Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Again with the Tuesday night stream-of-consciousness thing. Matthew 8

As for the stream of consciousness, well, why not? -- I have just embarked on an email correspondence with a (relatively) well-known British writer, with whom either I shall have an interesting Victorian-style letter exchange for a time, or who has been told by his publishers "do some marketing" and is fulfilling that mandate only for as long as he must, -- at any rate under this impetus I have been dashing off "a budget of news" of a morning, and find the haste and ease of it charming at evensong too;

-- our old friend Tom Wark at Fermentation has just said that the heyday of the wine blog and probably the personal blog is over, if we may judge by the decline in google searches for those terms since the glory years of 2009-2010; people who wish to share anything have long since turned to social media, Facebook especially, to say it faster. So one feels one may write anything one likes, as no agent or editor is likely trolling the internet looking for smart, focused niches;

-- tomorrow, February 10, marks the anniversary of the wedding of Queen Victoria to Albert, or as she liked to call him sometimes, "DEAREST PERFECT ALBERT." 1840. I just love Queen Victoria. Such a dumpy, loving, decisive but melodramatic little force of nature she must have been. The dumpy soul nevertheless wrote frankly of "being clasped by him in the sacred hours of the night" and bore nine children to prove it; struck her hand to her head and melodramatically shrieked "My reason! my reason!" when she feared her grandfather King George III's madness was coming out in her; yet had an intellect and a character piercing enough to make Bismarck mop his brow and gasp "mein Gott, that is a woman" upon surviving his first dealing with her. She held up her late husband's miniature portrait, when traveling, before the fine sights of Europe that they had not been able to see together, as if that symbolic act counted as a joint vacation (in the eyes of God I am sure it did -- now that is faith); and yet she was worldly enough to purr, "a rose in front, child -- for the sake of the footmen" when she noticed her blooming granddaughters showing too much cleavage in the drawing room.

A hundred and seventy six years ago, young Victoria, aged twenty, lay awake in raptures we presume on the eve of her true life's beginning. How odd, when you think of it, that the earth's completing of one hundred and seventy six orbits around the sun should serve to make time pass, such that people grow and age, and die. This is not to be morbid, but simply to notice. A science fiction plot or at least the background to one, lies here also. Some near-deathless alien creature, all wings and eyes, should also be puzzled by this. The Earthman hero would be at a loss to explain.

Now to blogging the sources. Matthew, chapter 8. Jesus performs four major cures of named characters, the leper, the centurion's servant, Peter's mother-in-law, and the two "Gadarene demoniacs," whose demons he drives into a herd of swine who then rush down into the sea and drown. Amid other healings, he also calms the storm at sea and dissuades two potential disciples from following him who won't be able to handle the life. After all this, "the whole town came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him they begged him to leave their district."

This is odd, almost shocking. Wouldn't they beg him to stay? Who wants demoniacs around, "so savage no one could travel by that road," who does not want to be cured of leprosy by a word? There is the ring of truth to this mass reaction, however: a normal human fear of something beyond freakishness, and a desire to protect against it.

There is also some major point being made in the elaboration of the story of the centurion's servant. Other characters in the Gospel so far simply ask for healing, and are granted it. The centurion speaks the wonderful words, "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and my servant will be healed," and he goes on without a break to describe authority. He is subject to authority himself, and he commands soldiers and slaves. It's upon hearing this that Jesus exclaims on the centurion's "faith," and of course heals the servant by long distance in that hour. But faith in what? In Jesus' own place in a proper progression of authority?

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