Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Reflections for December 3rd, 2014

If you've never watched "Sons Of Anarchy" I would encourage you NOT to (Though I've watched several seasons, hypocrite that I am).

It is rife with unfiltered violence, power manipulation, posturing, intrigue, unwaveringly blind though misguided loyalties, retribution, revenge, and death. As a matter of fact it is remarkably similar to the ancient story surrounding the "unification" of Israel & Judah after Saul's death which reminded me of the series in the first place.

One thing I was struck with is that in "Sons" as in Kings and Samuel the violence is, in a word, "un-redemptive". What does that mean? We all are often guilty of justifying violence (in fact "redeeming" it) if in the end it serves a "higher purpose" or that there is a dichotomy of perceived good versus evil (though scripture reveals to us that "no one is good, not one"). But in the end Jesus words come home to roost "those who pick up the sword perish by the sword" (Matt 26:52) which has a most striking object lesson in 2nd Samuel 2: 13-17 where 12 soldiers under Joab's command (David's general) and 12 soldiers under Abner's command (Ishbosheth's general) met in a field, later called the "Field of Daggers", and grabbed each other by the hair and stabbed one another. All twenty-four died right then and there. There are no winners under this model of conflictual mimesis.

We have a tendency to think that our world is "going to hell" but in reality it really isn't going anywhere. The same themes; the same mechanisms of control, the same mentality as the David's and their Joabs, Isbosheth's and Abners, Jackson Teller and his makers of mayhem, world leaders and their armies of which none are righteous, not one.

The power of God. What is that in this kind of world? When the mother of James and John asked Jesus: "When you come into your kingdom, please let one of my sons sit at your right side and the other at your left." She was, along with her sons, thinking along the above described lines. The language of messiah was understood in context with militant, zealous, nationalistic, patriotism and violence. What Jesus says next is extraordinarily subversive of this idea:

"Not one of you knows what you are asking. Are you able to drink from the cup that I must soon drink from?" James and John said, "Yes, we are!" "You certainly will drink from my cup! But it isn't for me to say who will sit at my right side and at my left. That is for my Father to say."

We do in fact find out who is at Jesus right and left when he comes into his kingdom and ascends to the throne. Jesus then launches into a teaching about how the structures of the world operate; and juxtaposes this with his Father's kingdom. Now the solution requires us to discern what his throne and kingdom look like and how Jesus "comes into his kingdom". Well, it looks like a Roman cross. And now we know who is at his right and his left.