Mark 9:48

where their worm does not die, and the fire is not put out.


Isaiah’s closing image
defeats much
shepherding compassion

Marks’ undying worms
defeat much
shepherding hospitality

our various -isms
defeat much
decisional mercy

every vanity
defeats much
communal intersection


If this continues Mark’s wisdom writing we can move in two different directions in the present. The first is to be fruitfully drawn to addiction and the struggle to be free of its power.

The process of recovery can feel like a part of oneself is being amputated. There is a denial of self needed to become a more whole self. In an addictive culture this is a never-ending series of reshapings through what Mark describes as repentance and changed living.

Wright118, surfaces a quote from Gerald May’s book, Addiction and Grace, “Any struggle with addiction…involves deprivation. Every false prop is vulnerable to relinquishment.” Wright continues, “Such ‘amputation’ is life-saving surgery on the cancer of our illusions and appetites.”

The future of addiction is forever set without a turning—we are our own torturer.

Alternatively, Sartre’s play, No Exit, ends with the famous line, “Hell is other people”. Again, we will need to approach this through a vision of wisdom, not apocalypse. This is not a literalism that others are our torturer, though we all know someone who drives up a wall.

We have here a reminder of tendency to find our meaning in relationship to other people. What we understand of their meaning shapes our own to the point of always feeling their eye upon us, measuring us, judging us. This constraint amputates our own life that we might be received.

Our attempt to divinize Jesus, or any other, returns us to worminess when left to our own devices and traps us, even in an open and virtuous system. To be a follower, here, is to be caught in the context of our leader—a ritualistic religious system in an occupied country. At question is whether or not we are able to deal with present rituals and occupation in a freeing way or if we are so locked into an institutional model that we need to amputate significant portions of its once-parabolic nature and subsequent analogization.

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