Saturday, May 11, 2019

Christ is a surprise

The Christology outlined is one in which Christ is a counter-cultural figure, an ally of the poor, the sick, the destitute—all who are socially marginalised. —Graham Ward, "The Politics of Christ's Circumcision"

Crawford shared a pamphlet stuck at the back of his church full of the most hair-pullingly terrible theology. The sort of fearful things invented by people who are still afraid of being zapped by the gods.

Let me be painfully clear. I, too, am vitally afraid of being zapped by the gods. If I'm being honest, this is a fear that rules too much of my life. Because I, too, still insist on imagining divinity in my own image and likeness. It's not an attractive quality. But perfect love is the only thing that casts out fear and I am not yet quite able to entirely hand my entire self utterly over to perfect love. Again, work in progress.

It's just funny how easy it is to forget how wild Christ is, even if you make it a habit to think about, pray to, or read about him each day.

In the midst of all the theologizing, it's really easy to forget that God is wild. The God who is at the center of matter, the creator of mystery, is just like his creation in the sense that he utterly escapes our ability to pin him down. God is not in Aristotle. Aristotle is like vitamins. They are very important to keeping you healthy, and it's a very good thing to make part of your daily diet (unlike Sour Patch Kids or dried mangos). But it's not God, in that, it's not the sustenance, the food that lasts. Aristotle is not Quite It.

The whole thing about Christ is that if you aren't regularly shocked by him, you're not listening.

He's just wild. I keep repeating this word, hoping that it will land. But it's really the only word to describe a God who created the uncertainty principle. Christ embodies divine madness, in that he is never predictable, even in his natural rhythms—like a sunset.

Creation is symphonic—it is marched out, composed, pulled out of the earth with a clear tempo and structure. But it's always fresh, which is really shocking. The earth rotates around the sun slowly each year, turns rapidly on its axis each day, and the result of the monotony is not sameness, but a wild escapade of color, light, cloud, shade, sun, and streaks of clouds.

Christ is the same: his words beat out the same message of love, but its uttered in sparkling, crazed colors. And it's not simply the substance of what he says. His particular idiosyncratic manner of speaking is passed down to us in Scripture through the Evangelists, and it somehow still tracks as particularly his—vivid, arresting, and utterly enchanting.

Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.

I think, sometimes, we are too quick to turn historia into theoria—I did it myself, in this sentence: generalizing what is radically particular. Christ is like that. Of course Christ is the logos, the organizing principle of creation, the heartbeat to whose rhythm this whole body runs. But Christ is only that because he is radically unique—one particular Jewish body sweating underneath the sun and saying things like: eat my flesh. Love your enemies. So the last will be first, and the first will be last. Of course they are universal principles manifest in various ways throughout different religions. of course, they are the universal natural law of creation bubbling up in yet another manifestation.

But, coming from the mouth of Christ, translated into English, printed on a thin page of biblical paper, they truly are living water. Water that, 4,000 years after Jacob dug his well, still runs through the cold dark church and can be pulled out with a cup to quench your thirst.

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