Jesus and the Women He Called

Superhugebig Trigger Warnings for post and especially the links in it: Sexism, patriarchy, bad theology, homophobia, general jerkishness. Or, in other words, “Mark Driscoll.”

Breaking News from Matthew 28: 

“The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

We turn now to Western Christian leaders and institutions for their reactions to this News:

Presbyterian Church in America: Much of this year’s General Assembly concerned the presentation of a report entitled: “Angels: Liberal Compromisers?” The report found that “This calling of women to preach the Gospel is of course deeply troubling, especially in this age of abortion, homosexuality, and healthcare. Still, we do not wish to censure the angels at this time, as we need more information before condemning them.” This forbearance of judgment was seen by some delegates in attendance as capitulation to creeping liberalism; thus, everyone involved in writing the report was brought up on heresy charges, which led to a 3-day-long debate on the state of their eternal souls. The findings were inconclusive, and the discussion was tabled until next year’s assembly, the theme of which will be: “Why are our General Assemblies so Unproductive? Is it Because of the Liberals?”

Southern Baptists: On his blog yesterday, Southern Baptist professor Owen Strachan said “Baptists have historically held to the view that Scripture is completely inerrant and sufficient for all things pertaining to life, doctrine, and figuring out whether people you don’t know are Christians. Because of this, we have to acknowledge that these angels did indeed charge these women with being the first preachers of the full Gospel. However, it is also important to acknowledge that men are called to be lords of the home, though it’s not necessarily wrong to help your wife out with the dishes or laundry, ‘when you can.’ Based on God’s clear Biblical rules for division of household labor which are totally in the Bible somewhere, we can see that clearly, boys rule and girls drool God does not want women telling men what to believe. Those angels must’ve mistaken the women for men, probably because their initiative in coming to the Tomb without asking permission from the men who were hiding out at the time meant that they weren’t feminine enough. Also, I rap.

Louie Giglio: God is BIG!

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:

Leader: Christ is risen!

People: Christ is risen indeed!

 All: Alleluia!

After celebrating together, the ELCA released this statement:

“We are grateful for these women who brought us these words of life and truth. While we recognize that there exists a diversity of views on the role of women in ministry throughout the many Christian communities in our world, it is our intention to honor and nurture the mysterious call of God wherever we find it, and rejoice in the news of the Resurrection, a joy that all Christian communities may share. We recognize that sometimes, living in community means living in tension, but we believe the call of God on the Body of Christ invites us to live joyfully and respectfully in this tension with people who understand the role of women differently than we do, even as we hold to our own belief.”

Presbyterian Church in America: “It is going to take us like the next three General Assemblies to write reports about everything that’s wrong with that statement.”

John Piper: “Everybody duck before God gets the Lutherans!”

Retired Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong: In a statement today, Spong wrote “Of course we know that “angels,” like the “Resurrection” of “Jesus,” are merely the violent fictions of a primitive, first-century Jewish mindset. However, this story reminds us that women, too, are invited to fully and equally share in the horrifying fairy-tale of the Gospel.”

Mark Driscoll: In a blog post, the controversial Seattle mega-church pastor wrote: “These women were walking by themselves while it was dark out, which shows us that they, like Esther, were seeking to abuse their God-given lady bits to seduce Godly men, like Xerxes. Even worse, several of them had probably let themselves go. The angels recognized this, which is why they sent the women away to the men so quickly. The male disciples then immediately stepped up to graciously lead the church, provide oversight over these rebellious women, and have sex with their wives at least once a day. What is even more amazing about these strapping, young, well-muscled, oil-chested examples of virile masculinity that I admire in a totally heterosexual way is that they accomplished this before I founded a church-planting network. Anyway, I’ve gotta get back to studying the Bible…I think there are a few women in there I haven’t slut-shamed yet.”

Louie Giglio: No seriously, like really, really BIG!

Jesus: The newly-risen Son of God could not be reached for comment, though He seemed not to exhibit the same skepticism as to the ability of women to tell His story, as sources say He met the women on the way, and said: “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers…”

Presbyterian Church in America, Southern Baptists, John Piper: Are ya’ serious?!?!

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America: “We told you guys, you __________! (We mean that in an inclusive way).”

Mark Driscoll: “Jesus really was a gay hippie! Now I love Him more…I am confused…wait, is my mic still on?”

John Shelby Spong: “We really need to get past the ‘believing things’ component of religion…

All: “…”

Louie Giglio: “Like really, really-“

All: “OMG we get it!”

Drunk Batman, and why we all need a friend

So, go here and follow the links to download this comic. Even if you’re not a comic geek like me, it’s still worth (more than) the .99 cents it’ll cost you.

It’s a quick little tale, but has some really touching moments. In short, it presents the Batman we all know and love: harsh, brazen, independent, and committed to believing he is something more than human. Better than that, though, it presents us with what anyone in such a situation desperately needs: A good friend to call him on his bullshit, and still love him on the other side.

Alfred challenges Batman here, not to win the fight, but to win Batman’s wellbeing. Alfred wants what is best for Batman, even if it hurts, and is willing to give him what he needs.

It made me think of all the people in my life who’ve taught me that I can fail, I can fall, and they can still love me on the other side. Because, like Batman, I have lots of weaknesses I’d rather not acknowledge. Like Batman, I feel that to acknowledge them is to give them life, and to give them life would bring me death. Like Batman, I have been given some friends who have gone through the arduous task of giving me grace in spite of my arrogance and self-sufficiency.

Not bad for a short, one-shot comic.

I also have to say that the artwork on page 13 was one of the most clever layouts I’ve seen in a long while. It made me smile and feel  like I’d gotten away with something for getting this for only .99 cents.

Also: Drunk Batman. Pretty awesome, and I don’t know if it’s been done before.

Religious Freedom: You’re Doing it Wrong

Just damn.

 

Czeslaw Milosz knew what he was talking about

Just came across his short poem, An Alchoholic Enters the Gates of Heaven. I don’t know any words truer for how I feel right now. Sigh…

Here it is, HT Mockingbird:

What kind of man I was to be you’ve known since the beginning,
since the beginning of every creature.

It must be horrible to be aware, simultaneously,
of what is, what was,
and what will be.

I began my life confident and happy,
certain that the Sun rose every day for me
and that flowers opened for me every morning.
I ran all day in an enchanted garden.

Not suspecting that you had picked me from the Book of Genes
for another experiment altogether.
As if there were not proof enough
that free will is useless against destiny.

Under your amused glance I suffered
like a caterpillar impaled on the spike of a blackthorn.
The terror of the world opened itself to me.

Could I have avoided escape into illusion?
Into a liquor which stopped the chattering of teeth
and melted the burning ball in my breast
and made me think I could live like others?

I realized I was wandering from hope to hope
and I asked you, All Knowing, why you torture me.
Is it a trial like Job’s, so that I call faith a phantom
and say: You are not, nor do your verdicts exist,
and the earth is ruled by accident?

Who can contemplate
simultaneous, a-billion-times-multiplied pain?

It seems to me that people who cannot believe in you
deserve your praise.

But perhaps because you were overwhelmed by pity,
you descended to the earth
to experience the condition of mortal creatures.

Bore the pain of crucifixion for a sin, but committed by whom?

I pray to you, for I do not know how not to pray.

Because my heart desires you,
though I do not believe you would cure me.

And so it must be, that those who suffer will continue to suffer,
praising your name.

 

Always

Loving this today:

Sitting in Darkness

So December has sucked. A death in the family two days before Christmas, one of my favorite coworkers getting a job far away, and two of my dear friends waiting to hear the news that cancer has taken their loved one, far before even the most pessimistic doctors thought. Pain is crushing in its inevitability.

Christmas is usually my favorite time of year, precisely because it marks God’s great intervention into our pain, and into our condition. And I know all the right answers: We have this pain because of our own sin, God doesn’t have to do anything for us, yet He sent His Son for us, etc…but still. I’m wrestling with this God Who is good, all-powerful, and lets life happen this way. One of those three seems not to fit. I’m usually pretty good at soldiering on, at sewing up the wound just enough to fake a smile through another day, another  church service, etc. But right now I’m out. Spent. My faith is no comfort to me; it just is.

And I guess that’s a blessing. This hasn’t made me doubt God’s existence so much as His character, His trustworthiness. At least I know there’s still someone running the universe and keeping the Sun from exploding. I even think He’s probably doing good things for a lot of other people. But for me? There’s no comfort in it at all right now. All the things I’m given to believe are ultimately not enough to answer my question, the one I think I’ve carried my whole life, perhaps from the first time I realized that my home was not going to be a safe place for me: “Is it going to be okay?” Is someone going to come for me? Fight for me? Let me be fallen and not turn away?

As I said, Christmas is usually good for me, and mostly because it seems that it answers all these questions with a resounding “Yes!” Yes, I have come for you. Yes, I will fight for you. Yes, I will-finally-make all of this okay. “…the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness.” (Luke 1:78-79) But it’s been a long time since Christmas. A long time since love came down, and we killed it for being so incomprehensible. A long time since love got up out of the grave and promised to come back.

And for all that, for all the cosmic import of that event, it still seems the world spins madly on, with us hurting each other, ourselves, and the God Who started it all. We are back to sitting in darkness again. So we wait for the second advent, the second and final time when all will be made right. Even that, though, is hard. I get that in some cosmic, eternal sense, once Jesus comes back it’ll all be okay. But until then? Is it just this darkness all the time? And even at that, when we talk about Jesus making it okay, we usually do so in terms of “Well, then none of this will matter.” Is that really in Scripture? Is that even human? “Just live your life, waiting for that glorious day when it all becomes futile and you realize none of it was all that important, so you really shouldn’t be upset about it now.” I need something now. Something for today, for tomorrow. I can’t just soldier on anymore.

I’ve been reading Psalm 88 a lot lately. I love it, because it’s the one place in Christianity I’m aware of where there’s just pain without someone trying to put a stupid bandaid on it. No “God has someone for you,” no “It’ll all be okay in the end,” just an honest human screaming at their distant and incomprehensible God. Well, perhaps Psalm 88 and Mark 15:34. Just sitting in darkness, with no platitudes or escape hatches, hoping against hope that God is coming to set all this right.

I’ve heard the Psalms described as a lover’s quarrel, and I think there’s some truth to that. There’s something of faith in a God who can hear such painful things, and certainly, no one shouts at a God they don’t believe exists. I think He’s there; I just can’t understand what He’s doing.

So here I am, with all the faith and doubt I have right now, which somehow both seem more real for the presence of the other:

Are You really for us? Do You really care? Because it sure as hell doesn’t feel like it, and meanwhile, hell is feeling much more sure.

We are sitting in darkness. Are You coming?

Tell the Truth, Make the Peace

“…theocracies are inevitably gross distortions of power, whether the flag bears a cross or a crescent. Rather the church is called to be a distinctive polis forming citizens for the kingdom of God and sending them into the kingdoms of the world as truth-tellers and peacemakers.”

-Kim Fabricius, here.

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