Morgendämmerung, oder, Wie man mit dem Hammer theologiert.
Semper idem sed non eodem modo.

VDMA

Verbum domini manet in aeternum. The word of the Lord endures forever.
1 Peter 1:24-25, quoting Isaiah 40:6,8. Motto of the Lutheran Reformation.


Fayth onely justifieth before God. Robert Barnes, DD The Supplication, fourth essay. London: Daye, 1572.

Lord if Thou straightly mark our iniquity, who is able to abide Thy judgement? Wherefore I trust in no work that I ever did, but only in the death of Jesus Christ. I do not doubt, but through Him to inherit the kingdom of heaven. Robert Barnes, DD, before he was burnt alive for "heresy", 30 July 1540.

What is Luther? The doctrine is not mine, nor have I been crucified for anyone. Martin Luther, Dr. theol. (1522)

For the basics of our faith right here online, or for offline short daily prayer or devotion or study, scroll down to "A Beggar's Daily Portion" on the sidebar.

23 October 2014

Boethius, Terence, Wheel of Fortune. 23 October 2014.

Festschrift for the feast of St Anicius Manlius Severinus Boëthius, 23 October.

Now whoda thunk that an apparently purely entertainment TV game show actually references one of the more important topics in philosophy, with a history back to ancient Rome and an influence for centuries thereafter, including why there's Lutherans and what we think we're doing here.

It all comes from the Latin phrase "Fortes fortuna adiuvat" which is usually translated "fortune favours the brave" and is generally taken to mean that those who take risks, or at least take action, are going to be luckier, or at least get more results, in life than those who don't.

It was first written by a Roman playwright named Terence, which is also my first name.

There's just a bit more to it than that. Here it is.

About Terence, or, My Name Is Terence and I'm a Playwright.

The English name Terence comes from the Roman playwright Terentius. It wasn't my birth first name, Douglas is, but I got it when adopted at about six months old. Well it wasn't Terentius' birth name either, how about that? And it wasn't even his first name ever! Hell, he wasn't even Roman, nor was I of the ethnic descent of the people who adopted me!

Here's the deal. My namesake was born around 185 or 195 BC, depending on which ancient source got it right.  He was born in or around Carthage, or possibly to a woman in Greek-speaking Italy (yeah, they spoke more Greek than Latin in Rome back then, it was the cultural language) who was sold into slavery and then taken to in or around Carthage. He himself was sold as a slave to a Roman senator named Publius Terentius Lucanus, who brought him to Rome, gave him an education, and then, apparently impressed with the result, freed him.  Ancient sources indicate he was lost at sea in 159 B.C., making him either 36 or 26 at the time of his death.

So why do we call him Terence?  Well, Romans actually had three names. First comes the praenomen, which means your first name, or given name as it is called. Second comes the nomen, aka the nomen gentile or sometimes the gentilicium, which by whichever term designates the clan, or gens, from which one came. Third and last comes the cognomen, which designates your family within the clan. This structure is even older than the Romans, who got it from the Etruscans before them.

But that's Romans, not slaves or kids of slaves who become slaves themselves. Nobody knows what Terentius' birth name was, but it wasn't Terence, sure as hell. His name reflects his status as a Roman citizen, upon being freed. So he took the praenomen Publius, meaning "public", which was one of the relatively few first names, and was also his former master's first name, and took the clan name of his master, Terentius, and for a last name to distinguish his family within the clan, took Afer, since he was not a blood Terentius but from Afer.

Afer, what the hell is that, sounds like Africa. Yeah it does and for good reason. Africa now means the whole continent, but in Terence' lifetime it meant the land of the Libyan tribe the Afri, who hung in and around Carthage, which is in modern Tunisia but was founded as a Phoenician colony in 814 BC, or so the Romans said. But when the Romans trashed Carthage in 146 BC, by which time Terence had been dead several years, the Carthaginians themselves were called Punic, a reference to Carthage's Phoenician origin, and Afri came to mean the Libyan Berbers around them.

So hard telling. He may have been a Berber, although that use of Afri is just a little later than his lifetime.  Or, he may have been Afri, who were descendants of Abraham's grandson Epher, hence the name Afri, according to Titus Flavius Josephus, the great Roman historian  --  who btw was another non-Roman who got a Roman name on being made a Roman citizen, and is there ever a story to that.  Or, he may have been none of the above and who knows what, since when you're a slave you don't get a hell of a lot of choice about where you end up.

Afer as a Roman cognomen meant people who whatever else were from in or around Carthage, but that doesn't clarify whether he was from there originally, and if so was he Afri or something else, or was he something else and got brought there.

So we got a guy whose birth name and people are not known, who was sold as a slave but treated well and educated, and when freed took his former master's praenomen or given name, his clan name, within which he was distinguished by his Carthaginian/Tunisian origins at least with regard to the Roman world.

About Terence, or, My Name Is Terence and I'm a Blogger.

Now, when I was adopted, my new mom wanted to name me Cornelius Steven, but my new dad wanted Terence James. Dad won. Which is unusual twice over. For one thing generally moms get naming rights, and for another the usual RC practice in those days was to name a kid after one of the saints. So here's my dad naming me after a pagan Roman playwright and the RCC allowed it, and so I was baptised at Holy Name By God Cathedral in Chicago.

My adoptive parents were of Irish-American stock, which completes both the irony and the fittingness of the name Terence for me. I learned later, from seeing the adoption papers among my parents' stuff after they died, my original name. Douglas John Clutterham.  The last name is English, from the Suffolk area specifically, making me an Angle by descent.

So I get a first name from a guy whose first name it wasn't! Which is OK, you don't hear Publius much these days. And neither that Terence nor this one started out with the name, or came from the people who gave him that name (he wasn't Roman and I ain't Irish), but got names that look like it by, as they say in insurance, major life event. He by being freed from slavery and made a Roman, me by being adopted. I doubt Dad was thinking of all that, but he did know the correct spelling to give me, which, the original being Terentius, is Terence. No double damn r.

Which was totally in tune with what was to come, namely, the great gift of the Christian faith, as revealed in Scripture and accurately confessed in the Book of Concord. Luther admired the plays of Terence and quoted them a lot, and thought they were good for kids to learn in their educational formation.

Ain't that a kick? My first Lutheran pastor once said -- not sure if he was joking or not -- that my growing up in Minnesota and going to a Bavarian Benedictine founded school and picking up German and the whole German thing was God's way of getting me to be ready to be Lutheran, so I could lapse into German when ranting. But right there at the RC baptismal font, I was given the name of a Roman playwright Luther admired!

About the Saying, or, What the Translations Can't Translate.

First, the phrase itself. I think I learned it "Fortuna fortes adiuvat". OK, "adiuvat" is the verb and verbs go at the end of a sentence in Latin, so at least that part's right. It means "helps" or "assists" or "aids", and you can see it in the English word "adjutant", which means a helper, or assistant, or aide. So what's "fortes"? It's the direct object of the verb, the one helped or assisted or aided, and means "the brave" or "the strong", and you can see it in the English word "fortitude" for courage aka guts or grit.

So, the generally accepted Latin form is "fortes fortuna adiuvat" and the generally accepted English translation is "fortune favours the brave".  It was widely used as a proverb and first appears in a play by Terence, namely, in line 203 of Phormio. End of story? Oh hell no.

For one thing, the first of many, some Latin scholars contend that it should be fortis fortuna adiuvat. Huh? Well, Latin is an inflected language, which means that the function of words is shown by differences in how the word ends rather than by prepositions and word order as in English. These differences are classified into typical uses of words, called cases, and direct objects, which are that to which the action of the verb is applied, go in what is called the accusative case.

Some say that while "fortes" is the usual ending of the word in the plural accusative in Latin generally, in Terence' time  --  which was 195 or 185 to 159, which was the era of the Roman Republic, before the Roman Empire -- the accusative plural was then fortis, not fortes, and so in his play it's actually fortis fortuna adiuvat. The Latin texts available online give it both ways.

The next thing is, fortes literally means the strong, as in physically powerful, not the brave, but just like "strength" itself, the word took on a figurative meaning of brave or courageous from the associated connotation of those characteristics with the physically strong.  Like we may say "Be strong" meaning to man up and get through it rather than start working out. So that makes it literally "fortune favours the strong".

Next thing, about the verb. "Favours" is a little different than "aids' or "assists". "Favours" is more a general reference to your overall chances, but "aids" or "assists" or "helps" means that someone or something is actually actively helping or assisting you. That's a real big difference, and that's where "fortuna" comes in. The word is obviously the root of the English words "fortune", "fortunately" and the like, but while now it's like random chance or good luck or something like that, in Latin and to the ancient Romans it wasn't just that, but the goddess Fortuna who was in charge of that.

So altogether, that makes it more like the goddess "Fortuna helps the strong".

That was a real big deal. Fortuna's sacred day was 11 June.  Holy crap, that's the day before my birthday, and holy crap again the later state church of the Roman Empire, which still survives in an RC or EO parish near you, has holy days for its "saints" still! The cult of Fors Fortuna (hey, there's that "strong" thing again) was found all over the Roman world and was a festival on 24 June.

Now Fortuna was known as Tyche to the Greeks, from whom the Romans took much of their original state religion, and Fortuna, as Tyche, was all over the Greek world before the Roman world. The Roman name comes from Vortumna, which means "she who spins the year" and if you're paying attention, there you go with a "wheel of fortune". But, just like with the saying from Terence, wheel of fortune isn't all there is to it. It's rota Fortuna in Latin, the wheel of the goddess Fortune.  As she spins the year what happens to you during the year shakes out. Thing is though, you don't get to buy any damn letters to move things in your, uh, favour, so instead, you'd better hit her temple and make her happy, or else just say she's a fickle whore who does what she damn well pleases. Both opinions and behaviours were common in the ancient world.

About Augustine's Answer, or, So What?

Now is this just some more musty old stuff from Past Elder? Hey, why do you think books with titles like "Purpose Driven Life", "Your Best Life Now" and "Man's Search For Meaning" are best sellers for years? Why do you think people say "shit happens"? Judas H Priest, the whole question of whether life is just a bunch a random stuff that happens without any meaning or any ability to change it much and then you die, or does it have a meaning, maybe even a reason or purpose, and you can get in there and affect it, has been bugging Mankind since there's been Mankind. It's the biggest question of all -- Why?

So we've got the wheel of the goddess Fortuna, and the original Wheel of Fortune, Rota Fortuna. As she spins the wheel, bad things happen to good people, good things happen to bad people, stuff just seems to happen, and here we are wondering if there's any rhyme or reason to it, to life. A lot people still wonder that about life.

Terence's phrase became a commonplace saying and had been used and/or quoted by heavyweights of Roman literature. Pliny uses it in his Epistles (don't freak, no lost works of the Bible here, just means "letters"). Cicero referred to it as a proverb. Virgil used it in the Aeneid (Book Ten, Line 284) as audentis fortuna iuvat. Audentis is where English gets audacious, iuvat is just plain helps, the "ad" intensifies the intention toward (that's what "ad" is, toward) someone, so you get the idea. And Ovid topped that in his Metamorphoses (10/86), saying not just Fortuna but God himself helps the bold. Well OK he actually wrote audentes deus ipse iuvat.

Another guy from Carthage, good old Augustine, took Fortune on in De civitaitis Dei contra Paganos (On the City of God Against the Pagans). Gus wrote The City of God right after the Visigoths trashed Rome in 410. The Romans were wondering if maybe that happened because, thirty years before it, the state had not only abandoned traditional Roman religion for the new state Catholic Church, which was established by the co-emperors Theodosius in the East and Gratian and Valentinian II in the West with the Edict of Thessalonica on 27 February 380, but also had destroyed the sites and institutions of the old Imperial religion. As part of making the case that this is not so, he says Fortune, since she brings good things to good and bad people alike, is unworthy of worship.  That's his answer to why good things happen to bad people I guess, along with why abandoning stuff like that didn't bring down the whole damn Empire.

About What Sets Up Another Answer, or, Everything Falls Apart.

But Boethius, writing over a century later, about 524, as he was waiting to be executed, took a different slant on Fortuna. Holy crap, executed -- for what? Well, more Goths, this time of the Ostro kind. Visigoths were from what is now Spain, Ostro or East Goths were from the Balkans.

The Western Roman Empire was gone by then, the last Western Emperor, Romulus Augustus, having been deposed by Odoacer, a non-Roman Roman officer of uncertain origin though his name is Germanic, on 4 September 476. Odoacer's army proclaimed him the first "King of Italy" though he was a "barbarian". At first the Roman Senate thought it would be fine to just continue under the remaining of the two Roman Emperors, the Eastern one, Zeno at the time. Zeno made Odoacer a Patrician but also thought he should restore emperor Julius Nepos, whom Romulus Augustus had overthrown. Well actually his father Orestes, Julius Nepos' military chief of staff (magister militum) overthrew him, then named him emperor.

Odoacer declined to do so, and as his power increased, Zeno determined to get rid of him and promised Theodoric, King of the Ostrogoths, that he and the Ostrogoths could have Odoacer's Italian kingdom if they would get rid of him. Theodoric and Odoacer's forces slugged it out all over Italy. Now both these guys were Arian Christians btw. Anyway, a treaty was signed and a celebration arranged, at which Theodoric proposed a toast then killed Odoacer personally. And that's the real story of the real "Dietrich von Bern". (OK you Lutherans oughta be laughing like hell right now, if not, go read the preface to the Large Catechism.)

Which far from being a "useless story" here shows that the century between Augustine and Jerome, both of whom we saw in recent posts on each's feast days, and Boethius, was one hell of a century. Quick time line for review:

380, the Roman Empire both East and West constituted the Catholic Church and made it the state religion on 27 February with the Edict of Thessalonica; pope, after killing supporters of a rival, is Damasus, proclaimed to have the true faith from Peter, emperor Gratian refuses title of pontifex maximus, head of the state Roman religion, established by Numa Pompilius, second king of Rome, elected by the Senate after the death of the first king and co-founder of Rome (21 April 753 BC) Romulus; the Babylonian Captivity of the Church begins;
382, Jerome called to Rome to help Damasus, run out of town after Damasus dies;
390, the Roman Empire destroys the Temple of Apollo at the Oracle of Delphi;
391, the Roman Empire destroys the Serapeum and Great Library of Alexandria;
392, the Roman Empire ends the Eleusinian Mysteries after 2,000 years;
393, the Roman Empire ends the Olympic Games for Zeus, begun 776 BC, after that year's;
394, the Eastern Empire crushes classic Roman resistance to the Catholic Church on 6 September at the Battle of The Frigidus;
394, the Roman Empire disbands the Temple of Vesta, established by Numa Pompilius, second king of Rome (715-673 BC) , and puts out its eternal flame;
395, Augustine becomes Bishop of Hippo;
410, the Visigoths under Alaric sacked Rome on 24 August;
420, Jerome died on 30 September;
430, Augustine died on 28 August at 75;
455, Rome was sacked again this time by the Vandals;
476, Romulus Augustus was deposed becoming the last Western Roman Emperor on 4 September by Germanic foederati (non-Roman allies) of Rome under Odoacer;
475 to 480, somewhere in there, Boethius was born.

The entire world these guys knew changed completely during these decades. Jerome himself said of it, that the city which had conquered the world had now itself been conquered. Augustine and Jerome lived at the end of the Western Roman Empire, which is also to say at the end of the full Roman Empire either divided into East and West or undivided, whereas Boethius was born right about the time the last Western Roman Emperor was deposed leaving only the Eastern Roman Empire.

As the Western Roman Empire approached its end, at the same time as its state Catholic Church was busy destroying the institutions of the classic Roman religion, its theologians were busy incorporating and synthesising the state church's faith with classic Roman philosophy -- which religion and philosophy were derived from ancient Greece before them -- and the bishop of Rome increasingly became a symbol of stability that the emperor of Rome no longer was.

Goes like this.  "Pope" Leo himself met with no less than Attila the Hun in 452 and averted a sacking by the Huns, due to the grace of God, or just maybe the one helluva lot of gold he brought along to buy them off, and then on 2 June 455 met with Genseric, King of the Vandals, to try to repeat his performance with Attila, which this time did not prevent a sacking but did hold its severity down somewhat with less physical destruction than the Goths did in 410.

But the Vandals, like the Goths Germanic types who were Arian Christians and who by then were operating out of North Africa, made off with so much loot, and people to be sold as slaves, that centuries later the religious and social order destruction following the French Revolution was described as "vandalisme" by the bishop of Blois Henri Gregoire in 1794, the year the Reign of Terror ended, and that quickly became a name for any notable destruction -- vandalism.

It is right here that the doctrine of "Petrine" supremacy becomes established. Petrine, what the hell is that?  Nothing to do with St Peter, but with the popes, the bishops of Rome, who had come from being proclaimed by the Roman Empire as conservators of the true Apostolic faith in 380 to just 70-some years later meeting with leaders of powers about to kick Rome's ass. But in the face of that oncoming destruction Leo asserted a religious authority complementary to his civil influence, with the bishop of Rome assuming the significance of the long-gone undivided emperor of Rome, the last emperor of an undivided Roman Empire being Diocletian, who retired (about the only one to do so without being killed into retirement) 1 May 305.

So from an edict issued during the reign of the last Roman Emperor of both the Eastern and Western Empire, Theodosius in 380, Leo just decades later harks back to the last Roman Emperor of an undivided Roman Empire. Just as "Rome" became more a concept than a place as new imperial seats of power (Trier, Milan, etc) emerged, as Herodian put it "Rome is where the Emperor is" (OK that's an English translation of his Latin words), so now Rome asserts itself as the seat of power, and not just a concept, and that is where Peter is, meaning Peter's supposed successor the bishop of Rome, and he heads the whole Christian church, with the heads of local churches valid insofar as they are "in communion" with him.

None of which has the faintest justification in Scripture, but when the entire world about you is swirling down the tubes politically and culturally it looks pretty good, and when this pontifex maximus, now the Roman pope rather then the Roman emperor, is about all that's left it looks damn good. Unfortunately it still looks damn good to many looking for the Kingdom of God to have the same external signs of visibility and continuity as a Kingdom or State of Man.

About Boethius' Answer, or, So What Revisited?

Theodoric, though Germanic, was interested in keeping the culture and institutions of the Roman Empire going, and appointed Boethius his Master of Offices (magister officiorum), the head of the government bureaucracy. Theodoric was educated in Constantinople, capital of the Eastern Empire, and kind of worked out a deal where the defeated Romans could continue their thing under his rule while the Goths continued the Goth thing. As part of this, Theodoric, though an Arian Christian, was pretty favourable toward the Pope, head of the Catholic Church, about the only major institution of the Roman Empire in the West to survive. Theodoric was effectively but unofficially the new Western Roman Emperor.

Boethius, a Roman, was a Trinitarian, or Nicene, Christian, which is to say Christian in the usual sense now, and eventually Theodoric, an Arian Christian, came to distrust him, thinking he might be more in sympathy with the effective AND official emperor of the surviving Eastern Roman Empire, then Justin, also a Nicene Christian. So he ordered him tried and executed for treason. Thing is, while he is awaiting execution, he writes this book, one of the most influential books ever, and for some time THE most influential book in philosophy, as a consolation, but it's not the Consolation of Christianity but the Consolation of Philosophy. Well, De consolatione philosophiae, actually. Christianity is never mentioned or treated by name, but it sounds a lot like Christianity, and that's because since Augustine Christianity sounded a lot like Plato.

The basic idea of the Consolation is pure Platonism -- even if everything looks like it's going right straight to hell it ain't. Now you might say well hell, don't Christians believe that too? Well yes they do but with a different idea about why that is. For Christians it's not just a matter of an ideal world that is truly real beyond the mess we see, old Fortuna spinning her wheel, here in what appears to be real.

But Boethius, and this is typical of everything about him, blended Christianity and Roman/Greek philosophy to-gether, so that while Fortuna may indeed spin her wheel, apparently at random and pretty much indifferent to the results, nonetheless, distinct from Gus' take that therefore she is unworthy of worship, she is herself subject to God and her effects and any other such effects all bend to the unseen plan of God, so it's all good even when it looks like pure crap. So the Consolation is kind of like the Book of Esther, in which as the rabbis pointed out God is not mentioned yet he is everywhere present in it.

Boethius was on a mission, and the mission was, to pass on the learning and wisdom of the Greek/Roman world falling apart in his time to the new world that would emerge from it. So he translated in the new language of learning, Latin, the great works of classic learning in Greek.

Specifically, he attempted to pass on the system for organising and teaching knowledge outlined in his book De arithmetica.  You may have heard of this system, it's the Seven Liberal Arts.  And within that system, for example, he attempted to pass on the three-fold division of one of those arts, called musica --  but, musica means a hell of a lot more than we do by "music".  What we mean by music was the lowest level of it and best left to the uneducated. All that stuff was the subject of my doctoral dissertation, and a lot of it is summarised in the post "Readin, Writin and Absolute Multitude" posted in February on this blog.

What's "absolute multitude" and didn't I mean arithmetic?  I ain't gonna tell you here since it's in the post and no I didn't mean arithmetic, which too was more than the word means now.  Well hell, you didn't think the future Past Elder was gonna write another music theory dissertation in which some obscure piece or musical relationship is analysed into further obscurity while putting everyone who isn't into such things, which is nearly everyone, to bloody sleep, now did you? Hell no.

You can read a rather good summary about Boethius by "Pope" Benedict XVI, given at a general audience on 12 March 2008, here.

Boethius succeeded in his mission. His works would form the backbone of the learning system for centuries in the new world that emerged from the ancient. The Consolation was one of the bedrocks of education and formation for hundreds and hundreds of years to come. King Alfred of old England, Chaucer, and Queen Elizabeth (not the current one the first one, Judas) all translated it, it's all over Dante and Chaucer's original works, Shakespeare too, and students read and studied The Consolation for a thousand years after.

About Time, or, Conclusion.

Ironic, isn't it, that Theodoric, the non-Roman Arian Christian Germanic type who became effectively the new Roman Emperor, in the West anyway, and Boethius, the Roman Nicene Christian that Theodoric had executed for suspected Eastern sympathies, were both concerned that Roman, and thus classical Greek along with it, learning and culture survive into the new world just beginning to emerge from the destruction of the Western Roman Empire.

They succeeded. 

The Eastern Roman Empire survived until it fell to the Islamic Ottoman Empire in 1453. Whereupon the Russian regime of Ivan III (no, not the "Terrible", that was Ivan IV, his grandson) of the Grand Principality of Moscow took up the mantle: Czar, or Tsar, is a Russianisation of "Caesar", Ivan married the niece (Sophia Palaiologina) of the last Eastern Roman Emperor (Constantine XI), and Moscow established itself as the "Third Rome".  The state church of the Roman Empire survives in the East in the various churches known as Eastern Orthodoxy.  I might mention that the Eastern Roman double-headed eagle, adopted by the Russian Empire, survives in the coat of arms of the Russian Federation, after an interruption by the Soviet Union.  Then again, I might not.

In the West, the state church of the Roman Empire survives in what is known as, though this is not its actual name, the Roman Catholic Church. It would be joined by what its participants understood to be a transfer of rule, translatio imperii in Latin, of the authority of the Roman Empire in what would later become known as the Holy Roman Empire, sacrum romanum imperium in Latin, which survived until Napoleon dissolved it in 1806.

As the Empire was falling apart and the Western Empire fell in 476, the idea that this fall happened because of abandoning traditional Roman religion for the then 96-year-old state Catholic Church that Augustine wrote a huge volume generally known in English as The City of God to say that wasn't so.  It was so.  Not as a matter of the truth or falsity of any religion.  Believe what one will about why it happened, there is no disputing that it happen that:
1) in the West, although the translatio imperii is defined in terms of political entities, these entities brought with them the culture and learning evolving through the Romans since the ancient Greeks, and this survived and grew throughout the Holy Roman Empire, and
2) in the East, though the Eastern Empire survived nearly a thousand years after the Western it fell to the Islamic Ottoman culture and the mantle passed to Russia.

The Roman Empire did not survive the abandonment of its traditional religion for its then-new state church, but its state church survived the loss of the Empire, and around it, both East and West, new entities carried on the culture and learning.  This is why Boethius' answer is to be preferred over Augustine's, which is actually no answer at all.

Marcus Tullius Cicero, the great orator and statesman of the Roman Republic, once said "Nescire autem quid ante quam natus sis acciderit, id est semper esse puerum."  Yeah, yeah, what does this mean?  To not know what happened before one was born, that is to be always a child, that's what it means.  Godfrey once said to me that institutions have memories too, and an institution that loses its memory functions much like a person who does -- institutional Alzheimer's.

We ourselves are products of that evolution.  But with a difference.  The outcome of the world war that began one hundred years ago this year brought an end to the last remnants of those political entities that continued the evolution of classic culture and learning.  We are now in a period much like those which followed both the fall of the Western Empire and the fall of the Eastern Empire.

The difference is, whether than culture and learning will continue in the order which is still emerging one hundred years later is yet to be seen.  That century saw two of the most disruptive regimes in all of human history, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, and an even worse world war after the first one that was supposed to "end all wars" but didn't and only led to worse.  Win the war, lose the peace.  Even now our headlines are daily full of events from states imposed on what is now called the Middle East after the first, and in the case of Israel, second, world war.  And the peace to many is characterized by a full scale retreat from the culture and learning that went before, seeing it as part of the package that was the problem, and from which we have moved on.  Moving on, or cultural Alzheimer's?

The Wheel of Fortune was, and endures as, an allegory. You can get all hung up in why bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people and whether there's anything to life but a bunch of stuff that happens and then you die, but what you gotta see is that the wheel keeps on turning. Big wheel keeps on turning, proud Mary keeps on burning, just like Tina Turner said. Things change, and you can't get all hung up on one point in the process. The mighty fall, the lowly rise. Riding high in April, shot down in May, like the Dean Kay and Kelly Gordon song written for Sinatra says. Hey, that song made it into the Tony Hawk video game Underground 2.

Stay in the process, not one point of it, and that applies equally to when things look good as to when things look bad. You can't put your trust in any one point, whether you like that point or not, in the process, because the process is gonna keep right on processing. There ain't no Fortuna, and the process itself ain't God either. And just like Boethius -- not to mention St Paul -- said, there is a God and while things aren't all good all things do work to-gether for the good for those who love God and are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

Fortune does favour the brave. And as Ovid tweaked it, God himself's gonna help ya. Except Ovid didn't know how. None of us (Mankind) do, did, or can, which is why the whole life thing bugs us so much and we come up with all sorts of answers to it. God himself helps you with finding out how he's gonna help ya too. He reveals it, first in the Law of Moses, then in the Gospel, or Good News, of Jesus Christ. The wheel stops there even if it keeps on turning in the world. Sooner or later the world is gonna stop too. But the good news is, you're free even when you remain here, Jesus paid your price on the cross for your disconnect with the "wheel", he gives you new life in him in Baptism, his Law and Gospel are proclaimed to you in preaching by the Office of Holy Ministry, and he gives you his body and blood in Holy Communion that he gave for you at Calvary as his sure pledge of that.

Besides, Vanna is way better looking than any representation I ever saw of Fortuna. It didn't occur to me while it was happening, but it's kind of a wild ride that a guy who doesn't start out with the name Terence says something that goes right into Boethius, the major force in the intellectual transition from the ancient world to the modern one, then as the postmodern one is emerging from that, another guy who doesn't start out with the name Terence becomes a Philosophiae doctor writing about it for the postmodern world.

So take it from Terence, either one of us -- Fortuna fortes adjuvat. (Yeah I know I wrote adiuvat above but since I'm saying it as I remember being taught it I'm writing it with the spelling more common to ecclesiastical Latin as I was taught to write and pronounce it.) But more importantly, take it from God how that works out, as he revealed it to us in the Law and Gospel of Scripture.

07 October 2014

It's Fall --What Happened to the High Holydays and Sukkoth? 8 October 2014.

OK what's up with this?  Past Elder, the blog, has been saying since it started that Christian liturgy is essentially a transformed, Messianic Jewish liturgy, but if that's really so, then how is it that in Fall, when Judaism is about to begin a whole bunch of major observances, the Christian calendar ain't got nuttin major until Christmas?

Some background. Past Elder, the blog, commenced operations 22 February 2007. In my first posts about Holy Week, Easter and Pentecost, I mentioned that the Christian pattern of yearly worship derives from the Jewish one. In my second year, I took to posting a few posts again, revised here and there, that relate to our cycle of observances of major parts of our faith in the church year, and also the civil calendar, calling it the "blogoral cycle" as a play on terms like "sanctoral cycle" for the saint's days in the church year.

The Blogoral Cycle takes particular note of how our church year comes from and fulfills the cycle of observances in the Jewish calendar. However in Fall, where the Jewish calendar is FULL of stuff, the Christian church calendar has -- NOTHING, precisely where, if it indeed comes from and fulfills the Jewish cycle, one would expect it to be full of stuff too!

So what's up with that? Here's the 2014 version of my post about it.

I. About Fall.

In the US, Labor Day is the unofficial start of Fall, or Autumn if you insist. In 2014, the official start in the U.S. is 2229 EDT on 22 September.  That's 2129 CDT here in Omaha.  Worldwide it starts on 23 September at 0229 hours GMT.  Huh? 

OK 2229 is often called 1029pm, but now what's GMT?  It means Greenwich Mean Time, aka, which means also known as, UTC, which means Universal Time Co-ordinates.   To get GMT from CDT you add six hours, five during "daylight savings time", five, or four in DST, for EDT; to get CDT from GMT you do the reverse.  GMT never goes on "daylight" time and is always the same as a worldwide point of common reference.  Greenwich of course is in Mother England, but GMT is not necessarily local time there since it does have "daylight" time too -- BST, or British Summer Time -- as does the EU, so even in London, which is in the GMT timezone, you gotta add an hour for local time during "daylight" summer hours.

Well actually, that's just one of the official starts of Fall. Holy crap, what's up with that -- two official starts and an unofficial one too? And to a season with two names! What's up with THAT, before we even get to this post's What's Up With That?

A. About the Two Starts.

The first thing is, there's two Falls, the astronomical one and the meteorological one. Astronomical Fall is determined by the relative amount of light and dark in a day. Just like the word Man, which can mean either all human beings or just the male ones, the word Day is used sometimes for the whole 24 hour period or just the light part of it.

Astronomical Fall starts on the day, as in 24 hour period, with equal amounts of light and dark in it, called the autumnal equinox ("equal night" in Latin), and goes to the day with the least amount of day light in it, called the winter solstice ("sun stand still", solstitium, sol or sun and sistere or to stand still in Latin). And some think Latin is not still with us! But we all note these daylight changes do not align exactly with the air temperature changes. That is because of the thermal latency of land and sea.

Judas H Priest, what is thermal latency? How many what's up with thats can we have in one post? Don't freak. "Thermal latency" are simply more Latin derived words for the phenomenon that while as the earth rotates toward and then away from the sun, thereby giving more and then less heat, it takes both land and water a while to warm up or cool off.

Meteorological Fall is determined by the changes in air temperature. Huh, if it's meteorology why ain't it about meteors? Holy crap another What's Up With That! Now ain't you glad you read Past Elder so you can know all this stuff? Meteorology comes from the Greek meteoros or "up in the sky", and -ology or the study of something. Matter of fact, although weather forecasters take flak for having the only job where you get paid to be wrong, and TV has gone through phases where the weather segment was done by somebody just reading stuff, a comedian if male or a stacked babe if female, meteorology was started by Aristotle in a book by that name he wrote in 350 BC in which, with no modern instruments whatever but just being a keen observer and smarter than all hell, he described what is now called the hydrologic cycle.

Don't freak, more Greek derived words, here meaning water cycle, in which water is not just distinct from land but interacts with land in changing cycles in various forms; liquid, otherwise known as rain, vapour, otherwise known as fog, and solid, otherwise known as ice. Think that's just some musty ancient stuff, who cares? Think again, because our planet, though we call it Earth, is actually mostly water, and a planet with a lot of water over long periods of time loses hydrogen, which is part of water (H2O, remember?), which in turn leads to what is called the "greenhouse effect", which leads to more hydrogen loss, which leads to more greenhouse effect, and this natural cycle can be accelerated by what Man's activities put in the air, and, while we don't know exactly how the two affect each other, they do interact, and everybody is worried as hell about that now or damned well ought to be.

Sound musty now? Old Ari was sharp as a tack, wish we had more like him now with modern instruments. Which doesn't mean you can't be a comedian or a stacked babe while you're doing that. Which is also why besides Blogoral Calendars and stuff like that Past Elder goes on about musty ancient stuff -- because it helps us understand where in the hell we are right now and what where we are right now even is.

So, meteorological seasons are determined by average air temperatures, which lag behind the astronomical events of solstices and equinoxes that determine astronomical seasons, due to thermal water latency. Fall in this definition is from 1 September to 30 November. Well, in the northern hemisphere that is. Our planet being a sphere, when one side rotates toward the sun the other rotates away, so Fall in the southern hemisphere happens when our Spring does, and vice versa.

Now topping that all off are school boards, who as any kid or parent knows, are God and determine when Summer ends by when school starts. When I grew up when it was after Labor Day, the unofficial start of Fall, and after 1 September, the official start of meteorological Fall.  Now it starts in August sometime when you oughta still be swimming in the city pool and stuff like that, probably because they don't want any lawsuits so they have room for "snow days" in the Winter, which unlike when I grew up simply meant you got up earlier, shovelled the crap outta the way and went about your business, leaving early because you drive slower, or should.

B. About the Two Names.

Oh yeah and on the two names for the same season thing, so we can clear up all the What's Up With Thats before we get on to the main What's Up With That. Guess what? More Latin. The original name was the Latin autumnus, and the modern languages derived from Latin all have similar words for it. But English isn't totally Latin derived, the Latin and Greek stuff is an overlay onto basically a form of German. Now in German itself autumn is Der Herbst, which means harvest, and that is what the season was called in English too, Harvest.  It wasn't until the 1500s, when people were tending to live more in towns than in the country, that "harvest" in English became more the activity of harvesting and the season began to be called Autumn and Fall.

OK we saw the derivation of "autumn" from autumnus but where did this fall thing come from? Because the leaves are falling, and the amount of daylight is falling, and the year is drawing to its close. In the 1600s English colonisation of the Americas was in full swing, and both terms came over, but back in Mother England by the 1700s "fall" fell to "autumn" in usage, and that is why now Autumn is used in both places but Fall in mostly heard here.

Sukkoth is the easy part of this Fall stuff. It begins at sunset, the start of the Biblical day, on 15 Tishrei in the Jewish calendar. But, expressing this in the secular calendar, which actually is religious in origin being commissioned by Pope Gregory, in 2014 this is sunset of 8 October.  Remember the Jewish calendar is a lunar one so things move, and the "day" starts at sundown.  It was sunset of 18 September in 2013, 30 September in 2012, of 12 October in 2011, and of 22 September in 2010. God's pretty straight up about what he wants. Speaking of which, let's see what the real God, not the school board, wants regarding observances through the year.

II. Here's What God Wants For A Festival Calendar.

In the religion God delivered to the Jews in the Old Testament, he commands three major festivals: 1) Pesach or Passover; 2) Shavuot or Pentecost, also called Weeks; 3) Sukkot, called Tabernacles or Booths. These three are the Shalosh Regalim, the Three Pilgrim Festivals where all Jews go to Jerusalem.

And in the Fall, in addition to Sukkot, before it there is the High Holidays, more properly the Yamim Noraim or Days of Awe.  These are the Ten Days of Repentance, from Rosh Hashanah, the so-called Jewish New Year, through Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the holiest day of the year, commanded in the Law of Moses.  Then comes Sukkoth itself, which runs seven days.  Then comes the Eighth Day, Shemini Atzeret, when normal living indoors resumes (huh, what's up with that; hang on, we'll get to it below, or as we say, vide infra, Latin for "see below", a term once common in the scholarly apparatus -- you know, footnotes and stuff -- of scholarly works and which I damn straight would use if I ever resume writing like a PhD).  We're not done yet; then comes Simchat Torah, Rejoicing in Torah, with the conclusion of the annual reading through of Torah and starting it right over again, and dancing that often goes on for hours.  LOTS of stuff in the Fall.  Or Autumn.

In some of the other posts, we saw Passover transformed by Christ at the Last Supper, or Last Seder, into what we call Holy Communion, the new and eternal testament of his body and blood, and ratified by his Death and Resurrection which we celebrate as an event in time on Good Friday and Easter. Then we saw God himself count the commanded Omer and transform the celebration of the giving of the Law at Sinai at Pentecost by the giving of the promised Holy Spirit to the Apostles, which we celebrate as an event in time on the day also called Pentecost.

Then, what -- the whole thing seems to, uh, fall apart!! Where's the transformed Rosh Ha-Shanah, where's the transformed Days of Awe, where's the transformed Yom Kippur, where's the transformed Sukkoth, where's the transformed Eighth Day and Rejoicing in Torah? And where's the dancing?

Nowhere.

The Christian calendar is entirely absent of such things. Fall, full of observances in Judaism, comes and goes with nothing until the secular Thanksgiving and then Advent which is a time of preparation for Christmas. So does the parallel fall apart here, or perhaps show itself to be irrelevant anyway if it exists at all? 

No. Consider how Jesus gives himself. Christ has himself become our atonement, that to which the Day of Atonement led. The "Day of Atonement" is the historical Good Friday, once for all. Rosh Ha-Shanah too, the day on which creation was completed and God judges each person for the coming year, has been fulfilled in God's having re-created lost Man by making justification possible because of the merit of Christ's sacrifice. That is how we are now inscribed, not just for the coming year but for eternity. So these two are absent because they have served their purpose and been fulfilled.

But what of Sukkot? At Sukkot, one lives, or at least takes one's meals, in a temporary structure called a sukkah in Hebrew -- a booth, a tabernacle, not in one's actual home. This is to remember the passage of the people after the Passover and Pentecost to the Promised Land. Zechariah (14:16-19) predicts that in the time of the Messiah the feast will be observed not just by Jews but by all humanity coming to Jerusalem for its observance. That would be a pretty big event. It ain't happening. And a transformed Sukkoth in the Christian calendar ain't even happening either. So what is the deal here?

III. Here's The Christian Sukkoth.

Consider. Christ is our Passover, in whose blood we are washed and made clean, and the Holy Spirit has empowered the spread of this Good News beginning on that Pentecost recorded in Acts. But the end of the story, unlike the arrival in the Promised Land, has not happened. The real Promised Land is not a piece of geography but heaven itself, the ultimate Jerusalem. So, there cannot be a Christian Sukkoth because we are still in our booths, as it were, not in our permanent homes, still on our pilgimage to the Promised Land, and what Zechariah saw is happening, as "the nations", all people, join in this journey given first to the Jews and then to all Man, the Gentiles.

Our Sukkot is our life right now, in our "booths" or temporary homes on our way to heaven! So this feast awaits its transformation, and that is why it is absent. The first two of the "pilgrimage festivals", the Shalosh Regalim, have been transformed, into the basis of not just our calendar but our life and faith itself, but the third will be heaven itself, toward which we journey as we live in our booths here on the way.

While we do not, therefore, have a certain observance of a transformed Sukkot in our calendar, being in our booths presently, we do have something of it as we go. Our nation, and others too, have a secular, national day of Thanksgivng at the end of harvest time, preserving that aspect of thankfulness for our earthly ingathering of the fruits of our labour. And in the final weeks of the Sundays after Trinity, we focus on the End Times in our readings, the great ingathering that will be for all nations when our Sukkoth here is ended, not just at death personally but finally at the Last Day.

As a comment to an earlier version of this post, "orrologion", an Orthodox blogger, observed that "In the Orthodox Christian tradition the Transfiguration fills the place of Sukkot. Fruits are blessed and it commemorates Peter's offer to build three booths for Christ, Moses and Elijah". In the Eastern observance the "Blessing of the First Fruits" does give it a harvest connexion, but, Sukkoth is not about first but last fruits. And, in the Transfiguration we see Jesus' fulfillment of the Law (Moses) and the prophets (Elijah), and the appearance of all three persons in God, as he is about to go to Jerusalem for the Crucifixion, Death, and Resurrection.

Related to that, the Feast of the Transfiguration is celebrated in both the Eastern and the Western church on 6 August, not at all the time of Sukkoth. The West had the feast, but only settled on this date in 1456, when the Kingdom of Hungary broke the Siege of Belgrade and forced the Islamic Ottomans back. News of the victory made it to Rome on 6 August, and in view of its importance Pope Callixtus III put the Transfiguration in the general Roman church calendar on this date.

We Lutherans do not follow this, but follow a tradition which places the Transfiguration on the last Sunday after Epiphany, placing the event where it is in the course of Jesus' life followed by the Gospel readings of the traditional church cycle. The military connexion of 6 August would be odd for a harvest feast. In our times however it has found a significance which is altogether spooky, which I have never heard anyone East or West mention.

6 August is also the anniversary of the first use of nuclear weapons, Hiroshima. It puts in stark contrast the world and God: one can approach a transfiguration by God shown in this event, or one can approach a transfiguration by Man shown in Hiroshima -- salvation is of the Lord.

IV. Conclusion.

At my wife's funeral, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, the secular Sukkoth, in 1997, the pastor concluded the sermon by saying: A few days ago most of us celebrated a thanksgiving that lasted one day, but Nancy began one that lasts an eternity.

So is the promise to us all. And that's what happened to Sukkot. And also to the rejoicing and dancing, not for hours, but eternity!

30 September 2014

St Jerome. 30 September 2014.

Now here's a hell of a guy.

Let's start where I started, long ago in a galaxy far far away -- by which I mean, the preconciliar Roman Catholic Church, which, there having been lots of councils to be pre- to, means pre-Vatican II.

The Jerome Of My Younger Days.

Here's what I recall from those days. We used an official Bible in Latin, and our English versions were made from the Latin, and that Latin Bible was the Latin translation of St Jerome, often called the Vulgate. Protestants didn't do that. They had the King James Bible, translated from Hebrew and Greek, not translated from a translation into Latin, and, it was claimed by those who claimed it, therefore more accurate.

Not so, we were told, or at least I remember being told. St Jerome, for one thing, was a saint, a term not at least as yet applicable to modern Biblical scholars. And, he was much closer in time to the Biblical, particularly the New Testament, authors, which meant his understanding of the languages was more immediate and not from scholarly studies centuries later. And also, he worked from better sources than we have, including texts that no longer exist. Therefore, in using Jerome's Latin Bible, we are using a source altogether more trustworthy than the much later sources and scholarship of the Protestant Bible translations.

The Historical Jerome versus The Jerome Of Faith.

What's ironic is, while famous in our day for translating the Bible into the dominant language of the people of his place and time, in his own day Jerome was highly controversial for using the Hebrew text of the Hebrew Bible, or Old Testament, because the Jewish translation into Greek called the Septuagint was considered the normative and inspired text for centuries going back to the Greek-speaking early church, and whose longer canon was the basis for the Old Testament canon.

Fact is, Jerome was controversial for a hell of a lot more than that and was run out of Rome! Holy crap, people jumped all over Jimmy Swaggart for getting caught with a prostitute, but that ain't nuttin compared to Jerome's story. Here it is.

Jerome was born a pagan in a town called Stridon, which was in the Roman territory called Dalmatia. The town no longer exists because the Goths trashed it in 379, and no-body knows exactly where it was, except that it was in Dalmatia, which was more or less modern Croatia and Bosnia and Slovenia. As a young man he went to Rome to pursue classical education, and by his own account pursue the various extra-curricular activities often found in student life then as now. Somewhere along the line he converted to Christianity and was baptised.

After some years in Rome he set out for France, well, Gaul, and ended up in Trier, which is among the most magnificent and enchanting places it has been my good fortune to visit, ever, anywhere. Here in this most wonderful place he seems to have taken up theology. Then about 373 or so he sets out for what is now called the Middle East, particularly Antioch, in what is now Turkey and one of the oldest centres of Christianity. It was there that he came to give up secular learning altogether and focus on the Bible, learning Hebrew from Jewish Christians, and, apparently seized with remorse for his past behaviour, got into all sorts of ascetic penitential practices. Always a danger -- the Good News just isn't news enough, gotta have works!

The Ladies' Ear Tickler Enters the Story.

But in 382 he goes back to Rome again, this time as assistant to Pope Damasus I. Now there's another hell of a guy. Man, papal elections just ain't what they used to be. Twice over actually. Once upon a time, they were a matter of the clergy and people of the area choosing a bishop, or overseer, with overseers from nearby areas confirming it. But by this time we have Constantine, and Christianity attaining respectable state-recognised status, and now the Emperor confirmed newly elected bishops. That's helpful, sorta, because sometimes more than one guy claimed to be elected, sometimes in more than one election!

So when Pope Liberius, whom the Emperor Constantine had thrown out of Rome, died on 24 September 366, one faction supported Ursinus, the previous pope's deacon, while another, which had previously supported a rival pope, Felix II, supported Damasus. The patrician class, the old noble families of Rome, supported Damasus, but the plebian class, the regular folks, and the deacons supported Ursinus. Each was elected, in separate elections. Some real apostolic succession there, oh yeah.

It gets worse. There was outright rioting between supporters of the two, each side killing the other, so bad that the prefects of the city had to be called on to restore order. Damasus got formally recognised, and then his supporters commenced a slaughter of 137 of Unsinus' supporters, right in a church. Damasus was accused of murder, and hauled up on charges before a later prefect, but, being the favourite of the wealthy class, they bought the support of the Emperor and got Damasus off. He was known as Auriscalpius Matronarum, the ladies' ear scratcher.

Damasus was "pope" from 366 until he died on 11 December 384. During which time, we have to remember to really get what was going on here, the Emperors East and West made the church as headed by Damasus, and Peter in Antioch, the official state church and the one recognised as "catholic", in the Edict of Thessalonica on 27 February 380, the birthday of the Catholic Church, as distinct from the catholic church. It was during Damasus' papacy that the Emperor Gratian. one of the signatories to the Edict of Thessalonica, refused the traditional title of pontifex maximus, which then became associated with the bishop of Rome as the chief priest of the Roman state religion. In sum, this is the era of the beginning of the Babylonian Captivity of the Church (Babylon of course being a figure for Rome).

Back to the Historical Jerome.

So in 382, when Damasus calls Jerome back to Rome to help him shape things up, what was being shaped up was the two-year-old Catholic Church, the new official state religion, which by Imperial edict was the only church entitled to the description "catholic"  (whole, complete, entire, universal), all others were defined as heretics and deserving of such punishment as the Empire should choose to inflict. The Western Roman Empire at this time was starting to fall apart and was just decades away from falling apart, so a lot of this had to do with trying to prevent that.

Jerome was no slouch at matronly ear tickling himself, and once back in Rome soon had a little group of wealthy patrician widows around him, whose money supported him, a Paula in particular. And he had this ascetic works-righteousness thing going, into which he got them all. Nothing like having lots of someone else's money to support you if you want a monastic ascetic life. Hell yes.

In fact, the daughter of Paula, a lively young woman named Blaesilla, after just four months of having to live this way, died of it! Yeah, died. On top of which Jerome tells Paula not to mourn her daughter. This got the Romans really pissed, there was an inquiry into just what was really going on between Jerome and Paula, and then Damasus dies, and with that support gone, Jerome is forced out of Rome.

So where's he go? Where else, the Eastern Empire, where they really get into all this monkery and fasting and stuff. Paula and her money follow. The whole sham of a works-based sparse life funded by patrician wealthy-class money. There's some real apostolic stuff for you. Lemme tell ya, if somebody wants to convince you of their mistaking the physiological effects of self induced glucose denial for some sort of spiritual state of attainment, you'd be better off running right to the nearest McDonald's and ordering a double quarter pounder, which, if memory serves, is combo 4 on the menu. Personally I like our Nebraska favourite Runza better, which also makes a helluva burger, and it's Wolgadeutsch too, but being a regional chain may not be available where you are.

This sort of stuff is not self-denial, it's life denial. Utterly pathological. It is no curb whatever to excess and greed, but is rather an equally odious extreme reaction to it, both extremes equally devoid of the Gospel altogether. It comes rather from an empire about to collapse under the tension of its classic past and Christian present and efforts to reconcile them within, with huge civil unrest in its wake, and threats from without in the West. Which was bad enough, but in the East, where it did not collapse for another thousand years or so, it continued unabated, which is equally bad. The opposite of greed and excess is not this pathological repression, but Judas H Priest, just eat a normal balanced diet and go about a life of use to God and your fellow Man, stay in your parish where you find everything that made the saints saints, the Word, the Word preached, the Sacrament, and your fellow Christians.

The Word of the Lord Endures Forever -- Despite the "Church".

Well, it would also be about a thousand years or so until THAT message got out, little thing called the Lutheran Reformation, by a fellow survivor of the remnants of all this nonsense, guy named Martin Luther. Sorry if this stuff isn't in the sanitised reductive biographical sketches that turn up in treasuries of prayer and stuff like that, but them's the facts. It's a disgusting pagan mess, massacres, murders, politics, scandals and all, and from the time of Jerome's life on, the official religion of the state held to be right from the Apostles, which remained in the East, and remained in the West after it reconstituted itself as the Holy Roman Empire, and remains to this day in the former state churches that survive these empires.

This is the world of Augustine, Jerome, Damasus, etc -- the Western Roman Empire, which contains Rome, once the centre of the whole thing, in utter turmoil between its classic philosophy, art, culture and religion and the new religion, in attendant civil turmoil, and under assault from Germanic forces outside it. The sack of Rome came in 410, 24 August to be exact, by Alaric, King of the Visigoths. The efforts to synthesise Rome's past and present failed utterly to preserve Rome. But it created a state religion which survived the death of the state that created it, and became the one remaining link upon which the new state would be built, the Holy Roman Empire.  It survives to this day, in the West as the Roman Catholic Church as well as other state churches, some of them with the word Lutheran in them, and most having now severed the connexion to their modern state as mandatory, and in the East as the various Eastern Orthodox churches.

And all of it based entirely on the characteristics of this age, not in the least on the Gospel, as a dying empire tried to redefine itself for survival -- hence "true" churches, "apostolic succession", "bishops" who were as well state officials and political powers, and all the other nonsense by which the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches try to justify themselves and their pagan accretions which would hold the catholic church in captivity until the Lutheran Reformation, the need for which was so strong amid all this horse dung and bullroar that later "reforms" blew right past the Lutheran Reformation to an opposite but equally bad extreme, which to-day but not originally travels under the name Protestant or Evangelical.

So we have a pope supported by the wealthy Roman class in their twilight who kills his opponents and becomes by edict of the Emperor the true recipient of the true faith, and holy man whose "I'd better inflict all this on myself" asceticism is funded by more wealthy Roman class money and kills the daughter of his main supporter and disgusts even the Romans.

So what do we do then, forget about all this as an unholy mess we can ignore and just get back to the Bible, the "New Testament" church? No. And hell no. Judas H Priest, the New Testament church did not have the New Testament, so how ya gonna do that? You ain't.

Because here's the thing, the Babylonian Captivity was just that, a captivity, not an extinction. The catholic church survived and continues to survive even the invention of the Catholic Church by the Roman Empire. And why is that? Because of the truth expressed in the motto of the Lutheran Reformation, which motto is simply Scripture itself, both New and Old Testament.

VDMA. Verbum Domini manet in aeternum. The Word of the Lord endures forever. It cannot be overcome, and on its central truth about Jesus Christ is built the church against which the gates of hell itself cannot prevail, let alone the Roman Empire. It can survive power mongers like Damasus and pathological lunatics like Augustine and Jerome.

The Word of the Lord Endures Forever -- Despite Translators.

Particularly Jerome. His new Latin translation really did, even if the work of a nut case whose nuttiness was fatal and whose supposed self-denial was based on the wealth of others, establish a better text of the Bible in the most widely understood language of its time and remained key in the availability of the Bible for centuries to come, as Latin became the language of learning, and really did introduce, to a thoroughly Gentilised Christianity with the barest of understandings of the Jewish faith it fulfilled that had replaced it with reworkings in Christian dress of its classic philosophy, a more Jewish understanding of the texts, admired to this day by Jews, not to mention the Hebrew itself.

Not only that, but Jerome set in motion a tradition of selections from Scripture for reading at the preaching part if the Divine Service which would continue for about 1,500 years, and still continues as what we now call the "historic" lectionary. And why is it "historic"?  Because it's, well, old, you know, historic?  Hell no. Because there's another one now, a product in the 1960s of part of the church still in Babylonian Captivity in its last council, Babylon II, er, Vatican II.

The Western Roman Empire, under its new Germanic leaders, managed after a few hundred years known as the Dark Ages to more or less reconstitute itself as the Holy Roman Empire, and the old state church of the old Roman Empire, the Catholic Church, was right there to take its place in the whole set up. Some consider the HRE to have begun with the coronation -- by the "pope" of course -- of Charlemagne, Karl der Grosse, in 800, as Emperor of the Romans, and some consider it to have begun with the coronation -- by the "pope" of course -- of Otto on 2 February 962. But in any case it lasted for about another 1,000 years, and formally ended on 6 August 1806 at the hands of Napoleon.  The deposed last HRE, Francis II, however continued as Francis I, Emperor of Austria. Francis hell, it was Franz dammit, the only Doppelkaiser in history. Kaiser, that's a Germanisation of guess what, Caesar. Doppel is double.

But by about 100 years after that, the underpinnings of the Roman Catholic Church seemed even to many within it as wearing a bit thin, the Roman Empire being long gone and now the Holy Roman Empire being long gone too, and movements began in various circles, some Scriptural, some doctrinal, some liturgical, to re-express this whole deal in terms not so connected to things long gone. So they set about coming up with something more attuned to the existentialism and phenomenology then all the rage.

A couple of problems with that. Once again, just as in the time of Jerome, Augustine, Damasus, et al, we have an entity trying to preserve itself by merging its past with its present and future of different origin. But this time, that past was itself exactly the product of what was once the different origin the last time around. IOW, that church's Empire, both of them (Roman and Holy Roman), were gone and now their church had to go it alone in another emerging new world, and once again it sought to reinvent itself as a synthesis, hybrid, reconciliation, something like that, of the two. This culminated at Vatican II, when the old Imperial church reinvented itself for a new post-Imperial age.

Problem is, the old Imperial church was just that, the old Imperial church, not the catholic church or the church of Jesus Christ, and one of the two elements being synthesised into a new synthesis was itself a previous synthesis of Christianity and the old empire. Christianity, the catholic church, the church of Jesus Christ, thought by the proponents of this movement to be re-emerging after centuries of being obscured, was in fact being yet further obscured; the Babylonian Captivity deepened, only re-expressed in terms of the new Babylon that no longer had it as its church, or had a church at all.

In this way it only superficially resembled the real reformation of the church, which had happened nearly five centuries before already, with such things as vernacular languages and free standing altars. And so the Whore of Babylon thoroughly remodelled the brothel, with a new order of liturgy (yeah, literally, a novus ordo) complete with new calendar of observances and new lectionary of readings, replacing the one that had grown for centuries.

Now that's not surprising, that's what you do when you're the Whore of Babylon, and the Babylon that formed you and kept you as its whore is gone and there is a new Babylon.

But these "reforms" came about on an entirely different basis than the reforms of the Reformation, which did not run from the march of history nor wish to discard or disparage it for all its warts and blemishes, but instead accept it and move on, not reinventing anything but continuing in continuity, discarding only that which contradicted Scripture but otherwise, as the Augsburg Confession states, retaining the ceremonies and readings previously in use.

So what is surprising is that the churches of the Reformation generally, and even those of the Lutheran Reformation, jumped on board with this Roman insanity, took the novus ordo and revised and reworked their own versions of it! And now we have an "historic" lectionary right alongside a Vatican II For Lutherans Lutheranised version of this novus ordo.  We even lead the Whore herself in this regard, because we didn't have to wait a generation or so for a Roman Imperial official with only the church of the former state left -- a "pope", in case you were wondering -- to say it's OK with a motu proprio! Utter madness.

Conclusion.

So on this feast of St Jerome, let us remember that, you know what, he really was closer to the authors and sources of the Bible than our vaunted modern scholars working removed by centuries, and really did, nut case and all, contribute to the church which even he and his contemporaries and times and subsequent times could put in captivity but not extinction, a thing of great value in the Vulgate Bible and the tradition of the historic lectionary.

And let us remember that the Reformation has already happened and not at all on the basis that fuelled Babylon II, er, Vatican II, and we continue as the catholic church where the Word is rightly proclaimed and the Sacraments rightly administered, no new faith, no new doctrine, no new anything, and sure as hell no new orders of worship, based on the scholarship emerging from the dissolution, not just politically but in every way, of the Holy Roman Empire, in which there is no "hermeneutic of continuity" whatever but a pathetic old whore trying to still work the streets, but rather the organic continuity of the catholic church normed by its very own book, the Bible, rejecting only what contradicts it.

29 September 2014

St Michael's Day / Michaelmas / Michaelistag 29 September 2014.

This was a pretty big day for centuries, and still is contained in our LCMS calendar. Phillip Melanchthon even wrote a poem for the day which became a hymn, "Lord God, To Thee We Give All Praise", which is "Dicimus grates tibi summe rerum" in his Latin original --  yes, Latin  --  which is hymn 254 in The Lutheran Hymnal, or, I suppose it won't hurt to say, 522 in LSB.

Here's why the big deal.

Michael in the Bible.

Michael is one of the angels, and is mentioned by name in three books of the Bible, Daniel, Jude and Revelation aka the Apocalypse. His name means in Hebrew "Who is like God?"

In Daniel, Gabriel, another leading angel, tells Daniel that Michael is his helper in defending the Jews, this wrt Daniel's prayer that the Jews be able to return to Jerusalem (Daniel 10), and later (Daniel 12) Michael is again identified as he who stands up for "the sons of thy people", the Jews, who will do so in the final battle at the end of time. This is the only time he is mentioned by name in the Hebrew Bible.

It is not the only time he appears, depending on who you listen to. Some say he is the "captain of the host of the Lord" in the Book of Josue, or Joshua, 5:13-15, but some say this cannot be since he accepted worship and only God can do that. So some then say the figure was actually a disguised appearance of God himself, and some say (like my historical-critical Scripture profs in college) that that is what "angels" are anyway, not separate beings but muted references due to piety for God himself so Man can stand the interaction.

Rabbinic tradition variously credits him with being the angel who rescued Abraham from Nimrod's furnace, who protected Sarah from being defiled as Abraham's sister as Abraham tried to protect her by calling his sister and not wife, who told Sarah she would have a son, who brought the ram provided by God for Abraham to substitute for that son Isaac in sacrifice, who was the angel who wrestled with Jacob, who was the angel who spoke to Moses in the burning bush and later taught Moses the Law, on and on, including things in writings not in the Hebrew Bible such as protecting Adam and Eve after the Fall and teaching him how to farm.

This role of protector and defender was passed on to the early Christian church, among so much else in Judaism, not just in these stories, but he is mentioned twice in the New Testament.

In the Letter of Jude, verse 9, he argues with Satan over Moses' body, also a Jewish theme, keeping Moses' body hidden so reverence would be directed to God and not misplaced hero worship, something which crept into that church anyway as saint veneration and relics. In the Book of Revelation, or The Apocalypse, chapter 12, Michael is given a similar role in the last battle at the end of time as he had in the revolt of the angels in heaven at the beginning, as military leader of the forces of good.

Michael in Later Stories.

There are many other legends of Michael's intervention on behalf of Christians in history, of which we will mention two as particularly noteworthy. He is said to have worked with the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, and a celebration on 8 November became the main feast of St Michael in the Eastern Church. Also he is said to have appeared over the mausoleum of Hadrian in Rome to answer the prayers of Pope St Gregory the Great in 950 that a plague in Rome stop, after which the mausoleum, destroyed by the Visigoths and Goths but rebuilt as a papal fort and residence, was called Castel Sant'Angelo, Church of the Holy Angel, the angel being Michael, and is still there to-day.

It was connected by a fortified covered passage, the Passeto di Borgo, to St Peter's Basilica by Pope Nicholas II (pope from 25 November 1277 to 22 August 1280), to provide an escape route for the popes, which turned out handy for Pope Clement VII.

Now there's a story!  Clement had allied with French forces to offset the power of the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, he to whom the Augsburg Confession was presented, and Charles' army had defeated them in Italy. However, there was no money to pay the soldiers, and it is never ever a good idea to mess with military payroll then, now, or ever. In this case, the troops figured well hell, there's all these riches in Rome, let's go there and take them, which is exactly what they did, about wiping out the Swiss Guards on 5/6 May 1527, the "Sack of Rome". Clement made it out to Castel Sant'Angelo but became a prisoner there and eventually surrendered on 6 June.

Neither the HRE Charles nor Martin Luther approved of this, but it did have the practical effect of curbing papal power over the Holy Roman Empire, with a lot of money and land changing hands. Luther saw Christ's providence in this, saying that the Emperor who persecuted the Lutheran Reformation for the Pope ends up himself having to destroy the Pope. Might just be something to that. To commemorate the fight put up by the Swiss Guards, new ones have their swearing-in on 6 May to this day.

The Passeto and Castel sant'Angelo still exist, the latter now as an Italian national museum, and has a HUGE statue of St Michael on top of it. Not surprisingly, so much intrigue having played out in it historically, it is the headquarters of the "Illuminati" in the fictional "Angels and Demons", a recent movie by Dan Brown of da Vinci Code fame.

St Michael has thus become the patron of guardians of various kinds, from policemen to the sick. Western church writings speak of his feast from at least the 6th century, and other observances based on other appearances and legends arose elsewhere. But 29 September as the Feast of St Michael is among the oldest observances in the Western calendar.

The Feast of St Michael the Archangel, and All Angels.

Why is that? Not to mention, how is that? The custom in the church is to take the date of a saint's death, that being the day he was born to eternity as it were, as his feast day, or if that is unknown, the date of something else he did or is associated with him. Now Michael being an angel and all, didn't die, so it can't be his date of death, so what is that something else?

Here's what. The feast isn't actually the Feast of St Michael, but the Feast of the Dedication of the Basilica of St Michael. The Leonine Sacramentary, from the Sixth Century (the 500s) gives a feast Of the Birth of the Basilica of the Angel on the way to Salaria; the The Gelesian Sacramentary, from the Seventh Century, gives a Feast of St Michael the Archangel, but both of these were on 30 September. Then in the Eighth Century, the Gregorian Sacramentary gives a Feast of the Dedication of the Basilica of St Michael the Archangel, but puts it on 29 September.

That's just as well -- gonna need 30 September for the Feast of St Jerome, who died on that day in 420. So we have a feast on 29 September of the dedication of a church to St Michael, howdya like that? Two things about that. For one thing, church, didn't it say basilica, what the hell is that? A basilica originally was not a church at all, but a meeting place for merchants and mercantile justice, but as they were pretty nice big buildings, they got taken over as churches, with the state Catholic Church and all, and later such churches were called basilica from the get-go.

For another, the specific basilica whose dedication established the feast on 29 September hasn't existed for over a thousand years! One thing's for sure though. 29 September sure in the hell ain't what Vatican II made of it in the novus ordo, where it's now the Feast of Michael, Gabriel and Rafael. Utter revisionist bullroar. 29 September has been about Michael, and the whole company of angels by extension, since it started, and even if the basilica disappeared a thousand years ago, why in the hell a thousand years later does the Whore of Babylon mess with it?

Because that's what the Whore of Babylon does, mess with things. Gabe has his own feast day, which is 24 March, and in the Eastern church his day is 8 November in the Julian Calendar, which is 21 November in the Gregorian Calendar, and two other days as well (26 March and 13 July if you wanna know, the first for his role in the Annunciation and the other for all his other stuff). Rafe has his own feast day too, which is 24 October.

It's interesting the both these feasts were only put in the General Roman Calendar in 1921, however, in the sanctoral calendars at lexorandi.org, the 1731 Lutheran Almanac, on the 200th Anniversary of the Presentation of the Augsburg Confession, has Gabe's but not Rafe's, and "The Calendar", which I believe is Loehe's, has Rafe's but not Gabe's, and my "Manual of Prayers", ordered prepared by the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore with Imprimatur 17 May 1889 by James Cardinal Gibbons no less (it was my dad's), has Rafe on 24 October and Gabe but on 18 March, so 1921 didn't start anything but standardised it for Rome.

To its credit, among the many things to its credit, The Lutheran Hymnal -- you know, THE Lutheran Hymnal -- doesn't jack around with any of that, but simply retains The Feast of St Michael and All Angels, and to its credit, Lutheran Service Book, while it does often follow the novus ordo model of jacking around with stuff, doesn't jack around with this one. And given that the dedication thing has kind of lost its significance, the basilica being dedicated being gone a millennium now, it's still worth mentioning since originally that is why 29 September.

And yes, it's kind of like an All Angels Day too. Which is just fine. St Michael being the commander of the angelic forces, like any good commander, he doesn't forget his men.

Various Michaelmas Observances.

We ain't done! Michaelmas has all sorts of stuff attached to it. For centuries, it was a holy day of obligation -- you gotta go to Mass. As the Germans were Christianised, St Michael took the place of Wotan, and you will find St Michael chapels in the mountains, previously sacred to Wotan, there to this day. Michaelmas is also one of the four Quarter Days in Mother England: Lady Day 25 March, Midsummer Day 24 June, Michaelmas 29 September, Christmas 25 December.

What the hell is a Quarter Day? These are four days roughly equivalent to the two equinoxes and two solstices, when business and legal dealings need to be settled -- rents and bills are due (the rent thing is still often followed in England), judges had to visit outlying areas to make sure no matters go on unresolved, servants and labourers are hired so employment isn't up in the air, stuff like that. This is big stuff, coming from the Magna Carta itself of 1215, when the barons secured against the king, John at the time, the principle that no-one's right to justice will be sold, denied, or delayed.

Ever gone to a job fair resume in hand to meet prospective employers? You're right in the tradition of Michaelmas! At harvest's end, on the day after Michaelmas labourers would assemble in the towns for just that purpose with a sign of the work they do in their hands to get employment for the next year. Such events came to be called Mop Fairs, from those seeking employment as maids showing up with a broom in hand, like a resume to show the prospective employer what work they could do.

Pay your taxes due in April? You're right in the tradition of the Quarter Days! Hell, Lady Day was the first day of the calendar year until the change from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar in 1752, and when taxes were due. The English tax year still starts on "Old" Lady Day, 6 April.

Oh btw, the lady in Lady Day is Jesus' mother Mary, and the day is more widely known as the Feast of the Annunciation, commemorating the announcement by Gabriel to Mary that if she consented she would bear Jesus, nine months before his birth 25 December. And re calendars, Julian refers to Julius Caesar who set the old calendar, and Gregorian refers to Pope St Gregory who modified it into what we use to-day.

In England, the modified more accurate Gregorian calendar was adopted in 1752, and on 3 September in the old Julian Calendar it became 14 September in the new Gregorian calendar. Many were confused by this, thinking they had lost 11 days of their lives, leading to protests in the streets. Michaelmas was the first big deal to happen after the change, leading some to say that since we lost 11 days, Michaelmas is really 10 October in the new calendar, which is then "Old" Michaelmas Day.

A lot of the resistance to the Gregorian calendar came from it being done by a pope. It was actually the work of Aloysius Lilius, and Gregory made it official 24 February 1582 in the papal bull "inter gravissimas". It's named as is the custom in many places from its first couple of words, which here mean "among the most serious", and changing to the new calendar was taken in many Protestant countries as a deference to papal power.

Michaelmas was also the start of winter curfew, which lasts until Shrove Tuesday, with bells being rung at 2100 hours (that's 9pm) to signal the curfew, which is literally lights out, "curfew" meaning "cover the fire", put out the household fires and lamps.

Michaelmas is also called Goose Day, because goose is eaten for the meal, coming from the practice of those who couldn't pay their rent or bills on the Quarter Day offering a goose instead to the landlord. There's an old rhyme -- He who eats goose on Michaelmas Day, shan't money lack his debts to pay.

It also started the new term, Michaelmas term, at Oxford and Cambridge. Still does!

It is also the day when peasants on manors elected their new reeve. What the hell is a reeve? A serf elected by the other serfs to manage the land for the landowner nobleman, the lord. A reeve of an entire shire was a shire-reeve. What the hell is a shire? That's what counties were called in Mother England before the Norman Conquest, county being the name of the land controlled by a count in continental Europe where the damn Normans came from. Bunch of old stuff lost in history? Got a sheriff in your county? It's exactly why the chief law enforcement officer of your county is called a sheriff, a contraction over time of shire reeve, and why your county isn't called a shire.

Now.

So there's stuff from this all around our modern life. And now, maybe, one more. Back to the legends about St Michael, one of them is, when he kicked Satan out of heaven, which was on 29 September story goes, Satan fell to earth and landed in a bunch of blackberry thorns, which totally ticked him off so he cursed the fruit of the bush, stomped on them, breathed fire on them, spat on them and just generally went nuts. This curse renews every Michaelmas Day, so, what ever you do, DO NOT pick or eat blackberries after Michaelmas!

Which in our digital age opens a whole new question -- if you have a Blackberry phone, can you use it after Michaelmas Day?

Aren't saint's days just a riot? A little bit of something real -- there really is a St Michael the Archangel and he really is the military commander of God's forces, stands ready with all the faithful angels to help and protect you, and will function as such on the End Time -- and a whole lot of legend, leading to some pretty amazing history, both of which have left common elements large and small on life to-day.

Happy Michaelmas! And have some goose, but before 2100. And touch up that resume, if you're looking for a job. Been there and it's tough. Put your trust in God, in this and in all things; I mean who is like God, just like Michael's name means.  And, you got people -- and angels.

17 September 2014

The Divine Environment. An Essay on the Lifted Cross.

Sic enim Deus dilexit mundum ... (Joannes 3:16)  

In a previous post, O Friend of God, we dealt with "Holy Cross Day", or as it is sometimes called among us, The Triumph of the Holy Cross.  We saw that the actual name of the day is The Exaltation of the Cross, that exaltation is used in its literal Latin sense of lifting up, and that neither the lifting up nor the cross lifted refer to the triumph of the cross of Christ as the means of salvation, but to the lifting up of a supposed relic on 14 September 335 A.D in Jerusalem at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, which still stands.

So we impose good theology over silly legends about scandalous facts to retain the feast.  This is a problem and this post addresses that problem further, not regarding that particular feast, but regarding the actual triumph of the actual cross.  Over particularly recent centuries and continuing in this one, our empirically based human view of the world, and consequently the value of its parts, has yielded an astounding harvest of knowledge, which may seem at odds with traditional Christian belief.

Thus many people who by training or temperament primarily listen to the voices of human knowledge waver regarding Christianity, either hesitating, thinking they would have to be false to themselves to embrace Christianity, or turning away from it altogether, thinking they have gone beyond it.  And some seek a middle ground by recasting it, trying to both go beyond it and nonetheless preserve its veneer.

This problem is not new and not unique to our times.  What is now traditional Scholastic theology was in its time an attempt to reconcile the Faith with the rediscovery of secular learning from the ancients.  It was hotly contested from within and without, yet, as Aquinas pointed out, if God is the source of all knowledge, ultimately there can be no conflict.  Centuries later came The Enlightenment, where the dawn of modern knowledge brought about exactly such rejections of Faith, or recastings so rejection would seem to be avoided, especially to the recasters.  And now in our "post modern" age here is the same problem once again.

The purpose of this post is to show that traditional Christianity -- Baptism, the Eucharist, and the actual lifting up and actual triumph of the Cross -- does not require any such falsification to oneself or recasting of faith.  An important note, though, as it may seem to some that this post is indeed such a recasting.  This is not the case.  The entire post is about nothing more, nothing else, and nothing less, than grace  --  the free gift of God for our salvation in the lifting up of the cross, the triumph of the cross, given to us here and now in Baptism and the Eucharist.

And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.  Et ego si exaltatus fuero a terra omnia traham ad me ipsum.  John 12:32.

What Is Evolution?   

In our time this problem is nowhere more evident than is the supposed conflict between modern scientific knowledge and the account of creation in Genesis.  OK, right here is one of those ironies that this blog finds hilarious.  Wanna know what?  Of course the famous book re evolution is Charles Darwin's (1809-1882) "On the Origin of the Species" (1859).  Guess what, ya know what "genesis" means?  The English word and title is derived from the Latin word, which in turn transliterated into Latin the Greek word for -- origin!  Hey, looks like two contradictory and conflicting accounts of origin, huh?

Well, no.  For starters, Genesis is in the OT and the OT is in Hebrew, right, so why a Greek name?  Because the name in English comes from the Jewish translation of the OT into Greek called the Septuagint, that's why.  The Hebrew name for the book does not say "origin".  Rather, as is customary in Hebrew, the title is derived from its first words, which are "in beginning", bere syt, or bereshit as it is often written in English.  Nothing about origin.  Hey, isn't the beginning the origin?  Well, sort of, but in putting it the way it does, the Hebrew conveys something the English does not carry.  There is no definite article -- "the" -- in the Hebrew, or the Latin (in principio) either.  And the next word is -- God (deus).  In beginning, God.  Genesis/Bereshit starts with God.  Not with "the beginning" or "the origin", with God.  God is not proven, not deduced, not induced, not described, not defined, nothing like that.  God simply is.

In other words, there is not a "beginning" or an "origin" and God either did or did not have something to do with it.  Rather, God is, before any beginning or origin, and any beginning or origin is an action of God.  So, "the beginning" or "the origin" is not the beginning or origin of everything, it is the beginning of a creative action of God, and that is the origin of all things.

The idea of God, of a power greater than ourselves, of something beyond our complete grasp which gives rises to a sense or idea of holy, is a universal sense as ancient as Man.  But that is also problematic.  Man has expressed this sense in a variety of ways.  Sometimes he takes natural forces beyond his control as therefore gods.  Sometimes he posits supra-human beings who control these natural forces.  Sometimes this expression is applied to the totality of the universe as an impersonal way or law that is operational throughout.  Sometimes the universe itself is god.

Genesis confirms this universal sense as valid, but contradicts all those expressions.  God is not heaven and earth; heaven and earth are creations of God who preexists them and is distinct from them.  Likewise then everything else in the universe -- forces like wind and rain, places like rivers, everything -- is not God nor is God the totality of it, but they are creations of God who preexists and is distinct from them all.  Therefore, they are not objects of worship or veneration.

The next few verses make that quite clear, as the things Man deifies are described as creations of the deity -- heaven and earth, the seas, the sun, the moon, life in any form, life in human form.  For example, the sun that lights our world is not god, not a god, nor is there a sun-god whose function it is to control the sun.

Well fine.  So is Genesis just another order out of chaos myth from antiquity, all of which we should abandon now as we understand the order better and better?  Is not the ancientness of the sense of a higher power, the idea of holy, itself a sign that these are simply the reactions of men with little knowledge of their environment so they create myths of gods to explain it for lack of anything better, but now that we have something better, we no longer need the myths of earlier times?

Notice something?  We didn't even get to the "six day" thing before losing our faith!  In other words, the primary thing revealed, and right away, in Genesis and thus the entire Bible, which is that there is a god and everything else proceeds from the creative action of this god, doesn't even need the six-day thing before grounds to abandon it arise, passing it off as the early attempts of man to understand his environment, which we have long since passed.

And we notice something else.  Genesis describes God's creative actions in precisely the order we understand them scientifically -- first the material universe and its unfolding, not static, organisation  by God (let's call it the geosphere), then its inhabitation by biological life and its unfolding, not static, organisation by God (let's call it the biosphere), then the appearance of biological life that is both conscious and self-reflective, having a mind that shares something then of the God who created it (let's call it the noosphere, from the Greek word for mind, nous).

This is nothing other than evolution, literally.  Now before the moaning and groaning starts (is it too late for that?) let's look at what evolution literally means.  The word comes from the Latin evolutio, which does not mean "evolution" with its modern connotations, but rather an act of rolling out or unfolding.  The root is "e volvo" which means "out of the roll" (yeah, Volvo means roll, great name for a great car, let's roll!). The verb is "evolvo" which means "to unroll" or "to unfold", whose perfect passive participle is "evolutus".  Great linguistic Judas what's that?  Relax, a perfect passive participle is verb form denoting the state of something having been subject to an action.  Here, having been rolled or having been unfolded, "evolutus", which as a verb is "evolutio", the act of rolling out or unfolding.

So, Genesis presents evolution.  Therefore, the argument over "evolution" is not over whether it happened, but how it happened.  Specifically, did this rolling out, this unfolding, which both Genesis and current human knowledge agree happened, happen impersonally according to either random or chance events or laws or ways inherent in Nature, or personally, as the creative act of a pre-existent God.

Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.

So asks God in Job 38:4.  The question not only addresses Job; it can be asked of any of us, and the point is the same as to Job, which is, God's understanding is not our understanding nor can our understanding comprehend God's.  In his communication with us, God speaks to us not as an equal, but as a part of his creation that has consciousness to receive the communication, which therefore will have its limits.  God speaks to us in terms of our experience.

This is apparent already in the first sentence of Bereshith,  "The heaven and the earth" describes the universe from Man's point of view here on the earth, not from God's point of view as its Creator.  Our point of view now has expanded, and was not available to humans at the time Bereshith was revealed.  We know that the earth and the heavens are not distinct.  Earth is but one planet revolving around one star among many, the number of which we do not know except that it is huge.  It's all heavens, and earth is part of that, but it doesn't look that way when you're on earth.

The rest of the creation account proceeds along these lines, in terms of our, not God's, experience.  Creation is creation, whether viewed as an earthbound creature seeing "heavens" above, or not from earth and seeing earth too as part of the "heavens".  Heaven and earth, then, are relative terms.  In earlier times, the discovery that earth is not the centre of creation, with heavens above it, seemed to cast doubt on everything -- if Scripture is off in its very first words, why should it not also be off in the rest of it too?

What was lost in that controversy, the famous Galileo episode, was any sense of what God was reminding Job in his circumstances.  And this loss is the very same loss that will lead to what is called The Fall  just a little later in Bereshith.  What is this loss?  It is the loss of the fact that God speaks to us in terms of our experience and not his, that God does not reveal to us everything of his experience because we, as created beings, cannot receive or comprehend the experience of our creator.  As Scripture will shortly put it, we are created in the image of God, but we are not created as equals, as other gods, and therefore we cannot elevate our understanding, even that part of it which is an understanding of God, to his level.

In this regard it is significant to note that the noun we translate as "God", singular, in the Hebrew is plural, Elohim, but the verb we translate as "created" IS singular.  Of course we can theologically abstract from this a reference at the outset of Scripture to the Trinity -- a plural God acting in the singular.  But God is not here inviting us to theological abstraction but is revealing to us the nature of our experience as conscious reflective beings.  God is not, in the Bible, providing us a divine textbook, or an algorithm, but a human user's manual, of creation.  And a user's manual is written to convey to the user, in terms his experience will allow him to understand, information he does not have, not about how something was made but about how to work with it.  IOW, it is not a "how I did it", but a "how you use it" book.

Vade mecum.  Go With Me.

So, the revelation of the fact of creation is one thing, and the manner of creation is another, and the two ought not be confused.  God reveals the fact of creation by expressing it in terms of human conscious experience.  Light and dark, heaven and earth. evening and morning, day -- all of them earth bound, not characteristic of the universe.  There is no evening and morning as we experience it here on earth anywhere else but here on earth.  There is no 24 hour day as we experience it here on earth anywhere else but here on earth.  Even in our human speaking these words have "literal" and "figurative" meanings, as in "the evening of life", "shed some light on the subject", and so on.  For that matter, time itself does not flow at the same rate throughout the universe.

Had God revealed the nature of the universe in scientific terms Genesis would have been rejected from the start.  How is a man standing on earth looking up at the heavens to be told that in fact he is not looking up at all, that there is no "up", that "up" is a sense brought about from the fact of his standing in a particular place, and that "beneath" him there is also an "up" he would experience were he standing there?  And how is a man standing on earth looking "up" at the heavens to be told that in fact where he stands is itself part of the heavens, that there are no "heavens" distinct from earth except in his experience of standing in a particular place, and that "above" him there is not a dome holding back water, that the blue he sees above is in fact not there but a sense brought about under the conditions of standing where he does to look at it?  And how is a man standing on earth looking "up" at the "heavens" to be told that not only is he looking out, not up, but he is also looking back, that the light he sees from the stars in the heavens is not what is happening there now, but light from events ages ago that is just now making its way to be visible to someone standing where he does?

All of what we now know would have contradicted his experience entirely and therefore been rejected as fantastic, literally -- a fantasy with no relation to reality, ie, his experience.  Which in turn would leave the message God seeks to communicate to Man -- that all of what Man sees, including Man himself, is the creation of the God who seeks him and is subject to the will of God, not Man  --  inaccessible.  The fact of creation is revealed to Man via a manner of creation that makes sense within his experience at the time of its revelation.  Revelation done any other way would reveal nothing!

Fiat voluntas tua.

Thy will be done, is what that means in Latin.  The words are from the so-called "Lord's Prayer".  The Lord, Christ, in giving this prayer, stated a version of the traditional Kaddish, which exists in several related versions.  Jesus gives his version, not a new prayer.   Here in English is the Kaddish Shalem, the "complete kaddish" -- there are longer special versions for rabbis, mourners, and for after a burial --  followed by the Lord's version.

Kaddish Shalem, the "complete Kaddish".

May his great name be exalted and sanctified is God's great name in the world which he created according to his will!  May he establish his kingdom and may his salvation blossom and his anointed be near during your lifetime and during your days and during the lifetimes of all the House of Israel, speedily and very soon.  And say ye, Amen.
May his great name be blessed forever and to all eternity! Blessed and praised, glorified and exalted, extolled and honoured, adored and lauded be the name of the Holy One, blessed be he, above and beyond all blessings, hymns, praises and consolations that are uttered in the world!  And say ye, Amen.
(The Hatzi Kaddish, or "half Kaddish", ends here.  All versions begin with it.)
May the prayers and supplications of all Israel be accepted by their Father who is in heaven.  And say ye, Amen.
May there be abundant peace from heaven, life, satisfaction, help, comfort, refuge, healing, redemption, forgiveness, atonement, relief and salvation for us and for all his people Israel.  And say ye, Amen.
May he who makes peace in his high places grant peace upon us and upon all Israel.  And say ye, Amen.

Jesus' Kaddish, the Our Father.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.  Thy kingdom come.  Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  Amen.

Now, Jesus gave his version of the Kaddish when his followers asked him to give them a special prayer like all the other great teachers seem to do.  He didn't.  He gave them a succinct version of what they already had!  His point being, besides the prayer itself, that no such carryings-on are needed before God.  And, this being from the anointed who is prayed for -- that is what "Christ" means, the anointed one of God -- who better to refine and focus it for our use!

Our point here being, though, the prayer itself and the matter of will, and whose will, ours or God's.  Voluntas, the Latin word for will, is the basis of the English word voluntary.  Voluntary means according to ones will, willing.  Which means there is a choice involved, it is a matter that is neither inevitable nor compelled.  This is exactly what Genesis reveals to us about everything, the universe.  It exists not by some historical inevitability or by an inherent following of impersonal laws, but by the will of a being, God.

In all its stages, the act of creation is spoken of as an act of will, voluntary -- let there be, etc.  Except, and this is key, in the last stage, Man.  This is not spoken of as "Let there be Man", but rather, "let us make Man in our own image".  The creation of Man as a being in the image of God, then, is related differently than all the creation before it.  This voluntary, willed, creation culminates in the emergence of a being who himself is endowed with the capacity for voluntary, willed action.  This being, the human being, marks the entry into the unfolding of creation of a created being who himself creates, but not out of nature or instinct, but voluntarily, willed, like his creator.  Man is conscious.

Which is both our glory, and our problem.  Our consciousness contains, unlike anything else in creation, the capacity for acts of will that are conscious, which is to say, self-conscious, not in the usual conversational sense, but in the sense that we are conscious of our capacity and the choices we can make.  Which is why it is not until this point in the evolution, the unfolding, of creation that God gives a commandment.  Up until this point he doesn't need to, since nothing in creation until this point has this capacity for willed action that is conscious of itself.  But Man, which the text makes clear is comprised of both male and female, is in the image of God, but is not God.  Or, if you will, this creature is in the image of the creator but is not the creator.  Therefore, the creator, or, if you will, God, gives this creature directions.

Be fruitful and multiply.  This is the first commandment (mitzvah) given to Man; the first of the 613 mitzvoth in the Law (id est, the Law of Moses, the first five books of the Bible).  This is more than a commandment to reproduce.  The animals reproduce, even care for their young for a time, by nature and instinct, and need no such direction.  So why give it to Man?  Because Man is to make a home, raise a family, and, subdue the earth.  Man is a part of creation, but apart from the rest of creation; no other part of creation  is told to subdue the earth because no other part of creation could be told to subdue the earth.  Only Man, with the divine-like capacity for self-conscious willed action, could be told this.

Who Told Thee Thou Wast Naked?

And what are the results of this command?  What results has this uniquely self-conscious will-endowed creature produced in subduing the creation of which he is both part and its crown?  The results are everywhere to be seen in both the present and in history -- and in the first chapters of Genesis.  The creation of Man is different than the creation of everything else.  We saw that the first creation account (chapter one) it is not "let there be ..." like the earlier parts of creation but "let us make ..."  And in the second creation account (chapter two), this point is made again.  God formed Man, in this chapter the male.  The Hebrew verb, yatzar, as is often commented, relates to a potter forming clay.  What is not so often commented is that this verb is written differently regarding the formation of Man than the formation of prior creation.  With animals it is written with one yod, but for the formation of Man it is written with two.

Which fits exactly.  This creature, Man, has something the others do not,  namely the image of God, which means a capacity for acts of self-conscious will.  But this is still a creature, not another god.  Therefore the formation is written with two yods, because Man is torn within himself and needs "commandments", needs direction from his creator.  Of himself, his will may not be God's will.  He has a Yetzer tob, a good inclination, and a Yetzer ra, a bad inclination.  And this condition is dealt with, as God directs Man not to be his own arbiter of good and bad, good and evil.

This is the essence of the human condition -- a being in the divine image who can will acts apart from the will of the Divine who created him.  The man is told, in the figure of tending a garden, which is to say, subduing the earth, that he may do it all, except, decide for himself what is good and what is bad, what is good and what is evil.  This is God's function alone.  For Man to assume that function, to become morally autonomous from God, is the creature assuming the role of the creator.  Which in a word, is pride.  And indeed, pride goeth before the fall.

And that is exactly what happens in the Genesis story.  Once Man assumed moral autonomy from God, ate of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, so to speak, everything falls apart.  When the unfolding, the evolution, described in Genesis, gets to Man, its continuation becomes voluntary, literally, a matter of will, and the will is now Man's, not God's.

Having assumed moral autonomy, acting like God when he is not god, the creature acting as if he were the creator, Man gets it wrong.  Whereas they were not ashamed at their nakedness before each other, in fact, did not distinguish nakedness at all, now they find it an issue.  It is not that there is nakedness, and having eaten of the forbidden fruit, now they realise it.  It is that, having claimed moral autonomy, acting like God, they define good from evil, and find something that is in fact good, evil, and devise measures to correct it -- to correct what is already correct.

This changes everything.  Now, when they sense the presence of the Lord, instead of creatures happily welcoming their creator, they hide!  So instead of the creature seeking his creator, the creator now seeks his creature.  "Where art thou?"  And the man starts making excuses -- oh well hey, I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid from you.  Just a sec, lemme put something on.  We don't have any clothing stores yet, but we sewed these fig leaves to-gether.

And God asks them, What's up with that?  Where'd you get this "naked" thing because I didn't say bupkis about it, let alone opening a clothing store.  And the sorry story continues.  Does the man say, Sorry God I blew it.  Hell no, he blames his wife.  So Gods asks her, and what does she do?  Same thing, does not accept responsibility for her action but blames something else, the serpent, as Genesis puts it, or diminished capacity, as she would put it now. 

Genesis describes exactly what is observed in human history down to the present.  It's not that we try to get it right, it's that we decide what is right and try to get that.  And the results are mixed.  For example, as Man begins to live more in cities, he finds he has a pollution problem with all the horses defecating all over town.  Then he invents another work vehicle that doesn't need horses, a horseless carriage.  Problem solved!  Except, problem not solved, as he discovers later on the fuel emissions from his horseless carriage creates an even worse pollution.  Or, for example, as he subdues the earth and attains the ability to harness the power of the atom, he finds a limitless source of power, yet, should there be an accident, the results are disastrous, and, he can also use that power to either create weapons in which thousands are killed in an instant or to understand and treat disease at a fundamental level.

And when things go wrong, we do just as Adam and Eve, start blaming someone or something else, rather than recognise our own failure.

Memento mori.

Remember that you will die.  That's what the Latin means.  It comes from the triumphal processions in ancient Rome, where as the conquering general as he rode in his chariot through the throngs of cheers and accolades, his servant would keep saying to him, Remember that you will die.  The idea was to not get carried away with all the pomp and circumstance and remember that even though you have gotten this by your accomplishments, you will die like any other man.

Death.  We know we are going to die, and we don't like to think about it very much, yet we do because it happens to those around us and we know it will happen to us.  Death is first mentioned in the Bible here in Genesis, in connexion with the command not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  In the day you eat of it you will surely die, God says to Man. 

No you won't, says the "serpent".  In fact, you will not only not die, you will become like God, he adds.  So Man eats of the fruit, and guess what -- he does not die!  So the "serpent" was right and the Bible even bears that out?  What's up with that?  Or with this -- does the Bible contradict itself even on its own terms right in its first pages, first saying God tells them they will die in the day they eat the fruit, then saying they don't?  If so, why bother with it then?

OK.  Manifestly, physical death did not enter creation with this original sin.  For one thing, to threaten a consequence which does not exist and of which therefore Man has no knowledge would be meaningless to Man.  For another, Man eats and does not die.  Something else happens instead.  For another, nothing in the preceding text gives any basis for thinking creation was meant to be eternal from creation on.  For yet another, in a few verses God becomes concerned that Man, having eaten of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil and having become like God -- having declared his moral autonomy and now functioning like a god instead of a creature -- will now eat of the fruit of the tree of eternal life and live forever.  If he were not going to die at some point, it would be meaningless for God to be concerned that he won't.

So, the death spoken of is not physical death, it is the something else that happens.  And what is that something else?  The order of creation is broken.  Man is not going to function as he was created to function.  Since he is going to follow his own will, make his own choices, determine what is good and evil, he will have trouble in fulfilling his commandment.  Subduing the earth will be difficult, and so will being fruitful and multiplying.  Just as Scripture says, Man does not experience physical death from his sin, he experiences the death of the order of creation as it was intended, including the death of his role in it.  IOW, spiritual death, and I don't mean "spiritual" in some vague general "spirituality" but literally; his spirit dies and Man will henceforward have broken that image of God in which he was created.

It's still there, but it is broken, and it cannot repair itself.  Or better, a spirit, being alive, is now dead and cannot bring itself back to life again.  The consequence for assuming moral autonomy from God is -- assuming moral autonomy from God, which shatters the image of God in which he was created and kills his spirit.   

Memento, homo, quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris.  

Remember, man, that thou art dust, and unto dust thou shalt return.  That's what the Latin means.  It is from the service for the beginning of Lent, called Ash Wednesday, from the custom of imposing ashes on the foreheads of the faithful in the shape of a cross.

Hey, when you gonna talk about Adam?  OK, now.  Adam, the word for the creature, comes from the word for the "dust" or soil from which he was formed, adamah.  When "Adam" is first used (1:27) it is not as a name, a proper noun, for one man.  It means Man, both male and female, and not just one male and one female.  It becomes a personal name in the next chapter (2:7).  And Adam names his wife, Eve, Havvah in Hebrew, from hayah, to live, as no human lives who is not born of "woman".  The collective use rather than reference to one person returns in Genesis 5:1-2, where the collective Man is specified by sex, male and female.  Adam is Man.

Huh?  So whaddawe got here, two conflicting accounts?  Sure looks that way, and not just re Adam either.  Looks like a male human was created, then all the animals, not before, and since none of them was a suitable partner for the male, a female was created from the male.  Biblical scholarship generally posits two sources that were combined by a later editor for the book as we know it now.  So then what?  Dismiss Genesis as a combination of two related but separate creation myths, is that what Past Elder is saying here as his professors taught?  No, and hell no.  It doesn't even matter whether that theory is true or not, because it does not change what God is revealing to Man.

Just as with creation itself, the revelation is not a treatise from God on HOW he did it, but a revelation THAT he did it, and communicated in terms comprehensible to Man at the time of its revelation.  Not a textbook, not an algorithm, but a user's manual.

And here again, the creation of Man is different than the creation of everything else.  Unlike everything else, Man is related as created from something that already exists, dust.  The crown of creation is himself created from Creation.  This act of creation Genesis calls formation.  Man is related as formed from something that already exists, dust.

O felix culpa.

So, the appearance of a self-conscious being capable of voluntary acts of will marks a fundamental change in the unfolding, the evolution, described in Genesis.  We saw this in four ways.  One, the divine act of will is not "Let there be ..." but "Let us make ...".  Two, the Hebrew verb is written here with two yods instead of one, indicating that this creature's will is his, which may or may not align with God's.  Three, after this creature emerges, commandments are given for the first time, since no other creature needs them.  Four, this creature unfolds not from nothing, but from existing Creation.

And then, this product of a fundamental change fundamentally changes how the unfolding unfolds, so that it is now no longer unfolding according to the will of God, or if you will, so to speak, according to its nature.

What?  What kind of God is this?  Is God then a creator who creates a creature who can fail then says "Here you go, follow the directions"?  And, if this God is all knowing, he knows the creature will fail.  If this God is so great and loving, why didn't he create Man so he could not fail, why not create a creature that is happy and stays that way, including, not die. 

O felix culpa quae talem et tantum meruit habere redemptorem.  O happy fault which gained us such and so great a Redeemer.  Such is the famous verse of the Exultet (more recently given by the ever-changing but oh-no-nothing-really-changed Rome as Exsultet), a sung poem of praise, though not sung by a praise band, at the Easter Vigil after the procession with the Easter Candle -- though one will search in vain for this verse in the cobbled up version of the Exultet offered in Lutheran Service Book.  Why its most famous phrase was cobbled out of it remains one of the enduring quirks of LSB, but I digress.

It comes down to this.  All the storm and stress about Creation and Evolution etc is just unnecessary, and fuelled by nothing but misunderstanding and fear.  Genesis presents the unfolding of God's creativity and that is evolution. The unfolding is laid out with utter precision in the succession of geosphere, biosphere, then noosphere.  And with the emergence of the noosphere, a new aspect enters creation, a being, Adam, who is distinct from the rest of creation in having the image of the Creator but distinct from the Creator in not being a god himself.  His participation in the continuing unfolding, which is to say, evolution, is literally voluntary, subject to his will, and he blows it, shattering the image of his Creator he bears beyond repair through his own will.

This is exactly what the "creationists" and the "evolutionists" both miss, with opposite yet similar consequences.  The "creationists" assert creation by God, the "evolutionists" assert evolution, and both are right.

The evolutionist misses two things.  One, that evolution is not a push, but a pull, not an impersonal push of natural law or chance, but an intended personal pull exerted by a Being we usually call God.  Two, with the emergence of Man, co-operation and participation in the pull becomes voluntary and is thwarted by Man's own voluntas, will.  The origin of the species is not the origin of life; there is nothing to fear here.

The creationist misses that in Scripture God is not writing a scientific treatise or algorithm of how he did creation, but a revelation that he did creation.  Meaning that our understanding of the "how" of creation is no more to be made into a god, into the basis for our self-understanding, than more obvious forces such as thunder, our sun, etc were to be made into gods in earlier times.  The origin of the species is not the origin of life and not the origin of everything; there is nothing to fear here.

For as in Adam all die so in Christ are all made alive, it says.  And so it is -- in Adam, Man, we men (don't get goofy here, it means male and female) lose the image of our creator and any ability despite our best efforts to successfully co-operate and participate in the unfolding, the evolution, God has begun.  Yet, the emergence of such a being, Man, cannot be otherwise -- an unfolding into increasing complexity, from geosphere to biosphere to noosphere, will with the emergence of the noosphere become voluntary, a matter of will.  The cruel God, if you will, would be one who just leaves it so.

But God does not leave it so, but rather turns this fault, this inevitable voluntariness, without which Man would not have the image of God but simply be an android rather than an anthropos, into a happy fault, by himself becoming Man so that the evolution may continue, the pull continues not by the efforts of Man's will but by faith in the assumption by God the Creator of the brokenness of His own image in the creature.  THIS is who dies as a result of assuming willed control over good and evil -- not Man as threatened but God become Man in Christ!

Now that's something to exult -- should we now spell it exsult, Rome? -- about, just as the Exultet says.  The Creator is creation's Redeemer too!  Such and so great a redeemer indeed!  I make all things new, he says.  Not just all people, all creation.  Ich mache alles -- nicht nur alle -- neu.  The pull of evolution revealed in Genesis is restored in the cross of Christ, he who was God made Man, and when lifted up in the cross suffered the death that is our consequence so that we might regain the image of God which was intended, willed, by God.

And not only that.  There's more!  Not something else, but more to this same something.  That sacrifice of God on behalf of Man in Christ, is not just words in a book, or something that happened a long time ago, but is offered to us here and now!  In the Divine Environment -- which is to say, the universe -- precisely because there is no universal such as a 24 hour day, a disruption in the ordinary operation of matter, such as say a resurrection, also is a disruption in the ordinary operation of time.  Therefore, that one sacrifice, that one lifting up of Christ on the cross drawing all men to himself, which is to God, that sacrifice of his body and blood, is given to us outside the normal operation of time, in, with, and under the elements he instituted of bread and the fruit of the vine (vine being a grapevine).  The sure pledge of our salvation and redemption!

 Et ego si exaltatus fuero a terra omnia traham ad me ipsum. 

And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.  (In case you forgot.)

The "literal meaning" of Genesis has absolutely nothing, nothing, to do with creation in six twenty-four hour earth days, nor with a single first human named Adam being made from dust.  AND, the fact that creation did hot happen in six twenty-four hour earth days and that Man did not descend from two individuals named Adam and Eve in no way, no way, overthrows the literal meaning of Genesis or prove either Genesis specifically or the Bible generally false and/or irrelevant.

In fact, what God revealed to Man in Bereshit (that's Genesis, in case you forgot) in terms of Man's experience at the time and place it was revealed, is confirmed over and over again by the astounding harvest of knowledge resulting from our empirically based view of the world that is now our experience.  The phenomenon of Man, the human phenomenon, is nowhere presented more exactly than Bereshit, as we have discussed above.

Why then fear or repudiate the progress of the world?  Why multiply warnings and prohibitions, as if there were nothing more to venture or to learn?  Nihil intentatum.  All over the world, Man yields an astounding harvest, in laboratories, in studios, in factories, wherever he labours.  Embrace it, since without the sun revealed in Scripture, this astounding harvest disperses wildly into sterile shoots, and this vast crucible would never learn its source and destiny in the crux (cross) of the Creator incarnate in Man who overcomes all and when exalted, that is, lifted up, on the cross draws all to himself.

The divine environment.