Pete Wilcox: Will any dream do?

If the story of Joseph has been an inspiration to later generations, it is not because he was given a privileged insight into the future — but because he overcame repeated trials, persevering in faith and hope. His trust in God and his boldness in action are all the more inspiring, in fact, in view of his dreams — which might easily have led him either to despair of God in anger and bitterness, or to forsake his obligations in indolence and complacency.

And even in the fulfillment of his dreams there is no “happily ever after” for Joseph. One of the features of the story that gives it such enduring power is the fact that Joseph’s struggles continue to the end. His story is as much about adversity and family dysfunction as it is about success and family harmony (two of our own society’s idols). It’s about the growth of a brat into a statesman — and it is significant that the dreams were part of his youthful immaturity, not his mature adulthood. (There are no dreams at all in the whole second half of the narrative — not for Joseph, the cupbearer, the butler, nor Pharaoh….)

Where the musical offers a romantic myth, the Bible affirms something altogether more realistic. Life is seldom “happily ever after”, even for dreamers.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Biblical Commentary & Reflection, England / UK

One comment on “Pete Wilcox: Will any dream do?

  1. Timothy Fountain says:

    A member of my congregation is doing an independent study credit course on Denominational Heritage at Sioux Falls Seminary. We are distilling her work into a weekly class on Anglican/Episcopal History and Spirituality for the parish. One of the books is James Farwell’s [i] This is the Night [/i], which focuses on the Triduum.
    Farwell critiques “modernism” in an early chapter, especially its assumption that humanity is on an inexorable ascent of progress. The NT, and its message expressed in liturgy, anchors us in the persistent reality of suffering and brings us to Christ, in whose salvation we participate, even in the midst of suffering.
    Yes, what we pray shapes what we believe… but we must be attentive to what shapes the words we pray. If they are divorced from Scripture, they are not Christian prayers.
    Wilcox is correct that “Any Dream Will Do” has us humming a worldly lie, and that it is the Biblical record of Joseph that puts things right. “What humans intend for evil, God uses for God” is truer to the cross than “Any dream will do.”