August 31, 2003

Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

[1] The Pharisees, along with some religion scholars who had come from Jerusalem, gathered around him. [2] They noticed that some of his disciples weren't being careful with ritual washings before meals. [3] The Pharisees -- Jews in general, in fact -- would never eat a meal without going through the motions of a ritual hand-washing, [4] with an especially vigorous scrubbing if they had just come from the market (to say nothing of the scourings they'd give jugs and pots and pans).

[5] The Pharisees and religion scholars asked, "Why do your disciples flout the rules, showing up at meals without washing their hands?"

[6] Jesus answered, "Isaiah was right about frauds like you, hit the bull's-eye in fact:

These people make a big show of saying the right thing,
but their heart isn't in it.
[7] They act like they are worshiping me,
but they don't mean it.
They just use me as a cover
for teaching whatever suits their fancy,
[8] Ditching God's command
and taking up the latest fads."

- - - - - - -

[14] Jesus called the crowd together again and said, "Listen now, all of you -- take this to heart. [15] It's not what you swallow that pollutes your life; it's what you vomit -- that's the real pollution."

- - - - - - -

[21] obscenities, lusts, thefts, murders, adulteries, [22] greed, depravity, deceptive dealings, carousing, mean looks, slander, arrogance, foolishness -- [23] all these are vomit from the heart. There is the source of your pollution."

[The Message]


1. I really miss the references to such as "making void the word of GOD through your tradition" and "sewer" talk making everything clean. So I continue to cringe when I see the lection jumping around trying to make some point of which I am seldom sure. Perhaps I am just being pharisaical and complaining that some rule is being broken. If so, what other rules am I holding to that need to be loosened up? And you?

2. I like the image of using GOD as a cover to teach one's own fancies. My sense is that the progressive end of things religious, religiously bends over backward to not do that. We are all too aware of the need of repentance for misapplying the precepts of old to care for the weak and lonely and lost. I tend to be overly suspicious of the religious right taking snippets of things and finding rules within rules.

3. So here is the deal, religion based on complaining that their rules are being flouted (what a word) is defensively strong but offensively weak.

A part of our work is well described by Edwin Markham:

He drew a circle that shut me out-
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win;
We drew a circle that took him in!

Keep drawing those inclusive circles.