Psalm 103: 1-5 Bless God, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless God’s holy Name. Bless God, O my soul, and forget not all God’s benefits. God forgives all your sins and heals all your infirmities; God redeems your life from the grave and crowns you with mercy and loving-kindness; God satisfies you with good things, and your youth is renewed like an eagle’s.
Blow the trumpet in Zion;
sound the alarm on my holy mountain!
Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble,
for the day of God is coming, it is near–
a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and thick darkness!
Like [darkness] spread upon the mountains
a great and powerful army comes;
their like has never been from of old,
nor will be again after them
in ages to come.
Joel begins his prophecy speaking of doom. The ever-present feeling of a storm cloud hovering somewhere over and above, out of sight, unable to be touched, deep in uncertainty, it floats just beyond the periphery of awareness and intuition. It’s there…I think… Our world seems thrust into a void of ground-opened-up-beneath-our-feet; nothing is certain so nothing is certain. How did we get to the peripheral of doom? I might be able to point to a myriad of ideologies and concepts that have rent asunder our communion and community; but I’m not sure those are the only things to blame. There’s no monolithic like the ones promoted by pundits and political candidates. Going backwards won’t stave off that doom cloud; ignoring it is never the answer; rolling over and just acquiescing…this is the way it’s always been, *shrug… Is this what freedom and bravery look like?
I think part of that doom cloud is our own doing. We’ve spent too long in the realm of suspicion and skepticism; stripping back everything leaves us with nothing. Don’t get me wrong, the post-modern gift of suspicion and skepticism gave us liberation to question everything and the audacity to refuse blind trust. We’ve stripped back stories and myths, tradition and ritual, authority and expertise, normativity and expectation in the pursuit of authenticity, truth, love, and liberation. We’ve transcended prohibitions that controlled us; we’ve gone as far as to imagine existence without the threat and promises of God and God’s judgment relegating human beings to this or that afterlife. We’ve even attempted to live in the absurdity of life without the justification of divine purpose and predetermination.
Suspicion allowed us to strip back and question many things that needed and need to be questioned, but it hasn’t replaced what it took. Finding out everything is a lie is not the same as being given truth. Realizing the ground under your feet is an illusion, doesn’t mean you are now standing on firm ground. Humanity can’t live sola suspicio (on suspicion alone); it’s a great location for a vacation, but no one can live there forever. If we only have skepticism then we only have destruction, and if only destruction then we have despair and death. In desperation to sooth, we cling to whatever we can touch and feel, see and taste, convinced it’s the only thing we can grab on to in order to locate stability in a world seeming like a freefall into an endless void.
Blow the trumpet in Zion;
sanctify a fast;
call a solemn assembly;
gather the people.
Sanctify the congregation;
assemble the aged;
gather the children,
even infants at the breast.
Let the bridegroom leave his room,
and the bride her canopy.
Joel declares a summons. Sound the trumpet! Do something to alert the people to the doom cloud rollin’ in. Get the attention of the people! They’ve grown numb; they’ve grown desperate in their hunger, the aftermath of sola suspicio. I know it may sound odd to make this claim, but I think we’re hungry. Hunger takes many forms. I think on an existential level—a level that incorporates our entire being, spirit and body—we’re famished, desperately hungry.
As people, as Christians, as a society, as a nation, we’re so hungry that any sustenance will do, no matter how malnourishing it is. The rate at which we consume is mind blowing. And we consume in the technical definition of the word: until there’s nothing left. Our planet is falling apart under our feet and above our heads because we can’t control how much and how fast we consume. We consume people and relationships; only staying with them while they serve us and our obscure pursuit of happiness and comfort. We consume to numb the pain and discomfort of the doom cloud beginning to obscure our peripheral vision. Whether it’s full seasons on Netflix, substances altering our minds, purchasing clothes, phones, cars, houses—whatever—we’re trapped in a cycle of take and eat, never slowing down enough to see and know that what we have in our hands is precious, of the earth, of labor, of goodness. The modern dictum of Rene Descartes has run its course; no longer is it, “I think therefore I am”. Rather it’s, “‘I consume, therefore I am.’” 
But it’s not enough, I need more
Nothing seems to satisfy
I said I don’t want it, I just need it
To breathe, to feel, to know I’m alive
There’s something kinda sad about
The way that things have come to be
Desensitized to everything
What became of subtlety?
How can this mean anything to me
If I really don’t feel anything at all?
I’ll keep digging
‘Til I feel something
As a means to stave of the despair and dread of doom, we consume people and things. Everyone and everything have a function and purpose as a means to my end. Consumption is a new hallmark characteristic of our post-modern/post-enlightenment existence. The irony? It’s all been in the name of the liberation of the self from the tyranny of mythology, angry divinity, and religious captivity, but the self is now found imprisoned to new despots and tyrants: fear, anxiety, loss, sola suspicio. We’ve not gained ourselves; we’ve lost ourselves. The self can’t exist in the vacuum created by suspicion’s consummation with consumption. Nothing is the only end goal here. Needing more and more, digging deeper and deeper, there is less and less ground to stand on, fewer and fewer people and things with which to be in living and true relationship.Skeptical until there is nothing to lean back on; consuming until there is nothing left, we end up isolated and alienated from ourselves and from others. And we find ourselves inching closer and closer to destruction.
Let the priests who minister before God
weep between the portico and the altar,
saying, “Spare Your people, Abba God,
and do not make Your heritage a reproach,
an object of scorn among the nations.
Why should they say among the peoples,
‘Where is their God?’”
Joel returns to summoning, this time calling on the priests of God. Pray for your people! Pray for God’s beloved! This one is inching precariously close to the precipice of death! Joel is aware that of their own power the people cannot disentangle themselves from the threatening doom cloud rollin’ in. They’re desperate, they do not feel the firm ground under their feet, they are not secure, they are not assured; tumult and chaos rule the day, anger and fear the emotions du jour. Skepticism and suspicion have brought them so far but have dropped them off on the side of the road, cold and wet, thirsty and hungry. Whither is God!? the prophets cry out. Is this all? Have we been abandoned to the pit and the void of skepticism and consumption? Where is God? Where is life? Where is love? Where is comfort? Where is hope? Where is liberation?
It is time to put a boundary around how far skepticism and suspicion take us. It is time to realize and feel our hunger. We must stop and take a moment and feel the discomfort of our hunger pangs, we must feel the loss, grieve the pain, suffer the injustices, and grow alert, becoming more and more aware…
…we are hungry for stability
…we are hungry for identity
…we are hungry for relationality
…we are hungry for community
…we are hungry for solidarity
We must become aware that we are hungry for unconditional love, resurrected life, and present liberation; we must become aware that we are hungering after God…
Yet even now, says God,
return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
rend your hearts and not your clothing.
Return to God, your God,
for God is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love,
and relents from punishing.
Who knows whether God will not turn and relent,
and leave a blessing behind God,
a grain offering and a drink offering
for God, your God.
 “Hermeneutics of Suspicion” ala Marx, Freud, Nietzsche, Camus, Sartre, Heidegger etc.
 I’m in fluenced here by the work and life of Dorothee Sölle in her memoire Against the Wind, specifically the chapter “Suspended in Nothingness” p.13.
 “The motto of the postmodern world and life therein may well be, ‘I consume, therefore I am.’ The artificial of creation of needs is an essential component of economic life; the countermodel of ‘live simply so that others may simply live’ is denigrated as sheer romanticism. We are further removed than ever before from an economy that sustains subsistence and is not hounded by progress. To be ‘over-choiced’ with thirty different kinds of bread does indeed develop the shopper’s awareness of differentiation and sense of taste. However, from the ego that is becoming dependent on such a surplus of choice, it also takes away the time and energy for other life pursuits. The ego is diverted and, with the help of the world of consumer goods, ‘turned in on itself’ (homo incurvatus in se ipsum), as the tradition used to depict the sinner.” Dorothee Sölle, The Silent Cry, 212-213.
 Tool “Stinkfist” written by: Paul D’amour, Daniel Carey, Maynard Keenan, Adam Jones. Ænima. 1996.
 “He who makes use of another person as a means of achieving his own ends not only humiliates that person but also degrades himself. To treat another person as if she were a thing is to become a thing oneself, a servant to the functioning of the very ‘thing’ being manipulated. By demanding sacrifice, such a person destroys his own freedom. As the one in control he becomes the one controlled. In alienating others from that which they wish to be and can become, he alienates himself. Because he concentrates on domination, on employing others as means to his own ends, he loses all the other possibilities open to him. For example, he no attention to anything that does not fit his purpose. He loses the ability to enjoy living because he must constantly reinforce his life by accomplishments relationship between people is so interdependent that it is impossible for one person to prosper at the expense of another. In the long run such exploitation proves detrimental to both.” Dorothee Sölle, Beyond Mere Obedience, 34-35.
 “I need to ground heaven on earth. (Den Himmel erden!) The best ally in this crazy enterprise that we sometimes call “faith” I find in the Bible. The book tells me the story of God’s covenant with us under realistic conditions.” (p. x) and, “In order to dialogue with the Word of God, the praxis of the prophets and Jesus, we need the clearest understanding of our own praxis. When we delve deep enough into our own situation, we will reach a point where theological reflection becomes necessary. We then have to “theologize the given situation. We read the context (steps 1 and 2) until it cries out tor theology. The only way to reach this point at which we become aware of our need for prayer, for hope, for stories of people who have been liberated, is to go deeply enough into our own sociohistorical context. The theologian will discover the inner necessity of theology in a I C given situation and its potential for unfolding theological meaning. We have to reach this point of no return where we will know new that we do need God. This is the basis of doing theology, but the only way to come to this point is worldly analysis of our situation.” p. xi Dorothee Sölle, On Earth as in Heaven.
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