The Signs to Know Jesus

Again with Bossuet in Elevations on the Mysteries, XV-VIII:

Let us look again at the words of the Angel: You will find a child in swaddling clothes, on a manger; you will know by this sign that it is the Lord. Go in the Court of the Kings; you will recognise the newborn Prince, by his coverings gilded with gold and a superb crib, which would make a throne. But to know the Christ which is born to you, this Lord so high that David his father, King that he was, called him Lord, only the sign of a manger where he lays is given, and the poor clothes where his feeble infancy is wrapped.  That is to say that he is given a nature like yours; weaknesses like yours; a poverty below yours. Who among you was born in a stable? Who of you, poor as you are, gave to your children a manger for a cradle? Jesus is the only who was left to this extremity, and it is by this sign that he wants to be known.

If he wanted to use his power, what gold would crown his head? What purple would drape his shoulders? What jewels would enrich his garments? But, Tertullian follows, he had judged all of this false brightness, all of this borrowed glory, unworthy of himself and those who are his; thus in refusing them, he devalued them; in devaluing them, he proscribed them; in proscribing them, he lined them up with the glories of the demon of this world!

Our fathers, the first Christians, spoke in this way; but unhappy us, we only breathe ambition and softness.

The Angels Announce Jesus to the Shepherds

Continuing on in Bossuet’s Elevations on the Mysteries, XV-VII:

The shepherds, imitators of the holy Patriarchs and the most innocent and simple flock in the world, guarding and keeping the night watches over their flock. Holy angels, accustomed to converse with the shepherds of old, with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, announced to those in the country that the great Pastor was come; that the earth would now see a shepherd King, who is the son of David.  The angel of the Lord: let us not ask his name as Manué; he will maybe answer: why do you ask my admirable name? It is not necessary to hear that it is the same angel who appeared to Zachariah and the Holy Virgin. Whoever he was, without presuming where the Gospel does not say a word, suddenly the Angel of the Lord presented himself to them; a heavenly light surrounded them and they were seized with a great fear. All which is divine at first stuns human nature, sinful and banished from Heaven. But the Angel reassured them by saying: do not fear: I announce you a great joy: in the city of David, remember this place which long ago was marked for you by the prophet, today the Saviour of the world is born, the Christ, the Lord. And here is the sign which I give you to recognise him: you will find a child wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. At this unique sign of a child lying in a manger, you will recognise him who is the Christ, the Lord, small child which is born for you, son which is given for us; who in the same time, is named the Admirable, the strong God, the Father of eternity, the Prince of peace. Also, at the same instant a great flock of the heavenly army joined the Angel, which praised God and said: Glory to God and peace on the earth.

Let us note here a new Lord to whom we belong: a Lord who receives anew this supreme and divine name with that of Christ. It is the God who is anointed of God, to whom David sang: Your God, o God, has anointed you: you are eternally God. But you are newly the Christ, God and man at the same time, and the name of Lord is ascribed to you, to express that you are God, the same title as your Father; from now on following the example of the Angel, you will be called the Lord in all sovereignty and elevation. Command your new people. You do not speak yet; but you command by your example.  And what? The esteem of the least and the love of poverty; the disdain for the image making of the world, the simplicity: do I dare say it? A holy unsophistication in these new worshippers which the Angel sends you which make all of your heart, agreeable to Joseph, to Mary and the same adornment as them, so that they are equally clothed with the outfit of poverty.

 

The Stable and the Manger

Continuing in Bossuet’s Elevations on the Mysteries, XV-VI:

God prepared the world a great and new spectacle when he made a poor King to be born and he made him a palace and a suitable cradle. He came unto his own: and his own received him not. They found no place for him, when he came. The crowd and the rich of the earth had filled the inns: for Jesus there was only an abandoned and deserted stable and a manger for him to sleep: worthy retreat for him who when he grew older said: The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air, who are the most vagabond families of the earth, have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. He was not complaining: he was used to being left this way, and literally from his birth he had no place to lay his head.

He himself wanted it that way. Let us leave the places inhabited by men: let us leave the inns where disorder and schemes reign: look for me among the animals a retreat more simple and innocent. One has found a place worthy of being left. Leave, divine child, all is ready to publicise your poverty. He comes like a beam of light, like a ray of sunlight: he mother is stunned to see him appear all at once: this birth is exempt from cries of pain and violence. Miraculously conceived, he is born more miraculously, and the Saints found it more surprising to be born than to be conceived of a virgin.

Enter into possession of the throne of your poverty. The angels will come and adore you. When God introduces you to the world, the command comes from the high throne of his Majesty: And again, when he bringeth in the first begotten into the world, he saith: And let all the angels of God adore him. (Hebrews 1:6 DRB) Who can doubt that his mother, and his adopted father did not adore him at the same time? Jesus was prefigured by Joseph, himself adored by his father and mother; but the adoration which Jesus received was at a new level, as he was blessed and adored as God above all, to the end of the age.

Do not think of approaching this throne of poverty with love of riches and great things. Do not be mistaken, deceived or put up a front, at least in spirit, you who come to the manger of the Saviour. Who does not have the courage to leave all to follow poor the King of the poor? Let us leave all, at least in spirit, and in place of surrounding ourselves with a lavish lifestyle, let us blush to be such where Jesus Christ is naked and left.

All the while he was not naked: his Mother wrapped him in swaddling clothes with her chaste hands. It was necessary to cover the new Adam, who took the character of sin, which the air would devour and which modesty would clothe, out of necessity. Cover, Mary, this tender body: bring him to the virgin breast. Do you understand your giving birth? Do you have too much modesty to see yourself as a mother? What child dares to approach these divine hands! Worship him in feeding him, while the angels bring him other worshippers.

Joseph and the Trip to Bethlehem

More from Bossuet’s Elevations on the Mysteries, XV-V:

After the dream of Joseph and the word of the angel, this holy man was changed. He became a father, he became a husband by the heart. Others adopted children: Jesus adopted a father. The tender care which he gave Mary and the divine child was the effect of his marriage. He began this happy ministry by the trip to Bethlehem and we will see him soon.

What do you do, Princes of the world, to set the universe in motion, by proclaiming an enrolment of all your empire’s subjects? You want to know the power, the tribute, the future soldiers and you begin, to say so, by enrolling them. It is that or something like it which you think you are doing; but God has other plans which you carry out without regard for your human desires. His Son ought to be born in Bethlehem, humble homeland of David: he predicted it by his Prophet five hundred years before, and see that all the universe is moved to carry out this prophecy.

When they arrived at Bethlehem, ostensibly to obey the Prince who ordered them to register themselves in the public roll, in effect to obey the order of God whose secret program led them to carry out his purpose, Mary’s time to give birth came: and Jesus son of David was born in his town, where David had been given birth. His origin was attested by the public registry: the Roman Empire gave witness to the royal descent of Jesus Christ and Caesar, who did not know it, carried out the order of God.

Let us go also to write of Bethlehem: Bethlehem, the house of bread; let us go there to taste the heavenly bread, the bread of Angels which became the nourishment of man. Let us regard all Churches as being the true Bethlehem and the true house of the bread of life. It is this bread which God gives to the poor in the birth of Jesus, if they love poverty with him; if they know true riches: the poor will eat and be satisfied, if they imitate the poverty of their Saviour and come adore him in the manger.

His Name Will Be Emmanuel: Bossuet on “God With Us”

From his Elevations on the Mysteries, XV-IV:

His name will be Emmanuel: God with us. These are the mystical names which the Prophets give in spirit, to explain certain effects of divine power, which are necessary for those who use them. If we understand the force of that name Emmanuel, we find that of the Saviour. For what is it to be a saviour, if it is not to take away sins, as the angel had explained? But the sins being removed, and having no more separation between God and us, what else is left, unless being united with God and that God is with us perfectly? We are thus perfectly and eternally saved, and we recognise in Jesus who saves us, a true Emmanuel. He is Saviour, because in him, God is with us; it’s a God who unites our nature; reconciled with God, we are lifted up by his grace, until we are no more than a same spirit with him.

It is he which works who is at the same time God and who we are: God and man all together. God is in Jesus Christ reconciling himself to the world, not imputing to them their sins, and wiping them away in the Saints.  Thus God is with them,  because they no longer have their sins.

But this would be nothing if, at the same time, God was not with them to prevent their committing  new ones. God is with you, in the style of the Scriptures, that is to say that God protects you, helps you, and then with a help so powerful that your enemies cannot prevail against you. They fight, says the Prophet, and they do not prevail, because I am with you. (Jer. 1,19) Be with us, O Emmanuel, so that if, after the forgiveness of our sins, we fight his pernicious enticements, his personality, his temptations, and we stay victorious.

Is this all the grace of our Emmanuel? Doubtless no; in him there is a good much higher which also the last of all; it is that he will be with us in eternity, where God will be all in all, with us for us to purify our sins, with us to sin no more, with us for us, to the life where we cannot commit more.  See here, says St. Augustine, three degrees by which we pass to come to the salvation which the name of Jesus promises us and the perfect grace of the divine union by our Emmanuel: happy, when not only we do not sin any more under the yoke of him to whom we succumb, but when we no longer have to come against him whom we have had to fight, and who put our deliverance at risk.

O Jesus! O Emmanuel! O Saviour! O God with us! O conqueror of sin! O bond of the divine union! I wait with faith for that happy day where you will receive for me the name of Jesus; where you will be my Emmanuel, always with me, among all the temptations and dangers; go before me with your grace, unite me with you, and may all that is within me be submitted to your will.

The Two Choices at Jonestown

This comment from one Dr. Clarence Charles on the testimony of Sir Lionel Luckhoo is worth repeating:

As I meditate on Psalm 1 today, I contrasted the glorious life of Sir Lionel Luckhoo and its outcome, with the inglorious one of Jim Jones and his clan and their outcome in a piece entitled, “Eleven Days to the Rescue”:

“Eleven Days to the Rescue ….”.

I, a newly minted doctor, returned to my homeland Georgetown, Guyana in August, 1978. With the glowing MBBS degree from the University of the West Indies, I was confident of a viable exciting future.

I was gradually introduced to one choice made and within eleven days to witness the effect of that choice on another choice that was summarily reflexly made.

Two contrasting choices, two paths, two roads, two positions, two outcomes, two contrasting fortunes, two destinies – one for life, one for death; one for time, the other for eternity; both out of intense desperation, both end games: one out of sleepless nights and inner discord, the other out of public exposure and legal pursuit. Two contrasting choices made on single moves at a mutual critical intersection. The two paths intersected each other at a crucial defining moment in time and then diverged irretrievably, eternally.

One scenario was eminently redemptive, with twenty years of enviably productive peripathetic purpose-driven life yielded to “My… Jesus…”. The other was horrendously destructive, ending like Hitler’s final solution, sudden summary death of a captive multitude; seated “in utter darkness, prisoners suffering in iron chains” (Ps. 107;10).

It was a fiasco that the few survivors would never forget, not even for a single day, nay, a single moment. According to New Jersey-based cult psychiatrist, Dr. Hardat Sukhdeo, the psychological scars would remain active, unsoothed, unassuaged, smoulderingly volcanic, forever.

Both had revolutionary world-wide impact, though contrasting, with reverberations echoing through time to the present and for all eternity.

The Robert Browning “Two Roads” moment of two equally attractive and competing paths painted for me a Rembrandt, the iconic master of contrasts, with rich sharp black-white pastels, rooted in the first Davidic Psalm – “Trees planted by streams of water” versus “Chaff that the winds drive away” (Ps. 1; 3,4).

Happily, legal luminary, Sir Lionel Luckhoo, on November 7, 1978, quickly learning how “way leads to way”, took the” narrow road less travelled by”, and that, for him, “made all the difference”.

Regrettably, James Warren Jones, eleven days later, took to the broad way (Mt. 7: 13), the way that looked right to him (Prov. 14: 12, Prov. 21:2), the way that looked right in his own eyes (Judg. 21:25). He took with him 918 souls. They were bound captive men, women and children. His November 18, 1978 Jonestown jungle agricultural settlement, experiment and cultic commune, inevitably, imploded to obscurity and a cosmic instructive lesson in the art and end of deception.

In view of the 7th and its divine directive, thereof, Sir Lionel, in obedience, dare not turn up as Jim’s Jones’ demanded legal counsel and intermediary. He thus, wisely, absented himself from the crucial Leo Ryan-People’s Temple consultation on the 18th.

As such, God preserved his life, immediately ratifying his destiny before his very eyes. The Lord Jesus, as ever, had timed the American FGBMF-Guyana visit and hotel testimony meeting to perfection.

Like Nehemiah, Sir Lionel had begun to do a great work, by just simply believing in the Lord Jesus and following His nudges, in the first instance, and, as such, he would not travel by small plane to Jonestown (Neh. 6: 2-4). He had determined not to “walk in the counsel of the ungodly, stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of the scornful” (Ps. 1: 1). He thus escaped the quick cyanide Kool-Aid collateral death. He avoided a wild wayward bullet to the chest.

“Eleven Days to the Rescue” was, for Sir Lionel, a mission in God’s international divine design of Pauline proportions, character, singularity, intensity, consistency and urgency ….”

Although for us those two choices probably don’t look as dramatic as they did during that fateful November in Guyana, they are still the choices we all have to make.

Click here to help make that choice

Let’s Not Do Something Stupid About the Russians

It’s supposed to be the time of year for joy and merriment, but I’ve seen a few things lately that bother me about the immediate course of the country. Most of those concern foreign policy, that necessary evil Americans aren’t very good at, even with all the years of travel and media coverage. (I think the media coverage is part of the problem, but I digress…)

What I specifically have in mind are the drumbeats of war about Vladimir Putin and the Russians. I’ve heard endless bawling about how he is the new Adolf Hitler and the Russian Federation the new Nazi Germany and, if we don’t “do something” about him, he’ll go on and conquer the world.  I’m sure that some Boomers, whose lives were dominated by the Cold War but who were too late to the party to end it, feel a tingle up their legs at the whole idea of reviving the ethic of that era.

It’s a lot of rubbish.

Back in 2008 I wrote a piece entitled Why I Wouldn’t Obsess Over the Russians. In that piece I noted the following:

It’s fair to say that the current regime in Moscow is looking for yet another buffer, having lost not only the Warsaw Pact countries but also the other republics of the old Soviet Union. From a strategic standpoint the touchiest of those is the Ukraine. Invading Georgia is one sure way of sending a message to the Ukrainians not to welcome NATO with open arms, which the Russians would interpret as a stab into their heartland (and a look at the map would confirm this.) Wisdom for the Americans would dictate that we, while certainly securing a position in places like Poland (maybe, I’ll take that up later,) should not push too hard in places like Georgia or Ukraine. If we corner the Russians, they have no where else to come out but straight at us, and that’s not a pleasant thought for a country with a large arsenal of nuclear weapons–especially if some of them end up in Cuba.

But I also noted this:

…it’s hard to think of a nation which is more blessed than Russia with sheer territory and natural resources and yet never seems to take full advantage of it. Russia had a golden opportunity to shed its authoritarian past and adopt a working economy and state, yet squandered it in a fashion worthy of the Middle East, first in the “Mafia” years of Boris Yeltsin and then those of Vladimir Putin when the power of organised crime was centralised in the state. The main reason why the Soviet Union lost the cold war was that it never developed a viable economy to match its military arsenal, and both Russian and American history show that, if you want to be a sustaining world power, you have to have both.

Or put more humorously:

 In the early 1970’s, when the Brezhnev era seemed most full of promise, an elderly Frenchman travelled from Moscow to Khabarovsk on the Trans-Siberian railway.  After only a few hours at the eastern end of the line he boarded the train again for the long journey back to Moscow.  The Frenchman watched life through the windows of the train, commenting on what he saw to his wife and anyone else who would listen.  The sights, as he saw them a second time, seemed even more fascinating and puzzling; and as the train passed yet another straggling town he took off his spectacles and addressed the carriage.  ‘There are only two words in the English language to describe this country.  One is mesee and the other is sloppee.’ (Mark Frankland, The sixth continent: Russia and the making of Mikhail Gorbachov, p. 46)

Russia is, to use their own expression, a very specific country, one which people in the West (to say nothing of Americans) have always found mystifying. The simple fact of the matter is that most of what we are seeing Putin doing is basically defensive posturing wrapped up in Russian nationalism. Putin is playing from a weak hand and he knows it; his adventures are nibbling about the edges and not swallowing up vast territories.  I think that Angela Merkel understands this but whether her counterparts in Washington do is another matter.

Rather than being another Hitler, Putin is an outsized Mussolini.  Russia is no Germany, never has been. (Neither, for that matter, are we, which is one reason why we don’t have a Hitler in the White House, either).

What dealing with Russia will take is patience and flexibility, understanding our real national interests rather than our hippie or Cold War dreams. We don’t need to do something stupid or impulsive we will regret later. That advice also applies to the Middle East, where endless calls for “boots on the ground” defy the lessons of recent history or that everyone there has many natural enemies who can prove useful.

We are paying a foreign policy establishment well; it’s time we got something for our investment other than one fiasco after another. Otherwise we will prove once again what most snobs know: that you can be a real American and a foreign policy expert, but you can’t be both.

The Marriage Pledge: A Gratifying Step on Civil vs. Ecclesiastical Marriage

It’s been a bit since Ephraim Radner and Christopher Seitz “crossed the Rubicon” and set forth The Marriage Pledge, which calls ministers to stop officiating civil marriages.  Reactions have been mixed.  The fact that I can say that shows that the steady legalisation of same-sex civil marriage has forced Christians–who have been working to “preserve marriage”, i.e. civil marriage as the union of one man and woman–to face reality on this issue.  From my perspective, it’s at least a decade later than it should have been.

It’s been a long, lonely trudge through the wilderness on wanting a formal break between civil and ecclesiastical marriage, and there are a few things I’d like to say about it.

In spite of some who have received the Marriage Pledge well, there’s still not general unanimity on the subject. Much of that is sheer inertia; we’ve always done it this way, why should we change now? I think that option has run out for many things in this country and in the West in general. It’s time we stopped playing checkers with our opposition and start playing chess, and Radner and Seitz’s Marriage Pledge is a chess move.

In many parts of the world, churches don’t have a choice. Following the tradition established by the French Revolution, the state does not allow ministers to solemnise marriages, so you end up having to “get married twice.” Somehow Christian churches have managed to thrive in this environment; given the crêpe some hang on ceding the officiation of state marriages, one wonders how. I think this kind of provincialism needs to stop. If they can do it, we can too.

Part of the problem is that Protestant churches, having cleverly desacramentalised marriage, lean too heavily on the state to cover the void of their own creation. Some even invoke “natural law”, an invocation that I, whose intellectual formation was as a Roman Catholic, find amazing.  In going through the gyrations they do on this subject, they overlook a few important facts.

The first is that, no matter how you slice it, marriage antedates the state. Even if we attempt to link marriage in church with “natural law” marriage, there is no good reason we should equate civil marriage with natural law marriage. The reason we do so is that the overpowering modern state has conditioned us to think in this way. If we’re planning on being real salt and light, we’d better lose this idea quickly.

Beyond that, in the marriage fracas, Evangelicalism in particular has revealed a serious weakness that results from their loosey-goosey “authority” structure. Because of this they are too dependent on the state for all kinds of things, and marriage is one of them. It’s no accident that one of the calls against the pledge came from a Southern Baptist, although their ability to create a tightly knit, conformity-obsessed system with the decentralised, congregational system they have makes one wonder why they couldn’t come up with a workable solution for marriage without the state. (That is even more true for the RCC and LDS churches; why they even need civil marriage is beyond me.)

Yes, there are the chickens in church hierarchies (I won’t name names, but you know who you are) who have urged/instructed their ministers not to sign the Marriage Pledge.  When their ministers get hauled into court for refusing to officiate same-sex marriage on the basis that they are agents of the state, they might have second thoughts. Then again, as Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts-Schori has proven, some people never learn.

The Marriage Pledge is a step in the right direction. It is not the beginning of the end for our ministers acting on behalf of the government but perhaps, as Winston Churchill put it about El Alamein, the end of the beginning. Who knows what could happen?

With that under our belt, if we could now get the Baptists and other Evangelicals to cut out the Clintonian “what is is” rubbish and see the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, that would be glory. But, as Col. Hogan used to say, one miracle at a time.

The Most Important Goal in Life

Today is the Feast of Christ the King.  The script that calls out the liturgical year on this site simply refers to this as the Sunday before Advent, and that’s what it was for centuries.  The idea of this feast–at the end of the liturgical year–comes from the “new theology”, one that generally gets a reaction of horror from traditionalists.  The concept is simple: since we have Christmas (for Christ’s birth) and Good Friday/Easter (for his death and resurrection) we should have one for his coming return.

The idea that history has a purpose and an end is not uncontroversial but it’s one that bugs many of us: why are we here? where did we come from? where are we going?  We can’t do much about the first two, so it makes sense that we should concentrate on the last, and in doing so some answers to the first will become clear.

Many goals have been proposed over the centuries.  Some say that we have no goal, that when we die that’s it.  Others say that, through a series of cycles, we end up being reabsorbed into the Godhead, however that it defined.  Both of these have an air of pointlessness about them.  Why speak of a goal when the grave is the end? And why be here in the first place when we’ll be sucked up in another?

The French preacher Bossuet tells us that “man’s chief aim in life is to be happy”.  That sounds like something everyone can like.  But how to be happy forever?  Every form of happiness we see in this life is transient.  People wonder whether there will be pets or golf or football or even work in heaven.  But these come and go.  With football, it’s easy: you have sixty minutes to play and that’s it.  The others have less predictable starts and stops but they’re there.

St. Thomas Aquinas tells us that both the goal and the source of happiness in life is the following:

Final and perfect happiness can consist in nothing else than the vision of the Divine Essence. To make this clear, two points must be observed.

  1. First, that man is not perfectly happy, so long as something remains for him to desire and seek:
  2. Secondly, that the perfection of any power is determined by the nature of its object. (Summa Theologiae, 1-2, a.3, q.8)

Aquinas is always a little technical (which is why, I guess, I like him) so it helps to break things down. We all know people who go through life looking for the “maximum thrill”.  But when all the passing thrills are gone we are left with God, who is eternal.  Seeing him as he is (which is what the vision of the Divine Essence is all about) is the maximum thrill par excellence, not only for the sheer impact of the experience (2) but also because it lasts forever (1).

Getting back to the happiness, Aquinas notes the following:

If therefore the human intellect, knowing the essence of some created effect, knows no more of God than “that He is”; the perfection of that intellect does not yet reach simply the First Cause, but there remains in it the natural desire to seek the cause. Wherefore it is not yet perfectly happy. Consequently, for perfect happiness the intellect needs to reach the very Essence of the First Cause. And thus it will have its perfection through union with God as with that object, in which alone man’s happiness consists, as stated above (1,7; 2, 8).

We need to do more than believe that God is, although that’s a start.  We need to connect with him and know him as he is.  That’s starts in this life and reaches its goal–not an end in time–in the next.  And then we can find the happiness we’ve been looking for all along.

To start that journey, click here

My Challenge to Church of God Ministers: Take the Marriage Pledge

Many of you know that, in spite of a lot of what turns up on this blog, I am a member of the North Cleveland Church of God and worked for the church’s International Offices in the Lay Ministries Department for 13 1/2 years.  So I’m not a stranger to at least some of our ministers.

Many of you also know that I have advocated the abolition of civil marriage for a long time, and even longer have looked forward to the time when marriage in church and marriage by the state be separated.  We now know that the state, having redefined divorce away from New Testament standards, is in the process of doing so with marriage.

When Joe Edwards (who is pastor at Cartersville, GA) married my wife and I many years ago, he recalled that God married the first couple in the Garden.  Think about that: God didn’t need the state then to marry a couple, and he does not now.  He has not changed: to be Pentecostal is to proclaim that God’s promises, like him, don’t change.

Two distinguished clerics have come up with the Marriage Pledge, which states in part:

Our biblical faith is committed to upholding, celebrating, and furthering this understanding, which is stated many times within the Scriptures and has been repeatedly restated in our wedding ceremonies, church laws, and doctrinal standards for centuries. To continue with church practices that intertwine government marriage with Christian marriage will implicate the Church in a false definition of marriage.

We’ve reached the critical moment.  I am asking you to join in supporting and, if you feel led, to sign this pledge.

And I would add one other thing: I believe that, sooner or later, you will be forced to perform same-sex marriages.  How?  When you officiate a civil marriage, you’re an agent of the state.  Someone is going to claim that agents of the state cannot discriminate and, knowing our judiciary, will make that stick.  Making the separation outlined in the Marriage Pledge will take that out of contention.

May God richly bless you!

Go to the Marriage Pledge

Sailing the Last Voyage with Newton and Pascal