Tuesday 21 July 2009

Tamla Motown,Norman Grubb and Franz Kafka part 2

So that's where things were in 1990. I'd done a load of tracks of Early Harvest CD1 already and in 1989 I'd produced the tape message I'm now calling "Third Level Christianity - Recorded Live before a Future Audience", both of which contain just about...just about, but not quite...what you have been reading here so far.


Now one of the most intriguing authors writing in German that I'd read on my Exeter German course was Franz Kafka. Both Christine and I had tried for Cambridge University and for different reasons did not quite make it. For my part,I'd had an interview with a Professor, who discussed the themes in Kafka. Not quite understanding the principle of "cut and thrust" in Cambridge argument, I'd done what I thought was the Christian thing and simply agreed with the Professor whenever he'd made a good point. Hmmm....this "Christian" stuff is not always the way to go...which is why you read in Ecclesiastes..."Do not be overly religious or pious". This simply means now in third level lingo that you have to do what Christ is doing through you at any point. Sometimes it's shouting, sometimes it's being quiet....it's not a religion...it's following the Person who lives within you.

So while on the one hand, Kafka cost me Cambridge, I have to say that many of his little stories have grown in meaning as the years have passed by. Such that on my early Harvest CD alone are two references.
Most people know him by the phrase "Kafkaesque", which refers to things like bureaucratic impenetrability, to purposes being frustrated, to distant authority figures changing your fate with a flick of their fingers....etc etc...

And apparently, bookshelves in university libraries bow under the weight of the tomes which try to delve into the possible meanings of his short stories, sayings and novels.The Cambridge Professor told me that there was even a Marxist version that sought to explain imagery in terms of the Communist Dialectic. Certainly Kafka's work was pretty concurrent with the works of Sigmund Freud, and the Movement known as Expressionism. Edvard Munch's "The Scream"is probably one of the best known paintings of the period.

The irony is this. Kafka takes on more meaning ,not less,the further we delve into Third Level living. Please understand that I am not according this secular Jew the status of scripture, but what I am saying is that secular professors of leading universities who have gained their positions by left-brain fact collecting, find themselves stalling at some of Kafka's writings particularly for just this reason.

He is writing, in part at least, about spirit.

About the internal workings of a human being, which Freud had tried to reduce to mere animal leanings. What I am saying is this: If you have asked Jesus into your heart, which is probably the most anti-Cambridge sentence for a start....but if you have...then you will understand one thing immediately about Kafka, that a billion professors feted on every side in all the universities, yet won't have a clue about...not one scrap of a clue...because they have spent their lives living the opposite in the English gravy train...

It is this. At least one thick strand of Kafka is the graphic external depiction of the inward reality of intercession. Of labouring to see something created. Something come into being. Yes, in the manner of an artist, I think Cambridge has twigged that one. But more than that, he describes the spirit processes that are in fact too deep for words. The Romans 8 groans that really only come to the fore once people are baptized in the Spirit, and/ or speak in other tongues mysteries to God.

The very instant you ask Jesus into your life you are involved. You are involved with the centre of history. The plan of the ages, which is the ever unfolding revelation of Jesus Christ in flesh.

You begin to die. So you may live.And in your deaths,(your many death experiences) you co-labour with Christ to form something here on earth out of that which is unseen.

The poor Christian. He hasn't a clue what's going on in him. There's scarcely a church that will warn him, or that can even articulate what the poor guy just did in the crusade at the altar rail.

So poor is our understanding in this country, that many a young toddler in Christ is prayed with for 5 minutes, given a Bible and maybe some other simple literature, then told to go to church each week. Nearly nobody knows that that new believer has just done a thing not too different from Mary when Gabriel came to visit her, and she simply acquiesced with the faith words "Be it unto me according to Your Word." So there she was, with Jesus growing inside her. And this is what now happens to the new believer, if those dreadful English Christians don't get to him or her first.
(Who out there thinks that I have little time for Christians in this country?)

So for me these next examples explain perfectly what it's been like trying to get the third level message out, to churches either drunk on their supernatural gifting or praise, or churches that have retreated snail-like into their shells of English cynicism and disappointment when the initial headlong rush into church building and training young people just didn't go according to plan. This isn't like Bob Mumford or Ern Baxter said!
The First is a story by Kafka, the second is John Stevens' Motown example which he sent through in today's email.


A Message from the Emperor - Franz Kafka

out of Wedding Preparations In the Country.

The Emperor – so the story goes – has sent a message to you, the lone individual, the meanest of his subjects, the shadow that has fled before the Imperial sun until it is microscopic in the remotest distance, just to you has the Emperor sent a message from his death-bed. He made the messenger kneel by his bed and whispered the message into his ear; he felt it to be so important that he made the man repeat it into his own ear. With a nod of the head he confirmed that the repetition was accurate. And then, before the whole retinue gathered to witness his death – all the walls blocking the view had been broken down and on the wide high curve of the open stairway stood the notables of the Empire in a circle – before them all he empowered the messenger to go. The messenger set off at once; a robust, an indefatigable man; thrusting out now one arm, now the other, he forces his way through the crowd; where he finds obstacles he points to the sign of the sun on his breast; he gets through easily, too, as no one else could. Yet the throng is so numerous; there is no end to their dwelling-places. If he only had a free field before him, how he would run, and soon enough you would hear the glorious tattoo of his fists on your door. But in­stead of that, how vain are his efforts; he is still forcing his way through the chambers of the innermost palace; he will never get to the end of them; and even if he did, he would be no better off; he would have to fight his way down the stairs; and even if he did that, he would be no better off; he would still have to get through the courtyards; and after the courtyards, the second outer palace en­closing the first; and more stairways and more courtyards; and still another palace; and so on for thousands of years; and did he finally dash through the outermost gate – but that will never, never happen – he would still have the capital city before him, the centre of the world, overflowing with the dregs of humanity. No one can force a way through that, least of all with a message from a dead man. But you sit by your window and dream it all true, when evening falls.


Half poetry, half dream it justs ends there in the futility of it all...or is it a dream of hope? But whatever, this is what it feels like when nobody wants to know, and worse than that,because of their own non-reception, they begin to call into question your function in the earth. Cheek!So what exactly do you do?they ask peremptorily. Well errrrm. I guess I'm errrrrm a piano tuner then!!!!(Secretly mouthing into my cupped hands.....well until about the time that you realise that I gave up the idea of leading Exeter University CU as President, gave up the entire course at university which I was very good at, then gave up any idea of functioning in leadership in some middle-ranking housechurch network because I could see if we couldn't even produce more than the merest handful of marriages that lasted longer than about 5 years, what in heaven's name was the value of the gospel training we were giving to young people! There had to be more!!!! It no way, no way resembled anything in the New Testament. And ofcourse through my own failures I discovered there was a whole lot more- But nobody- nobody - nobody- wants to know- or even cares.....) So yes I'm a piano tuner. Good day to you brother (smile sweetly).


John Stevens email on Tamla Motown and Norman Grubb

Interesting couple of hours yesterday evening. Popped onto facebook and discovered your (fairly prolific!) additions. I read the Norman Grubb piece and found myself shouting Amen! I almost pinged you an email a few weeks ago about one-ness but couldn't quite get it organised on the page and busyness bubbled up. But I needn't have bothered. It's been rumbled before by Norman Grubb. Also greatly enjoyed your little paragraph about what the kingdom looks like from the inside and the outside.(ACW-Inside the Kingdom looks like this: you ask Jesus into your heart. On the outside the Kingdoom looks like this: it is built in the second mile by people who are lame but are getting healed. It is financed by widow's mites, after the bailiffs have already left! And it is all held together by a Cornerstone that has already been trampled underfoot and considered useless by every single nation on earth. Ready to join? )Don't know about you but I probably would have read that a few years ago and scratched my head but that was the second Amen of the evening. So I was warming up. The finishing uppercut came in the form of an excellent programme about Tamla Motown! I hadn't realised that Stevie Wonder, the Supremes, The Miracles all shared the same bus and travelled around Britain performing to half empty halls in London, Bristol, Manchester etc etc in 1962 ish. And that Motown had become the principle influence on The Beatles and to some extent the Stones. So there they were. Wonder was 19. They were the real deal. Sharp suits. Close harmonies. Stage step routines. The beat. The song writing. It was all perfected in 1962 and yet black artists were not shown on TV and only Radio Luxembourg played Motown. In the States even in Chicago they suffered opposition and in the South they were shot at and banned. But all the time the msic kept coming and the audience kept growing. The pressure behind the dam and building until in 1966 Motown artists shared number one slots alternately with the Beatles for a while. Epstien made a few introductions, Dusty Springfield bravely hosted the touring Motown artists on TV and the dam burst. From walking in and out barely noticed they spent the '66 tour escaping the venues in the back of ambulances. One could argue that the breakthrough came 1959/60 when the foundations were laid well off-stage. The actual visible breakthrough came later. Think you can sense the parallels I'm alluding to? John

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