The Angel and the Judge, The Screwloose Letters, Vol 1, #4
It’s Sunday afternoon, and what are you doing?
How’s your relationship to Reality? Now serious, what is your version of Reality? You have one you know, even if you haven’t thought it through, consciously. Even if you remain completely unaware of the whole subject matter.
Oh come on now… What are you talking about? All you philosophy majors are the same, Think you have a corner on Ultimate Reality. Gimme a break.
No, I’m talking about Jesus. It’s his idea. It’s his alternate terminology for the Kingdom of Heaven you see… At least in the Gospel of Thomas. Here he is, in Saying 27:
Yeshua says, If you do not fast from the cosmos, you will never get hold of Reality. If you cannot find rest on the Sabbath, you will never see the Father. Logion 27, Gospel of Thomas
And pray tell, what might that mean, 'fast from the cosmos?'
Keep in mind that in the thought-world of these first century Greeks the cosmos meant the spirit of the world about them, the values, the mores, the accepted system, the surrounding culture. So to answer your question... the first step might be; turn off the television. Take a break, clear your head. Look again at the saying. It seems pretty clear that this jesus is equating this 'Father' of his with Ultimate Reality. And even on Sunday, stretched out on the couch, you might be far from what he means by resting.
Get outta here. I’m resting today, can’t you see? Watching the 49ers. Or was, until you interrupted. Is there no rest for the wicked? By the way, is that in the Bible? If it isn’t it should be...
This Gospel of Thomas is clever, very clever, to quote S.P. Laurie. Its riddles are quite sophisticated. 'Rest’ does not mean simply having a beer and watching the game, or any similar state of physical relaxation, but rather it is that state of spiritual quiescence that comes to very few. It's when at last the search is over and peace is found, all the really big questions are resolved, nirvana if you will, some form of ‘enlightenment.’ But there’s yet another play on words going on here, and it has to do with the Really Big One, namely Who is God? The 'Father' Jesus is always talking about is not what most out there think of as God... I once had a rather nutty room mate, in my early days in Santa Cruz, a guy from Brooklyn who used to say to most everyone he met, after shaking hands and introducing himself, Alright my friend, now let me ask you something. The question is this here: What is God?
There be gods many, and angels many. Bear with me.
It’s clear that for Jesus the commonly held concept of Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of Moses and the Prophets held by most of his hearers either does not exist or is a highly suspect pretender, a boasting bully not to be trusted to give you the truth, a kind of divine Donald Trump. When Yeshua talks about the ‘Father’ he is talking about a hidden god, a god himself in exile just like us, a god harder to come by, a treasure hidden in the heart. The One who nevertheless has always pursued us across the endless and barren wastes of our exile, this wilderness of a world in chaos and turmoil, trying to bring us home again to the original kingdom from which we came, so that his will can again be done, on ‘earth’ as it is in ‘heaven. ’Fear not little flock, it is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom…' 'Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth (now, here, this Sunday, this rest come to us on this “day of rest”…) as it is in heaven.'
The original Jesus was/is a ‘gnostic,’ according to the GT, at least at this point.
The gnostics had a lot of crazy ideas, like for instance there were Angels everywhere, unseen but all around, messing with our heads, trying to destroy us, hide us from the original light, from the kingdom unseen, from which we originally came, hide from us our true identity, keep us watching the game, drinking our beer. They believed that the God of the Torah was one of these Angels, the one the Jews worshipped as Yahweh, except he was not Yahweh at all but a great Angel, the Angel of the Name. The Jews had never known the true, the real, the all-powerful Yahweh, who was untouchably distant and remote from man, and who could only be discovered within, or approached through the intermediation of Jesus. This Ultimate Yahweh (read Ultimate Reality) had sent Jesus to supersede the Angel of the Name and to render Torah obsolete. These beliefs were hidden deep within the sayings of the early Jesus Movement, sayings preserved today in the Gospel of Thomas. From S. P. Laurie, The Rock and the Tower, p. 225.
I do have a television set. I even watch football games, if only sporadically. ‘Fasting from the cosmos’ for me means, in part, that I can only take so much and no more—especially when it comes to Cable News channels… But I did catch part of the histrionics involving ‘Judge’ Kavanaugh and ‘Doctor Ford.’
You know the one I mean.
There came a moment near the end of Judge Kavanaugh’s rather adolescent and a bit too defensive rant when one of the Judge’s Republican cohorts leapt to his feet and popped what he no doubt considered the Ultimate Question for his deeply pious potential voting base: Do you believe, he asked Judge Kavanaugh, in God? Standing now and bristling with righteousness, ready to do battle with the Minions of Satan, the good Judge does not disappoint. With knee-jerk precision comes the split-second response: Yes. Defiant. Exultant stare. His questioner sits down, smile intact, smug, triumphant.
The Angel and the Judge have done business, yet once more. These two understand each other.
But know ye not that we shall judge the angels?
That's right, we get to have the final say, some distant day, according to Paul. This from I Corinthians 6:3, in your Bible. Not from the Gospel of Thomas! Did you ever see this, really see this passage from Paul? Take a good look at it; what could Paul possibly be saying? Clue: he tells these same Corinthians he's been feeding them on milk, as did befit the spiritual babes they were... But now he's throwing them a little red meat.
Seems a little ‘gnosticism’ remains, even in St Paul. These Angels are getting the better of us now, but our day is coming, according to the gnostics and St Paul, as quoted above in your New Testament. What an irony! These Angels will appear before us 'gnostics,' who knew it all the time, who was really telling the truth--and they won't have Fox News to help them. Yes, even the greatest Angel of them all, that phony old Nobodaddy of the Old Testament who had all those Republicans convinced he was the One True God and they were his infallible Senate whose lies, like his, would ever prevail, the one in whose sight they could do no wrong, yes the Angel of the Name who's been the Cosmic Donald Trump since about the time of Ezra the Scribe, will finally be brought to justice... And we will be the Senate. And at last, justice will prevail, and not somebody's partisan power play.
Justice.. What a concept. Virtually unavailable for now, unless you go to the same old Jesus. He still remembers what it is, along with a few of us 'liberals.'
Come to me, for justice is my yoke, and gentleness is my rule. And you will discover the state of rest…. saying 90. in your GT.
Not much gentleness among Trump's troops... Do they need to take a rest?
But Judge not, lest ye be judged. Didn't he also say that?
Unless you’re judging the Angels, he might have added.