Martin Luther Zen

It seems that the desire for a “fresh start” is an all-pervasive impulse–in art, in faith, in life. Why do you suppose this is? Reformation, innovation…is this, too, morphing? Are we now more inclined toward spiritual and societal evolution and composting as continuation metaphors rather than disruptive ones?

I’m thinking about these things today while listening to Athens, GA band R.E.M.‘s 1986 release Life’s Rich Pageant. Michael Stipe belts an anthem rife with religious imagery. Among it:

Let’s begin again, begin the begin
Let’s begin again like Martin Luther Zen
The mythology begins the begin.

Answer me a question I can’t itemize
I can’t think clearly, look to me for reason
It’s not there, I can’t even rhyme in the begin

A philanderer’s tie, a murderer’s shoe
Example: the finest example is you.

Birdie in the hand for life’s rich demand
The insurgency began and you missed it.
I looked for it and I found it
Miles Standish proud, congratulate me.

Watch this awesome rendition of the song with R.E.M. and Pearl Jam‘s Eddie Vedder:

Miles Standish was a Pilgrim-soldier in America’s Plymouth colony. Martin Luther was a reformer in the 16th-century Magisterial Reformation of Christian faith in Europe. Zen was a reform movement of Mahāyāna Buddhism during the 7th century beginning in China. Both reformations, significantly, shifted the loci of transcendence and liberation from the institution to the personal. It makes me wonder what’s coming next…

Why does faith, like all other aspects of life, need to reinvent itself from time to time? Our concepts of God, like vehicles, seem to only get us so far before the vehicle repairs get so costly, it’s no longer worth maintaining them. We’re pretty sure we want to keep driving, but what? SUVs were popular in the US a decade ago, but now with the rising costs of crude oil, we’re re-thinking this preference as a people. James Canton in The Extreme Future echoes what most many foresight analysts are now agreeing–we will as a planet have exhausted all existing energy supplies by 2040, if not before. How does this effect our vehicle choices? Do we go hybrid, or biodisel?

I hope you realize I’m not just speaking literally here. I think we need a sustainable faith as vitally as we need sustainable energy to live and flourish and in the 21st century. I see “the Begin” as the eternal heart of the Godhead, dynamic hopes and triune dreams spilling out into “life’s rich demand.” Due to the kosmic redemption inherent in God’s reconciling work in Christ, we can tap into the primal mythology–that deeper magic–here and now. There is a rich repository of God’s All-in-all, well, everywhere, drenching us in gratuitous favor. Maybe we need a little “Martin Luther Zen”–recognizing the composting renaissance of Holy Spirit in our midst.

8 Responses to “Martin Luther Zen”

  1. 1 Frank September 2, 2007 at 3:33 am

    Ah, “S-Curve” and creative Counter Curve Modeling, one of my favorites! And I would add that God works in BOTH evolutionary and disruptive change (the complexity of God in comparison to the contemporary image of a linear or “simple” God), but it is in the emerging or innovative realities that we are able to participate in the creative process.

    I would also add that Canton is very (extremely) “pop,” so I would question the comment that “most” foresight analysts see such an early date for the exhaustion of present energy supplies. But this is the heart of complexity and interconnectedness of global issues. (Ex. Deforestation may be a greater culprit in global warming than fossil fuel emissions due to a lack of carbon “banking” – estimates say that we have only 53% of forests worldwide since the Industrial Revolution). Important issues to solve, and equally as fun to argue with you! 😉

  2. 2 Dave Blakeslee September 2, 2007 at 3:19 pm

    I like the video. Was it shot during the “Vote For Change” tour in 2004? It matches Eddie’s “look” from that tour, and Stipe’s “work to be done” rap at the end implies that this was a charity gig.

    Ideas and practices that aim to get us closer to God have a way of ossifying and turning stale over the course of time. Institutionalization, exploitation, familiarity and ennui all take their toll on even the most brilliant or intuitive formulations. This is one reason that I tend to keep my distance from most formalized religious expressions, especially those who seem highly intent on issuing definitive decrees or “once for all” encodings of The Truth. That is, I know, a rather dangerous stance in the view of many, but I think that view is perpetuated mainly by those who stand the most to lose if more people draw conclusions similar to mine.

    That doesn’t mean abandon spirituality or even give up faith, worship, involvement, etc. but I think it does imply a degree of looseness and tentativeness in our grip on dogmas and beliefs, if one can allow oneself to be comfortable in this more open posture on concerns that are often presented as mandatory and non-negotiable.

    • 3 Grote October 1, 2012 at 12:49 am

      Yes. Verizon center, WDC. 10/8

      REM, Pearl Jam, Dave Matthews, Springsteen, oh, and 12 other REALLY good mid-popular bands. The only thing missing was (maybe) U2

      Too young for Woodstock. This concert was the standard by which I measure all others

  3. 4 zoecarnate September 4, 2007 at 4:36 am

    Frank, I don’t wanna even attempt to debate futures with you for at least another year–maybe then I’ll put up a decent fight before you (richard?)slaughter me!

    And Dave, I think you’re right, re: a charity tour. And it sounds like you’d know more than I just when it was! And I agree; Truth is dynamic, and a Person to boot. More like chasing the Wild Goose than tablets of stone.

  4. 5 Kiril Petkov September 2, 2011 at 5:15 pm


  5. 6 What is car pollution July 8, 2013 at 6:37 pm

    I simply could not depart your web site prior to suggesting that I really enjoyed the usual
    information an individual provide on your guests? Is going to be back steadily to
    inspect new posts

  6. 7 เช็คพัสดุ ems ถึงไหนแล้ว ไปรษณีย์ไทย ems เช็ค  February 24, 2018 at 8:24 am

    I’m amazed, I must say. Rarely do I encounter a blog that’s equally educative and amusing,
    and let me tell you, you’ve hit the nail on the
    head. The problem is something that not enough people
    are speaking intelligently about. Now i’m very happy that I found this in my
    hunt for something regarding this.

  1. 1 Yoga in Lent: Reclaiming the Mission Part I — One Lawyer's Mission Trackback on February 20, 2015 at 10:11 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Check Out This Free Book Club


Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.

Abolish Slavery – Join the Movement Today!

  • Friend of Emergent Village

    My Writings: Varied and Sundry Pieces Online

    Illumination and Darkness: An Anne Rice Feature from Burnside Writer's Collective
    Shadows & Light: An Anne Rice Interview in MP3 format from Relevant Magazine
    God's Ultimate Passion: A Trinity of Frank Viola interview on Next Wave: Part I, Part II, Part III
    Review: Furious Pursuit by Tim King, from The Ooze
    Church Planting Chat from Next-Wave
    Review: Untold Story of the New Testament Church by Frank Viola, from Next-Wave


    %d bloggers like this: