Friday, August 24, 2012

When is an illusion not an illusion; and a poem about Harbinger Soup

I'm taking a break from the book by David James because there's just too much in it to answer, too many issues he raises. Most of them I do want to answer, because they seem to me either to be completely artifacts of his dispensationalist assumptions or forced in one way or another. I think all that does need to be answered but it would take a lot of time to get to it and through it. He does make the occasional point I can agree with, but not many.

But I wanted to sketch out one of his main arguments that happens to be on my mind: He judges all the harbingers, the signs that occurred in America that the book presents as uncanny symbols that echo the various parts of Isaiah 9:10 as "illusions." Coincidences that persuade there is more to them because of a "wow" factor.

But what does he base the conclusion that they are illusions on? He actually argues that since the bricks that fell in Israel represented the entire city that there is no correspondence between that destruction and the falling of a few buildings in New York City, AND of course those buildings weren't made of clay bricks either. Then they intended to rebuild the entire city with hewn stones but all Cahn can point to is the one gigantic hewn cornerstone for the New Freedom Tower that didn't even get used! The sycamore that was uprooted was only one tree, not the groves that were destroyed in Israel, and it isn't even the same kind of tree! The tree that was brought in to replace it isn't a cedar of Lebanon, which the leaders of Israel intended to plant to replace their sycamores.

Excuse me if I say that this is just silly. I know it needs some references and quotes and so on which I'll try to supply when I'm up to it again, but the basic idea is just silly.

What, only if a whole town built of clay bricks were destroyed, along with groves of Middle Eastern sycamores, which don't grow here, and only if stone masons were to be the builders of a new skyscraper, and a grove of cedars of Lebanon were planted, would James accept that the harbingers are not an illusion?

I don't even know what to call this kind of thinking.

You know this is getting to me when I write something like the following:

Or, The Theology of Straining out Gnats

Nine chickens we took from the biblical coop
To make harbinger harbinger harbinger soup.

A couple escaped and we chased with a whoop
So we could have plenty of harbinger soup.

We caught them and tied them by making a loop
Out of twine that had come from the John B sloop.

And broke we their necks -- they'd no longer us dupe
And botch up the planned hermeneutical soup.

We made it with arguments bound as a group
To spice up our fine exegetical soup.

The critics then thrust in their finely-meshed scoop
And, horrified, cried There are flies in your soup!

By the hundreds, they shouted, a fat sassy troop,
Along with their Musca Domestica poop!

Well, sad we all were at the thought of such goop
Befouling our fine theological soup.

But in through the window there came with a swoop
A fly-eating bird, a redoubtable snoop,

Who hungrily spied out the flies in the scoop
and pronounced that in fact they were


Not flies,

And only three of them,

And flew off in a huff.

So now I have told you of how we made soup
Out of chickens that came from the biblical coop
Oh it was truly a wonderful soup
A humble American harbinger soup.

Though now we may need some more time to regroup
And consider perhaps just how lowly to stoop
To be sure we make positive biblical soup

With no flies in it.

Or gnats either.

We're not sure what happened to the camel.

O harbinger harbinger harbinger soup.

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