New Wineskins

Hello friends!

It’s been a while since I’ve sat down and written a decent blog. My mind has been around and about and hanging out in some different places than it normally does. That is to say, I’ve been taking my creative and thinking efforts through different exercises, but I digress.

Change.

That’s what I want to talk about.

Have you ever changed your mind on something? I’m sure the answer is yes.

Have you ever changed your mind on a deeply held and fundamental belief? Now, that’s a different question altogether!

I’m talking about a type of belief that is actually a structure, the scaffolding on which you walk around daily without even noticing it’s there. It informs your way of being, living, and understanding in the world. This structure often helps define which “tribe” you fall into, who your people are, and what you should or should not do.

In chapter 5 of Luke’s gospel, Jesus gives a parable on the changing of such structures. Or, at the very least, he talks about what happens when new things try to enter the same spaces as old things.

He says: “No one tears a piece out of a new garment to patch an old one. Otherwise, they will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for they say, ‘The old is better.’”

Jesus, speaking to the Pharisees here, seems to be saying that his new way of living, doing, and being needs to find a new structure, a new garment, a new wineskin to go into. The Pharisaical way of living could not handle Jesus’ new logic.

The Pharisees needed new wineskins and new garments. Anything else but complete replacement would result in disaster. The garment would be worse off than before, and the new wine would run out and be lost, and the wineskins too. One must lose the old garment, and the old wineskins in order to receive the new. There is not really room to “mix and match.”

And then there’s this little comment that he only makes in Luke. He says that no one after drinking the new wine actually likes it. They seem to think the old wine is better, which makes sense. I am no wine connoisseur, but I do know that “they” say old wine has better flavor than new wine. So Jesus’ comment here makes sense.

No one, upon receiving a new structure, a new way of navigating the world likes it at first. The old one makes sense. It’s familiar, comfortable. But one cannot put new wine into old wineskins. The wineskins will burst and lose all the wine. Likewise, one cannot put a new religion, a new worldview into an old one – it just doesn’t work. And that’s the point I think Jesus is trying to communicate.

So why do I bring all this up? Well, I have recently experienced, and am still experiencing, this little thing that the kids are calling “deconstruction.” If you are reading this and don’t quite know what that means, Click Here and all your problems will be solved.

Just kidding, Click Here and find Lisa Gungor’s definition of deconstruction – I think it works really well in conveying the experience of “theological deconstruction.” Also, Fr. Richard Rohr’s three-box definition works well.

So, I guess this is my way of saying, I’ve changed my mind on some things that I once believed deeply. And part of me wishes I could go back to believing what I used to, back to the old wine.

But change is necessary.

One cannot go their whole life in the same pair of jeans, nor can one enjoy the same old wine forever. Eventually, it runs out, and the old wineskins just can’t handle the new stuff. If you want to continue enjoying “wine”, then new wineskins are required.

So, get new wineskins friends. Changing your mind does not make you weak.

It’s 2020. It’s a wonderful time to be alive. I can see more clearly this year than I ever have before (there’s the 20/20 eyesight pun you’ve all been desperately waiting for). My blogs this year will probably carry new flavors from the new wine I’ve been drinking, so stay tuned if you’re interested to see what I’ve been sippin’ on.

Cheers.

The featured image is a painting by Ernesto Deira I found in the MALBA, a Latin American art museum in Buenos Aires. The title, translated as Since Adam and Eve no. 5, reveals layers of increasing complexity. High energy, primary colors, sketchy division between white and black – this painting speaks to the volatility and energy, the messiness of things since Adam and Eve.

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