One Man's Web

The costly choice of freedom:  This is not something I understand; I have no recipe. But it is something I am beginning to experience. There is some emptiness being filled. I begin to see hints of a new landscape; ridgelines and valleys, and new ways to travel. This is the map I am sketching to describe to myself what I'm beginning to see.

In Deuteronomy 30, Moses says, "Choose life… " ... Read on >>>>

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Who do people say that the Son of Man is? …. Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’  7And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven.

Like Peter, God has given us the gift of seeing that Jesus is the Messiah. He is the one God has anointed to show us and lead us in the ways of life.

From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.22And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, ‘God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.’ 23But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling-block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.’

24 Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. 26For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?

In the time of Jesus, the big stumbling block for people was the idea that the Messiah might die, and it was unthinkable that he would die at the hands of the elders and the chief priest and scribes who were the backbone of the Jewish faith.

But the idea that you could die for following Jesus… was not so surprising. I suspect people who followed Jesus had a clear understanding that they might end up carrying their own version of his cross.

For us, it's different. We know the Messiah will die. Our religion is built around that concept. What's new for us, is the understanding that following Jesus will cost us our life.

This is not just an optional extra reserved for missionaries overseas, in some exotic location.

If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.... Read on >>>>

In the sparsely stocked Blinman General Store, the miracle of satellite TV was broadcasting a Donald Trump press conference. I was shaken by the persona I observed, and went back to the heat and head wind, wondering what would lead anyone to think he could fix things!? All my sensitivities about dysfunctionality and abuse had been triggered: I would veto such a person from Church Council; they would destroy the congregation.

While riding, I'd been thinking about the CentreLink extortion racket. Here in Australia, the government is sending out autogenerated claims of overpayment of benefits. The system seems deliberately obfuscated to deter even highly educated people from contesting the claims. Lawyers speak of demanding money with menaces; people have been close to suicide after receiving such letters. The great majority of the letters are in error.

I had concluded this and other current policy decisions in Australia are not simply  just rich people acting in ignorance within the insulated bubble of Canberra. The fallout from such policies is so well publicised, that to continue them— even double down on them, can only mean malice towards those in society who are poor and failing.

What drives such malice? Why do people lionise the very rich who oppress them? ... Read on >>>>

You always know you might not hold together on a very long ride. But I have not had the bike let me down until now. That said, it gave me 120 kilometres on a broken spoke before the second one went, so things turned out pretty well!

The plan: three days.
Day 1: up to Hawker ≈ 385km
Day 2: on to Blinman and back to Hawker— the clockwise loop ≈ 231km
Day 3: get back to Adelaide ≈ 434km  ... Read on >>>>

For me, the interpretive key to Matthew 5:38-42, lies in a terrifying, and deliberate, literary pattern.

If Jesus speaks of eschewing violence and not resisting evil, of being slapped, of having one's clothes taken, and of been compelled to serve the Romans, the conclusion to his own life makes his words concrete: he eschews violence (26.51-4), he does not resist evil (26.36-56; 21.12-14); he is struck (26.67); he has his garments taken (27.28, 35); and his cross is carried by one requisitioned by Roman order (27.52). (Davies and Alison Matthew: A Shorter Commentary, pp83.)

Read on >>>> 

In between times today, I fine tuned the new bike. The body moulds to a bike, and if a seat frame slips a couple of milimetres, the rider will feel it immediately. Gavin at AvantiPlus, Salisbury, shifted over my seat, and bar ends, and various other bits from the old Blade 4. He did this by eye, and with a few key measurements by tape. Back home, I could barely tell the difference! I took the seat up by about three mils and set the bar ends a few degrees shallower.

Saddle fore and aft-- I've kept the Selle-- and saddle horizontal, were perfect. This bike does not have a telescopic seat post; my old seat tube is a different diameter. So we will try the big ride next week without the shock absorption; I might take tyre pressures down a bit!

I have my old tyres across on the new bike; they now have over 7,000km without a puncture. Schwalbe Marathon Plus may be a bit heavier, but for communting and touring, they have no peers. Later, I will bring over the old rims across too, as they are heavier duty. There is no foot fouling on the front tyre, although, inevitably, you can snag the mudguard.

I like the disk brakes, which I tested with a few crash stops in the street, and can feel the newness of the frame. Everything is tight. The gear shifters have better mechanical advantage than my old ones. It's all sweet.
Tomorrow will be the first ride; I have about 70km to get to work and back, and may just feel the need to come home up the Linear Park.

 The bike is a Scott "Sub 30," which is  USA speak for a pushy...  Suburban Utility Bike. The downtube has an oblong profile which means I need to rethink how to attach my extra long-distance bidons,but over all, I'm very pleased. 


Archived article.

Everyone is angry, angrier than I can remember. The anger in the wider community is a part of our congregations. The fact that anger is the first concrete example Jesus uses to explore being righteous, or not, indicates it was a real issue for Matthew's church. It's danger to us is nothing new... Read on >>>>

Well, the Blade 4 that's taken me half way round the country has given up the ghost.

There's been this click, slowly getting worse.... and we've reseated the bottom bracket and I've taken off a lot of stuff and cleaned it up and retightened it all. To no avial.

Last night, Gav at the LBS retensioned the spokes, took off the cranks and pedals--and took out the bottom bracket again. So we did all the easy stuff.

And for about 3km it ran silent. Then the creaking started again, and the click was back the time I arrived home.

I stood the bike upside down at home and ran a light over the frame.

59252km and I think we've come to the end of the road. I'm not going to weld a chainstay.

Cousin, the problem is not that you see conspiracy everywhere— vaccination, climate change, Obama the secret Muslim, the dole bludgers ruining the country— but that you fail to see the obvious one everywhere present, which is the exploitation of the poor by the rich; Trump, Exhibit One. And then vote for him, or those like him. You mislocate and misdiagnose the powers, which dislocates your Faith.

You make the powers and demons into spiritual forces, as in ethereal and invisible  forces, which inevitably become the superstitions of The Exorcist and similar fictions. And fail to see the very real presence of evil all around us.

You use the words evil, demonic, or Satan too often, in the wrong places, and too obviously as a projection of your own fears and prejudices. Which repels the rest of us. So we avoid these terms in an effort not to be obnoxious or simplistic. We search for less naïve and more reasonable descriptions of the world. It means we lose the very real insights of our ancestors in the faith, and discount the present realities of evil. We make our own misdiagnoses because, as the old cliché says, we throw the baby out with the bathwater.

What happens if we apply the language of evil, demon, principalities and powers, in a more considered way? What if we do not simply transfer the names onto superstitions— do you not see how you make your fears into the unbelievable, and then magic them away with faith formula (in the name of Jesus), aka spells, like Harry Potter, but not like the Christ? What if we do not simply transfer the names onto superstitions but trust that— or even check if— our forebears were aware of real forces to which we have become blind?

Following Walter Wink, Richard Beck says, (The Slavery of Death pp50)

Rather than view the spiritual as “above” the physical, [something ethereal and unreal; something we have grown beyond,] we can instead view the spiritual as the “inner” life—the “heart” and “soul,” if you will—of a particular power structure or power relation (e.g., social, institutional, organizational, economic, national, political). For example, when we talk about a nation, an economy, an organization, or a corporation, we can consider the “spirituality” each embodies, the top-down culture and ethos that govern the lives of the individuals who serve and participate within those structures…

With this reframing in hand, Wink argues that we can continue to use the language of the satanic or the demonic to name the ruling ethos or spirituality of a power structure that is violent, degrading, and abusive… [Bolding added by me.]

From that, Wink concludes:

“Satan” is the actual power that congeals around collective idolatry, injustice, or inhumanity, a power that increases or decreases according to the degree of collective refusal to choose higher values.

Our collective Australian abuse of refugees, of the poor— think the government's Centrelink extortion scam, and of the sick— we call them in-valids, and that's how we treat them—

  —our collective abuse becomes a power and a force for even greater inhumanity or evil. Each uncontested scapegoating pronouncement by our politicians and shock jocks gives permission to the malcontents and psychopaths among us. It validates them, and it validates evil.

It means that Turnbull's acquiescence to Trump, and Morrison's statement that the world is catching up to Australia in its persecution of Muslim refugees, means Turnbull and Morrison are servants to Satan.

And to the extent that we do not decry them, and resist them, so are we.

Powers and evil are everywhere, dear Cousin. You are correct. But in supporting these men, and those even more extreme, you do not notice that they have captured you. Simply crying, "Lord, Lord…" does not determine our allegiance.

Andrew  (Archived copy)

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The Latest Comments...

Dad   (Marion)
Have just read this for the first time Andrew. It is beautiful and beautifully written. Makes me realise I hardly knew my own dad at...    Read more ...

Great meditation. You certainly grasp the gospel, no, is grasped by it. many thanks    Read more ...

Fantastic.   (Wes)
Would have to be close to your best ever post!!!    Read more ...

Good News and one ambiguity   (David Powell)
Matthew is so harsh sometimes - the pictures of judgement are so graphic. This puts it into perspective. On the ambiguity: it took me a...    Read more ...

One more thought   (Bill Schlesinger)
ISTM that the dyadic function is inescapable in being human. We know ourselves in relation to others - in both affirmation and jealousy, we identify...    Read more ...

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