Mark 6:20

because Herod stood in fear of John, knowing him to be an upright and holy man, and protected him. He had listened to John, but still remained much perplexed, and yet he found pleasure in listening to him.


confused but intrigued
Herod and John
Shahryar and Scheherezade
aggrieved kings captured
reverse Stockholm Syndrome

it was then as now
presence is power
artful presence claims time
and time after time
delays an expected outcome

delay is a form of injustice
power is still power
a velvet glove is not comfort
a death sentence still stands
a shotgun wedding still coercion


Paraphrased, “Jesus’ words greatly confused the Disciples, yet they enjoyed listening to him.”

The word ἠπόρει (ēporei) is a large puzzlement that ranges from worried, perplexed, to a variety of images from other languages as reported by Bratcher196—“his heart was gone” (Tzeltal), “hard chased” (Piro), “his mind was killing him” (Navajo), “his stomach rose up” (Gurunse), “he was very irresolute” (Indonesian: literally, “it was all wrong with him”), and “his heart was very divided” (Javanese).

We might well wonder who had the power in the relationship between Herod (imprisoner) and John (prisoner).

“My faith has been tempered in Hell,” wrote Vasily Grossman in his masterpiece “Life and Fate.” “My faith has emerged from the flames of the crematoria, from the concrete of the gas chamber. I have seen that it is not man who is impotent in the struggle against evil, but the power of evil that is impotent in the struggle against man. The powerlessness of kindness, of senseless kindness, is the secret of its immortality. It can never be conquered. The more stupid, the more senseless, the more helpless it may seem, the vaster it is. Evil is impotent before it. The prophets, religious leaders, reformers, social and political leaders are impotent before it. This dumb, blind love is man’s meaning. Human history is not the battle of good struggling to overcome evil. It is a battle fought by a great evil struggling to crush a small kernel of human kindness. But if what is human in human beings has not been destroyed even now, then evil will never conquer.” [Quoted by Chris Hedges in his article, The Price of Resistance]

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