A suitably English dragon

Dragons as you will well know are not just part of Chinese culture, but very much here in the British Isles. There is of course the Welsh dragon, the dragon that lives in the Ness, St George and the dragon, and another English dragon to which I shall come shortly; if you know of other Scottish and Irish dragons, please do make a report here. There are dragons of course, which cannot be seen. They are the dragons of which we truly are afraid. We do not wish to hear of them, nor to speak of them. They may be part of our history which we wish to forget, but others wish to remember.

The other English dragon is of course the Lambton Worm. It may be called a worm, but that as you will see from its description is a typically English way of understating its stature. In this version it is sung by a young Julia Mitford, of whom you may have heard if you are over a certain youngish age, in a wonnerful Geordie accent, but you can read the words as it is sung. A translation is available for those who can neither speak nor read Geordie, just ask me for it. It is unlisted on YouTube here. I don’t yet have permission to use the singing, which is the best I have heard, yet, but have no reason to think that it will not be given. The song by the way does rather overstate the stature of the Whorm in the way that folk-lore often does.

This video is quite safe and as you shall understand later, presented here in order to provide a context for that which will be released in a few days time, written in the old style on this day the 18th May 2022.

Xenophobia of the worst kind

What we learn from xenophobia

You probably all have some idea of the story of Jonah who was swallowed by a great fish. One of the problems with the popular story is that it leaves out Jonah’s xenophobia. Though xenophobia was unlikely to be a word that he knew, the idea of it was thoroughly encapsulated in phrases such as the Greeks and the Barbarians.

I listened to a discussion recently between JD(elingpole} and Maajid Nawaz. It appeared to be in a quiet library or reading room setting at first, but very quickly it became obvious that the setting was a set (a fake) and this was not so much a discussion but a playing to the audience. The audience’s responses were important cues to the two actors who were engaged in the play. An interesting point was made toward the end of the discussion by MW to the effect that all of the Bible stories are to be found in the Koran. That was a little ingenuous of the man, as it would be difficult to fit all of the stories of a book with c.750k words into a book with c100k without some considerable concision or redaction. I do not recall any reference to the Levite’s concubine but I may be wrong about that. Perhaps the author was right to suggest that the scriptures had been corrupted, though not perhaps in the way that he meant at that time, but rather like Caiaphas who prophesied the substitutionary death of the Lord Jesus Christ for sinners by words that he intended for another purpose.

So, when we look at the redacted version of Jonah, like the popular version, the xenophobia is omitted. Why is this so? Well, it does not appear to be in an effort to photoshop Jonah. Perhaps it is more to do with the contrast that Jonah’s story provides between Jonah’s xenophobia and the Lord’s benevolence. Jehovah, the Lord, is the God of Israel and he pronounces a judgement against Nineveh, who are the enemies of Israel, that they will be destroyed unless they repent. Why would a xenophobic Jonah not want to deliver such a message that the enemies of Israel will be destroyed?

If you know anything about Nineveh of Jonah’s day then you might say it was fear that kept him away. The Ninevites were a violent people. We talk of war crimes today; but they are nothing but littles scratches compared with the behaviour of these men. Boy racers beware; the boy racers of Nineveh had scythes attached to their wheels.

But it was not that kind of fear that kept Jonah away. It was a much greater fear than that. He feared the Lord. You say then, if he feared the Lord why did he not obey him. That is to misunderstand Jonah’s fear. Jonah knew that the promises to Israel through Abraham which were derived from the first promise to Adam, said that through Israel all the nations of the world would be blessed. Jonah also knew that the Lord was slow to anger, and did not want any to perish but rather to repent of their wicked ways. It was this he feared, that in preaching judgement and repentance the Ninevites would indeed be granted repentance by the Lord and would be saved. The judgement would not, at that time, fall. Jonah’s xenophobia did not want the Ninevites to be saved.

Jonah learned a lesson when he finally did as he had been told to do as the Ninevites did indeed repent. The Lord spared them. Jonah, having complained about the death of the vine that protected him from the heat of the sun, began to understand that the goodness of God is for all men. The covenants and the promises belong to Israel, but the benefit of them to the whole world. As a later prophet with a similar name would say: Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

There is a sequel to the story of Nineveh, which is to be found in the prophecy of Micah who lived about 120 years later than Jonah. We shall speak of that another day.

Part II

Now none of this is to say that the redacted version is not of use. But we must be careful. Redaction may be used in a variety of ways; at the extremes we may use it to obscure the truth by removing relevant details or to reveal the truth by removing irrelevant material, or for some other purpose. So which redacted version do we mean? Well, there is only one, which is probably the part that most of us remember, that Jonah was in the belly of a great fish, sometimes called a whale (be careful here too as our scientific categories for sea creatures may not neatly fit into the categories of another age), for three days. The importance of this version is that it is a sign, or picture. The Lord Jesus Christ gave it to us: ‘No sign will be given to this generation except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.’ Jesus spoke here about his death and three days in the grave followed by his resurrection.

This is important. Jonah’s disobedience provided the sign. It was after Jonah had been spewed out by the fish that he went to preach repentance to Nineveh. Ah, the Lord is good. He shows his kindness and willingness to forgive to all men in all ages. It was not until after the death and resurrection and resurrection of the Lord Jesus, after he had come out of the belly of the whale as it were, that repentance and salvation could be properly preached to all men. The sign of Jonah was necessary, because the death and resurrection of Jesus were necessary to procure the salvation of men.

Until Jesus had died, and paid the price of sin, men remained debtors to sin. But Jesus having died and paid the price men are free of debt. Before Jesus died for sin forgiveness was offered in the hope that another would pay the price as had been prophesied. After he had actually died the price had been paid. Justice had been done and God may now actually justify the sinner.

We do well to remember the story of Jonah for it tells us of the great mercy of God towards all nations, but even more the redacted version for it tells us that because of the death and resurrection of Jesus, God is just to forgive sinners, even those as wicked as you or me, and even those guilty of war crimes such as the Ninevites. If he will forgive the greatest of sinners, will he not forgive me if I come to him in the name of Jesus Christ to ask him?

Part III

The sequel is not easy reading. The grandparents and great-grandparents of the Ninevites of that day had repented at the preaching of Jonah, but when Micah pronounces judgement, they do not listen. Their position is far worse than that of the people of Jonah’s day. Their grandparents had not previously tasted the goodness of God, but this new generation knew of Jonah and of God’s goodness, but refused to listen. Their grandparents had some little excuse before Jonah arrived, but this generation has no excuse. They reject the message that they know is true.

It was the same in Jesus day: ‘No-one has authority to forgive sins but God’, they said, ‘but here is this man, Jesus, pronouncing forgiveness’. Jesus’s response to show that he has authority to forgive sins was to heal the man he forgave. On another occasion a rich young ruler, who should have known better, addresses him as ‘Good Master’. ‘Why do you call me good?’ the Lord asked, ‘No-one is good but God’. They knew. But they conspired to kill him, and in so doing secured the very thing that they sought to avoid. Jesus was obedient to the Father’s will, and paid the price, death, for sin but not his own rather ours, so that he may lawfully and justly pronounce the guilty sinner justified and free.

Is it not the same for us? The good news of forgiveness of sins is preached throughout the world, but many wilfully ignore it. Nineveh did not listen when the second prophet came. Will we listen to the Lord today?


When the heads are in the clouds

In many ways Coco prefers to stay out of politics, it is all too difficult and Coco rarely understands the arguments, but then so apparently does Republic. It is non-political. So, it is appropriate to comment then. One king was once told, ‘Obedience is better than sacrifice’. It is a word to which all kings, whether having the name king or some other epithet that is used to camouflage their aspirations to be king, should take heed. It was said of the Cretans that everyone of them wanted to be king, and of the Israelis in the time of the judges: ‘Every one did what was right in their own eyes. There was no king in Israel.’

When we look into the word of God we find that no form of civil government is approved by him than a monarchy, and even that was second best. Samuel spoke to them on the occasion of the coronation of the first king of Israel: ‘See .. your wickedness, which you have done in the sight of the Lord in asking a king for yourselves, is great, [for] the Lord your God was your king.’ The Lord gave them a king. Moses had warned them of the consequences of choosing a king for themselves, that they would groan under the burden of him.

But because of our condition which makes what Coco said in the first paragraph true, it is necessary to order civil society. How should it be ordered? Republic think it should not be a monarchy, but if you read what they have written, then it should become obvious to you that everything that they want, apart from one thing to which Coco shall come shortly, can be obtained simply be restoring to the Monarch that which parliament has subtly taken away over many years.

Why, and how have they taken away the very necessary powers of the head of state? By the very simple cry, ‘We have been elected. It is the will of the people.’ What then will we hear if, as they want, there is an elected head of state? ‘I have been elected. It is the will of the people.’ What sort of power grabs will we face then? We see it in many republics. Does Coco need to name any? They are in all six continents perhaps yet save one, but Coco is not sure where the border is between the fifth and the sixth (and Coco is not talking about the 49th parallel).

It is good that Republic raise the question, however, even though they have their head in the clouds. As Brecht said once: His economics is good, but he takes no account of human nature. And as he said it in German, it is impossible to say he has been misquoted, though Coco would accept a charge of producing a poor translation. In order to avoid the problem of our human nature, which makes us all want to be kings even if we are not Cretans, it is far better to have a head of state who is not chosen. He is king who was born to it, therefore he does not wield power because he has been given it by others for himself as so many so called kings and presidents do, but because he inherited it and having inherited it he must also pass on his inheritance to another to use for the benefit and good of the people over whom he rules, his subjects, with honesty, integrity, transparency and accountability.

Our monarchy may not be perfect, but then neither are you, nor Coco, are we? But it is better than many possible alternatives, and certainly better than their proposal. You see everything that they say they want can be obtained without an elected head of state. Does Coco suggest then that they construct their argument ingenuously simply because they dislike the idea of privilege? But it is the very privilege that they dislike that protects us from electing, inflicting upon ourselves, a man who only wants to be there for the power it gives him. Coco leaves it to you, dear reader, to answer the question.

To return to Israel, the first king was a failure. He thought little of obedience, perhaps it could be said that honesty, integrity, transparency and accountability were also absent in his rule, but Coco shall leave another to set out the theses and antitheses for that. The Lord then chose a king for them and promised that one of his line would come who would be the true king who would rule in righteousness, a man in whom honesty, integrity, transparency and accountability (yes, accountability too), would always be found and never not be found. That man came and they would not submit to his rule. His kingdom is not of this world he told the man who had power to condemn him to execution on a cross, but God confirmed that he is indeed king by raising him from the dead. One day we shall see him return in power, and all shall bow the knee to him and acknowledge that he is Lord, the true king. ‘Come to me all you who labour and are heavy laden’, he calls , ‘my yoke is easy and my burden is light’. This king came not to be served, but to serve, and whilst he is due all worship honour and praise, it is clear that his rule will always be for the benefit and good of his people: ‘Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.’

May you find, in this year of Jubilee, find rest for your souls.