Friday, November 19, 2010


The End of Waiting

No, I do not mean that waiting will end; I mean that the purpose of waiting is to open us to the coming of the radically new. And so radical will this coming new “thing” be, that the old will be destroyed—not transformed, changed, or filed away in our historical memory banks. It will be destroyed.
In the “Little Apocalypse” we listen to Jesus describing the destruction of the temple, where not one stone will be left standing on another. The radically new in this case is such that it will do away with the temple; i.e., there will no longer be a need for the temple. For the kingdom of Heaven will be ushered in by the coming of the Son of Man, upon the clouds of glory.
In the “Great” Apocalypse (The Book of Revelation), the new Jerusalem destroys the old city. The words of Jesus are fulfilled: in the new Jerusalem there is no temple, “since the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb were themselves the temple (21:22).
But this does not exhaust the meaning of the new Jerusalem. To begin understanding what the New Jerusalem means we must pay attention to the old city that is destroyed in the Book of Revelation, i.e., Babylon.
It is often said the Babylon is code for Rome, the city-empire that was persecuting the Christian sect. But really Babylon is simply code for the city, nothing more. If we pay attention to the destruction of Babylon, we will see what the coming new Jerusalem offers in its place. And one way to focus on what the destruction of the old city means is to note who mourns its loss, and why.
First and foremost are the “kings of the earth who have fornicated with her and lived with her in luxury (18:9).” In other words, the day of the politicians is over, for the day of poitics is over—not just ‘politics as usual,’ but politics itself is finished. All those trusted with governance have failed; they have whored after false gods.
Second, are the merchants, who have “grown rich through her debauchery (18:3).” Here the description is long and detailed, “There will be weeping and distress over her (the city’s fall)…when there is noboby left to buy their cargo of goods; their stocks of gold and silver, jewels and pearls, linen and purple and silks and scarlet; all the sandlewood, every piece in ivory or fine wood, in bronze or iron or marble; the cinnamon and spices, the myrrh and ointment and incense; wine, oil, flour and corn; their stocks of cattle, sheep, horses and chariots, their slaves, their human cargo…(18;11-13).”
Along with politics, commerce is finished. Those who have whored after the false god of the free market are left with this description: “All the fruits you had set your heart on have failed you; gone forever, never to return, is your life of magnificence and ease ((18:14).”

(To be continued)

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