Monday, June 27, 2011

Holiness and place

A Response to this re holiness and place.

Man's natural religion is one of domination. You do what I say in the place where I choose.  Or negatively, this my / our place is forbidden to you. כִּי אִם, in contrast, God's nature, an oxymoron, is one of righteous love, another oxymoron. I will show you the place and You do what I do. The two are incompatible - both in intent and in temporal sequence. Man therefore is in a state of rebellion. Therefore man is worthy of death. (Romans 1:32) Such is circumcision in an image.

God sees what ascends before him. I speak as as a human. What ascends before God - is unacceptable - so Jonah tells us (Jonah 1:1) their evil has come up in my face. What God demands is clear from the Akedah, the binding of Isaac (Genesis 22:2). The word ascend (for Abraham and this link see my post on psalm 47)  is the same word as offer whole offerings, and the same word rendered come up above.

The one who ascends (goes up) in the NT (Acts 1) is a man who did not follow man's natural religion. This is the upright on whom God looks (yes it is in the psalms, psalm 11, so it is not just a NT thing). It is God's elect and God's demonstration of what a human is. It is an offering that is acceptable. I had not noticed so clearly the linkages from ascension to offering, but these are explicitly drawn in Hebrews also.

In these days of the domination of capital as expressed in the post-colonial division of the world following the colonial wars of domination in the early 20th C, do we see any difference in human behaviour?  In at least one area: the recognition of woman's rights. Rights as a word is also an oxymoron. Even the great Trudeau could not formulate a perfect constitution with a Bill of Rights. What about the rights of rulers? Do rulers ruling in the name of a nation have the right to a city of refuge when they are led astray by their own will to power exercised in their dominion for the sake of what they perceived to be national and capital interest?  It appears not.

Could Nineveh repent? Could Syria or Libya repent? Has the word come to the king that he might put aside his glory and gird himself with a towel made of sackcloth? (compare Jonah 3 with John 13).  Perhaps if the ruler had exercised dominion for the people, the situation would not have developed so. But even where the government is for the people, to the south of me, there is still manipulation. Even here in the quiet Hobbited place of BC, when voting on taxes (the HST - vote no to keep it!), there is utter stupidity - these rulers, good or evil, have never read psalms 6 or 38.

It will not do to carry the message of an upright love in a box built on domination and dependent on armies. (So the Churches also and all Confessions of all stripes including the Orthodox and the Catholic and Protestant.)

What has this to do with place? Place has to do with temple. Temple is destroyed. Body is temple. The destruction of citizens, and their enculturation,  is the destruction of temple again and again. These temples, individual and corporate are built from our cultures of domination and they reinforce the domination of male and of money over the body in all aspects of government.  Female is not exempt but for the most part holds power and domination differently from male.

Behold the Man. Behold the place where they laid him.

All this seems too obvious, yet even those who look at Jesus do not follow or recognize together the nature of this taking of the kingdom without dominance.  Most are too hung up on the life of the world to come and whether or not their confession will win.  Or they waste their breath on bad science while reaping its benefits in their ignorance. These humans have not read the psalms either.

Did I draw a distinction between male and female here in order to suggest that woman could rule better than man? No. I drew attention to it because of the universal failure of the male in the domination paradigm to know anything about ruling. Such a failure is evident in the abysmal treatment of women throughout history. The problem is not solved by a domination paradigm on the other foot. Timothy Findley's Elizabeth Rex has been playing here with one of our friends in the title role. It is a clever recognition of the difficulty of our balancing the male and female in each of us.

One negative piece of advice maybe. When I am next aware of my temptation to dominate another, by might, by power, whether political, corporate, family, or social, or self-seeking, I need to ask for help instantly and retroactively. The response on the web is too slow for help and I need to wear bluetooth or carry an electronic banana for my ear. I don't need technology for the instancy of prayer and repentance. It is immediate, retroactive, and intimate - no holds barred. This too is known from the psalms.

And pragmatics? Well, I have my limits too. Suppose I had a crystal glass, carefully counted when I was pouring G&T's and it disappeared from my house. I don't usually count glasses, but after 8 drinks were poured, suppose I lost track of who had or did not have drinks, and I only have 6 such glasses. Maybe one broke and I was not informed, but the evidence is that there were 6 before the party and now there are only 5. What about my house, my family, my person? Where is the line of self-protection? I used to live with the house entirely open, never locked - for 23 years, even after one or two thefts by vagabonds. Now I have an alarm system. I live too close to downtown and it reduces my required insurance costs, and I have a troubled and disabled youngest child who is the product of colonialism and has FAS. I am stymied. Are there limits to access to my Holy Place? How is government possible?  Fortunately I do not have to answer this question. The hope of the Epistle to the Hebrews with its invitation into God's Sanctuary is remarkable, is it not.