Having done the handout a couple weeks ago, we did the video tonight. So I was already familiar with the three "macro-stories" of bondage&liberation, exile&return, and sin&forgiveness. I was actually annoyed that in the video Borg wasn't clearer about the three -- he said there were three but then the way he talked you could pick out maybe one and a half.
Borg talked about how at Passover seders today, part of the spoken bit is (paraphrase), "It was not just our mothers and fathers who were in bondage under Pharaoh; we were, too. It was not just our mothers and fathers whom the mighty hand of the Lord brought to freedom; it was us, too." [His paraphrase was way more articulate.] Anyway, the point was that the story of bondage and liberation is still part of the human story in each of us today.
Borg said that socialization leads to bondage -- that we are taught, "this is what it means to be attractive, this is what it means to be successful, etc," I said that I could get on board with that idea but was distressed that no alternative -- not even suggestions of any, since I understand that this series is about the journey and not about handing you definitive answers -- was presented.
Mike said he imagined their alternative would be some other set of standards, which is problematic, since you're just going from one human-created set of standards to another, so how does that fit with that logic? I agreed, saying that my reaction had been to think that the way it was articulated, it sounded like the logical alternative would be no standards, which I didn't think any of the series participants would have actually endorsed.
Mike also said there are certain social/ethical standards that make society work -- i.e., you trust that you can talk to someone and they're not gonna stab you -- so the broad strokes were problematic. [NB: No one actually used the word "problematic" in tonight's discussion. Though it's always possible that I did and just don't even notice anymore.]
Nelson talked about blood atonement and said he thinks that Jesus was standing opposed to the Temple institution, including the death of innocent beings as necessary for God to forgive us. I thought this reeked of modern attitudes on animals but wasn't even going to get into it.
More fondly, I also thought of this section from Christopher Moore's Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal:
"The table will be set for the Passover feast of the Essenes," Joseph said. "Stay here for supper."
"Celebrate the Passover early? Why?" John asked. "Why celebrate with the Essenes?"
Joseph looked away from Joshua when he answered. "Because at the Essenes' feast, they don't kill a lamb."
The next few segments you get in note form so I can go to bed eventually:
Cobb: Paul's use of the word "blood" refers to Jesus' faithfulness unto death, not so much on the importance of literal blood.
Hauerwas: Overwhelming violence vs. receiving violence. [specifically, God's reaction to humanity's violence]
Patterson: martyrdom tradition -- something worth living for before something worth dying for
Also: doesn't like the idea that one can run up whatever debt one wants because someone else will pay the bill -- or already has, giving one carte blanche.
Brian [new tonight] asked a little about the "died for our sins" vs. "died because of our sins" distinction, and in trying to explain, Megan talked about the element of choice in suffering -- that the idea of Jesus' suffering being noble has been used to defend lots of badness, so a lot of people have come to focus on the element of choice, that suffering because you love someone can be very powerful, but being forced to suffer against one's will is not a good and noble thing.
Mike suggested that God demonstrated (in Christ's death) how much He loved us rather than saying this was necessary for forgiveness.
The last segment of the DVD (well, penultimate, but we usually skip the "Potter's House") was actually one I wholly liked -- which like never happens.
Heather Murray Elkins opened by talking about Abraham Heschel's idea that the Word utters us and tells the story of a three-day pastor's retreat wherein she asked the participants to find a name or a story in Scripture that they felt named them, and at the end of the retreat they sat in a circle and went around and shared and there were lots of powerful stories and sharings, and then they got to this one guy, very young for a pastor, and he just sat there silently, and eventually she asked him if there was a name or a story that he found. And he said that he had really wanted to, that he had really looked, but none of the names or stories were powerful enough to overcome the one his father had given him since he was very young. And after a bit she asked if he would be willing to share that name with them. He said, "The name my father gave me was 'not good enough,' " and then he just sat there crying. And as she put it, it was like this young man was drowning in front of them, and there they were a crowd of lifeguards and none of them knew how to help him, and then, without making eye contact with each other, they just got up and laid hands on him and a number of them said, "You are my beloved son, and in you I am well-pleased." And afterward, in the parking lot, getting ready to go home, she asked the young man, said she had to know, had that experience made a difference for him, and he said that he didn't know, but that every time he put his hands in the water to name another child before God he would remember it.
Trelawney mentioned the parallel stories of the descending of the Holy Spirit at the baptism of Jesus (dove) and Pentecost (tongues of fire).
Both Eric and I read ahead a bit to later in the packet where it talks about the possibility of making worship service a "blood-free zone." It suggests replacing the word "blood" with "love" in a lot of hymns and prayers, which I found interesting. It also suggests changing the language of communion: replacing Jesus' "blood" and "body" with sharing the "cup of God's mercy" and the "bread of new life." I explained that I have mixed feelings on this, that bread and juice/wine are sustaining elements of life, and their replacement phrases are not bad (and remind me of some of my communion experiences in my church-hoppings), but that I have this continual tension between Communion being so not important to me [I've really gotta backtag those entries -- edit: Apparently I already did /edit] and wanting it to be this powerful resonant symbolic thing and body and blood are powerful words/symbols. I also added that when I'm taking Communion, or even thinking about it, I'm not thinking about the violence of blood atonement theories; I'm thinking about the fact that someone died for me.
* Mike said, "I love your arguments. I'm always rooting for you." He said he wasn't sure there's anything we could argue about since we always seem to be in agreement. I said I was sure there were plenty of things we could argue about, just none of them ever seem to come up in this space. (And we usually have slightly different takes on things, just very similar.)
* Seth had two words for me: "Intellectual gumption."
* Megan said that I had asked her about what she was doing (classes, etc.) and she had been answering those questions all day as small talk but I actually cared, and her excitement about that fact was so evident in her demeanor as she was telling me this. She also called my story about the Chicago hotel "fascinating." And said that I give good hugs, and generally that she had missed me and hadn't realized that she had until I'd come up and given her a hug.
* Meredith said I "always bring the conversation up a level."
* Brian [who's new] said that I have a very strong smile, that that's the first thing he noticed about me tonight. It's interesting, I get Affirmations like that a lot, and it's still not a part of my conception of myself (a holdover from my dominant self-conception as quiet, not people-oriented, etc. I imagine).
* Eric mentioned our T encounter and said that a lot of people would have just kept walking, figuring "Oh I'll see him in an hour," but I didn't, I said hi and we chatted. Until he said it, it hadn't even occurred to me that it would have been an option to not say hi to him, because my natural reaction is, "Oh, person I like, want to acknowledge and engage."
My self-Affirmation was the writing workshop I led on Monday, and afterward Mike chatted with me a bit about that. It's interesting, I was so dreading it in the time leading up to it (and kind of during it) but since then I've been thinking about what I learned from it talking about it actually makes me excited to try it again.