I smell forgiveness and candy.

I don’t know wither this is awesome or sad. Jimmy Kimmel challenged his viewers who are parents to record themselves telling their children that they ate all their Halloween candy, these are the results.

First the awesome. It’s funny to watch the over the top reactions of the kids. Candy is of course trivial, and a luxury and its funny to watch the kids act like this is a matter of vital importance. The other awesome part is the imaginary story I build around these sorts of things. I’m sure I’m not the only one who invents stories to go around snapshots like these. In this case its the story that these are households where pranks and jokes abound, the kind of situation where love and laughter go hand in hand. The kind of households where lives are filled with wacky 80’s sitcom activities and where each day ends with a freeze frame and theme music.

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(I like to imagine that even though the Breakfast Club was just a movie somewhere this guy is still freeze framed on this football field)

Then there is the sad. In a way this whole thing seems a bit mean spirited. I hope these kids aren’t learning to tease and bully others. I hope they aren’t leaning that it is OK to upset others as long as people think it’s funny. But what makes me think it’s sad even more is how seriously these kids take their candy. These kids yell at their parents and get noticeably mean towards them, shouting, telling them to leave and so on. It makes me want to go tell the kids “Its only candy, you can get more” and then remind the kids how much their families do for them. Candy is a luxury and sure it tastes good but it still is a bonus, a perk, a frivolous thing to add some color to life, it does not define life. But these kids act like their life is at stake, that the loss of their candy is a threat to their existence.

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(We have their demands, they want 4 tootsie rolls and a pack of hubba-bubba)

As I think about it more it may not be accurate to make this issue about candy alone. The kids plan for Halloween, prepare for it. Then they put on special clothes and carry out a task they would not do without some form of compensation. Then that preparation and effort pays off at the end of the day when the kids get to enjoy what they’ve earned through their labors. In other words trick or treating is in many ways work. Kids go out do labor in return for payment. It may seem odd from an adult’s perspective but the same work in exchange for pay dynamic is at play here.

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(Although everyone dressing in costume can really spice up a business meeting)

With that in mind it changes the dynamic of the whole thing. Were you to take an adult and tell them that you spent their whole paycheck their response would be just as strong as the responses of those kids. The only real change would be that it is far less endearing when an adult throws a temper tantrum.

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(And yet Adam Sandler has made tons of movies where the only plot is “Adult throws tantrums”)

But with all that being said I finally come to the reason I have decided this video is awesome. Forgiveness. There are a handful of kids who forgive the fictitious mistake of their parent. Some forgive right away with a smile on their face and my favorite moment is a boy who pauses seems like he may explode with rage and then walks towards his Mom says its ok and gives her a hug. These kids have learned to forgive, they have learned that the relationships in life that matter are more important that the fruit of their labor. They probably learned this by watching the adults in their life be role models of this kind of forgiveness.

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I think we could all stand to learn to forgive better than we do. We all have those things that make us angry that in the grand scheme of things aren’t all that important. Maybe we could all stand to pause for a moment and think if what we are so angry about is really not all that important, are we throwing a tantrum over candy. For me the next time I feel myself getting upset about something I’m going to remember that boy hugging his Mom and be reminded that nurturing relationships is far more important than stuff, people matter sugary treats not so much.

Peace
Jamie

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Styles

Well The 2013 movie season is officially over. With the Oscars in the books we can stick a fork in 2013. It’s the first year in a long time where I can say I didn’t see too many of the movies talked about at the Oscars and I didn’t see many movies in general. When I looked at the top money making movies of 2013 I noticed a trend, an almost complete lack of original ideas. Here is the list of movies that made over 200,000,000$

1) Sequel based on a book

2)Sequel based on a comic

3)Loosely based on a fairy tale

4)Sequel

5) Comic book reboot

6)Original Story!!!!!!

7)Sequel

8)Sequel based on a book

9)Sequel

10)Sequel based on a book\

11)Sequel based on a TV Show

12)Sequel based on a comic book

13)Based on a Book

In case you didn’t notice a pattern there were a lot of sequels, adaptations from books and comics and combinations of those two things. In the top 13 there was only one original story, Gravity. This could be a sign that film writers are lazy and figure the best bet to make money is to stick with established stories an characters.

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(“The only thing that makes me happier than all this money is people paying to see a movie just so they can complain that the book was better”)

OK So it is partially that. But That doesn’t explain why so many people go to see these movies. If you add up all the income these movies made you end up with approximately a money bin full.

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(Pictured: My accountant who gave me the calculated movie income)

So Why is it that so many people are going to see remakes, reboots sequels and rehashes. Seriously how many Dracula, Great Gatsby, Romeo and Juliet, and A Christmas carol movies do we need because if you add up all the remakes of those movies you end up with an absolute ton. These movies wouldn’t keep being made if they didn’t have an audience and they clearly still have an audience. People are willing to put down 10-20$ on a movie ticket and watch a story that they already know or at least characters they already know. I think the reason may be that people sometimes want to hear and see things presented in a new way. Sure they’ve seen the story before but not like this. That’s why people will read books, watch movies, watch the TV show adaptation and heck maybe even go to the Broadway musical

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(How could this possibly be bad)

Sometimes people just want to hear the same message in a different way, when it comes to understanding something sometimes we need that information presented in a new way.

 

1 Kings 19

 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

 

Yes God came to Elijah in the silence. What makes this interesting is that Elijah was looking for God in the big flashy spectacles. Burning Bushes, booming voices, Plagues, Miracles, wonders, fiery doves, Strangers, Angels are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to listing the ways God has communicated with his people. Elijah was familiar with the Big actions of God but Found God’s voice in the still silence. The point is often made that we need to slow down some times, so that we have a chance to find God in the still silence too, its a good and valid point. What I think is often missed however is that God keeps on communicating in a multitude of ways from the beginning of the bible to the end. The point is God seems to know that we need to hear is message in new ways, that sometimes the same message needs to be spreed in a variety of ways.

 

Yet so often Churches seem to have the idea that their way to spread the Gospel is the best. Contemporary, traditional loud music, soft music, indoors out doors, traditional Church building, non traditional church building, guitar, organ, and so many more distinctions begin to arise. The answer to which is best is yes. Just like some people like chocolate, and some like vanilla we need different varieties because people have different tastes and sometimes tastes change.

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(I prefer Scotchy scotch scotch ice cr… wait does that say limited batch, I need to go out and stock pile a dozen or so pints)

The power of our ability to spread the Gospel sometimes lies in the variety of ways we have to spread it. So instead of focusing on which is best we should start focusing on what is the best way we can use our contexts, our strengths, our gifts and our traditions. Don’t tear someone else’s way down, build your own way up!

Peace

Jamie

Judgement Dread

I had an amazing encounter once. I was speaking with a man and after a few minutes of chit chat he said “I see you noticed my belly”, it did appear that the man was well fed and his Santa-esque physique was hard to miss. There are “two Babies in there” he went on. I asked him how that happened and he went on in detail about how scientists had put them there as part of an experiment. He told me he was happy that he was pregnant and looked forward to the babies being born. What made this more amazing was that he told me he had been pregnant for 14 years and no news outlet had ever picked up the story.

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(Yeah kinda like this)

Ok so you are probably thinking one of two things, the first is that I’m not on the level and the second possibility is that I’m incredibly gullible. The truth is I left some details out namely that I had this conversation with a man who was hospitalized when I was chaplain at an inpatient mental heath facility. In other words the man was suffering from a severe mental illness. I spoke with him and gave him space to share his story. In order to make that space I avoided contradicting his story even though I was of course fully aware it was more than a little inaccurate. The point of bringing this up is to illustrate judgment vs. evaluation. You often here people say something along the lines of don’t judge me. They usually mean that they don’t want you to draw any conclusions about them based on their appearance, behavior, circumstance or anything else. However they often ignore the fact that although it is unnecessary to judge someone, to draw conclusions based on subjective opinions, it is another thing entirely to draw conclusions based on objective facts. When it came to the pregnant man I made some evaluations based on the facts, for instance I concluded he was not in fact pregnant. I did my best however to avoid making subjective judgments such as judging the man to be bad or a liar or not worth talking to. The point is often people mix up judgment and evaluation one we should avoid and the other is good, here Jesus talks about how he feels about judging.

 

John 8:12-19

 Then Jesus spoke out again, “I am the light of the world. The one who follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  So the Pharisees objected, “You testify about yourself; your testimony is not true!” Jesus answered, “Even if I testify about myself, my testimony is true, because I know where I came from and where I am going. But you people do not know where I came from or where I am going.  You people judge by outward appearances; I do not judge anyone.  But if I judge, my evaluation is accurate, because I am not alone when I judge, but I and the Father who sent me do so together.  It is written in your law that the testimony of two men is true I testify about myself and the Father who sent me testifies about me.”

Then they began asking him, “Who is your father?” Jesus answered, “You do not know either me or my Father. If you knew me you would know my Father too.”

Jesus points out he doesn’t Judge and to paraphrase he says if he did Judge his judgments would be evaluations. God isn’t in the business of forming opinions about us such as that we are bad, or liars or not worth Gods time. The truth is when Christians talk people often think we are judging them because they think our God is Judging them too. We aren’t judging and if we are we should follow in Jesus’ footsteps and stop. We don’t need to form negative opinions about people, God has already formed an opinion, we are all God’s children and God loves his children. When we are looking for an opinion about people maybe we would be well served to start there all the people we meet are children of God.

 

It doesn’t stop there however because we should evaluate. That is we should draw conclusions based on facts, God did after all give us the gift of thought and we would be well served to use it. Some people and their actions hurt us, we should stay away from those people and those actions, that’s not judgemental that is an evaluation of risk. God does not want us repeatedly walking into harmful situations in the name of not judging. Sometimes our actions hurt or separate us from others we should change those actions and find new ways of interacting with others, that’s not being hard on ourselves its evaluating who we are and who we want to be. And yes sometimes we need to be honest and share with people that their actions hurt us and that we wish that would change. We don’t need to judge but we should evaluate. Jesus says that those who follow him wont stumble, we should always be evaluating if we are following him and how we could do a better job of it.  We shouldn’t avoid sharing with others where they may have made a misstep in the name of not being Judgmental either.

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(I didn’t  want to seem Judgmental so I didn’t tell this man he was packing his parachute poorly)

 

So if someone shares an honest evaluation with you listen and if you find yourself judging someone stop.  We are all on this journey together  lets help each other along the way.

Peace

Jamie

 

And since the title is a Judge Dredd reference here you go

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvJiYrRcfQo

 

 

Gifted

One of my favorite jokes that revolve around the holidays is misunderstanding what the purpose of a gift is. I think Seinfeld did the joke best. Jerry gives his dad a Wizard pocket organizer. His dad is unaware off all the things the organizer can do and instead only uses it to calculate the proper tip at restaurants. Jerry spends the whole episode trying to convince his dad that he can do other things with the device to no avail. Pee Wee Herman (never thought I’d get to write about him) does the gag as well with an iPad.

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I’ve never tried using my iPad as a drink tray but I know there are much better uses. By the way this video came out about 20 years after Pee Wee’s show was canceled which really makes me wonder if the set was just waiting around collecting dust for this video. The point is we often seem to not realize the full potential of things especially when they are new and impressive.

 

Isaiah starts by reminding the reader that compared to God we are insignificant. He goes so far as to call Jacob a worm and Israel an insect. That piece of the reading is very small and Isaiah spends more time telling us about the amazing things God is doing. Filling us with his power and hope, caring for the poor and answering us when we call. God is doing amazing things for us and through us. Whats more is that we understand this action of God being spoken of as the life and ministry of Jesus. Isaiah is letting us know all about the coming messiah all about Jesus. The amazing thing about this is that we know these actions are for us as a gift of love and grace. This is the sort of thing that should fill us with vigor to go and do God’s work with our hands. Sadly it seems that too often people never get past the first few lines.

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(Ok so sometimes not getting past the first few lines is a good thing)

It can be easy to become hung up on our own insignificance when compared to God. And certainly God does not want us losing perspective and equating ourselves or anything else with him, that whole false idols commandment and all. But God does not want our humility to be an anchor that weight us down. We are called to enter into the world and with God bring glimpses of his kingdom to life. We have been given an amazing gift, the freedom and support to do God’s will may we use that gift to its fullest.

Doors

My earliest Christmas memory is from 1984, I was 3. After opening all the presents there was one remaining, the infamous “to the family” present. These were always a mixed bag as a kid usually it was a bigger present but at the same time it usually involved sharing. As the youngest of 3 brothers sharing wasn’t something that always went so well for me.

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(We’ll let you know when it’s your turn little brother)

What we opened was an Atari, I loved it and spent a lot of time during my childhood playing video games. I was pretty good at figuring out what I needed to do next. I would usually be able to get to the end of games and found it to be rewarding. Of course there are always hiccups along the way. Every person who ever played a video game knows that moment when you fall in a pit or the turtle monster eats you and you look at your controller and say “you it’s your fault”. Yes every one know the frustration that erupts when you can’t quite make a jump and your convinced that the fault lies in that small rectangular piece of plastic. The other pinnacle of frustration is the dead end. When you have no early idea what you are supposed to do next. This is where my greatest enemy in all of video gamedom comes in… the door. Yes the mighty door . When I would get to a door, certain that my next task was behind it, there were few words more terrifying than “Key is required”. Nothing was more heartbreaking than those moments where you need a key and have no clue where it is and you know the only option is to backtrack endlessly until you find it. It was so confusing to me, I could be a giant mountain of a man able to break rocks in two but a flimsy wooden door which I could kick down in my sleep blocked my path like a great colossus. There was no easy way past that mighty door. Luke had Darth Vader, Sherlock had Moriarty, and I have a simple flimsy wooden door.

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(This barbarian turn away from the camera, so you would’t see he was crying)

The Church seems to be in the midst of a similar feud with doors.

 

Matthew 28:16-20

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

 

Jesus gave an order to his followers. They were to spread his message and to baptize in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. They listened well, spreading this community of people following Christ across the globe. From these humble beginnings Christianity was born and Billions of people followed Jesus. At some point this following became so big that the followers didn’t even have to go anywhere to find people to share this message with, people came to them looking to be a part of God’s activity in the world. Buildings were built as centers of worship and for centuries they were filled. Beautiful buildings, an emblem of the beauty of God standing high above the skyline as a symbol to the community of the power of God. The buildings of course had strong, sturdy doors

 

Things changed, it seemed sudden, many people stopped coming to those Churches. For a bunch of reasons this model of a huge building to draw people in like a lighthouse stopped working. The solution seems simple, go out and engage people again like the first followers did all those years ago. But there is a problem, those doors. It can be so hard to take what we’ve known and carry it outside those doors. On the other side of those Church doors, in the community, in the world there are people who need to hear the message of hope in Christ. They may think they know who Jesus is and what Jesus stands for but so often the picture they see is distorted, or missing pieces, the world need the message we have to share, they need the whole picture.

 

Back in those game the only solution was to backtrack hoping to find what I had missed the first time through. We as followers of Christ need to look back at our early Church leaders see how they engaged with those around them and continue living the mission that Jesus laid out for us.

 

Peace

Jamie

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(Doors are known to operate in both an open and closed position)

Catchphrase

Catchphrases are awesome. Little memorable quips repeatedly thrown out by a character that tells you all you need to know about the character. For instance in Happy Days the Fonz has his iconic AYYYYY, Rerun in Whats Happening had Dy-no-mite and Arnold Schwarzenegger had I’ll be back long before his catchphrase became an odd mispronunciation of the state he governed.

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(Mr. Governor it’s pronounced California not Cullifornaya)

Those catchphrases tell you all yo need to know about the characters, The Fonz was cool, Rerun was a happy goofball and Arnold would, no matter the odds, kick butt and come back to defeat the bad guy. I always thought it was funny to imagine if characters had a different catchphrase. I thought it was funny to think of how that would change the character. For instance replace Arnold’s I’ll be back with a diminutive “I give up” and all of a sudden you have a much different ending to all his movies.

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“Cry Havoc and let slip the dogs of war!”

“Sorry Henry lets try another catchphrase”

 

I’ve often wondered what the catchphrase of the Church is, or at least what should it be. It seems that all to often people outside of the Church think about today’s reading when they think about the message that Christianity is sending to them.

 

Romans 1:18-25 (NRSV)
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of those who by their wickedness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse; for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools; and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles. 

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. 

Not the rosiest of pictures is it. God’s existence is so clear that everyone can see it. Anyone who doesn’t believe in God must be actively avoiding him, and now the wrath of God is coming for all those who don’t believe in him. Yikes. The truth is a lot of people, outside the Church, hear this sort of message and feel strong armed and condemned. They feel like they are being told that their lack of belief, or lack of church association mean that they are bad people who idle away their time on trivial, Godless pursuits. Whats more they feel they are being told that God’s wrath is all that awaits them unless they make a change ASAP. In other words the catchphrase they are hearing is “Follow us, or else”. What a sad state of affairs, there are lots of messages that the Church has to spread, we call those messages the Good News or Gospel but to be clear the Gospel is not a threat.

 

Through out Roman’s Paul, who wrote it as a letter about 2000 years ago, spins a persuasive web luring readers into the inescapable conclusion that we all need God’s grace. He starts by indicting those who follow pagan worship, which would make those who believe in the God of Israel nod their head in Judgmental approval. Paul then turns that argument around in such a way that those who are nodding their heads in judgmental approval would realize they too fall short and should aim that judgment at themselves too. The clincher is that Paul drops Gods grace into the middle of those failings, into the middle of that judgment and shows us that Gods grace is for everyone. The point is that we all fall short and screw up but we are made right by God, who forgives all those failings not by what we have or haven’t done but because of his gracious love. We all need God’s grace and fortunately it’s there for us all. Or else makes a terrible and in accurate statement of the church, there has got to be a grace centered catchphrase to be found somewhere, I’m sure someone more clever than I could find it.

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“Graaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaace!”

“Still pretty bad Henry”

Peace

Jamie

 

Mr Comeuppance

For my money the best character in any disaster, horror, or survival movie is a guy named Mr. Comeuppance. That’s the guy who ignores, the big disaster that’s on its way, acts like he has all the answers when he actually has none and mocks the hero along the way. I first met this man in a movie called Daylight staring Sylvester Stallone. Its a bad movie, awesomely bad. Viggo Mortensen plays a CEO who is arrogant and sure he has all the answers. When he and the other characters get caught in the Lincoln tunnel he is sure he is the man to save the day. His plan is to rock climb out of the tunnel. When the other characters tell him he can’t because it’s to unstable it goes like this..

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(I have all the answers I’ll ignore any and all advic… )

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(Guess we were right about the cave in)

Mr Comeuppance comes in many forms, the guy who says the aliens are our friends just before they get him, the Guy who says the weather is not a problem, then gets caught in a twister and of course the cocky Lawyer who gets eaten in Jurassic park.

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(Surprisingly this doesn’t end well for the Lawyer)

 

The basic idea is that wee seem to like characters who get what’s coming to them, characters whose arrogance is their undoing. We want to see the hero be a hero and the arrogant jerk face get what he has coming to him. The story of Daniel in the Bible has a Mr. Comeuppance too.

 

Daniel 5


King Belshazzar made a great festival for a thousand of his lords, and he was drinking wine in the presence of the thousand. 

Under the influence of the wine, Belshazzar commanded that they bring in the vessels of gold and silver that his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple in Jerusalem, so that the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them. So they brought in the vessels of gold and silver that had been taken out of the temple, the house of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines drank from them. They drank the wine and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone. 

Immediately the fingers of a human hand appeared and began writing on the plaster of the wall of the royal palace, next to the lampstand. The king was watching the hand as it wrote. Then the king’s face turned pale, and his thoughts terrified him. His limbs gave way, and his knees knocked together. The king cried aloud to bring in the enchanters, the Chaldeans, and the diviners; and the king said to the wise men of Babylon, “Whoever can read this writing and tell me its interpretation shall be clothed in purple, have a chain of gold around his neck, and rank third in the kingdom.” Then all the king’s wise men came in, but they could not read the writing or tell the king the interpretation. Then King Belshazzar became greatly terrified and his face turned pale, and his lords were perplexed. 

The queen, when she heard the discussion of the king and his lords, came into the banqueting hall. The queen said, “O king, live forever! Do not let your thoughts terrify you or your face grow pale. There is a man in your kingdom who is endowed with a spirit of the holy gods. In the days of your father he was found to have enlightenment, understanding, and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods. Your father, King Nebuchadnezzar, made him chief of the magicians, enchanters, Chaldeans, and diviners, because an excellent spirit, knowledge, and understanding to interpret dreams, explain riddles, and solve problems were found in this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar. Now let Daniel be called, and he will give the interpretation.” 

 

Here is what these words mean:

Mene: God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end.

Tekel: You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.

Peres: Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”

 

That very night Belshazzar, king of the Babylonians, was slain.

 

So Belshazzar is arrogant, disrespectful and blasphemous and ends up dead that same night, a Mr. Comeuppance if ever I’ve seen one. The question this raises though is a more troubling one, did God do it. Clearly God was the one sending the message so was God also responsible for his demise? Quite often you here people talk about God’s plan, and God being behind events that seem unfathomable. Indeed many see this death of Belshazzar as God’s punishing him for his actions. I’ve always had trouble with this idea. I know it can be comforting to some but to me it seems like this sort of belief is unfair to God. In this case it would make God part of the assassination of Belshazzar, sure he may have deserved it (comeuppance guy and all) but is that how God works? I think that Daniel’s involvement in this paints a different picture. Daniel is a prophet, a person whose job it is to point out where your current actions are leading you. Like when your mom said stop hanging out with your friends they are leading you down the wrong path. Belshazzar is being told that this fate is the sum total of the way he behaved. The lesson is simple treat people well and you can expect better returns than if you teat people poorly. God is always there to help show us a better way to be in community with one another.

Peace

Jamie

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(This guy was on to something)