how is it that all my jolts and quakes don't scare you away - though I fear you stay only in duty how is it you see the cracks and breaks where nothing fits my bloodied bits as if beholding a beauty? how is it beyond my stutters and shakes your patience hears the truth in tears and resonance rolls between souls, bared i sense your stomach turns and your heart near fails at my gruesome tales yet you do not flee but peer in closer and see a thing to be held and healed to be longed for and loved a life to be whole if dared.
God of the room with no windows
God of the walls closing in
God of the doors that won’t let you out
With no handles to let life back in
God of the roof caving slowly
God of the cold stone floor
God of the echo of empty
God of the not anymore
When you can’t see
When you can’t feel
When everything you’ve ever known
When you can’t think
When you can’t love
When the sky is falling in from above
When you can’t cry
When you can’t pray
When all that you think is fog of gray
When you can’t do
When you can’t try
When all that you’ve done leaves you just wondering why?
When you can’t trust
When you can’t care
When even the self that you knew isn’t there
God in the nothing
God in the black hole
God in the abyss
That you call your soul
God in the pit
God in the shame
God in the shit
that has no name
God in it all
In it all, God
No ending or answer
but here I am.
What’s with christian campaigns like this one to try and convince people who ‘hold christian values’ to tick the christian box on the Census instead of ‘no religion’? I know they are a counter to the campaign that is promoting ‘tick no religion’ – but there we go again, with the christian reaction to threat to power, rather than confidence in a whole other kingdom.
Surely the call of this campaign to boost affiliation is something that christians should abhor? Aren’t we asked to carefully consider the cost of following Jesus, to reject coercion, and refrain from surface affiliation “holding to the outward form of godliness but denying its power”. Don’t we reject the diminishing interpretation of christianity as simply moral therapeutic deism?
The ‘why is it important?’ spiel on the OliveTree Media campaign blatantly advocates boosting census data on the rationale that this will ensure there are federal $$$ for ‘christian’ interests. Where is the moral credibility in that?
I’m frankly pretty embarrassed by this.
I’m a life-long follower of Jesus, I believe, like Bill Hybels, that the local church (the vulnerable, cruciform, servant body of Christ) is the hope of the world. I don’t think that protected public funding and political power and cultural majorities are the hope of the world.
Government $$$ are not what we need.
Stacking the numbers to appear more christian isn’t what we need.
Doesn’t this cause confusion about what the gospel actually is and says and calls us to?
Truth-telling. Integrity. Humility. Giving up our power.
Is this not the way of Jesus? Or am I in the wrong religion?
I was born in 1968 in the midst of the many moments of space-race frenzy.
Lovers of Toy Story know well the lament of the turning of the season as western frontier Cowboys and Outlaws are superseded by Astronauts and Spaceships in the playful imagination of the child.
The year after I was born the Americans landed a human on the surface of the moon. This became, in the public imagination across the world, a crowning achievement of human brilliance, bravery, ingenuity and industry.
Like many other people, as I grew, the large cosmos of my imagination grappled with the possibilities and terrors of Space.
Throughout my childhood and well into my adult years I suffered a recurring nightmare: Bundled into a barrel I was flung far out into space where I spun and spun on interminably, cramped and cold in the dark of the barrel, nausea and giddiness defining my existence. It was apparent to me in the nightmare that I would spin on alone, contained, dark and cold forever – that there was no end to space. Even now, after four decades, I sometimes find myself orbiting the small hours in this same dread-filled dream.
So many parts of it are terrible – but the worst of it is the sense of complete isolation and aloneness.
The Americans named their space missions after the gods of Greek and Roman mythology.
The early programs of Gemini conjured the images of the sons of Leda, Castor and Pollux – one immortal, one mortal – but forever bound together when Castor shared his immortality to restore his brother to life, as together they became the Gemini, the guiding gods of sailors. Perhaps as humans we held aspirations that Space might bring to us an immortality.
Other programs were called Apollo and Mercury – suggesting the mythologies of bearing messages from the gods and the many power of the gods over human existence.
The Americans sure knew how to elevate their science experiments onto a grander scale of meaning making.
Meanwhile, the Russians – no less intent on space mastery – and in indeed ahead of the Americans in terms of unmanned launches – famously gave their projects a characteristically Russian name – Sputnik.
I remember my mum talking about the Sputnik. It sounded quirky and cute. And she said it with a kind of eastern European mimicry.
Apollo 11 simply sounded awesome.
Just recently, doing the General Knowledge crossword in the Saturday paper, I learned that Sputnik means ‘fellow traveller’.
I don’t think one can infer too much about the theologies of the American or Russian people or even their scientific communities as a whole from the way they named their early space programs. And perhaps the political analysts might see these as inherent expressions of opposing philosophies – Russian socialism acclaimed in the fellow traveller or companion/comrade, and Western hierarchies of meritocratic power enshrined in the icons of super-humans and demi-gods.
But it does provoke the personal question – when I look up into the vast expanse of space and consider the nature of what kind of force or being might envelope or spark and fuel or give life to it all – do I imagine an Apollo or a Sputnik? A super-powered god or a fellow traveller?
What do I seek as I am hurtled spinning through this cold cosmos? A god or a fellow traveller?
These days, I confess I am far more drawn to the Sputnik than I am to the Apollo.
I blame my Bible reading of course.
In the ancient narratives of nomads, the protestations of the prophets, the grist of the gospels and the snippets of epistles I see the God who joins us as a fellow traveller. The Sputnik God. The God who ‘rolls out his swag’ and moves into the neighbourhood.
For some people, the Space programs ended their quest for God. If God were out there in space we would find him when we went there.
But perhaps for others, the Sputnik God was never out there, but always a fellow traveller here with us. Maybe better known as the Emmanuel God-with-us.
As I have come to know this Sputnik God. And I’ve realized that all around me are other God-given Sputniks. If you are one of them, you know who you are.
And most miraculously of all – the contained, frightened, isolated, nauseous little girl is a sputnik herself to others. Sometimes I even think I come into land, and a few of the barrel staves peel off and I crawl out a little…
Who we imagine God to be creates a template for who we will be for others. The image of a powerful Apollo has always played a part in authorizing humans to claim powerful, unchallengeable messages of dominance.
On the otherhand, the Sputnik, fellow traveller God – the incarnate, Jesus, Beloved of God, makes for us a way to be fellow travellers, companions on the way for each other…to infinity and beyond.
If you’ve ever been dead
then you’ll know what I mean
in the dirt and the worms
how it’s hard to keep clean
If you’ve ever been killed
then you’ll know how the quiet
is hollow and dreadful
yet feels loud as a riot
If you’ve ever been slaughtered
you know it’s not pretty
face down in the dump
outside of the city
If you’ve ever been pierced
by a thorn or a sword
or the thousand small cuts
of the well meaning word
If you’ve ever been slain
by benevolent power
by the armies of time
by small turns of the hour…
Though, was it the state?
or the mob crying loud?
or the church? or the kiss
of your friend in the crowd?
was it your words?
or was it your deeds?
was it just that the grain
grows alongside the weeds?
was it just the plain bloodlust
of men bent to kill?
or was it your faith?
or was it God’s will?
was is just wanton?
was it a waste?
was it a sacrifice?
was it disgrace?
was it a debt ?
was it the doubt?
was it inevitable
time would run out?
if you’ve ever been dead
you’ll have seen the mark
of blood where God lay
in the dead of the dark
You’ll know that he’s been there
laid out on slab stone
with faith all in shreds
and hope bare as a bone
If you’ve ever been dead
you’ll know this strange thing
in death there is neither
criminal or king
In death only God,
only love with such strength
just love of such holy
depth height breadth and length
if you’ve ever been dead
then you’ll know theres a crack
in the cosmos
where God’s love breaks death
and comes back.
5 questions to ask yourself before weighing in with an opinion about the Safe Schools Coalition Resources for Teachers.
1) Have you read all of the lesson plans and viewed all of the videos. All of it. If not…go and do it.. If you don’t have time to do this, on what grounds do you think you have a place in the conversation?
2) What do you understand about the culture and practice of the secondary school education system in your state? When was the last time you
a) were in a class of year 7s or 8s?
b) viewed any standard curriculum documents or resources used by teachers?
c) considered what processes you think are meant by the phrase ‘teach in school’?
3) Are you aware of what is currently already taught schools about gender and sexuality in the context of the social sciences; history; cultural studies; anthropology; health?
4) Have you spent time listening to at least one young person you know under the age of 18 who identifies as gay, intersex, non binary or transgender about their experience in school?.
5) Have you spent time listening to at least on parent of a young person who identifies as gay, intersex, non binary or transgender about their parenting experience and school interactions?
Schools are easily turned into ideological battlegrounds. From many sides. Perhaps there is already a feeling among some that the Safe Schools Coalition has launched the first mortar with its curriculum. Or perhaps others feel it is conservative groups that have come out all guns blazing without warning.
Our children are not well served when we fight over the rights to influence them, as if they were blank slates upon which we can write our preferred version of humanity.
Often this aspiration for our young comes more from a sense of disappointment or disgust with ourselves as adults than a respectful regard for the agency and wellbeing of the young.
Schools are notoriously neglected and misunderstood politically, but occasionally become a flash point for this or that hot-button issue. There is always much public swashbuckling ‘all play’ mayhem when school issues arise, as most of us went to school and so have a reservoir of personal experience and turbulent emotion to fuel plenty of rhetoric and grandstanding, mostly composed of broad generalisations from personal anecdotes. Schools, however are not a direct pipeline into the minds of young people. If we are concerned about the models of sexuality impressed upon the young (and it is well that we are) there are two places we also should engage critically: the images of the mass media, and the models of adult relationships in the lives of young people.
What kind of sexual formation can we expect for a generation of children whose adults behave sexually as this generation does? Whose media will use sex to sell anything? Who have made the young body an insanity inducing fixation of power, inadequacy, perfection and maleability?