I have written in my blog earlier about how we can read the Bible from the bottom up, no longer from the perspective of power and wealth but from the perspective of poverty and weakness (on a downward mobility in the tradition of Jean Vanier).
Walter Brueggemann, one of the most respective authorities on Old Testament, has provided another way to read the Bible from the bottom up, through the power of narratives (in his book Truth Speaks to Power).
We have a long and stringent tradition in the evangelical circles not to draw teachings or doctrines from stories, which unfortunately are where the poor usually draw their power from.
The bible stories are just that, merely stories. The book of Acts (Acts of the Apostles) has suffered the most from this requirement and for all my growing up years, the stand down warning has been atop the doorway to Acts – do not draw doctrines from this book!!!!
Another authority this time, on the New Testament (the epistles especially), Bishop N. T. Wright, said, evangelicals tend to jump directly to the epistles and skip the Gospels entirely, when they read the Bible. They want to get to the propositional truths and to draw out doctrines, which are not available in the stories, and as a result, most stories in the Bible now lie dormant and useless. They are only good for Sunday school classes for children.
Brueggemann noted that it is narrative that has power to inspire and move and initiate history as far as the poor are concerned and the Bible knows it.
Psalm 78 says
1My people, hear my teaching;
listen to the words of my mouth.
2I will open my mouth with a parable;
I will utter hidden things, things from of old—
3things we have heard and known,
things our ancestors have told us.
4We will not hide them from their descendants;
we will tell the next generation
the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord,
his power, and the wonders he has done.
5He decreed statutes for Jacob
and established the law in Israel,
which he commanded our ancestors
to teach their children,
6so the next generation would know them,
even the children yet to be born,
and they in turn would tell their children.
7Then they would put their trust in God
and would not forget his deeds
but would keep his commands.
8They would not be like their ancestors—
a stubborn and rebellious generation,
whose hearts were not loyal to God,
whose spirits were not faithful to him.
Stories are told in the Bible with a divine purpose, to be retold and reenacted, in order to display and show again the powerful actions of the hidden God in history, from generation to generation (meaning, stories are told again and again so each generation would not forget).
My most dramatic story (and there are many most dramatic) is the story of David as he searches for a piece of land to build the temple on. He comes to the place owned by Araunah who quickly, on realizing it was going to be used as the site of the temple, insisted that David take it for free:
But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen and paid fifty shekels of silver for them. 2 Samuel 24.24
This was a life-transforming story for me, to always give to God only what costs me something.
Brueggemann cites the dramatic story of the exodus in the time of Moses from Pharaoh:
1Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his officials so that I may perform these signs of mine among them 2that you may tell your children and grandchildren how I dealt harshly with the Egyptians and how I performed my signs among them, and that you may know that I am the Lord.”
I think the problem began with the wrong understanding of the passage and all similar passages about teaching the children and the next generation. Most Christians take the word children there literally so they say the stories are merely to be taught to small kids and not to adults.
The real purpose if the text is interpreted correctly was not to teach children merely but to teach the next generation, to ensure that these things were always remembered and understood (of course by the adults who were taught when they were young).
The poor do not have doctrines, only the rich do. The poor do not have propositional truths, only the learned do. The poor only have narratives.
Rich Christians have a monopoly of doctrines and when it comes who defining who are true christians, the rich can really use it to their advantage, like a weapon sometimes. Who is a Christian> In today’s churches, this is controlled and determined by the rich Christians who are mainly Cartesian (meaning, cognitive and objective, literate and rationale). A believer for them is one who knows by heart the doctrines of the church, the apostles creed and perhaps even the statement of faith unique to their church. Baptism becomes a series of hoops the candidate jumps through as tests to see if he is a real believer.
On the other hand, in the bible, once a person professes Christ, and wants to be baptised, he is baptised. There is no need for a six month baptismal class. In the former, baptism is a sign that the person has believed. In the latter, baptism is a test to show that the person is a real believer. Baptism in the rich Christian’s context are strong manipulative levers used to control people.
The poor usually are illiterate and so won’t even know the apostles creed or statement of faith. I was asked by a group of Chinese Christians from California who had come to visit our church in the Payatas dumpsite if the people in the building (we call a church, made up of materials collected from the dumpsite) were believers. I could not really answer because many Christians today say a true sign of a Christian is that he reads or “eats” the Word and most of these scavengers cannot read or are non-verbal.
The poor have stories though which make up for the lack of so-called signs of true re-birth. They have stories of perseverance in Christ despite extreme poverty. Some have real scary stories of near death experiences or persecution. It is this standing up for Jesus, stories about courage and faith, that show they are believers. Many in the slums show their faith through their giving. Since learning this, i have made it our mission definition of success, that the poor become not just receivers but also givers. The poor can easily attend bible studies or go to church on Sundays, even accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour as many times as you want. But with giving, it is a different story altogether. Only real Christian poor can give so much (more than the rich do if we count in percent, not amount).
Actually it is not just stories we are looking at. Brueggemann says it is stories, songs and oracles. For me it is stories, psalms, songs, poems and prayers. The poor may not remember all the doctrines and creeds but they can remember a hundred stories and more than a hundred songs. Psalms is the most quoted part of the Old Testament, quoted in the New Testament, perhaps for that reason, we can remember more when things are sang? And that is why Psalms is the most quoted because it is the most effective tool for teaching the Bible?
N. T Wright wrote a book on the psalms (2013) where he argued that it is really the psalms (used in the right way) which is the most effective tool for discipleship. He cited the recitation of the psalms in the liturgy over many generations that has created the greatest impact in our spirituality.
Used in the wrong way, evangelicals today approach the psalms like the rest of Scripture, as a tool for transforming the mind. This is part of the Cartesian bias which sees people are merely rational or cognitive. Evangelicals feel the only thing they want to change or the most important part of the human faculty they want to change is the mind or the reason. There is much teaching thus in seminary about filing the mind with knowledge and disciplining the mind to think correctly.
What evangelicals have failed to realise is that the mind is the least important of the entire human faculty that should be targeted for spiritual formation. Dale Carnegie, the most influential salesman in the world in our generation became famous and very successful in business because he discovered and utilised to the maximum the principle that most of us are not willing to accept, that people actually do not make decisions based on reason but most decide base on their feelings.
Stories target the feelings of people as well as the mind, including the body and the soul. In that way, stories are holistic and integrated.
This undue bias and narrowness of Cartesian kind of spirituality has resulted in a great imbalance in today’s society and the church’s spirituality. We have now in some affluent countries extreme success and prosperity, there is a disconnect between extreme material prosperity and while being socially and psychologically impoverished. Mother Teresa’s comment is very incisive. These rich countries are the poorest when you look closely because to enjoy their wealth they are willing to sacrifice in abortion their unborn foetuses and break up their marriages in divorces.
Stories would have an effect in preventing such critical disconnect and perhaps promote a more penetrating truth within Christianity, that is able to speak into the status quo. People would have the voice needed to make truth speak into power, first to question the present order of things and then to usher in an arrangement more aligned with the truth.
In our community (Companion with the Poor), we do a lot of theological reflections (from the practice of Raymund Bakke), and it simply means, telling stories and connecting our small stories with the big story of God in the bible.
We tell lots of stories as we journey together. And the bible has lots of stories, which we totally ignore.
What is the power of narrative? In the exodus story, a powerful drama of four characters – Pharaoh, Moses, the slaves (Jews) and God, we see how truth speaks to power and how covenantal history began again after a lapse of many years, began again when the poor groaned and cried out.
The exodus story is a weird story when you begin with Joseph.
Psalm 105 says
16He called down famine on the land
and destroyed all their supplies of food;
17and he sent a man before them—
Joseph, sold as a slave.
Brueggemann noted this dual intentionality. Moses was never a one-dimensional reality. He was on a mission for God. Missionaries also have this dual intentionality, sometimes, whether they like it or not – they have their own agenda but they also have God’s agenda in them. It was something Pharaoh realized only belatedly.
Brueggemann noted that at the start, God was a very self-indulging God (the God I am) and after a repeat of many “I ams” suddenly God turns to Moses and say, so now go! The I Am moves to the You Go! and the intentionality shifts from God to Moses in an instant.
Here again, we see that although the main protagonists in the cosmic struggle are God and the rulers, powers and principalities, nevertheless, it is man who holds the key to the conflict, like Frodo, it is man who carries the ring to the volcano. No matter how small and weak, man has been placed at the center, able to turn the tide of the battle, to favor good and to defeat evil.
It is prayer that turns the tide and we are told also that our enemy is not flesh and blood, not human beings. In one story, casting out the demonic spirit needed lots of fasting and praying.
In this passage about Joseph in Psalm 105, we can see a strange duality – he was brought to Egypt as a slave and yet in a very intentional way Joseph was also sent by God on a mission to Egypt, meaning, he went both as a slave unwillingly and as an envoy of God supernaturally.
It is very hard to understand how Joseph eventually lost touch with this mission or duality. Some authors say he ultimately lost it because he was completely swallowed up by his work. He became so tremendously successful as the CEO of the Pharaoh’s company.
In that success, to create surplus (granaries requiring lots of bricks), on Joseph’s wise advice, the Pharaoh was able to buy all the lands of Egypt and in the process made the Jews slaves of Pharaoh (and made slaves of all the Egyptians as well). The whole country became slaves of Pharaoh, Jew or Egyptian.
Note that through Josephs’ leadership he made all the slaves give double tithes to the Pharaoh. God only asked for 10%, Joseph made them give 20%. On top of more work to build more surplus (more granaries), Pharaoh ordered all the new born boys to be killed also. In that oppressive system, the Jewish slaves eventually cried out.
The Pharaoh cannot stop though he already has more than enough surplus. He is still motivated by fear and anxiety and it increases as he sees the slave population grow even bigger, making him more oppressive to the slaves.
One thing we learn here is that rich people are more anxious than the poor are. The rich in the midst of their abundance daily grows more tyranical from anxiety.
This is where the poor bonds with the story, begins to identify with the characters.
From there, in this setting, we see the rise of unbridled and totally accountable to no one but itself power contend with the truth. It is here where Brueggemann says, power does not legitimize. It is truth that legitimizes.
Evangelism is all about authority, not power for power can only come from authority which is why Jesus said, before issuing the great commission (evangelism): all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. He did not say all power. Sometimes worldly power has been arrogated by Satan who offered the Kingdoms of the world to Jesus in His temptation. But the offer was illegitimate. Jesus knew power, legitimate power, comes from authority, which comes only from the Father.
Brueggemann wonderfully juxtaposes the story of Jesus trial with the story of Pharaoh in the exodus. He said, notably, that many bible versions would label that story in an uninspired way as “The Trial of Jesus before Pilate” and he said, if done in an inspired way would have read: “Pilate on Trial before Jesus.”
It was indeed Pilate who was on trial, not Jesus. It was power without authority or in this case, without the truth. So, the whole trial before Pilate or the story turned around or pivoted on one critical question, which up to now resonates – “What is Truth?”
It was according to Brueggemann, Pilate who was on trial because with its vaunted power and vast resources, the Roman Empire represented here by Pilate, could not justify itself. Truth at this trial finally held that power accountable.
The drama is so riveting because at the start, everyone knows who the protagonists are: that Pilate had the power of life and death, absolutely, and that Jesus had that power somehow hidden but mysterious (we don’t know when Jesus would pull a rabbit from His hat, we don’t know when he would just smack the tyrant with a bolt of lightning from above in a supernatural way).
Later, we know because Jesus said, my kingdom is not from here. My kingdom is not of this world, setting to rest all our eagerness to want Him to zap Pilate the way a super hero would.
Everyone is an addict to super heroes. A constant theme in many popular movies is revenge. I like Matilda best, a story about a child’s revenge fantasies come true in a wild way beyond her imagination. She would just think something and zap it happens. The movie was very attractive because it was about getting even, getting the upper hand over evil and abusive powerful people. Weakness has turned around into real power.
Bible stories also have that kind of addictive attraction when the story turns around and finally the poor are lifted up and the rich made low. The great reversal theme of the bible is perhaps what makes the entire Bible so attractive to the poor.
The magnificat is the best example of the great reversal theme of Scripture. In the middle of the song, it says, the rich will be turned away empty rejected and the poor will be filled with luxurious things and extravagant foods.
Many times, we read in the bible about the great coming day when the tables will be turned and those who laugh now will weep and those who sorrow now will rejoice, the proud will be trampled underfoot and the oppressed will be set free.
It was Pilate who was on trial, not Jesus although Jesus opted not to exercise his powers to satisfy our revenge fantasies, it was not yet time for the great reversal.
But Pilate backed down already. Imagine, getting smart retorts from a poor helpless carpenter (Pilate could have easily had Jesus head cut off). I imagine it was Jesus telling the truth to Pilate not with bravado or high falluting arguments but with a life that illuminates, a love that honestly opens hearts. Pilate was before a man who fought not with the force of argument but a force of pure illumination. This is how pastors need to preach on Sundays, with the power of their hearts, a power that illuminates as distinguished from an argument drawn from powerful logic or persuasive words.
Jesus stood as one who reveals. He was Truth incarnate.
From that, the powerful empire buckled. Pilate acquitted Jesus: I do not find anything wrong with this man. The Roman Empire acquitted Jesus.
When we look at the exodus story, we see the same thing, a Pharaoh on trial like Pilate, and a power without truth. It is again an unequal contest that also makes our desire for revenge fantasy droll. We want Moses to zap Pharaoh and this time, he does!!! Yehey! And not only once but ten times!!!
Brueggemann notes this. God could have ended the boxing fight on the first round alone but he would not. Pharaoh was not the one insisting on continuing the fight. It was clear God made Pharaoh become hard headed. God hardened the heart of Pharaoh it says.
So, the uneven fight went on for round after round and we all flinch, this time, regretting all our revenge fantasies (Please stop, Lord, it is already so gruesome for my taste).
And God brought the fight to the complete ten rounds (12 for Manny Pacquiao but ten for Pharaoh). As quoted above, it was simply so God could show off, so we could say to the next generation, this was how God zapped Pharaoh (slapped him around till he cried uncle as Americans would say).
The pyramid system of surplus produced by cheap labor continues to be reenacted today. I have said in the Lausanne conference in 2010 in Cape Town, that we will not believe the sincerity of Americans to help the poor unless the Americans make it their goal to dismantle this pyramid system.
Brueggemann says (page 18):
The storehouse cities are an ancient parallel to the great banking and insurance companies where surplus wealth is kept among us today. That surplus wealth, produced by cheap labor of peasants, must now be protected from the peasants by law and by military force.
This pyramid system must be dismantled.
America has exported all its factories to countries with cheap labor and where there are no strong labor rights laws. In this set up, America avoids the powerful justice system within America and exploits the weak justice system in places like China and Bangladesh in order to access cheap labor to make products for its own market within America. But America too aggressively patrols its boundaries to protect the system within, where they can enjoy their affluence and keep the cheap labor, the source of their affluence from entering, through the borders, and from spoiling this affluent system.
It is the pyramid that needs to be dismantled because it maintains slaves of millions. It took millions of slaves to make the pyramid which has room at the top enough for only one Pharaoh and his family (and of course, his attorney).
The most amazing in this story for Brueggemann is that for so many long chapters before it, God is absent until the Jewish slaves cried out. It was not even a cry to the Old Testament God or the God of Abraham, just a plain old crying out to no one in particular and God is already set in motion.
In this, we see how possessive God is for it says, I have heard the cry of my people. Love is always possessive. We also try to own God as our Father.
Psalms speak out often with this frustration over God’s seeming silence and absence: O God, when will you act? How long will you keep silent? Move o God and lift up your arms! When I read this, I feel so tired. I feel like I am awaking God from his deep slumber, lifting his big big arms to act in my defense.
But in this story, God quickly goes into action. God moves. Aslan moves. In many ways, God, according to Brueggemann, is a sucker for the underdog that is why narratives like this is a favorite of the poor. It quickens their blood and makes them hungry for more, more of God. The poor are always looking for a hero.
I have not seen a bible study approach more powerful than the ignatian lectio divina. There are many types but one is about how we can enter the story. A passage in the gospel is chosen, usually where there is a dialogue with Jesus.
It must not be too long, just enough for an afternoon bible study. The text is read several times and for each reading, the reader instructs the listeners ( a bunch of scavengers working in the Payatas dumpsite) how to listen.
First they are told to listen to the reading with their bodies, to feel and to sense the surrounding. Is it hot, dry, noisy, etc.? what do they smell?
Then for the second reading, they are instructed to listen with their hearts, their feelings. Is it sad, joyful, exciting, etc.?
The third may be to listen with their eyes. What do they see? Is it crowded, are the people clean? What are they wearing? What is the expression on Jesus’ face?
Finally, they are asked to listen with their mind. What do they hear? What is God saying to them?
In the conclusion, each one is asked to choose or identify with one character in the story. The listener picks a character and tells the group why he or she chose that person.
This is very revolutionary and I have seen the poor impacted so mightily through this approach to the Bible.
In the end, the Pharaoh relents, he surrenders with a plea that Moses prays for him and seeks blessings from God for him. Brueggemann notes the slow and often belated realization of tyrants, a slow realization that their power is no more and their reign has tumbled down. Only that they realize too late.
The request of God and thus of Moses is an innocuous “let my people go that they may celebrate in the wilderness.”
Many stories in the bible on the surface appear innocuous but on closer inspection are really very subversive and radical, which is the thesis of Brueggemann’s book Truth Speaks to Power.
It is a very innocent request to celebrate indeed. What could be dangerous about that but here, we know that the allegiance, loyalty and subordination have totally altered. The god or gods of Egypt are no longer the god or gods of the slaves. No more!
They will celebrate in order to worship their newly found God, the True God, the one who brought them to Egypt. Incidentally, God brought these Jews to Egypt that they might be spared the great famine that occurred which they successfully avoided by the ingenious methods of Joseph albeit oppressive. They suffered so much and many died but still overall the Jewish nation grew so big it scared the Pharaoh. God wanted a people so numerous you could not count them and here they were although they got to this point through extreme hardships, but they arrived.
This duality of intention can be the most baffling matter in Scripture, that the Israelites became slaves in Egypt, oppressed and exploited and murdered but at the same time, it was God who sent them to there on purpose because He wanted to preserve them as a people and make them multiply to become as numerous as the stars in the sky, and so once again the covenantal outworking would commence anew with a bigger population, a more humbled people, who are more united.
The place where they were to go is an unknown place (the Bible does not tell us), but it was significant only because it was outside of the military and legal jurisdiction of Pharaoh’s kingdom.
The innocent request to celebrate was a dual subversive action, first, to worship the true God (and not the false gods of Egypt) and secondly, to finally be free of their bondage, to leave Egypt for good and be slaves no more.
One drama that comes to mind as a parallel is the mass. The orthodox mass, whether Roman or Greek or Anglican or Russian, or other, is actually a dramatization of the gospel. In many ways, it is also subversive.
The center of the mass is the Eucharist which is the most subversive of all because it is the triumph of weakness over the great might of Satan.
I once preached on the idea of worship. Worship is both celebration and subversion (or rebellion). I used only the text in Deuteronomy 14 which says that when the Israelites finally reached Jerusalem (in their once a year pilgrimage to the temple there), they could use their money intended for offering to buy anything they want, in order to celebrate. They could buy beer or wine and steak and other foods fit for a feast.
The subversion or rebellion part of worship actually came from the story of exodus, when it says that the people would go to celebrate. The celebration we get from that text is a subversive kind of celebration as explained above. Almost all of the gospel is in a way a subversion of the status quo, a truth that speaks to power.
Brueggemann says (page 31), “All parties understand that the purpose of stating ‘celebrate a festival to me in the wilderness’ (Outside of the territory over which Pharaoh presides) is a dramatic shift of loyalty and energy that amounts to nothing less than a liturgical drama of rejecting and dethroning the power of Pharaoh. It is known already, then, that the subversive liturgy directed toward an alternative God is an immediate threat to established power.”
The contest of the giant protagonists, power and truth, is constantly being revisited and reenacted in the subversive liturgy every Sunday mass. This is the prolonged rebellion of the people of God today.
In the mass, we have the presence of the Future (described by George Eldon Ladd). The Future kingdom for that Sunday has invaded the present reality through the Eucharist, while everyday until Sunday, we groan. We celebrate as though that reality is here, has come and is before us now. This is the true rebellion, as though God has finally triumphed over Satan, thought in reality He has not. But in truth He has (many liken it to the difference between D-Day and V-Day of World War 2. One was the act that showed Hitler had already lost the war, but although on the retreat, was not technically defeated yet. On V-Day, all of the German army and their allies had laid down their arms or been killed and fighting had ceased).
Today, we are in D-Day because Jesus has died. On V-Day He will return to put a final end to all hostilities. Yet, we celebrate V-Day on Sunday during the mass as though V-Day had already come (this is the most rebellious spirit in the church). On Sunday, we draw it out in plain view as though it has invaded our present reality and sin is no more, death is no more. On Sunday, we dance and sing and in our hearts we believe that the final word is not cancer but healing, it is not death but life, and the final word is not sin but Jesus victor. We are before the world like insane men and women and it is this sense of insanity that makes it different from those whose theology is to sweep the misery under the rug in order to maintain the appearance of sanity.
And all the time, the vessel is the weak vessel of Christ death. It is in death and surrender that Christ triumphs, the ultimate subversion of power.
At the start, we quoted Psalm 78 to show that these stories were to be retold and retold, reenacted and revisited so the next generation will know. In Exodus 12, we have another version:
24“Obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance for you and your descendants. 25When you enter the land that the Lord will give you as he promised, observe this ceremony. 26And when your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’ 27then tell them, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.’?” Then the people bowed down and worshiped. 28The Israelites did just what the Lord commanded Moses and Aaron.
We eventually forget. The liturgy soon loses its meaning. Today many are ignorant of the profound symbolisms in the liturgy because no one explained it to them. The next generation will not understand, they will say, the mass is irrelevant. So our task really is to continually teach and explain it’s meaning, tell them why we are doing it and revive its drama. In the quote above: when they ask what does this ritual mean? Then tell them.
Every day, we suffer as the Jewish slaves suffered in the time of Pharaoh, maybe not as dramatically but we still do because we live in a fallen world. We have been kicked out of heaven but we also know that it was for a redemptive purpose. When we are living outside of the Garden, in a fallen world, among sinners, we soon begin to groan and cry out. For we know that this is not the world we were meant to live in. But we also know that the sun that melts the butter also hardens the clay. For the unbelievers, being kicked out of the garden is meant to inflict much pain so that the repentant will run back to God and be saved like the prodigal son.
But for us who are already saved, that pain drives us deeper into the heart of Jesus prayer for the Kingdom to come. Maranatha is the last prayer in the Bible and it is cried out with so much desperation, asking and begging that Jesus would come and soon for we can’t bear it any longer. Life in this fallen world sucks.
This is the drama also of the Sunday mass. Everyday from Monday to Saturday, we groan and we pray for Him to come quickly. On Sunday, like idiots or certified lunatics, we dance and worship as though indeed he has come, we celebrate as though the reality of that Kingdom is here now and concrete even though it really has not.
This is the big difference between evangelical worship without a grounding in good theology and one that is so grounded. Many Christian churches will conform to this world as far as worship is concerned. They will sing what is popular music to the world. They will make people happy even if they are not. In this way, people become neurotic in church because while they know they are really miserable, the pastor commands them to be happy and makes them feel guilty if they don’t. In the first approach, we desire to be insane and thus become truly sane, in the latter, we seek to be sane and end up being insane (psychotic, fully no longer in touch with reality).
True biblical worship has the same result except it comes from a different pathway. It is not by sweeping the misery and pain under the rug but by a declaration that indeed the Kingdom has come. It is a deliberate act of rebellion, rebellion against the reality of this world, the reality of Satan, sin and death. The rebel is different from the neurotic. Worship leads to insanity because we live in denial and refuse to embrace reality (that life in a fallen world sucks). Our Cartesian mind (either or) can only accept one truth (the opposite of a truth is false).
Brueggeman thus tells us that the church does not need to be the happiest place in town but it needs to always be the most honest place in town.
True biblical worship can embrace the contradiction of life that life sucks but God is good. American society especially cannot tolerate this contradiction, Americans cannot embrace success and suffering at the same time. We all believe that if we are successful we should be happy. Our either or mindset leads to neurosis.
We are reenacting the story once again when we rebel. Truth is always upside down and always upsets the status quo.
The status quo is the system of laws and order that protects and makes possible the wealth and power of the rich (the 10% who own 90% of the wealth of the world). The gospel will always go against the status quo and even when the church has bought in into the status quo, the gospel will still work against it and even against the church – and once the cries of the poor and oppressed reach the ears of the God of Exodus, then the drama will start anew. The exodus will start again.