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Thursday 26 January 2012

Meditation for the days before St. Valentine's Day

I know many single people, widows, those home alone do not like Valentine's Day. But, for me, it is a day to think about Love, Who is a Person. Christ is Love. All love is from Him. The many types of positive love, such as storge, philios, eros, and agape, come from Him. If love is destructive, it is not love, but something else, like lust or selfishness or control. My generation read two Shakespearean plays every year for four years in high school. We started with Julius Caesar, moved to Macbeth, then to Romeo and Juliet, then to The Merchant of Venice, then to Othello, then to The Taming of the Shrew and ended up in our last year with Midsummer Night's Dream. I read the others in the summer, until my mother took away my books so that I would first do my chores. Happy days.

We also had to memorize some of the sonnets, at least one a semester. One of my favourite sonnets is one I had to memorize. It is about true love. I am not too old, or too jaded not to appreciate the fine sentiments here. As God is Love, He is in this poem as well as the two lovers.

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
   If this be error and upon me proved,
   I never writ, nor no man ever loved. 

This is the intellectuals' dream poem. This is a poem of mature love. Mature love is complete, selfless, undying, unconditional, perfect, and eternal. The  fullness of Love rests only in God,in the Indwelling of the Trinity. Those of us who have experience this, at least for fleeting moments, or as a way of life, have been blessed.

Revival of the Jewish Hero

Steven Spielberg is going to direct a Moses big, big picture, one to rival the iconic The Ten Commandments of 1956. Mel Gibson and Joe Eszterhas are working on a film about the Maccabees. These plans show a mini-trend to return to several themes which have been lost in the past decades of anti-heroes, a la James Joyce's Leopold Bloom. I grew up on Charlton Heston's Moses, as that is one of the very first movie I ever saw. The 1995 version of Moses, with Ben Kingsley is good and historically more realistic than The Ten Commandments. Some Christians like it better.

The point here, however, is not so much a comparison of interpretations of Moses, the greatest Jewish hero, but the fact that two great directors have taken on Judaic, Old Testament historical and religious figures as heroes for two important movies. We are in need of role models in the States and elsewhere, and these leaders are good, old fashioned heroes.

Moses is a hero, as well as a religious leader, and maybe that is a point of concern. He cannot be seen merely as the man, who cooperating with the Will of God, freed the Hebrews from slavery. He must be seen as "the" Prophet, who transmitted the Decalogue to the entire world-Revelation from God through Moses.

The Maccabeus clan provides us with many heroes. I am not sure what Mel Gibson will do with Judas Maccabeus, but I am looking forward to the interpretation. Those two books of the Bible are some of my favorites, and I have taught Josephus in the past, who, of course, is the great historian outside the Biblical texts not only for the Maccabean Wars, but for references to Christ. I shall be following the making of these two movies with interest. A Judaic revival of heroes is a poignant sign of the times.

PS I cannot refer to The Ten Commandments without mentioning one of the worst lines in cinematic history: "O Moses, you stubborn, you splendid, you adorable fool!" Anne Baxter's famous line to Charlton Heston-her Nefretiri to his Moses. I am sure both Gibson and Spielberg will avoid such schlock.