Monday, December 15, 2008

χ-mas posts

Like so many of you, I get tense around Christmas. I feel it in my body.

For my ten-year-old niece, this is going to be an unforgettable holiday season because her parents just signed divorce papers, and this weekend already she had to put a publicly-inebriated parent to bed, with the help of that parent's "lover" who precipitated the split up.  And the little girl has already delivered Merry Christmas presents to us from that parent, perhaps in anticipation of the fact that we'll not all be together this year.  My niece has told my daughters that if she ever has to run away, she wants to come live with us.  Incarnation gets a new meaning.

So I hope you'll understand some of my pathetic reflections on 3 blogposts I read this morning. I was still shivering from the cold winds when I saw them.


The lightest post, in all the most positive refreshing ways, is Charlotte's Holiday Lights.  She gives us various delights in and her gripes about Merry Christmas lights and all. As I find myself agreeing with her about inappropriate symbols (like "wrong time" reminders of the "traumatic crucifixion" and of the post-shroud "resurrection"), I wander into remembrances of our recent shrouded Texas history of burning crosses.  And I sense in my cinched-up neck muscles this bemusement from somewhere about the future of our planet and how awfully un-green the present blast of lights is.  To fight my cynicism, I smile to myself, at myself: "The Grinch is Green."


The most challenging post is James K.A. Smith's.  He's copied for us John D. Caputo's essay, "Why the Church Deserves Deconstruction: A Preface to the Chinese Translation."  This is Caputo's own preface to the Chinese edition of his book What Would Jesus Deconstruct?  The challenge isn't in the translation at all because Caputo writes the essay in English mostly.  I really really want more of us to get the bit of French he leaves us with:  Viens, oui, oui.
But we ought to at least get Caputo's play on WWJD as a rhetorical trope, which he explains. Another thing he says is . . . and hear this in Caputo's own words:
That I am writing these pages on the eve of the inauguration of Barack Hussein Obama, an African-American with a suspicious sounding name, as the forty-fourth president of the United States is the result of a number of convergent forces. It is due to the collapse of right wing economic greed in the United States–the effects of which are felt most severely on the poor, the least able to endure it, of course–about which the Christian Right has been scandalously silent. It is a tribute to the disillusionment with the older and reactionary leaders of the Christian Right by young Christians who desire to return to the authentic spirit of peace and justice of the gospels. But it is also a tribute to progressive political figures like Mr. Obama who gave their political vision a religious heart, who spoke in terms of faith and hope. . . . I am saying that progressive leaders should recognize the prophetic import of biblical religion. The very idea of a democracy, the risk and the hope that is embedded in this idea, is that the chords of peace and justice will be struck by giving a hearing to a polyphony of voices, of men and women, black and white, of whatever lineage, western or non-western, including both religious and secular voices. The faith of a responsible Christian in the postmodern world is that wherever there is peace and justice, there the sweet, strange and compelling words of the Sermon on the Mount are resounding.
I still hear my wife (while listening to our pastor preaching the "unto the least of these" bit from the sermon on the mount in church yesterday) whispering to my son (just back from college): "Isn't that the bit that Barack Obama quotes so much?"  I guess I'll let us ponder how Smith's post is not a "wrong time" message.


The third post is the most shocking, for me anyway.  It has this eye-catching title, "Christmas: The Time for Feminism."
Just when I'm settling for Caputo's "hermeneutics of deconstruction" and thinking of how Rich Rhodes accuses me, from time to time, of going postmodern on readers at BBB, I read this post, by Polycarp (a new blogger friend). Turns out, as I'm thinking at Christmas of never blogging again, Polycarp has been reading my blog for a year.  He's now confessing he's not a feminist and yet, and yet I say, he kindly asks his readers to read translation, Matthew's and mine and Miriam's.  He suggests:  "It might do us well to put ourselves in the shoes of Mary, and perhaps the other women as we read this account.

And I smile (to myself again, at myself):  Josef didn't get to shop for Miriam at DSW Shoes, and neither one had a Zappos account.  Our neighbors, who are Jews, had our whole family over for dinner last night; it was a good time of reflecting on the holidays too, as we ate and laughed and felt tensions together.  They gave me a copy of Benyamin Cohen's My Jesus Year, and I've already gobbled down the first two chapters (laughing all the way).

  l' écriture feminine, the translation of the body, the tensions of Christmastime 


J. L. Watts said...

I hope no offense was received by my use of your translation and linking to your post.

J. K. Gayle said...

I am honored, J. L. Watts. Thank you for the dialogue too.

J. L. Watts said...

Postmodernism is not a problem, is it? I follow BBB every now and then, but not to the extent as I should, I reckon. I hope that you do not give up blogging, as this site would be sorely missed. - Joel