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Coronavirus meets religion #3

Thursday, March 19th, 2020

[ by Charles Cameron — third in a series — mostly about locusts ]
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Eye-grabbing but not helpful:

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The image comes from Prophecy News Watch, where it heads up today’s article, Is Coronavirus Connected To Bible Prophecy?. The answer:

I believe what we are witnessing with COVID-19 is part of the birth pains Jesus talked about in the Olivet Discourse. In fact, I think it is a major birth pain; as is the locust plague that is ravaging Africa and the Mideast; as is the large number of social uprisings in countries around he world; as is the increase in earthquake activity; as were the record-breaking Australian wild fires; as is…you get the picture. Birth pains increase in frequency and intensity, and they only increase until the moment of delivery

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Plague of locusts? From the Times of Israel, courtesy Richard Landes:

Notice the subtitle: the locusts will ” skip Holy Land”. In the story of the Biblical plagues, the locusts were the eighth out of ten plagues of increasing severity meted out by the Lord against Pharaoh and his Egypt. There was worse to come, but the locust plague itself would be worse than any other locus plague before or since. As Moses prophesies to Pharaoh:

Exodus 10. 3:Thus saith the Lord God of the Hebrews, How long wilt thou refuse to humble thyself before me? let my people go, that they may serve me.

4 Else, if thou refuse to let my people go, behold, to morrow will I bring the locusts into thy coast:

5 And they shall cover the face of the earth, that one cannot be able to see the earth: and they shall eat the residue of that which is escaped, which remaineth unto you from the hail, and shall eat every tree which groweth for you out of the field:

6 And they shall fill thy houses, and the houses of all thy servants, and the houses of all the Egyptians; which neither thy fathers, nor thy fathers’ fathers have seen, since the day that they were upon the earth unto this day.

It was the tenth and worst plague– the death of the firstborn — that afflicted the Egyptians and which “passed over” the Israelites — compare the eerie echo here of the plage that will “skip Holy Land”.

Trump — King or Queen? A Biblical DoubleQuote

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — a gender-bender for our times, and a caution against messianic projections on all too fallible humans }
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Either way, Donald Trump:

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To be frank, I don’t think Trump is either one — but Biblical excuses made by or on behalf of those Evangelicals who favor Trump‘s policies, and particularly his choices for the bench, are worth considering on their own merits.

King David notoriously slept with Bathsheba after sending his friend, her husband, off to die on the front lines, and yet G*d seems to have favored and used him. Similarly, Cyrus wasn’t even one of the Chosen People, yet he seems to have been one of the people chosen.

An aside — while I’m not sure if he originated the idea, it’s interesting that David Koresh, the leader of the Branch Davidians, named himself “Koresh” — “Cyrus” in Hebrew — and gave himself the title “sinful Messiah” because he felt both convinced / convicted of his sinfulness and called to a salvific, nay messianic, purpose. Esther? She was Jewish herself and beautiful, and protected the Jews from a holocaust back in the day.

David exemplifies the leader with a shady, nay adulterous and murderous, past.

Cyrus is the unbeliever in a G*d who uses him for his own purposes. And Esther is a ruler who preserves the Jewish people in a time of trouble.

Each analogy in turn has its merits — yet as regular readers here know, while I’m an enthusiast for thinking via analogies, I’m also concerned to bring critical appraisal to them. I have to admit I don’t see a Cyrus, David, or Esther here, and tend to think the long history of messianic projections by enthusiastic crowds, and messianic pretenders who came and went, should be a caution for us.

Trump looks to me like a man, is all. I wouldn’t trust him, and I don’t even trust myself.

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Sources:

  • CBN (2016), Chaos Candidate: Is Trump a Modern-Day King Cyrus?
  • WaPo (2019), Holy Moses. Mike Pompeo thinks Trump is Queen Esther
  • Trump tries what Harry Potter got wrong

    Thursday, August 29th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — Catching up, a completist post — “I am the chosen one” got Harry Potter a well-deserved smack-down — A DoubleQuote in videos, plus ]
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    Donald Trump makes a clear dog-god-whistle to Evangelicals in his base, claiming to be “the chosen one”:

    That’s a quasi-Messianic claim, and goes along with the “Cyrus” references which allow Evangelicals to overlook his”sinful” behavior and view him as a sort of undercover agent for God..

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    Harry Potter, meanwhile, get’s righteously swatted by Hermione Granger for making the same claim, albeit in a different context:

    Lesson learned?
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    But then there was this:

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    Snopes: emphasizes the least messianic view of things

    Claim:

    On Aug. 21, 2019, U.S. President Donald Trump articulated a belief that he is “the chosen one,” the “King of Israel,” or the “second coming of God.”

    Rating:

    Mostly false

    What’s True

    In a brief aside during remarks about the ongoing U.S.-China trade war, Trump said “I am the chosen one.”

    What’s False

    Trump’s “chosen one” aside was likely tongue-in-cheek, not a sincere profession of any belief in his own messianic status. Separately, in a series of tweets, Trump quoted a radio host who claimed Jewish people in Israel admired the U.S. president so greatly that it was as though Trump were the King of Israel or the second coming of Christ. Trump never himself articulated any such belief.

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    On the other hand, on BBC News, Pompeo says God may have sent Trump to save Israel from Iran — this is from a few months back, 22 March 2019:

    US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said it is “possible” that President Donald Trump was sent by God to save Israel from Iran.

    In an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network during a high-profile trip to Israel, he said it was his faith that made him believe that.

    **

    For context, it’s worth watching the Netflix’ series based on Jeff Sharlet‘s books, The Family and C Street, with an eye in particular on the way the story of King David and his affair with Bathsheba — including sending her husband to the front line to be killed in battle — proves that God uses unexpected ways to accomplish his plans..

    Sunday surprise, what can happen to music

    Monday, May 13th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — Aretha to rabbinic wisdom via N’Orleans — five versions of the one great song — with a Mother’s Day greeting to all Marthas and all Marys ]
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    Consider this song as sung by the awesome Aretha Franklin:

    Here’s the story of Mary and Martha, as John’s Gospel tells it [John 40: 38-42]:

    Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

    You might say that Martha is the mother of service, and Mary the mother of devotion: they are equally celebrated in the church, yet Mary has the better part.

    Wonderful, then, to encounter the same song as played and sung by N’Orleans’ own Theresa Andersson:

    That’s the extraordinary creative re-creation I was wanting to share with you.

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    The Parting of the Waters [Exodus 14: 21-29]:

    And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.

    And the Egyptians pursued, and went in after them to the midst of the sea, even all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen. And it came to pass, that in the morning watch the Lord looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of the Egyptians, And took off their chariot wheels, that they drave them heavily: so that the Egyptians said, Let us flee from the face of Israel; for the Lord fighteth for them against the Egyptians.

    And the Lord said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the sea, that the waters may come again upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen. And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to his strength when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled against it; and the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea.

    And the waters returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them; there remained not so much as one of them. But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea; and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.

    Wait: there’s a curious — and beautiful — counterpoint to this story in rabbinic lore:

    The Talmud teaches us that on the night that the Egyptian army drowned in the Red Sea, the first true moment of freedom for the Jews fleeing Egypt, God refused to hear the angels sing their prayers, and said “my creations are drowning in the sea, and you will sing songs?”

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    Appendix:

    We could also take — if you have time to join me — another path through that song.

    The Fisk Jubilee Singers:

    Mary’s there, but no Martha. That’s the earliest recording of the song that survives.

    Then there’s The Swan Silvertones:

    Mary don’t you weep — Martha don’t have to moan — it’s been decided that Mary of the song — who might be the sister of Moses — is, or is also, Mary the sister of Martha..

    And let’s close with Take-6:

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    Sources:

  • Jerry Zolten, “Oh Mary Don’t You Weep”–The Swan Silvertones (1959)
  • Wikipedia, Mary Don’t You Weep
  • Art & Theology, “Oh Mary, Don’t You Weep”: Death, Resurrection, and the New Exodus
  • More, more — this might be # 36?

    Sunday, April 14th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — if Rich Pickings was 35 and maybe concluded was 34, this would be 35 in what’s clearly an ongoing series, though a bit less intense than it was? ]
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    A delirious conspiracist DoubleQuote:

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    Miscellanea:

    The art of the dodge is a time-honored Washington tradition ..

    [W]e all know who tends to fare the worst when the pitchforks come out .. [from Bloomberg: Billionaire Hedge Fund..]

    [for the arc collection*****, from They Had It Coming]

    But even before the molting, never in my wildest imaginings had I dared to dream that the arc of the moral universe could describe a 90-degree angle and smite down mine enemies with such a hammer fist of fire and fury that even I have had a moment of thinking, Could this be a bit too much?

    From Ford Foundation, for sludge collection*****]:

    The urge to change the world is normally thwarted by a near-insurmountable barricade of obstacles: failure of imagination, failure of courage, bad governments, bad planning, incompetence, corruption, fecklessness, the laws of nations, the laws of physics, the weight of history, inertia of all sorts, psychological unsuitability on the part of the would-be changer, the resistance of people who would lose from the change, the resistance of people who would benefit from it, the seduction of activities other than world-changing, lack of practical knowledge, lack of political skill, and lack of money. Lack of money is a stubborn obstacle, but not as hopelessly unyielding as some of the others..

    [From:The Church’s life-and-death struggle with Santa Muerte]

    A Mexico City strFrom eet vendor explained the appeal of Santa Muerte to us by saying: “She understands us because she is a battleaxe like us.”

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    Melber 4/10/2019:

    … also warned Trump he would be boxed in a canypn ..

    [Chuck Schumer] The majority, by taking yet another step to erode that legacy, risks turning this body [the Senate] into a Coliseum of zero-sum in-fighting

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    All IN Chris Hayes:

    The Justice Department is going to serve as the Roy Cohn for this administration, and that the Attorney General and his deputy are consiglieres rather than representatives of the people of the United States.

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    Rachel Maddow:

    DoubleQuote, Rachel?

    11th Hour, Bryan Wms:

    Frank Figliuzzi:

    What he [Barr] did today by invoking the spying connection was, he threw what I would call a flash-bang into the room.

    Anyone who has been involved or associated with tactical teams or the military will know a flash-bang grenade is designed to disorient and distract, with a flash of light and a loud noise, but it’s not made to take our personnel.

    What he did today was to toss a flash-bang grenade into the room at the behest of the President..

    **

    Odds:

    He [Barr] is a weapon, not a servant..

    Two fighting chyrons:

    and:

    We shall see — yesterday it was Bannon vs Francis — now Benedict XVI?

    And a terrific DoubleQuote!


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