It’s after Thanksgiving Day and let the postmortems begin! I’m only half-joking. For many of us who rarely see family members because of time, distance, or circumstance, Thanksgiving Day gatherings simply add new scars to old wounds or put to sudden death relationships that hang by the most meagre familial ties. History looms over the proceedings, manacling participants to doomed conversations haunted by the past, bitter blasts that erupt from beneath the thin crust of apple pie amiability.
Only the children play unaware of the raging undercurrents. They play until they too are infected by the poison of tongues that cut and mouths that snap and eyes that pierce their carefree abandon.
Cain, where is your brother Abel? See, the Queen mother Athaliah hunts down her own descendants! But where lie the seventy sons of Gideon, slaughtered by their brother Abimelech?
So post-Thanksgiving holiday, why would anyone want to read the Southern-gothic-history-besotted William Faulkner? Much less Abasalom, Absalom!
Masochism? No. Catharsis? Possibly. Enlightenment? Unexpectedly.
Among other things, Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom! reveals the drive for justice that is the root of all prolonged bloody conflict in the history of nations as well as families. Whatever the initial springs of the conflict, the steady malingering flow seeps from the human desire for final justice to be rendered. Yet that justice between flawed and corrupt beings whose vision and acumen fall far short of perfection can never be flawlessly rendered. Still we seek it. Some in the form of vengeance. Others in the slightest acknowledgment of remorse or reparation. All without realizing that we are not qualified to render justice or even its fruits. Our own hands are unholy, have never been guiltless to begin with.
Justice, vengeance, belongs only to God who is holy. “For our God is a consuming fire.” Are we not all in need of forgiveness before Him? And if we have received it through faith in Christ Jesus who took upon himself the sentence of justice that was ours, hanging cursed upon a tree, the Cross, then should we not be all the more eager to step away from the role of judge, jury, and executioner as a convict pardoned by sheer mercy and grace and love most amazing?!
History, our history, should not hold us prisoner. We are free in Christ Jesus. We are inheritors of a kingdom that cannot be shaken. How can we not be so grateful, so thankful, that we cannot see that grace, that love has covered and covers still a multitude of sins?! Let the thanksgiving begin!
James 2:12-13 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. Hebrews 12:22-29 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.