Sermons

Diet Diet

January 03, 2016

by Rev. Dr. Donna Schaper
Senior Minister

[NOTE: The audio and video are forthcoming.]

I love that these scriptures are more than moral. And I love everybody’s favorite new Protestant theologian, whom even President Obama has anointed, Marilyn Robinson, because she also has taken our Protestant moral spine and given it what the Pope has given it: an aesthetic dimension of praise. We are to love what we don’t know.

You’d think she was listening in on the promise of fat things to the priests and watered gardens for the lame and the blind. Thank you, Darla, for showing us the depth of this psalm, which is a map. They shall come from the North, the far away, the South, the East, the west. They shall be glad together.

And of course there are the three wise men, Persian astrologists we are told, based in an obscure Persian cult. Shiite? Suni? Nope. Neither, but pre saging all. Astrologists, like Protestants, have fallen out of favor. But we still know a good prophecy when we see it. First the star in the East. Follow it even you don’t know why, the same way you love what you cannot know. Then hear the clash with power right below it. Herod is on the way. Go home by another way.

We have come through Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and not for profit Tuesday. Instead of the Salvation Army bell ringing in our ears, outside every store, inside every screen are a thousand clangs, asking us to use money to pay for what we think we might need, including great people doing good work. Now we have also made it through my favorite week of the year, the week between Christmas and New Year, when nothing happens. Nothing but the leftovers. Peace starts to seep into your soul and you have a chance to remember what the great story really is. The story is God’s only begotten in a quiet confrontation with throned power and the urrent arrangements. Quiet power confronting throned power. Infant power confronting adult power run amuck. The wise meet a king – and it is not the king they had presumed. It is a child, all but purring in a manger and still presenting such a threat to the powers that be that it had to go stealth in silence and get home by another way.

Of course that great week when nothing happens and peace starts to purr in you can be interrupted. You might go to see Star Wars. In it you hear the counter story to the Christmas story. In it, the good, morally, fights the evil and kind of wins. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed Star wars. I sat between Michael Conley and Warren Goldstein, two of my favorite wise men. Each devoured a quart of popcorn. Apparently neither had heard about the diet that goes home another way, the un diet diet where we lean so deeply into the promise of fat things that we don’t have to consume them all the time.

Back to the movie and done with my diet advice. I was thrilled at a female hero and did not think that the General, aka, former Princess Leah, actress Carry Fischer, was too fat. I thought she looked great. And I loved the strength of actress Rey, interestingly translated as King, played by Daisy Ridley. Actually it is not so interesting that her name is King. She is just a guy who is a girl. Note: this is not me dissing transgendering. I like that sort of thing. I just get uncomfortable at the binaries of good and evil, boy and girl and don’t care for it at all when Disney and companies get the story wrong about how good will triumph over less good. Just because a girl can use violence as good as a guy doesn’t really matter to me. In fact, I’d rather that she prevail a different way and go home by a different route.

I know that Disney and its clones has bought childhood piece by piece. My grand daughter wears her Frozen Princess blue dress for four or five days straight. She belts out Anna’s song, Frozen, based on the Snow Queen by Hans Christian Anderson, sticks with you, especially if Eva is your granddaughter.

Our story is not about buying childhood. It is about childhood unbought. Leave no child inside we might argue. Our story is about peace overcoming violence, not overcoming violence by violence. Our story is about justice overcoming injustice and doing so non-violently. Our story is not about victory for some and defeat for others. It is a different story. We have our music too in Christmas Carols. We have our big box office hits too, like Christmas pageants where children dress up in bathrobes and look cute, unless the bathrobe falls off or the cardboard star gets hit by a shepherd’s crook that someone imagined was to be used for a piñata.

Our story is the moral and the aesthetic guarantee of peace by going home a different way than the powerful think we should or can.

Like I said, I enjoyed Star Wars. But when all is said and done I like the star and don’t like the wars.

Thus a brief meditation on the moral plus aesthetic way to peace, the Christian way, not the way that just does what Herod wanted to do to Jesus from an attractive female character.

Interestingly, the main theme of my life has become security. A dozen companies want to sell Judson training in how to be safe. We also have an increased number of requests to hire well-trained security guards so that what happened in Charleston not happen to us. The downbeat of terrorism seems to have hit the market place and we are a target. So here is what they tell me. There is a rule of three, and this time the three does not apply to wise men. “If you can escape, escape. If you can’t escape, hide. If you can’t hide and can’t escape, fight back.” No one suggests anything like going home a different way. I would hire a peace company, not a security company, especially if they told me how to stop hate speech, like the kind coming from Donald Trump about barring Moslems from entering the country. I am neither a wise man nor a wise woman but I do know that more hatred and self-protection is not going to save me. I do not join Rey in needing a saber or a light sword to keep me safe. I don’t think phallic objects have kept men safe yet. I don’t see the evidence that the world is getting safer the more security forces or weapons we have. Just the opposite is true. I may not fully understand how non-violence is going to stop ISIS. But that is the only question that interests me. I know violence won’t stop it. The Star War movies can never go out of business or stop having sequels if they don’t stop war from stopping war from stopping war from stopping war. The destination is not victory over evil. The destination is good. Victory is not peace. Security is not peace. Peace is Peace.

The destination is to figure out why some people think that violence is their only way to survive. Hmm. Most of us think violence is the only way to survive. And we are already surviving. If anything is true, we are thriving, on top of the world, while sitting on top of the world. So why do we have the largest arsenal in the world?

Ah, what shall we then do about evil, Donna? I do not know. But I do know that more evil doesn’t stop evil, that more guns don’t stop guns, that more security guards don’t stop the people who are scared to death in the first place.

The Prophets saw a star in the East and came to worship it. Rey grabbed a light sword.
The prophets of yore promised a watered garden to the poor and the lame and fat things to the priests. They bombed with hope and food and grain. In Star Wars a son killed his father.

When you follow Jesus, you live without veneer, all rubbed off and without power. You love what you cannot know and what maybe you don’t even like. You inhale gratitude for the sign in the East and you go and worship it. You exhale generosity and let it seep into your soul. The light in your sword is the light of a star and the great lightness of being that gathers people from the North, the South, the East and the West to announce, not make, but announce peace.

 


 

 
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