laugh

Day 64

Exodus 14

The famous parting of the Red Sea. If I were really interested, I’d go look up all the names of the cities/places the Bible mentions to try and determine if they were actually talking about the Red Sea or a “Sea of Reeds,” which would be a possible translation or spelling or whatever. I am currently not interested.

The point is, the Egyptians get their panties in a bunch and decide to send their army after the Israelites. Quite frankly I have no idea why someone would decide to send their army onto a sea bed when the sea is only being held aside by the power of the person you are chasing but these Egyptians are a pretty dense bunch. A few bricks short of a pyramid, so to speak.

Israelites escape, Egyptians leave, and nothing bad ever happened to the Jews again. (cringe)

But what I really want to talk about today is…


Thunder Dreamer

I bought my first firearm. The NRA should be contacting me any time now.

It is a thing of beauty: a 1950-something bolt-action 12-gauge shotgun. It looks like something you’d find in a post-apocalyptic setting and between the age and size has this very crude brutality about it. Simple, crude, but elegant in its own way. I have this tendency of falling for things/ideas based mostly upon their novelty. This is so aesthetically novel to me that I couldn’t help but love it. I cleaned it out for the first time and paid as much attention as I could to the details.

My friend told me that he “couldn’t wait to see her,” and after reading that I felt like it needed a name. With the bolt being such a crucial and identifying part of the gun, I wanted to name it after some sort of thunder god. I was looking for a female name, but there are few female thunder gods in mythology, at least few that a quick Google search could turn up.

(This is a great example of my Moose medicine in action; I’ve told this story twice already and I want to tell it several more times.)

So then on the advice of my brother I started looking up female names from the 30’s and 50’s. No such luck; nothing jumped out at me. So I told my brother about the “thunder god” idea, and we went back to a list. He pointed to one that was Lakota in origin: Haokah.

I looked at the article on Wikipedia and learned about Heyoka (or Haokah, or Heyókȟa). You’re welcome to read the article for yourself here, but I will tell you that it is perfect. The name applies to a set of joking, contrary holy men or medicine men that use humor and satire to teach lessons, to show people that which is not easily shown, and to bring humility and laughter even (or especially) in dire circumstances.

I saw a video while researching the heyoka that purported to tell how to find out if you are a heyoka. I did not watch it. Another video featuring a man named Chief Walking Bear has an explanation of a heyoka “initiation” or test. I don’t think I’m even remotely qualified, and I do not have the arrogance to proclaim myself one of these special teachers. I do however share some of the qualities they possess, and I love the concept. Now that I have a term for such a thing as a “sacred clown,” I really enjoy the thought of that. It especially made me think of the trickster mask I made long ago, and the jester mask I purchased. I have always liked trickster gods.

Anyway, Chief Walking Bear talks about being struck by lightning, how he saw it wrap around his ankles as he ran, and the explosion from the lightning flipped him end over end and landed him right back on his feet. If I get struck by lightning this weekend, I’ll come back and tell you all about it. They are predicting rain…

But seriously. The other half of the Wikipedia article talks about Heyoka as the name of a spirit. He is a hunting spirit, and a spirit of thunder and lightning. This quote from Black Elk struck me like lightning, and I knew I had the name I was looking for:

“When a vision comes from the thunder beings of the West, it comes with terror like a thunder storm; but when the storm of vision has passed, the world is greener and happier; for wherever the truth of vision comes upon the world, it is like a rain. The world, you see, is happier after the terror of the storm… you have noticed that truth comes into this world with two faces. One is sad with suffering, and the other laughs; but it is the same face, laughing or weeping… as lightning illuminates the dark, for it is the power of lightning that heyokas have.”

— Black Elk

Read the article; do your own research. To me, the idea of an unconventional hunting spirit of thunder suits this new gun perfectly. Plus, I wanted to find something American, and the Lakota language/mythology is excellent, having been in this land for God knows how long before white people showed up. Also, I’m pretty sure the Lakota make flutes similar to the one I have. Not to be disrespectful, but I seem to have a theme going.

I’ll be taking Thunder Dreamer with me on my camping trip. I can’t wait.

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Day 32

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

We’ll see what I draw forth tomorrow.

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


Genesis 31

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

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

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

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


Genesis 32

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

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

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

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

Carl Sagan once said,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good night, all. Peace be upon you.


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

Day 18


Out of the Bag

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

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

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

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


Genesis 18

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

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

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

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

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

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

“No, but you did laugh.”

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

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

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

The conversation pretty much goes like this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

After Abraham and the Lord are done, God leaves.


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

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

— Matthew Henry¹

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He shall.


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