Thursday, September 04, 2008

Prayer is ...

I got a new book, entitled Reversed Thunder, The Revelation of John and the Praying Imagination by Eugene H. Peterson, and in his introduction, he quoted George Herbert:
Reversed thunder, Christ-side-piercing speare,
The six-days world transposing in an houre.

Utterly profound.

What do you think it means?



  1. Hi,

    This book is very interesting. It gave more information about Pearlie. This is the interesting site.


  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. hi pearlie,

    i believe that's George Herbert, not Hiebert, who happens to be a favourite of mine. You should check out his poem 'Love' as well.

    These two lines are from his poem 'Prayer', and it probably makes more sense if we look at the whole stanza:

    Engine against th' Almightie, sinner's towre,
    Reversed thunder, Christ-side-piercing spear,
    The six daies world-transposing in an houre,
    A kinde of tune, which all things heare and fear;

    The first line suggests that prayer is the means we come before ("against" was used in this sense a long time ago) God, the place of refuge. This is an extraordinary event, considering that we as sinners shouldn't be able to be in God's presence, thus the second line of things is conveying how things are turned upside down: "reversed thunder, Christ-side-piercing spear". That God is the one who dies in our place is mind-blowing, a complete reversal of how things should be, the very means by which we are ushered into God's presence and given the privilege of prayer. The third line suggests that creation has been building up to such a climax, reinforced by the 4th line: "all things" should not take this particular "tune" lightly! (Thunder also might bring to mind the darkness that enveloped the land when Jesus died and the curtain torn into two - access to God is now possible!)

    Herbert piles on the imagery throughout this stanza, and the tone being evoked here is one of awe ("Almightie, towre, thunder, six daies world, heare and feare" - can you feel the scale and weight of it? :)).

    My reading is almost certainly not 100% accurate, but I'll like to think that I'm on the right lines! :-D

  4. hmmm ...

    I still can get it even after thinking for many days ...

  5. I knew I left something undone, and this is what it -- yes, you are right, it is Herbert, not Hiebert. And thanks for revealing a fuller version of the verse - wonder why Peterson slashed it down. Hate it when that happens.