Thursday, March 22, 2012

Thursday, 03/22/12

Gospel: Mark 8:27-9:1
Old Testament: Exodus 1:6-22
New Testament: 1 Corinthians 12:12-26
Psalms: 69,73

I've never seen a jet-black swan
To see a flock'd shock me
For if one nests in yonder pond
It could spell TEOTWAWKI*
(*The End Of The World As We Know It)

"A black swan is a highly improbable event with three principal characteristics:
It is unpredictable; it carries a massive impact; and, after the fact, we concoct an
explanation that makes it appear less random, and more predictable, than it was.
"Nassim Taleb, "The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable"

The first century Roman poet Juvenal (tongue-in-cheek no doubt) described the
virtuous woman as a "rara avis" (rare bird)
a Black Swan. Then as now, there
are only white swans in Eurasia (or in the Americas).  The first black swans were
sighted in Australia in the 17
th century.  Juvenal's point underscores the
logical axiom
absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

Taleb has extended the black swan metaphor to encompass (generally) unforeseen
events that had huge impact.  In our time, the classic example of a Black Swan is
the 9/11 attacks, which had massive near-term impacts on financial markets and
transportation systems, and longer-term impacts on international relations
(especially the relationship between the West and Islamic nations).

If we are objective, the incarnation of the Almighty in the person of Jesus was
a Black Swan event.  As his ministry progressed, people throughout the region
knew that something of unprecedented impact was going on.  Healings and miracles
were being reported.  Profound teaching was being re-circulated in astounding
conversations.  But few people, if any, were taking their conclusions to the next
that Jesus was not a continuation of the pattern established over
millennia of Jewish prophecy and teaching
that He was an unimagined,
unthinkable break from the pattern of the past.  That was Peter's moment of
lightning-from-God insight.  But even that insight was incomplete, because Peter
could not accept the burden of sacrifice that Messiah (and his followers) would
be taking on.  It would require two more Black Swan events
the Resurrection and
the outpouring of the Holy Spirit
for Peter to take that next step, to embrace
the end of the world as he had known it, and step with boldness into the world
of the Kingdom.

A Black Swan lies (some time) in our future that truly will be TEOTWAWKI.
Christ will come again.  Will we apprehend the truth when it comes?


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