19 August 2010

Aug 19

Reference links:
Old Testament

Esther continues to be a fun and exciting read.

Mordecai mourns the fate of the Jews. Eventually, Esther hears of her cousin's distress and asks him what is wrong. He tells her, and asks her to intervene. Esther, however, is reluctant to take on that role. She knows that going into the king's presence uninvited can mean death.

Mordecai persuades her to take that risk. Perhaps, he tells her, she was placed in the position of queen for just a time as this. He does not fail to add that she too would likely be killed in a massacre of the Jews.

Esther agrees to intervene with the king and, after a period of fasting, does so quite skillfully. She enteres the king's presence and is forgiven. She then invites the king and Haman to a banquet. (Remember, Haman was the official who ordered the killing of the Jews because he was annoyed at Mordecai).  I love Esther's invitation to the second banquet:
If I have found favor with the king, and if it pleases the king to grant my request and do what I ask, please come with Haman tomorrow to the banquet I will prepare for you. Then I will explain what this is all about.
She does not hide that she is buttering the king up, but she reveals it in such as way as to make it seem flattering rather than pathetic. Brilliant!

After that banquet, the king learns that Mordecai once saved his life and decides to honor Mordecai. He asks Haman how the king should honor the man, and Haman, thinking the king means to honor him, answers,
If the king wishes to honor someone, he should bring out one of the king’s own royal robes, as well as a horse that the king himself has ridden—one with a royal emblem on its head. Let the robes and the horse be handed over to one of the king’s most noble officials. And let him see that the man whom the king wishes to honor is dressed in the king’s robes and led through the city square on the king’s horse. Have the official shout as they go, ‘This is what the king does for someone he wishes to honor!’
The king has Haman do this for Mordecai, and this after Haman had been planning to kill Mordecai. Haman is mortified.

After that, Esther holds her second banquet. She reveals that Haman is the enemy of the Jews. While the king temporarily walks away in rage, Haman begs Esther for his life. The king comes back and thinks this begging is an assault on Esther and orders Haman killed.

While I think that it is properly literary justice that Haman be killed, I do wish that he was not killed on false pretenses (assaulting the queen). I wish, instead, that his crimes had been seen as enough on his own. But either way, it makes for good story.

What happens tomorrow? We'll have to wait and see.

New Testament

Paul talks about the importance of spiritual gifts. The members of the church in Corinth have received many spiritual gifts, but they come from the same spirit and so are all important. To emphasize the importance of all of these gifts, and to, presumably, speak against those who may have been puffing themselves over the importance of their own gifts, Paul gives an analogy of the human body. Paul is much better at analogies than he is at logical reasoning.

The members of the Corinthian church are like the different parts of the human body. All of them are important in their own way; all of them are necessary. Without all of the different parts, the body would not function. He then extends this analogy to talk about harmony and caring in the church. Since they are all parts of one body, they all share suffering

Psalms and Proverbs
Whoever pursues righteousness and unfailing love
will find life, righteousness, and honor.
As non-religious as I am, I have observed enough to recognize that mature belief calls for balance. Depending on tradition, exactly what is in balance varies. However, there is always balance. Today, we see that is the above proverb.
The wise conquer the city of the strong
and level the fortress in which they trust.
This, I think, is totally the proverb for nerds and geeks. Those of us who consider ourselves wise and have rarely been among the strong. (Ignore, just to indulge us, the difference between intelligence and wisdom.)