Eat this book

Friday, November 18, 2022

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Eat this book

I, John, heard a voice from heaven speak to me.

I’ve been waiting for this chapter in Revelation. Chapter 10. The seven seals have been opened, violence has wrenched the earth, the four horsemen (of the apocalypse) have carried their powers into the world. 144,000 have been clothed in robes made white in the blood of the Lamb. Six of the seven angel’s trumpets have been sounded, the first woe has been released, and a third of mankind has been killed.

What could go wrong now? There is a very large angel, who has something to say.

Go, take the scroll from the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land. It was a small scroll. The angel said to me, “Take it and swallow it. It will turn your stomach sour, but in your mouth it will taste as sweet as honey.”

Ezekiel ate a book as well.

In these and other examples, the eaters are changed by the food and are able to receive and transmit divine knowledge. This type of eating, called hierophagy, is a powerful literary tool that ancient authors used to signify the transformation of the eater in a way that associates them intimately with the divine realm. Tasting and ingesting otherworldly food dissolves the boundaries between heaven and earth in the same way that the mouth and stomach break down food and dissolve it into the body.

I’m not a prophet; nevertheless, I love to eat and I love to read, especially spiritual books. When I read the Bible I love it when I feel the “boundaries between heaven and earth” dissolving. Don’t you? So eating this scroll fits right into my picture of how to be a Christian, or even better, how to be a human, a created one, one who looks up for direction rather than searching only my own horizon. Three meals of spiritual food a day keeps the doctor away. At least for awhile.

How sweet to my taste is your promise! How sweet are your words, sweeter than honey in my mouth. Your word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

Albrecht Durer, St. John Devouring the Book

But John’s stomach soured. He was told he must speak, prophecy “about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings.” He remembered listening to Jesus speak with strength against evil, even in the temple.

It is written that my house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves. And all the people were hanging on his words.

John remembered. His stomach soured, and he knew what he must do. John would follow his leader.

I gasp with open mouth in my yearning for your commands.

 (Revelation 10, Psalm 119, John 10, Luke 19)

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