I want to assure you that no animals were injured in the preparation of this reflection on "The This-ness of These Days" which is more than Jesus can say regarding the gospel episode upon which it is based. In the story of Jesus’ encounter with the “Gerasene demoniac,” 2000 pigs drown and we are left wondering, “What exactly is the meaning of this odd tale?” In their reading of it, Augustine and Aquinas both conclude—curiously—that it indicates Christians have no obligations toward animals. But I suspect they may have missed the boat there—both on our obligation to our fellow creatures and on the point of the story itself. I don’t think that the first hearers of the Gospel understood those “pigs” to be pigs at all. Rather, I wonder if Mark wasn’t trying to speak to a tangled situation not terribly unlike our own, offering a word of hope. But you’ll have to listen to the preaching (for Feb.1) to find out what I mean by that!
Meanwhile, lets pray for all those working hard to help us think through and untangle ourselves from the particular messes of our time. A shout out to my friend Danielle Harrison who is leading a series of three evenings this February on Deepening Our Understanding and Conversation about Race through the Eyes of Faith. A shout out also to Jen Fitz and Sherry Antonetti who co-hosted an online conference ("A Good Discourse") I went to this past weekend about cleaning up Christian dialogue in online platforms. My own book on this topic—#Rules_of_Engagement—will be released February 5th (Right around the corner now!) And, finally, a shout out to Latif Nasser. We do not know each other at all, but I am loving his new show on Netflix called Connected where he looks at ways our actions in one part of the world so impact the rest of the globe. The tangled connections he points out are sometimes troubling, but sometimes very hopeful, and sometimes both at the same time. The world is a terribly confusing and complex place, but so many people giving it their all to address different pieces of the bigger puzzle!