Christiania | The Violence of Heaven by Kester Brewin
maybe jesus shows us how we already are christ, sons and daughters of god, sons of man, how we already are saved, forgiven, free, divine and whole – and that we just have to relearn what that looks like. maybe that’s what the fall was about. forgetting that all those things are now true rather than being one day true.
Padah is the Hebrew idea behind redemption. It alluded to an obligation one was under. It was also a self-imposed restriction, something that someone knowingly walked into. Someone who was fully aware of what they were ‘tying’ themselves to. It wasn’t accidental. Redemption then is being saved from that self-imposed restriction. Redemption is seeing that there is more to what is now. Joseph sitting in the well somehow believed in redemption. His belief in it kept him living life with an eye on redemption.
“Biblica Judaica states that ‘redemption is salvation from the states or circumstances that destroy the value of human existence itself'”. Redemption then is about what it looks like to be a better humanity. Redemption than is about what we’re intentionally doing to liberate people from situations and circumstances that denigrate their humanity.
In light of this, Christ than shows us each of us how to be Christs to others. It also shows us that we will all at one time or another need redemption, either individually or communally.
On the cross, Christ becomes Christless, because in that moment, he is need of a christ.
He knows this, and He looks to God who ‘turns his back’ on him. When we find what our crosses are, we must be willing to be rendered christless to allow others to come and redeem us. When we live out our lives as Christ we then perpetuate the message of THE Christ.
Now, I don’t want to seem like I am devaluing Christ’s contribution to our redemption. I think his redemption of mankind can be explained a bit differently though. I see Christ much like Martin Luther King Jr., in that MLKJ came to redeem the world from racial indifference amongst other things. Much like that, I think the redemption of Jesus was to demonstrated to us that love is stronger than death, that the way to counteract oppression was through love.
That love itself is another reality that we all aspire for. That love is the ultimate ethic that brings all of humanity together in harmony with one another and God. If you study the idea of Messiah in the time of Jesus, Jesus wasn’t the only messiah, in fact, the term messiah was used by prophets even in the Old Testament.
In this instance, for example, I believe the Conversation in Emergence is redeeming the Church from its self-imposed restrictions. I believe in a purely salvific sense, this conversation might be one of many needed saviours to get the Church out of the mess its gotten itself into.
A parent who saves their child from a fire they accidently started is one of many saviours in that child’s lives, that parents play a large role in that child’s developmental understanding of what it means to be redeemed.
Much like in my story, my adopted parents redeemed me from a life that could have been hell on earth. They were one of my many saviours. The ancient Jews use the word avengers. Someone who comes in and avenges the death or memory of the person who is being avenged.
In light of this new information the cross takes us in a different direction than the idea of sin. It isn’t about how bad we are, or how we need to redeem us from the bad its about how we are redeeming good. Another place described redemption as Glory returning back to God. That all is as it should be.
What about personally though, what does it say to us now? It means we have to be willing to be estranged from our prisons. We get very used to the things that make us feel safe even if they aren’t the best for us. We get used to the cells we have somehow had a hand in making. Redemption is the willingness to pry through those bars. It it being released from something we think we don’t need releasing from.
Redemption also brings us into unknown/uncharted territory. It brings you into the places of the beyond. Beyond what was. Beyond what is. Beyond the statu quo. Beyond the proven paths of convention. It strips you from all of the things that you called home and leaves you in the barren wasteland* – redemption leaves you without nothing more than yourself and an open canvas to discover what it looks like to journey int barreness. Redemption is the hope that is in the dry land that spurs us even beyond itself.
Redemption calls us from the beyond to journey to the beyond.
In every whirlwind hides a potential for form, just as in chaos there is a potential cosmos. Let me possess an infinite number of unrealized, potential forms! Let everything vibrate in me with the universal anxiety of the beginning, just awakening from nothingness!
inconsistency, uncohesion, confusion, chaos these are all necessary in the world. all of these things allow space for creation to happen. war*, pain, abuse, hatred, injustice, darkness, sin, death are all necessary so the opportunity of creation can exist. if we lived in paradise we would never have the opportunity to create.
without chaos we couldn’t live out our god-embedded responsibility to create.
it’s because of our need to be in control that we have become demi-gods of structure. it’s because of our need to make sense of inconsistency that we have become kings and gods of a world we do not own. its because of our fear of the other that we need structures, labels, and names that categorize those who don’t fit into social structures. these labels make us feel more powerful than we really are, and more powerful than we really should be.
when we become disciples of chaosmos (chaosmos: where structures form and dissolve) we begin to see that killing our neighbour isn’t just metaphorically killing a piece of ourselves, it is ontologically destroying a deep part of our humanity. we become less human when we deny that we are not connected or don’t have a symbiotic connection to the child who has just needlessly shot thousands of miles away.
because of our fences, our labels, our need to control our world, we word-by-word, label-by-label dissolve the world around us. in the hope of healing the world, through our labels, we have a hand in dissolving it.
we have a hand in making something complicated rather than the opposite.
we need more dissolution between another, so we can people who see the divine spark in all people which can empower us to do something about inustice, death, war, pain, abuse and all the other atrocious acts that are bortn out of someone’s need to control their world. think about that, most of the globally tragic things (not all) tend to stem from our need to be kings of our domain.
dominionism needs to be dissolved. olympus must fall. kingdom of god rhetoric must find become unspekable. the more language we have that empowers us to be the very things we are against, the more become the tyrrants we despise so much. the more we go beyond labels and see each other as God has made us, the world slowly becomes a better and better place to be.
when we remove the need for structures or systems, we have a world at ease. this doesn’t mean we don’t need them, it means we don’t look to them to lead us. this doesn’t mean that without these things our world would fall apart. what we have to understand is that god who holds all the chaos together, calls that creation. he is suspending the chaos in the middle of the universal expanse and while we are suspended he calls that ‘good’. our beliefs, our bible, truths, philosophies, inventions, sciences and religions need to be held in suspension (rather than solid deities) held in the tension between valuable and invaluable are where our worlds should lie.
when we try to ground the things we think we need, we then bring those things from suspension (‘creation’) back into chaos, and when we do this, than we become the one’s who think we are capable of being god enough to re-suspend them. we need to learn to live in chaos so that god sustains his divinity. having said that, he invites us all to creat with him. its a partnership that begins in the dissolution of our belief systems. if god is a universal being than he is both inside and outside of our worldviews; so, we must be willing to go inside and outside of our own beliefs to find him.
think about this on all levels, in all subjects.
if we began to see that our role isn’t about invading other contexts, but first dissolving our contexts to see that contexts are really a context. that peace isnt pluralized. that hope isn’t hopes. that love isn’t loves, but love. that we all seek love to steer the shipp. that love can really change everything. when we see this, we can begin creating in the midst of chaos.
* i am in no way endorsing any of these atrocious events or behaviours
In Jewish history and tradition, the family is considered to be the most important institution for shaping ethnic and religious identity and transmitting Judaism’s basic norms and values.! Indeed, the family and the synagogue are the only two institutions referred to in traditional Jewish literature as mikdash me ‘at, or “sanctuary in miniature,” sharing the responsibility for handing down both Jewish law and Jewish values. The family has been the setting, if not the focal point, for much of Jewish religious tradition. And, in the view of many present-day observers, it is the institution primarily responsible for Jewish continuity.
the father in the first-century jewish world was the go-to person. he was the hierarchy within the family system, the person in charge, and also the person to blame if any of his children got out of hand. his role was to keep order in his family. his role was one of the most important in the jewish community. it was a role of status. and jesus says to hate him – well, not him but the role, what he stands for. he essentially tells those who want to be just like him to violently divorce themselves from a need for hierarchy. hierarchy is also how rome ran their country. even other tribes during that period had hierarchies. had roles and status. he was challenging the cultural structures. he was pushing the boundaries of the status quo into this deep non-existence. a family gives you status. gives you a name and even influence.
jesus is saying to give it up.
become a person who isn’t driven by success or by what gives you status. in fact it he says to hate it. if you hate something you distance yourself from it. you don’t associate yourself with it or anything that is related to it. that is the metaphor of hating your father, mother, daughter and etc. hate anything that is associated with status. become status-less. jesus is attempting to restore a spirit of nonduality. he is being counter-culturally counter-cultural. he is also denigrating familial convention.
to hear a rabbi tell you that you must hate your family wouldn’t have been a nice thing to hear, and like some of us, some of the hearers might have also heard this literally. so, this wouldn’t have set well on the tastebuds. these were sour words. they would have stung. the father was the central figure to holding tradition together. jesus invites us to ‘hate’ them. jesus is saying that to be people who can be enlightened like him, we have to be willing to disassociate ourselves with tradition, dissassociating ourselves from structure, distance ourselves from the culture that gave us a name.
jesus is also saying we must become genderless. that there are no male or female roles, there just is. we are what we are because of the person next to us, not because of anything we’ve done. we are what we are not because of status but because of who we are. nothing else gives us status other than us being us.
in a culture, where everything was inherited (even sin in some circles) jesus is inviting each person to see themselves as one yet unique. as a free person who has a right to be different; in that culture, it was expected that you would become what the father wanted you to be. jesus is inviting all to pave their own way. to strip themselves of conventional identity and see beyond the culture and see themselves as a person who has an identity to be discovered. part of this process is the willingness to be anarchic to our traditions, vices, and identity. we must become identityless to find ourselves. you might notice some dichotomies in this post. its because the role of father has dichotomy laced within its role. its paradox in its stringent form. the follower of jesus is one who is willing to find herself in the chaos of paradox. even to the point of intentionally immersing one’s identity into the eye of the storm that will strip the identity of identity. in the gap between identity and being nameless is the person you were meant to be waiting for you there. this process of divorce is is part of the journey of what it means to meet the rabbi witout a name.
‘Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us’. (Matthew 1:18-23)
Bastard may refer to:
A child whose birth lacks legal legitimacy—that is, one born to a woman and a man who are not legally married to one another
according to the ancient palestinian culture, to have a child out of wedlock was a big no-no. It was a life or death situation. the inference of something like that happening in your community could really mar your status as someone to be taken seriously. by cultural standards, if Jesus was the Son of God in the ways the creeds express, than Jesus by ancient palestinian (& human) standards was a bastard. He was illegitimate. He was already an outsider while inside the womb. And, since he had come from another dimension, he was a foreigner. He was alien to the world he entered and estranged from the one he left.
In this framework, Jesus shows us what it looks like to leave behind our own worlds for another one. He shows us that we must become bastards to all the worlds we know. We must become illegitimate to all of the things that give us status, at the risk of entering into a world with no status or a worse status than before. he shows us what it looks like to embrace the foreigner within and live as a foreigner everywhere we walk.
even if Jesus wasn’t the Son of God in the traditional sense, his story still reverberates. In one place, he even talks about not having a place to lay his head, but also in that verse, he uses the phrase ‘son of man’ which would have not just been used by him, it would have been used by most people as a phrase that just means, ‘i, you, or anyone’. his ‘homeless’* state shows us that we must become homeless to our own ‘states’, to those things that give us importance, that ‘make’ us, that give us status, we must intentionally remain in exile from them. a painful process that must be recognized and participated in for it to have meaning.
the illegitimacy of christ’s birth (remember, Joseph was going to quietly divorce her for this) teaches us that there is a need for us to become illegitimate to the world before us. illegitimate to the worlds that form/ed us.
if the ‘conception’ of jesus is true, it shows us that we all must become bastards of our own world. because IF jesus came from heaven to earth to indwell in the stomach of an alien womb, than this informs us that we too must become bastards from our own creations.
we must be a perpetual stranger to our own ideas.
if you follow the cycle of the divine jesus than it might look like this. jesus came from heaven (one world), then he invaded the world (initially;practically) in the womb of teenage girl (two worlds) then 9 months later he invaded a new world, all the while, each time being estranged from the world before; then he entered into the world of death (three worlds) and divorced himself from the world before. than in resurrection (four worlds) became a new immigrant in a new body in his rebirth again re-introduced into the world.
as people who follow jesus we must be willing to be in the constant process of illegitimizing the worlds we come from, or at least estranging ourselves from the worlds we live in and create. or as jesus instructed nicodemus, ‘you must be born again’. to be born again means to divorce ourselves from what was before, and its moment-by-moment process that renews itself as we learn new things.
*(whether or not that is what he meant is under scrutiny)
“to better” as a verb, meaning to undergo betterment”
If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.
imagine this scene. a 5 year old decides to follow his curious inclination which leads him to the stove. he can see himself in the see-through glass and amused by his own reflection. this suspends his imagination for minutes on end. then he starts to look up, and his eyes meet this round silvery object, and all he can see is the object itself. he is too small to see the flame. or know what the big black nob does. his curiosity inspires him to grab a nearby chair that others use to sit on, but he has found another use, standing! he uses a nearby wall to help him get up onto the chair which he has so aptly placed in front of the stove. then he proceeds to reach for the silvery object. and then like a narrator’s voice in a god-like tone, the mother steps forward and shouts in slo-motion, “S-T-O-P!”
that child in that moment learned something. they learned that grabbing for the silvery object will get you in trouble. that is their first lesson in meta-ethics. that there are things (generally speaking) that are wrong to do. now, whether that child learns the first time around is another story. let’s say they do. then from that point forward their ethics are being formed. they are learning the difference between right and wrong, although they may not have the skills to express that yet. throughout their life during their childhood, children tend to get taught was is right, and what is wrong. in highschool this is more formed by the company one keeps.
if smoking is cool than in that context smoking is cool, although that child might know deep down their parents might not approve (or they might approve, depending upon the parents). their structure of ethics changes as time goes on. while they live at home they learn that there are acceptable and unacceptable behaviours. while they are school, they too learn what is acceptable and unacceptable depending on their context. as they become a permanent member of society, they too learn what are the meta-ethics that have been placed in society. (Yet, we say we’re free, but there are laws we are under, a conundrum). the tendency though with the language of right and wrong is that when we use this language we perpetuate a shame that comes with the unacceptable behaviour. so, if a person is taught that sex before marriage is wrong than when/if they have sex before matrimony they tend to not want to make the act public because of fear of rejection, no matter how ‘cool’ they might be seen by their peers (this isn’t always the case mind you).
what if there are words that we could use that wouldn’t be about judgement? (I am not saying we don’t need rights and wrongs, or that they don’t exist, but I want to shed light on the value of using different words instead). words that weren’t built around the idea that someone can only change if they feel some sort of shame. much like the character in Nathanial Hawthorne’s novel ‘The Scarlet Letter’.
if we spend our time chasing down others for certain behaviours, or stand outside of a building chanting against others, what we are essentially saying is that those people don’t deserve to be treated equally. that their behaviour has merited them shame. that their behaviour must be publicly announced and that they should be proverbially ‘burned at the stake!’ at the heart of pointing the finger is this need to justify the mob-mentality towards ethics. so, are there universal ethics that should be followed, sure. life is sacred. i think that’s a good one to start with, however one decides to perpetuate and protect one’s life and the life of another, it should be done. but what about universal meta-ethics for life? should those be adhered to? should we have a canon or list of do’s and dont’s?
some religious anthropologists state that religion was developed to ‘keep the peace’, to promote harmony. to invite a communal way of living. in this ever-shifting culture, that ethos is becoming that much harder to sustain. but should it be sustained? should it have even been introduced?
i do believe that there are life ethics that should be adhered to, like the one i shared above. i think that’s a good place to start because it includes a lot of our general behaviours and worldviews about what it means to protect and defend life. but i am sure there are more. but this post isnt about that. its about creating more substantial terminology that isn’t so emotionally degrading.
as you can see from above, the word ‘better’ in verb form means to ‘undergo betterment’, if you listen closely-its about
. its about growth. and its on the person themselves to undergo betterment. and to undergo something is an ongoing process. when we undergo some sort of therapy we are essentially saying that we are still in process. this is the same with the verb better. there is still hope and it resides in the gap between what is and what could be. that, for most, is the journey of life, that we are all undergoing betterment. but, when we choose the path of ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ we stop progress in its tracks. we make ethics into absolutism. we pre-judge a person based on a/a series of choices. we then become the determinants of what is the acceptable and unacceptable behaviours. we are also saying subconsciously that (1) we are better than them and (2) that they aren’t good enough.
Yet, Christianity is a faith that says we are more than good enough. (If we take the traditional story of Jesus as one who came to die on the cross for our sins*, than this is the direct truth that we are all worth it). In there has to be a middle road, one where moral absolutism doesn’t just tyrannically run free. And a place where moral relativity doesn’t destroy shop windows. Maybe we can find that morals can be absolutely relative or relatively absolute, moreso in terms of personal development. The language of right and wrong tends to have socially colonizing overtones. It also says that everyone is required to ‘toe the line’. That if someone breaks the mold, they have gone rogue or they disrespect everyone else. The Pharisees were moral absolutists. They even turned certain practices into morals (ex: Sabbath) and if you didn’t follow them the way they were written than all hell would break loose. Some might say they were following the Torah Law which God had spent time sharing with Moses, however, Jesus wasn’t always directly responding against the law, he was responding on their interpretations of the law that created exclusion. An important difference to notice.
Right and wrong don’t believe someone is capable of making better decisions. It says that their hands have to be held. Yet, Jesus says I have come to set you free. Moral absolutism doesn’t set people free, it cages them. It forces them to follow the cookie-cutter pattern to discovery. The language of better says that we believe in that person’s potential for them to discover that they are capable of being the best them, however that process of discover looks for them.
Better empowers people to be better.
It believes in humanity and its ability to get it ‘right’.
It believes in the potential of all humankind to live out as they are meant to be, it gives each person the opportunity to journey into the unknown aspects of discovering what it looks like to be a better person. Now, that is good.
*I personally don’t agree to the orthodox interpretation of Jesus’ death. I think he was dying to show us that love was the ‘better’ response to oppression.