reflections/meditations

On being a good man in a storm . . .

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Shipwreck at Malta, c. AD 59

Ac 27 records Paul’s journey to Rome as an appeals prisoner, including a shipwreck. After adverse winds had led them to Fair Havens, Crete, a ship’s council decided to sail on despite danger to reach a better port 40 miles down the coast, despite the hazard and counsels of caution by the Apostle in chains.

A seemingly desirable South wind came up, giving them a reach wind to sail the 40 miles. But then an early Nor’easter struck. By v 20, they had been kept in its grips and were reduced to emergency measures:

Ac 27:20 When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned.

21 Since they had been without food for a long time, Paul stood up among them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete and incurred this injury and loss. 22 Yet now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. 23 For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, 24 and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ 25 So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. 26 But we must run aground on some island.”

27 When the fourteenth night had come, as we were being driven across the Adriatic Sea, about midnight the sailors suspected that they were nearing land. [ESV]

He had obviously been interceding in prayer, and had an answer at the point of despair. Loss was unavoidable but in mercy life would be granted.

In the face of a time of needless exposure to times of storms for various ships of state mismanaged through imprudence of various kinds, let us hold this in mind. END

20 Replies to “On being a good man in a storm . . .

  1. 1
    kairosfocus says:

    On being a good man in a storm . . .

    –> BTW at that time, Adriatic included central Mediterranean

  2. 2
    jawa says:

    Excellent timely post. Thank you.

    Paul’s thoughts, actions and relation to others, perfectly correspond to a person convinced that “to live is Christ, and to die is gain”

    Definitely God lavishly poured divine wisdom on the apostle. I pray to receive at least just a fraction of that.

  3. 3
    john_a_designer says:

    The biggest storm the U.S. ship of state encountered was the 1861 to 1865 civil war. Now angry and ignorant people are picking at the scars of that war. They’re ignorant because they don’t know the history.

    BOSTON — June 1,2020

    A monument recognizing the first all-volunteer black regiment of the Union Army during the Civil War was defaced during Sunday’s protests.

    “A thousand men signed up just after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, just think about that,” said Liz Vizza, executive director of Friends of the Public Garden. “These are men who, if they were captured in the south, would be enslaved or murdered. But this cause was so important to them, they signed up to go fight for their freedom.”

    https://www.wcvb.com/article/shaw-54th-regiment-memorial-defaced/32733306

    My great grandfather fought in the American Civil War for the north, so I have no sympathy with the southern cause. But the civil war statues and monuments, especially those that honor those who fought for the south, signify a far sighted decision that President Abraham Lincoln made. After the war he decided not to take revenge but rather to undertake reconciliation.

    Arthur Herman, “who is a scholar, a historian — a Pulitzer Prize finalist historian, and the New York Times–bestselling author of nine books — and a lifelong Civil War buff” does a much better job of explaining as to why this is important better than I ever could. What follows is from an article he recently wrote.

    These are not ”monuments to ‘traitors.’” Herman writes,

    “Abraham Lincoln set that issue aside as soon as the war ended, by making it clear that there would be no trials or punishments for the rebels who had fought for the Confederacy and that the national agenda would be reconciliation, not retribution, in order that Americans might come together again as one nation, indivisible. And that has been the lasting legacy of the Civil War, ever since. It is in fact the true face of American exceptionalism, that we Americans could fight a savage and bloody civil war, in which more than 600,000 died and thousands more were maimed and wounded, and still be able to honor the heroes of both sides. That never happened with other civil wars. It didn’t happen in Ireland or Spain or Russia, and it won’t happen in Iraq…

    This is why making Lee the target of these attacks is both ironic and tragic. Just before the surrender at Appomattox Courthouse, one of his officers proposed instead that they draw off into the hills to continue the fight against the Federals in a guerilla war. Lee firmly said no. The South had fought its war and lost; after the surrender, he wanted his men to return to their homes and return to being Americans. As any reader of Jay Winik’s book April 1865 also knows, after the war Lee also worked for reconciliation between black and white, in hopes that together they could build a new South now that the slaveholding version was gone forever.

    Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/.....fice-valor

    Someone once said, “Those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it.” As a country we (the U.S.A.) are in danger of doing just that.

    Taking revenge, which is really what the secular progressive left is doing, after 150 years (again, without understanding the reasons why the monuments were erected) is not merely misguided it is irrational and dangerous.

    Lincoln said it best:

    “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right…”

  4. 4
    Ed George says:

    JaD@3, I am of mixed opinion on these monuments. During and after the revolution, British statues were removed.

    I appreciate that Lincoln’s decision was necessary and pragmatic, but there is a difference between pardoning those on the confederate side and subsequently erecting statues and monuments to them, some of them erected as late as the 1960s in clear reaction to the rising civil rights movement.
    Removing statues and monuments is not the same as rewriting or forgetting history. The revolution is still being taught in great detail in spite of the dearth of British statues and monuments. You will be hard-pressed to find statues or busts of any of the NAZI leaders in Germany outside of museums, but nobody has forgotten the history of that regime.

    My preference would be to select some of the more relevant and older statues and relocate them to a dedicated civil war museum where they can be presented in appropriate context.

  5. 5
    Retired Physicist says:

    Ed: yeah they don’t have statues of Hitler and yet somehow we remember him. The ‘preserve history’ argument is desperate silliness.

  6. 6
    ET says:

    Acartia Ed:

    During and after the revolution, British statues were removed.

    And yet many of the cities named after British cities and people, remained. Lake George in NY is still Lake George. Named after the King.

    What next? Take down the Washington monument because he owned slaves? The Jefferson Memorial also has to go.

    As for Hitler- you want to know what is really funny? Most from the western allies think he committed suicide in April 1945. But if you travel to Argentina, for example, most say he lived there after the war. Mussolini and Perot were good friends, back in the ay. Went to school together. There are places in Argentina where the signs are all in German- were, anyway.

  7. 7
    kairosfocus says:

    EG, Herr Schicklegruber and say Gen Lee or Gen Jackson simply are not in the same worlds. Remember, Gen Lee was offered command of the Union Army, but decided he stayed with his home state whichever way it went. Similarly, the attempt to taint Churchill is even more outrageous. What is being done is to slander in order to taint and discredit inconvenient history and visions of civilisation and government, to get the sort of reset to year zero so beloved of the most radical misanthropes. The key point is, democracy is inherently unstable and requires active stabilisation from a community culture that promotes a mutuality that restrains the worst effects of power lust. Scroll up to the OP, do you see how far afield you are to raise such things in this context? I suggest, you need to do some serious rethinking. KF

  8. 8
    Ed George says:

    KF, during the civil war, the confederate side were advocating for the continuation of slavery and the North were advocating for its abolition. I don’t see how the US can on one hand claim that all Americans are equal and on the other memorialize and commemorate those who fought to prevent equality. There was nothing noble about Lee or Jackson. They stood with those who stood and fought for institutionalized racism. We are not talking about men who just had racist ideas and opinions, as was very common at the time, but men who were willing to kill for these ideas.

  9. 9
    ET says:

    So we are right back to taking down the Washington Monument and the Jefferson Memorial.

    Robert E. Lee was willing to kill and die for Virginia. If history tells us anything about him it is that.

  10. 10
    Belfast says:

    It was possible to be be against slavery and yet share the racial prejudices of many white contemporaries. Darwin is a perfect example.
    Then you have Lincoln, Sherman and Grant.
    Although personally opposed to slavery, Grant voted for the proslavery James Buchanan in 1856 and opposed professional black soldiers.

  11. 11
    Ed George says:

    Belfast

    It was possible to be be against slavery and yet share the racial prejudices of many white contemporaries.

    I suspect that was the case of most abolitionists.

  12. 12
    kairosfocus says:

    EG, it is a reflection of these days to see the insistence on threadjacking a meditation into a polarised, loaded discussion. That’s sad. KF

    PS: That said, some footnotes are in order, especially given the implied continued invidious association of a Jackson or a Lee (thus, too, a Jefferson or a Washington) — and now by extension Abolitionists including Lincoln — with a man and movement generally taken as the yardstick of utter demonic evil:

    1: Very few Southerners held slaves, in proportion. If the US Civil War were merely a war to defend enslavement (or equivalently a dying class structure), the Confederacy would have got nowhere. Something else that was cleaner had to be motivating a lot of ordinary people to perceive the war as a war against Northern Aggression.

    2: So, instead, the personal struggle of Gen Robert E Lee speaks to the pivotal issue in many minds. Recall, he had been offered command of the Union forces (and BTW, that is a further clue). If he were simply a representative exemplar of a slave-owning upper class commanding feudal levys in defence of a perceived ‘right’ to enslave as they wished, that would not have happened.

    3: Instead a key issue is that he was a son of a Revolutionary War General, Light Horse Harry Lee, and came from the state that provided much of the leadership for that revolution, Virginia. In this light, his decision to go with his state, whichever way it went, tells us something far more complex was at work. Especially, given the hostility to slavery of that leading founder (and deeply indebted slave owner), Jefferson.

    4: The issue then emerges as in a key aspect a second fight over locality vs centrality, poisoned by a morally dubious issue, enslavement which was tied onward to fear of vengeful uprising and to even more dubious racially-driven rationalisations for subjugation. This is in fact precisely the pattern of the US Revolution. At that time, slavery had been put to one side as an uneasy compromise in the face of what was seen as the more central threat of subjugation by George III, his Ministers and the Parliament.

    5: However, we should note that in the Revolution, blacks were enlisted on both sides. By the time of the American extension to the Napoleonic wars, the British had established black regiments, largely recruited from the West Indies. So, we can begin to see how though in small numbers, blacks and Amerindians also enlisted in the Confederate armies and understood themselves to be soldiers (and engineers in the military sense), not merely forced labourers etc. The picture is not as simple as it is commonly painted. Especially if the implication of such soldiering is drawn out: breaking down any justification for enslavement or subjugation. Apparently, up to three distinctly identifiable black units fought for the Confederacy at Bull Run, per Douglass in his advocacy for Black Union units. Blacks fought in both navies also. The confiscation declarations and Emancipation proclamation made a key difference. By the end of the war manumission was offered to blacks willing to serve in Confederate forces; i.e. by then slavery was effectively a dead issue. (This is similar to the raising of Irish Patriot regiments in WW1 and Indian Divisions in WW2. The Maori unit of New Zealanders reflects a different partnership with an indigenous warrior culture, which continues to today. After WW2, the British Empire was dead.) I gather, at the Gettysberg+50 convocation and camp, organisers expected Black Union veterans but were astonished to have a delegation of Black Confederate veterans turn up. In short, there is likely to be an underground history there.

    6: Notice, in this context that it was only in 1863 that an Emancipation proclamation was issued, a sign that slavery was too controversial an issue at the outset (as opposed to the Founders’ insistence on Union to prevent descent into Europe-like chains of wars between mutually hostile states, inviting also foreign intervention).

    7: Further to this, there was at least one Confederate General, Wheeler, who later served as a US Army General in Cuba and the Philippines. (In the heat of battle against the Spanish, he is said to have shouted profanely about having the Yankees on the run again.) In addition three other ex-Confederate Officers — Rosser, Butler and Lee — were Generals in the Spanish-American war. This Lee was a nephew of Robert E Lee. All of that carries implications.

    8: So, there is a reason to see that even though they rose up in secession and war tainted by enslavement, the Confederate’s key Generals did have a legitimate claim to stand in the American tradition. History is a painful mess, but one we would be well advised to heed lest we pay the same coinage of avoidable blunders, blood and tears over and over again.

    9: In this context, the ongoing attempt to turn history into a prosecution case against our civilisation and its unavoidably mixed heritage, on ill-informed imagination of a utopian year zero radical fresh start that by tainting the past dismisses it stands exposed as misanthropic folly.

    10: Folly that in the US has now crossed the line of unavoidably ramped up 4th gen civil war. That is what the push to abolish policing based on lawful rather than ideological (“community” being a loaded term here) principles leads to.

  13. 13
    john_a_designer says:

    The illegal desecration, defacement and destruction of civil war monuments is nothing more than iconoclasm. Iconoclasm which has historically been associated with fanatical religious fundamentalism– recently, for example, with ISIS and the Taliban.

    When did these monuments become so controversial? I don’t remember any real controversy before Charlottesville and I grew up in the sixties.

    However, there has been a long trend of historical revisionism that is ideologically and politically motivated. It’s the same kind of revisionism we see in societies dominated by Marxist leftist ideologies.

    I’ll guarantee you one thing; those people carrying out vandalism are completely ignorant of history.

  14. 14
    Retired Physicist says:

    Wow. Big day for gay and transgender people. Supreme Court says that they are protected on the basis of Sex in Title VII from being fired. Gorsuch wrote the opinion.

  15. 15
    ET says:

    But are they protected on the basis of having a metal illness? Are they protected from not being hired?

  16. 16
    bornagain77 says:

    While I’m sure that a majority of Americans will agree that a person should not be fired on the basis of simply being gay, lesbian, or trans, what a majority on the right, and I would hope quite a few on the left, would object to is a boy who ‘identifies’ as a girl being allowed to compete against girls, and even shower in girls locker rooms, and such insanity as that as ‘identity politics’ entails.

    I’m sure this ruling, though limited in its scope to simply protecting people against getting fired, will most likely be abused by the far-left to try to push for more of the ‘identity politics’ insanity that we witnessed unleashed during the Obama administration.

    This issue looks to be far from settled for the court.

  17. 17
    john_a_designer says:

    Here is part of a speech that President elect Abraham Lincoln gave just before his inauguration and the outbreak of civil war (though everyone knew then there was “a storm” brewing) to the NJ legislature.

    “I shall do all that may be in my power to promote a peaceful settlement of all our difficulties. The man does not live who is more devoted to peace than I am. None who would do more to preserve it. But it may be necessary to put the foot down firmly. And if I do my duty, and do right, you will sustain me, will you not? Received, as I am, by the members of a Legislature the majority of whom do not agree with me in political sentiments, I trust that I may have their assistance in piloting the ship of State through this voyage, surrounded by perils as it is; for, if it should suffer attack now, there will be no pilot ever needed for another voyage.”

    The Republicans also had a song entitled the “Ship of State” (1860.)

    https://www.loc.gov/item/scsm000530/

  18. 18
    kairosfocus says:

    JAD, Plato’s Socrates presents the parable in The Republic, and Luke echoes it in Ac 27. The imagery is so influential that our word Government derives from Kubernetes, steersman for a ship. In Plato the mutinous sailors are all vying to get the Merchant/Owner/ Captain to give them the helm. In Ac 27, the Messenger Corps Centurion was being influenced by The Owner and the Steersman to try the risky game to try to get to a safe harbour at Phoenix. They persuaded the majority of the company too [276 souls in all]. When the sweet South wind came up, they tried but were caught by an early Nor’easter. KF

  19. 19
    john_a_designer says:

    All of America’s founding fathers, whether they were Deists or Christians, were guided by the idea that moral truth, which was the basis of civil law and human rights, was transcendent or “providential,” therefore, objective and binding. They were also quite cautious of democracy– especially direct democracy. They saw the danger of subversive “factions” illegitimately seizing power and destabilizing the government. That is one of the reasons they designed so-called checks and balances in the constitution so it would be difficult to seize or monopolize power.

    For example, Kevin Williamson who writes for The National Review points out:

    John Adams hated democracy and he feared what was known in the language of the time as ‘passion.’ Adams’s famous assessment: ‘I do not say that democracy has been more pernicious on the whole, and in the long run, than monarchy or aristocracy. Democracy has never been and never can be so durable as aristocracy or monarchy; but while it lasts, it is more bloody than either.’ Democracy, he wrote, ‘never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide. It is in vain to say that democracy is less vain, less proud, less selfish, less ambitious, or less avaricious than aristocracy or monarchy. It is not true, in fact, and nowhere appears in history. Those passions are the same in all men, under all forms of simple government, and when unchecked, produce the same effects of fraud, violence, and cruelty.’

    https://www.nationalreview.com/2016/03/donald-trump-populist-demagogue-john-adams-anticipated/

    Adams goes on to warn us,

    [that] no government [is] capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge and licentiousness would break the strongest cords of our Constitution, as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. Oaths in this country are as yet universally considered as sacred obligations. That which you have taken, and so solemnly repeated on that venerable ground, is an ample pledge of your sincerity and devotion to your country and its government.

    The difference between then and now? The majority of people living in America at the time believed that moral values and obligations were grounded in a transcendent moral standard (an eternal self-existing Creator and Lawgiver– God.) Today we live in a society dominated moral subjectivism and relativism. What value are so-called human rights if they are not binding? And how can they be binding if they have no grounding in something eternal and transcendent. If morals are only very transient human inventions then they carry no real binding interpersonal obligations. Without real interpersonal moral obligations there is no such thing as a right. There is certainly no possibility that human rights are universal and timeless.

  20. 20
    kairosfocus says:

    JAD, spin games again, v few of the founders were actually Deist. KF

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