I have an insatiably curiosity and its a problem. OK, that is an overstatement, but hear me out. I am now, finally, getting into my summer rhythm, which is so awesome. I love the summer. It is so revitalizing to me. It is a chance to get off the treadmill of semesters, papers, committee meetings, lectures and putting out small fires of administrative work. My summer is open, wide open. Well again that is an overstatement. There is family life, a thriving college ministry I still lead, and preparation for later teaching commitments. But in spite of these things there is an openness. I have an openness to work on writing projects – well if I can get to them. There’s an openness to reading and wrestling intellectually with important things. There is an openness to think and learn.
But this openness is also a challenge because I’m so intellectually curious. Take what has happened in the last couple of days.
I am working on a chapter for a book I’m contributing to on the Gospel, the Cross and the Kingdom. I’m writing a very brief chapter on Matthew 12:22-30. That’s the story about Jesus’ controversy with the Pharisees who say he’s preforming miraculous deeds by the power of Satan. Jesus turns that around on them and shows the absurdity of their thinking. He also gives a robust statement of the impact of his ministry. In this response Jesus essential says that the kingdom of God is present both spatially and temporally (using U. Luz’s helpful observations about the verb in Matt 12:28). In the work of Jesus, Satan’s kingdom is being ransack; liberation is happening in pockets all around the Galilee.
OK so I’m suppose to be writing about this. Well I got a great idea to make Jesus’ statement grab a reader, although of course the idea itself is not original. I thought to tell a story about the days leading up to D-Day, the Allied invasion of occupied France. I think it was Oscar Cullmann who I first read make the comparison between the “already-not, yet nature” of the Kingdom to the WWII victories of V.E. and V.J. days. So making such comparisons is not novel. Still, they are affective I think. And it will be the 70th anniversary of D-Day next June. In this case, I thought to tell a specific story of a French person or family who was part of the Resistance who had anticipated the invasion, though not knowing exactly when it was going to happen. So I am on a hunt for such a story.
These Resisters, mostly individuals, were aware that the days were drawing very near as the bombings across the north of France by Allied planes had increased dramatically in the weeks leading up to the invasion. But on that night in the early hours of June 6, 1944 the skies opened up and over 20,000 American and British paratroopers fell from the sky in the biggest air armada to have ever flown. The details are nicely narrated the by the late Stephen Ambrose in his book D-Day. What would it have been like to have awaken to the chaotic sounds of tracer fire and explosions and to see perhaps like shadows the outlines of soldiers descending? What would this French Resister have thought? On that night, in occupied France liberation from a tyrannical dictator was becoming a reality. While there were differing interpretations of the significance of falling Americans and Brits on that night in those early hours of the invasion – most of the German commanders at the time were not convinced that this was the “big one”, for one that longed for liberation it should have been crystal clear. So you get the idea . . . something like this to help the point of the passage.
Well, I’m so interested in WWII in Europe that I have now spent several hours reading about France during the period of 1940-44. While I’ve read a good deal about the WWII and specifically D-Day – I even visited the beaches of Normandy while doing my degree. But I knew little about France during those years of occupation. So I became curious. I’ve ordered three books (almost finished one) and I got two from the local library today.
And the essay is not written . . .
Oh I love my summer! The openness, the freedom to read and to think and to follow rabbit trails. I feel alive. I love it! But I need to write the chapter.
By the way, did you know that Vichy France was . . .