It was good to be back in house church with Sojos this Sunday, and it went reasonably well, but was a bit muddled. We are somewhere in size a bit too big for open ended discussion (what I aimed for) but still smaller than a group with a lecturer (though I ended up doing a bit more of that than I prefer).
The goal is to get to clear and honest teaching so we can have clearer and more honest living. But the bigger the group, the harder it is to say things which involve active paradox. Harder, that is, to speak to tension without it being awkward. I imagine there is a sociological/psychological category for this, about communicating in groups according to size and formality, but I don’t know enough about that. I just sense that saying something controversial to a dozen people is much more likely to generate intrigue and pursuit of understanding than doing so in a larger group. Maybe there is an expectation in a larger group that communication is packaged more elegantly; effieciently… in anticipation of the reality of too many different hearing situations (each individual adds contextual complexities).
So, now that I have a deadline to do administrative stuff which I’m terribly inefficient with, I suddenly have a burst of energy to think and write (this is a complex Aikido style maneuver to use the negative energy of expense reports for the positive) ((and that was pure rationalization fueled by a lack of discipline, but, oh well))
So, Daniel 3 is the story of the really big idol and the Jewish lads not bowing. Points of interest in the text:
- 60 x 6 – means it was tall (5 stories) and skinny. It was more like an obelisk (Washington Monument) than a burly statue. The whole obelisk (and the 6’s) is part of the Chaldean-Babylonian-Ancient World – astrological mystery world view of Creation as divine which is morphed but active today.
- The call is to all peoples, nations, languages to unify under the towering statue in Babylon.
- The Jewish lads don’t and are persecuted with fierce anger for it. But, they are resolved about the complexity of God as Creator who CAN do anything, but WILL do what He wills (they believe in the imminence of the transcendent God but not in presumption).
- tough soldiers die, but the God trusting lads don’t
- one like a son of the gods… revelation occurs
- new mandate: God of gods and Lord of lords is proclaimed (or else!)
So, the story has the ethical example, we should be like those 3 who were clear enough about God that they would rather die. It centers on the question of who/what stands above us? Above all nations, peoples, languages. Is it a military conqueror with spooky astrological symbols and insights into heavenly mysteries? Or is it the Creator revealed in the story of Abraham and beyond?
For many there is an above below conundrum. There is the loyalty issue, often rising from familiarity. I should choose to be loyal to God, that just seems right. But, the big questions of life are harder when I learn a little Chaldean and see how far and complicated numbers and chemicals and quarks and sociologically directive framing works. The overload of ‘yeah but…’ dynamics can strain one’s clear and confident resolve, and when it does, it can lead to compromise.
So how did M,S,A, manage to be fully developed Babylonian educated, mystery informed, privilege enjoying cultural elites and still be loyal to YHWH, even to death?!~!
That is the question.