November 30, 2020

The IM Saturday Monks Brunch: November 14, 2020 — Grace Edition

November in Brown County, 2018

The IM Saturday Monks Brunch: November 14, 2020
Grace Edition

It’s Thanksgiving season, and this week we emphasize grace, while next week we will emphasize gratitude. So pull a chair up to the banquet table and let’s talk about God’s amazing, surprising, prodigal grace as we feast at the end of another week.

Note: I know, obviously, that there has been a lot of news this week. However, I prefer, today and next week, to use Saturdays for seasonal posts to help us express thanksgiving and recognize the grace of God in our lives. Sorry if that bursts some of your “dying to express myself about the election, etc.” bubbles. I’m sure there will be other opportunities for that.

Quote of the week…

The history of salvation is slapstick all the way, right up to and including the end. It’s the Three Stooges working only for laughs. God isn’t trying to hurt anyone; he’s not even mad at anyone. There are no lengths to which he won’t go to prove there are no restrictions on the joy he wants to share with us. If you were never afraid of Curly, Larry, and Moe, you don’t need to be afraid of the Trinity either.

• Robert Farrar Capon. Kingdom, Grace, Judgment: Paradox, Outrage, and Vindication in the Parables of Jesus

Grace on the golf course…

Jon Rahm had this serendipitous moment of grace and mercy on Tuesday at Augusta National preparing for the Masters.

 

The “Hug Room”…

A resident of the Domenico Sartor nursing home in Castelfranco Veneto, near Venice, hugs her visiting daughter, right, through a plastic screen in a so-called “Hug Room” on Nov. 11. The room allows guests and their families to embrace, while remaining separate and protected from the spread of coronavirus. (Piero Cruciatti/AFP – Getty Images)

6 Lessons Learned from the Pandemic (Thus far, Sort of)…

By David Zahl at Mockingbird

Vehicles line up at a drive-thru Covid-19 testing site in the parking lot of Miller Park in Milwaukee on Nov. 5, 2020. (Bing Guan/Reuters)

  1. COVID, like the law, always accuses.
  2. There is much that still binds the human race together, most of all our fear of death.
  3. The Internet is no replacement for flesh and blood.
  4. For the most part, the pandemic has amplified things that were already happening rather than created new problems.
  5. The conformity-rebellion axis exists outside of ideology.
  6. No one can predict anything. And that’s good news.

“A miracle is the universe letting you know it can still surprise you” is how comedian Kyle Kinane puts it, and I agree. As this thing stretches on and the Groundhog Day effect manifests as a shared low-grade depression, I consider this a source of tremendous hope. Because despair is the feeling that nothing can ever change, that our lives won’t get better, etc. Yet our current circumstances contradict that feeling (and it’s always a feeling) almost 100%. We are in control of so little. Anything could happen at any time.

The only thing that remains reliably knowable is what God has made so, namely, what he has revealed in his son, AKA the least predictable revelation of divinity possible: the baby in the manger, the man on the cross, shedding real flesh and blood to deliver self-righteous rule-followers and self-seeking rule-breakers from sin, death, and disease.

Didn’t see that coming — but it came anyway. Thank God not all surprises are bad.

“Saved by the whale’s tail”…

From NPR:

PPhoto by ROBIN UTRECHT/ANP/AFP via Getty Images

A Dutch train burst past the end of its elevated tracks Monday in the Netherlands.

But instead of crashing to the ground 30 feet below, the metro train was caught — held aloft by an artist’s massive sculpture of a whale’s tail. Despite some damage, no injuries or deaths were reported.

The sculpture at the end of the tracks was given a prescient name: “Saved by the Whale’s Tail,” according to France 24. It was built in 2002, installed at the De Akkers station in Spijkenisse, a city just outside Rotterdam.

In every moment when I am winning, Jesus is with me. And in every moment when I am losing, Jesus is with me. At any moment when I am confused, wounded, and despairing, Jesus is with me. I never, ever, lose the brokenness. I fight and sometimes I prevail, but I can’t prevent more of my screwed-up, messed-up life from erupting. Because I belong to One whose resurrection guarantees that I will arrive safely home in a new body and be part of a new creation, I miraculously, amazingly, find myself continuing to believe, continuing to move forward, until Jesus picks me up and takes me home.

• Michael Spencer. Mere Churchianity: Finding Your Way Back to Jesus-Shaped Spirituality

The amazing swan rescue…

From the New York Times:

“Well, I’m carrying a swan,” Ms. Cordova-Rojas recalls thinking. “I have no idea what to do. I guess I’m just going to walk.” (Credit…Josh Spector)

Ariel Cordova-Rojas had planned to spend last Thursday afternoon immersed in nature. It was the day before her 30th birthday, and her intention was to ride her bike to Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in Queens, watch birds fly overhead and hike amid the vibrant fall foliage.

Instead, she spent a good chunk of the day in a frantic race to rescue a sickly swan, rushing by foot and then subway from Queens to Brooklyn before ultimately arriving at an animal rehabilitation center on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

…Ms. Cordova-Rojas had been trained to spot a bird in distress. She spent five years as an animal care manager at the Wild Bird Fund rehabilitation center in Manhattan, rescuing geese in Central Park, red-tailed hawks in Brooklyn and other species elsewhere in the city.

So when the swan did not move or make a sound when she approached, she knew something was not right….

…She decided to approach the swan slowly, take off her jacket and place it over the bird. The swan tried to move its wings and it made faint sounds, but Ms. Cordova-Rojas said she was able to wrap the coat around the animal quickly and pick it up.

…The one-mile hike back to where she had left her bike “was a bit of a struggle,” she said, especially carrying an animal that later weighed in at around 17 pounds.

…[She was able to get a ride] to the Howard Beach subway station, where the husband, a Metropolitan Transportation Authority employee, helped Ms. Cordova-Rojas lug her bike and the swan to the platform and then onto the A train.

Ms. Cordova-Rojas placed the swan, still wrapped in the coat, at the end of a long seat. She called friends and former colleagues at the Wild Bird Fund and asked that they meet her.

…Two car rides later, the swan, and Ms. Cordova-Rojas, reached the Wild Bird Fund.

…On Tuesday, the bird was undergoing treatment and would be reassessed in a few weeks.

The grace of my childhood…

From Sunrise, by Mary Oliver

Lake Michigan Sunrise (2012)

You can
die for it —
an idea,
or the world. People

have done so,
brilliantly,
letting
their small bodies be bound

to the stake,
creating
an unforgettable
fury of light. But

this morning,
climbing the familiar hills
in the familiar
fabric of dawn, I thought

of China,
and India
and Europe, and I thought
how the sun

blazes
for everyone just
so joyfully
as it rises

Dream Work (pp. 59-60)

The grace and humor of John Prine

Buechner on grace…

A crazy, holy grace I have called it. Crazy because whoever could have predicted it? Who can ever foresee the crazy how and when and where of a grace that wells up out of the lostness and pain of the world and of our own inner worlds? And holy because these moments of grace come ultimately from farther away than Oz and deeper down than doom, holy because they heal and hallow. “For all thy blessings, known and unknown, remembered and forgotten, we give thee thanks,” runs an old prayer, and it is for all the unknown ones and the more than half-forgotten ones that we do well to look back over the journeys of our lives because it is their presence that makes the life of each of us a sacred journey. We have a hard time seeing such blessed and blessing moments as the gifts I choose to believe they are and a harder time still reaching out toward the hope of a giving hand, but part of the gift is to be able, at least from time to time, to be assured and convinced without seeing, as Hebrews says, because that is of the very style and substance of faith as well as what drives it always to seek a farther and a deeper seeing still.

Comments

  1. Wonderful post! Loved the swan story so much. Thanks for sharing it.
    and Mary Oliver’s poem and Frederick Buechner’s reflection on ‘grace’.
    I needed this. 🙂

  2. David Greene says

    There seems to be a secondary theme here, in background to the “Grace Edition” for this week… a theme of unpredictable surprise.

    • Pellicano Solitudinis says

      Isn’t the element of unexpected surprise part of what makes grace what it is?

      “The consolation of fairy-stories, the joy of the happy ending: or more correctly of the good catastrophe, the sudden joyous ‘turn’ (for there is no true end to any fairy-tale): this joy, which is one of the things which fairy-stories can produce supremely well, is not essentially ‘escapist’, nor ‘fugitive’. In its fairy-tale – or otherworld – setting, it is a sudden and miraculous grace: never to be counted on to recur. It does not deny the existence of dyscatastrophe, of sorrow and failure: the possibility of these is necessary to the joy of deliverance; it denies (in the face of much evidence, if you will) universal final defeat and in so far is evangelium, giving a fleeting glimpse of Joy, Joy beyond the walls of the world, poignant as grief.” (J.R.R. Tolkien, “On Fairy-stories”

      • Pellicano, I read that book so many years ago–in high school. At the time I sensed that there was something I wasn’t connecting with. It is the “dyscatastrophe” of life over the span of years that calls us back to evangelium–or drives us into an insanely sterile nihilism.

        I would do well to re-read >I>On Fairy-stories.

        • Pellicano Solitudinis says

          Honestly, I am finding so much that resonates and comforts in Tolkien’s writing this year, especially The Silmarillion. Everything just keeps getting worse, but there is always hope, or at least the hope of hope. Aurë entuluva – day will come again.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says

            > especially The Silmarillion.

            I am increasingly convinced that the Silmarillion is one of the most insightful books ever published..

            • Headless Unicorn Guy says

              Read the Ailunindale (the creation story of Ea and Arda) out loud sometime.

              “First was Eru, whom the Elves call Iluvatar…”

  3. Karis–has to be the single most important word in the Pauline corpus! And, other than Paul, who best to serve us this Saturday morning’s brunch but Capon and Buechner.

    “I never said there is no response to be made to Grace, just that faith is the only possible response. It’s the only response, in fact, that Jesus and Paul insist on. And what’s more, neither one of them is about to allow you to turn faith into it work, not even if Bonhoeffer flirted with just that mistake (which I think he did) . I think he was having an off day when he came up with the phrase “Cheap Grace”. Grace can’t be cheap, it’s free. All you have to do is believe it, nothing else. I happen to think Jesus meant it when he said his yoke is easy and his burden light. When his audience ask him what they should do to work the works of God, he said “this is the work of God, that you believe in the one whom he sent.” He even went so far to say “God did not send the son into the world to judge the world but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not judged.” God simply doesn’t count our works he only asked us to trust the work he’s done for us in Jesus.”

    ~Robert Capon

    “The worst isn’t the last thing about the world. It’s the next to the last thing. The last thing is the best. It’s the power from on high that comes down into the world, that wells up from the rock-bottom worst of the world like a hidden spring. Can you believe it? The last, best thing is the laughing deep in the hearts of the saints, sometimes our hearts even. Yes. You are terribly loved and forgiven. Yes. You are healed. All is well.”

    — Frederick Buechner

    • Pellicano Solitudinis says

      Sorry to keep quoting Tolkien, but the Buechner brought this to mind:

      “Pippin glanced in some wonder at the face now close beside his own, for the sound of that laugh had been gay and merry. Yet in the wizard’s face he saw at first only lines of care and sorrow; though as he looked more intently he perceived that under all there was a great joy: a fountain of mirth enough to set a kingdom laughing, were it to gush forth.” (The Return of the King)

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      “Karis” — is that also the root word of “Charisma”?

  4. senecagriggs says

    I’mcurious, why did BeakerJ become BeakerN?

  5. senecagriggs says

    While the rain does indeed fall on the just and the unjust, the just keep getting wetter because the unjust are stealing all the umbrellas.

    • thatotherjean says

      Hey, Seneca, it’s a poem, by a 19th Century judge named Charles Bowen:

      “The rain it raineth on the just
      And also on the unjust fella;
      But chiefly on the just, because
      The unjust steals the just’s umbrella.”

    • David Greene says

      Haha! That is funny 🙂

  6. Dan from Georgia says

    The grace of my childhood…

    ahhh the memories…

    I know it sounds idyllic and maybe cliche, but circa 1970s in my neighborhood as a young puffy kid, myself and the other kids spent the majority of the daylight hours OUTSIDE riding bikes and other assorted outdoor kid activities.

    • As did I in the early 60’s in a Del Webb community in Phoenix, AZ.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      Same, late 1970s / early 1980s; it was great.

    • Same here, in the 80s and 90s. We had 60 acres of town forest right across the street and my mom would just send us out there as soon as we got home from school and then blow a whistle to call us in when it was time for dinner.

      In my neighborhood, a shift came somewhere around the end of the 90s or maybe the early 00s and suddenly (despite this being an incredibly safe suburb) parents were afraid to let their kids go out alone, even just walking to school. It’s strange how a whole society can go through shifts like that.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        > It’s strange how a whole society can go through shifts like that.

        Agree. The “zeitgeist” is a difficult thing to believe in, empirically, yet one sees it time and time again.

      • David Greene says

        Ah yes, we had the woods too! Lots of tree forts, trails and many wonderful things. It was about 80 acres sandwiched in between our small neighborhood and the Bellevue, WA airport. Often we would go out to watch the small planes.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Same here, in the 80s and 90s. We had 60 acres of town forest right across the street…

        That sounds like the lead-in to or setting of one of those Paranormal Encounter stories on YouTube.

      • When my older daughter got to college in the mid-’00s, her dorm friends were amazed at how much unsupervised time she was given, and also how her father and I allowed her to take the family car to a friend’s house 10 miles away for the evening (she was always home by our curfew time). Parenthetically, her friends were also amused that among her strongest olfactory memories are the yeasty-grapey smells of “the Crush” in the early fall when wine making commences, and the pungency of maturing cultivated marijuana…

        We did not buy our children cars; we couldn’t afford it. We told them they had to be able to make enough money on their own to pay for insurance and upkeep, and they could have a car. when they saved up enough money to buy one themselves. Both girls bought their cars as soon as they could manage it after graduating from high school. Son (oldest) didn’t have a car of his own until at age 28 he married a girl with one 🙂 He became very adept at using public transportation (when he couldn’t get a ride with a friend).

        Dana

        • senecagriggs says

          My folks and a sister/family lived in Humboldt County.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            Ah, the Emerald Triangle.
            Site of California’s biggest cash crop, pre-legalization DEA helicopter raids (without Ride of the Valkyries on loudspeakers), and Pot Mercs ripping off the growers at harvest time. With legalization, most of the growers went legit — the local free paper (the ones with “Weekly” in the title) ran a lot of hilarious pot ads, some of which mentioned a trade guild called “Humboldt County Growers’ Collecitve”.

      • I’m going to blame cable / sat TV.

        The dangers in the world (at least the suburban US) didn’t change. But we got told about them more. So things that were terrible but rare became known to everyone as it was no longer just talked about in the local paper and TV news station. Air time was too valuable to waste on low to mid profit talk shows interviewing some victims of a rare crime.

        I’m talking about ABCs 20/20 and it’s ilk.

        We used to go into the wood behind our neighborhood (part of my grandfather’s farm land) and cut vines so we could swing out over the lightly wooded slope over the creek.

        In GRADE SCHOOL we would take our gas lawn mowers into the nearby cow pasture to keep our infield mowed. Kids doing such today would likely trigger calls to the police, child services, and start multiple long threads on NextDoor.com.

    • David Greene says

      And then back outside after dinner, often to play Kick the Can until it was too dark, or look at the night sky with out little telescopes.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        I used to know my way around the night sky. Could even see the stars in 3-D, knowing their distance (for instance, seeing Vega three times the distance of Altair and the various stars & nebulae of Orion close or far). Lost the ability to do that some time ago, both living in a big city with lots of sky glow and memories of the Jesus Juke putdown when I made the mistake of getting enthusiastic about astronomy when at Palomar Observatory with a church group.

        • Of course, the pipes that brought it into each NYC building were very different and could make quite a difference in quality and purity; some of the water that actually made (makes) it into some buildings was (is) frankly was not fit for human consumption. At the sources in Upstate NY, NYC water was no doubt as good as it gets.

  7. Prine; “…buy ’em a pint of Smithwicks….”

    That was unexpected!

  8. dry hands
    cup pale moonlight
    like water

  9. One of the grace-filled realities of my childhood was the pure, cold, refreshing water that flowed from the faucet of our sink. The municipal water supply in our northern New Jersey town was fed by 5 deep artesian wells, which were fed by the mountains that nestled our narrow river valley. Our town was water rich; even when drought struck, we always had water in plentiful supply, and would pipe it to the surrounding boroughs to relieve their dearth. And the taste and purity and freshness of that water as it flowed from the faucet! I’ve not tasted the like since, in any other place. I would drink it greedily, taking such deep gulps that I almost gasped for air after I had swallowed.

    • morning fog
      in the meadow —
      here and gone

    • Burro (Mule) says

      In 2007, I was surprised and delighted at the quality of the drinking water in Richmond, Virginia. I remember thinking ‘a saint works here’.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Like “New York Tap – the Drink of Millions” during the bottled water fad of the Eighties. Bottled NYC tap water that actually won contests against Perrier and the like.

    • Brianthegrandad says

      As a municipal water works’ manager responsible for producing water and maintaining the distribution system serving 250,000 consumers I say, “you’re welcome”. I joke, because we didn’t produce your water. Admittedly, there are places with off-tastes and discoloration (oftentimes from the home’s internal piping) but I confidently say that I would drink the publicly produced tap water anywhere in the US without hesitation.

  10. Grace would be great with if we humans weren’t so hell bent on squandering it.

    • Yet, in a way, grace is meant to be squandered, and exists for those who have squandered.

      • David Greene says

        As long as we squander it in the right way! Raping the Earth’s bounty is not the right way.

        • We should love our neighbors, including the earth; and our enemies for that matter: but our redemption, the ultimate embodiment of grace, does not depend on getting anything right, at least, not until we are embraced by eschatological reality in its fullness. If there is no grace for polluters, there is no hope for me. Second chances, I hope, are followed by more second chances, seven times seventy.

        • Ethics, including environmental ethics, and responsibility are vital. But I’m unwilling to imagine anyone outside the circle of grace as a result of having abused grace; my humanity is so interlaced with the humanity of every other person that to put them outside that circle is to put myself outside as well, and vice versa.

  11. Burro (Mule) says

    The Orthodox seldom talk about grace. I wonder why that is. They talk about what Westerners would call grace by other names; Beauty, Energies, Light, even Eros. But when I hear such descriptions of Grace like this, it’s like getting a postcard from a country where you used to live.

    Maybe it’s because, after you scrape off all the barnacles; the self-importance, the petulance, the freezing fear and unbelief, we DO kinda deserve it, all of us, because He deserves it, and He is one of us.

    • That’s a good point. But it’s good to have that little word, grace, to remind us what Christ has given so that we could deserve it. He earned our status for us, and until we really forget ourselves, it is good to be reminded on those many occasions when we are inclined to put ourselves at the center and origin of our own goodness. I’m a Protestant.

    • I like the different ways that the EO speak of karis. However, my understanding is that those of the age of accountability are received into the church via “chrismation”.

      When you’re doin’ it you don’t havta talk about it so much.

      • Burro (Mule) says

        No “age of accountability” in the EO Church. Infants are chrismated immediately after baptism. We are the only Christian body that communes children on purpose.

        PS – My priest congratulated my family on our cremation into Orthodoxy, and we had a good laugh. I told him I knew it would be demanding, but I had no idea it would be that demanding.

  12. Grace is not just divine compassion, kindness, gentleness, love, etc. — it is these lavished on those who have failed or sinned or offended, and even rejected them. That’s why we need a special word to denote it; none of those other words alone or together do quite the same job.

  13. I actually have to disagree with the first Capon quote, at least the part about God not being mad at us. The Bible often speaks of the wrath of God as a result of our behavior. Honestly, I think saying that God is not even angry makes grace less amazing. If I am not angry at someone for what they have done, it doesn’t really take much to forgive them. But when a person’s actions have made me angry, even with someone I love, forgiveness is not as easy. The fact that God has given us grace, despite his wrath at sin, only makes grace that much more amazing.

    • I think the point is that in Jesus God is not holding anything against us, he has put away his anger, such as it was.

      • That makes more sense. Maybe I just misread him. I’ve never read a book of his, just small quotes I see posted here from time to time.

        • Capon likes to speak in aphoristic and paradoxical ways, and in humorous ways. He reminds me of the Zen poets and the canon of Zen wisdom stories in all those respects, and also because, like them, what he is saying cannot be exactly expressed by words; the words point to the reality but should not be mistaken for it, though they often are. He is by no means a systematic theologian or thinker, and I’m sure he was very happy not to be mistaken for one.

          • Exactly Robert.

            “Theology is not the explication of straight-line propositions about God but a word game in which analogies and images are tossed at a Mystery.”

            — Robert Farrar Capon, The Romance of the Word

            • I like Capon a lot, Tom, but I have one big problem with him — what he says seems centered in the notional, as if, once it clicks for us and we understand what he’s saying about grace and the freedom conferred by God in it, nothing more is necessary. He says only faith and trust in God and Jesus are necessary, since they make our forgiven and redeemed status apparent to us, but he doesn’t say how this faith and trust are expressed by the whole body rather than just the cognitive aspect of ourselves. I think this is a great deficiency, if true. And if true it also means that, in his own way, his theology is as notional as the systematic theologians. Where he differs significantly with the Zen folks is that, for all their recognition that wisdom cannot be produced or manufactured by religious activities or words, they still exhorted those seeking it to undertake certain whole-body practices, meant to bring both body and mind together to the end of their trust in human ability and religious machinations. They used religious words and activities to undermine and transcend religion.

              • I think you are correct that much of Capon’s published work does center on the “notional”.

                However, though Capon does not assign exercises, when I read deeply I find him teaching by example. For instance, his book Party Spirit; Some Entertaining Principles he sees entertaining friends and others as a sacrament of Faith. Also, as a Priest, he regularly officiated the Eucharistic Mass, which I’m sure that from your RC background would recognize as at least in part a mode of catechesis.

                I don’t sense that Capon insist that we believe the right things as much as he challenges us to embrace the best story–which is an act of freedom and faith.

          • And who else but Capon would compare the Trinity to the Three Stooges? Surely he must have believed in grace to think he could get away with that.

      • The thing is, the Bible *does* show Jesus getting angry… at upright “good religious” folk. Something to consider…

    • In our approaches to God, God does not require that we bow and scrape in fear. “Fear not…” He is not pissed off at us, however much we know he has a right to be. God is not standing on his rights. Our relationship to him can leave the fear of him being angry behind, even from the outset. The cross of Christ destroyed the enmity between humanity and God, and the cross along with the Lamb has existed from the foundation of the creation.

      • I doubt that God has ever been angry with humanity, Rather, our fear and anger with each other is projected onto God.

        “There is no point at which the Shepherd who followed the lost sheep will ever stop following all of the damned. He will always seek the lost. He will always raise the dead. Even if the elder brother refused forever to go in and kiss his other brother, the Father would still be there pleading with him. Christ never gives up on anybody. Christ is not the enemy of the damned. He is the finder of the damned.”

        — Robert Farrar Capon

        If Christ is “the express image of the Father” then what we say of Christ is true only because it is true of the Father.

        • Well, I’m not sure about whether God has ever been angry or not, and so I try to be careful not to say that he never or ever was. But I think that there has been enmity between God and humanity, even if it only comes from the human side; and I believe that, whatever the case may be, the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world nipped — and nips — it in the bud.

    • ** The fact that God has given >B>us grace, despite his wrath at sin,**

      God knows and we should confess that we are not our sin. What there is of God’s wrath (orge), that wrath is directed at sin, not people.

      About that time some people came up and told him about the Galileans Pilate had killed while they were at worship, mixing their blood with the blood of the sacrifices on the altar. 2 Jesus responded, “Do you think those murdered Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans? 3 Not at all. Unless you turn to God, you, too, will die. 4 And those eighteen in Jerusalem the other day, the ones crushed and killed when the Tower of Siloam collapsed and fell on them, do you think they were worse citizens than all other Jerusalemites? 5 Not at all. Unless you turn to God, you, too, will die.”
      6 Then he told them a story: “A man had an apple tree planted in his front yard. He came to it expecting to find apples, but there weren’t any. 7 He said to his gardener, ‘What’s going on here? For three years now I’ve come to this tree expecting apples and not one apple have I found. Chop it down! Why waste good ground with it any longer?’
      8 “The gardener said, ‘Let’s give it another year. I’ll dig around it and fertilize, 9 and maybe it will produce next year; if it doesn’t, then chop it down.'”

      People came to Jesus to tell him about Pilate’s atrocities against some of their fellow countrymen engaging in an act of worship. Jesus then cites a headline in the Jerusalem Herald about 18 killed by the collapse of a tower. His challenge; do you think any of these people who suffered were any more or less sinful than you? Of course not. They were not suffering under the anger of YHWH. You must change the way you think about God and cause and effect and the reality that shit happens (Ok, I admit to being just a little loose with how Jesus said it, but not much.) And, you also must change the way you think about the Honor of YHWH and this beautiful temple made for you by the old fox Herod. God does not live in a house made of stone. If you persist in your national pride such as it is then you as a nation will surely perish. Repent.

      In another place someone in Jesus’ own entourage asked, “Who sinned, this man or his parents (so that he was born blind)? Jesus replied, “NEITHER…”

      We and 2nd Temple Judaism are/were the ultimate moralist… God in Christ has dropped the subject of sin. Why can’t we?

      • I don’t think an honest reading of the New Testament would lead one to conclude that God has dropped the subject of sin. One thing I do notice though, at least in the New Testament, speaking of the wrath of God is usually in reference to judgment. Perhaps it is not right to speak of God as angry in the sense that we get angry, but rather the the wrath of God is another part of the justice of God. While it is a mistake to assume that because something bad has happened to someone because they have sinned, there is no doubt that scriptures still speak of a judgment, they still speak of the wrath of God coming upon the unrighteous and unbeliever. The only way to deny that is to toss out quite a bit of the New Testament.

        • I don’t think it’s necessary to impugn the honesty of those who read the NT with a different hermeneutic than one’s own.

          • Ok, well how about I don’t think it is a correct reading.

            • There isn’t just one “correct reading.” The Bible isn’t univocal nor does it “harmonize.” It’s more like an anthology.

              • Headless Unicorn Guy says

                And attempts to “harmonize” it perfectly have given us monstrosities like Dispensationalism.

                • ‘Zactly.

                  BTW, lest we forget, it’s a Jewish collection of documents.

                  Q. Do you know what you get when two Rabbis get together to discuss Torah?

                  A. Three arguments.

                  • Headless Unicorn Guy says

                    Looks like the Rabbis never accepted the “One True Way Plain Reading” that became the default mode among Christians:
                    “GAWD Said It,
                    I Believe It,
                    THAT SETTLES IT!
                    DIE, HERETIC!”

        • Jon, it isn’t necessary to toss out NT, however different readings will give different results.

          The earliest letters of Paul that we have (Thessalonians) do contain a fair amount of calling down condemnation whereas his later letters have little to none. In the later chapters of Romans where he quotes OT writers he purposefully redacts parts from his citations that call on God’s wrath. Paul, like us, was a masterpiece in process.

      • We never have got that “edit” button…

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        (Ok, I admit to being just a little loose with how Jesus said it, but not much.)
        I’ve made the same comparison.
        The Tower of Siloam as an example of “sometimes shit just happens”.

  14. Uh, I posted a comment (poem) at the bottom, and it ended up as a reply to the first comment! Strange things are afoot in program.

  15. in the 50’s….
    baseball in a wider part of the street; football in a narrower part; pirates in a catalpa; guerrillas in a large field of tall grass; dancing the stroll; walking to school with friends; kissing in spin the bottle; running across the street in game of tag; marbles; delivering the neighborhood papers on your bike; down the manhole and exploring the underground; damming the creek; sledding down the hill and even grabbing the rear bumper of slow moving cars on the snow; Christmas carols with a small group of friends throughout the neighborhood; how about the joy of recess at school; we did shows on the sidewalk where the adults in numbers sat and watched from the street; we had block parties( 4th) with hundreds attending; catechism took two years every Saturday; swimming in the one pool( it was at the church and a large kosher pickle was a treat); of course the ice cream truck( my dog, gig, got the first cup.
    It was happy days for me .”Happy Days” was originally an idealized version of the 50’s attempting to honestly depict a wistful look back at adolescence. As far as I can tell, I really don’t have melancholy yearning for those days( our life is good today, perhaps better than ever with what turned out as a large family). And who is so wistful to believe about yearning for a return to the good old days. Good old days of military industrial ascendance, sexism, racism, homophobia. Actually “Ike” was the one man of those days who was right all along.

  16. Ok, CM started it by first quoting Capon. I can’t help myself ever since Jeff twisted my arm to read Before Noon and Three. ;o)

  17. swept clean
    the front stoop rests in
    pure sunlight

  18. Six lessons learned from the pandemic…there is one that I take exception to: “There is much that still binds the human race together, most of all our fear of death.”

    I am not afraid of death. I am afraid of extended needless suffering before I die, or causing someone else to suffer likewise. May God’s grace allow us all to escape that.

  19. Dan from Georgia says

    Cool comments on The Grace of my childhood thread…final thought…

    Remember back when we were kids
    We were kids
    We’d scrape our skin
    But we’d keep running…

    (Lyrics from a song I like)

  20. cold night sky
    touches my face —
    stars in my brow