Sunday, August 9, 2009

Darkling thoughts.


The Scientist Dad continues his overseas research with a stint on the Chilean coast. The Philosopher Mom has been reduced to a few, moribund attempts to prepare for the start of school next week. Fortunately, I'm teaching ancient history this year, which allows me to both (a) get something practical done and (b) ponder the long and darkling plain of human existence without Christ. With all the uncertainties and drama of the nightly news (which I gave up watching with Todd's absence), it does the heart good to remember how very, very tiny we are in the vast (but brief) course of history.

For example, I was just studying some of the independent sources available to us on Egypt at the approximate time of Joseph's apex. You know what? This was the mightiest civilization on earth and so few of its records remain that we can't determine much at all about them. In fact, most of the sources qualify every sentence with "it appears that" or "this may be" or "speculation confirms."

Yesterday, I had to look up Jericho. This was the first known "city," a center of commerce and worship. And 8,000 years later ... gone. Just a pile of rocks under sand. See picture above.

Goodness! This is getting dark.

But the reality is: Human existence is dark, unless illuminated by something greater. By the light.

So, I must leave you with that master of levity in the dark, GK Chesterton. Here are a few stanzas from his Ballad of the White Horse, "The Vision of the King":

But you and all the kind of Christ
Are ignorant and brave,
And you have wars you hardly win
And souls you hardly save.

"I tell you naught for your comfort,
Yea, naught for your desire,
Save that the sky grows darker yet
And the sea rises higher.

"Night shall be thrice night over you,
And heaven an iron cope.
Do you have joy without a cause,
Yea, faith without a hope?"
~GK Chesterton

5 comments:

Elizabeth Mahlou said...

Well, actually there is a contemporary Jericho. It is near the Dead Sea, near the Allenby Bridge which connects Jordan and Israel. In the 1967, Israel took it from Jordan. I don't know, though, whether it is on the same site that it was supposedly on when the Israelites "blew down" the walls centuries ago.

e2 said...

Hmm. I don't think it's the same city (exactly). The ruins in the picture are from an archeological dig of a Jericho that had walls at one point, but which appear to have been toppled, if not by trumpets, at least by time. I'll have to get back to you on that one!

Elizabeth Mahlou said...

Please do. I would be very interested in learning the real situation. (It may be that today's Jericho was built on a new site. The question then is are the residents the descendants of the old residents. Did they just pick up and move, or are there two Jerichos.)

e2 said...

OK, so there is ONE Jericho! Continuity rocks! If Wikipedia is to be trusted on this one ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jericho#Archaeology ), and it looks promising, then the original site is a "couple of kilometers" from the current city. The proximity, however, is such that it is considered to be the longest city in continuous use in the world.

This is an apologetics website with an agenda: http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2008/06/The-Walls-of-Jericho.aspx

I don't think Kenyon (a 1950's archeologist who denied the possibility of Jericho falling to the Israelites) can be right, because more recnt research, as detailed in Carroll's Founding of Christendom, places the Israelite conquest of Canaan closer to the 1220's rather than the 1400's, BC, as she thought.

Fun stuff.

Elizabeth Mahlou said...

That's for checking that out! Interesting stuff. I vote that we take a trip there and really check it out!