May I let my voice be a clarion call. I will use these words for justice. I will use these words for truth. And humour.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


John 2 and the JIT Business Model

Today at the Faithful Fools Bible Study, by asking for 3 one-digit numbers from 0-9, and given 8, 6, and 4, then adding 100 to 864, and multiplying by 2, we ended up at page 1928 in The Message translation of the Bible that was at my seat, which brought us to chapter 2 of the Gospel of John. Inside I groaned a little at first, because it's the story of the wine miracle, and then JC casting out the money changers from the temple. Both of which I've heard so many times...

But a closer examination brought a few new insights, so I'm glad we did it.

According to the story he made approximately 150 gallons of wine (starting from six 20-30 gallon pots of water). That must've been a heck of a big wedding, or a lot of drinking happened. Actually the part I liked the most was the symbolism. The wine miracle story needs to be understood on the symbolic level, or the reading of it is almost entirely wasted.

The vessels were for Jewish vessels for purified water. Turning the water into wine--not just wine--but 150 gallons of really awesome wine is symbolic. This was our reading of the story: The wedding party had apparently been going alone just dandily until they were almost out of wine. Jesus' mother asks him to do that one trick he does, and he kind of snubs her, telling her it's not yet time for him to out himself, and not for a wedding (in the Gospel of John, he has not yet performed any miracles, so this would be the first). Then he decides to do it anyway. No doubt the bridegroom would've been pretty embarrassed to throw this big shindig and run out of wine.

The wine is the Spirit. Water is the raw materials (the unanimated, unenlightened life), but then when it's come alive, it's wine. (FWIW, the Spirit isn't some indefinable mojo that only the Church or some formalized Kergyma group has access to--it's simply our down-to-Earth connection to one another as divine beings. It is namaste and recognizing the light between ourselves and each other.)

But the party had run out of wine, and Jesus (as Christ) introduced a ton of it (actually closer to half a ton).

So the bridgegroom then would be the controller of the party. The party is life itself. And when life all around is debased to its raw materials, and for sale, and individualized, and neglects our connections, it's time for Christ to bring the miracle, to let loose with an abundance of connective Spirit.

The fact that it's a wedding, a joining together of two people (or in the thinking of the times, a man acquiring a woman) can be seen in terms of process theology. Things in the world coming together in a concrescence of events. This can sort of be shown a bit by the nexus within the horn torus in the video sermon I showed on Jan 3 at UUSF, which I'll eventually provide a link to once I finalize the images in the video material.

Also at the Bible Study, somebody pointed out how the story expresses Jesus' unwillingness to perform miracles* at times (his push-back on his mother, his denial of Satan during the trial in the desert, and his refusal to do much of anything at Herod's request). IOW, don't do your miracles (or your work) at the devil's request.

*multithetical belief allows for the possibility and impossibility of miracles--both the certitude and certain denial....

Regarding bringing things together, and the Just-in-Time business model, or "just-in-timeness" in general...

This quote is what led me to want to comment on it: "The philosophy of JIT is simple: inventory is waste." I would offer a contradictory/complementary philosophy: "Inventory is security."

"Inventory is waste" combined with "Inventory is security" tells a lot of story, and sometimes one is true, and at other times, the other is true. When the inventory we're talking about is critical for life, inventory IS security. Having enough food, clothing, shelter, and health-care on hand in case of emergencies is really important. In the case of Toyota producing cars, inventory may very well be waste. Imagine creating 10,000 more gas guzzlers than is necessary, and then they're just left sitting on the lot. Or creating way too many of any product--whether it's a raw material being pulled from the Earth, semi-finished materials like gaskets, mufflers, and circuit boards, or final products such as a car or an iPhone--creating too much is indeed a wastefully large buffer. Even though people may clamor for luxury goods, we will be able to continue living if there are hold-ups due to buffer underruns. Not so with critical goods like food. The Mormons are supposed to keep a year's supply of food on-hand, and Joseph told Pharoah to prepare for a seven-year famine. For food, we have the ability to create enough for everyone, to transport it to everyone who needs it, and to keep more than a JIT inventory. For our leaders and property owners to neglect to do so is criminal. Witnessing the tragedy of this week's earthquake in Haiti when many of our church buildings and other buildings in the developed West are earthquake retrofitted at the cost of millions per building sometimes tells a bigger story about inequity. Spending trillions of dollars toward war that would be much better-spent on emergency preparedness is another example of the US government choosing destruction and neglect over creation and preparation. I pray that the US govt, other countries, and other agencies will be able to deliver a strong response to save as many in Haiti as possible.

I envision a world where anyone can plant gardens in the public parks, on the roadsides, and even in the medians (for anyone to tend and to harvest), so that the neediest will never go hungry. Further, I envision a world where our namaste connection is between each of us to every other, even those we've not yet met. Where the call of that light between us makes us recognize who among us is more needy, and make sure their most basic needs are met, and that the buffer for the basic needs is always larger than the buffers for luxury items.

And of course, JIT is not just limited to production of material goods--this understanding of just-in-timeness can also apply to provisional teachings in religion. Hopefully we can explore that some time.

lyrics: Once in a while, the zebras run to the spaceman and his gun, in the spider's web.
from Superhumans, by Flaming Lips

colors: pink and yellow

mood: procrastinatey

chant/prayer/mantra: let justice roll down like waters, with a half-ton buffer made out of wine (apologies to teetotalers and alcoholics).

pax hominibus,
agape to all,

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