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On Jameis Winston’s future – Part II

Jameis Winston Is Not A Victim

Jameis Winston  …   On the long road to redemption?

 

 

I ended Jameis Winston’s future (Part I) with a discussion of the article Jameis Winston Is Not A Victim.  That post discussed the “Not A Victim” writer’s saying the odds of being falsely accused of rape “are basically the same as the odds that you or someone in your family will be struck by lightning.”   This post will start with that writer’s chastising Winston for saying the “only thing as vicious as rape is falsely accusing someone of rape.”  (Note the “cottage industry of Jameis-bashing” mentioned in “Part I.”)

Note also that Winston said these words at the end of a long “student conduct” hearing, which itself was preceded a year before by a criminal investigation by State Attorney Willie Meggs.

See Jameis Winston’s hearing concludes; ruling expected in 2-3 weeks, which noted, “Over two days and approximately 12 hours, former Florida Supreme Court [Chief Justice] Major Harding heard testimony from witnesses presented by the university, Winston and the woman.  Armed with that and voluminous records provided by FSU … Harding now must decide if Winston is responsible of any of four violations of the code of conduct.”  (He was cleared.)

Leaving aside the heat of the moment factor, Not A Victim said “Winston’s statement is truly remarkable in its self-victimization.”  It noted that despite “very good odds that Winston is guilty,” he is “projected as a first round draft pick in the NFL draft, where he’d be guaranteed millions of dollars.”  Thus the writer concluded, “I ask you, is it fair for Jameis Winston to draw an equivalence between himself and a rape victim?

Let’s start off with the fact that under Florida law, such rape is a first-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years prison.  The judge is required by law to impose a minimum sentence of 34½ months in prison, and must also impose “sex offender probation:”

A person convicted of Sexual Battery or Rape would not only be placed on sex offender probation, but would also be declared a sexual offender…   As a result, they would be required to comply with sexual offender registration laws in Florida and throughout the United States for the remainder of their lives.

See Florida Sex Crimes: Sexual Battery or Rape.  So the fact that Winston didn’t end up in prison for 15 years, and have to spend the rest of his life after that trying to comply with the mandates of  sex-offender probation apparently didn’t factor into the Not A Victim equation.

But  what does the Bible say?  (Remember, we’re trying to make this a Bible-teaching moment!)

For one thing, there’s Number Nine of the Ten Commandments.  See Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighborWikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

The Hebrew Bible contains a number prohibitions of false witness, lying, spreading false reports, etc…  [W]here false testimony was suspected, the judges were to make a thorough investigation, and if false testimony were proven, the false witness was to receive the punishment he had intended to bring on the person falsely accused.  For example, since murder was a capital crime, giving false testimony in a murder case was subject to the death penalty.  Those eager to receive or listen to false testimony were also subject to punishment.

Emphasis added.  (Which raises the question:  How many people “eager to listen to and condemn” – based son what they hear in the media – now face such punishment?)

Note that rape itself isn’t mentioned in the Ten Commandments.  (Possibly because in Bible times women were treated as chattel, but that too is a “whole ‘nother subject.”)

Note too the “equal punishment clause” was based on Deuteronomy 19:16-21:

If a malicious witness comes forward to accuse someone of wrongdoing … the judges shall make a thorough inquiry.  If the witness is a false witness … then you shall do to the false witness just as the false witness had meant to do to the other…    Show no pity

(Emphasis added.)   Accordingly, reasonable people could say Winston was eminently correct in claiming that being falsely accused is as bad as rape itself.   “The Bible says so.”  Under the code of the Bible, the two crimes were punished equally.  The “false accuser” got the same punishment that he – or she –  intended to bring on the person falsely accused.

So, we were talking about the four main themes of the Bible:  creation, sin, judgment and redemption.  We covered the creation and sin, but we’re not quite finished with judgment.

On that note, lots of people got a big kick out of Winston and his team being humiliated in the first round of the college football playoffs on January 1st.   See for example The internet explodes with hilarious Jameis Winston memes, and also Jameis Winston May Have Lost The Rose Bowl, But His Memes Won the Internet.  The latter site noted, “The talented, troublesome Florida State star was front and center in his team’s College Football Playoff meltdown at the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day.”

On the other hand, there are still those who think Jameis is a person worth saving…

On that note – and in case you were wondering – I’m biased.

My writings on FSU football make up an entire category:  “God’s Favorite Team”.  I’ve covered Winston’s legal troubles in prior posts like On “guilty until proven innocent”.  I’ve also covered the current cult of vigilante justice in  “Gone Girl” movie review and Media Frenzy.

For better or worse, Jameis Winston is larger than life.  And so, for better or worse he has a chance to be a great role model in the future.  For that to happen, there must be redemption.

I happen to believe he’ll work out that redemption, in the fullness of time.

He’s a talented young man, full of testosterone as young men tend to be.  He’s brash, cocky and full of himself, which of course annoys the hell out of the losers among us.  And he has that rare and highly marketable ability to bring out the best in his teammates on the football field.

And so, how might that redemption occur?  It could have happened by Jameis staying at FSU, leading an exemplary life over the next year and beyond, leading his team to another national title, but that never was likely.  He has now “declared for the NFL,” and may end up drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  (They have the first-round pick.)

That – in my humble opinion – would be a perfect fit for both parties.  (Reasons include but aren’t limited to the fact his on-field exploits could again be described by the dulcet tones of Gene Deckerhoff.  He does the radio play-by-play for both FSU football and the Buccaneers.)   Then too the 2014 Bucs were “on the cusp.”  Despite going 2-14, they were in most games.  They lost four games by seven points or less, five by three points or less, and one by one point.

Winston would almost certainly help put the Bucs “over the hump.”

But wait!  Winning alone still wouldn’t convince the doubters and haters among us…

For that to happen Jameis would have to give back to the community somehow.

It could be something like Payton Walks!  See also FSU helps fan Payton Poulin walk – Tallahassee Democrat and Florida State fan Payton Poulin walks with, inspires Noles.

Those articles were published in December 2014, a day or two before the Rose Bowl debacle that had so many cackling with glee.  It seems there was a young man from St. Cloud, who overcame tremendous obstacles just to get admitted to Florida State.  As a child he was expected to “be a vegetable” or die at a young age.  But he got into FSU, and once there he was adopted by the team; “The Florida State University freshman loves his job cheering on his family.  ‘I love the team because they accepted me as a brother,’ said Poulin.”

The “Payton Walks” link shows an “emotional scene at the end of practice as honorary Seminole Payton Poulin was walked from the 50 yard line to the end zone.”  And there, in the middle of the crowd of football players stands the tall Number 5, Jameis Winston.

I wonder why there were no cackling internet “memes” about that?

 

 

The upper image is courtesy of article Jameis Winston Is Not A Victim.  

Re: Gene Deckerhoff.  See Gene Deckerhoff (genedeckerhoff.com), and Gene Deckerhoff – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.   And for a break from the current FSU drama and a glance back at better times, see also 2013 FSU National Title Final Radio Call – Gene Deckerhoff – YouTube.

The lower image is courtesy of Florida State fan Payton Poulin walks with, inspires Noles, with the caption:  “Florida State fan Payton Poulin, who according to media reports suffers from schizencephaly, which is similar to cerebral palsy, walked dozens of yards with the team after Tuesday’s practice. Coach Jimbo Fisher spoke about the touching moment afterward.”   The full video shows Payton walking with Jameis Winston holding him up by his left arm. 

 

Going back to the topic of false accusations discussed in “Part I,” see also Community of the Wrongly Accused: Oregon Coach Mark Helfrich Applauded For Disciplining Players Who Taunted Jameis Winston, which noted:  “Because of the sexual assault accusation, Winston has been the whipping boy of the media (you may recall Heather Cox of ESPN’s disgraceful ‘gotcha!’ momentClay Travis’s disgraceful rush to judgment; and Geraldo’s cherry-picking facts).”

 

On the matter of such “prophecies,” see New American Standard Bible:  “When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken.  The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.”  But see also Deuteronomy 18:20:  “But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, is to be put to death.”

So this is where I say – along with Ben Johnson as Sergeant Tyree in She Wore a Yellow Ribbon – “Of course I’m just guessin’ you understand…”

 

Finally, note the story in the USA TODAY: Latest World and US News – USATODAY.com, for Friday, January 9, 2015, Armour: Hernandez saga a warning athletes should heed.  The story begins, “The Aaron Hernandez trial should be required viewing for every athlete who thinks the rules don’t apply.Ms. Armour did mention Winston, but relegated him to a virtual footnote:

What incentive was there for Jameis Winston to act like an adult when Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher was there to defend him at every turn?   Marshall Henderson’s boorishness was tolerated so long as he was keeping Ole Miss in contention for a coveted NCAA tournament bid.  And on and on and on it goes…

Who knows?  It may be progress when Jameis-bashing is moved from front-page news to being sandwiched between Ray Rice, Greg Hardy, Adrian Peterson and Johnny Manziel on the one hand, and Marshall Henderson on the other.  Armour also described Cam Newton’s post-college-football saga:  “Newton would leave Florida … and eventually wind up at Auburn, where he won the Heisman Trophy and the national title.  He would be the No. 1 pick in the 2011 NFL draft and has been, by all accounts, a model citizen.”  For more see Nancy Armour – USA Today.

The same issue had another story on 1-C, Ohio State, Oregon recover quickly after major NCAA sanctions.  See Dan Wolken – USATODAY.  It may be that – for whichever team wins the national title – it’s already started!  On a possibly related note see Enough Celebrity Bashing! Psychology Today, with the subtitle, “Let’s stop holding everyone but ourselves to impossible standards.”

 

 

On the Psalms up to September 21

“A woman playing a psalterion,” an instrument used to accompany psalms

 

 

This feature focuses on both the psalm for the Sunday coming up, and on highlights from the psalms in the Daily Office (DORs) leading up to that upcoming Sunday.  The plan is to post the review of next Sunday’s readings on the prior Wednesday, and review the psalms from the Daily Office Readings for the week ending on the Tuesday just before that “prior Wednesday.”

For example, The Lectionary Page  psalm for Sunday, September 21 is Psalm 105:1-6, 37-45.   In turn, the DOR psalms highlighted in this post will be from the readings for Wednesday, September 10 (“MOL”), up to the readings for Tuesday, September 16.

Psalm 105 will be discussed further below, but first the highlights from last week’s DOR psalms.

Going back to the readings for Tuesday, September 9, in John 10:31-42, Jesus Himself quoted the Book of Psalms.  This was after He’d used the “Good Shepherd” metaphor (and compared Himself to God), after which the Powers That Be got angry and set to stone Him to death:

Jesus replied, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these are you going to stone me?” 33  The Jews answered, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you, but for blasphemy, because you, though only a human being, are making yourself God.” 34  Jesus answered, “Is it not written in your law,[d] ‘I said, you are gods’? 35  If those to whom the word of God came were called ‘gods’—and the scripture cannot be annulled— 36 can you say that the one whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world is blaspheming because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’?

Jesus quoted Psalm 82:6, which adds in verse 7 (of the RSV), “I say, ‘You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you;  nevertheless, you shall die like men, and fall like any prince.’”  The point being that Jesus knew and quoted the psalms frequently (and so should we).

Wednesday, September 10, included Psalm 49:6-7,15, “We can never ransom ourselves, or deliver to God the price of our life; for the ransom of our life is so great, that we should never have enough to pay it…    But God will ransom my life; he will snatch me from the grasp of death.”   A nice reminder when things aren’t going well.

Thursday, September 11 included Psalm 50:5,15, which figures prominently in the Scribe’s new novel, God’s Favorite Team.  (See On “God’s Favorite Team” – Part I.)

“Gather before me my loyal followers, those who have made a covenant with me and sealed it with sacrifice… Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall honor me.”

On a possibly-related note, Friday, September 12, included Psalm 51:14, ” I shall teach your ways to the wicked, and sinners shall return to you.”  (Not that I’m comparing sports-fans to sinners, you understand.)   Then Saturday, September 13, included Psalm 138:9, “The Lord will make good his purpose for me,” which in the case of Yours Truly arguably led up to the creation and implementation of the blog which even now “you” are reading.

And finally, skipping ahead to Tuesday, September 16, that day’s readings included Psalm 62:12, “though wealth increase, set not your heart upon it,” which is something I definitely don’t have to worry about “at this point in time.”  (But I am doing what I love…)

Getting back to Psalm 105:1-6, 37-45, it starts off in verse 1 with an arguable foreshadowing of The Great Commission:  “Give thanks to the LORD and call upon his Name; make known his deeds among the peoples.”  (See Great Commission – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)

Then in verses 37-45 it offered a brief review of Israel’s history, from the beginning of the Exodus to the Children of Israel being brought into the Promised Land:  God “led out his people with silver and gold,” in that “Egypt was glad of their going.”  (See also Exodus 12:36, in the ASV, “And Jehovah gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have what they asked. And they despoiled the Egyptians.“)

The psalm-review continued with an account including “the pillar of cloud,” of manna appearing from heaven, and of Moses “striking the rock at Meribah, ” as shown below.

 

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/12/Tintoretto,_Jacopo_-_Moses_Striking_Water_from_the_Rock_-_1577.jpg

The upper image is courtesy of Psaltery – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, with the full caption:   “A woman playing a psalterion.  Ancient Greek red-figured pelike from Anzi, Apulia, circa 320–310 BCE.”

The lower image – Moses Striking Water from the Rock – is courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tintoretto,_Jacopo_-_Moses_Str….  The artist was Jacopo Tintoretto, and the painting was finished in 1577.  See also Moses Drawing Water from the Rock by TINTORETTO, which added:

In this painting … Moses, by his clothes and pose, recalls the figure of Christ and the water gushing from the rock symbolizes the blood that flows from the side of the Son of God.  At the centre of the canvas, Moses strikes a rock and powerful streams of water erupt from it, filling plates, bowls, and jars held out eagerly by the parched Israelites…   God the Father, borne aloft on a supernatural crystal globe, comes in haste to save his thirsty people.

*   *   *   *

As to  Book of Psalms generally, it is “commonly referred to simply as Psalms or ‘the Psalms’ … the first book of the Ketuvim (‘Writings’), the third section of the Hebrew Bible. The English title is from the Greek [word] meaning ‘instrumental music’ and, by extension, ‘the words accompanying the music.’   There are 150 psalms in the Jewish and Western Christian tradition.” Psalms – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia…   The book is “divided into five sections, each closing with a doxology (i.e., a benediction) … probably introduced by the final editors to imitate the five-fold division of the Torah.”

Wikipedia added that the  “version of the Psalter in the American Book of Common Prayer prior to the 1979 edition is a sixteenth-century Coverdale Psalter.  The Psalter in the American Book of Common Prayer of 1979 is a new translation, with some attempt to keep the rhythms of the Coverdale Psalter.”

For another take on the psalms in general, type “Thomas Merton” in the Search Box above right.

 

And finally, see also Meribah – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, which indicated that despite his position as “God’s Favorite,” Moses often had to tread lightly:

The narrative in the Book of Exodus states that, on account of their thirst, the Israelites grumbled against Moses so Moses, in fear for his life, appeals to Yahweh; the narrative continues with Yahweh telling Moses to walk ahead of the others, and strike the rock at Horeb with his rod, and when Moses does this, it causes the rock to expel water.

Which is another reason that in writing up his history of the world, Moses had to “tell the story using language and concepts that his relatively-pea-brained contemporary audience could understand,” on pain of being tarred and feathered or stoned to death.  (See On the readings for June 15 – Part I.)

 

On “God’s Favorite Team” – Part I

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2f/Osceola,_George_Catlin,_1838.JPG

“Osceola, the Black Drink, a Warrior of Great Distinction…”

 

 

With football season now in full swing – college and pro – it’s time to announce the publication of The Scribe’s new novel, God’s Favorite Team.   The subtitle?   (“A story of the 1996 college football season, and of ritual in sports and sport-fans.”)    Here’s the sub-sub-title:

This book was originally written in the dark days after The Great FSU Loss to the Gators in the 1997 Sugar Bowl, and was intended to offer a message of hope…

In case you’ve forgotten, 1996 was the year the Florida State football team had to play a rematch against its hated arch-rival Florida Gators, despite beating them in the regular season finale.  And that only happened because of a glitch in the system:

Third-ranked Florida was invited to the Bowl Alliance’s designated national championship game for the 1996-97 season [only] because the Pac-10 Conference was contractually obligated to play in the Rose Bowl…    [T]he second-ranked Pac-10 champion, Arizona State, played the fourth-ranked Big Ten champion, Ohio State, in the Rose Bowl…     Florida was assured of winning the consensus national championship [only] when Ohio State defeated second-ranked Arizona State in the Rose Bowl.

See 1997 Sugar Bowl – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, emphasis added.  In other words, the end of the 1996 season not only saw FSU lose the championship game, it saw them lose in such a convoluted way that their hated archrivals won their first national title.

But we’re not hear to rehash the unfairness of the old college system.  We’re here to explore the possibility that – by following pro or college football in the proper manner – the dedicated sports fan can achieve a theophany not unlike Moses had.   (Though probably to a lesser degree.  For more on such theophanies see On the readings for August 31 – Part I, and/or Theophany – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)

The hero of God’s Favorite Team got into offering a “ritual-exercise sacrifice” to help his team, but lest you think he’s alone in his delusions, consider this from Saturday, February 4, 2012.  (A day before Super Bowl XLVI, where the New York Giants beat the New England Patriots 21-17):

Whether it’s leaving up the [Christmas] tree, eating a special meal or wearing a team jersey, many sports enthusiasts have something they do in attempt to increase their team’s odds of winning.   It’s possible that these wacky fan behaviors are related to the superstitious actions some athletes take in attempt to improve their luck said Joshua Shuart, chairman of Sacred Heart University‘s department of marketing and sport management.   He pointed out that many athletes do things like growing beards or eating certain foods   because they think the behavior is lucky.  Adopting their own rituals is a way that fans can feel like they’re part of a team that they’re not actually a member of.   “It all comes down to fan identification,” Shuart said. “They really feel that they’re part of the team.”

But the hero of GFT didn’t just indulge in his own “wacky behavior,” he also added the spiritual discipline of reading the Bible on a daily basis, and it was all part of his own personal Mystic Quest.  (The “daily basis” was the Daily Office, a set of readings designed to get the reader through the Bible in two years.  For on the Office, see About the DOR Scribe, above.)

Unfortunately, while the hero’s team ended up winning three national titles (so far), he also had to endure a lot of heartache along with way.  That’s another way of saying that no one yet has found The Perfect Ritual to guarantee your team will always win.  That in turn is another way of saying good ritual sometimes does no more than help us “accept the rhythm of the seasons,” which includes losing, heartbreak and/or heartache.  An example is this February 1, 2014 post, just before the last Super Bowl, titled “Broncos fans hope superstitions pay off big time:”

This morning Grant Hankins – like thousands of other superstitious fans – will do his game day ritual…   Superstition is a large part of a fan’s repertoire these days, especially when the home team is in Super Bowl XLVIII today…   Kenny Shisler has similar superstitions.  The lifelong Broncos fan said he will wear Broncos gear all week long, but refuses to do so on game day… “Like the Bud Light commercials, ‘It’s only weird if it doesn’t work,’” Shisler said…   The superstition factor is a part of the game. It’s the fan’s way of connection to their team.  “Hopefully our fans have better rituals than the Seahawks fans,” Hankins said.

Broncos fans hope superstitions pay off big-time
Broncos fans hope superstitions pay off big-time

See The Pueblo Chieftain | Broncos fans hope superstitions pay ….  (The devoted football fan will of course recall that in Super Bowl XLVIII, the Seattle Seahawks beat the Broncos 43-8.)

Which is yet another way of saying that in the whole history of the world, no one has found The Perfect Ritual to either:   1) “keep winter at bay,” or 2) guarantee a win for his team, or 3) – like the arrogant King Canute – “keep back the tide,” as seen below.

But here’s a hint: That’s part of the process.   More later…

 

Engraving of picture of King Canute

 

The upper image is courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Osceola,_George_Catlin,_1838.JPG.  The description included with the image reads as follows:

George Catlin painted Osceola in the final month of the warrior’s life, following his infamous capture in October of 1837.  Among the most memorable portraits in Catlin’s large body of work, the painting vividly captures the chief’s pride amid a terrible change of circumstances.

As soon as he heard of Osceola’s capture, Catlin closed his New York studio and headed south.  At Fort Moultrie, he found several competitors engaged in the process of painting and drawing Osceola.  The chief suffered the artists graciously, often sitting for two at once.  Of the group, he particularly liked Catlin, who had traveled widely in American Indian territories. The two stayed up talking late into the night.

Of the many images of Osceola, Catlin’s is the most famous and justifiably so.  The painter’s craftsmanship and respect for his subject shine through in many accurate personal details and in the chief’s nobility and calm grace.

For further information on the painter, see George Catlin – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

 

For another view on such “wacky fan behavior,” see “Super”stitions: Fans engage in odd rituals – Connecticut Post, Faulty logic: Post hoc, ergo propter hoc « Gotham Skeptic, and/or Why Superstition Works: The Science of Superstition in Sports ….

The quotes about “keeping the winter at bay” and “accepting the rhythm of the seasons” were gleaned from the book Passages of the Soul[:]  Ritual Today,” by James Roose-Evans, Element Books Ltd. (1994)   Here are some further passages of interest: “All true ritual calls for discipline, patience, perseverance, leading to the discovery of the self within,” and this:  “No rite has yet succeeded in keeping winter at bay … nor can rites of spring guarantee an abundant harvest.  Such rituals [only] serve to help us to accept the rhythms of the seasons…” 

 

The lower image is courtesy of BBC News – Is King Canute misunderstood?   The article cited recent media misuse of the “Canute metaphor,” and added that in the examples, “the sentiment in the same, King Canute is being used as shorthand to describe trying and failing to hold back the tide.”  But see also, King Canute and the waves, cited in Cnut the Great – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Proverbial reference to the legend in contemporary journalism or politics usually casts the story in terms of “Cnut’s arrogance” of “attempting to stop the tide.”   It was cited, for example, by Stacy Head as typifying the New Orleans city council’s response to Hurricane Katrina (2005), or by Mark Stephens in reference to Ryan Giggs as “the King Canute of football” for his attempts of stopping “the unstoppable tide of information ” on the internet in the 2011 British privacy injunctions controversy.   This is a misrepresentation of Huntingdon’s account, whose Cnut uses the tide to demonstrate his inability to control the elements and deferring to the greater authority of God.

(Emphasis added.)  The foregoing may well be of interest to those engaging in Bible study, as an example of how past events and/or accounts can be twisted, manipulated and/or “spun.”  See Spin (public relations) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

 

 

On “babyliss,” a thorn in the side – and maybe karma

 

 

 

“The endless knot,” perhaps a metaphor for spam, and our ongoing, never-ending attempts to try to get rid of it…

 

 

 

 

The first thing I do these days – when I first log in – is go to the “Comments” section and mass-delete the latest batch of spam, most of it having to do with “Babyliss,” apparently a division of Conair Corporation.  See e.g., Conair Corporation – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  See also web articles including We Can’t Get Rid Of Spam – Forbes.

Needless to say, such spam – as of this writing I’m “down to” 3,614 of them – is extremely annoying, so much so that I’m tempted to wish that certain body parts will start falling off anyone connected with “Conair” or “Babyliss.”   But that isn’t really a Christian attitude, so instead I’m thinking maybe I can derive some comfort from the Apostle Paul’s experience with his own “thorn in the side,” or in the alternative his “thorn in the flesh.”

The article Thorn in the flesh – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, explained that today the phrase “is a colloquialism used to describe a chronic infirmity, annoyance, or trouble in one’s life.  It is most commonly used by Christians.”  The term comes from Second Corinthians, Chapter 12, under the heading of Paul’s visions and revelations, starting at verse 1:

This boasting is all so foolish, but let me go on.  Let me tell about the visions I’ve had, and revelations from the Lord…     I have plenty to boast about and would be no fool in doing it, but I don’t want anyone to think more highly of me than he should from what he can actually see in my life and my message.  I will say this: because these experiences I had were so tremendous, God was afraid I might be puffed up by them; so I was given a physical condition which has been a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to hurt and bother me and prick my pride.

(The Living Bible translation, emphasis added.)   Wikipedia noted that Paul didn’t specify the nature of this physical “thorn in the flesh,” and that through the centuries, “Christians have speculated about what Paul referred to.”

However, if Paul had lived in modern times and had tried to advance his message through a blog like this one, he may very well have been referring to that *&%*@% babyliss spam that keeps coming back like a bad case of [fill in the blank with the expletive of your choice]!!!

See also Paul’s Thorn In The Flesh – Article – Andrew Wommack Ministries, which began:

This thorn in the flesh that Paul mentioned has been used and misused by Christians to justify submitting to nearly any problem that comes along.  Satan has twisted this passage of Scripture to deceive many, many people into believing that God would not heal Paul, so how can they expect to be healed?  Let us examine this closely and find out exactly what Paul’s thorn in the flesh was.

That brings up another future topic, about how “the Devil can cite Scripture for his use.”  (See The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose | EnglishClub, quoting Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, Act 1, scene 3.)

But before that, let’s discuss the concept of Karma.  See Karma – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, which defined it as the action, work or deed of an individual, and “also refers to the principle of causality where intent and actions of an individual influence the future of that individual.”  (Or in the alternative, “the sum of a person’s actions in this and previous states of existence, viewed as deciding their fate in future existences.”)

Back in May I published On spam and “angels unaware”.  Briefly, I “caused a major firestorm” by attempting to “share his Blog by way of a older-person singles-group email list.”  I waxed poetic on that experience showed how it was better to be open-minded, and how even something as bad as spam might illustrate the concept of “entertaining angels unaware.”  I then noted:

[U]nsolicited email – also known as “spam” – [] certainly does present a major problem for all internet users. (See Unsolicited Bulk Email: Definitions and Problems.)   But from that a general principle might be gleaned:  While most unsolicited emails present a problem, that doesn’t mean some of them don’t also present an opportunity.

But now – after being victimized by thousands upon thousands of unsolicited, mostly-Babyliss spams – I think I was probably wrong.  I now I fully agree with the words of Mister Kurtz:

“The horror, the horror…   Exterminate all the brutes!!”

 

http://www.studentpulse.com/article-images/uploaded/348_1.jpg

 

The upper image is courtesy of http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/14/EndlessKnot03d.png.  

The lower image is courtesy of http://www.studentpulse.com/article-images/uploaded/348_1.jpg.  See also Kurtz (Heart of Darkness) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, and In Heart of Darkness, what does Kurtz mean by his final words …    (Mister Kurtz was a central character in Joseph Conrad’s novel.)

On Robin Williams’ “Top Ten”

Robin Williams in Good Morning Vietnam

Robin Williams in Good Morning Vietnam. . .

 

 

Welcome to DOR Scribe, a blog on reading the Bible with an open mind.  For more of the usual opening blurb, see On St. Mary, Mother, the next post up.  In the meantime, consider this tribute to Robin Williams, who had a gift for turning tragedy into something we could laugh at – and with – much as he did with the Vietnam War, as seen above.

There have been a slew of tributes to his life and work, but among other things Robin was known for writing up a list of Top 10 Reasons to be an Episcopalian:

10. No snake handling.

9.  You can believe in dinosaurs.

8.  Male and female God created them; male and female we ordain them.

7.  You don’t have to check your brains at the door.

6.  Pew aerobics.

5.  Church year is color-coded.

4.   Free wine on Sunday.

3.   All of the pageantry – none of the guilt.

2.   You don’t have to know how to swim to get baptized.

And the Number One reason to be an Episcopalian:

1.   No matter what you believe, there’s bound to be at least one other Episcopalian who agrees with you.

That list is a fitting topic for some future posts, but this particular version is from  All Our Voices: Top 10 reasons to be an Episcopalian, a blog for St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral in San Diego.  The site added this reader comment about Mr. Williams, dated May 17, 2010:

I found something very interesting about Robin Williams recently that made me admire him even more.  My partner works at Children’s Hospital in San Francisco in the Pediatric ICU on the night-shift.  He told me that every year – without fail – Robin Williams comes to the Hospital at Christmas time to bring all of the children toys.  Furthermore, he does this without the press having any knowledge of it. . .   When I found out that Robin is an Episcopalian, I smiled.  I have recently become a member (I was raised Catholic) and I absolutely love my Church at St. Paul’s Cathedral. . .  May God bless you Robin.  What a wonderful gift of making others laugh you have. . .

A second comment noted that Robin also participated in the “local San Diego Triathlon challenge with the Challenged Athletes foundation.  It’s really cool he does this without the hoopla of celebrity.”  All of which is something else to remember him by.

This Top Ten list spawned a host of imitations (and imitation is indeed the “sincerest form of flattery”), two of which will be mentioned here and taken up later.

One list came from then-Bishop Neal Alexander, at a talk for the  Diocese of Atlanta Ministry Fair in March 2012 at St. Philip’s Cathedral.  The Bishop said there were Ten Essential Elements of Anglicanism, and presented them in reverse order, like Robin Williams and David Letterman.  That list too a fitting topic for a number of future posts, but here are some highlights:

Essential # 6. We strive to follow “the Middle Way” or Via Media, rather than turning to extremes on either side. This path is consistent with that of the early Church, and we seek to share that experience of the early Christians by continuing to follow the path between extremes. We focus on life’s journey, leaving our destination to a ‘Higher Power. . .’  We celebrate life as a pilgrimage as the basic metaphor of Christian life.”

Essential # 3.  We strive to become fearless pursuers of all truth.  Sir Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin were both famous members of the Anglican Church, yet they pursued “the truth” even when it threatened to be in conflict with current church doctrine. . .   For example, the motto of the Virginia Seminary is, “Seek the truth, come whence it may, cost what it will.”  Or as comedian Robin Williams said (as a “card-carrying Episcopalian”), “You don’t have to check your brains at the door.”

And finally, there was Anglican Essential # 1.  We strive to be “relentlessly hopeful.”  We strive to be and must be “prisoners of hope.”

Unfortunately, somewhere along the line Robin Williams lost that sense of hope – and humor – by which everyday life can be endured and its obstacles overcome.  And who knows, maybe if we worked to make this world a better place there wouldn’t be such despair. . .

*   *   *   *

Ten years ago I lost my nephew to a freak accident, when a car he was riding in plunged into the Chattahoochee River.  He was so young and the death seemed so pointless that I got some of that despair noted above, and it definitely challenged my faith.  Oddly enough I found comfort – eventually – in the First Law of Thermodynamics, that law of physics which states that “energy is neither created nor destroyed, but simply changes form:”

So if the human soul is a form of energy – an idea that seems self-evident – then it too can neither be created nor destroyed, but simply changes form.

I have a feeling that somewhere, somehow – “even as we speak” – the spirit of Robin Williams is making some being – some entity – laugh his or her spiritual butt off.

 

http://kaplaninternational.com/blog/por/files/2012/03/primavera-e-idiomas1.jpg

 

The upper image is from Channel 4 News apologises for Robin Williams gaffe, which added this:

Channel 4 News has apologised after airing a clip of Robin Williams in Good Morning Vietnam saying: “Get a rope and hang me,” a day after the star’s suspected suicide. . .  Channel 4 came in for criticism for the gaffe.

 The lower image is courtesy of kaplaninternational.com/por/blog/a-primavera-e-seus-idiomas/.   The quotation comes from Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man:

Hope springs eternal in the human breast; Man never is, but always to be blessed:  The soul, uneasy and confined from home, Rests and expatiates in a life to come.

See Hope Springs Eternal – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

 

 A blurb is a “short summary or promotional piece accompanying a creative work.”  See Blurb – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

See also, Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery – Idioms by The …

The “First Law of Thermodynamics” was addressed in On Ascension Day.   And a BTW: The other “Top Ten” spin-off list noted above was “Ten Reasons to Remain an Episcopalian,” at Ten Reasons to Remain an Episcopalian Use your ….   But see also – in the interest of being “fair and balanced” – Top Ten Reasons to Stay Catholic | America Magazine.

 

On scapegoating

http://fridayfunfact.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/scapegoat.jpg

 

From the Scribe (6/27/14):

 

This afternoon I was going through my old posts, transferring them to flash drive in preparing Volume 2 of my collections of Blog-posts.   (Volume 2 will soon be available in e-book or “old-fashioned paperback version.”  See For a paperback or e-book version…)

In doing so I ran across this draft of a review of Daily Office readings for last May 19.  It was on scapegoating, but for some reason I never finished.  So here it is:

*   *   *   *

The Old Testament reading in the Daily Office for Monday, May 19, was Leviticus 16:1-19.  Of particular interest is the original idea of a scapegoat.

In modern usage a scapegoat is an individual, group, or country singled out for unmerited negative treatment or blame.   A whipping boy, “fall guy” or “patsy” is a form of scapegoat…    In ancient Greece a cripple or beggar or criminal (the pharmakos) was cast out of the community, either in response to a natural disaster (such as a plague, famine or an invasion) or in response to a calendrical crisis (such as the end of the year)…   In psychology and sociology, the practice of selecting someone as a scapegoat has led to the concept of scapegoating.

See Scapegoat – Wikipedia.   So the original idea was to make “atonement for sin,” an idea that turns a lot of people off (especially liberals and such).

So again, what’s the big deal about “sin?”

As Isaac Asimov explained, to sin “involves separation from God,” which means in turn an unhealthy separation from both The Force that Created the Universe and the community where you live.   Since the whole idea of most religions or spiritual disciplines is to “become one” with both that Force and that Community, that’s not a good thing.  So “atoning for sin” means getting “back on track on this idea of becoming one with God.”   (See On sin and cybernetics.)

Getting back to the Daily Office OT reading for last May, God – through Moses – directed his brother Aaron to take a bull and two goats, to get the people of Israel back on track to remaining one with “God and neighbor.”  Aaron was then directed as follows:

[T]ake the two goats and set them before the Lord at the entrance of the tent of meeting; 8and Aaron shall cast lots on the two goats, one lot for the Lord and the other lot for Azazel.* 9Aaron shall present the goat on which the lot fell for the Lord, and offer it as a sin-offering; 10but the goat on which the lot fell for Azazel* shall be presented alive before the Lord to make atonement over it, so that it may be sent away into the wilderness to Azazel.

So what the heck is Azazel?

The term is used three times in the Hebrew Bible – what we call the Old Testament – and  has been “traditionally understood either as a scapegoat, or in some traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, as the name of a fallen angel or demon.”

The medieval scholar Nachmanides (1194–1270) identified the Hebrew text as also referring to a demon. . .   However, he did not see the sending of the goat as honoring Azazel as a deity, but as a symbolic expression of the idea that the people’s sins and their evil consequences were to be sent back to the spirit of desolation and ruin, the source of all impurity. The very fact that the two goats were presented before God, before the one was sacrificed and the other sent into the wilderness, was proof that Azazel was not ranked alongside God, but regarded simply as the personification of wickedness. . .

(See Azazel – Wikipedia.)  And by the way, in keeping with the theory that there is “nothing new under the sun,” Azazel these days has become a “comic book supervillain.”

That is, these days he appears in comic books published by Marvel, and in particular those featuring the X-Men. A mutant with the power of teleportation, he is the father of the X-Man Nightcrawler.”  See Azazel (Marvel Comics) – Wikipedia.

As to the reappearance of Azazel – albeit as a comic figure – see Ecclesiastes 1:9:

What has been will be again,
    what has been done will be done again;
    there is nothing new under the sun.

 

 

The upper image is courtesy of “fridayfunfact.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/scapegoat.jpg.”

The full text of the “scapegoat” passages:

11 Aaron shall present the bull as a sin-offering for himself, and shall make atonement for himself and for his house; he shall slaughter the bull as a sin-offering for himself. 12He shall take a censer full of coals of fire from the altar before the Lord, and two handfuls of crushed sweet incense, and he shall bring it inside the curtain 13and put the incense on the fire before the Lord, so that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy-seat* that is upon the covenant,* or he will die. 14He shall take some of the blood of the bull, and sprinkle it with his finger on the front of the mercy-seat,* and before the mercy-seat* he shall sprinkle the blood with his finger seven times.

15 He shall slaughter the goat of the sin-offering that is for the people and bring its blood inside the curtain, and do with its blood as he did with the blood of the bull, sprinkling it upon the mercy-seat* and before the mercy-seat.* 16Thus he shall make atonement for the sanctuary, because of the uncleannesses of the people of Israel, and because of their transgressions, all their sins;

 

There is also a physical Mount Azazel, located in the “Judean Desert 14 km southeast of Jerusalem.” See Let us tour Eretz Yisroel: Mount Azazel:  “A road through the desert connects Jerusalem with Mount Azazel or Jabel Muntar. . .     Most likely, this very road was used to march the scapegoat to its death on the high place of Mount Azazel.”

“As Isaac Asimov explained…”  See Asimov’s Guide to the Bible (Two Volumes in One),  Avenel Books (1981), at page 157 (on Leviticus).

On the idea of becoming “one with The Force That Created the Universe” (and even your most obnoxious neighbor), see Some Bible basics from Vince Lombardi and Charlie Chan:

Hear what our Lord Jesus Christ said: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your strength, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment, and the second is like unto it: you shall love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.

As to the modern-day “comic book” version:  “Azazel claims that many years ago an ancient horde of demonic humanoid mutants from biblical times called the Neyaphem were in an epic battle with a group of angelic xenophobic mutants. . .   The Neyaphem’s leader, Azazel, was the only one who was able to breach the dimensional void for brief periods of time due to his teleportation powers. His only hope to return to Earth was by impregnating women because his children are linked to his dimension.”   (Which also sounds patently familiar.)

 

On “nothing new under the sun,” see also Ecclesiastes – Wikipedia:

Ecclesiastes has had a deep influence on Western literature: American novelist Thomas Wolfe wrote:   “[O]f all I have ever seen or learned, that book seems to me the noblest, the wisest, and the most powerful expression of man’s life upon this earth — and also the highest flower of poetry, eloquence, and truth.  I am not given to dogmatic judgments in the matter of literary creation, but if I had to make one I could say that Ecclesiastes is the greatest single piece of writing I have ever known, and the wisdom expressed in it the most lasting and profound.”

 

On “expressio unius”

Re: “Latin scholar. . .”

 

From the Scribe:

There’s a sign at my bank, taped to the window next to the front door.  It has words saying in effect, “When entering, please remove your hat and/or sunglasses,” etc.

So being a former lawyer, I do exactly that.  “When entering,” I remove my hat.  Then, once I get inside I put my hat back on.  I do that because in law school I learned the maxim, expressio unius est exclusio alterius.  That translates to “the expression of one thing is the exclusion of another.”

Among other things, this is called gaming the system, about which more later.

It also brings up the distinction between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law.

The spirit of the bank’s request seems pretty clear:  Remove your hat and/or sunglasses, so in case you turn out to be a bank robber we’ll be able to have clear surveillance photos of your sorry “self” and will be able to send you to jail.   On the other hand, by focusing exclusively on the letter of that bank-request, you can pretty much rob it of its intended effect.

(A BTW:  That’s the whole theory behind this Blog.  And just in case I’m being too subtle, let me spell it out.  Those “fundamental” people who focus exclusively on the “letter” of the Bible – limiting it to a strict “literalism” – pretty much likewise rob it of its intended effect.)

That’s why the Apostle Paul said in Second Corinthians 3:6, that God “has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit.  For the letter kills, but the Spirit produces life.”  (That’s the Holman Christian Standard Bible, emphasis added.)

That’s also arguably why Jesus Himself said, “For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”  (The Living Bible, emphasis added.)  In other words, these passages show that God does not want Good Christians to limit their reading, interpreting and living according to the Bible to a spirit-killing literalism.  (A sentiment that can easily get you a busted nose in these parts, like the “scholar” portrayed above.)

So based on expressio unius, here’s how a sleazy lawyer and/or “literalist” would interpret the bank’s request.  “If they wanted me to keep my hat and/or sunglasses off the whole time I was in the bank, they would have said so clearly and plainly.  Instead they just told me to take off my hat and/or sunglasses ‘when entering.'”  On the other hand, maybe the bank didn’t think it needed to either “waste the space” or spell out something that should be perfectly clear by a reasonable person using good old common sense.

Which brings up Gaming the system – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  Such a practice is also known as “gaming the rules, bending the rules, abusing the system, milking the system, playing the system, or working the system,” and can further be defined as using the rules and procedures “to manipulate the system for a desired outcome.”

See also, Wikipedia:Gaming the system – Wikipedia, the free …, which notes, “Gaming the system means deliberately using Wikipedia policies and guidelines in bad faith to thwart the aims of Wikipedia.”  That could easily be interpolated into, “Gaming the system includes deliberately using those policies and guidelines set out in the Bible, in bad faith, either to thwart the aims of the people and/or entities who took part in writing the Bible.”

Now I’m not saying that there aren’t many good Christians who take the Bible “literally,” but in a whole and entire “good faith.”  I’m simply saying – again – that taking the Bible too literally can both rob it of its intended effect, and give rise to a temptation to manipulate the Bible for a desired outcome, as for example some “charismatic personality who infuses biblical passages and fervor into his pitches as a way to ease and collect money.”

Forewarned is forearmed.  That’s all I’m saying (even though it may get me a busted nose.).

 

 

The upper image is “at:  en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classics,” with the caption:  “Bust of Homer, the ancient Greek epic poet.”  (Latin, Greek, whatever. . .)

See also Expressio unius est exclusio alterius legal definition of ….

The lower image is courtesy of Wikipedia, Elmer Gantry – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, and Elmer Gantry (film) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

On publication in 1927, Elmer Gantry created a public furor.  The book was banned in Boston and other cities and denounced from pulpits across the USA.  One cleric suggested that Lewis should be imprisoned for five years, and there were also threats of physical violence against the author.  The famous evangelist Billy Sunday called [author Sinclair] Lewis “Satan‘s cohort.”   [But] Elmer Gantry ranked as the number one fiction bestseller of 1927, according to “Publisher’s Weekly.”

See also, The lady doth protest too much, methinks – Wikipedia, the …, referring to a line from Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, which line is “used as a figure of speech . . . to indicate that a person’s overly frequent or vehement attempts to convince others of something have ironically helped to convince others that the opposite is true, by making the person look insincere and defensive.”

And finally, see Forewarned is forearmed – Idioms and phrases – The Free …, and Praemonitus praemunitus – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, for our second Latin lesson for the day.

On the readings for June 29

The Sacrifice of Isaac by Caravaggio. . .

 

The June 29 readings are Genesis 22:1-14, Psalm 13, Romans 6:12-23, and Matthew 10:40-42.

In Genesis 22:1-14, “God tested Abraham,” by apparently asking him to kill his first-born son Isaac, the son he and his wife Sarah had been waiting and praying for “lo these many years.”   (As noted in On “Call me Ishmael” – June 22 (Part I), “Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born, and Sarah was past 90” when Isaac was born.)

The story bothers a lot of people because it shows God as apparently ordering a father to kill his own son.  But a look at the “prevailing wisdom” might shed some light.  (See On “originalism”, noting that originalism is the view that interpretation “should be based on what reasonable persons living at the time . . . would have declared the ordinary meaning of the text to be.”)

So what would a reasonable man – under the “community standards” at the time – have thought of Abraham killing his son as a “sacrifice?”  Apparently it wouldn’t have bothered that reasonable man at all, because apparently at that time and place, child sacrifice was quite common.  See Binding of Isaac – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, citing “Hertz:”

[C]hild sacrifice was actually “rife among the Semitic peoples. . .  [I]n that age, it was astounding that Abraham’s God should have interposed to prevent the sacrifice, not that He should have asked for it.”  Hertz interprets the Akedah as demonstrating to the Jews that human sacrifice is abhorrent.

(Akedah is Hebrew short-hand for the Abraham-Isaac story, and translates “The Binding.”)  So to a reasonable Semite at the time – when the story occurred, or when Moses wrote it down, if not both – a father offering his son as a “sacrifice to the gods” was so common that the Akedah proved the noteworthy exception.  (Something like today’s “man bites dog” journalism; “an unusual, infrequent event is more likely to be reported as news than an ordinary, everyday occurrence.”  Man bites dog (journalism) – Wikipedia, the free ….   (Did the Scribe mention that he got a Master’s Degree in Journalism?)

So the Good News here is not that God is cruel, as it might seem from a “plain reading.”  The point is just the opposite; God wanted to change some “prevailing practices.”  (Note the general definition of conservative, “a person who is averse to change and holds to traditional values and attitudes.”)   In this case, God apparently felt a prevailing practice needed to be changed.

In Psalm 13, the writer first asked, “How long, O LORD?  Will you forget me for ever?”  But he ended on a note of hope, “I will sing to the LORD, for he has dealt with me richly; I will praise the Name of the Lord Most High.”  (Maybe because God didn’t require child sacrifice.)

In Romans 6:12-23, Paul wrote about the wages of sin; “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  The post On D-Day and confession addressed this whole business of sin, a “business” that seems to turn off a whole lot of non-Christians.  (For example, the search “Christians hung up on sin” led to offerings including Advocatus Atheist: Why are Christians Hung Up on Sin?).  Here’s what  “D-Day” said:

When we “sin” we simply fall short of our goals; we “miss the target.”  When we “confess,” we simply admit to ourselves how far short of the target we were.   And maybe the purpose of all this is not to make people feel guilty all the time, as some seem to imply.

Note also Paul’s saying, in Romans 6:19, “I am speaking in human terms because of your natural limitations.”  In other words Paul – like Moses and indeed God Himself – is not limited by his (or His) ability to teach, but only by our ability to comprehend.  So Moses couldn’t tell “the truth” about such things as the earth revolving around the sun, because he had to tell the story of Creation “using language and concepts that his relatively-pea-brained contemporary audience could understand.” See On the readings for June 15 – Part I.  So also Paul – like God – had to keep in mind the “natural limitations” of his (or His) audience.

And finally, in Matthew 10:40-42, Jesus spoke of the “reward of the righteous,” especially concerning the children who had been so routinely offered as a sacrifice to the “old gods” in the time of Abraham; “whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple – truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.”

 

“Christ with children by Carl Heinrich Bloch.”

 

The upper image is courtesy of Binding of Isaac – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The full caption reads: “The Sacrifice of Isaac by Caravaggio, in the Baroque tenebrist manner.”

As to reasonable, see Reasonable person – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:  “The reasonable person (historically reasonable man) is one of many tools for explaining the law to a jury.”

As to the Hertz reference, “Rabbi Joseph Herman Hertz, CH (September 25, 1872 – January 14, 1946) was a Jewish Hungarian-born rabbi and Bible scholar. He is most notable for holding the position of Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom from 1913 until his death in 1946, in a period encompassing both world wars and the Holocaust.”

The lower image – and note the contrast between the upper and lower images – is courtesy of The Little Children – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

On “what a drag it is…”

As in, “What a drag it is getting o-o-o-o-o-o-ld!”  (With apologies to the Rolling Stones.)

 

From The Scribe. . .

 

Keeping in mind that a true Blog is “like a traditional diary, right down to the informal style of writing that characterizes personal communication,” this is my first diary-like blog post.

I graduated from high school in 1969.  After graduation I went my way – like so many of that generation – in search of the Good Life of the 1970s.  (That usually included the proverbial sex, drugs and/or rock and roll.)   One thing that ongoing search did not include was staying in the “Established” or “Establishment Church” that I grew up in.

On the other hand, now that I’m “old and full of years” – I’m 62 – I can clearly see that “getting o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-ld” beats the heck out of the alternative.

Getting back to those rockin’ 1970s, Transcendental Meditation was a Big Trend on Campus, and it seemed to offer one road to the Good Life and/or Promised Land.   But those people wanted to charge a whole lot more money than I could afford.

So I ended up trying self-hypnosis, Alpha Thinking, yoga, and a host of other Eastern ways of dealing with life’s unpleasantries, my own shortcomings, and the unremitting evil and suffering I saw each day on TV and the news.   I read books on karate, aikido, tai chi and other eastern disciplines; books like Zen in the Art of Archery.

I learned about prana, chi, ki, and “the force,” as in “the force be with you.”  I was still entranced by Transcendental Meditation – and how easy “they” said it was – but as noted, I balked at the price.  (At the time, it was supposed to run a week’s salary, which included a personalized Sanskrit mantra, “all my very own.”)  But I couldn’t afford a week’s salary, being the poor, bearded, unemployed and largely unemployable college student that I was.  So I kept looking, and the quest seemed to end when I found a book, How to Meditate, by Lawrence LeShan.

LeShan’s book offered all the meditational techniques anyone could ever need, in a book that cost a fraction of the price TMers wanted, for that instruction and my personal Sanskrit mantra.

But eventually – “in the fullness of time,” as a Bible writer might say – I came to see the Christian Faith itself as a kind of Ongoing “Transcendental” Meditation.   In other words, like some other people who wrote about the Bible, the Faith and prayer – guys like Thomas Merton – I came to see similarities in those exotic Eastern disciplines I studied in my youth, and the daily practice of Bible-reading.   (See DOR Scribe, above.)

To make a long story short, the essence of a mantra meditation is simply repeating a word or phrase, over and over, for a pre-established period of time.  (The usual period is 10-20 minutes.) It sounds pretty fruitless, but consider the “Cliff’s-Note” summary given by Jesus:

Hear what our Lord Jesus Christ said: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your strength, and with all your mind.  This is the first and great commandment, and the second is like unto it: you shall love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.

Those “two great commandments” are in the Book of Common Prayer at page 324, and as with most of the Prayer Book, they come directly from the Bible, Matthew 22:37-40.

Then consider a standard confession that some church-goers repeat every week: “We have not loved you [God] with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.”

The point is this:  Like any meditation the quest to “love God with our whole heart and love our neighbors as ourselves” is literally impossible.   On the other hand, the process of meditating – trying “to do the impossible” – usually ends up with you becoming a better person.  By taking part in Bible reading on a regular basis – and by trying to love God with all your heart and your neighbors as yourself – you can also develop a zest for living, an ability to cope with everyday frustration, and a soothing sense of serenity that comes from being “one with All.”

Of course there’s a whole lot more to it than that, and that “that” is what this Blog is all about.  (In other words, “that ‘that'” will be the subject of a host of future posts.)

In the meantime (like the man said in the 1970s TV ad), the message is: “Try it, you’ll like it!”

http://i.ytimg.com/vi/9qdfMYFl0Ic/hqdefault.jpg

The top image is courtesy of The Rolling Stones – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The caption reads: “The Rolling Stones 1965.”  See also, Mother’s Little Helper – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, with the opening line, “What a drag it is getting old!”  The “Little Helper” site added, “The song deals with the sudden popularity of Valium (diazepam), a mild tranquilizer, among housewives and the ease of obtaining it from their GPs.”

The lower image is courtesy of www.youtube.com/watch?v=9qdfMYFl0Ic.  See also 11 Advertising Slogans That Became Catch-Phrases:  “This 1971 Alka-Seltzer was one of the first created by the then-new Wells, Rich, Greene advertising agency.  The tag phrase soon took on a life of its own (how many mothers used it to convince their picky eaters to eat their broccoli?) and helped to get the commercial elected to the Clio Awards Classic Hall of Fame.”

As to the first “diary-like blog post,” the reference is Blogging for Dummies, 4th Edition, Susannah Gardner and Shane Birley, John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken NJ (2012), at page 9:  “At its most basic level, a blog is a chronologically ordered ordered series of website updates, written and organized much like a traditional diary, right down to the informal style of writing that characterizes personal communication.”  (Emphasis added.)

As to “rock and roll,” see Rock and roll – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

As to Transcendental Meditation as a “Big Trend on Campus.”  Transcendental Meditation (sometimes shortened to “TM”) is a form of mantra meditation, in which a word or phrase is repeated over and over for 20 minutes or so at a time, to discipline the mind and not think “other thoughts.”  Mantra meditation is discussed at length in LeShan’s book.  As to the fee, in the U.S. in the 1960s, the “usual fee was one-week’s salary or $35 for a student.”  (I didn’t know about that “mere $35 fee,” but it didn’t matter; I couldn’t have afforded the $35 anyway.)  In the 1970s the fee was fixed at $125, with discounts for students and families. By 2003, the fee in the U.S. was set at $2,500, and has “since” been reduced to $1,500. See Transcendental Meditation – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

As to ” How to Meditate, by Lawrence LeShan.”  My copy was published by Bantam Books in 1975.

As to “essence of a mantra,” see How to Meditate using a mantra, by Professor Michael Olpin of Weber State University, Ogden, UT.  (See also Michael OlpinWeber State University.) 

And a BTW:  Thomas Merton – about which much more in future posts – was a Catholic (Trappist) monk (1915-1968) who “pioneered dialogue with prominent Asian spiritual figures, including the Dalai Lama, the Japanese writer D.T. Suzuki, and the Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh, and authored books on Zen Buddhism and Taoism.” See Thomas Merton – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, and also the Thomas Merton Center.  His books included (but were not limited to) Praying the Psalms, Mystics and Zen Masters, and Zen and the Birds of Appetite.

On the Prayer Book – I

File:Good Morning, Vietnam.jpg

 

As a very wise person or persons once said (or wrote):

The Book of Common Prayer is unique to Anglicanism.  It contains a collection of worship services that all worshipers in an Anglican church follow.  It also contains the Psalms, prayers and thanksgivings and an Outline of Faith. Essentially it is a guidebook for worship … [for] church on Sundays, as well as in daily relationship with God. It is called “common prayer” because it is used by all Anglicans around the world…   The first Book of Common Prayer was compiled in English by Thomas Cranmer in the 16th Century, and since then has undergone many revisions…  The present prayer book in the Episcopal Church was published in 1979.

So – just in case you missed the subtle clues in the About that “DOR Scribe” guy page – The Scribe is a “card-carrying” member of the Episcopal Church.  In that sense he is just like Robin Williams (seen above), but the star of Good Morning Vietnam is also famous for his list of “Top 10 Reasons for Being an Episcopalian:”

10.       No snake handling.

9.          You can believe in dinosaurs.

8.          Male and female, God created them; male and female we ordain them.

7.          You don’t have to check your brains at the door.

6.          Pew aerobics.

5.          Church year is color coded.

4.           Free wine on Sunday.

3.           All of the pageantry, none of the guilt.

2.           You don’t have to know how to swim to get baptized.

And finally, the Number One reason to be an Episcopalian:    “No matter what you believe, there’s bound to be at least one other Episcopalian who agrees with you.”   (See for example Top Ten Episcopal T-Shirt, Red, XX-Large – Episcopal Bookstore.   Then there’s that old saw about whenever you find four Episcopalians, “you’re sure to find a fifth!” See for example whiskeypalian; where you find four Episcopalians, you’ll find …)

 *   *   *   *

But seriously, one of the best reasons to become an Episcopalian is the Prayer Book:

The Episcopal Church (TEC) is part of the very large Anglican Communion…  [It] describes itself as being “Protestant, yet Catholic…  [It] was organized after the American Revolution, when it separated from the Church of England whose clergy are required to swear allegiance to the British monarch as Supreme Governor of the Church of England, and became the first Anglican Province outside the British Isles…  The Episcopal Church separated itself from the Church of England in 1789, having been established in the United States in 1607. Its prayer book, published in 1790, had as its sources, the 1662 English book…

See Episcopal Church (United States) – Wikipedia, the free …, and also Book of Common Prayer – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

So the story of our American Book of Common Prayer started way back in Merry Olde England, and specifically at or shortly after the death of Henry VIII (he of the many wives).

Workshop of Hans Holbein the Younger - Portrait of Henry VIII - Google Art Project.jpg     In turn the very first Book of Common Prayer was published in England in 1549, and is “one of the underpinnings of modern English:”

Together with the Authorized version [i.e., the King James Version of the Bible] and the works of Shakespeare, the Book of Common Prayer has been one of the three fundamental underpinnings of modern English…   [M]any phrases from its services have passed into the English language, either as deliberate quotations or as unconscious borrowings…   Some examples of well-known phrases from the Book of Common Prayer are[:]  “Speak now or forever hold your peace” from the marriage liturgy…  “Till death us do part”, from the marriage liturgy[, and] “Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust” from the funeral service.

See the Wikipedia article noted above, which added that a Book of Common Prayer “with local variations is used in churches inside and outside the Anglican Communion in over 50 different countries and in over 150 different languages.”

One of those distant Anglican-Communion churches is on the Falkland Islands, near the very southern tip of South America, as shown below.  (The Diocese of the Falkland Islands is an “extra-provincial church in the Anglican Communion headed by the Bishop of the Falkland Islands.)

The point is that you can go pretty much anywhere in the world and find an Anglican church to worship, and wherever you go they’ll be using that same Prayer Book, subject of course to the local Prayer Book having been “altered, abridged, enlarged, amended, or otherwise disposed of … according to the various exigency of times and occasions.”

 

Location of the Falkland Islands

 

 Sources for images and/or text include Good Morning, Vietnam – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, and Henry VIII of England – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

As to the quote “Book of Common Prayer is unique to Anglicanism,” see for example The Book of Common Prayer — Episcopal Church in MinnesotaBeliefs and Practices – All Saints – Episcopal Diocese of …, and/or St Andrew’s in the Pines (GA).

As to the “altered, abridged [or] enlarged” quote, see the Preface (under the link “Table of Contents”), at The Online Book of Common Prayer.