Meditations on (Un) Cleanliness

So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?…. Then he called the crowd again and said to them, “Listen to me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.”

–  Mark 7:5,14-15

At Street Psalms, as at our longtime organizational partner Mile High Ministries, we lift up a perspective of peacemaking. This week we experimented with this podcast in which we interview Mile High Ministries Executive Director Jeff Johnsen about his take on the 2011 book Unclean: Meditations on Purity, Hospitality, and Mortality by Richard Beck.

Richard Beck is Professor of Psychology at Abilene Christian University. On his blog Experimental Theology, Beck writes: “This radical openness to the Other always seems to get undermined in our churches. Why is that?, I mused. After thinking about it, the answer hit me. And it was a simple answer. The same thing that caused the exclusion of people from table fellowship in Jesus’s day is the exact same thing that causes the exclusion today. That is, a group of people is considered to be ‘unclean’ and these people are just not welcome. The reasons for being declared ‘unclean’ might have changed, but the underlying dynamic is still the same. And I began to realize: The logic of being ‘unclean,’ a source of ‘spiritual pollution,’ was undermining Jesus’ radical call to love.”

Listen here, then please let us know what you think.

Peace,
Jeff Johnsen of Mile High Ministries, with Stephanie Dunlap and Brian Rossbert
Street Psalms Community