Jesus in our time – 15

Jesus in our time – 15

Book of Remarks Chapter 1, verses 1-8

The beginning of the 2024 US presidential election version of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of What Is Prior to Time and Space that some believe acts through timespace — perhaps even getting into the nitty gritty of humans and their histories.

Isaiah (8th Century BC), after apparently prophesying the Babylonian captivity (6th and 5th Century BC) in verse 39 of his eponymous book, strikes a conciliatory tone in verse 40:

Comfort ye, comfort ye, My people, saith your God.

Speak to the heart of Jerusalem, and call to her, That her warfare hath been completed, That accepted hath been her punishment, That she hath received from the hand of Jehovah Double for all her sins.

A voice is crying — in a wilderness — Prepare ye the way of Jehovah, Make straight in a desert a highway to our God.

Every valley is raised up, And every mountain and hill become low, And the crooked place hath become a plain, And the entangled places a valley.

And revealed hath been the honour of Jehovah, And seen [it] have all flesh together, For the mouth of Jehovah hath spoken.

[Isaiah 40:1-5, Young’s Literal Translation]

The true intention of Isaiah, however, becomes clear when we combine the above prophesy with Malachi (?maybe a pseudonym for Ezra the Script [480-440 BC]?) Chapter 3:

Lo, I am sending My messenger, And he hath prepared a way before Me, And suddenly come in unto his temple Doth the Lord whom ye are seeking, Even the messenger of the covenant, Whom ye are desiring, Lo, he is coming, said Jehovah of Hosts.

And who is bearing the day of his coming? And who is standing in his appearing? For he [is] as fire of a refiner, And as soap of a fuller.

And he hath sat, a refiner and purifier of silver, And he hath purified the sons of Levi, And hath refined them as gold and as silver, And they have been to Jehovah bringing nigh a present in righteousness.

And sweet to Jehovah hath been the present of Judah and Jerusalem, As in days of old, and as in former years.

[Malachai 3:1-4, Young’s Literal Translation]

Malachai is the final book of the Christian Old Testament and the last book in the Jewish Trei Asar (the series of twelve minor prophets). Rabbinic tradition holds that with the death of these minor little teensy-weensy prophets, the great, enterprising, barrel-chested* prophetic spirit in Judaism also died.

*[Das tempo des Stoffwechsels steht in einem genauen Verhältniss zur Beweglichkeit oder Lahmheit der Füsse des Geistes; der “Geist” selbst ist ja nur eine Art dieses Stoffwechsels. Man stelle sich die Orte zusammen, wo es geistreiche Menschen giebt und gab, wo Witz, Raffinement, Bosheit zum Glück gehörten, wo das Genie fast nothwendig sich heimisch machte: sie haben alle eine ausgezeichnet trockne Luft. Paris, die Provence, Florenz, Jerusalem, Athen – diese Namen beweisen Etwas: das Genie ist bedingt durch trockne Luft, durch reinen Himmel, – das heisst durch rapiden Stoffwechsel, durch die Möglichkeit, grosse, selbst ungeheure Mengen Kraft sich immer wieder zuzuführen.]

[The tempo of the body’s functions is closely bound up with the agility or the clumsiness of the spirit’s feet; spirit itself is indeed only a form of these organic functions. Let anybody make a list of the places in which men of great intellect have been found, and are still found; where wit, subtlety, and malice constitute happiness; where genius is almost necessarily at home: all of them rejoice in exceptionally dry air. Paris, Provence, Florence, Jerusalem, Athens—these names prove something, namely: that genius is conditioned by dry air, by a pure sky—that is to say, by rapid organic functions, by the constant and ever-present possibility of procuring for one’s self great and even enormous quantities of strength.]

What are the final words of this end of an era?

For, lo, the day hath come, burning as a furnace, And all the proud, and every wicked doer, have been stubble, And burnt them hath the day that came, Said Jehovah of Hosts, That there is not left to them root or branch, And risen to you, ye who fear My name, Hath the sun of righteousness — and healing in its wings, And ye have gone forth, and have increased as calves of a stall.

And ye have trodden down the wicked, For they are ashes under the soles of your feet, In the day that I am appointing, Said Jehovah of Hosts.

Remember ye the law of Moses My servant, That I did command him in Horeb, For all Israel — statutes and judgments.

Lo, I am sending to you Elijah the prophet, Before the coming of the day of Jehovah, The great and the fearful.

And he hath turned back the heart of fathers to sons, And the heart of sons to their fathers, Before I come and have utterly smitten the land!

Same old, same old. If you’re just going to keep repeating yourself, you may as well let it go.

But how much is there to say?

Only this: A spiritual Love chooses everyone infinitely and eternally (and thus equally); no one can escape eternal salvation — the more clearly we perceive, the more fully we notice how we flow together and are all together burst asunder by the Love that is All. Claiming more or less than this, we go round and round in circles, carefully avoiding the heart of the matter.

But this is by the way.*

*[Some time prior to the period at which this little history begins, my avocations had been largely increased. The good old office, now extinct in the State of New York, of a Master in Chancery, had been conferred upon me. It was not a very arduous office, but very pleasantly remunerative. I seldom lose my temper; much more seldom indulge in dangerous indignation at wrongs and outrages; but I must be permitted to be rash here and declare, that I consider the sudden and violent abrogation of the office of Master in Chancery, by the new Constitution, as a—premature act; inasmuch as I had counted upon a life-lease of the profits, whereas I only received those of a few short years. But this is by the way.]

Question for the theologians:

Why does Young, being so literal, translate Malachi 3:1 with “Lo, I am sending My messenger, And he hath prepared a way before Me, “, but then translate Mark 1:2 (the part after, “As it hath been written in the prophets”) with ‘Lo, I send My messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee,’ — ??

We ask because a certain red-letter Scofield Study Bible gifted to a once-gifted once-young man by once-living and then-doting grandparents, cross-references Mark 1:2 with Malachi 3:1.

*Be that as it may!

[Wie dem auch sei! Eine Entwicklung ist ein Schicksal; und wie sollte nicht diejenige anders verlaufen, die von der Teilnahme, dem Massenzutrauen einer weiten Öffentlichkeit begleitet wird, als jene, die sich ohne den Glanz und die Verbindlichkeiten des Ruhmes vollzieht? Nur ewiges Zigeunertum findet es langweilig und ist zu spotten geneigt, wenn ein großes Talent dem libertinischen Puppenstande entwächst, die Würde des Geistes ausdrucksvoll wahrzunehmen sich gewöhnt und die Hofsitten einer Einsamkeit annimmt, die voll unberatener, hart selbständiger Leiden und Kämpfe war und es zu Macht und Ehren unter den Menschen brachte. Wieviel Spiel, Trotz, Genuß ist übrigens in der Selbstgestaltung des Talentes! Etwas Amtlich-Erzieherisches trat mit der Zeit in Gustav Aschenbachs Vorführungen ein, sein Stil entriet in späteren Jahren der unmittelbaren Kühnheiten, der subtilen und neuen Abschattungen, er wandelte sich ins Mustergültig-Feststehende, Geschliffen-Herkömmliche, Erhaltende, Formelle, selbst Formelhafte, und wie die Überlieferung es von Ludwig dem Vierzehnten wissen will, so verbannte der Alternde aus seiner Sprachweise jedes gemeine Wort: Damals geschah es, daß die Unterrichtsbehörde ausgewählte Seiten von ihm in die vorgeschriebenen Schullesebücher übernahm. Es war ihm innerlich gemäß, und er lehnte nicht ab, als ein deutscher Fürst, soeben zum Throne gelangt, dem Dichter des »Friedrich« zu seinem fünfzigsten Geburtstag den persönlichen Adel verlieh.]

[Be that as it may. An evolution is a destiny; and why should his evolution, which had been upheld by the general confidence of a vast public, not run through a different course from one accomplished outside the lustre and the entanglements of fame? Only chronic vagabondage will find it tedious and be inclined to scoff when a great talent outgrows the libertine chrysalis-stage, learns to seize upon and express the dignity of the mind, and superimposes a formal etiquette upon a solitude which had been filled with unchastened and rigidly isolated sufferings and struggles and had brought all this to a point of power and honour among men. Further, how much sport, defiance, indulgence there is in the self-formation of a talent! Gradually something official, didactic crept into Gustav Aschenbach’s productions, his style in later life fought shy of any abruptness and boldness, any subtle and unexpected contrasts; he inclined towards the fixed and standardized, the conventionally elegant, the conservative, the formal, the formulated, nearly. And, as is traditionally said of Louis XIV, with the advancing years he came to omit every common word from his vocabulary. At about this time it happened that the educational authorities included selected pages by him in their prescribed school readers. This was deeply sympathetic to his nature, and he did not decline when a German prince who had just mounted to the throne raised the author of the Frederick to nobility on the occasion of his fiftieth birthday.]

Let us, then, begin again:

It is written in Malachi the lesser prophet, “Lo, I am sending My messenger, And he hath prepared a way before Me.” [From Malachi 3:1, Young’s Literal Translation]

But for our purposes, I think we can read that mundane transliteration of the Holy as, “Lo, I send My messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee”. [From Mark 1:2, YLT]

And it is written in Isaiah the greater prophet, “A voice is crying — in a wilderness — Prepare ye the way of Jehovah, Make straight in a desert a highway to our God.” [Isaiah 40:3, YLT]

But given the present circumstances, I think a better reading would be, “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare ye the way of the Lord, straight make ye his paths’, — ” [Mark 1:3, YLT]

Enter John, into the semi-arid (almost an official desert!), 2700-foot (more than half a mile high!) Boise, Idaho, of 2006, transposed now through the magic of literary self-indulgence to election-season 2024.

John baptized in the semi-arid continental region (Bsk on the Koeppen climate classification scale) and proclaimed a baptism of reformation for the cancellation of, yea even to a full refund for!, sins. The whole of Ada County and all the people of Boise and surrounding towns went forth to John. And they were baptized in the Boise River (a 102-mile tributary of the Snake River, itself the largest tributary of the mighty Columbia), confessing and feeling their sins whisked away by the Boise River, carried then to the Snake, and then to the Columbia, until finally draining into the Pacific Ocean and dispersing and dissipating like a little bit of potty sewage in God’s infinite Light.

The people of Boise and surrounding environs felt the entire thousand-mile unspooling/fraying/dissolving of their own brokenness — just as some folk hold that dying salmon, having spawned in the same freshwater brooks where they hatched, feel the entire life cycle of those their own eggs and sperm — that heavy burden that had driven them on and on over rocks, up waterfalls, past swatting bear paws, into narrower and shallower waters. Just like that did the Idahoans feel their obsessions flow to and melt in the sea — even as they rolled, again salmon-like, backwards, with eyes rolled up and consciousness, free now of the distractions that keep us from seeing things as they really are, opening onto the Light. Like how salmon roll over belly-up while their desperate animal awareness grows perfectly still and infinitely empty — emptied of hope and fear, a mind escapes all confines and grows as wide as the Love that claims us all, even bug-brained salmon and stuff- and love-crazed people, as Its own.

And John was clothed in a funny T-shirt with a dromedary camel chewing its cud while saying, “chew it while you got it”. Or sometimes in a funny T-shirt with a dromedary camel drinking beer, surrounded by empty cans, saying, “It’s not like it looks — I’m storing months worth of parties”. Or sometimes …

Who knew there could be so many ironic-cool camel T-shirts?? Leave it to Savers to do the divine’s bidding at amazing prices.

John wore loose-fitting khaki shorts around his loins, and he ate in low-key coffee bistros — for breakfast dark coffee and flakey scones with butter and honey.

And John proclaimed, “My mind and heart are no match for this cagey crime — political evil passed off as ‘fun and belonging’ and/or ‘politics as usual’ and/or ‘no worse than what we already got!’ mumbled by people who have never lived in war zones, never known political prisons, never watched as everyone shuts up because they don’t want their little bit of happy home taken from them — Oh the nonsense people will swallow while their mouths are already full of potato chips, hoagies, sodas, gourmet thin-crust pizzas and pretty-good house reds, extra double espressos with soy milk and a shot of concentrate elderberry juice, …”

And John proclaimed on and on.

“I’m no match for all these nuances! I can only baptize with cool, clean, runoff-fed mountain river water that feels so tangy-refreshing in this near-desert heat. But one is coming who will sort out this situation, who will make it clear to all exactly in what way and to what degree Donald Trump and those who would today back him are guilty of political evil, great folly, and the same old boring mean incompetent buffoonery that only feels novel to people who’ve never known real hardship, never felt real political evil — a state of and by and for the ruling thugs. With a dash of cynicism here, a little believerism there — the stew bakes itself and these our conjoined States with it. That you, America, would flirt with your own undoing! Undone by your own self-hatred, and the resultant inability to speak meaningfully to yourself! Oh, if I had the heart brain and hand to show you to yourselves! But wait! For one comes whose recycled-polyester Teva water sandal straps I’m not worthy to snap or unsnap! I baptize you with freshwater and in vaguely articulated worries about our shared destiny; but he will baptize with the Holy Spirit, and his grasp both of Eternity and of local, national, and international politics will be so apt and his explanations so deft that the multitudes will again recognize that they already share enough Absolute Reality to share enough mundane reality to share a liberal representative democracy.”

The grandeur of a summer sun that starts so early in the year and early in the day, and that climbs so high and bright, and hangs floats holds there until like 10PM — because of that bump in the timezone that keeps Boise with almost all of Idaho in Mountain Time, out of the grasps of the self-indulgent, amoral, surf’s-up, holly-woke California Time.

Author: Bartleby Willard
Editor: Amble Whistletown
Copyright: Andrew Watson (no copyright on what Young translated so literally so long ago)

Optional foreshadowing

Before we go on, let’s foreshadow Chapter 10, verses 2 through 12.

Why foreshadow such a distant future? What makes you believe you’ll ever reach it?

I don’t know, but listen to the words of Malachi the Minor, Chapter 2, verses 11 through 16:

Dealt treacherously hath Judah, And abomination hath been done in Israel, and in Jerusalem, For polluted hath Judah the holy thing of Jehovah, That He hath loved, and hath married the daughter of a strange god.

Cut off doth Jehovah the man who doth it, Tempter and tempted — from the tents of Jacob, Even he who is bringing nigh a present to Jehovah of Hosts.

And this a second time ye do, Covering with tears the altar of Jehovah, With weeping and groaning, Because there is no more turning unto the present, Or receiving of a pleasing thing from your hand.

And ye have said, ‘Wherefore?’ Because Jehovah hath testified between thee And the wife of thy youth, That thou hast dealt treacherously against her, And she thy companion, and thy covenant-wife.

And He did not make one [only], And He hath the remnant of the Spirit. And what [is] the one [alone]! He is seeking a godly seed. And ye have been watchful over your spirit, And with the wife of thy youth, None doth deal treacherously.

For [I] hate sending away, said Jehovah, God of Israel, And He [who] hath covered violence with his clothing, said Jehovah of Hosts, And ye have been watchful over your spirit, And ye do not deal treacherously.

That was Young’s Literal Translation. The end was confusing. This is how it is in the World English Bible (American edition — just verses 14 through 16:

Yet you say, ‘Why?’ Because Yahweh has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion and the wife of your covenant. Did he not make you one, although he had the residue of the Spirit? Why one? He sought godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let no one deal treacherously against the wife of his youth. One who hates and divorces”, says Yahweh, the God of Israel, “covers his garment with violence!” says Yahweh of Armies. “Therefore pay attention to your spirit, that you don’t be unfaithful.

But that’s not a typical translation of verse 16.

New American Standard Bible 1995:

For I hate divorce,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “and him who covers his garment with wrong,” says the Lord of hosts. “So take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.”

The New International Version has:

“The man who hates and divorces his wife,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “does violence to the one he should protect,” says the Lord Almighty. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful.

But there’s a note that says, “Or ‘I hate divorce,’ says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘because the man who divorces his wife covers his garment with violence.'”

What are we, in our modern robes of machine-refined cotton and synthetic threads, to make of Malachi’s take on God’s stance on men of Judah marrying foreign women? At first, it seems like regular old chauvinism — more like human concerns than divine wisdom.

But then it’s revealed that these men were already married — married to women of their youth. When they were teens, they were happy in their youthful affection and lust. But then, a few children a bit of weight and some laugh-lines later, his mind began to wander.

The text does not explain why the minds of these men kept wandering onto foreign women rather than babes bound under the Law of Moses, and I find it difficult to square the universal oneness of humankind, bound in and through and for Godlight, with the notion that seed can only be godly if planted into some particular bloodline. However, the poignancy of the older wife abandoned for a newer model is a story older than Hollywood’s Walk of Stars, and it takes on more and deeper meaning when one travels back into times and places where women were more dependent on their men.

I don’t, Malachi, know anything except that everyone is mistaken. You, me, even Jesus, even the Buddha, even Julian of Norwich. No one can perfectly connect with and translate what is Perfect into human feeling, thinking, speaking, and doing. Just as we do not perfectly connect our intellects to our feelings or perfectly translate our feelings into thoughts and words and deeds because feelings are wider, deeper, and vaguer than ideas, words, and/or deeds — likewise, we cannot perfectly wrap our feeling/thinking/speaking/doing around the infinite eternal perfect Love that creates, sustains, and explodes-apart this whole interwoven, interflowing mundane mess. But some moments are wiser than others; and the best measuring tool we have is, well, I guess it has something to do with noticing how much you are living in through and for divine Love right then and there. But how to measure that?

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