This $3.99 amazon shipping is going to be the end of me_______________________________________________________________________
4/20 blaze the liquor stores_______________________________________________________________________
for whatever reason Jesus’s 2nd birthday is notably less of a big deal than his first, which is weird because you’d think it’d be the other way around
Got to watch my psych prof’s daughter get baptized this morning!!! Hope everyone’s having a restful and meaningful Resurrection Sunday_______________________________________________________________________
I actually don’t think pacifism is for everyone. I think its power rests in symbolism i.e. when those in privilege lay down their lives in downward mobility and solidarity with those who are under attack. Like, I don’t think I’d be one of the ones throwing molotovs at riot police, but I’d be helping dearrest for sure. I think nonviolent tactics work more often than violent, but that’s just a tactical opinion, I don’t judge people who out of desperation don’t see anything else (i.e. legitimately oppressed people, not 2nd amendment Christians). There’s critiques of nonviolence I have to take seriously, like that Stokely Carmichael quote about oppressors not having a conscience and Arundhati Roy’s quote about a rainforest tribe having the right to defend themselves against deforestation since there’s no civil society out there to hear their cries.
I also think of Bonhoeffer’s participation in trying to assassinate Hitler, and how he asked God for forgiveness for turning his back on Christ. And Jesus standing under the accusations of the chief priests but remaining silent. These raise powerful questions too. So maybe I think pacifism is mandated for people who claim to follow Jesus, at the very least, but I couldn’t demand the same for people who aren’t, maybe there it’d have to be the whole diversity of tactics thing._______________________________________________________________________
The listening party for The Collection’s new album: Ars Moriendi. #thecollectionfamilyband (at Sunset Farms)
Yeah, hard not to like his argument! I like his ideas a lot (still haven’t gotten around to Birth and Death or Escape From Evil yet), I’d only just push back a little on the last chapter. I think his existentialism kept him from being able to provide any real theological answers, probably because it made him oppose culture against the individual a bit much. But I think the work of Beck really takes up where Becker left open. You need to get Slavery of Death if you haven’t yet.
Dunno if you’ve already read that, but I can use it to answer the second part of your question. If you read the latter half of this post, Beck reflects on how his second book, Authenticity of Faith, seemed to arrive at the same point Becker does in Denial of Death—the tension between belief and hospitality, where our repression of doubts and anxieties is what drives our neurotic behaviors and collective illusions. Beck realized he needed to make the second move (the one I think Becker doesn’t)—not just what makes us more open to being more loving, but what actual practices get us there.
I read Denial of Death two years ago in my psych of religion class. First time I learned to take my faith seriously and start confronting my doubts. I think that was the first half of my journey, the second half has been reading people like Bonhoeffer’s Life Together and Smith’s Desiring the Kingdom and Nouwen’s Compassion and Beck’s new book. These argue not so much that we have to get away from culture, which might be one reading of Becker, but to ask what kind of culture could be embodied that can be liberating from so much of the neurosis and competitiveness of capitalism? And I think that move takes us directly into a theological direction, where we can start to talk about how exactly Jesus was able to embrace death, how the form of community he established shapes us to relate to one another not driven by anxiety, how the sacraments and practices of such a community literally change one’s character and identity, etc._______________________________________________________________________
Sharing a binding
This is a clever book from the 18th century, printed in Oxford in 1756. It presents both the Old and New Testament, although the books are not bound together the regular way, behind one another. Instead, the binder opted to place them next to each other. This very rare binding technique is part of a family that includes the dos-à-dos (or “back to back”) binding, which I blogged about before (here). Having the two testaments bound this way allowed the reader to consult passages from both books at the same time. Indeed, the empty pages in the front and back are filled with notes, including in Greek and Hebrew. It appears this clever binding had a reader to match.
Pic: Manchester, Chetham’s Library (source).
In Becker’s work, self-esteem functions as a repression of vulnerability and mortality whereby we disassociate from bodily anxieties and invest time and effort in the symbolic self. That’s what social spaces do. If you do what everyone else is doing, you’ll be accepted. Pleasure, then, only reifies this dualism of body and self in locating our sense of wholeness in something “out there” that can be controlled—drink this, smoke that, sleep around with people, then you’ll feel good about yourself. Yeah, your body feels good, but you’re not becoming a better person. Straight edge for me is just about simply reversing that ethic.
In that way, it’s a form of prophetic disengagement. Even on both ends of the spectrum—partying in frat and punk culture on one hand and “enjoying conversation over a few beers” on the other that you see in a lot of post-evangelicals—both are a normalization of self-gratification. I don’t give a shit about the compromising “only do it if you can control yourself” talk. It’s not hospitable to those whose lack of social privilege excludes them from being able to enjoy life. No surprise that most people on both ends of that spectrum are white middle class.
People are too quick to take advantage of the freedom their privilege affords them than to practice self-emptying and downward mobility, denying themselves some pleasure for the sake of those who in other parts of society are daily hurt by those activities. In being straight edge, you’re already critiquing privilege simply by being in a room. It’s a political act. It takes seriously the role of peer pressure and normalization in social relations. You can’t be an effective advocate for whole, safe, long-lasting relationships if your level of commitment in dating is to just “mess around and have fun.” You can’t be an effective advocate for the end of oppressive capitalist corporations if you “drink a wine every now and then” as you’re still (small though it is) normalizing self-gratification.
Disengaging from these practices is the only way our efforts at creating a more just and peaceful world will ever be worthwhile. You’re not embodying the new world if you’re carrying the old world with you. Even on a symbolic level, prophetic embodiment calls the “do what you want” status quo into question and forces us to imagine how a better world would work. It shows others a glimpse of what that world looks like. I laugh at activists who don’t take this stuff seriously. We’re not always conscious of how our choices affect others—straight edge is a way of doing that. It takes you out of the social game of competing for self-esteem (back to Becker) and allows people to interact in more creative, mutually supportive ways._______________________________________________________________________
GET READY FOR A GIRARDIAN READING OF HOLY WEEK_______________________________________________________________________
INDISCRIMINATE TABLE FELLOWSHIP
"Whatever Judas’s degree of guilt and whatever his motive, it is extremely important to note that Jesus identifies his betrayer by feeding him. Not by turning over the table and casting him out. Not by tying him to his chair so he cannot carry out his plan, but by feeding him - dipping a morsel into his own cup and giving it to Judas, whose feet he has just washed.
Knowing who Judas is and what he is about to do, Jesus does not throw him out. He bathes him and feeds him, which means that Judas is never - never - excluded from the circle of friends. He is included until he excludes himself.
Jesus went on giving himself away to the one who would give him away, because his faithfulness did not depend on theirs. When he dipped the morsel in his cup and handed it to Judas, he not only revealed who Judas was, he also revealed who he was. The one who feeds his enemies - who goes on treating them as friends - loving them to the end.” | Barbara Brown Taylor
Art | Armenian miniature of the last supper found at Picasa Web