Junior Ganymede
We endeavor to give satisfaction

Power is Godly

July 07th, 2014 by G.

O Lord God of hosts, who is a strong Lord like unto thee?

Psalms 89:8

In the greatest SF novel ever written, A Canticle for Liebowitz, an anti-Christian government replaces the customary statue of Christ at an aid station with a statue of “Mercy.” Mercy is an insipid, androgynous figure with bovine eyes.

We Christians too often do that same work in our own hearts. We replace the overpowering image of Christ, whose mercy is meaningful because of the strength of his justice, whose weakness in mortality was a voluntary sacrifice, with an insipid figure who is merciful because he is ineffectual and who is weak because he is weak.

Mormons do the same thing sometimes. There is a speculative theory out there that God has no actual power, but that the universe does what He asks to be nice, because He’s a likeable guy.

Ha!

We are afraid of violence and power because we are weak ourselves. We are making a God in our own image.

But He is not made in our own image. He is making us in His.

God’s power and strength is an essential part of His character. He is master.

Even in your hearts, there will he rake . . .
Therefore in fierce tempest is he coming,
In thunder and in earthquake, like a Jove,
That, if requiring fail, he will compel.

Comments (4)
Filed under: Deseret Review | Tags: , , , , , , ,
July 07th, 2014 12:16:56
4 comments

Ivan Wolfe
July 7, 2014

Your judgment of “Canticle” is spot on.

As for Christ’s strength, while it’s at odds with the Gospel account, I really like this passage from “Dream of the Rood”:

Then best wood spoke these words:
“It was long since–I yet remember it–
that I was hewn at holt’s end,
moved from my stem. Strong fiends seized me there,30
worked me for spectacle; curs├Ęd ones lifted me [ 6 ].
On shoulders men bore me there, then fixed me on hill;
fiends enough fastened me. Then saw I mankind’s Lord
come with great courage when he would mount on me.
Then dared I not against the Lord’s word35
bend or break, when I saw earth’s
fields shake. All fiends
I could have felled, but I stood fast.
The young hero stripped himself–he, God Almighty–
strong and stout-minded. He mounted high gallows,40
bold before many, when he would loose mankind.
I shook when that Man clasped me. I dared, still, not bow to earth,
fall to earth’s fields, but had to stand fast.
Rood was I reared. I lifted a mighty King,
Lord of the heavens, dared not to bend.


T. Greer
July 8, 2014

This post prompts interesting questions.

Among the children of men, power corrupts. Absolute power, it is said, corrupts absolutely.

Yet Christ is granted absolute power and remains uncorrupted.

How? As disciples dedicated to becoming like our Master, how can we follow his footsteps here? How to gain and wield power but not be destroyed as we do so?


Adam G.
July 9, 2014

If there can be such a thing as a spiritual confirmation of a question, T. Greer, your questions are inspired questions.

Full answers take a lifetime and a few Mt. Sinais or Sacred Groves. But I’ll rush in anyhow.

One thought is that Mormonism seeks to cultivate the kind of power that comes from character and inner strength. As your power increases, the means of controlling that power inevitably increase along with it. Because George Washington is George Washington, he can wrench the fledgling republic in any direction he wants. Because George Washington is George Washington, he doesn’t.


Zen
July 9, 2014

I was going to comment that I was actually not entirely antagonistic to the idea that God’s power and “niceness”/honor are related, but I think Adam put it much better with his George Washington analogy.

Power, used rightly and sought rightly, is godly. Of course, that is the critical detail right there, that makes it very easy to go wrong.

What else should we include in a similar catagory?
Riches? Very easy for Riches to corrupt, but they themselves are not evil, and indeed are necessary (to some degree) to both do good and to help others.

Glory? Definitely. This is practically a defining feature of Deity, yet how many people have been lead astray by its promises? We need to be accomplished, if only in our little sphere. No, I am not saying to put the priorities of the World first, nor to make this into an idol. It is a way to serve.

To remember to keep this in check, I like to remember either Ozymandias, or the two-time winner of the Nobel prize in physics, the inventor of the transistor. Or indeed, the 4th Harry Potter book. Harry wins a contest that is described as “eternal glory” that is almost completely forgotten by the next book, and quite irrelevant.

If we seek any of these, we need to firmly and squarely put God first.

We can also add to this list: Intelligence, Knowledge, Wisdom, Mercy and others. We seek them because they are Godly, in as much as they bring us to God.

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