by D. Thomas
“Were our hearts not burning within us while He talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” [LUKE 24: 32]’
I’d had intentions of writing weeks ago: I wrote about the Holy Spirit appearing as fire, and wanted to jump in with the Ring of Fire solar eclipse created by the new moon, two weeks after the Blood Flower Super Moon lunar eclipse, another noteworthy celestial event in the year of conjunctions and alignments and plagues, insurrections and rumors of parties that still think trump won.
The photos of that solar eclipse here in Pennsylvania (I could not see it from where I was) show the bronze, bright crescent which looks to me like a darkly burnished, burning moon, and makes me think that something cosmological might be being born.
The name, “Ring of Fire,” first brought to mind the Johnny Cash song.
The June Carter song. June Carter wrote it; Johnny Cash, the Man In Black, made it famous– a devout, faulty Christian who worked hard on prison reform.
Brynhilde, the Valkyrie, sprang to mind even as I was humming the chorus of the song: She was a favorite of the god Odin in the Old Norse Eddas and Volsunga and the Germanic Nibelungenlied,( made famous by in the Wagner Ring Cycle opera). She took to Valhalla a warrior who was loved by Odin but barred from the halls where the brave fighters were hallowed after honorable death in battle. For her disobedience she was put into a sleep, and surrounded– protected and imprisoned by fire; the hero who could leap the flames would wake her, as a type of Sleeping Beauty, but then this immortal woke mortal, and forced to desire and marry this Sigurd (Germanic Siegfried). Her “hero” later fell in love with another woman and tricked and abandoned her, and Brynhilde ended up committing suicide by throwing herself on his funeral pyre.
This reminds me of the curse upon Eve as humanity was expelled from Eden, “Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” [GEN. 3:16, NIV.] ( Interestingly, the New Living Translation of the Bible says “And you will desire to control your husband” and the English Standard Version puts it “Your desire shall be contrary to your husband;” all three seem to fit Brynhilde. Glancing at thirty translations here, two say that she will submit to her husband, and the remaining twenty-six are “desire“.)
Rings of Fire: Brynhilde and Johnny Cash, Prometheus and The Inferno and The Fire Next Time; global warming, the two heat waves, here, in June, and, the Comet C/2014 UN271.
“Then the angel took the censor, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake.” [REVELATION 8:5]
There was too much, and then, I was going through fire. Sin and self- torment (where I’m a Bergman film– Ingmar). My head can burn and can generate heat and darkness; in relationships, I too often imagine things, invent, and overreact– which is “borderline personality” disordered; I sin, and I fear the LORD, and it is sometimes not “reverence” and “awe” (which it is), but fear. I condemn myself, damn myself for my unrepentance; desire can be like impalement on a lit flame and hot melting wax– hellfire exists within myself, like acid, like bile, like shame.
“God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with His powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of His power.” [2 THESSALONIANS 1: 6-9]
Are our hearts not burning within us?
Oh yes, and scientists have found that the largest comet ever known is heading our way, will enter our solar system in 2031, a comet with a diameter of about 100 miles– 1000 times the size of any others so far known, which turned up in archived images taken during a survey of “dark matter”. The Club of Rome (Limits to Growth) reports put our end-of-life-as-we-know it at 2030: on Facebook now I’ve been seeing a movement to conserve 30% of the earth’s natural resources by 2030. To conserve 30%. 70% will dry up, burn out, be poisoned?
“As I watched, I heard an eagle that was flying in midair call out in a loud voice: ‘Woe! Woe! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the trumpet blasts about to be sounded by the other three angels!’ The fifth angel sounded his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth….A third of mankind was killed by the three plagues of fire, smoke, and sulfur that came out of their mouths….The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent… ” [REV. 8:13, 9: 1, 18, 20a]
I had no intention of reading the Book of Revelation– I was looking for the reference to the Fire Next Time, which James Baldwin used; the rainbow is the Biblical promise that the world will not again be destroyed by flood. Peter says “By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgement of ungodly men” [2 PETER 3:6-7]. He was speaking of scoffers who forget that God made the world with a word ( a “sound”, a bang, and the Word making wine and blood, flesh and bread) , scoffers who forget that the earth was formed out of water and by water– as is everyone born.
He says, “the world of that time“– that area? There was flooding, the earth was covered with water, it was cataclysmic when the earth plates separated, the continents appeared and drifted– the myths of oldest humanity tell flood stories– some earth memory recorded in our matter, in our cells– our fetal development is in water, our bodies are mostly water. Global warming and greenhouse gasses will melt the surface in four billion years, science suggests; nuclear war, nuclear holocaust, would be fire of Biblical proportion and I never read Revelation without seeing that, and I always suspect that, if you can line up any of the images from John’s trippy visionary dream with reality, the locusts like fighter planes and bombers and the eagles are probably us. The U.S. is as like Babylon as any kingdom on earth– and why, with all our CGI, has no one yet made the movie?
I do not think we are supposed to line things up point by point, but if you start, you can make a good argument for the U.S.A. also being the last, different from all others kingdom of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in Daniel 2 and Daniel’s dream in chapter 7, and you can fear that we are indeed in End Times.
Which people have thought countless times.
We all do face our own End Time, at our own ends.
This does not mean that sinners and “unbelievers” will all go to Hell– Hell is not a Place; it is a state of mind or psyche, it is burning and twisting, in obsessive love or self-loathing or addiction or clinical Depression, it is the dark caverns of suicidal despair and dread of the Beast within, at the bottom of the self where mind is brain stem is body which is part of us or, to materialists, what one is; Hell is regret, is guilt and shame. Hell is being trapped in a room with no windows, only mirrors, all warped but one but we don’t know which one…
Prometheus took Fire, which had belonged to the gods, and gave it to Humans. Warmth in winter, cooked food, light to read and sew and tell stories by. Fire to burn houses, forests, books, martyrs, heretics, witches, KKK crosses, by…
The Club of Rome is a group of scientists who programmed computers to project what would happen if agricultural and population trends, if industrial development and manufacture continued on the twentieth century trajectories, and determined that the Earth could not sustain the continued economic and population growth. The study results were first published as Limits to Growth in 1972; I own a 30-year-updated version, and I think we have passed our window of radical change for healthy sustainability. A few of the very rich will be more or less okay, of course, but the rest– well, isn’t it happening? Record hot years, year after year, and more and more species dying out and spreading diseases to humans as they seek food before expiring. Biodiversity is disappearing under parking lots and industrial one-crop farms, rainforests are being razed for fast-food cattle grazing and junk food ingredients, and–.
The wild dreams and visions of the Biblical Prophets don’t seem so crazy. They also tell us that we cannot judge each other– we do not even know or control ourselves. Obedience to God is choosing to act as Love suggests, not as hatred, fear, and wrath do. Not lashing out like jealous or avaricious monsters, our Shadows grown king- and queen-sized and taking us over. Wait, be still, pray and yell and weep in secret until the rage is spent, and preserve its victim/cause from it, and act, more rationally, later– after the nap, the run, the smoke, the bellowing to punk or metal or P.J. Harvey, and some cooling down. Love is the choice to refrain from harming, from lashing out, from hitting “Send;” and sometimes that is one’s best effort– often, when one is wrong about whatever sparked it, and as often when one is the one in wrong in the first place, sitting on one’s hands is loving.
The Holy Spirit causes much of our burning. “Convicts” us of our sin, our wrong. And frees us: shows us the way out of torment, is and shows the Light. Light, Truth, Life. If we can imagine “Justice” and something “better”, I think a God can, and one has to sometimes leap–. Oh, seek justice, work for social justice, advocate for the animals and plants and streams and oceans and earth– yes, anger is not all bad, anger drives, anger and outrage directed to growth and health are of the Spirit. Spirit opens a room with windows, eyes that see with compassion, a heart wanting to help, to heal, to care for, to shelter, to feed, to release one’s bitternesses and charges against– to forgive.
Can one forgive what was done to someone else?
James Baldwin took his title from a slave spiritual:
“God gave Noah the rainbow sign, No more water, the fire next time!”
In the first part, My Dungeon Shook: Letter To My Nephew On The Hundredth Anniversary Of The Emancipation, he tells his nephew to not believe that he is what the white people tell him that he is, and that he must pity and love those very whites who try to keep the black people down, in the ghettos and kitchens (and jails) out of their own fears for themselves and their places and their guilt, their fear of change admitting Truth; it is the white people who need to be freed, because their minds are the ones imprisoned . (And just look at the Jan. 6 crowd!)
How many times will we have to weep and protest against White Northern European racism? How long must anti-racists sing this song? Because or though I am cis-gender and white, my heart breaks, my heart breaks. There is a movement with promise in the world, so, there might be hope. There is, daily, war.
I cannot celebrate the Fourth, when a private militia made of Colonizers rebelled against the Home offices, the absentee King, but left the natives of the continent disenfranchised, savagely murdered and interned, imprisoned, enslaved, as their brothers and cousins did all over Africa and India for Empire and Profit. Juneteenth celebrates the days that the last (known) slaves, in Texas, were informed that they were free— two years after the law made it so.
The most stunning verse in Revelation is 8:1:
“When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.”
As Heaven is existing in/experiencing the Presence of God (“God”), Hell is– existing without, experiencing not being with God. The Creator, Life itself, Love. The outer darkness where the worms gnaw at, the fire burns, consciousness, and there is the gnashing of teeth: living with oneself– alone. No one to hear you, see you, love or fear or want you or serve you or think of you at all.
The Tree of Life in Eden is protected on all sides by an Angel spinning swords of fire.
“The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints, went up before God from the angel’s hand,” Revelation [8:4] says, just before the angel hurled the burning censor onto the earth.