Saturday, December 08, 2007

Mr. Wino, and friends

I was sitting in our community gathering this morning, having just finished a wonderful breakfast of toast, eggs, bacon and mushrooms, and as we do each Sunday we began to discuss things that may have had a spiritual impact on our lives the previous week. A young man began to relate to the group an encounter he had with a wino, and the security staff at a night club.

The wino is a well known homeless man in the Melbourne CBD. He has been fall down drunk for most of the time for the last ten or twenty years. He often smells bad, gets in fights, and is always very drunk. My friend from church know him from a few of the social services in town. My friend who we can call Norm, said hello, and a conversation began. One of the bouncers from the club they just happened to be standing in front of walked up, addressed the wino by name, and told him he wasn't allowed to drink around there anymore. Norm's friend began to protest and ask why and apparently mr. wino had caused some problems and tried to assault one of the security staff last week.

So Norm lead mr. wino down a few meters till they were not in front of the venue any longer, and along with his friend, and Norm's girlfriend, continued their conversation. The bouncer came over and started telling them to get the hell out of there, and Norm and his friend started to arch up. Things started to get heated, and it looked like there were going to be blows thrown. Norm's girlfriend, as girlfriends often do, cooled things down and got the boys to take mr. wino down the street.

As they were walking down the street the wino said, "Jesus used to party, we're just having a party just like Jesus" And apparently having been stood up for, cared for, and also being drunk, made mr. wino very emotional, and he asked the guys if they could pray. And so Norm, his girlfriend, another friend and mr wino stood praying in the street. The security and everyone else on the street witnessed three young, apparently normal people group hugging a smelly drunk who had shit his pants. Norm realized something about the kingdom of God there.

Jesus tells this story:

The Sheep and the Goats 31"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

37"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

40"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

41"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'

44"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'

45"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'

46"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

Now, I am not naive (unless you think all Christians are) I understand that this is a very complex issue. Here is a guy that is socially inappropriate, sometimes dangerous, and will scare off customers. The owner of the establishment can be very clearly concerned about this man's presence. He also basically caused his own state, he did not suffer some horrible tragedy, but drank himself into addiction, and homelessness. Many in Western society would call people like mr wino, the undeserving poor. Most Americans or Aussies actually have some compassion for people that have fallen through the cracks in the system and need some help, but guys like mr wino, deserve to be where they are, because they caused it. Believe me I understand these things, and thoughts.

Alain de Botton points out in status anxiety that we now live in what can be called a meritocracy. You have what you have, or don't have what you don't have because of your merit. For the most part if you are poor it is because you are too lazy, too stupid, or too busy blaming others to really take control of your life. Which makes being in these situations even more shameful than in the past.

But we must remember in Jesus time, and in His audiences culture, they had a similar idea. Only instead of a meritocracy, they had a moralocracy. They believe that you got what you deserved but based on your standing with God, and your righteousness. To this audience, the poor were not poor because they were lazy, they were poor because God did not love them as they were obviously sinners. At one point Jesus' own disciples ask him, why is this man blind, is it because he sinned or his parents sinned?

My point is simple, Jesus words were just as radical in his day as they would seem here. Jesus is saying that The Son of Man, the Messiah, is each one of these people. Is in fact mr. wino. Not the deserving poor, not the noble poor, not the romanticized movie version of the honest hard working poor that had just fallen on hard times, but the cursed of God, sinner, degenerate deserves his or her fate, poor, and imprisoned.

Jesus seems to often explain that it is easy to love the lovable, but we need to love even our enemies. How can we love those that are so far from our natural love? Perhaps it is seeing the almost gone, slowly flickering image of humanity (the echo of God's image) deep in the heart of each and every person, and seeing in that almost quenched flame, the actual fullness of the divine. Norm, was experiencing God's kingdom come, and so was mr. wino! What will you experience over the next few weeks?


Monday, November 26, 2007

Long time no Post (big news!!!)

Many of you already know this I am sure, but for those of you that don't:

We are moving back to the States in April.

I am going to tell you the longer version, in case you want to know what happened, or you can just stop reading now if you get bored easily.

About five months ago I had a dream that our stuff was packed and we were going home. It was very vivid and disturbed me a lot because I did not want to leave, I love it here, and feel things are going very well. This happened during a time when our community was having a few dreams that seemed meaningful for us. The next day my neighbor had the same exact dream, only he was the subject (I don't think he would have told me otherwise). That same day I was told be FORGE that I needed to have a new sponsor for my visa (which we had already talked about and it was a good thing, just weird timing). That same day I found out that we were ineligible to apply for a permanent resident visa. This was a hard day for me, and I cried a lot. The wife and I talked about what that would mean for our girls, and we were not happy. We talked to the girls about it, and they were a bit upset too. The next day some dear friends sat down with me and I shared everything with them. They said this a good question, when are you going home, just don't be in a rush to answer it, let God reveal it to you. I realized I was planning on being here much longer, and had stopped living with my bags packed.

Well we turned in our new application for visa and waited, and waited, and waited. In the meant time we figured out that Adriahna would not be able to go to uni here because we just can't afford over seas student fees. She began making plans to go back to the states and start Uni there, that made us feel a bit icky. We still have not got an answer from the visa office. This made us begin to be very stressed. My wife and a good friend both had the idea that we should not let the government make this decision for us, but should make that decision ourselves. We took a few weeks of holiday time, and on the first day of this time I remembered a scripture verse out of no where.

Genesis 40:32 The reason the dream was given to Pharaoh in two forms is that the matter has been firmly decided by God, and God will do it soon.

So we talked about it a lot, and ultimately decided that we were not really ready to live 6,000 miles away from our daughter, especially when we can't afford to fly there if needed. We also understand that our communities here are very capable, and will continue without us. We also see some opportunities for ministry back home, especially in light of the connections we have made recently. After trying on the decision and feeling it was right, and speaking with our community and some mentors and friends, we have made this our decision. We believe this is the right path, but as usual hold the reigns lightly.

We were also counseled by a good friend that it was time for us to take a sabbatical. After 22 years of ministry, we believe that was also good counsel, so when we arrive in America we will take four months to "sharpen the saw" I will most likely be doing some theological study, and maybe writing a book.

We will struggle deeply with this move, we love our communities here, and we absolutely love this city. We have made many wonderful friends and pray many of you will come visit us. Thanks for your prayers and support over this time.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

World Car Free Day, please support

I will not drive, nor ride in an automobile this entire Saturday, but will walk or take the train. Please pass this around and support.


Saturday, September 15, 2007

Burma needs your support

Dear friends,

We need your help. Please sign the petition and forward the link to your friends.

Aye Min

http://www.ipetitio CMPP/index. html


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Been a lot happening

Well hello friends, it has been a very busy month or so. Just thought I would give you a very brief synopsis:

Ciaron O'Reilly was great, I really enjoyed his time with us. I was quite impressed with his ability to make complex theories very simple, and his working class personality and ethic really was enjoyable. He said a few things that really challenged me, thought I would share them

1. The nature of war now days requires that we show our dissent in different ways. In the very recent past war took an entire nation, with the requirement of large numbers of troops, and therefore a huge base of support also needed back at home. Industry was rejigged, women knitted socks, the population went on rations ect. So if we simply refused to take part in the war, it was actually a very strong dissent. But the way war is waged now a days, the government doesn't need us to help, they just need us to keep living our lives and stay silent. If we just continue to spend and earn, our tax dollars will support the war that is waged with fewer and fewer people, and most horrifically effects a higher and higher percentage of non combatants.

2. The political ethics of the early church were pacifism and anarchy. These are both expressed negatively, one as refusal to use violence, and the other as refusal to oppress or have power over others. Since these are both negatives, rather than positives, they can only be understood practically as questions. In other words, "how do we live non violently, and how do we live without oppressing others?"

I really like that. What I loved the most about Ciaron was his humour and down to earth nature. He did not seem so caught up in the "issues" that he was not in touch with his humanity. We truly enjoyed hanging out, telling stories, and unfortunately mourning a friends passing. Was great to have him with us.

We have also started meeting regularly on Wednesday mornings to network with other radicals in Footscray about ways we can help each other live out this kingdom of God stuff. We also put out a newsletter each week to let people know whats going on. This can be giving away food, organizing for political protest, or finding housing for homeless people. We have had studies on ethical shopping, bible studies on the book of acts and studies on activism and anarchy. This has been a huge source of encouragement for me, and it is great to see so many wonderful people in Footscray trying to live out a world redeemed, and doing it together.

I have been struggling with some health issues, and could use your prayers on that.

Hopefully I will post a bit more, and if any of these subjects particularly interest you, let me know.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Plowshares Activist Ciaron O'Reilly at the Cave

“Ciaron O’Reilly is a devout Brisbane-born Christian pacifist. In a life dedicated to protest, he’s been jailed for disarming warplanes, dismantling uranium mining machinery and performing exorcisms of warships. To some he’s an inspiration, to others a criminal.”

(Andrew Denton: Enough Rope June 2006)

Please join us on the 25th of August for a special evening with activist Ciaron O'reilly. We will be serving a vegetarian dinner, providing some entertainment, and then Ciaron will give a talk about Christian anarchy, and activism, sharing some of his stories of 20 plus years of fighting for peace and justice. This will be a challenging night, hopefully giving us an imagination for a world transformed, and a sense of how to get there.

The cost of the evening is $0.00 but we will take an offering to pay for Ciarons flight and to help fund his future court battles :) If you have any more questions feel free to ask, or if you might like to have Ciaron speak at your group while he's here please email me at johnj at


Monday, August 13, 2007

Art's place in subverting the empire

I have mentioned that I have been reading Colossians remixed, this incredible book has caused me to think more deeply on many subjects, but probably the most compelling has been the nature of art, and the creative impulse, when confronted with the empire of global consumerism.

The premise of the book is that in the time Paul wrote this letter, the control of the Roman Empire was very much complete. And the Roman myth, the pax romana, was all pervasive. Rome understood very correctly that if they were to continue to hold their influence, they must not only overcome their enemies with military might, but then seek to hold them by other means. In my opinion, the most important part of this plan was to destroy all alternative imaginations, and to profoundly preach the myth of pax Romana in every conceivable way. This was done by destroying, or subverting every other myth besides the pax romana. They enlisted the arts and symbols in this quest. They understood rightly that as long as their was an alternative imagination, they would never completely control the people. When people believe there might be an alternative to the existing empire, they can dream of a different way of life, the empire is never completely secure. So by plastering Caesar all over everything, including their money. By putting symbols of the pax romana on household items they insured the imaginations of the people would stay captive.

What we are now living under is the myth of progress, the myth of peace through violence, the myth of consumerism without restraint. And the empire we are held captive by is global consumerism. Our nation states are no longer the empires, but rather they are expending their resources for the purpose of propping up the global economy. The nation state is subservient to the global economy. And the myths of redemptive violence, and existential spending, are not only taken hold, but are almost unquestioned.

The stunning thing is; this captivity is so complete that even the voice of dissent is then stylized and marketed, and becomes just another subverted enemy of the empire, losing its voice. The Nike corporation bombing their own billboards and using the counter culture to market themselves.

It is my contention that the way we stand against this empire seeking to control our imagination, is by creatively engaging a new story, a subversive story, a story that says things not only can be different, but should be. This alternative imagination, must be practiced, and spoken of through the creative outlets of our art. When we do art, we are practicing the skills that are needed to stand against a culture that seeks to control even our creativity. When we make art not for profit, but for prophet, we engage the powers of the world. If we are going to be a people that are not caught up in the current of the empire, we must create, as in doing so we keep alive that in us that is good and noble, and we bear the image of our creator, the great artist.

We must not let our art, and creativity be subverted. Like adbusters we must stand against the oppression of a global market economy, and refuse to let our creativity be used to insure the empire, but rather to dream up a new way of living, a new way of being. We must embrace the creative that we are made in the image of, and truly seek to subvert the empire by our being what God made us.

Einstein, who was apparently a very smart guy, said something along the lines of, the solutions to our problems, are going to require a completely different kind of thinking than the sort that created those problems. Doing art, practices this different kind of thinking.

So write poetry, make collages, paint, draw, design, make furniture, clothing, organize prophetic places of creative dissent. Set your mind free, stand against the overwhelming tide of products, and symbols and trademarks and brands. Let us enter the new kingdom, and say goodbye to the control of the empire.


Sunday, August 12, 2007

19 years married to the same woman

And I consider myself a lucky man. Many people were worried when we got married, I was only 22 and my wife was 18. We had two children right away, and then were deep in ministry. It has been a rough ride at time, and at times filled with incredible beauty. Our theology has changed, our circumstances have changed, and our goals have changed, but what hasn't changed is our love and commitment to each other. We find ourselves at a new crossroads, where children are talking about leaving for university. And the things we are sure of is this:

God will go with us

We will go with each other

somehow, someway it will lead us deeper into God's kingdom

I am very thankful,


Sunday, July 29, 2007

Colossians Remixed: Subverting the Empire

I highly recommend this book by Brian Walsh and Sylvia Keesmaat.

This book is a great contextually driven understanding of the subversive nature of Christian thought for our contemporary society. The work the authors have done in setting the context of not only the Colossian society, but also the cultural context we live in really sets the stage for a powerful new ethic.

The most powerful point of influence for me comes from the ideas revolving around imagination. When we realize that the empire we are facing today is not nations, but the global economy and global consumerism, we can then begin to understand the Christian response to this empire. This response begins with our imagination. The empire of global consumerism seeks to control its subjects by snuffing out the alternative imaginations, by either overwhelming our imaginations with its own propaganda, or subverting our imaginations by directing them into new forms of the same consumerist ethic. When we can no longer imagine the kingdom of God come, then we are forced to accept the kingdoms that we are given. What is necessary is a new imagination, to once again become the creative people created in the image of a creative God, and dream of a new ethic, a new politic, a new practice.

I again hope you will read this book, and will join me in a commitiment to practice creativity, and exercise the imagination.


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

My baby is a grown up

Well my eldest daughter turns 18 today. Its kinda weird. I know its not about me but I feel old.

Adriahna is an inspirational young lady. Her compassion, and care for others is quite amazing. She is a peacemaker, a joy bringer, and the life of a party. She consistently amazes me with her wisdom, which seems unfair for an 18 year old.

She is very much like me in some ways, (which she doesn't really like), but she is so much better. There is much less insecurity, or aggression in her manner. Adriahna is very strong willed, she can talk her way out of just about anything, and she doesn't mind centre stage. She is emotional, in a good and not so good way, something that looks much nicer on her than myself. She doesn't allow herself to be ruled by fear, which makes me very very proud.

When I look at the man I was at 18, I am doubly proud of my daughter. She is far far past me in every respect. She will make this world a better place, if only for being in it. I want all the world to know that I love her, I am proud of her, and I look forward to her future. Eighteen years ago God lent her to us, and is now starting the process of taking her back, I hope we have done well in the meantime, but she has shined either way.


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

martial arts instructionals

Well as many of you know I am a former professional fighter, and am a long time competitive grappler. I made these dvd's a number of years ago, they are available outside of Australia at

and in Australia at

so if you wanna learn to break legs and necks for fun, do some purchasing :)

and yes I understand the irony of the anti capitalist pacifist selling martial arts videos, I am a complex individual, or I am a hypocrite, probably a bit of both


Sunday, July 01, 2007

Christi-anarchy "being the change you want to see"

Dave Andrews hosted the morning session on Saturday, and it was the best message on the Sermon on the mount that I have ever heard.

He started talking about judging, and showed how we actually are to judge both ourselves and the actions of others, but doing so realizing we will be judged by the same measure. And then began to unpack the sermon on the mount Matthew 5-7 as an ethical framework for how we are to live in the kingdom of God.

The problem with so much of how we have interpreted this sermon, is based on an incorrect reading of the text. This incorrect reading has made Jesus' teaching here, seem impractical, and therefore must be talking about heaven, or some spiritual ideal. However Dave showed us very convincingly that a proper reading of the text will help us to understand how we are to live in a redemptive way.

In the incorrect reading we see Jesus contrast the old way, (the law and tradition), with the new way (Jesus' more complete teaching). But this is where we wind up in trouble as it seems impractical. ie you have heard it said do not murder (old way) but I say if you are angry with your brother, or call him names, you are still in danger of judgement (new way). So this seems completely impractical, how are we to not be angry or have disagreements with our brothers. Those of us who live in close community know exactly how impossible this seems.

But Dave shows us that this is not the way to understand this teaching, it is not the old way versus the new way, but is rather laid out this way: The old way

The repeating cycles that even adherence to the old way doesn't fix

directives for living in a redeemed world.

So we have the old way: Do not murder

But then Jesus points out: But even if you don't murder, you still have anger, and hatred and unredeemed relationships, so the root of the problem doesn't get dealt with.


Jesus instructions for how to live: If you are offering your religious duties and realize that you and your brother or sister are in conflict, forget your worship for now, go and be reconciled with your brother or sister, and then be reconciled with God.


Do not commit adultery


burning with lust doesn't allow us to live a life transformed


remove yourself from temptation

Now this was a very quick para phrase of what Dave explained, so if I did damage to the integrity of the message, I welcome correction. And please feel free to join in some conversation over this. Dave also talked about how important the beatitudes are and suggested it might be the stimulus for a renewal movement in our own lives. You can learn more at


Thursday, June 28, 2007

Road trip hell and Christian anarchy conference

When I heard about the South Pacific Christian Anarchist gathering I immediately wanted to go. Two primary reasons: the first, I am a Christian anarchist and I wanted to hang out with some others. the second, it was being held in Brisbane, hosted by the Waiters Union and Dave Andrews would be there, meaning I could spend some time with one of the people most inspirational to me, and my view of community and leadership. But there was also a desire for me to bring a number of people from my faith community. I thought it would be great for them to meet some others that are trying to do some of the things we are doing, and to hear some of the ideas that inspire the way we are trying to do community and church. But I also thought a long hard road trip might be just the thing to help us grow together as a community. Many hours trapped in a car with each other, on an adventure, might just be a great bonding experience. Or it might just destroy our community!

Things started off pretty well, we left close to on time. We made good time. There were some issues of flatulence that needed to be addressed, but things were going reasonably well. We were getting to know each other even better, and I was happy. The toilet stops were kept short, the lunch break was reasonable. There were a few hold ups with the weather, but we arrived in Sydney at a decent hour. But then we ran into some problems. I think they should change their name to, I was however not too upset, just went with the flow and called our host for some help getting to their house. Peter and Gillian are wonderful people, with very generous hearts. As if offering their home to house 10 people wasn't enough Peter drove to where we were and had us follow him home. Then served us a wonderful dinner, and made sure we were all sorted for the night.

The next morning we all woke up long before dawn and were on the road by 5:30 am. And this is where the problems started. We got completely lost leaving Sydney. Typical issues really, streets changing names every other suburb, streets ending for no apparent reason, forks in the road and the most frustrating of all, there are no street signs. Sure there are occasionally a tiny little unlit sign hidden back away from the street, but coming from SoCal where every intersection has a huge lit up sign telling you what street you are crossing, well they might as well not even be there. Now, I have anger issues, and I started to say words that were not polite, I yelled at my wife for no apparent reason, and basically started to insure that no one in my church would ever love me again. Now lest I seem the typical man, I will add that I will always stop for help or directions (infact I yelled at my wife for not stopping so I could get directions), so we stopped. I ran up to some men working on the street and asked for directions to the fwy to get to Brisbane, and these wonderful hospitable Sydney men gave me directions. Which were wrong. So we got lost again. And I asked someone else, who was wearing a bright flouro yellow vest so you know he can be trusted and he gave us proper directions, but then told us to turn left when we should have turned right. While taking the necessary u turns the other car almost got smashed by a rubbish truck. I was at this points so far from Jesus, the way of non violence, and any suggestion of civility, that I should have been excommunicated on the spot. But the good news is, I now knew what to teach for the next few weeks...


There were so many road work sections where the speed limit dropped to 60 so we could carefully drive by witches hats and barriers that served only to show that at some time in the near future or past, there might be people actually doing something in the basic vicinity, but were obviously not there now. So we were falling way behind schedule. Now, before you get all cute and suggest that anarchists should not worry about speed limits, I will just point out that we are Christian anarchists, which means we prayed about whether we should break the laws or not. :) Unfortunately the overwhelming majority decided God wanted us to keep to the speed limits, with one dissenting opinion. :)

So understanding that we were now at the risk of missing dinner, which we were all by this point longing for, and suffering from the horrible disappointment regarding the giant banana (was not really that giant at all) we were not in the best head space for yet another version of fun. And yes my dear friends I cracked the shits again. Two turns that were obviously very important were not listed on the page, and after much driving around, two stops for directions, one mutiny, and three permanently damaged bladders we found ourselves on a right path. And we arrived at the conference. We knew it was the right place because of the blue van with the words "CHRISTIANS AGAINST ALL TERRORISM" painted on the back.

We cheered, broke into laughter, singing, and tears of joy immediately followed by a race to the toilets. We entered the hall where thankfully dinner was still being served, and fell into our seats with joy, and perhaps a bit of pent up bitterness towards me. The forgiveness sermons will have to be very very good I am thinking.

Over the next few days i will post more about the conference, and some of the great things we experienced there, but I will just say now that this was not in any way a gathering of angry, wacko lefties, but rather a wonderful group of people honestly trying to see what following Jesus means in their lives. We met two of the Pine Gap four, we met Ciaren O'Reilly, we met Dave Andrews and his family, and the most wonderful people from communities in Australia and New Zealand. There were many stories shared, and much inspiration gathered.

And I was reasonably well behaved all the way home.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The state youth games SYG

Well I had the honour of speaking at the State Youth Games this year. This gathering of 2,500 young people plus staff and chaperons, happens every year. In the evening they gather for some fun and some spiritual type stuff, but in the day they are locked in intense sporting competition.

The first night we did a letterman style evening, we had some music, some crowd interaction, a top ten list, and some interviews. They interviewed me about some of the crazy stuff I have done, the bullfighting, and the cage fighting. They showed some video clips, and then I did a demonstration with digger at the end of which he challenged me to a wrestling match. I of course smashed him with ease, but in the process hurt his little toe, please pray for him. Over all it was a fun night, and it allowed me to skip the getting to know me part of my message the next evening.

On Sunday night, they did more of the same, but after a few worship songs I got up to give a message. I read from Matthew 25 where Jesus talks about the judgement of the sheep and the goats, I told a few stories about how I attempted to live this out in my own life. I challenged everyone to take a piece of newspaper (they had been given before the service) and wad it up, and then place it in their shoe. This would be an irritating reminder that they must go into their world, their neighborhoods, their schools, and be part of the kingdom of God, seeing Jesus in all people, but especially the unwanted, and unloved.

Afterwards I had many wonderful conversations with young people, and even a few oldies. We discussed just what this would mean for them, and how they could put it into practice.

I missed the closing ceremonies, as I was helping my friends from Urban Seed pack up the Sacred Space.

Thanks to all who came, and put on this incredible event, lots of work goes into these things, and I appreciate it all. Thanks to UNOH, who worked with me to develop the commitment response, and who have organized a myspace page for those that want to interact called go_stand and were there both nights to talk to people.

Anyone who wants to talk to me about what I said, or better yet, what you are going to do about it can email me at johnj at


Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Mainstreaming of Punk and Christianity


Exploring the
punk and

This will be a multimedia history of two revolutionary movements, and their domestication.

...with Jarrod McKenna

Wed June 13th 7pm at:

the Den
116 Little Burke St.
Chinatown Melbourne

Jarrod McKenna is a member of
Peace Tree Community he is an award
winning activist and non violence
trainer, and picks his nose when no one is looking. He is not cool enough to be a punk, but loves the culture.

Entrance fee is the commitment to give up something that hurts the environment for one week.

Jarrod is a wonderful guy, someone who legitimately loves people, and lives on the radical edge. I am looking forward to this night, and hope you will join us as well. If you need more info, please feel free to email me at johnj at


Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The centrality of Jesus in scripture

Am reading a book by Athol Gil called the fringes of freedom, and this paragraph explained my personal beliefs better than I ever could:

In theological terms this raises the question of the canon within the canon- if the bible is the measuring stick, or canon, by which we may examine various contemporary theologies, what is the measuring stick y which we may examine the various theologies within the bible itself? As readers of this collection of studies will readily recognize, I have sought to use the life and ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth as the measuring stick for the rest of scripture. This is the theological centre of the bible as I read it, and from this centre I seek to draw a line backwards through the Psalms and the prophets to the revelation of God in the liberation of the people of Israel from bondage in Egypt. From the life and ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus I seek to draw a line forwards through the writings of Paul, the gospels, I Peter and the book of Revelation. Jesus of Nazareth remains at the centre of theological reflection.

I have long argued that as followers of Jesus, it is Jesus that is our starting point, and from our understanding of who Jesus is, we are able to interpret the rest of scripture. He is our lens, and informs our view of scripture. We are not to take scripture and make Jesus fit into it, but rather the other way around. We can not do otherwise, it is Christ we follow.

I am really enjoying this book and will most likely be back with a few more insights.


Thursday, May 31, 2007

We need some help!!!

Any of you courageous souls that are up for some ministry opportunities, please let me know.

Our ministry at the Cave in Ascot Vale is growing, and the number of extra grace required people is sometimes daunting. If you have ever wanted to be in a church that is committed to small communities of care, working with the marginalized, and committed to empowering your dreams, not staffing programs perhaps you might consider joining our overworked band of radicals.


A dream

Had a dream that I was working construction again. That there was lots of different groups all trying to get their particular trade done, there were accidents, there were inspections. Everyone was a bit stressed and overworked. I was loving the energy of it all. I felt like I was actually missing the job site.

Now, there are some things I do miss. I miss the feeling of completion and accomplishment. When you finish hanging drywall (plasterboard) on an entire office, you can see what you did, and sense the accomplishment. And I do enjoy the sensual nature of hard physical labour. But four decades of hard work and stupid play have created chronic back pain, and other aches, which makes this longing a bit quick in passing.

What I realized is that our church (es) are actually much like the job site now. Many people, doing many tasks, and enjoying the relationships and difficulties involved in the task. What we are building is the kingdom of God, the problems mainly come from our lack of time spent with our superintendent, and lack of following His plans. But for the most part its an ever changing adventure, and I am enjoying the task.


I love footscray

So I went to the petrol station, and the guy taking my money was Indian or Pakistani. After exchanging money I say in a very American accent, "thanks mate"

And he replies, "you are welcome mate" in a deep Apu like accent.

The American and the Pakistani both trying to be Australian, it brings a tear to the eye.


Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Christian anarchy (a definition)

A friend from wrote this, and I thought it was pretty good, please go to his link and look at his sight, he desperately wants company :)

Jason Barr wrote: I may be a bit of an oddball, because I actually came to my anarchist views through my religious studies (as I mentioned in a wall post).

I have written somewhat more about my views on my blog, (though I've neglected it as of late - I need to do some writing), but here are some thoughts.

It is impossible to deny that the dominant function of religion in the history of human culture has been to maintain an oppressive status quo, whether that was through ancient Mesopotamian myths re-enacted in festivals that placed the king in the guise of the creator god, through the abuses of the Jewish Temples that led to the critiques of prophets like Amos and Isaiah and then later of Jesus, in the Roman imperial cult that solidified the Emperor's status as god-king who maintained order through the use of his Legions, through Islamic conquests, through the conquests of people like Charlemagne, through the alliance of pope and kings in the Medieval period to entrench the feudal system, Luther and Calvin's use of civic authority to crush their religious opponents, the Protestant work ethic in America that justified poverty as the fault of the poor, religion as criticized by Marx and many of the classical anarchists, and the Religious Right today.

But is this the necessary function of religion? While the common modern perception of Christianity is that it's a "pie in the sky when you die" arrangement, that leaves this life to the oppressors and sterilizes resistance from the faithful ranks, this picture of Christianity is neither congruent with its origins in the context of the Roman empire nor with the practices of a number of people throughout history who have claimed Christian inspiration for their subversive practices - often meeting with wrath from the state and, as Christianity as a whole became more aligned with the powers, from within the ranks of the church.

While I could cite a number of radicals such as Dorothy Day, Peter Maurin, Oscar Romero, Dom Helder Camara, David Lipscomb, numerous Anabaptists, and others, instead perhaps it will be more illustrative to talk about the Bible itself, which if taken in context might be among the most politically subversive anthologies of literature ever collected.

Rene Girard argued that the Bible is unique in that, unlike the foundational texts from other ancient societies, the Biblical stories tend to tell the story from the position of those who are suffering and oppressed, rather than the oppressors and doers of violence (while the stories related to the conquest of Canaan provide prima facie difficulties for this reading, at most they seem to be exceptions, not the rule). God is a liberating figure who desires justice and requires the construction of a society much different than anything else that existed in the ancient near east, challenging the status quo more than upholding it. In particular throughout the Old Testament is a voice OT scholar Walter Brueggemann calls "the prophetic imagination" in a book of the same title.

The main point of the book is that the Biblical texts reflect the perspective of communities struggling from within the confines of an empire that sought to totalize the whole of life, to consume the reality of Israel (and later the church) within its dominant story of reality as it pertains to legitimating the power of the official kingly worldview. The texts reflect their efforts to capture among them a sense of a world fueled by an alternative imagination, that of Israel as the covenant people of God according to a worldview focused on the love and justice of that God embodied in their community practice. He also takes steps in some places to relate this analysis to our life today in Western society, discussing how the sense of this prophetic imagination can fuel our countercultural communal practice (which is, after all, what the church should be) in the face of this monolithic McWorld (Benjamin Barber’s term, not Brueggeman’s) empire of global technopolistic consumerist USAmerican culture.

Bruggemann states that the task of empire (what he terms the "royal consciousness") is to eliminate a sense of past and future, encompassing all the reality that matters into an eternal now. No past is imaginable that did not contribute to the now, and no future can be envisioned that does not spring from it. The task of the prophetic community, then, is to present a radically different imagination, the imagination of God, rooted in symbols from the larger community’s past and animated by the hope of a future that is brought about not by the continuance of the oppressive machinations of the royal regime but rather by the decisive acts of God (such as the New Exodus themes found in Isaiah 40-66 where Isaiah uses Exodus imagery to describe the return from exile and coming of the Messiah) so that the people are freed from the imperial imagination into the vision of God - a vision of peace and justice based on liberation, not coercion (see also )

Jesus embodied a countercultural existence with pretty much his every act and word. This is getting kinda long, so I won't go into great detail, but the early church clearly portrayed him as the antithesis of Caesar and as victorious over Caesar - not through violence, but by "making peace through the blood of his cross" (Colossians 1:20). In fact, in the passage from which that statement is drawn, Paul makes a number of explicit parallels between Christ an Caesar's propaganda, the purpose of which was to show that Caesar is at best a pretender to authority and that his violence has been defeated by the one over whom it appeared he had victory - Jesus the crucified one, executed as a rebel against the state. And just as Jesus is presented as the anticaesar, the church is in a very real way presented as the antirome. Instead of having relations based on exploitation and the collection of power through the heirarchy of society, the New Testament prescribes radical equality and sharing citing the words and deeds of Jesus as an example, and the Resurrection as proof that the way of peace ultimately defeats the violence of the authorities of the world.

Or, as I've written elsewhere ( ) perhaps one could frame the Resurrection in the light of God committing an act of civil disobedience: the governing powers said to Jesus, "Die!" but God said, "Live!" And the church exists to live out in this world the implications of that disobedience.

It is my belief that modern anarchist theories are potent ways to express a concern for radical equality and liberty that is congruent with the implications of the life of Jesus and the practices of the early church as recorded in the New Testament, congruous with the general trajectory of ideal social practice throughout the whole Bible. It seems to me that the violence of Rome, opposed by the early church, and the violence of today's empire of global capitalism (and the relationship between nation-states and corporations) have much in common.

Now, the whole Bible is very complex and contains many diverse viewpoints expressed by various forms of narrative and poetry, so there is plenty of room for disagreement and discussion, but if the contrasting relationship between the peaceful Genesis creation story, which establishes humans as co-equals and as in relation with God and creation, and the violent Babylonian Enuma Elish, which legitimates the conquests of the king and the lowly status of peasants (and particularly women) within the Babylonian social order, sets the tone for the whole canon that follows then it seems that ideas of equality and justice are central to the overall Biblical story (for more on Genesis and Enuma Elish, as well as other thoughts on Genesis, equality, and anarchy, see ).


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

State Youth Games

I have been invited to speak at the state youth games

Should be a good time, I will be there the whole weekend, so hopefully I will have a lot of time to actually hang out with people, and have some great conversations.


Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mark Driscoll, and me

So I was on this website just looking around, and I run into this video

It is a church planting video by Mark Driscoll. In this video Mark uses a lot of in your face type language, and has a very direct style. His message is very male centered, and he says some offensive things about women in my opinion. If you don't fee like watching the video, which takes a bit of time to download and then view, I will give a few of the lines I didn't appreciate:

60 percent of the christians today are women, I am glad the ladies love Jesus, but if you want to win a war you need the men

Men want to know about real issues, like how to have sex with your wife, atleast once a day!

The mission is to get the men, because if you get the men you win the war

I found myself getting a bit agitated, and I wanted to engage mr. Driscoll in some debate. If I am truly honest I remembered that Mark is a big fan of mixed martial arts, and I wanted to demonstrate some of my mixed martial arts training on him. I was not only angry at the things he said, but in this arrogant, in your face style of his. Why does this guy think he is so right? And his whole demeanor is so macho, so tough guy, so male.

You know that old expression, when you are pointing at someone three fingers are pointing back at you?

Well at that moment I had a pretty intense revelation. I am just like Mark Driscoll. The difference is ofcourse that I am right!!! :) So if I dislike that so much, then what does that mean for myself? What does that mean for a guy that prides himself on not pulling any punches? What does it mean for a guy that takes pride in being someone who will say what everyone else is afraid to say? What does that mean for a guy that is a former cage fighter, bullfighter, repo man, bouncer ect.?

To be honest I don't know. Perhaps some of you may have an idea. I don't want to be a jerk, but sometimes I feel like someone has to be, and it might as well be me.

How does one be like Jesus and know when to turn over the tables, and call people sons of the devil, but also know how stop to minister to a broken woman, or distract the gaze of a hateful mob to spare the shame of an adulterous woman?

I sure don't know, but wouldn't mind the sex with my wife atleast once a day part.



Isn't it funny that you get accused of legalism, if you suggest Jesus meant what he said, and that we are actually supposed to do the things Jesus said to do, but it isn't legalism to say that you have to believe exactly these truths, one of which is the bible is the inerrant word of God and authoritative in all matters?

I mean, don't they get the irony?


Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The demonization of a good man

The Rich Young Man
17As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. "Good teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"

18"Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good—except God alone. 19You know the commandments: 'Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.'[d]"

20"Teacher," he declared, "all these I have kept since I was a boy."

21Jesus looked at him and loved him. "One thing you lack," he said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

22At this the man's face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

23Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!"

24The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, "Children, how hard it is[e] to enter the kingdom of God! 25It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

26The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, "Who then can be saved?"

27Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God."

28Peter said to him, "We have left everything to follow you!"

29"I tell you the truth," Jesus replied, "no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life. 31But many who are first will be last, and the last first."

This passage is often argued about. And in the spirit of Kierkegaard I believe that we have by and large, used scholarship to keep this passage as far away from ourselves and our wallets as possible. And the way we have done this is by demonizing this rich young man.

You see the fact is, we like our money, we like our possessions, we like the security and comfort they bring us. And this scripture seems to attack these comforts. In order to keep this scripture away from us, limiting its damage to our good life, we have to make this man, a bad man. The deception goes like this: Jesus doesn't really have any problem with money, infact he wants to bless us with money. Ofcourse God wants us to be happy. The issue with this man, is that money had become his idol. He was a greedy man, who loved money more than anything else in his life, and this was the problem. Jesus in all of His Godness, saw that money was this mans god, and therefore had to confront him on this point. But this evil man loved money too much to leave it and follow Jesus. And therefore, it is this mans badness that is the issue here, not actually having all the stuff. Knowing that we are not greedy, and don't love money, then Jesus would never ask this of us! Whew!!! That was close

But I think we have really sold this young man down the river. What we don't understand is that this man was not a bad man at all. Infact he was a very good man. He lived his entire life believing in God, and trying to keep his commandments. He hears that this great teacher is coming, and he goes out of his way to find this teacher, and then submits himself. He shows his respect, by kneeling before Jesus, and calls him "good teacher". Jesus appears to brush him off at first by saying, "dude, you know what you are supposed to do, follow the commandments" And the guys says, "I have been doing this since I was a kid" Which means, "Look teacher, I have been doing what I know to do, I am asking for more, I am not satisfied with what I have been taught, I am looking for more" At this point Jesus recognizes in this man, someone who is really questing after God, and the text tells us that Jesus has love for him. In this moment of love, Jesus says, "IF YOU WANT TO BE PERFECT, SELL EVERYTHING, GIVE IT TO THE POOR AND FOLLOW ME"

Now we must realize two things here, the first is, Jesus is telling this guy not what it means to be a good person, or a good Jew even, Jesus is telling this good young man, what it means to really commit himself to God. The second thing we must realize, is that Jesus thinks enough of this man to ask him to follow. There were many other men that wanted to follow Jesus, but Jesus did not give the invitation, but to this man he did. This is hardly the mark of a greedy idolater.

Another thing we must realize is that this man lived in a time where monetary blessing was considered God's way of approving of you. If you look through Jewish history, money and rulership were considered signs of God's approval, and in fact the people are promised prosperity if they are good. So this man has grown up his entire life believing that his possessions were a sign that he was following God, and this would have been backed up by all of the religious leaders of his day. And this itinerate teacher prophet comes along and knowing him for five minutes asks him to sell everything he has, make himself destitute and follow Jesus. What about his servants? His family? His responsibilities?

Now much is made about the following passages, which I think is mostly quite silly. It is obvious that if you leave all and follow Jesus the only way you get a hundred fold mothers, is in the sense that all in God's kingdom, are called to share their own lives with you, including their homes, and food. But before we can even get to these other issues, we must come to grips with the fact that this invitation did not come to a bad man, but was offered because he was a good man. And as soon as we realize that, it puts us a great deal closer to this story. And our wallets too.


Monday, April 23, 2007

The church

So yesterday afternoon Raquel and I went to a baptism celebration. My friend and his family were baptising their young daughter. The service was held at a local Footscray cafe, and it was quite a beautiful day. The service was unique, and creative. There was even a bit about teaching her what laws to break, which I really liked.

The thing that really impacted me however was the crowd. There were probably thirty or so adults, maybe a few more, and lots of kids. Twenty maybe? and the adults sat along the sides and towards the back, and the children sat in the center. They were given some musical instruments to take part in a couple of songs, one specifically for them. Of course they played the instruments throughout the entire service. And there was much laughing, and playing and even a few wrestling matches, which I followed with great interest. The thing is it was a bit distracting, very loud actually. Often didn't understand what was being said. And I loved it. It was like a birthday party for a beloved family member. There was a song, and a few speeches, some nibbles and coffee. I enjoyed some of the things that were shared, but the point was being with friends, actually being a part of a milestone. And then it hit me.

When we look at church as something we go to, with the purpose of getting inspired, taught, corrected or so on, then we must send the kids off so we can do the adult stuff. But shouldn't I be inspired, taught, corrected and challenged in my own life? In my own devotions? And if I live in community with my brothers and sisters, shouldn't there be plenty of time to pray? be inspired? confess my sins? eat together? and practice charity? In the process of daily life and hospitality shouldn't I have already shared my faith? given the peace of the Lord? Maybe had a word of wisdom or knowledge to share or be shared with? So if this is all true, then what should our gatherings be? How about a family reunion? With kids, and speeches, and songs and food, and a general feeling of joy at being together?

When did the gathering of the saints become ritual instead of a party?

Unfortunately, a long time ago. But I am doing it again.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

yuppie revolutionaries

I remember driving down the road (on the right side of the road) listening to the radio, and all of a sudden being assaulted with the most innovative, angry, intense music I had ever heard. It was a sophisticated anger, with a musical core, very different from the hardcore punk stuff I listened to. When the song was over I actually stopped the car to write down the name of the band and the song. That very afternoon I bought the Rage Against the Machine CD that contained the song killing in the name of. This album was unbelieveable! one of the most intense recording I had ever listened to. And on the track, killing in the name of, there was a different ending than the one played on the radio. On the cd for many bars, Zack screams "F you I won't do what you tell me, F you I won't do what you tell me" It was very pleasing to my inner rebel.

Fast forward about three years, and I am working at a bar in the OC. Newport Beach California is one of the most surreal places I have ever been. The beautiful people, the beautiful cars, the beautiful beaches, it really is the American dream gone wild with a strong case of sun stroke. There are barbie dolls with fake boobs, and ken dolls with fake tans as far as the eye can see. And Margaritaville was one of the popular eating and drinking establishments in this yuppie wonderland.

It was great working security at this place, as most of the time there wasn't much to do. Word got around that all of the guys working at the bar were professional cage fighters and we really didn't have a lot of "action," most of the time it was just telling a drunk fella he wasn't allowed to drink anymore. There was a rotation of cover bands that played each weekend, and this particular night was one of the security's favourites. They played the more aggressive stuff, Nirvana, Social Distortion, and even KISS, but their big show stopper was Killing In The Name Of, but Rage Against the Machine. This night they left this song for the last song of the night.

And I will never forget the scene. One hundred ken and barbies are on the dance floor, with their highlighted hair, and designer clothing. Their bmw's, Mercs, and even a few Ferraris are waiting for them out in the parking lot. Their enthusiasm is swelled by the ridiculously priced mexican beers they have been drinking all night long. And then it happens, they begin to jump as one, shouting defiantly along with the singer FUCK YOU I WONT DO WHAT YOU TELL ME!!!FUCK YOU I WONT DO WHAT YOU TELL ME!!!

And I stood in the back of the bar, and laughed.

I probably don't need to tell you that every one of these rebels left the bar when we told them to, with no incident.


Thursday, April 12, 2007


Last night a good friend took our ministry team through some teachings to help us be more equipped in dealing with broken people. In his talk he gave me a new understanding of the word integrity. I had always looked at integrity as being very honest, and living in the same manner that you say you are, or tell others to. This has not changed, I still believe this is integrity.

But what Matt talked to us last night about was the idea that integrity talks about integrating. In my definition above it would mean to integrate your beliefs and your life, or your words and your deeds. But Matt took that a bit further.

He explained that we are all in some way fractured people. Through our socialization, our genetic dispositions, our history, and I am sure accidents along the way we usually look at ourselves in pieces. A popular way of saying this would be, "there are many facets to my personality" or in the romantic drama Shrek, "Ogres are like onions, they have layers". Particularly in Christian or religious communities we will further compartmentalize ourselves into the parts we think are good, and the parts that we think are bad. We feel like God wants to eliminate the "bad" parts and encourage to "good" parts. This can often lead to pretension, or the Sunday face.

Matt suggests that integrity is integrating the various "parts" of who we are into a complete whole. And in a Christian context bringing our whole self to God, and allowing our wholeself to be redeemed. It also means allowing our whole self to be a part of our communities, and offering our whole self in our ministry to others. He suggests that one of the reasons people may find it hard to relate to church, and religion in general is too often we hide the "darker" parts of ourself, which in turn encourages them to do the same. This results in a false community, with lacks integrity. He also cautioned us that sometimes in a desire for honesty we might emphasize the dark side of who we are, and that again is not holistic.

Now this might be pretty common thinking, and I may be a bit slow, but it really clicked for me last night. I hope you will all become holistic, integrated people.


Sunday, April 08, 2007

One God, or Two Gods?

One of the early Christian heresies teaches that the God of the Old Testement, the Jewish God, is not the God Jesus proclaims. Now, I think anyone who is honest with themselves can understand how this heresy came about. In the Old Testement we are confronted with a God that is militaristic, often angry, and sometimes horribly cruel. We read stories of genocide, of war, of slavery ect. Then we see Jesus, who we believe to be God in flesh, and He is quite different. He tells us to have mercy, to love and do good to our enemies, to turn the other cheek. It does not take much imagination to see how some people could think these two could not be reconciled. In fact, it is very difficult to reconcile the two. It is hard for me, it is hard for most, and to be honest most non Christians actually don't give much credence to those who think they have accomplished this feat.

So in my mind we have two options when trying to reconcile these two views. We make Jesus fit into the old paradigm, or we make the old paradigm fit into Jesus. Neither of these is a good fit mind you, which is why there is a problem. But I would suggest that we who call ourselves CHRISTians, who supposedly base our faith on Jesus the Christ, who call ourselves followers of Jesus, take the second option. In deed if what we say we believe is true, we cannot do otherwise. Jesus was God in flesh. Jesus told us that if we have seen Him we have seen the Father. We have too often done the opposite, we have seen the God of the Old Testement and required Jesus to be different than how He showed himself to be.

Now I would suggest that the God of the Old Testement is much more convenient for those that are "winners". They can say God is blessing me in my wealth, in my power, in my stature. They can say, God is leading our army against the evil adversaries, and will establish our nation, our business, our church as the true power, blessed by God victorious and triumphant. This is a seductive idea, we all want God to be on the side of our interests. But this is not the plan lived out by Jesus.

Jesus stood against this notion. He stood with the powerless, and indeed became powerless even though He is the only legitmate power of the world. Jesus did not fight, but received all of the wrath of the powers. He was a suffering servant. God revealed in humanity was not the conquering militaristic ruler all were expecting, but a suffering servant, who befriended the least of these. The most amazing truth of the gospel is that in refusing to be the conquering king, he became the conquering king, and calls us to be the same. If we are followers of Jesus, shouldn't we stay with Jesus' methodology? Shouldn't we keep Jesus at the center and make even the Old Testement bow to the revelation of God in Christ? Should we not understand all, through Him who made all?

The one problem that often gets brought up is the apocalyptic Jesus riding in on a horse, with blood dripping from his sword. Infact I have been accused of keeping Jesus captive in the gospels, and not embracing the revelation Jesus. Well, this point makes absulutely no sense to me. The book of revelations is full of apocolyptic language, cryptic imagery, and unclear symbolism. While Jesus actually walked in the flesh and calls us to follow His earthly example, we would rather try and base our life on a future, idea that is not in any way clear, or concise, and is full of difficult imagery. If, as some assert, this revelation Jesus really is the bloody judge of the world, slaughtering all that stand against Him, how can we emulate that anyways? How can we be the triumphant judge? The only Jesus we can be called to follow is the one that walked the earth two thousand years ago in the middle east.

I believe there is one God, not two. But in my ignorance, and uncompleteness I will choose to err on the side of the Jesus of the gospels. He is the one that bids me follow, and if every knee shall bow to Him, and His name, then I will do well to make all of my ideaologies bend the knee to Him as well.


Saturday, April 07, 2007

A resurection story (and my return from exile)

Inspired by Marcus Curnow, and the Seeds team's Easter service

I would invite you all to ponder the story of Jesus for a minute. It matters not if you believe that Jesus, incarnate diety, was physically risen from the grave (as I most certainly do), or if you believe it is an inspiring story meant to give us hope. It matters not if you believe it is just wishful thinking of weak minds desperately trying to escape the thought of their own mortality, or the mythological archtypes drawing us toward existential truths. For this morning or evening let us allow the story to simply sink into our consciousness, and reflect on what it means to our selves, our families, our communities. Even the hardest of critics may be drawn to a surprising new awareness, and the most faithful of believers drawn to a radical new life. I know this morning I was drawn into a desperate desire to join that walk towards resurection.

Jesus of Nazareth, a working class man, from a poor neighborhood in a rebellious and troublesome part of the Roman Empire begins at thirty years of age to announce the kingdom of God. This man rises from total obscurity, and begins to give voice to a revolutionary way of living, and being community. Where the weakest become the strongest, where the powerful are humbled, where the poor are blessed and the peacemakers are called Gods children. Where sacrifice, downwardly mobile ethics, and surrender are praised above power, and wealth, and fame. Jesus announces that this kingdom has come to grant freedom to the captives, justice for the oppressed and dignity for the outcast. And so begins the walk towards resurection.

As He walks this path, he is joined by regular folk. Sinners, traitors, even a terrorist among the group. He walks with the salt of the earth, and contrary to cultural norm travels with women, who not only are friends in deed, but also benefactors. He eats with all and every, and drinks too much wine, being known among the religious types as a glutton and a sinner, and so continues his walk towards resurection.

He is accepted by the suffering, the weak and the oppressed. He is opposed by those with the most to lose, the powerful, the rich, the leaders. He does not walk away from conflict, but seems to walk straight into it. He declares the kingdom with stories that no one understands, and signs that no one can believe. He lives in a strange way, loving, and communing with friends and nature, and God is part of His very breath. He often goes off alone for short times to be filled up, directed, and centered, but always comes back to His friends.

He meets an outcast at a well, and places Himself in her dept. He walks into the temple and rages against the machine of religion that exalts the educated, the rich and the powerful while systematically weeding out the undesirables. He astounds with his wisdom, but then frightens his followers with his cryptic, morbidity. "After all, how can we eat your body and drink your blood?" And he continues his march towards resurection.

Resurection cannot come without death, a fact his friends do not want to understand. But he does, and continues towards it. His life, like His possesions mean nothing to Him, but only His Father, and the kingdom, where all is made right. He is not afraid to die, for His death will be a call for all to freedom, to peace, to justice, to mercy, and most of all to love.

And on this walk towards resurection he faces all of humanities humanness. He faces all of the need, He meets some of this need with signs, some with love, some with food and some with wisdom, but all with compassion. He takes the full force of the crushing need of the world upon His body. He takes all of the expectations of the world, in its lust for power, and political might, all of its desire for security and justice, He takes it all upon Himself but calls us to follow.

And on His journey to resurection the powers of the world have had enough. The powers of the church and all of its hypocrisy strike into His flesh. The powers of rule, and militarism, draw back their muscled hands, and pour out their violence. The powers of our own individualism, guilt, selfishness and greed conspire to see this beacon of light destroyed. Jesus is beaten by fists, by weapons, by betrayal, by denial, by popular vote and all of its deception. The full onslaught of the powers of this world reach their apex upon His flesh and the path to resurection is almost complete.

And then, after taking all that the world could dish out, He rises still. Never more to be punished. Jesus rises victorious over all the violence of the world. And bids us to follow Him.

Jesus shows us the way.

It is not a way of power, and might. It is not a way of violence and domination. It cannot come by the will of man, but by a belief, that my life completely surrendered to love, and justice, and mercy, and sacrifice will result in the powers being thwarted. It is a ridiculous idea, but one that beckons us. Will you join the march towards resurection? Whether it is just a figurative one, that commends fellow walkers like Martin Luther King, and Gandhi for their immortality through the effects of their walk, or the literal idea that someday we will walk in a world where everything is set right, and love is the law, the call is the same. Will you follow? Will you?

Jesus shows us the walk of the resurection, and I for one mean to follow it, come what may.


Sunday, January 28, 2007

taking some time off

Hey guys, I haven't been writing much lately, sorry. I have decided that I need to take some time away from the internet and get a bit more focussed on things around here. If you need to talk send me an email. Will most likely be back in a couple of months.


Monday, January 15, 2007

Continuing with Sermon on the Mount

There were two messages that I didn't post, and I will try and get back to those, but for now I will post briefly the last two messages on the Sermon on the mount.

Two Sundays ago I spoke about the Lord's Prayer, or as some people now call it the disciples prayer. This prayer is not really a prayer, but an outline for how we are to pray. Jesus says directly before telling us this prayer that we should not pray in vain repetition, and I believe this means that we are not to just repeat the same prayer or words over and over again. There are some that disagree with this saying that it is not repetition but vain repetition, and that since Jesus gave us this prayer it is not vain, and should be repeated. Which is fair enough, but repeating the same words over and over again, does not seem to be a way in which I connect to God, nor grow in my own spirituality, so I do not practice that.

My belief is that prayer is not about us asking God for stuff, or blessings. Prayer is a centering excercise, where we begin to connect with the creator of all, and are changed in the process. And often when praying for others or things, we often are changed internally and in these changes are called to become part of the answer to these prayers.

A missionary that I had the priviledge of meeting years ago told us that after Castro had thrown him in prison for years, took away his family home, and eventually banished he and his family to Spain, homeless and destitute, he was filled with hatred for him. So he began to pray for Fidel Castro. His testimony to us was that for ten years he prayed for Castro, and that at the end of this time he was not sure that Castro had changed at all, but that he had changed himself. Prayer is our interacting with God, and through this our hearts are made right.

So this prayer takes us through an outline of prayer. This can get very deep, but I am taking it a bit less so.

Our Father in heaven: The first word is not my, but our, it is a word of inclusion, we are all God's children. And when we go to God in prayer, it is in proper relationship. We are sons and daughters of a heavenly parent. And prayer is a relational thing, we approach as children, not as scared creatures.

Hallowed is you name: Remember this is a Jewish crowd Jesus is speaking to. And to them "the Name" was a huge deal. So much so that you were never to speak the name, nor write it down. The reverence for "the name" was one of the formost parts of Judaism. The beauty of this is that "the name" means essentially, the one who is. As we approach God we must recognize that He is. And in that meaning, He "is" with us. Now there is great study about the compound names of God, and it is good to look at these, but in my mind there is great power in the simplicity of "the name".

Your kingdom come, and your will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven: this is where we pray for God's will to be done on earth. My first goal in prayer is for God's will to be done in my life, in my decisions, in my priorities. I then pray for God's will for my family, then my church, then my neighborhood, then the world. Gods kingdom is meant to be lived here, and we must make our connection with God, and be oriented properly with him to bring this kingdom to our world.

Give us this day, our daily bread: Not help us to have our needs met for the next week, or the next year, or into retirement, but take care of my needs today. The daily trust of God is necessary for a fulfilled life.

Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those that sin against us: We must not only be forgiven people, confessing our sins to God, but also be forgiving people. I will speak more about this tomorrow as the next message deals with forgiveness. But I will say that it would seem that if this is to be practiced we must choose to be forgiving people, both seeking forgiveness, and extending it.

Lead us not into temptation, and deliver us from evil: I don't understand this as well as I would like, but I would say we are asking God to keep us away from the things that would cause us to sin, to recognize temptations, and steer clear of them before their strength increases, and to deliver us from direct attack spiritually. Realizing that temptation is all around us, luring us towards self gratification and reliance, and also realizing that there is contrary forces, and powers that be that are directly aimed at causing us to live outside of Gods kingdom, we must be ever vigilant in prayer and awareness.

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever: Good to end on a high huh? We are called to remember that God's kingdom is "the kingdom". It is not God's insecurity that needs calming here but our own. We must remember that it is God's kingdom, and it is where we belong.

As you pray, begin to use this outline as a way of directing your prayers. I desire to pray in a way that truly causes me to change.


Friday, January 12, 2007

Sorry for the long lapse

Been a bit busy, a bit preoccupied, and a bit lazy the last few weeks.

Part of my problem is I am behind three messages for my sermon on the mount talks and feel like I have to finish the ones I missed before starting anything new. And I just haven't had the motivation to do that. But I will try and get that finished in the next few days.

We had a wonderful Christmas, spent New Years Eve with a friend in the hospital. Brought her some home cooked curry. Spent a while chatting. What an amazing woman, I will have to tell you a bit more about here later. She is a truly inspiring creature. Reminded me of a Peter Himmelman song "the woman with the strength of ten thousand men".

Had a nice simple Christmas morning, had a few people from our church visit. Spent some time with a few people that were doing it tough this holiday season. It was a very good Christmas.

Spent the next three days at the MCG watching the cricket. What an amazing experience that was. Watched Warney get his seven hundreth wicket. And one of my favourite cricketers Andrew Symonds got his first century, and it was a big one. Watched thirty wickets fall in three days, simply mahvaelous.

New Years eve we had a laid back church service, talked about our hopes and dreams for next year. Then we just hung out at home, had friends from the church over. Had a nice Cuban cigar at midnight. Very relaxed.

Then spent a few days at a friends home in Anglesea. The weather was hot and wonderful, and we enjoyed a relaxing time. Had some friends come and hang out with us while we were down there.

Will be working at the Cave almost everyday for a few weeks, but will try and fill in some blanks on here before I leave. Hope you all have a wonderful new year, full of adventure, and love.