Mark 1:27

They were all so amazed that they kept asking each other, “What is this? What is this, a new kind of teaching? He gives his commands with authority even to the foul spirits, and they obey him!”


Whaa . . .
Well I’ll be a monkey’s cousin
Just when I thought all settled
   law got graced
   certainty got cracked
   resignation got pricked
   circumference got expanded

So . . .
We’re not done yet
Thinking caps to the fore
   common sense is not primary
   inertia is for physics
   experience is generative
   givens aren’t

Now . . .
Questions re-abound
Response Abounds the more
   intersections are exponential
   twinkles are for eyes
   it is time to laugh again
   be ready to laugh again

By what authority would you chose to connect the word “authority” with “teaching” or with “command”. This word is a pivoting place.

Are we still battling the scribes and so authority further distinguishes what has begun rather than what is being carried on? Is this an expression of freedom to have agency when confronting breakages of spirit or plain old bullies?

When this question is resolved in favor of action being where authority lies, we can better see “teaching” here as a passive event or as a “doctrine”.

People might well ask if this episode reflects a new thought. It doesn’t. The newness here is in applying a creation-long learning, leaning, and bending toward mercy in a larger context than any current moment is ready to acknowledge.

In the disruptive work of Love Prevails we find that authority is usually connected with order. Order is a most prized teaching of an institution and where it runs into its first barrier against beginning again or returning to the energy of a movement. When a new application of an old teaching begins to take hold, an early response is “we don’t do it that way”.

This institutional convulsion of the people is as strong as that of the person here whose spirit has become clean, new. A difference is that an institutional church is stuck convulsing without entering into the urgency of another beginning.

Mark 1:26

The foul spirit threw the man into a fit, and with a loud cry came out from him.


unclean spirits
are not seen
in their recreation glory
only in their present discomfort

as with other unseens
we respond scream for scream
refusing a larger picture
settling for a pea in a bed

so we shake and shake
ourselves and others
to more clearly see
what our descendants will see

it is a coming out
that disappears an unseen
such revelation is for no purpose
beyond a sorting out for later

transforming unseen to clean
is a dramatic story
told and re-embellished
full of sound fury

now it is ours to use
to escape
a needed next shaking
care well for what is loosed


Shaken to our foundation we are called and call out for both relief and a source worthy of jumping from to land in a larger life. Conversion is convulsive.

This section nearly dismisses the person possessed by an external or internal compulsion or addiction in order to show command over whatever the times identify as outside nature, the demonic that divides a self from itself.

Positively, this moment describes the result of a decision to repent. A consequence of repentance is space opened that it may be able to be transformed to prevenient mercy toward others. This space may or may not arrive at a shift from wilderness to intentional partnership with all of creation—water, land, air, and energized/evolving beings. It is difficult to shift relationships from domination to mutual consent.

Negatively, human beings become but carriers for kind or mean spirits. Our significance is not in our being, but our representation of some either/or/both/and of good–evil.

A part of our work some two-thousand years later is to deal with whatever agitation lies within our lives. That which jerks us around needs confronting. To put off this confrontation at the Pettis Bridge, Stonewall Bar, Standing Rock, or a local setting is to give-in to a bully. Be thankful for the convulsions that transform caterpillar to butterfly, adolescent to adult, follower to messenger, meanness to kindness.

Mark 1:25

But Jesus rebuked the spirit, “Be silent! Come out from him.”


Silence
cries a wilderness breaker
there is no wilderness binary
to a created order

Come out
of this bi-lusion
see again a great deep
all names floating upon it

Enter
with renewed appreciation
every interface intersectioned
moments of ego aeons of time

Dance
every march to a center
each waltz beyond circumference
demon possessed angel nourished

Again
gyre to new perspective
navigating wild rivers
through a dusty empty


Note the difference you feel with another possible translation: “Jesus commanded, ‘Be still! Come out!’” Preference?

“Stop!” or “Shut-up!” are helpful synonyms for the muzzling language used here. Archie Bunker came close with his “Stifle yourself!” This same command will later be used in the stilling of a storm on a lake as well as a storm within a person.

Wildernesses are characterized by space we respond to by feeling alone, helpless. A contemporary word for this is “closeted”.

Many different personal identity characteristics have been used in a variety of cultures to let us know when we have overstepped status boundaries of the community. Limited understandings of gender, race, physical shapes, intelligence, nationality, economic worth, and sexual orientation have all had their time of being identified as a demon within the community even as here a demon is within an individual. Any location of the demonic is too small and reduces its perceiver to a carrier of demons.

We might wonder at some point about the salvation of that which is deemed demonic or if exclusion, exorcism, expulsion, and execution are the only options. Imagine silencing a culture’s discrimination so those who have been dismissed might emerge in a right mind rather than forced into the perversion of a closeting culture.

Wildernesses are inexplicable places where we can come to ourselves as well as closeted spaces in which to be lost.

Mark 1:24

“What do you want with us, Jesus the Nazarene? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are – the Holy One of God!”


belovedness freely enters a wilderness
inviting every crossed boundary
return from self-exile
receive fuller life

this is an alluring cast
into an unseen waterhole
bringing insatiable mouths
to a surprising banquet

habituated to everything that falls
they leap from bottom-feeding
without a clue they are still
at home and welcome

with knee-jerk regularity
their aggression turns to whine
how dare you enter us
in such a way that we enter you

complete destruction is the only outcome
for that is what we have come to do
speak now or forever hold another choice
until it loses motive and opportunity

you will take our meaning from us
we will force you to destroy us
and in so doing you destroy yourself
belovedness dies in killing     we will win


Where would you put “screamed”? Does it go with the accuser (end of verse 23 or with the accusation here in verse 24?

However you versify this, there is no getting away from our plural natures wherein we are in cahoots with powers and principalities fracturing community and also able to trust calls and visions that would bind us together. At first blush these would seem to be opposites requiring the destruction of the one by the other.

At the least this reveals a siege-feeling that leads us to defensive postures.

Where it is possible to put an exclamation point at the end of this verse, turning the closing phrase to an accusation, “You who think you are so holy!”, Mark probably means it as an extension of how an announcement of glad tidings comes into being.

Read here “one belonging to G*D”. Such be-longing (be-yearning) is related to be-loved (be-loving) and is practiced as partnership. This turns the exclamation point around—toward what it means to follow, embody, and further a beginning message about what a more compassionate, a less wilderness, today could be like.

Mark 1:23

Now there was in their synagogue at the time a man under the power of a foul spirit, who called out,


everywhere a scream erupts
we are thrown into original chaos
what’s happening to whom and why

the what of life brings no surprise
of course a scream     who wouldn’t
evil schmevil is immaterial

we have done to ourself
what others desired to do
we scream differently they scream

I have done to others the harm
I never would want for my own
their scream echoes my scream

even a road less traveled
carries a distant dirge
of what might have been

here in paradise we seek comfort
unavailable in any search for joy
though startled we still listen

whys and wherefores come ’round silent
in the presence of an authoritative scream
caught between creations


Into the middle of a debate about the limits of the law there is an urgent cry. To hear one cry is to begin hearing multiple cries.

What unclean, evil, spirit is behind a whimper of hunger, a wail of rape, a groan of murder, a sob of theft by fountain pen?

Churches have turned themselves into places of petty politeness by keeping all cries in the third-person. It is most surprising when an authentic cry appears in the midst of a time of formal instruction. Suddenly there is a rush of fear. Disorder is bad enough everywhere else we turn and now it is right here inside our place of holiness.

With temptations supposedly relegated to the physical wilderness outside, we are uncertain as to how to deal with a choice having been pressed upon us to heed a cry and engage it at the healing level or repress it and return to our routine. This very choice reveals how wild we have become.

As long as this seems to be a choice for us we know that our infighting when left alone and our inability to deal with being occupied are but two sides of the same coin—possession. We are now able to see how we have self-censored our freedom by not even hearing a cry in our midst, much less responding to it.

Mark 1:22

The people were amazed at his teaching, for he taught them like one who had authority, and not like the teachers of the Law.


teaching with restraint
brings an authority
based on not saying
more than is known

teaching with authorities
brings a limit
based on repeating
authoritative lessons

authority builds on revealing questions
based on actual service
pairing understanding to new creation
far beyond common sense

authorities require their perks
privileged right and righteousness
circling agreed upon answers
denying alternatives

teaching according to tomorrow
avoids echo chambers
expresses itself through a way of variety
bringing art to life

teaching by way of yesterday
has consistency down to a fine art
patterned with mathematical certainty
never crossing an intuited axiom

only authority can question authority
with an increasingly sharp
you’ve hear it said        but
mentioned in a quiet tone


Authority (ἐξουσία) is better understood as “freedom” to act. Where others are confined by the traditions, rituals, and lines of power, Jesus works within, dumbfounding people with a redefinition of what is lawful.

To be competent in current case law makes one vulnerable to misperceive needed shifts in a culture’s meaning. This is one of the difficulties of institutions in every time.

One place of tension is the authoritative freedom needed to translate “kingdom” into a better descriptor of what it means to partner with G*D and Neighb*r.

In an increasingly crude culture that takes more pleasure in destroying others than in working with them, the question of freedom to do good is a difficult one to come to terms with. Focusing on what can be done together restricts options for only short-term, winner-takes-all victors are judged worthy of being followed. Freedom exposes the wilderness we have created and power can’t abide this revelation.

Mark 1:21

They walked to Capernaum. On the next Sabbath Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach.


we are always moving
between our separations
fishers
even corporate fishers
live on chaotic waters
becalmed     stormed     working
ashore it is mending time
nets     bodies     boats
active elements recuperating

another day another vocation
same tasks under different guise
folks
especially called folks
live in connected waters
gates     markets     temples
in cities it’s meeting time
questions     testings     responses
deeper elements released

and still today syn-ing
syncing synthesizing syn-kyrosing
creations
simply new creations
live alongside chaotic connections
active     awaiting     new acts
wherever silence calms obsession
breath     sigh     ahh
quiet elements received


Characteristic of a movement is a sense of urgency and energy available to move to places where commitment can be demonstrated. At the first opportunity for a structured gathering (Sabbath), Jesus and followers move toward that opportunity (synagogue).

A synagogue, as a place of non-sacrificial assembly, opens the consideration of alternatives, of local option and contextual variants. A rote process of bleeding and burning animals, each according to the law’s letter, does not provide options.

When ritual strictness is set aside there is an opportunity for raising pertinent questions—teaching. Here we don’t need to detail the teachings as they will vary from synagogue to synagogue depending on their context and history of engagement with the cultural realities around them.

It is fruitful to reflect on how to assist a wide variety of people to leave the trap of fatalism that all we have is a promise of a plan that someday will rescue us. This reminds us that kairos time is always proved in its immediacy, in its doing. This will later aid Jesus-followers to make “good messaging” visible through their living. Likewise, their eventual ability to change direction from follower to leader will encourage similar μετανοέω (metanoia, “repentance”) in others.

Mark 1:20

Jesus called them at once, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the crew, and went after him.


in any given moment
calls are heard
	dismissed
responses are risked
	ignored

never before or again
this call comes
	detoured
that response continues
	lost

always again and yet
a call clarifies
	confused
a response specifies
	defused

for now and still now
called
	to hire on
responded
	by quitting

ancestors are bereft
calls defeat traditions
	heresy
responses break bonds
	exile

descendants are freed
calls accumulate
	on shoulders
responses ease
	rolled away

Discipleship is not solitary. At the least it includes a community of learners.

Established fishing companies such as Zebedee and Sons with partners and workers may be poor in the eyes of conquering Rome and the religious leaders in Jerusalem, but are appreciated in the local community.

We are looking at community stalwarts, not naïve cult-followers. Simon, Andrew, James, and John are of an age where they look for meaning beyond financial security. They would be part of the equivalent in their day of Lunch Counter Sit-Ins, Stonewall Riots, Occupy Wall Street, and Black Lives Matter,.

There is also no reason to suspect that they were not supported, both morally and financially, by their families.

However, at this point there is not much other way to describe followers of John and Jesus than as cultists. We might also call them early-adapters.

The zeal required to follow a leader in the context of Roman occupied Palestine and previous failed revolts also carries blindered vision. The important thing is being present, a true-believer, and uncritical in recognizing any dissonance between strategy and tactics.

We will see how followers of Jesus are found by Mark to be a bit slow on the uptake. They get the healing ministry and its financial opportunities, but anything that would make them uncomfortable, such as suffering and dying, comes later.

Mark 1:19

Going on a little further, he saw James, Zebedee’s son, and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets.


there is no end
to inviting and being invited
for a next step
guaranteed to complexify
and simplify a journey

every Tom John and James
every Mary Mary and Mary
added brings drains
on energy and time
choices false and intriguing

one less TV reality show to watch
one less book to creatively underline in blue
one less dollar to pile up in a pension
one less conversation featuring empathy
one less page written for the ages

a community can only hold
three hundred before splitting
there seems to be no lower limit
as we’ll even do ourself in
in-tension-ally invite a repairer of networks


It is time to double down on the net imagery. Mark sets Simon and Andrew in the foreground work of fishing the Sea of Galilee, casting nets. Now James and John are doing the background work of fixing nets that were damaged in previous casts.

Both casting and mending take a great deal of energy and diligence. It is not difficult to understand why a call beyond would not have an immediate response. At the same time, established fishers were not landless peasants. This relative success does raise questions about how easy it would be to leave a lucrative, even if difficult, profession.

What beside seeing the current wilderness of occupation and loss of resources through taxation tribute would elicit such a quick, even BANG, of a decision?

Those called know their current political reality. They also have their own fantasies such as becoming the wingmen for Jesus when the revolution comes. Were they joining a Holy Club (though Mark goes on to disabuse readers of their ability to learn even the handshake)?

The reader knows of a realized theosis of Jesus but the characters are often in the dark and off balance with Jesus’ evident fame as a healer and his resistance to trade in healing to elevate his status. Why doesn’t he charge? Why isn’t he Surgeon General for Tetrarch Herod?

Mark 1:18

They left their nets at once, and followed him.


readiness
assent or resistance
to a presumed arrangement
needing but a nod more
requiring body and soul

in ordinary times
our assent is automatic
solidifying a status quo
confirming all is a need be
a comfort an opiod

there is no easy way
through a soft web
resplendent in bread and circuses
slowing both thought and reaction
only resistance

in ordinary tasks
known to the nth degree
proceeding mindlessly
one more opportunity
to breathe a deeper breath

with everything to lose
staring us in the face
we affirm our invasive species-ness
in an unknown here and there
as we shall be and where


Immediacy, urgency, is available to us. It can lead us into our own wilderness.

Whether we think we understand where hitching our life to a star will lead (fantasize prosperity, fame, honor) or not, to leave the known behind is to leave behind any semblance of control. This is as good a definition of wilderness as there is.

If Simon and Andrew were Bedouins they would be asked to leave their herds behind to be herders of people.

Fishers and herders will both find wilderness in following an announcement of change and growth. Fisher folk will experience desert thirst and herders feel they are drowning.

In today’s world, changing jobs has become the expectation. A challenge for an institution is to affirm its own change and growth. This means affirming that every task its members have lived within or trained for needs a larger perspective of leaving usual expectations behind in order to participate in those tasks as a way of sharing a larger vision and changed relationships.

Watching masters of their craft is a joy. We begin to see that their work has been to make their work so natural that they can play within its limits. They take their proficiency both with a light and diligent hand. It is their joy to practice their craft. The practice of sharing good news is both joyful and freeing.