One Man's Web

At an ordinary Christmas dinner in 1965 I went back to the sideboard to help myself to more desert. Something stopped me. I stood still for so long my mother came to ask if I was all right. I could not answer her. There were no words a ten year old could use.

I had not learned the word apocalypse.... Read on >>>>

So Jesus is the truth— Jesus stands for something— which is opposed to the father of lies. The father of lies is that foundational lie which gives rise to all the other lies.

What is the greatest lie? What is the thing we worship which, at its very foundation, leads us astray?

The father of lies is that we can solve violence with more violence; the idea that we can make war to create peace; the idea that order and harmony can be created by violence....Read on >>>>

In John 18 we are presented with the historically absurd image of Pilate, who holds the power of Empire, running back and forth between Jesus and his accusers. ... Pilate is being judged as he judges Jesus, (Nuechterlein) and so are we.... Read on >>>>

The Gospel of Mark begins with the promise of a great victory. The word Gospel, was itself a word for victory in Jesus time. If you imagine  the newspaper boys of Jesus' time standing on the street corners crying out, "Gospel! Gospel! Caesar wins great victory in Gaul… gospel…" you've got the idea.

Jesus called this victory— this gospel— the kingdom of God come near. (1:15) It came in living for one's neighbour, and in serving others. It had a strong critique of imperial rule and exploitative power. Jesus stood firmly in the tradition of Amos, and Micah, and Hosea.

There's evidence that Mark was first disseminated by dramatic readings—  even plays—  in public places. And when it hit the streets, 30 years after Jesus' death, everyone knew he had been killed. Everyone knew Jerusalem had been destroyed by the Romans— or, if it had not, that it was only a matter of time before this happened.

So here is Mark, producing a drama right as Jerusalem falls… and calling it a gospel— a great victory—  just as Rome was in the process of wiping out the Jewish rebels who had proclaimed freedom!? What is that about? How is that… victory?  Read on  >>>>

To each and every street corner preacher of disaster, and to every preaching prophet on Sunday, Jesus says, "But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."  The thirteenth chapter of Mark contains no esoteric code for deciphering the future. It is a rebuttal of those who claim to know: This is no special time;  this is how life is.... Read on >>>>    (Podcast)

What's the connection between Jesus, The Cat Empire, and an impoverished widow? Oh… and even the Melbourne Cup?

This week, churches worldwide are exploring a story where rich folk are pouring money 'by the bucket' into the Temple treasury in Jerusalem. Probably lots of corporate sponsors as well. And Jesus pans them, and instead draws attention to a desperately poor widow, whose two copper coins, he says, are more than all the rest.... (Written for the Pilgrim Church blog) Read on >>>>

The Podcast

By Mark Chapter 12, a whole world is coming to its end. Jesus has slammed the corruption of the temple— cleaned it out, overturning the tables. (Mark 11:15-19) During that event, he alluded to Old Testament verses that warn us of the absence of God from the Temple. God would not be found within the very centre of Jewish life and being, which symbolised divine presence. (Jeremiah 7:3-15)

But on the next day, everything continues as usual! Yes, in their growing panic, the authorities are looking for a way to kill him. (11:18) But here is Jesus again, ignored after the outrage he caused yesterday. Is it because they are afraid to arrest him? That's inconceivable in the real world. This is a literary device which says, "Despite all he has said, it's just business as usual, with 'the crowd putting money into the treasury.' No one has noticed what he has done! No one has seen clearly!"... Read on >>>>

We all have a hermeneutic... The deepest arguments I've observed in church come down to this.  There are times when self-interest, winning for its own sake, holding the power, and so on, have largely been eliminated. Or, at least, we have seen them clearly and have them under control. But something else has meant an irreconcilable difference has persisted. In our hearts we have felt of each other: "you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God… you are quite wrong." (Mark 12:24-27) And sometimes we have said as much to each other... Read on >>>> or listen to the podcast.

In this week's gospel story of Bartimaeus, do you notice that Jericho is mentioned twice? Why this emphasis? And why is the story set in the context of leaving Jericho?

Jericho symbolises a place of entrapment and blockage. Its walls appear unassailable. The city is "shut up, inside and out." (Joshua 6:1) In the old stories Jericho is actually in the Promised Land, but it is a barrier to the people of God entering the land. It must be passed by and left behind. Crossing the Jordan is not enough on its own; there is more to do in life...  Read on >>>>

Two memories from my holidays, and a startling observation from Mark D. Davis:

Finally able to relax after buffeting winds that on one occasion even blew me off the road, I approached Port Campbell. In the roadside dusk I found a koala with the perfect fur of the healthy young, but obviously dead. He lay bottom up, with his arms at his sides, instantly reminiscent of photos of Aylan Kurdi. I have not been able to remove the image, or the comparison, from my mind. Something is being said to me. Something about our valuing of ourselves over the land— was this child koala any less valuable in God's sight? Something about the slaughter of innocents in the lust for power. Something… 

... The story of Bartimaeus is perhaps the key point in Mark's gospel. It unlocks the gates to Jerusalem. We cannot plumb its richness unless we look at the shape of the whole gospel; these few verses in Mark 10 are not a quick read.... Read on >>>>

I am no security expert. I write this only because people express concerns about personal safety when considering touring. I write from about 100,000km of travel by bike with no incidents where I was in any serious danger. There has been the occasion deliberate close pass by vehicles, but that is all.

Australia is a safe country— really. Especially in country areas. People are more likely to be admiring than wanting to harm you!... Read on >>>>

Where bike and rider intersect on a long trip...  Read on >>>>
More on distance touring... Read on >>>>
How to stay fuelled and warm over long distances.... Read on  >>>>
How to do it... Read on >>>>

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