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."


Prayers Blowing In The Wind

This Sunday
will be the first day of the year 2012.
How do you want to start this New Year?
I invite you to open it in worship and with prayer!
Yet, they would not be just ordinary worship and prayers.
Join us in searching together for new forms and expressions.
Come to experience worship which transcends the medium of language.
Experience a prayer that can be so much more than just a theistic dialogue.
Help us to form a prayer which will permeate and chime in with the creation.
Psalm 104 is a marvelous and often missed and neglected creation hymn.
Surprising archaic poetical images celebrate the world and its creator.
One metaphor will lead us to prayers which can permeate the world,
and to a worship which engages more than just our hearing,
to a worship which fosters creativity and imagination,
and seeks harmony and peace for our world.
Our biblical text will be Psalm 104:4a;
we will embrace the ancient practice
of Tibetan prayer flags.
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
And here are some pictures from our actual worship on 2012-01-01:

And after being asked by some neighbours and members who were not present on the New Year's service, we posted this explanation.


Camping among us

The birth of Jesus was and remains a mystery and also a scandal. Theologically we can call it a mystery and scandal of incarnation.
       Matthew speaks about a single mother, and being born out of wedlock. Luke has Jesus born as homeless person and greeted by a bunch of rednecks (Don’t believe those bucolic caricatures! Shepherds were rough people.). 
       The gospel of John opens with a sophisticated hymn full of sublime concepts of Platonic and Stoic philosophy. And then John throws in a surprising coda, “The Word became flesh and dwell among us.” There could hardly be a statement more contradictory and scandalous in those times! The sublime essence of divinity and order (LOGOS) becoming a piece of flesh (SARX - just imagine it as a piece of flesh in the butcher shop). 
       John does not stop there, he continues his revolutionary provocation. This Word became flesh and it dwelled among us - but we should dare a more accurate translation - “It pitched its tent among us.”
       Clearly, this statement does not speak about a summer camping trip. This is about something more serious! Didn’t we ourselves hear this autumn about “grave dangers” and “the serious antisocial nature” of camping in public spaces and on university campuses? Didn’t a few campers provoke our political establishment to mobilize federal agencies and hundreds of riot police and even helicopters? You see, from Moses' Ohel Moed (The Tent of Meeting - a symbolical presence of God who liberates from slavery) through a mystery of incarnation until now “pitching a tent among us” still preserves this provocative edge. Pitched tents are and always have been more than just a place to stay; they represent ideas, they unsettle and pose important questions.
       Come this Sunday (Christmas Day) to wonder over, and be transformed by this marvelous provocative image, God’s presence among us in the tent!


Discussing "The Power of the Powerless"

With passing of Vaclav Havel last Sunday I went back and quickly refreshed my memory and paged through his essay “The Power of the Powerless” from 1979. (I actually possess genuine copy of a samizdat edition which I helped put together sometimes around 1986).
I was astounded! It is an old document, but I found it surprisingly refreshing and inspiring. In the center is a sharp analysis of how power operates, how it exercise control over society, how it presents itself as just, fair and democratic, while not being anything of it, giving people impression of freedom, while catching them in snares of corrupted and corrupting power. In many places you can just substitute plutocracy for totalitarianism and Havel’s analysis reads as if it was written today.
But this document is not only an analysis. It also has a programmatic edge. It shows that even in quite adverse conditions it is possible to start forming small islands of alternative living (life in truth), dissident/alternative culture, seeds and saplings of truly civic society.
Just like in East Germany, Poland, or Czechoslovakia, churches have marvelous possibilities to participate, model and to shape this long-term intellectual and spiritual quest for waking up people and empowering the powerless and creating alternative models of living together.

Will you be interested in seminar discussion (Book discussion) of this interesting document?

--------------added on 2011-12-23
I would like to invite those interested for a home seminar on January 8th at 7p.m. In the spirit of the dissident nonpolitical politics we will gather for tea and discussion of this interesting document. Please contact me soon about your interest.


Traditional Mytho-Poetical Christmas.

       What could the Traditional Children’s Pageant, Händel’s Messiah, and the Service of Lessons and Carols have in common?
       They come to us from different time periods, they certainly represent different refinement in style and form, and they reflect different past theologies. Yet, regardless of their differences, in all of them, magi intermingle with shepherds, angelic revelations coincide with prophetic dreams, gospels and prophets are combined in surprising ways, and any and every Hebrew prophet is made (nolens volens - willing or not) to speak about the Christmas babe. In one sentence, they all represent and brightly radiate that same contagious enthusiastic naive faith.
       This same faith has been with us for quite a while, at least from the end of the second century - "The Protoevangelium of James" would be a marvelous and highly entertaining example. In "The Gospel of James" (as it is also known) the miraculous births of John and Jesus are predated by the similarly special birth of Mary. And this is how the very moment of Jesus’ birth is described by James:  
       Joseph and the midwife stopped at the entrance to the cave, and behold, a bright cloud overshadowed the cave and the midwife said, ‘My soul is lifted high today, with my own eyes I have seen wonderful things; for salvation is born to Israel.’ And immediately the cloud lifted up from the cave and the great light appeared, so bright, that we could not see anything. A short moment later that light somehow dimmed, and we could see the baby, and he went and took the breast of his mother Mary. And the midwife exclaimed again, ‘This is my great day, because I have seen this miracle, never seen before!’ (Protoevangelium of James, chapter XIX, paragraph 2).
       All the rest of “The Protoevangelium of James” as well as the similar “Infancy Gospel of Thomas” are highly entertaining, captivating and evocative, just like our Traditional Pageants, Händel’s Messiahs, and Services of Lessons and Carols.
       Come to enjoy them with us this Christmas Season. Take them seriously but not literally. Be inspired, affected with this contagious, naive, mytho-poetical faith of Christmas. It possesses the power to transform lives! 

A friend commented that Händel did not combine shepherds and magi. That is correct, but his libretto sets almost side by side "Emanuel" from Matthew and "Glory to God" from Luke in a very similar manner. And his treatment of Hebrew prophets is truly stellar example of mytho-poetic approach (Many OT authors would be truly amazed which of their words became understood as messianic prophecies).


Jesus' literacy and prophetic preaching

Could Jesus read or write?
       In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus took the scroll, unrolled it, found the passage and read it. That passage was identical with our own upcoming lectionary reading from the prophet Isaiah for this Sunday.
       So could Jesus read and write? It is highly unlikely. Literacy was counted at under twenty percent even in the most educated parts of the ancient world,  and a Galilean village was not one of them. Literacy is a continuum. It can be categorized by the complexity of different texts. Level one is an ability to read a short message, a shopping list or a business receipt. The next level is the reading of a letter or a newspaper article. Unrolling the scroll, finding the desired text and reading complex prophetic poetry asks for the highest level of literacy.
       By the way, how many of our “highly religious” American compatriots would be able to find the prophet Isaiah in their Bible without referring to the index? I personally saw evangelical fundamentalists struggling to find Jonah, not to mention the prophet Habakkuk.;-) Can you imagine looking for a specific text on a scroll, without pages, without an index and without numbered chapters and verses, and doing it in a language which had not been commonly spoken for generations? Just imagine doing it in any other language than your own!
       In all likelihood, Jesus was hardly literate. When we hear about Jesus who unrolled a scroll and found a particular text, Luke might not have intended to speak about Jesus’ literacy, but instead he might have been hinting at divine providence. From the labyrinth of a scroll filled with highly complex prophetic Hebrew, Jesus read the passage about the joy of general amnesty for political prisoners, and the pardon of un-repayable loans. He proclaimed a new vision for the world. Come listen to Jesus’ preaching on this old prophetic text. From the prophetic text he preaches into our context today. Come to be surprised with Jesus’ radically new and timely reinterpretation of advent joy.

And for those who read as far as this:
On the matter of the emerging literacy, many of you might remember that Socrates (In Plato’s Phaedrus) spoke powerfully against that “new” invention of writing. He was worried that the event of dialogue and searching for ideas would become objectivised in the physical form of a written text (thus anticipating dangers of literalism, scriptualism and fundamentalism). And secondly he was worried that people would start trusting the written record and stop remembering the true essence of events thus losing an important hermeneutic function of tradition.
From an anthropological perspective it is interesting to note that almost all major world religions emerged around that boundary between oral, rhetorical and literary cultures. Non-literate people were not dumb, they only preserved their knowledge and wisdom differently. At the time of the emergence of writing the scene was set for centuries to come. The time is clearly coming when we move beyond this strictly literalistic world. It is a highly interesting process in which the written (tweets, blogs, wall-statuses) is becoming equivalent to the spoken, creating fast moving and developing chains of significations and re-interpretations. After centuries when "THE WRITTEN" was almost holy, it now becomes ephemeral in large segments of life. What interesting times!   


Baptised to Re-Occupy the Land

What do you do when you see the land wounded, or people being forced from their homes which are then left to turn into ruins? What do you do when you see people losing their livelihoods, and becoming unemployed and destitute? What do you do when people are held hostage by their mortgage and loan holders? What do you do when the tax system is set up to burden poor people while the big owners are laughing all the way to the bank? What do you do when institutions which were supposed to alleviate social and personal hardships are not doing it? 
       You go and re-occupy the land! That is what John the Baptist did, together with many other prophets and popular leaders of his time. We will be talking about it this Sunday. They knew that their land, the Promised Land, was like a garden, able to sustain all the people. They knew that there was enough food for everyone. They knew that society, and the political as well as the religious systems, were supposed to function differently; they knew it from Moses and from the Prophets. They felt that it was high time for a new beginning, a new Exodus, for a new Crossing of the Jordan river, a new reclaiming of the Promised Land. And so they did it. They went to the wilderness, they went to the Jordan, they tried to return to their cities. They attempted to recapture the divine dream. 
       These are the origins of our baptismal practice. Baptism was not primarily personal or spiritual hygiene, as it was often (mis)represented! At its core was this broader and deep-seated religious, political and societal longing for a new beginning. A longing for a new start which would be fresh and just! In baptism we are sent to reoccupy the land, to reclaim the life for ourselves and for our God, to recapture the radical divine dream. And that is prescribed to us this Sunday in our lectionary reading from the Gospel of Mark (Mark 1:2-8).
Friday Message from Rutgers Church 2011-12-02 
Popular movements reenacting the Exodus and the Joshua’s occupation of the Promised Land
according to Josephus Flavius writings Bellum Iudaicum – “The Jewish War”, and Antiquitates Judaicae – “The Antiquities of the Jews.” With few characteristic short quotations.

36 C.E. The Samaritan prophet who promised to lead people to the treasure of Moses on mount Gerizim. Killed and dispersed by Pilate at the end of his rule. (Antiquitates 18.85-87)

Between 44-46 C.E. Theudas lead people to Jordan River and promised to divide its stream like Joshua. “Now when Fadus was procurator of Judea, a certain pretender named Theudas persuaded the greater part of the mob to take up their possessions and follow him to the Jordan River. For he told them that he was a prophet and that at his command he could divide the river, providing them with easy passage. Saying these things, he deceived many. Fadus, however, did not permit them to take advantage of the madness, but sent a squadron of cavalry against them, which falling upon them unexpectedly killed many and took many alive. Capturing Theudas, they cut off his head and displayed it in Jerusalem. (Antiquitates 20.97-98)

52-58 C.E. “Deceivers and imposters, pretending to be under divine inspiration and fomenting upheavals, persuaded the multitude to madness and led them out into the desert, as if there God would show them signs of liberation. Against these Felix - for he supposed it to be the beginning of insurrection - having sent cavalry and armed infantry, destroyed a great multitude.” Later a certain Egyptian prophet (understand an Egyptian Jew) brought many to Mount of Olives and wanted to take Jerusalem by force promising signs of toppled city walls. Felix killed 400 followers and dispersed the rest of them. (Antiquitates 20.167-68 and 169-170 paralleled in Bellum 2.259-260 and 161-263)

59-62 C.E. Anonymous impostor under Festus promised salvation and rest from hard times taking them to the wilderness where they were destroyed. (Antiquitates 20.188)

Around 71 C.E.  In Libya Jonathan the Jewish refugee in Cyrene seduced people to wilderness preparing them for exodus. Catullus, local Roman governor, sent cavalry and dispersed them. (Bellum 7.437-40)