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Category Archives: general writing
My Christmas Gift to You — An Illustated Summary of Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queene Part 1 — First Installment
Edmund Spenser planned a series of twelve great poetic books. He created a new form of poetic stanza with a complicated rhyme and rhythm scheme, which became known as the Spenserian stanza, just for this work. Each book was dedicated to a different aspect of Christian character or virtue. This is the first, the Faerie Queen, Part One. It was written in the late 1500s and dedicated to Queen Elizabeth I. This story is an allegory. Like the parables the Lord Jesus Christ told in His days on earth, it tells of earthly things to make a point about spiritual things. The fairy queen, Glorianna, is a good and pure ruler who represents the glory of God, for whom Queen Elizabeth I is the inspiration. The Red Cross Knight is a young man untried in battle but equipped with wonderful armor and a shield bearing the emblem of the cross. He represents Holiness, or the process by which a young Christian matures in God’s service by “putting on the whole armor of God.” Una is the fair maid who represents Truth. The dragon that holds her parents captive, of course, represents the power of evil. The magic performed in this play is presented as evil. There is violence because we are in a spiritual battle against sin and wickedness. The palace of pride is presented as rich and beautiful on the outside but filthy and falling apart underneath. Wicked people sometimes deceive Christians and believers sometimes fall in with the wrong people. They come to harm themselves, and cause harm to others whom they are supposed to be protecting. Archimago means “great magician.” Duessa, whose name means “two-faced,” pretends to be Fidessa, which means “faithful.” Sans Foy, Sans Loy, and Sans Joy, evil knights who are brothers, have names meaning “Without Faith,” “Without Law” and “Without Joy.” Spencer did not explain how the Red Cross Knight got sent on his quest in the Faerie Queene Book One. It begins In Media Res, in the middle of things, like many great epic works. He intended to explain to background for the quest of the Red Cross Knight in a later book, which he never finished, but he did explain it in a letter to Sir Walter Raleigh.
The court of Glorianna, queen of Faerieland, is the site of an annual feast where anyone may come and beg a favor of the queen. People in trouble could find knights begging for a quest to prove their worthiness, both of them petitioning the queen at this festival of the twelve days. The Red Cross knight received his quest on the first day of the festival.The queen’s palace is radiant in its beauty. The walls are decorated with white and gold hangings and rich ornaments. Tables with long white cloths and platters filled with food are set up in front of Glorianna’s throne in the center, for it is a great feast. Music fills the air. Rich and poor feast together. The queen enters with her ladies in waiting and chief advisors and takes her seat. Glorianna the Faerie Queen welcomes everyone to her annual Feast of Twelve Days. It is her wish that none should be sad or want for anything. During this time the queen can refuse no request. A ragged young man enters the court. He has come from far away and is clumsy and simple but not afraid to approach the queen. Queen Glorianna realizes that he is good and virtuous, and that he shows courage and strength. He asks that if any adventure presents itself during the feast that she would give it to him to perform. Glorianna promises to grant the young man’s favor. She urges him to stay in the meantime and share the feast, to eat, drink and rest himself. The young man replies that he is not worthy to sit in the beauty of the court of the great queen.
Soon a lovely princess slowly enters the court, veiled and weeping, leading a lamb (symbolizing her purity and innocence), accompanied by her dwarf servant (who represents human reason) and a donkey (representing the church) carrying knight’s armor, shield and sword (This is the armor described in Ephesians 6). She is dressed in mourning black over a radiant white gown. Queen Glorianna notices the young woman and calls to her to come near. She explains that this is a time of happiness and joy, and asks why she wears a dress of sorrow. The young woman says her name is Una. She asks for a champion to slay a dragon that has taken over her country and imprisoned her father and mother. She shows the fine armor, shield seasoned in battle, decorated with a blood-red cross, and great sword she has brought for her knight. The young man runs and falls at Una’s feet. He reminds the great queen of her promise and claims the adventure as his own. Una scornfully asks the queen if this is her greatest champion. Queen Glorianna warns the young man that this is no adventure, but a fight to the death. She observes that he is young and has never seen battle. The young man asks if the glorious queen of fairyland will go back on her word. Glorianna admits that she cannot do that. She orders the sweet maiden to accept her champion. Una begs the great queen to give her a real champion. She tells the queen that the journey back to her country is long and hard, filled with dangers and troubles. Glorianna chides her, asking if she should break a promise made during the Feast of Twelve Days. She says that the young man shows modesty, strength and courage and tells her not to judge too quickly. She tells Una to rest, eat and drink. The dwarf and donkey depart with the young man to get him dressed in the armor. “See, now,” says Queen Glorianna when he returns, “how wondrously fair your knight looks, dressed in the splendid armor you brought.” Una looks in amazement and admits that he is a true knight, and that God has sent him in her need. Glorianna commands him to kneel, takes his sword, and names him knight of the Red Cross. She commands him to serve his lady faithfully and perform the task he has promised to do, as God gives him strength. The knight replies to the great queen that he will. He urges Una to go with him at once and not to tarry, since her need is so great.
The Lady Una, her knight, and her faithful dwarf cross a meadow beside a dark forest. They see a storm coming. The knight urges his lady to make haste and take shelter in the wood. Una suggests that they wait there until the storm passes. The knight is impatient to go on and argues that no one knows how long it will last. He points out a path into the woods that seems to go just the way they were heading. After a time they notice that the path twists and turns more than they had thought. Una thinks that they are lost. Then the knight sees that the path grows wider, and that many feet have come that way. (Matthew 7:13,14 — “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”Una cries out that she knows where they are now. It is the wood of Error. It is true that many people have gone down that path, but in a cave nearby lives a terrible monster who devours men. She says they mus flee. Error appears at the entrance of the cave, snarling and hissing, a hideous half-woman, half serpent with a scorpion tail. The knight exclaims that he is not afraid of Error. He vows to destroy her. In the battle with Error she casts her nets about him (symbolizing the power of what we see and read to drag us away from godly thoughts and actions) and seems likely to defeat him.Narrator: The knight fought bravely, but Error seemed likely to defeat him. Una cried out to him to have courage, and to let the Lord give him strength!
As we finished our lunch, instead of Rose, the thin, sallow girl I had learned was called Dulcinea, the Campbells’ adopted daughter, entered, bearing a cunningly carved elephant cup of fragrant wood brimming with frothy milk.
“Thank you, Dulcy,” Kera said warmly. I started, noticing that the child’s left hand was only a withered claw. She did not speak, either, just bobbed and awkward curtsy to both of us and left.
“Rose told me Doctor Mac rescued Dulcy from a hospital after her indigent mother died,” Kera sighed. “And Rose adopted her before they were married. Dulcy was the beginning of Rose’s ministry to orphans. She is so blessed to have those two as parents. All of these children are so blessed, to be covered in prayers and taught to praise.”
She looked wistfully out the window as Rose darted by, having apparently challenged Oliver to a race. The two had comets’ trails of children screaming and running joyfully after them.
“Doctor Twist spent his childhood starving, cleaning hemp and making coffin-linings. He told me the coffin-maker made him march in the funeral processions because he had such a sweet face and looked so like a mourning angel, wearing a black top-hat and bearing ostrich plumes. He said the man thought to have him made into a mute — that it would make him more valuable as a mourner and people would pay more for funerals. I thought my upbringing was a horror story.”
She fell silent and I saw that she was nodding off over the last of her milk. “Are you strong enough to get yourself off to bed?” I asked.
“I can manage.” Kera rose slowly and approached my bed. “Now I can kiss you and you need not fear me.” She bent down and placed her lips on my forehead. “Rest well, my father in Christ.”
Free sampler of the first book
Book One, Narrated by Florizel of Bohemia Book Two, with Oliver Twist as Narrator
For some of these men go into homes and deceive foolish women who are burdened with sins and swayed by all kinds of desires. These women are always studying but are never able to arrive at a full knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men oppose the truth. They are depraved in mind and their faith is a counterfeit. But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those two men, their stupidity will be plain to everyone.
I always wondered something about those magicians of Pharaoh’s back in the time of Moses. Why would it be a good thing that they could duplicate God’s plagues the first few times? Then I remembered that, in the scientific world, the first step to getting rid of a problem, such as a disease, is to duplicate it. Knowing the nature of the problem is at least helpful in discovering its solution.
Perhaps, then, the magicians were really scientists. So maybe Pharaoh was cheering them on those first few plagues, saying, “Yes! You’ve duplicated the problem. Now get to work on the solution!”
However, there came a time when, not only could the magicians no longer “do likewise with their enchantments”, God even allowed the Hebrews to be spared some of the plagues while they continued to decimate the Egyptians. I can imagine Pharaoh, and that point, changing his tune. “You idiots! All you ever did was make more frogs and bugs! Now you can’t even make bugs! What good are you?” If Jannes and Jambres were not beheaded or impaled, I guess they were at the very least looking for new jobs.
2 Timothy 3 is talking about religious con men. They keep deceiving women who claim to be trying to learn truth but never manage to do anything but fall for every quasi-religious self-help scheme that comes along. Jannes and Jambres were solid with Pharaoh, I bet, before Moses and the ten plagues came along. Note that many scholars say the plagues were each a different frontal attack on the gods and pagan religious practices of Egypt. God attacked and undermined their pet sins, since their entire society’s structure was based on a false religion. He intended to show them His truth by destroying their foundation of lies.
So Paul takes the example of Jannes and Jambres, who had similarities to the false teachers of his day, and explains how the women of his time could stop being deceived by them. If you just get rid of your sins, ladies, these false teachers will be exposed to you for the liars they are, and the truth will start making sense to you.
This problem is still common today. What will it take for silly women nowadays, laden with sins to stop listening to the latest spiritual scam artist? I want to say that they need to get rid of those sins they are carrying around with them. The Bible clearly says, in many places and ways, that we have to purify ourselves or a. The Lord will not hear us, and b. we will not hear Him.
It’s not that there aren’t any good religious self-help books. But let’s study the Scriptures, not the latest religious best seller, to learn how to stop being silly and burdened down by sins Christ died to forgive and cleanse and make disappear. Then we’ll know how stupid some of these self-help wizards are.
Images from Kozzi.com and 1Photos.com
“Two weeks? You can’t tell me anything more – ?” Talia’s phone gave a bloop and she saw the message satellite signal lost flash on the screen before it went dark.
Talia pulled over to the side of the road and sat with her head on the steering wheel, praying with all her might for her aunt and uncle, and for clarity in this craziness. After all, they weren’t involved in some international spy mission. They were just digging holes in the ground! This couldn’t have anything to do with the Testaments, could it?
Talia realized suddenly that he felt really, really hot. She started to roll own her window, but the switch didn’t work with the engine off, of course. She started the car and cranked all the windows open. She pulled at her scarf and yanked down the zipper on her coat, but it didn’t help. Her vision started to blur.
“Ms Rodriguez? Are you okay? Why are you just sitting on the side of the road?”
Talia turned her head, so … so … slowly. Her neck hurt, and it felt so heavy. “”Oh … Clark ..I mean, Officer Johnson. I don’t know. I’ve had this cold, but I just … I feel so weak, and I can’t see straight … “
“Sit right there. I’m calling an ambulance,” Clark exclaimed.
“Oh, no …” Talia’s tongue felt so thick, she could hardly talk.
“No arguments. Don’t you move. We’re seeing lots of these cold things turning into serious cases of pneumonia. It’s nothing to mess around with.”
“What?” Keith jumped up. “What are you saying? We’re supposed to take the kids’ Bibles away from them? Their prayer journals? Their memory cards?”
“There’s no need to be defensive.” Doctor Summers glared up at him. “Please be seated. You will only be borrowing them, to get them scanned. And we want materials from everyone in the community. Parents, grandparents, pastors – Anyone who studies the Bible. Don’t you see? This will become a resource people all over the world can use, for all time. Mr. Bradley, your prayers, your thoughts, your study of the Bible could teach someone in Thailand, Mali, Alaska – someone in a spaceship traveling to Mars – these insights will become eternal.”
“But it’s voluntary, right?” Talia asked. “People don’t have to give us their Bibles, do they?”
“This program fails if it doesn’t accomplish the critical goal of gathering all the possible data,” Doctor Summers insisted. “It must be completely inclusive to succeed. How can we say that only fifty percent, or seventy-five percent, or even ninety-eight percent of people’s Bible study information gives a complete picture of this vital topic?”
“What exactly do you mean by ‘this program fails’?” Keith’s dad demanded.
“It doesn’t fulfill the requirements,” Doctor Summers said. “It doesn’t qualify for the grants.”
“You mean additional grants,” Keith prompted.
“No, I mean any grants,” Doctor Summers responded.
“You mean we lose everything we’ve gotten from implementing the Bible as Literature program?” Principal Bradley choked.
“It’s clearly stated in the contract you signed that this is a graduated program, consisting of steps that must be followed. The program itself is voluntary, but you agreed to provide this information – complete information. Really, there’s nothing scary or unreasonable being asked for here. Are your Bible studies secret? Why does the idea of sharing them with the world disturb you? Are you that selfish?”