Is Someone Trying to Tell Me Something?

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I want to tell you about something that has happened to me twice, in the span of just a few days. Then I will try to draw out an edifying lesson from it.

Last Sunday, I was reading one of Peter Leithart’s books — Ascent of Love — to accompany my reading of the Divine Comedy. In the section I read, Peter referred to “Euhemerism,” a theory that taught that the “gods of the myths were once men, and their exploits were the exploits of ancient kings” (p. 19). I was familiar with this view, but thought it was just something that some people thought. I had recently been reading Lactantius, and he does that a lot. I just didn’t know there was a name for it, and if someone had told me there was a name for it and that I should guess, I wouldn’t have hazarded Euhemerism.

So then, last night, I was reading Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable — trying, as I do, to read a couple pages a night (yes, I know, leave me alone). And what should I happen to read but the entry for Euhemerus, a Greek philosopher of the 4th century, B.C., who developed the idea that the gods were actually ancient kings and heroes of extraordinary ability. Huh, thinks I. Why does God want me to learn about and remember Euhemerism?

Okay, that was odd. Then this happened today.At work my library is being reorganized, and so there are discombobulated and rearranged books everywhere. I glanced to the right of my computer, and saw a book called The Effective Executive. I took it down to see who wrote it (Peter Drucker), and opened it at random. I read a section that said that time, when gone, was gone forever. The richest man in the world can’t buy himself more time. I put the book back. Maybe I will read it some time, maybe not. Then this evening, I picked up one of the books I am currently reading (Crazy Busy by Kevin Deyoung, quite a good one), resumed reading where I had left off last night, and ran spang into the very same quote by Drucker.

Now is somebody trying to get my attention? If so, is it so that I will be able to make a tantalizing point about how time has vanished for all the ancient kings, as Euhemerus would have us believe? And that they would have been more effective ancient kings had they only listened to Drucker? Or is the point a broader one — i.e. that the universe is kind of squirrely?

I am inclined to the latter view, and here is where I will try to be edifying.

Odd, squirrely, or spooky things do happen. Some people are dull enough to not ever notice, and some of our more excitable brethren notice all such events and then some, and start whispering to one another that “it’s a sign.”

But the universe is not governed by impersonal forces, grinding away. The universe is a spoken world — everything that happens has all the force of triune personality behind it. Sometimes we notice, and most of the time we don’t. Chesterton commented that we ought to notice every time, even when the repetitions make us think everything must be on cruise control. No, Chesterton says — the personality behind all this is infinitely childlike, and loves repetition. He also loves the change up pitch, and I think it is because He likes the looks on our faces.

When we read Scripture, we know that God is speaking, and we also are privileged to know what He is saying. When we look at the stars come out, or listen to a pheasant call, or ponder weird circumstances like this one, we also know that God is speaking. I am encouraged by this, but that doesn’t mean that I can make out the particulars of what He is saying. When Saul of Tarsus was converted, the men with him heard the noise (Acts 9:7), but couldn’t make out what the voice was saying (Acts 22:9). But even though they didn’t know what was being said (the way Saul did), they still knew that something big was up. God can speak through the mere fact of His speaking, and not just through the content of it.

Special revelation is crammed with content, and there is nothing like it. But nothing God reveals is contentless.

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Carson
Carson
8 years ago

There is an interesting perception that such events are exceedingly rare — like flipping a quarter and getting 10 heads in a row or something.  And, because rate, significant in some way that un-rare events are not.  Euhemerism — not just an ancient notion, an epiphany. But these events, viewed statistically-appropriately, are not actually rare.  It is like flipping a quarter a million times a day and getting a run of 10 in a row out of a million flips is not only not rare, it is inevitable.   For a person reading books in his own library, books selected… Read more »

Eric Stampher
Eric Stampher
8 years ago

Not trying to be cute here, but the depth of my understanding of what He says via Luke is about the same as what I get via His pheasants.  Which is to say, I don’t catch much of what He says.  Yet both revelations seem special.

Micah Neely
Micah Neely
8 years ago

True, but…observation effect.

Sethblooms
Sethblooms
8 years ago

Which book by Lactantius? Ive been trying to find it.

Jane Dunsworth
Jane Dunsworth
8 years ago

Just because the observation effect is a thing doesn’t mean it isn’t a thing that God uses to get our attention.

Rob Steele
8 years ago

[H]e makes his messengers winds, his ministers a flaming fire.
 
Ps. 104:4
 
That’s the thing about a sovereign God, nothing is random or accidental from his point of view.  He takes a kind of idiot delight in playing with us, who really are idiots.  It’s for our own good, no doubt.

Aaron Richmond
8 years ago

Leithart was riffing on Euhemerism via Edwards some in August. Apparently Edwards incorporated it into his view of history. Also, apparently, the sons of Noah were the ones who established the Chinese empire. Reading through Leithart’s posts, I found the approach to history to be pretty neat, but I’ve no idea what to do with it.

Charles Long
8 years ago

Isn’t Nate sorta doing this with his Dragons Tooth books?

Seth Fuller
Seth Fuller
8 years ago

Pastor Wilson, you can’t be serious. Maybe it just means you need to stop reading so much secular literature. If I see a filthy movie, then I see a reference to it somewhere, it doesn’t mean God is speaking to me, but perhaps it means I am surrounding myself with too much secular nonsense.

John Barach
8 years ago

The other day, just for the fun of it, I was reading a book about the old pulp magazines (which generated a blog entry on <a href=”http://barach.us/2013/09/13/westerns/”>westerns</a> and another on the <a href=”http://barach.us/2013/09/13/faster-than-a-speeding-pulp-writer/”>amount of writing</a> some pulp writers did and how much they were paid for it).<br><br>In a chapter on the pulp hero named Operator 5, there was a discussion of the archvillain called the “Purple Emperor.”  I set that book down and picked up Kenneth Grahame’s <i>Pagan Papers</i> (a dud, by the way; stick to <i>The Wind in the Willows</i>) and what should I find at the end of… Read more »

John Barach
8 years ago

Argh. So much for that attempt to format everything.  Forgive the html garbage scattered all through that last comment, please.  I’d delete it and repost if I could, but … I don’t seem to have that option.

Gianni
Gianni
8 years ago

Big Christian Euhemerism fan here! And yes, God definitely knows how to get our attention in this way, in spite of efforts by boring people to take away the magic of it. I love it when He does that. Which is very rarely. But unmistakably. He knows what grabs MY attention, what makes me smile and look up to the sky, what makes me fall from the chair for the surprise. The important thing is that we don’t start looking for it everywhere and all the time. That’s the weird part, because we ARE Calvinists. We DO believe God is… Read more »

Gianni
Gianni
8 years ago

Pastor Barach, this is what happened. Until a few days ago it was possible over here to simulate fake paragraph breaks in the comment section (in spite of Wilson’s original plan that excluded paragraph breaks from his blog by design). That was thanks to the ingenuity of a commenter who figured out how to do it anyway. This bothered Wilson, who three days ago asked me how we do it. We were foolish enough to explain it to him. So now the inevitable happened, and he fixed that weakness in his system, making sure that now we can’t make paragraph… Read more »

Dan Glover
8 years ago

That’s so weird, I was just trying to make breaks between paragraphs when I read the comments here and found that I am not the only one trying to make breaks between paragraphs.  Apparently others are also finding it extremely difficult tyring to make breaks between paragraphs. 
Ok, whoa.  What are the chances of seeing the same combination of words used in the same order 3 times in a row, all in only 2 sentences and all while I was just trying to make breaks between the paragraphs.
Oops, I mean 4 and 3.  I need to lie down. 

Dan Glover
8 years ago

Seriously though, I’ve been working on a paper on 2 Corinthians, about how Paul considered affliction, suffering and persecution to be part of his call as an apostle, and how, over against the false apostles who are his opponents in that letter, it is a sign of legitimate apostleship and a key part of the means God uses in the effectual spread of the gospel.  Long before starting to write this paper, I began reading Wright’s book, “How God Became King”.  Since starting the paper, I’ve only been reading a few pages from Wright’s book every second or third evening, when… Read more »

rcjr
8 years ago

Sorry to be the constant money quote guy but, “The universe is a spoken world” is the money money uses.

Bernard
8 years ago

I am amused at how discussions on paragraph breaks in comments are often more passionate and sustained than discussions on anything that Pastor Wilson writes.

There must be a way, though.

katecho
katecho
8 years ago

There is always
a way.   8)

katecho
katecho
8 years ago

But it may

 

not be simple.  8)

Gianni
Gianni
8 years ago

Ha!
<blockquote>
 
</blockquote>
You mean like this?
 

Gianni
Gianni
8 years ago

Or maybe 
&lt;blockquote&gt;
 
&lt;/blockquote&gt;

like this?

Gianni
Gianni
8 years ago

Or
<blockquote>
 
</blockquote>
this?

Gianni
Gianni
8 years ago

This is too funny! Whatever happens, Katecho, don’t reveal the loophole you found, or he’ll fix it.

Gianni
Gianni
8 years ago

Wait.

 

How about

 

this?

Gianni
Gianni
8 years ago

Got it!
 
 

Thursday
Thursday
8 years ago

Made me think of Wallace Stevens’ Snow Man: One must have a mind of winter  To regard the frost and the boughs  Of the pine-trees crusted with snow; And have been cold a long time  To behold the junipers shagged with ice,  The spruces rough in the distant glitter Of the January sun; and not to think  Of any misery in the sound of the wind,  In the sound of a few leaves, Which is the sound of the land  Full of the same wind  That is blowing in the same bare place For the listener, who listens in the… Read more »

Thursday
Thursday
8 years ago

One must have a mind of winter To regard the frost and the boughs Of the pine-trees crusted with snow; And have been cold a long time To behold the junipers shagged with ice, The spruces rough in the distant glitter Of the January sun; and not to think Of any misery in the sound of the wind, In the sound of a few leaves, Which is the sound of the land Full of the same wind That is blowing in the same bare place For the listener, who listens in the snow, And, nothing himself, beholds Nothing that is… Read more »

Ellen of Tasmania
Ellen of Tasmania
7 years ago

The good Pastor uses paragraphs freely and fully himself. Perhaps he feels the lack of them will embarrass people out of long comments? Maybe he just dislikes paragraph-competition?

Josh
7 years ago

Huh! I’m just finishing a book by leithart and about to start the Drucker book Effective Executive. 
Must be a sign

J
J
7 years ago

Sometimes I get to the bottom of the comments on posts like this and can’t help but feeling like someone just stole something from me. I should’ve just stopped once I was done with Doug’s stuff. Thanks Doug for the willingness to put it out there. I’m not looking for things like that most of the time but seem to notice them anyway. I do love that my Lord enjoys patterns, even when I don’t have a clue what it means.

Scott P
Scott P
7 years ago

Pastor Wilson, any comments on euhemerism and Genesis 6?