Today is All Saints Day which is one of the principal feasts of the Episcopal Church, the Roman Catholic Church, The Orthodox Church and many major protestant denominations including the Presbyterian Church, USA. As luck would have it I found myself weak and incapable of arising in sufficient time to attend Mass, despite the time change granting an additional hour, at my cathedral today or to hear a wonderful sermon at my favorite evangelical church. A recurring bronchial infection having had its way with me, I was in football lingo ‘benched”. So I undertook to study the Book of Job as I had some two weeks ago undertaken to write a meditation inter-relating a story and two sermons from three very gifted clerical friends who were kind enough to grant me permission to quote them and utilize portions of their writings.
Since the main theme of the meditation was “human suffering’ , ala Job, I thought I would spend my convalescence reading the entire Book of Job so I could highlight and elucidate various points made in the sermon from the clerical friend who had preached it. I found myself in good company as it is my understanding that barristers to be in Great Britain are required to study and “memorize” the Book of Job in preparation for their training and service as lawyers. A lawyer friend recently posted a ditty which emphasized the treacherous nature of law practice and knowing about Job fits right in.
From this exercise I learned two things (1) that scripture is much like music, particularly symphonic music, in that there are ‘inner voices’ which when discerned and highlighted add colour and texture to the main message of the passages. Too often conductors ignore or ignorantly fail to highlight. the inner voices in symphonic music as I am sure theologians fail, at times, to elucidate the inner voices of the scripture, and (2) The Book of Job and a rainy, dreary day in Columbia, South Carolina , are not good bedfellows, and portend toward depression of mind and body.
So, I give my apologies to my clerical friends for the wait. And my admonition to my other friends that in dealing with powerful scripture pick a warm sunny day when you’re feeling good. You know there is a reason they chained those Bibles to the pulpit during medieval times. Scripture is powerful stuff which should be treated with respect. In the wrong hands it can literally kill. And, that’s why it requires a license or ordination to interpret it.
ART: “Job’s Tormentors” by William Blake , cir. 1790.