Thursday, August 26, 2010

Once upon a time there were two brothers...

I hope this is not blasphemous.

My oldest grandson made the varsity football team at his school this year. His jersey number is 48. His younger brother, who does everything at full tilt, is one of his (and the team’s) biggest fans. The following photographs remind me of an old Christian hymn, and when I say old I mean that in 2012 it will have been around for 200 years.

I do hope I’m not being blasphemous:

The Son of God goes forth to war,
A kingly crown to gain;
His blood-red banner streams afar,...

Who follows in His train?

Same song, second verse:

I don’t know about you, but I think it’s kind of cute.

But I do hope I’m not being blasphemous.


  1. Sorry, I've just had a word with St Peter and he says you certainly were being blasphemous. This has been noted in his big "Book of Reckoning". He's also cross with you for leaving enigmatic sayings on British blogs that are puzzling for non-Americans such as "Some people make Kool-Aid. Some people drink Kool-Aid." Urggh?

  2. YP, I will answer your question about drinking Kool-Aid in the comment section of the post on your blog where I said it, thus avoiding a cross-blog conversation that others may find confusing.

    Your comments are important to us, and will be answered in the order in which they are received.

  3. I think that's very clever, Robert. I've never heard this hymn before, but playing with the words of it is no worse than what certain sectors of the church have done in their attempts to 'upgrade' some of the original hymnwriters' poetry to supposedly meet the needs of a funky new congregation.

    You have some very handsome boys there and its good to know that they are close and support each other.

    Incidentally, commenting on the comment that is on a different comment box, I used to work, for a very short time, with the last western man to see Jim Jones' cult alive and talked to him at length about it. The power of religious persuasion and pressure in not just the wrong hands, but any hands, can be deadly. x

  4. Elizabeth, here is the entire hymn:

    The Son of God goes forth to war,
    A kingly crown to gain;
    His blood red banner streams afar:
    Who follows in His train?
    Who best can drink his cup of woe,
    Triumphant over pain,
    Who patient bears his cross below,
    He follows in His train.

    That martyr first, whose eagle eye
    Could pierce beyond the grave;
    Who saw his Master in the sky,
    And called on Him to save.
    Like Him, with pardon on His tongue,
    In midst of mortal pain,
    He prayed for them that did the wrong:
    Who follows in His train?

    A glorious band, the chosen few
    On whom the Spirit came;
    Twelve valiant saints, their hope they knew,
    And mocked the cross and flame.
    They met the tyrant’s brandished steel,
    The lion’s gory mane;
    They bowed their heads the death to feel:
    Who follows in their train?

    A noble army, men and boys,
    The matron and the maid,
    Around the Savior’s throne rejoice,
    In robes of light arrayed.
    They climbed the steep ascent of Heav’n,
    Through peril, toil and pain;
    O God, to us may grace be given,
    To follow in their train.

    It was written in 1812 by Reginald Heber, who later became Anglican bishop of Calcutta, India.

  5. Ah, as soon as you said Heber, Robert, I recognised his older style, 'though I'm more familiar with 'Brightest and Best, the Sons of the Morning' and, of course, 'Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty' - considered by Tennyson to be the best hymn ever written (up to his time!)
    Apparently, when he wrote his poem, 'Palestine', Heber shared it with college contemporary, Sir Walter Scott, who said it was inaccurate because no tools had been mentioned in building the Temple, so Heber scribbled in the reference to the hammer and the axe. x

  6. I would venture a guess that on this side of the Atlantic, all Christians know "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty" and there may be a few very old people left who might recognize "From Greenland's Icy Mountains" and "The Son Of God Goes Forth To War", but otherwise Heber is unknown...except possibly among the Anglicans. Speaking as an amateur hymnologist (and not a very good one), more's the pity.

  7. I know it is very much of its age, but I'm afraid I find 'Greenland's Icy Mountains' a very strange affair and it certainly offended Ghandi who said,

    "You, the missionaries come to India thinking that you come to a land of heathens, of idolators, of men who do not know God. One of the greatest of Christian divines, Bishop Heber, wrote the two lines which have always left a sting with me: 'Where every prospect pleases, and man alone is vile.' I wish he had not written them. My own experience in my travels throughout India has been to the contrary. I have gone from one end of the country to the other, without any prejudice, in a relentless search after truth, and I am not able to say that here in this fair land, watered by the great Ganges, the Brahmaputra and the Jumna, man is vile. He is not vile. He is as much a seeker after truth as you and I are, possibly more so."

    He may have been able to string a few words of rhyme together, but I suspect Heber wasn't the most diplomatic of chaps when it came to promoting his variety of the gospel.

    On a different tack, see what you think of this debate with Stephen Fry, one of our leading polymaths. He's a brilliant orator and he raises some excellent's a bit lengthy, but it is worth listening to the whole.

    Let me know what you think. x

  8. And what if?

    I like the haircut of the multicoloured grandson and suspect he's a handsome chap. With a granddad looking like a French swimmer, what else can you expect?

  9. Hmmm, Justin Beiber x 2. Eat your heart out, girls.

  10. I am just reminded of Braveheart...
    gld (lurking about blogger...)

  11. I hadn't thought of Justin Bieber, but I had thought of Braveheart.

  12. Cute!!! Well, I can't say I agree, but I'm glad you climbed onto the blasphemy wagon and are going to hell because I would miss your company. I also missed it that you pulled your post from this morning as I had looked forward to reading it too.

  13. Snow, I didn't pull a post from this morning, but I do have one scheduled for Monday. If I inadvertently clicked "Publish" instead of "Save" it was by mistake. How is it you believe in hell but not heaven...or were you just using a figure of speech?

  14. "How is it you believe in hell but not heaven...or were you just using a figure of speech?"

    Figure of speech--wasn't that a Hardy Boys book? No, "Figure in Hiding," I think it was.

    No, I don't believe in hell, but when in Georgia, speak as the Georgians speak, I always say, so, since you (presumably) believe in hell, I was just saying that I was glad we would have one another for company.

  15. Snow: To recap, I don't think this post was blasphemous (it was done tongue-in-cheek), I believe hell is a real place, but I also believe I'm not going there because I have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb (this is not a figure of speech in Georgia), and if you are, even figuratively, you won't have me for company. And I'm sorry, because you are such a likeable fellow.

    You don't have to go there, you know.

    The verification word is secran. It is no secran what God can do.

    Everybody else, this is part of an ongoing occasional conversation Snow and I have. We try to do it with civility.

  16. "You don't have to go there [to hell], you know."

    Well, believe it or not, atheists don't worry about hell. We might worry about lots of other things, but hell doesn't concern us even a little bit. However, if you are right, and hell exists, then I still wouldn't qualify for heaven because--in the Christian view--one must love and respect the deity portrayed in the Bible, and I fail completely and irrevocably on both counts.

  17. You have as big an ego as that "Prophet" as he called himself, who who strode in claiming to be "saved", "redeemed" and pushing to save my soul.
    Beliefs such as yours is beyond belief. He wasn't beyond a bit of preening and sexual thoughts for me. Good his timid 6ft wife was acting unaware. Do 'christians' seriously believe that just living an existence of an average 72 years on this planet will get them a reward of blissful eternity of floating along on golden streets? Come on! Control, man, it's all about control of the masses, don't cha know? Little like a government who does the same thing. Ye Gads!

  18. My use of the word blasphemous in this post seems to have opened a can of worms in some quarters.

    Both Snowbrush and Anonymous err concerning what Christians believe about going to heaven. Christians do not believe one must love and respect the deity portrayed in the Bible to qualify for heaven (Snowbrush). Christians do not believe that just living an existence of an average 72 years on this planet will get them a reward of blissful eternity of floating along on golden streets (Anonymous).

    Since this is my blog, I will now attempt to state in a few words what Christians believe makes one qualified to go to heaven.

    All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord. If you believe in your heart that Jesus is Lord, and confess with your mouth that he rose from the death, you will be saved. Your belief will be counted as righteousness, and your confession will lead to your salvation. Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. This doesn’t mean I can now go live as I please. I can learn more about God by reading the Bible, a collection of sixty-six books written over many centuries.

    To some people it sounds childish, utterly ridiculous, laughable. To some people it sounds simplistic, because they want to earn their way to heaven by living a clean life, helping the poor, clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, giving away all of their possessions. Those things are very good things to do (we are told that what he Lord requires of us is to live justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God) but doing good things does not qualify a person for heaven. Only childish, ridiculous, simple faith does that. To them who are perishing it is foolishness, but to them who are being saved it is the power of God.

  19. Handsome boys, someone said. Maybe; can't tell for that shaggy hair and pure illusory blue skin. Clean that young man up a bit, why don't you?

  20. I was typing too fast and made two typos:

    rose from the death -> rose from the dead

    what he Lord requires -> what the Lord requires

    plus I was cleaning up the grandson (not really).

    Verification word is cleat.
    Number 48 should appreciate that.

  21. Rhymes, Anonymous and I are alike in that our religious upbringing had a negative effect on our lives, but we are unalike in that I have always tried to address you respectfully regardless of how I feel about some of your beliefs.

    That said, Rhymes, you don't speak for what "Christians" believe, but for what you and your sect of Christians believe. The beliefs I was taught (and which many other Christians--including Catholics--are taught) were very different, and they included the teaching that you, Rhymes, would be condemned to hell because your theology was wrong. Wrong theology was considered a sure sign that you had failed to seek the Lord with all your heart because if you had sought the Lord with all your heart, it was considered obvious that you would be a member of the Church of Christ.

    There is nothing more common in this world than groups of Christians who are sure that they know the path to salvation, and that everyone who disagrees with them is wrong--and probably hell bound--yet, all of these groups read the same Bible.

  22. Snow, thank you for responding, as you always do, with civility. When I say "Christians" I know that various groups believe various things, but the items I mentioned are common to all of the groups, as far as I can determine, and constitute what is often termed "historic, orthodox Christian belief." The Incarnation, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, the Ascension, these are the bedrock beliefs of Christianity and Christians everywhere agree about them. Every group I can think of that isn't either a cult or over-the-edge liberal agree on these basic doctrines of Christianity. About all the finer points, the same groups often disagree with a vengeance. I chalk it up to sibling rivalry.

    I was citing Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23, Romans 10:9-10, Romans 10:13, Micah 6:8, and referring indirectly to Ephesians chapter 2 and First Corinthians chapter 15.

    Groups that claim exclusivity are just silly, but there remains hope for individual believers.

    Admittedly, this is my own opinion. It is also my own blog, where I say what I like, hoping that the comments section will help keep me honest.

    The verification word is couth (I'm not kidding). Maybe Someone is trying to tell me something.

  23. I forgot to say First Corinthians 1:18

  24. Rhymes wrote: "the items I mentioned are common to all of the groups..."

    The point of your original comment, as I understood it was: "If you believe in your heart that Jesus is Lord, and confess with your mouth that he rose from the death, you will be saved."

    This belief is not common to all groups. For example, it was not what I was taught, and it's not Catholic doctrine either. It's also not the doctrine of many other denominations (there being something like 11,000 if my memory serves me correctly).

    As for as claims to exclusivity being silly, aren't you making just such a claim, the only difference being that the Church of Christ (among others) teaches that one has to be in their denomination to go to heaven, whereas your belief--as stated in your original comment--is that one has to accept Jesus to go to heaven? You cast a wider net, yet it would exclude all non-Christians and a great many Christians too.

  25. Well, I am not a universalist.

    What I'm about to say was originally written about spiritual gifts, so some may say I am taking it out of context, but I think it is an interesting analogy to think about when different segments of Christianity make big pronouncements or get into arguments or write off what others think.

    The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up only one body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into Christ's body by one Spirit, and we have all received the same Spirit. Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part.If the foot says, "I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand," that does not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear says, "I am not part of the body because I am only an ear and not an eye," would that make it any less a part of the body? Suppose the whole body were an eye--then how would you hear? Or if your whole body were just one big ear, how could you smell anything? But God made our bodies with many parts, and he has put each part just where he wants it. What a strange thing a body would be if it had only one part!
    Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. The eye can never say to the hand, "I don't need you." The head can't say to the feet, "I don't need you." In fact, some of the parts that seem weakest and least important are really the most necessary. And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect from the eyes of others those parts that should not be seen, while other parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together in such a way that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other equally. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. Now all of you together are Christ's body, and each one of you is a separate and necessary part of it.

    All of that was written by Paul and it appears in First Corinthians chapter 12, and it helps explain why I used the word "silly" in my earlier comment.

    I guess I try to have the bigger picture.

  26. Handsome grandchildren, however painted. Yes, Braveheart does somehow come to mind. I didn't find your post at all blasphemous; what comes to mind, comes to mind.

    There are some advantages to being a tardy reader of your posts, as I have found the back and forth comments very interesting. I glady confess to considering myself a Christian, of what denomination is, in my view, unimportant. My two living siblings are (1) an active secular humanist and (2)unassociated with any form of religion for over 40years. Our father was a Christian minister, so it's not as though we were not exposed to Christian doctrine in our formative years. I seem to be the only one in which it "took." To God be the Glory!
    My daddy used to tell me that 'hell' is anywhere God is not present, and 'heaven' is where God is. I am content with that explanation.