It’s so refreshing to get on here and hear (just showing off that I can spell both) from so many of the clans and chieftains. So much to enjoy… Otto’s luxuriously long post, two poems from opposite ends of the age spectrum, and a response post from Luke that made me wonder how old that kid really is (and wish I had a chance to get to know him better).

Tobin, Nessa and I finally rehoused little Goldie the toad and brought him inside. Nessa found an adorable plastic log home with fake moss and ferns on the top. It’s surprisingly attractive sitting in the big gold fish bowl where we plan to keep Goldie for the winter. We released the other toad a couple days ago, so this is the one grown-up tadpole left from the summer. He is a handsome fellow, aptly named, and we hope to keep him to a ripe old age.

Nessa, Tobin, some students and I visited a local Hindu temple one evening this past week. When I went last time to establish contact, a crowd of little boys was flocking around me and one of them asked, “Are you an American?” The other boys laughed and cuffed him, saying, “Of course he is. This is America.” It was a great feeling to get that question just a couple blocks from our house. I don’t remember if I mentioned that story on here already or not. Anyway, the visit was fascinating. A generous and very well spoken young man answered questions about Hinduism for almost an hour. They were a very orthodox (his own word) sect. Part way into our time, Nessa tugged on my cuff and asked, “Do we know them well enough now to tell them about the true God?”

Okay, because I want to honor the poetry of Mom and Talia that I enjoyed so much, here is my libation. Staring through the foggy windshield yesterday morning on my way into work, something like this “poem” ricocheted around in my head. It indulges in a bit of selfish sensationalism, which hardly makes for good poetry. It also might seem dark, but doesn’t need to be. In the end, I simply must answer poetic authenticity with authenticity, and this is all the authenticity that I’ve got just now. Talia’s purple cow and Mom’s gem from the archives cannot go unsaluted.

Stepping out, seeing red leaves on the lawn,
I wanted to die
like the dogwood,
my roots frozen in the ground,
my branches extend naked upward
against a white sky.
Then I could wait happily for spring.

So now, to unleash the bumblebees: Joel, I like nothing better than a twig in my hot head. Why else do I buzz so much? With Elizabeth, I often must wait patiently for a flattering poke. But they are always worth the wait. From day one, she’s seen through all my shenanigans and only bothers to prod when there’s a legitimate issue astir and we actually have the time to pursue it.

I think that reading anything in the Bible redemptive historically is the only right way to read it. God’s word offers us Christ’s efficacious deeds and promises, and that’s all. Now, that being said, “Redemptive historical” is just a fancy label. Define the label correctly, and any believer should be able to agree with my claim. However I define it, I certainly don’t see it as antithetical to practical wisdom, to applied theology, or to a prim and proper grammatico-historical reading. God’s word offers Christ concretely in real human events, feelings and ideas, not as a lovely or challenging theoretical abstraction. It is the gospel’s intensely tangible and practical nature that makes it so devastating and hope-sustaining.

So, go ahead, read a proverb as just a proverb. Read it for all its worth. Read it with a sensitivity to each word that surrounds it within the book of Proverbs. Read it with a passion for each passage in the sacred histories, the songs, and the prophecies that surround this collection of princely teachings. Read it as a young king who faces a task too large for himself, who prays for wisdom in the night. Read it as the words of a rejected king, who patiently teaches his mockers whom he would have as his siblings. This is not imposing something upon the Biblical proverbs. It is just recognizing what they actually are. And, although it does not mean that a biblical proverb is not simply a proverb (it is!), it does distinguish Solomon’s proverbs (through no merits of his own) from, say, the excellent practical wisdom that can be found in The Routledge Book of World Proverbs.

Now, I know that (if I communicated it well) I didn’t say anything that you didn’t already know as well or better than I. Additionally, I probably succeeded in evading or misreading your original question. If you meant to ask if all this fine-sounding theory can be used to evade the simple and humiliating truths communicated by the biblical proverbs, the answer is certainly yes. But, all this notwithstanding, it was really fun for me to get the chance to say all that I said. So thanks for asking. 🙂

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