Hebrew

Day 96

Oh my God Leviticus is so boring right now. I can only hope this means more to me the second time through. I’m starting to be really glad I wasn’t born a) several thousand years ago or b) Jewish. Although if I were Jewish I might have the chance to learn Hebrew and play with numbers and meanings. I am referring here to Gematria, which I’ve always thought was a truly fascinating practice. I like the way they look at shared values between words/phrases and draw parallels. I like it because it’s all based on what some might call “coincidence,” and examining “coincidences” is a favorite hobby of mine.

Also, honestly, I’m going to cop out tonight and not write about Leviticus, at least not Leviticus 6 in this post. This book of the Bible is great and all (God knows I’m stretching the truth right now) but it is so dry and boring. The language is very repetitive and the whole thing just reads with all the thrill of an instruction manual. Which is essentially what it is.

I appreciate Jesus opening the path to atonement/salvation so much more now that I see what the Israelites had to go through back in the day.

Good night, all. Peace be upon you.

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Day 88

For even just one day, I can do this. One day at a f***ing time.

Today’s post is brought to you by: Elk!

Elk, in regards to these Medicine Cards, represents Stamina. I think this is appropriate at the moment because it has a great deal to do with pacing, something at which I am terrible. It’s funny how when I’m camping, there is no pacing. You do what needs to be done when it needs to be done and there is no difficulty in doing so. And yet here, in this mess of a house, in this mess of a life, I can’t get anything done that I need to.

Case in point, I have probably 2 hours worth of paperwork to do that’s backlogged from about a week ago. There’s no reason it should have gotten this bad.

Elk is a good medicine for today and a good reminder for me.


Exodus 38

Oh, would you look at that! I’m almost up to Leviticus. Gotta get a header ready.

Man, even Matthew Henry doesn’t have much to say about this part of Exodus. They should have called this book “Exposition” because once you get past the whole “leaving Egypt” thing, it’s suddenly a catalog of measurements and repeated descriptions.

I’m going to be honest, this is really very dry. I had to finally look up a tabernacle to see what on earth these people were even building. I gathered that it was some sort of tent, judging by all the descriptions of fabric and curtains. But here’s the picture I found on Wikipedia:

Tabernacle-viewI like the groovy colors on the front gate thing. Basically what I didn’t quite gather from scripture was that this thing was designed to be a portable temple. It’s essentially a big cloth tent that can be set up or taken down as the Hebrews trek around the Middle East.

Interesting. Anyway, two more days and we’ll finish out Exodus and I will move on to book three of the Bible.

Have a good day, everyone. Peace be upon you.

Day 81-84

tuckeranddale

“Hello, officer. We have had a doozy of a day.” ¹

Now I hope you’ve all seen Tucker & Dale vs Evil, but if you haven’t, go do that. It’s what the blog I ripped that picture from calls

“An outstanding horror comedy that fully delivers on its hilarious premise.

But seriously. It’s been a tough week.

I’m seriously considering turning this (at least halfway) into an audio blog. I’m driving myself crazy trying to hit my daily updates. Talking would be much easier. I can talk for days.

Case in point, I almost talked my partner’s ear off about the movie Maleficent. In my opinion, cool premise, poor execution. Could I make a more popular movie? Could I make a better moneymaker? Not likely. But I bet I could tell a more interesting story, given the premise. I might have to. But that’s for another time.

…Did I mention I had a Red Bull?

…like ten hours ago?


Exodus 31

Rapid-fire-Exodus-go! Hyaaaaaa!

Yugi-Exodia

Sorta like this. ²

(Update: I was going to split this into four posts, but I’m so wrapped up in you guys seeing my humorous commentary that I lumped them all into one. But I swear all the chapters of the Bible that were supposed to be in here are in here. It’s not a cop-out, I swear. Don’t judge me!)

So God just finished going over a bunch of shhhhh–stuff with Moses, laying out rules for arks and altars and sacrifices and all kinds of covenant-y stuff. Now He is telling Moses a) the specific people Moses will need to get those things built, and b) a quick reminder to absolutely, I’m not kidding you guys keep the Sabbath day holy. Seriously, if a guy works on the Sabbath, f***in’ kill him.

In the end, Moses comes down with

“two tablets of the Testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God.”

— Exodus 31:18, NKJV

Interesting thing I heard once that is only somewhat relevant: I once read somewhere that in old Hebrew law or tradition or something, when you made a covenant or a deal with someone, you made two copies of the deal so that each person had a copy. The story goes that the two tablets were identical, as “a deal” so to speak had been made between man and God. I forget what the significance (if any) was supposed to be of one party keeping both copies of the agreement, but oh well. Something to look up.


Exodus 32

Alright, people. My partner’s asleep, not feeling so hot, and I’m supposed to be at church for the first time in forever in less than 5 hours. Let’s do this.

So the Israelites, like the most ungrateful little… rackin’-frackin’-sassafras… They’re sitting there waiting for Moses and they finally get bored of not knowing who or what to worship or how for that matter, and so they tell Aaron to fashion them a god. Or gods, depending on translation.

And Aaron, who has been Moses’ voice (so it was implied back in Exodus 4:14) for all this time, says “Sure.” The people give Aaron their gold, and he turns it into a calf. Calfs4Gold, 1-800-GOLDCALF, or visit us online at http://www.calfs4gold.com.  Send us your gold, get calfs now! If I didn’t need to sleep, I would photoshop this. 1000 imaginary points to anyone who takes a “Cash 4 Gold” business sign/ad and fixes it like this. Heck, they’re imaginary; make it a million.

God starts b–

God starts complaining to Moses and telling him what is going on. “Seriously you guys we just went over all this stuff why can’t you follow some simple orders oh for My sake…” And so on.

God gets really mad, Moses tells him to be cool (essentially), and so Moses goes down to take care of this for himself. He gets down, sees the golden calf, and shits a brick. (It’s hard to censor the word “shits.”) Moses drops the f***ing tablets from the f***ing LORD and rips Aaron a new a**hole.

Aaron, meanwhile, is basically like, “Well, I took all this gold and boom, calf. Dunno what to tell you. It happens.” So Moses rounds up the faithful, the line of Levi, and they proceed to reorganize and bring everyone back to God and JUST KIDDING THIS IS THE OLD TESTAMENT THEY F***ING KILL EVERYONE.

bearsharkawesome

Three rows down on a Google image search for “blatant theft” “awesome explosion.” ³

Moses goes and prays to God and asks for forgiveness for the people and God basically tells Moses that those calf-worshiper guys are effed in the A. Shouldn’ta done that, boys and girls!

I’ve almost been up for 24 hours. Does it show?


Exodus 33

So apparently there’s this weird side effect of talking to God where either your face glows like some Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer s*** or you just come back with a goofy-a** grin. Maybe both. They “goofy grin” one I’ve experienced firsthand. As long as I’m not crazy. Which I might be.

Oh whoops, that’s Exodus 34.

Whatever!

In Exodus 33, God comes down as a pillar of cloud and spends some time talking to Moses. Moses utters a pretty good prayer in Exodus 33:13, NKJV:

“Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight.”

Moses wants to see God in all His glory, but God basically tells him that won’t happen. God tells Moses to hide in “the cleft of [a] rock,” and God covers Moses up, and then walks by so that Moses can get a glimpse of the Lord’s back. Back of the head? God’s traps and lats? Dat butt? Who knows.


Exodus 34

God I’m so tired. Honestly, God just tells Moses to make some new tablets, since Moses f***ing broke the other ones. Then God comes down and basically goes over all the laws of the Law again. He reaffirms the promise that He has made to the Israelites. Moses neither ate or drank for the time he went back up to get the Lord’s triplicate/quadruplicate copies of the Law. So he goes back down, and we get Mr. Glow-Face like I mentioned earlier.

Anyway, folks, that is all. I need to go to bed and be up for church in only 3 hours.

I love you all; thanks for reading. And an extra thanks to my subscribers! You folks encourage me so much.

Peace be upon you.


¹ Tucker & Dale vs Evil, 2010. Image retrieved from: http://horroreffect.blogspot.com/2011/10/tucker-and-dale-vs-evil-super-funny.html

² Yu-Gi-Oh! Takahasi, Kazuki.  Image retrieved from: http://desenhospaint7.blogspot.com/2013/05/desenhos-animes.html

³ FIM Fiction. (That’s My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. I cannot guarantee the SFW-ness of this site.) Image retrieved from: https://www.fimfiction.net/blog/206371/wheeehoohoohoohoo-one-hundred-follower-ultra-mega-orgy-bonanza-special-extravaganza

Day 61

Oh, my life. I played therapist for a family for three hours tonight and I am exhausted emotionally and spiritually. On my way home I reached out to God and as always He reached back. It was a nice, comforting feeling.


Exodus 11

This chapter is nice and short, which is good, because I’m tired. God tells Moses that there will be one last plague, after which Pharaoh will definitely send the Hebrews out of Egypt. God tells Moses to tell the Hebrews to go ask for silver and gold from their neighbors. I can’t help but think they’re planning to “borrow” them and then skip town, but perhaps the implication is that they will receive them as gifts.

Anyway, at this point the Egyptian people don’t seem so upset about the Israelites and they seem to like Moses specifically. This may have something to do with all the crazy magic powers and him revoking all the horrific plagues. But your guess is as good as mine.

Moses tells Pharaoh that the firstborn of Egypt will all be killed, from royal to slave to animal. And Moses tells Pharaoh that this is finally what will force Pharaoh’s hand, and the Hebrews will finally get to leave. God knows that Pharaoh will not give in until this deed is done, and tells Moses as much. Pharaoh’s obstinacy is necessary that all future generations might understand the power of the Lord.

Good night, all. Peace be upon you.

Day 57

Exodus 7

Now we get into the beginning of the plagues.

Moses and Aaron, 80 and 83 years old, respectively, confront Pharaoh about all this Hebrew-enslavement nonsense. Pharaoh, of course, has no reason to listen to them or to believe any of this voodoo. He tells them, as God knew he would, to show him a miracle. So Moses gives his brother the signal, and Aaron’s rod turns into a serpent. Yeah, don’t read too much into that.

Pharaoh sees this serpent and doesn’t think much of it, so he calls his magicians and sorcerers to do the same trick, proving that this is not a divine miracle. Holy crap, if the Bible is to be taken literally, then sorcery is definitely a thing. Who knew? Well, I knew… but true magic is worked through God. I’ll get into that some other time.

So yeah, the sorcerers get their rods out, and Aaron’s serpent and their serpents fight… and… all this talk of “rods” and “serpents.” God, why do you have to make it weird? Somewhere, the Almighty is giggling. Anyway, Aaron’s serpent-rod eats those of the sorcerers. Pharaoh is not amused and declines to let the Hebrews leave.

Moses and Aaron talk with God, or rather God talks to them, and they head back to see Pharaoh the next day, presumably, when he goes out to get water. Why the Pharaoh is getting his own water is beyond me. But Moses and Aaron are waiting for him by the riverbank. “Let My people go!” sayeth Moses in the name of the Lord. Predictably, Pharaoh refuses. Aaron proceeds to turn all of Egypt into a death metal album cover, and the river and all the water in Egypt is turned to blood.

river of blood

Easiest Google search ever.¹

Apparently, just to prove that this strange occurrence was not divine either, the magicians gather up some of what must be the last remaining water in Egypt and turn it into blood with their sorcery. Pharaoh completely disregards Moses and Aaron and holds out for at least seven days, since B-Day +7 is where Exodus 7 leaves off.

There is one interesting thing I got out of Matthew Henry’s commentary: He says

“See what changes we may meet with in the things of this world; what is always vain, may soon become vexatious. See what mischievous work sin makes. If the things that have been our comforts prove our crosses, we must thank ourselves. It is sin that turns our waters into blood.”²

This reminds me of something that was shared with me by my partner. She shared an excerpt from C.S. Lewis’ “The Problem of Pain,” an awesome book that discusses why humans suffer and examines human suffering from a Christian standpoint. My partner just bought it for me, actually, and I haven’t yet had the pleasure of reading the whole thing for myself.

But the passage I am reminded of which is appropriate as God is just laying waste to Egypt by proxy goes something like this:

“Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

Lewis says that pain drives us to action, as opposed to our comforting “sins and stupidities.” This to me rings true. The problem to me is that people can get so accustomed to pain that they ignore it or accept it as inevitable when in reality it is not. Our pain reminds us that something needs to change. Physical, mental, and spiritual pain all serve a purpose. When our waters turn to blood, we have to soften our hearts and become humble. We have to admit that something is wrong. Only then, in the name of God, can we create change.

(Almost there…)


¹ http://www.metal-archives.com/albums/Chainsaw_Dissection/River_of_Blood_and_Viscera/139596

² Henry, Matthew. http://www.christnotes.org/commentary.php?com=mhc&b=2&c=7

Day 52

Today was a long and difficult day. I really wanted to write this first thing in the morning, but due to a lot of things I was unable to do so. Yesterday it felt so good to write my post right away, getting everything done and out of the way for later. It was not to be.

Today was just a huge mess full of missed deadlines and lost time. I was stressed out and I was mad. I can’t wait to finish this, take a shower, and go to bed.

I have two fortune cookie fortunes that I saved in my wallet for some reason. They don’t strike me now as being terribly profound, but I’ll share them here anyway.

Your mind is creative, original and alert.

And the second:

You will win success in whatever you adopt.

Even if the first one comes across as self-congratulatory, I still like the second one. I’m going to work very hard to make it a reality. Unfortunately some of my work is now locked away on a hard drive that’s in a computer with a broken motherboard. I need to pull the hard drive out and hook it up somewhere else so I can pull all my stuff off of it. Huzzah for technology!


Exodus 2

I like Exodus so far. Granted, this is only day 2 of Exodus but still. To kick off today’s chapter, the house of Levi gives birth to a child: a boy. Fearing for the life of her child, the mother raises him in secret for three months and then hides him in reeds by the river.

The Pharaoh’s daughter comes to the river, spies the child, and feels compassion, recognizing the baby as Hebrew. Now, the child’s sister had been watching, and asked Pharaoh’s daughter if she wanted the sister to call a woman to nurse the baby. So the baby’s original mom is called to nurse the baby; after a time, the child is given to Pharaoh’s daughter and becomes her son, given the name Moses. (You may have heard of him.)

Later in life, after he is grown, Moses sees an Egyptian beating a Hebrew. He does a 360° check for the law, and finding none, kills the Egyptian. Later he realizes that people know about this, and before Pharaoh can crack down on him, he dips and heads for a land called Midian.

He hangs out by a well and helps the daughters of a priest who are being bullied by some shepherds; for his assistance, the priest brings Moses to live with him, and Moses has a son with Zipporah, one of the priest’s daughters. The son’s name is Gershom.

During this time, it seems, the king of Egypt passes away, and the Israelites cry out because of their enslavement. God catches wind of all this, remembers the old covenants, and rolls up His sleeves to do something about it.

Darn cliffhangers.


In unrelated news, my flute playing is coming along nicely. I’m absolutely terrible at it right now, but I’m working on it! I’ve found lots of good resources for songs and tabs. Breath control is going to be the hardest part, but it’s going to be so awesome once I get good.

I guess between the flute, this blog, my life’s dreams, and that fortune cookie, today’s message is this:

Find what you love, find what makes your heart sing, find what makes your soul cry out. Find it and do it. Do it if it takes five years, if it takes ten years, if it takes twenty or thirty or forty years. Do it if you can do it now! Honor yourself, honor your heart’s desire, honor your soul’s duty. Honor yourself, and in doing so, honor God.

Beautiful day today. Enjoy it while it lasts.

Peace be upon you.

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.

Day 22

Three weeks! I’ve officially passed the three-week mark as far as consistent, daily writing. One of my absolute favorite quotes (which I just learned is attributed to Katherine Center) is

“You have to be brave with your life so that others can be brave with theirs.”

My soul burns with these words; it resonates on such an intensely personal level that it feels as though it were written for me alone. This is my philosophy and my creed. It is as beautiful as the Golden Rule of “doing unto others” but it is turned inward. It is about how one treats oneself, how a person lives his or her own life as a beacon, a shining example. It is about doing and about being, about taking risks and overcoming challenges and letting other people see and believe it is possible.

It is about challenging old ways of thinking and old patterns of behavior. It is everything I love about psychology and faith rolled into one amazing statement. My mind races and my body vibrates with energy every time I think of it. It makes me want to go out and change the world, to go out and do something incredible, something that would have seemed impossible.

That is why I am writing this blog. That is why I am reading the Bible. A daily commitment of time and effort to something is impossible based on all of my previous experience and attempts. I could not write poetry every day, I could not exercise every day, I could not clean my house every day. I had not the power nor the discipline to see these things through, to visualize them in my head, to need them to be true and to realize them, to use all of my strength and will to bring them into being.

But, by God, here I am. Three weeks in and I shall not cease. I will write every single day until I am finished reading the Bible. And then I will write more and more. I will fill my life with… I will fill it with many things. But I have a sneaking suspicion that by the time I am done reading the Bible three years hence, I will know how to decisively finish that statement.

I want to say thank you today to all my followers. Right now there aren’t very many but every single one means so much to me, because in a way it reminds me that what I have to say means something. I committed to this task and I will see it through no matter what, but it feels good to have others following on my journey. I know no one asked for my advice, but I want to share what I’ve learned thus far:

Search deep within yourself for that nagging feeling, that one thought, that one imperative that will not let go. Dig deep and find the goal that you cannot dismiss, and find a way to achieve  it. If you are to be a writer, then start writing. Find that desire that cannot be ignored, for that is the fire of your life begging to be lit.

My followers:

  1. Musings from a Tangled Mind
    http://www.musingsfromatangledmind.com
  2. GODisms
    http://godisms.wordpress.com
  3. Jarosław PlayWithLifE
    http://www.playwithlife.org
  4. Kendall F. Person, thepublicblogger
    http://thepublicblogger.com/
  5. thisyearinmusic
    http://thisyearinmusic.wordpress.com

I just want to say thank you, and I hope that despite our diverse backgrounds or beliefs or what have you, I hope that the ideas I spread through my words mean something. I hope that watching as I move forward toward completion of this task, I hope that it brings you inspiration, that it drives you to do more than you thought possible.

This is nothing less than a realization of a dream, a transmutation of desire into reality, an exercise of pure will. And now that I have made up my mind, I feel a true and deep conviction… It is like nothing I have ever felt, and I know that my will has strength and that it will triumph at any cost.

Triumph_des_Willens_poster

Oh for Christ’s sake… That’s not what I meant and you know it!¹

Hey, just because I’m baring my soul doesn’t mean I can’t keep a sense of humor. I know, I know, Nazis aren’t funny, but… I can’t resist a terrible pun.

Also while I’m thanking people I want to thank my partner for being with me through this trying time, for encouraging me and believing in me. I love you so much.


Genesis 22

Ah, famous Genesis 22. God calls upon Abraham to kill and offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice. I like how God says, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love…” just to drive home the point and make this extra difficult for Abraham (Gen 22:2). But at this point Abraham seems to have learned his lesson(s) and this time he obeys without question.

Long story short, just as he is about to kill his son, God calls him again (“Abraham!” “Here I am.” I wonder if that rhymes in Hebrew too?) and tells him that he can stop now, and he doesn’t have to stab Isaac. God once again reaffirms his promises to Abraham regarding descendents and land and all that, and hopefully Isaac forgave his dad for this whole mess, and to wrap it all up, we get some genealogy of Abraham’s brother Nahor.

Matthew Henry says a good deal about this chapter but for the most part the story speaks for itself. The only thing that really struck me during this whole story was the parallels between the near-sacrifice of Isaac and the future sacrifice of Jesus Christ. “Your only son,” and so forth. Henry even makes the point that Isaac carries the wood toward his own sacrifice as noted in Genesis 22:6, just as Christ bore the cross on which he would be killed.

One excellent bit of information that Henry brings up is that

“In Hebrew, to tempt, and to try, or to prove, are expressed by the same word.”²

I’ll keep this in mind any time any of those words shows up. Also, I discovered Wesley’s Explanatory Notes today, my eyes having been drawn by a banner ad to that part of the page. I’d heard of them before but never explored them, having stuck with Henry. John Wesley is credited with creating the Methodist movement, apparently. His notes break each chapter down verse by verse. Frankly, I might use him for some clarification, but it’s… it’s just too much.

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got for today; I’m going back to bed.

Peace be upon you.


¹ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triumph_of_the_will

² http://www.christnotes.org/commentary.php?com=mhc&b=1&c=22

Day 15

Today has been a hell of a day. I drew my medicine card just now, after the end of it all, and it came up as a Contrary Blank. I don’t always know what that means, but today it feels like it has to do with the fact that no single card can encompass the day I’ve been through.

Good Fear and Bad Fear

The most interesting part of my day happened during work: I was out at a park when I ran into an awesome black grandmother who was there with her four grandchildren. We got to talking and I asked what she was reading; it turned out to be the Bible. Fitting, no?

Anyway, so I asked her why and I told her about my project. She said that she wanted to understand the Word for herself, that she wanted a deeper connection, and she wanted to understand what God wanted from her. I rephrased this as, “Give it to me straight, Lord!” She laughed.

We both were distracted but I did get to talk to her a little bit more and she told of a friend who I think was an atheist. This friend or acquaintance or whatever asked her why people were supposed to fear God. This wonderful woman said that for her, there were two kinds of fear: the good and the bad. She said that the good kind of fear was the fear of God, that which keeps people in line, so to speak. The bad fear was the fear of man, the fear that we have about our material life, the fear that drives us away from God and confounds our mind with mortal concerns. I told her I was going to quote her on this.

I of course decided to do my research and was richly rewarded. I immediately found this website, which has a wonderful breakdown of the different meanings of the Hebrew word yirah (יִרְאָה). According to this site, “there are three ‘levels’ or types of yirah.”¹ The first is what we normally think of as fear, or what the woman above called “bad fear.” This is the fear that leads us to do things or not do them only because we are worried about punishment or being cast out. The second type is what the grandmother called “good fear,” and “concerns anxiety over breaking God’s law.”¹ The Chofetz Chaim, “a holy book on the Jewish ethics and laws of speech,”² tells that

“even though the fear of God’s punishment may deter us from sin in the short run, by itself it is insufficient for spiritual life, since it is based on an incomplete idea about God.”¹

This is awesome, to me. This brings me to the third type of fear. I’m just going to leave this here:

“The third (and highest) kind of fear is a profound reverence for life that comes from rightly seeing. This level discerns the Presence of God in all things and is sometimes called yirat ha-rommemnut (יִרְאַת הָרוֹמְמוּת), or the ‘Awe of the Exalted.’  Through it we behold God’s glory and majesty in all things. ‘Fearing’ (יִרְאָה) and ‘seeing’ (רָאָה) are linked and united. We are elevated to the level of reverent awareness, holy affection, and genuine communion with God’s Holy Spirit.  The love for good creates a spiritual antipathy toward evil, and conversely, hatred of evil is a way of fearing God (Prov. 8:13).”¹

Reverence. Awe. These are the highest level of feeling that we are called to have in the name and in the honor of God. It is not fear in the human sense, but a seeing, a unity, a sense of presence and communion. This is what we need as a whole, is a “spiritual antipathy toward evil.”¹ It is clearly not enough to abstain from evil most of the time. We must actively do good, and cultivate our love of God and goodness so that there is no longer room for evil in our hearts and souls. Just as I vowed to not lash out against others in anger, so too do humans need to make a vow against evil. But we need to have the confidence and power to make such a vow. That power and confidence obviously can come from the Lord, but… I’m getting into a Catch-22 situation. The cycle of evil and suffering must at some point be broken. We are not perfect and we may not be able to leave it forever or in totality, but we can damn sure try.

Genesis 15

After all I’ve said above, I don’t feel the need to delve too deeply into Gen 15. Matthew Henry makes plenty of good points, some of which I will touch upon here and the rest can be found here by an interested reader.

Gen 15 begins with God coming to Abram in a vision; God tells Abram, “I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.”

Your eternal reward.

Your eternal reward. ³

At this point, Abram is having what seems to be a crisis of faith, perhaps this time motivated by the fear or concern that he will not be able to do what God asks, especially since he can have no children. God tells him not to worry, and says that He can prove it. Abram listens to God and makes a sacrifice of several animals; vultures come to eat the animals, but Abram drives them away. Here, Matthew Henry writes:

“A watch must be kept upon our spiritual sacrifices.”

— Matthew Henryª

We have to be attentive to God, and drive away distractions. After this, Abram falls into a deep sleep, where God speaks to him and lets him know about the future. God tells Abram that his descendents will suffer, but will suffer only material injury while enjoying spiritual wealth in the form of divine blessings. Abram wakes up to see “a smoking oven and a burning torch that passed between [the sacrifices]” (Genesis 15:17). God makes a covenant with Abram, and Matthew Henry here says that “it intimates that God’s covenants with man are made by sacrifice…. And we may know that he accepts our sacrifices, if he kindles in our souls pious and devout affections.”ª

I really want to continue with this, but I have here reached the end, essentially, of Genesis 15. I have some things to say, but I will say them tomorrow. My partner is waiting in the other room and has no idea what I’m doing. She might very well find out soon just what exactly I’ve been up to.

Blessings to all of you, and peace be upon you. Good night.

 

¹ http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Scripture/Parashah/Summaries/Eikev/Yirah/yirah.html

² http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chofetz_Chaim

³ http://therewillbefilms.tumblr.com/post/11388120758/your-eternal-reward

ª http://www.christnotes.org/commentary.php?b=1&c=15&com=mhc