Gospel according to Shakespeare

March 10, 2020 at 6:00 AM

southchinasea.jpgThere's a little tongue-in-cheek debate over the naming of this body of water in the Philippines.  (Photo by Dan Breen).

Gospel according to Shakespeare

By Dan Breen  dan blog header long.png

First, a confession to my high school English teacher, Mrs. Goslinga: I’m afraid my frontal cortex has failed to retain a good plenty of the knowledge you once imparted on me in literature class.

While I can still provide a choppy recitation of the “Tomorrow” soliloquy from Macbeth, and I hear echoes of Edgar Allen Poe’s “quoth the Raven, nevermore,” it seems most of my literary memory bank has been robbed and reassigned elsewhere.

Recently, however, a piece of William Shakespeare’s tragedy, “Romeo and Juliet,” sprouted from my cerebral abyss in, of all places, the Philippines.

In Shakespeare’s script, Juliet asserts, “a rose, by any other name, would smell as sweet,” professing to her crush, Romeo, that familial ties and feuds could not separate their love.

As I gazed from the island shore across the vast sea, Luke Society Palawan co-director Dr. Susie Cayaon asked me, “Do you know what you’re looking at?” Of course, I did. It was the South China Sea, I replied. “No,” she said, only half-jokingly. “It’s the West Philippine Sea.”

Before you consult your Rand McNally World Atlas, I can promise that you won’t find any body of water called the West Philippine Sea. But locals here aren’t willing to coalesce with their larger neighbors to the west in maritime naming rights. This sea, by any other name, is still the same sea.

All of us who believe in Jesus are united in the same name — Christian. We certainly have differences in appearance, language and culture. Our inward talents, personalities and preferences are even more diverse. But a believer, regardless of race, language or location, is a brother loved in Christ.

We have a Savior not bound by diversity. In fact, he delights in it. Red and yellow black and white we are precious in his sight. We’re regularly reminded of that as we travel around the world and witness a love for Christ expressed in many diverse ways.

In Galatians 3:28, the Apostle Paul says, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” By the way, that other less-flattering name that once unified us — sinner — has been nailed to a cross so that everyone who believes in him may experience eternal life. For those of us united by Christ, shall we remain bound by our sin?

Quoth the Savior, nevermore!


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