Monthly Archives: February 2013

Land of Beginning – Rebecca Thompson

By | Humanities | No Comments

There was a rich man who wore expensive garments and indulged in sumptuous feasts every day and a poor beggar Lazarus who was starving and stricken with sores from head to toe. Lazarus died and was carried up to Heaven by angels; however, the rich man died and was sent to Hell, in everlasting anguish. As the rich man was tormented, he lifted his eyes toward Heaven and saw Lazarus at Abraham’s side. “Send Lazarus down to dampen my tongue with water because of the tortuous flames,” he cried. Abraham responded, “Lazarus received bad things in life, but you received your good things. Now he is comforted in Heaven and you are in anguish” (Luke 16:19-25). This story of the rich man and the poor man shows how Heaven and Hell differ. Heaven is the place of peace and joy where the Lord reigns and there is no sin. Hell is the place of eternal damnation and suffering. After death, Christians are taken up to Heaven by God and non-Christians go to Hell. Clearly, Heaven is the ideal place to be because Jesus Christ rules there. The poem “The Land of Beginning Again” written by Louisa Fletcher describes Heaven, only, instead of Heaven, the poem calls this place the Land of Beginning Again; however, the way the poem describes the Land of Beginning Again does not match up with how the Bible describes Heaven. There are differences in the descriptions of Heaven related to the way admittance is achieved, meaning how a person goes to Heaven. Also, there are differences in the view of Christ’s eminence or how He is revered. Furthermore, there are differences in the details of the environment or what Heaven is like. These three distinctions prove that the illustration of the Land of Beginning Again does not entirely equal the illustration of Heaven in the Bible and is, in fact, not nearly as beneficial.

The Land of Beginning Again differs with Heaven and is not as esteemed foremost in the way a person gets there. The poem states, “We could come on it all unaware” (7). What the poem is conveying by “we could come on it,” is that a person does nothing to attain the Land of Beginning Again, he or she simply stumbles upon it. Also, a person obtains entrance to it “unaware,” meaning unintentionally and accidentally. It is true that a Christian does not know when he or she will enter Heaven; however, it is not true that a person may come to Heaven “all unaware.” In the Bible Jesus divulges, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life” (John 5:24). Admittedly, it is possible for anyone to receive eternal life in Heaven, for this quote pronounces “whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life.” But this citation also affirms that to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, a person must first hear the words of Jesus and believe in God the Father and be saved. Besides this, a person must also “repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). Therefore, it is impossible to enter Heaven “unaware,” for a person must first become a Christian, and, as a true Christian, will await Heaven, knowing of its reality. The poem additionally states that the Land of Beginning Again is discovered “like the hunter who finds a lost trail” (8). Of course, it is true that a spiritually “lost” person may find out how to get to heaven; nevertheless, Heaven should not be compared to a “lost trail” because Heaven itself is for the lost, so that they may find a way to life. This is evident when the Bible declares, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). These representations of how to get to the Land of Beginning Again and Heaven show how these places are not fully alike and that Heaven is superior.

Subsequently, the Land of Beginning Again and Heaven, the better of the two, contrast in how Christ is viewed there. The poem expounds, “The one whom our blindness has done the greatest injustice of all could be at the gates like an old friend that waits for the comrade he’s gladdest to hail” (9-12). “The one whom our blindness has done” is describing Jesus Christ, for “the greatest injustice of all” is His crucifixion. It might seem that, because Jesus is present in the Land of Beginning Again and Heaven, the two places are similar; however, this quote conflicts with how Jesus is regarded in Heaven because although it is true that Jesus may be seen as a friend and comrade, he is more than just that. The Bible proclaims of angels in Heaven, “And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, ‘Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations! Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed’ ” (Revelation 15:3-4). Jesus is “the Lamb” and in Heaven Jesus is seen as “great and amazing,” “just and true,” “holy,” and “righteous.” Furthermore, the angels sing of Jesus that “all nations will come and worship you,” meaning all Christians shall praise and adore Jesus, the Lamb of God. The poem does not speak of Jesus Christ in this point of view. Another dissimilarity in the way Jesus is viewed is unmistakable when the poem asserts, “And I think that the laughter is most what we’re after in the Land of Beginning Again” (29-30). One might object here that this assertion does not contradict with what the Bible says of Heaven because Heaven is a place of laughter. This is perceptible when the Bible conveys, “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh” (Luke 6:21). What this citation is communicating is that, as a Christian, if you “weep now” on earth, “you shall laugh” later in Heaven; however, the poem expresses of the Land of Beginning Again that “laughter is most what we’re after,” whereas, laughter is not the Bible’s main reasoning for seeking Heaven. This is apparent when the Bible commands, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:1-2). As Christians, people are to fix their “minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Laughter, nonetheless, can be found “on earth.” Although laughter is good because it is in Heaven, Christians should seek after what can only be found in Heaven. This passage also states that a Christian should “seek the things that are above, where Christ is,” meaning a person should work toward Jesus in Heaven. The fact that Christ is present there should make a person want to go to Heaven because Jesus is perfect and the savior of the universe. As previously confirmed, the way Jesus is viewed is one of the key differences between Heaven and the Land of Beginning Again and shows that Heaven is the greater place.

Finally, the Land of Beginning Again and Heaven, the more valuable of the two, are distinct in their environments, meaning what a person does there. “We would find all the things we intended to do but forgot, and remembered too late,” (13-14) the poem conveys. What this excerpt is communicating is that, in the Land of Beginning Again, a person may “find all things,” meaning all belongings and activities on earth must be found there. On top of that, a person may find what he or she “intended to do,” which shows we could do everything we wanted to do on earth in the Land of Beginning Again. Of course, some people’s dreams may have been a world without sin, but the poem is speaking of what a person may have wanted to do. Additionally, it is true that Heaven is a perfect world, but this does not mean we will do all that we wanted to do on earth there, for, in Heaven, people will no longer desire earthly wants. “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 19-20). What this verse means is that we should not store up valuable effects on earth, rather in Heaven, where things last forever; therefore, earthly treasures are worthless in Heaven and there is no care for them there. This means that what we want on earth is not the same as what we will want in Heaven. Moreover, “The Land of Beginning Again” expresses that there will be “little promises broken” (15). Although by “little” the poem means “a small amount,” this indicates that some promises are broken. Since breaking a promise is a sin, it must be concluded that sin is not fully absent in the Land of Beginning Again. This is not the same for Heaven. This is clear when the Bible announces of Heaven, “Nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false” (Revelation 21:27); breaking a promise is “false” because it is a form of lying, which is a sin and, therefore, “unclean” and “detestable.” Consequently, the poem states, “All our mistakes and all our heartaches and all of our selfish grief could be dropped” (3-5/33-35); whereas the Bible professes of God in Heaven, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore” (Revelation 21:4). It might seem that both of these passages mean the same thing: that grief, tears, and death will be absent. Nevertheless, the poem does not mention not having pain, but the Bible does. This proves that the Land of Beginning Again is not perfect, unlike Heaven, for how is there to be a perfect world that has pain? These variations in the Land of Beginning Again’s and Heaven’s environments, ergo, support the argument that they are disparate and Heaven is more beneficent.

On the whole, Heaven and the Land of Beginning Again conflict because of the poem’s outlook on Jesus. Jesus is the main focus throughout the Bible’s passages on Heaven that have been previously referenced; however, the poem barely mentions Jesus at all; and when it does, the poem does not even call Jesus by His name, but “the one whom our blindness has done the greatest injustice of all.” Because of this, Heaven is greater than the Land of Beginning Again. Jesus’s prominence in Heaven proves how Heaven is better than the Land of Beginning Again when the Bible states that Christians are to seek what is above, where Christ is, thus demonstrating Christ’s importance. The poem, regardless, does not show the same value of Jesus as the Bible does. The past exemplifications confirm the argument that the poem’s depiction of the Land of Beginning Again differs from the Bible’s depiction of Heaven, and is not as advantageous.

Just how great is Jay Gatsby? – Carter Lemons

By | Knightly Herald | No Comments

Everyone has a vision, and each person’s vision is unique. This picture of future success is what many people live for. A vision could be as big as building a rocket and flying to the moon, or as small as earning an A on a test. However, the events of life often seem to diminish the hope that those visions can be made real. The ability to maintain that hope in spite of life’s obstacles is what distinguishes a great man from an ordinary man. Great men achieve their dreams and overcome obstacles through hard work, perseverance, patience and sacrifice. Hope empowers great men to exhibit those same character traits. In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby becomes a great man because he has hope that he will realize his visions. He had hope that he could become wealthy, and he had hope that he could make Daisy fall in love with him. As Christians, we should have hope as well, hope that sets us apart from the world.

The first of Gatsby’s visions was to overcome poverty and become a wealthy man. “[Gatsby’s] parents were shiftless and unsuccessful farm people – his imagination never really accepted them as his parents at all . . . So he invented just the sort of Jay Gatsby that a seventeen-year old would invent” (98). His vision of wealth and success was so powerful that it kept Gatsby from seeing his mother and father as his parents. At a young age, Gatsby had a vision to become a successful man of high social status, though based upon his childhood he did not yet have hope for it to become real. It seemed like an impossible dream. One day, Gatsby warned a wealthy copper magnate about dangerous

winds that threatened to destroy the man’s boat. As a result of Gatsby’s actions, the man Dan Cody took Gatsby under his wing and eventually left Gatsby a portion of his money when he died. Though Gatsby was prevented from receiving that inheritance, his childhood vision was no longer just a daydream. Gatsby had a vision and now the hope that he could make that vision real because he had been given a chance by a successful businessman. However, in order to achieve his dream, Gatsby worked hard and persevered, even though he acquired some of his fortune through activities that were illegal at the time. Nonetheless, work ethic and perseverance are two essential qualities of a great man that might not exist without hope.

In addition to wealth, Gatsby desired love. Gatsby’s second vision in the novel was to make Daisy fall in love with him again. Because Daisy had married another, this vision would result in adultery, but it is his vision nonetheless. Earlier in life, Daisy and Gatsby had fallen in love and tried to get married. However, Gatsby was just a soldier, and Daisy’s wealthy family disapproved of the relationship. Gatsby went off to war, but when he returned, Daisy was married to Tom Buchanan, a rich man. Now Gatsby had to overcome an obstacle in order to make Daisy fall in love with him again. Gatsby pursued Daisy in a number of ways. “Gatsby bought this house so Daisy would be just across the bay. He half expected her to wander into one of his parties. He’s read the Chicago paper just to catch a glimpse of Daisy’s name” (78). Everything Gatsby did was for Daisy. Gatsby’s life revolved around Daisy though she did not yet know he still loved her. So Gatsby arranged a meeting with Daisy. Though it was awkward at first, Daisy soon fell in love with Gatsby again. The hope that he could somehow rekindle Daisy’s love for him empowered Gatsby to persevere and be extremely patient, vital qualities of any great man. Unfortunately for Gatsby, his vision was never fully realized. When Daisy killed Myrtle, Gatsby lied and said that he was driving when Tom’s mistress was run over. Gatsby’s resolve to protect Daisy and to take the blame for Myrtle’s death resulted in his own murder. Gatsby’s selfless act of sacrifice for Daisy resembles Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for Christians. Though the book never mentions religious conviction or lack thereof, Gatsby’s self-sacrifice is that of a great man.

Furthermore, Gatsby’s hope parallels the hope that we are to have as Christians. We have hope that all our sins have been forgiven and hope that empowers us to be better people and to overcome the bonds of sin. A Christian’s hope is in Christ’s return to take us to our heavenly home. Our hope should set us apart from the world. As previously stated, the hope Gatsby had empowered him to work hard, persevere, be patient and sacrifice himself for another. Christians should exhibit those qualities as well. Christians should work hard to glorify God, persevere through trials, wait patiently for Christ’s return, and be willing to sacrifice for others.

F. Scott Fitzgerald could have written The Great Gatsby for several reasons, but the most likely one is this: one cannot achieve one’s dreams or overcome life’s obstacles without hope. Gatsby had two main visions in the book. One was to become wealthy and the other to make Daisy fall in love with him a second time. Gatsby became an extremely wealthy man, and though Daisy and Gatsby did not get married, they did fall in love again. Gatsby was only able to achieve his dreams because he believed that he could. Hope enabled Gatsby to work hard, persevere, and be patient. Ultimately, hope allowed Gatsby to become a great man.

Download the PDF Version