Epistles and Psalms

The Blog of Bobby Ray Hurd

Category: Psalms

Feminist but Not Egalitarian: Submitting to Your Mother

“Religious people who can think only in terms of rivalry, superiority, equality, and inferiority thus bring against Jesus the charge that he is making himself [G-d’s] equal. They are incapable of imagining that a man, Jesus, can be [G-d] with his Father, and that the vocation of all of us is to be [G-d] with the Father.”
— Jacques Ellul

I am a feminist but I am not an egalitarian…because I believe Jesus identified with the struggle of women but would never identify with the idolatry of power that put them in a position of struggle.

Thus, (as I am believing it) to be an egalitarian and to be feminist is to ignore the prophetic fire brought against the idolatry of power the feminist voice has brought to the table
of fellowship to cast out the demon of power and privilege

Thus, I am a feminist, and not an egalitarian, because I believe Christians are commanded to embody relational holiness rather than entertain any notion of privilege or equality. Therefore, to be feminist is never to understand gender relations in terms of “equality” but in terms of the freedom to be gendered in its fullness as we seek to fully express the full image of G-d in holiness as a form of reconciliatory worship.

Thus, I am a feminist because I, as a man, believe Christ was right when he said:

For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it (Matt. 16:25).

Thus, I am a feminist, and not an egalitarian, because I believe feminism disciplines me, as a man, to consider what it might mean to die to myself and be lead to embody a gender relation of holiness that serves those of whom experience G-d differently than me– and this is certainly because G-d created them differently than me.

Thus, it it clear to me that Christ commands his male followers to die to themselves and learn a way of submission and grace expressed toward their Mother. In such submission, men will learn to repent of the power that has hated their Mother and learn to be a means of grace to Her. Thus, In such submission, they will learn what it means to fully be a man of G-d made in the image of their Creator; because it seems all religious people can seem to imagine is religious notions of superiority and/or equality and the divine “rites” and/or “rights” they are granted therein.

Thus, the question at hand for a Christian is not “how do we share power equally?” but “how do we serve each other and repent of power entirely?”

And so, I am a feminist, and not an egalitarian, because I do not believe in the notion of “human rights” necessarily. I believe, rather, in the authority of the Church and its communal commitment to mutual submission and powerlessness in worship of their Christ who modeled such a way of living. I believe this practice is our earthly example for relational holiness before the Creator who made us different from each other and has left us with the task of reconciliation in those divinely inspired differences. Thus, we must learn to fully express our genderedness in the Body through mutual submission and servanthood rather than grant any notion of superiority or equality to anyone.

Thus, I am a feminist, and not an egalitarian, because I believe men and women are not equal. Notions of equality force gender relations into a way where they must equate each other rather than be free in submission and servanthood to discover the one true G-d (the One beyond all such classifications) in those differences— differences that do not “equate” each other but hold each other accountable to worship in holiness.

Thus, in the Body of Christ, men are called to serve the priesthood of women because we too must witness to G-d as a mother figure of whom we can only know through the experiences of those women who have known Her; for I am merely a man and, thus, can only hope to listen and serve this G-d made known to me in their faithfulness to Her. Thus, I am commanded to know the fullness of that image so that I may know what it means to be relationally holy in a world where difference can only infer a “rite” to privilege or a “right” to equality.

I am a feminist, and not an egalitarian, because I have come to believe that my maleness should never coerce the prophetic voice that speaks from within the inspired spirit of femininity. It should serve it, honor it, nurture it, and bring it out in its fullness through submission and servanthood so that we may bring out the fullness of our genderedness through creating an environment where we no longer observe Powers that suppress it.

Be Powerless,

Bobby Ray

Psalm: Wooden Heart (by Listener)

If you follow me on Facebook (or know me in person), I have shared this with many of you in the last few months.

If anyone were to ever ask what I feel sums up what Simple Church is trying to be and what I feel the Church should be like, I would point them to this poem. It is by far one of the most deeply meaningful, beautiful, and profound things I have ever heard. I will let it speak for itself. Reflect on this a while…let it hold you. Now breathe.

We’re all born to broken people on their most honest day of living
and since that first breath… We’ll need grace that we’ve never given
I’ve been haunted by standard red devils and white ghosts
and it’s not only when these eyes are closed
these lies are ropes that I tie down in my stomach,
but they hold this ship together tossed like leaves in this weather
and my dreams are sails that I point towards my true north,
stretched thin over my rib bones, and pray that it gets better
but it won’t won’t, at least I don’t believe it will…
so I’ve built a wooden heart inside this iron ship,
to sail these blood red seas and find your coasts.
don’t let these waves wash away your hopes
this war-ship is sinking, and I still believe in anchors
pulling fist fulls of rotten wood from my heart, I still believe in saviors
but I know that we are all made out of shipwrecks, every single board
washed and bound like crooked teeth on these rocky shores
so come on and let’s wash each other with tears of joy and tears of grief
and fold our lives like crashing waves and run up on this beach
come on and sew us together, tattered rags stained forever
we only have what we remember

I am the barely living son of a woman and man who barely made it
but we’re making it taped together on borrowed crutches and new starts
we all have the same holes in our hearts…
everything falls apart at the exact same time
that it all comes together perfectly for the next step
but my fear is this prison… that I keep locked below the main deck
I keep a key under my pillow, it’s quiet and it’s hidden
and my hopes are weapons that I’m still learning how to use right
but they’re heavy and I’m awkward…always running out of fight
so I’ve carved a wooden heart, put it in this sinking ship
hoping it would help me float for just a few more weeks
because I am made out of shipwrecks, every twisted beam
lost and found like you and me scattered out on the sea
so come on let’s wash each other with tears of joy and tears of grief
and fold our lives like crashing waves and run up on this beach
come on and sew us together, just some tattered rags stained forever
we only have what we remember

My throat it still tastes like house fire and salt water
I wear this tide like loose skin, rock me to sea
if we hold on tight we’ll hold each other together
and not just be some fools rushing to die in our sleep
all these machines will rust I promise, but we’ll still be electric
shocking each other back to life
Your hand in mine, my fingers in your veins connected
our bones grown together inside
our hands entwined, your fingers in my veins braided
our spines grown stronger in time
because are church is made out of shipwrecks
from every hull these rocks have claimed
but we pick ourselves up, and try and grow better through the change
so come on yall and let’s wash each other with tears of joy and tears of grief
and fold our lives like crashing waves and run up on this beach
come on and sew us together, were just tattered rags stained forever
we only have what we remember

from Wooden Heart Poems, released 06 July 2010

Psalm: Lord’s Prayer Redux

Father… reveal to us who you are so that we may work with you to love the world rightly. Help us to be honest about what is best, what is wise, and what is your perfect Will; because you will never force it on us! Help us to know, therefore, that we should not force it on each other.

Comforter… provide for us a plentiful banquet of daily bread; a bountiful feast of wise foods! Help us in our hunger to remember our dependence on you and, in our comfort, your benevolence.



Rabbi… help us to see that those sinning against us don’t understand the full implications of what they are doing as you have continued to forgive us when we act in turmoil and confusion. Teach me to forgive as you forgive, and may your children also forgive me. For it is our most grievous bane, our malignant hubris, that we insist upon our foolish judgments and naive decisions. It is for this reason that we depend on you for peace.

Savior…keep us safe from the forces of depravity that ruin your creation. Help us to see that servanthood is the only real kingship, perpetuating love is our only battle, and that there is no true freedom apart from the kingdom of G-d.

Amen

Psalm/Epistle: Nail Us to Your Cross

Dear Friends,

“Forgive them, Father. They don’t know what they’re doing.” These words play over and over in my head whenever I think about the bloody roots of Christian faith. What’s more, I’m also reminded of the references in Scripture that speak of G-d’s people being reflections of G-d in this oppressive, dogmatic, graceless, violent world.

How often in Christian history have we crucified, executed, put to death, and declared war with the confidence that what we are doing is justified before the Lord? That what we were doing was righteous before the Savior we confess? Who are we worshiping whenever we’ve acted this way? Is it America? the Constitution? Is it ourselves? Is it humanity? Is it technology? Is it money? Is it our ability to have power? Is it pop culture? Is it our morality? Is it the political party we belong to? Is it the conquering of others in the name of our own self-righteous good?

Whomever and whatever we worship, Christ’s question is clear to us:

What images of what’s Ultimate are we reflecting when we live this way?

This is a deeply spiritual dilemma. I say, in these instances, people worship the gods of emptiness; gods who do not exist and that leave you broken and in denial.

The cross shows us that retribution is not the same as justification before the LORD. Retribution is not the salvation of Jesus Christ. For the death of Jesus was most certainly retribution— a man that the religious elite and moral order of Rome put to death as a transgressor– a rival to the salvation of human accomplishments. What the cross shows us is the futility of the cumulative accomplishments of humankind. Whatever our moral standards, our philosophies, our religions, and our commitments, man is godless. Godless man! And on the cross we see why. For whenever we stare G-d directly in the face, whenever She offers her hand of fellowship, we do not embrace Her but we put Her to death– because G-d is a threat in the eyes of godless man! And so, the great irony of our Gospel is that in the name of what is good, we put G-d to death– because He reveals parts of Himself that we are unprepared to see– whispers that which we are unprepared to hear. For as the LORD said to Moses, “You may only see my back!” And so, in the name of good, in the name of retribution, in the name of justice, in the name of the moral order, we reject G-d– we then become salt, without saltiness…light under a bowl. Man without G-d!

The hope of our godlessness is that we enter into G-d’s grace and transform by it. Where is grace whenever our works and morals give our lives its meaning? Where is grace whenever the moral order trumps our willingness to seek the work of G-d in all people?

The Christian narrative tells that if we live as if our works save us, we will eventually take up arms against G-d who reveals Himself and soon find ourselves hanging people on crosses. In the same way CS Lewis articulates his “Great Divorce,” I shall call this the “Great Hypocrisy.” The Great Hypocrisy is our break with G-d– our very divorce from Her.

This final piece I imagine captures this Great Hypocrisy and the One who speaks defeat into it. I present this next piece imagining Jesus speaking as prophet. I think of it as an oracle that reminds Christians that Christ must be worshipped in all things.

Indeed, the prophetic Word of Christ, “I am the truth!”

Because the bloody roots of Christianity are ultimately found among the victims of godless people in a world gone to worship the “god of emptiness”– a god that does not know Christ– a god who does not know grace. One of the great truths of our faith is that Truth is not in us– truth is a man. Truth is relative, because it is relative to Jesus Christ. For we are godless man and are nothing apart from the grace of Jesus Christ– the one who tells us the truth about ourselves. And so, I believe that this G-d of Jesus Christ speaks this oracle through his life on the behalf of all those who suffer at the hands of godless, lifeless, venomous people– religious and non-religious.

Nail Us to Your Cross
(Credit given to my friends and favorite metal band in St. Louis– MEGALITH)

I’ve seen your face in reflections of their tears
Self-proclaimed saints rise up to crush their fears
Haloed hypocrites donned in robes of white
Chastising smiles disguising minds of spite

Don’t look upon us with your pity and shame
Pathetic moral lies victimize and cast the blame
You can’t see the good for the evil that you spawn
Distorting all the truth and creating your pawns

Holy wealth proclaiming power supreme
We are here to see that you’re redeemed
Just as Pilate you have washed your hands
Sabbath day hymns become cries of the damned

Nail us to your cross
Nail us to your cross
Nail us to your cross
Nail us to your cross

I see your face in reflections of their tears
Self-proclaimed saints rise up to crush their fears
Haloed hypocrites donned in robes of white
Chastising smiles disguising minds of spite

Don’t look upon us with your pity and shame
Pathetic moral lies victimize and cast the blame
You can’t see the good for the evil that you spawn
Distorting all the truth and creating your pawns

Holy wealth proclaiming power supreme
We are here to see that you’re redeemed
Just as Pilate you have washed your hands
Sabbath day hymns become cries of the damned

Nail us to your cross
Nail us to your cross
Nail us to your cross
Nail us to your cross

Psalm: G-d of Emptiness

One of my favorite bands call themselves Morbid Angel. They are widely considered to be the forefathers of the death metal sub-genre. They are older and successful enough now that they have lost some of what initially attracted me to their music– the hunger of youth rebellion to know something truthful that leads them to repent of the images of G-d they inherited. In a song they wrote called, “God of Emptiness” they confront the images of G-d they have known. Not only do they find them exceedingly insufficient, but they even go as far as opening themselves up to being considered blasphemous in order to address their feelings on the matter. For this courage, I’ve admired them. And so, to the extent they take their willingness to speak honestly about the idols Christians often worship, they have inspired me.

Furthermore, and even more personally, “God of Emptiness” freed me to stand vulnerable in the presence of G-d and be angry– not angry in an arrogant sense (which all too many metalheads succumb to), but in a sense that makes space for me to stand challenging the images of G-d I have inherited, to be angry with those images, repent of them, and then finally recover from them restored to the image of the G-d who drew me near through this wandering. In a moment where your limited images of G-d are all you have…in a moment when you stand amidst your images of G-d and find they are demons, you will find yourself screaming at them, cursing them, and possibly saying something offensive to many.  I’ve come to the conclusion that these actions are not blasphemous–they are the divine process of transformation, G-d speaking healing into your brokenness, and providing for you repentance.

God of Emptiness

With all oppression of this world and
All the glory you receive, I
Cannot help but stop to think
But of gall the bread of your table…
And of wormwood the cup you drink

God of emptiness
God of blind leading the blind
You do not lead wandering through the desert
But a journey maligned

With all the kingdoms of this world and
All the glory you receive…
What makes you supreme?
Lies! And Your crown is falling!
You offer fantasy!
And so you, oh god of kingdoms, are blinded by your envy!

God of emptiness
God of Caesars disguised as lambs
You offer no remission…or repentance
But sustain a cycle of what’s damned

God of emptiness
God of whom I cannot confess
You devour my very soul
so I will be like you– in emptiness

Psalm: Bloody Roots

When the LORD speaks with Cain after he murders Abel, the LORD says, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.”
______________________

Roots…bloody roots

Yes, like the blood of Abel
cries out from the ground
It’s not some moral fable
but witness to how we’re found

by our…

Roots….bloody roots

Just like Pharaoh’s slaves
Cried out for salvation
For deliverance from their graves
And the curse of damnation

by their…

Roots…bloody roots

Just like the conquered cries
To the G-d of their exile
To once again have eyes
that see beyond the Nile

by their…

Roots…bloody roots

Oh, friend Jesus, my image of divine
Renew me with your passion
Bear me your fruit
That flows from your blood, your vine
of the cross, of the broken, of the ashen
And shows that G-d, like me, has roots…

Bloody roots