Moses, Meteors, Tobacco and Grace

by Travis Prinzi on November 18, 2009

I think my dog Moses just had his first experience chewing tobacco.

I was trying to put together thoughts for a lecture I’m giving on Harry Potter in a couple of days at the Barrett Honors College at Arizona State University, and I decided to go outside, smoke a cigar (Oliva Serie V), and hope to catch a few earlier Leonid meteors from the limited view I have on the front porch of my house here in the city. No such luck with meteors, but several ideas for Friday’s talk came to mind.

Moses was sitting with me on the porch, and about halfway through my cigar, I heard him chewing on something. It was dark, but I’m pretty sure it was the end of the cigar that I’d snipped off.

It’s been almost a decade since the last time I waited up for meteors. I’m thinking about what would have happened if a soothsayer had approached me at that time and said, “A decade from now, you’ll be smoking a cigar and watching this same meteor shower from the front porch of your city street.” I’d have shouted “False prophet!” I’m sure.

Here’s the deceptive thing about the Fallen human condition. I’m no longer the legalist I was then. But the pride that serves as a foundation for legalism doesn’t go away when the pharisaical rules are stripped away. Instead, I can be proud that I’m smoking and drinking and cussing, and thanking God I’m not like those Pharisees, who think they’ll be accepted for their rule keeping. And so, paradoxically, I’m being just like the Pharisee in my quest not to be like the Pharisee.

What was Jeremiah saying about the deceitfulness of the heart?

Moses – the OT one, not my dog – is an interesting character. A decade ago, under that meteor shower in my parents’ backyard, if you’d asked me about Moses, I’d have told you all about how he’s an example of what might happen if you sin. Well sure, he’s that. He got all the way to the Promised Land, and then botched it with anger and disobedience. The funny thing about the New Testament, though, is that when it retells the story of Moses, it doesn’t mention that incident. It seems like that’s a pretty defining incident in Moses’ life, but that’s not how the NT talks about Moses.

Grace is a pretty radical thing, and it tears down our pride, whether that pride is a foundation for our moralism or our celebration of liberty from legalism. At the end of Moses’ life, despite all the lessons he’d learned, he screwed up, and he’s accepted and loved. At the end of my life, having traded legalism most likely for other, more subtle forms of prideful behavior, I’ll probably screw up like Moses did. I’ll be accepted, too. That, and only that, is the antidote for pride and the prescription for humility.

Smoke ’em if you got ’em. Just don’t be prideful about it. We need grace every bit as much as the Pharisee.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Cayle May 23, 2017 at 9:46 pm

hahaha at first i thought he was behind the wheel in beginning i was thinking about that no tex no drive law except no popping and driving hahaha but realized he was in back seat ahhhhh the joys of having a great car ride with your friend and pimple pus flying in the car for all riders to enjoy sure looked like fun to me and yes i agree with alot of the comments on here his ey2&e8#17;s are super hot gorgeous great find and post BUFORD PUS-ER smooches hugs and audie bear loves

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