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Re: [XTalk] The Dutch Radical Approach to the Pauline Epistles

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  • expcman@aol.com
    The idea that apocalypiticism is a later addition/development in Christianity has been around for a while (and thus is not new at all) and is suspect for
    Message 1 of 21 , Aug 2, 2001
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      The idea that "apocalypiticism" is a later addition/development in
      Christianity has been around for a while (and thus is not new at all) and is
      suspect for reasons other than the suspicion that this view is self-serving,
      a necessary concomitant hypothesis
      to support the view that at least Jesus and perhaps even some of the early
      Christian
      communities were NOT apocalyptic at all.

      To select just one problem here - because of the obvious affinities of
      Christian apocalypticism with Judaism, its originating Sitz/home/milieu most
      naturally seems to be among Jewish Christians and particularly ones in
      Palestine. Yet this group virtually ceases to exist (at least to the extent
      that they no longer influence any of the significant issues of Christian
      history) after the "First Jewish Revolt" of 66-70.
      Thus, "apocalyptic Christianity" would need to be "at home" in Palestine
      prior to this
      era, just when a "Q" was written. So if the "apocalyptic Q" is a later
      recension of a
      "Q" that is originally non-apocalyptic, it must have happened pretty darn
      quick ...
      possible, but likely? And this involves this "Q" being adopted by another
      group of Palestinian Jewish Christians despite its lack of congruity with its
      own views and values.

      And which two groups would be involved here? It is usual (not just these
      days) to posit a Galilean or even Syrian (= Damascus?) origin for "Q,"
      perhaps because we know less about it and perceive that it would be easier to
      find Hellenistic influence there. But Jerusalem is where we know extensive
      Jews from the Diaspora resided
      and thus where Hellenistic ideas would be found as congenial already. Yet
      James
      was the accepted leader of that Christian community ... and he was not a
      Hellenist.
      In fact, that James' own views were apocalyptic is the usual explanation (one
      which I accept) for why he and his community were financially poor, as they
      had "sold all"
      and were awaiting the Parousia by daily prayers in the Temple's court-yard.

      But even more to the point is that a non-apocalyptic "Q" is usually seen as
      also non-
      Jewish! The absence of any distinctively Jewish concerns, issues, or
      vocabulary would be most peculiar in a document posited as written by Jewish
      Christians in
      Palestine, especially ones preoccupied with their concerns for "doing Torah."
      The
      idea of a non-Torah-keeping group of Jews in Palestine as the originating
      community
      for "Q, first edition" just strikes me as unlikely.

      Thus, while I do not object to the current hypothesis that there were groups
      of "Jesus people" in Galilee (i.e. ones who sought to follow Jesus' teaching
      yet without accepting the keryma and thus were not awaiting the Parousia),
      such groups would
      not seem to be a natural home for producing a "Q" that was later used by one
      or more of the authors of the canonical gospels. Thus, their views would not
      be very
      significant for the development of the literary texts which became the
      gospels we now have.

      Oops - I responded to Ron that my response would not have been as succinct as
      his ... I just illustrated the point, but I got carried away ... if only to
      clarify my own perceptions. Sorry, folks.

      Clive


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • expcman@aol.com
      Thanks for this clear and evidently thoughtful response, one which sets forth a view other than my own. The problem which you need to address (seems to me) to
      Message 2 of 21 , Aug 2, 2001
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        Thanks for this clear and evidently thoughtful response, one which sets forth
        a view other than my own. The problem which you need to address (seems to
        me) to be not just whether or not such a Jesus is envisionable in the known
        context of the political/social/economic/etc. events and institutions of
        first century Palestine but whether a community was created which shared
        these views, ones which produced
        the oral traditions used by the authors of the several gospels. I think that
        this is why
        this forum spends as much time talking about issues of "history of
        Christianity" as about "history of Jesus," since such are the creators and
        transmittors of what we know about Jesus. Thus, Jesus as "wisdom teacher"
        requires a community which saw him in such terms, but Jesus as "apocalyptic
        prophet" seems rather how he was seen by the earliest Christians in
        Palestine, the ones from whom the "Jesus tradition(s)" emerged. That there
        was an early alternative to this seems likely, one which grew into the
        Johnannine traditions preserved in (most likely) Alexandria and in fact I
        would posit its origin in Jerusalem among the resident Greek-speaking Jews,
        who were visiting/residing there from the Diaspora. To me, this seems a more
        likely
        place to find a "Hellenistic milieu" for the growth of a non-apocalyptic
        Christianity than among Aramic-speaking Galilean peasants as now being
        posited by many. My
        view also makes it easier to account for the oral traditions becoming written
        down,
        something more likely to have been done in some urban location than some
        rural one. So the discussion must needs be about just the believability of
        one or another
        hypothesis about the "real Jesus" but also about the believability of
        corollary hypotheses about the originating communities that formed the oral
        tradition about Jesus ... and the communities which transmitted such. This
        is not so much to argue
        against what you've just said as to invite you to consider and to state what
        you must
        necessarily argue as the means by which such a Jesus was remembered and
        transmitted in such a way that our gospel authors received such information
        ... even if not such views.

        Clive


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Gordon Raynal
        Clive, ... Without any quotes in this post I m not sure to whom you are responding, but let me make several comments... Thus, Jesus as wisdom teacher ... Let
        Message 3 of 21 , Aug 2, 2001
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          Clive,


          expcman@... wrote:
          >
          > Thanks for this clear and evidently thoughtful response, one which sets forth
          > a view other than my own.

          Without any quotes in this post I'm not sure to whom you are responding,
          but let me make several comments...


          Thus, Jesus as "wisdom teacher"
          > requires a community which saw him in such terms, but Jesus as "apocalyptic
          > prophet" seems rather how he was seen by the earliest Christians in
          > Palestine, the ones from whom the "Jesus tradition(s)" emerged.

          Let me begin here...

          This way of expressing communal life, in my view, flattens not only
          communities and specific works, but the genre and use of apocalyptic
          itself as it is utilized in various writings. First, and I know this is
          outside of Palestine, but consider the Corinthian Church. I Corinthians
          opens with Paul dealing with at least 4 and maybe 5 factions in one
          Christian community (I note 5 because sometimes when folks claim such as
          "I belong to you" [as in some claiming to belong to Paul] they may not
          at all reflect where one is coming from!). My point here is that it is
          entirely conceivable that individual communities of the Way could indeed
          contain members who "do theology" in different ways. Thus, this idea
          that there is a kind of blanket uniformity of "apocalyptacism" I find
          entirely wanting.

          Second, to the resident theologies in the TANAK and the conclusion that
          1st century Judaism was overwhelmingly apocalyptic. TANAK indeed
          contains a number of theological voices. So: a) there is absolutely
          nothing "unJewish" about one speaking as a sage/ small "r" rabbi out of
          this rich heritage, b) there is nothing surprising about the reality
          that this theological discipline/ stance being enjoined in the mayhem of
          the early first century, and c) there is nothing unusual about such "a
          Voice" being then reflected upon and redacted through the other extant
          theologies known to us. And indeed this is precisely what the extant
          texts preserve for us! Single works will draw upon the Royal theology
          of the Psalms, the Classical Prophecy of Isaiah, the Apocalyptacism of
          Daniel and the Wisdom traditions in various ways.

          Third... the use of the apocalyptic genre itself is various. The way
          the apocalyptic elements are utilized in varies in the Synoptic Gospels,
          not to mention between such as Mark, John, Ep. James and Revelation.

          Thus citing a uniform and overall "apocalyptacism" of earliest
          Christianity does not, in my view, fairly account for the Hebraic
          heritage, the adherents of the Way/ Christianity, nor the NT writings we have.



          This
          > is not so much to argue
          > against what you've just said as to invite you to consider and to state what
          > you must
          > necessarily argue as the means by which such a Jesus was remembered and
          > transmitted in such a way that our gospel authors received such information
          > ... even if not such views.


          The place I want to begin here is with the Mission Statement in Q/ Luke
          10:3 ff and with the parables. In my view this mission is not "an
          apocalyptic venture," but rather is very much "a ministry of [present]
          reconciliation." And the parables are Parabolic Wisdom forms of speech.
          Parabling at table (to draw these two together) very much raises a very
          "here and now" response. And indeed, if it were effective [and it
          surely was!!!] then it comes as no surprise that those who came from the
          different parties and different theological traditions, and who stayed,
          would indeed reflect upon Jesus in the aftermath of his tragic death
          with **all the resources** from that past. And again, that's just what
          we get! The extant writings show a rich and powerful weaving of
          reflections about Jesus words and a profound creativity about the
          effects of the reconciliation (why Jesus can calm storms, walk on water
          and feed multitudes, just to name a few things! ... ALL these clearly
          rooted in the Hebraic scriptures). Reading the Hebrew Scriptures and
          simply reading the parables I find no trouble seeing how we get what we
          get as powerful kerygma and then on to even more fanciful writings (thus
          such as the Infancy Gospels).

          Finally, as for all of this happening "rapidly?" Well I don't know how
          many of Malcolm X's speeches you've ever listened to. But in the 1960's
          he would hardly have been considered a candidate to go on a U.S. Postal
          Stamp. But 3 decades later there he was! By analogy, the Wisdom
          theological response by Jesus reflected upon through the lens of the
          various theological voices in Scripture left us a legacy wherein Jesus
          is titled everything from "my rabbi" to "Christ" to "High Priest after
          the order of Melchizedek" to "the Lamb of God that takes away the sins
          of the world" to "I am...," etc. etc. So, to conclude... with the
          Hebrew Scriptures in the background as "First Canon" and the power of
          Jesus thought and mission, I find it not hard at all to conceive of how
          rapidly the kerygma developed between ca. 30 to ca. 70 to 75 when we get
          something like the Mark that we have. And I can well imagine those "in
          Mark's" community (-ies) being of diverse theological perspective.

          So, I hope this at least gives a partial response to your wonderings.

          Gordon Raynal
          Inman, SC
        • Robert C. Davis
          May I throw in here on this one for a bit? This interests me because Clive and I--who used to be colleagues at the same college until he retired--have spoken
          Message 4 of 21 , Aug 2, 2001
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            May I throw in here on this one for a bit? This interests me because Clive
            and I--who used to be colleagues at the same college until he retired--have
            spoken in the past at some length about some of these very issues.

            Part of the issue, it seems to me, is whether it is credible to assume that
            the overwhelming attention paid to apocalyptic thinking in Jewish Palestine
            during the period before the destruction of Jerusalem was not shared
            generally by Palestinian Jews and thus by Palestinian Jewish-Christians by
            extension. In order to make that assumption, one would have to suggest that
            this apocalyptic world-view was not as generally accepted by traditional
            Palestinian Jews as has been suggested, and that thus there were whole
            groups/factions among Palestinian Jews that in fact neglected or overlooked
            it.

            With all respects, I don't think this can be maintained, for reasons which I
            believe went to the core of Jewish national assumptions. There were certain
            commonalities among Jews in Palestine at the time, which included, first,
            the traditional assumption that Israel remained a unique, unparalleled, and
            unprecedented nation because of its exclusive relationship with Yahweh;
            second, that the occupation of Israel by Rome was an abomination that could
            not be tolerated for reasons already cited in the first point; and third
            that Yahweh Himself would ultimately do something about that occupation--and
            that the messiah was to be the agent of this transformation.

            The other commonality shared by all Palestinian Jews, of course, was their
            collective experience of the Roman occupation--and this, I think, was enough
            to bind them together in a collective apocalyptic orientation because it was
            aimed at the one goal they all shared: the end of Roman control.

            Now...that there may well have been differences in the way specific groups
            looked for the eventual apocalyptic victory to manifest itself is not
            impossible by any means. Thus, the possibility that Jesus could act in the
            Wisdom Sage tradition, in contrast, say, to John the Baptist's more
            prophetic approach, does not exclude the participation of either group in
            the overall apocalyptic focus of Jewish Palestine generally. What it might
            say is that there was more than one recognized approach to the
            accomplishment of the same apocalyptic goal. Again, this is not much of a
            stretch when one considers that there were great differences between the
            Sicarii on the one hand and the more moderate political factions on the
            other as to whether it is reasonable or even possible to "advance the date"
            of the Day of the Lord through the use of human actions. The Sicarii may
            well have believed that it was indeed possible; the other factions did not.
            But this does not mean that both were not thinking within the same general
            apocalyptic parameters when it came to both assumptions and goals.

            The problem for the earliest generation of Palestinian Jewish Christians was
            to redefine this apocalyptic world-view so as to make the claim that Jesus
            was indeed the apocalyptic messiah--and to do so in a way that could
            persuade at least some of their Jewish neighbors that they were indeed
            correct in doing so. This redefinition in itself could well have presented
            some major difficulties within the earliest Christian generation, and
            perhaps could account for the kinds of differences you and others have been
            discussing. I find it interesting, for instance, that the "triumvirate" of
            Peter, James, and John in the earliest chapters of Acts suddenly is modified
            without any explanation--John suddenly goes missing! To the extent that
            this represents the preservation of an early strain of tradition (and I
            realize that making any such assumption as regards Acts is in itself
            potentially problematic--particularly since I agree with an early 2nd
            century dating for Luke-Acts), might we not have an implicit reference to
            just such a disagreement, which ultimately led to one segment of the
            earliest generation deciding to go out on its own in order to emphasize a
            different messianic perspective? But one which still remained within the
            more general apocalyptic world-view still shared in common by all
            Palestinian Jews?

            If any of this is valid, then I believe it leads us to conclude that the
            role of Greek-speaking Jews in the transmission process may come a bit later
            (sorry, Clive). I consider it possible that these Jews, once they had begun
            to return to their own towns and synagogues, had to find a way to transmit
            this new gospel in such fashion as to make it credible within a Hellenistic
            and non-apocalyptic thought-world. But I would want to put this at a
            "second stage" of gospel transmission, thus making these particular
            Jewish-Christians the "transition" stage toward an eventually and thoroughly
            Hellenized gospel--and here is where, for example, I would want to locate
            the infancy narratives, etc.

            Meanwhile back at the ranch...the ongoing opposition by the Jerusalem group
            under James to Paul's "law-free" approach among his own converts can only be
            explained by the Jerusalem group's continuing adherence to the traditional
            apocalyptic world-view. This is because of their continuing fear that their
            own spiritual purity would be risked by contact with non-Jewish Christians,
            and thus their own places in the New Age placed in jeopardy. Yes, they were
            "beat back" from time to time on this question (cf. Galatians 2, Acts 15),
            but I believe I am remembering my conversations with Clive correctly when I
            suggest that we both have previously agreed that the Jerusalem group saw
            these incidents as lost battles, but not the end of the "war." Indeed, the
            continuing enmity toward Paul that is evident in both his letters and in
            Acts would seem to imply that this group maintained its apocalyptic--and
            therefore thoroughly insular!--stance right through until the destruction of
            Jerusalem in 70 and their subsequent flight to Pella.

            So...what does all this have to do with the price of anything? Just that to
            the extent that the Q material represents the earliest strain of Jesus
            transmission by those considered most able and "authorized" to present it
            (which would be the Jerusalem group, no doubt), then there is no reason to
            see that material as representing a non-apocalyptic viewpoint. It couldn't,
            after all, for otherwise these particular Jews (and that, remember, is what
            they still considered themselves to be!) would no longer have been "Jews,"
            by virtue of the very apocalyptic definitions they had always accepted!
            Thus, whatever de-apocalypticizing as ultimately took place should be
            assigned to a later date and to transmissions by derivative and probably
            Hellenized groups.

            I appreciate the chance to share these thoughts with my fellow scholars and
            friends. But now I must get back to grading, before my summer school
            students string me up!!!

            Respectfully,

            Robert Davis
            Division of Humanities
            Pikeville College

            -----Original Message-----
            From: Gordon Raynal [mailto:scudi@...]
            Sent: Thursday, August 02, 2001 7:04 PM
            To: crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com
            Subject: Re: [XTalk] The Dutch Radical Approach to the Pauline Epistles


            Clive,


            expcman@... wrote:
            >
            > Thanks for this clear and evidently thoughtful response, one which sets
            forth
            > a view other than my own.

            Without any quotes in this post I'm not sure to whom you are responding,
            but let me make several comments...


            Thus, Jesus as "wisdom teacher"
            > requires a community which saw him in such terms, but Jesus as
            "apocalyptic
            > prophet" seems rather how he was seen by the earliest Christians in
            > Palestine, the ones from whom the "Jesus tradition(s)" emerged.

            Let me begin here...

            This way of expressing communal life, in my view, flattens not only
            communities and specific works, but the genre and use of apocalyptic
            itself as it is utilized in various writings. First, and I know this is
            outside of Palestine, but consider the Corinthian Church. I Corinthians
            opens with Paul dealing with at least 4 and maybe 5 factions in one
            Christian community (I note 5 because sometimes when folks claim such as
            "I belong to you" [as in some claiming to belong to Paul] they may not
            at all reflect where one is coming from!). My point here is that it is
            entirely conceivable that individual communities of the Way could indeed
            contain members who "do theology" in different ways. Thus, this idea
            that there is a kind of blanket uniformity of "apocalyptacism" I find
            entirely wanting.

            Second, to the resident theologies in the TANAK and the conclusion that
            1st century Judaism was overwhelmingly apocalyptic. TANAK indeed
            contains a number of theological voices. So: a) there is absolutely
            nothing "unJewish" about one speaking as a sage/ small "r" rabbi out of
            this rich heritage, b) there is nothing surprising about the reality
            that this theological discipline/ stance being enjoined in the mayhem of
            the early first century, and c) there is nothing unusual about such "a
            Voice" being then reflected upon and redacted through the other extant
            theologies known to us. And indeed this is precisely what the extant
            texts preserve for us! Single works will draw upon the Royal theology
            of the Psalms, the Classical Prophecy of Isaiah, the Apocalyptacism of
            Daniel and the Wisdom traditions in various ways.

            Third... the use of the apocalyptic genre itself is various. The way
            the apocalyptic elements are utilized in varies in the Synoptic Gospels,
            not to mention between such as Mark, John, Ep. James and Revelation.

            Thus citing a uniform and overall "apocalyptacism" of earliest
            Christianity does not, in my view, fairly account for the Hebraic
            heritage, the adherents of the Way/ Christianity, nor the NT writings we
            have.



            This
            > is not so much to argue
            > against what you've just said as to invite you to consider and to state
            what
            > you must
            > necessarily argue as the means by which such a Jesus was remembered and
            > transmitted in such a way that our gospel authors received such
            information
            > ... even if not such views.


            The place I want to begin here is with the Mission Statement in Q/ Luke
            10:3 ff and with the parables. In my view this mission is not "an
            apocalyptic venture," but rather is very much "a ministry of [present]
            reconciliation." And the parables are Parabolic Wisdom forms of speech.
            Parabling at table (to draw these two together) very much raises a very
            "here and now" response. And indeed, if it were effective [and it
            surely was!!!] then it comes as no surprise that those who came from the
            different parties and different theological traditions, and who stayed,
            would indeed reflect upon Jesus in the aftermath of his tragic death
            with **all the resources** from that past. And again, that's just what
            we get! The extant writings show a rich and powerful weaving of
            reflections about Jesus words and a profound creativity about the
            effects of the reconciliation (why Jesus can calm storms, walk on water
            and feed multitudes, just to name a few things! ... ALL these clearly
            rooted in the Hebraic scriptures). Reading the Hebrew Scriptures and
            simply reading the parables I find no trouble seeing how we get what we
            get as powerful kerygma and then on to even more fanciful writings (thus
            such as the Infancy Gospels).

            Finally, as for all of this happening "rapidly?" Well I don't know how
            many of Malcolm X's speeches you've ever listened to. But in the 1960's
            he would hardly have been considered a candidate to go on a U.S. Postal
            Stamp. But 3 decades later there he was! By analogy, the Wisdom
            theological response by Jesus reflected upon through the lens of the
            various theological voices in Scripture left us a legacy wherein Jesus
            is titled everything from "my rabbi" to "Christ" to "High Priest after
            the order of Melchizedek" to "the Lamb of God that takes away the sins
            of the world" to "I am...," etc. etc. So, to conclude... with the
            Hebrew Scriptures in the background as "First Canon" and the power of
            Jesus thought and mission, I find it not hard at all to conceive of how
            rapidly the kerygma developed between ca. 30 to ca. 70 to 75 when we get
            something like the Mark that we have. And I can well imagine those "in
            Mark's" community (-ies) being of diverse theological perspective.

            So, I hope this at least gives a partial response to your wonderings.

            Gordon Raynal
            Inman, SC


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            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Gordon Raynal
            ... Robert, Thank you for your note. not as generally accepted by traditional Palestinian Jews, as you know from my note is where we will disagree. Just to
            Message 5 of 21 , Aug 2, 2001
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              "Robert C. Davis" wrote:

              > Part of the issue, it seems to me, is whether it is credible to assume that
              > the overwhelming attention paid to apocalyptic thinking in Jewish Palestine
              > during the period before the destruction of Jerusalem was not shared
              > generally by Palestinian Jews and thus by Palestinian Jewish-Christians by
              > extension. In order to make that assumption, one would have to suggest that
              > this apocalyptic world-view was not as generally accepted by traditional
              > Palestinian Jews as has been suggested, and that thus there were whole
              > groups/factions among Palestinian Jews that in fact neglected or overlooked
              > it.
              >
              Robert,

              Thank you for your note. "not as generally accepted by traditional
              Palestinian Jews," as you know from my note is where we will disagree.
              Just to stir the pot a tad;)!, a central issue in this, as you are well
              aware, is how one conceives of what is "core/ early" and what is the
              product of extended reflection/ redaction/ extension. Just as a thought
              model from an earlier era... the Ezra-Nehemiah traditions tell of the
              central "official thought" of the post Exilic era. Such as the
              Chronicler retells Israel's story with an eye towards Central cultic
              faithfulness. And this represents a dominant Temple piety viewpoint.
              And yet the Hebrew Scriptures also contain a lampooning of this dominant
              viewpoint (Jonah!... a parabolic response in the guise of a prophetic
              book). This little example shows the vibrancy of the tradition and the
              strength of maintaining the various strong voices from the past. And
              the Duetero canonical books reveal the continuation of this diversity.
              To jam, so to speak, the Wisdom of Solomon and Ben Sira into "a
              generally held apocalyptic view," in my view, does not do justice to the
              breadth of the theological constructive possibilities that were accessed
              in the Hebraic tradition and parties. And so again, from TANAK and from
              the Deutero Canonicals we know of a Hebraic/ Jewish wisdom heritage.
              The parables and aphorisms of Jesus are wisdom theological and ethical
              forms. The mission strategy is "here and now" response that is
              consonant with a wisdom theological and ethical response. And then
              besides... that Jesus voiced something that wasn't "generally accepted"
              seems to be very much the case! (thus the crowds in Nazareth and others
              puzzle: "What is this wisdom that has been given to him?" Mark 6:2).
              And so again, that this profoundly thoughtful and provocative response
              was quickly reflected upon in relation to the range of theological
              voices from the past comes as no surprise to me at all. That the
              apocalyptic took on a special cogency across the following decades makes
              special sense;)! After all, someone who was understood by his friends
              as parabling "the Kingdom of God" would be seen to be a pretty dim sage
              if that wisdom wasn't understood as taking into account the increasing
              slide into violence and mayhem. That, after the Roman Jewish War, a
              central emphasis was placed on this (such as in Mark 13), pardon, "just
              sort of makes sense!" But then again... the collected writings that
              came together preserve not just "a general apocalyptacism," but indeed
              such as Ep. James, which is clearly a wisdom focused epistle, Hebrews a
              work that is centered in Priestly Theology, etc.

              So, we will have to continue to disagree about this. With Dom Crossan I
              think underneath both Q and Thomas is a common sayings source. That
              source is a wisdom collection. And such views as you present here just
              don't push me away from paying close attention not only the genre of
              that collection, but, of course... the content! And so just to end this
              with a bit of a poem:)... let me end with what I think is vintage HJ:

              "The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; nor
              will they say, "Look here it is!" or "There it is!" For the kingdom of
              God is among you." (NRSV Luke 17:21). Pardon my southern expression,
              but "this just ain't an apocalyptic affirmation."

              Gordon Raynal
              Inman, SC
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