Ever tried 2,000-year-old Dates?

Chapter 40

Good Monday Morning to this week 39 of 2020

A while ago a friend travelled back from Tel Aviv and brought us some dates to the office. What a delicious taste. Dates, Khurma, Dátil, Tamar… This tasty fruit has a lot of names in different countries and comes from one of the most vicious plants in nature. It’s a vital food source for people living across the Middle East and North Africa. And the trees bearing it have been growing alongside some of the world’s most ancient rivers for thousands of years. Although the date palm, with its lush, sweet fruit, is even more than that.

A 100-grams serving of dates provides these nutrients: Calories: 277, Carbs: 75 grams
Fiber: 7 gramsm Protein: 2 grams, Manganese: 15% of the RDI, Potassium: 20% of the RDI
Magnesium: 14% of the RDI, Iron: 5% of the RDI, Copper: 18% of the RDI, Vitamin B6: 12% of the RDI, Rich in Fiber beneficial for controlling blood sugar, also an excellent source of antioxidants ….

back to the report I saw this week …. Nir Hasson | Sep. 14, 2020 | 6:01 AM

Ever tried 2,000-year-old dates? Now you can, thanks to these Israeli researchers. Researchers celebrate – and sample – the first fruit of palm trees germinated from ancient seeds from the Judean desert

On Friday, an unusual ceremony was held on a hilltop overlooking the Old City in Jerusalem’s Abu Tor neighborhood. It included the Jewish Sheheheyanu prayer recited on momentous occasions, as well as the traditional offering and tithing ceremony. At the heart of the ceremony was a small package of dates.

But these weren’t ordinary dates. They were the first dates to ripen from date palms grown from seeds that are more than 2,000 years old. Over the past 15 years, a project has been underway in Israel’s southern Arava region to revive ancient species of date palms germinated from seeds found at archaeological digs in the Judean Desert.

In 2005, a preserved 2000-year-old seed sprouted. It is the oldest verified human-assisted germination of a seed (the claim in 2012 of a 32,000-year-old arctic flower involved fruit tissue rather than a seed. The palm, a male tree named Methuselah, was about 1.5 metres tall in June 2008, by November 2011 it was 2.5 metres high. As of February 2020, Methuselah had reached 3.5 meters

Deuteronomy 8.8 (KJV)
A land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey;

2. Chronicals 31:5
As soon as the order went out, the Israelites generously gave the firstfruits of their grain, new wine, olive oil and honey and all that the fields produced. They brought a great amount, a tithe of everything.

There is a blessing on bringing the first fruit as written in Proverbs 3:9-10
Honor the Lord with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine.

God, El Shaddai, the Lord God Almighty, our all-sufficient and all-powerful sustainer who triumphs over every obstacle and all opposition. Not only is God the source of our provision and but also of our needs, but he can bless that provision too.

In the case of bringing the dates as first fruit we see the enriching blessing it brings to those that eat and enjoy them!

Wishing you a great week with all the provisions available.

Philemon

Unmasking Hope

Chapter 39

Good Monday Morning to this new week 38 of 2020

For many of us, these are very confusing times. We’re challenged to constantly choose the lens we look through life and hope with.

“Hope is one of the Theological virtues. This means that a continual looking forward to the eternal world is not (as some modern people think) a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do. It does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is. If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next.” – C.S. Lewis

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Romans 5:1 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.

1. Corinthians 13:13 And now these three remain:  faith, hope, and love; but the greatest of these is love.”

We live in a fast-paced, instant gratification oriented society. Complex ideas, thoughts and emotions have been compressed into megabytes. We have become fairly incapable of assimilating large chunks of information and constructing our own complex thoughts, feelings and opinions. We are at the mercy of rapid-fire newsfeed to shape our perception of reality. The result of this is desensitization toward important issues and sadly, individuals. It’s so easy to throw out statements like “ It’s been 19 years since 9/11, they should be getting over it!” and “That homeless guy could just get a job if he really wanted to.” This compresses an individual’s life journey into one judgment. We don’t want the discomfort, and we don’t want to take the time to understand complicated societal, political and human issues that allow us to honestly address a person’s misfortune or life situation.

The Soul’s Conflict with Itself, as written in Psalm 42:5 that is exactly what you have, the soul arguing with itself, preaching to itself. “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God!”

Eric Christiansen made the film “Unmasking Hope” and quotes: We need society to rise up and tell their stories, change starts in the heart. What lens do we choose to look through, to not only see ourselves?
Unmasking Hope chronicles the extraordinary stories of trauma survivors who know of their spiritual, physical and emotional pain. From survivors of 9/11 and mass shootings, the film goes behind their masks to experience the abuse, social stigma, and moral injury that have scarred their souls.  Taken on their journey from seclusion to inclusion, we realize that the aggregate stories of these brave individuals share a powerful message of HOPE, inspiring us to unMASK hope and be who we were born to be.

The Soul’s Conflict with Itself, as written in Psalm 42:5 that is exactly what you have, the soul arguing with itself, preaching to itself. “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God!”

As CS Lewis put’s it “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next.”

Psalm 33:22  Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.

Wishing you a blessed with this perspective of Hope!

Philemon

Unrivaled

Chapter 38

Good Monday Morning to this new week 37 of 2020

The story of Elijah has some of this in it – the unrivaled God. In 1 Kings 18 …. He answered, ‘I have not troubled Israel; but you have, and your father’s house, because you have forsaken the commandments of the Lord and followed the Baals. Now therefore have all Israel assemble for me at Mount Carmel, with the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.

it goes on ….
Then you call on the name of your god and I will call on the name of the Lord; the god who answers by fire is indeed God.’ All the people answered, ‘Well spoken!’ Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, 

then came the test ….
So they took the bull that was given them, prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning until noon, crying, ‘O Baal, answer us!’ But there was no voice, and no answer. 

now it was Elijah’s turn ….
Then Elijah said to all the people, ‘Come closer to me’; and all the people came closer to him. First he repaired the altar of the Lord that had been thrown down; Elijah took twelve stones …

Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt-offering, the wood, the stones, and the dust, and even licked up the water that was in the trench. When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, ‘The Lord indeed is God; the Lord indeed is God.’

God is unrivaled!

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse. Romans 1. 20

God is unrivaled!

His deity; divinity; divine nature, or essence. The word is not used elsewhere in the New Testament. The truth of the unrivaled God, His supremacy, or supreme divinity of God, was exhibited in the works of creation, or that he was exalted above all creatures and things.

If he wasn’t unrivaled … God would be

common, commonplace, comparable, imitable, indistinctive, matchable, equal, equivalent equal, comparable, matched, paralleled ….

God is unrivaled!

He possesses unrivaled influence, His movement is lead with much grace and dignity, His Kingdom is advancing with mastery. Jesus son of God, man of courage and decision also unrivaled in his humility and approach to the suffering and needs of this earth, He takes on this great challenge of Earth one step at a time and advances with unrivaled tact and vigor.

God is unrivaled!

Wishing you a great week as you join in with the steps of this unrivaled God.
Philemon



Hibernate

Chapter 37

Good Monday Morning to this new week 36 of 2020

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 5:5-6

There are many winter survival strategies in the animal world, and one of the most fascinating is hibernation. Some animals enter a state of “suspended animation.” Their breathing and heart rates slow and they allow their body temperature to drop, in some cases even below freezing. They stop eating and in many cases stop excreting. All of these things happen so the animal can use less energy.

Hibernation is more varied than you might think. Many animals hibernate in a den all winter, but some animals hibernate in the summer. Some fish can hibernate in a waterproof mucus envelope if their lake dries up. Certain birds and bats enter a sort of daily hibernation called torpor.

God meets us in the secret place. It’s there we hibernate⏤where we are not seen, just as God is not seen. The King James Version refers to this place as a closet.

The word Jesus uses in Matthew 5 to describe the room or closet is derived from the word tamion,  it describes the inner rooms of ancient Hebrew homes that were used as a storehouse or a place of protection, a chamber, especially ‘an inner chamber’; a secret room. When we hibernate in prayer, we come to a place of abundance, not scarcity.

God is our storehouse. We step foot into a inner chamber and find He is already there. 

Estivation is like hibernation in hot weather. Animals that live in deserts or tropical climates practice estivation. It may not occur solely because of food supply issues, as with hibernation, but because the conditions become too hot and dry for the animal to survive. The process typically involves burrowing into the ground, where the temperature stays cool, and reducing metabolic activity in a similar manner to hibernation.

King David once tended sheep. As he was surrounded by them, did he know he was going to be king? Did he know what awaited him? Not at first. At first the fields were all he knew. The sheep were his lone responsibility. Yet as he was amongst them, he was listening; He was yielding; He was learning.

David knew and trusted God despite anything, and it was natural for him to run to God because of the time he spent in hibernation with Him, some of this concept is shown very well in the following verse

“You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek You; I thirst for You, my whole being longs for You, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. I have seen You in the sanctuary and beheld Your power and Your glory. Because Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify You. I will praise You as long as I live, and in Your name I will lift up my hands. I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise You.” Psalm 63:1-5 

Wishing you a blessed week
Philemon

If Jesus had an obituary

Chapter 36

Good Monday Morning to this new week 35 of 2020

This week I read the obituary of Rick Love, impressed and remember him after especially one of his talks at a Vineyard Missions meetings:   He loved Muslims because he loved Jesus. The Bible showed him how. Remembering the pilgrimage and legacy of Rick Love, who founded Peace Catalyst after years as international director of Frontiers.

“I want to be part of creating a new heaven and a new earth with God,” said Rick, quoted in his obituary. “A peaceable kingdom.”

What if Jesus had an obituary?

Jesus Christ, 33, of Nazareth, died Friday on Mount Calvary, also known as Golgotha, the place of the skull. Betrayed by the Apostle Judas, Jesus was crucified by the Romans, by order of the Ruler Pontius Pilate. The causes of death were crucifixion, extreme exhaustion, severe torture, and loss of blood.

Jesus Christ, a descendant of Abraham, was a member of the house of David. He was the Son of the late Joseph, a carpenter of Nazareth, and Mary, His devoted Mother. Jesus was born in a stable in the city of Bethlehem, Judea. He is survived by His mother Mary, His faithful Apostles, numerous disciples, and many other followers.

Jesus was self-educated and spent most of his adult life working as a Carpenter and a Teacher. Jesus also occasionally worked as a Medical Doctor and it is reported that he healed many patients. Up until the time of His death, Jesus was teaching and sharing the Good News, healing the sick, touching the lonely, feeding the hungry, and helping the poor.

Jesus was most noted for telling parables about His Father`s Kingdom and performing miracles, such as feeding over 5,000 people with only five loaves of bread and two fish, and healing a man who was born blind. On the day before His death, He held a Last Supper celebrating the Passover Feast, at which He foretold His death.

The body was quickly buried in a stone grave, which was donated by Joseph of Arimathea, a loyal friend of the family.
By order of Pontius Pilate, a boulder was rolled in front of the tomb. Roman soldiers were put on guard.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that everyone try to live as Jesus did. Donations may be sent to anyone in need.

The Author is Unknown

Following in Acts 1 we read:

After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

And to this day many still follow this amazing man Jesus the Son of God.

Wishing you a great week!
Philemon

Antithesis to: “never have to be afraid”

Chapter 35

Good Monday Morning to this week 34 of 2020

Have you also been reading about the movement that goes out to the street, because evidently in some countries people are not allowed to sing in church. Well yes, there are very many questions to this whole issue, if for example the government is giving preference to other groups to meet and demonstrate and at the same time putting heavy restrictions on the church and it’s liturgy.

Coming to the singing well, true our modern singing and worship is often wonderful, well , to be honest – mostly I hope! On the other hand we have started singing some very strange lyrics with questionable content with strange theology. I quote one example from the song:
One thing remains (Your Love never fails)

“It overwhelms and satisfies my soul
And I never ever have to be afraid”

Really? We never have to be afraid? What world does this author live in?

How about:
When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy. Psalm 94.19

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because He cares for you. 1. Peter 5: 6-7

Blessed are those who fear the LORD, who find great delight in his commands. Psalm 112.1

Fear is a vital response for human beings. If we didn’t feel fear, we couldn’t protect ourselves from threats. Our bodies and brains are wired to treat threats as life-threatening. This triggers an extreme fight-flight-or-freeze response.

Our fears are not solely dependent on instinctive responses. They are also shaped by our societies and cultures, which teach people when to fear and how much to fear.

Sometimes, our fear is unnecessary and we avoid doing things that could be beneficial to us. Sometimes, facing danger can result in lingering  responses that trigger us to act in a certain way, even when the risk is gone.

Yes, fear does or can cause heavy and strong reactions in our bodies, something we all know and are very well acquainted with. An accelerated breathing rate or increased heart rate, increased muscle tension, sweating … and so on. Actually, fear is rational it is a reasonable response to danger. On the contrary, the phobias are irrational. 

I don’t like walking alone, at night without light, in a dark forest or jungle. The fear of dangerous animals attacking me is very strong. I have a few options if I do get put into that situation.
Fight is often my worst option, maybe not with a snake or spider – but everything else!
Flight is usually my best option; get out as quickly as possible!
Freeze – yes this my approach when it comes to big dogs staring at me while in the forest.

The Bible also knows and encourages all these responses in many different ways.

Fight: So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41.10

Fight: Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Deut. 31.6

Flight: I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear, I will help you. Isaiah 41.13

Freeze: Or meditate! Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. 1 Corinthians 16.3

Take courage!

Wishing you a very good start to this new week!
Philemon


Still small voice

Chapter 34

Good Monday Morning to this week 33 of 2020

In the last weeks, I’ve been getting tired or even annoyed by hearing all the loud voices. So many people get online or elsewhere and act like they knew it all, had all the answers and set up all kinds of theories on all kinds of things.

1. Kings 19.12
A hurricane wind ripped through the mountains and shattered the rocks before God, but God wasn’t to be found in the wind; after the wind an earthquake, but God wasn’t in the earthquake, and after the earthquake fire, but God wasn’t in the fire and after the fire a gentle and quiet whisper.

There is only one place in Scripture where God is said to speak in a “still small voice,” and it was to Elijah after his dramatic victory over the prophets of Baal. Elijah ran into the wilderness and collapsed in exhaustion. God sent an angel with food and water to strengthen him, told him to rest, and then sent him to Horeb. In a cave there, Elijah voices his complaint that all of God’s prophets had been killed by Jezebel and he alone had survived. God instructed him to stand on the mountain in His presence. Then the Lord sent a mighty wind which broke the rocks in pieces; then He sent an earthquake and a fire, but His voice was in none of them. After all that, the Lord spoke to Elijah in the still small voice, or “gentle whisper.”

A few thoughts to the still voice of God.

a. God showed Elijah that the work of God need not always be accompanied by dramatic revelation or manifestations.
b. Divine silence does not necessarily mean divine inactivity.
c. God’s work is “not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,” meaning that overt displays of power are not necessary for God to work.
d. God is not confined to a single manner of communicating with His people. Elsewhere in Scripture, He is said to communicate through a whirlwind to announce His presence by an earthquake, and to speak in a voice that sounds like thunder. In Psalm 77:18 His voice is compared to both thunder and a whirlwind. And in Revelation 4:5, we’re told that lightning and thunder proceed from the throne in heaven.

A possible interpretation:

The difference between God speaking through the thunder and the whirlwind, then through the still, small voice, can be also considered as showing the difference between the two dispensations of law and grace. The law is a voice of terrible words and was given amidst a tempest of wind, thunder, and lightning, attended by an earthquake, but the gospel is a gentle voice of love, grace, and mercy, of peace, pardon, righteousness, and the free gift of salvation through Christ. The law breaks the rocky hearts of men in pieces, shakes their consciences, and fills their minds with a sense of God’s fiery wrath and the punishment they deserve, and then the gospel speaks gently to them of the peace and pardon available in Christ.

Wishing that you hear His still small voice speaking to you this week!

Wishing you a great start today!

Philemon

 

Rightly Identified

Chapter 33

Good Monday Morning to this week 32 of 2020

On this day August 3rd, 1667 Jeremy Taylor came down with Fever.
Jeremy Taylor (1613–1667) was a cleric in the Church of England. He is sometimes known as the “Shakespeare of Divines” for his poetic style of expression. By 1655 he had written his enduring works. His devotional handbooks of spiritual insight were very popular with all denominations, however, and their influence extended to the 18th-century Methodist John Wesley.

And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit. 2 Cor.3.16

He looked at Jesus’s life, from narrative, to discursive, to affective.

Bishop Jeremy Taylor writes:
“Jesus would need be baptized by his servant John, and though he was of purity sufficient to do it, and did actually by his baptism purify the purifier, and sanctify that and all other streams to an holy ministery and effect, yet he went in, bowing his head like a sinner, unclothing himself like an imperfect person, and craving to be washed, as if he had been crusted with an impure leprousie, thereby teaching us to submit ourselves to all those rites which he would institute.”

Jesus’s baptism is not an obvious type for our baptisms, because he was sinless –  nor was it then a common analogy as it is now.  So Taylor marks Jesus’s perfection as a reason for our obedience, and allows us into the experience of baptism. A change happens, an act of recognition –  once we’ve made it we cannot stop there.

The interaction points to a theological truth at the heart of the Bible: that part of what it means to be human is to be made for relationship with God. We humans are those creatures whose fulfillment consists in being recognized by God. In the absence of this recognition, in the absence of the affirmation of our self-understanding in God’s address, we are destined to be incomplete.

At the heart Jesus lies the this promised concord between divine identification and human self-understanding. The Gospel narrative is framed by God’s identification of Jesus, and Jesus’s acceptance of this identity. At two prominent moments – Jesus’s baptism and on the mountain of transfiguration – we are told that God speaks, identifying Jesus: “You are my Son, whom I love”; “This is my Son, whom I love” (Mark 1:11; 9:7).

Just as God’s naming of Israel was also an invitation to accept this identity, so God’s naming of Jesus is an invitation to him to embrace His identity. This is why it is tested. When the devil tempts Jesus, we are told, he does so by casting doubt on his identity: “If you are the Son of God …” (Luke 4:3). Then, throughout the ministry of Jesus, and climactically at his trial, the question of his identity is front and centre. “If you are the Messiah, tell us!

This, however, is not a simple matter; because there remains, even for Christian believers, a deep disconnect between our sense of ourselves and the way we have been newly identified. Were this not so, then there would be no need for the urging of the apostles to see and to embrace the new name that has been given. In fact, however, we struggle to believe that this is really true.

Our lives are lived as a contest of identifications. We are named by others, and we struggle to name ourselves. Some names seem to fit; others do not, and others still we aspire and yearn to fit. It is therefore a great gift to name each other rightly because it is a way of giving one another a glimpse of this peace.

For the voice we truly need to hear is the voice of God, and the identification we long to hear is nothing less than the one given to Jesus: “You are my son, my daughter whom I love, with you I am well pleased.” That is an address we may one day hear just as we long to. For now, however, we may hear it only as a promise and must continue to live our lives amidst the contest of names, seeking to believe that we are, truly, who we have been told we are in Christ.

Wishing you a blessed week, called by the right name!

Philemon

 

 

 

27.7

Chapter 32

Good Monday Morning to this week 31 of 2020

Psalms 27:7
Hear my voice when I call, LORD; be merciful to me and answer me.

Wherever he is, he can find a way to the throne of grace by prayer.
He humbly bespeaks, because he firmly believes he shall have, a gracious audience: “Hear, O Lord, when I cry, not only with my heart but, as one in earnest, with my voice too.’’ He bespeaks also an answer of peace, which he expects, not from his own merit, but God’s goodness: Have mercy upon me, and answer me,

David takes hold of the kind invitation God had given him to this duty,
It is a presumption for us to come into the presence of the King of kings uncalled.

My heart said unto thee (so it begins in the original) or of thee, Seek you my face; he first revolved that and preached that over again to himself.

Thou saidst (so it may be supplied), Seek you my face; and then he returns what he had so meditated upon, in this pious resolution, Thy face, Lord, will I seek.

The true nature of religious worship; it is seeking the face of God. This it is in God’s precept: Seek you my face; he would have us seek him for himself, and make his favour our chief good; and this it is in the saint’s purpose and desire: “Thy face, Lord, will I seek, and nothing less will I take up with.’’

The opening of his hand will satisfy the desire of other living things, but it is only the shining of his face that will satisfy the desire of a living soul.

The kind of invitation of a gracious God to this duty: Thou saidst, Seek you my face; it is not only permission but a precept, and his commanding us to seek implies a promise of finding.

He calls us, by the whispers of his Spirit to and with our spirits, to seek his face; he calls us by his word, by the stated returns of opportunities for his worship, and by special providences, merciful and afflictive.

The call is immediately returned: My heart answered, Thy face, Lord, will I seek. The call was general; “Seek you my face;’’ but, like David, we must apply it to ourselves, “I will seek it.’’

The call was, Seek you my face; the answer is express, Thy face, Lord, will I seek.

A gracious heart readily echoes to the call of a gracious God, being made willing in the day of his power.

He is very particular in his requests. For the favor of God, that he might not be shut out from that “Thy face, Lord, will I seek, in obedience to thy command; therefore hide not thy face from me; let me never want the reviving sense of the favor; love me, and let me know that thou lovest me.

Psalm 27.7 in various translations:

Hear me as I pray, O LORD. Be merciful and answer me!
Hear, O Jehovah, when I cry with my voice: Have mercy also upon me, and answer me.
Listen, ADONAI, to my voice when I cry; show favor to me; and answer me.

Hear, Jehovah; with my voice do I call; be gracious unto me, and answer me.

Wishing you a week of God’s favor!

Philemon

Lever yourself up

Chapter 31

Good Monday Morning to this week 30 of 2020

Ecclesiastes 4:10
If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.

A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out!
Walter Winchell

Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too?
I thought I was the only one.” C.S. Lewis

He who has a why to live can bear almost anyhow.
Friedrich Nietzsche

To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering.
Friedrich Nietzsche

Don’t make friends who are comfortable to be with.
Make friends who will force you to lever yourself up.
Thomas J. Watson

We all know Nietzsche the philosopher. Little do we know of the great
influence the theologian Franz Overbeck had through this friendship with Nietzsche.

Overbeck dissected the theology of the past and that of his professional contemporaries in a way that to this day has remained unparalleled in its acuity and range.

A few months after Nietzsche had settled in Basel, Franz Overbeck arrived from Jena to take up the chair of ‘critical theology’. Overbeck, who was born in 1837 and was thus seven years Nietzsche’s senior, became the one permanent friend Nietzsche had whose friendship was founded on a purely personal, instinctive basis. Although he became for a while a keen Wagnerian under Nietzsche’s influence, he was for most of his life quite at variance with Nietzsche in his opinions…But his closest friend for most of his life was Nietzsche. His account of his friendship is an unqualified expression of thanks for the experience. ‘Our friendship was without any shadows,’ he writes. At the same time, he is not sparing in his criticism, which he had certainly voiced while Nietzsche was still able to understand it; but in this instance, criticism did not constitute a ‘shadow’. As the years passed, Overbeck moved away from Nietzsche philosophically, and with Nietzsche’s last works he was quite unable to agree; at the same time, however, he moved closer as a friend, so that in the last years he and his wife were, apart from Gast, Nietzsche’s only real intimates.” (Hollingdale, page 53)

Franz Overbeck was the perfect complement to Fritz’s personality. He was an intellectual of high regard, appreciative of the arts – particularly music, broad-minded, honest, caring, reliable, genteel, and reserved yet steadfast in his opinions. Of him Nietzsche wrote: ‘Overbeck is the most serious, candid, personally lovable, and least complicated person and researcher one could have wished for in a friend. At the same time, he has this radicality I need to have in all people with whom I associate.’ Many years later he would confess to Overbeck that Overbeck’s loyalty and friendship had, in fact, saved his life: ‘In the midst of life I was ‘surrounded’ by my good Overbeck.

One can easily imagine the two discussing their respective works in progress over evening meals. It is not too conjectural to assume their mutual interest in the “zeitgeist” and the way their respective works were viewed by their shared friends was a fundamental basis for the solidification of their closeness.

Their relationship was often mundane and entirely ordinary. Therefore, surprisingly little evidence of the course of their daily associations exists. But Overbeck’s friendship affected Nietzsche as evidenced when Nietzsche surveyed the first ten years of their friendship in a letter to Overbeck in 1880: “You will be deep in your work, dear friend, but a few words from me will not disturb you. It always does me good to think of you at your work; it is as if a healthy natural force were blindly working through you, and yet it is a force of reason which operates in the subtlest and most tricky material, and which we have to tolerate whenever it behaves impatiently and doubtfully for letting me watch the spectacle of your life from so close at hand – indeed.

In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit. Albert Schweitzer

Wishing you good friendships even to people you wouldn’t expect to be friends with as
we learned from this extraordinary example of a theologian and philosopher.

Philemon