Our Spiritual Evolution: A Response to Chris Dierkes’ Article on Paul’s Hymn to Love

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Prelude: 5 Brief Thoughts on Love and Our Human Spiritual Evolution

-Love is a verb.

-God Is Love. The Greek Scriptures (New Testament) tell us that “God Is Love.” (1st Letter of John 4: 8, 16)

-The poet Blake says, “And we are put on earth a little space,/ That we may learn to bear the beams of love.”

-We humans are meant to evolve, and grow closer to God. That is at the heart of Christian theology. The 2nd Letter of Peter says near its beginning that we are to become: “participants of the divine nature.” (2 Peter 1:4)

How might this growth happen?

Finally, here is a statement that seems simple, but is truly complex:

-“We all want to love, and we all want to be loved.”

(A clear echo of this truth appears in Shakespeare’s Sonnet 25: “Then happy I, that love and am beloved.” I have searched but not yet found if another has more of a claim on this saying than Shakespeare.)

 

Part I

Evolution and the Divinization of Humanity

This reflection is a response to Chris Dierkes’ provocative article on 1 Corinthians 13, Paul’s stunning ode to Love. I agree with much that Dierkes writes, especially his vision of the deep unity, and interdependence, of our human family, today and in the future. This unity and interdependence is a necessity for us, if we are to reach an indescribably bright future. His essay is at the excellent new journal, Metapsychosis, https://www.metapsychosis.com/love-is-patient-love-is-kind/

The basic purpose of this essay, this response to Dierkes, is this: I would like to add the element of human evolution—a Human Evolution that is also participated in by the Divine, and led and guided by the Divine—to the instruction and guidance that Dierkes has given us.

[Note: When I speak of “evolution,” I am not referring to the various scientific theories that come under the umbrella of evolutionary biology. Scientific evolution is a young pursuit, and raises more questions than it answers. There is no clear picture of our biological evolution. Much work remains to be done. When I speak of “evolution,” I mean human development in recent millennia, with a powerful Spiritual component.]

Our Evolution: Beginnings

Until 11,000 years ago, our ancestors had to be, physically, ever-vigilant against a great danger: Beware the saber-toothed tigers! These fearsome cats were all around the globe, for millions of years. Their tactic: ambush.

Our ancestors were in constant danger from their environment. Death was always close, ever only a misstep away.

Life was hard, certainly by our standards.

During ice ages, some groups of our ancestors survived because they were better at extracting bone marrow from the bones of animal carcasses, and eating it. God is bold.

Once I asked one of my critical teachers about these things. He smiled briefly and said, “Ah, those great dark mysteries.”

Today, my hunch is that these difficulties helped humanity to enter into our physicality. To learn, deeply, about our bodies, and about our physical environment. We have millennia upon millennia of deep concern for our physical existence in our collective unconscious, in our selves. Already, we see in this a beginning of wisdom, and of love. There was a healthy concern for life and self-preservation, and this even extended to the immediate family and clan of our ancestors. They had to help each other to survive. There was also basic curiosity and observation, and a trying-to-understand what was going on in the world. Another great teacher, in her class on the Scriptures, said, “When the farmer knows the time to plant the seed in the earth, that is already wisdom.” I guess that our wisdom starts organically, slowly.

Humanity learned and developed. Slowly.

Such recollections remind us of our immense gratitude to our forbears. They got us here. And they have delivered far more to us than our mere physical existence.

These thoughts also remind us that our Humanity has evolved, and is still very much in a state of evolution. Although most of us have far more ease, and even many comforts, in our immediate physical environments, we are very much a Humanity on the move. And although we no longer have to be ever-fearful of saber-toothed tigers, there is still fear around us at times, as well as a lame partner of fear: pride.

Our development continued over millennia.

Ok, I don’t want to bore you with my poor attempts at anthropology, but please bear with me one more moment: At the end of the Bronze Age, there were advances in how society organizes itself and lives. The parts of the Code of Hammurabi and the Mosaic Law that curtailed violence were a leap forward, for their time. “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.” Here there is shown a concern for keeping society healthy and united, there is a warning against being violent to others, and there is a taught movement away from violence, and a lawfully controlled expression of violence, to curtail greater violence and societal harm.

Deeper, there was less mental energy wasted on revenge. One was allowed to make an end to plans of retribution. This is huge.

We are beginning to learn how to focus our attention on Reality, and how to focus our attention in ways that participate in, and contribute to, Reality.

Thousands of years later, Shakespeare would take this up. A major theme of his poetry and drama is: We humans have the power to bless or to curse. Let’s bless. This is better in every way.

Returning to our chronology: We arrive at the First Axial Period. Around the globe, in the first millennia BCE, there are deeper spiritual awakenings. Our societies have evolved enough to produce great literature and art. Systems of trade and record keeping. And quantum leaps forward in spirituality.

Although the family unit is still as close as a tightly wound ball of rubber bands, our psyches, slowly, begin to expand and to have inner space. (Romans 7 & 8 are about this evolution of our psyche: at the end of Romans 7, Paul shows how we finally arrived, historically, at the newly formed “inner person,” a huge development for Humanity. Paul’s early grasp of human history, 1700 years before “history” became a science, is amazing.)

Jesus arrives and tells us that it’s time to love each other. Thousands of years earlier, this would have been an impossibility, as we would have automatically attacked members of other tribes who were near “our land,” or stealing “our food.”

Recall the Code of Hammurabi, from about 1750 BC, says “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.” This gets repeated verbatim in the Book of Exodus and the Book of Deuteronomy, two books of the Torah of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament). Deuteronomy 19:21 says “Show no pity; life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.” (The Hebrew word for “bread” is related to the Hebrew word for “war.”)
Jesus, however, presents pity, mercy, and love as the only path forward for our human evolution. (For the Catholic Church, Pope Francis has declared this year as the Year of Mercy.)

We see that positive changes in our immediate environment, and the possibility of leisure and deeper thought, allow for our evolution.

In the midst of this development, there is a pivotal evolutionary turning: We slowly, so slowly, see that we may let go of our fear and our greed, and we may love our neighbor. Nor is it smooth, this process: there are many forward and backwards lurches and lunges. In the midst of this turning, all people in growing societies learn about something good: TRUST. Mutual trust occurs in better societies, even if not all people have found their way to love, yet. Trust and comfort with our society arrives on the scene. Again, this ‘trust’ is not total love and trust of individuals; it is more complex and nuanced—it is a trust, in part, that society will keep checks and balances on those who might do us harm. While there is some authentic ‘trust’, there is also shrewd judgment about how others will act under the constraint of societal rules and expectations.

Again, our evolution goes hand-in-hand with greater purposeful leisure and thought and the possibility of intentional spirituality. Monet would have never been able to paint the light when it was “just so,” if he was constantly worrying about the saber-toothed tiger that might be in the bush behind him.

So, Jesus began to spread the news that the time had arrived in our evolution where we could love each other.

However, only 10 days after Jesus left (at what Christians call the Ascension), and went UP to out-of-our-sight, Someone came DOWN to us. And this changed everything.

What is the Pentecost?

11 confused and nervous men were huddled in the upper room. Their teacher had been resurrected, then left them without instructions about how to proceed. They had witnessed amazing things. They had no idea what to do. And the authorities were hunting them, to kill them for religious treason.

At that moment the Holy Spirit descended, and the terrified disciples suddenly had lights on their heads, as if they formed a 9-branched Hanukkah menorah, with more branches constantly being added. The work of the 2nd temple largely done, the Shekinah was leaving the “beit,” the old stone temple, and moving out into Humanity. The Holy Spirit was now entering the Human Person. As Paul says, “YOU are the temple of God,” and, “YOU are the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit.” People were surprised to hear such things said about human persons. However, God wants mutual indwelling: God in us, and us in God. But he wants us to help make this happen. When we try, God will act.

The 7-branch menorah was always in the old stone temple.

The 9-branch menorah is in the human family, in the human home. Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, takes place in the human family and human home, primarily. It represents the movement away from temple, to a presence of God in the Human Person, in the Human Community.

When the Holy Spirit enlightened the 11, and Mary, and others very soon thereafter, the 11 instantly became like supercharged pinballs bouncing all over the Eastern Mediterranean, founding churches, teaching people, strengthening communities, healing people. There were teleportations (see Acts 8:39-40) and many miracles. Their learning curve did not stop. As Jesus had promised them, the Holy Spirit came to them. The presence of the Holy Spirit was so thick and palpable, you could almost feel it in the air.

The Acts of the Apostles, an amazing action-packed Scripture, describes a bit of this.

This is the milieu in which Paul is writing that letter to the Corinthians.

Prior to his conversion, ultra-orthodox Paul was unsettled by the energy and compassion of this early Christian community. His powerful left brain had not learned to think outside the box. He didn’t even know that he had an anima.

He murdered the Christians, who aroused great hate in him.

(A bit of humor: Nietzsche, that witty misanthrope, says that the fact that 11 human persons stuck to the same story, even dying for it, proves that God is real! ; )

Then he too saw the light. Saul became Paul.

And he bounced about even more than the others, teaching and building and healing and preaching and giving. Loving.

He really got the ways of the Spirit. His profound knowledge of the Scriptures was an ancient continent-sized dry parched sponge hidden in his soul. One bath with the Holy Spirit thoroughly soaked him, and he was so soaked and swamped that he needed a few years of Zazen in the desert to figure out what the new orientation of the universe was, and to integrate his movement from 2 dimensions to 3 dimensions of Reality, as it were (or from 3 to 4). As he (or his students) writes in Ephesians 5, “2 become 1.” The Spirit sometimes operates in realms where logic, causality, and old systems of human relating are transcended. He started “at Gamaliel’s feet” (Acts 22:3) and went to being a star student of the Holy Spirit.

Jumping over 1 Corinthians for now, let’s move forward to human development:

More interior space developed in us. This was great for creativity, but bad for old family structures. This results in breakdown of clans and tribes. On the positive side, inventions, technology, and much later, “job fairs” arrived to humanity.

This also results in INDIVIDUALITY, which is a crucial part of our evolution. (Dierkes mentions individuality, and I wish here to show how it is a needed, if only temporary, part of our evolution and person.)

Of course, we acknowledge that we also need community, now more than ever. But this will be, for the first time, a community of articulated individuals. A powerful, intelligent community. And fun, with art, with social style and real culture.

But as things develop, there can be difficulties. The individual, alone and lonely, becomes more fearful and greedy. Even though our natural environment is much safer. We become fearful and greedy. We want to hoard money and possessions, especially today. The New Testament, written when Humanity had already achieved a lot of progress, says, “The love of money is the root of all evil.” (1 Timothy 6:10)

As stated above, fear and pride have a sloppy polarity with each other:

In Jackson’s film version of The Lord of the Rings, Saruman the Lonely, who craves power and separation from humans, lives in a tower, above and cut off from human contact. His pride is stoked when Gandalf comes to him for help, and he descends and talks down to Gandalf, establishing his superiority over him, eliminating equal friendship and community.

Saruman the Lonely, in his conversations with his captives, captors, and orcs, is often seen to be oscillating between pride and fear.

Opposite him, Gandalf loves, moves, communicates, cares, dances with hobbits, and, as a result of his human development and commitment, he is given even greater power yet.

The desert monks of Egypt, those great Ammas and Abbas, living in the intense afterglow of the Pentecost event, tracked the internal emotions with great precision.

The monks understood anger, for example. If anger is not given proper expression, and is suppressed or repressed, it contaminates a reservoir within us: Repressed anger can develop into fear, all the way to anxiety. Or, repressed anger can also develop into sadness, all the way to depression and despair.

If the Iliad of Homer is the first book of Western Civilization, then the first word of Western Civilization is “anger,” as it is literally the first word of the ancient text of the Iliad.

Part of our human relationships, and communal conduct, is helping people declare and express their anger in positive ways.

Anger, worked with constructively and well, becomes the capacity for greater love.

Paul knew this.

Suffering, worked with constructively and well, widens and expands our spiritual circuitry. We become capable of receiving more grace, reality, Holy Spirit.

Today, we can, and must, drop our fear and greed.

Because today, we are being called to something….

Many people succeeded in figuring out the reality of love, and how it is incredibly appropriate for human existence.

Christians, Muslims, and others invented our first orphanages, hospitals, and even education for poor children. These are shocking and revolutionary concepts. This individual-driven advance of our communities helps, in return, provide the societal setting for greater individual progress in the next generations. Individual helps community, and community helps all the individuals.

 

Part II

Now, and the Future

Where Are We Today?

Humans are more complex today, as is our Humanity.

We have more interior space.

In our recent quest for individuation, which was/is necessary, we have sometimes picked up fear and greed—but some of this was bound to happen. It’s perhaps made more understandable by the bewildering speed and coldnesses of modern society, and by the potentially terrifying lack of integration and order, as things emerge in chaotic ways. As we recognize any fear and greed we’ve accrued, let’s be rid of it.

Today there is more access to traditions and to spiritual ways, but there are more distractions that would keep us from immersing into a discipline. There is less (positive) pressure to stick with one method. His Holiness the Dalai Lama said something like: “Pick one of the world’s major religious traditions, and do it.” (I have not been able to find where this statement was recorded; if I have erred, I ask pardon.) To follow a tradition deeply has not been easy to do in today’s world. But, as always, the Divine will meet us where we are.

The wild openness of “things human” is all over the map today:

We are becoming a charitable humanity, and the world responds (with mixed motives) by sending aid to a natural disaster in any part of the world. Bravo!

Human rights are at an all-time high, at least in the law books. Bravo!

The divide between rich and poor is the hugest ever, and growing. Oops.

In this time of the growth of love, we have more and crueler and world-ending weapons than ever before. Oops.

Our MSM (mainstream media) is not media, but corporate zionist neo-lib or neo-con factories of deceit that lie to us to keep us misinformed, distracted, and fearful. This intentionally works totally against the positive trends of our ongoing evolution. The MSM would take us back to the Stone Age. Oops.

And yet, amidst this vicious chaos (which is sometimes intentionally fostered by governments and media), the Spirit is here, guiding us, despite the demons who would corrupt our society.

1 Corinthians 13, Today and in the Near Future

Paul does not talk much about the historical Jesus. Yet the Christ is always there as the context, in whom Paul lives and moves and has his being.

On the other hand, Paul talks a lot about the Holy Spirit.

Chris Dierkes’ essay accomplishes an adroit transfer and application of 1 Cor 13 to today.

At this point I would like to address this, now that we’ve sketched a hasty evolutionary context into place. However, bear with me as I add just one more item from our evolution:

The New Pentecost, or, a New Axial Period:

There is something happening today.

The “Good Pope,” John XXIII, called it the “New Pentecost.” This is an astounding and shocking statement for a Pope to make.

A New Pentecost means 1) a new immediacy of relationship with the Holy Spirit, and 2) a rebirth of Christianity, and perhaps of all Humanity. Or, for non-Christians, we could call this a New Axial Period. One fruit of this time: The sharing between faiths, traditions, and religions is at an all-time high. How blessed we are.

There is something going on today. Something wonderful.

The great sage and mystic Bruno Barnhart said that we are on the threshold of a new Axial Period.

There are many mystics walking about our Earth today.

And something is emerging.

A bit less than halfway through his essay, Dierkes recounts Paul’s list of the spiritual gifts from 1 Corinthians 12.

Today, there are far more gifts. Really.

Today, spiritual gifts include the ability to share our minds and imaginations, and so to effect profound psychic healing in wounded people.

An example: I know a mystic woman and man. The woman had been abused as a child. The man imagined himself loving her, over a period of time. Their minds, memories, and imaginations merged. They did not touch physically.

The Divine respects the human person. The Divine could have instantly healed her. But that would disrespect human history. So the Divine situates us for an end-run around the historical reality.

The woman now has two sets of memories and imaginings to choose from.

She can imagine sexuality in a new light. She can see herself being loved by a man who loves her. From that new vantage point, she has new emotional responses…. Already, her deep psyche is healing. Already, she knows new realities.

The woman was a mystic before the man was. They work together, even if they’re not on the same continent.

The woman is strong now (she was previously weak), and is a Spiritual TITAN. She is DEEP with the Holy Spirit. The man is of a lesser spiritual stature.

Nowadays, the man is led to new women, and is with them, psychically, not physically, for a short time or a longer time. There is often not much actual conversation between them. Often there is no normal communication between them. But the Spirit tells the man who his next neighbor is to be.

People are healed, and become mystics themselves. The psychic integration and healing in each person—the integration of anima with animus in all of us—allows for Pronounced Individual Spiritual Evolution in a significant way.

This is happening today.

Perhaps you have your own experience of, or have received, Spiritual gifts.

More things, many more things, are happening today. Some of you know this. If you don’t know it, then meditate, or pray, and be at peace, and ask for the Divine to alight upon your shoulder.

Two paragraphs earlier, Dierkes says, “Esoteric or paranormal experience were apparently quite common in the Corinthian church.”

Absolutely spot on.

Recall, this is in the sunburst of the first Pentecost.

Today, we are in the New Pentecost. And so there is much more Spiritual reality among us. And, we are also the beneficiaries of 2 millennia of human evolution that have happened since Paul wrote to Corinth.

Things are more complex today, and are meant to be more complex.

We need the Spirit today. It is our only Evolutionary Path forward—to walk with the Spirit.

We are getting into such complex situations, that a more evolved human person is needed. This is happening. A Divinized Humanity is emerging

God is real. God’s Spirit is with our evolving Humanity. Right now. (A religious sister, Dr. Mary L. Coloe, PBVM, speaking of John’s Gospel, says that the Holy Spirit wants to become part of our DNA.)

The future Humanity will all ‘believe’ in God because we will all have knowledge of God. As Paul hints at the end of 1 Cor 13, Faith will partially evaporate, in a good way. Faith will eventually be lovingly placed back on the tool shed wall (Rule of St. Benedict), because we will see face to face. With God.

Bruno Barnhart said, “Gnosis is faith experienced.”

Science is a gift.

The future scientist will, of necessity, be a mystic. Because of the complexity we are entering, the thunderous overwhelming array of choices that will be before us, the shocking spectrum of possible courses. With the Spirit, we will navigate this with ease.

The New Axial Period, the New Pentecost, will be a time of universal acknowledgment of the Divine. Nor will everyone be necessarily corralled into one religious camp, or forced into “the one and only” correct mosque, church, or zendo. Truth loves dialogue. There will still be endless learning before us. And endless dialogue as we journey together in Allah, in whom we live and move and have our being.

Some of the “proofs” of the existence of God are occurring right now. The Mystical Psalm Structures have been recently rediscovered. Another essay shall present them. These structures are hidden, unconsciously and Spiritually, in the Psalms of David (which the Qur’an mentions 3 times as the Zabur of Dawood) of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament). Almost every page of the New Testament has their Christian authors consciously speaking of the Mystical Psalm Structures, but in intentionally concealed ways. The New Testament authors know of these realities, but do not quite place them plainly on the table for all to immediately see. They, instead, give many hints, clues, and innuendos. Once you have broken the code of the Psalms (and the Psalms should be the least organized book of the Bible!), then you see that the Mystical Psalm Structures are referred to constantly in the New Testament. Jesus of Nazareth knew the Psalm Structures.

The Qur’an was given to the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) by the mighty Angel Jibreel (Gabriel).

The Qur’an is brimming, flowing over like a fountain of life, with mystical knowledge of the Psalm Structures (again, the Qur’an refers to the Psalms, the Zabur of Dawood, 3 times; the Qur’an also refers, often positively, to Christian monks of Egypt, Italy Greece, Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Jordan, Arabia, Palestine, Syria, and Lebanon (who knew the Psalm Structures deeply)).

Outside the Abrahamic traditions, the Bible and Qur’an’s mystical realities have connections to Chandogya Upanishad, the Bhagavad-Gita, and Taoist art, among possibly many more. Forthcoming writing discusses this.

Back to 1 Corinthians. (Paul saw the Psalm Structures after his conversion, and taught almost all the other New Testament authors more deeply about them.)

Paul shows us a light prism before such prisms were invented:

In Chapter 12 he discusses the Holy Spirit. In verses 4, 5, and 6 he mentions the Spirit, the Lord, and God, and so there is here a rare appearance of the Holy Trinity in the Bible. Unity in multiplicity, and multiplicity in unity. The word “one” appears at least 13 times in this chapter, and its first appearance describes the Holy Spirit as “One.” But then the one light of the Holy Spirit shines through the prism, and a rainbow of Spiritual Gifts beams out of the triangular glass. Dierkes lists them, although the list has grown much longer today.

There is another discussion of multiplicity and unity, this time connected with the reality of the Body of Christ. We are all members of one body. This is not easy to wrap our heads around.

But then towards the end of the great hymn to love of Chapter 13, these gifts start to be pulled back into the Godhead. They will disappear, no longer needed. The many various gifts, these strands of light of every color, are rewoven with each other, gathered together, and are taken up and gone again.

The gifts disappear into another united group of 3—but this time, it is not the Trinity. It is the HUMAN theological virtues of Faith, Hope, and Love. The gifts have served their purpose by making humanity more like God, and more like the intensely hot relationship of love that is in the Godhead-Trinity.

The Body of Christ emulates the Trinity. We grow in Love. 1 John 4 repeatedly says, “God Is Love.” Therefore, the Spiritual gifts help us learn to be more Divine, as we make the Body of Christ, the Human Community, more like the inner life of God (see Genesis 1:26).

Paul has another chiastic structure holding Chapter 13. The final verse of Chapter 12 is:

-“But STRIVE for the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.”

Then there is Chapter 13. Following Chapter 13, the first verse of Chapter 14 is:

-“PURSUE LOVE, and STRIVE for the spiritual gifts.”

Both exhortations have the verb “strive,” which is related to our word “zeal.”

Paul adds something new, however, to the exhortation that appears after Chapter 13. He says, “Pursue Love.” We pursue God, we chase God as our divine lover or beloved. Paul encourages us to be more like God.

Again, the gifts return to Holy Spirit, but with something new: WE HUMANS, who are now mixed with the content of 1 Cor 13, which is Love. But later the New Testament says “God Is Love.”

Remember that rainbow of light that is taken back into God? Well, it now includes us, all the members of the Body of Christ.

The bundle of dancing colored light now includes God and Humanity together. The Divine-Human strand now enters back into the prism, the Godhead.

God is in us now, and we are in God now.

The Second Letter of Peter says precisely the same thing.

Peter says that we are to be partakers of the Divine Nature. This is shocking, and it’s right in the New Testament of the Bible.

In the 4th verse of his second letter, Peter says that we are meant to be “participants of the Divine Nature.”

Eastern Christianity, such as the Greek Orthodox and the Russian Orthodox, have deosis as a central part of their faith. Deosis (and theosis) is the understanding that God wants us to evolve and grow and be lifted up by God into God. There are many versions and various teachings about deosis in the Eastern Churches. The Western Church also has deosis in its theology, but it does not receive the prominence that the Eastern Churches give to it.

Spiritual People Today

In his article, Chris Dierkes addresses how some of the same personal and societal foibles that people had in Paul’s Corinthian community appear in us today. This is entirely to be expected, especially given the necessary-yet-difficult fracturing of society and family structure and relationships that modern society, with our recent adventures in individuation, has facilitated.

Before and after the great hymn to Love, Paul urges us to strive for the higher gifts. To want spiritual gifts, he says, is a good desire, a healthy desire.

The Mystical Psalm Structures have a lot to do with desire, and with the varieties of love.

The Greeks had various kind of love, and several words for love. Three of the important ones are philia (kind sisterly and brotherly love, communal love), eros (erotic love), and agape (profound Love, Divine Love, Humans Learning Divine Love).

Paul’s Chapter 13 is all about Agape. The highest form of Love.

This does not mean that eros and philia get left behind, no. They are found in and among Agape. But it’s good for us to really focus on Agape, and, sometimes, we may have to leave eros, and even philia, to the side for a while. We’ll be able to pick these up again later, in far better ways.

Let’s return to the amazing statement in 2 Peter 1:4, where we are urged to become partakers of the Divine Nature. Peter does something astounding here. He takes the phrase “Godly/Divine Nature,” which in the Greek is 2 feminine words, and splits them, placing the masculine word “partakers,” or “participants,” between them. Masculine inside the Feminine. The Feminine contains the Masculine. There is a hint of Human sexuality with the Divine here. This is in accord with the amazing 26th verse of the Bible.

Heaven is not milquetoast. The trials on earth serve to strengthen and prepare us to be able to, actually, sustain the ecstasy of heaven. To be near the Divine. Closeness to Allah requires tremendous strength, training, appetite, and desire.

Yet this same verse of Peter’s, 2 Peter 1:4, also has a warning about lust. [ ! ]

Peter is acknowledging that in the presence of the Holy Spirit being given to us, we must move with care and maturity in our lives.

As we proceed on the journey, good actions are increasingly set closer to potentially bad actions. Our accuracy sharpens. The final Surah of the Qur’an, the amazing Surah 114, speaks of this. The struggle is often more internal. The purer and stronger our conscience is, the faster, farther, higher, and deeper we’ll fly.

Let us be teachers.

Let us be astronauts, sailors among the stars, of Agape. This will lead us to a greater appropriation of the Earth, and the earth of our bodies.

(Modern mystics also report having mystical experiences at the minute, even cellular, level.)

Let us love our sisters and brothers dearly. Let us care and teach them. If we’re spiritual teachers, let us guide them perfectly. Let us ask the Divine for help in this.

As Dierkes says, the “question of the ethics of our psyches is absolutely crucial.”

And how!

Not only for us as teachers in this brave new Kosmos….

What if the future of Humanity is a shared mind? Paul says elsewhere, “Put on the mind of Christ.” He’s not kidding.

Bruno Barnhart, speaking of what has begun in these our days, said, “It’s like one mind, and it’s like a billion minds.”

The Spiritual Gifts of today affect our psyches, souls, and hearts even more than in Paul’s day. This being the case, we owe it to the human community, and they to us, to be constantly cleaning our consciences, our springs of intuition. The conscience is vital! The conscience is the hinge of our connection to the Divine, for Divine Intuition and Divine Inspiration arrive to us through our conscience. If our conscience is inoperative, we will miss the Holy Spirit entirely. We’ll miss the boat.

(For those new to this notion, the Examen of Conscience can be a very helpful procedure. The Examen was begun perhaps by the desert monks of Egypt. St. Gregory the Great developed it further, as did St. Ignatius Loyola after him.)

(“The parrot scratches its beak, although it is clean.”)

People, if we are going to be sharing our minds and souls with each other, we want them to be as clean and as strong as they can be. Again, cleanliness here does not mean milquetoast. The phrase “Purity of Heart” has as its end the strengthening of our heart, the ability to take staggering amounts of Divine joy, to cleave into the radiant joyful furnace that is all good.

If you are lost now, and have no idea what I’m talking about, don’t worry. Jesus tells us in the Farewell Discourse of John’s Gospel (Chapters 13 – 17) that when the Spirit arrives—when each of us receives the Holy Spirit personally—the Spirit will teach us what we need to know. I can say with confidence and experience that this is exactly what happens. It’s divine and it’s human. It’s amazing. You will know when it happens. And today, it may be happening more than ever.

Community

If we want to bring all of our mind, heart, will, imagination, memory, and desire to this new body, this new community, this new Kosmos, this Body of Christ, this World Soul, then we want to bring ALL of something else to this gathering:

We need to bring all of the community.

We want everyone to be there.

Back in the Hebrew Scriptures, every single one of the great ancient prophets speaks of social justice. Every. Single. Prophet. Ever. Speaks. Of. Social. Justice.

Care for the poor.

Care for the orphan.

Care for the widow.

Care for the stranger.

Care for the indigenous.

Care for every single human person that is in the community.

In Psalm 72, which is both a Ladder Psalm and a Menorah Psalm, the best and highest leader is the one who cares for the lowest and the weakest and the most disenfranchised.

Why?

Psalm 72 has the answer to that as well.

When all people in a community are loved and cared for, then joy, for all, will be at a maximum. Mother Earth will know that her children, all of us earthlings, are at a maximum point of community. And She, Mother Earth, will be happy. The Earth can heal Herself. And she will. Harvests will be more bountiful than ever. There will be a global Thanksgiving. Kosmos will happen. A joyful universe, as Romans 8 promises.

Dierkes too mentions the periphery, the forgotten, the marginalized (in about the 43rd paragraph), as does Pope Francis in all of his documents.

Dierkes writes: “….Paul reminds us that those who seem on the periphery, the forgotten, marginalized, and oppressed ones, are the indispensible ones.”

In the next paragraph, Dierkes says something vital, regarding community: “….Paul’s vision is one of radical interdependency or inter-being.”

I’m considering getting that line tattooed on my forehead.

 

Paul says elsewhere that we are all parts of each other.

 

Dierkes then criticizes “radical individualism,” which I partially agree with; above, we discussed the evolutionary necessity of some individuation. I would entirely agree with Dierkes, however, that now we need to bring ourselves, as more articulated individuals, back to community, and joyfully immerse in our community(s).

Conclusion

With Dierkes’ article I have minor disagreements, regarding perspective and vocabulary. The only one I’ll mention here is towards the end, when he discusses love.

He says that love is wishing the best for others.

That’s Step One.

And it’s proper for all of us, especially in early training periods that we go through, to have this attitude so it becomes a mindset for us. Luke’s Sermon on the Plain says, “Give, and it will be given unto you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, shall be poured into your bosom; for the measure you give will be the measure you receive.” (Luke 6:38)

John’s Gospel says that Fountains of Living Water will start flowing in our Hearts. (The Qur’an echoes this, speaking of Gardens under which streams flow….)

In these verses, our boot camp training and early efforts of love become smoother and more mature. We become builders of community. What’s more, there is a return of love coming to us.

There is this statement, disarmingly simple at first, yet quite complex:

“We all want to love, and we all want to be loved.”

Perhaps this is from Shakespeare’s Sonnet 25 (I don’t know if another source has more of a claim to it. I’ve searched for such a source to no avail yet.).

This speaks of multiplicity and complexity. They are 2 completely different action-groups, to love and to be loved! It seems both active and passive! And if we dare to love, then we are left in the vulnerable position of having to hope for reciprocation! Yet the 2 radically different actions are united by 1 love.

A going and a coming in one ellipse, one sphere.

 

If a huge new continent were to be discovered today on our wonderful Earth, we would be stunned and ecstatic. Imagine the rapture and the wild abandon with which we would want to explore this new place that we never knew was here. “Truly God is in this place, and I did not know it!” (Genesis 28:16)

This new Kosmos is here. It is arriving. We must help with the delivery. The more we strive and pray and be and authentically love, the more it will be realized with us right here and now.

 

[Artwork by Malak Mattar, a 16 year old artist from Gaza, shown here with her permission.]

The Ladder Hidden in the Lord’s Prayer (Addendum 2 to Chapter 2 of William Shakespeare and the Psalter of Fire)

tubular-glass-tree-house-aibek-almassov-masow-architects-1The Ladder Hidden in the Lord’s Prayer (Addendum 2 to Chapter 2)

 

            It will help our understanding of Shakespeare’s hidden discussion of the Psalm Structures to see that there is also a Ladder hidden in the central prayer of Christianity, the Lord’s Prayer (Our Father). [Some of this Addendum is based on a wonderful essay, The Lord’s Prayer, by Metropolitan Anthony Bloom, of the Russian Orthodox Church, in his book Living Prayer.]

 

Here is a way of presenting this prayer:

 

 

Our Father

 

Who art in heaven

 

Hallowed by thy name

 

Thy kingdom come

 

Thy will be done

 

On earth as it is in heaven

 

Give us this day our daily bread

 

Forgive us our trespasses

 

As we forgive those who trespass against us

 

Lead us not into temptation

 

Deliver us from evil

 

 

The first word(s)—Our Father—is a word that states the best thing imaginable: It says several different stunning realities at once. First, it makes us all sisters and brothers of each other, and brothers and sisters of Jesus. Second, it states that God is a loving (and perfect) parent to all people. Third, it says that we are all of one family. This is remarkably wonderful news.

The fact that we are family is underscored by nine (9) first-person plural pronouns in the prayer: Our, us, we. There are no first-person singular pronouns: Mine, me, I.

 

The final word represents the worst situations that we can find ourselves in: evil. Thus, the first word and the last word are polar opposites in every way; this polarity echoes the Ladder hidden in the Psalms, if we recall that the top of the Ladder is a party in heaven (Psalm 150), and the bottom of the Ladder is physical illness in hell (Psalm 6) and societal corruption on earth (Psalm 12).

 

One of the functions of the Ladder in the Lord’s Prayer is to give us a path, a Ladder, upon which we may climb-journey from “hell” to a full participation of the family of God, who is “Our Father.” Recall also that the rediscovering of our being created in the image and likeness of God is an important motif in the New Testament. Paul speaks of our becoming more and more the adopted children of God. Then he speaks clearly of our being the children of God.

As mentioned in the first Addendum to this chapter, The Growing Pregnant Womb, Eastern and Western Christianity both celebrate a tradition in which we are in a constant growth towards the Divine and into the Divine, including our ability to share in more Divine gifts and energies. The Eastern Traditions of Christianity celebrate this much more openly.

 

Now we will travel from the bottom of the Ladder, and from the worst situations, including the worst “evil,” to the top of the Ladder, where we celebrate God, and the fact that God has called us into Creation as beings and members of one family—a joyful unity, promised and delivered by “Our Father.”

 

 

The bottom of the Ladder:

 

DELIVER US FROM EVIL

 

When Jesus first uttered the Lord’s Prayer, as he reached this last line, all of his hearers would have made an automatic and instantaneous connection to Moses and the Exodus. Moses was the “deliverer,” and the first Passover, and the entire Exodus, were the “deliverance” par excellence. To this day, the first Passover and the Exodus are formative literary events in the conscience of the Jewish people.

With this background, the word “evil” can point towards the physical and spiritual slavery of the Hebrews in Egypt. One of the effects of outward slavery is the greater likelihood of internal slippage, vice, and degradation—when the bad Pharaoh came along, not only were the Hebrews slaves, but they also forgot the name of God! They didn’t know God. They had forgotten God, even God’s name.

God saved them anyway, even though they did not deserve it. God saved them, the Bible says, because of God’s promise. Well and good. The situation may be a bit more complex, as God, of course, loves all people, each and every one of us. The calling forth of the ancient Hebrews into a new stage of societal relationship with God was a big thing back then. (Other developments in the long unfurling march of Salvation History have occurred since then, of course.)

 

The forty years of the Exodus voyage represent, also, a single human life. The breaking of the waters of the Red Sea is an image of birth, and the young nation of Israel was born, and separated from her mother, Egypt. The Red Sea is like the breaking water of birth, and the blood that attends birth—recall also the blood on the doorways (lintels), of the Passover celebration. The forty years of desert journeying was about the length, maybe, of an average life back then. Actually, very many people back then didn’t even make it to 40 years of age. Forty years of tough desert going represents human life, and an individual’s span of life. Then, at the end of the journey, the River Jordan stops. This echoes the water miracle at the beginning of the journey. When we die, the blood, lymph, and other liquid courses within us simply stop.

The river stopped and parted, and the Israelites entered Canaan. When our blood stops, and we die, we fly to heaven (see Psalm 90).

 

The Israelites began as ignorant slaves, suddenly liberated. God revealed God’s name to Moses in the Burning Bush. They were beginning to be healed from their spiritual ignorance, their situation of spiritual slavery, a situation of “evil.”

 

 

LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION

 

Things instantly got difficult for the Israelites in the desert. They were not simply given everything by God. Rather, God expected them to grow, to mature. God wanted them to become free individuals and to develop in the best ways.

Also:

They had to learn community. And community can be tough to learn. Every Christian religious community, for example, has their own difficulties. But this is normal grist for the mill of the development of the community’s members.

The Israelites had to learn how to get along with others. They had to learn how to be neighbors to each other. They had to learn that, yes, they are their brother’s keeper.

(Christianity and Islam, of course, and Buddhism and Hinduism, teach that all human beings, and all sentient beings, are precious.)

Community, when one is initially learning how to live it, can be tough. The Israelites, very soon after their liberation, suddenly wished that they were back in their initial situation of slavery and ignorance. There was complaining. There was thirst and hunger. There was dissatisfaction and anger and animosity between people and groups in the camp.

Opportunities for regression and error abounded. Moses had to lead them through these thickets of temptation, through these thickets of anger and fighting, towards something like a cohesive community.

The forty years in the desert were not easy in this regard.

 

 

AS WE FORGIVE THOSE WHO TRESPASS AGAINST US

 

There was much forgiving and peacemaking that had to occur in the desert of the Exodus, and in our world today.

Grievous errors were made, and are still being made.

 

Yet there is much that is positive in forgiveness, as we learn more powerfully about the God who is Love. Forgiveness is the earthen mirror of love.

 

FORGIVE US OUR TRESPASSES

 

We forgive. God forgives.

Aristotle defined friendship as being when 2 people like to engage the same activity together.

We forgive. God forgives.

When we forgive, we become more like God. This is an absolutely central part of our journey of Deosis, of our journey to God, and to receiving more of God’s Divine gifts and energies. Every adult human should be able to write a teacher’s manual on forgiveness. There are many things involved with the realm of forgiveness.

Finally, “forgive” is the only active verb assigned to us people in the prayer. God does all the rest.

 

 

GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD

 

Each day for forty years in the desert, the Ladder worked also in the downward direction as God supplied manna to the Israelites.

Psalm 78, a Ladder Psalm, even speaks of a heavenly door that opens so that food of the angels, this manna, may be showered down on us.

In John’s Gospel, Jesus says that he is the bread come down from heaven (see John 6:35, 38, 41, 48, 51, 54, 58). This, of course, reminds us of the Eucharist, which is Jesus. His divinized body of love. Deep sharing. He knew how to forgive.

The word for “daily” is epiousion. This can also mean “beyond substance,” epi (beyond) ousion (substance). This, of course, is also a discussion of the Eucharist, among other things.

 

Also, this is the first (climbing upwards) of two adjacent lines that are the center of the prayer:

 

On earth as it is in heaven

Give us this day our daily (epiousion) bread

 

Jesus appears in both these lines. For Christians, he is the “daily bread,” the bread “beyond substance,” the Eucharist.

He is also the coming together of heaven and earth. He is the Divine Human, the person who is fully of the earth and fully of heaven.

 

Now, let’s reflect for a moment about our combined human future on planet Earth.

As we grow in love, in forgiveness, in communion, in mutual respect and understanding, we discover that this is the only way into a potentially tremendously bright human future. The goal is not the superiority, the victory, of one religion or lack thereof. No, that would be ludicrous and result in the end of the world, far too prematurely.

No, that cannot be the goal. (Even the Roman Catholic Church said at Vatican II Council that “salvation is possible outside the Church,” the first time the Church had said that since the Reformation.)

Today, we have the “capacity” to destroy our earth with nuclear weapons. As we keep pouring billions and trillions of dollars into more advanced weapons and into defense and armies, we are increasing the chances of a horrible event(s) of devastation. And our technology is getting more and more advanced. In 50 years, a single disgruntled 18-year-old person (or soldier) will be able to destroy a vast area with a single weapon.

We have to make a decisive move for global peace, or we will fry ourselves. It should be obvious. A world without armies and without grotesque weapons is a safer world for all. As Apple says, we all need to learn how to “think different.” Or we will lose our Garden, causing our own annihilation.

 

In non-Christian terms (that Christians can also use), these two lines speak of a more advanced and united humanity. Of us transforming our earth into a heavenly paradise. Of all persons being considered as divine. Of a humanity that is not defensive, but that is united in love. A humanity that is not defensive is one that is growing in love. The entire trajectory of the Bible (and of Shakespeare’s Sonnets) is about this: in fact, the developing of a loving Humanity is the basic purpose of the Bible (and the Sonnets).

A united Humanity that does away with the defense industry will be able to turn our attention to helping Humanity grow to a level of development where every single human person has their “daily bread”—that is, all their human needs met. And this humanity is a humanity that can then reach the stars.

Our human minds will be liberated cosmically as we humans drop defense and defensive modes of thinking, and learn to love. All people.

Speaking of the stars:

These two lines here at the center of the prayer serve a very important “bridge” function.

 

Below these two central lines, the second half of the prayer is all about the struggles of life on earth—and of our historical “past.” The first part of the prayer, above these two central lines, is about our personal relationship with God, and with heaven, with our attaining of heaven, and with our individual and communal positive growth and focus.

 

The two halves of the prayer speak to both our communal and our individual development. The lower half is about the troubles of our evolution: all the long, senseless agonies of the slow, drawn out, awkward, turning away from animal attitudes, to that of tribal people, to human community and government, to individual humans, to a re-centered powerful community of articulated individual human beings (which the positive aspects of this current generation is engaging), to a more angelic humanity in our very near future (and this too may have begun already among some of our family), to a future cosmic humanity, a more-divinized-humanity.

 

ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN

 

God could have made earth like heaven. He didn’t. He gave it to us as work to do. Part of our custodial work to do here in the Garden is to make the world into a Paradise, into heaven.

The Qur’an has this as a resounding theme: See 5:48; 11:118; 16:93; 42:8; 43:33; 49:13. After seeing these, it is interesting to return to an earlier text, 2:213.

The Qur’an is very much interested in the theme of human evolution. But the above Ayat (verses, or “signs”) point to something related, integral, to this evolution. Our humanity has comes from many different places, times, and influences. The glory, and the difficulty, of our evolution is learning how to live together in love. If we don’t learn this, we’re toast. If we learn this, our children will lead our planet into a Paradise. Our future children will be like advanced Beings in a New Creation.

Earth becomes Heaven. For all. For all souls past and future.

 

THY WILL BE DONE

 

Bruno Barnhart, once speaking of a future Humanity (which has already begun), that he already knew a great deal about, said quietly, “It’s like one mind, and it’s like a billion minds.”

We are all individuals. We are all spoken words of God. An ancient Rabbi once said that if we really knew how to read the Torah (the first five books of the Hebrew Scriptures), each human being could find their life story, not in vague outline, but in precise detail therein.

We are one, yet we are individual. We are individuals, but we belong together. And, paradoxically, the more we love all, the more we become our most liberated and realized individual person.

Our wills, including our desires: What Bruno said about our mind(s) could be applied to our will(s): It’s like one will, and it’s like billions of wills.

We can design our own ice-cream sundaes in heaven.

 

This amazing development of our individual selves and of our communal participation is forecasted in the first verse of John’s Gospel:

John shows the way to developing the spectrum of humanity, of our soul.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Let’s consider this verse, this sentence, in its three parts.

“In the beginning was the Word.” A person is generated or created, and this person learns to become an individual, to stand on one’s own two feet. The sheer wonder and joy of a person becoming a more full human person.

“And the Word was with God.” The person is capable of being in relationship with an Other. Multiple beings can be together in community, and this is to be celebrated as a wondrous thing.

“And the Word was God.” The person can merge fully in unity with an Other. Nonduality. The dissolving, the dissolution of our boundaries, of our ego boundaries. Profound Union. We don’t know where the Other begins or where we end, it doesn’t matter. Utter ecstasy. Mind-blowing, breathtaking.

All three of these states at once.

 

We should be striving for that stage, when our will dances in harmony with God’s will.

 

THY KINGDOM COME

 

The Gospels talk of the kingdom of God, the Reign of God, as does Surah 1 of the Qur’an.

This is something to be desired and worked towards by all people.

A monarchy seems to be led by one person. What Christians call “The Body of Christ,” and what others call “The World Soul,” is happiest when each individual person is at a maximum and growing state of consciousness, awareness, and individuality. That makes for better community.

 

HALLOWED BE THY NAME

 

We hallow God, and God’s name.

God wants to hallow us—and for us to hallow each other.

 

WHO ART IN HEAVEN

 

Once some people did something that God rejoiced at, says an ancient midrash (Scripture commentary). So God created 70 new heavens.

God could help our Mother Earth to heal quickly. If we cooperate.

When God wants to teach and to share, he wants to really share.

70 new heavens.

But if we want to run a marathon, or dance all night, we have to build up our strength, our endurance.

 

OUR FATHER

 

The story from Luke of the “Prodigal Son” has been humorously renamed the story of the “Prodigal Father,” because of the father’s astonishing mercy. In fact, it could almost be called the story of the “Prodigal Mother,” because the father is so compassionate, and has learned something from the mother, the Feminine.

 

Back to the Center

How do we make this possible? This paradise on earth that God wants to lead us into? This paradise, which, for our children, will be truly paradise? (Maybe the most painful part of human life in the future will be learning our human history, and seeing our ludicrous mistakes and regressions.)

 

The pivot, the lynchpin, of this ascent into the top portion of the prayer, into Paradise, is the two central lines. And our incarnating of them.

Will we put down our defensiveness, including our defense industries, defense ministries, our fears and greeds, and ensure that all people have their daily bread?

Will we consider our human community to be the place where heaven happens? Will we learn to see community “on earth, as it is in heaven?” Will we accept the Divine, and the gifts and energies of the Divine?

Will we realize heaven? Or do we not desire it?

The Chiastic-Menorah Structure of the 154 Sonnets (Addendum to Chapter 3 of William Shakespeare and the Psalter of Fire)

Friends, because of the length of this file, there is a link to the site at Academia below. The full file is there.

This file will be helpful to all who study Shakespeare’s Sonnets. It shows one of the hidden ways in which Shakespeare orders the arrangement, the chiastic structure, of each of his 154 Sonnets that were published in 1609. There is a pair of Interwoven Menorahs in each sonnet. These menorahs are hanukkah menorahs, with 9 branches (8 branches, plus the lighting rod, the shamash). Chapter 2C will discuss them at greater length. This particular file is to show how each sonnet follows this pattern, and it will help in the reading of both Chapter 2C and Chapter 3.

Basically, the menorahs represent the transition of the old stone temple as the place of the Shekinah, or, the Holy Spirit, to each and every human being, and to the Human Community.

This is a huge discovery. This hidden organizing structure of the Sonnets has been entirely unknown for the 407 years that the Sonnets have been with us.

Here is the link to the file at Academia:

https://www.academia.edu/26004294/The_Chiastic-Menorah_Structure_of_the_154_Sonnets_Addendum_to_Chapter_3_of_William_Shakespeare_and_the_Psalter_of_Fire_

Also, if you would prefer a PDF file of this, please message me and I’ll send it to you.images.jpeg

 

 

The Mystical Psalms Ladder in the Sonnets (very rough); William Shakespeare and the Psalter of Fire, Chapter 2-A

644693_521639987898104_318446606_nPsalter of Fire, Chapter 2-A

 

[Note: Please recall that this is a first rough draft. This writing is extra complex here, because it deals with mystical structures from the Book of Psalms. In the published book it shall be easier to see what is happening, as diagrams and computer graphics shall render explanations instantly accessible. Parts of this chapter remain in “note” form, as I will not be able to return to it for a while. (The end of the rough chapter preview, which discusses the top of the Ladder, is interesting.]

 

 

 

Chapter 1 has proven that the Sonnets have a running parallel dialogue with the Psalms. This dialogue was previously hidden, but now it is clear to see.

 

This chapter presents a related but different topic: the Mystical Psalm Structures, and how the Sonnets engage these mystical realities hidden in the Psalms.

 

The Psalm Structures

 

A forthcoming book shall present the Psalm Structures. An overview of them is available at this site: https://www.academia.edu/16106922/The_Mystical_Psalm_Structures

 

We could say that there are three initial Psalm Structures, three which are the most basic (there are many more things happening in the Psalms, but we shall present those matters later). The three basic Psalm Structures are the 7 Pillars of Wisdom (which is simply one pillar with various referents and references), the Ladder, and the Interwoven Menorahs.

 

 

The Seven Pillars of Wisdom

 

This Structure is a Pillar. The 7 Psalms that are multiples of 21 (21, 42, 63, 84, 105, 126, 147) make the Pillar.

These 7 Psalms have a theme of growing desire. A clear literary motif that runs through the group is that the noun “heart” or “soul” (lev and nefesh in the Hebrew, respectively) is combined with a verb of yearning, seeking, thirsting, or desiring. Thus we have the language of love.

Here is an image of this Psalm Structure:

 

147

126

105

84

63

42

21

 

In other discussions of the Psalm Structures, the Pillar usually is presented first, as it is the simplest structure to see, and has far fewer Psalms that make it up. (The Ladder has 25 Psalms, and the Intertwined Menorahs have 18 Psalms, while the Pillar has a mere 7 Psalms.)

However, because of a development in Shakespeare’s Sonnets, we shall present the Pillar at the end of this chapter. Therefore, let’s begin with the Ladder.

 

 

The Ladder

 

The Mystical Psalms Ladder is the most amazing literary structure in human history. Here is a picture of it, and the Psalms that make it up:

 

150

144           138

132           126

120           114

108           102

96              90

84              78

72              66

60              54

48              42

36              30

24              18

12                 6

 

A mathematical formula is hidden in Psalm 12. This formula generates the flight of angels on the Ladder, a flight which has an exact choreography. (When the book on the Psalm Structures is published, it will be accompanied by a website and film that shows the angels’ motion in ten seconds. Thus, everyone can see and understand instantly what is happening, and the book will then help them to a deeper appropriation of this miracle.)

If the Pillar represents the Masculine, the Ladder represents the Feminine. Words for “temple” appear in the 25 Ladder Psalms with a 300% greater frequency than in the other 125 Psalms. There are other literary themes as well, including vertical motion, a theme that goes well with ladders, and with sexuality.

 

Themes of the Ladder Psalms (and the Pillar Psalms) include Human Evolution and the growth of the Global Community. The World. Peace and an authentic happiness. The Human Family.

 

In this part of the chapter, let’s compare Shakespeare’s treatment of the Ladder with the Ladder Psalms themselves.

 

Psalm 12 and Sonnet 12:

Shakespeare is already telling us he knows about the Psalms Ladder with the first verse of Sonnet 12:

 

When I do count the clock that tells the time

 

Good writers are usually economical with their words. They don’t waste words. So why does Shakespeare engage unnecessary action when he talks about “counting?” All he has to do to figure out the time is to look at the clock.

Unless, of course, there is something that needs counting. (Of course, he could be alluding to a clock’s bells, but let’s stay with this belabored account of “counting.”)

What’s more, his counting of the clock, more laborious then we might expect, echoes the rhythmical operation of the clock: “the clock that tells the time.” The iambic pentameter of this line is very pronounced, and it especially highlights the UPS and DOWNS between the accented and unaccented syllables. The first accented syllable is the accented “I” followed by 2 accented pairs of alliteration: “count” and “clock” is the first pair, and “tells” and “time” is the second. All 5 syllables have quite prominent stresses on them.

The five unaccented syllables are very soft: When, do, the, that, the. The alliteration of the last three words is quite smooth and soft, including the two “the’s.” The last hard “t” of ‘that’ is whisked away, absorbed into the “t” of ‘tells’. And the “d” of ‘do’ is breathlessly lost after the emerging aspirated “I” that precedes it. (The “I do” has matrimonial echoes, which could be discussed in a later treatment of the Ladder and the Pillar.)

This regular beat nicely approximates a clock, and a clock’s regular motion, a clock’s bells, and a clock’s ticking sound.

But it also approximates the perfect choreography of the angels on the Ladder, in their precisely ordered descending and ascending.

And this first verse does something else: Shakespeare is setting up a clear separation between the narrator and the clock; yet this belabored separation emphasizes, powerfully, the fact that the two different entities are related to each other by time, by rhythm, and by other parallel realities. The clock is making the narrator more like the clock. The Psalms, and the Ladder in the Psalms, are likewise pivotal in the making of the Sonnets, and of the Ladder in the Sonnets.

Back in the Psalms, the 12th Psalm has a vital verse for the Ladder, and for the generation of the motion of the angels.

 

The words of YHWH (are) words pure,

Silver refined in a vessel in/on/of the earth, 7 times purified.

 

This verse has many meanings, of course. Shakespeare knew, in his own life, the long work among the fires of the smithy of language. He also knew God’s refining fire and lye in the suffering, errors, and growth that Shakespeare was involved with, personally.

“Silver” also appears in Sonnet 12, in the “sable curls all silvered o’er with white.” The silver becomes incorporated into the body of a human person. It can be a sign of old age, or, it can be a sign of the incorporation of Wisdom and holiness, as it is in the Book of Proverbs………. The Ladder of the Psalms also represents the human body, and, the anthropomorphizing of God.

All the authors of Sacred Scripture know of the long process of refining that God leads them through.

Human words eventually become Scripture. That’s how every book of the Bible came into being, and why the words are holy: they are the fruit of spiritual discipline and human suffering and experience, and wisdom and art.

And Shakespeare reaches a fruition too.

 

Here is the mathematical formula hidden in Psalm 12, the formula that generates the flight of the angels: We take the “7 times” and we add the number of the Psalm, the number 12. Thus, we have “7 x 12.” The answer is 84, And Psalm 84 may be the most central Psalm of the Psalter. Psalm 84 is both a Ladder Psalm and a Pillar Psalm (the factors of 84 include 12 and 21). (The book on the Psalm Structures, and its accompanying video, will show the actual flight pattern. By the way, the Qur’an is constantly referring to the Mystical Psalms Ladder, and the flight of the angels. In fact, the Prophet Muhammad’s Mi’raj, that wondrous night journey, is connected to the Ladder. This, of course, makes the Dome of the Rock hugely important to all 3 Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.) This is the first of the very ordered and regular motion of the angels on the Ladder.

Yet Sonnet 12 has no numbers in it. Does Shakespeare also provide us with the mechanism to make the angels fly? Without something to get the angels flying, the 12 steps are sitting there barren. There is no communication between heaven and earth on the Ladder, which remains strangely virginal. The poem mentions “barren.”

After the first 12 lines of the Sonnet, we see “Time’s scythe” raised in the air, poised to cut down the 12 preceding lines if a consummation, a meeting, does not happen. Let us hope that such a mowing does not happen, and that, instead, there is some sort of opening and meeting.

But in fact, the ominous overtones of Sonnet 12 continue: The Ladder is knocked over sideways, and it becomes a bier for a human body. It’s 90 degrees off, askew from its proper position.

A fine poet of the Harlem Renaissance, Owen Dodson, does the same thing in his collection Powerful Long Ladder. He too knows about the Mystical Psalm Structures. But he also knows the brutal racism in America. Dodson knocks the mystical Psalms Ladder over, and forms a bridge. From this bridge is hung an African American.

Shakespeare and Dodson both acknowledge that God will not automatically force these mystical blessings upon us. Rather, we must work earnestly for them. (Shakespeare makes further parody of the Ladder, especially in Sonnet 144, which shall be discussed below.)

But Shakespeare does tell us how to climb the Ladder.

He does tell us, but not with the sonnet entitled “12.” Instead, Shakespeare hides the formula in his sonnet entitled “7.”

In Psalm 150, which is one of the Ladder Psalms but which is above the Ladder itself, there are the “heavens,” which, as we know, have stars. Psalm 150 represents the heavens, or better, consummation of the Human and the Divine. In Sonnet 7 there is a star, i.e., the sun, which is anthropomorphized and considered as a human head. Psalm 150 atop the Ladder is also a human head, and the rest of the Ladder is a human body: Psalms 78 and 84 are the hands, and Psalms 6 and 12 are the feet. This is just one of the images that emerges from the Psalms Ladder.

Sonnet 7 has more Ladder references. The sun, “having climbed the steep-up heavenly hill,” reaches a zenith, its “highmost pitch.” This is again a reference to Psalm 150, and also to the process of climbing up the Ladder. But we also have the descent with is a part of the angels’ motion on the Ladder, for “he reeleth” and is “converted” to a “low tract.” The “steep-up” reminds us of a ladder, as well as a church steeple.

The “strong youth in his middle age,” which will soon become tired with the arduous journey and “with weary car,/ Like feeble age he reeleth . . .” reminds us also of Christ by the well in John 4. He is joined by a woman. Jesus, tired, is refreshed by a woman. This is a hugely important encounter for the Red Line of Hope.

At the zenith of the sun, at the time of noon, when Christ is tired, he is saved by a woman. Shakespeare gives us the formula in Sonnet 7. The zenith of the sun, described by the sonnet, is 12 o’clock. Thus we have the number 12 in Sonnet 7, just as the number 7 is in Psalm 12.

To make sure we see the connection: The first line of the couplet of Sonnet 7 has the word “noon,” just in case we didn’t connect the sun’s zenith with its numerical chronological description. “Noon,” of course, is connected with the number 12, fairly well signifying 12 o’clock.

 

Returning to Sonnet 12, the 12 steps of the Ladder are waiting to be ……………

 

More positively, the raised, waiting scythe near the portal to the ladder represents a good consummation about to happen. It could be sexual, the (masculine) Pillar goes with the (feminine) portal that is the Ladder. In Genesis 28, Jacob calls the Ladder in his vision the “Gateway of heaven.”

 

As with all the Sonnets, there is more to each poem than we can chart in this book. However, Sonnet 12 being so pivotal, let’s observe more.

 

Helen Vendler’s book on the Sonnets is simply necessary for all Shakespeare friends. Her discussion of Sonnet 12 is especially illuminating, and she gives rather much attention to the “sweets and beauties” that the poet mentions in the poem. After Vendler gives this topic more emphasis than usual, she states, “Sweetness and beauty are two of Shakespeare’s constituting categories of value, standing respectively for inward virtue and outward show (see 54)” (p. 98).

Recall that in Chapter 1, when discussing the YHWH MLK Psalms, we spoke of how Humanity must prepare for our reception of God’s great gifts.

A continual theme of the Sonnets is the coming-to-be not only of humanity, but also of our interior person, and, also of a regularity, a consistency, an integration, a seamlessness, between the inner person and the outer person.

In both our human evolution and in our individual lives, it may take time for both this depth and this seamlessness to develop. Recall the above discussion of Romans 7 and 8, in which humanity accrues depth and interior capacity by our struggles and difficulties, to which the seamlessness, the consistency, is added as a gift from God.

The poem’s “canopy” over the “herd” could be older people helping younger people. “And summer’s green all girded up in sheaves” may be fruit or harvest, the consistency and depth of vision that age can confer upon us. I differ from Vendler by saying this line enjambs upon the next line, “Borne on the bier with white and bristly beard….” The motion of enjambment replicates the climbing motions of descent and ascent upon the ladder. This use of enjambment is another lens to take to all the Sonnets. ………Then, a good death physically unites us in a more permanent way to the Ladder, which also serves us as a bier. The bier/Ladder serves as our entry to Heaven, into which we are borne, or, born.

Verse 12 is yet another reference to climbing the Ladder. When we activate the Ladder’s climbing motion, we see that there are many angels ceaselessly arriving at the Ladder, and then quickly departing from the Ladder once they’ve climbed up or down on various missions. The movement is entirely regular and precise. The angelic flying on the Ladder works like a clock, and angels don’t stop moving: “And die as fast as they see others grow.”

The Ladder is also very much about the Body of Christ, within which we all help each other. Or, for non-Christians, we might say that the Ladder is very much about the World Soul, the union of each and every human person.

 

Add somewhere above: Vendler also saves another reference to the Psalm Structures: one line apiece, 2 lines.

1 and 2 are important numbers for the Psalm Structures. The Pillar is formed by multiples of 21. The Ladder is formed by the multiples of 6—but the left side of the Ladder is formed by the multiples of 12 (which, of course, are also multiples of 6). Psalm 12 is the bottom of the left side of the Ladder. The number 12 is emphasized again by the top of the left side being Psalm 144; the number 144 is the number 12 squared.

Woman and man. 1 and 2, 2 and 1. 3 is born.

 

A final note about Sonnet 12’s first verse. The clock that tells the time is also the Psalter itself. As a child in school, Shakespeare would have recited the Psalms every day, according to the monthly cycles of the Book of Common Prayer, of the early Anglican Church after its break from Rome. (The Psalms from that version of the BCP were from the Geneva Bible; however, Shakespeare likely helped with the translation of the Psalms in the King James Version (the Standard Version), and some conjecture that he hid his name in Psalm 46 of the KJV.) Shakespeare and his amazing mind and imagination would have had the Psalms memorized and would have always been thinking about them, first as a child and then as an adult. He knew which Psalm was next. He knew the process of the passing of time. The Psalms were said in the same order each month. The Psalms were his clock, his calendar, his teller of time.

 

 

Psalm 6 and Sonnet 6:

 

Sonnet 6 has lots of numbers and mathematical operations.

The accruing and collecting of financial interest is one of the mathematical moves occurring here, which is interesting, but which I’m not going to discuss here.

Psalms 6 and 12 form the lowest step of the Ladder. They both have the Hebrew word “ha-sheminith” in their Psalm superscriptions. These two occurrences are the only times the word appears in the Psalter. It means, literally, “the 8th.” In this context, it alludes to the next Psalm Structure, the Menorahs.

It could also allude to musical notation, such as the 1/8th note.

 

8 and 128 of sonnets, of menorahs

 

many other things. Including parable of sower. 10.

 

Additionally, the sun’s dramatic rising in Sonnet 6 is matched by a marked fall of the sun in Sonnet 12.

And now we see another echo of the Interwoven Menorahs in Sonnet 12. “When lofty trees I see barren of leaves” give us the image of the Menorahs. The earliest menorahs were intended to represent the Tree of Life.

 

Psalm 12, purifying silver; Sonnet 6, distilling (

Ensure that links between 6 & 12 are shown

 

There are more links between these 2 Sonnets at the base of the Ladder, and the Menorahs.

 

There are many 10’s. Recall the second verse of the Sonnets, how Shakespeare took a preexistent verse and expanded it by two syllables (see 1:2).

If we do that to the much-repeated 10, we arrive at 12, which is the number of sons that Jacob had.         ………………

But this may be only one of several things that Shakespeare is doing with these numbers, of course.

 

The “breed” of Sonnet 6 reappears in Sonnet 12, echoing the repeating sheminith of Psalms 6 and 12.

 

 

In light of the Psalms and the Psalm Structures, there is much more going on in Sonnet 6.

Verse 3’s “Make sweet some vial…” is a …………. for “Make sweet some vile.” Shakespeare is tapping that important theme of blessing-over-cursing, which is also central to the Psalms and to the entire Bible.

Great human capacity.

At the end of Psalm 6 is something amazing. We might call it the Reverse Shema. At least 3 times per day, our Orthodox Jewish friends recite the great Shema, which goes thus: …………………….

The reciters of the Shema let God know that they are listening to God’s word in the Torah, which instructs the Israelites to say these words to God.

But in the last three verses…….. of Psalm 6, the Psalmist-Poet insists that God is listening to the human! In fact, the Psalmist acknowledges this her/his words have been heard by God, and that God shall act.

The Torah is the Word of God come down par excellence. God gave the word down to Moses, who came down the mountain, and gave it down to the people, who have given it down to each new generation.

The Psalms reverse this process.

Like a child learning how to engage in meaningful conversation with an adult, the Psalms speak up to God, and teach us how to do the same. The Psalms teach relationship with God. (Let’s recall that Moses too had to climb up and down the mountain repeatedly.)

 

Make sweet some “vial,” or, something that is vile, or someone that is vile. To understand what Shakespeare might be driving at, let’s take an aspect of the Bible’s dealing with the number 7. Cain slays Abel and God seems to promise that anyone who does anything to Cain will get it 7 times worse. A short time later, Lamech’s poor poetry to his two wives promises that vengeance will happen in a proportion 77 times greater than the initial offense. We see the unflinching violence of an early evolving humanity, as thought (mathematics) and memory, human gifts, are mixed with brutish early human-herd-animal nature.

Jesus read the Song of Songs, and knew that love is stronger than death.

He taught his disciples love. And wise community living.

Peter one day approached him, probably hot at Judas, who gleefully knew and pressed Peter’s buttons. Peter said, “Jesus! How many times do I gotta forgive this guy!? As many as 7 times?” The good student Peter has been being stretched by Jesus’ teaching, and feels himself becoming unmoored from something. He is becoming separated, detached, from his old ways. This makes him nervous, insecure, and prone to moments of anger. As Jesus helps us evolve. Peter is flailing a bit.

Jesus severs an old connection, pushing Peter off into the deep blue sea, even if Peter doesn’t realize it yet, and won’t fully, until after Christ’s Ascension.

Jesus shocks him by saying, “No Peter. Forgive 7 x 77 times.”

Do you see how Jesus is inverting the “anger and retribution” numbers of the Old Testament?

Jesus and his community chiastically remove human violence. It is a bit like how karma-purgatory works in an individual life. It’s chiastic. The process. (For example, in Dante’s Inferno and Purgatorio, the punishment-cleansings match, karmically, reciprocally, like a mirror image (hence chiastically), the errors and sins committed.) Jesus is concerned about each individual person’s growth, and also about the evolution of Humanity as 1 body.

Shakespeare emulates Jesus in these same interests.

 

Shakespeare suffered, and learned love, and so sees the potential of humanity. He would teach us to make sweet some vile.

 

The first words of the concluding couplet are, “Be not self-willed…” Well, this is not precisely what the Psalms teach, as Shakespeare well knows. The Psalms repeatedly mention God’s will. But the person praying the Psalms frequently may experience their will becoming more attuned to the will of God, and, paradoxically, may find their own will becoming more acceptable after early divine corrections to an individual’s will. Why he says this, “Be not self-willed,” shall be taken up in Chapter 6.

 

An endrhyme that appears much in the Sonnets is “thee . . . me.” Sonnet 6 is interesting in that two separate pairs of endrhymes feature “thee,” which appears twice, but without any corresponding “me” to balance it, as in many of the later Sonnets. This is teaching that the 5 books of the Torah must be balanced by the 5 books of the Psalms, and that the human person is not merely to remain forever an order-receiving unit, perpetually receiving divine orders from God, but is to grow up. Initial focus, however, is strongly on God. Similarly, children spend time with their parents in direct proportion to how young they are.

The number “ten” appears five times in Sonnet 6. (In Chapter 3, we shall take up the hidden chiastic structure of each individual sonnet, and the numbers 5 and 10 are central to that discussion.) The pair of 5’s that are within each 10 also indicate the 5 books of the Psalms and the 5 books of the Torah, discussed above.

 

The ability of the human person to ascend, to stand up, to be an individual, is quietly alluded to in the first verse. “Then let not winter’s ragged hand deface . . .”

Our two hands have five fingers each, like the Torah’s and Psalms’ number of books. The Ladder is also a person, with Psalms 78 and 84 being the two hands, and Psalm 150 being the face. Psalms 6 and 12 are the feet.

God wants us to evolve, and to stand tall in Reality.

 

……….preview needed

10 and 4 and 1. 10 4 1, or, “Go to Sonnet 141.” Here in Sonnet 141 we find, two times, the number 5. The right and left hands, the Torah and the Psalms. The initial hard hand (right hand) of God’s ordering Word (the Torah), and the symphonic maestro’s guiding hand to a mature symphony, the left hand of the Spirit able to lead those who are musically Spiritually developed (the Psalms). (The left hand is connected to the more creative right half of the brain.)

 

This is related to yet another powerful pair of 5’s in the Bible. The Bible’s first page has the first creation account of Genesis. The supremely powerful verb “create” appears 5 times in the construction of the universe. The less powerful verb “make,” in which things are made from pre-existent matter, also appears 5 times. Again, we have God’s right and left hands.

The verb “create” is so amazing and unusual that some cultures don’t even have it in their languages. Three appearances of the verb “create” appear in Genesis 1:26, in the creation of humanity. This indicates that humanity has a special concentration of the Divine in us, and even that we may have the duty of assuming some of God’s creative role in the cosmos and in our world.

Once in a discussion with a great sage who’s now in heaven, I was disagreeing with him about human “creativity.” I said, “I read in a book that if one wanted to be creative, one should go to heaven.” He retorted, “That’s the old way.” We are meant to become creative, as an evolving humanity that is growing in care, love, and community.

 

Finally, there is something else about the number 10, and the Bible, and Shakespeare’s use of it. We shall discuss this more in Chapter 4, which presents the life of David as that unique tapestry is unfurled for us in the Sonnets.

It has to do with the Circumcision of David’s Heart, a necessary painful step up the ladder of our evolution. His son Solomon is an icon of good development and of human integration. However, his son Absalom represents the pain of our growth.

David’s sin with Bathsheba and murder of Uriah is, sort of, responsible for God activating Absalom’s rebellion, including the prelude to this: the rape by David’s son Amnon of Absalom’s sister Tamar.

After much drama and violence, Absalom rapes 10 women on David’s roof, the same place where David forced/raped Bathsheba. This is a part of David’s karma-purgation. They were David’s 10 concubines who were raped, and who became shut-ins, like this later Tamar (this later Tamar is emotionally more vulnerable than the earlier Tamar of Genesis 38, although she had much more potential than the earlier Tamar).

Absalom’s karma-purgation, and a deeper phase of David’s own, came when Absalom was hanging by his hair in the oak tree, “suspended between heaven and earth.” (An icon of our evolution, painful, and an early icon of the Cross-Ladder.) Joab calls his brutes over to torture Absalom while he’s dangling in the tree. How many of his worst brutes, and their javelins, did Joab muster for the task? Ten.

This aided Absalom in his karma-purgation as he died.

Evolution has tough times, but everything is leading to the Symphony.

 

This concludes the initial treatment of Sonnets 6 and 12, which form the base of the Ladder, and the Ladder’s portal (as the Psalms Ladder is presented in the Sonnets).

Between them is Sonnet 7, just as the 7 Psalms of the Pillar are meant to go between the two sides of the Ladder, representing sex.

 

We have begun to see how polyvalent the Sonnets are. There are many themes and levels and intersections. And there is much, much more to follow.

 

-Sonnets 6 & 18 are vertically adjacent to each other on the Ladder, w 18 over 6. Both have Death personified, and how this relates to the young man.

-18 is first sonnet that doesn’t urge physical procreation. There is a shift to literary creation, although literary fame is earlier too

-6 & 18 both have summer! And 30 has “sweet sessions,” reminiscent of good things in 6 & 18

-54 has deaths, vade, and lovely…………..and summer, see 6 & 18

-66 has die (death, 1st line), gone, and love……words all in last 3 verses, of both poems

 

-78 majesty (96, queen)

 

-90 strains of woe                 might

-102 mournful hymns,         strengthened, weak

 

–this is how we train for working with the Holy Spirit

–searching out these links, these connections, exercises our muscles for making connections, and for enlivening those connections.

 

-102 sweets grown common

-114 alchemy, flattery

-126 waning grown

-138 lies, flattery

-150 lie, heart to sway;         strength, worst

-150 ends w incredibly tender treatment of God, both deceptive and endearing. Standing atop the ladder, talking to God in heaven. Also, like end of Psalm 119—I’m a little lost sheep, help me.

 

The Psalms, because of the Psalm Structures, form multiple texts. When we select particular texts out of the larger Book of Psalms, and place them in new reading orders (based upon the mystical Psalm Structures), we create new texts. These new reading orders have very pronounced themes. These pronounced themes were planted in the reconfiguring texts by the Holy Spirit.

For example, in the first round of the Mystical Menorahs, we have the theme of light, which goes nicely with candles. The themes of joyful family and joyful community are also present. But after the Menorahs, which are made of Psalms 8, 16, 24, . . ., 144, something interesting happens. We can continue adding the number 8. So we start a new cycle that begins at Psalm 2 and goes to 10, 18, 26, . . ., 146. A different theme emerges in this group, with brilliant clarity. The theme is the effects, and the judgment upon, horrible leaders. (The working title for this new series of Psalms is “The Justice Series.”) People who abuse power in any way. Psalms 58 and 82 are in this group. As mentioned in the last chapter, world-renowned Biblical scholar John Dominic Crosson says that Psalm 82 is the most important text in the entire Bible. I was surprised when I first heard that. But then it made sense. Today, at the dawn of the 21st Century, humanity is at an important juncture. We have to make good decisions. Or we could doom the future of humanity and of the planet.

Psalm 82 implies that leaders wield quasi-divine potency, and are given some of God’s authority. But this authority is to be used for helping people. For making society as healthy as can be, and, therefore, in best possible relationship with the Earth Herself and will all human beings. Leaders who are owned by corporations or by wealthy individuals simply and utterly fail in their broad responsibilities. God, in Psalm 82, condemns such evil leaders. Psalm 82 fits well into this group of Psalms, which might be called the Justice Series. ……………

Shakespeare, in the Sonnets, also has a number of texts at work at once, just like the Psalms. By correlating his individual sonnets to the Psalms, he is intentionally following the sequences, the numerical schemes and groups, of the Psalm Structures. Like the Psalms, the individual sonnets can be grouped according to number sets. These number sets have clear themes, and so form multiple smaller books within the larger book of the Sonnets.

 

 

 

Psalm 18 and Sonnet 18:

 

This pair was discussed in Chapter 1.

Yet when we look at this Sonnet as a part of the Ladder, it joins new conversations as it takes its place in its new series, in its new book.

 

Psalm 18 is the first Psalm of the second step of the Ladder. Various aspects of the Ladder are presented in the Sonnet. Verse 7 says, “And every fair from fair sometimes declines,” which is also an image of someone descending a ladder, or steps. [put earlier in essay how ziggurat steps could also be the ladder.] The two appearances of “fair” are like two identical steps, and they are adjacent iambic beats in the line, like two steps. More specifically, this could represent the second step of a staircase or ladder, which Psalm 18 is.

The concluding couplet specifically images the second step of a ladder, and perfectly summarizes the place of Psalm-and-Sonnet 18 on the Ladder. Note that these two bottom lines of the sonnet begin identically, thus replicating the lowest two steps of a staircase:

 

So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,

So long lives this and this gives life to thee.

 

Verse 14’s “this and this” is yet another repetition, echoing “fair from fair” and “So long . . . / So long . . .”

Just before the concluding couplet, the speaker says, “When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st.” The “eternal lines” are the two sides of the Ladder, which is pictured, this time horizontally, by the couplet.

This visually rhymes with the momentarily horizontal Ladder in Sonnet 12, where the Ladder is a bier for the deceased. In Sonnet 18, the young lover is doomed by Shakespeare to Hades, however, the horizontal ladder, in the lowest two verses of the sonnet, will be with the beloved in the underworld. If the ladder is turned 90 degrees to an upright position, perhaps the beloved may begin his ascent to paradise. [what does turning represent………….?

Humanity must erect the Ladder in our life, in our world, as St. Benedict knew and wrote in his rule (see RB, Chapter 7). Perhaps this is another meaning of “changing course.”

“Summer’s day” is at the top of the Ladder. Sun…………

 

Vendler notes a contingency at the end of the sonnet: “The couplet carries the tempering of triumph yet further: the lines last only so long as there exist, among the men who can breathe, eyes that can see this poem” (p. 122). This applies also to humanity discovering the Mystical Psalm Structures, which may be a saving grace for humanity. Now that the Psalm Structures have been discovered, they must be circulated through humanity. And incorporated, incarnated, in the lives of individuals and of societies. We must form a global menorah of billions of branches.

The sun is rising.

The sun is also the human face. The face of humanity.

The facial aspects of humanity, now in the muck of Hades, must be lifted as humanity enters our maturity. The concluding couplet has facial links to the first line of Sonnet 6, to the scythe of the couplet of Sonnet 12, and to the pronounced iambic climbing motion of the first line of Sonnet 12.

Having said this, let us revisit the first two verses of Sonnet 6:

 

Then let not winter’s ragged hand deface

In thee thy summer ere thou be distilled:

 

Bringing the lens of human evolution and development to the first two verses of the Ladder Sonnets, we see new textures of time, development, and difficult fashioning times of this development. This pair of verses might be called the “Preliminary Couplet to the Ladder.” Humanity is being distilled. Let us recognize this, accept the difficulties, celebrated the many advances, and forgive those who hurt others in this long and arduous process. The divinization of humanity is not simple.

 

Psalm 24 and Sonnet 24:

 

Chapter 1 noted that Sonnet 18 is a sly reply to the sheer awesomeness of YHWH in Psalm 18.

Something similar is happening in Psalm 24 and Sonnet 24. The second half of Psalm 24 is about opening, or lifting, the gates of the city/temple for the arrival of the king of glory, who is YHWH. Contrasting this, in the sestet of Sonnet 24, the sun is a voyeur who stares into the speaker’s heart/temple/bosom’s shop/breast!

(In Psalm 84, for the only time in the Bible, the sun is a metaphor for God. God is the sun. Part of what Shakespeare is doing here is defending David, who is a famous voyeur. David, if he actually existed, was manipulated by God, as much as David himself could be tricky, untrue, and manipulating. Perhaps Shakespeare felt used in a similar way by God. Once again, God is bold. We’ll consider this in Chapter 4.) God peers into our chest, our heart, to lead us forward on our evolutionary trek.

 

The first half of Psalm 24 speaks what is required for the ascent to the temple.

 

Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who shall stand in his holy place?

He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.   (24:3-4)

 

The final word of Sonnet 24 is “heart,” which, among various early sectors of an evolving humanity, may be unknown………..

 

The way in which the sun gazes in this poem goes to the heart of its meaning.

Note the surprisingly rapid interior development-formation that occurs in the poem’s first verse, and throughout the quatrain:

 

Mine eye hath played the painter and hath steeled

Thy beauty’s form in table of my heart;

My body is the frame wherein ‘tis held,

And perspective it is best painter’s art.

 

 

The temple of humanity has something to do with how we look, how we see.

 

Booth has a humorous comment here:

 

The body of this poem is a playfully grotesque and literal-minded elaboration on a traditional topic of courtly love poetry: the reflection a lover sees of himself in the beloved’s eye (see 55.14). The sonnet is carefully designed to boggle its reader’s mind (make his eyes glaze), but some sanity may be retained if one holds on to the idea of two people looking into one another’s eyes. (Booth, p 172)

 

So we see that Shakespeare is clearly playing with the idea of “purity,” and using it as a foil.

 

Finally, the idea of the sun peeping into the person’s interior is a visual echo of Psalm 24 repeated request to raise high the gates, so that YHWH Tsabaoth, the Lord of Hosts and the King of Glory, may enter the city/temple.

……..God wants to enter heart. Temple is the heart. But God’s supervision can be, er, unnerving.

 

Breast, s 48

 

Psalm 30 and Sonnet 30:

Psalm 30 very much continues the theme of the Ladder, and of the temple. Its superscription is, “A psalm, a song for the dedication (hanukat) of the temple, by David.” The Hebrew word for “dedication” is basically the same word as Hanukah, the Festival of Lights, whose origins come from the purifying (re-dedication) of the temple described in 1 Maccabees. It is Hanukah that celebrates with the 9-branched menorah, instead of the 7-branched menorah; the 7-branched menorah is more common throughout the year. The Mystical Psalm Structure of the Interwoven Menorahs (which are a pair of 9-branched menorahs, like Hanukah menorahs) don’t celebrate the physical stone temple—rather, they celebrate humanity as the new home of the Shekinah, the presence of God. As Paul says, “You are the temple of the Holy Spirit.” This shall be considered in the next part of the chapter.

 

Psalm 30, appropriately for a Ladder Psalm, has much vertical motion. The body of the Psalm begins, “I will exalt you, Lord, for you have drawn me up, and not let my foes rejoice over me” (30:2).

Compare this with the first phrase of its counterpart, Sonnet 30: “When to the sessions of sweet silent thought/ I summon up remembrance of things past . . .”

Back to the Psalm, two verses later we hear, “Lord, you have raised up my soul from Sheol.” Psalms 6, 18, and 30 are all at the lower right side of the Ladder, and all three Psalms mention “Sheol,” and all state, or request, that God saves the Psalmist from Sheol.

Shakespeare also mentions the realm of death in Sonnet 30, when he mentions his “precious friends hid in death’s dateless night” (30.6).

 

The Psalm ends with a gladdening transformation for the Psalmist, who exclaims in the KJV, “Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness” (30:11).

Again, Shakespeare is carefully paralleling the Psalmist, if not in exact vocabulary, then in concept and action. Here is the remarkable transformation of the concluding couplet:

 

But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,

All losses are restored, and sorrows end.

 

Shakespeare drives home the fact that he is intentionally making literary rhymes with the Psalmist in the 3rd quatrain, which immediately precedes the concluding couplet. Additionally, he may also be showing the two sides of the Ladder which he, like the Psalmist, is constructing before our eyes:

 

Then can I grieve at grievances forgone,

And heavily from woe to woe tell o’er

The sad account of fore-bemoanèd moan,

Which I new pay as if not paid before.

 

If we imagine the repeated-word pairs lined up over each other, we have the Ladder, and its two sides.

Additionally, this quatrain makes an echo of four sequences from Psalm 18, which is directly below Psalm 30 on the Ladder; they are adjacent. Here are the corresponding verses from Psalm 18; the first three pairs are fairly direct repetitions, while he last pair has an interesting lack of exact correspondence:

 

With the loyal you show yourself loyal;

With the blameless you show yourself blameless;

With the pure you show yourself pure;

And with the crooked you show yourself perverse.       (18:25-26)

 

There are deep mystical meanings to these verses as well, but we cannot delve into them here.

 

Psalm 29 and Sonnet 29:

Although it is not a Ladder Psalm, Psalm 29 precedes Psalm 30, and also mentions the temple. Another topic of Psalm 29 is the sheer chaos and violence of the Flood, over and against which YHWH sat enthroned (29:10).

Sonnet 29 is like Psalm 29 in that there is a stalwart force, the memory of a person, that pulls Shakespeare through a difficult time. Additionally, there are many Ladder references in this sonnet, which is thematically paired also to Sonnet 30. Sonnet 29 begins with a flood of shame and despair:

 

When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes

I all alone beweep my outcast state,

And trouble deaf Heaven with my bootless cries,

And look upon myself and curse my fate,

 

Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,

Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,

Desiring this man’s art and that man’s scope,

With what I most enjoy contented least;

 

The emphasized line shows how the speaker is screaming to Heaven, which seems unresponsive to his plight on Earth, where his “boots” are. In this dynamic, we have the basic vertical trajectory of the Ladder, which is not yet functioning as the speaker would like it to.

Yet as in Sonnet 30, love on the human plane shall work a transformation:

 

Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,

Haply I think on thee, and then my state,

Like to the lark at break of day arising

From sullen earth, sings hymns at Heaven’s gate;

 

For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings

That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

 

Now the Ladder is ignited and functioning, indicated by the joyful lark, who at the sunrise flies from “sullen earth” to serenade “Heaven’s gate.” Note that in Genesis 28, the astounded Jacob called the ladder he saw the “gate of heaven.”

 

Psalm 42 and Sonnet 42:

When he was on the Cross, Jesus said, “I thirst,” in John’s Gospel. Some have interpreted this as signifying a deep longing, a wide eros, that Jesus has for Humanity.

Of course, John is not operating as an eyewitness reporter, but is making one of the most spiritual books that has been given to us, based upon what he knew of the risen Christ and of God (and the mysterious-clear workings of the Holy Spirit).

At the same scene at the Cross in John’s Gospel, Jesus effects a deep healing between women and men, in the dialogue that he has with Mary and the Beloved Disciple. He also does powerful healing of the relation between Feminine and Masculine that are within all individual people (and in our societies). These will be dealt with in Chapter 5, which concerns the Red Line of Hope.

 

At the beginning of Psalm 42, a deer thirsts for running waters, in one of the most memorable images of the Psalms. That thirsty deer has inspired much art.

This thirst, and this wonderful creature, are a simile for the Israelite who thirsts for God. In this Psalm the Israelite’s thirst for God is particularly great, because the Psalmist is here a slave of the Babylonian Captivity. Recall, that almost 600 years before Christ, the Babylonian army steamrolled Judea and Jerusalem. Some of the leading citizens of Judea were marched into captivity in Babylon, where an Israelite community eventually formed and thrived for some time. 60 years later, Cyrus the Iranian freed the Hebrews, and allowed them to return to the land which they knew in their youth. The Prophet Isaiah considers Cyrus the Iranian to be a great hero.

But the plaintiff of Psalm 42 realizes his wretched state, and must become a spiritual athlete to survive. Her/his love for God must go deeper than before, because this person is far away from her beloved city and temple, which was the center of the world for the ancient Israelite. The relationship with God does attain new depth in Psalms 42 & 43, not without significant suffering and journeying on the part of the Psalmist. In reality, it is a fact that much of the Israelite Wisdom literature was written in their times of exile and diaspora. Perhaps God was inviting them to go deeper. God is bold. But the growth God demands is for our own good, and for our greater happiness. Additionally, God uses the terrible fallout of wars and violence to introduce people to each other.

Again, the Israelite of Psalm 42 doesn’t consciously know any of this. The person misses Jerusalem and the temple greatly, and this recollection seems to be their anchor in difficulty, their moral compass. A mantra shall form over the course of Psalms 42 & 43, and this spiritual mantra shall vanquish the bad mantra that arises in opposition to the good mantra. The victory of the good mantra is a part of the spiritual development portrayed and taught in these two Psalms. (The good mantra is……….. ; it vanquishes the bad mantra, which is “Where is your god?”)

 

The speaker of Sonnet 42 is in a similar state of grief and shock. The sonnet begins, “That thou has her, it is not all my grief,/ Yet it may be said I loved her dearly.” Note the similar sad longing at the beginning of both works. Both lament great loss. But in Sonnet 42, it is at the level of human relationship, which is a different kind of pain and loss than the military destruction of their old home followed by enslavement. While the Psalm presents a noble development of love and longing for God’s temple, which shall be replaced by a love for God Godself, the Sonnet of Shakespeare presents a more evolved humanity, in which humans are capable of deeper longing for each other.

Through this human love, even more kinds of love develop:

The sonnet explores the limits of altruism, and of selfless love.

Could a man love a woman so much that, if another man would be better for her, he could wish the two of them to be together?

Shakespeare writes of “A loss in love” (42.4). Many of us have felt betrayal or loss in love. And when we wish happiness for our beloved, would that go so far as to want to see them with a different partner, if that would make them happier? Such are the questions that Shakespeare takes up. He is exploring also the development of eros into agape, the love that also is found especially in God, and which may include a divinely charged eros. Shakespeare notes:

 

And both for my sake lay on me this cross.                        (42.12)

 

The word “cross” appears only four times in the Sonnets. [check this]

 

However, the “wailing” speaker cannot make, yet, a full reconciliation for the hurtful event that has occurred, and the resolution smacks of repression, weakness, and an inability to face reality. The concluding couplet:

 

But here’s the joy: my friend and I are one.

Sweet flatt’ry! Then she loves but me alone.

 

This stage of grieving is known as “denial.” To deal with the oversized loss that he cannot fully consciously recognize yet, the speaker says that the love he has with the young man is so great that they are one, they are unified. Therefore, when the young lady loves him instead of the speaker, she is actually loving the speaker too, because of the unity of the speaker and the interfering male. (A similar kind of psychic failure and resultant coping mechanism are present in Sonnet 36, and in many other places in the Sonnets.) ………Despite the awful sight of psychic defeat and failure, this is also an image of a love that can be renewed in far more powerful forms.

Humanity can learn to love.

And this love can be altruistic. And transpersonal. And, it can grow into an agapic, global love.

And, through the chaotic developments of history and of individual people’s histories, and their failures and snaps, there is actual human growth, profound, happening. “Deep calleth unto deep” (Psalm 42:7).

 

Postlude to Sonnet 42:

What caused the Babylonian Captivity?

Bathsheba was a beautiful foreign woman.

An interesting exercise is to read this sonnet from the point of view of Uriah, another noble foreigner, a goy of the goyim, when he is about to be killed as he is fighting a war for Israel. This shall be dealt with in Chapter 4, which takes up the life of David as revealed in the Sonnets.

 

Step 5: Sonnets 54 & 60 (and the Psalms of the same number)

 

Step 6: Sonnets 66 & 72 (and the Psalms of the same number)

 

Step 7: Sonnets 78 & 84 (and the Psalms of the same number)

 

Step 8: Sonnets 90 & 96 (and the Psalms of the same number)

 

Step 9: Sonnets 102 & 108 (and the Psalms of the same number)

 

Step 10: Sonnets 114 & 120 (and the Psalms of the same number)

 

Step 11: Sonnets 126 & 132 (and the Psalms of the same number)

 

Psalm 126 is both a Pillar Psalm and a Ladder Psalm.
Sonnet 126 is the end of the “Young Man” series of sonnets, and is followed by the “Dark Lady” series.

Sonnet 126 is unique in that it only has 12 verses, the shortest of the Sonnets. The 12 verses replicate the Ladder, which has 12 steps, as do other features of the sonnet.

 

Step 12: Sonnets 138 & 144 (and the Psalms of the same number)

 

The Heavens, Atop the Ladder: Sonnet 150 (and Psalm 150)

 

144 is both Ladder and Menorah

42 is both Ladder and Pillar

36 & 42 together, both with deluded states of mind

 

If Psalm 42 represents the stunned Israelite waking up as a slave in faraway Babylon, Psalm 126 is an account of the return of the captives to Jerusalem, and these pilgrims are ludicrously happy.

Psalm 84 is perhaps the central Psalm of the Psalter, and it is the central Psalm of the Ladder and Pillar both. If this is the case, then Psalms 42 and 126 are paired in equidistant orbit around Psalm 84, the center. Psalms 42 and 126 are both 42 units of poetic song away from Psalm 84.

The centrality of Psalm 84 shall become much more pronounced:

Psalms 60, 84, and 108, and Sonnets 60, 84, and 108:

To an early student of the Psalm Structures, Psalm 84 is the central Psalm of the Book of Psalms. It is the middle Psalm of the Pillar (the fourth of seven Psalms that make the Pillar), and it is at the center of the Ladder.

Stationed around Psalm 84 in equidistant orbit are Psalms 42 and 126. Both of these Psalms are removed by a distance of 42 units from Psalm 84. All three Psalms, 42, 84, and 126, are both Pillar Psalms and Ladder Psalms, as these three are multiples of both 21 and 6. Psalms 42 and 126 discuss the exile journey into the Babylonian Captivity, and the ecstatically joyful return from the Babylonian Captivity, respectfully. These Psalms shall be discussed……………

 

Also in equidistant orbit around Psalm 84 are Psalms 60 and 108, which are largely identical Psalms (about the last 2/3 of both Psalms are the same, with minor textual variations). Psalms 60 and 108 are both Ladder Psalms, and they are both 24 units away from Psalm 84. The next few paragraphs will consider these three Psalms.

God pounds the earth in Psalms 60 and 108, which creates turbulence in the lives of the earth’s human inhabitants. The latter half of both Psalms say, “Moab is my washpot; over Edom will I cast my shoe.” Such lines speak of God’s astounding power, which we have considered previously. In the first half of Psalm 60, God actually breaks the earth.

The shared, common parts of both Psalms, and the broken earth and broken humanity, come together when humanity implores God to remember God’s beloved, that is, humanity, on earth: “That thy beloved may be delivered; save with thy right hand, and hear me” (60:5; the parallel verse in Psalm 108 is nearly identical). The word for ‘beloved’ is jedideka, which is cognate with the name of “David.” Additionally, after God apparently slew the first child of Bathsheba and David, David did something surprising. He comforted a woman, Bathsheba. What a novel concept. This is human evolution. Their next child was Solomon, and God loved Solomon. In fact, God sent word via a prophet to David that Solomon was to have an extra nickname, Jedidiah, “beloved of YHWH.” And Solomon too was to achieve a great evolutionary advancement for humanity, as shall be discussed in Chapter 5.

In general, humanity is God’s beloved, as the orbiting, paired Psalms 60 and 108 say again.

But in Psalm 84, something amazing happens.

God becomes humanity’s beloved.

God is the sought-after beautiful woman, the gorgeous one we’re chasing after. This is a radical change, and this is the backdrop against which Shakespeare sets Sonnets 60, 108, and 84.

Sonnet 60 (and Psalm 60):

 

The superscription for Psalm 60 is troubling: “To the chief Musician upon Shushan Eduth, Michtam of David, to teach; when he strove with Aram-naharaim and with Aram-zoba, when Joab returned, and smote Edom in the valley of salt twelve-thousand [slaughtered].”

This is the Psalms’ only mention of David’s brutal alter-ego and right-hand man, the crafty and vengeful Joab. Joab here slaughters 12,000 men of Edom in the Valley of Salt. Note that 60 and 12 are both numbers that are associated with the Ladder, and they are numbers that Shakespeare alludes to or mentions relatively often.

Reading between the lines of the David story, it is often not easy to know if Joab’s missions of murder are ordered by David, or tacitly allowed by David, or, as happens sometimes, are cause for David to protest and state that Joab operated without David’s approval. David is a politician too, and can be bloodthirsty and amoral himself. We are a young humanity, especially in the early adventures of nation-building in ancient Israel. These are themes of the Red Line of Hope, and shall be dealt with in Chapter 5.

Sonnet 60 is about this.

 

Waves, Ladder

Pebbled shore, starry night

 

(h)our, minutes

 

Psalm 66 and Sonnet 66:

 

10 “and’s” join 11 lines; connection to 22, 44, 66, ….

 

Psalm 96 and Sonnet 96:

 

Ladder and Menorah Psalm

Fingers of s 96:

 

Lambs, hearken back to s 12

 

Psalm 126 and Sonnet 126:

 

Grow’st………   s 1

 

Psalm 138 and Sonnet 138:

 

Lie, 150

 

Psalm 144 and Sonnet 144:

 

With Sonnet 144 we have Shakespeare at his most outrageous in his direct conversation at God.

 

Psalm 150 and Sonnet 150:

 

Sonnet 150, joyful, love, power; elements like Ps 150

 

Humorous dialogue w; this humor sign of grace, growth

 

Lie: s 138

 

Also, a more mature appropriation, incorporation, of humor and parody of Sonnets 138 and 144.

 

Also, Chapter 5 of John’s Gospel is an exciting text for the New Testament’s use of the Mystical Psalms Ladder.

Sonnets 38 and 39 are in dialogue with John 5.

 

The Top of the Ladder,

and the Heavens Above It

 

Psalms 138 and 144 are the top of the Ladder. Psalm 150 is the heavens above the Ladder.

It is striking that Sonnets 138 and 144 were known to have been shared by Shakespeare long before the publication of the Sonnets in 1609. Perhaps Shakespeare had planned, early in the process of the composition of the Sonnets, to have 138 and 144 in their respective places, forming the top rung of the Sonnets’ version of the Ladder.

One can see why Shakespeare has done this.

Both Psalms are parodies of relationship, and more and less humorous. However, in comparison with their partners in the Psalms themselves, these two sonnets are spastically funny.

Psalm 138 speaks of an arriving among the Elohim—this term “Elohim” could mean “God,” or “angelic beings,” or even real leaders among humanity. In this wonderful company, praise of God shall be sung. One gets the notion that a good sense of fulfillment and happiness accompanies this pure joyful singing.

 

Shakespeare, however, is reflecting in Sonnet 138 about how lovers may lie to each other to avoid having their relationship hit rocky turbulence. The imperfections of the two individuals have not yet been worked out, “And in our faults by lies we flattered be.” (138.14) So instead of the Psalm’s health, arrival, and celebration of friendship in realms divine, the two self-conscious lovers lie and, flattered by these lies, achieve an uneasy peace and harmony.

He sews the structure of the Ladder into this sonnet, saying that “On both sides thus is simple truth suppressed,” alluding to the two sides of the Ladder. (138.8)

 

Psalm 144 is a celebration of incredibly joyful human community. In a rare appearance of the words “daughters” and “sons” both, together, there is also a cosmic fecundity; mother Earth responds to this peaceful joyful human community by blessing us, all of us, with bounteous harvests in every way.

 

Constructing the top step of his own replication of the Psalms Ladder, Shakespeare pauses to reflect on the hurts of his own life, which we shall discuss in Chapter 6. The ungodly sufferings he went through, that the world has not yet known about…. The ruptured community he grew up, and suffered in, following difficult religious civil war…. The awful parodies of human relationships that he was trapped in as a mere child in school…. The incredibly difficult, albeit finally successful recovery from these things, having been ultimately saved by Anne Hathaway….

 

Shakespeare is speaking to God directly in Sonnet 144.

It’s personal.

Will is saying, “You really mauled me God. (Or, God, you stood by while these things happened to me.)” Now, Psalm 144 celebrates sweetness of community and growth among humans. So Shakespeare responds to this by saying it’s perhaps unreal—or, if not unreal, not yet achieved in his own life. His Sonnet 144 is a parody of the Psalms Ladder, of Psalm 144, and of the Holy Trinity, as his sonnet has a love triangle, the passing of venereal disease, much cheating, psychological doubt, the failure of what today we might call the ‘normal’ “binary” of male-female sexual relations, intentional betrayals, and generally vile behavior and attitudes.

Mocking the Ladder, angels fall from heaven to hell. A good angel gets fired out of hell like a cannonball, after having suffered corruption.

Conversions happen, but bad ones: an angel becomes a “fiend.”

The Red Line of Hope is also mocked, as the “woman colored ill” is a much worse character than the male angel. (In the Red Line of Hope, the female characters generally save the bumbling male characters from themselves, and advance our human evolution in the process.)

 

Forming a nice parallel to the “both sides” of the Ladder in Sonnet 138, so too does Sonnet 144 have the words “both” and “side.”

 

What are we to conclude? Here at the top of the Ladder, has Shakespeare turned on us, or will he show us the way, through hurt, to love?

 

The Triumph of Love in Sonnet 150:

 

Love wins.

 

Humanity is growing. Love is growing among humanity.

 

The sonnet begins, “O, from what power hast thou this powerful might/ With insufficiency my heart to sway?”

A bit later the plaintiff asks, “Who taught thee how to make me love thee more [?]”

 

Something amazing happens in the final line of Sonnet 150, which is a parallel place to the very end of the Psalms.

Shakespeare writes the word “beloved.”

“Beloved,” in Hebrew, is cognate with the word “David.” It is also cognate with God’s nickname for Solomon, “Jedidiah.” Jesus, a much later fruit of the “line of David,” is also called “Beloved” by God.

 

Psalm 150 is a rock party concert in the house, in the gathering place, in the town square, in heaven. There is much music and dancing and pure celebration. It is a par-tay.

 

The Psalm, and the Book of Psalms, concludes, “Praise Yah!” Allelu-Yah!

This “Yah” is a diminutive of YHWH. A nickname for YHWH.

 

YHWH is still the great God of the Old Testament.

But Shakespeare is playing with this, and he’s replaying what Psalm 84 does, in the orbit of equidistant Psalms 60 and 108. All three Psalms have the word “Beloved.” But Psalm 84 applies this, right in the center of the Psalms, to God! God is the little beloved darlin’ of humanity! Yahweh is a love object, hunted and pursued by humanity!

Shakespeare makes it all a glorious hot mess.

If we read Sonnet 150 from the point of view of God, then God is the beloved, and wants to be beloved of humanity.

If we read Sonnet 150 from the point of view of Humanity, then Humanity is the beloved, wanting to be beloved of God. Knowing that we have earned this (sic—theology would not agree, however….).

 

So. After the rough and tumble of life, Shakespeare has realized that God’s plan is really good. Love grows. That’s the basic reality of the state of things.

 

We all want to love, and we all want to be loved.

God Teaches Humanity to Love: Lectio Divina for Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Mass readings for Sunday, April 24, 2016, are available on a single page at:

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/042416.cfm

With Revelation 21, we are at the final 2 chapters of the Bible. Among the amazing readings that the Church has selected for this Sunday, here at the end of Revelation, there is not destruction: rather, we see a profound renewal of all things. And there is a large, wonderful wedding about to occur.

Jerusalem, which symbolically represents the gathering of all people of all good faiths from around the beautiful globe, is dressed as a bride who descends from Heaven.

And God’s throne is mentioned. From this throne comes a voice that says, “Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race. He will dwell with them and they will be his people . . .”

At the end of this reading from Revelation, there is this stunning verse:

“The One who sat on the throne said,

‘Behold, I make all things new’.”

 

How does this newness happen?

 

Is it the result only of God’s awesome decision to appear on earth at the end of time? Or, is it also a human operation, which God will instruct us about through the subtle teaching of the Holy Spirit?

Recall that in the great Farewell Discourse of John’s Gospel—which we hear and pray as a Church each Season of Easter—there is Jesus’ teaching about what will happen when he leaves and the Spirit arrives to us. He says that the Spirit will teach us “everything.” (John 14:26)

The Gospel Acclamation is from the same day’s Gospel:

“I give you a new commandment, says the Lord:

Love one another as I have loved you.”

This day’s Gospel is also from the Farewell Discourse of John.

(It’s interesting that John’s Gospel is the only one of the four Gospels not to have a literal Institution of the Eucharist. Perhaps it occurs verbally and symbolically throughout the entire Gospel, especially the Farewell Discourse, which appears in roughly the place of the Last Supper in the other Gospels—however, in John, the final meeting, conversation, walk, and prayer of Jesus with his disciples span 5 chapters, from 13 – 17. Although this is right before the death of Jesus, he is teaching his disciples, and us, about what life will be like when the Holy Spirit comes to us. Perhaps this has already begun again in a special way with Vatican II, which Pope St. John XXIII said would be a New Pentecost, i.e., a new birth of the Church, and a new immediacy of relationship with the Holy Spirit.)

In the Gospel, Jesus speaks of the great closeness between the First and Second Persons of the Trinity.

Then he calls us children.

He tells us to love one another.

He wants others to see the love we have for humanity.

He says, “This is how all will know that you are my disciples,

If you have love for one another.”

This brings us from the Gospel back to the beginning, to the first reading, from the Acts of the Apostles.

Paul and Barnabas have just proclaimed the Good News (Greek “Evangelion”), the Gospel, and they made many disciples.

They teach and strengthen people.

The reading from Acts ends with this observation:

“God opened a door of faith to the Gentiles.”

How do we participate in this opening of the door of faith today?

The Gospel has told us: We should love each other.

In the early Church, as Acts depicts, they do this in many ways as they spread the Gospel and found Churches.

Is there more to this?

Might God be more active, hiddenly, in this ministry of the early Church? The early missionary activity of the Church was positively drenched with the presence and guidance of the Holy Spirit . . .

Let’s conclude with the Psalm:

The first line of Sunday’s responsorial Psalm is:

“The Lord is gracious and merciful.”

This description of God is deep, and it appears several times throughout the Psalter (Book of Psalms).

Why is this pair of words, “gracious and merciful,” together so often in describing God?

This particular word for “merciful” is cognate with the word for “womb.” In Hebrew, these words are “chanun ve-rachum.”

In Psalm 111, these words describe God, as is the case in many Psalms. However, in the next Psalm, 112, something amazing happens: these same words, “gracious and merciful,” are used to describe virtuous human persons!

 

What is happening here?

 

God wants God own qualities, energies, and capacities, to enter humanity. Recall that the reading from Revelation says that God wants to dwell with us. This happens in a subtle yet powerful way when people act in divine ways, when we love and help each other, when we demonstrate graciousness and mercy, when we imitate, and thereby begin to participate in, God’s own love. God’s own being. Which is what God wants.

As we do this, God may send us even more of God’s own love and assistance, especially through the Holy Spirit. But this is clearly a win-win situation. For God is gracious and merciful.

 

………………………………………………..

 

For extra study:

 

We can look at these descriptions of God, in parallel placements, near the beginning and end of the Psalter:

Psalm 5          “My King and my God.” (5:3)

Psalm 145      “My God and my King.” (145:1)

 

Then we can consider these descriptions of Jesus at the end of Chapter 1 and Chapter 20, from the shocked Nathanael (Chapter 1) and the shocked Thomas (Chapter 20).

“You are the Son of God, you are the King of Israel.” (John 1:49)

“My Lord and my God.” (John 20:28)

Similar to Psalms 5 and 145, these are near the beginning and end of John’s Gospel. Before Chapter 21 was added later, the 4th Gospel once ended with Chapter 20, and the words of Thomas (the Greek name “Thomas” is related to the Hebrew “Ta’am,” meaning “twin”) were almost the final words of the book. We are all closer than twins. We are encouraged to live as a loving global family. God is love.lJ8kd1mv_400x400

Part II, Ross Douthat is a Literary Fukushima

Ross Douthat Is a Literary Fukushima,

Part II

 

 

You wrote another sloppy review of a Church document, Douthat.

 

But before we get started on that, Ross, do you know about Holy Saturday, and the Harrowing of Hell? After Christ was crucified and died, he descended to hell. He smashed hell, stormed through it, collected all the souls that belong to him, and brought them to Heaven.

We’ll return to this.

 

Now, I remember you saying that you were going to steer clear of Church matters. You tweeted this back in November. But your Sunday column shows you’re back to your devious tricks.

 

As we know, Ross, the New York Times hates the Catholic Church. I don’t have a subscription to them, because I don’t want to support the neocon-zionist Times. But some months back, at a library, I sped through some of your older pieces, about the Church.

 

And they stink, Ross. Your articles are poison. I see what you are up to.

The problem is not the false conservative camouflage you hide under, Ross. No. It’s your entire mission that is at fault.

You are not an authentic conservative Catholic, Ross, because you are not an authentic Catholic.

Of the articles I scanned, all of them talk about how the Church is divided. It’s as if you want this to happen, Ross. You want to divide the Church. Right, Ross?

 

Why is it, Ross, that every article of yours on the Church treats of this “division” you’re wishing upon the Church? Do you want to destroy the Church?

Full disclosure, Ross. You work for your zionist masters at the NYT, and you are actively trying to destroy the Church.

 

Let’s take the beautiful new Amoris Laetitia of Pope Francis. Here is one of the most amazing and mature Church documents that I have read. It is the conscious Church beginning to talk, in actual writing, about how the Spirit of the Church may live and be shared among us.

It’s about fostering unity, and bringing people together in a world that is so scattered and frenzied and divided.

It’s about love, as the title indicates.

It is a healing balm, a soothing yet profoundly deep meditation on how we can live as a harmonious, loving humanity. I don’t think the Pope mentions human evolution here as he does elsewhere, but this is THE HUMAN PATH FORWARD. Towards the divine, in mercy, healing, and the fullness of life.

 

And what do you do with this godly gift of supreme wisdom and lived experience that the Holy Father offers us, Ross?

You spin it.

And you try to fashion it into a wedge, the simplest of tools. Your entire article, Ross, is about division in the Church.

When Ross writes about the Church, it’s always about division. How the Church is becoming divided. You’re trying to sell this mindset to people. I’m considering reading all your articles on the Church, and seeing just precisely how accurate this theory of mine is.

 

You know, Ross, Mother Angelica of EWTN died on Easter Sunday. A holy, saintly woman. Now there’s a real Church conservative. When I was in my young 20’s I was in a hospital overseas, and one of her programs on the television saved my life. Now today, I don’t particularly like some of the edges of her theology, but I love her, and I know she’s now a saint in heaven.

Pope Francis said something similar about her, even though some of his understandings of Catholicism don’t align perfectly with hers.

But that’s not a problem, Ross. You see, Pope Francis can love a sister whom he largely agrees with, but with whom he has some minor differences. When asked about her, he smiled a great big smile and pointed to heaven and said that she is in heaven, right now, right this moment. Saintly Mother Angelica, pray for us.

We are the Church, Ross. We are large, multi-cultural, diverse, and we embrace all people of good will—and even those who don’t yet have good wills.

We are not the crumbling Soviet empire, as you so ludicrously made the Church out to be. There, your true colors are showing, Ross. So you do want the Church to fall . . . . Come now, and grow up. We are the Church. We have been planting gardens of paradise for 2 millennia and counting. We invented orphanages, hospitals, and schools for poor children. We teach love. If the gates of hell cannot prevail against us, Ross, than neither will your flapping jaws.

 

Ross, you love political races, elections, and polls. One of your recent tweets grandly shouted, “Send me all the polls!”

You’re such a little weathervane.

Perhaps you should entertain yourself with polls. Matters of Church are not your element.

 

In conclusion, Ross, did old Mr. Sulzberger put you up to this? Did he command you to begin this attack on the Catholic Church?

After you wrote this op/ed for the zionist Times, did Mr. Sulzberger pat you on the head?

Did your lord, Mr. Sulzberger, say to you, “Ross, you’re my boy.”

You claim to be a convert, Ross? Most converts are excited about the Church. But you hate the Church. Are you a fox in sheep’s clothing, Ross?

Because your writing is that of Judas.

You are Judas.

But you know what, Ross Judas? When Christ pounded his way through hell and rescued humanity, multiple diverse Christian theologies teach that the first person he rescued was Judas.

There’s hope for you yet, Ross. I’ll pray for you, and shall ask others to.

 

 

P.S. Your recent article on Islam was also the work of an imbecile. You say that Islam has got to give up the sword? You hypocrite! It’s your tribe that led us into the God-Awful War Upon the Human Beings of Iraq. 70 years ago the Middle East loved us, but now some people there hate us because of our foreign policy. The government of George W Bushleagues is directly responsible for the presence of Isis. Ross! Look in the mirror, you neocon-zionist Judas.66492e64-8648-4007-b5d3-7d5233bd3513-2060x1236

The Growing Pregnant Womb, Hidden in the Psalms (and in Shakespeare)

Pregnant StomachAddendum to Chapter 2

of William Shakespeare and the Psalter of Fire

 

 

In Chapter 2-A of William Shakespeare and the Psalter of Fire, we will present the Mystical Ladder of the Psalms Structures, and show that Shakespeare is in full dialogue with the Ladder in his Sonnets.

However, the individual Psalms that make the Ladder also rearrange themselves to show something else.

The individual Psalms of the Ladder separate and reconfigure themselves to show actual physical pre-natal growth: they show the growing child, the baby fetus, in the expanding womb.

Shakespeare is aware of this hidden dimension of the Psalm Structures. His Sonnets that make commentary on the Ladder also speak of the growing womb of a pregnant woman, just like the reconfigured Ladder Psalms do.

 

This Addendum also goes well with the introductory essay on the Psalm Structures. However, it is being written now to show how Shakespeare is aware of this mystical reality of the Bible, and his knowledge of this is being intentionally patterned into his Sonnets.

 

Now we shall present this embryonic human growth that is hidden in the Psalms. To refresh one’s memory of the Mystical Psalms Ladder and its individual Psalms, here again is a link to the introductory essay on this material regarding the Mystical Psalm Structures: https://www.academia.edu/16106922/The_Mystical_Psalm_Structures

 

 

 

Seeing the Growing Womb

as Imaged by the Ladder Psalms

 

The growing womb, safe within the spherical abdomen, is easy to see. Psalm 84, which is the central Psalm of the Pillar and the Ladder, is also the central Psalm of the Growing Womb.

The ancient Israelites used a lunar calendar, in which the months are 28 days each, and because these are shorter than months of the solar calendar, the ancients considered pregnancy to be 10 months.

So with Psalm 84 as the beginning and center of this growth, we shall see expanding concentric circles expanding out from Psalm 84. These expanding concentric circles represent the growing “sphere” of the womb, and of the pregnant woman’s abdomen. The first concentric circle, and the first month of the 10 months of pregnancy, are formed by Psalms 78 and 90, the closest Ladder Psalms to 84. (Each pair of Psalms that form a new larger circle around the center shall be discussed below.)

Psalms 72 and 96 form the next of the expanding concentric circles. Psalms 66 and 102 are the next equidistant pair centered upon 84.

Psalms 60 and 108 form a striking pair indeed, because 2/3 of each Psalm is identical to each other. They are like twins.

Psalms 54 and 114 are the next of the expanding circles, followed by Psalms 48 and 120.

Psalms 42 and 126 form yet another amazing pair. Like Psalm 84, the numbers of these 2 Psalms are multiples of both 21 and 6, and so they are both Ladder Psalms and Pillar Psalms. Psalm 42 speaks of the difficult forced journey into the Babylonian Captivity, and Psalm 126 celebrates the radically joyful return from that captivity.

Psalms 36 and 132 are the next pair, followed by 30 and 138.

Psalms 24 and 144 are the 10th and final concentric circle/lunar month. This pair is especially appropriate as the final pair, as shall be discussed below.

 

Thus, 21 of the 25 Ladder Psalms appear in the Mystical Psalm Structure that is the Growing Womb. (Ladder Psalms 6, 12, 18, and 150 seem not to appear in the Growing Womb structure, at least not initially.)

 

 

 

Psalm 84: The Temple that is the Womb

 

One who is new to the Psalm Structures may see quickly why Psalm 84 could be considered the central Psalm of the entire Psalter. It is the central Psalm of the Ladder and Pillar, which are among the most important Psalm Structures. Yet Psalm 84 is also the central Psalm of the Growing Womb Psalm Structure.

 

Psalm 84 celebrates the temple as a goal of pilgrimage. It celebrates the temple, and the courtyards of the temple, and—remarkably—a mother bird flies into the temple, builds a nest, hatches her chicks, and raises her family there. So at the beginning of this stunning Psalm, the images and realities of temple, womb, home, and family merge together gloriously. We also have the awesome contrast of delicate life on Earth, compared with the large loving majesty of the divine.

 

[A note: At New Camaldoli Hermitage in Big Sur, California, swallows build nests on either side of the upper corners of the church’s front doors. It is a joy for monks, guests, and visitors each springtime to see the swallows return and raise new families there. Occasionally the birds come into the church and sing Vespers with us. I recall in those halcyon days, whenever we sang Psalm 84, everyone’s hearts expanded in happiness.]

 

Here are the first verses of Psalm 84:

 

How beloved are your dwelling places, YHWH Sabaoth!

My soul yearns and pines for the courtyards of YHWH, my heart and my flesh pray fervently to the Living God.

Even the bird finds its home, and the swallow a nest for her young,

At your altars, YHWH Sabaoth, my king and my God.* (See note below, after 10th Sphere.)

 

Verse 6 speaks of the valley becoming a joyful place of growth and springs. This could be an allusion to impregnation and the growth of the new life.

 

Psalm 84 has the only triple appearance of “ashre” among all the Psalms (there are a few Psalms that have double appearances of ashre, and more Psalms that have a single appearance). “Ashre” can mean both “blessed” and “happy.” The Greek equivalent of this joyful word begins each of the Beatitudes, Jesus’ real first public words of the Bible.

In Luke 1, when two pregnant women joyfully meet and embrace each other, Elizabeth will three times call Mary “happy” and “blessed.” Luke even mentions the number 84 when he discusses the Prophetess Anna, who is inside the temple!

 

Psalm 84 also speaks of proceeding from strength to strength. This is a verbal picture of the expanding concentric circles of the Growing Womb.

Psalm 84 also speaks of the sun, and it is the only time God is called the “sun” in the entire Bible. Mary is clothed with the sun in Revelation.

 

 

First Sphere: Psalms 78 and 90

 

Psalm 90 also has birds. People become birds and fly away as angels after their earthly sojourn.

Psalm 90 features the event when mountains are “born.” The notion of birth is older than humanity.

Here, in the first month of gestation, the Psalmist wonders at the lifespan of human beings, which is “70 years, 80 for those who are strong.”

Psalm 78, in equidistant orbit with Psalm 90, around Psalm 84, also mentions birds. The first three Psalms of this Psalm Structure have mentioned flyers. In Psalm 78 there is much talk of many generations of people. It also mentions the “firstborn.”

Psalm 78 also mentions maidens and nursing ewes.

 

 

Second Sphere: Psalms 72 and 96

 

Psalm 72 continues the talk of generations of people, and actually mentions Jesse, David, and Solomon, who represent three generations of a family.

Notably in Psalm 72, the wonderful leader of Israel is concerned with the life of every person in the land, including the foreigners, and the indigenous people who were there before him. The leader of Israel is concerned with equal Justice for every single person. Such is the wonder and divine love for each and every human life.

Nature herself responds to the blessedness of this state by yielding abundant harvests to a happy humanity.

In Psalm 96, nature is again joyful, because God has come to dwell on earth. This may sound like the Incarnation. It is certainly a “type,” a forerunner of the Incarnation. This glorious Psalm begins, “Sing to the Lord a new song!”

 

 

Third Sphere: Psalms 66 and 102

 

Likewise, Psalm 66 begins with singing to God, and a joyful unification of the earth, as in Psalm 96. The happiness of the earth may well represent a mother glowing with new life within.

Psalm 66 also says, “You placed constraint upon our loins.” This is the third month of pregnancy, and the mother is beginning to feel the weight of her new child!

Psalm 66 has near its end a pair of words regarding “prayer,” and its partner, Psalm 102, begins with a pair of the same word regarding “prayer.” The mother is dreaming of the future for her child, and praying for God’s blessing upon the child.

Psalm 102 has multiple double-repetitions of the word “generations,” another theme of this series.

And this Psalm has three different words for birds!

The Psalmist shows concern for even the stones and dust of Jerusalem, as the pregnant mother is and will be concerned for every facet of her child’s being. Psalm 102 ends with a discussion of children.

 

 

Fourth Sphere: Psalms 60 and 108

 

As if to emphasize that they are a pair, Psalms 60 and 108 are largely identical.

Psalm 60 says to God, “You breached us . . . you have made the land quake, you have cleft it!.” This is the fourth month of pregnancy (lunar calendar) and the mother may be feeling even more the changes occurring in her body. In the latter part of both Psalms, God is quite rude to other lands too. Perhaps all of this shock and discomfort has to do with the developments that the mother is undergoing, caused not by God but by the little baby within.

The word for “breach” mentioned above is “peraztanu,” which is cognate with name Perez. We shall discuss this below in Psalm 144.

All this talk about changes in the land could also mean that the small sphere of the baby in the mother’s abdomen is becoming more visible.

 

Psalm 108 has a different beginning than Psalm 60. Psalm 108 presents more of the positive aspects of the developing pregnancy. The awesome love of God is understood to be higher than the heavens, and it reaches to the clouds. For the mother, it also reaches deep within, to the tiny being in her womb.

In both Psalms, God makes promises from his sanctuary/temple.

 

Fifth Sphere: Psalms 54 and 114

 

Psalm 114 speaks of Egypt, the mother, giving birth to young Israel. This is parallel to the first page of Exodus, where we see Israel physically teeming inside Egypt, just like a baby grows larger in the womb. Israel will remain unintelligent and unthinking until after they are born and must live life (represented by the forty years in the desert).

Once again, the earth trembles. Mountains skip like rams, and the hills leap like young lambs (literally, “sons of the flock”). Perhaps the baby is beginning to leap in the womb.

 

In Psalm 54, David is hiding among a people. David is good at getting people to protect and look out for each other. Those influenced by David grow in compassion.

 

 

Sixth Sphere: Psalms 48 and 120

 

Jerusalem is celebrated in Psalm 48, which also mentions the temple. Here, we indeed have the mother in the second half of her pregnancy, and she is carrying Jerusalem inside her. The daughters of Judah are rejoicing (this is an allusion also to Tamar, who shall be discussed below).

And this Psalm has a woman in labor! The men who advance upon Jerusalem in enemy armies see Jerusalem, and go into labor pains! Perhaps this means that men too have to change, in order to become better husbands and fathers.

 

It is interesting that in Psalm 120, the Psalmist is far away from his beloved Jerusalem, and longs to return to her.

 

 

Seventh Sphere: Psalms 42 and 126

 

Psalm 126 discusses sowing seed. There is also the harvest, and the joyful people return with their arms full—sheaves of the crops, or, a newborn baby. This is looked forward to, as we have the word “dream” in verse 1.

Psalm 42 says “deep calleth unto deep.” The mother is communing quietly and deeply with the child within.

 

 

Eighth Sphere: Psalms 36 and 132

 

Psalm 132 is perfect for this series. It is full of special language for “temple,” including “house,” “dwelling place” and an obvious allusion to the “ark” of the covenant. David is promised generations of sons who will sit upon his throne. A “horn” shall sprout for David. “I have prepared a lamp for my anointed one.” This is a clear reference to the menorahs, which represent children and family also.

Psalm 36 again refers to flight, as “all people take refuge in the shadow of your wings.” There is a feast at a house, a “river of delights,” and a “fountain of life.” Given the context, this “fountain of life” could be the mother.

And there is the remarkable strophe, “In your light we see light.” The pregnant mother knows more of God and the Holy Spirit.

 

 

 

Ninth Sphere: Psalms 30 and 138

 

At the beginning of Psalm 30, God draws and lifts the person up from a deep place. This is an image birth, which is fast approaching as the pregnancy nears its natural next stage: the time of labor. At the end of the Psalm, God places beautiful clothes on the Psalmist, as the parents will do for the newborn child. Mourning is turned to joy, as the mother and child (and father) all endure the trial of the birth event, to the joy of the new life brought into the world.

 

Psalm 138 begins by saying “I will praise you among the Elohim”: the “Elohim” could be 1) powerful people, 2) angels on high, or 3) God Godself.

As Ladder Psalms, 138 and 144 form the top rung of the Ladder, above which is Psalm 150, the heavens. So there is the feeling of ascent here, as the Psalmist is at the tip-top of the Ladder; this is supported by the language of the Psalm, which clearly says, “I will praise you among the Elohim,” which could certainly be in what we might call the “heavens.”

In their role as a part of the 9th circle-sphere of the Growing Womb, Psalms 30 and 138 both have a strong sense of ascending motion. Psalm 30 moves from Sheol (shadowy afterlife, an underworld through which all pass) up to a restoration of healthy life on Earth. Psalm 138 moves from life on Earth up to a place in the choir in heaven, praising God.

In this penultimate month of pregnancy, the child in the womb looks even more like a babe, like a small human person. And the pair of Psalms of this Sphere trace the entire trajectory of this new creation: Interpreting freely, Psalm 30’s shadowy underworld is the mysterious 10 months (lunar months) of life in the womb. As the midwife, or father, brings the baby, at birth, from the birth canal into the light of day, so does God lift up the Psalmist of Psalm 30 into life. And this is merely the beginning of the journey. The path of this child will lead her or him to grow and, as the Psalmist of 138 does, express a desire to praise God before the angels and before God Godself, Elohim. In God’s time, this desire that we sing in 138 shall blossom into reality, as we all join in song in paradise.

 

A final note on this Sphere: Psalm 138 is next to Psalm 139, which speaks of life inside the womb. The Psalmist, now looking back via memory and imagination, says, “You knit me together in my mother’s womb.” This young child is almost born, this amazing process of God’s “knitting” the youngster is nearly done, at least in the womb. An entire life of growth awaits.

And this “knitting” can be seen in yet another literary connection between Psalms 30 and 138. The last word of Psalm 30 is “odeka,” which can mean “praise” or “thank.” The first word of Psalm 138 is the same word exactly, “odeka.”

 

 

Tenth Sphere: Psalms 24 and 144

 

Like the 9th Sphere, the 10th Sphere celebrates radical birth, and also the glorious growth that happens after birth, in life on earth. One of the marvels of Psalm 144 is that we see a paired mention of both daughters and sons here. Their appearance is complimentary. The sons are imaged as young trees, and the daughters as pillars in a house, palace, or temple.

Although the growth of young beings is clearly evident, so is the fact of birth: In Psalm 144, thousands and tens-of-thousands of sheep and cattle are being born in the joyful fields.

 

Yet there is a human birth too, a very special birth.

Here we have the opportunity to mention Perez, and the Red Line of Hope. The verb PRZ in Hebrew means “to breach,” and the baby twin Perez is given his name in Genesis 38 because he has made a breach and a path, which his younger brother Zerah will follow in a few moments, and the twins shall be welcomed by their mother, Tamar. Recall that at the end of John’s Gospel, much emphasis is placed upon Thomas, whose name in Hebrew, Ta’am, means “twin.” To emphasize this, John calls attention to it by giving Thomas an extra Greek nickname: Didymus, which also means “twin.”

After Tamar, the three women of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) who make up the Red Line of Hope are Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba.

Perez, the “breachmaker,” has a reminder of his name make a rare Psalms appearance in Psalm 144:14, with the word “breach,” in this Psalm about birth and children.

When Perez is born in Genesis 38, it is one of the most amazing deliveries on record. Zerah, his brother, stuck his hand out first, and the midwife tide a red thread in a circle around his wrist. Then the hand disappeared back into the womb, and his brother Perez came out first. So the Red Line of Hope literally is born from the womb of Tamar.

The name of Perez or his brother will appear in or near the stories of Rahab and Ruth, the next two women of the Red Line of Hope. Cognates of “perez” will appear in the David story, not far from Bathsheba, the mother of Solomon.

But the name of Perez also appears almost instantly at the beginning of the New Testament, as he is literally mentioned in the 3rd verse of the New Testament, in Matthew 1:3. In fact, all four women of the Red Line of Hope (Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba) are mentioned in the first six verses of the New Testament; the first three women are named, and Bathsheba is clearly alluded to as the wife “of Uriah.”

Why are these twin babies, and the 4 women of the Red Line of Hope, mentioned as the first reality of the New Testament? Because Matthew’s Genealogy opens his Gospel and leads to Mary and the birth of Jesus Christ. Mary and the birth of Jesus are a conclusion to the Red Line of Hope.

The 10 circles of the Growing Womb of the Psalms, this Expanding Sphere of the Mother’s belly, represents the Old Testament, and human history, leading to the birth of Jesus at the first Christmas. The Nativity. (The word “Nativity” appears in Shakespeare’s Sonnet 60.)

 

 

John’s Gospel speaks of a pregnant woman, and the time of birth, in Jesus’ farewell discourse.

As mentioned above, Luke’s early chapters are full of pregnant women. Luke especially celebrates the woman as the temple. On the 8th Day after the Nativity, the Holy Family goes into the temple. Metaphorically, the old stone temple comes to life in the elderly persons of Anna and Simeon. They represent and speak for the joyful temple, which has accomplished its mission in the Holy Family and young Jesus. Simeon sings the Nunc Dimittis, which Christian religious sing before bed each night. It means that his work is done, and the Lord can dismiss him, and he can die a happy death. The old temple of Jerusalem did its work in welcoming Jesus into the world. Mary is the new temple, the new Ark. The temple would last only a few decades after Jesus.

As Paul says repeatedly, “You are the temple of God.” And he says, “You are the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit.” The Shekinah (Presence of God) left the temple. God’s Spirit now dwells directly among humanity.

 

 

 

 

 

Notes:

 

*(From above in Psalm 84)  Similar terms used in humanity’s addressing God are at the beginning and end of the Book of Psalms and John’s Gospel. See Psalm 5 and 145, and John 1 (the shocked Nathanael) and 20 (the shocked doubting Thomas). Surah 114, the final Surah of the Qur’an, is in profound dialogue with these pairs of divine-human descriptors at the beginning and end of the Psalms (Zabur) and Gospel (Injeel) of John, and also in the center of the Psalms in Psalm 84.

There is not time here to discuss this more fully, but here are the pertinent verses:

 

Psalm 5:2

Psalm 145:1

 

John 1:49

John 20:28   (Initially, this was in the final verses of John’s Gospel, before Chapter 21 was added later.)

 

Psalm 84:3

Surah 114:1, 2, 3      (The Qur’an beautifully and rightly sees the human heart as the place where our relationship with God can grow, a spiritual womb.)

 

 

Additionally, a revolution happens in Psalm 84. In the equidistant “twin” Psalms 60 and 108, discussed above, God considers humanity to be the Beloved, “yedidekah.” This is how humanity is sometimes addressed by God. This is the root of David’s name. Additionally, Solomon is given an extra name by God, Jedidiah, signifying that he is beloved to God. In the New Testament, Jesus is likewise called “Beloved” by God.

However, in the Psalm 84, the most amazing reversal happens. Humanity is the lover, and God is the Beloved, as if God is become a little baby.

 

And “The Bible, the Qur’an, and Science,” by Maurice Bucaille, mentions how the Qur’an also has amazing insights into the formation of a baby in the womb, centuries before scientific knowledge made such realities better understood.

 

 

 

 

 

Additional Note:

 

Two Ways of Imaging the Growing Womb

 

24

.           30

.                       36

.                       .           42

.                       .                       48

.                       .                       .           54

.                       .                       .                       60

.                       .                       .                       .           66

.                       .                       .                       .                       72

.                       .                       .                       .                       .           78

.                       .                       .                       .                       .                       84

.                       .                       .                       .                       .           90

.                       .                       .                       .                       96

.                       .                       .                       .           102

.                       .                       .                       108

.                       .                       .           114

.                       .                       120

.                       .           126

.                       132

.           138

144

 

Note that the growth of the womb expands from right to left, which is the Hebrew way of proceeding on the page. It is good for us to experience how the Hebrew mind can think differently.

 

 

 

And here is another way:

 

 

 

84

78       90

72              96

66                      102

60                               108

54                                        114

48                                                120

42                                                       126

36                                                                   132

30                                                                               138

24                                                                                           144

 

 

 

 

If this resembles a Christmas Tree, that may be a joyful plan of the Holy Spirit. Psalm 84, at the top of the tree, mentions the heavenly hosts, the angels.

Additionally, the arduous pilgrimage recounted in Psalm 84 brings one to the conclusion and high point of the trip, the arrival at the top of Mount Zion, and the temple/womb.

Additionally, Psalm 24, the first Pregnancy Psalm, and the furthest away from Psalm 84, asks questions about who is worthy to ascend the mountain and experience the temple. Psalm 84 is the temple, the womb.

Chapter 1, William Shakespeare and the Psalter of Fire

10246810_1504244619905555_8853474680141494453_nPsalter of Fire, Chapter 1

 

 

This chapter proves that the Sonnets are in deep parallel dialogue with the Psalms.

We shall also see what some of the benefits and discoveries of this dialogue could be.

And we shall also the power of the connections with the Qur’an.

 

 

This chapter has 3 parts. The first will consider a selection of individual Sonnets and their intentional alignment with Psalms of the same number. The second part will consider groups of Sonnets and their connection with groups of Psalms. The third part will consider an expansion of dialogue that Shakespeare accomplishes, when he brings the Qur’an into the dialogue.

 

 

 

Part I

Individual Psalms and Sonnets

 

The introductory essay of this series shows how David, the fabled author of the Psalms, is present throughout Sonnet 1. This establishes a link between Sonnet 1 and the Psalms.

Thus the first Sonnet has allusions not so much to Psalm 1, but rather, to the entire Psalter, through David. (Although the fact that Sonnet 1 offers a wisdom lesson and a choice places it in conversation with Psalm 1, which does this too.)

In the Sonnets’ 1609 Quarto, Sonnet 1 is preceded by a dedication, presented here:

 

TO.THE.ONLIE.BEGETTER.OF.

THESE.INSUING.SONNETS.

Mr.W.H.   ALL.HAPPINESSE.


AND.THAT.ETERNITIE.


PROMISED.


BY.

OUR.EVER-LIVING.POET.


WISHETH.


THE.WELL-WISHING.

ADVENTURER.IN.

SETTING.


FORTH.

T.T.

 

The words that have been emphasized show connections to Psalm 1, not in general form and direction, discussed in the previous paragraph, but in actual vocabulary and content.

The first word of Psalm 1 is ‘happy’. “Happy is the man who….” Thus the Psalms begin with a promise of happiness, of blessedness. After the address to “Mr.W.H.,” the first words of the dedication are “ALL.HAPPINESSE.”

Psalm 1 discusses Judgment Day. In this, there is a promise of ‘eternity’, which also appears in the dedication. “OUR.EVER-LIVING.POET.” could be David.

(The words “all happiness” also conclude the dedication of Shakespeare’s earlier work, The Rape of Lucrece, to Henry Wriothesley.)

Next, there is a fascinating exchange of blessings. The dedication wishes happiness and eternity upon the adventurer who sets forth, just as the adventurer is wishing blessings on other(s). This broaches another important theme in both the Psalms and the Sonnets: Moving from cursing to blessing, and, the improvement of our thought, thinking, and outlooks.

We shall see that Psalms 109 and 128 feature importantly in this progression of humanity from cursing to blessing. This is connected with the Garden of Eden (alluded to in Sonnet 1), its ‘loss’, and the flowering of a mature and divinized humanity.

This evolutionary theme of the overcoming of cursing with blessing is also the message of Shakespeare’s grave’s epitaph:

 

Good frend for Iesvs sake forbeare,

To dig the dvst encloased heare.

Bleste be . . . man . . . spares thes stones,

And cvrst be he . . . moves my bones.

 

(Good friend, for Jesus’ sake forbear/ To dig the dust enclosed here./ Blessed be the man that spares these stones,/ And cursed be he that moves my bones.)

 

Thus we see that while Sonnet 1 has formal pattern-similarities with Psalm 1, the dedication to the Sonnets has striking content connections with Psalm 1, and joins the first sonnet in already placing major themes of the Psalms and Sonnets before us.

 

Psalm 2 and Sonnet 2:

 

Psalm 2 pits the heathen against the royal prince.

Shakespeare takes full literary advantage of this in Sonnet 2, where he threatens the young man with a fall from assured glory to a much lesser stature if he fails to procreate.

In Psalm 2, the heir-apparent to the throne is obviously the son of the previous king, but he is also the son of YHWH, who says to the prince, “You are my son; today I have begotten you” (2:7). Psalm 2 may have been used at enthronement ceremonies.

David again makes a rapid appearance in Sonnet 2, which begins, “When forty winters shall besiege thy brow/ and dig deep trenches in your beauty’s field, . . .” David was king for 40 years (1 Kings 2:11). He saw that his throne was given to his son Solomon.

More allusions to David include these words of Sonnet 2: proud livery, ‘gazed on now’, tattered weed, beauty, lies, lusty days, treasure, eyes, shame, praise (the Psalms are the Tehillim, the praises; praise is a recurring theme of the Sonnets), old, warm, and succession. All these words or themes appear in the David Story of the Bible’s books of 1 & 2 Samuel and 1 Kings.

Shakespeare’s young man potentially speaks the words of God regarding his potential son: “This fair child of mine/ Shall sum my count and make my old excuse . . .” Thus we have another themes of the Sonnets, the divinization of humanity, or our failure to attain this possibility.

Another David/royal/Psalm 2 connection follows this speech: “Proving his beauty by succession thine.”

 

The references to Psalm 2, and again to David, are quite clear.

 

Even more than in Sonnet 1, Shakespeare is making mathematical puzzles for us. The second word of Sonnet 2 is “forty.” Just as Psalms 1 and 2 form a pair, so do Psalms 40 and 41, which conclude the first book of the Psalter. All four Psalms have the Hebrew word ashre, which means “happy” or “blessed,” as we saw in the Sonnets’ dedication. Thus, the Sonnets are already giving commentary on the chiastic and numerical structures in the Book of Psalms. (The word “happy” begins the Psalms, and begins the real public words of Jesus (the Beatitudes), and begins Shakespeare’s chief book of poetry, the Sonnets, as discussed above.)

The poem has more mathematical terms. In the potential father’s speech about his potential son, he says, “This fair child of mine/ Shall sum my count . . .” In a similar way, Psalms 40 and 41 “sum the count” and nicely close the first book of the Psalter with a chiastic response to Psalms 1 and 2.

 

Psalm 3 and Sonnet 3:

 

The outstanding work of Psalm scholars reveals that Psalms 1 and 2 were added later to the Psalms, in the long process of the Psalms’ compilation and redaction (‘editing’, roughly).

Psalm 3 may have stood as the first Psalm at some point.

This is surprising, because Absalom is mentioned in the Psalm’s superscription. And Absalom is trouble.

If Solomon, who is mentioned in two Psalm superscriptions in the Bible (Psalms 72 and 127) represents everything good about David and our human evolution, then the story of Absalom represents the tragic aspects and the wanton human pain of our evolution.

The Absalom story also represents the toxic fallout of David’s sin with Bathsheba; yet even here there is hope and progress, for it is through this process that David’s heart is circumcised, and humanity can evolve. This shall be addressed in Chapter 5 below.

For now, I only draw attention to the fact that the Psalter may have begun with a recognition of human sadness and chaos. Psalm 3’s superscription has David fleeing for his life from his own son, who wants to murder him. This seems to be a good description of the chaos that can happen in life. For some people who are not afforded a good start in life, their coming-to-awareness may occur in the middle of a difficult circumstance, such as when your own child is trying to slay you.

Perhaps this meant a lot to Shakespeare. Like David, he was sinned against, and he sinned himself. Like David, Shakespeare lost a beloved son (his son Hamnet, his only son, died at a mere 11 years of age).

Even in these and all horrible situations, there is always hope, as the divine offers us renewal by which we may always attain to happier vistas and a brighter future.

Sonnet 3 begins, “Look in thy glass and tell the face thou viewest,/ Now is the time that face should form another.” David’s son Absalom, and Absalom’s royal aspirations, will be replaced by Solomon.

It is interesting that when David is mourning Absalom’s death, Joab gives him a surprising, unintended, evolutionary compliment. He says that David “loves those that hate you” (2 Sam 19:6). This is what Jesus would preach centuries later. Of course, Joab meant this as a reproach.

After the victory in which Absalom died, David must appear before the troops to hold his coalition together, because they are alarmed at the king’s mourning. “Then the king rose up and sat in the gate, and all the people told it, saying, ‘Behold, the king is sitting in the gate’. And all the people came before the face of the king” (2 Sam 19:8). David’s posterity is more than Absalom. David is one of the fathers of human evolution.

 

 

Other early Psalms and Sonnets:

 

In the first 8 Psalms, there is much alternation of night and day. In the first Sonnets, there is alternation of seasons and years. These themes will return repeatedly.

 

 

Psalm 18 and Sonnet 18:

 

Shakespeare also deploys humor and understatement in his running commentary on the Psalms.

In Psalm 18, YHWH mightily descends to earth in a shocking theophany that knocks the water out of the ocean. The earth reeled and rocked, and mountains trembled.

In a gentle counterpoint to this, Sonnet 18 begins: “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?/ Thou art more lovely and more temperate:/ Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May . . .” This is humorous in contrast to the divine fury of Psalm 18.

The second quatrain begins, “Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,/ and often is his gold complexion dimmed.” In Psalm 18 God’s descent in a cloud of sulfur renders the very heavens black.

Then Shakespeare again undercuts the action, this time cunningly:

God does these things to rescue David, who at the beginning of the Psalm cries, “The cords of death encompassed me; the torrents of perdition assailed me; the cords of Sheol entangled me; the snares of death confronted me” (18:4-5). God affects a dramatic rescue.

Shakespeare merely tells the young man that despite his youth he will eventually die. And descend to Sheol.

Shakespeare’s rescue of the young man is rather different than YHWH’s rescue of David. Although the youth wanders in the post-death gloom, Shakespeare will immortalize him in his verse, thus, “Nor shall death brag thou wand’rest in his shade,/ When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st.”

 

 

Psalm 19 and Sonnet 19:

 

Psalm 19 is divided into two parts. The first part describes the glory of the movements of the heavenly bodies, and the beautiful movement of time itself. Time and the heavens convey knowledge to us, and the mighty sun is anthropomorphized as a strong man joyfully emerging from his wedding tent.

 

Sonnet 19 also has two parts, and in the first part Time murders everything. “Devouring Time” declaws lions’ paws, removes tigers’ teeth, burns up the phoenix, and even makes the poor earth take back to herself the dust of her deceased creatures.

 

The second half of Psalm 19 expounds the glory of the written Torah, and its marvelous capacity to heal and strengthen the human soul.

 

In the second half of Sonnet 19, Shakespeare warns Time not to write with its “antique pen” any “lines” whatsoever on his “love’s fair brow.”

But if Time doesn’t obey Shakespeare, Will wins anyway, because his own written lines preserve the young man’s vitality and youth forever.

 

 

Psalm 36 and Sonnet 36:

 

Psalm 36 has the amazing line, “In your light we see light.” Many Christians have interpreted this as being a discussion of the Holy Spirit, who enlightens us as we achieve unity with the Spirit ever more deeply and profoundly.

This Psalm also says: “How precious is your steadfast love, O God! All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights.”

In Sonnet 36, however, Shakespeare is puzzling about the best way to part with a (soon to be former) lover. He arrives at the resolution that, despite their parting, they’ll be decent to each other in public, and won’t engage in any slandering of the other.

 

As we have seen, Shakespeare is often quite humorous in his dialogue with the Psalms. Earlier theologians did this too in their own parallel conversations with the Psalms, but in a style that kept closer to the immediate sense of the particular Psalms.

Shakespeare is more secular in his humor.

Perhaps there are at least two reasons for this. First, an evolving humanity celebrates the secular. God even wants this. This is part of human evolution.

Second, Shakespeare may be in a steamy direct dialogue with God about his own life. In the tradition of the Psalms of lament, Shakespeare is using irony, and a lot of it, to tell God what he thinks about the disparity between the Bible, God, and the potential happiness that a human life could/should have, and, on the other hands, the outrageous hurts and events of Shakespeare’s own life.

In the Sonnets, Shakespeare is working out his salvation.

He is also becoming a more mature interlocutor with God.

 

 

Psalm 43 and Sonnet 43:

 

Psalm 43 reveals how the ancient Israelite captive in Babylon longs to see, and return to, the temple. Sonnet 43 celebrates that the narrator sees his faraway beloved in his dreams.

 

 

Psalm 44 and Sonnet 44:

 

The theme of the Babylonian Captivity may continue in Psalm 44, where the plaintiff complains that “we are being killed all day long, and accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”

In Sonnet 44, Shakespeare still misses his faraway beloved immensely. He wonders if he is remembered by his beloved (a similar sentiment to the Israelites of Psalm 44), and states that it “kills me that I am not thought.” And evolving humanity can be more hurt by matters of love.

Both Psalm 44 and Sonnet 44 discuss the earth, and Sonnet 44 specifically mentions two of the four elements.

 

 

Psalm 45 and Sonnet 45:

 

Psalm 45 again involves great distance, but here it is in the milieu of a royal wedding, and the meeting of peoples. There is excitement in the air, and many affairs of state, and many people with official functions, in both the visiting bride’s party and the welcoming groom’s court. There is counsel given to the young lady about the happiness that awaits her.

Sonnet 45 has official protocol and diplomacies as well, with “tender embassy,” “swift messengers,” and much communication over distance, communication that can mediate the spatial separation of the lovers. However, here the messengers are the missing two elements from the previous sonnet, “slight air and purging fire.” They are connected with the protagonist’s “thought” and “desire,” respectively.

Despite the fact that all the elements have appeared together (except for perhaps the fifth, ether, the stuff of the heavens), after Shakespeare has happy thoughts about his beloved, he remains sad, because the relationship cannot be constantly consummated in this manner.

 

Of course there is much more to say about this and all the other Psalms and Sonnets. However, let us jump ahead to a later point in the dialogue.

 

Psalm 119 and Sonnet 119:

 

Psalms 1, 19, and 119 all discuss the Torah in interesting ways. Psalm 119 is the longest, by far, in the Psalter, with 176 verses, 8 verses for each of the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet.

At a surface level, Psalm 119 can seem disarmingly simple, as the Psalmist constantly reaffirms his/her love for the Torah. (Other things are happening in this Psalm at deeper levels, but the surface level remains simple, almost naïve. An example of this Psalm’s deeper complexity: the first 150 verses of Psalm 119 are often in a dialogue with the Psalm of the same number. For example, verses 1 and 2 of 119 begin with ashre, “blessed” or “happy,” thus pairing them with Psalm 1 and 2. Psalm 1’s first verse begins with ashre, and Psalm 2’s final phrase begins with ashre, as discussed above. Shakespeare was certainly aware of these deeper realities in Psalm 119.)

Contrasting the simplicity of so much of Psalm 119, Shakespeare draws upon the enormous wealth of his own experience to distill the glowing truth enshrined in Sonnet 119. In the octet of the sonnet, he alludes to the indignities he has personally suffered, and the positively berserking anger he underwent in their wake.

But piercing through the dissipating fog of hate emerges a moment of sterling depth and truth, in the third quatrain:

 

Oh, benefit of ill! Now I find true

That better is by evil still made better,

And ruined love when it is built anew

Grows fairer than at first, more strong, far greater.

 

This is one of the “Torah moments” of the Sonnets, when triumphant truths emerge from the chaotic laboratory of Shakespeare’s hurtful life. Often, Shakespeare is in deep wrestling with emotions, feelings, moods, relationships, and his own internal developments, and those of others. His praise of others is usually oblique, not straightforward, as are his statements. Here, he is clear, echoing the simplicity of Psalm 119.

The concluding couplet states, “So I return, rebuked, to my content,/ And gain by ills thrice more than I have spent.” In a parallel way, Psalm 119 ends with the plaintiff asking God to gather and return her/him, like a lost sheep.

 

 

Psalm 120 and Sonnet 120:

 

But the oscillations of life continue. Sometimes after times of joy and integration, we are able to access deeper problems, memories, sins, or outlooks in ourselves or the wider world.

The next Psalm, 120, begins the 15 “Psalms of Ascent” group of the Psalter. These Psalms celebrate pilgrimage and gathering and are often joyful, although the first of these, 120, is contentious and as factious as can be.

Sonnet 120 states another deep and hard-won truth, this one more painful that that of Sonnet 119: “My deepest sense, how hard true sorrow hits.”

When we are in the grip of a particular emotion, even in the spiritual recovery that God sometimes leads us through, we think that a particular state may not have any potential recovery, that it is fairly permanent. Not the case. At the end of this group, Shakespeare will know a much greater liberation. This shall be discussed in Chapter 6.

 

 

Psalm 126 and Sonnet 126:

 

Psalm 126 is about the return of the exiles from the Babylonian Captivity, and the joy is simply unexpected and ludicrous. The Israelites of the return laugh, and shriek with gladness. This is the language of modern pop songs for teenagers, not the Hebrew Scriptures. Yet here it is. God will surprise us with greater happiness than we can imagine.

(Isaiah states that the liberating Iranian emperor, Cyrus, is chosen by God.)

The happiness of the Israelites is surprisingly great, off the charts, really.

Part of the joy is this: the Israelites have become God’s first missionaries, and they did not even know it. The suffering of the Babylonian Captivity has a purpose! And that purpose is to make friends with other peoples. In fact, the Babylonians become the spiritual children of the Israelites. The speech of the Babylonians enters the memory and Scriptures of the Israelites, and the Israelites learn new things from them, the previously-hated captors. All of this sharing and joy was entirely unexpected.

Shakespeare’s Sonnet 126 also has a sort of consummation, a return, and it’s very mysterious. This too shall be discussed in Chapter 6 below.

 

 

In this first part of Chapter 1, we have considered about 12 Psalm-Sonnet pairs, as well as a topical remark about time in the early Psalms and Sonnets. This type of comparison could be done for many more Psalm-Sonnet pairs. And as mentioned in the introductory chapter above, Fred Blick has already demonstrated that Sonnets 146 and 147 have substantial linguistic connections with Psalms 146 and 147, respectively.

In Part II of this chapter, we shall discuss a group of Sonnets that take up a commentary on a group of Psalms.

 

 

Part II

Groups of Psalms and Sonnets

 

Psalms 93 – 99 have a special place within the Psalter. These Psalms celebrate the coming of God to rule the Earth/Cosmos, and they are joyful Psalms (Psalm 94 is not a part of this group, but happens to fall within it).

Hallmarks of this advent of the Lord are 1) Justice, 2) a deeply felt joy that cannot stop itself from overflowing into music, and 3) a general sense of awe and love for God, who is our Creator and Redeemer. Even nature itself will respond with gladness. A mother Earth who knows that all of her children, including her human children, are happy, will respond to this state of affairs with fecundity, consistency, and every kind of bountiful harvest imaginable.

These Psalms are known as the YHWH MLK Psalms. YHWH, the Tetragrammaton, is the holiest name of God in the Hebrew Scriptures. M, L, and K are the three (transliterated) Hebrew consonants that form the noun “King” and the verb “rule,” or “reign.” (The name of the group can be pronounced “Yahweh Melek.”)

For Christianity, the YHWH MLK Psalms may represent the Second Coming of Christ. Or, they may represent the creating of the “new heavens and new earth” that Jesus speaks of in Revelation.

The message for all people is good: that God desires closeness with God’s people, all of us. Also, God’s mysterious work through history, including our human evolution, is allowing this union of heaven and earth to happen in powerful ways, and preparing for this advent of a unified humanity and an era of unparalleled joy.

These psalms are short in length, and the reader might like to review Psalms 93 and 95 – 99 at this time.

 

Shakespeare’s Sonnets have a hidden parallel dialogue with this group.

 

Shakespeare notes the Psalms’ promised joyful erupting symphony of cosmic exuberance of a universe that once again discovers its closeness with its Creator God. In response this tremendous demonstration of God’s divinity and the joyful cosmic response to it, Shakespeare does something quiet. He holds up: a flower.

His Sonnets from 93 – 99 celebrate with a quiet beauty: Flowers.

Shakespeare responds with flowers.

These sonnets have a secret garden of flowers in them.

 

In his choice to do this, Shakespeare is making another statement, one of some importance. Yes, he is celebrating the beauty of flowers, and all creation, but he is also emphasizing something—he’s making a qualification.

 

Earlier, in Sonnet 65, underlines how weak a flower is. This weakness, this potentiality, this slight possibility, stands in contrast to the sheer awesomeness of YHWH’s arrival on earth of the YHWH MLK series. This weakness represents the growing power of human choice, human will, and the possibility of morally good, enlightened human beings.

A flower is a possibility. It’s ephemeral. But it’s beauty promises much. Sonnet 65 says,

 

How with this rage shall beauty hold a plea,

Whose action is no stronger than a flower?

 

He mentions beauty and beauty’s slight action, which, before the destructive power of human rage, are no stronger than a flower.

For YHWH to come to earth, for us to establish the Garden of Paradise here, for humanity to evolve: we must love Earth and her children, that is, we must cherish our sisters and brothers in all humanity.

 

These flowers bring us into a deeper dimension of this group of Psalms and Sonnets. To repeat, these poems are also about choice, human choice, and the results of our choices. We can make good choices that blossom and result in goodness and increased stature, like a flower bursting into color and scent and reaching for the sun, or, we humans can make bad choices and fester like “weeds,” and “weeds” are another theme of this series of Sonnets.

The message is that we humans must fully appropriate, and incorporate, our ability to make choices.

 

The realm of human choice and the realm of organic life (especially plant life) merge in the image that appears in the first sonnet of this series: Eve’s apple.

 

Psalm 93 and Sonnet 93:

 

The first four verses of Psalm 93 are about God and nature’s response to God. Only the fifth and final verse gives even a remote awareness of human action: “Your decrees are very sure; holiness befits your house, O Lord, for evermore” (93:5). This implies that humans would do well to listen to what God has told us in the revealed Word of God, for example. This will help us to attain the “holiness,” that the verse speaks of, in order to be worthy to enter God’s house. The whole Psalm discusses how solid and trustworthy God is, even using some terms from Genesis, with references to the potent act of Creation.

Shakespeare takes this up immediately as Sonnet 93 begins: “So shall I live, supposing thou art true . . .” The possibility of deception and infirmness of commitment grows in the rest of the first quatrain: “Like a deceivèd husband, so love’s face/ May still seem love to me, though altered new:/ Thy looks in me, thy heart in other place.”

The fact that humanity is growing and evolving implies the possibility of inconsistency, even of falseness.

The third quatrain says:

 

But Heaven in thy creation did decree

That in thy face sweet love should ever dwell.

Whate’er thy thoughts or thy heart’s working be,

Thy looks should nothing thence but sweetness tell.

 

Shakespeare refers to Creation, just as the Psalm does. But in the sonnet, God/Creation has introduced an element of uncertainty, by allowing the beloved’s face to continually depict love, while the interior person has another agenda entirely. This opens and begins to expand the realm of human choice, and the development of the various levels of the human person. In an evolutionary point of view, this new depth of the human person, and depth which has not yet achieved integration, is going to be fraught with difficulties and problems.

(Similarly, the interior struggles of Romans 7 and 8, during which Paul laments that as a youngster he could not do what he knew was the right thing to do, result in something wonderful: the development and establishment of the inner person! This milestone of human evolution appears in an understated way in Romans 7:22, where, after the shameful struggles and failures, suddenly the “interior person,” the eso anthropon, has developed in our soul. This is a tremendous achievement, despite the throes of getting there. It is as if God knew that the struggle would be difficult, and that we would not want to follow the suggestion of our fledgling conscience’s voice, and that, in the guaranteed arrival of failures, the person would acquire depth. Perhaps the acquisition of humility (self-understanding) is a necessary part of this evolution, and this humility arrives to us through our failures.)

Yet humanity must develop virtue, that is, strength of moral action. The difficulty of the growth does not excuse us from the quest to acquire virtue, and integration.

The concluding couplet of the sonnet: “How like Eve’s apple doth thy beauty grow,/ If thy sweet virtue answer not thy show.”

Each choice is an opportunity to grow in real strength.

God wants to come to earth—or—God wants to stay quiet and give us God’s own powers. But to receive these powers that God wants to give us, we must become strong morally, ready to receive them.

God wants humanity to transform the Earth into Paradise, into Eden. But we can only do this through evolving, through becoming authentic lovers of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.

 

Psalm 94 and Sonnet 94:

 

The octet of the next sonnet develops the theme of the strength that we acquire from good choices:

 

That thou have the pow’r to hurt and will do none,

That do not do the thing they most do show,

Who, moving others, are themselves as stone,

Unmovèd, cold, and to temptation slow,

 

They rightly do inherit Heaven’s graces

And husband nature’s riches from expense.

They are the lords and owners of their faces,

Others but stewards of their excellence.

 

However, the capacity to fail in our decisions still remains. And here, for the first time in the series, the flower, with its possibility for either beauty or corruption, is set before us in the sestet:

 

The summer’s flow’r is to the summer sweet,

Though to itself it only live and die.

But if that flow’r with base infection meet,

The basest weed outbraves his dignity:

For sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds;

Lillies that fester smell far worse than weeds.

 

Psalm 94, which is not a YHWH MLK Psalm, likewise differentiates between people who make miserable choices, and those who make better choices. The former group commits crimes, and “They kill the widow and the stranger, they murder the orphan, and they say, ‘The Lord does not see; the God of Jacob does not perceive’ (94:6-7).”

In fact, every human person must undergo correction from our guiding God: “He who teaches knowledge to humankind, does he not chastise? The Lord knows our thoughts, that they are but an empty breath. Happy are those whom you discipline, O Lord, and whom you teach out of your law. (94:10b-12)” In the last third of the Psalm, the Lord teaches his people strength, that is, virtue.

 

Psalm 95 and Sonnet 95:

 

The octet of the standard sonnet changes, it expands into twelve verses:

 

How sweet and lovely dost thou make the shame,

Which, like a canker in the fragrant rose,

Doth spot the beauty of they budding name!

Oh, in what sweets dost thou thy sins enclose!

 

That tongue that tells the story of thy days,

Making lascivious comments in thy sport,

Cannot dispraise, but, in a kind of praise,

Naming thy name blesses an ill report.

 

Oh, what a mansion have those vices got

Which for their habitation chose out thee,

Where beauty’s veil doth cover every blot,

And all things turns to fair that eyes can see!
When the narrator says, “What a mansion have those vices got,” he is referring, among other things, to John’s Gospel. But Shakespeare is alluding also to the expansion of the inner person that was discussed above, in regard to Romans 7 and 8. Humanity has a task: as our inner person develops, we must reconcile/integrate the inner person with the outer person, and grow in goodness and love. We must become integrated, deep, and of a piece. Whole and unified. The exercise of virtue helps us to do this. God’s Word is a great ally in this effort to develop personal consistency and integrity—a vibrant good heart. Many days of the year, Christian religious begin their morning prayer with Psalm 95, which says that “we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. (95:7b)” But we are supposed to grow in intelligence and responsiveness to the Lord’s Word: “O that today you would listen to his voice! Do not harden your hearts . . . (95:7c-8a)”

The concluding couplet of the sonnet says, “Take heed, dear heart, of this large privilege;/ the hardest knife ill used doth lose his edge.”

 

Additionally, the sonnet mentions “name” twice and “naming” once. The name of God, especially the holiest name of YHWH, are key parts of the YHWH MLK Psalms.

 

Psalm 96 and Sonnet 96:

 

Sonnet 96 has a reference to the previous Psalm, 95, which we just considered, and which says that human beings are “the sheep” of God’s hand. Continuing the theme of appearances and deception, but now bringing this to the (quasi-divine) role of leadership, the narrator says,

 

How many lambs might the stern wolf betray,

If like a lamb he could his looks translate?

How many gazers might thou lead away

If thou wouldst use the strength of all thy state?

 

It is interesting that a well-known Biblical scholar, John Dominic Crosson, says that Psalm 82 is the most important Scripture in the entire Bible. Why? It condemns bad leaders and bad leadership. Why? Because bad leadership crucifies humanity, unnecessarily.

Clearly, the increase of human power must be led by an increase in our moral virtue. This is brought home by a reference to the YHWH MLK Psalms in the second quatrain:

 

As on the finger of a thronèd queen

The basest jewel will be well esteemed,

So are those errors that in thee are seen

To truths translated and for true things deemed.

 

Humanity is now on the throne. We must respect the great power that God wishes to share with us.

Additionally, the queen’s fingers form a 9-branched menorah.

Psalm 96 is the Psalm of the Interwoven Menorahs that most represents resurrection. Psalm 96 is Resurrection, the ring on the queen’s finger. Shakespeare knows that God is giving us God’s divine abilities, and that we have a role to play in the healing of the world and of the human society. He lived through the horrors of the aftermath of a religious civil war, and knows precisely what things can go wrong after a time of war. After a war, a society is devastated, her people broken. There may be an increase of evil, such as child abuse, perpetrated by “stern wolves,” bad teachers and broken adults.

Good leaders will bring blessings to society, while bad leaders will greatly multiply the suffering of society, especially of the poor.

There are many more connections between Psalm 96 and Sonnet 96. Psalm 96 has at its beginning three commands to “sing.” Sonnet 96 begins with three appearances of the word “some.” The singing in the Psalm is about blessing and unity. The three “some’s” of the sonnet are about various interlocutors in discussion about whether or not the lover’s beloved is virtuous or scandalous.

 

Psalm 96 ends with YHWH coming to judge the earth. This is seen by most people as a wonderful thing.

But the narrator of Sonnet 96 has been bribed by the beauty of the beloved. Despite the bad deeds of the beloved, the speaker promises, “I love thee in such sort,/ As, thou being mine, mine is thy good report.”

Shakespeare is in that difficult place where he cannot yet speak truth to power. But Sonnet 96 is leading him, and us, there.

 

Psalm 97 and Sonnet 97:

 

There are no flowers in Sonnet 97, but there are sad hints of other plants.

And there are children, who are considered “fruit”; however, this mentioned fruit seems to be missing. (Psalm 97 has a rare Psalms’ mention of “daughters.”)

Also missing is the season of Spring, despite the mention of the other three seasons.

Here is the first quatrain of Sonnet 97:

 

How like a winter hath my absence been

From thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year!

What freezings have I felt, what dark days seen,

What old December’s bareness everywhere!

 

“Darkness” appears in verse 2 of Psalm 97, just as “dark days” appear in verse 3 of the Sonnet.

At the end of the Psalm, we learn that “Light dawns (or, “is sown”) for the righteous,/ and joy for the upright of heart. (97:11)”

Shakespeare and the Psalmist could both be talking, at one level, about the long stages of our human evolution. Ice ages were brutal and difficult: some people outlasted others because they were more skilled in excavating the bone marrow out of carcasses as food. God is bold.

Perhaps the springtime that we are yearning for will be achieved when things like romantic love are finally able to flower among humanity. Shakespeare and the centuries before him began to witness this in a more widespread societal way. (Poetry helps us become human.) It continues today. We are a young humanity.

 

 

Psalm 98 and Sonnet 98:

 

The missing “Spring” of Sonnet 97 appears in the first verse of Sonnet 98.

What’s more, the first quatrain of the poem has a delightful variation on the YHWH MLK theme:

 

From you have I been absent in the spring,

When proud-pied April, dressed in all his trim,

Hath put a spirit of youth in everything,

That heavy Saturn laughed and leapt with him.

 

These themes are both topical and deep.

Recall that in the YHWH MLK Psalms, God is coming to earth. Things will get joyful very quickly when that happens.

Shakespeare, well into the second half of the YHWH MLK sequence, knows this. And to celebrate/make a parody of it, he has “heavy Saturn,” actually laughing, and then leaping, with humans in the beautiful springtime, which seems to convert even the most melancholic and saturnine of the gods. (Saturn is the rough Latin equivalent to the Greek god Cronos.)

This surprising image goes much deeper, alluding to deep darkness (and, therefore, to stunningly deep healing).

Saturn ate his children.

 

These essays have just begun to discuss the scourge of child abuse. This topic will be much more central in Chapters 4 and 6, which discuss David’s and Shakespeare’s lives, respectively. The recovery from childhood sexual abuse may be long and difficult. Such abuse alienates a person from their community and from their own self. Unbridgeable confusion and chaos enters the young person’s life.

Adults don’t like to be sexually abused either.

Of course, it’s much worse for children, who often don’t really know what’s going on.

Whether they do or not, the offense imparts large obstacles to their life journey that are difficult to overcome.

 

Perhaps the worst things in society can be converted and corrected.

Saturn, the god who ate his own children, is here dancing and leaping, and the laughter is echoing. Our evolving humanity can get through anything and everything. Love is stronger than death.

 

God is bold. Psalm 147 says that God heals those whose hearts have been broken. So God is the consummate physician of absolutely any and every human predicament. God will show us the way to healing.

The same Psalm also says that God counts the stars, which even the smartest astrophysicists have been unable to do yet. God also names the stars, as if they are his little children. Therefore, God is like a scientist/mathematician/omnipotent Creator who also loves creation as a loving tender mother/father. God is integrated, both powerful and tender. Our evolution contains many lopsided lurches towards this integration. Sometimes we are too hot or too cold, too strong or too weak. But God brings us to integration and healing.

Perhaps Shakespeare has experienced something of God’s awesome healing abilities. In the second and third quatrains we have “the sweet smell/ Of different flowers in odor and in hue,” “the lily’s white,” and “the deep vermillion of the rose.”

Psalm 98 and Sonnet 98 both have “praise.”

 

 

Psalm 99 and Sonnet 99:

 

To this point, Shakespeare’s sonnets that run parallel to, and dialogue with, the YHWH MLK Psalms have made human choice a central theme. A flower represents the fragility of young humanity’s free will.

Yet in Sonnet 99, a flower represents something even more precious: a child.

 

The flowers are our children. Looking back, we might say that the greatest sign of God among humanity is the gift of our children. This also goes well with the idea that God fosters the movement of our attention away from mere cult and rite, and towards a secular society that is flowering with love.

 

We have an entire flower garden in Sonnet 99. The first lines have Shakespeare angrily-playfully chasing down “the forward violet,” to “chide” the violet for stealing the sweet breath of his beloved. The violet also borrowed of “the purple pride” of his beloved’s veins. Similarly, the “lily” and some “buds of marjoram” are also complicit in borrowing of the beloved’s patterns and qualities.

Children, of course, borrow many things from their parents, genetically and in the first years of their lives.

When roses enter the sonnet, things grow even more complex. Here are the final 8 verses of the poem:

 

The roses fearfully on thorns did stand,

One blushing shame, another white despair,

 

A third, nor red nor white, had stol’n of both,

And to his robbery had annexed thy breath;

But for his theft, in pride of all his growth

A vengeful canker ate him up to death.

 

More flowers I noted, yet I none could see

But sweet of color it had stol’n from thee.

 

Compared with almost all of Shakespeare’s poetry, this is quite joyful.

Shakespeare rarely shines pure joy, and here he does so—even if he’s using multiple terms about thievery, and also speaking of murderous worms and death.

 

Psalm 99 is the final YHWH MLK psalm, and it is paired with Sonnet 99.

But Sonnet 99 is an anomaly among the Sonnets—it is the longest sonnet, and it has 15 lines, instead of the typical 14 lines that sonnets usually have.

Chapter 3 will discuss 2 hidden chiastic structures that exist in many (or all) of the individual sonnets. Briefly for now, let us say that the extra line, the 15th line, allows for a third chiastic structure to be present in Sonnet 99.

The hidden chiastic structures form menorahs. Because Sonnet 99 has 15 verses, it has 3, not 2, menorahs! This is confirmed by the mention of the word “third” in the Sonnet! And this is the only appearance of the word “third” in the Sonnets.

Why does Shakespeare do this?

The third menorah represents a child that is given to two parents.

And this third menorah of Sonnet 99 is perfect. The chiastic connections are more clear and brilliant than those in the two earlier menorahs of the poem. This is a celebration of the beauty of children, and how children represent hope for us.

 

The meanings of metaphors change, and this is part of their agency and beauty. The three roses, and the three menorahs of Sonnet 99, could mean 2 parents and 1 child, as just was discussed. And it can also mean 3 children. Shakespeare had three children. His only son, Hamnet, died at just 11 years of age, just as the beautiful third rose died. Yet even here, Shakespeare is rejoicing. And it is not the case that he is merely mocking death. Perhaps he knows something.

 

There are more mathematical mysteries. The Sonnet is number 99. The Interwoven Menorahs of the Psalms are two 9-branched menorahs standing with each other. This sonnet is the only one with two “9’s” standing side by side. They are yet another image of the menorahs.

In Rome there is a wondrous vast rose garden in the shape of menorahs.

 

So just as Shakespeare is commenting on the YHWH MLK Psalms by saying that a human reflection of God’s coming to Humanity is the beauty of the human capacity for choice, he is also saying that a beauty of YHWH’s intervention on earth is the fact of flowers. Which flowers are not only merely flowers, they are also our children.

Shakespeare takes the YHWH MLK series, where “the terrifying God” of the Old Testament, saturnine YHWH, is coming to the world to make everyone happy, and he replaces this awesome theophany with 3 gentler ones:

Owning our freedom of choice, flowers, and our children.

 

Perhaps Shakespeare is saying this: Maybe God desires to come close to Humanity not from on high, radically ripping up our atmosphere and landing harshly on earth to correct us and stay with us, no. Not that.

Maybe God wants to guide us bit by bit. Maybe God wants to move to us and live among us incrementally, as we are ready to receive God and God’s gifts. Instead of a shattering theophany, it might well be a divinely-inspired evolution of Humanity, with myriad gentle moments.

 

There are many other series-groups of Psalms and Sonnets that are connected, but it will be easier to see their meanings after other themes in this book have been presented.

 

Additionally, after our brief considerations of the YHWH MLK Psalms and the Flower Sonnets, now is an ideal time to take up the third part of this chapter, which brings in the highly evolutionary Surah 114 of the Qur’an. We shall see again an evolutionary preference for human decisions, the cherishing of Humanity, and gentle growth instead of huge displays of divine theophany.

 

Additionally, we might add Psalm 100 and Sonnet 100 to this YHWH MLK—Flowers group. Although Psalm 100 is not a YHWH MLK Psalm proper, it continues the joy of the series preceding it. In Sonnet 100, Shakespeare continues dealing with the themes of the series, albeit in a new way. (Finally, Psalms 65 – 68 are a joyful group. Flowers appear in their parallel sonnets too, making a prelude to the series we have just discussed.)

 

 

 

Part III

Dialogues of Intertextuality,

A Paradigm:

The Psalms, The Qur’an, and the Sonnets

 

 

In the introductory essay of this series I noted that Psalm 1 mentions and recommends the Torah, and thus the Book of Psalms begins with a strong overture to intertextuality. That is, the Psalms begin by saying that they belong in dialogue with other texts.

Christian monks have always loved the Psalms. These poem-prayer-songs are the staple nutrition, the building blocks, of the Church’s liturgical prayer.

The Qur’an mentions Christian monks, most often in a favorable light.

The Qur’an also mentions the Psalms of David, the “Zabur of Dawood,” three times, always in a favorable light.

In fact, the Qur’an is in a running hidden dialogue with the Psalms, a similar sort of parallel dialogue as that which we are considering in the Sonnets. This dialogue is often more profound than Shakespeare’s dialogue with the Psalms.

The Qur’an’s dialogue with the Psalms happens at the macro-level of the Surah (chapter), where most/all of the 114 Surahs of the Qur’an are in a parallel hidden dialogue with the Psalm of the same number.

Yet it also happens at a more micro-level of the Qur’an—the Ayah (verse). Many of the Ayat (verses) of the Qur’an are in a hidden parallel dialogue with the Psalm of the same number.

And the Holy Qur’an is brimming over with knowledge of the hidden Psalm Structures.

 

These shocking discoveries are described in an introductory essay available at this link: https://www.academia.edu/16007177/Shared_Mystical_Treasures_between_the_Quran_and_the_Bible

 

Because I am new to the Qur’an and am just beginning my study of Arabic, I cannot speak authoritatively on the Qur’an, although I have studied it in translation; I am thankful for the fact that I converse with my Muslim friends about these high holy wonders.

 

Islamic references abound in Shakespeare. By one estimate, there are at least 150 allusions to Islam in 21 plays of Shakespeare (Dimmock, Matthew. “Shakespeare and Islam.” Web blog post. Oxford University Press’s Academic Insights for the Thinking World. Oxford University Press, 27 Dec. 2015. Web. 16 Feb. 2016.

http://blog.oup.com/2015/12/shakespeare-and-islam/ ) There is considerable conversation about this now in Shakespeare studies. Let’s hope this conversation blossoms.

 

A shocking scene occurs in Henry VI, Part One, when the French Dauphin, Charles, is involved in a skirmish and a dialogue, in the course of which he says, “Was Mahomet inspired with a dove?” (Henry VI, Pt. I, Act I, Scene 2, v. 140)

Well, the now-obvious answer to this question, as Will well knows, is:

 

It is clearly the case that the God of Islam and Christianity is One; Our God is the same One God,

and,

The Islamic Scriptures (the Qur’an), the Christian Scriptures (the New Testament), and the Hebrew Scriptures (the Old Testament) are all revelations of Our One God. (Arabic is a Semitic language. “Allah,” God, in Arabic is related to the Hebrew word for God, “El.”)

 

This surprising question about the Qur’an’s inspiration, asked by the Dauphin, comes in the middle of a scene and conversation that has much to do with the Feminine. Instead of men killing each other in battle, we can dialogue. In fact, Charles has been beaten in a private battle by a woman (St. Joan of Arc) seconds ago in the scene. This is extraordinary. There are some Christian and Biblical references, to both New and Old Testaments, that discuss women, and the emergence of the Feminine in our human history. (Chapter 5, which discusses The Red Line of Hope, shall deal with this more.)

This conversation is very deep. And it connects all three sets of Sacred Scriptures of the Abrahamic religions: Qur’an, New Testament, and Old Testament. Likewise, the Red Line of Hope runs through all three texts, yet another tremendous mystical reality that unites the 3 Scriptures of the 3 religions of Abraham.

 

Shakespeare read the Qur’an.

We have just discussed the First Part of King Henry the Sixth, which was published about 1592. It is one of Shakespeare’s clearest statements of his knowledge of the shared mystical realities between the Qur’an, the New Testament, and the Old Testament. He may have begun working on the Sonnets about this time. However, the Sonnets were not published until 1609, 17 years after this play. He completed Julius Caesar in 1599, 10 years before the Sonnets were published. Hamlet was first performed in 1600 or 1601. The Sonnets were published near the end of Shakespeare’s most creative writing period. King Lear, Macbeth, and Antony and Cleopatra were also published before the Sonnets.

Therefore, we can see that the Sonnets are a very mature work of his, the one and only work that he spent many years, possibly decades with, before publishing.

 

In at least one place in the Sonnets, at Sonnet 114, Shakespeare is bringing the Qur’an into the center of the conversation.

 

(A note to the reader: To this point, this chapter has been wide in scope, but tidily wide, pertaining to the Sonnets and the Psalms. The scope will expand now to include the Qur’an. Just a touch of familiarity with these large themes will render their basic simplicity easily accessible.)

Let us quickly review the first connection between the Qur’an and the Psalter.

 

 

Psalm 1 and Surah 1:

 

Surah 1 and Psalm 1 are both short and have many shared words and themes. Here are some of them:

 

-Both discuss choices we are to make.

-Both discuss the good path, and the unhelpful path.

-Both discuss the Day of Judgment.

-Both discuss negative types of behavior that are good to avoid.

-Both make interesting use of the word “and.”

-The name of the Book of Psalms in Hebrew is Tehillim, which means, “the praises”; and the second verse (Ayah) of Surah 1 of the Qur’an states “all praise is due to Allah/ God”; meanwhile,

-The word “Qur’an” means “the Recitation,” and the verb in Psalm 1 that we are encouraged to practice, “higeh,” means to recite, murmur, repeat, ponder upon, and wrestle with.

-Therefore, the title of each Sacred Scripture, the “Qur’an” and the “Tehillim,” is mentioned, in translated form, in the first verses of the Other sacred text!

 

It is now absolutely clear that Surah 1 and Psalm 1 are connected with each other. The Divine loves this sort of deep and meaningful wordplay and relationship between the sacred texts.

 

The Qur’an and the Psalms begin with each other, with a dialogue.

 

This is hugely important.

 

As this dialogue continues, it grows more subtle.

Let us now consider the final Surah of the Qur’an, Surah 114.

 

Psalm 114, Surah 114, and Sonnet 114:

 

As Surah 1 and Psalm 1 are connected with each other, so are Surah 114 and Psalm 114 connected with each other—but in a very different set of ways.

The connections of Surah 1 and Psalm 1 are clear to see. If a word is repeated and shared between two Scriptures, it is easy to see their connection. And it establishes a precedent, if it happens in the first unit of the two Scriptures.

Yet with Surah 114 and Psalm 114, there are not many shared words. Instead, there is a connection of call-and-answer, and a progression, and an exquisite dance between the two texts.

 

Psalm 114 is dramatic, and the scene of action is very exterior. It happens in the wilderness, by the Red Sea and by the desert mountains and by the Jordan River. This Psalm celebrates the Exodus.

In response to the Exodus, nature herself 1) is afraid, and, 2) dances like young sheep and rams in the springtime, and 3) is amazed at the sight of the Exodus. Mountains jump up and down. The Red Sea and the Jordan River are severed, their currents reversed.

 

Why do the land and the water, these two elements, act strangely?

It is because of the new connection between God/ Allah and people, human beings. This connection of the people and God is the birth of the Hebrew people, as they pass through the Red Sea. This passing through the Red Sea is a birth. Broken water. Red. A birth. A new connection between God and Humanity is the birth of a new Humanity. Mother Earth, and her waters, sense this and respond appropriately with the throes of birth.

 

Surah 114 was written perhaps a millennium after Psalm 114, after much human evolution had occurred in the light of earlier Scriptures.

Its title is “The Men.” Here are its 6 Ayat (verses) in translation:

 

1) Say: I seek refuge in the Lord of men,

2) The King of men,

3) The God of men,

4) From the evil of the whisperings of the slinking (Shaitan/Satan),

5) Who whispers into the hearts of men,

6) From among the jinn and men.

 

This utterly profound Surah is a sign of tremendous human evolution.

Whereas Psalm 114 had nature terrified before God’s theophany, and long external human journeys, Surah 114 speaks volumes of an immense internal awareness within the Human Person.

Surah 114 asks us to repeat its words, and to make these words our words. (The Psalms do this too.) When we say these words in ourselves, our interior selves become more holy, aware, and evolved. When we say these words in ourselves, we become more aware of the internal geography of our own soul.

And what we see is awesome.

Our relationship with Allah has become so full that it must be described, initially, with three statements of who God is for us: Allah is “the Lord of men, the King of men, [and] the God of men.”

We have grown to the point where we have to think of our relationship with Allah in multiple ways.

Indeed, our thinking has become more complex.

With that, there is greater responsibility that we must exercise over our thinking.

We must take greater care for our mental life, our mental activity.

As more complex and evolved human beings, we are potentially vulnerable to more sneaky whispers from the slinking/ withdrawing Satan. With our more developed mental antennae, we can pick up smaller “transmissions” from Satan. Satan attacks our hearts. The place of love. Satan wants to divide us, and to separate us from each other. The more we humans evolve, the more we transform into people of love. If Satan is able to stop our loving each other, than he can stop our growth, our evolution.

Love opens us up to evolutionary growth in more spectrums of reality. But we must show discernment as we enter an awareness of these realms: We are now aware of whispers that come to us from both “jinn” and “men.” This positive growth is leading us to be intelligent as we become aware that we are receiving communications from a wider spectrum of reality.

We must carefully observe and govern our expanding mental life. This is how the Qur’an concludes.

 

Psalm 114 showed the Israelites being led by the hand on a big journey in wild places. Mountains leapt, seas parted. The Israelites oscillated greatly, often wanting to return to the fleshpots that they knew. They radically bounced between fear and anger/pride.

 

By way of contrast, the final Surah of the Qur’an is teaching us about our evolving life of mind and soul.

 

See the progression?

 

We might, however, find seeds, kernels, of this tremendous growth hiding, latent, in Psalm 114. This Psalm ends with a verse about God, “Who turns the rock into a pond of water, the flint into a flowing fountain of water.” Initially, this might seem like simple powerful external imagery of God’s awesome power, with which he has been awing the Israelites and teaching them introductory lessons about their lives, their selves, and their relationship with God.

 

Yet we might also recall Ezekiel’s discussion of rocky hearts and the Pharaoh’s hardened heart, and we might discern the beginning hints of something different. The Exodus journey, led by God, is softening the hearts of the Israelites, and transforming their hearts into hearts of love. During the Exodus, for example, the Israelites had to become better at community. Part of this is their growing ability to make better choices. To discern, and to make calm, just judgments. Recall above that the YHWH MLK Psalms were converted by Shakespeare into reflections on our growth in choosing, and the growth of our morality.

 

The parallel relationship of the Qur’an helps us to draw out this truth from the Psalms of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament)! Likewise, the dramatic exterior action of Psalm 114 helps us to better see and to be awed by the huge quiet interior developments that are now happening in Humanity in Surah 114! Our Scriptures walk forward, hand in hand.

 

There is more. Now that the dialogue between Psalm and Surah has developed our sense of the dimension, the spectrum, of time, and of evolution, and of our receiving God’s own powers and gifts—what if Surah 114 is reminding us that if our evolution continues, we shall be given tremendous powers by God, the ability to move mountains and to dialogue deeply with nature?

 

Again, this Surah discusses choices instrumental to our human evolution.

And this Surah discusses cosmic forces that arrive to us, forces that are calmly mixed, or otherwise interjected, into our thoughts. These visiting thoughts may be for good or for ill. The growing human person must learn to read these thoughts, and to discern from whence they arrive. The growing human person must learn discernment.

 

The simple act of the decision, occurring in the quiet privacy of our own mind, is revealed to be more powerful and far more advanced than the leaping up and down of mountains, as wonderful as that might be.

Surah 114 is evolutionary, and very aware of our human need to grasp the cosmic ramifications of each and every one of our decisions.

 

They go together. If we make good decisions, and become a loving unified humanity, then the cosmos has no limits for us; in fact, the cosmos will lovingly respond to a humanity that has grown in love.

 

Shakespeare read the Qur’an, and knows the conversation between Psalm 114 and Surah 114.

His Sonnet 114 joins this hidden conversation.

 

114

 

Or whether doth my mind, being crowned with you,

Drink up the monarch’s plague, this flattery,

Or whether shall I say mine eye sayeth true,

And that your love taught it this alchemy,

 

To make of monsters and things indigest

Such cherubins as your sweet self resemble,

Creating every bad a perfect best

As fast as objects to his beams assemble?

 

Oh, ‘tis the first; ‘tis flatt’ry in my seeing,

And my great mind most kingly drinks it up.

Mine eye well knows what with his gust is ‘greeing,

And to his palate doth prepare the cup.

 

If it be poisoned, ‘tis the lesser sin

That mine eye loves it and doth first begin.

 

 

 

The first quatrain speaks of “the monarch’s plague, this flattery.” Yet it also speaks of the powers of human transformation, “this alchemy.” And here is the pivot, the human possibility of both disaster and of tremendous growth.

Chapter 4 will discuss David. And David is present in this Sonnet.

The “monarch’s plague” and the “great mind most kingly” remind us of David. The drinking theme reminds us of the amazing Spring of 2 Samuel 11, when David is lounging in his palace having drinking parties and afternoon naps while his army is away fighting.

He was on the roof of his palace. This is Biblicalese:

He was on the roof of his palace!

His pride was swollen. He had enough hot air in himself to send a dirigible on a random mission.

Of course, in God’s time, his reverie was popped and he returned to earth.

As we are given God’s gifts, Surah 114 and Sonnet 114 warn us away from pride, which is susceptible to flattery. The wicked among “the jinn and the men” of Surah 114, would flatter us, among other tricks. Recall that Satan flattered Eve in the Garden, and she ate the apple, and used her power to coerce Adam.

 

Yet if we resist the temptations to pride in this new era, then we become heroes of transformation, and we make real spiritual alchemy happen.

This is the only way for our human evolution to continue, and for Humanity to survive. If we become more aware and more caring people, our future is tremendously bright.

 

Indeed, the “monsters” and the “cherubins” that Shakespeare places in the sonnet remind us of the jinn, who can help humanity, or who can lead us astray.

 

 

Not only do we grow and become more aware of our interior powers and capacities and sensitivities, and the dangers of pride for a more enlightened humanity, we also become aware of something that we have already known, but in a new context:

We are aware that we need God, as much as ever, to guide us along the path of our life that grows ever more interior.

 

We are aware that we need God and implore God for humility, because humility is a necessary guide and companion in this new world.

 

 

 

This first chapter has demonstrated several things:

First, we have seen clear proof that Shakespeare’s Sonnets are in a running parallel dialogue with the Psalms of the same number. This is now a proven fact.

Second, we have seen that this dialogue between the Sonnets and the Psalms has deep and enormous consequences. The Sonnets are about many more things than we previously understood. What’s more, the Sonnets may provide a new hermeneutical lens to the Psalter itself, and help us learn better how to read the Scriptures in our own time.

Third, we have seen that the Qur’an is also very much involved in this conversation. The Qur’an is a highly evolutionary Scripture.

 

In Chapter 2 we shall consider the Psalm Structures, and how they are present in the Sonnets.

 

 

[This essay is part 2 in a series of 8 essays that give chapter previews of the forthcoming William Shakespeare and the Psalter of Fire.)

 

 

 

Copyright © 2016 Richard Murray

150 Psalms and 154 Sonnets: William Shakespeare and the Psalter of Fire

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Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets are in a hidden relationship with the 150 Psalms of the Bible.

His Sonnet 1 speaks with Psalm 1, Sonnet 2 with Psalm 2, and so on. (Sonnet 151 is responding to Psalm 151 of the Greek Septuagint; Psalm 151 does not appear in the Hebrew Scriptures, but is found among the Dead Sea Scrolls.) Sonnets 152-154 are doing something different.

This is a shocking discovery that will entirely change our understanding of the Sonnets.

This essay is the first in a series of essays that presents this discovery.

 

Shakespeare’s dramas have been well received around the world.

Yet the Sonnets have had a somewhat different history of reception than the dramas. The Sonnets have been a mystery.

It is not easy to understand the Sonnets. Maybe no one has understood them comprehensively yet. Many people have become familiar with a few of the Sonnets, but have not undertaken a study of the book as a unit, as a whole (although scholars and poets certainly have known and scrutinized all 154). Nor is it easy to enter into, to comprehend, what is the framework(s), the context(s), the horizon(s), the world(s) of the Sonnets. Nor has the identity of the Young Man who appears prominently in the first 126 Sonnets been definitively proven. Nor do we know who the Dark Lady is, who appears in Sonnet 127 and the following Sonnets (she may appear in some of the earlier Sonnets too). Nor do we know to whom the Sonnets are addressed, or the identity of “Mr. W.H.” who appears in the dedication of the volume.

The Sonnets were published in 1609, as a collection of 154 sonnets. There are 150 Psalms in the Bible. As mentioned above, the Sonnets are in a parallel dialogue with the Psalms. Sonnet 1 speaks with Psalm 1, Sonnet 2 dialogues with Psalm 2, Sonnet 3 with Psalm 3, and so on to Sonnet 150.

This facet of the Sonnets has remained entirely secret.

At least one Shakespeare writer, however, has made a discovery in this realm. In Psalms and Sonnets: 146 and 147, Fred Blick, a retired Solicitor of the UK Supreme Court, demonstrates that Sonnets 146 and 147 are each in dialogue with the Psalms of the same number. (Blick, Fred. “Psalms and Sonnets: 146 and 147,” The Upstart Crow, vol. XXIII (2003): 91-103. Accessed January 29, 2016, http://www.clemson.edu/cedp/press/crow/htm/archives/PDFs/vol-23.pdf.)

 

Yet there is far more than this parallel dialogue happening between the Sonnets and the Psalms. Likewise, there is more happening between the Sonnets and the entire Bible.

 

First, let us review another hidden mystery. Shakespeare is not the first writer to undertake a hidden dialogue with the Psalms. Many others have written their works according to this hidden dialogue.

 

 

Discovering an Unknown Tradition of Mystical Knowledge

 

In the first 1.5 millennia there were many theological writers who wrote their works both 1) in numbered sequences, and 2) in dialogue, hidden, with the 150 Psalms. The recently-discovered Gospel of Thomas does this, as do Evagrius Ponticus (an early monk of Egypt) and the much later Gregory Palamas. Gregory was a monk of Mount Athos in Greece, and became the Archbishop of Thessaloniki. Evagrius and Gregory are both saints in Orthodox Christianity.

Evagrius has a book called 153 Chapters on Prayer, which contains a running, hidden, dialogue with the 150 Psalms. Evagrius mildly jokes that his choice of “153” is from the 153 great fish that Peter and his friends catch in John 21. But that is a rhetorical feint, to hide what he is really doing. (Incidently, Peter’s 153 fish is one of many places in the New Testament that reveal conscious knowledge of the Mystical Psalm Structures, which will be explained below.)

Gregory Palamas has a book called 150 Chapters, which also is in dialogue, hidden, with the 150 Psalms. These “chapters” of Evagrius and Gregory are short paragraphs, and both books are slim. Often, there is humor in the dialogue they are having with the Psalter (Book of Psalms). Both of these works are also in the Philokalia, which is a wonderful collection of spiritual writings of Orthodox Christianity.

Additionally, many Christian authors in the Eastern Mediterranean wrote their theological treatises in the form of “centuries,” works that have 100 sentences or short paragraphs. These authors often make a series of consecutive “centuries.” Some of these authors also are writing in sequential hidden communication with the Book of Psalms.

Among all these theological authors, perhaps Gregory Palamas’ 150 Chapters is the most clear and brilliant example of this conversation between the Psalter and a later theological author. A brief introduction to this work, and a chart that shows the parallel connections between his chapters the Psalms, is at this link: https://www.academia.edu/20805095/Gregory_Palamas_150_Chapters_Parallel_Dialogue_with_the_150_Psalms_of_the_Psalter

 

 

But at some point, a new genre of writing took up this secret conversation with the Psalms, and this hidden stream of deep Biblical commentary switched river-beds.

 

 

A Newer (Secret) Tradition of Mystical Knowledge: Poetry

 

Petrarch was some years younger than Palamas, and their lives overlapped. Petrarch, the founder of the sonnet form, wrote hundreds of sonnets in Italian. He, too, is writing his sonnets in secret sequential communication with the Psalms.

(Having made these discoveries in recent months, I have not yet been able to inquire if Petrarch’s peers also knew about this hidden tradition, and whether or not Petrarch was the originator of this tradition among the Poets.)

The Sonnet form eventually arrived in England, as did the secret tradition of the parallel dialogue with the Book of Psalms. Many of the English sonneteers knew of this hidden tradition, and employed it themselves. These English sonneteers who knew include: Elizabeth Barrett Browning, John Donne, Lady Mary Wroth, Edmund Spenser, and William Drummond, who all have parallel dialogues with the Psalms, hiddenly. Their sonnets appear in numbered sequences.

Later sonnet writers, such as Pablo Neruda in Spanish, and Ranier Maria Rilke in German, also dialogue with the Psalms in this hidden manner.

 

Poets Writing in More Modern Forms:

Owen Dodson is a poet, playwright, novelist, and actor of the Harlem Renaissance. He knows of the Psalm Structures, as seen in his collection of poetry, Powerful Long Ladder. He makes daring innovations of the Psalm Structures (to be discussed below) as he makes statements demanding racial equality. His poetry is strong and forceful.

 

Wallace Stevens’ hidden conversations with the Psalms can be found in every collection within The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens, which contains much of his poetry.

After Shakespeare, I know of no other poet who says so much, with such artistic freedom, in dialogue with the Psalms (However, in all fairness to Petrarch, I have not been able to read all of his poems, especially in the Italian, yet).

(A note: In Stevens’ poems there sometimes appear words or attitudes that seem to be racist, or that belittle ethnic groups. But I think, and hope, that this is not the case. Stevens is a keen social critic. He is speaking of mindsets of his era in these statements, and holding them up to be examined in the light of day. For example, in The Blue Guitar, he wants to get everything prejudiced and weak out of the human soul, and to strengthen it.)

 

Maya Angelou knows. And God placed into her more-than-capable hands the task of making a potent poetic statement about the Book of Revelation and the Mystical Psalms Ladder. (A forthcoming essay will describe this.)

 

There could be many other poets who know of these realities.

 

Questions abound: How did these poets learn of the Mystical Psalm Structures?

 

 

 

Mystical Realities Hidden in the Bible

 

There are divine realities hidden in the Bible.

The Book of Psalms contains mystical structures. An introduction to these Mystical Psalm Structures can be found here:

https://www.academia.edu/16106922/The_Mystical_Psalm_Structures

 

Shakespeare also knows of these Mystical Psalm Structures.

Future conversations about Shakespeare will need to address the Book of Psalms and the Mystical Psalm Structures. With this new hermeneutical lens in place, I have begun rereading his dramas, and all that I have read thus far have references to the Mystical Psalm Structures. In one play, a character is carrying a concealed rope ladder. This ladder will facilitate a meeting with a woman placed on high. One of the mystical structures in the Bible is the Psalms Ladder, which has many themes regarding the Feminine.

 

At this point I must ask the reader to bear with me. This essay is presenting much new knowledge about several large topics.

All of these topics are connected.

Just a bit of familiarity with them will give you some good initial understanding of these mystical realities.

 

 

 

Initial Lessons-Learned from these Mystical Realities

 

These discoveries are joyful.

 

They promise good things in our Human future, here on Earth. Some initial truths gleaned from these realities:

 

-God loves us all. Each human person is beloved to God.

 

-God desires our evolution, our growth (As individuals and as a human community). Part of this is that God desires our growth of compassion for all other people, just as God loves us. We show this love by, for example, helping all people, including the poor, toward happier lives. Sharing. Choosing to think of others, and to care for others. We are also learning to care for our one environment, our shared home, the Earth. What is the Earth like?

 

These things are very positive news, for all of us.

 

 

William Shakespeare and the Psalter of Fire

 

Like the Psalter (Book of Psalms), Shakespeare’s Sonnets are a unified group, a whole, a unit. We might consider the Sonnets to be his Psalter of Fire.

The Sonnets are about many things.

 

 

Will’s Own Story, Limned in the Sonnets

 

Everything that I shall say about Shakespeare’s work and the Bible can be definitively, easily proven. Once one sees it, it’s obvious.

Yet an area that remains mysterious is Will’s own life story. However, here in the Sonnets he may have given us much information about major events, falls, recovery, and growth that are parts of his life.

Shakespeare knew anger, and he knew anger at God. The Psalms themselves call God a drunken warrior who missed the battle, or a shepherd who lets his sheep be gathered and taken by the enemy. By saying such things, the Psalms are capable of transforming the anger we humans have into tremendous spiritual capacity.

Shakespeare knew hurt in his early life, as one of the following essays shall discuss. It was a long and difficult recovery for him, but he made it.

 

Shakespeare’s abuse and recovery is one of several storylines woven into the Sonnets.

Other storylines of the Sonnets include the life of David, as well as the grand arc of human evolution. Another theme is the slow, often painful, development of relations between women and men, including the achievement of human integration, to echo a concept of Jung. This is taken up in the forthcoming The Red Line of Hope, a rough draft of which is available here:

https://www.academia.edu/18651552/The_Red_Line_of_Hope

 

 

Shakespeare has a mature relationship with God. At least in certain aspects of his writing, he was directed by the Holy Spirit. He even may have been a more active worker with the Holy Spirit.

 

This essay is the first of a series. In these essays, I shall present quick descriptions of the chapters of a forthcoming book, William Shakespeare and the Psalter of Fire. Here is a preview of how the essays shall present the chapters of that book:

 

Chapter 1       This chapter has two parts. One compares individual Psalms and Sonnets of the same number. The second compares groups of Psalms and Sonnets. This chapter demonstrates convincingly that the Psalms are entirely connected with the Sonnets.

 

Chapter 2       “The Mystical Psalm Structures and the Sonnets”; this chapter will show how the Mystical Psalm Structures are present throughout the Sonnets.

 

Chapter 3       This structure will present a hidden chiastic structure of many of the Sonnets. This hidden chiastic structure is based upon the Mystical Psalm Structures.

 

Chapter 4       “The David Story”; this chapter shows how the Biblical story of David is woven throughout the Sonnets.

 

Chapter 5       The Red Line of Hope. This chapter presents the hidden theme of the integration of the Feminine in humanity, a theme that runs through the entire Bible, from first page to last. The very plan, the structural order of Shakespeare’s Sonnets reflects this hidden Biblical fact.

 

Chapter 6       “The Will Story”; Chapter 4 discusses the story of David as Shakespeare presents it, hiddenly, in the Sonnets. This chapter shows how Shakespeare weaves the story of his own life into the Sonnets, as briefly discussed above. There are resonances between David’s and Shakespeare’s lives.

 

Chapter 7       Evolution. Towards a Humanity of Love. This chapter discusses more of what the Sonnets are about, and what they are leading us towards.

 

 

At this time I must complete two books that are more Scriptural and prior to this work on Shakespeare. Also, these works will make the later forthcoming book about Shakespeare much more comprehensible. However, I do not wish to suppress this vital material in the time before I can develop it into a book, and so humbly offer it for your reading in the upcoming days and weeks. I welcome your thoughts, criticism, and suggestions, and hope that your comments will help the initial version of the published book to be better.

 

 

An Example of How these Discoveries Better Parse the Sonnets;

Sonnet 1 and Psalm 1

 

Using the hermeneutic (interpretive) lenses briefly described in the 7 chapter previews above, let us consider Sonnet 1, in relationship with Psalm 1:

 

Sonnet 1

 

From fairest creatures we desire increase,

That thereby beauty’s rose might never die,

But as the riper should by time decease, [“decease” is correct, not “decrease”]

His tender heir might bear his memory; [which Solomon, not Absalom, does]

 

But thou, contracted to thine own bright eyes,  [Bible mentions David’s eyes]

Feed’st thy light’s flame with self-substantial fuel,

Making a famine where abundance lies,

Thyself thy foe, to thy sweet self too cruel.

 

Thou, that art now the world’s fresh ornament

And only herald to the gaudy spring, [2 Sam 11 has David’s famous springtime]

Within thine own bud buriest thy content,

And, tender churl, mak’st waste in niggarding [means miserly greediness].

 

Pity the world, or else this glutton be:

To eat the world’s due, by the grave and thee.

 

 

 

And here is a version of Psalm 1:

 

Blessed the man [human person]

Who does not walk in the advice of the wicked,

Or take the path of sinners,

Or sit in the seat of scorners [those who abuse the great gift of speech].

Rather, his delight [like “desire”] is in the law (Torah) of the Lord,

And on his law (Torah) he meditates/thinks/wrestles day and night.

He is like a tree [why a tree?]

Planted/ transplanted by streams of water,

Yielding its fruit in due season/at the proper time,

And its leaves do not wither.

Everything he does shall prosper.

 

Not so the wicked, not so.

They are like the chaff that the wind (Holy Spirit) drives away.

The wicked will not stand at the judgment,

Nor sinners in the gathering of the righteous.

For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,

But the way of the wicked will perish.

 

 

 

 

Psalm 1 mentions the Torah, and so the Psalter instantly lends itself to intertextuality.

“Torah” here can mean the Pentateuch, the Five Books of Moses, the first five books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy). Many Jewish people elevate the Torah above all other books of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament).

“Torah” can also mean one’s learning, one’s relationship, with God. This may involve direct teaching from the Holy Spirit. To this kind of learning, the Book of Psalms may lend itself to us in numerous ways. All Christian religious are very familiar with the Psalms. The Psalter can be divided into 5 books, as the Pentateuch (Torah) is. The doxologies that close the first 4 books of the Psalter can be found after Psalms 41, 72, 89, and 106.

 

Sonnet 1 does not mention “Torah,” but it cites the Torah. It says “creatures” and “increase,” which are vital terms from Genesis.

In The Art of Shakespeare’s Sonnets, Helen Vendler begins her discussion of Sonnet 1 with this sentence: “When God saw his creatures, he commanded them to increase and multiply.” [Helen Vendler, The Art of Shakespeare’s Sonnets (Cambridge: Belknap/Harvard, 1999), 46.]

Again, the first verse of the Sonnets:

 

“From fairest creatures we desire increase,”

 

Shakespeare is certainly talking about how people live on through their children, a central theme of the first 17 sonnets.

However, he is also talking about passion and lust, which, for humans, is often connected with this process of procreation.

In other words, men desire fairest creatures so that their rose (also a phallic symbol) might never die, might never wilt. Sexual love/conquest can be satisfying and/or beautiful. (A flower can be a feminine symbol too, and it can represent a poem.)

 

Sometimes things devolve, especially in tough situations.

If Shakespeare was abused as a child, and it seems he was, then the “fairest creatures,” words 2 and 3 of the entire book, are already talking about the horrific abuse of children, to which no region of the world has thus far been safeguarded. A large part of Shakespeare’s Sonnets speak of the mental and emotional terrors that automatically follow upon such abuse, in the life of the victim. So the first line of the Sonnets is also talking about the contorted emotions and twisted passions that can root in the soul. As I hope to show, Shakespeare found his way back to health, love, and community, and became a lover of humanity, thus fulfilling the happier meaning of this line, and himself helped bring 3 children into the world. I also hope to show that he was saved by a woman, whose name might be Anne Hathaway, his wife, the Dark Lady.

 

Thus, in the first 6 words of the book, Shakespeare takes up the astounding beauty and possibility of Creation, which then crashes to the pavement and is dashed to pieces in the Fall, and then is lovingly gathered and reinspired to make Creation better than it could have been conceived to be. In John’s Gospel, the author says that “all things” are made through the Logos/Jesus. In the Apocalypse (which simply means the “Uncovering”), Jesus says that he makes all things new.

Shakespeare found this out in his own life.

His Sonnets tell the story.

 

Psalm 1 has its own reference to Genesis, with the amazing fruit tree at the center of the Psalm (the first poem of Pablo Neruda’s collections sometimes feature fruit trees). But Sonnet 1 instead takes up a different plant, the rose, whose fruit is a flower. Flowers are important in the Sonnets, and shall play a surprising role.

 

Sonnet 1 and the Interwoven Menorahs:

One of the Mystical Psalm Structures is a pair of Intertwined Menorahs (9 branches each, as with Hanukah menorahs), which shall be discussed in Chapter 2. The Interwoven Menorahs represent conjugal happiness, the birth of children, and the family. They also represent society in meaningful happiness, such as the Globe Theater knew many times. (Jesus’ first real words in the Bible are the Beatitudes, which re-present the Interwoven Menorahs.) The “Interwovenness” of the Menorahs is also connected with the intertextuality of God’s words and human words, which spread and leap and cling like vines to all people and societies, uniting us.

Hanukah, the Festival of Lights, celebrates the rededication of the temple; but as Humanity is the true temple, the Mystical Menorahs celebrate the spiritual awakening of Humanity, and the recognizing of a global heart, a global soul.

 

Verse 2 of Sonnet 1 already has a third reference to the Mystical Menorahs.

When Shakespeare says in Verse 2, “That thereby beauty’s rose might never die,” he is borrowing a line from Theodor de Bry’s Emblemata Nobilitati et Vulgo, “That beauty’s rose might never die.” Shakespeare takes the tetrameter line and inserts a word, “thereby.” [For this gem I am grateful to the Folger Library’s edition of the Sonnets. Louis B. Wright and Virginia A. LaMar, eds., Shakespeare’s Sonnets (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1967), 1.]

This shows early in the book that Shakespeare considers himself a child of the poets who have gone before him, whose work is nourishing his work.

Will’s addition of two syllables certainly extends the line from 8 syllables to 10, proper iambic pentameter. Shakespeare, that immortal wag, is ever bragging, and is here one-upping it over de Bry, in good sport.

But it does something else.

The Mystical Menorahs of the Psalms take the 7-branch menorah that was always in the old stone temple, and it extends the branches to 9! This is important, and shall be discussed in Chapter 2. The growth of the menorah represents children, human evolution, and the joining of plural cultures and societies, ultimately, everyone. God loves all people and has no favorites. The earliest menorahs represent also the tree of life in the garden.

The “thereby” also powerfully connects with the last two sonnets, 153 and 154, where the Love god Cupid also has a brand, which could be the shamash, a menorah’s lighting rod, to Dian’s maid’s waiting menorah. (The shamash is usually the central, and movable, candle in the menorah, and lights the other candles.)

One of the things Cupid represents here is a more divinized humanity, and a humanity that is more about love and knowledge, and less about war, fear, and greed.

The menorahs appear again in Verse 6: “Feedst thy light’s flame with self-substantial fuel.” The most ancient menorahs were not candles, but had oil lamps, fueled with olive oil.

 

And there are more Menorah connections. As many know, the first 17 sonnets are called the “Procreation Sonnets,” because they seem to be trying to convince a young man to start a family.

Family, and the raising of children, is a central theme of the Interwoven Menorahs. So if the young man fails to procreate, the menorahs won’t have a chance to blossom. Vendler states, “When two incompatible categories are combined in the same metaphor—“a candle which refuses to bud forth”—we say we have mixed metaphor, a catachresis, a figure which vigorously calls attention to itself.” (Vendler, op. cit., 48.) Shakespeare is using the Intertwined Menorahs to urge the young man to begin a family, telling him it’s a divine, mystical mandate.

 

The Bible’s David:

We don’t know if David actually existed. But he is such an important person in the Bible, and Shakespeare considers him perhaps his closest friend. He is the fabled author of the Psalms, appears in many Psalms, and is mentioned as the author in the superscriptions of almost half the Psalms.

David’s “bright eyes” are mentioned by Shakespeare immediately, to begin the Sonnets. David is omnipresent in the Sonnets. He dances throughout Sonnet 1, where he is one of the “fairest creatures,” he has a “tender heir,” his “bright eyes” are marveled at, he’s “too cruel,” he’s the “world’s fresh ornament,” he’s the “tender churl,” and there is crucial mention of “the gaudy spring” of 2 Samuel 11, which is the dramatic pivot of David’s life and of our human evolution.

 

 

 

The first words of the concluding couplet are “Pity the world.”

The themes of mercy, and of the growth of Love among an evolving Humanity, are central to the Sonnets.

 

The next essay compares individual Psalms and Sonnets, as well as particular groups and themes of Psalms and Sonnets.

 

Copyright © 2016 Richard Murray