Saturday, October 16, 2004

Water Buffalo Theology: Chapter 15

Water Buffalo Theology by Kosuke Koyama on Amazon

Chapter 15: Tokyo and Jerusalem

water buffalo theology coverProfessor Kosuke Koyama says God's "first and fundamental gift" to us is "the constant awareness that we are under the judgment of the Word of God," (and in Jesus' death and resurrection, God's judgment leads to abundant life that doesn't decay or degrade). What a chapter about institutions, icons, institutional icons, "religious living," arrogant assumptions and idolatry! Jeremiah's situation is an fitting parallel to Koyama's other examples about Tokyo and of course about us since, as he says, the Japanese people couldn't remotely imagine anything other than being protected by the institution of the imperial system and the emperor. The religion of the Jerusalem Temple was imperial religion that sought to keep God in God's place and imagined being able to keep our God, the God we know to be free and elusive, completely responsive to human entreaty and reactive to human whim.

Safety, shelter, and all of the related static, programmable and unfree, unelusive comforts can be so enticing, but they're neither hot nor cool in any authentic sense at all - it seems to me in order to be "hot" or "cool" any entity needs to be alive! But it's also clear institutions frequently assume a life and a dynamic of their own, but not one that breathes, grieves, rejoices or encounters or interacts with much of anything or anyone else. Right now I'm listening to Steely Dan: the last call to do your shopping at the last mall! (note: I'm editing and cleaning up earlier blog posts for live links, etc. during late May 2015, and malls are so on their way out, lots already have closed, and soon there will be a single standing literal "last mall.") Back to James (and Jesus, of course) and the total folly of putting trust - "faith" - in transitory, ephemeral - sometimes even imaginary - things that ultimately will decay.

Jeremiah attacked "the deceptive theology hanging around" the Jerusalem temple. So we're getting ready for the next chapter that's about our treasured denominations in all their wonderful uniqueness and importance, about the theology and even the idolatry that often surrounds them.

But how does this connect with Thai Buddhists? Or with the institution of Thai Buddhism?

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