I just recently learned of the Biblical book of Steely Daniel, which I found deeply moving. You can read it here.
In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. Everywhere around him he saw jealousy and mayhem, because no men had all their peace of mind to carry them. And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the articles from the temple of God. These he carried off to the temple of his god in Babylonia and put in the treasure house of his god. The Cuervo Gold, the fine Columbia made that night a wonderful thing.
Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring into the king’s service some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility — young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. They got the shapely bodies, they got the Steely Dan T-Shirts. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians. Nothing but blues and Elvis. The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service. A man of mind can do anything.
Among those who were chosen were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego. Worldly wise, they realized that everybody is crazy.
But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. Like the castle in its corner in a medieval game he foresaw terrible trouble; but he stayed there in the same. Now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel, but the official told Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you. Your mind has turned to applesauce.”
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At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. “I never seen you looking so bad my funky one,” Daniel said to them, “you tell me that your superfine mind has come undone.” So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead.
To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. The weekend in college didn’t turn out how you planned. The things that pass for knowledge, I can’t understand. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds. This was the day of the expanding man.