Jesus

Day 151

This is the Mew of project days. If we were going by the Hebrew calendar, which features 30-day months, I’d be just over five months. And honestly, that’s about right anyway. It was just in my mind because I had a conversation about end-time prophecies with a Jehovah’s Witness friend of mine, and he was explaining some of the Biblical rationale behind the significance of the year 1914. It involved the Hebrew calendar. So that’s that.

Anyway, on to today’s news.


Numbers 34

We’re down to three days ’til Deuteronomy. Huzzah!

Numbers 34 outlines, literally, the boundaries of the land that God has granted to Israel. I wasn’t really sure what to make of this chapter, so I turned as I do to Matthew Henry’s commentary.

“Canaan was of small extent; as it is here bounded, it is but about 160 miles in length, and about 50 in breadth; yet this was the country promised to the father of the faithful, and the possession of the seed of Israel. This was that little spot of ground, in which alone, for many ages, God was known.”

So this is what confused me. This issue raises questions.

If God eventually through Christ wants to save all men, then why did he not reveal himself to all mankind? I don’t really like the Calvinist view that some are simply condemned to Hell no matter what. To me, that presumes that free will is nothing but an illusion, as those who make the choice to accept God/Christ have already been predestined to do so.

I mean, let’s presume we’re talking about sometime between 1000-2000 years BC. In China, the dynasties are already in full force; there are millions of people the world over that are essentially denied salvation due to God’s selection of the Israelites as His chosen people. Why? Is every single one of the people in the world so corrupted? Then why send Christ later, to give everyone a chance?

I’m not going to get into Revelations for answers; it’s too far off. But in terms of ideas related to Heaven and Hell, I’ll post these helpful links.

The first is related to the Jewish tradition, the second and third are from the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Their beliefs may be a tad unorthodox but damn if they don’t know how to cite the Bible. As for me, I’m not sure how I feel on this yet. The only thing I can say is that a full and complete denial of salvation to a huge part of the world sounds unthinkable.

I did find this, an article about the Seven Laws of Noah. Apparently, gentiles are not only not obligated to follow Jewish law, they are in some sense prohibited from following it, as they are not God’s chosen people. But according to the Noahide law and interpretation from various Hebrew scholars, the intention was that even gentiles had the chance to be righteous by following the law. Apparently, it was important to recognize God as the reason behind the law as well.

Anyway, I’m sure I’ll revisit this theological discussion at several points throughout the course of this project, and maybe by the time I’m done I’ll have a satisfying answer.

Good day, all. Peace be upon you.

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Day 145

So we’re only about eight (8) days away from the end of Numbers, and then I’ll move on to Deuteronomy. Very exciting. I think I’m going to start reading ahead at some point. It’s difficult right now because, honestly, as I’ve said before, these chapters get really tedious.

I’ll hit the highlights of Numbers 22- 28.


Numbers 22

I had to consult Matthew Henry on this one.

So Balak wants to destroy Israel but fears he cannot for their army is to strong. So he calls on this guy named Balaam, that Balaam might curse Israel and allow Balak, king of Moab, to triumph against them. Balaam prays to God and God tells him not to go with the messengers, because the people of Israel are blessed, and he shall not curse them. Balaam accordingly tells the messengers that he shall not be going with them, and that is that.

Balak, however, does not take “no” for an answer, and sends more messengers to Balaam. Balaam suggests that they spend the night, that he may speak again to God about this matter. This time, God tells him to go with the men if they call him.

So Balaam rises in the morning and goes with the men. His path is blocked by an “Angel of the Lord” which the donkey can see but Balaam cannot. Three times the donkey does not proceed forward and three times Balaam strikes the donkey. At this point, God, in one of his interesting moods, opens the mouth of the donkey and she speaks to Balaam. He takes this surprisingly well, all things considered, and argues back as to why he was justified in beating the animal.

At this point, his eyes are opened to the Angel before him, which tells him that the donkey had the good sense to not press on, and it’s a good thing too, because the Angel would have slain him. Balaam tells the Angel that he admits his sin and will turn back. The Angel says, no, go on ahead this time, for realsies, but only say what God tells you to say.

The thing that confused me here is that Balaam asked God if he could go, and God said yes. But, as Matthew Henry explains, Balaam already knew what God’s will was. He asked again in hopes that he could disobey it with permission. From Matthew Henry:

“He had already been told what the will of God was. It is a certain evidence of the ruling of corruption in the heart, to beg leave to sin. God gave Balaam up to his own heart’s lusts. As God sometimes denies the prayers of his people in love, so sometimes he grants the desires of the wicked in wrath.”

But, even though God did grant Balaam leave to go, God does not approve of the sin. Henry puts this best, so I’ll just leave this quote here:

“We must not think, that because God does not always by his providence restrain men from sin, therefore he approves of it, or that it is not hateful to him. The holy angels oppose sin, and perhaps are employed in preventing it more than we are aware. This angel was an adversary to Balaam, because Balaam counted him his adversary; those are really our best friends, and we ought so to reckon them, who stop our progress in sinful ways. Balaam has notice of God’s displeasure by the ass. It is common for those whose hearts are fully set in them to do evil, to push on violently, through the difficulties Providence lays in their way. The Lord opened the mouth of the ass. This was a great miracle wrought by the power of God. He who made man speak, could, when he pleased, make the ass to speak with man’s voice. The ass complained of Balaam’s cruelty. The righteous God does not allow the meanest or weakest to be abused; but they shall be able to speak in their own defence, or he will some way or other speak for them. Balaam at length has his eyes opened. God has many ways to bring down the hard and unhumbled heart. When our eyes are opened, we shall see the danger of sinful ways, and how much it was for our advantage to be crossed.”

And far from turning away from sin, Balaam is pushed toward glorifying God, because he will not only not curse Israel, he will bless them in the name of God. As he does in…


Numbers 23-24

Matthew Henry makes some really good points here about Balaam’s attempts at divination and sorcery.

“With the camps of Israel full in view, Balaam ordered seven altars to be built, and a bullock and a ram to be offered on each. Oh the sottishness of superstition, to imagine that God will be at man’s beck! The curse is turned into a blessing, by the overruling power of God, in love to Israel. God designed to serve his own glory by Balaam, and therefore met him. If God put a word into the mouth of Balaam, who would have defied God and Israel, surely he will not be wanting to those who desire to glorify God, and to edify his people; it shall be given what they should speak. He who opened the mouth of the ass, caused the mouth of this wicked man to speak words as contrary to the desire of his heart, as those of the ass were to the powers of the brute. The miracle was as great in the one case as in the other.”

Get it? God opened the mouth of the ass. I’m glad I went to read from the commentary now because that’s actually pretty funny. Balaam’s ordeal here reminds me of a passage from C.S. Lewis:

“A merciful man aims at his neighbour’s good as so does ‘God’s will,’ consciously co-operating with ‘the simple good’.  A cruel man oppresses his neighbour and so does simple evil.  But in doing such evil he is used by God, without his knowledge or consent, to produce the complex good — so that the first man serves God as a son, and the second as a tool.  For you will certainly carry out God’s purpose, however you act, but it makes a difference to you whether you serve like Judas or like John.”

— C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

This is one of my favorite quotes from Lewis. Also, the more I think about it, this raises a really interesting point. If at our best, highest states, our will is compatible and not only that but is in line with God’s will… see, this is what I mean about our souls being like extensions of God. We are divine souls trapped in animal bodies. Not divine in the sense that we are literally God, but divine in the sense that we are, at our core, in harmony with His Essence. Perhaps this is why there exists the idea of Hell, or destruction of the soul. I’ve thought as of late that if there is such a thing as Hell or (in my opinion) destruction of the soul, Nothingness, then it is not God who directly condemns our soul to this place. I think it is us. We choke this soul, we starve it, weaken it by depriving it of what it so desires most, what it needs, which is to return to the God and the Good from whence it came.

We condemn ourselves to death. I know not whether this is the truth, I merely espouse it as an interesting idea. I know not what condemns one to Hell, or how much or how little sin one must commit. I know not how many forms repentance can take, nor how many ways one may be unshackled from sin. But I do find the idea intriguing. Ultimately, Hell or destruction or Nothing or whatever it may be, if it be, I feel is a natural consequence, an inescapable state of mind/being than a direct divine condemnation.

But I’ll have to read further on that.

So anyway, Balak attempts to get Balaam to curse Israel three separate times, and three times Balaam blesses Israel. The third time, he doesn’t even try divination, but opens himself up to the Holy Spirit and speaks the words that God has given. Balaam is an important Biblical figure, I think, even though I have never heard of him. He’s an ass, clearly, but God uses Balaam’s voice to carry His word, and in the end, Balaam gives himself over to God. He seems to just go on his merry way afterward, so hopefully he goes and does good, and hopefully we will too.


Numbers 25

Israel starts consorting (as they, and we, are wont to do) with undesirable people, in this case, the Moabites. So God starts another mass killing/plague, and at some point in the middle of all this, Phinehas, son of Eleazar, see’s an Israelite man bring in and show off a Midianite woman. So Phinehas grabs a javelin, heads into their tent, and kills them both in one mighty thrust. It’s the kind of thing that you’d see in an action movie. I’ve heard one interpretation that says that the man and woman were having sex at the time.

https://i2.wp.com/cdn.denofgeek.us/sites/denofgeekus/files/styles/insert_main_wide_image/public/02-commando.jpg

Death by aluminum pipe. Commando (1985).

Phinehas is a regular Arnold Schwarzenegger. (I’m hoping there was a one-liner involved.)

Also, the woman’s name was Cozbi?

https://i2.wp.com/www.nndb.com/people/674/000022608/cosby-medium.jpg
Look at it.
https://i2.wp.com/kvly.images.worldnow.com/images/24527103_BG1.jpg
LOOK AT IT!

Numbers 26

More genealogy and census stuff. They’re numbering all the men of Israel to figure out who is going to be able to go to war.

Oh, yeah! This chapter is why I remembered Korah, because in Numbers 26:9-11, it mentions some of his descendents and clarifies that not all the children of Korah died when he and his family were swallowed up by the earth. I forget whether I mentioned this back when it happened, but I feel like the moral of that story is that one person going against God and Goodness can bring down (get it?) their entire family.

Anyway, there’s a ton of Israelites, and the Bible is clear on the fact that aside from two guys, Caleb and Joseph, “there was not a man [among them] of those who were numbered by Moses and Aaron the priest when they numbered the children of Israel in the Wilderness of Sinai” (Numbers 26:64). Because, if you recall, all of those losers were condemned to death and told that they would never make the Promised Land.


Numbers 27

Chapter 27 in Numbers describes some stuff about inheritance law for a man without sons.

Following that, God tells Moses that he will (eventually?) go up Mount Abarim and see the land that has been given to the children of Israel. However, at the mountain, he shall be “gathered to [his] people” as Aaron was as a result of Moses’ disobedience and rebellion at the waters of Meribah. Moses pleads that God will find a suitable replacement, that the people will not be “like sheep which have no shepherd” (Numbers 27:17).

God tells Moses that he shall inaugurate Joshua, son of Nun, and give him some of Moses’ authority, that Joshua may stand by Eleazar the priest, son of Aaron.

Moses does this.


Numbers 28

There is so much in here about sacrifices that I finally turned to Matthew Henry again. I would go read that if you are interested. Basically he talks about how in a modern Christian sense, offerings of animals have to be reinterpreted as offerings of prayer and praise. This chapter therefore indicates that we should pray and praise God in the morning and in the evening.

The Bible also describes offerings for the Sabbath day, the beginnings of the month, Passover, which falls on the fourteenth day of the first month which is followed on the fifteenth day by the feast, which lasts a week. Then God discusses the offerings for the day of the firstfruits, which I’m presuming has to do with a harvest.

Oy, I do love all this reading.

Good night, all! Peace be upon you.

Day 138

Woo! Even though it’s day 138, this is post 100! I used only the finest graphical arts programs to generate appropriate banners for this momentous occasion.

 

 

post1002

post1001

Woo! Post 100!

Of course, that means somehow I missed 38 days of proper updates. Woo…

I’ve gotten to the point where I prefer doing my blog to doing work. That doesn’t seem to be too much of a surprise. Work is stressing me out. Plus I went to urgent care today for some weird issue only to pay them $50 and get billed later for some X-Rays for them to tell me that it’s [best guess] and it’ll go away on its own. Whee.

Anyway, it’s taking me like 2 hours to write this post because I’m distracted.

Let’s get on with…


Numbers 21

Oh goodness, it’s long.

But! After having read it, it’s not too bad. Full of Israeli military conquests. A little odd/appropriate considering recent real-world news.

However! The part that I found interesting about this chapter has to do with serpents!

As some of you may know, I sort of have a thing about snakes.

indiana-jones-snakes

Not quite like this.

When I had my first intense religious experience, serpent imagery was involved. I still think about it to this day. So in this chapter, when the people of Israel speak out against God, having just made a vow and been granted military victory over the entire land of Canaan (which seriously took like 3 verses, talk about anticlimactic), they speak out against God and he plagues them with “fiery serpents” (NKJV) or “poisonous serpents” (Jehovah’s Witness New World Translation).

The people start getting bitten by these snakes and they begin to die. So the people take some initiative and apologize for all this and ask Moses to intervene. God tells Moses to make an image of the serpents and “set it on a pole” (Numbers 21:8), that those who look upon it will not die from their snakebites. So he does, and the people do.

Now I don’t know if this just seemed really obvious or what, but the serpent on the pole is totally Jesus, you guys. Guys. Guys. Seriously.

So get this. God sends the serpents to punish the people, and depending on your doctrine, sin is effectively punishment, is it not? So the serpents are representative of sin, but where does sin come from? People. Without people there is no sin. So we have a whole “man’s inhumanity to man” thing going on.

Or alternatively, sin is not technically punishment but just the direct consequence of disobedience to God. In which case, snakes are the direct result of disobedience to God.

Either way, so the snakes are like the pain caused by sin, and sin is caused by people, and so the snakes are sort of like sinners and punishment rolled up into one scaly yet smooth metaphor. But! Moses makes a perfect image of one of these snakes (eh? eh??) and puts in on a pole (EH?!) and the people look to it (EHHHH?!?!) and are saved. Get it? Get it?

I thought this was interesting especially since the Jehovah’s Witnesses contend that Jesus was not hung on a cross but hung on a large pole (EH?!?!?!?!) called a “torture stake.” But yeah, these people look up to an image that is representative of God’s grace and are saved. They do not pray to the image, though, and this is an interesting point. That would be a sin.

I think this is why Protestants pray to God in Jesus’ name. Jesus is the image, the manifestation, of God’s grace. But all the praise and glory is still given to God. I think Jesus would have it no other way, since even He submitted to the will of the Father, even though they were sort of the same “Being” or “essence” or what-have-you.

Insert obligatory “God is in Christ and Christ is in us therefore God is in us therefore we are with God in some spiritual unity but yet created separately from Him physically to be forever distant so that we would seek Him but also be seeking the perfected version of ourselves which is in Him and only He can give us” thing that I do.

Anyway, as far as the rest of the chapter goes, like I said, Israel cuts a bloody swath across the Middle East and wrecks everybody’s s***.

Then they kill some king named Og. Really? This guy’s got like, a caveman name.

Anyway, peace be upon you!

Day 121-128

“It will be worth it,” He tells me.

I was driving home from work, thinking, dwelling on, and discussing my iniquity with God. A good part of that iniquity revolves of course around this blog and my shortcomings therewith. I think about God every single day, often throughout the day, and I think about my duties to Him and what I should be doing for Him and for myself.

I guess thinking about those duties and actually doing them are two different things. Anyway, the above thought came into my head from Him when I wondered about how long I would have to deal with these constant struggles and stresses. I essentially asked, “What if I have to wait until the end of my life to finally be at peace?”

“It will be worth it.”

So sayeth the Lord. He hasn’t lied to me yet.


We still have no internet, so I’m using my phone as a hotspot for my laptop. I’m getting really tired of having to do this over and over, because it doesn’t work so well compared to streaming, high-speed cable.

Oh, hey! While I’m updating you about the minutia of my life, I might as well tell whoever is still reading this that I had a discussion with my bosses about how I’m probably clinically depressed! Yay! I’m supposed to be in behavioral health, not, you know… in behavioral health. But this seems to be the reality of the situation. Apparently both of the clinicians at our office have noticed a change in me before I even said anything.

For some reason, finding that out was simultaneously encouraging and heartbreaking. Encouraging because at least I know it’s not all in my head, and heartbreaking because oh God it is actually in my head.

I think that’s the last joke of that format I can do tonight, but I’d like to milk one more if I can swing it. They make me smile.

I’m still trying to read Numbers 4-11. I’m stuck on Numbers 7 and my eyes are glazing over. I don’t think I’ve gotten more than 8 hours of sleep in the past 48 hours and my brain is just fried. Gee, I wonder what on earth could be contributing to my depression?

Oh, Jesus. Chapter 7 is so long. And it’s all offerings!

… It’s all the same offering, over and over. They just copy-pasted this whole thing to mess with me.


Okay, so God once again shows me His mysterious ways. I was going to go through Numbers 4-11, all of them, but honestly they’re about the armies packing up and counting off and setting out and all that business.

And then I arrived at…

Numbers 11

…which is the last of the chapters I had to catch up on today.

I can’t even be mad any more! I was going home, and thinking about a story I heard in church the other week, and how the story was very pertinent to me and had a similar moral to a story I’d written, and just wow. So now, today, I wondered to myself if there is a story in the Bible about a righteous man, perhaps one of the old patriarchs or somebody, who begins to stress out and almost resent their destiny and their duties.

Man, fuck Numbers 11.

In verses 11-15, Moses finally gets fed up of all this bulls*** and rages against God. He wonders why on earth he should have to care for them and shepherd them, asking

“Did I conceive all these people? Did I beget them?”

Moses even asks God to just kill him if this is the life he is to live. So it seems I am far from the first person to feel this way.

God tells Moses that he will have others share the spiritual burden, and also that all the whiners down in the camp who want to eat meat will get their meat. God seems to be just as fed up as Moses:

“You shall eat, not one day, nor two days, nor five days, nor ten days, nor twenty days, but for a whole month, until [meat] comes out of your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you.”

— God to Moses, a message for the Israelites, Numbers 11:19-20

In the end, it’s the people that are going to be fed up. Eh? Eh?

gluttony

He gets it.

Anyway.

Moses is incredulous because he doesn’t know how God is going to provide meat for six hundred thousand people, and wonders if all the fish in the sea are going to be collected for them (Numbers 11:21).

God is like, “What, you don’t trust me? Check dis.” He proceeds to inundate the Israelites with quails. Just like, a bunch of quails that everyone catches and grabs and gets ready to eat.

So they all start feasting and…

“[…] while the meat was still between their teeth, before it was chewed, the wrath of the Lord was aroused against the people, and the Lord struck the people with a very great plague.”

Because that’s what you get when you fuck with the YHWH. Don’t be hatin’ and complainin’, or BOOM! Fuckin’ plagues.

Peace be upon you, motherfuckers! I’m out.

Day 108

Today was slightly nicer than yesterday and I got a lot of frustration out of my system just over the course of work. I also was nearly passing out while doing my job. I can’t wait to go to bed.

I almost skipped this update, to be honest, but I figure I’m on kind of a streak here and I wanted to say something nice after being so angry yesterday.


Leviticus 18

This chapter lists out the laws against incest, bestiality, and homosexuality. That last one, Lev 18:22, is still a point of contention today, in case you’ve been living under a rock.

I don’t really know how I feel about all this. I guess I’ll have to wait a year and a half, read what Jesus says about all the “old laws,” and get back to you. But I can see how all this made good sense at the time. No inbreeding, no butt stuff, and no animal f***ing. Cut and dried.

Also, in Lev 18:3, God speaks out against the whole “when in Rome, do as the Romans do” thing, because He specifically says to not behave like the Egyptians or like the Canaanites. Keep yourselves separate and holy.

Also also? God prohibits mother-daughter threesomes. (Lev 18:17. You’re welcome.)

Aaaaand on that note… I’m out! Peace!

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.

Day 54

Ohhhhh, I am behind on everything! No time to waste!


Exodus 4

God starts pulling out the miracles on this one. Moses is still expressing his doubts that the people should listen to him, so God turns his rod into a serpent (and back again) and also tells Moses to tuck his hand into his clothes. When Moses draws his hand out of his bosom, it is white as snow, appearing ill. He repeats the process and the hand returns to normal. Ta-da!

Still Moses expresses his doubts. “I am slow of speech,” he says, in Exodus 4:10, and God just tells him, “Look, I made your mouth. I’m the one who decides who is mute or deaf or blind. If I say you can do it, just do it.”

Moses: “Couldn’t you just send someone else?”

God: “Oh, for My sake…” God rubs His eyebrows and sighs. “Look, you don’t always have to take everything so literally… I just… Fine. I’ll spell it out for you: You tell your brother Aaron what to say and he’ll do the talking. He will be your mouth.”

Moses finally gets the picture, and having been told by God that no one in Egypt still has it out for him, he bids farewell to Jethro and returns to the land of his birth. God warns Moses that He will “harden [Pharaoh’s] heart, so that he will not let the people go” (Exod 4:21). This one I had to look up.

Matthew Henry makes the point that

“Pharaoh had hardened his own heart against the groans and cries of the oppressed Israelites; and now God, in the way of righteous judgment, hardens his heart against the teaching of the miracles, and the terror of the plagues. But whether Pharaoh will hear, or whether he will forbear, Moses must tell him, Thus saith the Lord.”¹

I find this part super interesting because a point of contention in the past between myself and my partner is the way that people understand/accept or fail to understand/accept God. What I’ve heard from her and from other Christians in the past is a belief that everyone, every single person, essentially will have God revealed to them and has a choice to make. I agree and I disagree.

The teachings of Christianity have been around for over a thousand years now, but there were not always central churches. Those grew and came later. Once things got organized, people went around farther and farther to spread the word. My point is, a thousand years ago in the middle of Africa or China, or North America for that matter, what experience did anyone have with the God of Abraham?

There is an old joke or apocryphal story that goes like this:

A missionary travels to a remote village to spread the gospel. He talks with everyone there about Jesus, telling them that if they do not accept Jesus into their hearts, they will burn in hell for all eternity. Before the missionary leaves, the tribal elder asks, “What if we had never heard about Jesus? Would we still burn in hell?” The missionary replies, “No, I suppose you would go to heaven for all eternity,” to which the elder replies “Then why the hell did you tell us!?”

The article that I paraphrased this from is from a blog called 500 Questions and they all pertain to God and Christianity. Seems pretty interesting, and I may have to check it out. But anyway.

Do I believe that we can all experience the numinous, that we can all experience awe and come face-to-face with infinity? Truly, any human being that has looked to the stars at night has probably felt this feeling, no matter where they are in the world. When we gaze deeply into a pool of water, focus our attention on a flower or a lover, when we turn our attention inward and lose the boundaries between ourselves and the world… we experience what Christians call the Holy Spirit, we perceive the feeling of God.

But I don’t think that this is enough if we accept the belief that God has specific rules and desires for us. If God wants us to behave a certain way, then why do we have so many different cultures with different beliefs? Why do we have polytheism and ancestor worship and whatever else? And what is to become of these people? The article I mentioned cites several verses that seem to answer this question but I do not know them in context.

If we accept the Bible as literal, through-and-through, then we have problems. Specifically, John 14:6.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

Jesus says that the only way to God is through Him. So what of all those people that never got the chance to hear about Jesus? It would not be fair to condemn them to an eternity in Hell if they didn’t get the memo. And if they’re not going to be condemned to Hell specifically because of their ignorance then why tell them about Jesus in the first place?

The author of 500 Questions makes this point in his article:

“If the ignorant are excused from sin and wrath, then the first rule of Christianity should be ‘Don’t talk about Christianity,’ because it only brings condemnation.”

Even if you make the point that there are “natural laws” or our conscience or whatever that gives us a sense of right and wrong, even this is a product of culture and time. To the ancient Greeks, homosexuality wasn’t even a thing, for example. Hell, even in America, prior to the 70s and 80s there was no grand polyamorous or promiscuous homosexual subculture to be condemned by modern conservatives. In other parts of the world and in other times, people learn values, morals, and ethics according to their culture and what they are taught by their parents and their society. Hell again! Americans pledge allegiance to their country and the flag every day in schools and I’ve heard some people from other countries who see this common ritual as horrifying, smacking of blind nationalism.

Do I agree that everyone can find peace, love, and acceptance within themselves? Absolutely. Different cultures have different styles of prayer and meditation, but overall I feel that we all reach out or reach in to the same transcendental states. Our experience of these states and the feelings we find within are subjective, shaped by our experience and our worldview.

And what happens if we feel this feeling in a church? In a forest? In a mosque? What are we to believe?

And beyond that, what if we never feel this feeling at all, or only very faintly because we are lost, alone, and have just been beaten down and s*** on our entire lives? Or what if we have been broken more slowly, sat in front of a television from a young age, never finding joy in the natural world or the vast infinite potential within ourselves?

I’m going to share with you the most sacrilegious song I can think of because it helps illustrate my point. In my world, God has a sense of humor, so I apologize if in yours He does not. Not much I can do about that. Warning: serious language and blasphemy!

In this song, people living in Africa sing about all the things that trouble them, and finish by shouting “Hasa diga Eebowai!” We (and the horrified Mormon missionaries) learn that this means “F*** you, God!” See what I mean about sacrilegious?

But the thing is, even though this song is played for comedic effect, there are people who feel this way! You’ve probably met some of them. There are people who are angry at God, who resist God, who deny God for various reasons. How, pray tell, is a person like that supposed to accept a kind and loving God?

In my view, this lack of acceptance of God comes from a misunderstanding of the very concept of God. I’ve said it before: God is not a genie who grants wishes. I don’t even see God as a person, certainly not the Caucasian bearded male of old European art. Now, Jesus was a person, yes… but that’s another part of the Trinity. The same and different, I get it.

If God is a force, an eternal infinite Being that resides within all of us and everything, then honestly we have no problems. This view of God, my view of God, leads to peace and acceptance of what is. There are no “shoulds” and “should-nots” in my world. In the human view, could the world be better? Yes, of course. We have so much suffering and so many hurt and downtrodden and victimized people…

However!! (I had a point a long time ago, and I’m getting back to it, I swear.) JUST LIKE GOD HAD HARDENED PHARAOH’S HEART, knowing that Pharaoh would bring more suffering, this was a natural consequence of Pharaoh’s actions. Pharaoh was not about to suddenly and miraculously have a change of heart; the Israelites had to endure their trials and things had to happen the way they did and so on and so on down the line until Jesus and so on until TODAY! (See? Told you.)

BUT! Just as God is the impetus for all the events of the universe, these events and all the participants are of and within God. God hardens the heart of the Pharaoh even in the face of miracles, Old-Testament-style turning rods into snakes and s***.

If Pharaoh’s heart can be hardened against a miracle, then so too can the hearts of men be hardened against God through no fault of their own. It is simply the way of the world.

The “eternal punishment” of these people is that they shall burn in the fires of their own jealousy, anger, and fear for the entirety of their lives. They will find misery and will be unsure and unknowing of their place in the universe; they will resist life and all its wonders.

However! Those that learn, understand, and accept God will find peace in the Now, will find acceptance of the present moment and their circumstances, and will be blessed with a worldview where everything is indeed perfect, a life that some would call “Heaven.” The human part of me sometimes rejects or resists my circumstances, but the spark of infinite “divine” awareness flows with these moments and finds the silver linings where the human mind sees only clouds.

Accepting God requires a subjective understanding of God; God must be taught to people in a way that makes sense to them. When I talk to God, when I pray and when I listen, there is both humor and seriousness. I see the absurdity of life, the lack of provable objectivity in the universe, the limitations of science and of faith and God has met me halfway. He has presented himself in a way that I understand and accept. Some Christians say that this will eventually happen to everyone. To me, that is unknowable. All I can say for certain is that it has happened to me.

Good day, all. Peace be upon you.


¹ Henry, Matthew. http://www.christnotes.org/commentary.php?com=mhc&b=2&c=4

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 35

Happy Easter, everybody. Even if my well-wishing is a little belated…

I got invited by my partner to go to church today. This is the first time in over ten years that I’ve been to a “regular” Protestant service. I say “regular” because I got invited to attend an LDS service sometime within the past two years.

It was not exactly what I was expecting, and yet, it was everything I needed. The church itself was a large complex of buildings, complete with a cafe. I was so lost; I’m used to churches being big, one-room, rustic-looking buildings. This was an ultra-modern campus that looked more like a small university than a church.

When we were ushered inside to the actual worship and service it was like going into a rock concert. The room was dark, everyone was standing, they had a whole bank of colored spotlights and a projector facing each of the four walls. There was a freakin’ fog machine, for heaven’s sake! Again, I’m used to solemn and dramatic hymns sung slowly in a well-lit room, so this just blew my mind. I guess I’m out of the loop.

I wish I could remember the entirety of the brief service. Of course, what with it being Easter, they talked about the resurrection. The pastor also spent a great deal of time talking to people about the veracity of the scriptures and especially the story of Jesus rising from the dead. He made the point that even if medical knowledge at the time was not as good as ours (when it came to declaring people dead), he said that the Romans were exceptionally good at killing people, and they would have made darn sure that Jesus was dead before burying him.

He also said that the “rising from the grave” part is the most important part of this whole story, as it becomes sort of the “stamp of approval” that tops off the act of dying for everyone’s sins. The Jehovah’s Witnesses do not celebrate Easter; based on their readings of the Bible, they commemorate the day that Jesus died. This is based, presumably, on the fact that this is the date that matters because it is the date following which everyone in the world could be saved and be free from death. The so-called “curse” of Adam and Eve was broken.

But hell, anyone can read the Bible and figure this out. I’ll be discussing it at some point in the next, oh, two-and-a-half years or so, once I get that far into the New Testament.

What really interested me was the feelings within me during the service and the conversation I had with God. I learned and remembered a lot about why people go to church, and about how the energy and the music and all those other people really wrap you up into a state of religious ecstasy. Even though I know the psychological principles behind it all, I couldn’t escape it this time around. By the time the band started playing the second time, I was really just standing there, weeping silently.


I have… a relationship with God that is both simple and remarkably complex. I realize I’m blowing my own horn here, but it has been a long and rocky road. I was never raised in the church or with any particular idea of God, but it was not infrequently that I went to church with my aunt. Any time I stayed at her house for a weekend I went with her on Sunday. I don’t remember much except old people in old fancy clothes and little youth activity workbooks. And maybe getting animal crackers at Sunday school.

I avoided my aunt as much as possible as I got older. It wasn’t so much that I didn’t enjoy church as I didn’t enjoy her attitude or behavior toward me and later toward my brother. We just didn’t get along.

Later in life, my teenage years, I would become a dedicated atheist. I was very against Christianity and I thought their whole conception of God was ridiculous and childish. I thought of myself (as some atheists do) as a shining beacon of reason blazing against the darkness of ignorance and myth. I thought I had it all figured out.

Later, in high school, I learned about the Universal Life Church, and the fact that anyone can get ordained as a minister. I don’t know what it was about this that I thought was so funny, but I did it. I have since made sure that my ordination is valid and up-to-date, but there I was, a high school minister. I charged 25 cents for a confession, and I think someone only took me up on that once. Again, I was mostly playing around.

I even had a little tubular piece of paper that I decorated like the Pope’s hat; I wore it on my finger like a puppet. You can just tell how serious this was to me.

I don’t know exactly what changed, but at some point in college I began to feel a draw toward… something. Actually, I need to back up. For a very brief time following my atheist phase, I had a flicker of conception of God. I distinctly remember praying to God, getting into a relaxed spiritual state, and listening to the voice that came back. I don’t think this lasted very long, but I definitely remember it.

But, in college, something came back, and I remember walking around the churches near my campus. I wanted to talk to someone, but I don’t know why or what I would have even asked. I just remember feeling so lost and empty. That day, all the doors were closed and the churches were unavailable to me. This seems appropriate, now that I look back on it. I don’t think I would have been ready for anything they had to say.

It would be a few more years before I would rediscover God in a big way, when I would reconcile the idea of the Christian God-as-Father with the things that were going on inside my head. To my own satisfaction, I had answered the problem of evil, and I was ready to accept and believe in God.

This happened during a camping trip, far away on a mountaintop surrounded by beautiful pine forests. It is an amazing place, and I’ve written many poems about it. Maybe someday I’ll even share some here.

But I went up to this mountain weary and with a heavy heart, lonely and empty. I came back a man rich in spirit, full of awe and hope. I had a fresh outlook on the world, and I had made my peace with the idea of God, an idea with which I had wrestled for most of my life. But like Jacob, I emerged triumphant and felt blessed.

It was this strange and mystical experience that led me to call myself a shaman. Unlike my initial ordination, this was something I would take very seriously, but not to the point where I can’t laugh about it. The way I see it, you go up to a mountaintop, you have a mystical experience and visions unlike anything else in your life, you make peace with God, and you come back a changed man. If that’s not a shamanic initiation, I don’t know what is.

Just to clarify, I didn’t choose this title based on any particular cultural tradition. Altered states of consciousness, a connection to the natural world, a love of God, and a desire for spiritual healing are the things that this term encompasses for me. It is a term that has been used to anthropologists to describe many traditions the world over, but I use it because it feels so right. It ties together everything about my initial experience and the others that have come after.

But even this doesn’t explain why I wept at church. That experience would come later, during another camping trip at the same place.

What I failed to mention on Day 16, when I talked about ego death, is that I’ve been there. I can’t tell you about the brainwave patterns or the science behind the experience, I can only tell you what it feels like.

In the shortest sense, it really was a “letting go.” It was like I was drifting further and further away from “myself,” and I was so afraid. I didn’t know what was happening or what was coming next, all I knew is that I felt this intense swelling of energy that wasn’t going away. After a while of wrestling with this impending something, I finally reached a place were I felt peaceful, and it was as though all the energy flowed away gently. I washed away with it.

When I came to, it was as though I was seeing the world for the first time. It was a beautiful experience; I realized how little we really see in our day-to-day life. I read somewhere that most of the time, we only see the idea of a color because we’re not really looking. I understood what that meant, because I knew what it was like to actually see color for what it was.

This was the day that I understood and conceived of God on a deeper level. This was the day I mentioned in the About page, the day that I understood God-as-Everything. This experience was nothing short of a rebirth. This experience is why I was standing in church today, unable to stop the tears from running down my face.

The story of the resurrection is so beautiful, and it reminded me so much of my own experience. It was a powerful reminder. I know from my own experience that the promise of life that Christ professed is a real promise. We can be free of living as if we are dead. We can be free to truly live.

I wish I could remember the pastor’s exact words today. He was describing the scriptures, and he said that they were true because they have the power to transform people’s lives. I could not agree more. The essence of the faith is so beautiful, and I cannot wait to get to the New Testament in order to read and understand the words of Jesus Christ for myself.

As much as I was reminded today of the beauty and inherent truth of the Bible, I was also reminded of the limitations of current interpretations. I feel like this book has so much more that can be learned from it. The only way to find out is to press on and keep reading.

Good night and good day, everyone.

In your heart and mine, He is risen.

Day 33

Happy Good Friday, everybody.

Today, I had an interesting horoscope:

horoscope 4 18 14 edit

Not so subtle considering what I ranted about yesterday, i.e. “being in the world but not a part of the world.” God’s always giving me little reminders of my humility… and of His good humor.

Also, while I was outside working, I snapped this picture:

angel cloud edited

Img Credit: Me

I like it. It looks like an angel wing to me, feathers and all. Also, that spire near the middle of the bottom of the picture is the top of an LDS temple. Topped with, you guessed it, an angel. Anyway, just some cool stuff for Good Friday. More interesting to me considering it’s not often cloudy around here.


I read Genesis 33 today, but I’ll get into it tomorrow. I really have been dying to show off some pictures, and today seems like the day. In other news, I figured out the “gallery” feature in WordPress.

The following are pictures of creosote bushes I took during a hiking trip. Ever since I found out what they were, I’ve loved the way they look. The pictures in the left column are the originals (with adjusted contrast/levels) and the ones on the right are obviously filtered. I also wrote a little haiku to go with them.

Creosote bush; a 

thousand tiny lights glowing

in the setting sun.


Thanks to all my readers and followers. Thanks to my partner for always being there for me. Thanks to Jesus for dying that we may live, and thanks to God for coming into my life.

I hope to have some exciting news in the future, but we shall see where life takes me.

Happy Good Friday, everybody. Peace be upon you.