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."

2019/04/18

Singing Hallelujahs

The Christian salvation story is in great need of radical expansion. I am convinced that the Easter message needs to reintegrate with the entire creation. 

Here is an illustration of what might have gone wrong and why I think this reintegration is needed.
       Medieval art, especially from high Gothic times through Renaissance, often depicted baby Jesus with a bird. Sometimes Jesus awkwardly holds it, even clutches it. Later on, with some rising sensitivity, the bird is only gently touched. Occasionally the bird is being tethered on a golden string. 
      In order to understand what is going on, you need to know that the bird in these paintings is Carduelis Carduelis - the European Goldfinch. Goldfinches are associated with thistles, brambles and anything thorny. In those paintings this bird is a signal, a pointer and an omen foreshadowing the crucifixion. 
      I find it symptomatic of our treatment of nature in our religion. We made our religion all about us, and only us and about our individual salvation. Nature is used, like that bird in those paintings, as a stage or even worse as a tool and accessory to the great story of our own salvation. 
      I always felt badly for those pure birds in those paintings being so awkwardly handled by the medieval Jesus. Especially as they were made into those unwilling pointers to the cross and unwilling coincidental accessories to the crime of crucifixion while goldfinches are joyful and famous songbirds. 

Join us this Easter Sunday when we reintegrate goldfinches and all creation into the salvation story. It will not diminish its glory, it will amplify it! Let us all sing with entire creation our Salvation Hallelujahs.
And here is a video version of this blog - Singing Hallelujahs .


2019/04/15

You Can't Wash in Blood

Many Holy Friday hymns are simply awful. Especially those written in the 19th century. Have you ever payed attention to what they say? For instance:
    "In the Cross of Christ I Glory."
    "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross."
    "Sing, my tongue, the glorious battle,
        tell aloud the wondrous story of the cross."
 
And some other hymns, among many more, which point to the Holy Friday message:
    "Are you washed in the blood?"
    "Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! ...
        Born of the spirit, washed in his blood."
 
Just think about it! Those are atrocious hymns with catastrophic theology. Their emotional landscape is exaggerated, histrionic, brimming with fake emotions and completely alienated from historic reality.
     For any sound mind the cross was nothing glorious - it was an ultimate form of Roman state terrorism. I do not know what kind of person can find murderous torture wondrous.
    I am from a family of Calvinist pastors and doctors. You do not wash in blood, when you treat grave injures, you need to wash blood off. Even as a theological metaphor it does not work. Washing in the blood appears only once in the Bible, in a marginal passage in Revelation, and anyhow it is about washing robes not persons. Otherwise the Bible makes clear in number of passages that blood is to be washed away. 

How much more truthful, genuine and sincere are especially the old African-American Holy Friday Spirituals:
    "Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
       O, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble."
   "They crucified my Lord and he never said a mumblin' word."
    "They Crucified my Savior and nailed him to the cross...
        He rose from dead, and shall bear my spirit home."

These are the songs of honest, sincere sympathy and experience and deep personal understanding coming from deep, firsthand experience with persecution, torture, and, yes, lynching.
      I am convinced that it was not a coincidence that in the 19th century white churches were singing about wondrous crosses and being washed in blood while black churches were singing about them who crucified my Lord who never said a mumbling word.
      And when you put it this way, you know what is the most truthful singing. You know where the heart of God was and still is.

Come to worship with us this Good Friday. With the late Professor Dr. James Cone we will seek the true message of Good Friday and understand the cross through the lynching tree.

2019/04/11

Christian magic words


Christians do have their own genuine magic words. Magic words that go all the way back to the New Testament, the Greek Bible, and thus they have been used from the earliest church until now, some of them daily.
          They are genuine magic words according to anthropology and the study of other religions. They are often words transmitted or borrowed from different languages and almost as a rule do not make any sense in the language of their current users. As they are transmitted through generations and different languages their spelling is altered and their pronunciation is changed. The original speakers would have difficulties in recognizing them in their current form.

Here is an incomplete but substantial list of the New Testament magic words, starting with those most common:
Amen - derived from the Semitic root for something firm, certain and meaning something like “May it be so.”
Hallelujah - is actually an abbreviated Hebrew sentence “Joyful shout to the LORD!”   Abba - is an Aramaic word for a father, often used by Jesus and early christians. 
Rabbuni - was an Aramaic salutation or greeting used for Jesus “My teacher”.

Among these preserved and untranslated New Testament Semitism are also healing commands used by Jesus:
Ephphatha  - “Be opened!” For healing of a deaf person.
Talitha kum - “Girl get up!” For resurrecting a comatose or dead girl. 

In the liturgical setting we have already mentioned Amen and Alleluia. There are also worship exclamations:
Maranatha - “Lord, do come!”
Hosanna - “Save, please!” or “Do save!” 

      All these words have the characteristics of true magic words. They are preserved from their original language(s) and they are repeated as sounds often without understanding of their original meaning. They are used because of the ancient tradition, out of respect to their original use or for the perceived power or religious potency.At that was something you might not know about the Bible and your faith tradition.
       Join us this Palm Sunday as we listen to the people and especially children surrounding Jesus at his entry to Jerusalem and hear, learn and adopt one of these words- Hosanna. It is often used as one of those magic words, but it is way more precious and meaningful. Join us in prayer for liberation.