Political Lessons from Ancient Canaan
Posted Nov 14, 2018
Do y'all know what a parable is?
The online dictionary calls a parable 'a simple story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson.'
The Gheorgheni dictionary calls a parable 'a simple story you tell somewhere up the timeline, so that far down the timeline, the message hasn't got turned into a game of whisper-down-the-lane.'
If I remember correctly, this is the first-ever parable in the Bible, a book that is full of them. I woke up this morning and had the thought that this parable is particularly apt in the early 21st Century. Read the parable, and then I'll explain the context.
'The trees went forth on a time to anoint a king over them; and they said unto the olive tree, Reign thou over us. But the olive tree said unto them, Should I leave my fatness, wherewith by me they honour God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees? And the trees said to the fig tree, Come thou, and reign over us. But the fig tree said unto them, Should I forsake my sweetness, and my good fruit, and go to be promoted over the trees? Then said the trees unto the vine, Come thou, and reign over us. And the vine said unto them, Should I leave my wine, which cheereth God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees? Then said all the trees unto the bramble, Come thou, and reign over us. And the bramble said unto the trees, If in truth ye anoint me king over you, then come and put your trust in my shadow: and if not, let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebanon.'
Judges 7: 8-15 Authorised Version
The context of the parable was that Gideon, aka Jerubaal, lived in a wild time of what the CIA Factsheet would probably call 'warlords'. Think Afghanistan or Somalia. Anyway, the story is that Gideon, initially a nervous type, was given preternatural military acumen and leadership ability by God - also an angel as military advisor. With all this help, he drove the marauding Midianites out of the area - think ISIS - and made peace. This was a success story, big-time. Gideon became so prosperous he had 70 legitimate sons. He had at least one illegitimate son, which seems kind of weird, I mean, why didn't he just marry the mother, what was one more wife, more or less? I guess you had to have been there.
Gideon made a big mistake, besides not marrying Abimelech's mom. He constructed an ephod.
What's an ephod when it's at home, I hear you ask? An ephod is a 'magic garment'. (Do not at this point think about Mormons.) It can also have jewels on it. Which can be used as a sort of ancient ouija board. This, apparently, was what Gideon did with it. God sent the angel to tell him to lay off. He ignored them, '...and all Israel went thither a whoring after it...' Judges 8:27. Probably looking for lottery winners. God warned Gideon that after he died, it would all go south. Gideon didn't care.
After Gideon's death, the illegitimate son, Abimelech, gathered the locals together under his leadership. They killed all of Gideon's other sons, except for Jotham. Jotham told the parable quoted above, predicting doom. Doom came in the form of civil war. You can read all about it in Judges 9. It's real 'Game of Thrones' stuff. During some heavy fighting around a tower, a woman threw a millstone down and hit Abimelech on the head. End of bad guy.
MORAL: There always is one, but I'm sort of betting that nobody's found it in, oh, 3000 years. Because it's aimed at exactly the sort of people who usually read the book - who, of course, think it applies to everyone but themselves.
Gideon=very religious person. Through his initial response to the truth, he achieves great things. But then he messes up. He decides that HE is the arbiter of all things good. He starts blathering about 'family values' while keeping girls on the side and hiding his tax returns, etc, etc. Doom is predicted. He puts his fingers in his ears and sings, 'la, la, la.' No angels need apply.
Abimelech=the kind of rotten leader you get when everybody else has lost the thread. Which they lost because the original leaders were too weak, or cowardly, or greedy, or self-important to stay the course and keep to the original plan. They build their own inferior standards, like that stupid ephod. And then they get Abimelech. Abimelech is an evil, no-talent blowhard who comes to power by appealing to the crowd. 'I have words. I have the best words! Make Canaan great again!' The crowd laughs, and eggs him on, and seals its fate.
Jotham warns them, but it's already too late. They'll end up tearing each other apart. Abimelech won't get the message until somebody hits him on the head with it. Literally.
I wish more people read the Bible, and worried about something other than the dimensions of that floating zoo. These messages might manage to get through.
In case you want to read the whole story, here it is in antique English:
Oh, if you insist, here's a version without 'thees' and 'thous':
Armistice Day - What Have We Learned?
Posted Nov 11, 2018
Here's a quote from Kurt Vonnegut about Armistice Day:
'I will come to a time in my backwards trip when November eleventh, accidentally my birthday, was a sacred day called Armistice Day. When I was a boy...all the people of all the nations which had fought in the First World War were silent during the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of Armistice Day, which was the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
'It was during that minute in nineteen hundred and eighteen, that millions upon millions of human beings stopped butchering one another. I have talked to old men who were on battlefields during that minute. They have told me in one way or another that the sudden silence was the Voice of God. So we still have among us some men who can remember when God spoke clearly to mankind.'
In 1918, US poet Sara Teasdale wrote:
'There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;
'And frogs in the pools singing at night,
And wild plum-trees in tremulous white;
'Robins will wear their feathery fire
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;
'And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.
'Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree
If mankind perished utterly;
'And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn,
Would scarcely know that we were gone.'
And Ernest Hemingway, who saw that war:
'Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime.'
Posted Nov 10, 2018
Of course, the furnace picked the first snow day this fall to go out. Of course, it took most of the day to get it repaired. We now have heat again, and are very grateful to Steve for his brilliant repair work.
Farmer Hoggett says, 'Of course it's snowing. It's November now.'
Rosa Baggins calls people who like snow 'chionophiles'. I call them ridiculous.
Autumn around here lasts about three days. You wait and wait for the leaves to turn. When they do, sure as shooting, it's gonna snow.
Here's my video complaint:
The Loneliness of the 11-foot-8 (3.5m) Bridge
Posted Nov 2, 2018
To the good people of Durham, North Carolina:
This is not why we moved away.
But it is why we keep revisiting. And being glad we don't have to drive your weird roads anymore.
Note: they've put up flashing lights and a sign that says, 'Overheight. Must Turn.' They turn the light red to give the drivers time to think.
Still the bridge devours Ryder trucks and campers. It is now a Thing, thanks to that German guy with the cameras outside his business premises.
Posted Nov 1, 2018
NaJo has started. Links will be found on the Create page, which is accessible from the Front Page or the Editorial page of the h2g2 Post.
The Post's first post can be found at A87921471
The list of daily entries will be at this page: A87920841
Photos are coming in, and we expect this month's series to be yummy.