As if all that isn’t confusing enough, this April 16, 2023 – the Second Sunday of Easter – could also be called “the Sunday of Many Names.” Aside from the two mentioned above, it’s called “Doubting Thomas Sunday.” That’s because the Gospel reading is always John 20:19-31, the story of disciple Thomas and the doubts he had about Jesus being risen from the dead after being crucified. It’s also called Low Sunday and the Octave of Easter, but I’ll get to those later.
Wikipedia went on to explain that Thomas the Apostle – also called Didymus, meaning “The Twin” – was best known from the account in John 20:19-31. He questioned Jesus’ resurrection at first, but after his direct experience – seeing and touching Jesus’ wounded body – he proclaimed, “My Lord and my God.” Of course we can’t have that direct experience – not in this life anyway – but there’s something to be said for having doubts and then overcoming them.
You could say there are two kinds of faith. The first is blindly believing, without asking any questions, having any doubts or asking how other people have interpreted the Bible. The second type does ask questions, does dig deeper and as a result often comes across doubt. You could think of that second type of faith as a form of resistance training. The Blind Faith Christian doesn’t like “resistance.” He does the same old boring exercise, over and over again, and stays at the same low level of spiritual fitness. The Healthy Doubt Christian welcomes resistance, and asks the probing questions that often lead to doubt. But in the process, he ultimately grows spiritually stronger by overcoming that resistance, by overcoming those doubts.
That 2014 post had a link, If you doubt and question … answers.yahoo.com. It asked, “If you doubt and question your faith will it become stronger?” Unfortunately the current link won’t take you there, but back then the “Best Answer” to the Yahoo question included this:
Remember Thomas, the disciple, who wouldn’t believe in Christ’s resurrection until he put his hand into Jesus’s wounds. He went on to die spreading the gospel in Persia and India. God gave us free choice, He doesn’t want us to be robots, He could have made us like that, but wanted us to choose for ourselves. You learn and grow by questioning.
In other words, there seem to be Christians who see The Faith of the Bible as a spiritual strait-jacket, a pre-shaped form into which “we” have to mold ourselves. This type of Christian also seems to believe that St. Peter will have some kind of checklist at the Pearly Gates, so that if you don’t answer every litmus test question exactly right you won’t get in.
Other Christians see The Faith as a set of Spiritual Wings, like it says in Isaiah 40:31:
But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
I.e., a set of spiritual wings that can take you to wonderful places and experiences you couldn’t imagine. The choice is yours, but as for me an my house, I’ll pick the spiritual wings.
And now back to those other names for the Second Sunday of Easter. One is Low Sunday, because church attendance falls off so drastically that first Sunday “after.” (Compared with the high attendance of Easter Day itself.) Another name is the Octave of Easter. That’s the eight-day period, “or octave, that begins on Easter Sunday and ends with the following Sunday.”
Then there’s that Quasimodo Sunday. But that’s not because of Quasimodo – the guy shown in the image below – better known as the “Hunchback of Notre Dame:”
Instead, the name comes from a Latin translation of the beginning of First Peter 2:2 , a traditional “introit” used in churches on this day. First Peter 2:2 begins – in English and depending on the translation – “As newborn babes, desire the rational milk without guile…” [Or, “pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up” in salvation.] In Latin the verse reads: “Quasi modo geniti infantes…” Literally, “quasi modo means ‘as if in [this] manner.’”
Since “geniti” translates as “newborn” and the translation of “infantes” seems self-evident, the “quasi modo” in question roughly translates, “As if in the manner” (of newborn babes)…
Which brings us back those “Blind Faith” Christians. They like staying “newborn babes,” spiritually. They don’t want to grow up in their salvation. Or as noted below, they stay in the security of Christian boot camp, where they learned the fundamentals. They don’t want to venture out and use the skills they’ve learned. Or have the spiritual adventures of a “spiritual wings” Christian.
“As for me and my house.” Joshua 24:15, “if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve… But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
Quasimodo Sunday. The link from the Catholic News Agency shows yet another name: The “Sunday following Easter is typically remembered as ‘Divine Mercy Sunday,’ a feast day established by Pope John Paul II which honors the divine mercy of Jesus.”
The lower image is courtesy of Quasimodo – Wikipedia. Caption: “‘A tear for a drop of water’ Esmeralda gives a drink to Quasimodo in one of Gustave Brion‘s illustrations.”
Speaking of recently created, it all started in 1925, mostly “Over There” in Europe:
Pope Pius XI instituted The Feast of Christ the King in 1925 [after] the rise of non-Christian dictatorships in Europe… These dictators often attempted to assert authority over the Church [and] the Feast of Christ the King was instituted during a time when respect for Christ and the Church was waning… (Emphasis added.)
And speaking of 1925, here’s how that year started: On January 3, Benito Mussolini “promised to take charge of restoring order to Italy within forty-eight hours.” (Marking the beginning of his dictatorship.) Aside from Mussolini in Italy, in Russian a new organization was created, TASS, which quickly became a front for the NKVD, later the KGB. (Of Vladimir Putin fame.) And that’s not to mention Adolf Hitler. In July 1925 he published Volume 1 of his personal manifesto Mein Kampf. Also in July, in the United States, 1925 featured a show of strength by a group called the Ku Klux Klan. The Klan held its parade in Washington, and their five million members at the time made it the “largest fraternal organization in the United States.”
In plain words, Pius XI created the Feast of Christ the King in response to world events swirling around him. (Including – but hardly limited to – Hitler, Mussolini, and the KKK.)
Another problem is that today’s Christian Nationalists get a lot of political power from the fact that their political opponents just don’t know much about the Bible. They can’t tell when the Bible is being misquoted, misused or abused. But that “problem” is also the Achilles’ heel of Christian nationalism. Mostly because Jesus opposed all such “Nationalism.*”
As Garry Wills pointed out, Jesus was above politics. Or as Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” Jesus was all about saving souls, even the souls of people who hated Him the most. “I came to save, not to condemn.” Which means He definitely wasn’t into today’s politics. But of course there WAS one man who tried to pressure Jesus into getting more politically involved, into being more of a nationalist. His name wasJudas Iscariot.
Getting back to such nationalism and its Achilles’ heel. All this makes a good case for more Americans reading and studying the Bible: Political self-defense. Those who stand for Jesus and against exclusionary “nationalism” can start saying things like, “What part of ‘love your neighbor’ don’t you understand?” Or, “What part of ‘love your enemy‘ don’t you understand?” Or my favorite, 1st John 4:20, “If we say we love God, but hate others, we are liars. For we cannot love God, whom we have not seen, if we do not love others, whom we have seen.” In other words:
[F]ascist regimes have merged the fervor of nationalism with the notions of superiority, especially when it comes to ethnicity and religion. In such contexts, “patriots” can become those who happened to agree with you or look like you, and “traitors” those who do not.
April 24, 2022 is officially the Second Sunday ofEaster. Note the “of,” not “after.” That’s because Easter is “not just one day, but an entire season.” It’s a season of 50 days – called Eastertide – that runs from Easter Sunday to Pentecost. (See Frohliche Ostern.) It’salso known as Low Sunday, mostly because church attendance falls off so drastically on that first Sunday “after.” (Compared with the high attendance of Easter Day. On that note see “CEOs;” i.e., Christians who only go to church on Christmas and Easter. “Christmas and Easter Only.”)
But aside from being “low,” it’s also the”Sunday of Many Names!” That includes Doubting Thomas Sunday – the Gospel for the day always tells the story of “Doubting Thomas” – and the Octave of Easter. (Because chronologically it comes eight days after Easter.)
And finally it’s known as “Quasimodo Sunday.” But that’s not because of Quasimodo – the guy shown in the lead image – and better known as the “Hunchback of Notre Dame:”
Instead, the name comes from a Latin translation of the beginning of First Peter 2:2 , a traditional “introit” used in churches on this day. First Peter 2:2 begins – in English and depending on the translation – “As newborn babes, desire the rational milk without guile…” [Or, “pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.”] In Latin the verse reads: “Quasi modo geniti infantes…” Literally, “quasi modo means ‘as if in [this] manner.’”
Since “geniti” translates as “newborn” and the translation of “infantes” seems self-evident, the “quasi modo” in question roughly translates, “As if in the manner” (of newborn babes)…
And incidentally, that character in Hunchback of Notre-Dame was namedafter the opening words of First Peter 2:2. In the New International Version it reads, “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.” Also incidentally, the passage right before it reads, “Rid yourselves, therefore, of all malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander.” Which is definitely a needed reminder these days. (“Facebook commenters!”)
The 2019 post Easter … and a Metaphor talked about these two Sundays and also a metaphor about Jesus inviting Peter to literally “walk on water.” It’s true that Peter “fell flat on his face” – at least metaphorically – but at least he took the chance of accepting Jesus’ invitation. As a result of taking that chance – and not following the safe path and staying in the boat – Peter’s faith grew in ways that the other disciples could never experience. (He “explored his full potential;” so much so that he became Primus inter pares. “First among equals.”)
The third of the three noted Doubting Thomas’ “passage to India,” on the tradition that Thomas sailed to India in 52 AD, to spread the Christian faith. And that he was martyred in 72 AD.
Some Patristic literature state[s] that St. Thomas died a martyr, in east of Persia or in North India by the wounds of the four spears pierced into his body by the local soldiers.
One result? India, and especially the Malabar coast, still boasts a large native population calling themselves “Christians of St. Thomas.” Not bad for a guy who started out doubting…
Almighty and everliving God, we most heartily thank thee for that thou dost feed us, in these holy mysteries, with the spiritual food of the most precious Body and Blood of thy Son our Savior Jesus Christ; and dost assure us thereby of thy favor and goodness towards us; and that we are very members incorporate in the mystical body of thy Son, the blessed company of all faithful people…
Re: “Doubting Thomas Sunday.” The readings for this Second Sunday of Easter always include John 20:19-31, which tells the story of Thomas overcoming his doubt by personally seeing Jesus after His resurrection. (Overcoming his saying earlier, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”)
Re: An “Introit,” like First Peter 2:2. Merriam-Webster defines it as either “the first part of the traditional proper of the Mass consisting of an antiphon, verse from a psalm, and the Gloria Patri,” or a “piece of music sung or played at the beginning of a worship service.” The Gloria Patri generally goes like this: “Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, and now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.”
That is, the post went on to describe some of the Biblical prophets, like Isaiah. (At left.) And said that those Bible prophets were very much like Pink Floyd, “cited by some as the greatest progressive rock band of all time.” That is, those Bible prophets were “also the ‘spokesmen of protest’ and the ‘radicals of their day.'”
(Or, “God’s commitment to each person open-mindedly developing their full potential?”)
Hannah-Jones spoke of the Disciples and their followers “speaking in other languages” on the original day of Pentecost. (Of which more below.) Then of Peter refuting a claim that the speakers were simply drunk. (“That early in the day.”) But one key feature of that first Day of Pentecost was that very multilingualism, not to be confused with glossolalia. (Or “speaking in tongues,” which according to one definition is the “ecstatic, usually unintelligible speech uttered in a worship service,” or fabricated or non-meaningful speech.)
“Doc Geek” said that act of “speaking in different languages” was itself radical, an “obvious challenge to the Roman Empire,” which wanted everyone to speak a single language, Greek or Latin. (Like too many of today’s so-called Christians, who think their “fundamental” interpretation of the Bible-Faith is the only valid one, on pain of all who disagree “going to hell.”)
But my theory is that unless any good Christian is infallible, he or she cannot know either all the answers or all of the “Ultimate Truth.” (And if that person is infallible, the rest of us can say, “It’s about time. We’ve been waiting for You to come back these past 2,000 years!”)
And just as a reminder, the first sentence of that post was, “We’re just starting the 12th full week of the COVID-19 pandemic.” (Illustrated at right. And for the record, we’re now in the sixty-second – 62d – full week of COVID; 15 months and two weeks.)
In turn, that “learn what is pleasing to the Lord” phrase came from Ephesians 5:10. And alternatives to the word “learn” are the words “test” and “prove,” as in the Berean Study Bible, “Test and prove what pleases the Lord.” One commentary added:
To prove is to ascertain by test and experiment. Our whole walk should be directed to finding out what things are pleasing to Christ… We are not to follow the tradition of our people … we are to prove the matter, to put it to the test.
In other words, we can’t find out how to “please Christ,” personally, as individuals, by merely becoming carbon-copy, “cookie cutter” or Comfort Zone Christians. Instead “we are to prove the matter” of our faith, to “put it to the test.” We are to live our lives fully, without fear…
Which is pretty much one major theme of this blog. And that’s the very same theme that I noted in Pink Floyd – “rigid schooling.” Put another way, that post spoke again of how some people – like “Conservative Christians?” – read, study and apply the Bible to their everyday life “by the book.” That is, way too literally or “fundamentally.” Which is another way of saying that “going by the book isn’t always the best course. It’s always a good place to start, and it’s always easier to do. The problem comes when that’s all you know.”
To put it in more concrete terms, that post used an example from Shakespeare; the part where Juliet tells Romeo, “You kiss by the book.” That is, Juliet meant that Romeo kissed “as if he ha[d] learned how to kiss from a manual.” The web article SparkNotes: Romeo and Juliet: Act 1, scene 5, said the comment could be taken two ways, one involving a “lack of experience.”
Or it could be interpreted like this:
Juliet’s comment that Romeo kisses by the book is akin to noting that he kisses as if he has learned how to kiss from a manual and followed those instructions exactly. In other words, he is proficient, but unoriginal…
(Emphasis added.) Which is pretty much what those so-called Conservative Christians get by and through their style of Bible study. They get “proficient, but unoriginal.” And yet the Bible itself says – repeatedly – that our job is to sing to the Lord a NEW song. (That theme “of singing a new song to the Lord – and not just another stale, old ‘conservative’ or literalist rehash – is repeated again and again in the Bible. Like in Isaiah 42:10, and Psalm 96:1, Psalm 98:1, and Psalm 144:9.”) And speaking of proving and testing, consider what Buddha once said:
Do not believe on the strength of traditions even if they have been held in honor for many generations… Believe nothing which depends only on the authority of your masters or of priests. After investigation, believe that which you yourself have tested and found reasonable, and which is good for your good and that of others.
(Emphasis added.) And that’s the same thing the Bible says in 1st John 4:1, “do not believe every spirit, buttest the spirits to see whether they are from God.” (E.A.)
Which brings us back to 2015’s Pink Floyd and “rigid schooling.” One of the key lyrics to the band’s song The Wall is “We don’t need no education, We don’t need no thought control.” As an adult nearing my 70th summer I’d agree in part and disagree in part. I’d say “these young punks today need some education,” but I’d say they’re right about the thought-control part:
So maybe that’s what Pink Floyd was saying with “We don’t need no thought control.” Teach us how to create out of the basics. Teach us how to become both proficient and original. But don’t try to turn us into “compliant cogs in the societal wheel…”
Which – in my opinion – is pretty much what you’ll become if you read and apply the Bible Faith too literally or too “fundamentally.” And aside from short-changing yourself, you’ll be driving away from Jesus the very people who need Him the most. Which is one reason that now – for the first time in 80 years – Less Than 50% of Americans Formally Belong to a Church. Yet another reason for the decline is that those people just don’t know The Real Good News: That being a real Christian doesn’t mean you have to be just another brick in the wall…
Re: Fallible. See the Free Dictionary: likely to fail or make errors. Used in a sentence. “Everyone is fallible to some degree.” A thought mirrored in Romans 3:10, citing – among other passages – Psalm 14:3 and 1st John 1:8, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
For now [in this time of imperfection] we see in a mirror dimly [a blurred reflection, a riddle, an enigma], but then [when the time of perfection comes we will see reality] face to face. Now I know in part [just in fragments], but then I will know fully…
Which might be amplified, “Then – and only then – will I know fully.”
Juliet’s comment that Romeo kisses by the book is akin to noting that he kisses as if he has learned how to kiss from a manual and followed those instructions exactly. In other words, he is proficient, but unoriginal… (E.A.)
Precisely because Jesus is a mysterious, divine figure, however, he is also an iconoclast who escapes ordinary human religious and political categories: “He did not found a church or advocate a politics…” [Wills’] underlying concern seems to be that the “faith-based politics” of the contemporary evangelical Right in the U.S is a form of “idolatry” based on values alien to Jesus” teaching.
As noted in the opening blurb, this blog has four main themes. The first is that God will accept anyone. (John 6:37, with the added-on phrase, “Anyone who comes to Him.”) The second is that God wants us to live abundantly. (John 10:10.) The third is that we should do greater miracles than Jesus. (John 14:12). A fourth theme: The only way to do all that is read the Bible with an open mind. See the Wikipedia article, which talks about its opposite:
…closed-mindedness, or an unwillingness to consider new ideas, can result from the brain’s natural dislike for ambiguity. According to this view, the brain has a “search and destroy” relationship with ambiguity and evidence contradictory to people’s current beliefs tends to make them uncomfortable… Research confirms that belief-discrepant-closed-minded persons have less tolerance for cognitive inconsistency…
See also Splitting (psychology) – Wikipedia, on the phenomenon also called black-and-white thinking, “the failure in a person’s thinking to bring together the dichotomy of both positive and negative qualities of the self and others into a cohesive, realistic whole. It is a common defense mechanism. The individual tends to think in extremes (i.e., an individual’s actions and motivations are all good or all bad with no middle ground).
Re: “mystical.” As originally used, mysticism “referred to the Biblical liturgical, spiritual, andcontemplative dimensions of early and medieval Christianity.” See Mysticism – Wikipedia,and the post On originalism. (“That’s what the Bible was originally about!”)
For an explanation of the Daily Office – where “Dorscribe” came from – see What’s a DOR?
Counting forward from December 25 as Day One, we find that Day Forty is February 2. A Jewish woman is in semi-seclusion for 40 days after giving birth to a son, and accordingly it is on February 2 that we celebrate the coming of Mary and Joseph with the infant Jesus to the Temple at Jerusalem…
In other words, the day celebrates “an early episode in the life of Jesus.” That is, His presentation at the Temple in Jerusalem, “in order to officially induct him into Judaism.” And by the way, it’s also known as Candlemas. (As shown above right.)
The 2015 post has lots of information on Mardi Gras, which happens this year on February 25. (The point being that the “Feast of the Presentation” leads directly on to Ash Wednesday, Lent and ultimately to Easter.) And the fact that way too many people see Mardi Gras as just another excuse to party, without seeing any connection to religion or spirituality.
The bad news – to some – is that Mardi Gras is followed immediately by Lent, a “solemn religious observance,” 40 days of atonement, self-denial, prayer, penance, repentance, and almsgiving. And incidentally, that’s not 40 days straight of “self-denial.” You get Sundays off to enjoy whatever it is you’ll be giving up for Lent.
As to the last, see OMG! Is it time for Lent again? That is, there are actually 46 days of Lent: 46 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. That’s because Sundays in Lent are essentially “days off,” when you can still enjoy whatever it is you’ve “given up.” (A bit of Bible wisdom that got overlooked by the writers and/or producers of 40 Days and 40 Nights. See below right.)
Which brings up another bit of Bible wisdom that I overlooked – or failed to mention before – based on my recent trip to Utah. (From December 27 to January 9.) That is, the fact that January 1st is the day celebrated by some Christians as the time “Our Lord first shed His blood for us.”
On January 1st, we celebrate the Circumcision of Christ. Since we are more squeamish* than our ancestors, modern calendars often list it as the feast of the Holy Name of Jesus, but the other emphasis is the older. Every Jewish boy was circumcised (and formally named) on the eighth day of his life, and so, one week after Christmas, we celebrate the occasion when Our Lord first shed His blood for us.
And finally, one note of interest: Generally the February 2d “Presentation” comes roughly halfway into the Season of Epiphany. Which this year ends with Ash Wednesday, February 26. Which leads – as noted – to both Lent and Easter:
Which also leads to what could be called the“Second Presentation of Jesus.” That is, Ash Wednesday leads to Good Friday, with Jesus about to be crucified – for us and our shortcomings – as shown below…
Matthew wrote that the rich young man first asked Jesus how to get “eternal life.” (How to “get to heaven.”) Then – after the young man told Jesus he already observed all the commandments – Jesus said: “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor.” Luke’s Gospel added that when he heard this, the rich young man “became very sad, because he was very wealthy.” That’s when Jesus said it would be “easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
But in last Sunday’s sermon, our visiting priest asked us to imagine something different. Like what would have happened if the young man had agreed to do what Jesus said?
That is, suppose the rich young man had actually starting selling all his possessions and giving the profits to the poor. The priest theorized that Jesus probably would have said this: “Stop! I was only trying to make a point! Let’s work something out so you can keep your goods and possessions and put them to good use in the service of the Lord…”
That post noted that the Abraham-Isaac story bothers a lot of people, because it seems to show God ordering a father to kill his own son. “And that’s the view you would take if you took the lesson literally.” But at the time Abraham lived, child sacrifice was pretty routine. In fact, you could call it a prevailing “traditional value.”
Which means the Abraham-Isaac story is not one of God being cruel. Instead:
“[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.” [Rabbi Joseph Herman Hertz (1872 -1946)] interpreted the Akedah as demonstrating to the Jews that human sacrifice is abhorrent… So to a reasonable Semite at the time … a father offering his son as a “sacrifice to the gods” was so common that the Akedah proved the noteworthy exception.
A note: Akedah is Hebrew short-hand for the Abraham-Isaac story, and translates “The Binding.”
So anyway, the main point of the Abraham-Isaac story is that God never intended that Abraham actually kill Isaac. In the same way, the point of the “Jesus and the rich young man” story could be that Jesus never wanted the rich young man to give up all his possessions. What he wanted was the rich young man’s willingness to do so. But mostly He wanted the rich young man to use and develop his talents, so he could put them to the “service of the Lord.”
* * * *
Which brings us back to Luke the Evangelist. And speaking of developing your talents: The noted Catholic writer Garry Wills – in his book What the Gospels Meant – noted that Luke wrote the longest of the four Gospels. He added that Acts of the Apostles is almost as long, and that these two of Luke’s books together “thus make up a quarter of the New Testament.” (And they’re longer than all 13 of Paul’s letters.) He said Luke is rightly considered the most humane of the Gospel writers, and quoted Dante as saying Luke was a “describer of Christ’s kindness.”
Thus Luke’s Gospel was arguably “the most beautiful book that ever was.”
But – again speaking of developing your talents – Luke wasn’t just a great writer. He was also – according to tradition – an artist. Beyond that, he was said to be the first icon painter, and to have painted pictures of the Virgin Mary and Child, as shown in the image below.
Which means Luke’s version of the Jesus story is one we should pay special attention to. And especially to being “humane” and active practitioners of “Christ’s kindness.”
A lot has happened since June 22 and my last post. But to cut to the chase: The caption for the image at the top of the page is: “A political cartoon showing merchants dodging the ‘Ograbme,’ which is ‘Embargo‘ spelled backwards.” As noted below, President Thomas Jefferson’s Embargo Act of 1807 was “one of the most self-defeating laws ever passed in American history.”
For an explanation of the symbols in the cartoon, see the notes. But the point is that even a smart guy like Thomas Jefferson could have some really stupid ideas.
And all of which also goes to show that this whole idea of independence – whether national, secular or religious – can be messy. (If not “revolutionary.”)
One ramification is that “independence” – freedom, if you will – can be really messy. Which brings up Wikipedia on the touchy subject of winning – and keeping– “independence:”
Whether the attainment of independence is different from revolutionhas long been contested, and has often been debated over the question of violence as legitimate means to achieving sovereignty. [Emphasis added.]
One big reason freedom – for allpeople, including those “not like us” – is that so many otherpeople seem to make so many stupid choices. See the Prayer Book‘s Outline of the Faith:
Q. Why then do we live apart from God and out of harmony with creation? A. From the beginning, human beings have misused their freedom and made wrong choices. Q. Why do we not use our freedom as we should? A. Because we rebel against God, and we put ourselves in the place of God.
”Widespread evasion of the maritime and inland trade restrictions [of the Act] by American merchants, as well as loopholes in the legislation, greatly reduced the impact of the embargo on the intended targets in Europe.”
Among other results, Great Britain gladly took over the trade routes America gave up – and lost – by and through the Embargo. In plain words, the Embargo cost a lot of American jobs.
Another author said the Embargo Act was “one of the most self-defeating laws ever passed in American history.” Mostly because it “took no account of economic realities.” (Which Jefferson-supporters might have called “fake news.”) But in the end:
The legislation was unenforceable: goods were taken Canada and then quietly brought across the border, or smuggled in by fishing boats… But industry and trade still suffered: New York came close to seceding, such was the crisis it was undergoing…
All of which sounds vaguely familiar, somehow.
But getting back to the focus of this blog: We should note July 4th is not just a secular holiday but a religious feast day. (As noted in the link Independence Day.) And speaking of unpleasant reality: The first Bible reading for July 4 includes Deuteronomy 10:19:
When you have entered the homeland that God gives you, serve Him faithfully. Deal generously with the alien and the homeless, for you were homeless aliens in the land of Egypt.*
Which goes to show today’s so-called “Conservative Christians” – who support the present hard-line on immigration – are arguably acting “contrary to Scripture.”
As detailed in “Trump-humping” – and Christians arguing with each other, Ezekielsays that our duty as Good Christians is to warn each other. To “argue” with each other and thus – in the process – arrive at a better understanding of “the Truth.” (And not just yell “fake news” to any information we disagree with or can’t handle. Or pull the “you’re going to hell” card.)
As Jesus said in John 8:32, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (Which means those people who yell “fake news” are arguably also acting “contrary to Jesus.”)
But getting back to Thomas Jefferson and his role as Founding Father. Although he made mistakes, he also did a heck of a lot of good for this country. As noted on his tombstone:
But there’s one other bigthing he did. He took a chance and doubled the size of the then-existing United States. He did this by the Louisiana Purchase, “one of his greatest contributions to the United States.” (And by far “the largest territorial gain in U.S. history.”)
Which goes to show that Thomas Jefferson was not a conservative, Christian or otherwise…
He wasn’t afraid to take a chance, and he wasn’t about to be bound by “conservative strictures.” And because of this trait, Americans had a whole new territory to explore.
Man to the far Left is a British man who is upset because Americans cannot and will not sell goods to the British. The Turtle represents the American government, which is making sure that the American does not sell goods to the British. The man carrying the barrel represents an American who wants to sell goods to make money but cannot due to the Embargo Act.
You shall allot it as an inheritance for yourselves and for the foreigners who dwell among you and who have children. You are to treat them as native-born Israelites; along with you, they shall be allotted an inheritance among the tribes of Israel.
Most historians consider Jefferson’s embargo to have been ineffective and harmful to American interests[, and] as Jefferson’s “least effective policy…” [Historian] Joseph Ellis calls it “an unadulterated calamity…” Jefferson believed that the failure of the embargo was due to selfish traders and merchants showing a lack of “republican virtue.”
I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know – God knows. And I know that this man – whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows –was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.
“Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.”
For a fuller commentary on that “eternal sin,” see Mark 3:29 Commentary (Bible Hub). But – as one of my former priests once summarized – the concept behind this passage is pretty simple: “If you’re afraid you might have committed this ‘eternal sin,’ you probably haven’t.”
That’s another way of saying that if you insist that you’ve never sinned, you could be in big trouble. Or that it’s only the sin you’re not aware of – or refuse to consider – that can reallyget you in trouble. But in church this morning, during the sermon, I had another thought. Mark 3:29could be a classic example of Jesus applying Deuteronomy 19:16.
In other words, if I think – or say, perhaps with relish – that someone I don’t like is going to “roast in hell” and he’s not, then I’ve put myselfin danger of roasting in hell.
(BTW: The full cite would be Deuteronomy 19:16-19. Which could really get a lot of people in trouble these days.) So basically the so-called “teachers of the law” accused Jesus of being “possessed by Satan, the prince of demons.” Which in turn meant that they were liable to end up being punished as if they were in fact “possessed by Satan, the prince of demons.”
Which is not a pretty picture – or subject – to contemplate. And this is my point: Like Tom Cruise in the film A Few Good Men, all real and true Christians simply Want the Truth. They want and need to find out things as they really are, mainly in their own self-interest. As noted, the only real “unforgivable sin” is the one you’re not aware of.
Which brings us back to mytheory that – since 1992 – my ongoing ritual sacrifice has helped some of my favorite teams, including but not limited to teams from FSU. (Where I graduated law school in 1984.) For starters, since 1992 the FSU football team has won three national championships. Also, “my” Tampa Bay Bucs won a Super Bowl. “My” Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup. I got “my” L.A. Dodgers to Game 7 of last year’s World Series.
(Somehow I have to figure out how to get the Dodgersover the hump.)
So I prayed and “sacrificed” for the FSU men’s baseball team to win a national championship, only to have the Women’s softball team win theirfirst national championship.
Which means this Eternal Search for Truth is an ongoing process. Again, I hope to explore this process in future posts, but in the meantime I’ll go on following my own particular “practice of religion.” For one thing, I’m sure there’s a lesson there somewhere.
For another thing: So far the results haven’t been too bad…
Re; My ritual sacrifice. You could also call it a kind of “mystic quest,” if not a “canary in a coal mine” protocol: “The phrase ‘living like a canary in a coal mine’ often refers to serving as a warning to others. The actual canary had little control over its fate, but it continued to sing anyway. In one sense, living this way indicates a willingness to experience life’s dangers without compromise.”
On another note, tomorrow – June 11 – is the Feast Day for Saint Barnabas:
The apostle and missionary was among Christ’s earliest followers and was responsible for welcoming St. Paul into the Church. Though not one of the 12 apostles . . . he is traditionally regarded as one of the 72 disciples of Christ and [the] most respected man in the first century Church after the Apostles themselves.
See On St. Barnabas, posted in June 2014, on this “Apostle of Second Chances.”
Before the events of the first Pentecost … there were followers of Jesus, but no movement that could be meaningfully called “the church.” Thus … Pentecost is the day on which the church was started. This is also true from a spiritual perspective, since the Spirit brings the church into existence and enlivens it. Thus Pentecost is the church’s birthday.
Pentecost also marked a big change in the idea of “Ministry.” In the Old Testament, “the Spirit was poured out almost exclusively on prophets, priests, and kings.” But starting with Pentecost, God recruited “all different sorts of people for ministry.” That is, the Holy Spirit – the spirit of ministry – now became available to anyone and everyone: “All would be empowered to minister regardless of their gender, age, or social position.”
Thus the first Pentecost was indeed a “momentous, watershed event.”
Incidentally, the word “Pentecost” comes from the Greek for “the 50th day,” and it’s always celebrated 50 days after Easter Sunday. (That’s “seven weeks plus one day.”)
Trinity Sunday … is one of the few celebrations of the Christian Year that commemorates a reality and doctrine rather than a person or event… The Trinity is one of the most fascinating – and controversial – Christian dogmas. The Trinity is a mystery. By mystery the Church does not mean a riddle, but rather the Trinity is a reality above our human comprehension that we may begin to grasp, but ultimately must know through worship, symbol, and faith. It has been said that [this] mystery is not a wall to run up against, but an ocean in which to swim.
(Emphasis added.) In other words, the Trinity as a concept is so difficult to understand that even a smart guy like Thomas Jefferson couldn’t do it. But while Jefferson referred to the Doctrine of the Trinity as a “Three-headed Monster,” I prefer the metaphor of “an ocean in which to swim.” (For a long, long time – and ultimately the rest of your Christian pilgrimage on this earth.)
It also seems to me that – while Jefferson was really smart – he fell into the “common error of thinking that he could ever really understand everything there is to know about God.”
But as noted above, “the Trinity is a reality above our human comprehension.” It’s a reality that we can only begin to grasp. The same seems to be true of much of the Bible, and especially the “mystical” parts. (Which may be why some choose “literalism.” It’s ever so much easier…)
That brings up the Gospel for May 27, John 3:1-17. There Jesus had a talk with a “Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews” who was really a “Christian,” but secretly. And even a smart guy like Nicodemus – shown at right talking with Jesus – didn’t understand the idea of being “born again.”
His problem? He took Jesus’ words too literally: “Nicodemus said to Him, ‘How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?’”
Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things? … If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?“
Which goes to show that reading the Bible too literally can only take you so far in your spiritual journey. As Jesus Himself noted, the Bible includes many realities that are simply above our human comprehension: “How can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?”
See also the end of John, John 21:25, which said there were many other things Jesus did, “which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.” (Also there’s Ecclesiasticus 42:17, the Old Testament DOR for the Eve of Trinity Sunday: “The Lord has not empowered even his holy ones to recount all his marvellous works.”) Which just goes to show there’s more to the Biblethan meets the eye.
Pentecost is also called “Tongue Sunday,” for the “tongues of fire” that appeared that day, as noted in Acts 2:3. Also for “speaking in tongues” – also known as glossolalia – noted in Acts 2:4, “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.“
Third, Pentecost marks the beginning of “Ordinary Time” – as it’s called in the Catholic Church – and shown in the chart at left. Such “Ordinary Time” takes up over half the church year. In the Episcopal Church – in the Anglican liturgy – the Season of Pentecost begins on the Monday after Pentecost Sunday and goes on “through most of the summer and autumn.” It may include as many as 28 Sundays, “depending on the date of Easter.”
As to Whitsunday: The name is a contraction of “White Sunday.” In English “the feast was always called Pentecoste until after the Norman Conquest, when white (hwitte) began to be confused with wit or understanding. [In] one interpretation, the name derives from the white garments worn by catechumens, those expecting to be baptised on that Sunday… A different tradition is that of the young women of the parish all coming to church or chapel in new white dresses on that day.
“A genuinely good heart is a heart that is open and alight with understanding. It listens to the sorrows of the world. Our society is wrong to think that happiness depends on fulfilling one’s own wants and desires. That is why our society is so miserable…”
See also He Qi « Artist: “One could say that among other things his paintings are a celebration of colour. The style of his work is iconic, and [his] images are strong but gentle.”
The Gospel lesson for Sunday, April 15, 2018, was Luke 24:36b-48. (According to the Revised Common Lectionary, for Sunday Bible readings.) That Sunday reading included Luke 24:45: “Then he” – that is, Jesus – “opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.”
Which is precisely the point of this blog… Openingyour mind when reading the Bible.
(A note: Last year Ascension Day was on May 25. This year it’s coming up on May 10. That’s because it’s always “celebrated on a Thursday … the 40th day of Eastertide, the 50-day church season running from Easter Day to Pentecost Sunday.) So anyway,here’s the point I was trying to make:
Luke 24 [included] the Road to Emmaus appearance. [Shown below.] That [was] followed in turn by the last of the post-Resurrection appearances of Jesus. The two disciples at Emmaus had gotten up and “returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together.” Jesus then appeared in the midst of all of them, and taught them things; i.e., He “opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.” (E.A.)
* * * *
Put another way, the key point was that somepeople may object to reading the Bible with an open mind. But if they do, we can always say we’re “just following the example of Jesus as told in Luke 24:45.” See also “There’s no such thing as a ‘conservative Christian.” That post noted the difference between realChristians and “Pharisees.” (Conservatives posing as Christians):
Christians aren’tnegative, self-righteous, sanctimonious or hypocritical. Real Christians work every day to make the world a better place, plowing ahead, while the pharisees get all the negative press… Which of course leaves the rest of us with a heavy cross to bear.
I wrote about that episode in April 2014’s Another view of Jesus feeding the 5,000. That post explained the difference between the traditional – or narrow-minded – interpretation of the story, and one more in line with reason and experience. That is, in the narrow-minded view, Jesus performed a fairly-routine magic trick. (A “pure miracle, plain and simple.”) The miracle can’t be explained rationally and was never meantto be understood rationally.
But there is a non-traditional view, and it’s based on the idea that some people in Jesus’ time never left home without taking a spare loaf of bread – or some other food – stashed somewhere in the folds of their robes. Under that theory, Jesus started off with faith, and in turn got other people to act on that faith, and share what theyhad. I ended the post this way:
Suppose the lesson Jesus intended to teach us was that – by His example – He got a bunch of normally-greedy people to share what they had. That by His example, Jesus got those normally-greedy people to share so much of their own stuff that no one – in the crowd of “5,000 plus” – went hungry. And more than that, there was even a surplus. The question is:
And incidentally, April 25, 2018 was the Feast Day for St. Mark, who wrote the first and shortest of the four Gospels. For more see On St. Mark’s “Cinderella story.” That is, at one point Mark’s was “the most ‘dissed‘” of the four Gospels: For example, St. Augustine called Mark “the drudge and condenser” of Matthew’s Gospel. The “Cinderella” angle started with serious Bible scholarship in the 19th Century, which noted that “the other three Gospels all cited material from Mark, but ‘he does not do the same for them.’” The conclusion? “Mark started the process and set the pattern of and for the other three Gospels. As a result of that, since the 19th century Marks’ “has become the most studied and influential Gospel.” See also More on “arguing with God” – and St. Mark as Cinderella. Or you can type in “St. Mark” in the search box above right for more on this saint.
The painting depicts the moment when the resurrected but incognito Jesus, reveals himself to two of his disciples… Cleopas wears the scallop shell of a pilgrim [and] gesticulates in a perspectively-challenging extension of arms in and out of the frame of reference… The painting is unusual for the life-sized figures, the dark and blank background. The table lays out a still-life meal. Like the world these apostles knew, the basket of food teeters perilously over the edge. [E.A. Talk about Deja Vu All Over Again…]
Re: “Which would be the greater miracle?” That is, which would be the greater miracle, the Almighty Son of God performing a fairly routine magic trick, or a religious leader getting “normally greedy people” to share what they had? I’m guessing the latter would be the greater miracle…