Thursday, May 13, 2010

Luke 21 and prison novelists

Hard times were coming for Israel and its people. This was not welcome news to the disciples of Jesus, who were Jewish, and who yearned to see their nation prosper. Still, as is strangely frequent when the God of the Bible deals with people, there is a word of encouragement in the middle of the bad news.
Luk 21:12 "Ama bütün bu olaylardan önce sizi yakalayıp zulmedecekler. Sizi havralara teslim edecek, zindanlara atacaklar. Benim adımdan ötürü kralların, valilerin önüne çıkarılacaksınız.
Luk 21:13 Bu size tanıklık etme fırsatı olacak.
Luk 21:14 Buna göre kendinizi nasıl savunacağınızı önceden düşünmemekte kararlı olun.
Luk 21:15 Çünkü ben size öyle bir konuşma yeteneği, öyle bir bilgelik vereceğim ki, size karşı çıkanların hiçbiri buna karşı direnemeyecek, bir şey diyemeyecek.
Let's look at a few words:
  • Bu -- This
  • size -- to you
  • tanıklık etmek -- to bear witness to something. to testify. attest. bear evidence. bear testimony. bear witness. to give evidence. to state in evidence. to bear record. to bear testimony.
  • fırsatı -- opportunity
  • olacak. -- will become.
  • direnmek -- resist. stand. stand out against. fight back. refuse. withstand. hold out. hold up. jib. jib at doing. persevere. offer resistance. make a stand for. stand out. stick up to.
"Folks," Jesus was saying, "You'll be excluded from places where you want to be, and confined to places where you would much rather not be. However, this will make you miraculously eloquent."

It's strange how much great literature gets written in prison. Paul, who wrote more than half of the New Testament books, wrote many of his letters from jail. John Bunyan's allegory Pilgrim's Progress begins with a reference to his imprisonment for preaching an unlicensed message:
As I walked through the wilderness of this world, I lighted on a certain place where was a Den, and I laid me down in that place to sleep: and as I slept, I dreamed a dream.
Thomas Malorie's Le Morte d'Arthur was, we believe, written while the author was imprisoned for backing the losing side during England's War of Roses.

My favorite recent example is Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who found faith and a unique voice while spending 13 years in Russian prison camps. One of his many novels one the Nobel Prize for literature. His documentary of the camp system, The Gulag Archipelago, is even more dramatic and vivid than his novels. The power of his words demoralized the ruling class of the Soviet Union. They learned that they were the black hats of history, the bad guys, parasites upon the good and decent folk, rather than heroic midwives of a glorious new age.

My gentle readers, if you are wrestling with a dissertation in the middle of profoundly frustrating circumstances, take heart. God can miraculously make you eloquent and prolific. Something about adversity can catalyze great literary achievement.

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