The Chair and the Desk, 9/25/15

From the chair:

16 When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. 

-Mark 16:1-8

The Gospel of Mark ends abruptly. It seems to just stop more than finish. According to my GCTS Mark Exegesis professor, Stephen Witmer, this is probably not a mistake or a manuscript error; it’s probably literary genius. Mark just stops because the story has not finished. We, the readers, must continue it. In the sudden silence, Mark asks us a question: What will you say about this Jesus?

From the desk:

“Diaspora imagination recognizes the diversity of diasporas and honors the different histories and memories. The diasporic experiences of being a Chinese in the United States are different from those of a Chinese in Indonesia or in Peru. The Jewish, Armenian, Chinese, Japanese, and Asian Indian diasporic communities in the United States are different not only because of history and religious tradition, but also because of class, race, and ethnicity…A diasporic consciousness finds similarities and differences in both familiar territories and unexpected corners; one catches glimpses of oneself in a fleeting moment or in a fragment in someone else’s story.”

-Kwok Pui-lan, Postcolonial Imagination & Feminist Theology, pp.49-50

Throughout this book, Kwok recognizes that as a Chinese person in America, she stands at a sort of crossroads. Looking down one road, she sees other ethnically Chinese people spread out over the world. Looking down the other road, she sees the various ethnicities of the people who live together in her community. “Culture” gets more complex, around the world, every day.

Kwok explains that this “diaspora” experience is both disorienting and promising. It gets harder and harder to have a home, but there are also possibilities for new understanding. In a small way, I feel like a similar “mash up” of the evangelical youth ministry I was involved in and the theological academy that we currently live in. The move from there to here isn’t an ascent into “real knowledge”–it truly is a mixing of new cultures. I’m learning new (to me) words, new (to me) ways of thinking, meeting new (to me) people. As these cultures run together, there is new knowledge, but it’s also harder and harder to figure out where/what home is.

The point isn’t just that immigrants experience fragmentation. It’s also that by moving they too are arriving at new understandings, and while my degree should declare “I’m learning–let’s talk” (or “I’m learning about God–let’s talk about God”), so does another person’s unfamiliar habits, temporary visa, or broken english.

Or broken Slovene. I believe in you, Kyle Evans.

“The chair” is the one Annie aptly chose for the corner of our living room, and it’s where I am committed to daily hearing from God’s Word–the Word I above all else hope to speak to others. “The desk” is the one by my coffee grounds and spare charger (if I get to the library early enough); it’s where I have the privilege of reading and thinking all day, where I intend to learn for others’ sake.

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