imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Calendar Publish RSS
latest news
best of news




A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List


IMC Network:

Original Cities africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech

Surviving Cities africa: canada: quebec east asia: japan europe: athens barcelona belgium bristol brussels cyprus germany grenoble ireland istanbul lille linksunten nantes netherlands norway portugal united kingdom latin america: argentina cmi brasil rosario oceania: aotearoa united states: austin big muddy binghamton boston chicago columbus la michigan nyc portland rochester saint louis san diego san francisco bay area santa cruz, ca tennessee urbana-champaign worcester west asia: palestine process: fbi/legal updates process & imc docs projects: radio satellite tv
printable version - js reader version - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

The Changing Spring

by Melitta Muller-Hansen Sunday, Dec. 05, 2010 at 2:42 PM

In the parables, the itinerant preacher Jesus meets us as an ingenious storyteller. He brings God near people. This is an entirely undogmatic way of speaking of God. Where speaking is impossible, one must tell stories. Parables focus on the earthly and point to the divine.


Jesus and the Message of his Parables

By Melitta Muller-Hansen

[This essay published in: Sonntagsblatt 10/10/2010 is translated from the German on the Internet,]]

Jesus’ proclamation is often filled with parables. A third of Jesus’ words have this form. Jesus makes everyday things like seed and harvest or baking bread into pictures of the incomparable reality of God’s reign.

“A man going down from Jerusalem to Jericho was attacked by robbers…” “A father had two sons and the younger said to the father: give me the share of the inheritance due me…” “The kingdom of God is like a farmer casting seed on the ground…” One need not be a great expert on Holy Scripture to know these stories. The one who missed the joy of story-telling in the children’s service, religious instruction or from the pulpit can be drawn in their spell with the first sentence. A sound rings that – after 2000 years – makes something vibrate in the hearer and concerns us unconditionally.

In the parables the itinerant preacher Jesus meets us as an ingenious storyteller. Here he brings God near people. This is an entirely undogmatic way of speaking of God that follows the motto: one must tell stories where speaking is impossible. Narrating creates an emotional bond between the narrator and the hearer. Together people focus on something greater and escape the authoritarian trap that a lecturer always sets for the hearer.

Parables focus on the earthly that we know and point narratively to the divine that we do not know. They are a special way of making ethical proposals or issuing instructions to people without making reproaches or accusing anyone directly. The truth is held out to the hearer in a story. He has time to accept and form his own judgment (Jorg Zink).

Jesus tells parables but did not invent them. He hearkens back to a form that was very widespread in his time. In the time after Jesus, rabbinic Judaism also spoke of God that way. He did not only tell of God’s goodness and mercy. Rabbinic parables also do that. He does not outstrip the other Torah teachers in unsurpassed mastery, as Christian interpreters have untiringly claimed. Jesus tells parables like other Torah teachers. Still we hear his very own message when he tells of God’s reign in countless facets and God’s nearness bringing about change, revolution and an end of all violence.


Everyday situations and pictures of the world become transparent for God. That is the core of parabolic speech. Jesus tells his stories on the shore of Lake Genesereth, in Oriental feasts in a village or in the middle of the road. Occasionally someone asks him a question – one of his disciples or a scribe who grapples with the mysteries of the Torah as in the parable of the Good Samaritan. He answers narratively, leads the hearer into a scene that plays differently and leaves them to recognize themselves and God in the stories.

“Weeds also grow on your fields, not only barley and wheat. When the wheat grows to its height, the weeds should not be pulled up amid the grain. You wait until the harvest and then gather. The judgment of good and evil occurs in the harvest at the end of time, not now” [paraphrase of Matthew 12, 24-30 by J. Zink, Call to Freedom ("Ruf in die Freiheit,” p.139].

“A woman who had ten drachmas lost one. Will she not turn her wh8ole house upside down and search every corner until she finds it? Then she has a party with her neighbors and says: Rejoice with me! “Behold, the joy will be as great as with the angels when a person finds the way to God” (Luke 15, 5-7).

“The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and mixed with dough until it was completely leavened” (Matthew 13, 33).


Here we encounter the rural world of Galilee, the world of poor oppressed people at the time of the Roman Empire. Jesus tells stories of the life they know so they see with new eyes and discover God’s promise and God’s nearness. Whoever has ten drachmas leads the life of a day-laborer who earns a denarius a day. A woman has to work at least two days to buy food for two days. Survival is at stake.

These people who must work to gain food is the theme, their failures and successes and the wonders of creation: the leaven leavens all the dough. People should see and be astonished not at the laws of nature but at God working in all things, in the leaven and in the mustard seed that becomes the great shrub. Bread is never a foregone conclusion for people who struggle with hunger. A woman baking bread is a comforting picture for the soul of not being forgotten by God.

The parable of the barren fig tree in Luke 13 leads into the heart of the political situation. People come to Jesus with devastating news. In the middle of the temple district of Jerusalem, Pilate murdered a group of Galileans at prayer while they brought their sacrificial gifts to the altar. Pilate’s actions against persons whom he stylized as rebels, agitators and insurgents are documented outside the Bible. Jesus was underway to Jerusalem with his friends. He could ask God to spare him and his people and to escape. He sees all the people in danger. He probably sees the threatening war in 70 A.D. and tells a parable of conversion and hope. Pilate is secondary or incidental; God is important! A fig tree grows in a vineyard that bore no fruit any more year after year. This is an image of people who threaten to break under the burden of oppression or under the death of a dear person whom Pilate had taken from them.

Jesus shows his hearers two possibilities for dealing with this tree. One could act like the vineyard owner, cut off the branches now and then in searching for fruit, profit and success, as an owner is entitled. This tree had a period of grace for three years. That was enough. It brought nothing; away with it. Or one could act like the winegrower who lived daily with this tree. One could look downwards away from the fruits to the earth where the nutrients for the tree originate. “Master, leave it alone this year until I dig up the soil and add fertilizer. Then it could still bring fruit in the future.” The winegrower contradicts the vineyard owner. The violence of an imperial war power is contrasted here with hope in a people who have the strength to turn around to God. Love and affection happen. What is dried up can be enlivened. What is buried can be brought to light and a little new nutrient-rich earth added from elsewhere. The winegrower knows this can happen often, a fallow time in life, and he knows what to do then.

“Like the changing spring” (Luzia Sutter Rehmann), Jesus draws through the half-starved and subjugated Palestine and shows no ruler or power of this world controls the life and fate of people. There is always a window in time that is open for God.

The word “compare” is crucial for our understanding of parables. This word appears in all reign of God parables. Does it mean “equate,” “identify” or “put on the same level”? That is the Christian interpretation tradition and has consequences. As soon as a king, a vineyard owner or a father is named, this was interpreted as a picture for God. Only patriarchal pictures stand for God. God suddenly becomes a ruler, head of the household with slaves or an employer with day-laborers. What is fatal in such interpretations is that all the actions of this person in the parable suddenly illustrate God’s actions. How can the vineyard owner from the parable of the wicked winegrower (Matthew 21, 33-46) depict God and the son whom he hands over to the murderous tenants at the end be Christ? Escalating violence is identified with divine actions.

Or the king who sends out invitations to the wedding of his son and at the end throws out those with the wrong garment (Matthew 22, 1-14) – a cruel sadistic God with uninspired allegorization. Thus compare does not mean equate but is a call to critical comparing. The theologian Luise Schottroff speaks of antithetic parables because they portray a counterpart to God. This is also clear in the slave parables in the Gospel of Luke. The slave-owner was always identified with God. Intentionally or unintentionally, the suffering of slaves was justified: the law of the whip, arbitrariness and serfdom. In the opposite, Jesus teaches what it means to be God’s slave. He joins the relation to God described in the Old Testament with the term “God’s servant/handmaid.” This means respected by God and not subjugated by any person. God raises the humiliated and gives them the great commission to hear and do God’s word (Let your loins be girded and your lamps burning… God has entrusted great things in you, Luke 12, 35; 48b).

The anti-Jewish interpretation is another fatal consequence in that individual parts of the parable are interpreted as established metaphors – like the Pharisee, the Levite and the foreign Samaritan. Then the Pharisee becomes the prototype of a self-righteous Jew proud of his moral superiority and faithfulness to the law who appears in pure whiteness and stands out from the tax collector, literally Christians who trust completely in God’s grace. “This reading of the parables gained political significance for centuries with its comparison of good and evil and the equation of good with “we.” It did not only legitimate “church dominance” but helps legitimate violence in today’s western world” (Luise Schottroff).

How can one read and hear a Biblical parable today?

1. Take a close look at everyday experience and identify the structures of society, violence and injustice.

2. The whole story tells about God’s explicit, hidden or antithetic works, not individual pictures and persons. Sometimes the proverbial gives information about this at the end of the parable.

3. Whether metaphors, parables and exemplary narratives should be distinguished is contested today. The parable of the Good Samaritan ends with the instruction “Go and do likewise.” But isn’t the text reduced to the assumption that it is simple to do likewise? The story tells of the failures of those who did not want to fail (the priest and Levite passed by the wounded). All parables become windows through which the new creation becomes visible. Their ending is open. We the hearers must answer with our lives.


Margot Kassmann, “Believing without Seeing,” sermon 2003

Margot Kassmann, “Lilies of the Field,” sermon 2002

Report this post as:

Local News

Change Links September 2018 posted S02 10:22PM

More Scandals Rock Southern California Nuke Plant San Onofre A30 11:09PM

Site Outage Friday A30 3:49PM

Change Links August 2018 A14 1:56AM

Setback for Developer of SC Farm Land A12 11:09PM

More problems at Shutdown San Onofre Nuke J29 10:40PM

Change Links 2018 July posted J09 8:27PM

More Pix: "Families Belong Together," Pasadena J02 7:16PM

"Families Belong Together" March, Pasadena J02 7:08PM

Short Report on the Families Belong Together Protest in Los Angeles J30 11:26PM

Summer 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert! J11 6:58AM

Watch the Debate: Excluded Candidates for Governor of California M31 5:20AM

Change Links June 2018 posted M28 7:41AM

The Montrose Peace Vigil at 12 Years M22 8:01PM

Unity Archive Project M21 9:42AM

Dianne Feinstein's Promotion of War, Secret Animal Abuse, Military Profiteering, Censorshi M17 10:22PM

CA Senate Bill 1303 would require an independent coroner rather than being part of police M10 9:08PM

Three years after OC snitch scandal, no charges filed against sheriffs deputies M10 8:57PM

California police agencies violate Brown Act (open meetings) M02 8:31PM

Insane Company Wants To Send Nuke Plant Waste To New Mexico A29 11:47PM

Change Links May 2018 A27 8:40AM

Worker-Owned Car Wash on Vermont Closed A27 5:37AM


lausd whistle blower A11 6:58AM

Website Upgrade A10 10:02AM

Help KCET and UCLA identify 60s-70s Chicano images A04 8:02PM

UCLA Luskin: Casting Youth Justice in a Different Light A02 6:58PM

Change Links April 2018 A01 6:27PM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News

Cybermonde, cyberguerre, cyberespace, cyberterrorisme S24 6:35AM

Paraphysique de psychosomatique S22 6:58AM

Chuck Grassley: Women Abusing, Animal Murdering, Illegal War Supporting Criminal S22 2:58AM

Finance Capitalism and the Digital Economy S21 4:45PM

Muselières syndicales, muselières patronales S21 7:19AM

Jeff Bezos, Amazon, The Washington Post, Whole Foods, Etc S21 2:50AM

Why Choose Nut Milk Over Cows' Milk S21 1:01AM

Antrhopocène, le grand effondrement S19 9:53AM

Abolir l'économie S18 11:18AM

The Dictatorship of Corporations S17 5:26PM

18 Lethal Consequences Of Hunting S17 3:13PM

Paraphysique de l'outplacement déontologue S15 6:51AM

Shopping du bashing S14 8:42AM

After Lehman Brothers, Experts Say Global Financial Crisis Can Happen Again S13 8:28PM

“Animaniacs in Concert!” Starring Voice Legend Rob Paulsen S12 9:30PM

Probabilités de fin d'humanité S12 6:49AM

Florida Area of Migrant Farmworkers Denied Right to Construct Health Clinic near NaplesCIW S11 2:57AM

Steer clear of work morality! S09 12:10PM

The Shortwave Report 09/07/18 Listen Globally! S06 11:23PM

August 2018 Honduras Coup update S06 12:28PM

Brett Kavanaugh Filled The 5th Circuit With Execution Judges S06 6:14AM

Augusta Georgia Woman Gets 5 Year Prison Sentence for Writing About Russians Crime Acts S05 8:29AM

Paraphysique de contextualité S05 8:29AM

Crisis Regulation in Global Capitalism S03 3:39PM

Ex-voto de réification S03 10:24AM

Please Oppose Warmonger, Execution and Torture Supporting Bush Operative Brett Kavanaugh A31 10:45PM

Paraphysique d'exploitation occultation A31 10:24PM

Ryan Zinke Is Charging Taxpayers For A Trophy Hunters' Council A31 2:10PM

More Breaking News...
© 2000-2018 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy