Archive for July, 2015

A Love Story

// July 25th, 2015 // No Comments » // Church in The Cliff

This will be another challenging week.  Yet again, we will gather in the wake of a mass shooting.  We are told once again that it is too soon to talk about gun control, too soon to talk about politics.  We know that it is statistically likely that next week will witness another mass shooting and the clock will be reset and it will never be time to talk about it.  We can only lament.

The lectionary would seem to be no help this week, but let’s see.  It is the story of David and Bathsheba found in 2 Samuel 11.1-15.  According to painters and filmmakers, this a great love story of the ages.  David sees her across the way and she is described much like David’s other great love, Jonathon – she is beautiful.  He must have her.  He sends for her, their passion leads where passion leads and she ends up pregnant.  David sends her husband, Uriah the Hittite, to the front lines so that he will be killed, clearing the way for David and Bathsheba to marry.  However, there are two things missing from this reading.

First, we never hear Bathsheba’s voice.  She has been cast as a scheming temptress and the victim of an unhappy marriage, due to either abuse or her husband’s sterility or both.  Yet, her consent is so unnecessary to David that he simply sends for her and so uninteresting to the author that it isn’t even mentioned.  When David, the king of Israel, a man willing to murder to get what he wants, sends for her, are we really to believe that she can refuse?  Does a woman’s consent even exist in this scenario?  It doesn’t seem so.

Second, this story is often read as the story of David’s decline into sin, the reason for the failure of Israel, the exile and deportation, the eventual end of the Davidic dynasty.  More immediately, it is the reason for the death of the child of this union.  Through the prophet Nathan, God tells David precisely what he did wrong: he stole Bathsheba from Uriah the Hittite; he murdered Uriah; he showed no pity for the poor soldier with only one wife.  Clearly, he has wronged Uriah.  There is no mention of Bathsheba, no mention of rape.  Perhaps there should be.  Perhaps we should include that among David’s sins.  To paraphrase our president speaking about Bill Cosby: if you have sex with someone without his or her consent, it is rape.  Bathsheba’s consent is not recorded here.

So what does this have to do with the shooting in Lafayette?  So far, another white shooter is being written off as a lone nut, a victim of mental illness.  We will make nothing of the context of the shooting or his choice of victims.  The star of the film is Amy Schumer, a comedian who keenly satirizes the reality of being a woman in contemporary America.  The two people Rusty Houser killed were women.  Houser had a long history of anti-woman sentiments, including during his appearances on “Rise and Shine,” a morning talk show in Columbus, Georgia, whose hosts recall that “Rusty had an issue with feminine rights. He was opposed to women having a say in anything.”  They had him on regularly because his “controversial” positions lit up the switchboards.  Apparently, his bi-polar disorder was entertaining when he was only talking about shutting women up.  Now that he actually did it, we won’t talk about his misogyny.  We certainly won’t talk about the support he found for it in the rest of society.  We won’t play politics with the lives of the two women who he hated and murdered.  We will respectfully ignore the content of Houser’s hatred and help him keep his victims silent.

Please join us this Sunday, 11am at Church in the Cliff, as we crack open the canon a little and see what Bathsheba might have to say to us.

Grace & Peace,

Dancing toward Justice

// July 8th, 2015 // No Comments » // Church in The Cliff

I’ll be out of town this Sunday, but fortunately our church is packed with great people.  Lindsey Mosher Trozzo will be filling in for me.  Lindsey is currently working on her dissertation on the ethics of the Gospel of John.  From our chat this evening it seems like this Sunday will be an extension of our conversation last Sunday with a slightly different lens and, of course, a different voice to frame things.

The lectionary presents us with David’s celebration at the return of the ark as well as Amos’s proclamation of judgment on the nation of Israel.  Given the news of the last few weeks, how do we live in the tension of celebrating the milestones on the way to justice while continuing to press for more?  Who are we in those opposing moments?

Please join us this Sunday, 11am at Church in the Cliff, as we talk about the way we stagger, stumble, and dance toward justice.

Grace & Peace,


// July 4th, 2015 // No Comments » // Church in The Cliff

The last couple of weeks have been kind of intense, a rollercoaster of emotions.  Now we are witnessing the backlash.  Those who see their worlds crumbling with the removal of symbols of racism and the elation of others as they take a step toward equality are determined to fight back.  They ask, “How far is too far?” And the answer is always a ways back up the road to the place where they live.  There is still work to do, but I confess I am often at a loss as to how to do it.

I can testify to my own internal backlash, the valley that must be faced after the peak.  Righteous anger is good space for me.  I know what the world should look like and I’m not afraid to ask for it.  I don’t mind a good fight.  But after the yelling is over, the bitter words have ceased, and everyone has gone back to their corners, it always feels like a loss.  Things didn’t change much, everyone is retrenched, and I feel like we’ll never get anywhere, like it was all for nothing.

In part, this is just how I’m built – Enneagram 4 for those keeping score at home.  My best self knows the right thing, but I have trouble living in the day-to-day.  Unfortunately, it’s the day-to-day that we really need.  It’s the every day grind of making small changes, practicing justice in every little choice.  It’s hard, it’s slow, and it’s kind of boring.  There are no clever memes to guides us.  Maybe we could just watch TV instead.  Or…

We could read the Bible!  (Yay, Bible!)  The lectionary this week gives us Paul and Jesus, both dealing with the struggles and frustrations of sustaining a movement.  Paul’s writing is a little cryptic.  However, it is clear that he is frustrated because he knows about Paradise, but is confined to live in this world.  Somehow, he finds a way to draw strength from that.  Jesus, too, is giving the world some wisdom, but he is amazed at how poorly it is received.  He does what he can, educates people, and gets some help.  Something must have worked or I wouldn’t be sitting here writing about Paul and Jesus.

Please join us this Sunday, 11am at Church in the Cliff, as we talk about how we continue the momentum in the face of frustrating opposition and how we might shape our work for transformation rather than conflict.  This will certainly be one of those weeks where I learn more than I teach.

Grace & Peace,