Queering the Christian Table Part 3: An Interlude

To start reading from the beginning of the series, click here.

We are standing at the edge of Elliott Bay, laughing as we launch rocks into the cold waves of Puget Sound. We stagger and try not to impale each other as we flail uncoordinatedly, lobbing slippery stones with our left hands. We are both right handed.

My friend and I try to tell our brains and our muscles to mirror the more familiar gestures of our right hands. We are surprisingly clumsy. It is also surprising how quickly we become adept. Before too long—our shoes muddied—our lefty-flung rocks reach as far into the water as the ones thrown effortlessly from our right hands. A mottled, adolescent gull lands nearby, twisting its neck from side to side, examining our actions with its strange stare from the opposite sides of its head.

It is somewhere within this moment that my friend (a man married to a woman) begins to speak; tells of his experience talking to a group of folks at our church about why the Episcopal Church has created a blessing for same-sex unions (I am blessed to have non-queer identified friends who do such things as a matter of course in their lives).

We had spoken about this the day before, when I had borrowed his family’s car and returned it, eaten a burger standing at their counter, and visited with another friend as his children climbed on top of me. I had felt this moment coming—the day before that, when I had borrowed their car again and, returning it, dropped off grape flavored store-brand children’s Tylenol and he had mentioned he’d be hosting this talk.

As we stood, watching waves rock the seaweed, salt-air fresh under the spring sunlight, he began to name the shame he felt—to speak in church about blessing queer relationships. All the baggage that lives inside him, the unnamed places where fears and prejudices simply are—a part of the fabric of how we all come to be in this world. He spoke of how he felt the hesitation, the underlying accusations, the awkwardness, and how he felt when he pictured my face.

———–

I am so utterly grateful. Such goodness brings healing and leaves me undone.

There is something priceless in seeing so precious a friend continue to enter so deeply into his own process of wrestling with the internalized, deeply enculturated notions of gender, heteronormativity, and homophobia that have kept me bound—that keep us all bound.

I am stunned to see him wrestle with all that he and our culture have come by so honestly, and to know that he is facing these things with me in mind. This is courage; grace; repentance; Christian hospitality; family–put into practice.

When I first came out as gay, I could not have imagined I would be met with the kindness and courage I have been surrounded with. It is a bit like a week of sunshine and 70 degrees in the middle of a Seattle spring. It is a bit better than that—if that can be imagined.

———–

It is a strange thing to ask difficult questions about the things we do not question. It is a bit like a right-handed person picking up a rock with their left-hand and trying to throw it out into the waves.

The brain initially rebels. That feels weird. I can’t do it. The muscles don’t contain that memory. There is another way that is more familiar—revert to it and forget this left-handed nonsense. See how pitifully you throw with this hand (the voice of shame), it was never meant to be.

It’s a strange thing how adaptable the human brain is. How quickly, if we embrace the awkward, we can encounter a new reality wherein we are capable of so much more than we previously imagined.

If, in my embarrassment and shame, I stopped throwing with my left hand, I would not have found the surprise of distance, grace, creativity, and responsiveness with which my body so quickly responded to the unfamiliar task. I kept at it because it was challenging, and surprising, and fun—but mostly, I kept at it because I was doing it alongside a friend;  a friend who I trusted to laugh with me and enter into the unknown with a sense of awe and curiosity.

(published with permission from my friend who is mentioned in the story)

Read part 4 here.

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Queering the Christian Table Part 2: The B-I-B-L-E

To start reading from the beginning of the series, click here.

words before words:

What I think should be quite clear is this: I see the Bible as very important for the church. I also see the church as far more important than the Bible. It is a document of and for the church. If you are not a part of the Christian faith and/or you do not hold the Bible as important, then this discussion may not be for you.

However, because the USAmerican socio-political landscape is interwoven with people and structures for whom the Bible is important, it is likely that how the Church is reading the Bible is important to society at large.

For this reason, I ask those who do not care about the Bible to allow space for this conversation to take place. While it may be irrelevant to you, it is relevant to many, and we share this planet and the public sphere, so a reasonable, thoughtful, generative conversation about this text that is sacred to many, is of great importance to the public good.

If you do believe that the Bible is important, then this conversation is especially critical, because if this text does have some normative authority for your understanding of the life of the church, your personal life, your spirituality, your ethics, your practice of how to engage the world, then there can be no more important task than critically, faithfully, prayerfully, and communally engaging with how it is that you read this text and, far more importantly, how you listen to the Spirit of God and seek to follow the way of Jesus in relationship to the rest of the human community and the world.

———–

In my life, I have grown up in the church. Due to the tradition that I was raised in, I was a part of rigorous programs as a child and teenager, wherein I memorized chapters and books of the New Testament. That’s right. Books.

I am extremely familiar with the Bible. This might even be an understatement.

I was also raised by my parents to think critically about how to read and apply the Bible to my life. I was encouraged, within the Pentecostal tradition of Christianity, to pay close attention to the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking through scriptures, through other people in the church, and directly into my own life. I have been privileged to have access to 8 years of theological education. I have learned enough Greek to question most people who use Greek in their sermons. I have learned enough Hebrew to respect that it is a capacious and poetic language that plays and puns its way through meaning making within (inter)cultural contexts.

As much as I have wrestled with it, I love the Bible. It is literarily remarkable, ethnographically and historically important,and for myself and billions of others throughout time, an essential con-text through which we have understood our spiritual experiences with the Trinitarian God of Christianity revealed in the person of Jesus within the context of the church.

That said, I have not really found it necessary to articulate how it is that I read the Bible in the midst of affirming both my Christian faith and my personal experience and identification as a gay man. I simply read the bible as a part of my practice of the Christian faith within my church community and as a crucial part of my vocational discipline.

I read the Bible carefully, critically, spiritually, theologically, with other people, in conversation with the traditional interpretive methods of the Christian church, ranging from pre-modern to post-modern with an emphasis on the early church and post-colonial reading methods. I read but don’t emphasize the modern protestant readings because I’ve got those pretty solidly internalized at this point and I’m working to listen to as many parts of the Christian community as I can.

And yet, I now find that I am being asked in many places to name this internal work for others who are wrestling with how to think about homosexuality, Christianity, and the Biblical texts.

———–

And so, I begin with confession. I will name the way that I read the Bible. It is my hope that those who are asking me to discuss homosexuality and the Bible will join me in honest confession about how they are trying to read the text as well.

I believe that this confession will lead us to repent—to turn toward one another–with humility and open hearts to listen and engage deeply.

In my understanding, the Bible is a collection of theological texts. It is also mostly narratives. It is also mostly poetry. These texts are carefully and thoughtfully constructed by a variety of writers from a number of cultures utilizing the literary forms of their times to tell the stories of peoples’ particular and collective experiences with God. In the sense that the writer of Luke-Acts describes about those texts, I think this is true of the entire Biblical collection of writings, they are attempts to bear witness to the truth about humans’ real experiences with God.

Some of these texts present the norms of belief and practice of a given community. Others present exceptional stories for the purpose of challenging, re-interpreting, or countering those norms. Like the church today, ancient communities of people were diverse, there were varying worship practices in different places and times. Sometimes there were significant differences in the same places and times.

The biblical texts reveal the collective wisdom of many communities who have retained the diversity of these narratives and their different ways of speaking of God’s relationship with humanity.

The way I read the Bible, the author-ity of these texts is derived from the presence of God with the people of God as told in the narratives of the texts, and the presence of God with the people of God in the reading of these texts.There is nothing holy about the collection of words—the words point to what is holy—the Triune God who is revealed in the person of Jesus and in the presence of God as witnessed by the Jewish people and the early Christian church.

Any elevation of the text to the same authority of the God to whom it testifies as living and present in the world across communities and cultures throughout time is, precisely, idolatry.

The way I read it, any normative function that the text has in teaching us what it means to be human, to worship God, or live in the way of Jesus, must be understood by moving back and forth between particular passages and the whole of what the collected texts of the Bible claim about who and how God is in relationship with humanity.

We do not get anywhere useful by elevating or neglecting particular texts–instead, we read them only within the fabric of the whole. That said, I contradict myself (“so I contradict myself”). I read the texts that testify to the person of Jesus and the texts that testify to theophanies (moments of God showing up in tangible presence) as far more important than the rest of the text.

For this reason, I hold to the Augustinian hermenuetic of always choosing the reading of a text that increases my love of God and neighbor–because this is how Jesus described the heart of all the law and the prophets, so that seems important enough for me to pay attention to.

And in all this, I try to listen to how these texts have been read by the many communities of the global church throughout time—that is to say, I believe that we do not read the Bible as an instruction manual for life, we read it theologically, in community with the church, with humility and critical engagement, and mostly, with openness to listen to what the living Spirit of God is saying to the church.

And part of listening to God’s Spirit speaking to the church is to listen for the prophetic voice that calls out from unexpected places, scandalizing our notions of worship and right living in order to call us to love the poor, the outcast, and the oppressed. To any part of the moral demands of scripture without reading the prophets is the greatest failure possible. The ancient communities found it essential to retain and canonize these texts that contradict and scandalize legalistic worship in the name of practicing repentance of communal participation in oppression and return to right relationship with God through radical hospitality.

———–

So, at the end of the day, I am boringly orthodox in how I read the Bible, and I am also deeply passionate about how I read the Bible.

My hope is that I can sit with folks in real conversation about sexuality and desire. My hope is to hear their confessions of how they read the biblical texts. My hope is that we’ll let the texts be what they are and learn how to talk and eat and dance together with the living God who calls us into life.

Read part 3 here.

Queering the Christian Table Series: Part 1

If you haven’t read the intro post, you might want to start here.

Part 1: Starting places for conversation

I was once invited by a professor, who I know holds tightly to the way of Jesus, to enter conversations with people, not by seeking to bring them to our side but by listening in such a way that we are open to being converted. In this posture, there is a deep confidence in the faithfulness of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit to be present and lead us into truth.

What if all of our conversations began with confession—humble attempts to name realities that we have allowed to go unnamed between us? What if we begin by seeking to allow the Spirit of God to convert us in the midst of our dialogue? And what if every time we read the Biblical text, we began by listening for where we are being called to repent by what the Spirit is saying to the church?

Such a path is marked by genuine curiosity and space for authenticity, and it requires that we each listen to one another and also listen to our own bodies’ responses of fear and defensiveness. This kind of conversation requires courage, because it invites us to name and honor our anxiety, and find ways to self-regulate in order to continue to engage with compassion and conviction.

In order to open ourselves up to love well, I suggest that we root ourselves in the hospitable table practices of Jesus. The most radical image of trans-formation that I know of is when we take food and it is digested and metabolized by our bodies into our very own flesh and blood. Through eating food, we declare that our bodies matter—enough to take the matter of this world and transform it into our physical bodies, sustaining our presence in the world.

By eating with strangers, with those who are different than (strange to) us, we share food with those who have different bodies than our own. We share the precious, limited resources of the earth with other people, and in so doing, we affirm not only their right to exist alongside us, but we affirm our desire for their own continued presence in the world.

This is why eating together matters. Long before we get to the place of cognitively acknowledging the importance of other people, we practice the physical affirmation of this truth. We are moved affectively, morally, and spiritually to care for and sustain the body of someone who is hungry long before we would put together cognitively our own deep need for diverse persons in our lives.

As united as we are in our mammal fight-or-flight biomechanics of fear that drive us to fight one another, we are also deeply united in our compassion and impulse to share that which delights our senses and sustains our bodies.

I believe that eating together is not just a helpful step for dialogue, it is a necessary step that biologically affirms the personhood of the people with whom we disagree. It is an act of humility (connecting our humanity and creatureliness with the earth) and confession—that act of naming an unnamed truth that exists between us, telling the truth that we are, both of us, equal parties in need of one another’s continued presence in the world and at our tables.

Before beginning to delve into the conversation of how we read the Biblical text in order to better understand how sexual desire is an essential embodied part of Christian formation, we begin with that other essential need and desire that is necessary for thriving life: food.

And this reveals the crack through which I fall in this medium. The screen on which you read is not a table. I cannot offer you a cup of steaming tea or coffee, an iced glass of lemonade, a plate of brownies, or a bowl of pumpkin soup. But consider this an invitation; the letter in the mail—from me or someone living much closer to you—to eat a meal with someone you’ve met, but you really can’t understand how they talk about life in their body. They may not be a stranger, but the way they experience the world in their own body is strange to you.

It’s a spiritual practice modeled by Jesus that can lead us into deeper, wiser, kinder conversations in which we are all converted by God’s Spirit who is at work in the world.

Read part 2 here.

We Interrupt your regular programming to bring you: Queering the Christian Table

It should be clear that since the Easter season began, I have not been following my own blogging schedule.

I will return to the schedule at some point in the undisclosed future, however, I think it’s becoming clear that I need a place to do some writing that I will describe as “Theology for the Public Good” or “Theoblogy.” [ Turns out that’s a thing, so until I come up with something else clever, I’ll just call it “Queering the Christian Table”]

In my own vocational discernment process I am wondering about my future in writing, theology, and the church. And, like all good eschatological future horizons, this one seems to be breaking in on my present.

I need–my family (of origin, of choice, and LGBTIQ) needs–my church and society needs–ways of talking about how to follow God and be formed as people who identify as followers of Jesus in our present world. This task is no different than the theological task in any other culture or age, yet we must do it here and now.

As a gay, cis-gendered, white, able-bodied, educated, English-speaking, USAmerican citizen, Christian, man, I hold in my body and in my relationships the tensions of colonialism, gender oppression, racism, capitalism, Christendom, internalized homophobia, ableism, unequal and privileged access to wealth, education, public representation, and healthcare.

There are many other things that I am aware of that seem critically important for how we engage theologically today–questions of appropriate use of technology, stewardship of nature, conceptualization of the common good/future as more important than the Roth IRA vision of individual good we are sold in order to perpetuate an exploitative market system that damages people and ecological resources that are the very foundation of our material future.

Yet in all this, the place I am pierced daily–and the place the church seems intent on focusing it’s energy of tearing itself apart–is on the question of how we understand goodness in expressions of human sexuality.

Now, it’s not usually framed in those words. Usually it’s described as a “debate about homosexuality”, or “homosexuality and the Bible.” But that’s just a trite mis-categorization that looks good in 36 point font.

The unfortunate part about this misnomer is the “ality” suffix. It’s a modification that lifts the issues of desire and human sexual-spiritual formation out of the context of human bodies and human lives and turns it into an ideological battle to be debated. The real issue that needs to be addressed is how the sexual desires and relational expressions of Queer people reveal the importance of sexuality in our understanding of human personhood for all persons.

Queer sex makes a lot of straight Christians uncomfortable. This may be one of the greatest gifts that has ever been given to the church–an awakening to the importance of human sexuality in our formation as persons and serious consideration of how the formation of sexual desire is a crucial part of Christian formation. It is a gift that invites us to step away from the reiterations of the ancient gnostic heresies that tempt us both theologically and technologically in the 21st century.

My experience of sexual desire for persons of the same gender–and more, my bearing witness to this in the context of the church–creates tension because it invites others to consider their own desires, their own glory, pleasure, shame, needs, fears, and delight. It invites us to celebrate being human–that is, being precisely the creatures that we believe God has created us to be.

But the reality is that such self-exploration, especially in the context of a relational Christian community is a terrifyingly vulnerable place. For this reason, to talk about the bogeyman of “homosexuality” is a convenient way of distancing oneself from the difficult, precious, and holy task of asking every person in the Christian community to step into a lifelong process of cultivating their own sexual desire in a way that increases their love of God and neighbor. This task busts apart the comfortable normativity of heterosexual desire by taking apart the myth that there is “normal” (the unquestioned particular sexuality of a given individual) and “abnormal” (anything that looks different than my own experience and desires).

For people who experience heterosexual desire, society is structured in a way that allows them to largely avoid questioning how their personal sexual desire and its expression plays a part in Christian spiritual formation. Queer Christians do not have that privilege. Perhaps it is less that our desires are Queer, and instead, the Queer thing is that we are considering how our sexuality plays into spiritual formation at all.

Examining sexual desire in this way is a task of humility in which particular embodied experience is brought into relationship with the faith community, and all persons are expected to engage their sexual desire in a way that honors the humanity of all people, shaping us into people whose actions and relationships reflect the growing presence of God in our lives.

Ironically, the “issue of gay marriage” might be the best thing to ever happen to “straight” marriages, if it causes people to consider, for even a moment, the way in which they are bringing their bodily desires into relationship in a way that might bring both persons more fully into their own humanity and in so doing bring them into participation in the kin-dom of God. I do not mean to say that, as a whole, straight Christians do not critically engage their sexual desire as a category of Spiritual formation–only that I believe Queer people are able to push this conversation further by the wrestling we have been forced to do in the face of heteronormativity in the church and society. I am deeply grateful for the incredibly thoughtful straight Christians in my life who have helped me step more purposefully into this conversation of desire and I believe that together, we can lead each other into even deeper places of flourishing and following Jesus into resurrected/baptized life.

——-

To Read Part 1 of the series, click here.

Saints: Brennan Manning (April 27, 1934 – April 12, 2013)

I cannot say quite how–I think it was the connection of Rich Mullins’ use of the word “Ragamuffin” that first led me to pick up The Ragamuffin Gospel from a discount shelf in a Christian bookstore when I was around 16 years old. From there, Brennan Manning’s grasp of grace came into my life like the first waves of a tide that has simply kept rolling higher up my rocky shores–a king tide moving far past any water lines I had previously marked out.

In The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus, Manning writes:

“Before I am asked to show compassion toward my brothers and sisters in their suffering, [God] asks me to accept [God’s] compassion in my own life, to be transformed by it, to become caring and compassionate toward myself in my own suffering and sinfulness, in my own hurt, failure and need. The degree of our compassion for others depends upon our capacity for self-acceptance. When I am most unhappy with myself, I am most critical of others. When I am most into self-condemnation, I am most judgmental of others. It is a truism that the saints, like Christ, are the most unjudgmental of Christians. They get on very well with sinners. They are not severe with human weaknesses. . .

When the compassion of Christ is interiorized, made personal and appropriated to ourselves, the breakthrough into caring for others occurs. In the mystery of divine wholeness, the way of compassionate caring for others brings healing to ourselves, and compassionate caring for ourselves brings healing to others. . . .

For many of us, trust does not come easily. Trust does not come from discovering in philosophy or cosmology some proof that God exists. Sometimes it happens when my eyes meet yours or when we share something in common. It is most likely to happen if I love you. . . .

If we are using the Gospel to segregate gays, batter blacks, justify prejudice toward Hispanics, Asians, Jews, or any of God’s children, then get rid of the Gospel so that we may experience the Gospel. If God is invoked to justify division, competition, contempt and hatred among Christian sects in the Body of Christ and hostility toward other world religions, then get rid of God so that we may find God. As the fourteenth-century mystic Meister Eckhart said: ‘I pray that I may be quit of God that I may find God.’ Our closed human concepts of Gospel and God can prevent us from experiencing both and stifle our freedom to love one another in a nonjudgmental way.”

The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus, 70-75. 1986

These words were published when I was 1 year old.

Somehow this song by Mary Gauthier has been rolling through me this week and when I heard the news of Brennan Manning’s death, something clicked and I felt something reverberate between me, this song, and his words and life.

brennan

Brother Brennan,

Pray for us. Pray that we may stumble into the staggering grace that you wrote and lived about. Intercede for us, as we seek to show compassion to ourselves and others. May your prophetic words offer us solace, courage, comfort, and hope as we lean into the breast of a God who is fond of us in ways we cannot imagine.

4th Sunday and 1st Tuesday Transferred (Rhythms and Poetry): Zombie Jesus, Grief, and Hope

So Easter Happened. That’s kind of an important Rhythm. I also moved to a new apartment and just gave a lecture in Theology Class. So…tardy on a couple of posts. But here’s the result: my lecture notes, complete with typos. Enjoy.

Part 1: C. S. Lewis’ conceptions of heaven and hell in The Great Divorce
In The Great Divorce, Lewis continues his exploration of afterlife and the nature of good and evil, heaven and hell, weaving together themes that are found in much of his other fiction. In The Great Divorce, there is a depiction of afterlife that is not discontinuous with the choices and trajectory begun in this life. Thus, characters are invited to engage their own continuing journey in pursuit of desire and personhood either towards or away from community. In the story, hell is seen as an ever expanding greyness in which people move further into isolation and eventually seem to dissipate into shadow, whereas heaven is seen as a place of solidity that is more real than the people themselves, a place where the cost of remaining and becoming more real is repentance and turning towards the call “further in and further up” into community and growing solidness through vulnerable exposure of their shadowy selfhood to what it real.

Like the final scene in The Last Battle, the characters in The Great Divorce are largely met with the afterlife their lives have anticipated. When the unending expansive greyness of hell is revealed to be the tiniest crack in the ground of heaven, we begin to understand that in Lewis’ understanding, the distinction between heaven and hell lies most importantly in the willingness of the person to repent—to turn towards heaven and allow it’s solidity to transform the person or to turn toward our own attempts to be our own persons and thus disappear into the hell of our own making.
David Downing, author of Planets in Peril writes about Lewis’ mythological framework for his fictions. Describing Lewis’ vision of heaven and hell, Downing says:

“Lewis believed that every moral choice humans make moves
them one step closer to heaven or to hell; in fact, hell and heaven
did not represent for him God’s judgment so much as God’s
acknowledgement of the pattern of choices people make
throughout their lifetimes. Lewis summed up his position best in
The Great Divorce: ‘There are only two kinds of people in the end;
those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom
God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” All that are in Hell,
choose it’ (72).”

(Group Discussion)

Break

Part 2: Resurrection, Grief, Desire, and Zombies

Lewis’ narratives of heaven and hell serve as a way of engaging our imagination for thinking “apocalyptically”—that is, it pushes us into exploring the question of what is being uncovered or revealed.
Narratively, the 20th Century marks a shift in the functions of dystopian visions of the future. What started out optimistically for some as the possibility of it being “The  Christian Century” began to be eclipsed by images of a world that T.S. Eliot would describe so vividly as a wasteland. Functionally, in the early part of the century, popular works like War of the Worlds tapped into a growing sense of uncertainty in the Western collective consciousness. Even in the dawning of an information age, a lack
of control and fear of the unknown began to take hold.

Books like Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, named the western fear of the stranger and prophetically urged us not to create our own destruction—a theme that carries into films like Wally and The Hunger Games series. By the late 20th century and in the just over a decade since, we have increasingly used dystopian narratives to explore the question of “what happens after?”.

What happens after WWII, Cold War, Apartheid, Genocide, 9/11, school shootings, race riots, peak oil, corporate colonialism, Enron, economic collapses, slave labor, low prices, factory farming, genetic engineering, HIV/AIDS, polar ice caps melting?

There appears to be a shift to dystopia as the inevitable end. Stories like The Hunger Games capture our imagination, and in one way, still hold a certain mirror to society, inviting us to be something else; however, there is a certain resignation—a cynicism, or ironic response that seems to view these narratives as the unstoppable future riding down on us, and there are even those who welcome collapse as the possibility of something new for the few who might survive.

There’s a whole subgenre of dystopian literature dedicated to Cascadia—the post-collapse secession of the Pacific Northwest as its own survival colony, able to agriculturally sustain itself after global meltdown. These are not new narratives, but the way they share our imaginations seems to have shifted. One demonstrable category
is zombies. Within the 20th century, the notion of the undead began to haunt us in new way. While there are earlier examples more connected to the older understanding of zombies, the film “Night of the Living Dead” truly inaugurated the notion of the
dead come back to eat us.

I want to focus briefly on current zombie lore, because I think may offer us a way of entering into the question of what Christian hope might look like in the face of
current dystopic myths and in face of the looming realities out of which they emerge.
While Zombie lore varies, and it’s arguable that a key function of zombies for a globally connected and white-dominated West is to give us a less than human/human other that it’s still okay for us to villainize and kill without guilt, the notion of zombies as corpses come back from the dead and the eating of human flesh has odd parallels to the Christian belief in the resurrection.

Having just celebrated Easter, we recognize that there is an undeadness at the center of our confession about Jesus. The resurrection takes seriously the full impact of death, yet after entering death, Jesus Transforms death into life. The resurrected life is not animation of a corpse. Instead, the Triduum, or Three days of Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, is a movement that is perhaps best understood through Thursday’s initiation of the Eucharistic meal.
As Jesus’ body and blood reverses the direction of metabolization, transforming us, through the eucharistic meal, into the body of Christ, so Jesus’ body enters death in order to transform death itself into resurrection life.
If Jesus is our anti-zombie, rendering fuller life out of death—it is notable that rather than consuming our flesh, it is his body and blood, offered in the bread and wine that infect us with this new life. Where every other meal consists of my consuming and metabolizing other bodies to transform them into my own flesh, in the Eucharist, I eat the body of Jesus and it metabolizes me into the body of Christ.
In the same sort of backwards sacramental motion, God enters into death through the death of Jesus and the Trinitarian life of God metabolizes death—not reversing it’s process or doing away with the reality of its destruction, but moving all the way through
death into more complete life.
My hunch is that dystopian narratives have captured our cultural imagination because they tap into our resignation in the face of suffering. They offer, through tragedy, comedy, and irony a way of downplaying sorrow—that is, the inevitability of losing what we desire—they function as an entertaining alternative to hope that would waken us to the vulnerability of grief.

The premise of resurrection takes death seriously. It engages Holy Saturday in a way that suffers death and is buried before moving to constitute life out of the realness of death. The Spirit of God hovers over chaos and God calls substantive life out of the
nothingness of death. My understanding of this is sacramental. I do not believe that the
resurrection is a helpful metaphor for healing and processing the loss and death that marks my narrative.

Instead, the bodily resurrection of Jesus is the grounding reality that constitutes these daily resurrections—I am claiming that these resurrections in my narrative are the work of the Holy Spirit, bringing me into the resurrected body of Jesus Christ.
Eschatology, then, is the long tether of hope by which the Holy Spirit entangles the parts of me where I have consigned myself to death—the places where I am too afraid to be vulnerable and face the grief of not having what I have needed and desired. In these
places, hope lodges itself in the graves where I have buried what I long for, and it breathes life into the bones, calling me out of the dissipation and shadows into solidity of relational community, where I am met with a God who has climbed into the grave with
me, metabolized death, and is taking me back up into life.
I feel strongly that cynicism and resignation to despair are slow concessions to death, turning our desire into a zombie-like obsession to consume or be consumed. But to repent and turn towards the grief that is Good Friday and Holy Saturday opens us
up to the loss of what we needed. It awakens us to the excruciating desire for wholeness—the vulnerable hunger of being alive.

At its root, the grief of Holy Saturday is the gaping wound where Friday’s death has robbed us of love. To grieve that loss  requires turning fully towards the face of death. Only by approaching the tomb with the assurance that God is lying in there, can we ever be surprised by its emptiness.This kind of grief requires a tenacious sincerity. In my experience, grief is the work of the Holy Spirit, groaning within us in wordless places in order to draw us into the solidity of resurrected desire.