Monday, April 13, 2009


Sarah brings us the following from Dorothee Soelle:
The insight that the way to God in Jewish thought leads via the
neighbor, that is to say, via the woman next door who gets on my
nerves and always listens to the wrong music, is one of Judaism’s
greatest gifts to humanity. I believe in that but also with the desire
that my neighbor who reads nothing but the tabloids will someday also
enter the way to God...
Radical humanism has its own language difficulties. It
cannot pray and cannot wish for more than what seems possible. But we
all need the “more” we call transcendence. We need a guarantor of the
rights of the poor, the superfluous and disabled, a guarantor that is
greater than our reckoning. In that sense, we are all incurable,
“religious.” It is an illness we cannot get rid of in the life of
industriousness.

21 comments:

shirley said...

today i read a billboard on the front of a presbyterian church which said 'tolerance means having reverence for everybody'. i have been thinking about it all afternoon. this reminded me of it too.

Stephen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jdaviddark said...

Hi Stephen.

Gordon said...

Hello! this not a comment? Am a friend of Stocki's and would like to email you about art and propaganda afterlistening to your keynote at FFM 2007

Thanks. gordon@ashbridge.demon.co.uk

jdaviddark said...

We aren't strangers, Gordon.
Look in your inbox

shirley said...

hi stephen. when i said i was thinking about that quote, i really meant i was having all sorts of thoughts about it. it really threw me and i'm still not sure what i think about it. having reverence for everybody. it kind of frightens me to think about that, about what it might mean. still mulling it over...

Anonymous said...

David, if we'd like to have you come and speak at Southern Nazarene University, how can we contact you about a speaking engagement? please respond to hubb76@hotmail.com. Thankx!

Stephen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Bazan said...

my man, stephen!
it may be a little odd for me to be the one saying this, but jesus clearly asks you to forfeit your own life in service to others, esp those of a differing tribe or viewpoint. also, dude, don't forget "if you do it/ don't do it to the least of these, you've done it/ not done it unto me".
if you take several of jesus' teachings into account at once, a strong case could be made that it is not possible to revere him without revering your neighbor/enemy (namely everybody). in fact that may be the only way in which you can revere jesus at all.
it sounds very darkian, i know, but what are you gonna do?

shirley said...

yes. 'revere' is such a strong word though. i have such a difficulty with this sort of thing. sometimes it feels like duty to god and duty to humanity clashes in this way: love your enemies, do good to those who hurt you. that might be fine for me, it might be fine for god, but how does it fit with building a just society? i still don't really get that and i suppose it comes down to defining reverence/love. i am really loathe to say 'revere everyone' when i feel the weight and complexity of such a statement. everyone? really everyone? how?

shirley said...

and having just read the dorothy soelle quote again, 'it's an illness' seems very fitting :) i'm not sure i'll ever work out 'love thy neighbour' but it does tend to follow one around.

Karen Luttrell said...

I'm wondering what "tolerance" and "reverence" really entails. Love? Selflessness? How are these things really manifested in pursuing a "heaven on earth" - not in the abstractions of tossing around preferred scripture or rhetorical demaguogery, but when it really might cost us personally? Here's a hypothetical... Say you're writing a book, and you'd like a quote for the back cover from a fellow author you admire. You happen to discover that someone you link on your blog has written an accurate, but critical review of a speech by that author that points out some serious misstatements. Your editor/publisher finds out about the post and wants you to expel your friend from the navigation bar, since the author might be embarrassed and may not want to give you a quote, perhaps costing you book sales. So, how do you show tolerance and reverence in this situation?

jdaviddark said...

I hope it isn't too long before I get to sit down with each of you and tell tales of how we all know each other. It just keeps getting interestinger and interestinger and interestinger. Everyone here (with the exception of Karen, I think) knows Steve Stockman. I believe Karen and I met at my sister Liz's wedding. I'm grateful that all of you are giving time to my words and each others words and words of others. Thank you.
Karen, I'm not sure what I'd do with your hypothetical. All I can think of at the minute (in the lived-out reverence dept) is Be transparent, Don't lie, and Don't make it hard for people to be honest with you. I also recall a William Stafford poem:

A Ritual To Read To Each Other

If you don't know the kind of person I am
and I don't know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.

For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood
storming out to play through the broken dyke.

And as elephants parade holding each elephant's tail,
but if one wanders the circus won't find the park,
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.

And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should consider--
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.

For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give--yes or no, or maybe--
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep

Annabanana said...

I like the shape of those words--thinking-ful. I feel the edges of what I think Shirley is talking about...to revere might demand explanation-what do I mean when I name someone "enemy?" Enemy of what-my pursuit of happiness, this faith that I barely yet am beginning to understand, my personal security? What is enemy? And if I take as truth the notion that every person is created in God's image, do I dare say I recognize that image well enough apart from my own to name where it begins and ends in anyone else? Is there a part of a person that is not made in God's image that would be therefore ok to hit or hate? (I don't mean that as a pandering rhetorical thing, more like poking fun at my own tendency to fatwa)

Stephen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mark said...

Hi Stephen-

Do you think that using lowercase to spell "first" would somehow change who or what a living and almighty God is? Be sure that you aren't confusing adulation with reverence. Does this seem intolerant?

As I read your comments I hear someone who is intolerant of anyone who doesn't understand god as you do. I myself wrestle with this type of thing - being sure to capitalize properly or being hard on myself when I disappoint is an exercise in frustration if those things are what quantify my commitment, or worse an others commitment. For me, I think it starts at being wholly yielded to what one believes. If one believes that God is almighty, then they must revere him. They will not be perfect, and will surely disappoint, but they will nevertheless be part of that body of believers that will eventually happen. This is not to say that "best practices" can't be implemented - perhaps avoiding certain topics of conversation or practicing objectivity - whatever works. The important thing is that if it's working for you, and you're committed to what you believe and why, then you can't lose.

Regarding salt: We should be salt I think, insofar as salt seasons things. You mention being salt and light to people, which seems aggressive like a pile of salt on a steak. Proper salt application adds to the flavor of the subject and makes better the overall result right? It does not however make an unpleasant taste pleasant. In fact too much of it destroys life.

These are my thoughts dude. I'm not afraid or ashamed to engage in conversations about god or his word, but I won't play bible-verse-stump-the-chump. I'm not afraid of god either. He knows my condition and I know my place, that's why I abide. I am very afraid of litigating on god's behalf however.

Regards, Mark

Karen Luttrell said...

David, et al - Apologies in advance for the length. Judging from the jump in my blog views (that mercifully few people read), I thought perhaps the hypothetical I posed was perceived as accusation. Not so. I've been reflecting on the social justice/message of Jesus more aligned with dems than repub platform argument in this last election cycle. A real head scratcher for me. Especially since voices like yours, who so strongly supported Obama, have been pretty silent after the fact. I read your posts/comments made about how "some Christians" have said/believed this or that about war, poverty, the environment, etc.- the implication being something was incorrect/incomplete about their viewpoint. All this to say that in a conversation I had with my dad about the meaning of "Gospel," he said this... "“Gospel” is a term that very few people understand. While it is “good news” and “good news about Jesus,” the question is what is the content of the good news? According to the book of Ephesians God has had an eternal, undefeatable plan to make all people “one” (holy like him). He “elected/chose/predestined” us for this end (not to be ‘saved’ but to be ‘holy.’) It is because we messed up that in his plan he made the necessary corrections by redeeming us in Christ. The plan has been achieved in principle by Christ. This occurs in the invisible sphere (“heavenlies” is the term used in Ephesians). It is now to be put into practice by the redeemed (everyone is included, although not all know they have been forgiven and even some who do know it do not practice it) in the visible sphere. This proclamation of what God has done through Christ (ordaining, redeeming, sealing) is the “good news.” Whenever and wherever one conforms to the plan to be holy, that is, puts into the practice the plan-this is the body of Christ. Any act that does not contribute to the process of making all of us “one” is a denial of the gospel-whether it is marginalizing others because they do not conform to our likes and dislikes, gossiping, cheating, lying etc." If this is accurate (and feel free to disagree), can someone else/thing, church, non-profit, federal agency, make me holier, more like Christ? By this definition, the pursuit of holiness/fulfillment of the gospel appears to be much more personal, much more about MY thoughts and actions in the context of my community/interactions. If this indeed in the case, than why is there so much discussion about handing the responsibility to another entity or others not pursuing their holiness correctly?

jdaviddark said...

Good to hear from you, Karen.
Could you point me back to the "some Christians" post/response? I'm not sure what you're referring to.

Karen Luttrell said...

David - If memory serves... the Izard post, a post about a certain view of the environment as heretical (can remember which month), the political pre-election posts that characterize supporters of Republicans as angry, hateful bigots. Scattered comments made by others critical of Christians who support free market principles/small gov't as contrary to the message of Jesus. I'd have to go digging around in your archives for some more. Perhaps I can get to it this afternoon.

jdaviddark said...

Right.
I think you're referring to the picture of the sign that declared the President a "halfbreed muslin," the Fox News clip, and an awkward moment between Senator McCain and an ostensible supporter. I'll observe now (as I think I did then) that these posts were posted in a spirit of "Oh shoot," as opposed to "Check out the angry, hateful bigots." There's my intent as I understand my intent (not that i ever quite understand my own intent). If you think my intent was hateful, please e-mail me at david dot dark at vanderbilt dot edu.
Heresy. I have a complicated relationship with the word. In one sense i have no doubt that I'm even now a heretic in ways I'll need to have explained to me by those who love and care enough to do so, and in another sense, heresy is whatever strikes me as thought that mistakenly thinks of itself as meaningfully derived from and faithful to Christian teaching. a lot (maybe even most) of the stuff that advertises or decrees itself christian is, as I see it, deeply opposed to christianity as I see it. was there something i called heresy that had you thinking, "no it's not" or concerning which you'd like some elaboration?
i can't vouch for "scattered comments made by others" except to say that i'm usually grateful for them.
i'm still unsure concerning what the question is in the post that preceded your last one. i haven't had much to say about the first months of the new administration as i've just had a lot of other things going on and i haven't had much of what i'd dare to hope might be a constructive word. i have posted a few pieces (not always favorable) on facebook and twitter though.
glad everybody's tuned in. thought mark's post had a lot there that people could respond to, and i'd like to add that his question to stephen concerning the use of lowercase letters was both helpful and sincerely intended.
rock on,
jdd

Karen Luttrell said...

David - thanks for responding. If I recall, you never elaborated on exactly what you meant by "heretic" in that post. I've heard a "Christ-centered view of the environment," and I still don't know what that means. Solar over nuclear? Hybrid over bus? Paper or plastic? Oh, and there was something about conservatives you didn't like having to do with Children of Men and Berry.

I'm not quite sure what you take issue as labeling itself as "Christian." Personally, I'm affronted by wall-to-wall Thomas Kincade merchandise at every Christian Bookstore I enter, as if the message is that Christian stuff is "cheap, kitschy and crappy."

I think I've mentioned here before a frustration with Jim Wallis and others assigning the Democratic Party as more aligned with the teachings of Jesus, particularly war, poverty, environment, etc. Falwell and others did the same with Republicans in the 80's on social issues. I find their approach a bit naive about the nature of governance in the US and troubling in defining a political ideology more "Christian" than the other. Obvious problems arise from this, but most notably it alienates and marginalizes people, grants the moral high ground to groups who do not deserve it and generally insults people's intelligence by watering down the issues. As we've seen, the post-partisan candidate is certainly not, and he has made clear his loyalty to special interests groups that put him in office. I'm not saying that is bad. That's what politicians do. I just don't find it edifying to express some one is not a good enough/enlightened Christian if they don't vote a certain way.