a paraphrase of Mark based on my last reading of Mark. This time will also coincide with participation in a multi-day, denominational annual meeting.

As every reading also entails a concurrent re-writing of the material read, if only in one’s head, this paraphrase is an intriguing task. I will be using a variant of sense-lines (phrase lines) instead of a prose format. A larger explanation of sense-lines can be found in this out-of-print book (use your library) by James A. Kleist—The Memoirs of St. Peter or The Gospel According to St. Mark, Translated into English Sense-Lines.

I would appreciate your thought/prayers/comments/suggestions about this paraphrase over the next week plus, as well as general preparation work for a 6-session, participative exploration of Mark.

The current plan is return with verse-by-verse comments on Tuesday, June 19, 2018. With some luck these comments on Mark will conclude before the end of this calendar year.

The initial blurb about this adult group:

READING AND BEING READ BY MARK’S EXCELLENT, VERY GOOD NEWS will use the Gospel of Mark to teach you how to read the Bible narratively–that is, how to place yourself into the stories of Jesus to experience them in a whole new way. 6 sessions. Meets Mondays at 6:00p, beginning June 26, downstairs in the Youth Room at Onalaska United Methodist Church.