Carl Sagan

Day 139 – 144

We have reached Day 12×12 in this long journey. Of course, they haven’t all been properly accompanied by consecutive blog posts, but there’s nothing I can do about the past. All I can do is pick up where I leave off and continue forward.

Prior to writing about Numbers, I feel like sharing a transcription of a recording I made on July 5, 2014. I had intended to share it that day, but the recording is 24 minutes long and will take some time to transcribe. You, lucky reader, get to enjoy the end result without the delay. I know my partner is going to think I’m insane, so all I can say is read all the way to the end of the post, dear, before coming to conclusions. I know you’ll reach some prior to the end, but hey, I figured I’d throw in a disclaimer anyway.

(Except, you know, it’s been six days since I’ve updated. So there’s that.)


I had an interesting revelation today; it was quiet and I’m not even sure where it came from or why I was even thinking about it, now. But I was thinking about why… why are we created? And supposedly our purpose, supposedly according to some Christians, is to worship and glorify God, right? So we’re created from nothing, born into existence, meaninglessly it seems, but with the purpose of giving glory and praise to the Lord.

And I was thinking, “why should this be?” To some people, that’s not… maybe, don’t ask questions, but I think it’s important to ask questions. So, my question is “Why?” Because there are two things at play here: one of them is, “what do we get out of it as human beings?” and the second is “what does God get out of it?”

Now, C.S. Lewis talked about God as a Being which by definition can need nothing. God is all-fulfilling, all-encompassing, and if you ask me, God is literally present everywhere within everything. God is the life of the universe. So if all of us are contained within God, or if you don’t like that explanation, if that theory comes off as blasphemous, then you have to admit that we are all at least within the mind of God, because God, being an omniscient Being, knows everything that is happening and everything that is going to happen, and as far as I can tell, God is past, present, future, so we either exist as part of this manifestation of “the body” of God, or the manifestation of the existence of God, or we exist in the “real world” but everything we do is part of God’s mind. If God literally knows everything, then this is the mind of God. The universe is the mind of God, unless God has an entire duplicate simulation of the universe running inside His mind where everything else is true because He knows everything but just not technically real, an illusion. But I digress.

What was I talking about?

What do we get out of glorifying and worshiping God? There are some Eastern faiths that talk about how God or the Supreme Being or whatever, that God essentially dreamed the world into being specifically so that He could see what it was like to be everything. That’s almost like the universe is like a computer kind of thing, moving forward and moving forward and running what would amount to a simulation, so that God can be it, observe it, and know every possible state of matter and energy, ever. And I guess if you look at what I said earlier, about omniscience, it would seem that God would already know that. But like C.S. Lewis said about Abraham and Issac, just because God knew… God knew that Abraham would not sacrifice his son, He also knew that Abraham would not need to sacrifice his son. Abraham did not know that, though. Lewis says something along the lines of “just because God knows something doesn’t mean that it doesn’t need to happen.”

If you take that Eastern religion philosophy, then we are all a trick, a surprise. God became the world and everything in it and we are pieces of that divine consciousness out to experience the world as a surprise. We don’t know what’s coming. Does the one massive infinite timeless Intelligence know what’s coming? Yeah. But we have forgotten ourselves, and I think that’s the idea behind whatever exactly it is that I’m citing from. The Oneness-That-Is dreamed us all into being in partial states so that we would collectively play out life. Not just every physical state of matter and every energetic state of matter, but every mental, physical, and emotional state of human beings.

When I think about stuff like this I think about “many-worlds theory” and wonder if there are infinite parallel universe where infinite things are happening to me right now. There are infinite life-paths for a human being but we experience one of them. All the other ones are being experienced some where (?) else for lack of a better word, but I’m experiencing one possible run-through of my life. I ‘m experiencing one possible path for my life, and for me right now it seems like the only possible path, but maybe if there are truly many worlds, then it is not. This is the one for me me, and somewhere else there is another me who feels that his path is the one that makes the most sense, and maybe on and on through all people, and it’s not just infinite variations of my person, my body, going through life, it’s endless permutations of that one body changed and changed and ever so slightly different across the dimensions, so really it would be… infinite versions of all people, that the  infinite versions I’m talking about become all people across all time.

Because if you take me and you set infinite variably on things like age and temperament and whatever else, it’s like, “Oh, you’ve just described the entire human population. You’ve described every possible person that is was and will be.” So, who knows about this “many-worlds” business.

But anyway, so… we are… See, but that’s true! If we are tiny bits of consciousness, then God knows what’s going to happen to us; He knows what’s going to happen to us and He knows what it would feel like from our perspective. But in order for Him to know that in a timeless sense, at some point it would have to happen or He would have to at least imagine it happening. But to fully imagine what it would mean for, say, me to be placed in a certain situation, you would need to create a universe around it.

If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.

— Carl Sagan

You would have to construct a universe around it, because if you were God and you could literally feel and see and comprehend everything, then each endless variation of what I as a human do is a butterfly effect of endless variations, and it might not seem like that on the macro scale of human life, but every time I move my hand, I displace millions of air molecules, so if I turn my head one way once, and another way another time, not only is there the macro scale of what I saw and what I didn’t see, but there is a micro scale of tiny particles of dust and down to atoms and whatever that are displaced every time I move my body, and that doesn’t even count the micro scale of all the movements of my muscles and my brain and the energy and the cells… That doesn’t even account for all that.

So in order for God to imagine all of these things… well you could say, “Why would He create a universe? He could just imagine it,” then we are living in that imagination. I posit that God imagining the universe into existence, and creating a physical universe into existence, are one and the same thing, and for we living in that creation/imagination, we could never tell the difference. So in order to truly be omniscient, God has to create the universe. God has to create a universe, and I don’t know how laws of physics work on weird scales, or if there are multiple created universes, so that God can know all possible variations of the laws of physics, or all possible whatever , but here we are.

So I guess that would be what God gets out of it… in a sense… God creates a universe of beings somewhere between animal and man… or somewhere between animal and God, because in Genesis we are made, depending on your translation, in the likeness of God. That doesn’t necessarily mean that God looks like a human being; it means that we are made with many of the capacities of God, and active consciousness that can be aware of the self is probably one of those capacities.

In addition to other things, we can conceive of ourselves as beings. So we have “power” to do things because we can sort-of-depending-on-who-you-ask direct our own bodies and minds to action. So somewhere between animal and God, we exist. We are like partial consciousness. We are a partial consciousness. We are not the infinite divine consciousness, nor are we the more limited, for lack of a better word, more limited animal consciousness, although, true, some animals do appear to display human-like intelligence, emotion, and behavior, but anyway…

What is it that makes humans so different? Our capacity to build and form large societies and have large complex thoughts like the ones I’m having now where I’m questioning the very nature of the universe and God and our lives… still we are a partial consciousness. Because the infinite consciousness is filled with joy, love, and bliss, our chance is, as these partial consciousnesses, to strive for that. We have the capacity to strive for more, and we have the ability, the blessing, as much as I say it now, I might disagree with it while I suffer, but we have the blessing of starting with nothing, the blessing of being these imperfect, incomplete, very wound-able, very destroyable beings. And the blessing that comes with that is that we know what it is like without infinite bliss and joy, we know what it’s like without feeling this endless love and power flowing through us, we know what it’s like to not have it. We know what it’s like to be separate from God and in a sense separate from ourselves.

And so when we find God, when we find and accept the things that make our minds and bodies feel Good, capital-G Good, we can truly appreciate them; we can truly appreciate how far we have come and how much we have gone through to reach the point where we can, I’m going to say, commune with the mind and the energy of God, a place where we can truly be at one with God, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, or whatever that looks like.

It seems to me that isn’t this the essence of the story of the prodigal son, that it’s not that we were perpetually living in a a state of bliss and happily stayed there forever and ever, it’s that we, being imperfect creatures, we have within ourselves a rebellious streak: our own egos which constitute a rebel stronghold that drives us to push back against God, to feel like we can do it ourselves, to feel that we have all the answers, and that we need nothing else.

But we do need something else, and so like the prodigal son, we return to our Father’s house and our Father rejoices that we have come back, because we have learned so much out in the world. We have learned so many things, we laid down our rebel flags and came back…

If we were as the brother in that story, then we would have stayed home, we would never have left in the first place, but of the two brothers, the one who stayed and the one who left, who do you think truly appreciates his Father’s company?


Holy shit. So as a result of writing all that I started looking up things on Wikipedia. I started with

  • Omniscience
    • Pantheism
      • Panentheism (not to be confused with the above)
        • Immanence
          • Light of Christ (LDS theology)

But I went back to panentheism and found it fascinating. From there, I found a link to a concept called Tzimtzum, which is transliterated, sort of, from a Hebrew word meaning “contraction” or “withdrawal.” Basically the implication here is that God “contracted” Himself (?) in order to create an “empty space” where the world could exist outside of His totality but still have aspects of His presence. An interesting related quote, apparently from Rabbinic literature is

“He is the Place of the World, but the World is not His Place.”

This concept is interesting because it creates a paradox (at least to us as humans) in that it requires some simultaneous degree of immanence and transcendence from God. God cannot be totally within the world, but He cannot be completely absent from it either. According to Kabbalistic thought on this topic, creation requires God’s immanence.

Paradoxes? Possible illusions of reality? A dualistic God that is simultaneously in two states at once in relation to the world?

This is that I would amend in the above story and in all previous statements. I do not believe that God is confined to this world. That is where I differ from pantheism. God is in everything (or vice versa, or both) but everything is not God (and vice versa).

I like the divine dream/divine consciousness theory more and more, that we are dreamed into existence by God, and that this dreaming is equivalent in all respects to what we would consider a separate physical Creation. But! I don’t know how much this all matters, because philosophies on the origin of the universe tell me little about how to live my life in the universe. So, whatever.

But damn if it ain’t interesting conversation.


Yeah, I’m not going to write about Numbers after all that. Way too much time transcribing and editing.

Tomorrow, though. I’ll get to it and get caught up to Numbers 28.

Good night, all. I hope it’s been as interesting for you as it has been for me.

Peace be upon you.

https://shamanicdoxology.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/07f09-appeltaart252812529.jpg

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Day 32

I was digging through some old posts today, looking to see if I’d talked about a particular idea yet, and I remembered my Medicine Cards and decided to draw one. After some shuffling and deliberation, I fanned through the deck and drew forth… Contrary Blank. Same as last time.

We’ll see what I draw forth tomorrow.

Yesterday’s post was more the kind of thing I envisioned when I started this blog, as opposed to a breakdown of verses and chapters. But when it comes to the long view, I am still in the earliest stages. My first month of this project is behind me, and many more months yet lie ahead.


Genesis 31

In Genesis 31, Jacob leaves the house and land of Laban for his home. He takes his wives and children, all his flocks and servants, and steals away before Laban is aware. This chapter also seems to indicate (through a vision that Jacob received in a dream) that it was God’s will that Jacob would come to possess the largest flocks and the best animals. God knew that Laban had cheated Jacob, had “changed [his] wages ten times,” and Laban lost much of the greatness of his flocks for having wronged Jacob (Genesis 31:7).

Laban catches up with Jacob and accuses him of stealing his idols. Jacob denies this and tells him to search for the man who took them and feel free to kill him. Jacob does not realize that Rachel, his wife, took the idols, but Rachel conceals them from her father and he comes up empty-handed. Jacob rebukes him for this false accusation, and together they come to an understanding. They make a pillar and a covenant, which basically amounts to “You stay on that side, and I’ll stay on this side, and we’ll leave each other alone.”

It is interesting to note that one of the names or titles of God is “the Fear of Isaac,” used in Genesis 31:42 and again mentioned in 31:53. I analyzed the use of the word “fear” back on Day 15, and interested readers will return there to see the three levels of meaning, the last being akin to “reverence” or “awe.”

In the end of this chapter, Laban leaves and returns to his home, leaving Jacob in peace.


Genesis 32

Jacob witnesses the angels of the Lord at his camp, and recognizes that God is with him. He knows that in the past twenty years that Laban kept him, Esau has become a leader of men in the land of Seir. Jacob sends a message to his brother, asking for his brother’s favor and telling Esau of his time with Laban. The messengers return, telling Jacob that Esau is coming with four hundred men.

Jacob divides his forces and flocks, and is afraid. He prays to God that night, humbling himself before the Lord and praising God for His assistance. He prays that God will deliver him from his brother Esau.

Jacob takes huge numbers of livestock and sends them as tribute to Esau. He tells his servants to let Esau know that Jacob is sending these gifts, and in this way he hopes to appease his brother’s anger.

I find this interesting because a common point of theological contention between myself and my partner is the idea of condoning behavior by association. My partner is a passionate and outspoken woman, and not known for her willingness to compromise on matters of importance. She is not afraid to share her opinion, and to me is representative of Christians who know that they will bear their faith like a cross. Many of them know that they will be condemned by the world, and take this as a point of pride. I cannot say if my partner feels this way, or at least in the way that I explain it.

Carl Sagan once said,

“The fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses.”

I say also, the fact that some good people are condemned does not imply that all who are condemned are good people. Some Christians go out into the world expecting to be condemned, expecting to be put down or ridiculed, expecting to be criticized, and to them this is proof of their faith. I see the reasoning, but I don’t always agree. Some criticism can be valid, and good criticism (or being a good listener to criticism) can open doors for new understanding.

My point is, instead of being vocal or critical, expressing details that make me different from one another, information that sets me apart from others, I focus on what brings us together first. Once rapport and respect have been established, once a person has been understood, then it is possible to show how your beliefs or your ideas relate to them, showing them the value that they might find.

My girlfriend has, multiple times, quoted a verse or statement about Christians “being in the world, but not a part of the world” or something along those lines. I understand the meaning but I cringe a little on the inside when I hear it. I understand that there is this idea of higher levels of existence, of moving on to Heaven, away from earthly suffering, but to me it sounds so much like creating deliberate distance between oneself and others.

This world has so many wonderful things and wonderful opportunities. There is beauty and joy that can be found, love that can be experienced. There are 7 billion people on this planet, each with different stories and experiences; with so much to learn and do, why would we not want to be a part of it? Why would we not want to join our fellow man in seeking brotherhood and peace? While the message of her statement relates more (I think) to not getting caught up in material things, it sounds like it is used as reasoning to keep oneself separated from other people, and that to me is irreconcilable with who I am and what I do.

Yes, I understand not wanting to condone something indirectly. I have a very close friend who is slowly destroying himself with nicotine and alcohol. Do I think it is okay? Not in the least. I love this bastard to death, but I haven’t yet found something to say or do that will help him change. So do I condemn him for this? Do I focus my attention on telling him the wrong he is doing or the sin he is committing? Or do I recognize that there are underlying needs that are not addressed, that there is underlying emptiness in his heart, and shall I not fill it with my love and friendship for him? Shall I not stand by his side and carry him, even when his injuries are his own doing?

God does not prevent us from harming ourselves. We as a collective species of humanity are very self-destructive, but God does not reach down out of the sky and stop us. We have chosen our lot in life. But God is always present to give us love, to show us both our humility and our worthiness. We get angry, we fight, we get hurt, and we weep… but no matter our shortcomings, God is present to comfort us, to let us rest in the love that He embodies.

My goal, and this is the first time I have worded it this way, is to be an ambassador for God, to show others that His love is the Truth and to show that one doesn’t need to become a pious monk with a stick up his ass to commune with God. God has a sense of humor, and this is apparent if one can recognize the jokes. God wants us to love, laugh, and smile. We are meant to be happy, or at least content and at peace, rather than dour and disagreeable. It is my opinion that being condemning and contrary does not inspire others to join one’s cause. Being open, friendly, accepting, and loving above all else is of the utmost importance. I cannot emphasize this point enough.

Before I get back to Genesis 32, I want to share two videos. The first is from the Christian movement Got a Hug that focuses on expressing and showing love. The second is from a group called The Marin Foundation and the website loveisanorientation.com, which seeks to bridge opposing worldviews.

These videos depict the work of Christians who attend gay pride parades to demonstrate love and acceptance to members of the oft-persecuted LGBT community. Shouting down fire and brimstone and exhorting people to change does not work. Meeting people where they are physically, emotionally, and spiritually, but coming from a place of love is a much better way to show people that your cause is true and just. In my eyes, some of the most obnoxious types of people are those who believe themselves to be above others because of their beliefs, and would rather look down on others than associate with them, teach them, or (worst of all) learn from them.

All that now said, let us get back to Genesis.

Jacob sets out one evening, after having sent his tribute to Esau, and he sends his wives and servants over the brook to the other side. When he is left alone, a man (Man in NKJV) wrestles with him all throughout the night. Once day breaks, this wrestler dislocates Jacob’s hip with a touch, but Jacob maintains his hold. Jacob seems to recognize this “man” with whom he wrestles, and Jacob says that he will not let go until his opponent blesses him. This mysterious Man blesses Jacob, granting him the new name of Israel, meaning “Prince of God,” for he has “struggled with God and with men, and [has] prevailed” (Genesis 32:28).

Jacob asks for his opponent’s name, and I can just picture the Lord smiling as He says “Why is it that you ask about My name?”

Matthew Henry writes that this wrestling match between God and Jacob is a way for us to understand the nature of prayer.

“When the spirit helpeth our infirmities, and our earnest and vast desires can scarcely find words to utter them, and we still mean more than we can express, then prayer is indeed wrestling with God. However tried or discouraged, we shall prevail; and prevailing with Him in prayer, we shall prevail against all enemies that strive with us. Nothing requires more vigour and unceasing exertion than wrestling. It is an emblem of the true spirit of faith and prayer.”¹

I can attest to this, for at times when I have prayed, it is not a simple task but a long and arduous process. Answers and understandings are not always forthcoming, but we must press on if we are to have resolution. When Jacob is finished, the sun is rising; Jacob’s troubled heart is at peace, and he is filled with righteous purpose.

Good night, all. Peace be upon you.


¹ Henry, Matthew. http://www.christnotes.org/commentary.php?com=mhc&b=1&c=32

Day 28

I’m really starting to lose track of things right now. I’ve been so busy with work and with this and with life… I’m sort of behind a day, technically, as this post should have gone up about 5 or 6 hours ago. But I’m awake at 4:00 am doing yesterday’s paperwork, so I might as well play catch-up here too.

Even though it be difficult, every day that I commit to this I get better. Every day I commit to writing, I improve. Let my struggle be a lesson and inspiration. That might sound cocky, but I’m just going to leave it there anyway. It is so important that we strive for more in life, and right now as I sit here tired, sunburnt, and hungry, I am striving for excellence. I am seeking to improve, and I will not stop.


Genesis 28

Having blessed his son Jacob and listened to his wife, Isaac sends Jacob away to take a wife from the house of Bethuel in Padan Aram. Once gain, they’re keeping it all in the family, as Jacob will be seeking a wife from “the daughters of Laban [his] mother’s brother” (Genesis 28:2). In other words, his first cousin.

Isaac sends his son away with a new blessing, one that confers upon him all the blessings given to Abraham, and the destiny and promise contained therein.

Esau hears about this whole business and realizes that the wives that he has chosen are not to his parents’ liking. He takes a new wife, one of the daughters of Abraham’s firstborn son Ishmael. It seems that Esau is trying to make up for some lost favor, seeking to please his parents. This is noble, but I have a feeling his time would have been better spent connecting with God.

Speaking of…


Jacob’s Ladder

Jacob travels north toward Haran, and one night, while he is resting…

“he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.”

— Genesis 28:12

God is atop the ladder and speaks to Jacob, blessing him with the blessing of Abraham, reiterating the promise of the Seed by which “all the families of the earth shall be saved” (Genesis 28:14). Long story short, Jacob accepts the Lord’s blessing and vows that if the Lord is providing for him, then the Lord he shall serve.

But I’m not concerned about the details, here. I want to talk about the ladder.

Jacob’s Ladder has been referenced in many forms and depicted in numerous works of art. It was Jacob’s introduction to the divine, and by this vision he understood and welcomed God into his life.

There are numerous interpretations of the ladder, most of which revolve around the fact that the ladder is described as reaching from Earth to heaven, and thus depict it as being a metaphor for the path of the righteous man (Tarantino 25:17). But seriously.

One interpretation from the Torah states that the angels represent the exiles of the Jewish people, with each “step” of the ladder essentially marking a year.¹

Philo Judaeus, a Biblical philosopher born c. 50 A.D., gives a handful of his own possible interpretations:

  • The angels represent souls descending to and ascending from bodies (some consider this to be Philo’s clearest reference to the doctrine of reincarnation).
  • In the second interpretation the ladder is the human soul and the angels are God’s logoi, pulling the soul up in distress and descending in compassion.
  • In the third view the dream depicts the ups and downs of the life of the “practiser” (of virtue vs. sin).
  • Finally the angels represent the continually changing affairs of men.¹

Wikipedia makes note that these “allegorical interpretations” are “not mutually exclusive.”

Also from the Wikipedia article on the topic:

“Jesus can be seen as being the ladder, in that Christ bridges the gap between Heaven and Earth. Jesus presents himself as the reality to which the ladder points; as Jacob saw in a dream the reunion of Heaven and Earth, Jesus brought this reunion, metaphorically the ladder, into reality. Adam Clarke, an early 19th-century Methodist theologian and Bible scholar, elaborates:

‘That by the angels of God ascending and descending, is to be understood, that a perpetual intercourse should now be opened between heaven and earth, through the medium of Christ, who was God manifested in the flesh. Our blessed Lord is represented in his mediatorial capacity as the ambassador of God to men; and the angels ascending and descending upon the Son of Man, is a metaphor taken from the custom of dispatching couriers or messengers from the prince to his ambassador in a foreign court, and from the ambassador back to the prince.'”¹

This too, seems to be a fair assumption. Angels moving up and down a ladder; the ascending and descending, especially the descending, is what gets me about this story. I can see the interpretation of the angels representing or being a reference to messengers, as that always made sense to me as a reason why they would be going to Earth from heaven and vice versa.

Now is as good a time as any to bring up the fact that sometimes crepuscular rays (pictured below) are apparently sometimes referred to as Jacob’s Ladder. It is interesting that when viewed from above, they are actually parallel rays, but staring at them, they appear to be diverging from the sun. Ah, the relativity of truth…

I think this is interesting because to me, even as a young child, I can remember that these rays of light are how I conceived of God. I remember being out on our back patio and watching the beams of sunshine that caught every particle in the air. “Rays of God,” I called them.

I am also reminded of one of the early lines from The Four Agreements, where Don Miguel Ruiz writes that

“light is the messenger of life, because it is alive and contains all information.”

These beams of sunlight that shine down upon us carry life. You can consider this a metaphor if you like, but in a literal sense it is true: the energy that comes from the sun is the energy for plants is the energy for animals and so on.

But let us discuss angels: we have angels ascending and descending, and let’s play with the idea of Jacob’s Ladder as light. Perhaps the angels are metaphors for photons, then? By ascending and descending, these angel-particles are gaining or losing energy, or perhaps transferring it. Photons travel within a beam of light and give energy to the world, carrying it from an infinite timeless domain of God.

I realize this is a stretch, but I like to think that it is a beautiful-sounding idea nonetheless. Or the angels could be electrons, which ascend and descend from different energy levels and emit light. See, we’re stumbling upon a whole new domain here of angelic physics. Angelectromagnetism? It’s like how moving a magnet near a copper coil generates current, moving angels up and down a ladder generates… who knows what.

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For a fuller examination of angelic physics, including angel/antiangel pairs, I recommend Problem Sleuth, by Andrew Hussie.²

But let’s get serious and finish this with a beautiful quote I found while researching Jacob’s Ladder. Apparently in Islam, Jacob’s Ladder is considered a symbol of God, emphasizing the “straight path” of Islam.¹ Martin Lings, a 20th-Century British scholar who converted to Islam gave a mystical interpretation of the ladder:

“The ladder of the created Universe is the ladder which appeared in a dream to Jacob, who saw it stretching from Heaven to earth, with Angels going up and down upon it; and it is also the ‘straight path’, for indeed the way of religion is none other than the way of creation itself retraced from its end back to its Beginning.”

What an intriguing statement. I like it because the Beginning is God, and we are returning there, if “there” can even be conceived. It is not a place but a state of mind, in my opinion. Obviously we cannot turn back the clock and return to the moment of creation, but we can seek God and know God by doing and by loving.

Science tells us about the Big Bang, whatever that may have looked like, but at the heart of that explanation is still the idea of one central point, one infinite Unity that had contained within it all the matter and all the information that would spread and unfold and change to become… now. Returning to that connectedness, that unity, that Beginning… that is knowing and accepting and loving. It is how we find all the virtues that we commonly attribute to God.

We are split and distant and separated, we have our own bodies and our own minds and our own experiences. I am sitting at a desk in a room and I am separate physically from these objects but some part of me, especially right now in this moment can recognize the shifting, shaping light of God that underlies all form and substance.

We are separate and we are not separate. As Carl Sagan said,

“We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.”

Peace be upon you.


¹ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacob’s_Ladder

² http://www.mspaintadventures.com/?s=4&p=001722

Day 18


Out of the Bag

Well, thankfully, I finally told my partner what I’ve been up to. She was asking me what else I had to do tonight and I finally just explained the whole thing to her. She spent some time reading my posts but she was super tired and didn’t get through all of them. I’m glad it’s not a secret anymore, and we had a good talk about my tendency to perceive disagreement as always being a negative conflict. I’m not sure where this comes from, but past relationships is where I’d put my money. It could have potentially come from my upbringing, too. I don’t remember seeing or hearing many disagreements between my parents, and I rarely had disagreements with my parents until I was in middle school or high school. At that point, it was always about something that I’d done wrong or been dishonest about.

But as a Christian, she is happy for me and she approves of this project. Now I just need to make sure I can set time aside. This might be a good way to help establish healthy relationship boundaries. I need to find and set them more than she does.

Especially because writing at the end of my day is terrible for productivity. I helped my partner move and that took up most of the day, and I was already tired beforehand. I had friends help me, and I got to spend some time with them, but it’s just not the same as having free, unstructured time to do whatever I want or even nothing at all. Some days I just want to be lazy and it usually doesn’t take very long for me to snap out of it. But when I don’t get that time, I get more and more backed up until I snap.

At least, that’s how it would work in the past. That anger will never get the best of me again. Instead, I was a mixture of grumpy and sad tonight and I finally just resigned myself to letting my partner leave me alone. We had our separate space, her to watch Netflix and me to do work. And no great harm came of it. Yay, I’m learning to not be crazy!


Genesis 18

In Gen 18, Abraham is hanging out near the terebinth trees of Mamre when “the Lord appeared to him” (Gen 18:1). He looks up, either from a vision of the Lord or from hearing someone coming, and he sees three “men” approaching. This to me is immediately suspect. There is not a clear distinction made here between the appearance of the Lord and the appearance of these three men. It seems that some are of the opinion that these three are related to or actually are the three aspects of the Trinity in human form. Now, to me, the idea of a human form of the Holy Spirit seems to contradict the very concept thereof, but whatever. As far as I can tell from the literature, these are somehow divine beings, because they are here almost as proxy for the Lord.

Abraham bows and allows them to wash their feet, and he feeds them. Abraham knows them for who they are, and treats them well. I remember my story yesterday about the hitchhikers, and how I felt that they were more than what they appeared. Would that we could treat everyone in our lives as though they were angels in disguise! Would that we could recognize the Divine within all of us, and never seek to hate or harm another human being ever again. Abraham has awareness and a heart full of compassion, and his faith is rewarded.

God, whether directly as one of the men or by proxy through the man, tells Abraham once again that his wife Sarah shall bear him a son. Sarah at this point is long past menopause, being at least ninety years old, according to Genesis 17:17, and she laughs with surprise. Her exact words in Genesis 18:12 are “After I have grown old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?” So, there is a possibility that she is speaking of the pleasure of childbirth and of being a mother. It also dawns on me that perhaps Abraham is having some trouble keeping his staff raised, if you know what I mean, and maybe it’s been some time since he has “known” her.

Either way, the Lord hears this and wonders why Sarah laughed at a proclamation of God. Genesis 18:15 reads

“But Sarah denied it, saying, ‘I did not laugh,’ for she was afraid. And He said, ‘No, but you did laugh!'”

Whoops. Don’t laugh at God. But God seems to have a good sense of humor about the whole thing. That exclamation point says it all, as far as I’m concerned. Had the line been

“No, but you did laugh.”

it would have come off as very stern and disappointed. To me, it’s like God recognizes her fear, calls her out for lying to Him, and has a good laugh about the whole thing. At least I hope so, since he doesn’t smite her into ashes and all. But on the other hand, a promise is a promise, and she has some begetting left to do.

The Lord or these men or somebody has a little internal monologue, it seems, in Genesis 18:17-19, related to whether or not He should tell Abraham what’s going on. So the Lord decides to tell him that the plan is to go warm up the old smitin’ muscles and lay waste to Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham sidles up to God and His fellows: “Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham stood still before the Lord” (Genesis 18:22). He spends the next ten verses talking God down from this whole “smiting” business.

Perhaps Abraham remembers his nephew Lot, who lives there, and would rather not see the whole place destroyed because of a bunch of sinners. So Abraham starts narrowing numbers, asking God if he would spare the city for 50, then 45, then 40 righteous people, and so on down to 10.

The conversation pretty much goes like this:

“Look, God, far be it from me to question your plan and all, but what about the good ones? You just gonna kill them all too? What if there were, say, 50 righteous people there?”

“Well, I guess I could spare the city for 50.”

Abraham cringes ever so slightly. “Nice, that’s good to hear. Now I know I’m talking to God here, but… what about 45?”

God sighs. “Alright, 45 righteous people, and the city will be spared.”

Abraham’s eyes narrow. “How about 40?”

Abraham continues. “Look, God, don’t get mad. This is the last time, I swear: What about 10?”

God throws up His hands. “Alright, alright. 10 righteous people and I swear I’ll spare the place.”

I guess I’m sort of dramatizing the whole thing, but it sure is funny to imagine. And I guess if you want to stereotype Jews as being good bargainers, well, here’s Abraham, talking God’s price down. I’m picturing this as a Mel Brooks scene now.

After Abraham and the Lord are done, God leaves.


The interesting thing that Matthew Henry notes about this chapter is that Abraham never begs God to spare the wicked their punishment.

“Righteousness only can be made a plea before God.”

— Matthew Henry¹

I see this story or the overall idea of God’s “punishment” as more of a “reaping what one has sown,” as opposed to the smiting and the destroying and all that. Wicked people bring unto themselves misery and guilt and shame, and as humans we are all born with a) the propensity for sin (Eastern Orthodox) or b) the burden of inherited sin (Catholics). So either way, we’re all sinners, and without repentance, we will reap only death and never harvest the most nourishing fruit of life.

I think it’s important to remember and to have a healthy spirituality that God will never do wrong. Man can take circumstances and make them painful, man can fill an empty vessel of an experience with negative emotions, but there is a silver lining to every cloud and a lesson that can be learned from every experience. This probably sounds like a load of bulls**t to those of you who feel that you drew the short straw in life, and I completely sympathize. I’m not there now, but I was for a long time. Between growing up with constant money problems compounded by my father’s unexplainable stroke at the ripe old age of 36, I felt like life was just going to keep kicking me while I was down.

I can’t really say what led up to it, but I’m pretty sure the episode with the Infinite Serpent that I mentioned back in Day 3 was pretty much the tipping point. That was the day I understood, no, I grokked the potential for suffering to make us stronger. That changed my outlook, and I realized that God was not to blame for suffering. If anyone can be said to be blamed, it is man. It is man with our free-ish will and our weak and cowardly hearts. We do so much harm to one another, and it can take a long time for someone to see or grasp potential benefits or growth from that harm.

But God or the universe or whatever you want to call the great Unity, the Oneness that is, that Consciousness has a plan. It may not be a plan in the human sense, but regardless, there is a beginning, there are an uncountable number of turns and choices and switches and changes, and there is likely to be an end. We are not just observing this “plan” over the course of our human lives; we are the plan. The meaning of life is living.

Somewhere a few billion years ago stars were born, and they burned and fused elements and then exploded and scattered those elements throughout the universe. And some of them, enough of them, collected in a cosmically tiny sphere of rock that burned and melted and stormed and cooled…. And those elements cooked in the hearts of stars became building blocks that could copy themselves, and those blocks made more blocks and so on and so forth, and DNA was born and several billion years later, the same atoms that cooked in stellar furnaces are what lie behind our eyes and in our beating hearts. We are the universe.

So go forth, find the silver lining to every cloud, no matter how close you have to look or how far away you have to stand. Find the benefit, find the learning experience. Learn and grow and know your own power. Begin to master your emotions and your will, feel the spark of the Divine that flows through you. The knowledge and awareness of Adam and Eve gave them shame and sin, but it also gave them the possibility of change and growth. We learn the most from our mistakes…

Go forth and learn! Become wise and find thyself, and you will recognize the inherent goodness of “the plan.” Accept what is, and be free. The true power of God will never lead you to weakness, only humility.

“SHALL NOT THE JUDGE OF ALL THE EARTH DO RIGHT?”

He shall.


¹ http://www.christnotes.org/commentary.php?com=mhc&b=1&c=18

 

 

Day 9

One of my three best friends is now the only person who knows the extent of this project. I probably should not have told anyone. I feel as though my drive to complete it has lessened.

Perhaps this is my challenge, and this is my way of overcoming that lazy aspect of my psychology. This is the day when I can tell people of my plans and see them through nonetheless.

I can complete this project. I will complete this project. I must complete this project.

For when I have shown myself that I have the dedication to read the Bible and write every single day for the next three years and then some… I will know that I can do anything.

I am tired today, and from the past week and from yesterday I am fairly overwhelmed. This overwhelmèd-ness probably doesn’t help my mood and my desire to write, but I must press on. I am not a failure and I am not a coward and I will do this; I will complete this project by the grace of God because I must.

So, yay, day 9 (of 1189). Only 1180 more days to go!

Overconfident Drinker

This is pretty much how I feel right now. I know I used Comic Sans. Deal with it!

I better just shut up and get on with it.

Genesis 9

Here we have the end of the flood story. The flood ends, God is satisfied at the offering from Noah, and God gives unto Noah a promise or a covenant. God tells Noah that never again will he destroy the Earth via flood.

A lot of people, including Jehovah’s Witnesses, I believe, use this story and any related later verses as proof of the fact that God will never destroy the Earth. Not now, nor 10 billion years from now. Although explicitly that goes back to yesterday, Genesis 8:21, where the Lord says “nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done.”

But I suppose destroying the Earth would not necessarily entail destroying all living things. We have space travel now, and we’re getting better at it. We’ve identified several “earth-like” planets, and it’s likely that one or more of them would be habitable. My JW friend once said, describing the Lord not destroying the world, “You don’t build a house for your children just to destroy it.”

His logic is admirable. I told him I disagreed, seeing as the Earth is a tiny fraction of all the matter in the universe, and probably an even tinier fraction of the near-infinite volume of the universe. The number of planets that are like earth in our own galaxy, let alone neighboring galaxies…. Yes, granted, any neighboring galaxy is insanely far away my the standards of modern space travel, but in the future, who knows? I retorted to my friend that “One does not build a cradle for His children and expect them to live in it forever!”

It seemed in the olden days that the garden of Eden, the Fertile Crescent was the cradle of civilization. But our view of the universe has expanded considerably. We are no longer the center of everything. There is a vast emptiness beyond the sky of our tiny planet, and speaking practically, it gives absolutely zero f***s about humanity.

Pale Blue Dot

Yeah, that’s right, Earth. You want some of this? ¹

That tiny pixel circled above is the Earth suspended in a sunbeam as viewed from Voyager 1. Carl Sagan’s writings regarding this image are awesome, and you should read them: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pale_blue_dot#Reflections_by_Sagan

But I digress. So God tells Noah some stuff, like “Don’t eat the flesh while it still has blood,” Genesis 9:4, and “I swear you guys, I won’t do it again.”

The blood thing confused me and especially the continued writings about things like “From the hand of every man’s brother I will require the life of a man” (Genesis 9:5). I turn of course to Matthew Henry. Henry, take it away.

“The main reason of forbidding the eating of blood, doubtless was because the shedding of blood in sacrifices was to keep the worshippers (sic?) in mind of the great atonement; yet it seems intended also to check cruelty, lest men, being used to shed and feed upon the blood of animals, should grow unfeeling to them, and be less shocked at the idea of shedding human blood. Man must not take away his own life. Our lives are God’s, and we must only give them up when he pleases. If we in any way hasten our own death, we are accountable to God for it.” ²

Seems fair? So we have blood sacrifices to keep in mind the necessity of atonement. This is like what my partner told me that I related to all of you a few days ago: before Christ, there was a need to give early man a way to redeem themselves of their sins. So, animal sacrifices and other ways to show humility and faith were necessary. For a time.

So anyway, let’s wrap this up. I have to leave for work in short order.

Noah gets plastered (Genesis 9:21). He seriously cannot handle his alcohol. I get it, Noah, he’s a holy man, God’s chosen to save the world, etc., but really. Even I know my limits. The good Mr. Henry says that we need to be careful not to use God’s gifts to excess. Seems fair. Especially the “green herbs,” if you know what I mean (Genesis 9:3). It’s probably for the best that there’s no record of Noah getting really high.

Double Rainbow

“Oh my God! Double covenant, all the way across the sky!” ³

So, the jerk son of Noah, Ham, goes and gossips about his father. Nope. The other two brothers, Shem and Japheth, don’t look at their naked father but instead cover him with a garment. When Noah woke up, he was expecting to be naked apparently, because after seeing the clothes, he realized that someone had gone gossiping about his nakedness. So he curses Canaan, son of Ham.

Matthew Henry points out that Shem is the father of the Jews, Japheth the father of the gentiles, and Canaan, well, the father of the Canaanites, coincidentally enough. Matthew Henry condemns it, but he points out that this chapter was used for a long time to justify black slavery the world over, since Noah curses Canaan to be a “servant of servants,” pretty much the lowest of the low (Genesis 9:25).

Django

“And buddy, that’s pretty f***ing low.” ª

Anyway, Matthew Henry points out that when Noah prays for God to allow Japheth to “dwell in the tents of Shem,” he is expressing his desire that these families, these groups will someday be united. Mr. Henry asserts that this foretelling will come true through the death and sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

…Who we won’t even see or hear about for another 505 pages of this Bible. Oy.

Have a blessèd day, everybody. Thanks for reading, and peace be upon you.

 

¹ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:PaleBlueDot.jpg

² Henry, Matthew. http://www.christnotes.org/commentary.php?com=mhc&b=1&c=9

³ http://i3.kym-cdn.com/entries/icons/original/000/003/128/doublerainbow.jpg

ª http://www.eonline.com/eol_images/Entire_Site/20121112/reg_1024.Django.mh.121212.jpg

Day 5

Five days into this project and I’m already having a crisis of faith. Yesterday when I decided to make coffee in the morning I chose an oversized mug with a drawing of the Buddha. It felt so weird.

I have a copy of the Bible (maybe two or three), a copy of the Quran, a copy of the Book of Mormon, and, somewhere around here, a copy of the Bhagavad Gita. I also have my medicine cards and my own spiritual experiences, both intense and mundane.

I feel strange delving so deeply into the Christian faith. This is a faith that I for many years, rejected, and in many ways I still do. I understand that God is, I have felt that presence and as far as I can tell, spoken with Him. I have prayed to God in the name of Jesus Christ.

But I usually append that, and while I pray to no one but God, I often pray “in the name” of various wise, intelligent, and spiritual people the world over. I have added people such as Carl Sagan, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama, and others which I cannot at this time remember. It has been a while since I have formally prayed. I have even prayed in the name of all of humanity.

One thing I do not enjoy which seems to be a part of modern American life is that faith tends to be equated with scientific ignorance as a necessity. I don’t get it, and I don’t see why this is often the case. In my opinion, if one’s faith crumbles at the presence of observable, objective facts (as much as such a thing is possible, anyway), then it is my opinion that a person with such a problem would need to do some praying and reconciling of their faith.

Take, for example, the Cosmic Microwave Background radiation. Detectable with powerful telescopes, it seems that all throughout the universe there is a small “static,” if you will, of faint radiation that comes from no discernible source. It is almost uniform, and it can be found even where an optical telescope would find “black” or empty sky between stars or galaxies.

The CMB is everywhere. When variations that are observed within the CMB are modeled, the only explanation that matches up with observed data is the “Big Bang” model of cosmic expansion and universal creation. Does this mean that an unmeasurable, spiritual-bodied God had no hand in the universe? Not at all. My explanation or interpretation (back on Day 1) allows for the idea that God sparked the universe and all of existence into being.

Now, a hypothetical person might say, “You said observable fact. CMB is observable from microwave detectors and radio telescopes. How does this mean anything to me?” So, maybe bad choice on my part. But the fact is that when you turn on a TV or a radio to a channel with nothing but static, a very tiny amount of that static is indeed coming from the CMB. It exists.

The other thing I do not enjoy about (I was going to say Christianity but ideas don’t do anything in and of themselves so let’s say) some Christians specifically, although I’m sure practitioners of other religions do this as well, is their tendency to focus on differences rather than similarities. Basically, the main tenet of Christianity, especially Protestant Christianity which removes a lot of the details and rituals of Catholicism, is that the man named Jesus from the town of Nazareth was indeed the Son of God, that He performed miracles in his lifetime, that He died upon the cross to redeem all of humanity’s sins, and that by accepting Him as your Lord and savior, you allow yourself a path to Heaven. Yes, there are other important details, like the resurrection of Jesus from the dead and the Second Coming and all that, but the reason John 3:16 is probably the most famous verse of the New Testament is because Christ’s death is the crux (no pun intended, I promise) of the Christian faith. Jehovah’s Witnesses celebrate no holidays other than the anniversary of the day Christ died, because it was on that day that he offered salvation for all humanity.

(Jesus, a page and a half and I haven’t even started on today’s chapter.)

Anyway, the thing that gets me is that literally any faith in the whole wide world that doesn’t focus on Jesus Christ and his role as savior is immediately wrong. And that’s pretty much all there is to it! Religions that had been established for hundreds if not thousands of years are all wrong if they do not include the acceptance of Jesus Christ as their savior.

This has never made sense to me.

I don’t understand how God could create the world, scatter humanity all over the globe, allow us different cultures and languages (discussion on the Tower of Babel will come later), and somehow expect everyone to rally behind one Jew from the Middle East!

Maybe it is something that will come with time. But from what I know about people and about psychology, conversion via condemnation seems like a terrible f***ing strategy to me, and that’s the only word I can use to describe how opposed I am to it.

If you want people to understand, accept, and love God and Jesus Christ, then you need to show them the parallels, not the differences. People are not just going to wake up one day and abandon the faith of their fathers and grandfathers or mothers and grandmothers or whatever and suddenly switch over. I’m not saying such sudden “miraculous” conversion is impossible, just that it is highly unlikely.

And even if God wants the whole world to accept Jesus Christ as their savior, a) there must have been a reason for all these other cultures and stories and myths and faiths in the grand scheme of things, and b) I don’t see how God would expect them to accept Jesus without being able to relate to or understand the stories and the principles and everything else!

I got into a long debate with my partner late one night about this very issue. It was her belief that God speaks to all of us, which I agree with, but then we differ on the idea that people always recognize that voice as God. She says that people choose not to accept God. I explained to her that I didn’t accept God until I truly felt God, what people call the Holy Spirit. In the course of one evening, my life changed. I felt the Holy Spirit and I understood why there was suffering and despair in the world, which previously had been an obstacle toward my acceptance of God.

Over the course of one evening, I was overcome with both joy and despair before settling on acceptance. It was a three-step process. I overcame the philosophical “problem of evil” by realizing that human beings a) have “free will” (going to leave a “sort of” here; this is another thing I won’t get into right now) and that b) human beings grow with a certain amount of stress or suffering. By not having a perfect life, we look for ways to grow or to solve problems, thus expanding ourselves and making our lives and the lives of others better.

For humans and humanity to achieve their full potential, there has to be suffering. One story of Satan, which at some point I will be able to confirm or deny as Biblical, one story that I have heard is that Satan wanted to make the world a perfect place where all of humanity was forced to accept God. The Good Lord said “No” because apparently that’s not how the plan is supposed to work.

So humanity as represented by all the individual humans has the “choice” to accept or reject God. And if that choice is dependent on a human being’s experiences and life up to that point… and that life has been nothing but terrible… then I just don’t see that it’s likely (although I do accept that it is possible) for that person to accept or love God.

During this discussion I brought up the song “Hasa Diga Ebowai,” from the award-winning Broadway musical, The Book of Mormon. The song is sung mostly by members of a village in Uganda in Africa, and they say that having a saying, the titular “hasa diga ebowai,” that helps them make it through all their terrible circumstances, which include “war, poverty, famine” and the fact that “eighty percent of [them] have AIDS.” This is all put to an upbeat and sprightly tune, which makes it all the more shocking for the Mormon missionaries when they learn that “hasa diga ebowai” means “F*** you, God.”

My point in explaining this (hilarious and well-written, if blasphemous) song both to my partner and here as part of this post is that it serves as a good example for what became my overall point: If people don’t understand God or have never felt that love or peace, how can they be expected to accept God? And if they don’t accept or believe in God, then how can they see His presence in their lives? And if they don’t see His presence and the little “coincidences” (which are anything but) for what they are, then how can they be expected to understand Him? And so on and so forth.

My partner didn’t have an answer. But to me it is a clear cycle that can be broken with new experiences or information presented in an appropriate, understandable way. You can’t just tell a Hindu or Muslim family or whatever to accept Jesus. They simply don’t have enough understandable information to make that decision.

I don’t really believe in Hell, personally, not really as a physical realm. One person I met in college who had been studying to be a Christian (or Catholic, I don’t recall which) priest before coming out and accepting his homosexuality, this person told me about Christian Universalism. The main tenet that separates them from traditional Christianity is the belief in “universal reconciliation,” which states that “all will eventually be reconciled to God without exception, the penalty for sin is not everlasting” (Wikipedia.org, Christian Universalism). This means that Universalists do not believe in Hell. The argument this person put forth to me was “The life of a human being is finite, and a loving God would not make someone suffer infinite punishment for finite sin.” Yes, the wages of sin trickle down and down from person to person, but still. I think this makes sense. I shall analyze this view in light of scripture as I proceed through the Bible.

This seems like a good point to bring up, once again, The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz. You might as well get used to it, dear reader, because it’s going to come up a lot. Anyway, in TFA, Ruiz writes, in short, that Hell is a state of mind, a state of mind in which we suffer the “fire” of our own negative emotions. The burning sensations of anger, envy, and jealousy are the “fires” of Hell. The idea of Hell as punishment exists in this state of mind as well, because we punish ourselves and beat ourselves up endlessly for things we do and don’t do, or say or don’t say. We live in this state of fire and punishment. We live in a state of Hell.

Ruiz writes that if Hell is a state of mind, then so is Heaven. To Christians or whoever: I’m not opposed to the idea of Heaven being a place, but even in the Bible, I think Heaven is also a state of mind. Look to Luke 17, verses 20 and 21. In the NKJV, Jesus tells the people,

“The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”

— Jesus Christ, Luke 17:20-21

In the NIV, He says that “the kingdom of God is in your midst.” In his famous speech at the end of The Great Dictator, Charlie Chaplin cites this with such vibrant passion that I am almost overcome with emotion every single time I hear it.

“In the seventeenth chapter of Saint Luke it is written, ‘the kingdom of God is within man’ — not one man, nor a group of men, but in all men, in you, you the people have the power, the power to create machines, the power to create happiness. You the people have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure.”

— Charlie Chaplin, The Great Dictator

My God, even now, just writing it and hearing it in my mind it gives me chills. Don Miguel Ruiz writes that human beings, living as we do in a dream-like state, have the power to dream Hell or Heaven. Ruiz says, poignantly, “My choice is to dream Heaven. What’s yours?”

Genesis 5

That seems as good a spot as any to end on. If I were to keep going, I’d never get to today’s chapter. Which would defeat the whole objective of this project. So let me flip back from Luke (page 500-something in my Bible) to Genesis 5 (page 3). Oh, my aching head.

We have another few examples here of the non-literality of the word “day,” but I’m so tired of swinging this stick to beat that dead horse, so I’m going to just leave it. The other thing we have here is a ton of genealogy stuff. So much begetting.

Back to the line of Adam, we have Seth, Adam’s new son, we have Seth’s son Enosh, Enosh’s son Cainan, then Mahalalel, Jared, Enoch (more on him in a minute), Methuselah, Lamech, and finally Noah. Well, not finally, because in closing, Genesis 5 tells us that Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

Methuselah is famous because according to the Bible he was the oldest man who ever lived: nine hundred and sixty-nine years of age. And he and everyone else died.

…Except Enoch. Enoch is the only person whose tabulation of years is not immediately followed by “and he died.” Enoch, interestingly enough, is described twice as having “walked with God” (Gen 5:22 and 5:24) and his part of the story ends with “and he was not, for God took him.” The NIV translates it thusly: “Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away” (Gen 5:24, NIV).

Either case, Enoch is not described as having died. There are different beliefs all across the Abrahamic spectrum (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) regarding Enoch and his fate. The apocryphal (and totally bad-ass) Book of Enoch basically describes him being brought alive into Heaven, perhaps the only human being to have done so. Another interpretation is that he possessed such purity that he was taken or killed before his time so that he might not be corrupted. Yet another is that he was granted immortality in some form or another, but not taken to Heaven.

I like to think that Enoch was taken up to Heaven to serve as scribe and as the Metatron who sometimes serves as the voice of God. This idea is not based on anything in particular save for esoteric Jewish texts and a brief section in the Talmud where Elisha ben Abuyah, a rabbi, entered Heaven/Paradise and saw the Metatron sitting next to God.

As an aside, I always thought Metatron sounded very sci-fi, or like the name of a Transformer (™ Hasbro), but finding out what it actually means is near impossible. I will direct interested readers to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metatron, where an analysis of possible etymologies can be found.

Anyway, I like this idea not because it is based on anything but simply because it is awesome and very mystical in an old-world sense. It probably helps that society and literature have used allusions to such concepts since time immemorial, but I am absolutely fascinated with esoteric aspects of Judeo-Christian mythology. And that’s all I have to say about that.

But today we are concerned about scripture. Canonical scripture. I couldn’t tell you why all the people in Genesis 5 lived so long. I have read before that this was taken as an example of the dwindling purity of mankind that trickled down from Adam, that had Adam not been removed from Eden he would have lived forever. This is possible, but in Genesis 2 it seems to be implied that only by eating of the tree of life would Adam and Eve have lived forever. But maybe that wasn’t even a concern until after they had eaten of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Like I said before, God didn’t say they’d die immediately.

Today I accessed the Matthew Henry Commentary  via the website

http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/genesis/5.html

and ho-ho-holy crap. This is way more information than I would ever think to include! I’m already tired from all this writing. The interested reader will direct their attention to the above link and read what is there written. I’m not about to go that far in depth.

But the interesting point that this site makes is that these particular names and this genealogy exists so that an interested party could track the lineage of the man who would be Jesus Christ. Supposedly, this accounts for the capitalization of “Seed” in Genesis 3:15, to which I had previously paid little attention.

I will end today’s tiring essay with the observation of Genesis 5:29.

“And he called his name Noah, saying, ‘This one will comfort us concerning our work and the toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord has cursed.”

— Genesis 5:29

Lamech seems to realize that life is miserable and full of toil because of the sins of their forefathers and the punishment for those sins that came from the Lord. Lamech either wishes or knows that Noah will in some way comfort or perhaps deliver humanity from this suffering. And then after almost 600 more years, Lamech dies, never having witnessed Noah fulfill his destiny.

But fulfill and deliver he shall.

Have a good day, everyone. I hope this is as interesting and thought-provoking for you as it is for me.

Farewell, and peace be upon you.