The Chair and the Desk, 4/19/16

From the chair:

Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us, 
  for we have had more than enough of contempt. 
Our soul has had more than enough 
  of the scorn of those who are at ease, 
  of the contempt of the proud. 

-Psalm 123:3-4

Over the years, I’ve learned to ask different questions of the Psalms: Who first prayed this? Why might I pray this? How might Jesus have prayed this? This morning, as I read these verses, I was struck by another question: Who might pray this against me?

A lot of the psalms are to God but about people, like this one: “the who are at ease,” “the proud.” If I’m honest with myself, I am typically at ease. I am often proud. Do I show contempt for others, less at ease, by what I buy or don’t buy, do or don’t do, give or don’t give, say or don’t say? It’s a scary question and one worth asking.

From the desk:

“In fact, it was Christianity, not antiquity, that prepared the ground for the modern notion of progress. For it was Christianity that definitively did away with the notion that the course of history was cyclic, that is, consisted of a virtually infinite series of comparatively brief ages, each of which reiterated the preceding one. Christianity for the first time mad man aware of the fact that history is a unique event which never had occurred before and never would occur again. Moreover, it ascribed to history as a whole (as opposed to the history of a tribe or a nation) a definite directional meaning. There was a prehistorical beginning, the Paradise, and a post historical end, the New Jerusalem; and if one viewed the Fall, not creation or the Paradise, as the beginning, the movement of history quite clearly lead from a corrupt to a perfect state—at least since Christ had come to save man and had promised to return in glory.”

-Nicholas Lobkowicz, Theory and Practice, p.98

This isn’t really the point of the book or what I’m reading for, but it’s something I’ve heard often, find fascinating, and have never seen written down. It intrigues me that perhaps only in Judo-Christian thought to we find a basis for linear history, for progress. It’s so foundational to the way most of us see the world that we barely even notice it’s there; it’s like the water we swim in. Yet, it could be different. Neither creation nor redemption nor the eschaton are necessary elements of a world–they are God’s gracious actions, not only in history but of history.

“The chair” is the one Annie aptly chose for the corner of our living room, and it’s where I am committed to daily hearing from God’s Word–the Word I above all else hope to speak to others. “The desk” is the one by my coffee grounds and spare charger (if I get to the library early enough); it’s where I have the privilege of reading and thinking all day, where I intend to learn for others’ sake.

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