One Man's Web

... Now when we come to a text, it's worth asking, "Is this just cultural— it always is cultural— is this just cultural, or does this story or text reflect something of the deep reality of the universe? Sometimes texts which seem alien, or naïve, or even harsh, reflect a reality about life that we are foolish to ignore.

In this text today,  is reflected a truth that the churches share with many other people: a sense that the universe and what is behind it is for us, or is on our side.... Read on >>>>

I've stolen an image from my daughter's latest solo exhibition.

Central to Grotto— reminiscent of a death mask— was a face cast in wax. You can't adequately photograph such works. The photo is technically superior to any I could manage, but does not remotely capture the small room, the grotto, which one had to enter to view the body of art. Or the bright light and the consuming black background, and much less again, the oppressive silence and heat of the place. We had to enter into the work and allow ourselves to be discomforted and unsettled.

We live in an age of tabloid media. Things are short, plain, simple. Sound bites and surface. John's gospel, and Deb's Grotto, are long form media. They are panoramic, allusive, deep, complicated— although often posing very clear questions: in John, he is asking us, "Are you in the dark— the night, or do you stand in the light?" And in this week's reading, "Is it winter for you?" "And are you among my sheep?" ...  Read on >>>>

In this story Peter has gone back to his old job fishing. We sometimes read it as going back to his old life now that Jesus is dead, and being surprised by the resurrection— the story appears to be an independent resurrection narrative.

But  it can also be read as the disciple Peter looking deep into himself, going out across the sea of his unconscious life, and fishing around for the things which swim deep within us, mostly unseen. In this reading, we are all invited to be a Peter.... Read on >>>>

Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, 
you used to fasten your own belt
 and to go wherever you wished.

But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands,
and someone else will fasten a belt around you
and take you where you do not wish to go.’ 

Out of the mouth of Jesus and away from the Gospel of John, this little verse is a sharp summation of what we learn about life as we grow older. As we take it back to the alternative ending of John's gospel, what does it say to our life of faith?... Read on >>>>

A letter to my congregation
This Good Friday morning we will listen to the story of Jesus' crucifixion. We will bring stones to the foot of the cross. Then we will take down the cross and lay it upon the burial shroud. We will bring the flowers of mourning, and we will leave.

I urge you to give yourselves to this liturgy, for we are all complicit in the death of other human beings... Read on >>>>

Macus Borg and John Crossan tell us there were "two processions entered Jerusalem on a spring day in the year 30." ...  Which parade will we attend? Rome's parade comes on a warhorse, with marching soldiers: it is about power and victory. It is the parade which says we are in charge because we have won. We are the conquerors. The power is ours. We own you. Jesus' parade has a king coming in peace... Read on >>>>

John has taken the story of the woman who anoints Jesus, and edited it with such striking eroticism, that it does violence to the text not to address it. Even though Luke has a woman who anoints Jesus' feet, she is "a woman of the city, who was a sinner," which reproves the eroticism. But in John 12 we have the woman of whom Luke said, "Mary has chosen the better part." The eroticism cannot be ignored; Mary's intimate devotion is praiseworthy, and Jesus defends it.

Biblical texts are strongly oriented to a male reading of the world. This text is likely to be even more masculine in its outlook and, of course, I read it as a male.... Read on >>>>

The reading set for this week is known almost universally as the Parable of the Prodigal Son. But because of its context in Luke 15, should it be called something else? Jesus is answering complaints from the good religious people of his time about his association with "sinners." Sinners was not only a religious term, but also a measure of social acceptability. In his answer he tells the story of a lost sheep and a lost coin. So his third story, which we call the Prodigal, might actually be the story of a lost son.

This observation raises an immediate question: which son is lost? There are two sons, but only one is able to enter the house of his father. The other, estranged from his father, refuses to come in. And it's not the prodigal son; it's the "good" son who won't come home! ... Read on >>>>

A politician who was losing support started coming to church during the election campaign. There were knowing smiles at his sudden piety. And it never occurred to me, his elder brother, that perhaps he was trying to come home. I simply dismissed him.... Read on >>>>

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The Latest Comments...

Mary - Miriam - Rebellion   (Bill Schlesinger)
From Strong's Dictionary: Mary - Of Hebrew origin מִרְיָם (H4813) מִרְיָם Miryâm, meer-yawm'; from H4805; rebelliously; So the rebellion anoints Jesus for his death/resurrection? It is...    Read more ...

Intimacy, sensuality, sexuality
   (David Powell)
John is the gospel referring to the enigmatic "disciple whom Jesus loved". If it's a way to anonymise your involvement as the author, it's hardly...    Read more ...

If   (Trail)
If ur feet follow ur words, I salute thee!    Read more ...

Re: We all need a shed   (Andrew)
Hi Allan. Nice to hear from you. You were always good at conversations... and a source of great inspiration to me. Thanks. Andrew    Read more ...

We all need a shed   (Allan Nield)
I don't drink (much) wine (my Methodist upbringing getting in the way of having a good time). So perhaps I can't grasp the extent of...    Read more ...

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