Becoming The Things We Hate: Deconstituting The Poor

“Status is important sociologically because it comes with a set of rights, obligations, behaviors, and duties that people occupying a certain position are expected or encouraged to perform”

Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

We are the very brands we buy. What we buy into, whether it be Gap, Gucci, Wal-Mart, Asda, or even groceries, we become the very things we buy. In fact, as we buy them they buy us. Our society is one big semiotic after the other. Our cities, our churches, our relationships are always a symbol of something else.

We find ourselves in the symbols we choose.

Who we choose to be will also tell us a lot about what symbols we attach ourselves to. Jesus seems to be dealing with this very issue when he starts one of his narratives about the rich, the poor and food. Three of our great loves as people.

It seems as if Jesus is inviting his listeners a new way to define the way we see ourselves. It’s as if we should reverse our idealism. Idealism tends to embrace an objectified perfected state based on a culturally identified locus. For example, for some Americans the ‘American Dream’ is the objectified ideological end that is meant to bring a sustained happiness. Jesus seems to be denying that, he seems to endorse a paradigm that reverse’s the whole ethica foundation of what the American Dream stands for.

Ideologically Jesus is challenging us to come to a place where we willingly deconstitute our own metaphysics. Where we come to realize that our idealized notions of perfection, heaven, shangri-la, although well-intentioned, leads us into the deepest despair. Why despair? Because in the parable if you invite others over and they know you and they respond by inviting you to come to a future house party, you have gained nothing. The poor become a social semiotic of itself, but is meant to be a mirror to our potential. We are meant to give up the very things we find ourselves hording.

There is not reciprocity.

Jesus is speaking of a reverse reciprocity where when we give up the very things we think we need to be closest to us, the ideas we know the best, we are then truly blessed or changed by the exchange.

Our meaningfulness is found in the fullness of our deconstitution. We must be willing to negate the very things that bring us status to find the meaning we seek. Our deconstitution is found in the reconstitution of our actions.

We must become the very things that are socially despised to be considered righteous.

One Rabbi defines righteousness as ‘being who you are meant to be’; when we become the symbols we are so indoctrinated not to become, we then find who we are meant to be.

How we treat one another will tell us a lot about ourselves.

We we enter into Hegel’s Night of the World or St. John’s Dark Night of the Soul we will then find all the things true about us. When we step away from the things we think we know, and are willing to question the things we think we believe we then come to a place where the who of who we are no longer cries out through our existential angst. This does mean we must intentionally deconstitute all of the all the things we think we are and have come to believe about ourselves to discover who we are meant to be.

It is in this nothingness that we find ourselves.

I am not speaking of the depressing space of nihilism. I am speaking of the things that under the guise of status strip of us the identity we long for. We need to welcome in those things that will force us into identity-poverty. All of these things have stolen who we are and who we think we should be. We look to everything around us, and out of these sights we pick and choose things we personally identify with and throw the ones we don’t like away.

This is a constitution. These are things like status and identity. We must give these things up.The poor in this culture were the very representation of nothing in terms of social status. The poor were outsiders, dirty, perverse, status-less, insignificant. Jesus says we wil find ourselves when we choose this. When we bring them into the most intimate places of our being we then can dine with the us beyond us.

Also, I think its also important to notice that Jesus is endorsing a plurality of guests. From different backgrounds, belief systems, ethics and paradigms. Later in the parable he widens the geographic space from in the town where the poor would have been and then says out of the towns where the sojourners, vagabonds, non-Jewish, Pagans, and many more dwell. They weren’t the popular one’s.

It doesn’t seem like Jesus is a big fan of fads, this is why we can’t easily agree to things that look like fads, either personally or corporately. We must be willing to challenge the very fads that come our way.

Fads aren’t cool.

I think this also demonstrates that our ontological experiences have a plurality of outcomes. In fact, if I measure my life by yours or vice versa, then I making you my Big Other. The Big Other can be the Law, Society, Truth, Religion, and even peers. We an objectify the person next to us, and it seems like this parable shows us to do so would be the most dangerous place we could find ourselves. That by inviting plurality into our lives we also invite a deeper more comprehensive view of God into our lives.

About George Elerick

George Elerick is a widely sought-after speaker, activist and cultural theorist. He lives in England with his wife and two children. He and his wife run Cross Culture Consultancy (http://www.crosscultureconsultancy.com): A webinar & in-person speaking-based platform to discuss, apply & innovate new methods to respond to some of the world's biggest issues.

George majors on cultural engagement, pop-culture, postmodernism, theology & others. Deborah majors on human rights, gender equality,domestic violence, social justice issues and more. They are available for booking! He has a book out entitled 'Jesus Bootlegged' and has another on the way: Jesus and the Death of Church.


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