Late Autumn, with a Cold Wind Rushing

Last warm day. The leaves are coming down in copious showers. Next week will be the ideal decade in temperature: the forties. I have long thought this is a good temperature to be at. When one walks at such temperature, much thinking tends to occur.

I’ve been reading Orwell’s diaries. He was quite the gardener, making all kinds of observations about weeding, sowing, planting, transplanting and also how many eggs he got from the hens. He did not write in his diaries about what he thought, usually, though he did note curious observations. After a while, you start skipping over the litany of horticulture. He also had diaries about the war, and those are a bit less restricted. In the days leading up to the election I wanted to prepare by reading Animal Farm and 1984, and despite the outcome I do not feel reading them has been in vain. These are books worth re-reading, if not often re-reading. There’s some real thought-provoking pathos in Animal Farm. Not, of course, the happy endings that mark a book for more frequent re-reading.

I’ve been working on the book of the Revelation a little. I note that it has a happy ending. I know it is usually a cause for concern whenever someone gets very interested in the Revelation, but I have a friend in Colombia who was one of those former dispensationalists who had to figure it out. So he then became a preterist, which is not unlike a futurist except that a preterist thinks the book of Revelation is all about the past, not all about the future. Of all the positions there are, it strikes me as the most unlikely because why go to the trouble of disguising everything altogether in symbolism? Who ever wrote about the past that way?

What is difficult, I find, is disentangling people from really complicated interpretations that have caught their fancy. The more complex, the more implausible because connecting so many things in Scripture to the precise nailing down of each little detail, the harder to get them out of it. There is a certain chaotic maximum of detail and connections that create the interpretive tangle, but to the one who has spun it, or gone to the trouble of understanding the web, it is precious. It is hard to tell anybody, including myself, that you really can’t presuppose the correct detailed interpretation of everything in all the foregoing books in order to get the last one right.

I have obviously not been one of those former dispensationalists who had to figure it out. But Revelation is a legitimate book, and the more I understand, the more I see its Biblical Platonism, and that is definitely worth re-reading.


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