Wednesday, 24 September 2014

'Men Made It, But They Can't Control It'

'The owners of the land came onto the land, or more often a spokesman for the owners came...Some of the owner men were kind because they hated what they had to do, and some were angry because they hated to be cruel, and some of them were cold because they had long ago found that one could not be an owner unless one were cold.  And all of them were caught in something larger than themselves...If a bank or a finance company owned the land, the owner man said, The Bank - or the Company - needs - wants - insists - must have - as though the Bank or the Company were a monster, with thought and feeling, which had ensnared them.  These last would take no responsibility for the banks or the companies because they were men and slaves, while the banks were machines and masters all at the same time...The owner men sat in the cars and explained.  You know the land is poor.  You've scrabbled at it long enough, God knows.

The squatting tenant men nodded and wondered and drew figures in the dust, and yes, they knew, God knows.  If the dust only wouldn't fly.  If the top would only stay on the soil, it might not be so bad...

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

ISIS, Mirrors and Freedom

The news of the beheading of David Haines over the weekend has, for obvious reasons, been the focal point of conversation and news stories. As with so many others my thoughts and prayers go out to the families of David Haines, James Foley and Steven Sotloff.

If you're like me what shocks me the most is the sheer brutality of the act.  Now I have not watched any of the videos that have been released and have no intention of doing so, but that does not stop me from recoiling inside at hearing of the brutality of the act.

How is it that one human being can literally cut off the head of another human being?

As I have reflected on the nature of this violence I reflected on my own ability to act violently.

I am not a violent person, yet I wonder if there were certain circumstances and situations where I could spiral into a place where I no longer viewed the person in front of me as a human and lose all sense of compassion, empathy and common humanity and so inflict upon them brutality like we are witnessing in Syria?  If I was stripped of my identity, if those whom I loved were ripped from me, if I was deprived of sleep, food and peace could I commit these acts?

I have heard many times from many different people that if someone harmed their children they would do whatever it takes to exact vengeance upon the perpetrators. People speak very candidly about their ability for violence when the scenario of violence against their children is suggested.

Perhaps there is something within all of us that is able to act in ways of extreme brutality to another human?

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Divine Comedy

'I'm not telling you the right way to think, but I am telling you that the way that you are thinking is not right.'

This phrase has been rattling around in my head for a few days.  I'm not sure if I have heard it somewhere before, but it made me think about the parables of Jesus.

When Jesus speaks in parables it is not because he is telling us literal truths and laying down new laws to live by, rather it is to subvert the cultural and religious ideology and wake people up to a new reality.

The parables of Jesus subvert the absurdity of a lived reality and calls people into a new way of life.

This is what true and 'real' comedy does.  We laugh because we recognise the absurdity of it all.

Jesus is a stand-up comedian with a twist, because rather than simply point out the absurdity he subverts it and calls people to imagine what might be if we allowed ourselves a transformed imagination.

What if the way I think about the world is not right?  What if the way I live is not right because of the way I think?  What if I woke up to this, how might I think and live and love in this new reality?

The subversiveness of Jesus' parables means that we are invited to use our imagination without creating new laws or ideological systems that trap people in old habits.  Rather, the parables invite us to think and theologically wrestle and imagine and create and love creatively and speak out imaginatively and embrace diversity because of collective imagination.

'Why do you see the speck in your neighbour's eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?'

This is the finest type of comedy.

Jesus does not say what the log or speck of dust is, rather he highlights through subversive comedy that we, whoever 'we' is, are blinded by our own judgemental attitudes and need to see with a different perspective.  He is not telling us the right way to think, but he is telling us that the way we are thinking and seeing is not right.

Jesus is Divine Comedy and we need to learn how to laugh.