Pharaoh

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.

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Day 60

I’m reading The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis. It is awesome. My partner lent it to me but it is clearly the kind of book I will need to buy and read several times over. That is all.


Exodus 10

This chapter is very interesting for a number of reasons. Firstly, God finally explains to Moses why they’re going through all this trouble and why Pharaoh is so ridiculously obstinate. God tells Moses:

“Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his officials so that I may perform these signs of mine among themthat you may tell your children and grandchildren how I dealt harshly with the Egyptians and how I performed my signs among them, and that you may know that I am the Lord.”

— Exodus 10:1-2, NIV

I’m going to divert from the NKJV here, because apparently God tells Moses to “Go in to Pharaoh,” and I don’t think that’s quite what God meant… I was a little confused and shocked given the previous uses of the phrase “go in to.” You’re welcome to insert your own banjo music and Deliverance joke here. I really want to, but I’m not about to go that far. Not today, anyway.

But the point is that God specifically tells Moses that this is the way things have to go down so that way all the descendants of Israel will remember forever who God is. Makes sense enough to me.

Moses and Aaron go to warn Pharaoh about the impending locust plague and this time, Pharaoh’s servants finally beg him to end this madness and let the damn Hebrews go worship, already. So Pharaoh brings Moses and Aaron back. He tells them finally to just go, and then asks for clarification of who will be going to make this sacrifice.

Moses tells them that everyone will be coming, boys, girls, elders, youth, and the animals. Pharaoh’s response in different translations is interesting; I find the Jehovah’s Witness translation the best, as in it makes the most sense in context. This is what Pharaoh responds in NKJV (Exodus 10:10-11):

“The Lord had better be with you when I let you and your little ones go! Beware, for evil is ahead of you. Not so! Go now, you who are men, and serve the Lord, for that is what you desired.”

“God had better be with you, because there is evil ahead! But no! Send the guys out.” What? This is super confusing and I’m not sure I understand. Pharaoh sounds like he’s changing his mind mid-conversation.

Now let’s take a look at the NIV:

“The Lord be with you—if I let you go, along with your women and children! Clearly you are bent on evil.No! Have only the men go and worship the Lord, since that’s what you have been asking for.”

The NIV mentions that “Clearly you are bent on evil” could also mean “Be careful, trouble is in store for you!” But again, Pharaoh’s meaning is confusing. At least here he is clearly denying letting everyone go, and only wants the men to go.

The following is the New World (JW) Translation:

“If I ever send you and your children away, then Jehovah is indeed with you! It is clear that you intend to do something evil. No! Only your men may go and serve Jehovah, for that is what you requested.”

Does that not make so much more sense? “Wow, really? If I ever let all of you go, then God really is on your side. No, it’s totally obvious that this is some kind of trick. How about only the men go, and we keep everyone else as collateral?” (The bit about collateral is borrowed from Mr. Henry’s commentary/interpretation. Didn’t really think of it that way myself.)

Pharaoh makes his demand and kicks Moses and Aaron back out. They shrug and summon a plague of locusts that ravage the already-ravaged land. Whatever was left after the hailstorm gets devoured. Egypt is in a sorry state indeed. Pharaoh begs for forgiveness and asks Moses to ask God to remove the locusts. Moses does so, and predictably Pharaoh does not let the people go. Shocking.

Before we move into the ninth plague, I want to bring up another translation issue. Exodus 10:19 mentions that God summoned a west wind to send the locusts away and blow them into “the Red Sea.” The Red Sea in this case is in the proper direction for this to happen (i.e. east of Egypt) but the NIV notes that this could also be translated as “the Sea of Reeds.” While this isn’t such a big deal now, this potential mistranslation will come into play in the near future.

So, plague number nine! Pharaoh doesn’t let the people go; Moses stretches out his hand and darkness falls across the land.

thriller - zombie

Why yes, that is a Thriller reference!¹

The Egyptians are all stuck in the dark, but the Israelites are fine and have light. Gee, heavy-handed-metaphor, much? Didn’t even notice that til just now.

Pharaoh tells Moses once again to go make his sacrifice, but this time to leave his flocks. Moses tells Pharaoh that he does not yet know what kind of sacrifice they will have to make, and they will need their flocks to make burnt offerings. This exchange follows, ending the chapter with an awesome Biblical one-liner (in the NKJV, anyway. The other versions I’ve read are decidedly less cool).

Then Pharaoh said to him, “Get away from me! Take heed to yourself and see my face no more! For in the day you see my face you shall die!”

So Moses said, “You have spoken well. I will never see your face again.”

mic-drop-charlie-murphy-o yeahhhhhOhhhhhh! Moses out, b****.


¹ Thriller. 1983 John Landis and Michael Jackson. Image retrieved from http://theukuleleblog.blogspot.com/2012/09/thriller-1983.html

Moses’ mic drop: http://gifsoup.com/view/1324222/mic-drop-charlie-murphy.html

Moses’ air punch: hiding in a link on http://www.gq.com/blogs/the-feed/2014/02/house-of-cards-season-two.html

Killer guitar riff: http://youfoundasecret.wordpress.com/2013/03/13/video-games-according-to-csi-miami/

Day 59

The Love Letter

So here we are, finally catching back up to my schedule. This last week has been a very trying time physically and mentally just because of work and life’s demands.

I was listening to the radio yesterday, a Christian station, and I caught an on-air sermon or some such thing where the pastor/minister was talking about reading the Bible. He said that all too often we read the Bible out of obligation or because we feel we have to put on a show rather than reading it because we so desire to know God. He said that we should read it like a love letter, poring over every word and every nuance, reading one, two, or three times until we analyze and understand the meaning.

I feel like hearing that is what I needed to get back on track, to dive back in to this project. I feel like every time things start to get away from me, God comes back and gives me a sign. I am gently reminded and redirected, and so I resume my task.


Jehovah’s Witnesses

Also, while I was catching up this morning, the Jehovah’s Witnesses stopped by to talk to me. They’re a pleasant, devout bunch. The only thing that gets me is that to them, the only answers are in scripture. I can see that there is indeed an ability to find answers in scripture, and that everyone can find answers in scripture, but to think that the only way we can know God is by the Bible is beyond me. Is it not written in the book that “God is love”? True, without some conception of God and some expansion of our minds and experiences it is difficult for us to know the true and all-encompassing love that is God, but I think it is possible. Is it necessary to acknowledge Him by name? By one name only, Jehovah, or by a title or epithet such as God or Lord?

God has many names and many titles and they have changed throughout the years. He may be Jehovah or Yahweh, or Adonai, YHWH, or G-d (I think) if you’re Jewish. He may be the Father, or he may come to us as the Son of Man. He is the Holy Spirit as well. He is El, El Shaddai, Elohim… He has many names. In the NKJV, when God reveals himself to Moses he is called “I AM,” and to the Jehovah’s Witnesses he is “I Will Become.” It is hypothesized that Jehovah, or the Hebrew rendition יהוה is related to the word for “to become,” or perhaps “to be” or “to exist.”

I feel like I brought this up in Exodus 3, but one wonderful rendition of God’s name is “He Causes to Become.” God is the Supreme Force, the Supreme Being that causes all things to be, to become what they are. A quick Google search of the word “become” reveals this as the primary definition:

be·come

verb

1. begin to be.

With God, we can begin to be. We no longer will sleepwalk through life, living half-dead, but we can become. We can realize the truth and beauty of the present moment, of everything that is. And everything that is is with God. And all that is is God.

“And I think to myself… what a wonderful world.”


Exodus 9

This same business starts all over again. Plague five consists of a pestilence on Egypt’s livestock. Plague six consists of boils and sores on man and beast alike. Plague seven consists of thunder, hail, and fire. All animals and people left out were slain.

Pharaoh admits his wickedness and entreats Moses and Aaron to take the plagues away. Moses tells Pharaoh that he will indeed take away the plague, but he knows that Pharaoh will not release the Hebrews from bondage. I wonder about the use of the word fear, here. I imagine the Pharaoh does “fear” God in an English sense, but it seems to me that Moses means more than just that kind of fear; Pharaoh has no respect for God, no awe, humility, or veneration for God.

“Beatings will continue until morale improves.” Pharaoh has not yet learned his lesson, and worse things are to follow.

Let us not harden our hearts and subject ourselves to plagues. Do not resist God, for that is to resist love and life. Be humble, act with confidence and do what must be done in any situation. Respect and be humble, for God is always watching.

Peace be upon you. Go with God.

Day 58

Exodus 8

Here we see the next three plagues and we see also Pharaoh’s completely predictable reaction to repeated entreaties to “Let My people go.” The second plague that falls upon Egypt is a plague of frogs; Moses and Aaron work their magic via the power granted them by God, and the land is inundated with frogs.

frog_theme_for_kids

“You mean like the frogs that got f***ed by Joseph Smith?”¹

Pharaoh’s magicians, ever eager to prove that these strange miracles are not of God, summon up some frogs of their own. Pharaoh doesn’t seem to care this time, and is sick of picking frogs out of his fancy hat. He finally asks Moses and Aaron to send them away. If the frogs are removed, Pharaoh says, he will let the Hebrews go and sacrifice to their God.

Moses just asks for a time, and Pharaoh says “tomorrow.” Why he doesn’t say “Right f***ing now, please,” is beyond me. Moses and Aaron call to God and God wipes out all the frogs. The Egyptians pile the mass of dead frogs into rotting heaps. Compared to having frogs everywhere, this was apparently a relief. Although I don’t really know why they didn’t just start eating the frogs since annoying the Lord sometimes grants you an infinite supply of food. Perhaps they were poisonous frogs? Anyway.

Once the frogs are gone, Pharaoh proceeds to once again ignore the commands of Moses and Aaron. No more frogs, not my problem.

So Moses and Aaron send lice. With the power of God, they turn all the dust of the land into lice. This the magicians could not do. At this point even the sorcerers of Egypt are forced to admit that something strange might be going on. “This is the finger of God,” they say to Pharaoh in Exodus 8:19. But still Pharaoh’s heart was hard against these miracles.

Again Moses and Aaron visit Pharaoh, they go through the same old “Let My people go” shtick, and again Pharaoh denies their request. This time the land is swarmed with flies.

diabloitchies

As any Diablo II player can tell you, flies are no laughing matter.²

Finally, Pharaoh calls for Moses and Aaron. I can just picture him swatting flies away from his head as he tells them, “Fine! Just sacrifice already! You can do it right here!”

Moses and Aaron, completely free of flies respond: “No can do, Pharaoh. If we start doing our Jehovah business in Egypt, odds are we’ll get stoned to death. We need to go out of town for a few days first.”

Pharaoh: “Fine, whatever! Just get rid of these damn flies!”

Moses: “Alright, we’ll get rid of the flies. No more tricks, Pharaoh.” I think it’s funny that Moses tells Pharaoh to stop being deceitful when isn’t Moses lying about the whole worship/sacrifice thing? I thought this whole thing was a ruse to get the Hebrews out of Egypt (Exodus 3). I guess the point would be that God does work all things for good.

Moses heads out, asks God to take the flies away, and He does. Pharaoh, being relieved of his misery, once again hardens his heart and goes back on his word. The Hebrews will not be allowed to leave.


I think the most interesting lessons to be learned here come from Pharaoh’s actions. As Pharaoh hardens his heart against these “supernatural” miracles, so to do we harden our hearts against the miracles of the world… the miracle of a rising sun or a beautiful sunset, the miracle of rain falling from the sky and nourishing the land, the miracle of life and growth all around us, and the miracle of the human experience, that we are conscious, that we can create and act in this amazing world, that we exist at all! All of these things seem so normal to us that we hardly perceive them as miracles.

Also, the way Pharaoh constantly changes his attitude after the plague has lifted reminds me of a joke:

A guy is headed downtown and is late for a job interview. He is desperate to find a parking place, and so he rolls down his window and shouts to God, “If you find me a parking place, I promise I’ll never touch another drop of liquor.”
Just then, a car pulls out, leaving a parking place right in front of his building.
He leans out and shouts to God, “Never mind, I found one myself.”

So often we call to God in our hour of need, and forget Him afterward. We make promises and fail to uphold them. For all those who would condemn Pharaoh (myself included) do not forget that every one of us is equally imperfect. We have all made mistakes, we have all made promises that we have not kept.

The beauty of God is that He is always present. C.S. Lewis wrote something that struck me as profound:

If He who in Himself can lack nothing chooses to need us, it is because we need to be needed.

We are still in so many ways like children, children who need attention, love, compassion, and affirmation. God does not have to be there for us, and if He were as we are, many times He would not be there for us. We cannot always be present for our friends or our children. But God can be called upon always. It seems to me that God wants to be called upon always, for us to be fully conscious and accepting of Him throughout all the days of our lives.

More so than that, since I cannot claim to speak for the will of God, it seems to me that our very souls cry out to God, that our souls, our very being wants us to call upon Him, to open ourselves up to God, His grace and His forgiveness. But then, in a sense, our not our souls crying out for their own true essence?

“The boy reached through to the Soul of the World, and saw that it was part of the Soul of God. And he saw that the Soul of God was his own soul. And that he, a boy, could perform miracles.”

— Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist


¹ The Book of Mormon (musical). 2011 Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, Matt Stone.

² Diablo II. 2000 Blizzard Entertainment. Image retrieved from http://diablo.incgamers.com/forums/showthread.php?786178-Scavenger-Hunt-4-Tournament-Grail/page11

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 56

Exodus 6

Moses is very concerned about Pharaoh and his bad attitude toward the Hebrews. God lets him know that Pharaoh will basically be driving the Hebrews out when He is done with him.

God reaffirms his promise, the same promise He made to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. He lets Moses know that the Hebrews will be returning to Canaan. God tells them that He is with them, that He will be their God and they his people. In truth, once we know God (which we cannot do unless we truly know love), that is all we need. The Hebrews chafe under Pharaoh’s rule and their bondage, and they have forgotten the value of their God.

God tells Moses to go take care of this mess and talk again to Pharaoh. Moses basically wonders how on earth this is supposed to work. From Matthew Henry’s commentary:

“The faith of Moses was so feeble that he could scarcely be kept to his work. Ready obedience is always according to the strength of our faith. Though our weaknesses ought to humble us, yet they ought not to discourage us from doing our best in any service we have to do for God. When Moses repeats his baffled arguments, he is argued with no longer, but God gives him and Aaron a charge, both to the children of Israel, and to Pharaoh.”¹

God issues his command once again in Exodus 6:13, and declines to discuss the point further.

After this, we are treated to a genealogical aside, after which the narrative is resumed, with the scripture showing the Lord issuing His command.

(Catching up…)


¹ Henry, Matthew. http://www.christnotes.org/commentary.php?com=mhc&b=2&c=6

Day 55

Seriously, so much for this “daily” thing. I’m currently updating on borrowed time in a parking lot from my phone.

I didn’t realize how far behind I was. Once I get back from my camping trip I can start fresh. I’ll be writing by hand or recording audio every day for those 5-6 days and I’ll have to transcribe it and post it when I get back.


Exodus 5

The tl;dr (too long; didn’t read) version of this chapter is that Pharaoh is a d**k. For a discussion of why this is so, check Day 54.

Moses and Aaron want the Hebrews to be able to go and worship in the desert, which if I remember was supposed to be a false pretense in order for them to escape. When they ask Pharaoh to allow the Israelites to leave, he denies their request.

Not only does he deny it but he assumes the Hebrews are slacking off, so he takes away their straw (which they need to make bricks) and has them find their own. Of course, he still expects the same amount of bricks!

The Hebrews ask why he has done this and he tells them it is because they wanted to go and pray! So the Hebrews blame… Moses, of course! Another classic case of misdirected anger.

Moses wonders what the eff God is doing with all this since now the Hebrews are oppressed even worse than before! Oh, Moses. If only you knew. Does not the Lord work all things for good?

Good day, 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 53

Exodus 3

Here we enter God’s abstract period. Moses brings the flocks up to Horeb, “the mountain of God” (Exod 3:1). God appears to Moses as a fire burning within a bush. Moses heads over to investigate the strange occurrence, and to see why the bush does not burn.

A “burning bush” at sunset. I thought I was going to have to wait much longer to share this picture.

Another shot of the “burning bush.” Zoomed in and touched up.

God speaks to Moses, and tells him to remove his sandals. God introduces Himself as “the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (Exod 3:6). In the New World Translation used by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, this whole episode is the point at which God introduces himself as “Jehovah,” as we shall soon see.

God tells Moses that He has heard the cry of the Israelites, and that He has chosen Moses to lead the people out of Egypt. Moses isn’t sure what to make of this.

But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”

So He said, “I will certainly be with you. And this shall be a sign to you that I have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.”

Then Moses said to God, “Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?”

And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”

— Exodus 3:11-14, NKJV

God gives Moses some other commands and gives him details of the plan. Anyone who wants to read all that, just go check out Exodus 3. I’d rather talk about…


The Name of God

I’ve always considered this to be one of the most interesting and possibly one of the most overlooked passages in the Old Testament. Moses imagines a scenario wherein the Israelites ask him, “Oh yeah? You’re so smart, what’s God’s name?”

In the New King James Version, and many others, God responds by telling Moses, “I AM THAT I AM,” or “I AM WHO I AM.” Then God clarifies that His name is “I AM.” I’m going to skip ahead a bit to Exodus 20 because I have a point I’d like to make. Exodus 20 is the chapter that introduces the Ten Commandments, one of which is

“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain…

— Exodus 20:7, NKJV

Now what did we just learn is [one of] the name[s] of God? “I AM.” This phrase, “I am,” is one of the most simple declarative statements that a being can make. It tells nothing and yet it tells everything, for it is a simple statement of the fact that one exists. Even though it seems simple, it implies a great deal, for it implies all that we do, say, and experience, for it wraps our very existence into three simple English letters.

But we are not to take the name of God in vain. If a statement conveying the fact of our existence is indeed a name of God… then it is not only the name but our existence itself that we must honor. The very fact that I AM, that I am here today, that I am writing this, that I am reaching out to you… this very truth of my existence is a recognition of God. And it is something that we can all say and recognize.

Do not take your life in vain, for God speaks His own name through your Being.

We are all manifestations of God. God who is the Spirit that flows through us, the Infinite Moment that allows us to live, and the Word that becomes us. Christ is known as the Word Made Flesh, but there is a little bit of Christ within all of us. Though we may not be the blesséd Son of God, we are all His sons and daughters. Just as we carry our biological parents with us in the form of genes and chromosomes, we carry the essence, the Consciousness that is God with us in our mortal forms.

Some Christians have said that we were created to honor and worship God, to give Him praise. This is true, but by living consciously, by experiencing the world and the life that we have each been given, we are honoring God. We are all manifestations of God, and our most basic statement of Being is God’s sacred name.

Everything in the universe, from stars to ants to atoms, is written in the Word. When we open our eyes or our ears, we read the Language of the World. When we touch, when we smell… when we move our bodies and let our emotions soar like eagles… we are experiencing the Language of the World, the Language of God, an infinite interminable sentence that relates every particle, every atom, every rock, plant, human, and star…

The Jehovah’s Witnesses observed that God’s name, written יהוה in Hebrew and often transliterated as YHWH (Yahweh, or Jehovah) appears to be related to the verb “to become.” To the Jehovah’s Witnesses, then, God’s name means “He Causes to Become,” and I find this also strikingly appropriate. Every moment that comes into being, everything that we experience is all manifested within God. We are but different reflections of the same thing, the same infinite force.

One of my favorite phrases that I have mostly forgotten until this moment is the Spanish “Vaya con Dios.”

“Go with God.”

Could it ever be any other way?

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.