jump to navigation

Maundy Thursday and Good Friday: Reflections and Refractions April 6, 2012

Posted by Phil Groom in Christianity, Lent & Easter, Poetry.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

LORD OF LIFE, Lord of Light, Lord Christ:
You who washed your disciples’ feet,
stooping so tenderly —
setting aside your outer garment,
taking up a towel,
washing away the dirt,
the grime…

Stepping
so tenderly
amongst the fragments of shattered lives,
picking up the pieces
and wondering why…

Why? The eternal question.
Why did you bother?
Why did you come?
Why did you die?

We take the scriptures and hammer them
home. like. nails.
into unresisting flesh:
God hates fags:
God HATES fags:
HATES fags;
and God hangs,
suspended,
crucified by hate.

My God, my God, why?

The blood flows freely into famished ground,
life poured out
like water…

and fags go free:
Grace:
God,
whose radical action changes everything.
Time. stands. still.
Infinity unfurled,
love explodes:
new creation:
acceptance,
welcome.

May we, like you, set aside our outer garments,
our self-righteousness,
our convictions of others’ sins,
and take up that towel instead,
drying the tears
of those desolate years…

We look back,
amazed,
into betrayal’s gaze:
a kiss,
a sword,
a healing touch
and a riven side.

Truly this man was the Son of God.

Advertisements

I saw camels dancing on Satan’s grave March 8, 2012

Posted by Phil Groom in Lent & Easter, Life, Theological Reflection.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
7 comments

And lo, I looked, and I saw camels dancing on Satan’s grave. And I spoke to the angel standing beside me, and I asked, “Who are these camels and why are they dancing?” And he replied, “When camels dance, the universe roars with laughter: for behold, these camels, they’ve got soul, and Satan, he’s got no soul, therefore these camels dance and the universe rejoices. Blessed shall be the ox who gets the yoke.”

— Recently discovered fragment of an early MSS of the Book of Revelation

Have you ever seen camels dancing? No? Then believe me, my friend, you haven’t lived: dancing camels are an absolute must-see phenomenon — and as this ancient writer discovered, they rock the universe with laughter. Total hilarity. Especially when they’re dancing on Satan’s grave.

Yes, that Satan: the ancient enemy of humanity, the betrayer, the deceiver, the usurper, the Father of Lies, the Whisperer of Dark Thoughts, and any other unpleasant and nefarious title that you can think of. The one who wants you, above all else, to believe that he does not exist — because once he’s won that little battle, he can get away with anything, from murder to rape to theft, even to the point of you taking your own life without you realising that yours wasn’t the hand that took it. Satan sucks, and given his way, he’ll suck you dry, drink your soul and leave you feeling like an empty husk wandering the empty pathways of despair.

Why? Because he exists; because you exist; and because God doesn’t. He hates that, because he wants to be all in all and he can’t be. Oh, there was a time when he was nearly there: top dog amongst the angels; but top dog wasn’t good enough for him: he wanted to be top god. But God — and how I love those two words, But God — put a stop to those satanic ambitions, simply by creating you. Yes, you: the you reading this and wondering what on earth that nutjob Phil Groom is on about this time.

Prepare to be amazed: he’s on about you. Because you, like the dancing camels, have got soul. Which means you can dance too, with or without the camels, and all that damned Satan can do is rot in his grave and fade away. True, he’s a pain in the butt right now: lop off a chicken’s head and it’ll run around flapping and spurting blood and making a right mess for a minute or two before it drops; and Satan’s one big headless chicken who’s gonna be running around for a while yet. But up there in the future, the camels are dancing on his grave: it’s just a question of laughing in the meantime, along with more than a bit of weeping, sure; but God’s promise is that damned devil is done for, finito, for ever.

How? One word: Jesus. In Jesus, God steps out of the realm of the Almighty into what might be and makes all things possible. The non-existent God steps into human space-time and takes on existence: the author writes himself into the story, the artist paints himself into the picture, in a way that Satan simply cannot copy. Oh, Satan and his pathetic bunch of minions can possess, certainly; and as we all know, possession is nine tenths of the law. But as anyone who has ever faced a Compulsory Purchase Order knows only too well, that final tenth has more power than all the other nine put together — and that’s all God needs, all God has ever asked for and all Jesus needs to send Satan packing into that empty no man’s land where the camels dance on his grave.

Proof? You want proof? Simple: God farts and Satan flees. It’s right there in the Bible: Jesus went into the wilderness, where he farted for forty days and nights; and when the forty days were over, Satan fled. Ask Martin Luther: fart and the devil flees. The Christian God is a God who farts, and this — one of the most profound parts of the Christian message — terrifies Satan, because it’s something he can never do: he’s full of wind, but he can never fart. Try to imagine what that must be like: for ever flatulent but unable to fart. The best he can do is fart by proxy when he or one of his minions manage to possess a human being that they’ve sucker-punched into submission; but he can never fart himself. But God can: because God didn’t simply take over someone else’s human body, he grew his own and suffered all the indignities that went with it — alongside all the joys and pleasures. Seriously, you don’t think Jesus turning water not merely into wine but into the best possible wine was a one-off, do you? Practice makes perfect: Jesus knew his wine because he enjoyed the stuff, and if it had been a wedding today you can be sure that at least one of those water jars would have become Guinness, as well as maybe a flagon of champagne. Go ask his mum: she understood.

Our God farts. He also sings, dances, drinks, laughs, weeps, bleeds, parties, loves camels, tells stories, tells the bigots to bog off and makes friends with prostitutes. This is life in all its fullness. This is Jesus, God with us, one of us and loved and hated in equal measure by those who meet him.

He also dies and — the ultimate coup — suckers Satan into doing the dirty work of killing him: God’s biggest ever fart, right in Satan’s face, and Satan doesn’t even realise until it’s just too damned late. Once again, God does what Satan can’t: he dies, and he dies horribly with all the wrath, agony and hatred of humanity poured into his soul, into his very self. Satan, the one who hates humanity, delivers the death blow that finally nails God into the human story with no way out — and nails the lid onto his own coffin, for ever. The deceiver, deceived; the usurper, usurped; and whilst Satan throws a party in his fantasy world where he thinks God is no more, Jesus throws a party in the underworld, kicks down the gates of hell, breaks the chains, heals the wounds and sets every captive free — then returns, reboots his wreck of a body with a brand new Resurrection-OS, and throws a beach party for his confused disciples.

This is Christianity at its best, at its most basic and its most glorious: completely down to earth with the God who undermines every rule of religious propriety, turns every dogma and social norm on its head, tears down the walls and raises the dead. God with us, God incarnate, God one of us; and it doesn’t stop there: once God has written himself into the story, the story itself is rewritten with the promise of the same Resurrection-OS reboot for the entire universe. Quantum theology: time and space explode, ripping the old order apart as the Jesus Event reverberates backwards, forwards and every which way in time, rewriting history and writing an even better future. New creation, new beginning, new everything. The old dividing line between spiritual and physical, between heaven and earth, becomes nothing but a line in the sand, washed away by the tide: everything becomes sacred, gender distinctions are wiped away, the first become last, the last become first and in God’s new creation there is neither slave nor free, rich nor poor. Jesus becomes the point at which creation begins and the anchor holding it in place.

Following Jesus is not about some airy fairy pie-in-the-sky-when-you-die afterlife where we’ll all be floating around on clouds playing harps or cellos or whatever musical instrument takes your fancy with occasional breaks to laugh at the torments of the damned. Following Jesus is about life on earth now, in a world where Jesus taught his disciples to pray, “Your Kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Christianity is firmly rooted in reality and reality is rooted in Jesus who makes all things possible; and the future hope Jesus holds out to his disciples is reality rebooted.

Earlier I said you’ve got soul; I was wrong: you are soul. Be careful how you say that, but don’t be fooled by anyone who tries to tell you you’ve got an immortal soul that’s going to heaven or hell or some place in between; you haven’t. You are soul, body/spirit/mind synched together in imperfect harmony, but in God’s reboot the imperfections get the boot, your hard drive gets defragged and you get the upgrade that Apple, Microsoft and all the other computer geeks out there can’t even dream of, even in their wildest flights of imagination. Doesn’t matter if the original hardware’s rotted away, been incinerated or recycled because Jesus saves and he backs up too. Which means there will be cats and dogs in heaven because heaven will be here on earth; and for those with eyes to see, it’s already arrived.

God farts, Satan flees, camels dance, heaven, earth and humanity are rebooted and in the words of the hymn writer, Jesus sets our souls ablaze: be careful how you sing that; and I don’t know what was in those mushrooms I ate last night, but the shop assistant told me they were a special purchase from Patmos: blessed shall be the ox who gets the yoke.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,

‘See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them;
they will be his peoples,
and God himself will be with them;
he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
for the first things have passed away.’

Revelation 21:1-4


Acknowledgements: Post inspired by my good friend @narky, who apparently believes there won’t be cats and dogs in heaven; and I owe the ox who gets the yoke gag to Kruppe, a character in Steven Erikson’s ‘Tales of the Malazan Book of the Fallen’ … everything else, apart from the bits I made up, is true.

Helping Jesus Get Started March 14, 2011

Posted by Phil Groom in Christianity.
Tags: , , , ,
9 comments

From Jesus and the Interpreter: A modern-day christian helps Jesus get started. Watch and weep…

Let there be Emma! September 1, 2010

Posted by Emma Jayne in Christianity, Life, Theological Reflection.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
1 comment so far

OK, I know it’s kinda rash — but I like living dangerously and as much as anything I wanted to keep an eye on what these people are peddling to their younglings: the idea of thousands of teenagers all reading the Bible together sounds kinda scary — and awesome if it works. So I subscribed to the Soul Survivor Bible in One Year blog. Here’s Andy Croft getting carried away by the idea:

Today’s the day it all kicks off and I’m annoyed already. Doesn’t bode well really, does it? Here’s a happy clappy excerpt from Day 1, 1st September: Genesis, Matthew, Psalms, talking about Genesis 1.1 – 2.17:

This passage shows us God designed us the way we are. You’re not a mistake. God said let there be light, and there was light. He said let there be Andy and there was Andy, let there be Emma and there was Emma. Just as God looks at creation and thinks it’s good so too he looks at you and thinks you’re pretty great. We can enjoy his pleasure over us… in the same way we enjoy it when our parents or mates tell us we’re great.

Let there be Emma! Well yes, amen to that; love the affirmation of my being a gay Christian woman: not quite what I’d expected from the Evangelical frontline. Thanks guys. But really? Seriously? God designed us the way we are?? Forgive me if I fall about laughing, because that’s one God with a seriously warped sense of humour at best, if not an outright monster at worst.

So… God  designed us the way we are… God designed us to be susceptible to all kinds of sicknesses and diseases … which God also designed. God designed us with minds that fall apart under stress or trauma. God designed us to go mental at the flick of an invisible inner switch. God designed us to be tasty snacks for crocodiles, mosquitoes and piranhas … which God also designed. God designed us for life on a planet that’s ultimately gonna disappear in an amazing starburst as dear old Sol goes nova a few million years down the line… which we’re ruining in the meantime with our supposedly God-given talents to uproot and destroy, to the point where it’s likely to be uninhabitable long before that amazing starburst….

Yeah, right. Some God.

Wrong, wrong, wrong: #fail. And puh-leeese don’t give me mythology about “the Fall” and “sin” taking down the whole of creation by way of explanation, though I suppose we’ll get that within the next few days *sigh*

Sorry guys, but the universe does not hinge upon the human race. The claim that our mythical Adam & Eve rebelling against God in the Garden of Eden led to the corruption of the entire cosmos is simply breathtaking in its arrogance — like the belief that the Sun revolves around the Earth, only a billion times worse. You have only to open your eyes and look out at the vastness of the universe to begin to realise how puny and insignificant the human race is. We are specks of dust bouncing around on a bigger speck of dust in orbit around another speck of dust, albeit a hot one.

So where does this leave us? It leaves us like bloggers on WordPress, only on a much vaster, incomprehensible level. WordPress is a platform, with themes and widgets and all sorts of lovely-jubbly add-ons, with free hosting for the faithful here at WordPress.com and a standalone version for those who want to go it alone via WordPress.org. And we are invited to perform upon this platform. WordPress sets us free to blog as we will: they provide the platform; we provide the content … and somewhere out there, our readers join the dots and we become an amazing community in our social media matrix.

There are good bloggers and bad bloggers and there are every kind of blogger inbetween. There’s facebook and twitter and youtube and the list grows on and on. Platforms designed for us to dance on.

That’s God, my friends: the Ultimate Platform. Let’s dance!!

Meeting the Mentalists August 25, 2010

Posted by Phil Groom in Life, Mental Health.
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
28 comments

I’m sane, apparently. Well, I’m not on any sort of meds for a mental disorder, and so far I’ve always got on the train rather than thrown myself under it, although the thought does pass through my mind fairly frequently. And I don’t do self-harm either, though I’ve often wanted to take hold of a sharp knife and carve parts of my body away, but when it comes down to it, I don’t like pain: I’m just plain chicken, I guess.

But why am I telling you this? Because on Saturday I had the awesome privilege of meeting a group of my online friends from the madosphere: a group of people who blog, tweet and facebook their way through the traumas of mental health issues; and I fitted right in.

We met up at Baker Street tube station: @serial_insomnia, @magicplum@FindingMelissa and a few others, then went a-wandering in search of our fellow crazies in Regents Park, and we found them sitting in a circle under a tree. They opened up the circle for us and we sat looking at each other across the vast distances of our lives. Some talked, some listened, some did both and I guess some probably did neither but were simply glad to be, to be in a group of people who didn’t mind whether or not they were bipolar, clinically depressed or self-harmers or any combination of several dozen other disorders, who wouldn’t condemn them for having suicidal thoughts and wild mood swings or for suffering social anxiety or for having multiple personalities and imaginary friends or whatever.

Where was God in all this? Right there in the midst of us, weeping for all the traumas and all the might have beens and shouldn’t have beens and ought to have beens … screaming at the madness of humanity’s inhumanity and insanities … but not condemning, never that: only forgiving where forgiveness was wanted and offering peace and leaving space where space was needed. Or maybe that’s just me with my own imaginary friend? Why is it OK to have an invisible friend called Jesus but not other invisible friends? Why does our society treat people with mental illnesses like lepers?

And what about self-harm? Why does the church at large struggle to understand or relate to self-harmers? We have a God who’s big on self-harm: let’s face it, you can’t get more self-harming than God, can you? You’re all alone in the universe: you are the universe; and one day you have this crazy idea of creating Other … that’s just asking for trouble, surely? You know it’s going to end in tears and pain and bloodshed — most of it your own — and you go ahead and do it anyway, you give yourself away and you give yourself away and eventually you kill yourself by walking into a situation where there’s no escape and you get crucified. That’s self-harm big time and somehow it becomes humanity’s only hope and you throw everything, absolutely everything you’ve got, into this crazy plan and then entrust it to the likes of me to see it through. Crazy God: 100% certifiable.

The sitting-in-a-circle routine wasn’t really my scene, but I’m happy to say some of us managed to break away and find a pub whilst some others went boating then found the pub and we were all reunited in a more civilised atmosphere of Guinness, mutual empathy and connectedness. Unfortunately I had to leave before the evening was over — another party was calling — but my abiding memory is of meeting a group of incredibly courageous, lovely and likeable people who were (and are) brave enough to contend with their problems despite the failings and inadequacies of the NHS’s provision.

Anyway, that’s just some of the stuff that my brain has distilled out of the experience. If it gels with anyone else’s thoughts, great; but if not, no worries. To my amazing madosphere friends: I salute you!

A few reports elsewhere:

I Believe December 28, 2009

Posted by Phil Groom in Christianity, Theological Reflection, Theology.
Tags: ,
2 comments

I believe in God,
the mother, weeping,
wandering heaven and earth,
seeing but unseen.
I believe in all people,
her children,
begotten of her womb,
born of her blood,
one with her.
Through her our world is shaped,
our lives are made.
For our sake she wanders,
seeking the lost,
leading us home.
For our sake she suffers,
dies, and rises.
On the third day she stands,
still weeping for her children.
She ascends to heaven,
she returns to earth,
for she cannot abandon her own,
living or dead.
She breathes life:
her breath is life.
She seeks neither worship
nor glory,
only longing to be known
by her own.
She speaks through the trees,
through the birds and the sky.
She swims the ocean:
she is the ocean;
she is baptism;
She is life,
the life of the world,
yesterday, today
and for ever.
Amen.

Screaming inside… September 15, 2009

Posted by Phil Groom in Christianity, Life Issues, Poetry, Theological Reflection.
Tags: , , , , ,
5 comments
The Scream

The Scream

… as another friend is diagnosed with breast cancer.

Watching, waiting, hoping, praying… wondering at the futility of praying to a God who seems to have already opted out of the situation … is not the God we cry to for healing the same God who — if s/he is the God so many Christians, so many passages of the Bible, so much of the Church crack him/her up to be — could have prevented the situation?

That God is a myth, a fantasy, a desperate hope … like Father Christmas at Christmas time as we all collude in a massive pretence for the children … we know it’s not true, but we want the magic …

Another friend I spoke to asked me — if the God I wanted to be real, was real, what would that God be like? This poem emerges from that question …

The God I want God to be
would not allow
such things to be

The God I want my God to be
would sit a child
upon her knee
and gently speak
then set her free…

That child would learn
to walk alone
yet never lonely be
that child would soon
become full grown
and fully adult she
would dance
and sing
and joyful be
and tears of grief
would never flow —
she would not know
such things could be.

… and still, deep inside, I scream, and the echo of that scream, repeated by a billion other voices, haunts my dreams…

Your God is not my God September 10, 2009

Posted by Phil Groom in Poetry, Theological Reflection.
Tags:
8 comments

Your God is not my God:
Your God is Almighty — in Control,
Ruling the world from His Celestial Throne,
Somewhere in the blue,
High up above.

My God is frail — wounded
in his hands and feet,
battle scarred and bruised
and living here below.

Your God is Strong —
you lean on Him.
My God is weak —
he leans on me.
“Brother,” he says,
“What shall we do?”

We are partners, he and I,
in a War against time —
and only time will tell.

If I was God… July 13, 2009

Posted by Phil Groom in Christianity, Theological Reflection.
Tags: ,
7 comments

If I was God I’d throw myself under a train and get it over with — and poof! The whole damn universe would disappear with me, space and time and eternity all swallowed up into the infinite void…

I’m thinking it must be a total nightmare to be God: you can’t even kill yourself and when you try you end up coming back to life three days later, but you’ve been so radically transformed by the experience that your best friends don’t recognise you anymore, even when you’re walking down the road with them or cooking them breakfast on the beach. Then when they do recognise you, you disappear. Madness.

If you were God, what would you do?

Giant Teapots and Other Atheist Myths June 23, 2009

Posted by Phil Groom in Theological Reflection.
Tags: , , , , , ,
8 comments

TeapotToday, I am in a whimsical frame of mind. Inner woman and outer man have settled their differences and are no longer fighting one another: instead, we are amused.

We are amused by the atheists getting uppity over our review of Geoffrey Berg’s Six Ways of Atheism — twice over, in fact, as we are quoted at length by The Freethinker in Barmy Baptist resorts to sarcasm in dismissing new atheist book. It’s all highly entertaining.

What has me puzzled (there’s only one of me really, despite the voices in my head), though, is why the current crop of atheists are getting themselves so wound up over something that they say doesn’t exist. I’m not about to argue the toss on that one, though: as I’ve said before, God doesn’t exist: get over it.

I can understand Christians getting enthusiastic, especially when they’re new to the faith: I remember my own teenage years, out there with the best of them (or the worst, depending on your point of view), making like your friendly neighbourhood preacher, on fire for Jesus because I thought Jesus was the answer to the world’s woes. As it happens, I still believe that, but I’m no longer interested in converting people to my point of view: winning new disciples is Jesus’ job, not mine — my job is to be a disciple.

We Get to Carry Each Other

We Get to Carry Each Other

And that’s half the problem, isn’t it? If you’ll forgive me referring to Greg Garrett’s new book again, We Get to Carry Each Other: The Gospel according to U2 (WJK, 9780664232177, £11.99, due for UK release August 2009), I think Garrett has got it spot on here:

… for far too many Christians, belief in God seems to lead only to an attempt to make other people believe in God—so that they can make other people believe in God.

Dawkins is right: the God Christianity all too often offers the world is nothing more than a giant teapot in orbit around the earth. Me, I took the lid off the teapot and it was empty.

More tea, vicar?

%d bloggers like this: