Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Week 4: "So What?", Prophecy, Subversion

1)"So What?" for Nurses

Since we are halfway through the class(I am already grieving that, you may be excited!)..
We'll spend some time asking the "SO WHAT?" question about everything we've been  learning so far..
What do things like chiasm,    Herod's fortress, weddings on Mount Sinai, cross-cultural comedians who "get their sushi at 7-11 etc  have to do with your daily "contemporary world" of nursing?

Discussion about our Chapman textbook (that you wrote about tonight) should help.

I will fill in some of your answers in the space below during class:

We'll plan to take two brief field trips tonight...this time Israel, not Egypt..
with Ray VanDerLaan of course.
both on the theme of Jesus as compassionate, counterintuitive "caregiver" who subverted expectations and gave himself sacrificially..
"The Weight of The World" and "Lamb of God".  Neither is online, but suffice to say these images from the first trip:

and these from the second:

..will be remembered as symbols of radical self-giving service and kenosis
(just throwing out a quiz term there!).


This whole next session (in red), I have copied in from Week 2's post, because we didn't have time to talk about it then...we will tonight:
Often those in caregiving careers/ministries...such as yourselves..
face a deep dilemma and profound paradox.. you care intensely..but ironically,
you live and work  embedded in a system/matrix that "cannot" care.

Have you noticed that certain professions;
clergy, funeral directors, counselors doctors and NURSES
have "inhouse" jokes that might seem irreverent to outsiders to our "bounded set."?  At its best, it's one way of keeping your sanity and remaining caring.
Watch this  below...( well listen anyway, it's only audio) for a humorous example from those famous "theologians," Cheech and Chong (!!)in an old skit about Friday night employees of the E.R.:

Click the title below to read a related hilarious story:
one of my all-time favorite stories. Unfortunately, it's true!
From Eugene Peterson's "Under the Unpredictable Plant:

Sex and Drugs in Church: Peterson on Why the System Can't Care

All this to tie into "Hospitals and Those In Them) Need the Word of God," Fresno pastor Chris Erdman's amazing chapter 14 in "Countdown to Sunday," four pages that for me are as chillingly accurate,
and practically pastoral as anything in the massive "pastoral help" library.

As a pastor still wet behind my ears, I truly felt intimidated by the bravado of hospital technology and shrank before it. I didn't know then that the hospital itself, as much as the patients I went to visit, also needed to hear the Word of God in order to be what God intended it to be--an agent of divine grace, occupying its place as servant, not master...

I might not always carry a Bible [on hospital visits], but I always carry a text in mind that I speak among all the bleeps and blips and pokes. Hosting the text there among the gods of steel and electricity and drugs and know-how is vital work. The technology no longer intimidates me...

..So today, as I enter hospital doors and walk those hallways and sit beside beds and in waiting rooms and open those texts of ours. I don't stand and shout the Word--it's a power that doesn't need my strength or my energy. As I do, I not oy see the persons who need this Word leaning in, but I sense the walls themselves bending near...The real weapons that bring wholeness and peace are not machines but words, as small and feeble as they may seem. And all we have to do is mutter them.
Chris Erdman, "Countdown to Sunday," pp 71-73.

Reading this in the very real context and contour of a week of hospital visits to the sweetest saint imaginable; surrounded helplessly but not hopelessly by those bleeps and pokes and machines has brought tears to my eyes and whole images from Chris's chapter to bear on the situation.
I have never been one for wanting to look very pastorly/religious on hospital calls. I don't even park in the clergy parking!

And like a good stealth pastor, I keep my small pocket Bible tucked away.

But I can now pull it out to pay a pastoral (and prophetic) call on the relentless beeping heart monitor. Gently, I rage against the machine; I do not welcome myself to it or its domain.
Instead, I Word it back to its creative and redemptive purpose. And I have seen, like Chris, "medical people who know firsthand the limits of these gods and who themselves long to hear the Bible read in this place that often intimidates them too--they've seen the soft underbelly of the beast that demands their homage."

"Resistance is the protest of those who hope,"
as J├╝rgen Moltmann has it ( "The Power of the Powerless").

(above excerpted from my blog post: "Gentle Rage Against the HospitalMachines"

I really recommend

Chapter 5 of "Hospital Ministry,' (ed. by Holst)
"Hospitalization: A Rite of Passage"  by John Katonah..
We'll summarize it in class, but it is complete here below

(click each page to read, then click again to enlarge):

Related reading:

>>Here is a link  to read  which critiques Katonah's s three stages (see pp 302-303, about stripping but not consummating )

>>Another book suggests prayers/liturgies(click to read) that nurses/caregivers can offer  to accompany each of the three stages.

Since tonight's Bible theme is PROPHECY and SUBVERSION..and the symbol is:

we'll talk about:


It is helpful to think of prophecy as:

a).not just
fore-telling (predicting the future)


forth-telling  (telling forth truth)

b)often having multiple applications and fulfillments, to different "contemporary worlds" and across time.
We'll  used this diagram to illustrate:

-Who was Immanuel?
-Who does "out of Egypt, I have called my son" refer to ?

- < Subvers

3)Subversion of Empire
The early Christian church, living as an

  • alternative
  • counter-cultural
  • Upside Down Kingdom
 community and comunitas (within the Matrix/ Roman Empire; in but not of it)
had to decide how to respond to the empire/emperors.
Here below are two "literary/historical world" examples of one of their key responses:

Subvert/satirize it.
(How do you compare this response to culture/government/empire
to those of the Pharisees,Sadducces, Zealots and Romans (discussed  9/22, see here)

a)The Crucifixion/Resurrection accounts in the gospels:
Especially in Mark,  the "Literary world" styling and "Historical world" background  ofJesus' crucifixion scene seems set up to satirize empire, and encourage subversion. Here is a summary below from Shane Claiborne's book, "Jesus For President":

Coronation and Procession (8 steps):
1. Caesar: The Praetorian guard (six thousand soldiers) gathered in the Praetorium. The would-be Caesar was brought into the middle of the gathering.
1. Jesus: Jesus was brought to the Praetorium in Jerusalem. And the whole company of soldiers (at least two hundred) gathered there.
2. Caesar: A purple robe was placed on the candidate. They were also given an olive-leaf wreath made of gold and a sceptre for the authority of Rome.
2. Jesus: Soldiers brought Jesus a wreath (of thorns), a sceptre (an old stick), and a purple robe.
3. Caesar: Caesar was loudly acclaimed as triumphant by the Praetorian Guard.
3. Jesus: Sarcastically, the soldiers acclaimed, mocked, and paid homage to Jesus.
4. Caesar: A procession through the streets began. Caesar walked with a sacrificial bull and a slave with an axe to kill the bull behind him.
4. Jesus: The procession began. But instead of a bull the would-be king and god became the sacrifice and Simon of Cyrene was to carry the cross.
5. Caesar: The procession moved to the highest hill in Rome, the Capitolene hill (‘head hill’).
5. Jesus: Jesus was led up to Golgotha (in Aramaic ‘head hill’).
6. Caesar: The candidate stood before the temple altar and was offered a bowl of wine mixed with myrrh, which he was to refuse. The wine was then poured onto the bull and the bull was then killed.
6. Jesus: He was offered wine, and he refused. Right after, it is written, “And they crucified him.”
7. Caesar: The Caesar-to-be gathered his second in command on his right hand and his third on his left.
7. Jesus: Next came the account of those being crucified on his right and left.
8. Caesar: The crowd acclaimed the inaugurated emperor. And for the divine seal of approval, the gods would send signs, such as a flock of doves or a solar eclipse.
8. Jesus: He was again acclaimed (mocked) and a divine sign confirmed God’s presence (the temple curtain ripped in two). Finally, the Roman guard, who undoubtedly pledged allegiance to Caesar, the other ‘Son of God’, was converted and acclaimed this man as the Son of God.
This extraordinary symbolism would have been unmistakable to the first readers of the Gospel. The crown of thorns, the purple robe, the royal staff; the whole section leading up to the crucifixion reads like the coronation of Jesus! At the apex of this passage is the Roman Centurion’s exclamation that “Surely this man was the Son of God!” He saw how Jesus died and became the first evangelist. His realisation tears apart his whole view of the world and reveals the fallacy of earthly empire and the nature of the true King.
Mark is trying to show us where our allegiance should lie. At the foot of the cross, when even those that Jesus loved must have been bewildered (only failed Messiahs hung on crosses), a Roman Centurion proclaimed that Jesus was the Son of God! The journey to the cross was the final coronation of the Son of God, the rightful King, who in the cross defeated sin and death.
-Link: Shapevine 


  • Here's a Ray VanDer Laan article that Shane Claiborne drew from in the coronation article above..
  • Here is a podcast interview Keltic Ken and I did with Shane Claiborne.

b)Book of Revelation:
Here below is a Rob Bell sermon that presents the book of Revelation as subversion of empire; many do not realize that the "historical world" of this book has much to do with persecution by emperors for not worshipping them:

“Domitian was the first emperor to understand that behind the Christian movement there stood an enigmatic figure who threatened the glory of the emperors. He was the first to declare war on this figure …” Ethelbert Stauffer. How do followers of a peaceful Christ respond when the government has declared war and death on them? 


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