The Joy List; Invitation
A “prosperity-theology” take on what I’l like to blog about this Summer might be to “manifest prosperity.” But that would be selfish and shallow. Another, maybe not churchy angle might be using the law of attraction to bring about happiness and contentment. But for me, that still seems kind of self-centered or immature.
I’d like to look at something anchored in love and that will build relationships and community, not just “actualize” personal peace. What I want to think about and maybe even begin a discussion about will involve wrestling and reflection and maybe even doubt and struggle and emotional and intellectual work- but I don’t want it to devolve into just a self-help practice for self improvement in a secular/philosophical sense or a new kind of piety and purity practice or “works-righteousness” in a theological/religious sense.
I want to keep it real, genuine, authentic, honest, and basically “raw.”
I want to talk to seekers and thinkers, people open to conversation and exploration of philosophy and “spirituality” and basically being human. But I don’t want to hide or water-down my background and faith tradition to do that. But I also don’t want to be judgy or preachy or bossy.
Meanwhile, I also really want to talk to my “fellow believers” in order to encourage them to reflect and reconsider and allow themselves to be vulnerable to conversation without being on the defensive, or rushing to correct every ambiguity or subjectivity.
Mahatma Gandhi lawyer, human rights activist and political founding father or modern India read from the Jesus’ ‘Sermon on the Mount’ (Matthew 5-7) nearly every morning and evening for over forty years. “Christ’s Sermon on the Mount fills me with bliss even today,” he said “Its sweet verses have even today the power to quench my agony of soul.”
Humorist and science fiction author Kurt Vonnegut, famously questioned why, if Americans so often talk about this being a “Christian nation,” so many courthouses and government buildings have monuments to the ten commandments (Exodus 20) and not the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12), after all, these are the very words of Jesus Christ, whereas the commandments come from the Mosaic books of the Jewish Bible.
We live in hard times. Inflation, high gas prices, political polarization, media saturation, school shootings, wars, international tension, the recent global pandemic, a resurgence of racism and antisemitism, stress, anxiety, depression, anger, drug abuse and suicide. Wouldn’t it be nice to find some bliss instead of so much angst?
To be honest, I don’t know whether the Sermon on the Mount is gonna be some kind of panacea. I’m cynical enough to bite my tongue when well meaning but perhaps inexperienced or just empathy-challenged Christians talk about how believing in Jesus made everything better.
Now, I’m also skeptical when non-Christians talk about the power of positive thinking or visualizing their goals or just making up their minds that they deserve better and that’s when things change.
But I also know that just “doom-scrolling” social media or channel surfing cable news (in or out of an echo chamber) certainly isn’t helping me cope or doing my mental health any good.
So, if you want to find out with me what this poor Palestinian preacher was telling people on a hillside why or how they can be blessed (religious jargon for happiness, health, joy, and/or good fortune), join me this Summer on a journey to (hopefully) bliss or beatification (or both?).
Talk to you soon.
I will try to post at least once a week, but I can get both impatient and busy (or lazy) so please be patient with me. Subscribe to this blog on WordPress if you want to be sure to be notified about updates. I hope you will participate in conversation in the comments, but please keep it civil, I reserve the right to delete, block or report trolls.
Who was MLK?
Rev. Michael King Sr. grew up a poor, Black sharecropper in Georgia at the turn of the last century. As a young man he moved to Atlanta, fell in love with a Baptist preacher’s daughter and eventually followed in his father-in-law’s footsteps and studied to become a minister.
In 1934, Rev. Michael King, Sr., attended the World Baptist Alliance in Berlin. He was so moved by the teachings and sacrifice of sixteenth-century German church reformer Martin Luther, that he changed his name from Michael King to Michael Luther King and finally Martin Luther King. His teen aged son chose to change his name to Martin Luther King Jr, after his father.
MLK Grew up in segregated Georgia during the Great Depression, but went on to become one of the greatest leaders of the civil rights movement. Now, on the third Monday in January, Americans observe the legacy of his contributions with a national holiday.
King Jr. studied sociology in college and then went to seminary to become a pastor like his father and grandfather. While serving in Alabama, Pastor King became involved with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a group of mostly Black pastors committed to achieving racial equality through non-violence.
Many people either think of Martin Luther King Jr. as just a Black hero, with nothing to offer to the rest of us. Others take him for granted as just another pop-cultural icon along with JFK, Marilyn Monroe and Elvis. For me, he is a hero of the faith. A courageous Christian leader like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German pastor who stood up to Adolf Hitler and the NAZIs.
One of my favorite books that I wish everyone on Earth would read is Dr. King’s “Strength to Love,” (1963) in which he explores the parable of the good Samaritan and what it means to love your neighbor and love your enemies, as Jesus taught. In it, he also wrote about the parables of the friend who knocked on his neighbor’s door at midnight and the rich fool who hoarded his wealth in his barns, only to have his soul required of him that night. King addresses fear and speculated on what sort of epistle the Apostle Paul might have written to America.
I think that even in mostly white, rural Iowa, it would be good to consider some of the lessons of Dr. King today in 2008. We forget that he was a Baptist minister like Mike Huckabee and a PhD who could analyze domestic and foreign and military policies just like like a Barack Obama or a Bill Clinton. We forget that King was a Nobel Peace Prize winner like Al Gore.
I recently found a speech that he made about Vietnam back in 1967 on April 4, 1967 at a meeting at Riverside Church in New York City. He was assassinated a year later on April 4, 1968 trying to help striking garbagemen in Memphis, Tennessee.
People wondered why a civil rights leader was suddenly turning into a war protester.
“I cannot forget that the Nobel Prize for Peace was also a commission — a commission to work harder than I had ever worked before for ‘the brotherhood of man.’…but even if it were not present I would yet have to live with the meaning of my commitment to the ministry of Jesus Christ. To me the relationship of this ministry to the making of peace is so obvious that I sometimes marvel at those who ask me why I’m speaking against the war. Could it be that they do not know that the good news was meant for all men — for Communist and capitalist, for their children and ours, for black and for white, for revolutionary and conservative? Have they forgotten that my ministry is in obedience to the One who loved his enemies so fully that he died for them?”
After three decades of supply-side economics, Americans have seen the high-tech bubble burst, and the real estate bubble burst, the stock market repeatedly crash and rebound, more millionaires than ever before yet a disappearing middle class, disappearing manufacturing jobs, jobs shipped over seas, high gas prices yet record profits for oil companies and a widening gap between the super rich and the working poor. No wonder so many voters in Iowa responded to the messages of John Edwards as he railed on big corporations and unfeeling insurance companies.
King talked about our problem with consumerism in his 1967 speech too.
“…We as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin…we must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.
When I speak of love I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. I am not speaking of that force which is just emotional bosh. I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality.”
Black , White, Red, Yellow, or Brown, Dr. King’s teaching may have as much to say to us today, as it did forty years ago.
Strength to Love
Nearly every year I re-read a book of sermons by Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. called “Strength to Love,” from 1963. Many people would be surprised by what a Biblical teacher King was because we tend to take him for granted as a cultural icon or a Black leader or a political activist.
One chapter in particular struck me as something that we could all use these days. Let’s face it, this is a time of high anxiety and stress for many of us. Governor Culver recently tried to reassure Iowans that we’re in better shape than the nation as a whole to face the coming recession. But come on, things have been getting hard for all of us for a long time.
Wars, stagnant wages, increasing costs of living especially gas, food, heating fuel and health insurance, talk of climate change, cultural change, and global competition have all left us a little frazzled. Perhaps you’re finding that just the challenges of daily life, let alone personal tragedies and crises are wearing you down.
Rev. King talked about Jesus’ parable of the man who knocks on his neighbor’s door at midnight asking for bread found in Luke 11:5-8.
“The traveler asks for three loaves of bread,” Dr. King wrote. The three things we need most are faith, hope and love.
“In a generation of so many colossal disappointments, men have lost faith in God, faith in man, and faith in the future…in the midst of staggering disillusionment, many cry for the bread of faith.”
“There is also a deep longing for the bread of hope.” Dr. King continued, “In the early years of this century many people did not hunger for this bread. The days of the first telephones, automobiles, and airplanes gave them a radiant optimism. They worshiped at the shrine of inevitable progress. They believed that every new scientific achievement lifted man to higher levels of perfection.”
But as we all know, came WWI and WWII and the Cold War. We realized that technology won’t produce a futuristic utopia. We may have more than enough food to eradicate world hunger, but greed and corruption prevent us from ever being able to get the food to who needs it. The twentieth century left mankind wounded and disillusioned.
King lamented that “the light of hope went out, and they roamed wearily in the dark chambers of pessimism. Many concluded that life has no meaning… But even in the inevitable moments when all seems hopeless, men know that without hope they cannot really live, and in agonizing desperation they cry for the bread of hope.”
If anything, we’ve learned too well that life is not fair. Some people don’t even see the point in trying anymore.
Finally, MLK pointed out what we are most starved for.
“There is the deep longing,” King wrote, “for the bread of love. Everybody wishes to love and to be loved. He who feels that he is not loved feels that he does not count. Much has happened in the modern world to make men feel that they do not belong. Living in a world which has become oppressively impersonal, many of us have come to feel that we are little more than numbers.”
We all need to find ways to get out of bed in the middle of the night and come to our neighbor’s aid. We all need to try to feed others in anyway we can but we should also remember where to turn when times get worst.
Luke 11: 5-8 has a man asking to borrow bread from a neighbor, but in Luke 11:1-4, Jesus teaches the disciples the Lord’s Prayer and in 11:9-13, He urges us to pray and ask God’s help for anything we need. If we need faith, hope, or love, all we have to do as ask, seek, or knock.
What is Fundamental Anyway?
I’m sorry. I just don’t get it.
To me, the fundamentals, the very foundation of the United States is equality, human rights, and community. Participating and compromising for the common good.
I got these ideas from Jefferson, Adams, Madison, and if they weren’t enough, also from Lincoln and both Roosevelts. And yes, Doctor King too.
But people who call themselves patriots, and nationalist and pro-America laud leaders who don’t believe in, let alone value, respect or protect any of those things.
And they let their anger, ignorance and disdain for the rest of us rage like a prairie fire.
But if I snap back, I have to consider relations and treat people better than that. If want to remind everyone of what our fundamentals are, I’m warned that I’ll offend someone, that they’ll think I’m too radical.
To me, the very heart, the basics, the absolute fundamental foundations of Jesus and the whole Bible, Old and New, is love.
Love the Lord your God with all your strength and all your heart and all you mind. AND love your neighbor as yourslef.
Love your neighbor? Who is your neighbor?
Love your enemies, pray for those that persecute you.
If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
Seems clear. Seems fundamental.
But if you say that, they look at you suspiciously.
Who are you listening to? What are you reading?
Um, Jesus, the Prophets, judges, and teachers of the Torah and Jesus, Paul, John, the Apostles and Epistle writers of the New Testament.
That’s heresy. That’s reduction-ism. That’s liberation theology. That’s too liberal. That’s watered down.
Here I was thinking it was distilled, concentrated, liquor, jet fuel.
Essence. Spirit. Anything BUT diluted.
Accepting anyone into fellowship who doesn’t submit to every jot and tittle of the law would be like condoning their every error.
Grace itself becomes a work, after having been reminded over and over that our own works are worth nothing.
Not just adherence to orthodoxy, but allegiance to homogeneity is the only safety.
I think to much. I feel too much. I talk too much.
My fundamentalism is the wrong kind of radical.
I’m stupid. I’m crazy. I’m a problem. I hate our heritage.
Don’t point out our ignorance, our apathy, our inconsistency, our mental illness, our stubbornness.
I get it.
Judge not, let ye be judged.
I must have logs in my eyes.
What I thought was fundamental, the fundamentalists find too progressive.
I thought evangelical meant having a personal relationship with God and wanting to share the good news of His love. Isn’t to evangelize, to share, to witness? But the more I speak or share, the more I’m isolated and marginalized. Muffled. Stimied.
What I thought was egalitarian and democratic and just is apparently “socialist” and “elitist” and “unamerican.”
Do I really not understand the fundamentals?
“Indeed I tremble for my country when reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever: that considering numbers, nature and natural means only, a revolution of the wheel of fortune, an exchange of situation, is among possible events: that it may become probable by supernatural interference!”
— Thomas Jefferson
” Jesus wept.”
It’s Okay to Disagree
Today on Facebook I saw two equally troubling posts by older adults. One, frustrated by pro-Trump Evangelicals promoting large worship gatherings for Easter, exposing church members to the Corona virus. “I used to think Christians were smart,” they mourned.
The other was a defensive plea from someone tired of being ridiculed for being a religious believer. They argued that atheists demand tolerance for non-Christians, but don’t extend it to those who express their belief in God.
It made me think of how many people I know who’ve felt excluded and hated by Christianity because they’re LGBTQ.
On the other hand, very intelligent, accomplished professionals who scoff at the church because of either their cynicism about what they see as mythology or their reasonable suspicion of the unreasonable and often hypocritical behavior of Christianity which they witness daily; child sexual abuse scandals, greedy materialistic televangelists, and so on and so-forth.
Then there was the person who struggled with the emphasis on pro-life/anti-abortion issues. Probably because they’d been sexually assaulted as a child.
If you’re one of those who say “Lord, save me from your followers,” I want you to know that Jesus loves you even if it feels like everyone who claims to believe in Him act like they don’t or mistakenly think He shouldn’t. That flies in the face of all He did and taught. See also 1 John 4.
Now, for my brothers and sisters in Christ- Time to review Matthew 23?
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.” Matt 23:13
I wonder sometimes if a barrier we build to keep others out isn’t our passion and zeal for our own religion. In other words, do we make an idol out of our religion or belief system. Instead of humbly seeking and following Jesus, do we arrogantly, defiantly, and obsessively worship some of the doctrines or dogmas we hold on to- which we’ve come to assume are mandates from Jesus, but perhaps they’re human traditions and institutional protocols that have developed over the millennia since His resurrection and ascension.
I’m not denying or disputing everything that makes Christianity Christianity, but I wonder sometimes if we begin to worship creationism rather than the Creator. Do we worship the God who gave us the ten commandments, or do we worship the ten commandments. Do we worship the life giver, or do we worship being “pro-life?”
Maybe this sound’s a little “liberal,” but how often have we heard conservatives fearful of the environmental movement wanting to make sure that we’re worshiping the Creator rather than creation?
Of course, differentiating between the use of theologically “liberal or conservative” and politically “liberal or conservative” is a whole other issue. For that matter, I can tell you as a History major and Civics teacher that those terms are ridiculously misused and over-used to the point of being meaningless anyway. Let’s not go down that rabbit hole right now.
Let’s do think about two or three other things quickly.
Late 20th Century American Christians have been so worked up about moral “relativism,” that they’ve created a false dichotomy between relativism and absolutism. Sure, God has opinions and there’s objective reality and moral absolutes.
The problem is who decides what God’s absolutes are? At the risk of sounding too pro-LGBTQ, you might say that theology is non-binary. God has His opinions and reveals Himself to us, but anyone who claims to know the mind of God with absolute certainty is either lying or deluded.
Perhaps like anarchy and totalitarianism, relativism and absolutism aren’t opposites on a continuum. If you claim to know absolute truth, but you’re wrong, aren’t you practicing relativism? And how often does that lead to tyranny? Imposing your relativism on everyone else, but denying their ability to dispute you. Sounds like a control issue. Making yourself God’s viceroy. Even Jesus didn’t do that. He gave himself up like a lamb to the slaughter.
Okay. Too deep? Too wordy? How about this- It’s okay to argue with God.
(Cue sound effect of a record player needle scratching across the DJ’s vinyl.)
Abraham did it in Genesis 18, Jacob did it in Genesis 32, Moses did it in Exodus 4 and 33, Job famously does in Job 5-13 & 23. Isaiah, Jeremiah, many other of the prophets, Peter, even Jesus with God the Father in Matthew 26:39. To be in relationship means give and take. Married couples who’s marriages last argue. Siblings, best friends, parents and children.
To be created in God’s image and to have free will is to be able to love and be loved AND it means being able to reason, ask questions, challenge, and disagree. Doubt isn’t sin. Setting yourself up to be as infallible as god is sin.
Do we make people feel like they can’t be real Christians because they have questions and doubts?
So here’s the other thing- and yes, this would probably help our political discord too. Can we please learn to argue fairly and without turning it into a zero-sum game where it’s winner-take-all? Can we stop being afraid to disagree because if we do it will end our friendship? Can we stop hating people who disagree with us because we imagine they’re completely evil, a tool of the Devil, and conspiring to destroy us?
Believe it or not, the answer for Christians may be to be more Jewish.
(Cue record-scratch sound effect again).
First of. Binary, dualism, dichotomies are Greek, Platonic, not Hebrew, not Judeo-Christian. Those are rooted in Greco-Roman paganism. Stop assuming God made everything so black and white.
Second, try some ambivalence. As F. Scott Fitzgerald once said, “the test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” Besides, it’s also a mark of maturity to be challenged or disagreed with without taking it as a personal attack.
One thing for us to try may be the rabbinical tradition called Midrash, where Jewish scholars are constantly examining, interpreting and reinterpreting Scripture. They don’t throw out the old and replace it, but they do allow for comparing and contrasting previous understandings and applications with new ones. Jesus was doing this when He said “you have heard it said… but I say to you,” throughout the sermon on the mount in Matthew 5 & Luke 6.
The other thing to try is arguing and debating within relationship, to help each other grow in understanding, rather than to win, control, or dominate. To paraphrase Stephen Covey in ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People;’ listen to understand, not just for an opportunity to attack.
In 2017 Rabbi Elka B. Abrahamson outlined nine debate practices for the Jewish Community Relations Council.
- Don’t shy away from an argument.
- Examine every angle.
- Don’t be afraid to be wrong.
- Rehash and reevaluate.
- Value diversity of opinion.
- Be informed.
- Talk to each other, not at each other. Listen as much as you speak.
- Don’t belabor your point.
- Respect your opponent.
Since I’ve probably already broke rule number 8, I’ll end here with a song from the Lutheran “Speedwood” duo ‘Lost & Found.’
Deconstructionist before Exvangelicals
12 “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. ” Philippians 2:12-13
There’s a movement going on in American Christianity today. Many in the Evangelical, Baptist, Fundamentalist, Pentecostal and “non-denominational” communities have been reconsidering their traditions and finding that many of the practices, and teachings they had grown up with aren’t what they thought they were.
They’ve been realizing that Rabbi Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the Jewish Messiah, isn’t a white, American, conservative. They’re discovering that mainline Protestants, Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and Coptics are Christians too and that John Calvin wasn’t the only theologian to ever study Scripture.
They’re learning that faith isn’t a transaction, it’s a transformation.
I grew up Lutheran. In many ways I couldn’t be considered fundamentalist or evangelical. I ‘m not feeling like I’m losing my religion, struggling with becoming atheist or leaving my denomination. But in many ways I’ve always felt like a bit of an outsider .
“How can you be a Christian and vote for Democrats?”
As a child in the 70’s I knew that racism and discrimination were wrong.
As a teenager in the 80’s I was suspicious of televangelists and those who used religion for political leverage.
In the 90’s I was leery that the “pro-life” movement seemed to be more of a political movement than a spiritual or ethical one.
In the 2000’s I was worried about the influence of false teachings about the end-times on foreign policy and the growth of nationalism and “exceptionalism” as forms of idolatry. Etc. etc.
But it’s not social, economic or political issues that are most important to deconstruction. It’s about examining what you say you believe and asking why you believe it. It’s about wrestling with God (Genesis 32:24-31), about “working out your salvation.” Not working FOR your salvation, which is a gift of grace through faith, but letting God work on you.
Really, it’s a fairly Lutheran idea when you think about it. Luther saw the church drifting from the early, pre-empire days into complacency at best and corruption at worst in the days of the renaissance and sought to “reform” it- to deconstruct the hypocrisy it had become and reconstruct the Christ-centered, Cross-centered, Love-centered community it was meant to be.
The first of Luther’s ’95 Theses’ was “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said ‘Repent,’ he intended that the entire life of believers should be repentance.” To turn from “sin” (straying from God’s way), to change one’s mind and get back on track.
That’s not about guilt and shame, that’s about daily discipleship. Continually seeking God’s heart.
If our religion is just going through the motions, if it’s more culture and tradition than learning who Jesus is and how to follow Him and treat others how he treats them (with love). Then it may just be more about us than God.
If you’re interested in the Christian Deconstructionist/Reconstructionist movement, here are a few podcasts to give a try:
Is America is Dead Yet?
Following the exodus of many Christian believers from the religious right “evangelical” church, I’ve heard a few leaders of the “deconstructionist movement” critique hyper patriotism and Christian nationalism as idolatry. I could’t agree more.
Jesus is Lord, not our country, not either party, not any candidate or President. Any time we begin to imagine that our politics and opinions are the only ones that can save us all- we’ve fallen on our knees before a false god.
But as a fan of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, Bill of Rights, Abe Lincoln and American history in general, I want to point out that many if not most practicioners of this blasphemous “civil religion,” aren’t even practicing this false religion correctly. They violate it’s commandments (14th Amendment) and ignore it’s creeds (just as MLK accused us of in his ‘I have a dream’ speech.
The three core tennants/doctrines of our secular (civil) religion were origionally equality, human rights and the social contract theory. The sacred virtues were unity, justice, domestic tranquility, common defense, general welfare and the securing the benefits of freedom for an optimistic future. The holy sacraments were voting, speech, assembly, and ingenuity.
I know, I too have to tear down my own asherath poles of progressivism even as I demand that conservatives grind their baal alters into dust. Egalatarianism, fraternity and liberty aren’t going to get anyone into Heaven or more Christ-like than capitalism, guns or military superiority. But I just can’t help thinking that if you’re gonna depend on horses and chariots instead of God’s Spirit, you should at least depend on the correct horses.
It sees to me if you’re going to elevate America or it’s flag to an object of worship, at least do America the favor of honoring the republic for which it stands, one nation (UNDER) God, indivisible with liberty & justice for ALL- rather than just Republicans standing (never kneeling) for the flag, with God being an afluent, White, male, always supporting one political party over another, polarized with “opportunity” if you work hard enough, and retributive justice if you can afford it.
So, for my deconstrutionist brothers & sisters, as well as for my athiest and agnostic brothers and sisters, I present a thought experiment. Friedrich Nietzsche’s much reviled and misunderstood 1882 story, “Parable of the Madman”- replacing the word “God” with “America.” A decidedly Trump-Era fable.
Have you not heard of that madman who lit a lantern in the bright morning hours, ran to the market place, and cried incessantly: “I seek America! I seek America!” — As many of those who did not believe in democracy were standing around just then, he provoked much laughter. Has she got lost? asked one. Did she lose her way like a child? asked another. Or is she hiding? Is she afraid of us? Has she gone on a voyage? emigrated? — Thus they yelled and laughed.
The madman jumped into their midst and pierced them with his eyes. “Whither is America?” he cried; “I will tell you. We have killed her– you and I. All of us are her murderers. But how did we do this? How could we drink up the land from sea to shining sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire frontier? Do we not need to light lanterns in the morning? Do we hear nothing as yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying America? Do we smell nothing as yet of the national decomposition? Nations, too, decompose. America is dead. America remains dead. And we have killed her.
“How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it? There has never been a greater deed; and whoever is born after us — for the sake of this deed he will belong to a higher history than all history hitherto.”
here the madman fell silent and looked again at his listeners; and they, too, were silent and stared at him in astonishment. At last he threw his lantern on the ground, and it broke into pieces and went out. “I have come too early,” he said then; “my time is not yet. This tremendous event is still on its way, still wandering; it has not yet reached the ears of men. Lightning and thunder require time; the light of the stars requires time; deeds, though done, still require time to be seen and heard. This deed is still more distant from them than most distant stars and broad stripes — and yet they have done it themselves.
It has been related further that on the same day the madman forced his way into several campaign rallies and there struck up his requiem aeternam demos. Led out and called to account, he is said always to have replied nothing but: “What after all are these party debates, primaries and caucuses now if they are not the tombs and sepulchers of America?”
From Saul to Paul
Fascinating interview. Saul’s conversion to Paul wast just from persecuted to apostle, it was from law-to-gospel, from zealous fundamentalist to humble servant-leader. From controlling to connecting, from the idolatry of identity to being dedicated to the ministry of reconciliation.