Daily thoughts on aesthetics and theology, and the entire world in between.

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Augustine on mercy in war

Guantanamo. Civil trials for terrorists -- or, ahem, depending on your political stripe, for "freedom fighters."

There's much debate these days on what to do with prisoners of war. But the very fact these guys are even alive is due to a view of human dignity traceable to Christian revelation. Put another way, you don't hear of the other side these days fretting about what to do with their prisoners.

No, they use their own people as human bombs.

In Augustine's day, the idea of having mercy on your enemy was a novel idea, and, after the sack of Rome in 410 AD, Augustine made clear where this idea came from. What is remarkable is that the enemy in Augustine's day seems to have practiced mercy during war much more than some enemies today:

All the devastation, the butchery, the plundering, the conflagrations, and all the recent anguish which accompanied the recent disaster at Rome were in accordance with the general practice of warfare. But there was something which established a new custom,
something which changed the whole aspect of the scene; the savagery of the barbarians took on such an aspect of gentleness that the largest basilicas were selected and set aside to be filled with people to be spared by the enemy. No one was violently used there, no one snatched away. Many were to be brought there for liberation by merciful foes; none were to be taken from there into captivity even by cruel enemies. This is to be attributed to the name of Christ and the influence of Christianity. Anyone who fails to see this is blind; anyone who sees it and fails to give praise for it is thankless; anyone who tries to stop another from giving praise is a madman. Let us hope that no one with any sense will ascribe the credit for this to the brutal nature of the barbarians. Their fierce and savage minds were terrified, restrained, and miraculously controlled by him who long ago said, through his prophet, "I will visit their iniquities with a rod, and their sins with scourges: but I will not disperse my mercy from them."


City of God, Book I, Section 7. Translated by Henry Bettenson (Penguin, 1984), 12-13.

Augustine on security and entertainment

I am impressed with how similar our cultural conditions are to the days of Augustine, who wrote the following in the early 400's AD, in his City of God:

... why is it that you put the blame on this Christian era, when things go wrong? Is it not because you are anxious to enjoy your vices without interference, and to wallow in your corruption, untroubled and un-rebuked? For if you are concerned for peace and general prosperity, it is not because you want to make decent use of these blessings, with moderation, with restraint, with self-control, with reverence. No! It is because you seek an infinite variety of pleasures with a crazy extravagance, and your prosperity produces moral corruption far worse than all the fury of an enemy.

Augustine then goes on to praise a pagan high priest from Roman history, Scipio Nasica, who lived in the second century BC. Our translator clarifies that Augustine confuses Scipio Nasica with his (Nasica's) son, but this doesn't diminish Augustine's point, which is to argue that even this pagan high priest saw the connection between endless comfort and pleasure with moral decay. Interestingly, Augustine then cites two examples from Nasica: one from warfare and one from entertainment (I add the italics):

From warfare: ... The great Scipio ... dreaded that this calamity would come upon you. For that reason he opposed the destruction of Carthage, Rome's imperial rival at that time ... He was afraid of security ... And his policy was justified; the event proved him right. The abolition of Carthage certainly removed a fearful threat to the State of Rome; and the extinction of that threat was immediately followed by disasters arising from prosperity: ... a succession of disastrous quarrels and all the slaughter of the civil wars, all the torrents of bloodshed, all the greed and monstrous seething cruelty of proscriptions and expropriations, so that the Romans, who in a period of high moral standards stood in fear of their enemies, suffered a harsher fate from their fellow-citizens when those standards collapsed...

From entertainment: ... It was the same conviction, the same patriotic forethought which lead the same [Scipio Nasica] ... to restrain the senate's project to build a theater. He deflected them from this ambitious design, and used all the weight of his authority in a speech which persuaded them not to allow Greek corruption to infiltrate into the virile morality of Rome, and to have no truck with depravity which would undermine and weaken the Roman moral character. Such was the force of his authority that the senate, moved by his eloquence, had the wisdom to forbid for the future the erection of the temporary stands which the State had by now begun to provide for the spectators of the games ...

(From the translator: The prohibition to build theaters was passed by the senate in 155 BC; the first stone theater was built in 55 BC).

Today, we hear more about the craving of the Roman citizenry for the "games," which included the butchery of Christians by animals in the arenas. That came later, about two centuries after Scipio Nasica. The Roman Colosseum was built in about 70 AD.


City of God, Book I, Sections 30, 31. Translated by Henry Bettenson (Penguin, 1984), 42-43.

What I believe

Sometimes it is so good to just let the ages speak for you; so comforting to be among the countless who have said this:

I believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.

I believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, light from light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For me and for my salvation
he came down from heaven,
was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary
and became truly human.
For my sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father [and the Son],
who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.

I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
I acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
I look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.


The Nicene Creed, 325 AD

Good is not God, but ...

When I was in college, a man of the cloth I respected (and still do) -- in fact, the man who married Valerie and me -- told me:

"Just remember David: Good is not God ..."

I lived with that counsel for decades, often being wary of Good -- good things, good conventions, good actions, perhaps good people, even the goodness of Creation -- armed with the the guideline that, remember: Good is not God. Don't mistake the two.

But now that I am well on my way to 60, here is my perspective;

... Good may not equal God, but God is awfully Good. If I separate Good from God, I might end up serving just a concept of God.

Again, the Hebrew word translated "good" means pleasant and agreeable to the senses; valuable in estimation, appropriate and becoming; prosperity and welfare; it means moral good.

In the very first chapter of the Bible, this word "good" is used seven times.

All seven of them have to do with how God himself saw things. Indeed God is bigger than Good, but that didn't stop him from seeing all that he made was good, very good.

And he made sure to let us know about it. Seven times.


Psalm 118.1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.

Genesis 1.4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.

Genesis 1.10 God called the dry ground "land," and the gathered waters he called "seas." And God saw that it was good.

Genesis 1.12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

Genesis 1.18 ... to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good.

Genesis 1.21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

Genesis 1.25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

Genesis 1.31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning--the sixth day.

Good-for versus Beauty-full

Good is what it is because it is good for something.

To say again: Good has to be
for something. Therefore good is not inert; it is dynamic. It proves its goodness in benefiting, in some way, others.

That is why it is Good.

Contrast this to Beauty. Beauty doesn't have to be
for something. Beauty is complete in itself.

That is why we say Beauty-
full. Beauty is already full. As in: Beautiful.

But we don't say good-full. No ...

We say good
for. Something is good because it is good for something or someone.

With this in mind, the psalmist says to give thanks to the Lord, for he is

That God is beautiful is beyond debate. But in Psalm 118, the psalmist is not occupied with beauty. He is occupied with something far more extraordinary:

God is not only beautiful. He is
also good. And ...

... Good is for something. And so the psalmist goes on to say:

The Lord is with me; he is my helper. I will look in triumph on my enemies. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes ...


Psalm 118.1, 7-9 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever ... (7-9) The Lord is with me; he is my helper. I will look in triumph on my enemies. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes ...

Good: sandwiched between duty and reason

Whatever "good" is, it is sandwiched between a duty and a reason.

The duty
: Give thanks to God.

All are called to give thanks to their Creator without condition. This is why the Book says elsewhere: "Every knee shall bow, every tongue confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord ... to the glory of God the Father." This is, in the final accounting, a duty.

The reason
: His love endures forever.

There is no logical necessity that God ... turns out to be a God whose love endures forever. He could have been a God whose
anger endures forever. Or some other attribute. But it turns out that it is his love that endures forever. It gives "dodging a bullet" a whole new depth of meaning. This is reason for thanksgiving.

Now, in between this duty and this reason, where it is supposed to be, is Good. So, here we go:

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.

We noted that "good" tends to be devalued nowadays. It is not quite good enough to be good; one must be excellent, tremendous, and so on -- even though the achievements we assign these superlatives to are usually not clear.

The lexicon tells us that the Hebrew word for good means
pleasant and agreeable to the senses; valuable in estimation, appropriate and becoming; prosperity and welfare; it means moral good.

So to protect the value of Good in society and culture, we must be reminded of our duty: to give thanks to God. And also be reminded of the reason: that God's love endures forever. When we cultivate the Duty and the Reason ...

... Good comes sandwiched in between.

Conversely, when Duty and Reason are
not cultivated, the value of Good loses its meaning.

And then we must scamper around calling everything that is mediocre excellent.

And that would be the least of the troublesome symptoms of a loss of Good.


Psalm 118.1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.

Philippians 2.9-11 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

What's happened to good?

Good is not as good as it used to be. Because of its now uncertain status , a passage like this is not as striking as it should be:

"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever."

It doesn't say to give thanks because he is Almighty; or because he is All Powerful; or because he is Awesome. He is all of those things, but ...

It simply says to give thanks ... because he is good.

The lexicon tells us that the Hebrew word, among other things, means
pleasant and agreeable to the senses; it means valuable in estimation, appropriate and becoming; it means prosperity and welfare; it means moral good. And so:

When God created light, He saw that it was
good. When He created the earth and the seas, He saw it was good.

Light. The Sea and the Earth. Pleasing to the senses, valuable, appropriate, morally good.

But tell a student these days that her performance was -- well, that it was
good -- and you may have some explaining to do.

Just good??? What, are you some kind of hatchet man? It wasn't just good. It was Great. It was Excellent. It was Tremendous. It deserved an Achievement Award. And so on. But ... just

I suggest that, when a culture devalues good, when good has lost its saltiness -- and salt preserves; it gives taste; it has medicinal value; it even prevents slipping on ice -- when good has lost its saltiness in a culture, that culture has lost the ballast of its moral compass.

It no longer recognizes what is pleasant and what is agreeable to the senses; it loses a grip on what is truly valuable, what is appropriate and becoming.

So when evil comes along, it is not recognized as such. It might even be mistaken for good.


Psalm 118.1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.

Genesis 1.3-4 And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.

Genesis 1.10 God called the dry ground "land," and the gathered waters he called "seas." And God saw that it was good.

Isaiah 5.20 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.

But I digress

This little phrase speaks a thousand words. You come across it so often; or variations of it:

" ... but I'm getting ahead of myself ..."

" ... but back to my point ..."

" ... but that is another conversation ..."

" ... but suffice it to say this ..."

For those of us who write (or fancy that we do), BUT I DIGRESS and its variations is a fascinating conundrum of the writing craft.

I often tell my students that anything I've published (well, peer reviewed stuff; not this blog) has usually been re-written up to 25 times. And gurus of good writing tell us this is

So, for "but I digress" to have made 25 edits and still appear in print says something. In fact it says many things. One of the things it says is this:

You are
not digressing. You're saying it exactly the way you want to say it.

The idea for this post came while writing yesterday's post, in which can be found this variation of "but I digress":

" ... but this is not where I want to go with this confession ..."

I thought long and hard -- not 25 times, but long and hard -- about deleting the entire section requiring this caveat. If it is not where I want to go, then why go there?

Why? Because in the final obsession, it was
worth going there. Something about going there made the main point, well, more the main point: interpreting grades in a culture that has compromised on measurable standards is much harder to do ... if it has any meaning at all.

Here is another thing "but I digress" says:

It says that life in all of its beauty is not linear. It is symphonic, with so many, many moving parts. And those parts all fit together in ways that are far beyond what a linear sentence can capture.

So good writing is about crafting good linear lines of thought ... to describe a fullness not capture-able by lines.

I think this is why we have music.

But I digress.


Isaiah 28.13 But the word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.

2 Corinthians 12.13-14 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knows); How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

Many psalms begin like this: Psalm 5.1
For the director of music. For flutes. A psalm of David. Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my sighing.

Confessions of a professor at grading time

Another semester draws to a close and I engage in a bi-annual professorial ritual: giving grades.

If I were a teacher of arithmetic, perhaps the task would not be as emotionally challenging. There are no subtleties in 2+2=4.

But the humanities are all
about interpretation.

And in an academic culture favorable to the notion of The Equality of All Interpretations (which is what has become of the original notion of the equality of all
people), the task is made that much harder.

Come winter and spring, that academic culture still demands that I give grades.

So this is the first oxymoron. If all views are valid, what standard for grades? The gyrations on offer as answers to this question range between innovative to ridiculous.

But this is not where I want to go with this confession.

Here is my confession: I live for years with regret over not giving the right (interpreted) grade. The hardest ones are these: a student who is the life of the class in discussions -- and also does well in grades throughout the semester -- but who does
not do well in the final exam.

Poorly enough to miss an "A". In fact, misses it by more than a wink and a nod. Let's say the final numeral score for the semester is 86. That's not an "A" right? Another student, Average Joe, does well on his final and scores an overall 85. Surely it is
he who should get the "B" -- and he should be doggone thankful.

But, but, but, So-and-So, towards whom I
clearly had "A" thoughts throughout the semester; thanking my lucky stars -- I shouldn't say that; thanking Providence for placing him/her in my class ... this So-and-So blows the final and ends up with an average of 86.

Last year, I struggled mightily over one such case. I was in Texas already, driving a U-Haul from Houston to LA, reading Ayn Rand, looking for Chinese restaurants with a Garmin among the endless stretches of cacti outside of El Paso.

But I hadn't submitted my grades. What do I do? What do I do?

I gave him a B+. That's what I did. And I've regretted it ever since. He deserved an A-, the heck with averages.

This year again: a student was the
energy of class discussions, and did fairly well throughout the term with her grades.

But hers was the
lowest final exam score. And I think she did end up with a semester score of 86.

What to do? What to do?

I gave her a B+ as well.

And strangely, this time, I don't regret it. But it is not an easy peace.


Psalm 89.14 Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face.

The art and craft of correction

The proof of the pudding in any relationship comes when correction is needed.

Whatever friendship means, whatever "band of brothers" means, even whatever "brothers in Christ" mean, the real substance -- if there is any -- is revealed with reproof.

Can the friendship withstand it? Or is the relationship a kind of poor man's Platonic ideal of friendship? Those kinds of ideals turn out to be illusions. After the reproof --
poof -- all is gone. What you thought was a haven turns out to be a desert island.

An island of make believe that you've been busy trying to make flower, and were frankly ill-equipped to do anything else.

You discover, not unlike the realization that comes upon some young people when they are no longer young, that you've been in love with a
concept a love: after many years, you've actually known little of the real thing.

You discover that it is not unlike those Thomas Kinkade paintings: scenes of Something Somewhere that are oh so achingly beautiful. Except they are scenes of memories of times and places that never existed.

Paul conferred grace, mercy and peace upon Timothy because at stake were real relationships in the real world, not make believe ones in Platonic dreams.

How do we know this?

Because immediately upon conferring these substances upon Timothy, Paul didn't send the young man off to vacation. Rather:

... remain at Ephesus that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith ...

So now we see what grace, mercy and peace really are: They are the tools for the practice of an art. Perhaps they are even the very colors to be applied to the canvas of the artwork.

The art and craft of correction.

Real art and craft, out of which comes true works of art, not ones of make believe scenes.

How do we know this?

Because love is on the other side, love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

Oh for apprenticeships that teach this kind of art and craft.


1 Timothy 1.1-5 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope, to Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

The joy of slow conversations

I enjoy the slow speed of conversations with my friend Dan. How slow? Well, something like this:

"How has your week been?"


Lots of silence before the answer. During this silence, things can be done. For example: add the basil leaves to the Pho noodles that were just served us; pour the various dipping sauces into their respective little plates; go over a mental list of
other items to bring up with Dan ...

All this while, Dan is deep in thought.

(I must admit: sometimes during these silences I would glance across the table to be
sure he heard the question ... But he always has).

It just takes him a blue moon to get the answer out. It's as if the Riddle of Life had just been presented to him, and he wants to be sure he gives the answer a good shot.

There he is, mulling it over, eyebrows furrowed, hand rubbing chin in variations of
Rodin's Thinker.

Ready, Aim, Aim,
Aim. Aim some more. And then, finally, FIRE:

"Are you familiar with the book written by ..."

And then it's off to the races. Not the tortoise and the hare sort of race. No. There is no hare in my conversational races with Dan. At tortoise pace, we intricately go over the points made by so-and-so in whatever book (or some other set of points) ... savoring the ideas; cultivating the implications.

And finally how those points relate to Dan's week emerge into clarity like those old Polaroid snapshots that used to mature right in front of your eyes.


1 Corinthians 11.33 So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat,
wait for each other.

What is bling?

The wedding is now T-minus several weeks, and Valerie is throwing a new word around: BLING. As in:

"I need some bling to go with this dress."

What does this mean?

I'm not much when it comes to evolutionary theory, but my suspicion is that "bling" is a recent emergence from the primordial soup of language.

So I did some research: in the 1993 edition of The American Heritage College Dictionary (I'm old enough to have a hard copy on my shelves) -- in the 1993 edition, the word bling is not listed.

But look on dictionary.com and ... whoops there it is:

bling: also bling-bling, by 1997, U.S. rap slang, "wealth, expensive accessories," a sound suggestive of the glitter of jewels and precious metals (cf. Ger. blinken "to gleam, sparkle").


bling: noun, flashy, ostentatious jewelry; "the rapper was loaded with bling"

Aha, so the rappers and the Germans had something to do with it. And I was (blinken) right: the vintage is only1997.

So, flashy ostentatious jewelry. That's what it means...


Genesis 4.22 And Zillah, she also bore Tubal-Cain, the forger of every kind of tool of brass and iron. And the sister of Tubal-Cain was Naamah. (Naamah means "loveliness" -- the Strongs number is 5279; the footnote in the Darby version translates the name as "charming").

1 Timothy 2.9 I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes...

In season

Be constant in season and out of season. This was the counsel of Paul.

For everything there is a season. This was the counsel of Solomon.

Paul's advice has been taken to mean:
be tough; stiff upper lip come what may; never let'em see your weak side.

Solomon's advice, on the other hand, can easily be taken this way:
oh well, I'll do it tomorrow.

We probably all know people who exemplify one or the other of these exhortations. Just one:
I'm not backin' down. Or the other: meh, maybe tomorrow.

Inevitably these lives are caricatures of what not to be.

Beauty must be somewhere in the middle. Or better: beauty must be exemplifying both such that the
rule of neither is evident. It is very difficult to do.

In writing this post, I recalled a restaurant I knew in Philadelphia in the 1970's, called
In Season. Googling it turned up nothing so it must be gone. But in its place I learned about The Little Fish Restaurant. It is obviously a quality place. Reservations are recommended. Here is what it says in its blurb (italics mine):

"Our constantly evolving menu features fresh,
in season, seafood accompanied by fine local ingredients."

Current offerings include:
Mahi Mahi, crab fregola, tomato vinaigrette, tiny arugala, or Suzuki, little neck clams, fingerling, merguez sausage, roasted pepper...

I have no idea what half these words mean (fregola, finglering, merguez).

But the point is clear: the menu changes in season. The quality is the same always.


2 Timothy 4.2 ... be ready in
season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.

Ecclesiastes 3.1
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven ...

To say or not to say?

This is the question.

It is a question I'm asking myself more and more these days before, well ...
before saying anything.

In almost all kinds of conversations or conversations-to-be, I've come to appreciate the consequences of ... saying nothing.

It's a variation on: Just Say No.

Here's the variation: Just Don't Say It.

For example, in committee meetings at the office, if you say it, chances are you'll DO it. You just may become the chair of a sub-committee. This is not a good thing.

Or out of concern you share what you think to be a constructive insight about a friend's approach to things. And now your friendship is on the fritz.

Or for the sake of pleasantries you say to relatives: "Hey, come again!" And now they're actually coming again ...

Our culture places an enormous premium on Saying It versus Not Saying It.

Speak Up! This is one of the mantras of our culture.

On the other hand, not speaking up is held in lower esteem. You may be seen as a wallflower. In some venues silence is almost regarded as a disease.

But consider all you have to do today; all you must face up to; all the problems on your plate; maybe even all the people you hope you don't bump into ...

How much of all this is because, at some point, you chose to speak up rather than shut up? You were just on your way, minding your own business. But then ...

You spoke up. And now you've got this mess on your hands.

Just yesterday I walked by my boss's office -- I was on the way to the men's room. "Hey," I thought, "this'll be a good time to tell him I'm taking on Project X ... I'll just let him know after my pit stop ..."

But in the men's room an insight came to me: "What if I don
't tell him I'm taking on Project X? How about waiting until Project X actually shows promise before telling him anything?"

So I went back to my office without saying a word.

Do you know how many meetings I just saved myself from attending?

The feeling I got from this Non-Intervention Into the Percolation of Events was a pleasant one.

But for most of us, silence is almost never golden. At best it is an acquired taste.


Ecclesiastes 5.2 Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few.

Job 5.7 Yet man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward.

James 3.4-6
Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.

Cover Girl Makeup

Let's think about this:

is being covered up? Whatever it is, the implication is that the girl we see is not the girl we will get. Because the real girl is covered up.

Cover girl.

What is covering her?

Makeup. Make -

So the real girl that is covered is covered by stuff that is made up to cover her.

Stuff that is made up. As in make believe.

"No silly!" I am told by folks in the know. "'Cover' means the cover of a
magazine ... Cover Girl Makeup means girls that are made up so beautifully they can grace the cover of magazines."

So at best I'm reading "cover" as a double
entendre, they say.

But I just don't see it as a double


Luke 12.2 For there is nothing covered, that
shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known.

What the lilies of the field mean

If God so clothe the lilies of the field ... how much more will he clothe you, Oh you of little faith ...

So said Jesus in his famous Sermon on the Mount.

I always took this to mean not to worry about physical clothing and what physical clothing represents: my material needs.

But this never solved a puzzle: There are many followers of Jesus Christ who suffer physical privation. Also troubling was this: Some of them are much more at rest -- downright more joyous -- than me.

And they are probably more beautiful than me as well.

Ah ... Solomon in all of his
glory was not arrayed like one of these ...

So the point is not how much clothing one has -- because Solomon obviously had no need for pomp and regalia.

The point is how much glory -- and whose glory. Is it my glory (in which case I am never happy, because I all too often strive for it)?

Or is it the glory of God shining through, like it shines through the lilies of the field, whose regalia is simply given to them from the Life within.

So, Jesus was not talking about being clothed with Macy's.

He was talking about being clothed with Glory:


Matthew 6.28-30 Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

Philippians 4.11 ... for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

1 Peter 1.6-8
... though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith - of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire - may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with a joy unspeakable and full of glory...

A definition of glory -- and a question

Glory is God's nature and presence coming through His creation unimpeded.

By creation I mean all that He has created, the heavens above, this world, the seen and the unseen; but primarily I mean the
materials of this creation: physical nature; human nature.

God's glory "requires" the materiality of creation to make it known. By require I do not mean that God
needs anything. I simply mean that, had God not created us and all that we are, in context of this creation and all that it is, we wound not be here to wonder what His glory is.

And so glory relates to the fundamental question of questions: Why is there everything, instead of nothing at all?

There is everything because the glory of God has called it all into being.

It appears that nature itself, for all of its current troubles, knows this.

The question is, do we?


Matthew 5.16
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Matthew 6.28-29 Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?