Monday, September 04, 2006

What will it look like?

Jesus was not what those to whom he came expected. They were looking for David and they got the anti-David. It's not surprising that they missed him, given that so many of them were into the Law as opposed to the prophets. They had a spiritual practice that was built around accommodation to the mean time, rather than manifesting the end time. The prophets (for centuries) tried to tell the Jews that their fixation on this Davidic modus operandi, on the state as the justifier of God's people, was only going to get them the opposite of what they had faith that it would. So Jesus said that one should render to the state/the powers that which is belongs to the state/powers (a very amusing pun) and in the end rendered himself unto them. And then, rather than being destroyed by these powers in the process, he destroyed them. Tidy work, but not what most of those watching had in mind or even what they were prepared to hold in their mind. In fact, as the prophets had said would happen, most of them never had a clue as to what was going on.

So what am I looking for? In this "meantime" space, what do I expect it to look like, the next signal of the end times? Is it going to look like Revelation?

I look back to my own prophets, the early Friends, and I wonder whether the next dispensation will come in those clothes. Gray? Big old hats and sugar scoop bonnets? Am I so fixated on Penington and Naylor that I won't recognize (or be recognized) when, as they say, "the man comes around?"

It's a cushy little spot, I'm in here, this meantime Quakerism is. It is not by any stretch of the imagination a part of a subversive undercutting of controlling images and behavioral norms of the original Jesus movement or the original Quaker movement, as described David Gwyn. My life is more like one of an easy acquiescence to private piety and public pragmatism that allows me to pray for things that my way of life makes impossible. Did anyone else choke when the American government spied on Quakers? I know some who swelled with pride to be on "the list" but I don't think that, as a group, Quakers are any more dangerous to the dominant powers of this country/world than the Boston Pops orchestra or the Detroit Lions. Quakerism is certainly potentially dangerous to the dominant power structure, at least it was. But we will know, I think, that it is dangerous, once again, if that structure starts to thinks, again, that a few of us need to be rendered unto the state/powers to calm the rest of us down.

Maybe my discomfort is not so much a fear that I won't (or don't) recognize the "next dispensation." Maybe it's that I recognize it all too clearly, in the here and now, and I only pretend not to see the shape in which it has already come, as the rich Jew did not, because I cannot handle the implications that flow from that.

As it is written,

I said, "You know, they refused Jesus, too."

They said, "You're not him."

Would they have know if the "I" in this song really was?

3 comments:

Simon St.Laurent said...

As it is written:

People talk of situations,
read books, repeat quotations,
draw conclusions on the wall.

I've been rereading Penn's introduction to Fox's Journal for the discussion of dispensations. It's great to see this discussed, especially the questions open now and in the future.

Dave Carl said...

Perhaps the most dangerous thing would be a thing that they never realized was happening -- "never saw it coming" as they say. Something they can't oppose because it is not really "oppositional" in nature. And because it gives them what they at bottom are actually looking for. Something so sneaky that they are covered in it before they knew there was a threat at all.

JT said...

"So Jesus said that one should render to the state/the powers that which is belongs to the state/powers (a very amusing pun) and in the end rendered himself unto them. And then, rather than being destroyed by these powers in the process, he destroyed them."

Great- I love how you put this.