The Christian Humanist Podcast, Episode #82: The Ocean

General Introduction
– Whose campus smells worst?
– Nathan pokes another hornet’s nest
– A beer for your stomach

Etymologies
Marine is boring
Okeanos
– Are marines soldiers or sailors?
– The North(ern) Sea
– Plural waters
– Does size matter?

The Ocean in Ancient Cosmologies
– The Babylonian sea dragon
– The ocean as place of danger
– Pacific Island mythologies
– Adonai’s difference
– The Greco-Roman world-ocean
– Scientific understandings
– The oceanic chiasmus

The Literature of the Ocean
Moby-Dick, obviously
The ocean as cure for the coffin factory
– Understanding the mystery
– The sea spits Pym out
– The valley of the shadow of death
– Where have all the Cyclopes gone?
– The place of ambition
– How the ocean teaches you to work
– Well, someone has to mention Coleridge

We Fake Art and Music History Again
– How to dwarf Mt. Fuji
– Homer the optimist and Homer the pessimist
– Cartography and unrealism
– Williams steals from Stravinsky
– David tries to hum Debussy

Our Own Stories
– Nathan discovers the Pacific
– Michial seeks false seas for real depression
– Victoria Farmer stares down Tropical Storm Claudette
– David follows the sun

An Oceanic Theology
– Learning from the Romantics
– Rhetorical reality
– King Knute and the ocean

9 thoughts on “The Christian Humanist Podcast, Episode #82: The Ocean

  1. Hey, gang:Long time listener, second time commenter. I loved your conversation this week, but I was a little surprised that you didn’t interact more with the Biblical tradition. Even though the ocean doesn’t (usually) have the same standing as a divine rival to God that is has in other ancient Near Eastern traditions, you still get God slaying the sea monster in the Psalms, or putting a hook through Leviathan in Job. There’s definitely an ongoing sense of the sea as a source of chaos that God has limited and yoked, but that still has potential for harm. In a way, I think you see this most clearly in Revelation. Revelation 4 notes that the sea is present near the throne; the Beast arises from it in chapter 13, but in chapter 21, when God’s victory is decisive “there was no longer any sea.” It’s a beautiful bookend to Genesis 1. When God starts his creative work, the Earth is nothing but stormy sea. When he finishes, there is no sea left. The forces of chaos are not just limited and chained, as they have been for ages, but are now gone entirely. At some point in all the discussion of the sea we should remember that when God’s will is fully enacted, the sea will be gone.

    1. KirkCowell  Yeah, I’ve always wondered about the disappearance of the sea in Revelation.  Does that mean that the  new earth will be oceanless?  Granted, my emotional reaction is no good foundation for biblical interpretation, but we don’t get any more fish?  No octopi?  Bummer!  On the other hand, the “no more sea” thing is in the context of the destruction of the current earth, so maybe it’s a statement of completion: when the last day comes, everything will be consumed, both land and water, before the new earth (which could include a new sea) replaces it.

      1. Charles H KirkCowell That, and since the sea is where the beast rises, the promise there is that, in the eschaton, the threat that yet another chaos-beast is going to rise up and oppress the people is gone.  I can understand the visceral reaction, though.

    2. KirkCowell  Thanks for listening and responding, Kirk.You’re right that I
      gave the Bible inexcusably little treatment.  That said, I knew we had
      to get up to Moby Dick at a minimum, so I was trying to be brief. :)Even
      beyond the good list that you provide, there are Jesus’s sea-miracles,
      Jonah’s encounter with the chaos-monster that obeys God better than does
      the prophet, and all sorts of other maritime images.  So yes, there’s a
      wealth of Biblical sea-material that I missed in my flyover.

  2. Thanks for listening and responding, Kirk.You’re right that I gave the Bible inexcusably little treatment.  That said, I knew we had to get up to Moby Dick at a minimum, so I was trying to be brief. :)Even beyond the good list that you provide, there are Jesus’s sea-miracles, Jonah’s encounter with the chaos-monster that obeys God better than does the prophet, and all sorts of other maritime images.  So yes, there’s a wealth of Biblical sea-material that I missed in my flyover.

  3. I’m not sure how it stands up to an adult reading, but “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” was one of my favorite books as a kid.A personal encounter with the ocean was in baptizing my nephew in the Atlantic. With the waves and rain, it was impossible for me to feel in any sort of control. Since God is the one who was washing Logan, I was able to play my very minor role and then worship and celebrate.

  4. The stark contrast between how the unruly sea is handled in the Enuma Elish and then in Genesis are highlighted by Prof Christine Hayes in Lecture 3 of her Old Testament Survey, available up on Open Yale (see http://oyc.yale.edu/religious-studies/rlst-145/lecture-3). Oh, and as the son of a US Marine I have had drilled into me from an early age that Marines are neither soldiers, nor sailors. They are Marines.

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