Bad Theology Killshttps://eirenicole.com/wp-content/uploads/Bad-Theology-Kills.jpg20481365NicoleNicolehttps://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/59c708336b44c55aa93e8059ae098e96?s=96&d=monsterid&r=pg
Bad theology kills. We are shaped by our theology. Whatever it is that any of us believes or disbelieves about god—any god—informs behavior, relationships, community governance, power differentials—and who gets to decide. Each set of beliefs shared by any community lays the groundwork for who can curate the crucial tenets included in that set of beliefs (usually collated into a central written form), and who are deemed incapable. And once this discrete knowledge-bearer(s) is ordained for the position, all (legitimate) interpretive work, the terms of adherence to this theory of the divine and the consequences of not, are determined by this individual or limited set of overseers placed there by the very belief system they are given to superintend. Entrenched. Fixed. Immutable.
Art of Silencehttps://eirenicole.com/wp-content/uploads/AoS1.jpg20501920NicoleNicolehttps://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/59c708336b44c55aa93e8059ae098e96?s=96&d=monsterid&r=pg
Silence is hard. Silence leaves us vulnerable to deeper, darker thoughts. But we cannot hear anything if we don’t listen. And it is only when we are willing to meet whatever it is we find in that silence – in all of its sometimes frightening discomfort – watered by our attention – that something might grow out of the deep, dark, and clumpy soil.
When Jesus responds to Mary during the wedding at the Cana, “Woman…” there is something so intimate about that. Jesus is saying, “Woman, individual, human of great worth, you matter to me – listen.” And Mary does pause. She seems to take a breath and center on Jesus’ words, Jesus’ presence in that time-space. And this moment of being silent in Jesus’ presence brings Mary to herself, to the reality that all will be well. Timeless. Suspended senses.
And in the 2nd story, again, there is frenzy – of buying and selling animals that will be used for sacrificial rituals. But they have missed the point entirely. They are trying to do everything they can to keep the synagogue running in the way that others are doing it, to do worship just like all the other synagogues in town. And Jesus had to tear the place apart before they would stop and listen and notice. God incarnate. Jesus, in their midst.
And it is all for the disciples – so that they would believe Jesus was who he said he was. So they would listen, be silent, stop making assumptions, but truly hear.
The “unreflective practice” with the wedding and at the temple, speaks to the economic, political and religious. When rituals and ceremonies are practiced without reflection, without pause, silence – when we are overwhelmed by entering these rituals in a manner that everyone else is compelled to do, we miss the point entirely. And we reveal our lack of faith, our belief that Jesus is who he says he is.
We need silence. We need to be still. We need to listen to the heart of God – in our particular situation. Notice. Look again. Discern that which is going on here. Not blaming others, not judging – God is the one who has the capacity to pass judgment – but discerning. And it can be scary, even terrifying. Because in my solitude I have to ask, What is my part in all of this?
Let us notice that which is within rather than the flower that will wilt and crumble. Let us dig deep into the dry clumpy soil and tend it, water it. Let us first be silent, even jolted out of our frenzied worry and turn our face to Jesus – and believe.
May we recreate a perspective unique to us, to our situation in silence. It’s an art from: the art of silence.
We are accountable to each other. God created us to be in community and to be unified – one with God and one with each other. Not identical, not doing ministry in the same way, but at one with who God made us to be and live out of that strength, leading and moving with dignity: knowing our worth, knowing the worth of those who lead and move and live beside us, with us.
Transformation in the spiritual life is experiential and perpetual. It is a verb. An occurrence, and ongoing. It is not a one-and-done this side of glory.
“As long as you do not have experience of this dying and becoming, you are only a troubled guest on this dark earth.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
When we get caught up in all the details on which we might disagree – even hold strong convictions about – when those details divide us, we are not living into communion and covenant with each other. We do not grow stronger in expressing God’s love for all creation. Anything other than right relationship with God and with each other goes against our very being.
Elijah threw his mantle on Elisha. This mantle that, when rolled up and stuck in the Jordan, had the power to part it. Elijah had to give up power in order than Elisha might live into that power. There is no question incomprehensible power flows through Elijah. But he does not use it to manipulate or coerce or intimidate Elisha into doing anything. Real strength, true power, is in the freedom to step aside, to let go of some measure of control (don’t annihilate one another). Or maybe give up some of your free time to give it to another who might benefit from your guidance, your wisdom (love as you want to be loved).
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