Thoughts on Karl Barth's Romans Commentary

Thoughts on Karl Barth's Romans Commentary

It is a wonderful experience to come to a book so beloved and lauded (and also criticised and dismissed) and to find it an absolutely thrilling, joyful, and thought-changing!

Here are some thoughts on why I loved the book and some things I'm taking from it.

tattoo chapters 5 through 8 on my ribcage!

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A Locating Prayer

A Locating Prayer

What is the point of the prayer Jesus taught his disciples?

What will be achieved in Incarnation, Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension is here proclaimed and passed on to us as unconquerable truth, we have been put on common and holy ground with the Son, “The Messiah has made us insiders”; not to a club, but to the very life of the Triune God - to the loving heartbeat of the source of all that is!

We aren’t taught to pray to Jesus’ Father, but to “our Father” signifying our relocation. This sermon was delivered at Warnervale Uniting Church on Feb 03, 2019.

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Doctrine as Translation

Doctrine as Translation

This post develops a proposal for a role of doctrine in a post-Christendom, global church. It explores writings by George Lindbeck and Kevin Vanhoozer, arguing their contributions restrict the potential for translation through calls to unity. To move forward I engage the function of doctrine, drawing on James H Cone and Ellen T Charry. They show doctrine needs to be transformative, meeting people in their contexts and drawing them into the mission of God. Finally I examine the potential of the role of doctrine as translation; a process empowering both the renewing and rebirth of past expressions of doctrine, and the emergence of entirely new forms built on the endless array of communal and individual experiences of God.

“Doctrine should do something. It should compel the Christian, drawing them into, or sustaining them through, the struggle for liberation and freedom for the oppressed.”

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The Transformative Power of Naming

The Transformative Power of Naming

In Scripture naming has a transformative power, it often reflects an encounter or expectation. This post explores four scenes involving naming (Moses and the burning bush, Hagar and El Roi, Jacob becoming Israel, and Simon becoming Peter). 

For we who encounter God, we too receive a transformed name – not necessarily in a literal sense like Peter (though that is the case for some) – but our name, our identity, our history and future is transformed by being conformed, swept up, in the life of Christ, in the history and future of God. We don’t lose our particularity, any more than Peter did, but we are drawn into the mystery of God and sent on God’s way – sent on the way of God who hears the cry of the oppressed, and sees the abandoned.

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All The Things I've Tried that Failed

All The Things I've Tried that Failed

If I were writing a book about my work as a chaplain it could be suitably titled All The Things I've Tried That Failed. In this post I search for a different way of measuring my (our) participation in the mission of God. Exploring Moses, who the Lord knew face to face; Paul, who came in gentleness; and Christ, who set the bar at love - there's a way of 'measuring' the Christian life that subverts and redeems all manner of downward slanting graphs.

To love God and love neighbour is to be drawn beyond ourselves and our own interests – it is, first, to seek fully and forever after a God who is both entirely beyond and within. It is to praisefully devote ourselves to the hidden and invisible God who we can know intimately. It is to experience and allow ourselves to be transformed by the Spirit of fire, without being consumed, without forfeiting agency. It is, second, to seek fully and forever after the interests of our neighbours who cannot be contained, controlled, or categorised. It is to joyfully commit ourselves to their flourishing and liberation, affirming their humanity as made in the image and likeness of God. It is to experience and allow ourselves to be converted by these encounters, without ever losing the confidence that who we are, as fearfully and wonderfully made, is, when coming to rest in God, enough. 
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To Hear Humanity Read Over Us

To Hear Humanity Read Over Us

When the post-exilic community hear the Law of Moses read aloud they are moved to tears, what a thing to be reminded of your humanity after living amidst a dehumanising system/society. This piece explores James Cone, Slave Spirituals, Kendrick Lamar, and Sia as examples in this lineage of speaking humanity over the oppressed. It also asks what does it mean for me to be reminded of my humanity in a system designed to celebrate it above all else.

It is in the Law that they hear their humanity spoken over them. In the Law that they hear that they are created in God’s image, created for freedom not bondage, and that God is for them and not on the side of their vainglorious oppressors. What a thing that must be, when for 70 years you have heard (and witnessed) nothing but the opposite. What a thing it must be to hear that you are known, valued, and a person when the society around you has demonstrated their belief, in no uncertain terms, that you are lesser, disposable, a non-person.
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The failing & hope of the Church: thoughts on and from James H Cone's Black Theology & Black Power, ch 3 The White Church & Black Power

The failing & hope of the Church: thoughts on and from James H Cone's Black Theology & Black Power, ch 3 The White Church & Black Power

My series on James Cone's Black Theology and Black Power continues. This post comments on chapter 3 "The White Church and Black Power".

From the chapter:

If the real church is the people of God, whose primary task is that of being Christ to the world by proclaiming the message of the gospel (kerygma), by rendering services of liberation (diakonia), and by being itself a manifestation of the nature of the new society (koinonia), then the empirical institutionalized white church has failed on all accounts.
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The Gospel and Black Power: thoughts on and from James H. Cone's Black Theology and Black Power: "The Gospel of Jesus, Black People, & Black Power"

The Gospel and Black Power: thoughts on and from James H. Cone's Black Theology and Black Power: "The Gospel of Jesus, Black People, & Black Power"

The 4th post in the series on the writings of James Cone. Here I reflect on Cone's response to questions such as what is the gospel of Jesus Christ, what is the righteousness/justice of God, and whether Christian love is compatible with Black Power.

Therefore violence may be the only way to express Christian love to the white oppressor, as it is the only way to confront the white oppressor as a thou, to remain a thou in the face of the threat of nonbeing, to remain true to the worth, value, and humanity that God has bestowed through the initiating agape love, the only way to embody love as righting the wrongs of humanity because they are inconsistent with God’s purpose.

 

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Asserting Black Humanity: thoughts on and from James H. Cone's Black Theology and Black Power "Toward a Constructive Definition of Black Power"

Asserting Black Humanity: thoughts on and from James H. Cone's Black Theology and Black Power "Toward a Constructive Definition of Black Power"

The 3rd post in a series on the work of James Cone. Here I reflect on Cone's definition of Black Power, the affirmation and assertion of black humanity in the face of white racism, how I am a racist, and the risk of liberalism.

To borrow a phrase from Paul, we live and move and have our being in a racist society, a racist climate. I cannot deny that which I have inherited, racialised narratives that shape the way I see the world and the gut reactions I have to stimuli and the way it shapes how I turn observation into meaning.
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Emotional Theology: thoughts on and from James H. Cone's Black Theology and Black Power, Introduction

Emotional Theology: thoughts on and from James H. Cone's Black Theology and Black Power, Introduction

The second post in the series on the work of James Cone. Here I talk about Cone's criticism on objectivity and the need for our emotional response to injustice to shape the writing and performing of our theology. A prescient point in light of the current refugee debate and proliferation of inhumane treatment of those seeking safety.

Calls to ‘remain rational and objective’ are more often than not a ploy of those with power to dismiss the objections of those without (this is obviously not a new insight). It is easy to stay ‘rational’, ‘objective’, ‘cool, calm, collected’ when your body isn’t on the line – when your life, and the lives of your people are not at risk
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Thoughts on and from James H Cone's Black Theology and Black Power, Preface to the 1989 Ed.

Thoughts on and from James H Cone's Black Theology and Black Power, Preface to the 1989 Ed.

New Series: In this, the final year of my Masters, I'm writing a thesis based around the theology of James H. Cone, the father of Black Theology in the US - and one of my favourite theologians. Because of that I'm going to have to read a bunch of his books. This made me think, why not get a little synergystic and blog through the books of his that I'm reading. Cone is an undervalued theologian, and it is a shame how few people know him or his work. So if I happen, through this, to encourage people to check him out, then that's a win. Today is the first in this new series, beginning with the 1989 Preface to the 1969 work Black Theology and Black Power (Harper & Row, San Francisco). I'm also going to include companions (in forms of songs, readings, films, etc. along the way). This post also leads to some offshoot thoughts about Australia Day, the "Alt-Right", and X-Men. 

As Cone writes, “amnesia is the enemy of justice. We must never forget what we once were lest we repeat our evil deeds in new forms” (xi). Cone is applying this to himself and his silence on the oppression of women, and it needs to be something I apply to myself, to my own past (and present) misdeeds, shortcomings, mistakes, silence, and perpetuation of oppressive systems and structures against all those who are striving for justice (Indigenous Australians, women, the LGBTIQ community, migrants and refugees). It also needs to be something we remember as a community, about our past… and this makes me think about Australia Day…
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A Responsible Christianity

A Responsible Christianity

With my work with the Chaplaincy at Macquarie University we have been exploring the idea of a responsible theology - an expression of the faith which is responsible to the world we find ourselves.

"Because, and this has long been pointed out, too much theology is irresponsible. Theologies of submission and sacrifice have guilted too many women into staying in abusive relationships. Theologies of God as powerful monarch have made synonymous the good character of God with the virtues and traits of white male authoritative figures. Too many sermons on salvation as rescue have fostered utilitarian and anthropocentric views toward the non-human world. And this doesn’t mean that we can’t talk about, for example, Christ’s sacrificial and self-giving love, it just means that we should keep in mind the dangers and walk the path responsibly, offering the odd caveat or clarification."
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Content Overload

Content Overload

I'm coming to terms that sometimes I get a little overly fixated with receiving content - with packing my time (and mind) full of new information... in this piece I explore how this manifests in my, perhaps, overly enthusiastic love of podcasts.

 You don’t start any story with I love x, without love of x coming to be a problem and the protagonist learning to love x in a new more beautiful way 
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SICARIO, and being sent in the midst of wolves

SICARIO, and being sent in the midst of wolves

You will not survive here. You are not a wolf, and this is a land of wolves now. 

A reflection on the final line of the excellent film, SICARIO and Jesus' sending of us into the midst of wolves. Why do we need the mix of dove and serpent, of shrewdness and innocence?

Serpents are wise to the ways of the wolves, to the darkness of the land, and because of that serpents can be subversive in their resistance, crafty in their struggle. The shrewdness of the serpents allows us to sidestep repaying like with like, of believing that the only way to stop a wolf is to become a wolf... 
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James Cone and #BlackLivesMatter

James Cone and #BlackLivesMatter

How James Cone's ground-breaking, earth-shaking, woke-inducing, God of the Oppressed connects with the #BlackLivesMatter movement and speaks into (or against) the unfortunately too common response of 'all lives matter'.

Image of James Cone speaking at the Rall Lectures in 1969 in the Chapel of the Unnamed Faithful.

"Cone’s work grants a new perspective on those who criticise “Black Lives Matter”, insisting on the adoption of the ‘universal’, “All Lives Matter”. Cone (dealing with this before we had #’s) counters, that yes, all lives do matter, just as all are oppressed, but when the person contending that is not a member of the oppressed it becomes another way to silence those crying for liberation."
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Tripp Fuller's Guide to Jesus as a movie

Tripp Fuller's Guide to Jesus as a movie

What if Tripp Fuller's excellent guide to Jesus was reimagined as a movie about a competitive home brewer who reflects on his relationship with beer as he travels across the country to a prestigious competition? 

You'd see that right? Well, read all about a movie that will never be made about a book that can easily be read, right here!

"Finally, as the road trip ends we catch up with the present, arriving at the great brew-off. Our young man, drawing on his journey, the wealth of experience he has pillaged and plundered, presents his beer."
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The Revolution will (not) be Authorised: the curious case of DEADPOOL

The Revolution will (not) be Authorised: the curious case of DEADPOOL

What do the wrestler CM Punk and the movie DEADPOOL have to teach us about advocacy and protest? Considerations in light of the current #LetThemStay refugee actions. Check out my nuanced photoshop work in that image!

"It’s the perfect plan really, create a system that pleases your supporters – identify the pockets rebellious antagonism, and then give them an outlet within the very system they decry – this way, whether they love you or hate you, they pay you."
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