Friday, August 24, 2007

"Come Gather For God's Great Supper"

The title for the cycle God's Great Supper comes from the book of Revelation Chapter 19 Verse 17. Revelation is a book in the New Testament. And not just any book, it is the final book of the bible. It is the retelling of a vision that John had (the same John who was a disciple of Jesus and who penned the Gospel of John). Interesting that it is the recounting of a vision and that its content recurs in Jed's dreams in the play.

Here is the section of Revelation 19 (with verse numbers included) referring to God's Great Supper:

11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. "He will rule them with an iron scepter."[a] He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, "Come, gather together for the great supper of God, 18 so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and mighty men, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, small and great."

19 Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the rider on the horse and his army. 20 But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. 21 The rest of them were killed with the sword that came out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.

Suffer the Little Children

In God's Great Supper, Jed quotes the Gospel of Mark Chapter 10 Verse 14 in retalitation to his father Ezekiel, showing not just a perfect application of a New Testament teaching, but also speedily holding his father to the doctrine of the same bible that Ezekiel claims to believe. Ezekiel's response, not surprisingly, is to dismiss it and turn the phrase into a threat, "Oh he'll suffer alright." A look at the KJV and NIV translations of the original Greek sheds some light on the meaning:

King James Version (KJV) - "But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God."

New International Version (NIV) - "When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these."

Dr. Thomas Walker's Journal, 1750: 1st Coal Discovered in Kentucky

In 1749, Peter Jefferson (father of future U.S. President Thomas Jefferson) and Joshua Fry, along with Dr. Thomas Walker of Albemarle County (1714-1794), James Maury, Thomas Meriwether (grandfather of Meriwether Lewis) and others, established the Loyal Company with the purpose of petitioning for a large grant of land west of the Allegheny Mountains.

On 12 Jul 1749, the Council of the Province of Virginia authorized the Loyal Company to enter and survey 800,000 acres of the public domain on the "western waters" (located along the southern border of Virginia, now southeastern Kentucky), but with a provision that required settlement of the land within four years, during which time period the Company would be permitted to make surveys and returns.

Dr. Walker was employed by the Loyal Company to determine the locations of the settlements, not only because he was a member of the company, but also because he was an experienced surveyor and had already traversed the western country at least once, in 1748 in the company of Col. James Patton, Colonel Patton's son-in-law, John Buchanan, Charles Campbell and longhunter John Findlay, at which time they had explored the western country as far south as the "Fork Country of the Holston" (present-day Kingsport, Sullivan County, Tennessee).

Dr. Walker's journal of his 1750 travels was preserved by his family, and first published in 1888 by his descendant, William Cabell Rives, a limited edition according to Williams, who published the Tennessee portion of the Journal (21 Mar - 14 Apr) in his "Early Travels in the Tennessee Country" (The Watauga Press, Johnson City, Tennessee, 1928, pp. 165-174). The following year, Lewis Preston published the journal in his "Annals of Southwest Virginia, 1769-1800," (Vol. I, pp. 8-26, Abingdon, Virginia, 1928). Williams's edition included an introduction to the journal, and both Williams and Summers footnoted heavily.

Dr. Walker noted in his journal that the "region is rich in cola, several seams underlying the surface of the ground." Walker does not indicate that he foresaw that coal would be by far the most valuable product of the region.

God's Trombones: a fire-and-brimstone retelling

In God's Great Supper, Ezekiel refers to the book of Revelation like a fire-and-brimstone preacher of God that he claims to be.

Click here for an 8-minute YouTube piece with Jim Stark acting the role of an old-time fire and brimstone preacher. The description says the message is called "Judgement Day" from the book, God's Trombones. The book God's Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse was written in 1927, by James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938). Click here for a bio on the author.

Matthew Brady Civil Way Photographs

The other night during table work, David mentioned Matthew Brady the Civil War photographer. Click here to peruse a photo journal of the Civil War by this famous photographer and experience some of the images that Jed may have witnessed during his military tenure. (Note: the Civil War started in 1861, the same year at the start of God's Great Supper.)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Fire in the Hole!!! And Typhoid Info

Tonight David blocked most of Fire in the Hole and the cast ran through the blocking. Typhoid figures prominently in this cycle.

Updated note on Typhoid symptoms and fatality (source: Typhoid Fever is treated with antibiotics which kill the Salmonella bacteria. Prior to the use of antibiotics, the fatality rate was 10%. Death occurred from overwhelming infection, pneumonia, intestinal bleeding, or intestinal perforation. With antibiotics and supportive care, mortality has been reduced to 1-2%.

What are the symptoms of Typhoid Fever? The incubation period is usually 1-2 weeks and the duration of the illness is about 4-6 weeks. The patient experiences: poor appetite, headaches,
generalized aches and pains, fever, and lethargy. Persons with typhoid fever usually have a sustained fever as high as 103 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit (39 to 40 degrees Centigrade).
Chest congestion develops in many patients and abdominal pain and discomfort are common. The fever becomes constant. Improvement occurs in the third and fourth week in those without complications. About 10% of patients have recurrent symptoms (relapse) after feeling better for one to two weeks. Relapses are actually more common in individuals treated with antibiotics.

Click here and here to read more about Typhoid Mary. And click here for information on Typhoid fever from the Centers for Disease Control in D.C.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Christian Scripture References

There are many spiritual and scriptural elements in The Kentucky Cycle that this post begins to explore cycle by cycle. I plan to update it with more references in the text, but if you have a line referring to scripture and cannot wait, a tool that I have found handy for researching biblical text in its various translations is

Masters of the Trade
& God's Great Supper

Michael Rowen refers to Psalm 121 in Master of the Trade. The Psalm follows (i.e. the King James translation).

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.

My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.

He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.

Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.

The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand.

The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.

The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.

The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.

Earl Tod immediately counters with his belief in "an eye for an eye" and Michael Rowan responds "Ahh, an Old Testament man, are ya?" and "The New Testament, it's, a little watery now isn't it?" Subtext and foreshadowing is overflowing here.

Surely Michael Rowan would have a problem with the New Testament where the Gospel of Matthew states:

Matthew Chapter 5, verses 38-39 "You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also." (Hence the expression: turn the other cheek.)

But perhaps looking at the context of the "eye for an eye" quote could shed light on the Old Testament cultural climate in which it arose. Interesting how it makes mention of a man hitting a pregnant woman, neighbors mistreating neighbors, general abuses that seem to cycle through generations and through our cycles in Kentucky...

Note: Image from The Houston Chronicle's editorial cartoonist and demonstrates the possibility for extremist radicalism regardless of faith or culture.

Exodus Chapter 21 verses 22-25 "If men who are fighting hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman's husband demands and the court allows. But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise." Leviticus 24: 18-20 "Anyone who takes the life of someone's animal must make restitution—life for life. If anyone injures his neighbor, whatever he has done must be done to him: fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. As he has injured the other, so he is to be injured." Deuteronomy 19: 16-21 "If a malicious witness takes the stand to accuse a man of a crime, the two men involved in the dispute must stand in the presence of the LORD before the priests and the judges who are in office at the time. The judges must make a thorough investigation, and if the witness proves to be a liar, giving false testimony against his brother, then do to him as he intended to do to his brother. You must purge the evil from among you. The rest of the people will hear of this and be afraid, and never again will such an evil thing be done among you. Show no pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot."

But like any bible scholar will advise, it is crucial to consider the social and political context and also view the text in its greater context within the Old and New Testaments. Because looking at the New Testament, we see a lot of what Michael Rowan might consider "watery" but what evolved as the central message of the gospel of peace embodied by Jesus:
Matthew 5:43-44 "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies..." Luke 6: 38-39 "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."

Titus 3: 1-5 "Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men. At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy."

Ties That Bind
The story of the Samaritan in referred to in this cycle. The parable follows from the Gospel of Luke Chapter 10:
The Parable of the Good Samaritan
On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"

"What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?"

He answered: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"

"You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live."

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"

In reply Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.'

"Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"

The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him." Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."

Yes, certain Rowans seem to be a little weak in their New Testament doctrine.