Friday, December 5

Mark 1:1-3

This is the first post in a project I am undertaking to revisit the gospel text. I am doing this in my current post-modern, queer-oriented, critical of colonialism and capitalism grounding, having been thoroughly disillusioned with the complicity of the church in past and present power structures, as well as the church's sexual and gender role agenda. 

I don't think I'm going to pull a C.S. Lewis here and flee what some may consider my contemporary paganism. However, I do think that the scripture is beautiful story and parable, and also an account of people embracing an ethical stance despite its self-damaging potential. I cannot shake that there is something good about a guy who gave himself up entirely for his friends, and loved his enemies, and raised an army of people willing to do what was right even when it wasn't easy. 

In that sense, the gospel has a hold of me, and like any good, giving, and game lover, I am compelled to take a hold of it and use my whole body, brain and emotions to give it what it is looking for, a good verbal fucking. And let me say that most of my lovers leave happy. >wink<   Read ahead here.

Mark 1
1The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
2It is written in Isaiah the prophet:
"I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way"—
3"a voice of one calling in the desert,
'Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.' "

So "gospel" is supposed to mean good news, which might be a western-applied interpretation, but one that I am willing to go with for a bit, if only to queer it. It seems to make sense to read the gospel accounts in the genre of journalism. Archaic, strangely expressed journalism that is reporting on such un-empirical/objective subjects as your soul and universal moral conduct, but what I mean is that we can use our newspaper reading skills here for most of the account. Which is what I think they are saying when they call it "news". Often quotations and events in the gospel accounts are not followed by explanations, which means that the reader is left to interpret. The biblical reader uses the interpretations they are trained to and accustomed to. 

"Gospel" hear stings a bit if you read it as "a grand narrative/ethical system designed to make you feel guilty and bring you into a rigid community". So I'm not going to think of it that way, I will set that aside. (assuming lover's best intentions, not killing the mood here)  I'm going to start out by saying that this is a story which will bring me to a better place by reading it. I know, I know, the eternal optimist. But what do you say to yourself when you read a headline in the paper? That the headline signifies a metanarrative with consequences for your life that you have to defend yourself against? Maybe a meta-something is implied by every headline, but I'm not sure if the "gospel" could change the way that I feel about myself for the worse, or lead me down a bad path. Even if it does talk about my soul. 

I think there is something unchangeable about my soul, and the gospel may comment upon the truth of things I know already (and perhaps things I know deep down but have not found the words for yet). Heaven and hell don't exist on my spiritual geography. Expressed soul and un-expressed soul are places I have occupied, and I must say that I would want to end up in a place of more-expressed-soul, thank you very much. If this piece of journalistic literature can teach me something about the expression of human souls, bring it on.

Then there is this quote from the Hebrew Bible, from Isaiah, who from reading more of the account about him in 2 Kings, was a tripped out probably bipolar prophet who sulked, was angry at people, had extravagant visions of God and angels which rival any pagan myth, occasionally performed the freak miracle, and wrote in ways that confuse himself and God all the time. Actually, the first person shifts in the book of Isaiah are the best defense of post-modernism that I know, check it out. But here I think it is an interesting reference, from an interesting prophet. 

We think at first that this messenger is Jesus, we learn later that it is John. However, the impression sticks with me (poetically) especially when we learn how Jesus is part of God and is therefore part of the plot in some mystical way from the beginning, and especially because I believe that people are responsible for inspiring/eliciting others' response to them in ways they aren't always explicit about and John's ministry was partly caused by Jesus from the get-go. Gay men recognize each other from early early ages sometimes, and like the future-lovers/truthmakers we are, the account of fetal John flipping around in Elizabeth's belly reminds me deep down of the boys I flipped around for as a child recognizing a common spirit (see Luke 1:41, sorry that was a different-gospel-digression). 

Anyhow, I don't know where I would be without gay men having gone before to set social norms aright for me, so it makes sense that there is some sort of generation of inspiration-making here, that God would send a messenger out beforehand to carve a little nook for the seed to snuggle into and germinate within (yes, that is a reference to the mustard-seed parable, which I constantly think about as it seems so related to procreative properties of all of the things that we do and, well, semen is on my mind occasionally as well). 

There is a voice (text/text authority) in the desert. The desert seems to me to be a morally neutral geography. There is no city, no custom there that isn't blown over and assaulted by sun and sand. It is the eternal loneliness, the endless 360 degree horizon that is our current crisis of knowledge. There is no authority in the desert but what you force for yourself, no landmark even, simply what knowledge or instinct you carry within you. And here God is saying through a prophet that there will be a road, not an authority in the desert, but a way to get to where you are going-- and straight, not turning around yourself and wasting away. Suddenly, on this morally neutral ground, there is a purpose. A telos as the Greek is, a direction of a sort, often applied to ethical direction (in Russian t'elo is the word for body, a linguistic bridge that has certainly been inspirational for me, see b'ez avtora). 

And on this word, this last gendering of God, let me claim that whatever divinity is out there they is not gendered, but transcends gender as the being-that-was-before-gender, the being-whose-idea-was-gender, so let's read (shamelessly revisionist to help past-misled-male authors-more-misogynist-than-they-could-fathom) to "make the ways straight for her/him/it/both/allgendered."  I like that. God is allgendered.  My body and mind would be happy making ways in barren lands for that.  (Am I just catering to my own pleasure here?  Would I destroy something I do not like but may be ethical to protect in the process of this task?  I'm not sure, but if anything good news is about liberation, so let's start speculating what kind of liberation it is about.  God is coming to Earth to free us, right?)