Mark 6:26

The king was much distressed; yet, because of his oath and of the guests at his table, he did not like to refuse her.


simply being upset at injustice
is insufficient energy
to shift gears to needed work
building a mercy hedge
around earth’s wretched

waves of influence battle each other
roiling a kindness-sinking maelstrom
image in other’s eyes comes first
violently denying alternatives
to position based on power

the right of kings
is a right never wrong
once said is enough
an open mouth carves stone
there is no appeal


Herod had many an enlivening conversation with John while constrained to imprison John lest more people would get riled up with the charge John brought against Herod and Herodias.

There is an important image of a “weeping executioner”. This is a term attributed to Dr. Walt Herbert, emeritus professor of English at Southwestern University. A weeping executioner is one who expresses concern for the oppressed, but will not leave their place in the hierarch of oppression. It was used to good effect by Rev. Amy DeLong after her church trial in 2011. [Queer Clergy: A History of Gay and Lesbian Ministry in American Protestantism, by R.W. Holmen545]

No matter how many times you tell your story, there are those who love to hear the telling and are emotionally touched without ever moving from a feeling of repentance toward a change in behavior. Whether you are “upset”, “very sad”, or “deeply grieved” about ordering another’s death (Herod) or simply wash your hands of it and move on to a next order of business (Pilate), the end result is the same—death.

Perkins599 affirms, “Willingness to sacrifice others to maintain honor, prestige, and power remains one of the great temptations of persons in positions of authority.” The difficulty is that we often don’t understand what authority we have and how boldly we can honor others and what power we have to be in solidarity with them. This is not just a matter for those currently in the position of an occupier. Whether a dancing girl, the proverbial Joe Blow, or a weekly pew-sitter, this is the source of every transformation and a next Axial Age. How we practice partnership with others will reveal our changed life.

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