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1st Sunday after Trinity May 19, 2008

Posted by Andy in lectionary, theology, Uncategorized.
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Here come this week’s readings. Hope to say something a bit earlier this week. Sorry for jumping over Corpus Christi: I’m not that ambitious!

OK, some comments in lieu of a sermon.

I’m told that my local flower shop makes a lot of money in summer, and it’s difficult to see why. If I was attempting to charm my wife or win a heart this week, I would feel completely upstaged by the apple and cherry. It’s the blossom season in Fredrikstad, and there’s no reason to hoard flowers. No reason to take them or  argue over them. They’re extravagantly lavished by every street I walk in.

That’s basically what the week’s readings are all about: the abundance of life, and the corresponding evils of pettiness. And if there is one verse worth meditating on among these, I would say it’s probably from the Psalm: Turn my eyes from looking at vanities, give me life in your ways.

It’s a natural step from last week’s apophatic readings that taught us not to know. This week we are told what it is we don’t know: what no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love Him. We do not know the abundance of life, we can’t see where God’s generosity stops.

This is what Paul is trying to drill into his churches: everything is yours! Why are you in a panic to fill requirements? Why are you frenetically seeking after knowledge? There is space for madness and foolishness and ignorance in God’s holiness: you are already full of God! Hence the Christian tradition’s negative theology as regards entry requirements – not by works, not by ritual, not by spiritual experience, not by knowledge.

And this is what Christ is using to drive his sermon on not resisting evil. We do not resist evil because that evil is essentially based on a stingy economy of desire and lack. People require us to carry their goods because they don’t manage to. But we do. We have all the time and all the strength in the world, because we have its Creator. There are plenty of cheeks to go around! So don’t grasp after belongings, don’t harvest right up to the edge of the field, as if you were worried whether God will provide this year. Don’t be petty.

Be perfect, you are God’s temple already. Christ is risen, death is defeated. Everything is yours, because you are already complete, as God is complete. So share it around, and don’t bother grasping for it. It’s already yours, and you can’t possess it in any deeper sense than that.

Now I thought of some other illustrations earlier, but they’ve gone from my mind at the mo. A kind of political version of this has been written by John Milbank, based on a rather shaky reading of Agamben, called “Paul and Biopolitics”. But it’s famous for being inscrutable, so take some time over it if you read it.

God, Vision, and Power May 19, 2008

Posted by Andy in Foucault, Idea History, liberation theology, philosophy, theology.
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Well, my article on George Berkeley’s Theological colonial thought is now publised in Studia Theologica. I’ve been working on it for far too long now and have begun to disagree with myself so it’s probably just as well it’s published now. This actually went in as an annual review thing once, but in a completely different form.

As one that has verged on Foucault fundamentalism, I’m proud how little the French guy gets a word in on this.

Trinity Sunday May 13, 2008

Posted by Andy in lectionary, theology.
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Ok, it’s been a while since I did one of these, so here come next week’s readings. I’ve really got little to say as yet, except to note that the New Testament readings interestingly give trinitarians formulations in liturgical, or at least stock linguistic expressions. I guess this is a good argument for the idea that we instinctively get to doctrines before we do so explicitly. Hence the messy outworking of doctrine.

I think there’s something very very profound in the Isaiah text, but haven’t got my finger on it yet. But I think that’s where I’ll be concentrating my efforts over the next couple days.

This weekend, I’ll be going to a Nick Cave concert and celebrating Norway’s national day. Hopefully that will give some interesting spin to this week’s readings!