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Archive for March, 2012

It is difficult, absent the strong smells and hideous noises that cling to chaos and its victims, to read off the page the full horror of the scene:

When Jesus had stepped out on land, there met him a man from the city who had demons. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he had not lived in a house but among the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him and said with a loud voice, ‘What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me.’ For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many a time it had seized him. He was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert.) (Luke 8:27–29 ESV)

Yet the deepest terror of the moment lurks neither in the sight nor in the sound of it. Rather, it comes to us in the single word with which this poor man responds to Jesus’ probing question:

Jesus then asked him, ‘What is your name?’ And he said, ‘Legion,’ for many demons had entered him. (Luke 8:30 ESV) (more…)

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It is almost impossible, at death’s door, to imagine life.

Death always boasts its inevitability. Stripped of its loud theatrics, death is not half as fearsome. But it prefers that secret not get out. (more…)

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Jesus’ attention is so often drawn to women with no way out of their predicament.

As he approached the gate of the town, a man who had died was being carried out. He was his mother’s only son, and she was a widow; and with her was a large crowd from the town. When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, ‘Do not weep.’ (Luke 7:12–13 NRSV)

The narrative’s description of the unnamed woman, bereft now of a son and perhaps of her last reliable companion and provider, leaves her alone in a crowd. The details are both sparse and stark. The dead man had been her only son. Her husband had preceded their son in death. (more…)

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When the book of Deuteronomy places the terrified Hebrew slaves before Mount Horeb, they are doubly afraid.

The nascent people of Israel fear not only the traditionally lethal prospect of seeing YHWH. They also express mortal fear of hearing him. The people’s terror of sensory contact with YHWH leads to their counter-proposal that Moses serve as mediator between the Liberator of Sinai and the only half-grateful beneficiaries of his salvation. (more…)

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