I have started reading 1984 by George Orwell. I began taking notes almost from the start, so I thought I would share my thoughts as I read. In addition to my thoughts, I will be including quotes from the book, and, as relevant quotes from Scripture.
Chapter one is all about the world-building. It introduces readers to the concepts of the Party, Big Brother, the telescreen, the two minutes of Hate and Hate Week, the three slogans, the three nations, and the four ministries of Oceania. The three slogans are: War is peace; freedom is slavery; ignorance is strength. (7) The three nations are: Oceania, Eastasia, and Eurasia. The four ministries are: Ministry of Truth, Ministry of Peace, Ministry of Love, and Ministry of Plenty.* It also introduces readers to the main character, Winston Smith. (Other characters mentioned: O'Brien, a potential friend or enemy; a nameless woman, a coworker; and Emmanuel Goldstein, the biggest enemy of the state.**)
In this first chapter, Winston writes in a diary for the first time. The crime isn't the writing down of his ideas--though that would be enough to lead to his death--but the thinking of his own ideas in the first place. Thoughtcrime. Winston realizes in this first chapter, that it's just a matter of time before he's killed by the Party. He can't stop thinking. And one day his thoughts will be revealed either on his face, in his mannerisms, or in his words and actions.
How could one communicate with the future? Either the future would resemble the present in which case it would not listen to him, or it would be different from it, and his predicament would be meaningless. (10)Winston is not automatically lovable as a character. I don't know how much is just pure sin-nature and how much is brainwashing, but the fact that he fantasizes about raping a coworker is disturbing. So far, it's just the one fantasy we witness, but still.
Hate. Two minutes of hate. Every day, or at least every work day, they participate in two minutes of hate. A film, I believe, is shown. And this film--this propaganda--is used to stir up feelings of hate and rage. To rally everyone around a common enemy, someone--something--to hate passionately.
The horrible thing about the two minutes hate was not that one was obliged to act a part, but that it was impossible to avoid joining in. (16)Today, we don't officially have a "two minutes of hate" built into our workdays. (Though one could argue that most people can find a common enemy to hate.) But hate is programmed into us all the same. Oh, it's frowned upon to hate some things. The key is to hate what everyone else hates and to love what everyone else loves. We're not really free to hate freely, nor encouraged to love freely. Social media can at times encourage people to be proud of their hate and anger.
Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Isaiah 5:20What does the Scripture have to say about hate?
- Let those who love the Lord hate evil, for he guards the lives of his faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked. Psalm 97:10
- I will not look with approval on anything that is vile. I hate what faithless people do; I will have no part in it. Psalm 101:3
- To fear the Lord is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech. Proverbs 8:13
- “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Luke 6:27-28
- If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. John 15:19
- Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Romans 12:9
- At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone. Titus 3:3-8
- Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 1 John 4:20
The Telescreen. Big Brother. And the idea that someone is always, always watching and judging you. This is a terrifying aspect of the book because it is the PARTY who is doing the watching and judging. The party is arbitrary, unpredictable, untrustworthy. NOT someone you want in your head.
The telescreen received and transmitted simultaneously. Any sound that Winston made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it; moreover, so long as he remained within the field of vision which the metal plaque commanded, he could be seen as well as heard. There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. (6)
You had to live--did live, from habit that became instinct--in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized. (7)It is true that there is someone always watching, always weighing, always judging. But this someone is GOD. IF and only if you're in right relationship with Him, this is both comforting and convicting.
Hebrews 4:13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
Psalm 139:1-12 You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.
But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. Matthew 12:36
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. 2 Corinthians 5:10Knowledge of this leads to fear of God. And the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. I think many have lost this notion of fearing God. Of seeing God as completely and overwhelmingly other--completely HOLY.
“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” Isaiah 6:5
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.” Hebrews 12:28-29
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. Proverbs 9:10It is comforting if you trust the Lord. God has revealed himself in the Word to be entirely trustworthy, praiseworthy. Good. Faithful. Merciful. Compassionate. Just. Wise. Loving. Unchanging. But also still convicting. Fear of the Lord leaves you humble. And humility is a virtue. It also makes you teachable and usable.
Is the average person giving any thought to the idea that God is omniscient? I include Christians and nonChristians in this question. I think even with Christians, this is one of those doctrines we don't live in light of. That is to say, we affirm it in a creed but don't live by it day by day by day. God is omnipresent. Always with us. Always everywhere. We cannot escape his presence. Light, dark, day, night makes no difference. Our God doesn't sleep. And he isn't ignoring us or disinterested.
Talking about a day of judgment isn't popular. (Has it ever been?) But I think it is necessary to go there--to think uncomfortable thoughts and ponder where you stand before the Lord Almighty.
Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Isaiah 55:6I'll close this section with a few Lutzer quotes:
Five minutes after you die you will either have had your first glimpse of heaven with its euphoria and bliss or your first genuine experience of unrelenting horror and regret. Either way, your future will be irrevocably fixed and eternally unchangeable. In those moments, you will be more alive than you ever have been. ~ Erwin Lutzer
Entering hell is easy enough. All that one has to do is neglect Christ, the only one who can save us. ~ Erwin Lutzer
*Ministry of Truth = news, entertainment, education, fine arts; ministry of peace = manages wars; ministry of love = law and order; ministry of platy = economic affairs.
**Emmanuel Goldstein = advocates freedom of speech, press, assembly, thought
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible