Armistice Day: the Parable of the Old Man and the Young

by Richard on November 11, 2010

So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and went,
And took the fire with him, and a knife.
And as they sojourned both of them together,
Isaac the first-born spake and said, My Father,
Behold the preparations, fire and iron,
But where the lamb, for this burnt-offering?
Then Abram bound the youth with belts and straps,
And builded parapets and trenches there,
And stretchèd forth the knife to slay his son.
When lo! an Angel called him out of heaven,
Saying, Lay not thy hand upon the lad,
Neither do anything to him, thy son.
Behold! Caught in a thicket by its horns,
A Ram. Offer the Ram of Pride instead.

But the old man would not so, but slew his son,
And half the seed of Europe, one by one.

Wilfred Owen

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }


Wood 11.11.10 at 8:56 am

Yes. This.

Somewhat off-topic: the story of Abram being ordered to sacrifice Isaac is for me one of the single most problematic passges in the whole Bible. I cannot think of any interpretation of it that does not make God look like… well, bad. It’s been on my mind recently. It came up in a couple of places and I had a couple of long discussions about it.

Had I been in Abram’s shoes, I don’t doubt that I would have said no, I’m off to worship a good God. I certainly would never have got as far as the altar.


Kim 11.11.10 at 9:11 am

Jesus on Christians at war: “Do this to dismember me.”


Wood 11.11.10 at 9:20 am

Kim, if I didn’t know you, I’d accuse you of being facile… but one of the things that I most love about you is your ability to say something tremendously important that looks like it’s facile.

Um, that’s a compliment.

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