Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
Daniel 2 – Two years into service for Nebuchadnezzar, the king has a terrifying dream and he “called in his magicians, enchanters, sorcerers, and astrologers, and he demanded that they tell him what he had dreamed” (2:2). They assure him that if he tells them what he dreamed they will be able to interpret it, tell him what it means; but he thinks they should be able to tell him what it was he dreamed, not just its meaning.
He threatens the sages [wise men] to tell him what it is as proof that they will be able to interpret it. He also, somewhat mysteriously, sends men to go and kill Daniel and his friends; they must also have been thought to be among the “sages” serving Nebuchadnezzar.
Daniel asks for a little more time to tell the king what he wants to know. He goes and tells his friends what has happened, and “he urged them to ask the God of heaven to show then his mercy by telling them the secret, so they would not be executed along with the other wise men of Babylon” (2:18).
That night “the secret [is] revealed to Daniel in a vision. Daniel is taken to the king, and he says, “While Your Majesty was sleeping, your dreamed about coming events. . . And it is not because I am wiser than anyone else that I know the secret of your dream, but because God wants you to understand what was in your heart.” (2:30).
The dream was of a “huge, shining statue of a man” (2:31). The head of the statue was made of gold, the chest and arms were of silver, the belly and thighs were of bronze and the legs were made of iron. The feet were a combination of iron and baked clay. He tells the king, “As you watched, a rock was cut from a mountain, but not by human hands. It struck the feet of iron and clay, smashing them to bits” (2:32-33). The whole statue was crushed and the wind blew it all away; but “the rock that knocked the statue down became a great mountain that covered the whole earth” (2:35).
Then Daniel interprets the dream as follows: “Your Majesty, you are the greatest of kings. The God of heaven has given you sovereignty, power, strength, and honor. He has made you the ruler over all the inhabited world and has put even the wild animals and birds under your control. You are the head of gold. But after your kingdom comes to an end, another kingdom, inferior to yours, will rise to take your place. After that kingdom has fallen, yet a third kingdom, represented by bronze, will rise to rule the world” (2:37-39). And so on down the statue. One kingdom after another will come and go. The kingdom represented by the feet, the mixture of iron and class, will be kingdoms that try to be strong through alliances and intermarriages. “But they will not hold together, just as iron and clay do not mix” (2:43).
“During the reigns of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed or conquered. It will crush all these kingdoms into nothingness, and it will stand forever” (2:44). That will be like the rock.
Nebuchadnezzar rewards Daniel for interpreting this dream with a “high position and gave him many valuable gifts. He made Daniel ruler over the whole province of Babylon, as well as chief over all his wise men” (2:48). He also appoints Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to be “in charge of all the affairs of the province of Babylon, while Daniel remained in the king’s court” (2:49).
From Leadings: A Catholic’s Journey Through Quakerism
Before moving on in this part of my story – ending up back in the Catholic Church - I feel I should recount a little about how I FIRST ended up being a Catholic back in 1964. For that I have to go back to earlier chapters of my book. I’ll do that for a while and then get back to my SECOND time back. This part is much more autobiographical than anything I’ve posted before, but my faith rests on the life I’ve lived.
My story is very ecumenical and has been from the beginning. My parents were very convinced atheists – Marxists, yes, even Communists for a while. But I did not grow up with them. They split up when I was two and I ended up in the care of my maternal grand-parents who were Catholics – my grandmother faithful but quiet about her faith, my grandfather long-lapsed. I wasn’t baptized as an infant or even when I started living with my grandparents. My parents would not have permitted that.
We lived for a time with my mother’s brother and his family, and then moved for a little while to another place with just my grandparents. It wouldn’t be for long. We would soon be back with this same uncle. My mother had serious psychological problems all her early life, but when I was eight, just after the first move, two things happened that changed my life: my mother became deeply psychotic – paranoid schizophrenic and ended up hospitalized in a NY State psychiatric hospital and my grandmother died. Another family member, an aunt – sister of my mother – stepped in and tried to be the woman caretaker in my life. Though raised a Catholic as my mother was, she had moved to the Episcopal Church several years earlier and got the OK from my father to have me baptized in that church so I could participate in that with them.
It wasn’t something I chose or thought about at all, but I remember walking down the aisle of the crowded church to the baptismal font near the front. I remember feeling the water on my head and hearing the priest asking what name I was to have. I attended church with my aunt and her family for a little while, but when I was nine, we moved back with the uncle we had previously been with, and I no longer had anyone to take me to church. This move was a turning point in my life, one that brought me close to God and really laid the foundation of everything that was to happen to me later on.