Why Leadings?

Not to lead, but to be led            -- by the Holy Spirit.

See Leader, Servant, or Slave? in the section below, "Walking the Walk".

Jack in Denali National Park, 2012.

God's Wrath

Why was Sodom destroyed? Ezekiel tells us in chapter 16, verse 49: "This was the sin of your sister, Sodom: Pride, full-ness of bread, and abundance of idleness. Neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy."

That's also why Jerusalem was destroyed.

And now, with greed as our national virtue, what hope is there for the United States of America? We are afflicted by imperialistic pride, obesity, and entertainment addiction, and we are all called to do our part to "strengthen the hand of the poor and needy".

"Strengthen the hand" is the King James wording. Modern translations say "help the poor and needy." And there's a world of difference between the two. Helping the poor = as little as throwing some cash in the Salvation Army bucket at Christmas time. That's charity. It's doing for, not doing with.

My Grandmother was right about charity. On a below-zero day, she went out on the back porch with a skillet to throw hot grease on the back-yard snow. She shivered as she re-entered the kitchen and said, "Wooooh, colder than charity."

Strengthening the hand is much different. We get personally involved with another person who needs help, and we work with her or him to get the needed help. That's risky. You're vulnerable. It takes prayer, time and patience. You need knowledge and wisdom from the LORD. There are great rewards, however. You get a brother or sister.

Strengthening the hand is great work for our churches -- which we ignore far more often than we perform. Why? Because we're afflicted with the Ameri-can curse of individualism. Christians are to be a tribe -- a tribe that takes care of each other. In Galatians 6:16, Paul calls us "the Israel of God" -- the new 13th tribe.

Jesus said, "The poor you shall always have with you." He didn't mean that as a curse -- the notion that the poor are an inevi-table nuisance and expense, to be hidden in the slums. Rather, He was saying, "You shall always be among the poor."

When you strengthen hands, you fulfill Deuteronomy 15:4-5: "However, there need be no poor people among you, for in the land the LORD your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you, if only you fully obey the LORD your God . . ." It's a glorious responsibility and promise.

And how do prosperous Americans fulfill that promise? Generally, by making sure they have no contact with people who are poor -- and we have been that way from our beginnings in the 17th century. Early villages in Massachusetts solved the problem by out-lawing poor people. Today, we deal with the same problem by confining the poor in urban reservations, our slums.

As the Supreme Court Bailiff says at the beginning of each session, "God save the United States of America..." 

Wednesday
May252011

SHAW SLAMS SHAKESPEARE

George Bernard Shaw was a fierce critic of Shakespeare’s plays, but he knew the Bard thoroughly.  Thus, he was an even fiercer critic of the way Shakespeare’s plays were performed in England a century ago.

An example – writing of a production of Romeo and Juliet:

“It is characteristic of the authorities at Oxford that they should consider a month too little for the preparation of a boat-race and grudge three weeks to the rehearsals of one of Shakespeare’s plays.”

Shaw was one of the voices in England urging that Shakespeare be performed in the Elizabethan manner.  Nineteenth century British Shakespeare productions featured elaborate sets, declaimed speeches, acting in the grand manner, and desecrations of the text.  Shaw campaigned against all that and commended William Poel’s productions which featured a bare stage, no breaks between acts and scenes, use of the full text, and natural acting.  That is, Shaw advocated that Shakespeare’s plays be performed the way we usually do them now.

In the 1890’s, he began fuming about Shakespeare.  His best evaluation came in 1905:

“Shakespear’s power lies in his enormous command of word-music, which gives fascination to his most blackguardly repartees and sublimity to his hollowest platitudes.

“Shakespear’s weakness lies in his complete deficiency in that highest sphere of thought, in which poetry embraces --

religion,

philosophy,

morality,

and the bearing of these on communities,

which is sociology.

“His characters have no religion, no politics, no conscience, no hope, no convictions of any sort.

“As Ruskin pointed out, there are no heroes in Shakespear.

“Shakespear’s test of the worth of life is the vulgar hedonistic test.  For him, life cannot be justified by this or any other external test, so Shakespear comes out of his reflective period a vulgar pessimist, oppressed with a logical demonstration that life is not worth living.”

_____________

So, Shakespeare doesn't grind axes in his plays.  For 400 years, audiences haven't objected.

It takes only cursory reading of theatrical criticism by great playwrights to discover that their opinions are flashingly insightful and not to be trusted.  Their views tend to be self-serving because they see themselves as the true playwrights and others as inferior.  If playwright-critics were in government, rather than in the theater, they would be dismissed for conflicts of interest.

So with Shaw.  He correctly saw Bardolatry as an impediment to the advancement of his own plays –- which he did not begin writing until a decade later.  Yet, we can forgive his vehemence for teaching us the real quality of Shakespeare's genius.  His recommendation to us:  Experience Shakespeare as music.

____________

Here's one of Shaw's flashing insights:  In As You Like It, Jaques declaims "All the world's a stage and all the men and women merely players."  A brilliant concept -- but Shakespeare then elaborates with lyrical platitudes on the seven ages of man. 

But, let's take Shakespeare's concept seriously.  To whom would you give the Oscar for the best usage of the world's stage in the Twentieth Century?  And I'm not talking about actors in the limited sense of stage, screen and TV.  To whom would you give the Oscar in government?  In organization of society? In economic development?  In education?  Religion?  In creativity/inventions?  In design/architecture? In public health?

Bear in mind that each Oscar can be awarded to a movement as well as to an individual.

And so, Shaw has shown us how Shakespeare indeed can ascend into the highest spere of thought.

______________

I was blessed with these insights by reading Shaw on Shakespeare, edited by Edwin Wilson, Applause Theater & Cinema Books, New York, 1989.  It’s recommended reading.

____________

Do the misspellings above trouble you?  They're not misspellings.  Shaw had widely varied interests and one was the reform of English orthography.  Like any schoolboy, he wanted words to be spelled as they sound.  So, the quotes above retain Shaw's spelling.

____________

Purpose of this blog is to compile a book for my grandchildren to read in 25 years.

Copyright © 2010 by Jack Towe

____________

 I welcome your reactions.  Please click below on "Post a Comment".