Subversion of the Day: Get a Tattoo

 

Now before you run out and say I told you to get all inked up: take a breath, read past the title, and decide for yourself, not because some moron on a blog said to do something or not to do something.

A friend of mine and myself have begun to routinely meet during the week at a coffee shop in Richmond, Ky (Purdy’s- check it out: http://www.purdyscoffee.com) to talk about major issues that are on the forefront of predominant youth culture- good stuff like drug abuse, self affliction, and pre-marital sex. 

Fair warning: these meeting may shape future blog posts.

So, the first topic was the inherit goodness or badness of getting a tattoo.  Now, because of a misreading of a verse in Leviticus, I have always had a disdain for tattoos of deceased family members.  To me, you could get pretty much anything, like a turtle riding a motorcycle in a hurricane on the small of your back, whatever, just as long as you were not memorializing the dead.  I was convinced that was what the Bible said.

That was, of course, until I actually read what the Bible said on the topic.

So, we came to the conclusion together that the Hebrew Bible injunction against tattoos does not necessarily pass over to the life of the subversive Christ-follower.  But, we still wondered what the purpose for one was, if there was one.  This lead us to two principle ideas in the New Testament that shaped our thinking.  One, paraphrased, mentioned that all things are allowed for Christians, but not all things are beneficial.  What is amazing about this is it in a way releases you from certain legislative bonds, and yet chains you to something greater- responsibility.  We become responsible for what we do.  So, the desire is to then do the most beneficial thing. 

Is getting a tattoo beneficial?

For the culture that I live in, yes it is.  I am more likely to spend time with a tattoo-riddled drug dealer than a CEO.  I am also more like to spend time with artistic types who express themselves in that way then reserved, evangelicals who think tattoos are a sin.  So simply, the benefit of the tattoo is that it can help me become “all things to all men (or women)”, which is another idea from the Bible.

Getting a tattoo is subversive because it is frowned upon by the dominant culture, and if you are a being that can shift in and out of the dominant culture, you show that the mentality of the “tattoo-riddled, food-stamp using masses” is an often unfair stereotype, and assumes that poor people cannot ever have anything nice if  they receive any kind of assistance, when in fact, many tattoos of the poor are done by a friend or relative for fairly cheap.  When you have a tattoo, you become more open to a certain set of folks, and that openness can lead to pointing them to Christ, which leads to ultimate, lasting life change.

So, in light of this, I am planning to get my first tattoo this year.  But I have some stipulations- to make getting a tattoo more subversive, I am trying to contact a local tattoo parlor to see if they would donate a portion of their proceeds the day that I get my tattoo to The Salvation Army, so I also know that actually purchasing my tattoo goes to creating change and helping others.  Think about getting a tattoo with me.  Subvert the powers today.

Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever. I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn’t just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!

1 Corinthians 9:19-23

Advertisements

New Song- The River’s Where I’m Going to Be

Sometimes it is good to sing the blues.  Sometimes not.  This is a blues song I wrote a while back.

The River’s Where I’m Going to Be

Black Water, send me on down, cause i don’t want to be around
Black water, send me on down, to somewhere i won’t be found

Cause the earth has become too dry
And its taking my life from me
Well this ain’t how i want to die
So the River’s where i want to be

Hard Rain, wont you fall on down, and lift me up off the ground
Hard Rain, wont you fall on down, and lay me where there ain’t no sound

Cause the earth has become too dry
And its taking my life from me
Well this ain’t how i want to die
So the River’s where i want to be

Deep Flow, wont you drag me on down, where no one can come around
Deep Flow, wont you drag me on down, and in your muddy arms ill be bound

Cause the earth has become too dry
And its taking my life from me
Well this ain’t how i want to die
So the River’s where i want to be

I know, that if maybe i try
This fathomless blue won’t cover me
But now i am too tired to fight
So the River’s where I’m gonna be.

Subversion of the Day- Ride a Bicycle

So, I rode my bike today.  And it was really great, but I felt pretty terrible at one point.  I am pretty out of shape.  But, necessity calls for one to do things to meet one’s needs, and I needed to get to school.  So bike it is.  However, i am thankful because riding a bicycle really is a great way to subvert the powers and principalities of this world.  Here are some examples:

– Biking saves you money on gas, which other than helping you save, it prevents you from buying gasoline, which most assuredly is acquired through the blood of others.

-Also with gasoline, the burning of it leads to further destruction of the world as we know it, and riding a bike helps to reduce that, or at least your involvement in it.

-Riding a bike is an easy way to keep your health in check.  Daily exercise is hard to come by, but allowing yourself a half an hour before and after work/school/whatever to transport yourself assures that you stay healthy

And in one of the most interesting things that riding bikes does is cause people to think clearer when they are driving.  Most people are prone to road rage.  So, if you ride a bicycle on a busy street, you really force those around you in a non-coercive way to think about how they react to others, and challenge their hearts and intentions.  That is very Christ-like.

So, ride a bike today, and spread the Kingdom of God.  Subvert the powers today.

Movie Review: Captain America- First Avenger

I love stories about Nazis.  There is something the important (and dangerous, which needs to be said) about the simple personification of evil into one group, one entity.  And most Americans, and I would assume a significant part of the world, view the Third Reich as close to Hell on other as we have come.

I would say they haven’t looked around the world long enough,.

Nevertheless, I like Nazi movies.  But, because I believe in the potential  of redemption of all people, I don’t see a person and see evil.  So, my preference for Nazi stories includes the incorporation of the occult, the demonic, the worship of death.  That is the true enemy.  Not flesh and blood.

And this brings us to the blind, patriotic violence of Captain America: The First Avenger.

Now, before you get really frustrated or defensive, this is not meant to tear down the closely held beliefs of an entire nation of believers in Christ.  I will wait to do that later.  No, I want to take the message and meaning behind the film and not get hung up on the issues of right or wrong displayed there in.  After all, this is a work of fiction based on a comic about the blend of science and magic created by Norse deities, and the creation of a super-soldier through technological means in the 1940’s.

If you have eyes to see, look at the metaphor.

To begin, there is this concept displayed in the film of the serum for a super-soldier, which has the ability to amplify not only one’s physicality, but also one’s inner most self, that which defines them.  So if a person is good, it makes them great; if they are bad, it makes them worse.  That is why the Captain is a handsome man, and the Red Skull is, well… a red skull.  In the real world, the super serum we have is the word of God, the Holy Bible.  It is a powerful tool, or weapon; how you use it depends not on your knowledge of it, but your proclivity to righteousness or wickedness, which is only measured by one’s right relationship with God.  There is precedent for using the word of God as a weapon towards the right enemy, which once again, is not flesh and blood.  There are those who say they follow God, and yet, they see their potential brothers and sisters as foes.  Like the Red Skull, they have claimed to excel to a level where they have “left humanity behind.”

But not the Captain, because he is the example of the pinnacle of humankind.

Kind of reminds me of a friend of mine.  Anyways,  the Captain also expresses his heart on the issue of war.  When asked if he wants to kill Nazis, Steve (Captain America) responds by saying “I don’t want to kill anyone.  I don’t like bullies, I don’t care where they are from.”  And from these eyes, he lives up to that for the most part: he takes very few lives, if any.  Though the government around him and his fellow soldiers do, he is at a level of human-hood that supersedes the need to steal another’s life to prevent them from stealing the lives of others.  My thoughts go to the actual second World War, and if more of those who claimed to be at a higher human level had followed the Christ they said they did, there may not have been a World War II.

Check the history, and let me know what you think.

The third and last point is related to the second.  Tommy Lee Jones’ character in the film says a very true statement while debating on Steve’s potential as a soldier: “Wars are not won with niceness.”  As I said, this is very true.  Wars are not won with niceness; neither are they won with violence.  Nations don’t win wars, they postpone the battle for another day, breed imperialism, and create casualties on both sides of the battle.  No, wars are won by the conquering of war itself, meaning their cessation.  There is One who has come who, unlike Steve Rodgers, overcame every failure and was, is and always will be the Perfect Soldier.  In fact, He is King.  That person is Christ Jesus.  In His Kingdom, there is only violence to that which itself violates: sin, death, and the demonic presence that perpetrates that.  Follow Christ today, use this film review to engage the culture around you, and to be a support in your own daily subversions.  Subvert the powers today.

Subversion of the Day- When You Fail, Try Again

 

 

To begin today’s subversion, I think it is important to let you know I tried this little experiment blogging once before at everdaysubversive.blogspot.com, and I failed miserably.  I wanted it to be revolutionary, incendiary, an anonymous cohort of writers, and aggressive.  I wanted my blog to change the Church, and the world.

God said nope.

Instead, it was left to fester and rot after one legitimate post.  And the problems were obvious; too many voices muddle the intent, anonymity can be devoid of integrity, the times were still changing, and aggressive in that sense is not the way of the Cross.  But that doesn’t mean that God couldn’t take the idea, alter it, purify it a little more, and make it something good, or at least better.

Something that actually subverts the powers.

You see, there are spirits that tell us lies all around us.  Whether you believe that is an actual demonic spirit or the zeitgeist (spirit of the times), we all believe it in one way or another.  And those spirits cannot be taken as truth just because they exist.  We must test them for truth.  The truth is that God wants all to follow Him, and wants good for all of those who follow Him; so by proxy, He wants good for all.  Not defeatism.

So today, you can subvert the powers (spirits) by trying something again.  Tell that voice that says you are a failure and should give up that it is not of the Truth, and you seek Truth today.  Get up, and try something again (for the record, the “spirits” didn’t want this getting out- i accidentally deleted all of this a few minutes ago.  I ain’t afraid of no ghosts).  Subvert the powers today.

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit,

but test the spirits to determine if they are from God,

because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

This is how you know the Spirit of God:

Every spirit who confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God.

But every spirit who does not confess Jesus is not from God.

This is the spirit of the antichrist;

you have heard that he is coming, and he is already in the world now.

1 John 4:1-3

Hold

Here is a song that relates well to the Subversion of the Day from yesterday.  It is about feeling alone and loneliness, and looking for someone to care about you.  It’s called Hold, here it is-

Hold
Well Im just to tired to fight

And the songs are just to hard to write

So I’ll just say goodnight and try again

When the Sun is shining bright

But my dreams may lead me astray

And try to tell me I’ve reached the break of day

When the sunlight is still so far away

They say that “This is all that sparkles”

But it still looks like gray

 

But if i listen, really close…

 

I can here a voice speak louder than the sorrow

You hold up your head, and I’ll hold up tomorrow

 

Won’t you draw near and push the others on out

There’ll be time later to hear them all shout

Well I don’t wanna mope and I don’t wanna pout

But if my heart’s a compass then I’m heading south

But every midnight tunnel you know it has it’s end

And every horseshoe curve has the one last bend

Rabbi I know you’ve made a way for my sins

But right now I don’t need a teacher, just a friend

 

But if i listen, really close…

 

I can here a voice speak louder than the sorrow

You hold up your head, and I’ll hold up tomorrow

Subversion of the Day- Be a Friend to Somebody

Friendship is a strong sign of the Kingdom come.  Christ even said that there was no greater love than that someone would lay down their life for their friends.  And really, that was Christ’s purpose- to lay down His life to make us friends of God.  And by proxy, friends of each other.  But for some reason, those of us who love revolution, who love waging war against the forces of darkness and corruption in this world don’t always see that friendship really changes anything.

However, friendship changes everything.

To really be someone one’s friend, means that you are willing to lay down your life for them.  If we are talking about bullets, most say that they will jump in front of the oncoming onslaught to save the life of the one’s they love.  They would be willing to die for that person, no questions asked.

But what if you are the one firing the gun?

See, we sometimes through ideas, accusations, obstacles, and an assortment of other nasty things that start with vowels at those we love, and refuse to be the one to stop those bullets.  Or, maybe we stop before that.  Maybe we refuse to love our friends, and fire it will.  (I like Will, whoever he is.  I don’t want to shoot him.)  I have experienced some who suggest that those in ministry (and also in the social work field) should avoid “enmeshment,” which means to get to connected with a person you are having a semi-intimate, professional relationship with.   But Christ is not a model for such an activity.  He did a whole bunch of enmeshin’; he spent most of His time with His disciples, ate with them, walked with them, probably had to run away from a few conflicts with them.  The greatest example of being enmeshed?  Yep, He died for them, even when they ran scared from dying, and left Him alone.  Some friends.

Christ was enmeshed.

And His cry to us is “Come, follow me” and “Take up my cross.”  So what does this look like in practice?  It depends on the two persons and their situation on specifics, but really the focus is to make a person a part of your family.  Eat with them.  Laugh and cry with them.  Be honest and gentle with them.  Be willing to listen to their stupid, repeated stories and their struggles.

Die for them.

Friendship will help us see the foundations and the walls of the Kingdom of God.  Subvert the powers today.

Love consists in this: not that we loved God,

but that He loved us and sent His Son

to be the propitiation for our sins.  

Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another.

 No one has ever seen God.

If we love one another,

 God remains in us and His love is perfected in us.

1 John 4:-12

American Idols

Here is a song that I wrote that falls in the vein of yesterday’s suggested subversion.  Let me know what you think-

 

American Idols

 

Well the talking heads are talking their heads off

About the latest fashion and who was wearing what

And I tried to speak my mind but I couldn’t get a word in

They said if it didn’t “pop” i should keep my mouth shut

 

So I climbed up a mountain to tell a dying world

That Christ died and rose again to bring us peace and love

And as soon as I thought my brothers were shouting with me

They told me to be quiet as the turned their TV’s up

 

So let’s tear down these American idols

And build back in their place an altar to the Lord

So let’s tear down these American idols

And build back in their place an altar to the Lord

 

 

Well they shake it on the Left and they shake it on the Right

So it seems there ain’t no middle cause everyone wants to fight

And politicians are wishing no one senses their precision

At collision and division so there pensions don’t go missing.

 

So there’s battles of the rich going up against the poor

And the black folk and the white folk are still engaged in war

And the genders are in combat but neither one of them are right

Cause there’s no Jew or Greek or slave or freak cause we’re all one in Christ

 

So let’s tear down these American idols

And build back in their place an altar to the Lord

So let’s tear down these American idols

And build back in their place an altar to the Lord

Subversion of the Day: Worship Only the One True God

 

Image

 

To begin, this is not a critique on other religions.  That is an issue to discuss, but not one for this day.  No this daily subversion strikes a little closer to home.  The axe is laid at the trees in your own back yard, not in your neighbors. 

This is about idolatry.

So what, you may ask, does idolatry have to do with subverting the powers on a daily basis.  Everything, dear reader, everything.  This is an issue of Kingdom and the king that we serve. You see, most people have this understanding of an idol in a biblical sense; idols are figures that are used for the purpose of worshipping a deity that may or may not be in that object, but does bear a resemblance to the object that is created.  So, if I worship dogs, I have a little dog statue.

But many take a different understanding than this ancient one.  I actually pose the question “what is an idol” on my Facebook page ( http://www.facebook.com/joshua.coffman.5 ) recently, and received several interesting answers.  One person said:

“Anything or anyone that u put before God….Sumthing u can’t do with out or live without….anything u put first or is ur first priority over God”

I think that is pretty much spot on.  I especially like the statement of something you can’t do without or live without.  Don’t take this out of context and say that we all idolize food, water, and air.  But the truth is that if we said each of these were more important than God, or that we decided we would rather have any of these than God, then we have pretty strongly indicated that which we worship.

The interesting thing is things that we say we don’t need, but act as if we do.  If you read yesterday’s post ( https://everydaysubversive.wordpress.com/2012/08/12/subversion-of-the-day-rest/ ), you could see that I acknowledged something that had the potential to be my god, which was the computer/internet access/ whatever.  I decided to take a break from it one day a week.  I am conveying to it, myself, and the whole world that I can do without it, but I cannot do without Christ.

So what is your idol?

This is where we have to really assess ourselves.  We can really idolize anything, and the fact of the matter is the more we perpetrate this false worship, the more we give room for the powers of this world to consume and control us.  We have to take a stand, and dethrone our miniature kings, and tell them there is only one King.  The possibilities are endless to what we can idolize:

Clothing

Money

Friends

Family

The Government

Celebrity (ies)

Prestige

Security

Convenience

Low Cost

Self

 

That last one usually is at the epicenter of the others.  We make ourselves our own God, and prescribe to ourselves worship.  So, figure out what you worship other than the one true God, and tear it down.  Subvert the powers today.

 

“Don’t collect for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal.  But collect for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light.  But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. So if the light within you is darkness—how deep is that darkness!

“No one can be a slave of two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot be slaves of God and of money.

Matthew 6:19-24

 

Subversion of the Day- Rest

 

We live in a culture that believes that consistently going is the best option, and that to slow down means death.  This, I must say, is corruption.  And I for one have fallen hook, line and sinker.  For example, I am writing this at 3 o’clock in the morning, and I have to get up to point kids to Christ in about 5 hours, and teach them how to fight the darkness.  I don’t plan on going to sleep for another 2 hours.  If we do not slow down, we die.  It is true; machines break down without maintenance; relationships tear without passionate investment; people die from exhaustion, literally and physically.

We need rest.

So the Subversion of the Day is to have a day of rest.  Now before you start calling me an out-of-touch bible-thumper or something equally as true, slow down a sec.  See what I did there?  I do not seek to be dogmatic about day of the week, or provide a list of activities accepted and not accepted.  This is about what allows you to rest, or recharge.  If being in the woods rejuvenates you, make that a part of your day of rest.  If it doesn’t, don’t.  The important thing is to see the importance of the activity: allowing ourselves time to recharge maintains us as a vessel to be used in God’s Kingdom.  It enables us to let out deal with pain and struggle of our week, so that we can consistently be an example of what Christ wants His people to be.

To subvert the powers, sometimes you have to take a break from subverting the powers.

So here is, for those interested, my example of what I will be doing to rest.  In a way I have split my day of rest into two parts, because in a way, neither is really a full day of rest for me.  On my day off during the week from acting as the Youth and Outreach Director at The Salvation Army, Richmond KY Corps, I spend time at a bible study I don’t have to prepare for (and I get to eat at), meeting with a similar saint that can encourage me, and spending copious amounts of time thinking, reading, and writing at Purdy’s Coffeehouse, drinking copious amounts of coffee.  This is super restful.  This isn’t giving to others, this is about me.  But one thing I need rest from I do not rest from on that day.  I will give you a hint to what that is: I am typing on it.  If you read my previous post Ode to the God of the 21st Century, you can see that I am prone to idol worship.  I need to cut ties with this device at least one day a week, so that way it doesn’t try to climb up on the throne of the King in my life again.

I am going throw back with this one.

This will officially be my first and last post for this blog on Sundays.  I am severing my connection from the internet on the commonly accepted Sabbath day to rest, and remember the God who can communicate to me without bright screen and a motherboard.  I am going to trust that He wants me to rest, and that the world won’t fall apart in that time frame.  I hope it doesn’t.  But if it does, I won’t know, because I won’t be checking Facebook.

Pick your own day to rest, and really find those things that allow you to recharge and be prepared to fight away the darkness and stand for the Kingdom every day.  Subvert the powers today.

 

One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain.  The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”

He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need?  In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat.  And he also gave some to his companions.”

Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”

Matthew 2:23-27