Shuck and Jive

Friday, August 10, 2007

From St. Hereticus

It is Conversations with Bob! More thrilling than Oprah!

Hey Bob,

Heresy is a fine word.
One of my heroes was Robert McAffee Brown, who gave himself the moniker, St. Hereticus.

Heresy means choice.

We become by choosing.
If we do not exercise our power to choose our future,
our cultural environment will do the 'choosing' for us.
And our lives will look very like the lives of our parents and peers. James Park
A bit about autonomy. I am thinking of it from a psychological sense. Here is a fine webpage regarding autonomy.

Autonomy is the inherent drive for self-determination, self-actualization and self-fulfillment. Two researchers (Deci, 1975; Deci & Ryan, 1985, 1991; Ryan and Deci, 2000) demonstrate that autonomy is important to the creative process and to eventual competence. Human beings are designed with an explorative and self-regulating capacity for development. Persons can choose which goal they want to pursue. Persons can decide on which course to take in the pursuit of autonomy. They can select which values will enhance their pursuit, and which skills they need to achieve their goals. A person can succeed, somewhat, partially or fail. But that same person can start all over. A person can have several goals working at the same time, and shift back and forth to whichever goal may be generating the most positive feedback.

There is a difference between freedom and autonomy:

Freedom is what someone or some agency lets you have. Autonomy is a personality dynamic that enables a person to mature, take responsibility and bring one out of one’s own emancipation. Freedom describes the absence of chains one’s culture or government can use to confine a person. Autonomy functions intrapsychically to discover how to survive, find happiness, and fulfill one’s own potential.

We can move along from (what I think is) the church's heterosexual problem. How much more can we rehash the same old thing? The task now is how do we move forward? I suggest we work together on the things upon which we can work together, build relationships, and seek to understand each other as we search for what is true and good. Certainly consumerism is a major issue.

We can continue to work for what we think is important, in my case:
  • ministry for and with lbgt folks and their families--increasing autonomy,
  • and for changing laws in church and society to reflect more justice--increasing freedom.
One more comment about the Bible and its place in the church. The Bible is the Family Saga. That is my working metaphor as of late. It is filled with a mix of great wisdom and great foolishness. In interpreting a text from the Bible for worship or for studyI do a number of things and not necessarily in any order:

1) Try to determine its literary type and its setting within the immediate literary context, and in light of the canon itself.
2) Use historical/literary/social criticism to get a sense of the setting of its creators.
3) Try to read between the lines. Why did the author write this?
4) Word check with other passages in the canon or outside the canon in order to determine if there are similar themes, characters, plots, in other literature.
5) Reflect upon needs of the world, our community, etc. ways in which this text can speak to those needs.
6) Check the history of interpretation, regarding how it has been interpreted in the past.
7) Check how others interpret this passage (ie. from a woman's perspective).
8) Think of other tools to help with meaning (ie. depth psychology).
9) Risk vulnerability to see if this text can open and further my understanding.
10) Ask how (or if) I can use this text to further faith and love.

You picked a number of texts. I choose Mark 5:1-20

My father never liked this text. His sympathies were with the farmer who owned the pigs! I think a way to approach this text is that it is a legend in which the demon (legion) and the pigs serve as ciphers for Roman oppression. The guy lives in the tombs (symbolizing the death that the people experience due to this oppression). The GMark is a strong anti-empire work. In it Jesus functions to increase the level of autonomy (if you will) in the people. Even though they may not get their freedom, it will begin with them becoming free within (autonomous). Jesus serves as the power to break out. As the text shows, people are afraid and ask Jesus to leave.

I think this text could be used in speaking about Empire today. Legion is symbolic of military presence and weaponry including nuclear weaponry. The power of autonomy speaking against Empire and its abuse is not popular as it scares people. Lot of issues here such as the livelihood of the owner of the herd whom my father has sympathies. What about the folks at Oak Ridge who make their living by working at the nuclear factory, or those in the military and in all of the support industries?

I wonder why Legion goes into the pigs? Why not out into thin air or back to the underworld or where ever demons were supposed to go? And after the pigs drown then what happens to Legion? Where did he/they go then?

It is a great text with many possibilities for preaching and reflection!



  1. **I wonder why Legion goes into the pigs? **

    I always thought it had something to do with the group of people raising pigs, given Judaic viewpoint on pigs. Unless the people raising them weren't Jews?

  2. Heather

    Given the location of the story the people weren't Jews. Curiously this is probably also the reason Jesus doesn't take the healed man with him and instead tells him to go tell his story, something Jesus never does in Jewish areas. Most of the time Jesus tells the people he heals to keep their mouths shut!

  3. Pastor Bob,

    **Given the location of the story the people weren't Jews.**

    Then it's a good thing I added the question to my comment. ;)


  4. Sue Garrett at LPTS pays careful scholarly attention to confrontations with demonic power in her book The Demise of the Devil. I might be biased, as she ended up one of my favorite professors. But within the modern critical tradition, she seems to be one of the most attentive exegetes around. She has done extensive work in the pseudepigrapha and popular literature of the four centuries surrounding Christ's advent, and it shows.

  5. You're right Chris, I skipped the most important part. But I didn't want to argue with John over the existence of demons. I have preached this passage to talk about the presence of evil and demons in the world.