The Chair and the Desk, 5/2/16

From the chair:

“If a stranger or sojourner with you becomes rich, and your brother beside him becomes poor and sells himself to the stranger or sojourner with you or to a member of the stranger’s clan, then after he is sold he may be redeemed. One of his brothers may redeem him, or his uncle or his cousin may redeem him, or a close relative from his clan may redeem him. Or if he grows rich he may redeem himself…He shall treat him as a worker hired year by year. He shall not rule ruthlessly over him in your sight. And if he is not redeemed by these means, then he and his children with him shall be released in the year of jubilee. For it is to me that the people of Israel are servants. They are my servants whom I brought out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”

-Leviticus 25:47-49,53-55

I love this picture of the “redeemer,” the one who hears that his relative has nothing (he had to sell himself into slavery!) and comes to help. He’s not hoping for a fair return–the relative has no fair return–he simply rescues him out of duty and love.

It strikes me even more to think that God chose to be called our Father when he didn’t have to. God did not care about our pre-existing conditions. He became our Redeemer at the least strategic time, when we most needed redeeming, when it would cost him so much, but he did so because God is love.

It also intrigues me that the redeemed person then comes an works for the relative, not under ruthless oversight, but working nonetheless. It reminds me of having Redeemer and Lord who on the one hand says, “So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty’” (Luke 17:10), but on the other hand assures us, “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15).


From the desk:

“the time created these men for itself just as much as it was created by them; they were as much the instruments of the spirit of their time and their people, as conversely their people served these heroes as an instrument for the accomplishment of their deeds.”

-Hegel, Philosophy of Mind, Inwood 2007 ed., p.14

I am increasingly convinced that if society is going to support someone to read, write, and think for a living, he or she is responsible to try to think and speak this clearly and boldly.

It is not easy to admit that we are both the shapers and products of our time, but we are. It does not mean we should stop believing what we believe; everything that led us to believe it is still there. This includes Hegel’s very statement–even recognizing our intimacy with our “time” is something unique to our time, something they would not have recognized 500 years ago. We are fallible and impermanent. Yet, not all we believe is false. We do see now…though as in a mirror dimly. And someday we shall know fully, even as we are now fully known by God.


“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.

Leave a Reply