And life seemed to me as swift as a passing train.
All posts for the month July, 2012
Posted by unknowing on July 31, 2012
Just got the nicest rejection ever today. Wish they were all that way. Had a nasty one a while back in which the editor told me she hated trimeter. Of course, the consolation there is that the publication obviously is run along the lines of personal opinion. The nice rejection came with the editors expression of regret, and it was convincing. One needs that from time to time. I have four rejections in my inbox to note and turn around on.
It is consoling to read Robert Graves, for example, talking about how some of his poems never sold. He was a minor poet; minor, but recognized. Still, it happens. And when you see the complete poems including some never before published, well you have to wonder if it was for lack of trying.
It is a thing of persevering. There are so many people trying. And actually the way is an interesting one for what you learn and see. I have been a reader of poetry since it was presented me as something worthwhile in high school. My literature teacher got me started in 12th grade with T.S. Eliot. But I never quite got poetry the way I have since I started trying to do it myself.
Eliot’s letters are being published, by the way, and I understand they’re working on the complete poems (finally!). That’s rich reading. His was a life of persevering, poor chap. As well as Blake’s. Blake lived a tough life indeed. And Blake did watercolors too.
So I’ve made 25 submissions in the poetry department this year. Had 19 rejections, waiting on four and the remaining two had a bite of one poem each. Usually one can send up to five poems in a submission–I guess I average three. It was cheering because I haven’t had a poem accepted since 2008. One thing the rejection does is make you go back and make sure you only send worthwhile poetry.
Beyond poetry, in stories I’ve had 4 accepted this year, which is pretty good for me. I’ve submitted 45 times and am waiting to hear back on 7 still. The good news is, I’m still writing more than I get rid of and they’re getting better. Maybe I’ll be able to get up to six this year and keep increasing the next. (Side benefit: nowadays I can run the spell checker and from time to time get the notice that there were no spelling errors. That is progress indeed!)
Posted by unknowing on July 31, 2012
Neluta Neagu and Marian Mexicanu along with Fatz Hammerdulcimer and the background dwarves in a riveting performance before the Christmas Tree.
Posted by unknowing on July 30, 2012
¡Oh, Hermosura que excedéis
a todas las hermosuras!
Sin herir dolor hacéis,
Y sin dolor deshacéis
El amor de las criaturas.
¡Oh, ñudo que así juntáis
Dos cosas tan desiguales!
No sé por qué os desatáis,
Pues atado fuerza dais
A tener por bien los males.
Juntáis quien no tiene ser
Con el Ser que no se acaba:
Sin acabar acabáis,
Sin tener que amar amáis,
Engrandecéis vuestra nada.
-Teresa de Jesús
Posted by unknowing on July 28, 2012
So we went down to Paipa where the hot springs bubble up. It is a small town of immense skies. Seems there is always a storm brewing toward the south, but the day manages to alternate clouds and sunshine. A sleepy bit of the highlands, Paipa, as long as you’re not there on a weekend.
Anytime we travel, not having a car, not wanting a car anyway, we go on the bus. And on the bus you get everything. For example, my wife thinks that by now she knows this song.
Those Tigers of the North apparently first set that one up with a chap singing, and then got smart and brought in Paula Rubio. Not that it matters greatly for the quality–you can probably get enough of it without wondering about the sex of the person singing (and with Mexican vocalists, sometimes you have to wonder hard). It is one of the more tolerable things they play on the buses, actually. I don’t know why of all the stuff they do get from Mexico, they usually seem to get the boringest dinky stuff they put out. Still, when it comes to Latin American popular music, it is usually more interesting to get Mexican stuff, like the one about the drug runners who dressed up like nuns and gunned down the cops at a checkpoint.
But the indignation of the song, however clearly it is or is not expressed, does provoke a thought. It is not fitting for a man, but it is for a woman and that has to do with what the feminine represents. The feminine, like matter, represents potential, as opposed, to hark back to physics in high school, kinetic energy, which is what the masculine represents.
I came across the thought after breakfast in the hotel, with a view onto the lake and excellent service. They do the service well and thoroughly, but unfortunately also got the idea muzac is part of that. I heard Amazing Grace as easy listening and Hotel California likewise. I’m not sure which was worse, though if you’re going to bowdlerize, even though I don’t like Amazing Grace that much, I think I’d rather you did Hotel California. Speaking of potential, it is like taking all the potential out of the music, whatever it was originally, when you reduce it to easy listening, it seems. But in the morning they did Bach, Mozart and Handel, so I tarried on after my Spanish tortilla and two cups of coffee under the kinetic influence reading.
And Lewis was explaining William’s symbolism and his use of the ancient view of the feminine as potential and associated with matter and the masculine as active and associated with forms. It made me wonder if that wasn’t part of the distress that women in the OT seem to feel when they can’t have children, that they remain unfulfilled potential and they’re awfully aware of it.
Which is why Paula Rubio’s rather artless indignation seems effective. (No, I don’t expect you to analyze it, but when you ride the buses like we do, you end up becoming familiar or doing permanent damage to your hearing blasting Beethoven through headphones/earbuds). Tu, que me has dado? Falsas promesas de amor. Mocking her, leaving her as unfulfilled potential. And that is why it sounds bad when a Tiger of the North chap sings it: it’s whiny. He has no call to recriminate in that way because it’s just pathetic in a chap.
Let the chaps stick to the accordion stuff. I like the accordion bits, actually. And, they’re much more suitable to their role. Plus it gives me less to worry about, because it is curious that out of everything there is to listen to, this should be the one my wife seems to have memorized. I need to get her out of this country. It is, after all, in the USA where my accordion lies, and I’d rather have a dozen accordions than one kid.
Posted by unknowing on July 27, 2012
I’m sure this is all over the web, but Hitz tweeted a link and I thought I retweeted it never to see it appear.
It’s Carl Trueman on who’s going to separate.
The second thing I almost didn’t read for the title. The Time of Nick on Lessons from Colorado. Who needs more of that, I thought. But I read it and I was glad.
Posted by unknowing on July 27, 2012
Anxieties mount with me. We return in 41 days. I have to look for a job–nothing more odious. I know I’m going to end up back at McDonald’s. Or selling used mattresses again. With the anxieties one starts to think about one’s life. Not generally positive thoughts ensue.
3 Burger King
4 Selling Used Mattresses
Diploma in Fundamentalism
Bachelors in Fundamentalism
Masters in Fundamentalism
Watercolors, Science Fiction, Poetry.
None, hate people in general.
Spanish. And as anybody who knows Spanish knows, it is about the most useless skill in the world nowadays because most people know it and have some corresponding skill to apply it in.
Posted by unknowing on July 27, 2012
Looks like you can get a new copy of this book for $300. I got it last February for $30, used, and have been picking away at it since with no great success. It is Charles Williams’ Arthurian poetry, along with an essay in the end. What I finally hit was the C.S. Lewis commentary, and it is some of the most exotic reading of anything he’s written I’ve done. The things these chaps were aware of! I think $300 would not be asking too much for the things one encounters there, not only in Lewis but once he’s put one on the track of things, in Williams’ poetry.
I recommend, if you want a recommendation, if you decide to get it, if you’re going to read it, I recommend you try some of the poems and see how far you can get. They’re obscure, but having an idea of what Lewis is talking about before going back and reading his commentary helps. Then read his commentary, then have at the poems, re-reading them as did W.H. Auden for the rest of your life. Long term project, I bet, assimilating all Williams envisioned.
Posted by unknowing on July 24, 2012
Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.
That is the general procedure of church discipline in the case of an unrepentant member. If at any point in the process he repents, then do not proceed to the next step.
Of course, cases can become complicated by various factors, and Baptists throughout history have developed procedures to guide a person through the process when the basic path does not appear straightforward. But the point I want to make is that the basic procedure is there.
If there is a problem, talk to the person privately. If the person won’t listen, involve some witnesses, but keep the involvement at a minimum. If that doesn’t work, however, and the person has to be removed from the membership, take it to the congregation. Time is not specified: take the time necessary, be generous, don’t on the other hand be negligent.
Congregational polity is sometimes caricatured as democracy. Some people seem to think that Congregationalism is when the congregation takes all the decisions. Perhaps that’s how they’ve seen it practiced.
But that is not Congregationalism. Congregationalism is when Christ who is the head of all the church and delegates all authority in the church, gives to pastors the authority of teaching and spiritual oversight, to the deacons of administering material needs, and to the congregation a part in appointing officers and in the matter of excommunication.
To me, even if you don’t agree with the voting for officers, I find it very hard for you to dodge the congregational implications of Matthew 18:17. If you still need them, look at the situation in Corinth that required discipline and deal with the word pleroma in 2 Cor 2:6. It seems to me very hard to evade congregational participation.
Here is what happens though when I bring up the idea of Congregationalism with people who don’t accept it. The question always is: what if the congregation is not mature enough to vote correctly? Well, one answer would be that if they vote incorrectly, it is on their head. If Christ gave them the responsibility they can blow it, but they’ll have to answer, just like a pastor will for blowing it with his responsibilities.
There is another consideration that those who do not understand Congregationalism perhaps should consider. It is this: it may be that the congregation blew it (felt sorry for the person, whatever); on the other hand it may be that that congregational vote is really a failure of pastoral leadership.
How can one blame the pastors? One can blame them if they did not do everything possible before the vote to make sure all the teaching necessary, instruction, dealing with questions, explaining and everything was properly done. In other words, if they scheduled the vote without having a pretty good idea of the outcome there is a good chance there was more of a failure of leadership to blame than congregational immaturity. Did they go from house to house if necessary teaching and instructing to be sure everybody understood the principles from Scripture, what the mind of the Lord was, etc.?
Whenever congregational immaturity as an objection comes up, I wonder out loud how mature the Corinthian congregation that originally received these instructions was. I usually get the response: not very. Because a lot of the responsibility rests on those who must be mature to occupy their position in first place: the pastors. They should be so involved in teaching, leading, instructing, that people have a clear idea of the mind of the Lord in a matter of church discipline.
It is not a free-for-all democracy where the pastors show up wondering which way things will go with these people. It is a carefully led process that results in a genuine obedience to the process and expectation of the Lord.
What then is the point of even voting? A good question. You don’t have to vote to be congregational, at least I don’t think so. You do have to involve the congregation in those decisions. How else if you don’t vote? And there is a real and overlooked advantage for the pastors. This is a really effective form of accountability. Congregationalism makes sure the pastors are involved the way they should be in the lives of each member, and the time of reckoning is that congregational meeting where every member, regardless of how mature or immature, exercises the authority Jesus Christ himself has delegated to him.
I think it requires stronger leadership.
Posted by unknowing on July 21, 2012
I was at a good meeting this morning with the pastors of our persuasion. They have breakfast together every three months or so and talk about things. This time they were talking about a youth retreat that kind of blew up in their face.
It was probably partly my fault. I tell the youth at our church that if they want to do stuff to go ahead and plan and do stuff, what do they need me for? My job as the only person functioning as pastor is not to put on special programs for the youth and I told them from the beginning I wasn’t interested in programs of any sort. Not even Sunday school. We do what is required of us in Scripture and that is more than enough to keep two pastors busy, let alone one who isn’t even a pastor. That probably sent ripples out that had something to do with what transpired.
The youth got themselves organized. They came out with this thing about the church neglecting them and planned a full-scale youth retreat over a weekend–only they got people from other churches, invited a questionable guy to speak, fortunately got him replaced but not before making problems for the other pastors, and finally carried it off.
They meant, by the thing about being neglected, that they grew up expecting youth groups, youth camps and youth retreats and were being given none because the pastors are focusing on other things–such as what God requires of them. As if they are without this valuable means of grace: the youth-retreat.
At one point one of the pastors did say: “It’s almost like it’s a means of grace.” I pounced on that one. They believe these things are necessary for their spiritual growth, that they won’t develop properly as Christians without them. At least, that’t how they talk about it to get what they really want. Which was excellent for making the point these pastors were all starting to see: Scripture is sufficient. If we are doing what Scripture says we are giving them what they need, the Word and sacraments.
I told them the real problem was they’d created expectations of other things and were reaping the consequences. They teach the kids from Sunday School on to come to church to receive age-appropriate entertainment; they come to expect it at every stage, get sulky if they don’t. Not a key to success if you plan to hew to the regulative principle.
You know, it was received very positively, which surprised me very much. I think our own church is one of the least reformed in that aspect of all the churches here. I’m not out to change things because I’m not here to stay and I try not to stray into things that will cause problems I’m not going to be here to clean up. But there is the confession at work: they know about the sufficiency of Scripture, they know about the regulative principle–these pastors. They don’t have all the implications clear, but they have an idea what some of them are and appear to be able to recognize one when it is demonstrated. Most of the churches have no real youth thing because if they do something for the youth it is to bring them in and teach them doctrine, not activities and games. It is another church service on an undesignated day. In the church I’m at and two others closely associated, however, they have the expectation because they had a missionary trained in that kind of thing that put on camps, retreats, youth-groups, VBSs and all that. Now he’s gone. Our youth had come to expect it, but since I don’t do that and it wasn’t getting done: they missed the means of gratification.
No big deal for the churches who don’t really do anything but whose youth were invited because they have friends in other places. The solution they came up with? If the youth want to plan social things, fine, get together and do stuff but in the future don’t mix in worship. If they want to worship or have more teaching, see the pastors and do it with the local church.
It did give me an opportunity to mention Sunday school, and also this unexamined practice of having retreats with other allures. Well received too.
Talking with a young chap later today, one who escaped to us from fundamentalism and didn’t go to the retreat–he thinks youth camps are bogus–he wondered how reformed people could get that way. The truth is we’re still evangelicals of a sort of reformed persuasion, but with a lot of unexamined baggage. Ecclesia semper reformanda est, right? They have that motto too. The positive response gives me hope I dared not entertain before. The use of the confession as a guide and ordering principle seems a great, great strength. One lesson from today is make sure they get the point of having a confession. It gives expression to things you wouldn’t have thought about in a way you wouldn’t have said.
It may be because my expectations are set so low that I’m pleased. To have people actually listen and agree (or think they agree), you must admit, is unusual.
For those of you who haven’t seen this gem, here’s, in my opinion, the ultimate commentary on the whole mixture of worship and entertainment in the most compelling form ever:
Posted by unknowing on July 19, 2012
All crying, ‘We will go with you, O Wind!’
The foliage follow him, leaf and stem;
But a sleep oppresses them as they go,
And they end by bidding him stay with them.
Since ever they flung abroad in spring
The leaves had promised themselves this flight,
Who now would fain seek sheltering wall,
Or thicket, or hollow place for the night.
And now they answer his summoning blast
With an ever vaguer and vaguer stir,
Or at utmost a little reluctant whirl
That drops them no further than where they were.
I only hope that when I am free
As they are free to go in quest
Of the knowledge beyond the bounds of life
It may not seem better to me to rest.
Posted by unknowing on July 16, 2012
I’m reading Kuyper: his lectures on Calvinism and in Spanish this time. Someone decided this was one of the great gems that ought to get translated. There is an old guy in our church who can’t figure him out and so his idea is that I read his book and write in it and then with that he’ll be able to go forward.
Except that I dislike writing in books. So I’m reading it and maybe afterward I’ll type something up for him.
Kuyper was a learned chap, in a broad way, but I wonder if his lectures are anything more than an interesting historical document on how he thought and reasoned. They get excited about it here because they dream and dream of progress and Kuyper offers that. Calvinism betters the human condition, he says. If only they all become Calvinists.
If only Calvinists didn’t believe that the number of the elect is few. Besides, isn’t there something wrong with his grasp of history to think that the USA, GB, Holland and Switzerland were further ahead because they had Calvinists? I’m afraid he was no Dawson or Lukacs. He was not keen on the Lutherans either, and he defends his category of Calvinism rather than Protestantism with some rather sly stuff about Luther which appears to me rather thin. He’s better at broad strokes than intricate observation. His optimism is not unusual for 1898, nor his notion that things are getting better.
Today? See, he was a man with abilities and talents enough for eminence in his day, but there is a certain thinness to these things nowadays that I think is due to the circumstances in which we read and hear what he says. The amplification is switched off and it doesn’t come out the same.
He does say some clever things. Among other curiosities, in the last paragraphs of the second chapter he makes a case for Calvinism (He’s not talking about a theological system as much as a culture—he calls it a life and world system) being against theater . . . and cards and dancing. It is the morality argument and not badly done.
He is obviously a politician speaking to inspire, more than to inform. He has some substance, after all he was a politician of 1898 (had W.J. Bryan licked—which is not saying much). What he lacks in insight he makes up for in scope, and in occasional worthwhile points. I just feel sorry for this old guy who’s awaiting fiery and penetrating ideas that will sweep the confusion out of this country.
Posted by unknowing on July 14, 2012
The most puzzling thing to me about The Hunger Games (now that I’ve finished all 3) is the silly classification of YA. Apparently, Stephen King thinks the classification is bogus too. It does have the effect of filtering out the by-now expected abundance of profanity in dialogue.
Still, is it the language, the more limited vocabulary, perhaps the mandatory sentence fragments that make it YA? (The only thing distracting to me about the grammar, vocabulary, sentence structure was the fragments; it is written to engross.) Is it that the heroine is 17? That it involves so many young? You might as well say Jane Austen is YA. It certainly cannot be the cynical suggestion that all the powerful are ever doing is playing games to control people, can it?
That is a curious point. Katniss is not playing games. That’s why we like her: she’s in deadly earnest. All the good guys seem to be, and if they’re not, we are not inclined to trust them. Is it the sly notion that only kids and childlike adults are really in earnest, not being complicated by the complications of a fundamentally disordered universe where the only fixed point is one’s own will to power? One wonders.
Posted by unknowing on July 12, 2012
Not much on this end. I believe this will pick up when I get back to the USA where it seems my consciousness is expanded, goes out of me and does not cringe inward whingeing and appalled. I don’t know if you’ll believe me, but it is true. I think it has to do with my trying to love this place but being unable to in this particular city. I think my consciousness would be more cooperative outside of this city: there would be some love.
Anyway, I’m still blogging up a storm because I have stuff I regularly post on the Spanish blog. And now the Gospel Coalition in Spanish is going to take off one of these days and I am part of the esteemed contributors. Contributing starts today.
Me in the Gospel Coalition. Heheheh, which is why I say I’m blogging up a storm. I never read the Gospel Coalition’s blog because I don’t care about fatheaded evangelical views on anything. Doctrinal minimalism, the culture of celebrity and a general inability to draw worthwhile conclusions seem to characterize everything publicly evangelical. Obviously, the culture of celebrity hasn’t really leaked into the Spanish side of thing yet–I’m in, after all.
It is kind of sad, actually, they’re getting me as a contributor (though I’m undoubtedly the bottom of this barrel). It looks like a mostly Reformed Baptist venture here on the Spanish side of things, though, which argues for no doctrinal minimalism, just denominational. I think I made it because I got our chaps to start a Bogota pastor’s blog and since there really isn’t anything else going in terms of a blog, well, hey, lets get that guy since at least he seems to have discovered the internet. Actually, I think it has to do with one of our deacons having worked with a guy who is now a pastor in Barcelona who put my name in the pot.
I’m not going to try to get kicked out, but I’m not going to make a particular effort to fit in as anything but an RB. We’ll see how well I can draw worthwhile conclusions and how well they go down with the chaps that filter all things that reach the public. Starting out with the Regulative Principle of Worship, in fact. My general plan is to get inspiration from the 1689 LBC of Faith.
It will add a certain zest to life. I feel like I’m playing with fire and it feels good.
Posted by unknowing on July 11, 2012
I’ve found it hard to put down. She knows how to keep a story interesting, and the thing is based on a compelling premise: the moral dilemma of subjugated people forced to entertain their oppressive and decadent captors. In this case, it is a sort of reality TV gladiatorial bloodbath: winner takes all and the rest are buried (and winner also gets to wake up to the consequences of surviving, but that’s part of the interest of book two I’ll leave for you). Randomly selected kids from the subjected people must each year battle it out among themselves–and the thing is televised to the insensitive crowds in the capital (polarized at cruelty or sentimentality and mostly incapable of anything in between) and to the more human people in the districts whose friends, neighbors and, for a choice few, relatives are in the arena.
What if you’re in the arena? How do you proceed? How do you survive? And how do you resist as part of the entertainment knowing they can take it out on your family if you don’t co-operate? You dream about putting an arrow through the heart of the evil president Snow is what. When things are that strained, does the moral order crack or is there a way out?
I’ve only done two. I’m waiting with mingled eagerness and apprehension the third.
Note: not a lot of authors are figuring a way out of their stories that satisfies justice like the story of Joseph does, or the Lord of the Rings, these days. If you can do that, if you can get a premise that warped to stand notwithstanding the hideous strain and then find a clean way through it, you will probably make the bestseller list.
Posted by unknowing on July 10, 2012
I like the Caruso version. It is, after all, Italian.
If you aren’t able to appreciate that I despair of you, my friend.
As a contrast and since it is, after all, Handel: Scholl.
Very tidy too.
Moving on, von Otter is far above curiosity–wish I had a clear recording.
Last and best, simply best (I’m so glad I’m of the 21st Century some days): Stutzmann.
Posted by unknowing on July 10, 2012
Looking forward to english muffins and breakfast sausage.
Not looking forward to pancakes, waffles and all that.
Looking forward to getting most places quick and easy in one’s own car.
Not looking forward to all the rest which goes with owning a car.
Looking forward to a steady supply of dill pickles.
Not looking forward to the inevitable if irregular intrusion into my life of baked potatoes. What a rotten way to treat a potato.
Looking forward to being able to walk out of doors in parks and other natural places.
Not looking forward to people being friendly. I am going to miss the unsmiling waiters, the distance of a well-developed city distrust.
Looking forward to winter!
Not looking forward so much to summer.
Looking forward to a greater spread of coffees and goods in general.
Not looking forward to not being able to get almost everything within walking distance most days.
Looking forward to public libraries, bookstores, being in the range of Amazon again, more places to read.
Not looking forward to the dramatic rise in the cost of coffee and other such pleasures.
Posted by unknowing on July 9, 2012
On the top of my list of essential collections of essays is one called C.S. Lewis: Essay Collection and Other Short Pieces. It is one of the benefits of rummaging through used book stores because it was printed in England and shows nothing about having come out in the USA. I don’t even know if I’ve read everything it has because I read an essay here and there every once in a while, and some of them a few times. I’ve been reading it for five or six years.
Another one that brings me joy is a collection of Borges called Inquisiciones/Otras Inquisiciones. He is good on a number of things, but I think now of his fondness for Chesterton–most illuminating. No believer, Borges, he was nevertheless a man of deep and wide sympathies, and that is a vital part of wisdom. And when I think of essays, the main attraction seems to me to be wisdom. Wisdom shining like a lamp through the shade of the essayer’s personality.
It is a companionable pastime, reading essays by oneself. Fills one up with thoughts too, and what could be more comfortable? Besides, Scripture tells us we should seek out wise companions, and how many of those will you find among the living? We can’t all be Roger Scruton’s friends.
Posted by unknowing on July 7, 2012
The sound of three:
Posted by unknowing on July 5, 2012
I take the view, in Daniel chapter 10, that the messenger is the Lord. The difficulty with this interpretation is that he is detained by the prince of Persia for 21 days and appears to be aided by Michael. Why would the Lord need any help? What being could possibly delay him?
Whatever one’s interpretation, shying away from any sensationalism agrees with true piety. Piety is not about thrilling battles with deadly awesome swords and angels wrestling directly over our heads. It is not meant so much to convey information about how the spiritual world functions as to convey the fact that Christ is involved.
An illustration: we of the Covenant theology do that with the numbers. We say they’re not there always for counting–that sometimes their main function is not arithmetical. They’re symbolic, and so we aren’t always mathematically precise (the 1000 yrs, for example, or the 7 eyes of the Lamb to pick one less controversial). Among the figures found in the literature of the Bible, we often find numbers so functioning.
You don’t have to agree with that, however, to agree about the angelic beings. It seems to me that this last vision of Daniel’s, spanning as it does the last 3 chapters, is climactic. What he sees, moreover, is not the events in figures, but a figure that speaks to him of the events. That figure is an appearance–a representation of our Lord. And if that is right, it is possible to take his struggle with the prince of Persia as a symbolic struggle. In other words, Christ is involved in the rise and fall of nations throughout history. He resists them, and they resist him. His timing even for particular events involves such a far-reaching causality that it can be called a struggling of Christ with his enemies.
How? The Persian empire was a godless empire that served God’s purposes. How, inadvertently? That seems little in keeping with the theme of the book of Daniel. Obviously not by will and design of the people of Persia or some guiding spirit, but by the design and purpose of God, God transcendent working through intermediaries as usual, and God immanent working directly in the circumstances. Christ, as it were, being resisted by the prince of Persia–whether some spiritual being or King Cyrus himself–because through those means he the right time would come about. Just because he takes his time, doesn’t mean God isn’t involved. EVERYTHING is under the sovereign control of God in both the transcendent sense of his having intermediaries and in the direct sense of his immanent control, and still it takes time, seems to involve reverses to God’s cause, and frequently puzzles us. Perhaps I could say that the prince of Persia did not block Christ in his attempt to reach Daniel, but rather that Christ chose to approach by a road littered with the spiritual antagonism of Persia so that he could deal with some essential issues that needed to be dealt with for his response to be coherent. I’m thinking that perhaps he puts in motion, at this time, circumstances and incidents that set up the wide-ranging history we see in chapter 11. And dealing with that is what he means when he speaks of returning. The point is: Christ has to be there in some sense, after all he is directly running it.
And Michael? Like Daniel, part of God’s plan. The responsibility of the creature does not negate the sovereignty of the Creator. The causality may be shadowy or entirely invisible to us, but God’s causality is there along with the creature’s responsibility in that causality. God uses his people’s fidelity, their loyalty to his cause also in bringing about the events of history. And that’s the contrast: God’s enemies are said to resist, and God’s people and subjects are said to aid. It is a symbolic manner of speaking.
I tried to explain this point of view in Sunday School last week, but I don’t think it worked too well. I’m missing . . . what? Not that I got a lot of help out of ye readers last time I asked, but do you see what I’m trying to say?
Posted by unknowing on July 3, 2012