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The Curious Case of idou: Discipleship as Justice-seeking Beholding

“Seek into the beholding…”—Julian of Norwich
“Don’t think, but look!” —Ludwig Wittgenstein

In his classic The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes that, “When Christ calls a man [sic], he bids him come and die” (87).  As Christians, we are called to a life of discipleship, of dying to self and learning to follow Jesus as Lord. Each of the Gospels offers us a distinct, and integral, picture of what form that discipleship might take. Markan disciples, for example, are easily recognizable as the ones who consistently do not recognize Jesus. They are, in the language of the day, a little slow on the uptake, always a day late and a dollar short. Matthean disciples, by contrast, appear more sure-footed, confident, upbeat, and seemingly free of the chronic, benighted confusion that plagues the disciples in Mark’s Gospel. But what of discipleship in Luke? How does Jesus’ call to “follow me” manifest itself in this most literary of the synoptics? As the “gospel of the poor,” Luke’…

Sermon Mark 12:38-44

One fine day in April of 1872, Gerard Manley Hopkins hypnotized a duck. Hopkins, you remember, is the prone-to-scruples 19th century High Church Anglican-turned-Jesuit poet and author of such memorable poems as “Pied Beauty”—“Glory to God for dappled things”—and “God’s Grandeur”—“the world is charged with the grandeur of God/It will flame out like lightning from shook foil.” As a close observer of the splendors of creation, Hopkins was deeply concerned with the process of perception. Why is it that sometimes the world seems charged with God, and other times seems lifeless and dead? Why do we feel God’s presence so strongly one day, and sense only God’s absence on others? One way Hopkins answers that question is by examining how enslaved our perception is to habit. And that’s where the duck comes in. On that day in April 1872, Hopkins conducted a rather strange, proto-Pavlovian experiment. He held a duck by the neck with one hand and drew parallel chalk lines on the table in front of…