Peeling the Onion: Revelation 14:14-20

This is ‘purple prose’ – or poetry – operatic imagery – culmination of so much Johannine talk: Vine and branches, bear fruit . It sounded so eirenic during growing season. Not so much in the frenzy of harvest!

Despite injustice, we keep getting second chances, and the wicked prosper, and the righteous suffer – That’s the way it is - until it’s not.

Who and what is crushed? What is separated out from what in the winepress of the wrath of God?

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Peeling the Onion: Revelations 14:1-5

For 2,000 years, fetishists have read this perversely, as asexual male celibate virgins and encouraged Christians to abstain in turn.

Could I read it differently? Could pre-medieval celibacy be more sensual, opposed to ‘porneia’, the objectification of humans, but intimate, reverent of the ‘imageo dei’ in women, as the misogynist world is oblivious?

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Revelation 13:11-18

With the brand of the beast, however diluted, it seems as fickle to me as sports paraphernalia, as badges, membership cards, tattoos, uniforms, haircuts, rings. As Ratzinger wrote before he was Pope Benedict, ‘Our identity is built from all our identifications’ in your vision. Could the same human be sealed by the angel and also marked by the beast? In mine, they could!

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Peeling the Onion: Revelation 12: 13-18

I wish more of us would simply ‘rinse and repeat’, the way we do with popular video, audio, or print culture, burning neural pathways thoroughly. We do this with Disney, with Marvel. We do it with Tolkien or Rowling…Why do what Kierkegaard called tthe cultured despisers of religion’ still scare us off with the undeniable risks when there are greater undeniable rewards for those who integrate this worldview into their way of being in this world?

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Peeling the Onion: Revelation 12: 7-12

For us in the world, the promise of winning the war Is not a promise of winning each battle – and this construction informed world wars, when ‘Gott Mit Uns’ is our slogan or ‘In God We Trust.’ Think about the ‘end-game’ in chess, the ‘2 minute warning’ in football or basketball, or ‘extra innings’ in baseball, or ‘sudden-death overtime’ in hockey. Can the replays or highlights still move you?

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Peeling the Onion: Revelation 11: 15-19

Ask drought and famine refugees in Sudan after the desertification of Africa. Would just deserts look like bad news? The tougher question is not, ‘What’s so great about the ‘wrath of God’? but ‘Why aren’t you cheering? What side of the fence are you on, And who’s there with you?

I don’t know about your vision, But in mine, The martyrs who are rewarded are less likely those who crusaded and killed in God’s name Than those who suffered and died in God’s name

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Peeling The Onion: Week 4

Your figure of a woman, clothed in sun, feet on moon, crown of 12 stars Is pregnant, crying out in birthing-pains (you likely know this experience more intimately than I do). Your great red dragon, 7 heads, 10 horns, 7 diadems on his heads, his tail sweeping 1/3 of the stars from the sky to earth (try ‘seeing’ this at some Canadian campfire!)

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Peeling the Onion: Revelation 9:13-21

I work with a congregation who love to fly recreationally – And NEVER even pay carbon offset credits – Let alone limit their consumption, yet feel unrepentant. 

May I leave the identification of demons and idols to you? I will also allow you the privacy of who is sealed in your vision, And who is dead, and who is incorrigibly unrepentant, iIf you allow me similar space. 

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Peeling the Onion: Revelation 9: 1-12

What insects make your skin crawl? What biting, stinging pests have wakened you at night? I lean to black flies and horseflies for bites, but the ‘no-see-ums’ or fish flies redden my skin in the morning, and the cockroaches have marched across my teeth to wake me, though they didn’t bite.

 Number histamine reactions of swelling are familiar to Canadians and scratching just makes it worse.

 For 5 months, these pests are a scourge, irritating or maddening those without the mark of God’s seal on their foreheads but not targeting God’s people, or other living vegetation and creatures.

 Have you seen people crazed by infestation, fleeing from bees or mosquitoes you can’t see?

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Peeling the Onion:

For all that we liberal moderns tend to scientific deism, aA clockmaker God who builds a mechanism, then backs off…we do pray for justice, beyond ours to offer, both reward to the good and punishment to the evil, ‘just deserts’ (the more I pray about that, God forbid I eve get what I deserve!)

Meanwhile, do you think everybody gets ‘just deserts’?

How about sub-Saharan, Sudanese babies in famine? A God of love and grace, who is not also a God of wrath and justice, is a peculiar kind of monster, if you can live long enough in this vision. we know this from popular culture, novels and movies and gaming, the appetite not only for dystopias, but also for retributive justice, come-uppance…Revelation Has a longer track record,

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Peeling the Onion: Revelation 7, 8:1

Pull back, wa-ay back – See the blue planet in space, as John might have seen the celestial dome over flat earth – and see 4 angels, holding back the winds, from the four corners of the earth. Cosmic defence shields, in science fiction terms protecting land, sea, and forests from gales and see another angel, rising in the east, holding the seal – Imagine that.

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