Stories of Subversion

The Author and Maker SEZ to submit to the people whom He has ordained, assigned, and positioned in authority over us. The Maker SEZ, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

BUT, if you are keen on your commitment to disobey God, and if you’re looking for counsel regarding rigorous and robust strategies for carrying out a successful coup d’état then you’d be shrewd to consult the work ethic and wiles of a chap named Absalom. “That sounds like an old fashioned name” you say? Well it is, and before we go any further I’d advise you to set aside your prejudice against history, and dress down your biased belief that “newer is always better.” In my opinion, many of the old names need to make a resurgence, and it’s simply an objective fact that many of the old ways are far superior to the practices of modernity. At any rate, if you’re really serious about being insubordinate, then go all in (for goodness sake, at least have the decency to work hard at your rebellion …if for no other reason, because the next generation needs examples of serious striving and shrewdness to follow! [see Luke 16:1-9]).

Step 1: Contrive a show of power. I know what you’re thinking, “I don’t have any power!” That’s beside the point. You don’t actually need any real power. It’s a mere SHOW of power (Absalom got himself a chariot and horses, and fifty men to run before him) …it’s an exaggeration, it’s a fabrication, it’s the 7 year old boy who pushes his bicep up with his finger to make his muscles look bigger, it’s puffing out your chest, it’s all the “like-worthy” stuff you post on facebook, it’s the filters you apply on instagram, it’s dramatization, embellishment, and hyperbole.

Step 2: Be an early riser (Absalom used to rise early and stand beside the way of the gate). If you’ve ever scene the musical How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying then you know that the main thing is to simply be the first one to arrive at the place where important things happen. Certainly, you do well to have a game plan (more on that in a moment), but if you did nothing else besides be the first to arrive you’re already well on your way.

Step 3: Sow seeds of discontent (And when any man had a dispute to come before the king for judgment, Absalom would call to him and say, “From what city are you?” And when he said, “Your servant is of such and such a tribe in Israel,” Absalom would say to him, “See, your claims are good and right, but there is no man designated by the king to hear you.”). Here’s where your hard work is really going to start paying off (you’ll see instant results!). Here’s what you do… Log on to any social media site, scan for victim mentalities, whining, grumbling, complaining, etc. (it shouldn’t take but 0.2 seconds …unless your internet connection is slow, in which case you need to stop whatever you’re doing and compose a grievance tweet about it). Then simply throw as much victimization validation fuel on their bellyache fire as you can. Flirt with their sense of having been wronged, and in this way you will flatter them into following you to the land of discontentment.

Step 4: Suggest a successor (Then Absalom would say, “Oh that I were judge in the land! Then every man with a dispute or cause might come to me, and I would give him justice.”). Now here’s where the really challenging part of your job begins; because while it is easy to arouse an angry mob, it’s nerve-racking to take on the responsibility of leading rabble (the very nature of the beast is erratic unmitigated madness and instability). But this is what you signed up for! Play the man, and do your job! Cheer up, the entire enterprise is doomed to fail, so you might as well give’em a good show!

Step 5: Seduce and sedate with “support” (And whenever a man came near to pay homage to him, Absalom would put out his hand and take hold of him and kiss him). Keep in mind that your whole campaign is a fraud, and you don’t actually have anything of substance to offer, but people are always happy to hear the words “I support you.” So you’ve really only got one move …seduce and sedate via feigned support. Of course it’s all a sham, but the show must go on. No doubt it will be a short-lived show, but it’s the path of the pirate (So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel).

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If you’re still reading this, then perhaps it’s because you’re disgusted with yourself for thinking, speaking, and acting like an Absalom. That’s good! Presumption and pretense are joyless paths, and we do well to be repulsed by our attraction to such trails. But beyond being horrified by the Absalom living in the hollows of our hearts, is there any hope? Well …there is actually a substantive and savor-worthy story of subversion.

If you’re still reading this, then I assume it is because you are curious to hear the substantive story of subversion.

Once upon a time (the fullness of time actually) there was an invasion. It wasn’t the invasion of an army …it was actually just one man. This man bypassed the show of power option in favor of entering the world silently and in secret. Like all good secrets, there were a only a handful of people who knew about his presence (his parents, some sleazy shepherd types, and some wealthy astrologers). He was an early riser, but his goal wasn’t to greet at the gate and seduce people with sham support; he woke early to seek solitude, and have private and personal conversations with his father. He did sow seeds, but not the seeds of discontent; rather, he championed submission and said that people should count others more significant than themselves. He was not a man of timid suggestion and wobbly “if only” statements; when it came to his status, he confidently told people that he was King of kings, and his agenda was – in no uncertain terms – to bind the ruler of this world and plunder his house. His plan for pulling this off? …Smallness, serving, suffering, and sacrifice. The support he offered was not of the insidious seduction variety, and his comfort was not that of senseless sedation. His help is found in the sobriety and substance of a cursed Roman crucifixion, and his answer to our dispute with death and darkness is resurrection.

Accusations and Investigations

He harbors bitterness and accusations against me.

Seething hatred and disdain wafts from his demeanor.

His countenance condemns me.

I ask him why he hates me? He attempts to dodge the question. I squeeze him for an answer (probably because of my lust for approval and validation more than for the loving – God honoring – principles of Matthew 18). He makes an accusation.

@ this point I must strive hard to cease being me (chasing aggressively after objectivity – and fighting like hell for humility —> these are worthwhile endeavors to be fought for with zeal). Now the investigation can begin. I must be sure to always bring in eyes besides my own for such things! I must beseech the help of the supernaturalists in the rigors of the investigation. I must employ the eyes and ears of the faithful, the devoted, and the repenters who know what to look for! It’s probably not a bad idea to grab a 3rd party ‘relationally neutral’ skeptic (e.g. like Andrew MacPhee). It is wisdom to honestly ask them to search my heart, my motives, my actions, my words …and certainly I must have them thoroughly consider the formal charge/accusation. If after a thorough investigation we find the charges to be unsubstantiated then I am wise to simply drop the charges and commit the entire affair to the God of infinitely wise mercy and vengeance. Much like Orual reading her complaint – I have the liberty to give my accuser this opportunity to make a formal complaint. If there is fault in me, then the complaint will be processed accordingly …and if the complaint is groundless or asinine then the WORST thing I could possibly do is DEFEND MYSELF (this is absolutely NOT my forte!).

 

*If such investigation, however originating, should result in raising a strong presumption of the guilt of the party [TYLER] involved, the court shall institute process, and shall appoint a prosecutor to prepare the indictment and to conduct the case. This prosecutor shall be a member of the court, except that in a case before the Session, he may be any communing member of the same congregation with the accused.

*A note on communing membership – – – > anyone who partakes of the body and blood of Jesus is essentially answering “I am” to the question “What is the biggest problem in the world?”

The original and only parties in a case of process are the accuser and the accused. The accuser is always the Presbyterian Church in America, whose HONOR and PURITY are to be maintained. The prosecutor, whether voluntary or appointed, is always the representative of the Church, and as such has all its rights in the case.

Every indictment shall begin: “In the name of the Presbyterian Church in America,” and shall conclude, “against the peace, unity and purity of the Church, and the honor and majesty of the Lord Jesus Christ, as the King and Head thereof.In every case the Church is the injured and accusing party, against the accused.

 

*An injured party shall not become a prosecutor of personal offenses without having tried the means of reconciliation and of reclaiming the offender, required by Christ.

“Moreover, if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother but if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established” (Matthew 18:15-16).

A church court, however, may judicially investigate personal offenses as if general when the interest of religion seem to demand it. So, also, those to whom private offenses are known cannot become prosecutors without having previously endeavored to remove the scandal by private means.

There are many cases in which it will promote the interests of religion to send a committee to converse in a private manner with the offender, and endeavor to bring him to a sense of his guilt, before instituting actual process.

*Great caution ought to be exercised in receiving accusations from any person who is known to indulge a malignant spirit towards the accused; who is not of good character; who is himself under censure or process; who is deeply interested in any respect in the conviction of the accused; or who is known to be litigious, rash or highly imprudent.

Every voluntary prosecutor shall be previously warned, that if he fail to show probable cause of the charges, he may himself be censured as a slanderer of the brethren.

6:29; 15:5

11twenty-nine—>#Yoked

2 Hauntings: Hate-Worthy Hauntings VS Holy Hauntings

HOLINESS IS A RELATIONSHIP (e.g. Yoked—>11:29)

FAITH IS RECEPTIVITY (e.g. 6:29; 15:5) …*Active Passivity.

Mr. Saul was ‘religious’ …meaning he always tried to incorporate a little of what “God would like” into his weekly existence. He was very careful never to “go overboard” or “too far” with this, for he feared what people might think (…he had seen what happened to those who became “extreme” and/or “radical” in their devotion to the LORD, and he was decidedly ambitious to avoid that kind of reputation). Mr. Saul knew a lot about the art of negotiating (bartering and bargaining was his business!), and this was essentially his operating system for all of life (including his interactions with the Almighty). He thought that if he enacted a smattering of the religious rituals God prescribed then he could reasonably expect certain “blessings” from God in return. It was a fairly straightforward transactional approach, and it had always ‘worked’ for him in every other sphere of life.

Mr. Saul knew he needed to “feel bad” about sin, so he dutifully vocalized shame over his shortcomings, but he never (under any circumstance) risked getting specific about his improprieties. He was, as a matter of fact, deeply ashamed of his chronic racist thoughts, and he was downright embarrassed by most of the lustful fantasies that lept into his mind …but he wouldn’t dare confess such things. His religion never matured beyond the merely generic and nonspecific. He was truly conservative in his personal practice of confessing sin.

Mr. Saul feed his soul a steady diet of materialism and pity-parities; and thus it became increasingly critical for him to have numerous escape routes and avenues for feeling himself to be the victim in any given situation. Life felt increasingly and chronically overwhelming to him, and having dismissed the help of any real/substantive mediation for specific personal sins – Mr. Saul was now entirely dependent on himself for protection and validation. Self-preservation and self-justification was the summation and primary determination of his life.

Imaginatively Inhabiting the Bible

Savor – that’s the Word – that’s the vision – that’s the mission – – – Savoring the Auctor and Perfector – – – Savoring the WoG! …the WoG that incarnated, and sought with all His heart to do the will of God like a deer panting for water …like a starving man striving for food!

To subversively counter the disaffected former ‘readers’ and the simply indifferent and negligent. To reclaim grounds and lands and continents of confidence via IMAGINATIVELY INHABITING! To subvert the plausibility of “Bibleless Christianity.” To subvert mammon idolatry and quantitative analysis junkies. To subvert the pragmatists and utilitarianites. To subvert the paradigm of the Scriptures regressing from seldom used to never used, and from rarely thought about to completely forgotten …from the WoG being lost to us as much as if it had ceased to exist. To subversively plant Words in our minds and hearts …in the marrow of our being …in our souls! To find ourselves reading as poets and artists …and with these bold, unlicensed scavengers ask, “What moves me here? What can I use?”

To resist (believing in resistance) and act in sundry ways subversive to: high-tech distraction and buzz – the buzz that forbids me to hear my own thoughts, let alone the voice of God. To resist the dark power that would make Bible-reading one more casualty of this relentless assault on contemplation and the inner-life. To resist the information deluge that has now arrived – and hating with all my heart the scenario wherein the Bible vanishes with barely a ripple.

To delight in the fact that reading the Bible is the most subversive thing a person can do in the tech-centered “information” deluge. The Bible rebukes hollow technology and exploitive policies, as well as the wistful adherents of “Bibleless Christianity.” The Bible cut against the grain, subversive and radically countercultural.

To join the resistance and relish the truth that – – – > the political is NOT ultimate. And to understand that – the belief that it is ultimate is why so many conversations on almost any topic so quickly degenerate into debates between conservative and liberal political agendas. Often people talk, even in Christian circles, as if the only way to really change the world is to engage in political activity. That real change, if it occurs, will begin with a  political movement of some kind. But that is mistaken, a form of idolatry. Politics is always downstream from the culture. …Relishing the fact that change (TGB) comes from ordinary people being faithful in the ordinary and routine of daily life. And grasping (really KNOWING) that this faithful presence is as essential for cultural transformation as scholars developing ideas and artists making art. The Gospel (the advancement and expansion of the Kingdom of Heaven) really begins to be seen in the grace of God fleshed out in the story of history and int he history of my life.

We are drawn to stories not just because they are entertaining, but because stories help us make sense of life in our beautiful, bewildering, and badly broken world. This is why children are instinctively drawn to storytellers.

…We are drawn in – because stories follow a trajectory that reflects our experience of life in a broken world. Stories include an element of tension that must be resolved, and in doing so, echo the deep yearning we have for redemption from the alienation, fragmentation, failure, and disappointment that always lurks in the shadows, bringing tension that we cannot escape.

“Creation, fall, redemption, and restoration is not an exotic doctrinal nicety that Christians believe as a matter of ritual. Rather, it is a definition of the reality in which all human beings live and move and have their being.”

Story is essential to human life …it’s the way we try to make sense of things in a broken world. STORIES are how the perennial questions of existence are considered and explored.

“Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation. In its arguable most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathize with humans whose experiences we have never shared.” – J.K. Rowling

“Trying to understand another person (i.e. really listening to their story) is one of the most profound forms of love.” – Vern Poythress

#ImaginativelyInhabit!

Conversation w/ Jesus

It’s 29 A.D. You walk up to Jesus and ask Him, “What is the first element on the periodic table?” Jesus stares back at you blankly. Jesus turns to someone near Him and says something in a language you don’t understand (probably Aramaic).

Just then you get a text message from a friend who likes to debate a lot and “be right” about stuff talked about and discussed (i.e. not so much known for being a doer, but definitely known for talking). And – at that very moment (coincidence of coincidences) – he wants to know your thoughts about The Humanity of JesusHOW human was/is Jesus? Was Jesus really FULLY, thoroughly, human?

pause: how do you have cell phone reception at this moment? [that’s a footnote-esque question just for fun].

Somehow your question about the first element on the periodic table gets translated into a language that Jesus actually speaks (because He certainly did not know the English language!). And now – the moment of truth – Jesus gives you His answer – – – > “I don’t know.”

Jesus did not know that in 1869 Russian chemist Dimitri Mendeleev started the development of the periodic table, arranging chemical elements by atomic mass. He predicted the discovery of other elements, and left spaces open in his periodic table for them. And Jesus did not know that Dimitri would settle hydrogen as the first element on the periodic table.

Apollinarianism is the heresy [proposed by Apollinaris of Laodicea …died 390] that Jesus could not have had a human mind; rather, Jesus had a human body and lower soul (the seat of the emotions) but a divine mind.
Did you know that – – – > the explanation for Jesus’ miracles is NOT His divinity …the explanation for the miracles of Jesus is The Holy Spirit!

Risk Leads to Responsibility

Adventure leads to ‘boredom’

Rivers lead to the ocean!

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& speaking of the ocean …Jomebadesius was reading the story of Job, and he commented, “God gave Job into the hand of Satan, but Satan is never not in the hand of God. The massive gravity (which is never not all-encompassing and always powerfully supreme over all of us on earth) of God governs the goings and doings of all (which is to say ALL) who are inescapably subordinate (never to be graduated from subjugation). *The boy who is placed by his beloved on board an enemy vessel does well to meditate on the fact that his beloved owns (and has authored) the ocean! …and is in fact absolutely sovereign ore the enemy’s boat as well – even if it should somehow travel in realms other than the ocean.”

Childbirth & Photography

When people say, “Give it to God in prayer,” or “I need to pray about that stressful and complicated situation” their view of prayer is typically too tame. Giving a stressful situation to God is like giving birth to a child. You must push, there is wincing and screaming, there is passion and pain …and there is sweet relief and authentic joy.

You could be the world’s best photographer. You could be the most expert darkroom technician. You could present entire albums of astonishing photos to a person; each photo masterfully captured and developed. But if the viewer is blind they won’t see any of it. For all their beauty, the pictures will go utterly unappreciated by those who don’t have eyes to see them. One the other hand, a toddler who shares poorly taken pictures on a disposable camera that were developed at Walgreens will have his mother’s undivided attention and awe!

Prayers that Rage

Rage. It’s okay. At least it can be. God says to me that it is true that raging in prayer is not only okay, but it is commanded. To ask God to curse evil is a good thing. Evil deserved (i.e. it is OWED) God’s wrath! Pleading with God to destroy evil …that is the essence of keep me from temptation and deliver me from evil! Evil is something that I want to be delivered from because it is repulsive and utterly deserving of God’s wrath and infinite displeasure.

But these prayers Jar My Sensitivities!? Indeed …in large part because you have indwelling sin still in you, the monster in the hollows has not be utterly eradicated. Though the death blow has been dealt the monster writhes. But didn’t Jesus tell us to love our enemies, and pray for those who persecute us!? Indeed …& we must see (and SAVOR) that these heartfelt pleadings of the pray-er to persecute the wickedness that persecutes the people of God are in NO WAY inconsistent with that command of Jesus!

The key is to know with all our hearts WHO owns vengeance? Vengeance is NOT a personal, autonomous, individualistic plan for selfish-sinner vindication. Imagine Saul in 1 Samuel 22 seeing the language of Psalm 109 …and it is not hard at all to picture him saying, “Yes! this is precisely my problem …I’m being bullied by David, and nobody loves me.” However, I believe that Saul would leave out verse 4 (and no doubt a few other verses as well), because some of the verses are simply too hard to retain while maintaining a sense of self-earned-&-realized autonomy.

The ppl of God MUST cry for God’s vengeance against atrocities and the autonomous lies that gave rise to them. The people of God MUST NOT diminish the depth of darkness and agony – for that would be do dilute the power of the cross and cheapen grace!

Outrage is a gift of God. The non-Holy-Spirit inhabited person (the person w/o the redeeming influence) does not know what wickedness is …that person doesn’t have right ears and eyes (and we would all be that person if it were not God’s mere good pleasure to adopt some into His family out of the darkness). The “enlightened” person does not glare at the darkness, because the darkness is fine (or fine-ish) for all who dwell in darkness – – – their outrage is not aimed at the darkness …it is aimed at the light!

 

Contemporary readers, particularly those in more affluent societies, can allow these prayers to help them enter the suffering life of the people of God, to transport them from their relative ease into the ghastly suffering and consternation of persons who have been uprooted, mocked, or abused. These prayers awaken the conscience to the human cry for redress, the cosmic demand for moral order and justice. They can lead one to feel as deeply as one ought the horrendous insult to Yahweh and his creation perpetrated by those who lie and cheat and kill and abuse and blaspheme. Made callous by exposure to continual evil, one may lose the sense of outrage these evils deserve, whether done to us or to others or to God. These prayers awaken that outrage, which is to be offered to God and which motivates to redemptive action.

Excerpt from the Letter to Ma & Pa

#2 – This excerpt from Carl Honore’’s book Praise of Slowness, “Fast is busy, controlling, aggressive, hurried, analytical, stressed, superficial, impatient, active, quantity-over-quality. Slow is the opposite: calm, careful, receptive, still, intuitive, unhurried, patient, reflective, quality-over-quantity. It is about making real and meaningful connections – with people, culture, work, food, everything.” #3 – From Denis Haack (Critique Magazine), “Being inundated with information leads to unhappiness. …Being bombarded by news 24/7, and having immediate, all-the-time, access to information breeds misery.” Denis quotes David Brooks, saying, “Many of us consume ‘political’ news and commentary in a concupiscent sort of way – voluntarily subjecting ourselves to gratuitous information and stimuli. The unhappiness results speak for themselves. Our mood is affected most by the news we most consume.” Denis ends the article by saying, “Part of the difficulty is that no one wants to appear ‘uninformed,’ and so we assume the problem is not in the situation but in our weakness. Both turn out to be mistaken ideas.”