In this blog I will be trying to get to the truth about what is really important in life, and to write satirically about what is not - all in my quest for The Stuff Reality is Made of.
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A God for all seasons
- a secular view - by P.K.Odendaal - April 2015.
We had joy,
we had fun,
seasons in the sun,
stars that we could reach,
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
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
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.