“He shall feed His flock like a shepherd; and He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom,” a passage from Isaiah set to music by George Frideric Handel.
I was one of those Jesus lambs. We were close. Disguised as a lowly shepherd, Jesus/God was tuned in to my every thought, expected thanks before and after every meal, waited for my prayers at bedtime. On Sundays, I attended divine services and worshipped Him…after Sunday School. A double-header, but little enough, I thought gratefully, for the Giver of my life and the redemptive sacrifice He made to save my soul.
But, astonishingly, that gentle shepherd was also (my God!) my God on a vastly different scale. Every year I looked forward to George Frideric Handel shout out to the world,
“The Lord God Omnipotent reigneth.”
My grandfather was president of the Missouri Synod for 25 years, an organization of two million Lutherans. He believed in the verbal inspiration of the Bible. He also believed God had directly inspired Handel’s Messiah.
“And He shall reign for ever and ever.
King of kings, and Lord of lords.”
The crescendoing chorus sings out again and again…
“King of kings, and Lord of lords”
And finally, everyone up! up! on their feet,
“The Hallelujah Chorus.”
Magnificent music. Beethoven thought Handel the greatest of all composers. As for the text, not a word of it is true.
When Freud discovered The Unpleasure Principle, he recognized that fantasy is responsible for the malignant pairing of Helpless/Omnipotent, arguably mankind’s gravest vulnerability. That couple, Helpless/Omnipotent, brings endless misery to the race. It has throughout history.
Consider: What can the mind do with Pain if, in fact, it is helpless? A baby, suffering pangs of hunger, can’t suck a feeding from its thumb. That’s a fact. But so great is the power of imagination that humans can create their own world that they in fact do believe in, one without the Pain.
My grandfather began as a traveling missionary in the Dakotas, back in the late 1800’s. On horseback. Weeks at a time. Even in the depth of winter. The hell with blizzards. Had to save his Lutheran flock from the “Methodist wolves.” When he got back home to his wife and many children, after weeks on the trail, he was too tired to talk.
Paul Krugman wrote, “We live in an era in which politicians and the supposed experts who serve them never feel obliged to acknowledge uncomfortable facts, in which no argument is ever dropped, no matter how overwhelming the evidence that it’s wrong.” The great economist recognizes Freud’s Unpleasure Principle at work in American politics. A dreadful marriage has been consummated. No, not Same-Sex Marriage, which is harmless. It’s that malignant couple, Helpless/Omnipotent, that threatens our democracy.
Some weeks back, in early spring, Republican Senator, Jim Inhofe, brought a snowball to the Senate. Wintry weather is unusual for that time of year in Washington. That snowball disproved Climate Warming. Inhofe held the whole work of thousands of scientists and tens of thousands of Climate Studies accumulatd over decades “in his hands,” and threw it, laughing, across the Senate floor. “Climate has always been unpredictable,” Inhofe implied. “Man is helpless to do anything about it.”