Genesis

Day 50

Writer’s Note: I don’t remember if I said this last time, but I really need to hire a typist to transcribe my audio rants. It almost takes longer to transcribe it than it would to have just written it!

As I close Genesis and move into Exodus, I was thinking about things and thinking about how, supposedly, Exodus is “The Second Book of Moses.” So, apparently Moses is the one who transcribed all these books. I don’t know if God literally came down and dictated these books word-for-word, or what, because I haven’t reached that part of the story, where I get to learn about what Moses did.

I was thinking about this, about where this story comes from, where all this information comes from. I really hope that Exodus sheds some light on that and can explain it to me directly, or at least in terms of the Biblical narrative. I’m interested to find this out, and see where it takes me.

The thing is, the Bible is so open to interpretation. There are so many things… it comes out and says quite a few things directly; all of the “Do this,” or “Don’t do that,” you know, “This has changed,” or “This stays the same.” There are a lot of things that appear to be cut-and-dried, but overall there is so much room for interpretation with this book.

In a “perfect” world, it would be perfectly contextualized, but the fact is that it simply is not. Some things that might have made perfect sense thousands of years ago, or made sense in the Greek language to a Greek reader, or made sense in Hebrew to a Hebrew reader… some things that might have made perfect sense aren’t necessarily clear.

My father got a copy of a book from his brother called something along the lines of Misinterpreting Jesus, and I really want to read it. I decided it would be better to wait and skim through it as I go through the New Testament. Apparently, the person who wrote that book looked at old Greek or old Hebrew copies/translations of scripture in order to try to translate things directly rather than constantly translating from translations like some centuries-long telephone game.

I’m very interested to read that book and see how it stands next to the Bible, to see where there are alleged discrepancies in scripture. I believe that yes, there are translation errors in the Bible, but I believe that even those errors exist “for a reason,” so to speak. You couldn’t really expect there to not be translation errors. But on the plus side, in my opinion, there are reasons for it, there are reasons that people want to believe certain things, there are reasons that the stories are told a certain way. The stories have to make sense in a certain context and tell a particular lesson, and if one translation over another gets that across then so be it.

I was just thinking about all this, and about how again, in a “perfect” world, everything that God is, was, and will be, everything that we could know would be infinitely and perfectly contextualized. But it’s not. And that’s the tricky part about our lives, our lives as humans, is that there simply is no measurable, objective context. It’s not like a movie where there is background mood music that tells you how to interpret a particular occurrence. It’s not like a video game where you get a new objective that tells you exactly what to do, when to do it, and why to do it. There is no objective context.

Some people might say, you know… the kind of person that believes in God in a Christian sense, would say that there is an objective context, and God’s will is the context. We’re supposed to interpret everything as God’s will, the things that happen to us, the things that we see, and so on. I understand that, because I obviously like… I have made my peace with God, I talk to God, I accept God. I know that God is and that He is with me, for whatever that means.¹ I know that. It’s not even something– I’m not using the word “believe” because it’s not a belief; I just know that.

I mean, it’s in an abstract sense… I don’t believe that there is a white-bearded man who lives in some physical place. Again, I love the mythology surrounding these ideas, but I don’t– when I understand God as a being, that’s not what comes to mind. Anyway.

To me, I can put things into that context. I can say that even a bad experience has its merits, because we can look at it through the eyes of growth; we can look at experiences with a desire to learn and grow and we can get something out of them. It is possible to see the silver lining behind the cloud.

To me, that’s the context. But I also understand that that is an entirely subjective context that is based on my experiences an my worldview, and that other people don’t have that context, necessarily. Not everybody sees the world that way.

Obviously I’m a little biased, but in my opinion it’s a pretty healthy worldview. I don’t condone “evil” acts, or acts of cruelty against fellow humans or animals. I don’t condone “bad” things, because there are a lot of terrible things in the world that cause a lot of hurt to a lot of people. And I don’t like it necessarily, I– I don’t like it. I don’t like that people suffer, I don’t like that people… that people “repay evil for good,” to quote Gen 44:4, I don’t like that people do harm to one another.

At the same time, these experiences are all… it’s a natural progression. Does that make them “good” in a human sense? No. Just because they are a natural progression of miserable, victimized people miserably victimizing other people, hurting ourselves and hurting others, making people suffer, bringing injustice upon one another… I don’t think the fact that this is a natural progression of events makes it “good” in a human sense. Obviously, this is all perpetuating the cycle of suffering.

But in a cosmic sense… the fact that these things happen, the world doesn’t just change at the flip of a switch, and oftentimes when I’m in some strange scenario, or something happens that doesn’t go my way, or something that I’m not thrilled with, I look at the circumstances that led up to it and I see that it couldn’t have happened any other way. Here I am; if things could have gone differently, they would have. But from A→B→C→D, we have this progression of events and this is just how it happened.

The important thing is to be as conscious as possible as things are happening within us and around us, so that we can make good decisions, so that we can be responsible and we can have awareness to do the best we can with our circumstances, to will ourselves to do better.

My point is, even though, like the world, the way we understand it from a human perspective, anyway… though our world be flawed, though we be mired in sin, though we be mired in shame, guilt, victimization, and blame… how could it be any other way? And just so with the Bible.

People translating over years and years, languages and meanings changing, and so on and so forth… The language has changed, the interpretations have changed, and what was known and understood several thousand years ago is not necessarily understood today. We do the best we can with what we’ve got. And you know, we’re trying to make it work.

This is why I want my own interpretation. This is why I want to dig through the scriptures and translations and figure out “What does this mean for me, me specifically?” Because this all means a lot of things to a lot of people, and when I went to church on Easter, I got to see that, and I got to feel that, and I got to remember that. And that was good. I remembered why this is so important to so many people, and I remembered why people get so touchy and so defensive about it: because it’s a big deal.

The interpretation that people have of the Bible and of life is very important to them, the narrative that to which they subscribe… it becomes an important part of their identity. I understand that because the way that I interpret the Bible is unique to me. The eyes with which I see it, the mind with which I understand it has never ever been duplicated in the history of time.

This moment that I am experiencing from my perspective is one hundred percent unique. No one else is sitting where I am sitting, no one else is seeing what I am seeing in the way that I am seeing it.

My interpretation, and the meaning that the Bible brings to my life, these things are unique to me. And… and… in that sense, how could it be any other way?

All is as it should be.


See you tomorrow in Exodus, folks.

Peace be upon you.


¹ http://youtu.be/32FB-gYr49Y?t=1m16s
You’re so welcome.

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Day 49

I can’t find my Bible again. I honestly don’t know where that darn thing keeps ending up! I do have access to the Internet (obviously) and I do have the New World Translation from the Jehovah’s Witnesses. It’s something! But I do want to find my NKJV before my camping trip.

I worked with one of my clients yesterday; he’s only nine but he’s a really good kid. I don’t know what it is about him but I get a really good vibe, a really powerful vibe. He’s one of the only clients and indeed one of the few people I’ve ever met that seems totally contented in the silence of his own mind. I feel like I could learn a lot from him, even if he doesn’t consciously realize it. He doesn’t talk much, but he’s a good listener, and I’ve found that the latter is much more important than the former.

We went hiking and it was wonderful, the sun was setting, the wind was blowing, and it was growing cold and dark. We didn’t stay for very long since it got a little creepy for him (and me too, admittedly), but it was a good experience and I got a few photos and an inspiration for some writing, which is always a bonus. I do need to start carrying a “real” camera with me, and not just using my phone all the time. This thing is great during the day but in any kind of low light, the picture quality is terrible.

Without further ado…

sunset over cityscape

Ghosts of the Mountain

City lights
From mountainside
Flicker as
The sunset dies
The wind behind
I close my eyes
I’m falling…

I crossed paths with one of the old guardians
His time had come, and yet
He had never relinquished his post
Never abandoned his duty
Instead, while flesh had failed him
He could see what the others could not
And the shadows that danced out of sight
Were clear to him in death
His own slender bones
Seemed a mocking crown
And though his roots grasped at dust
He stood fast
Watching the comings and goings of the night
The crescent moon watched as well
And when I called for silence
Even the wind obeyed.

shadowwatcher


Genesis 49

Honestly, after writing that business, I have really no desire to break down Genesis 49. The point is, I read it, Jacob says something to each of his sons on his deathbed, and in the end he passes away.

One interesting takeaway from Gen 49 is that Jacob is described as blessing his sons, “each one according to his own blessing” (Gen 49:28). The interesting thing is that with the first three, Reuben followed by the brothers Simon and Levi, the things Jacob says would not be considered “blessings” in a modern sense.

But this is the life that these children have been granted; Jacob merely observes the truth and probably speaks with a spirit of prophecy. In this sense, in the sense that Jacob reveals truth, then indeed these are blessings, because he, with his wisdom and knowledge, sheds light on the lives and futures of his sons, even the less righteous ones. Truly, with knowledge and awareness of themselves they are blessed.

Tonight is my last night that will be spent reading/analyzing Genesis. I’m going to knock out Genesis 50, the closing chapter, and be off to bed.

Farewell, all. Peace be upon you.

 

Day 48

Sweet Jesus, we’re almost done with Genesis. I have such a headache, and I’m so tired right now, but still I’m up typing away…

This project, combined with my new job, is going to be the most trying and demanding thing I’ve ever had to do. Maybe this hectic week will be good for me; if I retire early tonight and wake up early, I can start fresh and write my Day 49 post early, before I have to work all day. And the next day. And the next day.

You know, I’m going out of town in less than three weeks, and I cannot wait. I’m going camping, and I’m going to be away from the computer for about 7 or 8 days. I’ll be bringing my Bible and a notepad with me on the camping trip, and I’ll read and write every day. But the posting is going to have to wait til I get back. I think it’ll be a really nice vacation; I can’t wait to turn my phone off for a week; it’s always buzzing with texts and emails… Days like today, I just want a little silence. As soon as I’m done with this post, I shall have it.


Genesis 48

Joseph brings his sons to meet his dying father, Jacob. Jacob/Israel takes the children close to him, recounts his vision of God and the promises therefrom, and says this (Gen 49:5-6):

And now your two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine. Your offspring whom you beget after them shall be yours; they will be called by the name of their brothers in their inheritance.

I wasn’t sure what to make of this, so I visited our old friend Matthew Henry. Haven’t heard from him in a while. He makes the point that Jacob “adopts” Ephraim and Manasseh to carry on the promises of God, to carry on the blessings, to live a godly life rather than an earthly one. Jacob wants the two boys “to know, that it is better to be low, and in the church, than high, and out of it.”¹

Jacob then blesses the boys, placing his right hand on the head of Ephraim, the younger, and his left hand on the head of Manasseh, the older. Joseph tells his father essentially that he is confused or mistaken in his blessings, but Jacob speaks “from a spirit of prophecy,” according to Matthew Henry. Jacob knows that, just as with his life and his brother, the younger shall surpass the older in the eyes of God.

Here is Jacob’s blessing to the boys (Gen 49:15-16):

“God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked,
The God who has fed me all my life long to this day,
The Angel who has redeemed me from all evil,
Bless the lads;
Let my name be named upon them,
And the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac;
And let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.”

I like the second and third lines; the second because God has cared for Jacob all the way up til now, almost out of expectation or a leading-up to his death. Also, because this chapter made me think about it, I realized that there has been no mention of anyone dying and going to Heaven. The only mention of “heaven” throughout Genesis seems to be used to mean “sky,” and the only person who has had anything else happen to him besides death is Enoch, for if you recall, “God took him” back in Genesis 5:24.

As far as the third line goes, I was confused as to “The Angel.” Obviously this figure is equated with God, which made me think of the idea of the Trinity and all the appearances of the “Angel of the Lord” throughout Genesis. Both Matthew Henry and John Wesley equate this figure with Jesus Christ, “the Angel of the covenant.” 1,2

It is interesting to see all these interpretations of the appearance of Christ in the Old Testament. Someday I should like to talk to a Rabbi or a Jewish scholar about all of this and see what their take on it is.

Anyway, I’m calling it an early night. I love you all; peace be upon you.

Good night.


¹ Henry, Matthew. http://www.christnotes.org/commentary.php?b=1&c=48&com=mhc

² Wesley, John. http://www.christnotes.org/commentary.php?com=wes&b=1&c=48

Day 47

Genesis 47

I know I’m behind, but Genesis 47 is just not all that interesting! I’m really looking forward to Exodus and some new stories.

Joseph talks to Pharaoh and gets land and bread for his brothers, his father, and their families.

Then Egypt runs into this horrible inflationary scenario where no one has any more money to buy bread. Joseph has people trade first their livestock, then a year later he has them trade in their land. Seems that Joseph invents the feudal system.

They give him control over the land, he provides seed, they do the farming, keep 4/5 of everything and give 1/5 to the state. The priests are the only people in Egypt who do not cede control of their land to Pharaoh.

As Genesis 47 draws to a close, Israel has reached one hundred and forty-seven years of age. He knows he will die, and he asks Joseph to bury him in the land of his fathers. Joseph says that he will do as his father has asked.

Israel says some stuff back (Gen 47:31)…

And so endeth Genesis 47.

 

Day 43

THE END IS NIGH!

The end of Genesis, that is. Genesis only goes up to 50 or so chapters, so in a few days I’ll be knee-deep in Exodus. Looking forward to it.

Time to play catch up.


Genesis 42

Jacob knows that Egypt has plenty of grain, but it seems that given what his sons did to Joseph, they exchange a series of worried glances when Jacob mentions Egypt. Jacob/Israel sends his sons to buy grain. Long story short, Joseph recognizes his brothers but they do not recognize him. He accuses them of being spies and says that they must bring their youngest brother back with them, and that they must leave one of their number there. Benjamin, the youngest, was told to stay at home by Jacob, “Lest some calamity befall him” (Genesis 42:4).

After this demand, they realize that they are being punished, essentially, for what they did to Joseph in the past. It seems that their deeds have caught up to them. Reuben condemns them with several Biblically-worded I-told-you-so’s.

So Joseph holds Simeon there, he gives his brothers grain, and their money back, and the brothers go back and tell their father what happened. The brothers are worried that there is some kind of trick or trap awaiting them when they find all their money has been restored, and their father is afraid. Reuben promises that Benjamin and Simeon both will be safe.

Favorite Quote:

“Do this and live, for I fear God.”

— Joseph, Genesis 42:18

I spoke previously about the different meanings of the Hebrew word “yirah,” which is often translated as “fear.” Joseph’s point here seems to me to be that who shows respect and humility to God, and as such his word can be trusted.


Genesis 43

Israel is reluctant to send his youngest son with the boys, and so they refrain from returning to Egypt. Once all the grain is gone, they no longer have much choice. Israel gets upset at his children for having told Joseph that they had another brother, but it really wasn’t their fault. Judah finally convinces his father to send all of them, and Israel gives them gifts to bring to Joseph in hopes that he will be appeased.

Once they arrive in Egypt, Joseph has them taken into his house, and his brothers are afraid. They say in Genesis 43:18,

“It is because of the money, which was returned in our sacks the first time, that we are brought in, so that he may make a case against us and seize us, to take us as slaves with our donkeys.”

They speak with Joseph’s steward and explain the situation and the misunderstanding, but he tells them there is no need to worry and returns Simeon to them before bringing them into the house. Joseph came out to meet them and spoke with them and then they sat to eat.

Joseph arranged them, “the firstborn according to his birthright and the youngest according to his youth; and the men looked in astonishment at one another” (Genesis 43:33). Joseph, knowing his brother’s ages, seats them accordingly. To them, this is shaping up to be some Twilight Zone business. Joseph serves Benjamin five times as much as anybody else, and they all eat and drink happily.

Favorite Quote:

“If I am bereaved, I am bereaved!”

— Israel, Genesis 43:14

Here we see Israel the father finally stop denying what needs to be done and turning his circumstances over to the grace of God. You know, for a family that has had so much interaction with the Lord, they sure do have their struggles with faith.

Good day, all. Peace be upon you.

Day 42

Writer’s note: I recorded this verbally last night and am now transcribing it. It just feels better for me to explain this since I’m running behind.

Good God. Here I am at 3:16 in the morning, appropriately enough, thinking about what I’m going to write today. I mean, technically I’m writing yesterday’s post, but honestly, after the day I’ve had, too bad. It’ll go up hopefully before dawn, and that’s good enough for me. Tomorrow isn’t quite here yet, so whatever.

So I was thinking about Joseph and his ability to interpret dreams. The dreams that Pharaoh has, he sees seven healthy fat cows, and then seven, ugly, gaunt, skinny cows, and they eat the fat cows, and leave no trace of them. Same thing with stalks of wheat, he sees like seven stalks of wheat and then seven shriveled stalks, or whatever, and the seven shriveled stalks devour the seven full, healthy, stalks. Then his butler, or cupbearer, depending on your translation, remembers, “Oops, hey, Pharaoh, there was a guy in prison that I was totally supposed to tell you about who can interpret dreams.”

Pharaoh goes, “Okay, well, send for him.”

Joseph comes, and he interprets Pharaoh’s dreams. He says, you know, Pharaoh tells him the dreams, and Joseph tells him, “Look, you know, God showed you twice in your dream God showed you two times in your dream to make it real clear. Here’s what’s gonna go down: you’re going to have seven years of plenty, of riches, and you’re going to have seven years of famine. The seven years of famine are going to completely swallow up the seven years of riches and plenty so that not you nor anyone else will even be able to tell that there ever were seven years of plenty.”

So, Pharaoh realizes how wise this guy is, and he can tell that Joseph is a man of God and of great wisdom, and thus, power, and so Pharaoh basically makes him second only to Pharaoh over all of Egypt. He’s basically like, “You’re going to be my right hand man, you’re going to sit here… I need a guy like you to help me.”

Joseph makes sure that during the seven years of plenty, they store up until their stores are full to bursting. He says, “Alright, we’ve got all this stuff. We’re good to go.” When the seven years of famine come, he sells the grain and sells from the stores. People all over are suffering from this famine and Joseph sells from their stock, and despite the famine, they prosper.

So I was thinking about my own dreams, and such, and I thought it was really interesting, because it took me til today, when I was beaten down and exhausted from twelve hours of working and driving and herding children… and it wasn’t until this morning that I… Well, alright. I’ve had a similar thing happen in my dreams twice. Like the way the Pharaoh had seven rich and seven lean and so on, I had two separate dreams, months apart, where I strangled a man to death. My first thought after reading Genesis 41 was, “Am I going to strangle somebody to death? Am I going to get into a position where I have to kill a man with my bare hands?” But I realized in my dreams, the people that I strangled to death were “bad guys.”

The first one was an unidentified agent of a supernatural evil, like, there was a hint in my dream that he was actually a demonic figure. He looked like a man but he was either possessed by some evil force or he was some evil creature in disguise. The second one was a high-ranking Nazi officer, and yeah, I get it, in real life Nazis were human beings and so on, but in my dream, he was an evil man. So, I didn’t realize until just this morning that in both cases, I was snuffed out an evil life.

And see, in real life I’m sort of a pacifist. I don’t think really it’s right to take a human life. I don’t think that’s our call to make. It’s like every man, woman, and child is a world unto themselves, and each person represents something sacred and special. But anyway…

I don’t really think, unless it was an extreme case of self-defense, I don’t think I could bring myself to kill somebody, especially by like, choking them or strangling them with my bare hands.

handsomejack1

“No, no, Jimmy, choking is something you do when you eat too fast. What I’m doing is actually referred to as ‘strangling.'” ¹

The thing I realized this morning as I was leaving my house for work is that in these dreams, I am triumphing over evil. This is the dream that God is showing me, I feel. It just came to me in a moment of inspiration. It was just all of a sudden clear as day, and I went, “Oh, that’s what it means. Duh!” It’s triumphing over evil.

I thought about it for a minute and I was like, “Ooh! Do I conquer all the evils of the world?” and I realized that’s not really realistic, but what I feel that it means that I will conquer the evil within myself. And that’s a pretty satisfying answer; I’m pretty satisfied with that. I mean, I’d like to shoot for conquering more evil, you know, in the world. You know, some bigger evil, some grand-scale evil in the world, and really help eliminate some wickedness and suffering here or there, but conquering the evil within myself would be pretty great. That’s the dream that God has shown me, and I feel pretty good about that.

So if I ever have a dream where I strangle a guy to death, let’s hope he’s a bad guy, because seriously, I need some consistency here, God. But I think two times is all I needed, and of course the second time comes just a few days ago, right before I read Genesis 41, where Pharaoh has two dreams with a parallel meaning, and it’s just interesting, it’s so funny how these things work themselves out.

This is, like, my life: funny not-coincidences. But for as weird as it is and how little I understand it, I wouldn’t have it any other way.


¹ Borderlands 2, Gearbox Software and 2K games. Image accessed from http://leviathyn.com/opinion/2012/12/21/why-handsome-jack-is-my-antagonist-of-the-year/

Day 40

Man! 40 days. If I had started this a week or so earlier I would have been spot on for Lent. How appropriate would that have been?


Genesis 38

So, real quick, we have a brief interlude in Genesis 38 wherein we follow Judah son of Israel and he has a few kids and Er, his son, is wicked and dies and Onan is supposed to “go into” his dead brother’s wife to give his dead brother an heir but he signifies his refusal with a little coitus interruptus and emits on the ground and so God kills him for not impregnating his sister-in-law. So the story goes.

This whole “spilling seed ” business has been used to condemn masturbation, coitus interruptus, and contraception, the first two even being referred to as “onanism.” I think it’s more like, he disobeyed his father and disobeyed God and SMITE you’re dead. I really don’t think the sex thing in and of itself is that big of a deal. But that’s just me.

Some stuff happens, Judah accidentally has sex with her, thinking she is a harlot, and and oops she gets pregnant and has twins. She has proof that it was him, and so he owns up to being the father.


Genesis 39-40

Back to Joseph! He gets taken down to Egypt and becomes a pretty successful slave, as slaves go, and his master’s house was blessed for his sake (Genesis 39:5). Like any good servant/pool boy, he attracts the attention of his master’s wife. She wants him, but he turns her down. This happens over and over, until one day she grabs his clothes and they literally come away when he runs from her.

tearawaypants

Joseph and the Amazing Tear-Away Dreamcoat. ¹

She uses his clothes as “proof” of his advances, and Joseph gets thrown in jail. But God makes it easier on him and makes it so the keeper of the prison trusts him and likes him. End Genesis 39.

In Genesis 40, Joseph is depicted as a wise man (I suppose) because he is godly enough to interpret dreams. The Pharaoh’s baker and butler end up in the prison, and they have strange dreams which Joseph interprets for them. One of them is to be saved in three days and the other to be killed in three days. The butler, who is saved, had been told by Joseph to remember him and to help him get out of the prison. Yet, after being freed,

“the chief butler did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.”

— Genesis 40:23

Sad day! So Joseph is stuck in the prison. Tune in tomorrow, dear readers, for another amazing installment of In Excelsis Deo!

Actually, as much as I want to go to bed, I think it’s funny because I’ve had some strange dreams lately which my (devout Christian) partner was able to interpret for me. Funny how that works. To me it just seemed like my brain finally had some time to collect and sort through all the stuff I’ve been up to, but she did give me some good insight.

For those interested, my dream involved strangling a Nazi officer to death, working with Walter White of Breaking Bad, being threatened by Amazon-style warrior women, and being watched by a teleporting lizard-man with a magic eyeball. No drugs were involved, I promise you.

Goodnight everyone. Peace be upon you!


¹ http://www.ebay.com/itm/Adult-Tear-Away-Pants-Halloween-Holiday-Costume-Stripper-Party-Size-X-Large-44-/360744741407

Day 37

*deep inhale*

So alright everybody we’re gonna get this Bible business back on track so here goes!

Jacob wrestled with God and won and it was like a metaphor for prayer I guess and then he goes and makes amends with his brother Esau who he thought still hated him but Esau was just happy to see him after twenty years and Jacob is such a nice and rich guy that he gives Esau a massive tribute to show that there are no hard feelings.

Then one of Jacob’s daughters goes out to make some lady friends in this new territory and she gets sexually assaulted by some prince dude named Shechem who is a prince and then his father Hamor says that Shechem wants to marry Jacob’s daughter Dinah and then Jacob’s sons tell Hamor that all the men living there have to be circumcised and then long story short Simeon and Levi who are two of Jacob’s sons just go right ahead and slay all the men in the city and Jacob berates them for making enemies and they’re all like “What were we supposed to do just let them treat our sister like a prostitute?”

Then God makes a bunch of promises and reiterates stuff that He said to Abraham to Jacob who is now called Israel which apparently means “prince of God” or some such thing with the “El” part meaning “God” and some stuff happens and Jacob casts out all the old idols and such and Deborah dies and then Rachel has another baby and she dies in childbirth and Israel buries her and then one of his sons Reuben sleeps with his father’s concubine and they list off Jacob/Israel’s twelve sons and then also Isaac lives to 180 years old and DIES.

Then we get this whole big chapter about Esau’s genealogy and I don’t really care to list them all off because anyone who really wants to read all that can just go check out Genesis 36 or maybe a genealogy chart of the Old Testament figures but the gist of it is that he dips out of town because it ain’t big enough for the two of them with the two of them being him and his brother and all their stuff and livestock and such.

THEN we get Genesis 37 which features Joseph son of Rachel wife of Jacob who is totally his father’s favorite and has a fancy tunic or coat of many colors and all his brothers hate him because he has all these dreams that they will be bowing down to him and that his father and mother even will bow down to him apparently because he dreams about the sun and moon and eleven stars bowing down to him and so his brothers plot to kill him by trapping him in a pit but one brother Reuben wants to save him later without them knowing but after doing the pit thing one of them Judah suggests that they just sell him so at least they can make a profit from the whole deal and so they sell him to some Midianite traders and sell him and he gets carted off as a slave to Egypt and they take his fancy clothes and cover them in goat blood and show their father and he mourns because he believes that Joseph is DEAD.

That’s it! We’re up to date. Genesis 33-37 in a nutshell.

Goodnight, all. Peace be upon you.

Day 34

Art and Culture

Today was wonderful. I went out and helped paint designs on a previously-tagged bridge out on a reservation. Got to meet some really cool people and artists. Here’s my painting:

imageme

I call it: Desert Sunset. (Spray paint on concrete, freehand.)

Looking good, looking fresh, right? Oh, yeah. It’s maybe three feet wide, at best. Now here is the mural that a gentleman named Paul painted:

To get an idea of the scale, you can see a water bottle and a spray can on top of the wall. He wasn’t even done.

Someday in the future when I’m financially set, I’m just going to buy a bunch of paint cans and go to town. The kind of work that people can do! Just blows my mind, man.


The Pow Wow

After all that, I went to a big pow wow full of artists and vendors and dancers and drummers. In case you haven’t noticed, most of my job is spent working on an Indian reservation. The pow wow had lots of interesting stuff: great turquoise and silver jewelry, lots of cool paintings and woodcarvings, turkey wings and fox tails, all kinds of things. The best part, though, was watching the dancers. We finally sat down and watched some of the performances, between the costumes and the drumming and the singing, the whole thing was wild. Makes me want to get my hand drum and sit around a campfire and just go nuts.

The most interesting part was when one of the dancers dropped his eagle feather. Now I didn’t realize this was such a big deal, but he literally stopped dancing right in the middle of his group’s performance and an event organizer/emcee came out and talked to him. It was some kind of rod/scepter thing with the feather and they just left it on the ground. Nobody touched it. I didn’t know what was going on at all until they made an announcement after the dance concluded. As it turns out, if an eagle feather touches the ground, it has to be “cleansed” or “charged” or something before it can be picked back up. From what one native woman told me, eagle feathers touching the ground is a major taboo, not unlike traditions surrounding flags.

Four older dancers came out, each sprinkling something on the staff (and presumably the feather) in turn. Then the announcer told everyone to please refrain from taking pictures or video, and the song began. The four men, called “honor dancers” danced around the fallen feather, dancing, then moving inward toward it, then dancing outward and rotating clockwise around it. Everyone was standing in silence during this sacred ceremonial performance, and they rotated until they had completed a full circle, I believe. Finally, when the song was completed, one of the dancers lifted the staff off the ground and brought it back to the younger dancer and his family. They talked with him for quite some time before returning it.

What blew my mind about this whole thing, is that the whole afternoon had been sunny and hot… until this happened. I was sitting in the stands, shading my eyes as I watched these dances, but when that song ended after the man had dropped his feather, a cloud passed in front of the sun, blanketing everything in soft, uniform shadow. The shadow persisted while the older men danced, and it was not until they had talked to the young man and given him back his feather that the sun shone once again. It really is the little things…

As a funny aside, when I told this story to the native woman I mentioned above, her eyes got as big as dinner plates and you could almost see the goosebumps on her arms. She remarked how funny it was that even in modern day, with all our technology… strange things still happen. There are still little miracles to be found. I wholeheartedly agree, and I love it.


I know I said yesterday that I would go over Genesis 33, and now as far as scripture goes, I’m behind when it comes to the writing and summarizing. But today was busy, tomorrow is Easter, and I want to go see my partner.

I did my reading and writing and I still feel that I got some good work done. Our best is all we can give, and today, this is my best. I’m fine with that. Oh! And for anyone who is curious (I just know you are!), my Medicine Card for the day was Contrary Fox. It seems that in some way, I may have forgotten that I am worth noticing, and I think I can see the cause. I will address this down the road.

Enjoy your Easter tomorrow, everybody. Have a wonderful night, and peace be upon you.

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