Welcome to the refectory, iMonks! Time for another edition of our Saturday Brunch. We are in the Advent season and just marked St. Nicholas Day on Dec. 6. But beware! There are many imposters out there —
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THE POPE WANTS TO CHANGE THE LORD’S PRAYER?
Andrew Perriman reports that the Pope has a problem with the traditional wording of the Lord’s Prayer.
The Catholic Church is unhappy with the line “lead us not into temptation” (mē eisenenkēs hēmas eis peirasmon) in the Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:13; Lk. 11:4). The problem is that it appears to attribute responsibility for a person falling into temptation to God. Pope Francis has said: “It’s not a good translation…. I am the one who falls. It’s not him pushing me into temptation to then see how I have fallen. A father doesn’t do that, a father helps you to get up immediately.” If anyone leads us into temptation, he suggests, it is Satan. So an alternative translation is being considered, something along the lines of “Do not let us enter into temptation”.
I’m with Andrew on this one, however. I think the Pope (like most Christians I’ve ever met) misreads this line and fails to understand it in the context of Jewish eschatology. I’ll let him explain:
What Jesus has in view is not general moral failure (the modern theological assumption) but the “testing” of the faith of his followers by persecution. The word peirasmos in this context refers to an “evil” or painful situation that tests the validity of a person’s faith.
The Lord’s prayer is not a piece of routine liturgical supplication. It is an urgent missional prayer, best illustrated by the parable of the widow who prayed for justice against her adversary. Jesus concludes: “ And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Lk. 18:7–8).
The petition not to be led into a time of testing has a very specific eschatological purpose—to keep suffering to a minimum. When it came, as it inevitably would, testing was the work of the devil, aided and abetted by sinful desires. But even then it had a positive value: it proved the genuineness of their faith, and if they passed the test, they would gain the crown of life, which is a reference to martyrdom and vindication at the parousia.
For years, I’ve prayed a version of the LP that says, “And lead us not into the time of trial, but deliver us from the Evil One.” I think that captures it. In the case of the disciples, it was the troubles surrounding the Fall of Jerusalem and the devastation of the Jewish nation. In our case, we look forward to similar times of trouble throughout the “last days,” which by my reading will increase at the end of the age.
The entire Lord’s Prayer looks forward. Even as we pray for daily bread and forgiveness, we anticipate that living in this world will be hard, and we ask God to spare us from the troubles to come.
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CONGRESS MAKES LOVE OUT OF NOTHING AT ALL
Meat Loaf, the Wagnerian pop-rock singer who hit the charts in 1977 with the “Bat Out of Hell” album, must have wondered, “Who am I? Why am I here?,” this week when four successive U.S. senators at a Banking Committee meeting quoted Jim Steinman-penned lyrics that he made famous. It made for some light moments in the otherwise heavy discussion of the proposed Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act.
Referring to the title of the bill, Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said: “As Meat Loaf used to sing, ‘Two out of three ain’t bad.’ But this bill doesn’t even meet the Meat Loaf minimum.”
Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., chimed in: “Meat Loaf also said, ‘There ain’t no coupe de ville in the bottom of a Cracker Jack box.’ In other words, we live in a real world.”
“In that same song,” added Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., “he said, ‘Baby we can talk all night, but that ain’t getting us nowhere.’ So I’m looking forward to processing the amendments.”
Not to miss an opportunity, Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., objected: “Meat Loaf also said, ‘Life is a lemon, and I want my money back.’ So on behalf of all the consumers who [got] the short end of the stick from Wells Fargo and Equifax, I want to have a bill to make sure they get their money back.”
Yessiree folks, Congress has descended to the level of Meatloaf. Well, at least they cited an appropriate song for these days, and here it is in all its over-the-top glory:
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AND THEN THERE’S THIS POOR GUY (with the great ‘stache)…
NPR reports that Richard Klose from Laurel, Mont., got a surprise phone call this week. He had been elected to the city council, even though he didn’t run.
It wasn’t a scam. Nobody else ran for the position, either, but some people wrote in his name. In fact, Mr. Close got three write-in votes out of the 52 votes cast, more than anyone else. So, he’s on the city council.
He told the Billings Gazette that since he’s retired, he may as well give back to the community. I guess that’s what you get for being the popular guy in a small town.
And hey, with a mustache like that, he might as well be sheriff too, right?
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A MAGNIFICENT 100-YEAR ACHIEVEMENT
After 100 years of construction, thousands of worshippers Friday (Dec. 8) witnessed the blessing of 24 tons of Venetian glass that embellish the dome of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Called the “Trinity Dome,” the glass mosaic is the final architectural element of the church, a shrine to Mary which sits next to the Catholic University of America and is visited by nearly 1 million people a year.
A 10-minute procession of cardinals, bishops, and priests preceded the two-hour ceremony and Mass to mark the dedication of the dome. Washington Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl who celebrated the Mass called the basilica a “modern-day masterpiece.” Faith, he said, was the reason why so many people, for so many years, sacrificed to finish the church.
Here are a few pictures of the church. Check out THIS SITE where you can see 50 photographs of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. You can also go the Basilica site and take virtual tours.
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MEANWHILE, BAD CHRISTIAN ESCHATOLOGY IS AT LEAST PARTIALLY TO BLAME FOR THIS WEEK’S BIG STORY…
Diana Butler Bass hit the nail on the head with her tweet this week: “Of all the possible theological dog-whistles to his evangelical base, this is the biggest. Trump is reminding them that he is carrying out God’s will to these Last Days.” She was speaking, of course, about the President’s announcement that the U.S. will now recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Julie Ingersoll at RNS explains the theological component in this decision and why many evangelicals are cheering it.
For many of President Trump’s evangelical supporters this is a key step in the progression of events leading to the second coming of Jesus. There’s an interesting story as to how that came to be.
The nation of Israel and the role of the city of Jerusalem are central in the “end-times” theology – a form of what is known as “premillennialism” – embraced by many American conservative Protestants.
While this theology is often thought of as a “literal” reading of the Bible, it’s actually a reasonably new interpretation that dates to the nineteenth century and relates to the work of Bible teacher, John Nelson Darby.
According to Darby for this to happen the Jewish people must have control of Jerusalem and build a third Jewish temple on the site where the first and second temples – destroyed centuries ago by the Babylonians and Romans – once were. In Darby’s view this was a necessary precursor to the Rapture, when believers would be “taken up” by Christ to escape the worst of the seven-year-period of suffering and turmoil on earth: The Great Tribulation. This is to be followed by the cosmic battle between good and evil called Armageddon at which Satan will be defeated and Christ will establish his earthly Kingdom. All of this became eminently more possible when the modern state of Israel was established in the 1940s.
Ingersoll goes on to trace the popular dissemination of this teaching through fundamentalist and evangelical groups that began in the 1960s and 70s, particularly with the release of Hal Lindsey’s book, The Late Great Planet Earth. It became even more a part of Christian and conservative culture through Jenkins and LaHaye’s Left Behind series. We’ve explored this often here at Internet Monk. HERE is one example.
But just know that we are not simply talking politics when our country makes a decision like this. There are many “prophets” who have the ears of those in power and who are spreading this stuff. Bad theology can have real world consequences, and things could get pretty scary. Might be time to break out the “save us from the time of trial” version of the Lord’s Prayer.
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THIS WEEK IN ADVENT/CHRISTMAS/WINTER MUSIC
I just discovered a marvelous album of piano, chamber ensemble, and choral music by Ola Gjeilo, a U.S. based Norwegian musician, called Winter Songs. Here is one of the instrumental pieces, a meditation called “Home.” A blessed Advent week to all of you.