Part of the reason I don’t want to talk about this project with people, especially my partner, is because of a peculiar property of my psychology, wherein talking about things with others helps to relieve me of pressures or feelings of incompleteness. I seem to handle things best by expressing them, “venting” and talking about my emotions.
I don’t want to lose my drive to complete this project and part of me has a fear that I will not make it. This project, when seen to completion, will have taken over three years of my life and several thousand hours of my time.
The other thing that freaks me out, which I touched on yesterday, is this whole crisis of faith thing. I realized this morning just before I sat down to write this that just because I’m reading the Bible and immersing myself in Christian
mythology dogma, that doesn’t mean that my previous memories and spiritual experiences are false.
I have a feeling that at some point during this lengthy process, I will be reading other spiritually-focused works, such as the Bhagavad Gita or books on different Native American faiths in order to maintain my sense of balance. As it stands now… honestly, the Bible freaks me out.
I have a hard time not taking it literally, perhaps because so many vocal and outspoken “Christians” do so. I have a hard time feeling like it is okay to see the book as metaphor. I just read a pamphlet from the Jehovah’s Witnesses that discusses interfaith organizations and how they seem to deny the Bible. They cite Matthew 15:14, where Jesus calls other religious leaders “blind guides.” They also cite verses from 2 Corinthians 6, where Paul tells Christians “Do not become unevenly yoked with unbelievers.” His reasoning? “What does a believer share in common with an unbeliever?” I would argue a great deal. Hope for the future, the ability to love, live and respect other human beings, a desire for safety and security… many things do humans have in common with other humans, no matter what our beliefs.
In Romans 10, Paul says that “Because of not knowing the righteousness of God,” people are “seeking to establish their own.” The JW pamphlet cites Matthew 7:21-23 to say that without God, people’s faith is “in vain.”
I have a difficult time reconciling this. I don’t understand how God can create all these cultures or allow them to exist if he’s going to send more than two-thirds of humans on earth to hell. This just does not make sense to me or seem fair. I don’t f***ing get it, and it frustrates me and freaks me out. According to most Christians I’ve ever talked to, the more than 4 billion people in the world that do not accept Christ as their savior are going to go to hell. Part of me wants to scream right now.
The Jehovah’s Witness pamphlet likens the Bible to a blueprint which “contains God’s standards.” I guess this is why I’m reading this, so I can better understand what that means.
Genesis 6 describes some things that are explained in much greater detail in the apocryphal Book of Enoch, so much of this is not terribly clear. For example, it states that “sons of God saw the daughters of men” and took them as wives (Genesis 6:2).
The Matthew Henry commentary on Genesis 6, accessed via biblestudytools.com, interprets the “sons of God” as preachers or holy men, saying that they took wives based solely on physical attractiveness and allowed themselves to be corrupted along with the rest of the world.
This interpretation says that the “giants” in Genesis 6:4 are simply large, powerful men of renown. I like the explanation found in the Book of Enoch, where the “sons of God” are corrupted angels, and the giants are their half-mortal offspring. Of course, there’s no record of this on the earth as far as I can tell, but it sure makes for a kick-ass story.
So in Genesis 6:5 God realizes that man is continually evil, that evil fills the hearts of men, and in Genesis 6:6-7, the Lord laments.
“And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth…”
— Genesis 6:6, NKJV
The Lord vows to destroy mankind. So if God is omniscient, He would have seen this coming, right? If anyone’s read the graphic novel Watchmen, this reminds me of Dr. Manhattan. He can see all possible timelines, he can see the past and future simultaneously, and when asked why he didn’t intervene to prevent a catastrophe, he remarks that he is “a puppet that can see the strings.”
God knew the Fall of Man had to happen to Adam; He knew where it would lead… but when the time came, the Lord was filled with sadness nonetheless. God sees Noah and realizes that Noah, of all people, “was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God” (Genesis 6:9).
And now we get to the ark. There are lots of interesting theories and commentary on the ark. I’m just going to go ahead and copy this section from Wikipedia:
“The story of the flood closely parallels the story of the creation: a cycle of creation, un-creation, and re-creation, in which the ark plays a pivotal role. The universe as conceived by the ancient Hebrews comprised a flat disk-shaped habitable earth with the heavens above and Sheol, the underworld of the dead, below. These three were surrounded by a watery “ocean” of chaos, protected by the firmament, a transparent but solid dome resting on the mountains which ringed the earth. Noah’s three-deck ark represents this three-level Hebrew cosmos in miniature: the heavens, the earth, and the waters beneath. In Genesis 1, God created the three-level world as a space in the midst of the waters for humanity; in Genesis 6-8 (the flood story) he fills that space with waters again, saving only Noah, his family and the animals with him in the ark.” ²
So Noah’s ark represents rebirth and recreation. Another article states that the universality of the flood story around the whole world could possibly be because of people finding seashells and fish fossils very far inland or on mountains.
Criticisms of the literalism of Noah’s ark and the flood story revolve around a few major points, such as: how did all the animals and people spread back over the whole world? and how did animals and people reproduce without producing horribly inbred offspring? I suppose in either case you could simply say, “God did it,” but that’s rarely been a good enough explanation to me, and it often feels like a hand-waving justification.
Regardless, it is impossible to deny that the story of the flood and the ark has connections and parallels to myths and legends the world over, such as Hinduism, Mesopotamian mythology, and Greek mythology. I reiterate my point that stories employed to teach a lesson are more effective than the lesson itself, because human beings connect emotionally with narratives. If God wanted this lesson to be taught, then it seems reasonable that before the writing of the Bible, the narrative would still exist in some form or forms in the rest of the world.
Interested readers will direct their attention to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flood_myth if they wish to learn more or compare flood stories from around the world.
I myself am tired and hungry, in need of food, a haircut, and a shower. My partner and I have been together for six months today, and it is an occasion which we will be celebrating this evening. I am looking forward to it. I think I’ll stop at a nearby Christian bookstore and see if I can find her a little present. I would usually buy her a book or something but she needs support, not more things to consume her limited time.
Anyway, thank you for reading. I was going to apologize for the short post today but I realized it’s still three typed pages and almost 1500 words long. So nevermind, haha. I hope your day is as good as mine, if not better.
Peace be upon you.
¹ Pic credit: Dogma, 1999, Lionsgate Films and View Askew Productions, from http://i1.ytimg.com/vi/hxBY50A0Sqo/hqdefault.jpg