BY SEAN WALSH
“Then Jesus said to Simon: don’t be afraid. From now on you will catch men. So, they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything, and followed Him” (Luke 5)
I think this song is a beautiful recuperation of the Gospel message. He walked the shore of Galilee and invited Peter and Andrew into Mission. Not that they could refuse. And then James and John. Not that they could either.
How to say “no” to God? How is that even “a thing”?
What would it have meant to be a fisherman at that time? A life of intrinsic danger and uncertainty; forever at the whims of the sea? A surrender to chance?
The sea was God in a way. An essence of uncertainties, any of which could be terminal.
To be a fisherman requires a level of bravery unavailable to me. But Jesus invited them into something even more uncertain: follow me, a vagabond, who might be God.
It turns out he was, of course. The anglers were sound in choice.
Why was Jesus impressed by fishermen? Why was his calling centred around them? Could it be that he was impressed by uncertainty, and would be unimpressed by the casual comforts we take as given?
Mike Scott wishes himself into that dangerous life, so that he can “cast out his sweet line, with abandonment and love”.
Let’s do the philosophy bit first. There are versions of evangelism which have the shape of argument. Having looked at them and taught them for 30 years I consider them trivial. You can do the “proofs”. But they all assume a consistency of thought that are always in the gift of God anyway. To make the argument against God is to presuppose Him. To make the argument in His favour is to insult Him.
When it comes to the “philosophy of religion” there is invariably some internal inconsistency.
Our relationship with Him is always qualified and contained (epistemically) by analogy or (in terms of feeling) in indescribable immediacy.
Why does thought matter if feeling can deliver the same message in a different way?
There are things of utter significance which are beyond explication but are capable of intimation. The vehicle is always music.
Mike Scott is singing a version of joy. It’s terrifying to be an angler. Which is why it’s beautiful.
And the original fishermen? All make a reappearance. In the presence and protection of the Lord. And usually at sea. What greater challenge than he asks you to walk on the water, to reside your trust in him?
I’ve read, written and talked the texts. I spend most of my waking hours doing that. I’m reasonably clever. But that insight, the divinity of the fisherman?
Always avoided me. Mike Scott communicates a meaning here.
We all learn to speak. To communicate? You judge. Always cast out your sweet light, in abandonment and love. You never know who might bite.
Sean Walsh is a former university teacher in the philosophy of mind. That was a while ago – but he keeps up with the subject. 2015-2017 he was slightly homeless. He now writes and is the very proud father of a wonderful child. He is grateful for everything he has.