Thursday, July 07, 2005


Or, Beyond Figs and Fronds: Fruit Garnishes and Christian Metaphor

For the last few weeks, discussion on Paul's blog has focused on the different meanings we attach to the word "love". One of his readers (not a native English speaker) provided the following insight:

King Solomon's hymn. In the Orthodox Church this hymn is the symbol of Christ's love for His Church which is seen as His own body. The Church is formed by the Christians who are limes of Christ.

Ah, those limes of Christ.

As I read this, I experienced a flannelgraph vision: Flannelgraph Jesus standing next to a flannelgraph lime tree, tending his limes, keeping the good limes, and throwing the bad limes into the fire.

Flannelgraph Jesus wearing an apron, putting the limes through trials and tribulations so that they might be mushed into the perfect key lime pie.

The flannelgraph faithful singing a flannelgraph hymn, handing out limes and coconuts, encouraging the poor and destitute: "You put the lime in the coconut, drink them both together! Put the lime in the coconut ... then you'll feel better!"

This, of course, I found freaking hilarious. But then I started to wonder what our Orthodox friends would think of my amusement. Heretical? Possibly. Irreverent? Definitely.

And then I started to wonder again ... what's reverence? And what good is it, anyway?

Let's look at a biblical example from Job. For fun, we'll use the King James.

Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die. But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.

Job's wife is obviously encouraging her husband to commit an irreverent act so that God (apparently short on mercy, but stocked up on wrath) will kill him and end his misery. So now you tell me: What's wrong with the advice of Job's wife? Is it the suggestion that Job be irreverent? Is it her bent toward suicide? What?

Bonus question: What the heck is Job talking about when he says we should quietly receive evil at the hand of God?


Srikar said...

First time here. Nice blog. You seem to be someone who's interested in photography. Check out my photoblog -

Will surely be back here.

Paul said...

You have taught me the true meaning of forgiveness.

As to Job, I think he was talking about acceptance of the bad stuff. Of course later in the book, he does reach his own personal breaking point. That's when God speaks to him out of the Whirlwind - where were you when I laid the foundations of the world, when I made the raging tigers and the winds to blow the limes off of the trees - etc.

That's what stops Job from complaining. He's humbled into basically realizing he doesn't know the big picture, the full story.

life_of_bryan said...

Apparently it was common at the time for the heathens to react with reproach when displeased with their gods for not answering prayers/offerings. I think the implication is that she has a self-centered perspective on religion, and its futility if you don't get what you want out of it. Plus it ticked her off to see him handling the trials so well...not to mention her TV had been blown away so that she couldn't watch Dr. Phil anymore.

Love the flannel reference. This storyboard depicts the passage where Jesus explains to select inhabitants of the Bible belt that they must eat from the lime tree in the background in order to escape the lion's den and cross the river to the much more pleasant giraffe ride (minimum height requirement)...