Judas Macbeth

The connection between Judas Iscariot and Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

I’ve been taking a look at the story of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. I’m no expert. It wasn’t an in-depth look. I did however notice some similarities between the biblical character Judas Iscariot and Shakespeare’s fictional Scottish King.

The first aspect that struck me was that in the actions of both these men there was an element of prophecy. In Judas case, Jesus had predicted his own betrayal by a disciple. Macbeth’s rise and downfall was predicted by three witches, but Macbeth didn’t understand the prophecy of his downfall for what it was. Ultimately it was the flaw in both of these men’s character that became the cause of their downfalls.

In both cases, there was an element of a good man being betrayed by an unscrupulous man. Jesus was a sinless man betrayed by a disciple. King Duncan of Scotland was betrayed and murdered by  Macbeth who usurped his throne. Duncan had been a good and just king. The main difference seems to be that Macbeth did his own dirty work when he murdered King Duncan, Judas didn’t. The Romans crucified Jesus after Judas betrayed him to them.

Macbeth, it seems, could have become the King of Scotland without intervention to hasten his ascension. It was Lady Macbeth who, on hearing the witches prophecy, was led by her greed for power to persuade and manipulate Macbeth to hasten his rise, by murdering King Duncan. Macbeth was too weak to stand up to his wife, but it seems when he tasted power he could not let it go, it had to be taken from him.

Judas’ hunger was not for power but for money. Thirty pieces of his silver was his price for betraying Jesus. We don’t know if Judas betrayal of Christ was on his own initiative, or was he subverted, like Macbeth was by his wife? Judas had no power, only money which eventually his conscience led him to discard. He ultimately committed suicide.

Religion And Politics

How politics is influenced by religion.

From time to time there are calls that religion and politics in the UK should be separated. Historically they have always been combined and if we go back to biblical times they are inseparable. It is not possible to completely divorce religion from from politics.

It has been suggested that, like in America, there should be a separation between the church and the state in the UK but, also like in America, such separation does not keep religion out of politics. It is no barrier.

It impossible to totally remove the influence of religion from politics, when some of the peoples representatives, elected or appointed, have particular religious beliefs. An analogy might be a divorced marriage. Although the couple are separated, their actions still impact upon each other.

Some might argue that the only true separation that might be possible is an atheist state, but this is a spurious argument. Atheism is non belief in a deity, or put another way belief in no deity. Some atheism is more aggressive, deliberately acting against religions, it is; less tolerant to religions than some religions are to each other, though I realise there are intolerant extremists in every religion. This atheism too is political and cannot be dismissed.

By acting against religion, atheism is then itself acting like a religion. It is evangelising a belief system, albeit believing that there is no god. Any belief system might be called a religion.

Buddhism has no deity and is called a religion, so why not atheism too? Any belief system could be called a religion. So whilst not believing there is a god, is non-political and less likely to influence thinking, believing there is no god, i.e. atheism, still influences politics.

The Magnificent Seven

A review of the 2016 remake.

When I reviewed  the 2010 remake of True Grit I said that what you think of that film would depend on whether you saw the original. Opinion on latest incarnation of The Magnificent Seven will probably also depend on whether you saw the 1960 film.

The first thing I noticed was that despite the sympathetic camera angles and photography, Denzel Washington who played the seven’s leader Chisholm, could not quite hide a slight paunch, something not seen on any in the original film.

I can still today name the seven characters and actors in the original Magnificent Seven. I had already forgotten five from the latest movie an hour after leaving the cinema.

Whilst the setting and the characters were different, the basic premise adapted to the 2016 movie was the same. The location had been moved away from a poor Mexican village forced to pay bandits. Here was a town being overrun by an unscrupulous gold mine owner. A few lines were kept from the original film too, which will be immediately obvious to viewers of my generation.

As we discover at the end of the film, the leader Chisholm had a different motivation for helping the town. It is hinted at early on but not explained until the end. The odds against the seven were much higher in the remake. The baddies numbered around 30 in the original. There was probably more than a hundred in the modern adaptation, making the chance of success quite improbable.

The 2016 remake of The Magnificent Seven is an good film. It will make money, but I do not think it will achieve the iconic status of the1960 movie. It was probably unwise to use Elmer Bernstein’s theme music of the original over the closing titles of the remake. It instantly brings the the original to mind, inviting comparison by those who know it.

“I’ve been offered a lot for my work but never everything.” – Chris 1960 and Chisholm 2016


The Red Tent

By Anita Diamant.

I’m publishing this review here, not first on my new  book review blog, Entertaining Angels Bookshelf, because The Red Tent is appropriate to the theme of this blog.

There are two groups of people who might be put off The Red Tent by its nature or its subject matter. People who are not Christian might not want to read it because it is based around characters in The Bible. It would be a shame to miss out on this story for this reason. God and gods are in the book but only as they relate to the life of the time.

When I first heard about this book, and later read the review extracts on it’s back cover from magazines that include Elle and She, I assumed it was a woman’ s book. It probably does appeal more to women, however it is worth male readers persevering. It’s a good story with sufficient saucy bits, and bloody fights to keep them happy too.

The story is a fictional telling of the life one of the bible’s minor female characters. Dinah was the youngest child of Jacob’s clan born to his first wife Leah. Jacob had thirteen children by his four wives and Dinah was not only the only female child, she was also was the youngest.

Anita Diamant relates her tale through the eyes of the book’s heroine, Dinah. We hear from Dinah all about her family, Jacob, her four mothers, for Dinah thought of all Jacob’s wives as mothers, and to a lesser extent, all her brothers. We are given her life’s story and especially her relationship with the youngest of the boys, Joseph.

Dinah led a happy, well protected life with her family until she becomes a teenager. She had never been separated from her kin until her brothers murder many of the men in the town of Shechem, near where they are living with their flocks. Dinah herself is betrayed and thought to have been slain in the massacre, but manages, with help, to escape to Egypt.

In Egypt she is taken in by a wealthy family, though she is, to all intents and purposes, alone in a foreign land. This is really the start of her story, where she becomes a grown woman and learns to live a new life becoming one of the most sought after midwives.

Diamant gives us vivid characters and a warmth to her storytelling. For all that befalls Dinah in Diamant’s tale, The Red Tent is ultimately a book about hope, and never giving up.

“Of all life’s pleasures, only love owes no debt to death”

Rich Man Poor Man

“Money is the root of all evil.”

Drawing by an anonymous master on parchment

Drawing by an anonymous master on parchment

Actually no, money is not the root of all evil. Like so many other people frequently do, I misquoted the passage from 1 Timothy 6: 10. What it actually says is “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” (UKNIV).

In Luke 16 we are told about a rich man, who is never named, and a beggar called Lazarus. When lazarus died he “was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom” or put another way, he was taken to Heaven. The rich man also died and went to hell, but could see Lazarus in heaven.

The rich man appealed to Abraham to have mercy, and send Lazarus with water. When that failed he appealed again, this time that Lazarus be sent to his brothers, to warn them not to make the same mistakes he does.

There are a couple of interesting points within Luke 16, and I make them here with thanks to Rev. Bev. For her sermon.

Firstly, the rich man in this passage is not dignified by being named. He is referred to only as “a certain rich man” or “the rich man”. The poor man, we know, is called Lazarus.

Lazarus was often at the rich man’s gate. He was starving and would have been happy just to beget the leavings of the rich man’s table. The rich man gave him nothing. It is fair to assume, I think, that the rich man could easily have fed Lazarus and hardly noticed a loss, yet he chose not to do so. It seems he ignored Lazarus.

After their deaths, while the rich man is appealing for help he uses Lazarus’ name to Abraham. By calling the poor man by name, it is clear that the rich man knew Lazarus, knew his situation. He actively chose not to help lazarus, so he could not claim ignorance.

The reason, it seems to me, that the rich man was condemned to hell had nothing to do with the money he had. It had everything to do with how he chose to use his money. Or, in this situation, not use his money. It seemed all he wanted to do was hoard his wealth.

Wealth that is just hoarded, not put to use, is effectively a wasted. In relation to his wealth, it would have cost the rich man a negligible sum to relieve the beggar. Lazarus’, suffering. Jesus isn’t telling us that money is a bad thing, only that what we do or don’t do with it can be bad, if we don’t use it properly


And its drawback

If you’re reading this weblog, you will, more than likely, be using at least some of the same technology as me. Modern technology is wonderful; previous generations might have thought of it as magic but I’m not sure how many of us, myself included, use it to best effect.

A lot of technology is developed because someone thinks they can make money out of it. That doesn’t always mean it doesn’t help us do things easier, quicker and more accurately, it generally does this very well.

The problem comes not with the technology itself but how we use it. After we have accomplished something quicker with it, instead of taking the time it has given us to rest, relax or perhaps pray, we just find something else to fill up the time we’ve saved.

Worse, because we are now available twenty four hours a day, more and more of us are doing work at home, answering e-mail, texting, messaging and suchlike, which might be ok if we live alone but it isn’t really fair to the family, for those of us that have one. We even take our work on holiday now.

Jesus took time for himself when he needed to, and understood that everyone needs to completely relax once in a while, without constant demands upon them. It’s an old lesson that we need to keep alive, so perhaps it’s time to switch off communication devices for a while and use our technology to truly make things easier, instead of it just giving time to fit more things in.

If it weren’t that I need the time to answer just one more e-mail, I’d pray about it.