The Times Are Nightfall

Dover Beach
Well, the dark is coming on. It has been for some time. But these days the sinking of the sun seems accelerated, and many who have not been noticing are noticing at last. We are living in the twilight of many good things, and it seems shall soon be plunged into the deep night.


We see it in the unfree world, where the crest of rage has come down over the countries and desolation goes racking up the corpse count. Where all fences and fortresses are torn down, and the unspeakable has become the undeniable. In the vile cruelty all sides are performing on each other, we see that the times are nightfall indeed.

And oh, Dover Beach got some things right, for

we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

Syria rebels
We see it in the once-free world, where the liberty to love righteousness is slowly sinking to the status of a thing of the past. Where a great web of lies has entangled all the peoples and a trail of deceits has broken all trusts. Where when a man gets up before a body of legislators and speaks truth, he finds himself standing all by himself.


Oh, these are the times that try menโ€™s souls. Their light grows less. And a man may judge as he has ever judged. But what is a man to do?

What is a man to do when all his striving and resistance is like so much dust on the wind, and availeth nothing? What is a man to do when the world must, must change, but won’t? What is a man to do when he can’t change the world?


Hopkins has a few good words on this, the wintertime of the world:

(by Gerard Manley Hopkins)
The times are nightfall, look, their light grows less;
The times are winter, watch, a world undone:
They waste, they wither worse; they as they run
Or bring more or more blazon man’s distress.
And I not help. Nor word now of success:
All is from wreck, here, there, to rescue oneโ€”
Work which to see scarce so much as begun
Makes welcome death, does dear forgetfulness.

Or what is else? There is your world within.
There rid the dragons, root out there the sin.
Your will is law in that small commonweal.

Dragon Aslan

When a man canโ€™t change the world, he should change. For this is the highest adventure of all.

7 thoughts on “The Times Are Nightfall

  1. Putting my reply in a new comment so I am not reduced to two or three words a line. Yet another complication not found in face-to-face conversation. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Aye, that passage in Corinthians 1 is part of the reason I draw the line at judging beyond my fellow Christians. Within the church, I agree, it is a different matter. We are to hold each other accountable, and to draw lines. We have to, otherwise what are we but a club giving mouth-service to something we don’t really believe?
    In that, though, it’s imperative that we judge fairly, without meanness, prejudice or pride, and with our door left open for repentance. At least, that is how I understand the instructions to the church in the New Testament. I I may be preaching to the choir in what I am saying now. I should be taken to task for pride and greed when my struggles with the same fail (as they do so often it makes me want to cry!), and if I do not repent, the consequences should be the same as if I were unrepentantly promiscuous. If we single out one sin, such as homosexuality, or one group of sins, such as all sexual sins, to punish more harshly than others, are we not being hypocrites? And this causes me distress because I often see sexual falls from grace treated more harshly (sometimes other sins are even flatly ignored!) than other sins.

    Muddle is bad, yes. And the difficulty in having a truly civil conversation on this topic (and so many others right now) only increases the muddle.

  2. I may get flack for this, but I hope not. To not mention it would be dishonest, and times are utterly black if we have reached the point where brothers and sisters in Christ may not be honest, disagree, and still love.

    I do not oppose gay marriage. I have my reasons, my views on scripture, my views on government, my views on people and how they treat each other, and most of all my ongoing conversation with God. He may change my heart, or yours, or more likely both in ways we cannot imagine, but in the mean time, this is where I stand.

    Otherwise, though, I agree with you and with Dover Beach. I wish I did not, but I’ve seen the darkness coming since before I was old enough to understand it. It may be closer than we think or farther away, the gloaming is a deceptive time, but it is either here or coming. I think we will not know for certain until it is over. Evening seems dark compared to day, and night to evening, and a cloud-shrouded night to one with moon and stars. God help us all between now and then, and continue to reveal hope, revive joy, and prove to us again and again that He is victorious.

    1. As always, I appreciate your honesty. But I think a great deal can be implied by the comment, “I do not oppose gay marriage,” and it is rather necessary to clarify what that means. ๐Ÿ™‚ If you mean by that comment that you think it’s OK for government entities to give marriage licenses to same-sex couples, I can certainly understand where you’re coming from and respect your position, although hours of debate and research and thought has led me to a different conclusion. However, if you mean by that comment that you think there is nothing morally objectionable about gay marriage, that is another issue entirely, and one I can’t really say that I am able to understand, or reconcile with the scriptures.

      I’d be happy to hear your thoughts on this, if you want to continue the discussion but certainly understand, if you prefer not to.

      1. I’m gun-shy, but I will answer a little since you have responded kindly. I am trying to be more brave in talking about it, but it is harder to do so on the internet than in person. I do stand rather in the middle, which means friends on either side are none-too-happy with me.

        I do not believe that homosexual marriage is actually “marriage” in God’s sight, but I do believe that homosexual partners should have the same secular rights, under law, that heterosexual couples do. I also believe that homosexuals are on an equal footing with all of mankind. We are all sinners, and all in desperate need of His Grace. I realize that is over-simplified, but hopefully it clarifies a little.

        When in doubt, as I am on this subject, I prefer to err on the side of loving and forgiving too much rather than too little. I know many arguments from both sides, but the only thing I feel personally convicted about is this: I am not to pass judgement. I can and should speak honestly about what I see and think, but always in humility. After all, I’m no better than the worst of sinners save through the blood and suffering of my Lord.
        My homosexual friends know my thoughts, and that I love them anyway, and they love me anyway. My heterosexual friends who support gay marriage are a little harder on me, but still love me anyway. My friends who oppose gay marriage tend to be forgiving and loving. As long as that remains true, and we are able to keep talking honestly and in love, I think there is hope.

        1. Absolutely we should be able to talk about these things in love. And I agree it is much, much harder on the internet, since half of what makes up a conversation disappears when it is reduced to little black letters on a screen.

          Certainly I can agree with various comments you’ve made: we’re all sinners and would be utterly without hope if it weren’t for grace. (Oh, to grace how great a debtor! daily I’m constrained to be…) We’re also told not to judge the world. Although I think Paul makes it pretty clear that we have a whole lot of “judging” to do when it comes to those inside the body of Christ. (See 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 for a real strong dose of shock). Of course, the term “judging” is utterly undefined in the Christianity of today, so it’s not fair to really even use it without offering some understanding of what we take it to mean.

          I suppose the bottom line is that there are some things which God has already judged to be entirely unacceptable, and I can’t see any honest way to say that homosexual actions aren’t among those. So a person who persists in living that lifestyle is not in repentance and is not walking in the light. Just as a thief who insists on continuing to rob houses on a regular basis isn’t truly repentant. This, of course, doesn’t include people who have unwanted homosexual attractions but refuse to act on them or indulge them.

          That is the way I see it. And I confess I do find it very frustrating that it’s so hard to even have this discussion, due to the muddle and pseudo-science that has so shrouded it in confusion. The centrality of love can soften much, but I do not think that it should result in a muddle.

    1. Thanks, Amy. I always love hearing from you ๐Ÿ™‚

      Don’t you just love the solemn significance of Hopkins’ words?

      “The times are nightfall, look, their light grows less;
      The times are winter.”

      A good poet is one who can express the things we all feel but don’t know how to explain.

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