I don’t watch SportsBall.

So I missed the Super Bowl 2020 halftime show, even though I have loved Shakira since the 1990s. After reading some reviews, I decided to watch it myself. And as a “woman of a certain age,” I was impressed with the 43-year-old Shakira and the 50-year-old JLo. If I’m to be totally honest, I couldn’t help but notice the oddly placed sequined fabric around JLo’s crotch—I kept wondering if JLo’s pee pad was sequined, because surely she can’t dance that much without a little leakage.

Beautiful bodies, sexy moves, and singing. Not to mention la diversidad. It’s hard to reconcile the disparagement in the United States of hispanic immigrants with the gigantic Vegasy-over-the-top celebration of Latin culture. Maybe it’s best illustrated with children singing in weird cages at the same time that Latino children are held in cages at the border.

There are those who see the halftime show as beautiful, celebrating diversity, empowering women. There are others who see it as objectification both of women and Latin culture, with shaking butts, pole dancing, and crotch shots.

All this dancing and twerking reminds me of Salome in our text for this Sunday. Mark 6:22 says, “When his daughter Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, ‘Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it.’”

It is of course, an allusion to Esther, who put her womanly wiles in service of the Jewish people “for such a time as this.” Salome is the sort of anti-Esther, using the power she gains from dancing to request John the Baptist’s death. Maybe Ched Myers says it best in Say It To This Mountain, “Despite this impressive gathering of political, military, and economic leaders, however, it is a young dancing girl and a drunken oath that finally determine the fate of the Baptist.” It’s a “sardonic caricature of the murderous whims of the powerful.”

Sexual exploitation of women is nothing new. And it’s nothing new for women to use their sex appeal to get what they want. It’s big business. It’s power brokering.

It is the way of the world.

But does it have to be?

Mark’s Gospel is constantly asking this question: Does the world (and especially the economy) have to be like this? Again, Ched Myers:

Against the dominant group boundaries Mark offers a countervision in which a new, morally defined community upholds the radical demands of scriptural tradition, which condemns profiteering and defends the welfare of the weakest members of society.

Ched Myers (Binding the Strong Man)

My goodness, if the 2020 Super Bowl is any example of how we’re doing, we’re not there yet.

Where will you take this text this week? And where will the text take you?

The pericope, as usual, in the NL is large. Here are some other ideas:

  • Maybe you could talk about prophetic ministry, and what Jesus said, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.”
  • You could name Jesus’ acts of power, and spend some time thinking about why Jesus couldn’t do acts of power in his hometown.
  • And what about the sending, two by two? Why is two better than one? Better than three? And why do you think Jesus had the disciples “to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics?” Perhaps talking about what a calling to ministry (which we all have) asks you to leave behind, and requires that you carry with you.
  • Why not write about Ched Myers’ idea, the “impressive gathering of political, military, and economic leaders,” that are plotting to kill John the Baptist? Are there any other “impressive gatherings” that you know about?

Rev. Lia Scholl is not-that-kind-of-Baptist preacher and pastor in Winston-Salem, North Carolina (U.S.) and is the author of I Heart Sex Workers (Chalice Press, 2013).

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One thought on “Narrative Lectionary: Super Bowl Half Time Show (Mark 6:1-29)

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