David Ker’s Christ

I don’t want to call this a tagmemic analysis.
But (you could say) it is.
And didn’t really want to entitle my post “David Ker’s Christ.”
It could’ve just as easily been called, “The Lovely Heap,” or “Stepping Into That River of Heraclitus,” or “A Pro-Lifer Foetus,” or “Nother dying come home father.”

To talk about somebody else’s talk about anything, especially what rubs him or her the wrong way, is rather dicey. Nevertheless, it may be worth the risk. David entitles his most recent lingamish blogpost, “The Gospel rubs me the wrong way.” Notice his variant phrases and even clauses for “The Gospel”:

“The teachings of Christ”; “His teachings”; “Corinthians 13 and Philippians 2 and Romans 12 and Matthew 5-7”; “to be patient and kind”; “to consider others more important than ourselves”; and “that the path to exaltation passes through humility.”

And those are just in the first paragraph. Now notice David’s variants for “Christ”:

masculine third-person personal pronouns such as “He” and “His,” always capitalized; “Jesus himself”; “the Evangel”; “‘Jesus'”; and “The Great Messiah.”

What is it, this “Christ” of Ker’s? The synonyms and appositives and pronouns and adjectivally modified noun phrases begin to help us. But for a more accurate description of what it is (that is, what this “Christ” of Ker’s is), we might do well to read more of Ker’s writing, to listen into the conversations around his post.  Bob MacDonald, the first to comment on Ker’s post, for example, plays off of Ker’s (rhetorical) question, “In practical terms can Christian piety thrive without the cross?”  We get the sense that Bob is an insider to David’s talk, understanding that “Christian piety” IS “the Gospel” and that “the cross” IS part and parcel of “Christ.”  At any rate, not much of David’s talk is the kind of “natural English” that his co-bloggers at Better Bibles Blog often call for in better translations of the Bible.  It’s what they call Biblish, or what you might call Christianese.  So the second commenter, Codepoke, suggests that David IS one N. T. Wright, advising that David’s being “rubbed the wrong way” IS in N. T. “exactly the frustrations [David is] expressing, though in a very differently flavored way.”

If, then, we go to the David Ker corpus, the lingamish body of words, we begin to get what David Ker’s Christ IS not. Try his talk in his posts “The Bible is not the Gospel” and “What to do with the vengeance of the Old Testament? Skip it.” What you see is that Ker is not in the least talking like one David Rosenberg, who writes the following:

Every word and action of Jesus’ life is an echo of the Hebrew Bible–and not least, the concept of Messiah. (on page 214 of An Educated Man: A Dual Biography of Moses and Jesus).

David Ker’s “Christ” is not really the Messiah of the Hebrew Bible, not the Jesus whose life is an echo of the Hebrew Bible, in word and in deed.  So we get the sense that David Ker’s “Christ” or even “The Great Messiah” of his would not talk the same way as David Rosenberg’s “Messiah.”

This post of mine has been about talk.  It’s about talked-about reality.  The thing is with talk that we use it, often, to mark what is and what isn’t.

My wife, for instance, texted me today, just the word, “Heap.”  So I wrote her back to ask, What IS heap.  Now, to my mind, a grain is not a heap.  Nor are two grains or three or six.  But seven grains might make a heap, and seventy surely would.  A heap is a pile of seventy grains.  But my wife said, “It means I love u”; and I love that!  Heap IS how she loves me, some seventy grains and maybe more.  The Lovely Heap.

And Plato’s Heraclitus (i.e., the Heraclitus he has his Socrates quoting) talks like this:   “δὶς ἐς τὸν αὐτὸν ποταμὸν οὐκ ἂν ἐμβαίης.” Which IS exactly the same as saying “you cannot step twice into the same stream.” So I say this whole little episode, even with the English translation by Harold N. Fowler from 1921, IS, in 2010, just “Stepping Into That River of Heraclitus.”

“A Pro-Lifer Foetus” IS a human baby, albeit unborn, and undefined by many Pro-Choicers as necessarily viable. And “Nother dying come home father” IS meaningful and literary even though in that context is it NOT; rather, in the context of the characters of James Joyce’s Ulysses , it IS a typo on an telegraph. The character Leopold Bloom says it IS a “tell a graphic lie.” It really IS “mother is dying.” Talked-about reality really is something. So IS David Ker’s Christ.

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13 responses to “David Ker’s Christ

  1. Wonderbar. I love lovers of language.

  2. John Radcliffe

    Hi JK,

    I was going to say, “It’s good to see you back”, but can you go back to somewhere you’ve never been before? However, if you’re no longer over there (with Aristotle), it’s nice to see you over here (with whoever).

    Fortunately by now I’m used to not understanding (all of) what you’re talking about (or as my father used to say, “I don’t understand what you’re saying, but I like the way you say it”).

    I look forward to seeing how things go.

  3. David,
    I loved your title (and then it changed). Qual é a diferença, e por quê?

    John,
    It’s good to hear from you (and what your father used to say too). I bet Aristotle may find his way over here (pretending understanding) from time to time. I’m not wanting to take so much time with blogging this time. I’m sure I don’t have so much to say. But your comments will keep me going more!

  4. I needed to give my Cyber-Psalm series a jolt. The title is still there as the first line and either URL will get you to that post.

  5. Sometimes your writings are too obscure.

  6. David,
    Good series; nice jolt to it too.

    Dannii,
    Somehow, I’m not sure I should take that as a compliment, coming from you. This post was definitely one for tagmemics insiders. Sometime perhaps, I’ll just try to make it less obscure to others. Did you understand David’s post? Was it clearer when he retitled it?

  7. It wasn’t meant as a compliment, but then neither was it not meant as a compliment…
    Honestly what I’m struggling with is why you wrote it. Usually I like your self-annotating dialogues, but this one left me lost.

  8. I’m struggling with is why you wrote it. Usually I like your self-annotating dialogues, but

    Since you’re being a bit obscure yourself, Dannii, let me make a guess: It is that “Christ” is too sacred a term for you? Could it be that my considering how David constructs it “leaves you lost”? What exactly is rubbing you the wrong way? Does it help you that I think David’s decision to retitle his post after I wrote mine is very important? Are you left lost only by what I wrote and not by his changing “The Gospel rubs me the wrong way” to “Cyber-Psalm 95”? (Again, I’m happy to try to make what I wrote a little less obscure to you. Please be a little less obscure about what you’re struggling with, how my post has left you lost.)

  9. Mostly it’s that I’m struggling to see how the end relates to the beginning and the middle, especially your last two paragraphs.

    I don’t really see any great significance with David changing his post’s title, but that’s not important.

  10. Dannii,
    Thanks for specifying! The last three paragraphs of my post were postscripts, if you will. I was musing about a few things that are talked-about things: things that are mainly organized in the minds of speakers of English, such as grains and heaps of grain, and flowing rivers and translations, and fetuses and babies and abortion rhetorics as well as literary ambiguities with wordplays of consequence.

    This is exactly what David is doing by saying that “the gospel” is something, or that “Christ” means something to him. He’s using language to hold conceptions in his mind, to talk about reality. What the “gospel” is and is not, and what “Christ” is and is not, to David Ker is not the same reality as to David Rosenberg. Language makes the difference in the respective psychological reality of the two Davids. The variants of “Christ” that the one David allows the other David rejects.

    David Ker confesses that he changed the title to give his Cyber-Psalms series a boost. But, for most of his readers, and I’d guess for most readers of English in general, this is significant. To class his post as a “psalm” is to give it variability, in the mind of most English readers, that a ranting post on what rubs him the wrong way lacks. “The Gospel Rubs Me the Wrong Way,” is rather provocative, is part of a ranting but daring genre. “Psalm” is something much more benign, more more forgiving, much more welcoming of various perspectives and interpretations and modalities. See what I mean? You end by saying, “but that’s not important.” You are, of course, in using that language, the judge of that reality.

  11. Maybe you could delineate your postscripts a little more in the future 😉

  12. Hi Kurk – I am still catching up on your new location.

    But about ‘Christ’ and male pronouns etc. Words says Hamlet – but they abbreviate real creation… Is Jesus all of Christ? Is every anointing Jesus? Is the anointing that teaches (1 John somewhere) of the Son or of the Spirit or – as they say in Sunday School, of Jesus – since is the answer to every question.

    What if the work of the Son to whom the Father gave the Spirit without measure is begun on day 1 – the only day – creation and redemption rolled into 1?

    What if woman is also anointed? Is her anointing outside of the male Trinity?

    What if the S(s)on called out of Egypt is more than a solo male – not good alone?

    Alas too many questions – but tease apart the Trinity more. (Richard Beck has an interesting pair of posts on this subject.)

  13. Welcome over here, Bob! You say:

    Words says Hamlet.

    “Words, words, words,” he said. And he said in that moment of privacy (on stage for all the world to hear):

    Why what an ass am I ! This is most brave,
    That I, the son of a dear father murder’d,
    Prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell,
    Must, like a whore, unpack my heart with words,
    And fall a cursing like a very drab,
    A scullion!

    And “Shakespeare” wrote those words too.

    Bob, You may get me wanting to write more on “Christ,” the word.

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