Many years ago, when I was first being introduced to readings of the Jesus stories that took things like politics, economics, power, and oppression seriously, one of the key books people in the know talked about was Unveiling Empire: Reading Revelation Then and Now by Wes Howard-Brook and Anthony Gwyther.  I read it around the same time that I read Binding the Strong Man (Ched Myers) and Liberating Paul (Neil Elliott).  These books, taken together, really reoriented my understanding of the early Jesus movement, although I did not read them alone — I read them while also immersing myself in liberation theology (and social theory) and while seeking to move into relationships of mutually liberating solidarity with people experiencing oppression, violence, and colonization in my own context.  Still, I was (and am) very grateful for the ways in which these texts helped me to orient myself and better understand ancient texts that were very important to me at that time.

In recent years, I’ve been fortunate to become friends with Wes.  Mostly online, but I was able to visit with him in Seattle when Jess and I were out there in October.  He had seen my interview with Neil Elliott and invited me to engage in a conversation with him around his two books, Come Out, My People! God’s Call Out of Empire in the Bible and Beyond (2010) and Empire Baptized: How the Church Embraced what Jesus Rejected 2nd-5th Centuries (2016).  I was more than happy to do so!  Wes was a gracious and always encouraging dialogue partner.  I very much appreciate his writings, his eclectic sources of inspiration, and his willingness to chat about all of these things with me.  Thanks, Wes!  All the best to you and Sue and those with whom you live and move and have your being — may the death squads never prowl on your streets and may you always find ways to choose love no matter how violent the world becomes.

This is our conversation:

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Posted by: Dan | December 2, 2016

November Reviews

So, I’m rather busy at the moment and I accidentally read too many books and watched too many movies in November.  These reviews-that-aren’t-really-reviews will be even shorter and less adequate than usual.

Discussed in this post: 8 Books (Secret Path; Citizen; Imperial Ideology and the Provincial Loyalty in the Roman Empire; Picturing Paul in Empire; Empire Baptized; My Brilliant Friend; The Painted Bird; Hyperbole and a Half); 5 Movies (I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House; February; When Animals Dream; Hour of the Wolf; Inglourious Basterds); 5 Documentaries (The Mask You Live In; Miss Representation; The Witness; 13TH; Sour Grapes).

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Posted by: Dan | November 26, 2016

Tanya Tagaq Revisited (with Lawrence Paul Yuxwelputun)

There is a hole in the sky.

I am a boy on a beach and what I thought was a boat on the horizon is a hole in the sky.  Standing with starfish in my hands and sand in my toes and wind in my ears.  There is a hole in the sky and retribution will be swift.

The wind is howling and life is being taken from us.  I am a boy on a beach and the horizon is a hole and the fish and the plants and the trees and the animals are being pulled into it.  I thought it was a boat but it’s a hole in the sky.  You cannot blow up a hole in the sky.

Retribution will be swift.

I cannot throw back these starfish in my hands because they will be pulled out of the hole in the sky.

The wind is howling but I am still, and I am no longer a boy but a man, and I don’t know where my children are.  There is a hole in the sky and I don’t know where my children are.

Where are my children? And I know that I am not the only one asking.  The question rises from a a thousand million red and black and brown throats.  The question rises from the land and the air and the sea.

Where are my children?

There is a boy and he is six and he is in the washroom and there is blood in the back of his underwear and he is afraid of what the sisters will do if they see that he has ruined the clothes they gave him.

Where are my children?

They took his clothes and his hair and his name and there is blood in the back of his underwear and he is afraid of what the sisters will do if they see that he has ruined the clothes they gave him.

Retribution will be swift.

There is a hole in the sky and a boy with blood in his underwear and a voice that asks me, do you want to see all of the boys?  I will show them to you.  Then they begin to walk in front of me.  Boy after boy.  All dressed the same.  All wearing numbers.  All with the same haircut.  All alone.  All with blood in their underwear.  They crowd out my vision.  They are very young and very small but still they fill up the inside and outside of everything.  There is no more room for them but still they are coming.  The edges of space and time being to tear to make room for them all.

No! I don’t want to see anymore! The vision stops.

I am a man on the beach and there is a hole in the sky and I don’t know where my children are.

Retribution will be swift.

There is a polar bear starving in the dirt where the ice used to be.

Where are my children?

There is a polar bear starving and a new world is coming.  The sun is shining, the sun is burning, the sun is a fire filling the sky, and there is dirt where the ice used to be.

Retribution will be swift.

I was once a white bear in a den with my cubs.  The walls around us were thousands of years old.  The walls around us were ice.  When we emerged in the springtime, we began to starve.

Where are my children?  There is a hole in the sky.  The sun is a fire.  Retribution will be swift.

A new world is coming and the old medicines, even the very strongest ones, no longer work.  The white bears are starving.  The sun brings death instead of life.

Retribution will be swift.

There is  a mother and she is running.  There are bonfires in the woods.  There is a boy with blood in the back of his underwear and a girl laying beneath the groans of a man.

Where are my children?

The owls are hooting in the woods.  The ferns are blocking my vision.  There is a mother and she is running.  They are hunting her.  My people are hunting her.  There is a girl crying beneath the groans of a man.  There is a girl moaning beneath the groans of a man.  There is a girl pierced beneath the groans of a man.  There is a mother running, there is a forest hooting, there is fire between the trees.  There is a man groaning, there is a man hunting, there is a man killing.  There is a girl and there is a mother and she is fleeing.

Where are her children?

Retribution will be swift.

There is a hole in the sky and life is falling through it and I don’t know where my children are.

There is a new world coming and my people are running.  They are being hunted.  The earth will no open up to them.  The rivers will dry up before them.  They will not eat or drink.  Their feet and lips will crack.  When they expire a black sludge rises from their throats.  There are bonfires in the woods.  It is not owls that are hooting.

Retribution will be swift.

There is a boy on the beach holding starfish, there is a boat in the horizon that is a hole in the sky.  There is a man who has lost his children.  There is a mother whose children were taken.  There is blood in the soil, the soil is blood, the blood is the soil.  And the rectums of children are not tabernacles designed to host the penises of men.

Retribution will be swift.

I used to think that if I was good enough, they would send me home.  But they didn’t send me home.  I thought, perhaps, if I misbehaved enough, they would send me home.  But they didn’t send me home.  I thought if I submitted enough, they would send me home.  But they didn’t send me home.  There is blood in the back of my underwear and I am afraid of what the sisters will do when they see that I have ruined the clothes that they gave me.

Where are my children?

I can’t throw back the starfish.  You can’t blow up a hole in the sky.  We cannot go home.

Retribution will be swift.

The whales were the first to see the boat on horizon.  There is a boat that is coming that is a hole in the sky, they sang and they sang and they sang.  The drove themselves onto beaches in their efforts to warn us.  Take care!  Take care!  For retribution will be swift, they said as they died.

Where are my children?

There is a polar bear starving in the dirt.  The old medicines are dying.  The sun brings death instead of life.

Retribution will be swift.

There is a fire in the woods.  My people are hunters and hunted.  There is blood in the soil.  There is a man grunting over the body of a girl, the body of a boy, the body of the earth.

I am a man on a beach with starfish in my hands and I don’t know where my children are.  Life is fleeing from us, life is rushing like the wind out of a boat on the horizon that is a hole in the sky and I don’t know where my children are.  There are mothers arrayed before me, there are mothers arrayed behind me, there is a polar bear in the dirt, there is a whale on the rocks, there are mothers in the woods and there is a voice that is rising.  A voice that is swelling, a voice that is crying, a mother that is crying, a world that is crying, Where are my children?  There is a great sound of weeping.

The sun is a fire and a new world is coming.  And then there was a moment of silence.

In that moment, I heard myself ask – against myself, I heard myself ask – is there any space at all for my people in the world that is to come?  Because I was thinking of my children.

The voice replied: Those who come after will gnaw on your bones.

Retribution
will
be
swift.

Posted by: Dan | November 9, 2016

White People

I.Beginnings

“I’m dreaming of a white Christmas.” ~ Bing Crosby

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Posted by: Dan | November 3, 2016

Hurtado Responds

I recently wrote a response to Dr. Larry Hurtado’s latest book, Destroyer of the gods: Early Christian Distinctiveness in the Roman World.  It’s a fairly sustained critical reflection and you can read it here.  That response received a fair bit of positive feedback from some NT scholars so, given how odd I felt Hurtado’s book was, I thought I would give him an opportunity to respond.  It seemed only fair to the reader (and perhaps to the text as well), to invite the author to reply.  I emailed my response to him and we corresponded a little about it.  I post that correspondence now, with his permission.

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Posted by: Dan | November 1, 2016

October Reviews

Discussed in this post: 6 Books (I Am Woman; Destroyer of the gods; Paul, the Fool of Christ; Come Out, My People; The Ancient Economy; The Rings of Saturn); 1 Movie (Atanarjuat); 2 Documentaries (People of the Kattawapiskak River; Tickled).

Books

1. I Am Woman by Lee Maracle.

maracle

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Response to Larry Hurtado’s Destroyer of the gods: Early Christian Distinctiveness in the Roman World

Introduction: Christianity without the Cross?

In Destroyer of the gods, Larry Hurtado manages to do something remarkable: he writes a book about early Christian distinctiveness in the Roman world, without ever discussing the single most distinctive element of the early Jesus movement—the cross.  The crucifixion of Jesus.  The fact that the person whom the early Jesus followers proclaimed as “Lord,” “Son of God,” “Christ,” and “Saviour,” and incorporated into their “dyadic devotional pattern” (68), was crucified.  However you want to call it, this is missing from Hurtado’s book.[1]  Yet there was nothing more scandalous, offensive, revolutionary and genuinely distinct about the early Jesus movement than this (and even if some folks may disagree that the cross is the most distinct element of the early Jesus movement, I imagine that they will all agree that is a distinctive element).

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Posted by: Dan | October 10, 2016

On Loneliness

No one is glamorously lonely ~ The Backstreet Boys, Song for the Unloved

[Alternate Backstreet Boys opening quotes: Loneliness has always been a friend of mine or Show me the meaning of being lonely.]

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Posted by: Dan | October 2, 2016

September Reviews

Before getting into my book reviews — my most highly anticipated blog series that nobody reads! — I’d like to mention that I’m doing a “Go Fund Me” to try and finish my M.A.  If anybody wants to support me in that project, you can check out the link here.  I appreciate any and all support.

Now then, on to the good stuff!  In this post I explore: 6 Books (Separate Beds; Divine Honours For The Caesars; Paul; The Time That Remains; The Roman Empire; and The Man Without Qualities, Vol. 1); 1 Movie (Ikiru); and 3 Documentaries (Weiner; Man on Wire; and Dwarvenaut).

Books

1. Separate Beds: A History of Indian Hospitals in Canada, 1920s-1980s by Maureen K. Lux.

lux

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Luke 1.5a: Of National Chiefs and Client Kings

In the time of Herod, King of Judaea…

Senate

Wîhtikow II. By Neal Mcleod.  The inscription reads: “Progress, a new light on the land, ate our souls.”  A Wîhtikow (ᐄᐧᐦᑎᑯᐤ) is a Cree version of a Windigo.

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