The Billionaire, the Stockbroker, and the Storyteller

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Parables are like puzzle boxes. There are no easy answers, no straight readings. You can take a parable in several directions: how you interpret it depends on your faith community, your social location, your Biblical knowledge, your image of God, a good dose of the Holy Spirit, and—let’s be honest!—your mood. Now, most people have heard spiritual interpretations of the parable of the talents. In such a reading, those Christians who don’t use their money, time, gifts, and abilities to advance the kingdom of heaven will face God’s anger and judgement. But it’s interesting that nothing in the story says that the angry boss is God. So let’s swap the lens from spiritual to economic, and assume that Jesus meant the talents literally. A talent was a colossal unit of money, over a million dollars today: how might knowing this affect the reading? Listen as I riff on the story, and re-tell it in a modern context. Perhaps it will lead to a different place. And if it does, then, like all good parables, where you go from that place is up to you. So make yourself comfortable: it’s time for a story.  Continue reading “The Billionaire, the Stockbroker, and the Storyteller”

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Blessed is the No-Good Trickster

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Once upon a time, there was a family: and this is a story from its beginnings, what we call its genesis. You’ve heard of Father Abraham and Mother Sarah, yes? And how they had a son named Isaac? Well, this is a story about Isaac and his wife Rebekah, and their double trouble. Isaac loved Rebekah dearly, but she couldn’t have children. For twenty years, 240 months, there was nix, nada, nothing! No baby! Finally, Isaac prayed to his father’s God, the God of life: and God heard his prayer. Rebekah conceived—but oh! it was twins! and oh! it was difficult. Her belly, it swelled and swelled, and the babies inside, they fought and fought, and she felt like she was being torn apart. So she went and asked the God of life about it. Continue reading “Blessed is the No-Good Trickster”

Cheeky acts of forgiveness

Once upon a time, the churches were commissioned to go out and participate in the mission of God: to bring good news to the poor, to free the captives, to heal the sick, to forgive debts, and to make disciples. Yet much of the church took this as a mandate to accrue wealth and wield power. Some preachers controlled their flocks through fear; some upheld violent nation-states to their own advantage; some wielded proof texts like a weapon. Some religious leaders took advantage of vulnerable people, while others used their power to cover up their colleagues’ acts of abuse. Churches hoarded riches, and locked them away; denominations invested in corporations that denuded the forests and poisoned the rivers. Some congregations became private clubs, and made anyone who was different feel deeply unwelcome; some became places of such vitriolic hatred that all who came into contact with them were burned. All these goings-on in God’s name made God feel totally ripped off. So God decided to leave the churches, and let them fend for themselves. Continue reading “Cheeky acts of forgiveness”

Beyond human boundaries

So Jesus was at the pub, eating and drinking and talking with whoever turned up. There were gay men and rainbow families; transgender teenagers; women who prioritised work over family life; some sex workers; a couple of drug addicts; more than a few atheists; and some traumatised Muslim asylum seekers. And these people were crowding around and listening to what he had to say. Just inside the door of the pub, a huddle of priests and ministers and good Christian types stood awkwardly clutching their glasses of warm mineral water and grumbling among themselves. “Who is this feller?” they were asking. “If he keeps hanging around those dodgy people, nobody will take him seriously. And what is he saying? If he’s telling stories like that, maybe he needs to rethink his connection with the church.” Continue reading “Beyond human boundaries”

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