Monthly Archives: August 2014

On the readings for August 31- Part II

“Paul Writing His Epistles,” possibly even his Letter to the Romans. . .

 

 

This post is “Part II” of the Bible readings for Sunday, August 31.  As always, you can see the full readings at The Lectionary Page, but here are some highlights and commentary.

As noted in On the readings for August 31 – Part I, the OT reading for August 31 is Exodus 3:1-15.  The others are Psalm 105:1-6, 23-26, 45c, Romans 12:9-21, and Matthew 16:21-28.

Psalm 105 is a “two-parter,” a psalm so long it got divided in two.  Among other things, the text is relevant to the “Curse of Ham,” which some people used to justify African Slavery, “back in the good old days.”  See for example Curse of Ham – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

[I]n later centuries, the narrative was interpreted by some Jews, Christians and Muslims as a curse of, and an explanation for, black skin, as well as slavery.

But Psalm 105:23 notes, “Israel came into Egypt, and Jacob became a sojourner in the land of Ham,” to wit: Egypt.  Psalm 105:27 adds, of Moses and Aaron (see above), “They worked [God’s] signs among them, and portents in the land of Ham,” again referring to Egypt.  Thus – according to a strict interpretation of the plain meaning of the Bible text – all those years it should have been Egyptians working in those cotton fields.  (See also On “originalism”.)

More to the point, the International Bible Commentary summarized the theme of Psalm 105 as “God’s faithfulness to His promises,” and of verses 12-25 it added:

To the landless Patriarchs [of Israel], a handful of aliens and nomads among the various Canaanite states, the hope was an unattainable dream.  But even then God was at work. . .   He was in fact controlling nature and history according to His purposes. (E.A.)

Thus the mandate of Psalm 105:1, “Give thanks to the Lord and call upon His name; make known his deeds among the peoples.”

As to Romans 12:9-21, the IBC characterized its theme as “Love in action,” beginning with these words:  “Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor.”

In verse 14 – “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them” – Paul clearly “echoed his Master’s words” as set out in Matthew 5:14 and Luke 6:28.  In the same way he noted, “never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’”  As for one allusion, see Proverbs 25:21-22:

If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink, for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.

In Matthew 16:21-28, “Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering . . . and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”  Later on He referred to Himself as the Son of Man, “an expression in the sayings of Jesus in Christian writings:”

“For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done.  Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

But according to Son of man (Christianity) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, the meaning of the phrase is controversial; so much so that “after 150 years of debate no consensus on the issue has emerged among scholars.”

On the other hand, Isaac Asimov offered a simpler explanation, that this was a cautious, “metaphoric way” of Jesus referring to Himself as the long-awaited Messiah in the Roman province of Judea, and thus at a time and place when both “the religious and secular leaders would strike quickly at those they considered were falsely claiming to be the Messiah:”

Perhaps this was useful at times when it was dangerous to be too openly Messianic in one’s hopes.  By speaking of the “son of man” one could indicate the Messiah to those who were in sympathy; but before a judge one might maintain that the phrase meant simply “man.”

Sometimes – it seems – it pays to be “as cunning as a serpent. . .

 – The Scribe

 

 

The upper image is courtesy of Epistle to the Romans – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, with the caption reading:  “A 17th-century depiction of Paul Writing His Epistles.  16:22 indicates that Tertius acted as his amanuensis.”  Romans 16:22 reads – in the New Living Translation – “I, Tertius, the one writing this letter for Paul, send my greetings, too, as one of the Lord’s followers.”  (An amanuensis “is a person employed to write or type what another dictates,” or copy what’s been written by another, or refers to a person signing a document “on behalf of another under the latter’s authority.”)  Wikipedia further indicated that Romans was “the longest of the Pauline epistles and is considered his ‘most important theological legacy.'”

See also Paul the Apostle – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, which noted that he is “generally considered one of the most important figures of the Apostolic Age.   In the mid-30s to the mid-50s, he founded several churches in Asia Minor and Europe.  Paul used his status as both a Jew and a Roman citizen to advantage in his ministry to both Jewish and Roman audiences. . .   [H]is influence on Christian thought and practice has been characterized as being as ‘profound as it is pervasive.'”

 

The lower image is courtesy of Son of man (Christianity) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The full caption reads:  “Christ, by Titian – (detail) 1553, oil on canvas, 68x62cm, Prado Museum Madrid.”

The phrase “cunning as a serpent” referred to Matthew 10:16, in which Jesus cautioned, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. So be as cunning as serpents and as innocent as doves” (in the International Standard Version of the Bible). 

On the readings for August 31 – Part I

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c8/Domenico_Fetti_-_Moses_before_the_Burning_Bush_-_WGA07855.jpg

Moses before the Burning Bush by Domenico Fetti (circa 1614)

 

 

This post is on the Bible readings for Sunday, August 31.  As always, you can see the full readings at The Lectionary Page, but here are some highlights and commentary.

The Old Testament reading for today, Exodus 3:1-15, skipped over the “crime and flight” of Moses that occurred between last week’s account of his birth and this Sunday’s account of Moses and the Burning Bush.  (See also On the Bible readings for August 24.)

Between Exodus 2:10 and today’s Exodus 3:1, Moses changed in status from being a Prince of Egypt – literally – to a “felon on the run.”  Here’s how Isaac Asimov summarized the episode:

As a grown man, Moses found himself sympathizing with the Israelite slaves, presumably out of humanity and possibly because he had learned of his own origins.  [I.e., he learned that he too was Hebrew, even though he was raised as the adopted son of Ramses II.]   In a fit of anger, he killed an Egyptian overseer and, when this was found out, left Egypt hurriedly, to avoid execution at the orders of an angered Pharoah.

(From Exodus 2:11-25.)  Moses fled to Midian, just across the Red Sea and thus just outside Egyptian jurisdiction; “the shortest distance Moses could have traveled and placed himself outside the boundaries of Imperial Egypt.”  (Apparently they didn’t have bounty hunters.)

Asimov went on to explain that while Moses was in Midian, “getting married and having a son, a crucial change took place in Egypt,” to wit: the strong Pharoah Ramses II died and was succeeded by “the far weaker  Merneptah … usually thought of as the Pharoah of the Exodus.”  (See also Merneptah – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, which noted this new Pharoah was the 13th son of Ramses II, and only came to the throne – at almost 60, “ancient” at the time – because the first 12 sons “had predeceased him.”)

All of which set the stage for Moses having a personal experience with The Force That Created The Universe, in the form of the Burning Bush, as shown above.  Moses was sheep-herding for his Midianite father-in-law Jethro (see also On Jethro inventing the supreme court), when he came upon a strange sight: “he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed:”

In the narrative, an angel of God is described as appearing in the bush, and God is subsequently described as calling out from it to Moses…   When Moses starts to approach, God tells Moses to take off his sandals first, due to the place being holy ground…  When challenged on his identity, Yahweh replies that he is the God of the Patriarchs … and that he is Yahweh [from the Hebrew] meaning he who is he, or I am that I am…  The text portrays Yahweh as telling Moses that he is sending him to the Pharaoh in order to bring the Israelites out of Egypt, an action that Yahweh is described as having decided upon as a result of noticing that the Israelites were being oppressed by the Egyptians.

See Burning bush – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  Or as Exodus 3:14-15 put it, God spoke to Moses and said, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘I AM has sent me to you. . .’   This is my name forever, and this my title for all generations.”

In other words, in his experience with the Burning Bush Moses had a theophany.  See Theophany – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, which said the term came from the Greek meaning “appearance of god,” and “refers to the appearance of a deity to a human or other being.”

It also noted the term has “acquired a specific usage for Christians and Jews with respect to the Bible:  It refers to the manifestation of God to man; the sensible sign by which the presence of God is revealed.  Only a small number of theophanies are found in the Hebrew Bible, also known as the Old Testament.”

One of those Old Testament theophanies was the experience of Moses and the Burning Bush, an event that not only changed his life but also altered history, and of which Wikipedia said:

As a powerful religious symbol, the burning bush represents many things to Jews, Christians and Muslims such as God’s miraculous energy, sacred light, illumination, and the burning heart of purity, love and clarity. From a human standpoint, it also represents Moses’ reverence and fear before the divine presence.

Incidentally, we all aim at just such a “personal experience with the Divine” by going to church and/or reading the Bible on a regular basis.  (In that way, we seek to emulate the experience of Moses “and the bush,” though not necessarily with the same spectacular results.)

For more on you yourself achieving just such a Personal Experience with the Divine, see prior posts such as Spiritual boot camp or On Thomas Merton.   (Or just type “mystic” or “mysticism” in the “Search” box above right.)   For more on the rest of the readings for this upcoming Sunday, see “On the readings for August 31- Part II.”

 

The upper image is courtesy of File:Domenico FettiMoses before the Burning Bush – … (commons.wikimedia.org/…/File:Domenico_Fetti_-_Moses_before_th…).  See also Domenico Fetti – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, which noted that Fetti (c. 1589-1623), was “an Italian Baroque painter active mainly in Rome, Mantua and Venice.”

As to Isaac Asimov on Moses’ “crime and flight,” see Asimov’s Guide to the Bible (Two Volumes in One),  Avenel Books (1981), at pages 129-130.

The lower image can be seen at Ezekiel’s Vision (Raphael) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, which noted that it is “a c. 1518 painting by Raphael showing the prophet Ezekiel‘s vision of God in majesty.  It is housed in the Palatine Gallery of Palazzo Pitti, Florence, central Italy.”  See also Ezekiel’s Vision by Raphael – Facts & History of the Painting, which added these comments:

…the prophet [Ezekiel] standing at lower left part of the drawing is almost unnoticed.  God is accompanied by cherubims, and symbols of the evangelists [Matthew, Mark, Luke and John] such as the ox, lion, eagle and angel dominated the whole painting.  The intricate illustration of the clouds and sharp detail at the rays are also impressive, making the painting truly a masterpiece.

 

The notes to the post Spiritual boot camp added this reflection:

The words “mystic” or “mysticism” seem to give some Christians apoplexy.  Try it on a Southern Baptist some time!  But seriously, one online dictionary defines a mystic as “a person who seeks by contemplation and self-surrender to obtain unity with or absorption into the Deity or the absolute.”  Again, arguably different words but the same idea. . .

 

On Job, the not-so-patient

Ilya Repin: Job and his Friends

Job and his friends, by Ilya Repin (1869). . .

 

The Old Testament Daily Office Readings – the DORs – started with the Book of Job on Thursday, August 21, and those readings continue until Thursday, September 18.    (It’s a really long book, mostly filled with whining and complaining, by Job and his friends as seen above.)

But first a word about the patience of Job.   Wiktionary says that phrase indicates a person who has a great amount of patience, and refers to this book of the Bible, “where Job demonstrated faith and patience with God while suffering many severe trials.”  See patience of Job – Wiktionary, which added the expression seems to have started in James 5:11:

As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered.  You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about.  The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.

(New International Version.)    But according to Isaac Asimov, Job really wasn’t all that patient.

Asimov first indicated that when the book was first written, Job was known as the hero of a well-known legend, about a wealthy sheik who lived east of Canaan, on the border of a desert.  This legendary Job was a “good man of superhuman patience” who suffered great misfortune without ever losing his faith in God.   Asimov also noted the appearance of Satan – indicating a “Persian influence” – and added that in the story Satan had (and has) the important role of testing human beings, to see if their faith in God was “staunch, or merely superficial.”

Be that as it may, Asimov indicated the “meat of the book” came in the series of question-and-answer speeches involving ethical and theological questions, many outside the realm of Bible study (including some interesting “astronomical references”).  He then noted:

In these speeches, Job is anything but patient and uncomplaining, and seriously questions the justice of God.  Nevertheless, this has not, for some reason, altered the common conception of Job as a patient, uncomplaining man. (E.A.)

Then too, Job is a good example of a Bible book that should be both approached with great caution and not be taken too literally.  For example, consider the following excerpts from Job 3:1-26, from the Daily Office Reading for Saturday, August 23:

Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth…   “Why did I not perish at birth, and die as I came from the womb..?   For now I would be lying down in peace; I would be asleep and at rest…   Or why was I not hidden away in the ground like a stillborn child, like an infant who never saw the light of day?   There the wicked cease from turmoil, and there the weary are at rest.   Captives also enjoy their ease; they no longer hear the slave driver’s shout.   The small and the great are there, and the slaves are freed from their owners…   Why is light given to those in misery, and life to the bitter of soul, to those who long for death that does not come, who search for it more than for hidden treasure, who are filled with gladness and rejoice when they reach the grave?”

To say the least, such sentiments could definitely be “taken out of context.”

First Job cursed the day he was born and asked God why he didn’t die at birth, “as I came from the womb” or like a stillborn child.  He added that had he died, “I would be lying down in peace,” in a better place where “the wicked cease from turmoil” and the weary are at rest.  He then asked God why He gives life to those who long for death and who are “filled with gladness and rejoice when they reach the grave?”

For just that reason, guys like John R. W. Stott took issue with literalists who say the Bible should viewed as “inerrant per se.”  Instead – he said – the Bible should be viewed as inerrant “in all that it affirms.”  As applied to this case, Stott would say that the “plain meaning” of the text of Job should not be seen as affirming suicide, as would appear at first glance.

But since we’re running out of space and time, Stott’s views will be explored in a future post.

 

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The upper image is courtesy of Job and His Friends – Ilya Repin – WikiArt.org.  See also Ilya Repin – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, on “the most renowned Russian artist of the 19th century, when his position in the world of art was comparable to that of Leo Tolstoy in literature. . .    His method was the reverse of impressionism.  He produced works slowly and carefully.  They were the result of close and detailed study.  With some of his paintings, he made one hundred or more preliminary sketches.  He was never satisfied with his works, and often painted multiple versions, years apart.”

As to Isaac Asimov on Job, see Asimov’s Guide to the Bible (Two Volumes in One),  Avenel Books (1981), beginning on page 474, up to the “not-so-patient” quote on page 480.  The “interesting astronomical references” include “Arcturas, Orion, and Pleiades.” (Job 9:9)

For other references on the role of Satan – as Accuser or Slanderer – in the “great scheme of things,” see On “St. Michael and All Angels” and/or On the readings for May 25.

James is the book of the Bible right after the Letter to the Hebrews and right before First Peter, “traditionally attributed to James the Just.”   See Epistle of James – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The full Daily Office Readings can be seen at The Lectionary – Satucket.com.

The lower image is courtesy of Understanding the Bible by John R.W. Stott — Reviews, ….  See also John Stott – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, which added that Stott was an Anglican cleric whom Time magazine ranked among the 100 most influential people in the world.  To view some of Stott’s 126 available books, see Amazon.com: John R. W. Stott: Books, Biography, Blog, ….

Then too, “requiring every word of the Bible to be inerrant” brings to mind what Jesus said in Matthew 23:4, as He chastised the scribes and Pharisees.  The Easy-to-Read translation says in pertinent part that such people “make strict rules that are hard for people to obey.  They try to force others to obey all their rules.  But they themselves will not try to follow any of those rules.”

 

On the Bible readings for August 24

 

 

 

A highly stylized image – painted in 1740 – of Bithiah, the daughter of Pharoah who found the baby Moses in the reeds of the Nile River. 

 

 

 

 

The readings from the Bible for August 24, 2014, are Exodus 1:8-2:10, Psalm 124, Romans 12:1-8, and Matthew 16:13-20, as discussed below.

 

 

 

 Welcome again to DOR Scribe, a blog about reading the Bible with an open mind.

 

This post is about the Bible readings for Sunday, August 24.  As always, you can see the full set of readings at The Lectionary Page, but here are some highlights and commentary.

The first reading,  Exodus 1:8-2:10, marks a shift from the end of Genesis – with the Children of Israel being brought down to Egypt at the request of Joseph, who had become Pharoah’s right-hand man – to the beginning of the saga of Moses.   Note that according to tradition, Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible, so that in those five books he was giving his fellow Hebrews the complete history of the world – as he saw it – from the beginning of time up to the point where they were about the enter the long-awaited Promised Land.

(Note also that in that history of the world, Moses had to “tell the story using language and concepts that his relatively-pea-brained contemporary audience could understand,” as was discussed in On the readings for June 15 – Part I.)

Today’s reading begins with a new Pharoah ruling over Egypt, “who did not know Joseph,” and who got greatly concerned about the number of aliens who had come to dwell in his country.  (The ancient Hebrews were a very fertile people.  And why does this sound so familiar?)  So the Egyptians “became ruthless in imposing tasks on the Israelites, and made their lives bitter.”  Pharoah tried a number of other techniques to control the foreign aliens, including a command to “throw every newborn Hebrew son into the river,” i.e., to kill every new baby boy.

But the mother of Moses came up with the idea of putting her baby son into a waterproof basket, then setting it adrift into the Nile, but near where Pharoah’s daughter came to bathe.  Sure enough, Pharoah’s daughter – Bithiah, as seen above – saw the cute baby, fell in love with it and thus insured the boy’s survival.  And in the fullness of time she named him “Moses, ‘because,’ she said, ‘I drew him out of the water.'”  (Again, keep in mind Moses was writing about himself.)

Psalm 124 was characterized by the International Bible Commentary (IBC) as one of “divine deliverance,” using metaphors including that of a broken snare – as used to trap birds – leading to the ultimate lesson aptly summarized by Martin Luther.   Luther phrased it this way, in one of his hymn best-known hymns.  See A Mighty Fortress Is Our God – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:  “Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing.”

The IBC reflected that in Romans 12:1-8, Paul continued his reflection on the two sides of the Gospel – the believing side and the behaving side – and that it was “to the second side that Paul now turns.”  That is, he set down some general principles ranging “over most of life and also” – through analogy – “principles to cover every situation.”

Specifically – he said – we should “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect.”  (Note the word discern.  It’s defined as being able to “recognize or comprehend mentally,” or to “perceive or recognize as being different or distinct” and/or to distinguish, or finally to “perceive differences.”  See definition of discern by The Free Dictionary.  Note also that it does not mean to accept “blindly” or without thought. . .)

Paul added we should “think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.”  On that note see the “Blind Men and the Elephant,” at On reading the Bible.

And finally, the Gospel – Matthew 16:13-20 – was covered in the post On sharing the “Keys to the Kingdom”.  That post discussed the fact that Jesus did give Peter the “keys to the kingdom” at one point in time, giving rise to a claim by some Catholics that only they are going to get into heaven.  But it also noted that two chapters later Jesus gave pretty much the same power to all the disciples.  It noted the effect of such “later-imposed statutes,” and ended with this:

But what does the Bible say?   For one thing the Apostle Paul said, in Philippians 2:12, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”   Which is of course perfectly consistent with what he said much earlier, in Romans 10:9, “If you declare that Jesus is Lord, and believe that God brought him back to life, you will be saved.”  (Emphases added.)

Which leads to an illustration of what the Christian Faith should not be about:

 

http://df5eshuaiifdc.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/image/Busines%20For%20Home%20Reports%202011/Member_Only.jpg

 

The upper image is courtesy of Bithiah – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The caption for the painting reads:  “Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, The Finding of Moses, Bithiah, 1740, oil on canvas, National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh.”   See also, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, which noted that this Italian painter (1696-1770), was described as “the greatest decorative painter of eighteenth-century Europe, as well as its most able craftsman.”  The site further noted of some of his early works, “Despite their elevated subject matter, they are bright in colour, and light-hearted in mood . . . ‘a shimmering set of tableaux, full of wit and elegance.'”

The lower image is courtesy of http://df5eshuaiifdc.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/image/Busines%20For%20Home%20Reports%202011/Member_Only.jpg.  See also Members Only – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, and/or Members Only – Official Online Store | Free Shipping, describing the “brand of clothing that became popular in the 1980s with the Members Only jacket.”

 

To hear an audio rendition of “A Mighty Fortress is Our God,” with the lyrics noted above, click on “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” – Martin Luther – YouTube.

As to the “RC” claim of exclusivity when it comes to getting into heaven, note that Jehovah’s Witnesses, Baptists, Mormons, Hindus and Buddhists – among others – all make pretty much the same claim. . .

 

On St. Mary, Mother

“Maria Grotto at Santa Maria Tak Bercela Catholic Church, Surabaya, Indonesia

 

August 15 is the Feast Day for St. Mary, the Virgin, as celebrated in the Episcopal Church.   See also Mary (mother of Jesus) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

She is identified . . . as the mother of Jesus through divine intervention.  Christians hold her son Jesus to be Christ (i.e., the messiah) and God the Son Incarnate.  Mary (Maryam) also has a revered position in Islam, where a whole chapter of the Qur’an is devoted to her, also describing the birth of Jesus. . .    Traditionally, Christians believe that she conceived her son miraculously by the agency of the Holy Spirit.  Muslims believe that she conceived her son miraculously by the command of God. . .   [She] is considered by millions to be the most meritorious saint of the Church. Christians of the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodox Church, Anglican Communion, and Lutheran churches believe that Mary, as Mother of Jesus, is the Mother of God and the Theotokos, literally “Bearer of God.”

Another note:  In Renaissance paintings especially, Mary is portrayed wearing blue, a tradition going back to Byzantine Empire, to about 500 A.D., “where blue was ‘the colour of an empress.'” Another explanation is that in in Medieval and Renaissance Europe:

[T]he blue pigment was derived from the rock lapis lazuli, a stone imported from Afghanistan of greater value than gold.  Beyond a painter’s retainer, patrons were expected to purchase any gold or lapis lazuli to be used in the painting.  Hence, it was an expression of devotion and glorification to swathe the Virgin in gowns of blue.

The Bible readings for this feast day include Isaiah 61:10-11, Psalm 34, Galatians 4:4-7, and  Luke 1:46-55.  For the full readings see The Lectionary Page, but here are some highlights. 

Isaiah 61:10-11 begins with the passage, “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my whole being shall exult in my God;  for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness. . .”   Psalm 34 begins in the same vein:  “I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall ever be in my mouth.”

Galatians 4:4-7 includes the passage that because we are children – of God –God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!'”  (A reminder that as Christians our duty is to act at all times as “children of God,” certainly easier said than done.)

But the highlight of the readings is Mary’s Magnificat, also known as “the song of Mary:”

“My heart praises the Lord;  my soul is glad because of God my Savior, for he has remembered me, his lowly servant!   From now on all people will call me happy, because of the great things the Mighty God has done for me. . .    He has kept the promise he made to our ancestors, and has come to the help of his servant Israel.  He has remembered to show mercy to Abraham and to all his descendants forever!”

See Magnificat – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, which added that in Luke’s Gospel the hymn is spoken by  “the Virgin Mary upon the occasion of her Visitation to her cousin Elizabeth.   In the narrative, after Mary greets Elizabeth, who is pregnant with the future John the Baptist, the child moves within Elizabeth’s womb.  When Elizabeth praises Mary for her faith, Mary sings what is now known as the Magnificat in response.”

The article noted that Mary’s song echoes several Old Testament biblical passages, including allusions to “the Song of Hannah” and from the Books of Samuel (1Samuel 2:1-10).   Another note, “the Magnificat is included in the Book of Odes, an ancient liturgical collection found in some manuscripts of the Septuagint,” one of the earliest versions of the Hebrew Bible, or the Old Testament as we call it.  (The word septuagent comes from the Greek word for 70, and refers to “the legendary seventy Jewish scholars who completed the translation as early as the late 2nd century BCE,” or two centuries before Jesus was born.

As to what happened to Mary, according to tradition she was taken “bodily” up to heaven at the end of her earthly life, as shown in the painting below.

 

 

The upper image is courtesy of Mary (mother of Jesus) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.   The lower image is courtesy of Assumption of Mary – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, with the caption: “Possibly the most famous rendition of the subject in Western art, Titian‘s Assunta (1516–18).”

That is, the “Catholic Church teaches as dogma that the Virgin Mary ‘having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.'”  In turn, while the Assumption “is not an Anglican doctrine, 15 August is observed by some within Anglicanism as a holy day.”

 

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 the “Gospel of Marx”

148751 600 Gospel According to Marx cartoons

 

Conservative Michael Ramirez did the May 18 cartoon above, which led to responses like this:

Ramirez’s May 18 cartoon of Pope Francis and the so-called gospel of Marx is evidence that [he] is ignorant of the difference between Christ’s love of the poor and Marxist communism’s philosophy, which espouses not only atheism but oppression of all, poor and wealthy. Another very important point is that Christ invites us, does not force us – as communism would do – to share our goods with the poor and treat them with love and respect.  (E.A.)

See Drawing wrong conclusion – Spokesman Mobile – May 27, 2014.  (See also Another view of Jesus feeding the 5,000, on getting “normally-greedy people to share what they had.”)

But sometimes the best response comes right from the Bible; in this case, as found in the Daily Office Readings (DORs) for last Saturday, August 9, at The Lectionary – Satucket.com.

The New Testament reading was Acts of the Apostles, 4:32-5:11.  The New Century Translation included the headings “The Believers Share” and “Ananias and Sapphira Die:”

The group of believers were united in their hearts and spirit.  All those in the group acted as though their private property belonged to everyone in the group.  In fact, they shared everything. . .    And God blessed all the believers very much.  There were no needy people among them.  From time to time those who owned fields or houses sold them, brought the money, and gave it to the apostles.  Then the money was given to anyone who needed it. (E.A.)

This happened right after Pentecost, when the number of Believers in the new Church jumped from about 120 to over 3,000.  (See Pentecost – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)

So anyway, the 8/9 reading went on about Joseph, “a Levite from Cyprus,” who sold his property and gave the money to the Apostles.  In contrast, Chapter 5 had Ananias and his wife Sapphira trying to snooker the Apostles (and by extension God  –  which by the way is never a good idea).  

Ananias sold some property and gave some money to the Apostles, but held some back with his wife’s approval.  (They may have been conservatives “but I’m just guessin’ you understand.”)  Somehow Peter figured it out and asked Ananias, “How is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart?  You have not lied to men but to God.”  At that point Ananias literally dropped dead.

They had just carried his body out when his wife Sapphira came in, and Peter confronted her:

Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? Hark, the feet of those that have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.”   Immediately she fell down at his feet and died.  When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband.  And great fear came upon the whole church, and upon all who heard of these things.

All of which supports my theory that it’s never a good idea to snooker God, and – come to think of it – maybe it’s not such a great idea to call the Pope a Marxist either.

On a related note the Gospel had Jesus cleansing the Temple with a whip of cords, as illustrated in On “chutzpah”.   Which leads me to wonder if it was all Jewish People or just the conservatives who were so dead set against Jesus.  (See also On Jesus: Liberal or Fundamentalist?)   So just for laughs let’s substitute “conservatives” for “Jews” in this portion of the August 9 Gospel:

And he [Jesus] told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; you shall not make my Father’s house a house of trade. . .”   The Conservatives then said to him, “What sign have you to show us for doing this?”   Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”  The Conservatives then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?”  But he spoke of the temple of his body. . .

(Hmmm.  We may be on to something.)  And by the way, the point of  Liberal or Fundamentalist was that Jesus was neither conservative nor liberal, but “right there ‘in the middle of the road.’”

 

Which leads to the point of this post:  It seems some Conservatives are still opposing the message of Jesus.

 

 

 

The upper image is courtesy of Gospel According to Marx by Political Cartoonist Michael …   For more on this cartoonist see Michael Ramirez – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The lower image – just to show how fair and balanced this blog is – is included in the web article Drawing wrong conclusion – Spokesman Mobile – May 27, 2014, which had a number of interesting comments on the Conservative/Christian dichotomy.  See also On Thomas Merton, which asked the musical question, “If Jesus was ‘orthodox’ why aren’t we all still Jewish?”

For purposes of clarity, as defined here a conservative is simply a person with a predetermined set of “one size fits all” answers for all life’s questions.   A liberal is different only in having a different set of predetermined “one size fits all” answers.  But what such people up doing – metaphorically – is keep pounding square pegs into round holes, but we digress. . .

Another point of this blog is that in contrast to having such a predetermined set of answers, the better approach is:   “Mind like parachute; work best when open.”  See Some Bible basics from Vince Lombardi and Charlie ChanIn turn, as defined herein someone with an open mind can’t be either a true conservative or true liberal, but rather an conservative-leaning moderate (for example).

 

The reader may also be interested in Was Jesus a Jewish Liberal or a Liberal Jew? – Patheos.

On “St. Michael and All Angels”

“Archangel Michael reaching to save souls in purgatory . . .”

 

There’s a church in Stone Mountain –  St. Michael & All Angels’ Episcopal –  that Yours Truly and his Dulce passed the other day while leaving Stone Mountain Park.   That led to the question, “Who the heck is this St. Michael guy?”   That led us to Revelation 12:7-10:

[T]here was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels.  And prevailed not…   [T]he great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world; he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.   And I heard a loud voice saying … the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.

Note that both the Hebrew and Greek words “Satan” (“Satanas” in Greek) translate as “an adversary,” while the root word for devil is “diabolos,” which is Greek for “slanderer.”    So you could say that like any good prosecutor, Satan the Accuser – as Ultimate Prosecutor – will try first and most to “convict” you, if and as necessary by slandering your character to God.

But we digress. . .

For more see Michael (archangel) – Wikipedia, which included this:

Michael ([translated] “who is like God?” … ) is an archangel in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic teachings. Roman Catholics, the Eastern Orthodox, Anglicans, and Lutherans refer to him as “Saint Michael the Archangel” and also as “Saint Michael. . .”  In the New Testament Michael leads God’s armies against Satan‘s forces in the Book of Revelation, where during the war in heaven he defeats Satan.

St. Michael has a Feast Day – also called Michaelmas Day – on September 29, which means I’ll be doing another post on him around that time.  Note also that an archangel is an “angel of high rank.”  And Wikipedia noted Michael wasn’t just mentioned in the Book of Revelation:

Michael is mentioned three times in the Book of Daniel, once as a “great prince who stands up for the children of your people.”  The idea that Michael was the advocate of the Jews became so prevalent that in spite of the rabbinical prohibition against appealing to angels as intermediaries . . . Michael came to occupy a certain place in the Jewish liturgy.

I’ve included two images of St. Michael, with the one below showing him “trampling Satan.”  But the upper image shows him in another of his jobs – “reaching out to souls in purgatory” – which means that he might end up being the archangel who saves my own spiritual butt.

On the other hand, there is that part of the Book of Common Prayer which calls the idea a Romish doctrine, but for myself I say, “Hey, I’ll take all the help I can get!

 

 

The upper image is courtesy of the Wikipedia article on St. Michael, with the full caption, “Archangel Michael reaching to save souls in purgatory, by Jacopo Vignali, 17th century.”

Dulce is Spanish for “Sweet,” or in the alternative Mi Dulce or “My Sweet.”   (See also the posts On “St. James the Greater”, and On the “Infinite Frog”, which referred to the time a nice-lady “who happens to be Catholic lit a votive candle ‘on behalf of the poor benighted Protestant soul of Yours Truly.'”  Like I said, “I’ll take all the help I can get.”)

As to the definitions of Satan and/or the “Slanderer,” see the New International Dictionary of the Bible, Regency Reference Library, 1987, Page 899.

The lower image is also courtesy of the Wikipedia article, with the full caption: “Guido Reni‘s painting in Santa Maria della Concezione, Rome, 1636 is also reproduced in mosaic at the St. Michael Altar in St. Peter’s Basilica, in the Vatican.”

As to the idea of Purgatory being a “Romish doctrine,” see the Book of Common Prayer at page 872, number XXII of the 1801 Articles of Religion, under Historical Documents of the Church:

The Romish Doctrine concerning Purgatory, Pardons, Worshipping and Adoration, as well of Images as of Relics, and also Invocation of Saints, is a fond thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God.

For further information on the post-mortem pardons and Indulgences that led to the “splitting of the one true church,” see  Indulgence – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Indulgences – New Advent, and/or indulgence (Roman Catholicism) — Encyclopedia Britannica.  See also the second section of The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam: Barbara W. Tuchman.

Purgatory itself is describe as an “intermediate state” between heaven and hell:

. . .an intermediate state after physical death in which those destined for heaven “undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.”   Only those who die in the state of grace but have not in life reached a sufficient level of holiness can be in Purgatory, and therefore no one in Purgatory will remain forever in that state. . .

See Purgatory – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  In other words, it’s not quite the “pass-fail” system of reward-and-punishment proclaimed by some Protestant denominations.  For another interesting treatment see Heaven and Hell in Christian Thought (Stanford Encyclopedia).

 

 

On “chutzpah”

El Greco’s Christ Driving the Money Changers from the Temple, which may have led an onlooker or two to say, “Geez!  That guy’s got a lot of chutzpah!”

 

The word for today  is Chutzpah.   It’s from the original Hebrew so it’s Bible-related.  And it’s modern for reasons including the chutzpah displayed these days, especially in political circles.  In 2011 the word – as used in a sentence – was the center of a hubbub when Michelle Bachman pronounced it “choot-spa.”  (See Michele Bachmann can’t pronouncechutzpah” – Salon.com.)  Another example:  Legal scholars say chutzpah was used “231 times in American legal opinions, 220 of those after 1980.”  See Chutzpah – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Wikipedia said it’s a Yiddish word referring to “the quality of audacity, for good or for bad,” as noted.  It comes “from the Hebrew word ḥutspâ (חֻצְפָּה), meaning ‘insolence’ or ‘audacity,'” which makes it even more Bible related.  (For that matter it may also refer to the kind of nerve it takes to argue with The Force That Created The Universe, a subject of prior blog-posts; On the Bible readings for August 3 and On arguing with God.)

Leo Rosten – who wrote The Joys of Yiddish – defined it as “that quality enshrined in a man who, having killed his mother and father, throws himself on the mercy of the court because he is an orphan.”  He further defined it as “gall, brazen nerve, effrontery, incredible ‘guts,’ presumption plus arrogance such as no other word and no other language can do justice to” (referring of course to the ancient Hebrew from which much of the Bible sprang).

Which makes it clear that our Church forebears seemed to have quite a bit of that personality trait;  people like Abraham, Moses and Jesus (seen above “cleansing the Temple”).

I mean, think about it.  Here’s this “Jesus religion” saying that little ol’ you can make a spiritual connection with the Force Which Created the Universe.  Beyond that, this religion says if you ask “Him” (anthropomorphism) to help you out, “He” will take time out from “His” busy schedule to personally intervene and straighten out the mess you’ve made out of your life.

How audacious is that?  The nerve of some people!

On that note, try Googling the term “personal relationship with God.”  I did that and got 50,400,00 results.  (That fifty million, four hundred thousand.)

One website had this comment on the type of Bible faith in which…

…the primary expression is between God and the individual.  Yet how often does the phrase “personal relationship with God” refer to faith/spirituality practiced in privacy?  Lots!  In a culture where everything in our lives is private – finances, sex, ethics, to name a few – religion and spirituality [are] expected to be private as well.

Which could lead to a thought that this personal relationship is tantamount to “being intimate” with The Force That Created The Universe, the Prime Mover, the Source of All Creativity.  Beyond that, you might even say that to begin or maintain this relationship you don’t need a formal church or specific set of rules to follow – for example – to “get into heaven.”  (But see On three suitors (a parable), as to the best type of personal prayer to achieve that end.)

So again, let’s get this straight.  This “Jesus religion” says you – as an individual – can have a personal relationship with the Prime Mover, the First Cause, the Source of All Being, and that if you play your cards right, this Ultimate Being will intervene to help you in your personal life. . .

 

Now that’s chutzpah!

 

 

The upper image is courtesy of Cleansing of the Temple – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  And incidentally, the recessional hymn at The Scribe’s church for Sunday, July 27, was 616, “The Kingdom of God,” with a middle passage of the first verse saying “He” – meaning Jesus – “comes to break oppression, to set the captive free.”  Apparently you can’t do that without a little chutzpah, which may have been why Jesus so upset the orthodox of His day. 

(Which leads to another question:  Is “orthodox Christianity” a contradiction in terms?)

 

For references on the perception that Christians are negative, see On the Bible readings for August 3.

As to chutzpah as “the word used in a sentence,” the phrase was popularized recently by another  hubbub, in the 2014 National Spelling Bee.  A judge – asked to use the word “milkshake” in a sentence – referred to a 2003 song by the “American recording artist Kelis.”  Since this blog is ostensibly family-oriented, let’s just say that in the song milkshake was  “used as a metaphor for [that which] makes women special.'”  See Milkshake (song) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

(To which the Scribe has two comments.  First, “That judge showed a lot of chutzpah.”  Second, “It’s amazing what you can learn doing research for a blog,  if only you open your mind.)

Also as to the reference “used in a sentence,” see Spelling Bee Judge Quoted Kelis’ ‘Milkshake’ In Example …  and A Spelling Bee judge quoted Kelis’ ‘Milkshake’ to use a word …

See also the Contest Rules of the 2014 Scripps National Spelling Bee | …, which provide in part:

The speller may ask the pronouncer to say the word again, define it, use it in a sentence, provide the part of speech, provide the language(s) of origin and/or provide an alternate pronunciation or pronunciations.

 

As to the quoted portion referring to “where the primary expression is between God and the individual,” see davidwarkentin.blogspot.com/2010/09/last-thing-in-world-id-wan…..   

The lower image is courtesy of the Anthropomorphism – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, which included the caption, “In this illustration by Milo Winter of Aesop‘s fable, ‘The North Wind and the Sun,” an anthropomorphic North Wind tries to strip a traveler of his cloak.”

Other sources as to anthropomorphism, Prime Mover, etc., include: Prime mover – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, first cause (philosophy) — Encyclopedia Britannica, Cosmological argument – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, Unmoved mover – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, and/or Personal god – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

On the Bible readings for August 3

File:Leloir - Jacob Wrestling with the Angel.jpg

“Jacob Wrestling with the Angel” – or arguing with God  – as discussed in a May 12 post. . .

 

The Bible readings assigned in The Scribe’s* church for Sunday, August 3, 2014 are:

Genesis 32:22-31, Psalm 17:1-7,16, Romans 9:1-5, and Matthew 14:13-21.

By way of catching up, last week’s Old Testament lesson was Genesis 29:15-28, about Jacob getting snookered by his future father-in-law Laban, who had two nubile (“marriageable”) daughters, Leah and Rachel.   The problem was that Jacob had the hots for Rachel and served Laban seven long years in order to marry her, but “they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her.”  That’s when Laban snookered him.

In that time and place, the older daughter had to get married off first, but Laban didn’t tell Jacob that until after the wedding night.  (What we would call today ex post facto.)   That is, at some point during the wedding and/or wedding night, that crafty ol’ Laban switched daughters, with the result that Jacob married Leah, the older daughter, and “went in to her.”  Jacob found out about it next morning,** and was naturally a bit sore. . .   But then Laban got him to serve another seven years, but that time Jacob got to really marry Rachel.

(Just as a side note:  Yours Truly got chastised after last week’s service – gently, by another member of the choir – for too-noticeably chuckling during the reading about Jacob and how he got bamboozled by Laban.  And a bit of foreshadowing: Jacob gets even with Laban, and is in the process of doing so in the reading for August 3.)

So anyway, last week’s reading was from Genesis 29, but this week’s reading skipped over the chapters where Jacob got tired of Laban taking advantage of him, and of taking “his two wives, his two maids, and his eleven children,” and fleeing the country.  So he sent his whole family and/or clan all across the river Jabbok and was left alone.  That was when he ended up wrestling with an “angel” – who turned out to be God – and got literally “out of joint.”

This is a reading already covered in the post On arguing with God, the gist of which is that Jacob got his name changed to “Israel,” and so became a prototype for pretty much anyone and everyone who struggles with the idea of God.  That post then added:

The point of all this is that maybe – just maybe – we today are supposed to “argue with God,” or “wrestle with God,” or even “wrestle with the idea of God.”   Maybe, just maybe, that’s how we get spiritually stronger, by “resistance training” rather than passively accepting anything and everything in the Bible, without question or questioning.

And just as an aside, this day’s Gospel – Matthew 14:13-21 – has also been covered, by Another view of Jesus feeding the 5,000, which noted in part:  Maybe the lesson Jesus intended was that, by His example, He got a bunch of normally-greedy people to share what they had.

So maybe the Bible really is for liberating the human spirit, not shackling it. . .

 

 

http://www.theimperfectprincess.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Perception.jpg

 

The upper image, courtesy of Wikipedia, is Jacob Wrestling with the Angel, by Alexander Louis Leloir (1865).  Leloir (1843-1884), was a a French painter specializing in genre and history paintings. His younger brother was painter and playwright Maurice Leloir.

As to “the real Good News.”  The term Gospel is from “the Old English gōd-spell . . . meaning ‘good news’ or ‘glad tidings.’   The word comes from the Greek euangelion.”  See Gospel – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  (Unfortunately these days that Good News seems to have been transmogrified into bad news, as in the perception, “How can we Christians get political power so as to control the lives of other people?”  That seems to be the perception anyway.  See e.g. Why are Christians so negative and judgemental? – RZIM Europe, Do Christians spend too much time being negative? – Christian, and 5 Negative Effects of Complaining for Christians – Patrick’s ….   The gist of which is that this perception presents a problem for all practicing Christians.)

 *  As to the “Bible readings assigned in The Scribe’s church.”  Every once in a while I sink into the practice of illeism, referring to oneself in the third person.  See On Moses and “illeism”.

As to “ex post facto.”  See Ex post facto law – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, which noted in part that it usually refers to “a law that retroactively changes the legal consequences (or status) of actions that were committed, or relationships that existed, before the enactment of the law.”  The term comes from the Latin for for “from after the action” or “after the facts.”

**  As to Jacob only finding out about Laban’s daughter-switch until the morning after the wedding, see Benjamin Franklin’s famously saying that “in the dark all Cats are grey,” at Letter from Ben Franklin gives advice on dating older women | ….

The lower image is courtesy of http://www.theimperfectprincess.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Perception.jpg.  Another note:  If you Google “perception is everything” you should get some 57 million hits.  One pity quote from Perception – Wikiquote“It is one of the commonest of mistakes to consider that the limit of our power of perception is also the limit of all there is to perceive.”  

In other words, don’t limit the power of God to your ability to perceive Him. . .

 

And as always, you can see the full readings at  The Lectionary Page.