29 August 2021

What Is The Mark Of The Beast?

It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name.

The Mark of the Beast is perhaps the most frequently reference image from the Book of Revelation, the last book in the Christian Bible and the source of many of the Christian religions eschatological traditions. Yet in many ways it is also the most obscure--what is the "Mark of the Beast"?

Biblical scholarship is replete with theories about the significance of the mark, and the nature of the mark. Historians and theologians alike have myriad theories about what John of Patmos ("John the Revelator") meant when he described the mark.

Yet to my mind, such scholarly musings miss an essential point of sacred text: the question is never so much what did the author mean, or what did God mean, but what do the words mean to us? When John speaks of a mark, how do we conceptualize that mark?

As with all my Biblical ponderings, I have no grand theological or historical insights into the verse. I write as one ordinary man, grappling with a most extraordinary verse.

15 August 2021

Inheriting Blessings

Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.

Repay evil with blessing, so that I might inherit a blessing.

This is a challenging verse, and a troubling one, at least for me. When I am insulted, when I am attacked, when I am met with evil, the urge to respond in kind, in force, it not only tempting, but very nearly overwhelming.  When I am hit, I want to hit back, and I want to hit back hard.

Is that so wrong?

Repay evil with blessing, so that I might inherit a blessing. Why?

01 August 2021

Saying "Yes" And Saying "No"

And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one

I came to appreciate the subtlety of this verse a few years ago, as I was grappling with the challenge of defining my particular job and role with my employer. As often happens within technical professions, the evolution of my work team had resulted in some job expectations and responsibilities which in some ways tended to contradict each other. Ultimately, resolving those conflicts came down to this: saying "yes" and saying "no".