Saturday, February 12, 2011

A Biblical Refutation of a Christmas Carol

Before I get started, let me just say I love Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol.  We plan to watch several versions of it every Christmas.  I find it extremely entertaining and uplifting and full of hope for mankind.  Unfortunately, though it doesn't change the enjoyment I will take in watching it in the future, I now know it is a crock.
I was just reading the allegory of the beggar named Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31.  The summary is that there was a rich, unjust man and a righteous beggar named Lazarus.  They both died and the rich man went to hell while Lazarus was "carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom" (v 22).  The rich man begged Abraham to let Lazarus come down and relieve his suffering and Abraham said it was impossible.  Then the rich man ask Abraham to let Lazarus go back to the Earth and warn his 5 brothers of the consequences of their lifestyle. 
"Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets [the scriptures]; let them hear them.  (v29)
"And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.  (v30)
"And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead."  (v31)
And I immediatly thought, "Sorry Scrooge.  It's a nice thought, but it's not going to work.  You should have read your scriptures." 

Spilling the Beans

Kevin left Monday morning to go to work.  For some reason, I have been able to get up at 5ish every morning since he's been gone.  I've also been able to go to bed earlier and get more done.  I love having Kevin home, but I sure do have my schedule down better for when he's gone.  I'm sure I also get special blessings to be capable when I'm on my own, too.
However, even though I've had this time every morning (and my kids have actually slept in 'til after 7 every day--I know I'm not responsible for that blessing), I haven't been blogging consistently because I now have to do all my own dishes and diapers.  Kevin really takes care of me when he is here.  Maybe that's why I get so soft and have a hard time even waking up, let alone getting things done.  So my mornings are full of hot water and my hands are feeling it.  Vasaline Total Moisture lotion--very good stuff.  Also I've been emailing Kevin quite a bit, so most of what I would want to say gets typed anyway, just not posted for the world.  I know I have interesting things to post kicking around inside my head, but every time I sit down to the computer I draw a blank and can only think of all the things I have to tell Kevin (but not necessarily the rest of the world).  What I really need to do it sit down and go through all the comments to my recent posts and respond to them.  There are several that I have been meaning to and just haven't gotten to it.
But mostly this morning I'm thinking about how Neoma and Jason are not here because they are at the hospital.  Hopefully they will not be coming home without a new baby.  And hopefully (for Neoma's sake) I will be able to take the kids to see them all sometime today (as opposed to the baby not coming til tomorrow).
So I'm a single mother of 4 for the day.  Sigh.  I hope they all sleep in 'til noon.
Since Kevin has been gone, we decided to keep up some sort of couple scripture study by emailing thoughts we have during our own personal study to each other each day.  This has been amazing.  I sit down to type after a normal study session thinking it hasn't been particularly insightful or important, wondering what in the world I will say, and then I remember one little thing I noticed or thought and start typing it just to say something.  Then, as I am typing, more thoughts come, and more ideas open up, and I remember things that I thought in passing and promptly forgot, but now become more solidified and memorable for the review.  I have noticed before that I tend to meditate on and mull over things best verbally, rather than mentally--my thoughts don't flow and progress until I am solidifying them into words--but I didn't realize just how great of an impact applying this to my regular scripture study could make.  I see the Hand of the Lord bringing deeper insights to my mind every day, and I am loving it.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Testing, one, two, three

I was recently turned on to previously-unknown-to-me feature of Blogger that I wanted to test out--emailing posts for publishing. So this was an email. We'll see how easily it becomes a post. This may just solve the problem I've been having with not being able to paste into the blogger composition box. (Editors note: It worked great! Except for the fact that I misspelled the title and had to immediately come in and edit it. Sigh. Will machines never become smart enough to eradicate user error?!)

There is one particular scripture in the 14th chapter of Isaiah (and so also in the 24th chapter of 2nd Nephi), verse 29: Rejoice not thou, whole Palestina, because the rod of him that smote thee is broken; for out of the serpent's root shall come forth a cockatrice, and his fruit shall be a fiery flying serpent.

I had read the Book of Mormon several times as a youth, but had never really regarded this verse until we read The Book of the Dun Cow in my 10th grade English class. I'm certain that the author took this verse from Isaiah as an inspiration, but I don't know exactly what he was trying to say with his work. It involves a sort of human-less world of a chicken farm where a certain rooster's crowing may or may not be what makes the sun rise every day. Things happen in the story, weird, symbolic things and the other, old rooster ends up laying an egg, out of which hatches a cockatrice--a mythical half rooster, half snake. This cockatrice is the spawn of pure evil and its offspring with all of the hens on the farm are multitudes of basilisks--mythical poisonous flying serpents. They take over and generally reign havoc and eventually the earth splits in two creating a mighty pit, at the bottom of which is a snake (I believe they called it a worm or wyrm, or something like that, which can also mean dragon) the size of the world--so big not more than a coil or two is visible at any one point. This is the true sire and master of the cockatrice. Eventually everything is put right and Chanticleer, the main rooster, is able to crow again and Mundo Cainie Dog sacrifices himself by jumping into the pit to bite and scratch the snake and the pit closes up and the sun comes out and life is beautiful. (Please forgive any misspelling or misremembering of this book, it has been a long time since read it.)

So after reading this book, and then coming across that verse again, it began holding a new terror for me. The image of the serpent, the cockatrice and the fiery flying serpents were definite symbols of evil and I shivered every time I read about them. And then today, as I came across them in 2 Nephi during my study of all the footnotes, I noticed first that there was a footnote on "fiery flying serpent" that said, "TG Jesus Christ, types of, in anticipation." What? The fiery flying serpent a type of Christ? OK, I knew that the brass serpent was a type of Christ, but this one? That was way too much for me to take in at first because the emotional associations with that term were so negative. I looked up the other footnotes in the verse, which referenced specific scriptures. A footnote to "fruit" referenced a verse in 2 Kings about Hezekiah, a righteous king of Judah and the son of Ahaz who is referenced in the previous verse in Isaiah/2 Nephi "In the year that king Ahaz died was this burden [prophecy]" And a footnote on "smote" referenced a verse in 2 Chr. about King Uzziah, who thoroughly trounced the Philistines, and who also, I discovered after some digging, is the great-grandfather of Hezekiah. So the "rod that smote thee" is talking about a king of Judah that beat the Philistines (which is what "Palestina" means here, according to footnotes in Isaiah). And the serpent, cockatrice, and fiery flying serpent refer to him and subsequent kings, who are all still fierce warriors against the Philistines, as well as being a type of Christ.

It is talking about doom for the wicked who fight against the people of the Lord, not foretelling gross horrors of the last day when Satan and his minions shall reign terror on the innocents and righteous, which is the impression I always got after reading that silly book that grossly misinterpreted the symbols. I am so grateful for the Lord who is able to so quickly change misconceptions through so many innocuous means--like simple footnotes to the scriptures.