Category Archive: Latest from the MethoBlogoSphere

Oct 31 2014

David F. Watson: Some Thoughts on the United Methodist Centrist Movement

Original post at http://davidfwatson.me/2014/10/31/some-thoughts-on-the-united-methodist-centrist-movement/


A new proposal for the future of the UMC has come forward. It is called the United Methodist Centrist Movement Platform. It is not affiliated with any particular caucus group. In fact, that’s kind of the point. These folks believe that our dialogue and decision-making has become too heavily politicized (and I am inclined to…

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/10/some-thoughts-on-the-united-methodist-centrist-movement/

Oct 31 2014

The GeekPreacher: The Theology of Werewolves

Original post at http://geekpreacher.org/theology/the-theology-of-werewolves/



Lon Chaney as The Wolfman

The Wolfman (Lon Chaney)

I remember the first time I really began to like werewolves. I was 13 years old and bought my first real “Do It Yourself” Halloween costume. It was the kind that had latex, paint, spirit glue, and lots of other accessories. I worked pretty hard on it and wore it to my High School’s Halloween carnival. What made me really like this costume was it was the first costume I’d ever worn in which no one recognized me. I could act gruff, foolish, silly, and a little bit odd (you know, me acting NORMAL) and no one seemed to recognize me.


At the heart of it, this is what I think being a werewolf can be about: Transforming into a creature no one recognizes so you can either act differently from your “proper” self while giving into your more bestial nature.
In preparing for this message, I decided I needed to watch a wide variety of television shows which featured werewolves since this is what seems to be the best place to find this rather popular creature. Shows such as Wolf Blood, The Originals, and a variety of others were poured over. I also took time to make sure I watched and rewatched a few werewolf movies. Movies such as An American Werewolf in London, Curse, and, of course, the original The Wolfman starring Lon Chaney were viewed with a great amount of pleasure. As an aside, I sometimes think An American Werewolf in London may have been the one I first saw. I still remember seeing it as a young man and the story and special effects sticking with me to this day. Out of all the movies, though, I found myself returning to the original black and white with Lon Chaney. Why? Because the spirituality in the movie was so clear and religion and superstition were not avoided. In other movies, these things might be mentioned but they were often avoided or, at times, made out to be a joke. In the original, these themes just seemed so natural.


So, you’re going to need a little background of The Wolfman movie in case you’ve never seen it. Lawrence “Larry” Talbot returns home to England from America after the death of his older brother to help his father, Sir Jon Talbot, with the family estate. During the process of killing a werewolf who is attacking a young lady, he finds himself bit and later becomes a werewolf himself.  Larry struggles with turning into a beast and finds himself rampaging through the countryside killing innocent villagers. He is eventually killed by a silver cane he had purchased earlier in the movie…a can wielded by his father, Sir Jon.


Now, I should take a moment and talk about the term used to describe a person who turns into an animal. That word is lycanthropy and I’ve been familiar with it over the years. The interesting thing is the Scripture I chose for today is from Daniel 4 and, in the Wesley Study Bible, it uses that very word to describe what happens to King Nebuchadnezzar. It defines lycanthropy as, “a known psychosis in which people imagine they are animals.”



In the movie, Sir Jon Talbot defines this lycanthropy while talking to his son as, “a technical expression for something very simple: the good and evil in every man’s soul.” And is best seen in the words of a poem recited several times during the film:


Even a man who is pure in heart
and says his prayers by night
may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms
and the autumn moon is bright.


And this is the heart of what we, as Methodists, call Wesleyan Theology. A diseased soul versus a depraved soul.
This is the struggle faced by King Nebuchadnezzar. This king, in the very first chapter of Daniel, is said to have been given victory over Daniel’s people by God. All of Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom is a gift from God and, if we look hard enough, we can see some of the good things which this King does. However, there is also the evil within Nebuchadnezzar’s own soul. There is a pride and arrogance that continues to plague him time and time again. There are times when he requires all the people to worship him as a sign of their loyalty and, when three of Daniel’s compatriots do not do it, he throws them in a fiery furnace from which they are delivered by God. Still Nebuchadnezzar sees himself as the source from which all his success comes and ultimately has a dream from God telling this King if he doesn’t recognize the source of his success he will turn into a beast. This is the story we have just read…Nebuchadnezzar becomes a beast.


Isn’t this a story that speaks to our world today? The American dream (myth) is about how we are a self-made people. How we supposedly succeeded without help from any other person and made our own way in the world. In one way or another we try and take the credit and it’s especially true for those who may not have had supportive family members. We have heard this type of talk many times and our culture has made an idol of the person who seemingly succeeds with no help from others. However, at the end of the day, there is a God who says all of our success is rooted and grounded in His very being. This God is the source of all goodness and mercy which surrounds us. We Wesleyans call this prevenient grace and we can find the beginnings of redemption in it.


The beast within, The Wolfman if you will, comes out when we live a life without acknowledging something or someone greater than ourselves. I would says this even applies to those who may or may not believe in God. Along the way all of us have experienced help in one form or another. Maybe it was a parent, a friend, a teacher, or a relative who encouraged us to succeed. Maybe it was a scholarship or a government grant which helped us attain an education which would have otherwise been unattainable. Maybe it was that first chance someone took on us to give us a job even though there didn’t seem to be anything special about us at the time. Somewhere, somehow, along the way, we have been gifted with help and, just like Nebuchadnezzar, we are called to acknowledge it.


I would say, of course, as a follower of Christ we are called to take things one step further. We should give thanks and honor to God for each and every chance we have had in life. Those times of success and failure are gifts from the Creator to form us into Christ’s image and make us something more. They call us into a life of covenant with each other and with the One who has made us.


And speaking of covenant/relationship/commitment to one another, I want us to take a moment and return to our Gospel story from Mark 5. In it we heard about a man who was possessed with an evil spirit. Isn’t that like a werewolf? Some beast inside trying to claw its way out causing pain and destruction all around it? In the movies I’ve seen and all the books I’ve read over the years, being a werewolf is looked upon as a curse from which to be delivered. Sadly, in the majority of the movies I’ve seen, the only cure for that curse comes through the death of the person infected with this lycanthropy. However, as we’ve seen in the story of Nebuchadnezzar, after his time of punishment for his pride there comes repentance and deliverance. In this story from Mark’s Gospel, we see that an encounter with Jesus brings healing from the monster which had invaded a man’s soul. Isn’t that salvation? A wholeness making us better than we were before? A deliverance from the demons within and the chains which have been holding us in the graveyard of life? Isn’t salvation Christ leading and directing us from the place of destruction and evil to a place of mercy and healing?


Yet, when I read this story in Mark, I’m reminded of another line from Sir Jon Talbot in The Wolfman. (It seems he got all the great lines since Lon Chaney, the actor playing Larry Talbot, was an American and didn’t have the cool British accent.) Sir Jon said this, “Larry, for some people life is very simple. They decide this is good that is bad; this is wrong, that is right…[they place the world in a stark black and white] others of us find that good, bad, right, wrong, are many-sided complex things. We try to see every side.”


Unfortunately, in this Gospel story from Mark, the people around this demon possessed man saw everything in black and white. They were not willing to see another side. These people in Gerasa thought they had the world figured out. This man was demon possessed so they let him run amok day and night. Oh, they tried to chain him up but, beyond that, it doesn’t seem like they cared for him very much. He was causing problems so he had to be put out of sight and out of mind.


This is the same way I viewed Larry Talbot in The Wolfman. Here is a troubled soul and many people in the community wanted to put him away. They didn’t embrace him or care for him. He was different. He didn’t seem a part of their community because he had been gone so long they had not desire for covenant/commitment to him. This reality was ever so true when Larry, feeling the weight of his guilt and pain while struggling with the beast within, walks into the church and sees everyone staring at him. He is made to feel so uncomfortable that he doesn’t stay for the service and turns and walks out.


Yet isn’t the church the best place for someone struggling with the beast within? Shouldn’t the church be the place of love and grace where a person struggling with the pain of sin and the struggles of a fearful world would find a few moments of peace and acceptance? Sadly, we look at the werewolves of our culture, the strange “beasts” and keep them away from the one place where they should be finding hope and acceptance…and this is The Theology of Werewolves. The beast is shunned and hurt. Hidden away among the tombs of this world and never given an opportunity for healing.


But where does this beast come from? In the movie, Larry Talbot is a tragic figure because he becomes a werewolf through no evil of his own. Unlike Nebuchadnezzar whose pride strikes him low, Larry is a perfect example of the old phrase “No good deed going unpunished.” He becomes The Wolf Man simply because he wanted to rescue someone from being hurt.


And, once more, we are reminded of the poem:
Even a man who is pure in heart
and says his prayers by night
may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms
and the autumn moon is bright.


Sin scratches at the door of each and everyone of us and it is through no fault of our own. It is just the way of the world. What, then, is the solution? Do we stop doing good? Do we just drift to the side? Do we avoid as much as we can so as to keep ourselves safe? This is how holiness has been defined for so very long. Avoid the world. Avoid sin. Avoid anything that might have the semblance of the monstrous about it.


Yet, this is not the way Jesus is…Jesus comes across this man filled with demons…filled with beasts…and Jesus grants him hope, freedom, and healing. Then this Jesus does the unthinkable. He casts those demons into a bunch of swine who run off a cliff. And then all the people celebrate because their friend is now in his right mind? They throw a party because the prodigal has come home, right? No. No. No.


Instead they’re afraid, angry, and upset. Why? Why would they be so angry? Well, Jesus just cost them a lot of money. These people were Gentiles, obviously, because they raised and ate swine. Now, I don’t know about you but I tend to eat pork quite a bit. Every where I turn there is pork for sale. Why? Because it’s easy to raise, easy to sell, and easy to cook. It was the same way in Jesus’ world. Jesus, in healing this man, just hit these people in their own pockets so He might bring healing to what they saw as an undeserving monster.


So, the question of the day is, “How will we react when Jesus does something amazing to the beasts within our own hearts? Are we willing to pay the price?” I believe most people would say, “Yes” they are are willing to pay the price of time, money, and effort when it involves ourselves and possibly a close family member. However, are we willing to pay the price when it involves those beasts “out there?” Those monsters lurking in the graveyards of the world around us? Are we willing to put in the money, time, and effort to see Jesus heal the outsider, the stranger, the beast roaming the tombs of this world?


It is a costly thing to follow this Jesus and it’s even more costly when we see Him working in the lives of others. When following this Jesus, we pay the ultimate price when we willingly give up our lives for others. “No greater love has a person than this, than to lay down their lives for their friends…” but isn’t the greatest love of all to lay down our lives for our enemies?


To destroy the curse of the werewolf we need Jesus. We need the one who has the power to grant the request of healing so needed within our souls and the souls of those around us. We just need to make sure it doesn’t cause us to run this Jesus off when the price of it hits too close to home. At the end of the day, we need the help of heaven right here and right now…and that help is found in the person and reality of the Living Lord Jesus.
Today I want to end with the words of Sir Jon Talbot from The Wolfman, “You know, Larry, belief in the hereafter is a very healthy counter balance to all the conflicting doubts man is plagued with these days.” Those words were said in the mid-1940s to a world in crisis yet they still ring true today. So, I’ll phrase them to be a bit more theologically correct, “You know, folks, belief in a real, living Jesus is a very healthy counter balance to all the conflicting doubts humanity is plagued with these days.”



Would you believe? Would you be healed? Come to this Jesus. Come…come to this Jesus and find blessed assurance…find a foretaste of that glory divine.

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/10/the-theology-of-werewolves/

Oct 31 2014

The Fat Pastor: Five Reasons I celebrate Halloween

Original post at http://fatpastor.me/2014/10/31/five-reasons-i-celebrate-halloween/


trick or treat jesus

Jesus doesn’t want pencils or Smarties either.

1. It is fun. Candy. Decorations. Costumes.  What’s not to love?   Why do we search for eggs on Easter?  Why do we watch fireworks on the Fourth of July?  Why do we hang stockings on Christmas?  It’s fun.  It is a day to celebrate with friends, family, and neighbors.  Kids love to play pretend.  They love to dress up as superheroes, cartoon characters, magical creatures, and yes – even monsters.  Today I picked up my daughter from school, and you know what I saw?  Elsas.  So many Elsas.  And storm troopers, clowns, ninjas, jesters, Harry Potters, minecraft guys, princesses, and batmen.  More than this though, I saw smiles.  I saw kids running and playing and laughing.  I saw Dads holding hands, asking “did you have fun?” and an exuberant, “Yes” in response.  I saw teachers giving hugs and kids sharing candy.  Halloween is fun, and in a world that is full of plenty of real-life monsters, a little bit of fun is a good thing.

2. It builds community. On my block, Halloween is a great community building experience.  All the families come out and enjoy the evening together.  We bring food.  We have bonfires.  The kids play, the adults talk.  We get to know each other.  The neighborhood I live in now is the first place I’ve lived since where I grew up that I know the names of everyone on my block.  A big reason for that is that the neighborhood embraces Halloween.

Secret Reason #6 - Strangely warmed pumpkins. I carved this bad boy by hand at youth group.

Secret Reason #6 – Strangely warmed pumpkins. I carved this bad boy by hand at youth group.

3. It is a chance to mock death and evil, not celebrate it.  OK, so now I’ll get a little deeper. At every graveside service I have ever officiated, I have read these words, “Death has been swallowed up in victory.  Where, o death, is your victory? Where, o death, is your sting? But thanks be to God, who gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  I could make the argument that Halloween, or All Hallow’s Eve, is an important Christian holiday.  It comes on the eve of winter, when death is impending.  Yet it is only through this death that we have a harvest.  It is “when a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”  Death is something that is universally feared.  Halloween is a chance to look straight into that death and laugh.  It is on the brink of death, just as we enter the valley, that we can stand in the assurance that we shall fear no evil.

4. Reverse Trick or Treating. In years past, we have used Halloween as a chance to raise awareness about fair trade chocolate.  If you want to be upset about Halloween, then be upset about the part of it that really matters.  Get upset that it is the most popular season for buying chocolate, and that most of the chocolate bought on Halloween is made by child slaves.  I’ve written a lot about Fair Trade Chocolate. Every Halloween, I try to use it as a chance to teach people about the value of fair trade chocolate.  We glue little chocolates from Equal Exchange to postcards explaining some bullet-points about the chocolate market, and hand them out to people as we go trick or treating.  It is a small thing, but it is a way to connect a fun event to a real issue. and hopefully, some people learn something along the way.

5. Jesus said, “Lighten up.”  Ok, so he might not have said that, but stay with me for a second.  In the Old Testament, God and the prophets tells the people over and over again to “fear the Lord.”  Most modern readers of these texts bristle at the idea of a fearful God.  They, and I count myself among them, remind people that biblical fear is more about reverence.  “Revere and respect the Lord,” is fine translation.  Now, jump ahead to Jesus, who went around saying “fear not” or “don’t be afraid,” a lot.  If we look at the OT understanding of fear as reverence, is it possible that Jesus was saying, “Be irreverent.”  In other words, “lighten up,” or “have a sense of humor.”  So, maybe this is a stretch.  I don’t have time to do the proper word study, but I do believe that Jesus appreciated life.  He wants us to have it abundantly, and sometimes that means having a great time with friends, family, and even strangers.  So, Happy Halloween everybody.

Listen to a great podcast about the Church and Halloween

Follow The Fat Pastor on Facebook

Follow @FatPastor on Twitter.


Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/10/five-reasons-i-celebrate-halloween/

Oct 31 2014

Mustard Seeds: Kathy Escobar’s Faith Shift: When Religion Just Isn’t Enough (Book Review)

Original post at https://mustardseedthoughts.wordpress.com/2014/10/31/kathy-escobars-faith-shift-when-religion-just-isnt-enough-book-review/


One of the founding pastors of The Refuge in North Denver and a regular blogger, Kathy Escobar delivers her latest book, Faith Shift, for those who find that church as they know it just isn’t cutting it.

Why am I even a Christian? Do I still really believe in God? Is my whole life of faith a sham? Why have I given myself over to the church for years when it has consistently used me? How could I ever have belied some of the things I have been taught?

It’s questions like these that drove her to found The Refuge and to write this book, hoping to help people find freedom in their questions and a greater understanding of how they are loved by God. Escobar breaks down “Fusing” (Believing- Learning- Doing), before looking at various degrees of ‘separation in “Shifting,” “Returning,” “Unraveling,” and “Severing.” But she doesn’t leave us there: the various forms of “Rebuilding” take up the second half of the book!

Points I’d highlight include:

-Escobar’s “Ten Commandments of a Fused Faith,” which are humorous… and deadly at the same time, ranging from “You shall vote Republican” to “You shall always work hard to earn God’s love.”

-God can handle your process of exploring your faith, challenging what you question, and tearing down the false altar of religion. As Escobar writes, “If God is going to consign me to the pit of hell because I start asking some really important questions or let go of religiosity, then I’m not interested in that kind of God anyway”… right before she quotes Romans 8:35,38-39!

-Escobar quotes Rachel Held Evans, Anne Lamott, Alex Haley, and Paul Tillich (via Peter Rollins). Lamott: “We learn through pain that some of the things we thought were castles turn out to be prisons, and we desperately want out, but even though we built them, we can’t find the door.” Rollins: “The serious rejection of God is a deeply sacred act. For when someone rejects the notion of God because of the wars that have been fought over that name, as well as the abuse, the fundamentalism and ecological destruction that is bound to so much religion, they are demonstrating a profound concern for both people and the planet… The result is a proclamation of the sacred.”

-Escobar espouses a hopeful realism, worded nicely in the poem by Australian Cheryl Lawrie based on Ezekiel 37, launching us deeper into the rebuilding-to-resurrection stage.

-Escobar embraces our need to recognize that we are paradoxes, clinging to what we know yet desperate to find the real, as ingrained in this Richard Rohr quote: “A paradox is something that appears to be a contradiction, but from another perspective is not a contradiction at all. You and I are living paradoxes, and therefore most prepared to see ourselves in our reality. If you can hold and forgive the contradictions within yourself, you can normally do it everywhere else, too.”

Ultimately, Escobar’s book revolves around what you believe God’s church to be- and if you can move your faith/beliefs from “thou shall nots”/rigidity to freedom in the spirit of what God is calling us to be. It’s a different kind of read- and will challenge most- but it’s from the heart of a healer/counselor who longs for everyone to find their space in God’s kingdom.


Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/10/kathy-escobars-faith-shift-when-religion-just-isnt-enough-book-review/

Oct 31 2014

Allan R. Bevere: It’s Time for a Little Reformation Day Humor!

Original post at http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/allanbevere/ROss/~3/9FcW6R3lkbU/its-time-for-little-reformation-day.html


Grab your partner for the Reformation Polka!

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/10/its-time-for-a-little-reformation-day-humor/

Oct 31 2014

The GeekPreacher: The Theology of Frankenstein

Original post at http://geekpreacher.org/theology/the-theology-of-frankenstein/


I have been asked the question, “Why would you, as a minister, share stories like this? Why tell such things and talk about the theology of Monsters?” One of the reasons to do this is found in these words from noted biblical scholar Phyllis Trible, “To tell and hear reales of terror is to wrestle demons in the night, without a compassionate God to save us. In combat we wonder about the names of demons…We struggle mightily, only to be wounded. But yet we hold on, seeking a blessing: the healing of wounds and the restoration of health.”

Frankenstein: This is, possibly, the first science fiction story ever written. Mary Shelley wrote this story in the early 1800s and was inspired to write it after a night of seeing who could write the best horror story with her then fiancé Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron. This story has seen numerous books, films, and TV shows done over and over again. Most of us are familiar with, even if we’ve not seen, the 1931 “Frankenstein” starring Boris Karloff.


For those of you not familiar with the story, a quick summation would be to say it’s the story of a scientist who desires to create life. In the book and the movies this occurs for a wide range of reasons but suffice it to say that the creature is made from the various body parts of corpses and then brought to life through some type of scientific experiment.

So, just to prepare for this sermon I had the difficult task of watching three, count them, three Frankenstein movies. I watched the original 1931 version (which I’d seen before), the Bride of Frankenstein, and The Curse of Frankenstein starring legendary actors Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee (both of which I’d not seen before.) I also watched the most recent movie I, Frankenstein a few months back.

Trivia: The monster never has a name in the early movies though, in the book and the newest movie, he is referred to as Adam. So, when you hear me mention Frankenstein today I’m referring to the creator of the monster.

The creator’s first name in the original movie is Henry though in the book and the 1950s “Curse of Frankenstein” he is called Victor which is the same name he had in the book.

There is no assistant named Igor in any of the movies.

Before delving into our Scripture text today, I’d like to talk about some things we can learn directly from the Frankenstein story. At it’s heart, it is a story about humanity’s search for immortality. It delves into our own hubris to seek to create life on our own without the help of God and the dreadful result which ensues. Sinful humanity strives to create like God and the result is often disastrous.

This theme has infused much of science fiction, horror, and fantasy down through the years. People often wrote these stories who may or may not have considered themselves Christians or people of faith yet, at their heart, they seemed to understand that our knowledge is tainted by sin and selfishness. When we try and create something in our own image, it is often shown as broken and incomplete.

Another theme that is seen both in the book and directly stated in the 1950s movie, Curse of Frankenstein, is said by Victor Frankenstein “one’s facial character is built up by what lies behind it…in the brain. A benevolent mind and the face assumes the patterns of benevolence, an evil mind and an evil face.” And this is the #theologyofmonsters. This is how many people view the world…they automatically judge someone or something to be a monster by the exterior. They assume that beauty on the outside must mean beauty on the inside and ugliness on the outside means ugliness on the inside.

Sadly, this is too often true in the church and the Christian faith. We use trite phrase such as “cleanliness is next to godliness” and other such phrases which are never found in the Scriptures. We quickly forget that Jesus reached out and healed lepers through His touch and often spent time with those who were on the margins of his world.

And, in the movie “Curse of Frankenstein” it’s seen that, where Victor Frankenstein’s character is concerned, this does not seem to be true. He looks great for most of the movie until the very end where he is disheveled and filthy. Yet, in reality, we know this isn’t true. Some of the most beautiful looking people have committed the most heinous of acts while those who may not look the best on the outside are some of the kindest and most caring of people you would ever meet.

Now, this is just the introduction! I want us to delve a bit deeper into this story and to do so we need to turn to one of the most difficult biblical stories I’ve ever come across. This story is referred to as a “text of terror” by Phyllis Trible and is found in Judges 19 and 20.

Judges 20: All the people of Israel from Dan to Beersheba, including the people who dwelt beyond the Jordan Riverin Gilead, gathered as one before the Eternal at Mizpah. 2 The leaders of every tribe, of all the tribes of Israel, presented themselves to the assembly, to the 400,000 soldiers armed for war. 3 (And the people of Benjamin heard that the other tribes had gathered at Mizpah.)


Israelites: Tell us, what happened to bring about this criminal act?


Levite (standing in front of the assembly): 4 I arrived in Gibeah in Benjamin with my mistress. We only wanted to spend the night, 5 but the leaders of the city came to the house where we were staying and surrounded it, wanting to attack me. They intended to kill me, but they raped my mistress until she died. 6 So I took her body and cut her into pieces and sent her throughout our land that is Israel’s inheritance so that everyone could know what an outrage the men of Gibeah have committed! 7 So now, you people of Israel, I am looking to you for counsel. What should we do?


Israelites (standing together):We will not return to our tents, and we will not go home to our houses, 9 but this is what we will do to Gibeah: We will cast lots to choose who will go into battle against it. 10 We will also choose 10 men from every 100 throughout Israel, 100 of every 1,000, and 1,000 of every 10,000 to bring provisions for the troops who will go to repay the disgrace done by Gibeah of Benjamin against the rest of Israel.


11 So all the people of Israel gathered against Gibeah, united in their judgment, intent on action.


12 The tribes of Israel sent messengers throughout the land of Benjamin.


Messengers: Do you know what has happened? What about this crime that has been committed among you? 13 Turn over those perverted men from Gibeah so we can put them to death and cleanse this evil from Israel!


But the people of Benjamin would not listen to their kinsmen, the other tribes of Israel. 14 The Benjaminites gathered together, out of their towns, to Gibeah to go to battle against the rest of Israel.


This is a difficult passage to read and if you read the details of this story in Judges 19 and further along in the following chapters it should make you weep. Yet, as Trible says, “If art imitates life, Scripture likewise reflects it in both holiness and horror.”

And this is a horrifying text. It should frighten us, frustrate us, and anger us. To see a woman abused in such a manner should horrify anyone as we see the abuse heaped upon her by the Levite and how her body is used to rally people to war. She is never viewed as a human being…just an object. The story never gives her a name…just like the monster in Frankenstein is never truly given a name.

Isn’t this how we make monsters of people? We leave them nameless? We spoke of this last week. We use phrases such as “those people” or we refuse to give those we dislike a proper name and instead use ethnic and racial slurs to refer to them. We leave them humiliated and dehumanized on the side of the road.

Isn’t it easier to abuse a person when we depersonalize them? And isn’t this what happens in the story of the concubine as well as the story of Frankenstein’s monster? These two beings are easy to dismiss when we don’t give them a name and leave them lying by the side of the road torn and bleeding. And this is the worst sin we can commit…to dehumanize others and not see within them the image of God.

In doing so, we create victims…victims who either intentionally or unintentionally become victimizers themselves. In the story of Frankenstein, we see a creature hurt and shunned by his creator thrown out into the world nameless and alone. This creature then victimizes others time and again because he or she has been cast adrift, nameless, and alone. The only time, in any of the stories that the creature knows a bit of peace and kindness is when, in the movie Bride of Frankenstein, he comes across a blind man in a cabin who recognizes in this creature an opportunity for companionship and friendship. The most touching scene in this movie is when the blind man kneels down and prays. Yes! He prays and thanks God for giving him a companion.

Yet, this reprieve is suddenly taken away when the old blind man, who has not thought to name the creature, finds a new set of visitors at his door who are immediately set to destroy the creature.

Now let us return to the story of the concubine. A woman who has suffered abuse at the hands of the Levite. A man who says he wants to “share his heart” with her but never does so. He doesn’t acknowledge her throughout the story and, instead, sees her as a piece of property. This Levite has no desire to protect her but only to use her as a possession. In fact, to protect himself he throws her out of the house to be abused by a gang of men.

The next morning the woman is returned to him wounded and possibly dying. She is a victim of this man’s selfishness and his inability to recognize her as a human being and then he takes her body, chops it into twelve pieces, and then makes her a victim and a, sadly, an unintentional victimizer. The story, in some versions, doesn’t even tell us if the woman was even dead when this Levite, this so-called priest, does this to her! This man then uses this woman’s body to start a war with the same evil people who had repeatedly raped her.

In the end, this defenseless woman is a victim who is then used to victimize others. Because of her death and the way her body has been abused, if you read the story further, you will find out that 600 more women are then abused and mistreated.

What are we to do with stories such as these? Stories that do not end well. How do we, as Christians, handle them? Trible says that, “to seek redemption in these stories in the resurrection is perverse. Sad stories do not have happy endings.”

Strangely enough, I found myself agreeing with Trible in these words and I was shocked. Shocked because, for the last decade or so, I’ve thought that the resurrection was the one way to make all stories end well. I’d forgotten one simple and important truth of the Christian faith…

The Cross.

In today’s Gospel reading, we find the redemption of ourselves (not the redemption of the stories I’ve shared!), let me read it to you once more:

“Caiaphas, the High Priest that year said, ‘You have no idea what you’re talking about [concerning Jesus]; what you don’t understand is that it’s better for you that one man should die for the people so the whole nation won’t perish.’ His speech was more than it seemed. As high priest that year, Caiaphas prophesied (without knowing it) that Jesus would die on behalf of the entire nation, and not just for the children of Israel—He would die so all God’s children could be gathered from the four corners of the world into one people.” John 11:49-52 The Voice Translation

This is the answer. Jesus has become the victim to end our victimization of others. When we live into Christ Jesus’ death on the cross and see it for what it is, one who willingly became the victim to end our victimization of ourselves and each other, then we can move into something better. We begin to place our desire to victimize others for selfish gain upon Him—Jesus—The Crucified Lord. We lay all of our sinful desire to get over on others, to break them down, to dehumanize them, to make them appear less than ourselves, our desire to abuse and control, our desire for revenge and vengeance, we place these sinful realities on the Cross of Christ and then we begin to move into a new life. In gazing upon the Crucified Lord, we gaze upon our own ability to victimize and, if we are willing, we begin to leave this sinful proclivity there as we move into a new life.

This new life then looks out at a broken, hurting, humanity…the Frankenstein’s Monsters of this world and we see in those hurting and nameless people something better. When we live into the Christ of the Cross, we give the Monsters of this world a new name: Children of God, Friend, Neighbor, Brother, Sister, Tom, Jane, Margaret, Judy, Charles, Jennifer, Amy, Bill….and when we see them as human beings we can no longer stand idly by and see them abused and hurt by a cruel and oppressive world which has not yet learned to live into the Cross of Christ.

Let us pray:


God of endless love,
ever caring, ever strong,
always present, always just:
You gave us your only Son
to save us by the blood of the cross.

Gentle Jesus, shepherd of peace,
join to your own suffering,
the pain of all who have been hurt
in body, mind, and spirit
by those who betrayed the trust placed in them.

Hear our cries as we agonize
over the harm done to our brothers and sisters.
Breathe wisdom into our prayers,
soothe restless hearts with hope,
steady shaken spirits with faith;
Show us the way to justice and wholeness,
enlightened by truth and enfolded in your mercy.

Holy Spirit, comforter of our hearts,
heal your people’s wounds
and transform our brokenness.
Grant us courage and wisdom, humility and grace,
so that we may act with justice
and find peace in you.
We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/10/the-theology-of-frankenstein/

Older posts «