Jeremiah 32: 1-3, 6-15

One of my favourite writers is the American science-fiction author Gene Wolf; and of his works, my favourite is a quartet of novels known collectively as The Book of the New Sun.  Set in the far distant future, they trace the long journey of a character called Severian, who rises from obscurity to become ruler of the world.  The novels are written in the first person and address the reader directly; and at the end of each novel, the character Severian informs the reader that here he pauses, having taken them from such-and-such a point to such-and-such a point.  If they do not wish to travel any further with him, he understands; for it is no easy road on which he is embarked. Continue reading “Jeremiah 32: 1-3, 6-15”

Jeremiah 8:18 – 9:1

This past week has not exactly been one in which the human species has covered itself in glory.   Despite clear evidence that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons against its own people, any response to the humanitarian crisis in that country continues to be stymied by the considerations of global geo-politics, as world powers jockey to increase or maintain their influence in the Middle East.  Similarly, a United Nations report tabled this week detailed the appalling atrocities committed by the insane dictatorship in North Korea, including eye-witness testimony to mothers being forced to drown their own children as punishment for political “crimes”, and children being forced to witness the summary execution of their parents. Finally, the world woke up to reports that, yet again, a gunman has gone on a deadly rampage in the United States, highlighting once again the folly of insisting on the “right” to own a firearm over against the right not to be murdered by someone with a grudge or a disturbed mind. Continue reading “Jeremiah 8:18 – 9:1”

Jeremiah 4: 11-12, 22-28

In 1991, the renowned Australian author and television personality, Clive James, aired a series of in-depth interviews with various luminaries from the arts, science and culture – people of such world-wide stature as Gore Vidal and P. J. O’Rourke.  I remember this series vividly because it featured a wonderful interview with the late Stephen Jay Gould, arguably one of the most influential scientists of the late 20th century.   Gould, who specialised in the fields of taxonomy – that is, the categorisation of living species – and evolutionary biology, possessed an insight into humanity’s relationship with the natural world that was both chilling and re-assuring.  Discussing with James the possible future fate of our species, Gould observed that if humanity is so foolish as to one day wipe itself out, this would nonetheless not result in either the “end” of the world or even the end of life on this planet.  As Gould noted, events on the surface of this planet have no meaning whatsoever for those creatures living on the ocean floor, while it would be simply impossible to wipe out creatures such as insects, or the various categories of micro-organism.  So the extinction of the human species, while undoubtedly catastrophic for us personally, would be little more than a “blip” in the natural history of this planet.  Continue reading “Jeremiah 4: 11-12, 22-28”

Jeremiah 18: 1-11

The great British writer G K Chesterton once said that free verse was a bit like free love: it was a contradiction in terms[1].  Chesterton may or may not having been making an acerbic comment on a literary form for which he had little sympathy, but his comment about love is absolutely true.  Love – real, heartfelt love – never comes for free, precisely because it requires both our emotional investment and our exposure to the other.  To really love is to make ourselves really vulnerable; because built into the reality of love is the reality of pain, and of suffering. Continue reading “Jeremiah 18: 1-11”