Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Daily Old Testament and Early Christian Writings: Judges 15 and Augustine's Confessions 3

Judges 15 - Samson goes back to see his wife, but her father will not allow it.  Believing that Samson has rejected her, the woman’s father has given her to the other man. Again angry, Samson goes and ties 300 foxes together by the tails and sets their tails on fire.  Then he sets them loose in the standing grain of the Philistines to burn it up. 

The Philistines learn why it is Samson did it and they go and burn both Samson’s wife and her father (15:6).  Samson, in turn, inflicts a great slaughter on them.

When the Philistines come against Judah because of Samson, the people of Judah understandably want to turn him over to them.  They bind him and leave him for them to get.  Again, “the spirit of the Lord rushed on him, and the ropes that were on his arms become like flax that has caught fire, and his bonds melted off his hands” (15:14). He finds a donkey’s jawbone and with it killed 1000 Philistines.  The Lord provides him with water and he remains judge in Israel for 20 years.

Augustine (354-430 AD)
3 - Since, then, you fill heaven and earth, do they contain you? Or, as they contain you not, do you fill them, and yet there remains something over? And where do you pour forth that which remains of you when the heaven and earth are filled? Or, indeed, is there no need that you who contains all things should be contained of any, since those things which you fill you fill by containing them? For the vessels which you fill do not sustain you, since should they even be broken you will not be poured forth. And when you are poured forth on us, Acts 2:18 you are not cast down, but we are uplifted; nor are you dissipated, but we are drawn together. But, as you fill all things, fill them with your whole self, or, as even all things cannot altogether contain you, do they contain a part, and do all at once contain the same part? Or has each its own proper part — the greater more, the smaller less? Is, then, one part of you greater, another less? Or is it that you are wholly everywhere while nothing altogether contains you?

To what extent can God be “contained” in something physical? Is there more than God in us? What “remains” of God after He “pours Himself” into all that is? Can there be part of God experienced, not all?

That we can even ask these questions shows a little pride in our ability to understand reality, but the questions are part of the “reaching out” that is just the way we are – looking for that “parent”, that “teacher” [picture Helen Keller flailing around when she finally GETS the connection between the “words” her teacher has taught her and the reality she is in, that these word will help her unlock], that “likeness” of us that can unveil the mystery. I personally think God is “contained in the creation.” In a way that is the insight Christianity gives us, the knowledge that the Logos, the inward order of all that is, is One with the Father – consubstantial with the Father. But that inward order is complex. Just look at the world outside your window – the trees, the clouds, the landscape untouched by man. There are no straight lines out there – our way of creating order in the things we design, but the order is just as present in the lines God creates.

As to whether we can experience “part” of God, I think every part, every portal leads to something that feels very huge and amazing, but we can always imagine more. I think we are too small to even imagine all that God is. So we contain a “part.”

No comments:

Post a Comment