may be present
As the 2nd Trump impeachment trial continues, I found interesting connections with this section of Kazantzakis’ “Last Temptation of Christ.” [Chapter 28]
= = = = = = =
Jacob had already become reconciled to the Rabbi’s [Jesus’] death and was spinning in his mind what they would do when they were left on earth without him.
“We cannot oppose God’s will and the will of our master. As the prophets tell us, Rabbi, it is your duty to die, ours to live: to live so that the words you spoke shall not perish. We’ll establish them firmly in new Holy Scriptures, we’ll make laws, build our own synagogues and select our own high priests, Scribes and Pharisees.”
Jesus was terrified. “You crucify the spirit, Jacob,” he shouted. “No, no, I don’t want that!”
“This is the only was we can prevent the spirit from turning into air and escaping,” Jacob countered.
“But it won’t be free anymore; it won’t be spirit!”
“That doesn’t matter. It will look like spirit. For our work, Rabbi, that’s sufficient.”
A cold sweat flowed over Jesus….
Jesus, despairing, lifted his hands. He seemed to be asking for help. “I shall send you the Comforter, the spirit of truth. He will guide you.”
“Send us the Comforter quickly,” John cried, “so that we won’t be led astray and fail to find you again, Rabbi!”
Jacob shook his hard, obstinate head. “It too—this spirit of truth you’re talking about—it too will be crucified. You must realize, Rabbi, that the spirit will be crucified as long as men exist. But it doesn’t matter. Something is always left behind, and that, I tell you, is enough for us.”
“It’s not enough for me!” Jesus shouted in despair.
a forehead slap
a dance continues
a next story
A week ago, I noted the distinction between a plural you and a singular you and how that shows up in relation to communal freedom and individual freedom. Of course, there is more than what circles out from the rock of “you” to other particular identities in our common pond. If you have access to Hulu, you can see some of that in the current film, “In and of Itself.”
A related issue to Freedom is Control and Authority. These also come in communal and individual forms. Our challenge is to manage their relationship in our life, so there is a healthy balance between them. One of the places this becomes more evident is with facial recognition that tends toward centralized control that forces sublimation of our identity until it is disappeared. Central control reminds me of the problematic movie “Brazil.” Watch it as far as you can.
In parallel with the old slogan, “Question authority!” we also need to ask what it means to “Control authority.”
Tomorrow the official 2nd impeachment of Donald Trump begins. It will show how authority can be misused and how difficult it is for people to maintain their own sense of control and authority separate from their tribal allegiance. This will be true on both sides as the issue of holding to one’s authority, and control of their integrity is always fraught with any number of reasons to either go along or become passive, and these are not the same.
There is no avoiding questions of social control, we are communal creatures, and any threat of exile from systems we have grown into is often enough met with turning that reality into unconsciousness. This is a source of resistance to rethink the limits of control and ask a new question. I know I have not been independent enough of my social position to this point and will continue to stumble in whatever time remains. Nonetheless, I expect to continue poking at the fantasies involved with univalent analyses, either external social or internal psyche.
Simultaneously playing the pendulum game of always being on the counter beat leaves us unmoored and irrelevant. This is the effect of focusing overmuch on personal control. We have no traction to add the benefit we have to offer because we don’t know the vernacular around us and cannot speak to the situation before us.
To control ourself when the world around has gone crazy is an appealing thought, but it turns out it mostly results in our being the one judged to be the nincompoop. To attempt to control the system within which we swim is unrealistic and wearying to the point of compassion fatigue.
There is no answer in these persistent quandaries. However, a response is required. Support to respond is available wherever we find a community willing to engage in clarifying the relationships between You and You, competing Freedoms, Authorities, Controls, and honest Questions facing big Lies. Blessings on your week of exploring one layer deeper into life’s onion.
Throughout the Midwest came warning about essential driving. A major snowstorm covering several states at a time was predictable and did arrive. It turned out the expectation of multi-vehicle accidents arrived on schedule and resulted in hours and hours of delay.
It turns out that essential travel is quite mutable. My desire to move on is essential, and your desire is not.
The question of a day’s delay seems not to have a place to land. A desire, not always recognizable, has come to mean it must be fulfilled. Passion has become the contemporary arbiter of “freedom.” A delay or denial of a desire is tantamount to a reason to break solidarity with one another and claim a privileged position or power.
Along with a right to travel in a windy whiteout comes easy access to plausible deniability and a first strike of blame. If we had been alone on the road, there wouldn’t have been a pile-up demanding evasive action and becoming stuck in a ditch.
Since we do not have the power to claim independence when roads are obviously constructed communally, it can only be said that we are a particularly myopic people.
In the tenor of the day – it must be that we were conspired against. Otherwise, we wouldn’t now be sitting here awaiting a long-overdue tow truck to get us on our way and into a next, surprise!, delay.
“Snow falls and builds up around the righteous and the unrighteous” – there is no special dispensation. May it sometime come to this: A recognition of no-exemption from the consequences of entitlement is a warning bell leading to a rethinking of desire’s limits.
for some amount
to enter in
as a known point
sets communal danger
against individual peril
concern for others
as the only
a weighted choice
a common sense
the more secure
the better for me
the old adage
of keeping enemies
Freedom is brought down by freedom.
One of the failures of translating the Bible into English is the inability to easily or smoothly indicate a difference between a plural “you” and a singular “you”.
This parallels a distinction between communal “freedom” and individual “freedom”.
A declaration or constitution of a regional freedom from a colonial power does offer some increase of opportunity for individual freedom. In such a case, personal freedom or liberty is subsumed under the communal. A liberty to subvert the freedom of the larger community/nation is still labeled as treason.
Over time the United States has belied its claim to a unity that keeps it engaged with and free from the sway of other nations. It remains independent from other nations but reliant upon a unified citizenry (not unified in priorities but in process and common sources of evaluation, e.g., a majority of votes wins an election).
Little-by-little, the issue of freedom has devolved from a nation’s common vision to that of individual desires or individual state biases. It is now “my” freedom that takes precedence over “our” freedom.
This gradual shift eventually caused an internal discord that hollows out a sense of general welfare or common good and leaves no coherent substance for a defense of the freedom of the plurality.
Of course, plural freedom can be oppressive. Still, when denied as irrelevant in the face of individual liberty, such as claiming “religious” freedom to avoid a communal norm, we lose an important point of balance and topple inward and downward.
before they are present
is taught sideways
before any encounter
does assist survival
even as it constrains
a new thought
is a new person
entering the group
do not go quietly
daytime or dark
and rail as they go
every coping skill
I was fortunate enough to attend a Zoom version of the Lyons Lecture series of First United Methodist Church in Madison, Wisconsin. David Galston, Executive Director of the Westar Institute (Jesus Seminar and more), included material about parables.
It is always good to be reminded that parables do not have a single or eternal meaning but come out of nowhere and leave unresolved, except how we complete them in our lives.
I posed a question, “What parable would people in the United States of America do well to attend to over the next four years?”
David pointed to Thomas 97:
The [Father’s] imperial rule is like a woman who was carrying a [jar] full of meal. While she was walking along [a] distant road, the handle of the jar broke and the meal spilled behind her [along] the road. She didn’t know it; she hadn’t noticed a problem. When she reacher her house, she put the jar down and discovered that it was empty.
His reflection indicated that this would be applicable in Western cultures, generally. The U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand all have tragedies in their relationship with Indigenous people, and all capitalist-based countries have disasters caused by their economic model. These and other results of their preferences for their elites are as tragic as the loss of the woman’s meal that was sustenance for her and hers. Such life-threatening situations have no miraculous ending that can be expected (unlike the old story of Elijah and the Widow). They are tragedies, pure and simple. He also included the climate and xenophobia in the tragedies that must be faced and recovered from. Essentially, we are called to do the hard work of improvising our way through our tragedies without any expectation of a miracle escape.
I commend this parable to you for periodic reflection over these next years as the hidden costs of past failures finally, belatedly, tragically surface.