Daily Old Testament: Daniel 14 and My Own Book "Leadings: A Catholic's Journey Through Quakerism" (Part 12)

Daniel 14 – This Daniel story is about Daniel’s closeness with king Cyrus of Persia and the king’s belief in the deity Bel [one of the names of the god Marduk in Babylonia]. The king asks Daniel why he does not worship Bel, and Daniel tells him he worships “the living God who made heaven and earth”. Cyrus says Bel lives too because the god consumes all the food offerings given to him. Daniel shows that it is merely people going into the sanctuary who are eating the offerings. The king has the whole family – a priestly family with access to the offerings – killed.

 

Then attention turns to the dragon, associated with Marduk, Daniel manages to put together a concoction that kills the dragon. Leaders go to Cyrus and pressure him to turn Daniel over to them. The throw Daniel into the lion’s pit and he lives with the seven lions in the pit for six days. Habakkuk the prophet, is given a revelation that he should take food to Babylon to give to Daniel. The angel carries Habakkuk by the hair to the city and sets him down next to Daniel. Daniel eats the meat and Habakkuk is returned to his country. When Cyrus comes on day seven expecting to see Daniel dead, he is amazed and declares, “You are great, O Lord, God of Daniel, . . .there is no god but you!” (14:42). Daniel is released, the plotters thrown in and eaten by the lions.

 

From Leadings: A Catholic’s Journey Through Quakerism

Part 12

The hypnotism exercise did not cure my hives, but it let me know I was still suffering a bad case of religious nostalgia. The hives finally did go as I started my second year in law school, but that year brought challenges of its own. I had a second pregnancy and a miscarriage, then the next spring another pregnancy. By the winter of 1976, I was finished with law school and ready to have my second child. My little boy was three. That Christmas I took him to see the Raleigh Boys Choir. He was old enough now to appreciate Christmas and some of the things I had loved in it. As soon as the choir started to sing, I started to weep uncontrollably. I hid it from my son, I think, and from the people around me, but I again felt a sense of torment. That Christmas I also took him to the Moravian Church down the street from our home to see the Christmas display and buy Christmas cookies. They had a beautiful crèche scene—a diorama of the Bethlehem countryside, the star, the shepherds, the kings coming over the hills bearing gifts, the stable, the holy family. I didn’t expect my son to ask me questions about it, but he did. Suddenly I started giving explanations that would have made a graduate student’s head spin—about how some people believed this, but other people belied that, how what was laid out here wasn’t really true, but it was what people believed in and what they celebrated at Christmas. He settled for all my words, but I wasn’t satisfied. I left there feeling troubled. I wondered how it would be for him and for the other child I was soon to have to grow up without any way of connecting to these simple traditions, without any sense of things “spiritual.” My husband did not share these concerns. He did not feel any attraction to religion at all and only spoke angrily of it when he did think about it. But I can’t say that I know what his heart might have been on these issues. We simply didn’t talk about it. We didn’t talk about anything deep very much. Religion had never been a part of our relationship. The nostalgia I felt and the memories I had were things we didn’t share. I tended to think of it mostly as bad stuff in me—psychological neediness, irrationality, unhealthy wishful things.

 

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