Saturday, June 17, 2017


Not having been there, I opine from ignorance, but don’t see how, supposedly with all systems working, a Navy destroyer could put herself in the path of an enormous merchant ship on a calm, clear night. The vessel, judging by the photo, seems to have plowed bow first into the starboard side of the destroyer amidships, appears massive enough to have pushed the warship sideways until stopping. I just don’t see how this could have happened. And, the worst of it, seven sailors lost, that’s easy to visualize in the circumstances, people thrown around and some overboard, what a nightmare.

One night at sea in November 1969 we lost a young sailor in our ship, due to his own foolhardiness. Instead of using the ladder, he’d tried to show off by jumping from one deck to another, slipped and fell, suffering massive head injuries. I can see how the sudden blow of a collision could jar someone topside on a wet, slippery deck, and they’d lose control and go overboard or fall to another deck. This event with USS Fitzgerald distresses me to a point I don’t understand, being nearly fifty years distant from my last sea duty, but it does anyway, it knots my stomach with sadness.

Closer to home, Romans 5:1-8 says for tomorrow,

Romans 5:1-8
Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person-- though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.
The verse about “suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us” is well known as a source of encouragement in hard times. The speculation “rarely will anyone die for a righteous person -- though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die” is often read with inflection on the word “good,” which seems to convey oddly some difference between δικαίου “righteous” and ἀγαθοῦ “good.” I think the inflection should be on “perhaps,” Paul simply softening what he’s suggested. I don’t think he means to distinguish or contrast righteous and good, I think he’s just avoiding word repetition.

The notion that worries at me though is the opening, “we are justified by faith.” Tentative, never certain, I like the understanding of Romans 3:22 that Paul says we are justified by the faith of Jesus. I don’t care for the understanding that we are justified by our own faith, which to me seems too close to works righteousness; or by our faith in Jesus (as opposed to by the faith of Jesus), because I understand Paul as a totally orthodox monotheistic Jew to the end. 

And I don’t like understanding justification as being “saved and as sure for heaven as if you were already there.” To me, it simply means by coming under the umbrella of the faith (the Hebrew faith of Jesus) the Roman gentile former pagan to whom Paul is preaching, writing, speaking, is made righteous in the sight of God and therefore safe within the community of faith for the imminent eschaton. But from my uncertainty I see issues with my viewpoint. One is that apparently the genitive case of faith at Romans 3:22 can be understood and translated as if it were dative (faith in instead of faith of), though I'm sticking with of. Another is that by the time of Paul’s late writing of Romans, his certainty of the need to get ready for the imminent Second Coming with all that implied may have changed from a few years earlier when he was writing 1 Thessalonians. IDK. It’s all out there to think about, and anyone’s view is as valid as mine.


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