Chariot Duo

Meditations from the Classics

Chariot Duo
Homer: Iliad 5:839 (762 B.C.)
Matthew 28:20

141224_CBOX_HomersIliad.jpg.CROP.promovar-mediumlarge

A chariot in the Iliad.

In a tense scene outside the battle-scarred walls of old Troy, Diomedes (a young Greek commander), was chastised by Athene, the goddess with the flashing eyes.

“Why aren’t you fighting?” she asked the idle soldier wounded from an arrow.

Diomedes replied, “it’s because Ares the War-god is fighting against us and you told me not to fight against the gods.”

“My dearest Diomedes,” cried Athene, “I understand; but with me at your back, you need have no fear, either of Ares or any other god. Quick now and get at him! Drive up, and do not stop to think ‘this is the redoubtable War-god’, but let him have it at short range.”

As she spoke, she reached out, dragged Sthenelus ( a captain in the army) back, and hustled him out of the chariot. “The eager goddess took her place in the car beside the noble Diomedes, and the beech-wood axle groaned aloud at the weight it had to carry, a formidable goddess and a mighty man of arms.”


It’s that last line that gets me. ” … a formidable goddess and a mighty man of arms.” δεινὴν γὰρ ἄγεν θεὸν ἄνδρά τ᾽ ἄριστον.⌉

What a team! A god and a man. An unbeatable combination.

I see this duo often in the Bible:
There’s little David running down the valley toward the giant with nothing but a sling and a stone-oh, and God.
There’s Daniel standing in the furnace, the flames hot and menacing. Oh, and God was with him.
There’s Jonah in the belly of a voracious whale all alone except, well except for God.

God and a man. Now that’s an unbeatable combination. It’s a duo you can count on if you are a disciple. It was the last thing Jesus promised before his ascension:

 “And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20).

So remember.
It’s you and God in the chariot together.
There’s nothing you two can’t handle.

David R. Denny  Ph.D.


⌉The Greek text: http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0133%3Abook%3D5%3Acard%3D835
Chariot artwork: http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/culturebox/2014/12/homer…

 

Haughty

Meditations from the Classics

Haughty
Horace, Odes–Book 1, Poem 6 (23 BC)haughty

https://12thehardway.wordpress.com/2013/03/06/is-it-haughty-in-here-or-is-it-just-me/

Horace was asked once by Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa (/əˈɡrɪpə/; 64/62 BC – 12 BC) to write an epic poem in celebration of his military successes and those of Octavian (Augustus, Rome’s first emperor).  Though the world knows now that there was no greater poet than Horace, the humble writer turned down the job.

“…Agrippa, I don’t try to speak of such things,…
I’m too slight for grandeur, since shame and the Muse,
who’s the power of the peaceful lyre, forbids me
to lessen the praise of great Caesar and you,
by my defective artistry.”

Imagine that.  The incomparable Horace claiming incompetence.  He goes on to say that his ability limits him to compositions of silly things.

“I sing of banquets, of girls fierce in battle
with closely-trimmed nails, attacking young men…”

Surely this is a commendable frame of mind.  Every saint could profit by emulating the humility of the talented Horace.  All of us are too quick to sing our accomplishments and position ourselves for promotions.  In truth, the Christian’s goal is genuine spiritual humility, an awareness that our lives are meant to be hidden in Christ.

John the Baptist had it right when he said of Jesus, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).

Paul would have admired this trait in Horace who lived just a generation before him.  Paul had a similar outlook on life, one with the same mood and timbre as the poet that preceded him:

“Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly.  Do not be wise in your won estimation” (Rom. 12:16).

David R. Denny  Ph.D.
Meditations from the Classics

Translation by: http://www.poetryintranslation.com/PITBR/Latin/HoraceOdesBkI.htm#anchor_Toc39402018

 

 

 

 

 

 

Memory

Meditations from the Classics

Memory
Julius Caesar
Gallic War, Book VI (50 BC)

druid

Druids often commune with nature.


 

When Caesar conquered the Gauls, he observed the customs of the Druids.  These priests of the people had a habit of memorizing all their sacred traditions.  This could take as long as twenty years!  They never wrote these mysteries down.  They trusted their memories more than ink and paper.  The fear of forgetting drove them to master their minds.


But wait.  The Lord has a better system for remembering:

“Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.  Behold, I have engraved thee upon the palms of my hands” (Isa. 49:16).

Better than mere memory.
Better than ink and paper.

We’re engraved on the palms of the Lord!  With His every activity, every movement, every motion, we pass before His eyes.

When He salutes the angels on a morning march, He sees you on His raised hands.
When He reaches down to feed a faltering sparrow, He sees  you in the creases of His fingers.
When He distributes your daily bread, He sees your face in the hollow of His palms.
When He celebrates a new birth, He claps and thinks of you.

Forgotten?  Never.  As long as God has hands you will be cherished and remembered by Him.

Hallejujah!

David R. Denny  Ph.D.

Artwork:http://www.avalon-rpg.com/guilds/druids

 

Favorite

Waywords

Favorite
Zachariah 9:9/Matthew 21:4-5

What was Jesus’ favorite passage of Scripture?  Remember, He only had the Old Testament to read.  The New Testament was written after His death.

Wouldn’t it be interesting to ask Jesus which passage of the Bible He loved to read the most?  Would He have chosen Psalm 23 which so many Christians love today?  Maybe.  Or would He have chosen Isaiah 6, the vision of God high and lifted up in the Temple that Isaiah saw?

I can’t answer this question, but I think I can pick one passage He loved–Zachariah 9.  Perhaps you’re not familiar with this one.   Take a minute and look it up.  Jesus not only read it and loved it.  He fulfilled it.

triumphant-entry-39581-wallpaper

Jesus rides into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:4-5)

 

The first eight verses might seem obscure, but if you read on with patience the light grows stronger, and the presence of Jesus soon shines from the page.  Verse 9 tell of a King who will ride into Jerusalem upon a colt.  The entry into the city will herald a great victory and celebration.  The king on the colt will possess certain characteristics.  He will be just, endowed with salvation, humble, and a bestower of peace.

Imagine how Jesus felt when H read these verses. The fulness of time came, and He mounted a little colt outside Jerusalem and rose humbly into the city ready to die.

Surely this was one of Jesus’ favorite passages.  Which one is yours?  Do you have one?  Why not read it over today.  Better yet, share it with a friend.

David R. Denny  Ph.D.
Artwork:  https://www.lds.org/media-library/images/triumphant-entry-39581?lang=eng

Pulpit

Meditations from the Classics

Pulpit
Apuleius (124-170 AD)
Golden Ass 11

The custom of going into a temple or house of worship, standing at the pulpit and speaking sacred words, was an established practice in Biblical times.  Paul often took the podium in synagogues where he traveled.

Synagogue_2R

Ancient Jewish synagogue

Jesus stood in the bema (a raised platform with a lectern), at the synagogue of Nazareth.  He read from the Scriptures and then delivered his message.  The people listened attentively but grew restless and eventually angry at His words.  Then,

“… they rose up and cast Him out of the city, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their city had been built, in order to throw Him down the cliff” (Luke 4:29).

A similar custom was practiced in temples of the ancient world.  Apuleius gave us this description of a day at a temple in Corinth:

“On arrival at the temple, the high priest, those who bore the divine figures, and those who had been admitted into the inner light of the cult, collected in the sanctuary of the goddess.  First, they put back the breathing images into their right places: then a man (whom all entitled the scribe) took his stand in a high pulpit before the doors, and the Society of the Pastophori (such is the name of the sacred college) was convoked.  The scribe thereupon read out of a book a set of patriotic prayers for the great Prince, the Senate, the Equestrian Order, the Roman people, and all sailors and ships which come under the jurisdiction of Rome.  After that, he pronounced in the Greek tongue and manner the ‘Laois aphesis’.  The people were then dismissed” (Golden Ass, 11).

temple-apollo2

Temple of Apollo in ancient Corinth

 

I can’t help but notice the way the people left their service in contrast to the Lukan dismissal.  When Jesus finished, the people escorted Him out to a cliff to dispose of Him.  In other words, angry to excess.

But in the pagan temple service it was quite different:

   “The shout that followed showed the popular approval of the day’s proceedings a; and the congregation began to file out, beaming with joy, carrying boughs of olives and other votive wreaths, and garlanded with flowers.  As they left the precincts, they one and all stopped to kiss the feet of a silver image of the goddess that stood on the steps.”

Two speakers.
Two readings from different pulpits.
Two reactions.

Jesus preached the truth, and the congregation lynched Him.  The other priest preached patriotism and the listeners responded with frenzied applause.

 David R. Denny  Ph.D.
1.  Ancient synagogue:  http://dsbiblecentre.org/index.py?lang=en&page=Showbible&index=00176
2.  Temple in ancient Corinth:  http://www.pics-about-space.com/temple-of-apollo?p=3#

Mink Money

Parakeets in the Choir

Chapter Three
Mink Money

Minnie adjusted her pink peacock hat looking discreetly into the small pocket sized mirror held at waist level beneath the pew tops. She had arrived early padding quietly to her MInk1prominent place on the front right of the sanctuary. With social seniority over the other minks, she was always seated first. Her husband, Chauncey, usually came along later preferring to chatter with the boys at the side door until he heard the first hymn.

Minnie was a no-nonsense mink with little patience for irregularities. She expected her pew to be vacant and cleaned and for the service to start on time. She demanded a noon departure. Her prayer requests were always read first from the pulpit. When she stood for a hymn, everyone else stood. When she spoke, which wasn’t often, everyone listened.

Minnie liked jewelry. She wore a thick set of iridescent pearls, hand-harvested in the Persian Gulf, about her flaccid neck. Blending smartly with the white speckles on her dark brown fur, the nacreous pearls added a particular distinction to her demeanor. She was often seen touching the pearls during the service as if they were prayer beads, which they were not.

She had a black onyx ring on her left paw which she had picked up while visiting relatives down in the Gulf of Mexico on a worldwide romp several years back. She also had several gold bracelets. She enjoyed competing with the golden candlesticks that bedecked the altar in front of the church.

Minnie always asked her husband during the offertory for the checkbook. She spoke just loud enough for others to hear. “Chauncey, darling, the checkbook please,” she would say.

“Oh. Right, Sweetie. Here it is,” replied Chauncey always quick to oblige his wife.

“How much should I write it for Chauncey, dearest?” she would ask. “Is a thousand enough?”

Chauncey, who neither made the money nor had permission to spend it, usually just nodded politely. “That’s fine, Sweets,” he would say.

Then Minnie would scrawl out the zeroes with large sweeping strokes and hold the plate a few seconds while she placed her check on top of the other small bills. A flutter of impressed sighs would rise from the ranks about her, and the plate would pass on to the single mothers and blue-collar fathers sitting further back.

Minnie didn’t like surprises, which made the service last week all the more memorable. Just as the first hymn was beginning, a group of visiting Bolivian chinchillas hopped up the center aisle of the sanctuary looking a bit lost. Neither comprehending the rules of prestige nor having an understanding of a church pecking order, they excused themselves politely and stepped right past Minnie and sat down in her pew.

The choral director nearly swallowed her tongue. The congregation gasped in between the second and third verses of “Rescue the Perishing.”

These chinchillas were from one of the poorer barrios of a Bolivian ghetto. Their mottled gray fur was streaked with dirt and full of field burrs. Their large ears sagged. They looked tired. They had a slight riverbank odor.Mink2

Minnie squirmed the entire service long. She squeezed toward the center aisle side of the pew and never once greeted the visitors. When church ended, she went immediately to Mr. Barret, a long railed weasel who had been the head usher at the church longer than the polar ice cap had been frozen over.

“Mr. Barret? What is the meaning of this, this outrage?” snorted Minnie, pearls flipping and jiggling on her taut neck.

“What’s that, Minnie?” asked Mr. Barret feigning ignorance. “Something bothering you?”

“You know what’s bothering me, Mr. Barret. How could you let those cheap chinchillas get down as far as my row? Why didn’t you put them in the back with the rodents? Such a breach of protocol is very grave, Mr. Barret. Very grave.” Minnie wasn’t smiling at all.

Mr. Barret fought back his nervous giggle that weasels have. “I don’t know how they slipped by me, Minnie. I will certainly do better next time.”

Minnie was not impressed. “I hope so,” snapped Minnie her tail whipping about with a fury.

The chinchillas never came back.

The offering was down a thousand dollars the following week.Mink3

“Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?” (James 2:5)).

 

 

 

 

Joyful Noise

Waywords

Psalms 100
Joyful Noise

11_kids_parade The homespun instruments were spread out on the sanctuary podium like dueling pistols awaiting a dawn adventure.  There was the cornet mouthpiece that you play like a kazoo.  Next to it was the toy drum and rattly toy tambourine.  Two tiny cymbals rested beside several dinner spoons serving as cymbal thumpers.  There were three recorders, a homemade dulcimer with a single twangy string, two cha cha Mexican shakers and a two-bit brass bell the size of a baby’s fist that I bought just the day before at a Saturday sale.

It was children’s church time in the morning worship service.  The kids sat in the front row twitching nervously, mischievously, as they looked first at the instruments then at the adults and then back at the instruments wondering if this was too good to be true.  That they could make noise, loud noise, wanton, reckless and uninhibited noise on Sunday morning was too much to grasp.

When the signal came, they surged forward, each child with an eager hand out hoping for just the right melody maker.  The bell went here, the cha chas went there, the cymbals to this one, the recorder to that one until every child had something.

Then they marched around the sanctuary.  Marching and playing.  Playing and marching.  The adults leaned sideways parting like the Red Sea as the parade passed.  Marching, smiling, smashing, blowing, tinkling, laughing, drumming and making happy childhood memories of being in church.

 

“Make a joyful noise unto the Lord all ye lands” (Psalms 100).

 

David R. Denny  Ph.D.
Cartoon by:
https://broomhillfestival.org.uk/event/childrens-parade/