(83) S5E6 SOTM: Emerald
Continuing the Sermon on the Mount working through Mt. Mt. 5:27-32.
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- Richard Rohr's "Sermon on the Mount": https://www.amazon.com/dp/B003A0IASQ/ref=cm_sw_r_em_api_uOXEFbGCN7ASQ
- Dallas Willard's "The Divine Conspiracy": https://www.amazon.com/Divine-Conspiracy-Rediscovering-Hidden-Life/dp/0007596545/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=dallas+willard+divine+conspiracy&qid=1601907374&sr=8-1
Erin, fair maiden whom all do admire
Wielding a power few will ever know
Power to allure all harbored desire
Power to smite with a look, all her foes
But Erin's fair beauty was taken when
Men in God's image inverted His plan
Objectifying others, which therein
Moulded their God in the image of man
Now rest your eyes not upon Erin's breast
Nor upon that which you think she could give
Just rest your eyes upon that which attests
Your equal stands before you and God lives
Rest weary eyes upon this emerald
And heed divine image others herald
[Mt. 5:27-32]. I found two interesting attributes ascribed to emeralds throughout history. One is that they are able to help the wearer cut through infatuation (usually to see or hear the truth when speaking to a lover), and they were thought to be peaceful to gaze upon and helped the eyes to rest.
Erin represents two things. First, it represents a beautiful young woman. The inherent beauty of this woman is power, in that it draws out the deepest passions and desires of many who gaze upon her. Figuratively she can smite them with her looks, but this can also be literal. Others may be willing to kill for her out of their passions. The second thing meant by “Erin” is “Ireland.” I’ll expound on this more a little later, but Erin is actually a name the Irish have used for Ireland, particularly in their poetry (sometimes spelled slightly differently). Ireland is also known as the “Emerald Isle.” In this sense, “Erin” also stands for the “Emerald Isle,” which not only incorporates the picture of emeralds into the poem, but brings us to a different level of passions and infatuation. While people may kill and lust over a beautiful woman, many will also kill and lust over the power a country holds. This should be readily apparent in today’s environment which is rife with nationalism…I mean patriotism.
There is a lot going on in this stanza.
1) The second and fourth lines of this stanza are almost a direct quote from William Drennan’s poem, “When Erin First Rose.” It was in this poem in which Ireland was first referred to in print as “The Emerald Isle.” The poem is wonderful and I highly recommend you read it. The lines I used can be found in the last two lines of the second stanza. You can find it here: https://www.libraryireland.com/CIL/DrennanErin.php.
2) This stanza argues that this beauty and power possessed by Erin (the power of women or the power of authority and dominion particularly of a nation, depending on which way you’re reading it) has been corrupted. Beauty and dominion are not bad things. In fact, we see both prior to Genesis 3 and the fall of humanity. However, rather than allowing God to define what is good and respect his parameters, we have defiled his creation. Rather than admire the beauty of woman or the dominion we are supposed to assert through servanthood, we invert the image of God in others and corrupt the way we image God to creation. Instead of bowing to God and acknowledging his image, we fashion idols of God made in our own image. Instead of living in an upside down kingdom, we build a kingdom around ourselves. As we set ourselves up as gods, we objectify all else for our benefit.
3) I Corinthians 11 tells us that woman is the glory of man. While many patriarchists have taken this to mean some sort of subordinationism in that it places women under men, I hold to the view that this elevates women. While women, like men, are humans who bear God’s image, women also have the added attribute of blessing man (since Eve was taken out of Adam). In this sense, women are doubly beautiful, reflecting the one by whom they were created (God) and the one from whom they came out of (man). From “Paul and Gender,” “’Woman is the glory of man’ is actually a positive evaluation of women and indicates a high status, because she is both the image and glory of God, and she has such additional beauty that she is the glory of humanity. She is the glory of man by virtue of the fact that she was created from him, and that is why her glory, her beauty, reflects on him.” Women were created as the glory of man and it was only after the fall, in the curse, where it was described (not prescribed) that men would subject women as inferiors. This subjugation and treatment as unequal is an inversion of God’s image reflected equally in all of humanity, regardless of race, status, or gender.
4) While this subjugation of others is a direct reference to male/female relations in Genesis, we see the same thing play out on a higher authoritative level in government. Rather than faithfully and uncompromisingly serve, we domineer and use force to make others follow our will, which is generally self-interested. Selfishness abounds in all systems, but in a democratic, capitalistic, and materialistic system it is encouraged and perpetuated not only in the aristocracy who seek their own interest, but in every individual who is told to vote, purchase, and live by the guiding light of self-interest.
This stanza is pretty straightforward. We are not to objectify others and utilize power for self-interest. We are to recognize the image of God borne by others.
Referencing one of the supposed powers of an emerald – to give one’s eyes rest and clarity through passions – I am saying that we need to simply gaze upon the emerald. We need to just allow it to be and not objectify it. The opposite of objectifying would be to subjectify. What I mean by that is instead of turning something into an object of my subjective desires and goals, I allow the subject upon which I gaze to declare it’s own image. So as we look at women, men, children, government, or any other group or form of power, we must always do so with a clarity that cuts through our passions, self-interest, and objectification. We must recognize and heed God as declared through his image bearers rather than attempting to fashion and form God into our image. We do not import our desires upon others. That is objectification. We allow others to shine their light and reflect their image to us. We are observers of other image bearers, not creators. There is so much more I’d love to write here, particularly as it relates to how I see Drennan’s poem represented here – both where my poem complements his ideas as well as where we differ. He talks about a lot of things I could pull out, like mercy, vengeance, bigotry, etc. But I’ll leave it at this for now. For more on objectification, see Appendix 9.