Never has the world seemed a more dangerous place, nor more in the thrall of power-servingly mendacious accounts of why. The first fills me with alarm but also an imperative. The second can throw those like me – seeking, with some hubris no doubt, to counter blizzards of spin with nothing more substantial than empirical truths – into the Slough of Despond. That last twice a week at least, though my immersions tend to be short-lived.
Today I blow out 71 candles on my cake. It is also Michaelmas, when all three Abrahamic faiths have it that the Archangel Mikhail kicked the Angel Lucifer, he of many aliases and legendary cunning, out of Heaven. It seems appropriate, then, to dedicate this post to that crypto-Marxist classic, The Bible. Specifically, to the first book of its New Testament, the Gospel According to Matthew, Chapter 13, verses 1-17.
(King James Version, of course. Subsequent takes strike me as pallid and banal)
- The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side.
- And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.
- And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;
- And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:
- Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:
- And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.
- And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:
- But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.
- Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
- And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?
- He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
- For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.
- Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.
- And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:
- For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
- But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.
- For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them..
Here endeth the parable of the sower. Much of my response echoes Leonard Cohen’s to “the staggering account of the sermon on the mount – which I don’t pretend to understand at all”.
But on some of it – the gist of verse 8 for instance, even if the sums do seem a tad out – I’m with The Man. Ditto verse 9. As a third Jew helpfully put it in his aptly named Blood on the Tracks, when something’s not right it’s wrong …
My cue to keep on keepin’ on.
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