BACKGROUND TO BUDDY #24

Note to the reader: the series of articles entitled Background to Buddy were extracted from a Christian nonfiction work that formed the basis for the novel Buddy, which is available from either Amazon or Signalman Publishing. Directions are noted on the page entitled Buddy on this blog site. The purpose of this work was to explain the reasons why I consider the Holy Spirit to be functionally female. Adventure episodes and humor were added for the entertainment of both the reader and the author.

Chapter 11: Resistance to a Female Attribute in Deity (continued)

Aristotelian perfectionism – the mindset of Jerome Zancheus (continued)

Having removed the defense of Zanchius based on immanence vs. transcendence, we can move on past that side discussion and state without condition that God, regardless of whichever form He may take, is capable of possessing passion. An immediate implication of this is that God is not alien to us. A secondary implication of that is that Jesus’ future marriage to His Church may be extrapolated back to a more basic marriage between God the Father and God the Holy Spirit.

It appears to me upon a review of Toplady’s translation of his work, which he labeled Absolute Predestination, that Jerome Zanchius lacked the ability to extract from Scripture anything resembling the natural awe and adoration of God experienced by those who see in both Testaments the magnificence of His selfless, passionate love toward His creation. Given his statements regarding love, it is difficult to picture Zanchius as possessing the ability to love God as the Shema of Moses (Deuteronomy 6:4,5) and Jesus’ presentation of the greatest commandment (Matthew 22:36-38) suggest. As a consequence, I can only see him as attempting to manufacture a suitable piety by resorting to, as I have already noted, the most absolute superlatives that human thought and language can produce. He went too far. The perfection embodied in his eulogies renders them sterile.

Zanchius’ Pasteurization of God has led him to a view of God as residing in absolute perfection, so void of blemish that, like the smooth and featureless moon of his era, his statements of position approach the theological equivalent of Aristotle’s perfect cosmos, which was embellished upon by Ptolemy and published in his Almagest in 150 A.D. Although the medieval Church commonly held this viewpoint, it had nothing whatsoever to do with Scripture. In his application of Ptolemaic principles of perfection in the cosmos to his theology, Zanchius’ God, then, is a perfectly round, gigantic, cold and opaque marble.

While it is perfectly proper to humble oneself before God, one can go to excessive lengths in this, too, the self-concern intrinsic to such overkill rendering it false and therefore useless. Much of Zanchius’ work appears to be of this nature, representing adoration less than mere groveling. Regarding my own relationship with my God, I would greatly prefer participating in a loving Wife than as a dog who can only communicate via whines, wags and a slobbering tongue.

Indeed, just a short twenty-six years after Zanchius’ death in 1590, the Catholic Church formalized its position with regard to the cosmos by declaring the earth-centered Ptolemaic system to be the correct one as opposed to its Copernican rival, thus clearing the way for Galileo’s Inquisition trial in 1632. Although Galileo himself did a great deal to get himself into hot water with the Church, his violation of the Ptolemaic order led to the censure of his work despite its correctness.

Part of Galileo’s problem with the Church was his attitude, which evoked a reactionary response from the Church elite. Another part of the problem came from his status in Church: despite his devout Christianity, he was but a lay person and therefore presumptuous in the extreme for daring to interpret Scripture as he did in his letter to the Grand Duchess of Tuscany in response to her misguided notion that the Bible was the source of the geocentric view of the solar system.

Where is all this heading? Unfortunately, a reactionary attitude is firming up among those Churches that are holding steadfast. And they’re looking for a Ptolemaic idealism in their theology, even to the extent of embracing Zanchius’ remote, alien and basically indifferent God. The notion of gender-driven passion within the Godhead will not sit well with this mindset.

Lack of an intimate relationship with God

I’m admittedly winging it here regarding intimacy, because I can’t know with certainty whether what I suspect about some Christians’ possession of it is, in fact, true. But my suspicion here is very strong: I’m inclined to think that the majority of the laity and many theologians as well lack sufficient intimacy with God to attempt to achieve an understanding of Him beyond the superficial and mundane. I would be even more certain of it if I knew that they’d never ventured out beyond the halls of acadamia.

If that’s the case, more’s the pity because there is one sure way to become intimate with God, and that’s out of fear. I’m talking about fear of the kind that makes you sweat on a cold winter day, the kind that makes the whites of your eyeballs light up a pitch-black space. Carolyn has that kind of intimacy with God, thanks to me. So did her mother, thanks to the both of us.

I am blessed above all men for Carolyn, the jewel of my life. How many husbands can say of their wives that they’ll match every macho activity they can dream up? And, for the most part, handle it better than they can? How many wives (provided either that they are given sufficiently frequent butt rests or they are offered mobile thrones, as in Goldwing) can handle bike journeys from one coast to another and back and enjoy the trips, actually planning for the next one when they reach their beloved homes? How many wives, after having successfully landed from a thousand-foot jump off a cliff can say “When are we going to get some real air time?” That same can-do attitude prevailed in our boating activities. When we bought our Lady neither of us had the slightest idea what sailing entailed. We took several sailing courses together at Puget Sound Sailing Institute, and had the time of our lives doing it. For starters, we quickly discovered that everyone else in the popular class was just as stupid and uncoordinated as we. Then we found out that while there is a great deal to learn regarding the proper handling of sailboats, the learning itself was both fun and extremely interesting. In addition to that, we came out of the courses with a sense of real achievement. Our new-found confidence of course, deteriorated somewhat upon our leaving the Institute to enter the real world of boating. So did our mutual respect, which got a little ragged about the edges from time to time. Nevertheless, I never lost my respect for her as an uncommonly brave woman. She’d yell at me sometimes, but she’d also help rescue the situation from the peril I’d placed us into. She’d do that with more brains than I possess. Besides, she looks good in yellow slickers, and when she handles the helm to maintain the boat in just that perfect slot at the highest possible point into the wind before luffing the sails, she’s truly loving the experience, rain or shine. What more can a man ask for?

Before we moved off from San Juan Island to Olympia on our boat, we took the time to revisit several of our fondest places. We also extended the opportunity to a number of our relatives to enjoy the beautiful waters around Friday Harbor. One weekend we attempted to do both at the same time by visiting the lovely Prevost Harbor on nearby Stuart Island with Carolyn’s mother and sister.

It didn’t turn out well. Oh, we all survived, but the experience added somewhat to our baggage of fears, resentments and recurrent nightmares.

On the way over to Prevost we encountered wind behind our direction of travel, which put us on a broad reach for which our keel was essentially upright. As neither of our passengers had ever been aboard a sailboat before, nor could they swim, the level attitude of the boat was just dandy. Things were so nice and calm that Carolyn’s mother decided to go to her bunk in the bow and take a short nap. As our short journey was nearing its end with our having rounded the island, however, we changed direction in preparation for entering the cove. As we were no longer in the lee of the island, the wind also picked up. Our point of sail correspondingly changed from a broad reach with the wind behind us to close-hauled, with the (increasing) wind perhaps 25 degrees off our bow into our faces. As we reset our sails our lady gracefully heeled in response, the mast dipping over and water spraying up over the bow. Sailing close-hauled is altogether more exciting than having the wind push the boat from the rear, and Carolyn’s sister screamed with delight. It was a piercing scream, accompanied by a wide grin.

At just about that time, I remembered something that I had forgotten. It was important, because the bilge in our boat is quite shallow. “Did you close the sink drain?” I shouted to Carolyn. “Of course not,” she shouted back. “That’s your job!” I resolved to head back down into the saloon in a few minutes, not only to shut the sink drain, which provided a clear path between the sink and the water outside when the boat was heeling on a starboard tack, but to clean up the inevitable pool of water that would be sloshing around the cabin deck. Having gone through that particular routine before, we had bucket and sponges on hand for just that purpose.

A few minutes later I opened the hatch into the saloon. The wide-eyed apparition that greeted me there reminded me of something else that I had completely forgotten: mother. Her frightened eyes were enormous. “You’re here!” she stuttered out. “We’re alive!”

We pieced together the details of that shift of sail from her completely different perspective that evening, when she had calmed enough to speak coherently. Fast asleep on her berth, she had rolled off it and crashed into the bulkhead as the boat heeled. In her eyes, the boat wasn’t heeling; it was listing, as in Titanic. The perception strengthened as she saw water coming in over the canted decking. Terrified now, she struggled to open the cabin door. Just as she began to climb through it into the saloon she heard the piercing scream. Convinced that we were abandoning ship, she rushed through the cockpit to join us, even though she couldn’t swim. She had the guts that night to laugh about the incident. Carolyn watched me through narrowed eyes to be sure that I didn’t even crack a smile. I don’t blame her.

Mother lived for several years after that terrible event. Oh, am I glad that she did.

There were other times. One fine fall weekend when our boat was still based in Friday Harbor but with no charter customer, Carolyn and I invited one of our daughters to bring her boyfriend along for a short two-day cruise to neighboring Lopez Island. Now we both liked the fellow, who I’ll name Bob, which is not his real name, for a reason that will become apparent later. He was an intelligent, very personable guy with kind of a happy-go-lucky air about him that made him easy to get along with. We were happy with our daughter for her choice of a boyfriend, and we were pleased to have them both aboard. On that trip “Bob” developed an intimate relationship with God. It was unplanned.

Heading out of the harbor Saturday afternoon, we encountered that rare kind of day where the sun was shining, the air held a warmth that was neither too hot nor edgy cold, and the 17-knot breeze was perfect for sailing. We let out the main unreefed, unfurled the Genoa all the way, and settled back to enjoy what obviously would be a perfect weekend. Feeling magnanimous, I presently decided to let “Bob” take the helm while I gave him some basic instructions in boat handling.

“Bob” really got into it. With a wide grin and encouraged by our daughter’s flattering commentary, he looked up to the sky and raised his fist high. Shaking it briskly he shouted to God, “Is this all you can give me?”

Oh, he shouldn’t have done that. I am convinced that God has a well-developed sense of humor. He toyed with “Bob” for a while, letting us all continue to enjoy the day. Dousing our sails at our destination, we picked up a mooring buoy at Spencer Spit, a neck of land with a pretty beach and a deceptively cozy-looking harbor. In good weather one tends not to dwell on the low height of the land, which rises only a few feet above the surrounding water. After finishing a few boatkeeping chores, daughter and “Bob” went off in the dinghy to hunt for clams. They found a few and we added these to our dinner, after which we enjoyed several games of Yahtzee and Mexican Canasta. We then retired for the night. Having obtained a weekend weather report much earlier in the day, I neglected to catch an update, preferring instead to pick up a novel, as did Carolyn, and read until I was drowsy enough to sleep.

At some time in the dark predawn hours of the morning Carolyn shook me awake. I instantly understood why, with the violent rocking of the boat and the banging noise of our dinghy beating itself to death against the transom. Hurriedly donning a raincoat, I went up on deck and managed, through the assault of the screeching wind, to tie up the dinghy securely enough to stop the pounding. As I turned to head back down into the cabin I saw four round eyes staring up at me, clearly visible in the night by the size of the whites. “Is everything okay, dad?” our daughter asked. I made the obvious translation: “Are we going to continue living?” I went back to bed, and I think that Carolyn and I were able to sleep a little. But I don’t think that our daughter did, and I know for sure that “Bob” didn’t.

If anything, the wind was stronger in the morning. Dressing as quickly as we could, we gave up the idea of breakfast and cast off the mooring buoy. It was a difficult job, because the force of the wind on the boat had pushed it underwater. When we had finally freed ourselves from it, we hoisted sail, double-reefing it, and headed back to Friday Harbor. A few times on the trip back we shipped green water that, thanks to the self-bailing cockpit, was not life-threatening. “Bob” was green too. His face had a sickly yellow-greenish cast to it. “Bob”, I knew, was greatly relieved to step foot back on land. I think that he was tempted to kiss the dock. During the ferryboat trip back to Anacortes, “Bob’s” face got greener yet, as the captain had prohibited his passengers from going on deck. Never before had I experienced such a wild ride on a ferry.

In sailing school we heard a number of horror stories involving sailing mishaps that didn’t end well. The common theme was the partner’s (usually the disinterested wife’s) lack of experience that caused an initial mistake to compound into a disaster. The one that really sticks in my mind is the account of a sailor getting hit in the head with the boom while attempting to jibe and falling overboard with the lines tangled about his legs. His wife stared down at him, helpless. “What do I do?” she cried, hands over her mouth.

Despite all this, the jibe was completed successfully and the boat picked up speed on its new course, unmanned and out of control. The speed became such that the drag prevented the man overboard from freeing himself of the tangled lines. Helpless, he was dragged behind, his head underwater. By the time the boat beached itself the man was dead.

I didn’t have to worry about that kind of thing. If anything, Carolyn was a better sailor than I. Her responses were quicker, and her superior common sense made itself evident on a number of occasions. I was quite proud of her, and she of herself. I love the memory of her in her yellow rain slicker at the helm, the rain beating down, our Lady at a sharp heel and the spray splashing her in the face. She didn’t wince. She grinned, reveling in the experience.

I feel that way about God. I think He’s a whole lot more colorful than the reactionaries would have us believe.

NOTES

General Notes:

1. All bible references are taken from the King James Version
2. Only the first appearance in each chapter to an item to which a note is associated is subscripted.

Chapter 11

1.Newton’s rival in the development of the calculus (both differential and integral) was Gottfried Leibniz, whose backers claimed that he had independently invented this branch of mathematics. Their quarrel came to a boil in 1711. At the time it was resolved in favor of Newton, who claimed that Leibniz had access to his early work prior to its formal publication. The controversy, however, was never definitively laid to rest. For an overview, see Wikipedia re “Leibniz-Newton Calculus Controversy”. Despite this clash of egos, Newton was a very committed Christian in other respects, viewing his remarkable creative insights into mathematics and physics as a gift from God that revealed the beauty of His creation. He served as a priest for the latter forty years of his life. The elegant beauty of his calculus has the stamp of God on it.

2. Ironside’s The Holy Trinity is available from Amazon both in book form and Kindle

3. Family of God, Arthur Perkins, published 2004 Falcon Books, portions or all available on request to perkinsart44@yahoo.com

4. Father, Son and Holy Spirit by Bruce A. Ware, published 2005 by Crossway Books

5. Umderstamding the Trinity by Alister McGrath, published 1990 by Zondervan

6. Quintus Tertullianus (Tertullian) was an early Church Father who lived from 160 to 220 A.D. See Wikipedia re “Tertullian”

7. The Baptist Confession of Faith edited by Peter Masters, published 1689, available from Amazon in Wakeman paperback edition

8. The Forgotten Trinity by James R. White, published 1998 by Bethany House

9. See Wikipedia re “Reformation”

10. See Wikipedia re Martin Luther for an overview of this initiator of the Reformation and Protestantism. His famous work Bondage of the Will, dealing with the subject of free will (or the lack of it) is available on the Interned by Googling “Bondage of the Will by Martin Luther” and going to truecovenenter.com.

11. Dominican friar Tomas de Torquemada (1420-1498) was the first Inquisitor General of Spain and confessor to Queen Isabella. An anti-Semite, he participated in the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, the year of Columbus’ initial voyage to the New World. He was named Grand Inquisitor of Spain in 1483. Under his tenure the Spanish Inquisition grew from the single office in Seville to a network of twenty-four, under which 2000 people were burned at the stake and many more tortured. The term “torque” in physics, which aptly describes a twisting force, is named in his dishonor. Many years ago I visited an odd museum in New Jersey that displayed a number of the appalling torture implements used at the time, which included a finger-snipper and a funnel to convey molten lead into the ear.

12. The astronomical works of Copernicus, Kepler and Galileo are intimately related. Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) was a contemporary of Martin Luther, preceding by over a generation the lives of Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) and Galileo Galilei (1564-1642). Copernicus’ most influential achievement was the resurrection of the heliocentric theory of planetary motion (the notion of the sun being the center of our solar system) first proposed by Aristarchus of Samos around 200 B.C. but quelled by adherents of the more popular geocentric theory (the notion that the earth was the center of our solar system) associated with the great Greek philosopher Aristotle (384-322 B.C.). Both Kepler and Galileo embraced the Copernican heliocentric view, Kepler in opposition to the Protestants and Galileo in opposition to the Catholic Church. The Christian (both Catholic and Protestant) communities, as well as the scientific community, continued to favor the geocentric theory formalized in his Almagest by Claudius Ptolemy (90-168 A.D.), a Roman citizen of Alexandria, Egypt. Kepler helped to place astronomy on a mathematical footing. His major contribution to the new heliocentric system was the elliptical characterization of planetary orbits, as opposed to the circular orbits to which Copernicus continued to cling, and which had required him to continue to propose epicycles, although fewer in number than required in the geocentric system. With the aid of the telescope, newly invented in Holland, Galileo continued to advance the heliocentric cosmology, dedicating one of his greatest works to Pope Leo III. Both Kepler and Galileo were devout Christians. Like Newton after him, Kepler believed that God had created the world according to an intelligent plan. Kepler and Galileo, although contemporaries, were distant to each other. What got Galileo into trouble with the Church was less his heliocentric view than his insistence upon its truth and his pushing the argument into the theological domain. The opposition of the Church heated up in 1615 after Galileo wrote a letter to the Grand Duchess Christina of Tuscany, an adherent of the geocentric view, which resulted in a rather amicable meeting with Pope Urban VIII, who was on friendly terms with Galileo, even to the extent of admiring him. Urban had suggested that Galileo defend his thesis in a soft manner, avoiding an insistence upon its truth. Galileo then compounded his problem by penning a defense of his views, in which he cast the Pope in the role of Simplicio, a fool. Even then, his punishment was quite benign, amounting to nothing more than house arrest under the most favorable circumstances possible. Kepler’s mother fared far worse, having been accused of witchcraft with the flimsiest of evidence. She spent 14 months in prison over the accusation, under much harsher terms than Galileo. Actually, there was at least one point over which the Church had a valid issue with the Copernican theory, that of Joshua 10:13, where the sun was said to have stood still. Given their knowledge at the time, they realized that a literal interpretation of this passage would no longer be possible under the heliocentric system. Unfortunately, nobody appreciated the terrible devastation that had fallen upon the earth at the time of the Exodus and Joshua, so this problem continued to undercut the veracity of Scripture all the way up to the mid-twentieth century. It took Immanuel Velikovsky and his initial book Worlds in Collision (published 1950) and his follow-on book Earth in Upheaval (published 1955) to furnish the world with an inkling of the planetary scale of this destruction, and of the cause behind the sun standing still, which affected the peoples on the other side of the world as well.. Velikovsky suffered far more at the hands of contemporary scientists than Galileo did from the Church. In Family of God I present a detailed account, extracted from a number of other scholars in addition to Velikovsky, of the terrifying ordeal that the peoples of the earth experienced at the time of Joshua as well as that of Noah. In my opinion, Velikovsky, Donald Patten (The Biblical Flood and the Ice Age), John Whitcomb and Henry Morris (The Genesis Flood), Charles Hapgood (The Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings) and Graham Hancock (The Mars Mystery) should be required reading for all serious students of theology.

13. See Wikipedia re Augustus Toplady. Toplady, Anglican deacon and author of the Hymn Rock of Ages, was a vehement Calvinist and had many heated confrontations with John Wesley on the subject of free will. In 1769 Toplady translated Jerome Zanchius’ Confession of the Christian Religion, written in 1562. Toplady’s translation was entitled The Doctrine of Absolute Predestination Stated and Asserted. This work is available on the Internet.

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