Saturday, September 11, 2010

Like a Sheep With a Secret Sorrow...

Jeeves and the Old School Chum (85150)Jeeves and the Old School Chum by P.G. Wodehouse

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Technically, it's Jeeves & the Old School Chum (and other stories), but Goodreads couldn't find it, and no, I did not mean the Other Scholl Chum; thank you anyway.

It was typical Wodehouse: delightful. I was laughing the entire time, and of course highly recommend it. Also includes The Ordeal of Young Tuppy, Episode of the Dog McIntosh, The Love That Purifies, and The Spot of Art.

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How Does One Beck a Stein?

Of Mice and MenOf Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow. That was the happiest thing I've read this side of Notes From the Underground. Brilliantly written, almost a bit predictable after the introduction of the wife, but still it unfolds like a persian rug being unrolled on a hardwood floor: lovely and intricate.

This once again reinforces in my mind the absolute necessity for writers to have the entire story mapped out before they begin the writing of it. How else the conversation regarding who should have shot the dog; how else the introduction of the self-same luger? It is a small, tight-knit plot that is tragic and all-too believable. The chief flaw of course is the utter lack of redemption.

The title, by the way, is an afterthought: originally titled "Something that Happened," the current name is from one of--in my opinion, anyway--Burn's greater poems, and one that is quite simply delightful: To a Mouse.

Wee, sleeket, cowran, tim'rous beastie,
O, what panic's in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi' bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee,
Wi' murd'ring pattle!

I'm truly sorry Man's dominion
Has broken Nature's social union,
An' justifies that ill opinion,
Which makes thee startle,
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
An' fellow-mortal!

I doubt na, whyles, but thou may thieve;
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
A daimen-icker in a thrave 'S a sma' request:
I'll get a blessin wi' the lave,
An' never miss't!

Thy wee-bit housie, too, in ruin!
It's silly wa's the win's are strewin!
An' naething, now, to big a new ane,
O' foggage green!
An' bleak December's winds ensuin,
Baith snell an' keen!

Thou saw the fields laid bare an' wast,
An' weary Winter comin fast,
An' cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell,
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
Out thro' thy cell.

That wee-bit heap o' leaves an' stibble,
Has cost thee monie a weary nibble!
Now thou's turn'd out, for a' thy trouble,
But house or hald.
To thole the Winter's sleety dribble,
An' cranreuch cauld!

But Mousie, thou are no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men,
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!

Still, thou art blest, compar'd wi' me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But Och! I backward cast my e'e,
On prospects drear!
An' forward, tho' I canna see,
I guess an' fear!

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Another Explanation

This time, of a question I never asked.

God appears to Moses in a burning bush: a bush that is on fire, but is not consumed. God could have appeared to him in any way, shape or form (just look at Ezekiel). So why the bush? And why was it on fire? And why was it not being consumed?

Well, let's look at typology. Trees (and bushes?) are righteous men or nations: if you doubt me, just read the Bible looking for references to trees, and attempt to do so in an intelligent manner, not in a wooden and literal fashion as if you had no brain. No, not every tree in the Bible is a person; Jonah isn't sitting under a guy with some type of fatal parasite; Absalom doesn't get nabbed by some remnant of the nephilim; but when the Bible presents a tree, it is often referring to a righteous person or nation (a basic rule would be that if the typological reading does no violence to the text, but opens it up in a manner that is consistent with the rest of Scripture, then go for it. If your typological reading leads you to the conclusion that locusts are obviously helicopters, or that you should drink the cool-aid, then maybe not so much.). The fact that this particular specimen is on fire but not consumed, along with the context of the story, makes it quite possible that it is a representation of the nation of Israel. It is on fire; they are persecuted; it is not consumed; God will save them. Just another thought from Sumpter. Or Leithart. Or someone else; I don't know, nor do I particularly care, as it's four in the morning and I have fifteen minutes of break left before I go back to work.

Also interesting is what He tells Moses to do: "Take your shoes from off your feet..." Men wear shoes to protect their feet, yes, but symbolically (or typologically) the shoes represent the separation of men from the cursed ground (see the list of clean animals: those separated from the ground, those fish with scales to separate them from the water, and those birds that don't step on dead animals--though, yes, there is more to it. See Jordan's Through New Eyes for a fuller treatment). Yet where God is, the ground is holy (tangentially, this bears enormous weight with Leviticus 5--the dust from the floor of the tabernacle is holy--and Jesus' treatment of the woman caught in the act of adultery all by her lonesome), so Moses must take off his shoes.

I am sure there is also something more to the disciples being commanded to shake the dust from their feet when leaving towns that did not receive them, but my break is almost over. I'll explore later. Or I'll just ask Leithart. Or Sumpter. Or someone else.


Monday, September 6, 2010

Possible Explanation

In 1 Samuel 20:30, Saul makes a very confusing accusation against his son Jonathan in the wake of discovering that David had escaped his hand by Jonathan's aid (the whole feast followed by shooting arrows into a field scenario). It is an accusation whose language Saul takes directly from Leviticus 18:7, and it refers to having sexual relations with ones mother, Oedipus style.

This is all clear enough. The confusion is why the accusation is made, and why it is made here, and I came across the (possible) answer purely by accident. I had gotten off work on Saturday morning, and, purely on a whim, decided to have breakfast before going home and going to bed. So, I went to the Breakfast Club and was invited into a Bible study taking place, which Peter Leithart was leading at the time. Anyway, here is the theoretical explanation given.

By explicitly contradicting his father's wishes, Jonathan is acting as if he had no paternal obligations to Saul, which could in turn give rise to the theory that Saul was not his father. Saul's accusation is far-fetched, but Leithart's explanation fits, and, as I know of no other that does, I am adopting that as my working theory of the verse until I find something else that fits better (this is me hinting to all three of you--readership is climbing--to suggest alternate theories in the comments section).


Wodehousian Fun