January 09, 2017

Jeremiahs and Pariahs

Thanks very little, Meryl Streep, for picking on the potus-elect's disabilities (sensitivity to slights and easily distracted nature).  It doesn't help to pile negativity on our president elect in advance. By crying wolf, Streep only waters down when (not if) Trump oversteps.

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Trying to ponder mysteries without any clue, like how Trump won. Or how it is that Appalachian folks on the dole and Native Americans on the dole both have sky high suicide rates / drug dependency and general misery. It certainly calls into question my lifelong conviction that work is the curse of the workin' class. My dream was to retire at 30 but surely to my detriment.

Less of a mystery is why Applachians stay in a community with so little opportunity: it comes down to sentiment, and that some things are more important than money:
But why did he stay? "I know there is very little opportunity here," Reed says. "But I wanted to come back because I need someone to remind me of what life is about. I know these people, prayed with them. They carried me when no else would. We value people, memories, and experiences."...I'm not entirely unsympathetic to the sentimental case for staying. At night, in my inn, I could hear the trains huffing... It was an oddly comforting sound.
So many mysteries, so little time. Today has been replete with them.

I also got briefly obsessed with the unsolved July murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich, which Julian Assange has implied was a whistleblower. Similarly the disappearance of Eric Braverman, who was hired by Cheslea to clean up the Clinton Foundation and since Oct-Nov has not shown himself in public. I looked at the FB accounts of his mother and father, stepmother and stepfather.

In an Internet age, when answers to everything are at your fingertips, it's feels almost foreign that so many things are still unknowable.

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I read a lot of Jeremiah last night for contrarian purposes. I'm perversely interested in some of the most unpopular books in the Bible like Jeremiah. No one quotes him approvingly except for the 2.5 passages in which he's happy and upbeat. It's like how I'm drawn to extremes such as the presidency of James Buchanan, arguably the worst president in US history (at least according to biography of Buchanan I'm reading titled "Worst President Ever").

At the very least I want to understand how it is the ancient Jews so favored these "doom and gloom" prophets such that they included them in their sacred scripture.

Still want to find the right book on Jeremiah. It's not enough to read the actual Scripture, I hunger for opinions on how it fits into the whole scheme of history and theology. I got a lot of wants. I want to sit down with the reliable, great biblical scholars and pepper them with questions. I think I want to see the "worst" the Bible has to offer, in terms of woe and doom. God is unchangeable, therefore I can't simply write off Jeremiah as being part of that benighted old testament. It's surely part of my project of reconciling judgement and mercy which is likely a hopeless cause. But there's a measure of facing your fear in this. For similar reasons I think D. Keith Mano faced the sexual lust dragon by writing novels involving lust. Whether his project was successful I don't know, but Mano seemed bent on destroying lust by visiting the "scene of the crime".  I think if I can learn to stop worrying and love the Jeremiah then I'll be a more holistic Christian. 

From Peter Kreeft:
Jeremiah himself was just the opposite of our stereotype of the doomsayer: someone stern, severe, and sour, tight of jaw, bitter of bile, and hard of heart. Jeremiah was a sensitive, gentle, kindhearted man; but God called him to deliver a harsh, hard message. God often calls us to necessities that we think our natural personalities are not fit for...
No Old Testament poetry is more heartfelt and feeling-full than Jeremiah’s, except some of the Psalms. A few of his expressions have become famous, such as, “Is there no balm in Gilead?” (8:22) and his personification of death as a grim reaper (9:21–22).
If God allowed reincarnation, I think Jeremiah would be the prophet he would bring back today. For the besetting sin of our society too is not so much any one particular sin—lust and greed and sloth and luxuriousness are hardly our invention—but the loss of the consciousness of sin. Our ancestors may have been more cruel than we, but at least they repented.
Yet even the coming exile is mercy, for it (and it alone) would turn Judah’s heart to seek God again, to listen and repent. There is always hope because His love and mercy are as unchangeable as His justice and truth.
Scott Hahn:
The Chosen People had forsaken their covenant with God, throwing off the yoke of the Lord in moral obduracy (Jer 2:20), and so earned the more severe Babylonian yoke. Jeremiah repeatedly preached the direct link between moral decline and political degeneration with the aim of sparking a real moral reformation.
The thing about Jeremiah, like Jesus, he did not withhold themselves from judgment. Just as Jesus suffered for our sins and for our sake, so too did Jeremiah, who suffered much mental pain and anguish, was rejected and hated, and loathing doing what he was called to do:
In a Christlike manner, Jeremiah made his life a Messianic prophecy, enduring for his people the very sufferings that were predicted and proclaimed... Jeremiah saw himself as “a gentle lamb led to the slaughter” (Jer 11:19). Like Christ, he wept for his people and called upon them to turn aside at the last hour, only to receive from his people rejection and anger.
I pondered on John the Baptist wondered at the absurdity of his baptizing Jesus and how we can perhaps think of the absurdity of our bringing others to Jesus. But our God has this thing for using humans. As I read in Saving the Bible from Ourselves:
I will read straight through Esther and then consider how it is that God simply will not act alone in this drama. He is uncompromising in his determination that humans act like humans and play their parts. 

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