A God for all seasons - a secular view

A God for all seasons - a secular view - by P.K.Odendaal - April 2015.
 
We had joy, we had fun,
We had seasons in the sun,
But the stars that we could reach,
Were just starfish on the beach.
(by Rod Mc Kuen and Terry Jacks)
 
As we all know, the subject of my article is an aberration of the famous play and later film named 'A man of all seasons' by Robert Bolt which depicts the life of Sir Thomas More, the Chancellor of the Exchequer during the reign of King Henry VIII. The plot is based on the true story of Sir Thomas More, the 16th-century Chancellor of England, who refused to endorse King Henry VIII's wish to divorce his wife Catherine of Aragon, who did not bear him a son, so that he could marry Anne Boleyn, the sister of his former mistress. The play portrays More as a man of principle, envied by rivals such as Thomas Cromwell and loved by the common people and by his family.
However, if we study More's history, one gets quite a different and shocking revelation of this violent, venomous and murderous man - set to please the pope and not God and he is indeed an example of what we should not be - quite far from it. I have written a fictional dialogue between him and William Tyndale which you can read here:
He persecuted and eventually had Tyndale, a very learned man, kidnapped by a conman and then killed because Tyndale dared translate the Bible into English, which version is today known as the King James Version. It is thus no surprise to me that he himself was also executed by the King. There is no such thing as a free lunch.
If a More as a man for all seasons is therefore the best mankind can produce as an excellent example of a man of principle, then I am inspired by God who shows us the opposite of More's character and actions.
In fact, just the idea of seasons is an idea of God which governs the climate on all planets which have an inclined axis, being created so specifically by God. So God really knows why and what seasons are there for. If we purport to be men of all seasons, then we should become like God and face the storms of winter and summer, shed our false beliefs over autumn and be reborn during spring.
However, apart from that, my discussion of today is about the prevalence of seasons in all of creation and in all of mankind's activities, struggles and triumphs.
There is a season to build up and a time to break down, a time to speak and a season to be quiet, a time to suffer and a season to rejoice - and so on, and we find this repeated in poetry, music, philosophy and the fate of people and nations.
I hardly need to introduce you to the music of Liszt, but also of others like Beethoven (a Romantic) and Tchaikovsky, whose inner struggle is reflected in their music alternating between doubt, depression, struggle and abundant joy. The Third Hungarian Rhapsody is one such a piece with which I can identify with the tears and joy expressed in that piece by Liszt. What is also interesting is Beethoven's four movements of his Pastoral Symphony (#6) which so closely resembles the four seasons and especially the merry gathering of country folk at the brook, the storm and the thankful feelings after the storm.
And that brings us directly to the dialectic as proposed by the philosopher Hegel. He identified the dialectic as the development of an argument or concept in three stages - the Thesis, the Antithesis and the Synthesis. I have previously written an article on the different themes which can be developed from this. Firstly the triune interpretation above of the three phases of the dialectic which in some way corresponds to the nature of the Triune God, and secondly the Karl Marx aberration of using only the first two, ending the sequence in the antithesis which created conflict in world politics until today. How we are all waiting in anticipation for Marxian followers to resolve that minor key into the major harmonic one.
If we return to the subject of music, I also hardly need to remind you of the seasons in classical music, ranging from the frozen baroque winter to the formal classical summer and then the spring of a new awakening in the Romantic era. In fact, the Four Seasons, a baroque piece by Vivaldi, is justly based on this. He in fact published twelve pieces of concertos of which the Four Seasons is a part and these twelve pieces are described as the contest between Harmony and Invention. How closely modelled to the dialectic of Hegel?
In poetry the Sonnet has four verses, albeit with fourteen lines and not twelve like Vivaldi's pieces. The structure of a typical Italian sonnet of the time included two parts that together formed a compact form of 'argument' (the thesis - my inference). First, the octave, two quatrains, forms the 'proposition', which describes a 'problem', or 'question', followed by a sestet which proposes a 'resolution' (Hegel's antithesis - my inference). Typically, the ninth line initiates what is called the 'turn', which signals the move from proposition to resolution (Hegel's synthesis - my inference).
Lest I forget Socrates. The dialectic is no different from the statement, answer, exception and resolution developed by him two millennia earlier.
Lastly I have posited the addition of a mature fourth and harmonious interpretation starting with the autumn of obliteration of custom, dogma, form and convention (falling of leaves), the winter of death and doubt, the spring of the new awakening of like the Renaissance and the summer of the harmonious development in the classical and romantic eras.
And while this is true for music and philosophy, it is also true for architecture. We have the Romanesque, the Gothic, the Classical and the Renaissance. 
Back to our lives.
The first notions of a God were very crude, wrong and devastating, starting with the Pharaohs, then the era of Zeus and culminating in the God of Israel - most of which and whom predicated a God of wrath and revenge. And it was not by accident.
The Torah or law handed down by the ages were clear on transgression and punishment and the people learned to know the justice of mankind which was cruel, destructive and vengeful such as an eye for an eye. One only has to read the ballad of reading Goal of Oscar Wilde to see the depths of this devastation solitary confinement brings. It was then thought that God was the same only on a larger, more avenging and destructive scale. It took God's grace to send His Son to show us grace, hope, forgiveness and love.
I think, for me, it is not the fact that God is almighty and creative and omnipotent that inspires me, but really that he is a God of all seasons. I do not only need Him to work miracles or show His might, but more importantly that he cleanses me from sin in the autumn of my life when I can shed my self made thoughts, views and customs. He hibernates and abides with me when I have to hang in there in winter and He quickens me with His new life in the rebirth of my spirit in spring while he steers me around the eye of the thunderstorm of summer.
 


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