Incognito – “Armadebtdon 2011”

From the John Stewart show, in response to the Debt Ceiling debate of 2011, we have this word.   A little comedic play on words regarding the conflict in our nations capital.  This has been a feast of metaphors from the biblical to the absurd – Maureen Dowd calling it the Washington Chainsaw Massacre and invoking the spectre of knife wielding zombies (her political opponents) in the halls of power.

“Armadebtdon” is a biblical reference to the future cosmic battle at the end of the world to happen at Armageddon.  See Revelation 16:16

Ancient Stones – Proverbs 22:28

“Don’t move the ancient boundary markers, put in place by your ancestors.”  Pv 22:28

See this article on –


MIYAKO, Japan – Modern sea walls failed to protect coastal towns from Japan’s destructive tsunami last month. But in the hamlet of Aneyoshi, a single centuries-old tablet saved the day.

 “High dwellings are the peace and harmony of our descendants,” the stone slab reads. “Remember the calamity of the great tsunamis. Do not build any homes below this point.”

 It was advice the dozen or so households of Aneyoshi heeded, and their homes emerged unscathed from a disaster that flattened low-lying communities elsewhere and killed thousands along Japan’s northeastern shore.

 Hundreds of such markers dot the coastline, some more than 600 years old. Collectively they form a crude warning system for Japan, whose long coasts along major fault lines have made it a repeated target of earthquakes and tsunamis over the centuries.

 The markers don’t all indicate where it’s safe to build. Some simply stand — or stood, washed away by the tsunami — as daily reminders of the risk. “If an earthquake comes, beware of tsunamis,” reads one. In the bustle of modern life, many forgot.

Leviathan Revisited – (Incognito)

  What is this?

  Near where I live, there is a coffee shop named Mother Fools, which offers a public place for (graffiti) artists to work.  This is the East wall of this brick building and about every month the art is painted over.

This painting caught my eye.  On one level it is protest about Governor Walker’s budget proposals.  The capital is where large rallies have been ongoing for about a month or more.  The train represents that rejection of a rail project that was to connect Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison and the Twin Cities.  The scratched 14 in the man’s shoulder must represent the 14 Democratic Party senators who fled to Illinois to prevent a quorum.  To confirm this see the note in the bottom left “Scott [Walker] for shame”

The style is reminiscent of labor art, political cartoons and in a sense socialist realism art.  The central figure is wearing the clothes of a laborer as he struggles with a snake.

Who is the snake?  Is it the governor?  The opposing party? or perhaps the idea of a system that is perceived as evil.

Hence, I think this is another example of the Leviathan image (see previous post in the Incognito series), which is a biblical image of the entwining power of evil in the world.

I am sure the opposing side could make another picture, changing who is the hero and who is the villain.

The scripture, it seems to me, does not allow us to say that any one group is totally evil, or another is totally noble.  for the Fall (which has to do with another Ancient Serpent, Genesis 3) has rendered all sides corrupted.


Incognito – Book Titles

While viewing books about writing at the University of Wisconsin Bookstore, I found these biblically allusive titles.

“The Pen Commandments” by S. Frank.  (Exodus 20 – the 10 Commandments, which by the way are not enumerated there, but are called the ten words in Deuteronomy – hence differing numbering systems.)

“The Grammar Devotional” by M Fogarty

“Naming the World” by B. Johnson, ed.  (Genesis 2 – naming the animals.)

Dear Reader, do you have any? 

Obvious: Paradise Lost, East of Eden, The Grapes of Wrath.

Incognito: The Narnia Series, Leviathan,

Snowpocalypse – Incognito

 Here in the Midwest, we have a two phase snow storm resulting in about 16 inches of the white stuff.  In addition were winds to creat blizzard conditions.  Drifting resulted in hip high drifts, wich makes operating a shovel or a snow blower a matter of skill and imagination.

The media has been using two expressions for this storm: Snowpocalypse and Snowmageddon.  Both of these are Biblical allusions.  Also, one hears when there are natural events of great power and which are usually destructive that they are “of Biblical proportions.”

Apocalypse is the name of the book of Revelation – it is a Greek term that means “to unveil” or “to reveal.”  There is a literary style  called “apocalyptic”.  The book of Revelation contains elements of that style, along with that of the Prophetic.  What is typical of the Apocalyptic is that it uses very figurative imagery to depict the spiritual realm and its breaking into normal history.  The book of Revelation has Four Horsemen and various Angels pouring out or calling down plagues, famines, earthquakes and the like.

Armageddon is the name given to the place in Revelation 16:16.  It probably means “hill of Megeddon” .  A passage on the defeat of “Gog” at this location is found in Ezekiel 39:1,4. 

  Here from Wikipedia, for what that is worth:  Mount Armageddon is a small mount or hill on which ancient forts were built that guarded the main highway, the Via Maris, that connected Ancient Egypt with Mesopotamia. Megiddo was the location of many decisive battles in ancient times (including one in the 15th century BC and one in 609 BC). The town Megiddo in Israel is approximately 25 miles (40 km) westsouthwest of the southern tip of the Sea of Galilee (or Lake Tiberias to the Romans) in the Kishon River area.  (

So in the collective memory, these terms retain the meaning of “a powerful force of nature unleashed.” 

As I was operating my snowblower yesterday, and watched its outshoot come close to being a periscope, I got to thinking that this storm did remind us that we are not as much in control as we would like to be.  Even in Wisconsin, where we take pride in our winter driving skills, people cancelled events, stayed home and got lots of exercise moving snow. 

Earthquakes,tsunamis, bilzzards, as well as wars, depressions and popular uprisings (recently in Egypt) all are events that show us how tenuous is our control of the world.  There is a bit of revelation in that.

Incognito: My Brother’s Keeper

President Barak Obama spoke to a crowd of over 20,000 at the University of Wisconsin library mall in Madison on September 28, 2010.  In his address, he used a parable about a car driven into the ditch by his predecessors.  But what struck our interest was his comment:  “I am my brother’s keeper. I am my sister’s keeper.”

this reference goes back to Genesis 4:9.  Cain murdered his brother Abel over a religious argument – The Lord accepted the offering of Abel but not that of Cain.  So in rage he killed his own brother.  Later the Lord confronts Cain and we have this:

Genesis 4:9  ESV
    Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?”

    He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?”

Cain’s negative, cynical, murderous attitude speaks for itself.  It is not footnoted in the text with an attached moral, but it is clear that we are to understand that we are our brother’s keepers.

The President applied it to political policy regarding programs to achieve fairness and access to health care.  He also felt the need to re-state the negative as an affirmation, and to add both genders.

Incognito: The Powers that Be

You have heard the expression, “the powers that be”.  It comes from a biblical reference found in the King James version of the Bible.

Romans 13:1 “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers.  For there is no power but of God; the powers that be are ordained by God..”

The bible does not say, overall, that governments are always correct, or that they must always be obeyed (see Exodus 1, the Midwives; Daniel 3, refusing to worship the image; Acts 4; preaching when it is forbidden). It says that governments (“powers that be”) are an institution created by God and accountable to God.  Believers ought to submit to government, for that reason.  The exception to that has been cleverly stated in this way:

We obey unless they command what God forbids

or forbid what God commands.

Incognito – Election news from Slate

In our continuing series of “incognito” pieces, this one is self explanatory.

Campaign strategists and pundits hoping to find the Gospel truth in today’s election results weren’t disappointed: There was birth, death, and resurrection. Rand Paul was born as a national leader of the Tea Party movement. Arlen Specter’s long political career came to an end. And the Democratic Party and Blanche Lincoln were brought back from the dead.
Slate 5/19/2010

Incognito – Backsliding


Market Update

12:00 pm : Stocks have steadied since their recent backslide.” The stock market has been volatile in the last week (if not two years!).  Today there was a downward movement, and then a recovery.  The News reported that this was about recovering from a “backslide”. 

Backslide  is a biblical term, the most frequent source is the Prophet Jeremiah.  Consider this verse: 

Jeremiah 3:22
    “Return, O faithless sons;
        I will heal your backsliding.”
    “Behold, we come to you,
        for you are the Lord our God. 

   Jeremiah’s career was a warning to a nation that had fallen away from faith in God and justice with their neighbors.  the prophet’s intense warnings, called “Jeremiads” were pointed and harsh.  (Check out Jeremiah 7 for a very interesting message to deliver on the temple steps.) 

  There was, no doubt, more at stake with Jeremiah’s message than the stock market report.