Living Wood

Saved victims, not Saving Victim

Yesterday I watched the movie “Minority Report” with my son. It is a fantastically clever, fast moving story about a future where murders are predicted and prevented by “pre-cognition”. It is based on a short piece by the flawed genius author Philip K. Dick, who has had many Hollywood blockbusters similarly sourced.

The forthcoming murder is predicted by a trio of drug-damaged “pre-cogs” who float suspended in a twilight sleep, wired to the police computer system.  Once the murder has been foreseen, the computer mills two wooden spheres and engraves on one the names of the victim(s) and on the other the perpetrator(s). This provides the material evidence on which the subsequent investigation and interventions are based. Wood is chosen because each piece is perfectly unique and impossible to counterfeit.

It is no secret that Jesus was a carpenter, and the son of a carpenter, nor that His death happened upon a wooden cross, later referred to as the Tree of Life. Noah’s ark and Moses’ and Aaron’s staves are made from wood too. Why was this material so favoured by God?

For as long as sunlight falls on leaves, there will be trees for beauty, and wood for building, making and burning. The lower life-form shall serve the higher, even if only ornamentally.

Each of us is born into our fallen world as a wooden puppet, like Pinocchio , and like him, we all dream and strive to be more like the real children who play with us.

Dearest Jesus, give me a heart of flesh like unto Yours.

(A brain less like a block of timber would be nice too).


About Brother Burrito

A sinner who hopes in God's Mercy, and who cannot stop smiling since realizing that Christ IS the Way , the Truth and the Life. Alleluia!
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26 Responses to Living Wood

  1. Catherine Geldart says:

    Very flawed but undoubtedly chosen. For the Way of the Cross. I wouldn’t have it any other way. And I love trees. Life depends on them.


  2. toadspittle says:

    Every “thing” on earth is unique. No need for the word “perfectly” here – “unique” can’t be qualified.
    Every snowflake (as we all know) every man-made thing, such as bricks or ball bearings, every single stone, every grain of sand.
    Maybe – when we get down to atoms, or string, or whatever, such things can be literally identical. But then they will still be unique, because each is in a different place.
    And now, even that seems open to question. Too much for a Toad of little brain.

    It would be encouraging to know of any genius who wasn’t flawed.

    Why was this material (wood) so favoured by God?
    …possibly because plastic hadn’t been invented then?


  3. johnhenrycn says:

    Could Jesus have possibly been a stone mason rather than a carpenter? It’s true (I think) that all English translations of the Greek word tekton in the New Testament read carpenter, but I’m also told that tetkon literally means builder. Is it significant that allusions to Jesus as the cornerstone and the rock are found in several NT verses, but none refer to Him as the tree of life or living wood. St Jerome’s Latin translation of Mark 6:3 (“Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary…?”) uses the word faber, which doesn’t actually mean carpenter, and which (I believe) literally means fabricator or artisan. In Jesus’ time and place stonemasonry was a common building trade, whereas I doubt carpentry (as distinct from furniture making) was. The earliest reference to the Anglo-Norman word carpenter only dates back to around 1300 A.D., which although derived from carpentarius, still only takes us back to Late Latin when it meant wagon maker, itself derived from the Old Latin carpentum, which meant wagon.

    I’m more than happy to think of Jesus’ earthly trade as that of carpenter, especially since my grandfather was a very good and hard-working one (my uncle once told me that his lunch breaks were never longer than 10 minutes), and I’m just idly musing about alternatives.


  4. toadspittle says:

    I suppose it would depend on the material on hand. If there was no stone, only wood, clay, and straw, then anyone constructing dwellings with those materials would be considered a builder.
    Yet another aspect of Jesus that is oddly nebulous.
    Did nobody ever ask him when he was born, what his early trade really was, and – most extraordinarily – where he lived, and what he did for a huge chunk of his life – eighteen solid years? Was nobody that interested? Maybe they did ask, and it got lost in translation. We just don’t know, do we? We know so little.
    Carpenter and stonemason are honourable, and good, trades – to be sure. And fishermen and shepherds.
    Public Relations Directors, and media loonies, on the other hand….


  5. johnhenrycn says:

    Well, timber was a scarce commodity in 1st C. Nazareth.


  6. johnhenrycn says:

    Funny…I’ve been collecting so many one person down votes today. No matter what I say… even when I call timber “a scarce commodity in 1st C. Nazareth”.

    Frankly, I don’t care very much (as Rhett Butler once said in more colourful language to Scarlett O’Hara – no relation to Mary O’Hara who I mentioned on another thread yesterday) – and indeed, bad publicity is said to be better than no publicity – but I’m mildly interested to know why my comment about (for example) building materials in 1st C. Nazareth has drawn his ire 🙂


  7. GC says:

    Cheer up, JH.

    I think you’ll find timber was used for shutters, lattices, beams, stairways, utensils, shelves, furniture (probably for the better heeled only) and suchlike in 1st century Palestine.


  8. johnhenrycn says:

    GC: you mention “shutters, lattices, beams, stairways, shelves” as examples of Ist century carpentry, and I watched your link in evidence thereof.

    Even a total handicapable person like me can make a lattice. I made one last spring to support a clematis, which died, but it was an excellent lattice nonetheless. Shelves? Not even Jesus could build a bookcase as magnificent as I’ve done. Shutters, beams (and Ist century doors – not modern ones) are also things any fule could have made without hiring a skilled tradesman. As for stairs, even Jacob’s ladder (like the ones in your link) would not have needed a carpenter to build – and more to the point – I wonder how many places in Ist century Nazareth had a second story or a cellar, and even if they did, a stone staircase seems more likely to me – speaking as an archaeologist who once found an iron nail in his basement.

    But, as I said above, I have no problemo with Jesus being a carpenter, which is how I think of Him. Only trying to create a discussion to interact with clever minds like yours.


  9. Tom Fisher says:

    Not even Jesus could build a bookcase as magnificent as I’ve done

    Well, not without his Father at least.

    Ha ha ha


  10. Tom Fisher says:

    I down-voted my John 5:19 joke. Nothing to see here, move along.


  11. johnhenrycn says:

    😉 Tut, tut, GC: “utensils” is only to be found in the second edition of your original comment, but still: no one here seems to think Jesus made forks and knives, let alone wagon wheels (cf: JH supra).


  12. Tom Fisher says:

    In the second century Justin Martyr apparently thought he was a woodworker. It seems that it’s an early belief in the tradition

    …when Jesus came to the Jordan, He was considered to be the son of Joseph the carpenter; and He appeared without comeliness, as the Scriptures declared; and He was deemed a carpenter (for He was in the habit of working as a carpenter when among men, making ploughs and yokes; by which He taught the symbols of righteousness and an active life)…


  13. GC says:

    JH: Tut, tut, GC: “utensils” is only to be found in the second edition of your original comment, but still

    I was thinking of wooden salad bowls, goblets etc. Are they utensils too?


  14. johnhenrycn says:

    What perspicacious links (in reference to my mention of forks and knives) those were, GC! You’ve totally destroyed my argument, and I confess my impure thought in suggesting that Jesus was not a worker in wood. Are those salad bowls and goblets from Ist century Nazareth? Where did Jesus buy the lathes to make them?


  15. GC says:

    Perhaps he helped to make this one in Qumran, JH? Probably not as it’s 1st century BC.


  16. Tom Fisher says:


  17. johnhenrycn says:

    Tom Fisher at 03:22… Is there a link for your Justin Martyr quote? And to what edition or translation does it come from? I’ve no axe to grind, but frankly, cannot carry on any longer, it now being past midnight where I am, but I will read replies from you and GC with good humour, since you both are so intelligent – for people from the Antipodes.


  18. Tom Fisher says:

    Hi Johnhenry,

    It’s from the Dialogue with Trypho Near the end of Chap. 88. Free online here:

    Translation is 19th Century, details here:


  19. Tom Fisher says:

    for people from the Antipodes.

    Actually I think GC is (just) in the Northern Hemisphere 🙂


  20. johnhenrycn says:

    I’m such a weakling when it comes to saying goodnight. But my bet is that GC hails from Australia.

    Now, I mean goodnight!


  21. Roger says:

    The difference between the Tree of Life and the Cross of Death.The living Tree the wood of the Cross dead. Cannot meditate to much upon Calvary.
    Carpenter and wood/tree is also part of this meditation. Toad mentioned plastics, well is there a living being/creature/plant composed entirely of plastic?


  22. Tom Fisher says:

    is there a living being/creature/plant composed entirely of plastic?

    Ed Miliband:


  23. johnhenrycn says:

    Deadwood, more like 😉


  24. GC says:

    johnhenry: I’m such a weakling when it comes to saying goodnight. But my bet is that GC hails from Australia

    JH, my mother was Australian born (my father a Eurasian and we are still working out all his bloodlines – latest additional discovery: Japanese too). I am exactly 25% Irish and 25% English. For what it’s worth, I studied and worked in Australia for 20 years and have now been back in the land of my birth for 25 years. I am hesitant to tell you at what age I left for upper secondary and university studies in Oz (many of us do here) because your arithmetic, as you tell us, is so appalling and that would be telling anyway. Every day I still keep an eye on Australian news, especially the Church news, and gossip about it with old chums there on the Interweb (h/t St Cutley, h/t Eccles, saved pusson).

    Your thoughts on tekton and faber are quite valid as far as I can see. They mean artisan/craftsmen/workman of any kind, even “creator”. But tradition seems to say our Lord was a woodworker. Mr Fisher pointed out how St Justin Martyr said just this on the subject and so did the King James.

    Actually, your point about how specialisation as a carpenter/mason/plumber/electrical wireman/aircon technician might be a bit of an anachronism with respect to the ancient world is well taken. I refer to the situation here where sons of poor families from Borneo and Indonesia still gather at certain spots around town here, awaiting building contractors to come along and hire them for a day or probably longer. These lads, when asked, will say they can do any or all of the above, so long as it will pay for some of the rent for their one room dwelling, the food for the family on the table floor and the i-phone. The boss will usually take them on for fear of not being able to complete the contract and you end up with wiring/plumbing/tiling just like mine. Woeful.

    Mr Fisher, I am exactly 3.0644° north of the equator. Antipodes schmantipodes.


  25. johnhenrycn says:

    Ha! Good comment, GC.


  26. GC says:

    Brother B, the word for “wood” hardly appears in the NT. I know because I just checked.

    When it comes to things vegetable , it is much more, even vitally interested in “living wood” as you cleverly suggest. Things likes trees that bear good and bad fruit or even no fruit (we know what will happen in these latter two instances -something involving fire – yuck). Also there are the wonderful vines with their living branches and their lovely fruit ready for the great harvest. I think we get the picture.


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