Posted by: rogermitchell | February 11, 2010

The beastly kingdom!

I had a real brainwave when teaching on the kingdom of God down here at the Ashburnham prayer centre last night. On describing the not kingdom of God I have always struggled to find a simple phrase for use in ordinary circumstances. The domination system is rather academic, the world too confusing, empire too predictable, Man’s kingdom sexist and dishonouring to humanity who the kingdom of God belongs to, the kingdom of this world is a little too non-specific, the antichrist kingdom and Babylon too religious and so on. But the beastly kingdom has a good ring to it and tells it how it is! Yesterday I had a good rendezvous with Malcolm Duncan who made the interesting observation that he prefers the word transfiguration for the impact of the kingdom of God on society as transformation does not necessarily describe or bring deep change that makes way for the peace of Christ.  So much as I love the place I can now say that the UK is part of the beastly kingdom and we need to transfigure it! That the problem with the nation state of Israel is that it is part of the beastly kingdom and so on…



  1. I really like those two analogies. Beastly – stating the obvious is so biblical in imagery… transfiguration is very rich. What took place during the transfiguration of Jesus? The talk of ‘Exodus’ through death; the coming down the mountain to the demonised. Much food for thought.

  2. well, just as long as we are not bashing beasties. They have their place in the transfigured Kingdom too. I hope. Beastly is such a British word, so descriptive. You might have to explain it for the non-Brits in the audience.

    So the beastly kingdom needs transfiguration. To transfigure would be to change shape. I like that too. The shape of this world, at all scales, and in all relationships, needs to be changed, shifted, remade, reshaped. Funny how we struggle to describe that which surrounds us day to day. It is the need to make transparent that which is opaque. So I applaude all efforts at clear vision (glad your operation went well, Roger), so that we can be agents of transfiguration (after we have been transfigured, of course) from a beastly Kingdom to one where the lion lays down with the lamb (very unbeastly behaviour).

    • True that beastly is a bit British, and I’m certainly not suggesting beastly kingdom as a serious theological concept. More an anecdotal expression that works in some popular contexts. I was communicating with a mixed audience of partly second language hearers most of whom were young from at least eight different nations including Brazil, Argentina, Spain, Kazakhstan, South Korea and Nepal and it seemed to work. I’m pretty sure that the slang usage does come from the Daniel/ Revelation beast symbolism. I will try and find time to look into the background of the difference between negative and positive animal based apocalyptic symbolism. For sure the way I and others were roaring around and charging about as lions, bulls and horses, as well as flying about like eagles in the third generation move of the spirit connotes the animals round the throne who clearly were not beastly at all but seriously heavenly in the way that the groaning creation calls forth the new creation.

  3. one further note: it strikes me that when humans behave in a beastly manner they so often behave worse than any beasties. I’m sure the beasties would welcome a release from the beastly kingdom! c.

  4. I so agree with Cheryl’s last comment – I’d LOL if it wasn’t so true…(I’m preparing Yr 8 lesson plans on the Holocaust at the mom – such a vile expression of beastliness).
    Do the words ‘beastly kingdom’ resonate enough for me to use them? Not sure if I’m honest.
    Again, with language that’s living, it’s the amount of time it takes to explain what we mean…but I’ll try it out and see what comes…:)

  5. Hmmm. Not sure I can take “beastly” very seriously. It’s like something C3PO would say (camp English butler robot type thingy). In fact, I’m so with Cheryl on the beastie thing… Which transports me to Scotland and the wee beasties!

    Interesting thoughts though.

  6. If we are trying to bring in the “Kingdom of God” are we not trying to oust the “Kingdom of the beast”? That ties it down to one particular beast rather than generic wee beasties.

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