Showing posts with label Epexegesis. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Epexegesis. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Proclamation of Mortal Man



I am weary, O God.1
I am weary, O God, but I can persevere.
Indeed, I am too dull of a man to discern.
For I have reached my limit and I don't even have the understanding of Adam.
I have not yet learned wisdom, but I know it can be attained.

Who on earth has gone up to you to bring wisdom down to us?
Who has walked the recesses of the deep?
Who has comprehended every detail of land?
Who has entered the storehouses of snow and hail?
What is his name, and what is his son's name?
Surely You know!

Our lives are filled with various trials and dangers.
And so You say, "Take refuge in Me."
Even if we don't consider every word of Yours to be true.
Even if You rebuke us when we add words to the invitation.
Every word proves true.
Our lies are found out.

Oh God, please consider helping me by granting two things before I die. 
I need deliverance from my most basic temptations--those of falsehood and lying. 
If I only had daily bread, the bread sufficient for each day.
I wouldn't be tempted to suppress You or transgress Your law in times of poverty or wealth.

I wouldn't be tempted to slander your servants to their employers. 
I have done that before, and ultimately to my shame.
Every generation seems to act shamefully as I have.
There is cursing of fathers and mothers.
There is hypocrisy in how they view others while not seeing their own filth.
There is great audacity and condemnation in their eyes.
There is a relentless disregard for even the poorest of souls.
As long as that is what it takes to remain wise in their own eyes,
They're like the blood sucking leech and their spawn, crying out, "Give! Give!"

I ponder this vast domain of Yours, and the way they strive for satisfaction without You.
They're insatiable, like the grave or the womb which can't even produce life.
They're like parched land or an entire valley on fire.
Their eyes lead them into shameful desolation.
They could look for the wisdom from above, but they won't.
This mortal existence, and all its wisdom down here, is the only viewing they take pleasure in.

Many more things astonish me, and I don't understand how they can continue living as they do.
They rationalize their adulteries away, as though they have done no wrong.
They feast on violence and then wipe the blood off their lips, leaving no trail behind.
Like an eagle in the sky, or a snake slithering across a rock.
Like a ship in the heart of the ocean, or the way of a successful man with an impressionable woman.

The whole land trembles over such disordered desires.
The weight of it all cannot be sustained forever.
Consider the slave who finally becomes Emperor.
Or the senseless fool, filled with food at the celebration of his coronation. 
Or the servant-girl who, somehow, some way, displaces her Queen.
Or the lady whom we all thought would never get married because of how insufferable she often is.
Do you think she will magically change overnight in her wisdom once she receives a husband?

Even many frail animals serve as lessons of wisdom for us mortals.
The ants prepare for bad times during good times.
The rock badgers provide security for each other.
The locusts cooperate together. 
The geckos are defenseless, but they live in well-fortified palaces.

There is also a proper grandeur which God has given to His creation.
The lion, mightiest of beasts, retreats before nothing.
The rooster walks bravely among female hens.
The hunting-dog is another, as well as the king whose army is with him.
As long as mortals remain wise in their own eyes, foolishly exalting themselves above others,
Instead of being exalted by others,
We can only hope that they cover their mouths while talking.
Raging against others will only provoke further strife, of which we have plenty already.

Rules and prescriptions alone are not able to fix the brokenness all around us.2 
Libraries of law won't suffice for the healing of generations either.
Only the wisdom from above can come down and save us.
The wisdom from below is earthly, unspiritual, and demonic.
If any of us lacks wisdom from above, ask God for it.
He gives generously to all those who do so, and without rebuke or disapproval.
But be sure to ask in loyal trust of the One you're asking,
With no doubting about what you receive as being from the Lord.
If you remain double-minded in your loyalty, don't presume that you'll receive anything from Him.
Let the lowly brother boast in being exalted by Him.
And the rich brother boast in being humbled by Him.
Because like a flower of the field, each will pass away.










1. The inspiration for this comes directly from my reflections upon the Book of Proverbs, chapter 30, and the Book of Wisdom, chapter 2.
2. The inspiration for this comes from the book of James.






Friendship Friendship


Drop in your dollar fifty
The game is the same every day
The scorpion plays with smoke
The reptile with rain
One of them must lose
None must show friendship
As long as you're invested
There is no option of stalemate
Many just enjoy ripping spines out
But the wisdom from below doesn't always satisfy
Some need alternatives to fatality
There must be a way to tap into that above
Some combination of buttons and joystick
Some magazine wrapped in plastic
Some compact disc taped to the last page
What has the Programmer left us to discover?
Such is the riddling in search of friendship
Be not wise in your own eyes, is the clue








Monday, December 11, 2017

Talking Past



What can be said to the sycophant?
He welcomes you into his abode for a friendly discussion
Offers kindness and sincerity
Chatters about all the good done in their name

What can be said to the facile?
He shows concern for the neighbor's pet
Cares about the widow and orphan too
Hates the God who kills and makes alive

What can be said to the pedant?
He ascends to the right hand of his father only to mock his face
Slays the younger brother just because he can
Justifies infanticide on his own terms, while mocking the God who passes over the innocent

What can be said to the Atheist?
He reasons like a fundamentalist
Wages war with imaginary gods
He eats and wipes his mouth and says, 'I have done no wrong.'

What can be said to the Christian?
He made this mess, but wants others to clean it up
Prescribes drugs to all patients, not even knowing each person or side effect
Immunizes every infant in their care to prevent disease from spreading


Sunday, November 26, 2017

Lucy



Of course I believe it's true
Why? 
Don't you?

Of course not
Only an idiot could believe that
Frogs don't become princes you know
Never in a million years could all that be possible
Archeologists all agree
Every biology textbook is clear
Just ask your friendly neighborhood geologist
They'll tell you
Frogs don't become princes
Never in a million years

But what about The Book?

What about it?

It's His. And He says it's true.

No, it doesn't say that. And it's not "His".

Yes. It is.

No, it is most certainly not "His"
You've been brainwashed to think that
Religious people invented the "Book"
They chose it to suit their imaginary theodicy
They just wanted to overpower the weak and vulnerable
It's all a power struggle, that's all
That Book is just like every other book on earth: humanly crafted
You can't magically turn a human book into a Divine One
No matter what you call it
Frogs don't become princes
Not even in a billion years

But what about all the devout worshipers across the globe?
And all the miracles from above?
And all the apparitions? 
And all the answered prayers?
Do you think they all believe in fairy tales?

Unfortunately, yes
But cheer up
Not everything is gloomy just because that One turned out to be a joke
We humans still get to craft our own destiny
For a long time there has been hope dawning at the end of another tunnel
The tides have turned considerably since those ancient myths of His became facts
The four rivers flow westward now, to where our seeds were planted and nurtured a century ago
All the trimming and grooming over here is finished
Faithful groundskeeping is all that's needed now
The trees are fully grown and bearing fruit each year
Pleasant to the sight of all, and good for food
Some now even say that its fruit is able to make one wise
The Mythicists even crafted a clever little ditty in that regard:
'Rejoice all ye lands and do not look grim
With oodles of time on our side
And laws of Nature to guide
Myriads of self-purposed mutations later
And with only One common ancestor
Frogs actually did become princes and without any need for Him'
Despite tiny inconsistencies here and there
We no longer feel the need to challenge those who guard and keep our garden
Such ditties are kind of charming, actually
And it rhymes*




*Jon Sedlak, 11/26/17







Friday, November 24, 2017

Drugs of Choice




Why should You be worshiped?
You see them boxed in, lonely and terrified, tormented and gasping, yet You do nothing about it
The rape behind the curtain
The brain swelling in the infant
The Omnipresent One prefers to dine while watching the film It made
We foolishly accept Your distractions to placate the wrath of your disciples
Butter, brewer's yeast, and sea salt are the drugs of choice

The Omnipotent One just stares into the cold, dark night
You--the Holy One--You can command legions to come to your own aid at any moment
Yet not to theirs?
If I should worship You, then make me believe
I'll give You forty minutes to respond favorably
Yes, I would like some salt
No, I brought my own sweets, and I don't particularly care if I'm not supposed to tell You that

Forty-one minutes later...

What kind of a pathetic Deity would pass up such a sublime opportunity?
Even if You did exist, I wouldn't prostrate myself before You
Where were You when I needed You most, anyway?
It's like this every day--the same torturous imaginary bullshit every day
You're the one who invented torture, aren't You?
You do all of this just because You can
Or, maybe, it's because You can't

Is that it?
You think You're the greatest, but You're really just a poser, like the Devil
Or maybe You are the Devil
Can You even hear me?
I said that's what You are--the Devil
I am the real God of me
And to prove it, I'm going to live my life without You, meanwhile letting everyone know my reasons for becoming an Atheist

I will spend my life promoting Science
The true source of our knowledge--at least, what we can know, anyway
And I will make peace with Your ridiculous devotees by calling myself an Agnostic
I will study the book You dropped out of heaven, and Your disciples will learn how hopelessly inept they are as long as they cling to You while listening to Me
Instead of being brainwashed by Your "good" and Your evil, they will learn to focus upon the truth
Their only moral obligation will be to follow that truth wherever it leads
If it leads some sick poodles back to You, we will show mercy, as long as they are merciful
But with the froward we will show ourselves froward

That is the best scientific means to keep the peace
In due time--hopefully not another billion years--the good news will be settled
And Our kingdom established
The most important task at hand now is to quell Your soldiers and set Your captives free
Free to do whatever they want within the limits of Our gospel
Free to be like You
For Science knows of no boundaries other than the ones Our peers review*






*Jon Sedlak, 11/24/17











Between Two Worlds

In the beginning was no end
Days, hours, minutes are there, so we are told
But there is no end
Like a crushed record
Shattered into pieces
We found her by his side from the very beginning, with no end in sight
Five pillars supported her stars
Ten words made us, but they weren’t good enough
Seventy bullocks and seven generations later we started getting it right
At least we thought we did
Pour the chalice over and onto us if you must
Let the dust soak it all in to form your new mud puppet to play with
We’ve all been waiting for this day
Raise the war-bow to remember no more so that Hosea’s children will be justified
Do not spare us just this once
Let the waters above crack open and shed down hailstones
Light our vigil candles below 
Prepare new globes of fire within the firmament
If we must have our cadavers back, then just say a word and our soul shall be healed
Form our glass with your lightning and scatter the ten thunderings across the sea shore one last time
Leave broken what is broken, shells and all
Ditch the glue and fill the week with one more evening—just one—and we will become wise*






*Jon Sedlak, 11/24/17






Knowing God



We all pretend to know but we really don’t
We certainly can know but we won’t
Our careers depend upon imagineering 
Our friendships demand it
Our identity is it
So let’s think for ourselves as we watch them lounge to the Netflix of dogma and genuflect to the magisterial bestsellers that kindle fire
We know it’s not true that we don’t know anything, otherwise why tweet?
Admittedly we don’t know everything, but that’s what democracy is for
She knows there is a difference between knowing and pretending, but she doesn’t know the principle is the same

We are told that in dying we shall die if we count equality with God a thing to be grasped
Isn’t this contrary to everything we know?
Where was God in the tsunami?
God is perfectly good, she says
He is omnipotently, omnisciently, omnipresently good
Even if God is good, isn’t it obvious that the way she portrays him isn’t?
We know the winds do not actually obey his words, otherwise God would be the author of tsunamis
We know that God must return in the flesh again to make the wind obey his word, making all things good again
His feet must touch the mount before he can be our judge, our lawgiver, and our king
Only then will every one of us know, and bow to his omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotence 

She knows this world is not yet as it is in heaven
We certainly know what heaven is not like
It’s not like earth where we are like gods
We don’t even need test scores to know that she pretends
Total depravity only makes matters worse
They say that if any man—save Jesus—or any woman—especially Mary—could live sinlessly, even by God’s grace, they know they could qualify as the Messiah and steal the glory due to His omnipotent name alone
Don't they know God is dead?
We know this is heresy
She knows it too, and they still believe that empire of truth in which every Adam lives
We, however, are under grace, not law

Sometimes she even pretends to be pretending, so that even when we know that she doesn't know a thing, she doesn’t want others to know that we know that she doesn’t actually know
For if she didn’t at least know with boldness and confidence, how could she help all those around us with so much uncertainty?
She must pluck the firebrands out of the fire, and then they too will know
It is heresy for her to be wrong
When she repents—if ever that happens—that will be a sure sign of her total depravity
‘She always was the harlot,’ will be our refrain
They know that the only incarnate thing in life—at least the one that is without stain—is the good book, as long as the Apocrypha is not considered
Even the Creed knows this much; ’We Believe’ is our standard for perfect unity
Just don’t tell that to the Council of Chalcedon, or the iconoclasts, or Monothelites
Rethink one jot or tittle of the law or the prophets, and no more Jesus for you; no more bread and wine from her

She knows that one cannot be known if one doesn’t confess that Jesus is an impotent monarch, enthroned in the heavens, awaiting that final trumpet blast
That’s when he, too, will know it is time to finally come in glory to judge the living and the dead
Hell is for those who don’t know what she knows, and she knows that not even Jesus still knows the day or the hour
Don’t pretend you don’t know about the parenthesis of His plan
Don’t pretend that the signs aren't everywhere
Don’t pretend that we won’t get this flesh back 
We know that is gnosticism, so away with the Atheists
Away with those who pretend to know that the end was really the beginning
Away with those who say, along with Hymenaeus and Philetus, that the resurrection is past
Away with those who reduce history to a guess
*






*Jon Sedlak 9/20/17


Thursday, November 16, 2017

Reaching God






Eyes open and no thoughts about it 
It sees me
It knows me
Eat the fruit and you will know
Plan A was life 
And plan B was life too
Drink the cup and you will know it
Draw near to it
Neither supra nor infra can change it
That's what Nietzche said lawyers are for
Fire and hail, snow and ice, tempestuous winds make life worth living
Just stub your toe and that all changes
Dust was plan A
And there never was a plan B
Procreation seems so cruel
Without eating the fruit
Who would know?
The grass withers
The flower fades 
And we know it
We beget and more is known 
And they know it too
Clement said that jealousy and strife have overthrown great cities and uprooted great nations
How blessed and marvelous are the gifts of God
Eyelids close to think about it
The tree is me 
The tree is you 1










This is a poem I wrote on 9/08/17, shortly after being exposed to the amazing poetry of Anne Sexton.







Sunday, August 27, 2017

Sermon on the Mount: Sections C & C' (part 5)


As noted in the beginning of this mini-series about the Sermon on the Mount, the whole sermon is laid out for us in the form of a chiasm:

A. Jesus ascends mountain surrounded by crowds (4:23-5:2)
   B. Blessings (5:3-10)
      C. Fulfill “the law and prophets”/ glorify “your Father in Heaven” (5:11-20)
         D. Two triads about Torah (5:21-48)
            E. One triad about spiritual discipline (6:1-18)
         D'. Two triads about Godly priorities (6:19-7:6)
      C'. “This is the law and prophets”/”your Father in Heaven” provides (7:7-12)
   B'. Warnings (7:13-27)
A'. Jesus descends mountain surrounded by crowds (7:28-8:1)


In the last post we completed section "C".  Now we are going to tie it into section C', which says:
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 
Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! 
So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.


At first glance the meaning of section C' (7:7-12) might not seem to correspond to section C (5:11-20) simply because of its difference in size. After all, one section is twenty verses long, whereas I'm claiming that it's corresponding section, section C', which contains only six verses, derives it's meaning from the previous twenty verses near the beginning of the Sermon.

But let's begin by asking some obvious questions, and I hope it will become obvious immediately as to why I think both sections are mutually interpretive. When reading 7:7-12, the first obvious question we ought to be asking (as indeed, we should imagine Matthew's audience asking) is, ask for whatA second question would be this: Knock, and what would be opened to them? A third (and again, obvious) question is: Everyone who asks for what, receives what

To summarize: Everyone who seeks after what, finds what? Everyone who knocks, what will be opened?


I contend that apart from the literary structure of the Sermon itself, according to the way Matthew wrote it (or whoever wrote it--it doesn't matter who wrote it at this point in our inquiry, but what is actually written is most important), there is no clear answer to that question. Scholars conjecture in a wide variety of ways in response to these questions, yet most don't approach it from the Sermon's own literary structure. If you look at the verses immediately preceding this section (which would be section B': 6:19-7:6) I can assure you that you won't find the answer there. The whole Sermon must be taken into account. And since the whole Sermon must be taken into account, why not look to the preceding section which corresponds to it? Yet that is precisely what we are about to do. With a literary approach that pays attention to the internal structure of the speech in question, we will be able to answer the obvious and somewhat naggingly unclear questions above.

The first question, again, was: Ask for what? If we look back to section C (here, here, here, and here), the answers become apparent. They ought to have asked for hope and joy through the coming persecutions. They were to seek to have their light shine brighter than the scribes and Pharisees. And if a door stood in opposition to where Christ was leading them, here in section C' they are encouraged to simply knock and it would be opened for them.

They could also ask for wisdom when others thought their witness to the truth of Jesus Christ was foolish. In retrospect, one might think that would have been an obvious thing to ask, given that Jesus had already warned them about being trampled under foot by hostile brethren opposing Jesus and the good news that his kingdom was drawing near (which, as we have seen in previous posts, necessitated the destruction of Herod's Temple, which many first century Jewish leaders and their disciples idolized).

They could have also sought to obey and teach others about the Law and the Prophets, which included their way of fulfillment in Jesus Christ. Now they are being told that if only their brethren knocked on the door of Christ's Church, they also would be welcomed into his heavenly kingdom. Unfortunately, as we know from historical accounts, such as Josephus, Tacitus, and Eusebius (and as noted by a wide variety of Church Fathers), not all of first century Israel took Jesus' advice.

Implicit in all of these illustrations is their asking, seeking, and knocking for good things—what God has revealed to be good things. Those good things they were exhorted to ask for and pursue were—somewhat surprisingly—gifts which only the Holy Spirit could give.

Luke 11:13 clarifies this. (And Matthew seems to be taking this for granted as understood in context.) Luke records the same statement as Matthew, but with one additional phrase: 
If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!

In Matthew's version ("If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children”) the phrase could be rendered a tad bit more literally, in order to clarify some potential concerns of ours. What Matthew says, more woodenly, is this:
Therefore if you-all, although you-all are evil, know how good gifts are given to your children, how much more…(etc.)1

It turns out that in Matthew's version, Jesus is not accusing all the people before him of being evil. He is offering them a worst case scenario. The “if” is just as important as the “although.” 

Jesus's point is this: Even the most evil parents know how good gifts are given to their children—and it’s not through cruelty, or trickery. Even the most evil parents know how to give good gifts to their children because their children ask for them. Therefore, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him? So then, whatever they wished that others would do to them, they were also to do to them, for such is the Law and the Prophets.

Notice again that along with the "Father in heaven" providing for them, this phrase, "the Law and the Prophets," also shows up. The last time we heard (or saw) these phrases was back in Section C. 

If they wanted to be treated mercifully, they too should treat others mercifully. If they wanted swift and stern justice for every sin, they had to be willing to receive it themselves. If they wanted to receive reconciliation with their family or neighbors, they needed to pursue reconciliation. If they wanted to avoid false accusations of treating others in an evil manner, they had to turn the other cheek and not resist the one who is evil to them. That is what the Law and the Prophets taught!

In other words, if they wanted to live like their God revealed in the Law and Prophets, they needed to live like Jesus. 

We learned a little about the Law and the Prophets in previous posts, so I won't rehearse them here. But I will say this: If Christians today struggle with the God revealed in the "Old Testament" Scriptures, but they also think they don't struggle with Jesus as the God of the "New Testament," they're probably not reading either "Testament" accurately. The God of the Old Testament is Jesus, and the God of the New Testament is YHWH

In the next series of posts I plan on going through sections D & D' in detail, and I hope to show that the common understanding of Jesus' comments about "the Law" are horrendously misunderstood, partly because the literary structure is rarely brought into the discussion, but mostly because Christians today don't actually know what the Law teaches, and therefore assume that Jesus is teaching contrary to it, when in fact he most certainly does not.   












1. The Greek is: εἰ οὖν ὑμεῖς πονηροὶ ὄντες οἴδατε δόματα ἀγαθὰ διδόναι τοῖς τέκνοις ὑμῶν, πόσῳ μᾶλλον…