Sunday, March 20, 2016

pride stinks

The Word for today:
Jeremiah 13
That's a strong word, but it's not as disgusting as filthy underwear that needed to be changed a month ago.
I'll stop now, for your stomach's sake.
The Bible is powerfully poetic. An example of biblical poetry is the filthy underwear we read about in Jeremiah 13:1-11.
Poetry is not reserved for hearts and flowers and the moon in June. Poetry represents the entire spectrum of ideas, actions, and emotions. Poetry can be about anything--about love, war, basketball, the hula hoop, or office supplies. The subject does not matter. It becomes poetic when one thing is expressed in terms of something else.
So saying, "Love is like a rose" is poetic. And saying, "Pride clings to Judah like underwear which has been worn for a long time" is also poetic. In fact, it's powerfully poetic, whereas the rose long ago passed from the realm of poetry to the realm of cliche. ("Cliche" is where language goes to die.)
Jesus taught in poetic, figurative language--expressing eternal truths in terms of vines and lamps and sowers and seed. He told illustrative stories known as parables--about pearls; about wine and wineskins; about a father and his sons; wheat and weeds; sheep and goats.
And sometimes Jesus used language that made "soiled undies" sound refined:
"Hypocrites!" "Vomit." "Latrine." "Brood of vipers." "Child of Hell." "Your father the devil." "Whitewashed tombs."
The Bible is both literal and poetic. On the literal level, God told Jeremiah to wear underwear over the course of a long journey and then hide it in some rocks.
But God was not concerned with underwear. On the poetic level, the parable was God's way of expressing how disgusting the pride of Judah and Jerusalem had become, and how he was allowing the consequences of sin to take their course.
In the book of Jeremiah, we have already encountered an almond rod, a boiling cauldron, and foul underwear. In subsequent chapters we will read about a full bottle, a potter's vessel, a broken bottle, two baskets of figs, the purchase of a field, hidden stones, and a book sunk in the Euphrates.
Prose tells. It might tell about the "deleterious effects of pride on the individual psyche."
But poetry engages the senses. In this case, it smells as it tells.
"Deleterious effects" means nothing to me,
but "dirty underwear" leaves a pungent, vivid impression of what God thinks of pride:
pride stinks.

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