Wise Man Talking
Talk about absurdity, that painful presence of meaninglessness! We bump into it everywhere. This morning, as I ran around Hamburg’s inner-city lake I couldn’t help notice the candles and flowers under the Kennedy Bridge. Two weeks ago, a sixteen-year-old teen was stabbed here by a still unknown assailant for no visible reason. The kid died. This weekend, Isis laid claim to the attack. The thought of my own sixteen-year-old daughter roaming around the same places makes me shudder. Job is everywhere, so it seems.
The concrete subtleties of Hebrew narrative can easily elude readers versed in theological talking points and religious "viewiness" (to quote Cardinal Newman). We all have just enough pseudo-education in our blood that we cannot really help but reduce the Book of Job to a predictable series of lame paradoxes and postmodern clichés. Meanwhile, the Job story demands intrepid readers—you know, the kind of seekers who peer at words in the same way explorers once groped doggedly along fog-shrouded shores se
Theodicy, or the justification of God in the face of evil, is a presumptuous undertaking. Why should deity necessarily be the epitome of all that is good? The ancient Mesopotamians did not assume so. The Sumerian and Babylonian gods were capricious, fickle, and only sometimes beneficent; there was no expectation of ultimate goodness.
There is only one serious reason for not being a Biblical monotheist. This is an inability to integrate, theoretically and practically, the idea of a wholly loving and supremely powerful God, on the one hand, and all the evil in the world, on the other. Every other objection is either inaccurate, irrelevant, superficial, or all three.
In this passage of Scripture, the first truth that is elucidated is the fact that no one knows “the day, nor the hour” (Matthew 24: 36-39, 42, 44; 25:13), of the coming of the Lord; only the Father knows, as stated in Matthew 24:36. In addition to that, it is emphasized that neither the day nor the hour is to be set; the emphasis is to be on preparedness. The Lord may tarry, but the key is to be ready whenever He comes (Matthew 24:46, 48, 50, 51).
Earlier this year Spectrum Magazine published an article in the “Migrant Journeys” section by Pastor Will James titled “Paradise Valley Refugee Assimilation Project.” In it, Pastor James described the work his church was doing with the local refugee community. This quarter Spectrum has published numerous thought-provoking essays on the role of the Church in the community, but most have been theoretical.
In scanning this week’s lesson title, “Jesus Bade Them, Follow Me,” what were your first thoughts? Did you actually want to know more about following Jesus? Or perhaps you thought about the first disciples of Jesus? Maybe these words have a long ago and far away connotation and you are in the now, so perhaps they do not seem to have much implication in your present context.