It’s easy when one is working fulltime for the Church or studying theology or sharing opinions on the Catholic blogosphere (do all of you have jobs?) to get caught up in minutiae and the controversies of the moment and lose sight of the Big Picture or forget just how remarkable the Big Picture really is.  (And just so we’re clear, when I say, “Big Picture,” I mean, “The Gospel.”)

Last week, after slop buckets of minutiae, a few frustrations, and a futile circle or two, I decided I needed a day off the reservation (literally).  So I pulled on my jeans and my cowboy boots and grabbed a volume of Greek tragedies (you can take the nerd out of the university, but you can’t take the nerdiness out of the nerd) and drove down to Valentine, Nebraska to sit on the porch of Auntie D’s Coffee Shop and read Aeschylus in the late-September warmth, as trucks full of hay bales drove past on Main Street.

Aeschylus is not a bad writer, I’d say, and at times quite insightful.  What he says about tyrants is as true today as it was in 500 BC:

This is a sickness rooted and inherent in the nature of a tyranny:  that he that holds it does not trust his friends.

The strange thing about these words, however, is that they were not written about Josef Stalin or Kim Jong-il.  The tyrant thus described is Zeus, King of the Gods.

Aeschylus’ Prometheus tells a woeful tale to his chorus of his treatment at Zeus’ divine hands:

But you have asked on what particular

charge he now tortures me:  this I will tell you.

As soon as he ascended to the throne

that was his father’s, straightway he assigned

to the several Gods their several privileges

and portioned out the power, but to the unhappy

breed of mankind he gave no heed, intending

to blot the race out and create a new.

Earlier in the week, I was teaching a class for those seeking to enter into full communion with the Church, and one of the men in the class asked, “What is ‘John 3:16’?  Why do you see that written all over?”

So I told him to look the passage up and read what it says:

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Isn’t that remarkable?


5 Responses to Remarkable

  1. Peter Wolczuk says:

    The comment which Aeschylus makes of Z**s and his treatment/attitude/whatever of us; the human race; reminds of some of the things that I’ve read about Satan’s regard for us in some Jewish folklore and mythology.
    Not to make a judgement but just the fact that one does remind me of the other.

  2. Qualis Rex says:

    Hello Anton, now I guess the biggest question on everyone’s mind here is this: were you reading it in the original Greek??? : P

    The story of Zeus you recount actually reminds me of the story of Noah. One has to wonder how many ancients felt at one time or another that “God” (or gods) had enough of them due to their wickedness and wanted them all gone. We see the same sentiments in Revelation, which are of course misconstrued by fundies to predict and justify any number of modern events (undoubtedly Obama’s nomination is certainly the “proof” of the end times to some). But I think the biggest break with the “ancients” is in fact John 3;16 as you point out.

    P.S. I hope you got some good rest.

  3. Chase Becker says:

    Hope you enjoyed your visit to Valentine! Western Nebraska is such a sparsely beautiful place!

    • Anthony Lusvardi, SJ says:

      Thanks, Chase. I agree; this part of the country is uniquely beautiful. And Valentine is a very friendly town.

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