About this blog

This Blog is named after an ancient gnoseological riddle which hints hidden, disseminated, omnipresent wisdom.
I invite you to search, listen and observe with me for "the word of tree, whisper of stone, and humming together of the abyss and stars."

2017/11/21

Watch out, shepherds!



Yesterday afternoon, as I was preparing worship for Christ The King Sunday, I received a surprising DM (Direct Message) from @ManhattanProphet forwarding to me 12 tweets.
The original tweets came from @RealLORD, here they are all:

@Ezekiel34, Prophesy against the shepherd-leaders in the #BrightHouse and on #TheHill. Damn to you, shepherds, I am watching you!...
...You only pretend to care for my sheep! Aren’t shepherds supposed to care for sheep? You don’t feed my sheep, you just feed my sheep...
...with your bigotry, prejudice and racism and then sell my sheep for cheap to your wealthy cronies. Not only you don’t care...
...for the wounded, you actively try to take away their affordable sheep-care, not once, not twice, for the third and fourth time...
...and I am not going to be silent, says the Lord! You pretend to care for sheep, but you threaten to divide them...
...by your ever taller walls as if my pasture was some kind of a prison! You aren’t building bridges upon which my sheep...
...could safely and peacefully walk. You are the ones who are actively misleading my sheep to dangerous swamps of your own making...
...And when you train sheepdogs, it is not to guard and protect my sheep, you train them to shoot-to-kill...
...And what have you done to the meadows of my pasture! Half of it you pricked and poked with your fracking rigs...
...so that the very ground is shaking like in fever. The other half you want to under-mine, pollute with bursting pipes...
...or turn to a waste-heap, taking away protection from soil, water and air. Therefore, listen to my message you pseudo-shepherds!...
...Watch out! I’m coming and will take my sheep back. I will rescue my sheep from your greed!
 
Of course this cannot be an authentic divine message. The Omniscient would certainly have known that the limit of characters had risen to 280! With all likelihood these prophetic tweets are another falsification from the workshop of the Manhattan Gospel ofHenry Rutgers. Nevertheless this modern paraphrase of Ezekiel 34 clearly illuminates why so many biblical scholars think that many, if not all, otherwise bucolic biblical psalms and parables about sheep and shepherds contain a soothing personal message but also an explosive political rebuke to the powers that be.

2017/10/18

Taxation Coin


This is denarius - a coin of Roman taxation.
This particular one was struck around the year 150 CE, in the relatively calm period of the rule of  emperor Antoninus Pius, about the time when the last parts of the New Testament were written.
Roman coins were certainly more than just monetary instruments. Coins also played an important ideological function. Even this standard and little boring denarius can help us understand.
This small coin is loaded with political imagery and imperial propaganda. And as small as these Roman coins might be, they were ubiquitous important financial instruments. And besides their main monetary value they functioned like political billboards or TV advertisements perhaps even like a social media “sponsored” or “pushed” posts. These coins, just like those social media posts, were also common and not appreciated for what they were actually “pushing”. This Sunday we will hear again the famous Jesus pronouncement “Give to the emperor the emperor’s and to God what belongs to God” – a beautiful, clever and powerful rejection of the economic exploitation and imperial ideology in the name of Creator’s sovereignty and grace.
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And for those who read this far, here is a description of this particular denarius.
On the obverse of the coin is the head of the emperor with a laurel - a symbol reserved for gods, victors and emperors. Around it is the emperor’s name Antoninus and his titles Augustus (worthy of veneration) and Pius (dutiful in affection) and Pater Patriae (Father of the Fatherland).
On the reverse of the coin is a standing figure of Pax (goddess of Peace - mind you, it was the Roman peace, which was achieved by conquest and subjugation) and around her are further Antoninus’ titles - Tribunicia Potestas (with the powers of the Tribune - originally a defender of the Roman poor - but in reality bestowing great unchecked powers) and Consul IIII (Consul for the fourth term).

2017/10/11

A Proverbial Snub

Deep in dark shelves of the Rutgers Church library we discovered an ancient folio with relatively well preserved uncial writing. Upon closer paleographic and exegetical examination of its archaic Manhattonite English we became convinced we happened to find another fragment from the author of the Manhattan Gospel of Henry Rutgers offering us important insights into some biblical mysteries:

ONCE THERE WAS A POTENTATE WHO WAS ABOUT TO BE INSTALLED INTO HIS POTENTATY OFFICE.  HE WAS KNOW AS EXCEEDINGLY VAIN AND NASTY. THUS EVEN THOUGH HE INVITED MANY FAMOUS ACTORS AND SINGERS AND ARTISTS TO HIS CELEBRATION, ONE AFTER ANOTHER THEY STARTED TO EXCUSE THEMSELVES. ONE PROMISED A CHARITY CONCERT ON THE SAME DATE, THE OTHER HAD PLANS TO TAKE KIDS TO DISNEYLAND, AND YET ANOTHER NEEDED TO CLEAN HER FISH TANK. AFTER A LOT OF EFFORT SOME CELEBRITIES AND DIGNITARIES DEIGNED TO COME. THEN THE DATE ARRIVED BUT EVEN AS THE POTENTATE TOOK OFFICE ONE OF THE IMPORTANT GUESTS (BY THE WAY FROM THE SAME POLITICAL TRIBE) COMMENTED ON HIS ACCEPTANCE SPEECH “WHAT WEIRD S**T!” THE WEATHER WAS NASTY AND IT DID NOT STOP DRIZZLING. THE CELEBRATION WAS SPARSELY ATTENDED AND ALONG THE PARADE PROCESSION ROUTE THERE WERE MORE GUARDS THAN GUESTS. ROWS AND ROWS OF STANDS WERE EMPTINESS EMPTY. THE POTENTATE WAS ANGRY. HE LIED AND DENIED WHAT EVERYONE COULD SEE AND THREATENED THOSE WHO MENTIONED THE TRUTH. TO ADD INSULT TO INJURY THE NEXT DAY AFTER THIS CATASTROPHIC CELEBRATION PEOPLE GATHERED ON THEIR OWN ACCORD AND FLOODED THOSE VERY STREETS WITH THEIR OWN FESTIVAL OF COLOUR AND RESISTANCE AND CREATIVITY AND FREEDOM. 
AND NOW, DEAR READER, YOU KNOW WHY THE EVANGELIST LUKE REJECTED MATTHEW’S VERSION OF THE PARABLE OF THE BANQUET AND WROTE HIS OWN VERSION WHILE PROUDLY WEARING HIS PUSSYHAT.       


It is very likely there will be again misgivings about the authenticity of this document from the treasure chest of the Manhattan Gospel of Henry Rutgers. It, nevertheless, makes some insightful points. The "PUSSYHAT" worn by the evangelist Luke is a clear anachronism, but even among serious biblical scholars there is no denying that Luke was, what we would call, a feminist among evangelists. It is also a well known fact that Luke lifted this parable from  Matthew’s context of the dark Middle-Eastern despotism (most likely the First Jewish-Roman War) and transplanted it into his gentler Hellenist city culture. Thus both Matthew and Luke give us permission to read the parable in our own times and context.

Be it as it may, come this Sunday to remember and celebrate.

2017/10/04

Animated world

This Summer we received a surprise visit. Several tomato plants sprung from our balcony earthworm composter. It was a delight to observe them growing, blooming and finally bringing forth little delightful tomatoes. All what they needed was a little bit of water now and then. An old friend commented that she calls them “volunteer plants.” I started to call them “companions”. They gave us so much joy!
      This experience opens my mind to perceiving even plants as living creatures even with souls, just like animals. Our English word for “animal” is derived from the Latin name for a soul - ANIMA. And a biblical testimony also hints to the presence of soul in other creatures. Psalm 104 speaks primarily about humans and animals but in a broader context includes also plants. This is how the psalmist speaks to God about living nature:
   When you take away their spirit,
   they die and return to dust.
   When you sent out your spirit again,
   they are created anew,
   thus you renew face of the earth. 

And there are other biblical instances of animated (having anima, having soul) nature.
      This weekend we will welcome our 2017 autumn speaker Dr. David Abram. He is an interesting author, thinker, philosopher and environmentalist. He will share with us his insight on how respecting other creatures’ souls can lead to a healthier, happier and more spiritual living for us and entire planet.
                   
Saturday: Lecture at 10 am, and Seminar at 1:30 pm
Sunday Worship at 11 am

2017/09/27

Honeycomb Communion

There has been hardly anything more contentious in the Christian history than the simplest meal which Jesus bequeathed to his disciples. Every aspect of it and even aspects imagined and fabricated beyond it have been a source of bitter and often bloody controversies. Arguments flared up, heretics were burned and wars were waged over the precise interpretation of that simple meal. Disunity starts right with the name - is it to be called Eucharist or Holy Communion or Lord’s Supper? Is it a sacrament or sacrifice or memorial? Is the Lord present in it or at it? There are centuries of bitter struggles about arcane terminology of transubstantiation, remanence, transignification, consubstantiation, utraquism, memorialism, centuries of splitting hair and cutting heads. It is difficult to imagine that thousands upon thousands of people died in conflicts over these arcane questions, and there are still some for whom it is the ultimate supranatural question of salvation.
     As we celebrate World Communion Sunday we will try to put all this bitter history behind us and discern this special meal in the context of a Hebrew legend from the book of Judges and its sweet mytho-poetic riddle. Come to celebrate with us a honeycomb communion. 

 

2017/09/21

Grammar of Happiness

In Hawaii there is a running joke about their two systems of time. There is a Haole (American) time and Hawaiian time. While Haole time is about plus minus five minutes, Hawaiian time is only suggestive and can mean almost anytime. These different concepts of time reflect different cultures, but they are in fact growing from the deeper and more profound linguistic roots.
   English sentence is unthinkable without indicating its temporal position - past, present or future. Any time we open our mouth, our sentences are chained to a definite position in time. Hawaiian language on the other hand is virtually tenseless. Hawaiian is rich in nominative clauses (sentences without verbs) and even verbal sentences communicate primarily the flow of action (grammatical aspects). Thus, while our European languages value punctuality, the tenseless languages highlight validity and fullness of time.
   Why am I writing all of this? Because the Biblical Hebrew is also one such starkly different and almost magical language. It is hardly ever mentioned and difficult to convey in translations. In the Biblical Hebrew tenses are almost an afterthought – time is relative, but aspects are important.
   This Sunday we will let the ancient Hebrew teach us a new grammar of happiness, or at least we will let Hebrew open our minds to a spiritual reality beyond and above our modern dictate of time.

 

2017/09/14

Church Familia

The word for family came to English from the Latin FAMILIA. It originally meant the entire household. It denoted several generations and even servants living together under one roof. Similarly, the Greek word for family is οἶκος - OIKOS. The original and most common meaning of OIKOS is a house, but soon it metonymically started to mean also the family as all those who live in that house.
    From a slightly different angle the Hebrew word for family מִשׁפָּחָה - MISHPACHAH or for instance Hawaiian ‘OHANA both describe larger kin groups connected by common ancestry. However, both names were naturally expanded to include even a larger circle of relatives by blood but also by marriage, adoption even friendship.
    This Sunday at Rutgers we will celebrate homecoming - the coming together of our Rutgers Church Family. In the center of a large vibrant cosmopolitan city where we can often feel lonely and alienated in the middle of crowds, we form our intentional community, our MISHPACHAH, our OIKOS, our ‘OHANA our FAMILIA, our adoptive family of faith.