November 06, 2006


From one of my poems on another site...

"...Don't demand peace
or call loudly for justice.
Beg mercy; our nation's trial
is now in the sentencing phase..."

This has been on my mind for a very long time. It's a cliche when people say they don't want some particular American atrocity "done in my name." It's a cliche because it happens and happens over and over again.

There's a crash coming. We've worked hard for it; we deserve it; and unless all the signs of our times have just been kidding, we're going to get it.

I don't want to carry this discussion all by myself; I didn't join up here to be a blog of my own. But we can't quit now; Babylon ain't even fallen yet.

This book takes the justice of the Hebrew prophets and ups the ante. Yahweh was just angry because he loved his people and they weren't giving him the attention he wanted. That's a very human thing. What we've been getting here is more like Yahweh vs Pharoah. ~'Plagues coming, armoured locusts tomorrow followed by occasional fire-breathing horses, clearing by sometime next year.' The specific details may have been symbolic of something in our condition, but mostly we get this impression that God doesn't like us. And that puts people off; I can't blame them for that.

Jacques Ellul keeps finding love, hope, and good stuff in all this.

In my own life, so far as I feel myself part of this world, I find a continuing tension between love and hope vs the vast public spectacle of corruption triumphant.

Jacques considers the powers beaten, from the moment of Incarnation... "But they still have a considerable force among men. They can cause men to perish; upon the earth they can accuse and destroy.

"Why then this delay?... Why is there not an immediate and total victory of God? ... First of all, if there were a total victory, this would be once more the expression of the absolute, unlimited power of God. Once more there would be a competition of powers. Now this explosion of power is exactly what the Tempter proposes. He continually provokes God to combat. But if this takes place, God is no longer love.

"The way decided by God in the Incarnation is the triumph of love; but precisely this love which gives itself, abandons itself, delivers itself up, is not that which kills....

"But the other aspect of this delay... is the time of testing for humanity; the time of the desert... In other words, the issue here is knowing if man is going to follow Jesus, is going to enter into the plan of God, is going to accept this unity with God.... The time of the desert is the time when man is deprived of all his natural resources, the possibilities and protection of civilization, when he is truly 'unchained', but with all the risks that that involves. The time of the desert is that when man has strictly no other support, no other assurance than the grace of God."

Maybe you don't feel yourself in that position yet?

Certainly, as I've been trying to say elsewhere, this is not testing us "to see if we make the cut" to get into the best neighborhood in the Afterlife. Perhaps the attempt to pass ourselves through such a test may help us see the absurdity of the very idea.

This is a spot quiz, not for the grade but for learning. Are we in unity with God yet? Not entirely? Why not?

This reminds me a little of my first notion of Friends, many years ago, that we all would march around obeying our consciences in perfectly idolatrous, triumphant integrity. I went to the nearest worship group, sat there a few minutes, felt a presence standing by the door, asking: "Forrest! What are you doing, trying to hide with the good people?"

I think I have learned to know God much better, since then. And it has never gone quite as I've expected.

How can we be under Judgement?--as I feel we must be--and yet be loved, held safe, protected even from our own inadequacies? Because we've bribed the Judge. Because the Judge is (among other things) the Defendents. Because the object of this trial is not to punish us, but to lead us toward doing that one right thing, to put our trust in God at work in and around us, at this and every moment.


At 5:56 a.m., Blogger david said...

the object of this trial is not to punish us, but to lead us toward doing that one right thing, to put our trust in God at work in and around us, at this and every moment

That in the end is the message here. Its todl in terms that set the teeth on edge but there it is. It was likely written to and for folks who faced persecutions and trials. And faced with persecutions and trials we can only choose our metaphor. Is our present suffering a living Hell? Is our present suffering the birth pangs of something new and wonderful?

When that sitz im leiben gets lost -- we can only see the white hats vs. the black hats and start pointing fingers.

George Fox's corrective to that was -- how am I like the guys in the black hats. Suddenly the pointing finger deconstructs itself.

At 1:18 p.m., Blogger forrest said...

My present suffering is far from living hell; others' experience may differ but I have a feeling that even people we rightly consider "wretched" are happy more often than not. And certainly we're in the birth pangs of something new and wonderful... although I don't know if that only means we'll all get up again and do bows (you and me and GW together) at the end of the performance--or whether we'll experience some utterly startling resolution before the show is over.

There is that nasty Good-Guys/Bad-Guys tone to the tome; and maybe that's what's been putting people off from commenting. But virtually all our contemporary entertainment is Good-Guy/Bad-Guy in appeal; so the real problem may be our strong doubt that the author of Revelation would consider us fellow Good Guys. (Much of my own experience has been that fornication can be fun, for example!)

Jesus was proclaiming a no-fault, harm-reduction universe. But most of his followers have reduced him to black-hats/white-hats terms. I'm not at all sure that Fox transcended that; it was too much a Puritan age. But yes, the fact that he knew that evil was not entirely outside him was probably what gave him some leverage against it.

I think there's more content here than "Yay, Good Guys." And not just in matters of "How many heads on that Beast?" or "Will the real AntiChrist please stand up?"

The sitz in this book is not confined to the 1st Century Middle East, although the author certainly was. The real setting is "Eternity." And that's why people can go on sitzing it into their own times, all the way into this century. Okay, much of the time they're just distorting everything to match what's in their black/white little minds. But for now I'm inclined to think there really is some revelation we may find through discussing Revelation.

But if we aren't ripe for it, I'm certainly willing to go to a book others will find more appetizing. (If they will!)


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