Monday, December 25, 2017

Questions at Christmas



 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:  “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod,Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.  When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
 “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
    who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.  And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

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Last afternoon I was able to make it to the Children's Christmas Service at my folk's church.  Pastor Bob Bakke is an excellent speaker, plus he was really good it weaving in the various screams, squeals and antics of toddlers throughout the sermon.  The above passage was the basic text for the evening.

It's a pretty ubiquitous passage that most folks, even if they only go to church on Christmas or Easter, are probably familiar with.  So familiar that most people miss out on whats being said and what's not being said.  To me, that's one of my great frustrations with the American church.  We tend to think we have the bible down pat, when in fact we are simply reading it through our cultural lens, or the traditions that we've grown up with.  As a result, we miss a lot of what's really going on.

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CONTEXT!

No one in their right mind goes to Home Depot or Menards, picks up a home appliance, then reads the instruction manual and says, "Wow, this is a great history text!," or "Wow, this is a great poem!"
The reason for that is because it's an instruction manual, not a history text or poetry.

So when you read anything, you have to read it in the context that it is...not what you might want it to be.

Furthermore, when you read any type of ancient document written in a different language and to a different culture, you better keep that in mind.  The cultural and logistic context is paramount.  Every translation is ultimately an interpretation of the text.

People who will not, for what ever reasons, read the bible in it's cultural and linguistic context, are not taking the bible seriously OR literally.  That's how you get Dispensationalism, Health & Wealth prosperity scams and Young Earth Creationism.

The bible was written FOR us because it's God's Word.  But it wasn't written TO us.  It wasn't written with our culture in mind or in view.

____________________


So here are some thoughts & questions that popped into my head while I listened to the service last night.

1. That's a really short biography of the birth of Jesus!?!?!  I mean, it's only 3 paragraphs.  Furthermore, there are no details on how Mary got pregnant by the Holy Spirit.  Luke's version goes in more detail.  But it's like Matthew didn't think it's all that big a deal.

Then you get the idea that Joseph didn't seem terribly put off by his bride to be being pregnant.  Back in that day, the husband to be would be expected to kill his bride if something like that happened.  So Joe gets points for being a really kind hearted guy.

2. Dreams.  God sure seems to like to use dreams to talk to people.  This is long before Freudian dream analysis and the advent of modern psychiatry.  Joe gets two dreams from God.  One telling him about the Mary situation, and one about getting out of town ahead of Herod.  The Magi also get a dream warning from God.

I get a lot of weird dreams.  The most common one is me needing to find a place to drop a #2, but not having access to a stall with walls, and lot's of people around. (Frustrating to say the least. 😑Could any of my dreams be some type of odd message from the Most High?

3. Virgins & Prophets?  Matt quotes a verse from Isaiah 7:14 "Look, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call him Emmanuel, which means "God with us."  But there is a bit of a problem.  In it's context, this is not a prophecy about Jesus.  Plus, in Hebrew, they don't use the word for Virgin. (Beulah)  Instead, in Hebrew, the word Almah is used...which means "Young Woman."  This means that Matt is using the Greek translation of the Old Testament.  Which is a little odd, because he was Jewish and writing to other Jews.

For more on this, click the link below.
https://peteenns.com/virgin-shall-conceive/

Don't get me wrong, it was a given back in that day that the average Young Woman would be a virgin until she was married.  I'm certain Mary was.  Also, even in it's original context, this quote from Isaiah was not about Jesus, neither were the vast majority of so-called prophecies from the O.T.  It was Paul and the rest of the early church that viewed Jesus as not the end, but the beginning of a new understanding of Scripture.  They looked back through time and re-interpreted the Old Testament in light of this resurrected Messiah.  Matthew was the king at this.  His Gospel is chock full of prophecies redirected to Jesus.

Warning, warning, Will Robinson!!!  Just because the writers of the New Testament...and even Jesus himself, could play a little fast & loose with scripture, doesn't mean that you can too.  You are not the Messiah, nor a dude from the time of the early church writing anything inspired by the Holy Spirit, no matter how hot you think you are.

4. Stars & Wise Guys. What star could this have been?  Apparently, this star moved.  The bible says that the star traveled ahead of the Magi until it "stopped over the place where the child was."  You'll notice the text doesn't say baby or infant.  It says "child."

This begs even more questions: A) I know that Nativity Scenes will show three guys with gifts in the manger.  The bible never says there were 3 people.  It only says that some folks brought 3 gifts.  Considering that these guys were most likely some type of learned priestly folks from the Persian Empire, there were probably a lot more than 3. (The Persians were the enemies of Rome.)

And that brings up question B). The Magi were not Jews or Romans.  They were probably Zoroastrian Astrologers & Magicians...PAGANS.  Yet Matt includes them in his account.

Back in that day, Astrology was the "Science" of it's time.  You studied the stars to figure out the will of the gods and what not. (Now astrology is simply part of occult practices.) And this is interesting because roughly 500 years before Jesus there was this guy named Daniel who was a captive of the Babylonians. (You may have read his book.) He worked his way up the ranks of the wisemen/advisors of the Babylonians, and later, Persians, until he was apparently the head of that order.  Somehow, Daniel planted seeds in their astrological workings that included the future birth of a Jewish king/Messiah.  500 years later, Mary and Joe get some surprise guests.

But Matt gives hardly any details at all about them.  Two thousand years later, we are left scratching our heads.

Which still doesn't explain a traveling star.  Most people now days figure that it was some alignment of multiple stars in the cosmos.  But that still doesn't explain why it moved.  I don't know.  Maybe it was a slow comet.

C) Baby Jesus?  The text doesn't describe Jesus as a baby.  It refers to him as a child.  It also says that the Magi visited Mary and Jesus in a house not a manger!  Furthermore, when Herod figures out that the Magi have tricked him, he has all of the boys two and under in Bethlehem killed.  This means that no Magi were there on Christmas, and Jesus was no longer a baby.  But Matt, again, offers hardly any details.

He does throw in two more prophecies, taken out of context so as to apply to Jesus, that are to show that this is the way he is going to roll from now on.

On the bright side, historians figure that Herod didn't kill all that many little boys.  Bethlehem was a small town.  Peter Enns, a scholar I really like, figures that it was maybe two dozen at most. (Not that that makes it okay.) And no other historical writer ever mentions that Herod did this.  Which really isn't a big deal in the end.  Herod was known for murdering people, including his wives and family members, on a routine basis.  Killing kids wouldn't have been worth the mention.

5. Weird History.  When we read a classroom history text, we expect it to be fairly neutral.  Lots of facts.  They didn't write history like that back in the day.  Matthew was extremely biased and unapologetic about it.  His Gospel was a giant argument that Jesus was the long promised Messiah and heir to David's throne.  If you expect it to behave like a modern, Western text, you will be disappointed...or unconsciously let your mind glaze over and not dwell on the oddities in the text.


____________________



I love all of the cultural oddities in the bible.  The fact that I don't understand the way that a reader from that time would have is fine with me.  It makes me want to know more.  I'd rather be a person asking questions that might not get answered in this life time, than one sitting in the service thinking about what's for dinner and the presents that follow.

But that's just me.


Merry Christmas.

Joe

If you haven't ever seen "A Charlie Brown Christmas," you are a Communist!

My guess is that this passage from Scripture is easily the most known bit from the Christmas story.  So it wouldn't be right to leave it out.  But what is more interesting is how revolutionary this cartoon is.  On December 2nd, 1964, this cartoon debuted for the first time.  The network bosses were terrified.  They didn't use actors for the voices.  They used actual kids.  Then there was the jazz music.  Finally, there was the overtly religious nature of the show.  All were absolute no-no's.  Yet, it's gone down in history as the most beloved Christmas show ever.


And then I'll leave you with this.  It's completely Secular, but it's probably my favorite Christmas song of all time...provided it's sung by the original singer, Darlene Love.  And here is her final performance on David Letterman's final Christmas show.



Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Destination Unknown...

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.
Romans 8:28

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
1 Peter 5:7

But seek first his kingdom and it's righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Matt. 6.33

We live by faith, not by sight.
1 Cor. 5:7


For the past three years, I worked at an "All-Natural" food Co-op.  I was a butcher, a meat cutter.  I loved my job and was very, very good at it.  I loved the quality of the product.  To qualify as "All-Natural," the meat had to have the following; 1. No growth hormones.  2. The animals were never stuck in cages.  3. No antibiotics.

I remember the first summer there when I was cutting up some sirloin.  I was by myself in the back room, and I noticed something...the smell.  All I was smelling was the iron in the blood of the meat.  That's when it dawned on me.  When I opened up a steak from somewhere else, I was smelling growth hormones and antibiotics.  GROSS!!!!

I love the culture and ethics of a co-op.  They want to be local game changers.  It's more than about making money.  They sponsor local foods and organic farms.  They tend to be very nurturing and good to their employees.  The camaraderie tends to be excellent.  I really loved working there, and miss most of it terribly.

Unfortunately, the commute was beyond awful.  Also, the pay was not what I needed, and there was minimal room to advance in an operation that small.


About two months ago I got a job at a different place.  It's a massive grocery chain out of Iowa.  It's employee owned, so it's non-union. (I'm not anti-union, but my experience has been that unions and grocery stores do not compliment each other at all.  Plus, 95% of the employees who are part timers doing 95% of all the work.) It pays it's workers well, with great benefits and perks.  There is also plenty of room to grow and work up the food chain.

On the other hand, it's much more chaotic and disorganized than my little co-op.  Plus, the camaraderie isn't there.  It's too big for that.

Like I said before, I miss my co-op.  I'd even go back if they could pay me more AND relocate me to the store that is closer to my home. (I really and truly hated the commute.)


On the other hand...

____________________


I've said this before; what ever is central to you, what ever is most important...that IS your god, your religion.  It is!

For many people, their job becomes their god.  It defines who they are.  It is central to them.

Co-ops can be very interesting, because they attract "True Believers."  We would have customers who, I am certain, believe that if they only eat organic chicken, they will never die.  Gluten and GMO foods are the evil boogie man.

We have a "Wellness Dept." that sells natural remedies and some magical charms.  We have a community board that offers all sorts of spiritual courses to change your color aura and Chi.  Some are monotheistic, some polytheistic, and some just teach you how to astral project so that you can send your soul  on vacation while you stay home and work.

You get some interesting characters in a co-op.

I once saw a 30-something couple get into it in front of our fish case.  The wife actually swatted her husband's hand when he pointed to our Scottish salmon.  "Farm raised," she yelled at him. (Yeah, and one of the best farms around.  That salmon is better than anything you'd catch in the wild, and the most mercury free.) Then he pointed at a salmon patty.  "Gluten!" she yelled.  I saw numerous instances along these lines.  So in many respects, my co-op had some cult-like qualities to it.

And it wasn't just the customers...


Late last Spring, my old boss was fired.  It came as a shock to the entire store, and no one was certain as to why.  Officially, he missed a very important meeting and didn't call in.  He had previously called in because he had been out for a few days with a fever of 108.  I loved this guy and would have taken a bullet for him.  He was the best boss I ever had.  We were all stunned.  It actually made many of the workers nervous because this guy was so loved.

The new boss isn't a bad guy.  He's just really arrogant and completely self-assured...a total alpha male.  He made a lot of changes.  Some good, some not.  Mostly he made changes just to make changes, and to leave his signature.

I don't trust people who are that self-assured and cocky.  The battlefields of history are littered with the bodies of kings and conquerors who were certain of themselves.  His biggest problem is that he has never lost or failed at anything.  And that's dangerous.  You will never be a real man until you fall flat on your face a few times.  You learn grace, humility and mercy from those experiences.

Then there was the cult...


The more I paid attention, the more I noticed the cult-like aspects of my co-op.  Most workers didn't drink the Kool Aid, but enough did.  The store manager was the High Priestess, and she really, really wanted the department managers to drink a pint everyday.  My old boss wasn't religious enough for her.  He didn't drink the liquid.  That put him in her cross hairs.

In the mean time, I found out that the future new boss, who was in a different department, was ratting out other workers to the Priestess through text messages.  She loved it.  He was drinking the Kool Aid everyday.  I find it very unseemly to ingratiate yourself in this manner.  When I finally figured this out and had it confirmed by numerous other people, it really sickened me.  My boss was fired so that the Priestess could install her alcolight in his place. (I doubt that either guy knows this, but I'm sure it came as no surprise to the new guy.)


After the new boss came in, he wanted to change out culture.  He brought in new religious sayings and phrases.  When he wanted to know what I was doing or about to do, he would say, "What do you see, Joe?" (I see a guy who can't speak proper English.)  When he wanted to say, "We need to get our jobs done," he would say, "Are we going to finish our journey?  We need to finish our journey today." (Yet a good deal of the time he would ask me to finish his own journey because he wasn't fast enough.)

Needless to say, insipid phrases like those were like nails on a chalkboard to all of us in the department.  We created counter-phrases to mock his own.  Till my dying day, if you want to cause me to have a seizure, ask me how my journey is going.

There were plenty of other things he said and did that just smacked of quasi-religious mumbo jumbo. The new guy wanted his job to be his all, and he literally poured his soul into it.


For the new boss, the store and his position were his god and religion.

(It also didn't help that he talked down to me.  He said that he respected my work ethic...and he did, but he didn't respect me as a man.  I'm pretty sure he thought I was just an idiot.  He treated me like a piece of equipment.)

Little by little, it all began adding up for me.  I just couldn't take it anymore.  So I found a new job.

Like I said, I miss my old job terribly, but there is plenty that I will never miss.


____________________


"I am working on your behalf.  Bring me all your concerns, including your dreams.  Talk with me about everything, letting the light of my presence shine on your hopes and plans.  Spend time allowing my light to infuse your dreams with life, gradually transforming them into reality.  This is a very practical way of collaborating with me.  I, the creator of the universe, have deigned to co-create with you.  Do not try to hurry this process.  If you work with me, you have to accept my time frame.  Hurry is not in my nature.  Abraham and Sarah had to wait many years for the fulfillment of my promise, a son.  How their long wait intensified their enjoyment of this child!  Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses."


The above quote is from a devotional that my mother gave me about a month ago.  It's title is "Jesus Calling," by Sarah Young.  I haven't been the most faithful reader of it, but that bit from a few days ago really stuck with me.


I mentioned about the quasi-religious aspects of people's careers and such.  I said that the new boss drank the Kool Aid.  Well guess what?  I did too, in a way.

I was very good at my job.  I felt very fulfilled in what I did.  It WAS defining who I was without me even realizing it.


This all dawned on me a few days ago, because I am not feeling as fulfilled at my new job like I was at my old.  I realized  I had allowed myself to fall into an unconscious rut...and a very unhealthy one at that.

In a 24 hour day, I spend 8 sleeping, 8 working and then 8....

Nothing...

 Slowly but surely, God has been stripping everything away from me.



I haven't been to the gym in over two years.  I haven't been to any church body in almost the same amount of time.  Most of my friends have moved away.  I don't do anything.  I feel depressed and tired all the time.  All I want to do is sleep.

I have no fellowship with the church as a whole...and I feel it.  Emotionally, physically and spiritually, I am starving.

Slowly but surely, God has been stripping everything away from me...

Until I come to my senses and realize that He is all that is left.


___________________


I don't know what God wants for me.  But I know it isn't this!  I know that He wants me to reconnect to some type of church body.  I know He wants me physically healthy.  I know He wants me to create some new, healthy habits...physically, emotionally and spiritually.

After that, I don't know what He wants.  But I doubt I'll figure that out until I get these first ones squared away.

I've always felt very misunderstood.  I've never truly felt like I belonged anywhere.  I can be provocative and love to ask questions.  But I'm not a bad guy.  I think I've lived a rare and interesting life.  I've lived in Jerusalem and the Czech Republic.  I've visited numerous other countries.  I have a Mdiv. from Bethel Seminary.  I love to read and write.  I have a thorough knowledge base in certain areas.  I think that I have a lot to offer other people and places.  But how to find these things???

I also think I would be a good husband, father and friend.  But how to find these things???

I really don't know what the next steps are and I feel lonely and lost.

In the end though, I have an 8 hour window everyday, and it should belong to HIM!  God should be the one I delight in and allow to define me, not my job or anything else.  If I can work at making Him the center everyday, I think that He will reveal his dreams for me...and they're sure to be more fulfilling than anything I can dream up.


Pray for me.

Peace.

Joe



Thursday, December 7, 2017

The Kids are Alt-Right




As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.
Proverbs 26:11


Another day.  Another stupid action by President Trump.  😑😑😑


Anyone who knows me or has read this blog, knows that I am no fan of the current President.  Also, if they have paid any attention at all, they know that the current state of Christianity in America drives me crazy.

There has been sooooooo much over the past months that have given me food for thought.  Too much, to be honest.  I thought that now is a good time to just vent for a while.  Just so you know, this one will be all over the map...



I woke up this morning and began to read various blog posts on my feed.  This one caught my attention.
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/newwineskins/pharaohs-dream-and-my-prophecy-concerning-american-christianity-seven-years-from-now/

I've been worrying about something like this for years now.  I think this "Prophecy" is spot on.


10 years ago this book came out.  https://resources.barna.org/products/unchristian-paperback

I think that it is one of the most important books in ages if you want to know how and why the American church is failing Christ and the Gospel.  Of the research sectioned off in the book, one is on the perception that the church is "Too Political."  Wow, knock me over with a feather.

Obviously, the church didn't pay much attention to that.  Look where we are now.

President Voldemort is a man who's entire life is the polar opposite of everything Jesus ever taught, said or did.  Yet, his most ardent supporters are "Evangelical" Christians...and White Nationalists.  Just let that roll around in your head for a while.


Please understand, I sympathize with the goals of religious conservatives.  By in large, I agree with their positions on issues.  However, their methodology is highly questionable at best, and downright divisive and counterproductive. (But this is what happens when you make the mistake of thinking that this nation or any other is a "Christian Country.")  Billy Graham warned about the church making an unholy alliance with the Right back in 1980.

“I don't want to see religious bigotry in any form. It would disturb me if there was a wedding between the religious fundamentalists and the political right. The hard right has no interest in religion except to manipulate it.”

We didn't listen.  Even his own children didn't listen.  My folks get Decision magazine, Billy's organizations tabloid.  It's all run by Franklin Graham now.  Most of the issues either praise Putin and Trump, quack-tastic right wing theologians and pundits, or talk about how the church is being persecuted here at home.  It's rubbish.

The church loves to sell it's soul for raw political power.  It trusts more in flawed politicians than it does Jesus.  Now, it's hitched it's fortunes to a man so divisive that there will be an eventual day of payback.  When that day comes, we will only have ourselves to blame.


____________________


Yesterday the President, against the wishes of the entire world community, proclaimed Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

For all practical purposes, Jerusalem IS the capital of Israel.  The seat of government is there, along with the President and Prime Minister's residence.  However, since 1948, the international community has only recognized Tel Aviv as the capital, and kept it's embassies there.  The reason for this is the idea that there might be an eventual peace deal between Israel and the Arab world...Palestinians in particular.  Think of it as a cherry to be put on the sundae when it's finished.  Well, now that cherry is gone.

I lived in Israel for a year and a half.  I was going to school in Jerusalem.  I love Israel.  I love the people.  I love Jerusalem. (In fact, I still have dreams from time to time about walking around the city.) I also consider myself a "Zionist."

ZIONISM = The idea that there should be a democratic homeland for Jewish people in the traditional biblical area from antiquity.

The problem is that when half of the population under your control is not Jewish, and has no political rights, you are no longer Jewish or democratic.

The only way for the Zionist dream to stay alive is to allow the Palestinian people to have a homeland of their own along side of Israel.  They need a divorce.  It is the only way for Israel to finally achieve security.  Unfortunately, the right wing government in Israel goes out of it's way to build settlements in the Palestinian territories, and particularly around Jerusalem.  They strangle the city with homes making it impossible for the Arabs to ever get a tiny slice of the city for a dual future capital of their own.  And it doesn't help that the government of Israel has been stalling for years with the peace talks.

The Palestinians are the most secular and "Western" of any Arab people I've seen.  In the long run, they are not a threat to Israel.  None of the Arab nations are.  The Arab countries, Jordan being the exception, are simply to weak, corrupt, and militarily incompetent to take down Israel.  The Israeli army is simply that good. (Jordan is the exception, but they have never wanted war with Israel.  They just want to get on with their lives.)

My fear is the Palestinians in particular will see that their fledgling democratic system is failing them at achieving independence, and will then reject secularism and start moving towards militant Islam.  It would be suicide on their part, but they could cause a blood bath in the process.  Even a mouse will attack you if you corner it.  If it has nothing to lose, why not?

The President could have used the issue of the capital as a bargaining chip in the peace talks.  Instead, he foolishly gave it away.  The ramifications have just begun.  It puts people at risk.  That includes Americans!  But that man is far to stupid to understand that choices have consequences.



____________________




A few days ago, the President retweeted some videos posted by Jayda Franzen of Britain First.  Britain First is a far right hate group in the U.K.  She likes to attack Muslims and has been arrested and convicted more than once.

She tweeted three fake videos supposedly of Muslims attacking British people.  The problem is that none of it was real.  Reality and facts not being an issue for the current occupant of the White House, Trump retweeted them.  When asked about them, his press secretary simply dodged the issue and said that the President was simply acknowledging that the threat of Islamic violence is real.

Alrighty then!

White Nationalism.  Christian Identity.  White Supremacy.  Fear of the other.  Fear of change.  White folks no longer to be the majority in the U.S.

And?

So what if folks who look like me are no longer the majority?  Doesn't bother me.  I like variety.

What about our culture and Western values?

What about it?  What's more American than being an immigrant?  Western values?  I think they must like Western values or they wouldn't be coming here.  If they liked the values of the country they are fleeing from, they would have stayed there!


The bible has no concept of "Race."  That idea sprang up in the early 1800s as a way for white Europeans to justify colonization in Africa and Asia.  Clearly, their race was superior to Africans.  Otherwise how did they conquer them so easily? (Guns, germs and steal, anyone?)

Not to be outdone, the Empire of Japan bought into it when they conquered Korea and parts of China.  They were the Master Race of Asia.


Like I said, the bible has no concept of "Race."  It's a phony, man-made construct.  The bible does , however, have the concept of "Ethnicity."  But that one is rather interesting and fluid.  In the short story of Ruth, the great, great grandmother of King David, she makes an interesting declaration to her mother in law as she prepared to leave Moab.  "But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God." (Ruth 1:16) And with that declaration, Ruth changed her ethnic group.  She became a Jew.


I'm a middle age white guy.  I can assure you that there is nothing superior about me or anyone else who looks like me.



On a more humorous note about "Civilization," you ever heard of "The Proud Boys?"

They came out of Canada.  I first heard of them last summer.  They are the clean cut, Preppies of the alt-right movement.  Proud defenders of Western civilization!  "The West is the Best" is their motto.

While they don't like immigration, they are not properly racist...just xenophobic.  You can be a non-white person and join their cause, just so long as you say that Western Civ. is the best...and that you get into fights with anti-fascists.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proud_Boys

Perhaps the most humorous aspect to the Proud Boys is their determination to protect their masculinity by only "Spanking the Monkey" once a month.  I kid you not.

"To become a “second-degree” Proud Boys member, men have to commit to no masturbation, “except once a month, if you want,” says Proud Boys staff writer Franklin Wright, although he personally swore off it completely. “And if you do you have to be within ten yards of a lady and it has to be with her consent.”" 
http://thefederalist.com/2017/10/06/proud-boys-and-porn/

Now THAT'S dedication to the cause!!!


All of this because of some serious self-esteem issues.


____________________



"Conservative."  I used to know what that term meant.  I used to be fairly Conservative.  I believed in limited (Not LESS.) government.  I believed in fiscal and personal responsibility.

I have no idea what that term means anymore.  Neither does the media.  The media keeps referring to the Trump administration and FOX news as "Conservative."  It drives me crazy.  It's far-right and alt-right, but it's not "Conservative" in any classic sense of the term.

How can you call yourself conservative and be opposed to free-trade and open markets???  How can you be conservative and be opposed to something critical to free enterprise such as net neutrality???

When classic conservatives such as David Frum, Charles Krauthammer, David Brooks, George F. Will and Linda Chavez, folks who's credentials all go back to the Reagan era, are adamantly opposed to Trump and his ilk, Trump should never, ever be referred to as a "Conservative."  These folks despise him the most.

Call him and his followers what they really are, "Alt-Right."

And the church sucks up to them because it's too afraid 
to follow and trust Jesus for their protection.

And there WILL be a day of reckoning.



Peace

Joe




Friday, November 24, 2017

Back home


Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God...this is your true and proper worship.
Romans 12:1

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10:31


Note to self AND anyone reading this; NEVER pore orange juice on your computer.  I don't care how tempted you are, RESIST!  Don't do it.

I know it's been a LONG time since I've posted anything.  The reason why is because I DID spill OJ on my laptop back in mid-June.  Since that time, my computer has been dead.  So, no posts.  😞

A friend of mine loaned me his daughter's for a time, but I didn't want to put my external hard drive in it and mess up her stuff.  Needless to say, it's been more than frustrating.  So many things I wanted to write about, and I couldn't do a bloody thing.  Having access to information, but not being able to write about it is, for me, like taking a dog to the dog park and keeping it on a leash.

To compound things, I was recommended a fellow from a guy from my former church, who would be able to fix it for cheap.  He's a tech guy, so it was right up his alley.  So I gave it to this stranger.  He said he'd get right on it.

A week passes...nothing.

Two weeks pass...nothing.

I start texting the guy.  "Oh yeah.  I'm working on it.  I have some ideas, but it will take me some time to get the parts.  Oh yeah.  Looks like it's the keyboard...the mother board...the this, that and the other thing.  Just need a little more time..."

So just over a week ago, a different friend of mine, who is also a tech guy, says "Get it back and I'll look at it."  I did.  It turns out that the first guy never even opened my computer!!!

My friend wasn't able to fix my old computer, but he sold me a good used one.  He got my beat up external hard drive functioning again.  Boom!  Back home.

I don't like being deceived.
Particularly by a guy who calls himself a "Christian."


It's an odd thing for me, not being able to write.  It really put me in a negative funk the entire time.  I felt very disconnected.


I have an odd relationship with the God of the Bible.  Often times, I treat him like an abstraction.  Like he is real, but distant.  More like a concoction in a lab, or a book on a shelf.  That he is near and present?  Not so much.

When I write, I feel his pleasure.  That might sound silly, but it's true.  People connect to God in different ways.  Singing in church doesn't do much for me.  It's not that I don't like it.  It's just that it has minimal impact on my soul.  Sometimes it moves me, but it's rare.

It's amazing what singing worship songs can do for many.  It really connects them.  Kudos!  It's just that it rarely does much for me.

I need to have an intellectual connection to God.  That's where he and I click.  A really good sermon will truly move me, because it forces me to think.  I like to wrestle with God, and I think he likes it, too.

Writing.  Writing is where I can sit and dwell on God, Scripture, etc.  I had no idea when I was younger that this is what would do it for me, but it does.  It makes him feel close, and I feel alive.


Now that I have a computer again, I can not only blog, but I can keep working on the book I am writing.  I never know if the book is any good.  I wonder if I'll ever make a dime off of it. (If I could make a living as a writer, I would be in hog heaven.  But I'm not holding my breathe.) When it eventually gets finished, I'll publish it as an e-book for free for a couple of months and see what happens.  Then I'll go from there.

All I want is to tell a good and funny story, and talk about Jesus.  
That's all.
I feel his presence when I'm writing in the book about him.
I think it's what he wants me to do.

Making a living from it is not the point.
It's just an afterthought.

Who knows...

Anyway, now I'm up and running.  It feels like I'm back home, and it feels good.



Peace
Joe

P.S. I promise to try and blog as much as possible, whether you like it or not.



Friday, June 9, 2017

Some thoughts on pain...


"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this life you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world."
John 16:33

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character, and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

Rom. 5:3-5



I still haven't found a new church body to attend on Sunday nights.  Truthfully, I haven't been actively looking.  I'm still kind of taking the summer off.  In the mean time, "Church" for me is Friday mornings at the Perkin's in Lakeville, MN.  It's normally 4-5 guys that meet there for breakfast.  We talk, pray, discuss all of the world's problems, and so on.  We also talk a lot about Jesus and the bible.

One of the guys is a little, extroverted fellow names Shorty.  He's one of the most genuine people you could meet.  He's extremely friendly.  He's also a "Chatty Kathy" doll.  I love him.

Shorty also has cancer.  He's been living with in for a few years now.  It's terminal.  It's going to take his life sometime in the next 2-3 years.

At the same time it's slowly killing him, Shorty remains one of the most upbeat people you could ever meet.

____________________


When I attended Bethel Seminary, the professors would talk a lot about the christian approach to evil, pain and suffering.  Why does God allow tornados, earthquakes, fires and what not?

To be honest, I never saw those things as evil.  I saw them as simply natural events that take place.  They could be tragic, for sure.  But if no one was injured or killed, was it evil?

On the other hand, why does a good God allow for birth defects, cancer, etc.?  People have wrestled with that for years.

Scripture indicates that birth defects and such are a result of the Fall of Mankind into sin...at least in the New Testament. (It's not really extrapolated on in the O.T.) The Creation is under a curse of sorts. Certainly, the evil that humans do to each other is a clear indicator of the sinful nature of mankind.

Young Earth Creationists believe that all birth defects, even death are the result of Adam sinning, and then go even farther.  The Grand Canyon, the various rivers, mountains, and amazing scenic views around the world, are all a result of God's wrath towards sinful humanity during the flood of Noah's time...a mere 5000 years ago.

So much for the Psalmist's praising God for his natural beauty, or Paul declaring the beauty of God's good creation as evidence for this divine creator.

The big problem is that the creation stories and poems never say that people didn't die before the Fall.  In fact, why would there be a Tree of Eternal Life in the garden if no body died????



Atheists like to point to evil in the world, pain and suffering, as evidence that there is no God.  Also, IF there was a god, then it's an idiot and a failure, precisely because there is pain and suffering.

This always begs the comical question: If there is no higher power, and we are all random accidents of a heartless, empty cosmos with no purpose or meaning, what constitutes evil to begin with??? There may be things that we personally do not like, but that doesn't mean they are evil.

Heck, I might like and get great satisfaction out of hitting people in the back of the head with a 2x4.  Who are you to tell me it's "Wrong?"  You are just another random accident with no higher purpose.  What you think and believe is no better or worse than mine.  Remember, there IS no meaning to our existence.  We are all just worm food in the making.

Seriously, if you're gonna go Atheist, do it properly.  Don't settle for the "Pop Fad" Atheism of Seth MacFarlane.  Start boning up on your Albert Camus and John Paul Sartre.


____________________


As of late, I've been going through my own form of suffering.  I'm without a church body.  My family has been going through some serious physical and financial struggles.  I've been really struggling financially recently.  My dad is slowly but surely dying of neuropathy. (It's going to take a few more years.) I've really been down in the dumps for well over a year now.  Plenty O Stress.  😕


If "God is Love," then why all of this?!?!?!



For Christmas, I was given this book.  Francis Collins was the Director of the National Institute of Health under Obama, and the head of the Human Genome Project back in the 90s.  He'll go down as one of the world's greatest scientists.  He also love Jesus very much.

This book is pretty clear cut.  He tells his own story of his journey from Atheism to Christianity.  Then he sets out to give arguments for the existence of God.  Finally, he demonstrates why modern science...including evolution, are perfectly compatible with the bible and traditional, orthodox Christianity.

He admits that he was heavily influenced by C.S. Lewis and his book, "Mere Christianity."  There is a portion of the book where he quotes Lewis on the issue of pain and suffering.

I happened to had brought this book to breakfast this morning.  I was going to loan it to a guy who was eager to read it.  As Shorty and the rest of us talked about his cancer and suffering, I grabbed the book and read a portion.

For many thoughtful seekers, these rational explanations fall short of providing justification for the pain of human existence.  Why is our life more a vale of tears than a garden of delight?  Much has been written about this apparent paradox, and the conclusion is not an easy one; if God is loving and wishes the best for us, then perhaps His plan is not the same as our plan.  This is a hard concept, especially if we have been too regularly spoon-fed a version of God's benevolence that implies nothing more than a desire for us to be perpetually happy.  Again from Lewis; "We want, in fact, not so much a Father in Heaven as a Grandfather in heaven - a senile benevolence who, as they say, 'likes to see young people enjoying themselves,' and whose plan for the universe was simply that it might be truly said at the end of each day, 'a good time was had by all.'"

Judging by human experience, if one is to accept God's loving-kindness, He apparently desires more of us than this.  Is that not, in fact, your own experience?  Have you learned more about yourself when things were going well, or when you were faced with challenges, frustrations and suffering?  "God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world."  As much as we would like to avoid those experiences, without them would we not be shallow, self-centered creatures who would ultimately lose all sense of nobility or striving for the betterment of others?
Chp. 2 The War of the Worldviews


As much as a I hate to suffer and struggle, I think he's spot on.  Shorty liked the passages, too.


The thing is that if you have placed your faith in the faithfulness of Jesus, then you begin to understand that these trials are not the end in any way, shape or form.

We all agreed at breakfast that this life is merely a training ground.  If you read the last two chapters in the bible, you know what comes next.  Heaven and earth are restored.  God wins.  A whole new world for all of eternity begins.  Every tear is wiped away.  Everything bad becomes un-true.

And every bit of the struggle will be recycled into something beautiful.



That's not such a bad thought.



Peace.

Joe

Friday, May 19, 2017

"P.A.B."


"He did everything wrong, offended almost every people group, but I believe he won because of God.  He wanted him in that position and (Trump's) going to stay in that position until (God's) vision is complete."
Franklin Graham

"Just as I raised up Cyrus to fulfill My purposes and plans, so have I raised up Trump to fulfill my purposes and plans prior to the 2016 election. You must listen to the trumpet very closely for he will sound the alarm and many will be blessed because of his compassion and mercy. Though many see the outward pride and arrogance, I have given him the tender heart of a father that wants to lend a helping hand to the poor and the needy, to the foreigner and the stranger.”
Jeremiah Johnson

http://www.commercialappeal.com/story/news/religion/2017/05/16/franklin-graham-christianity-under-attack-believers-should-engage-politics/325667001/

http://beholdthemanministries.com/prophesy-donald-trump-shall-become-the-trumpet/

The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.  Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.
1 Tim 4:1&2

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Eph. 6:12



Have you ever heard someone called a P.A.B. before?  You probably have, just not in that abbreviated form.  If you don't know what a PAB is, I'll give you a hint.  It's a shortened descriptor.  The P stands for "Punk."  I'll let you guess the rest.  😏😏😏


____________________



This post will be kind of an easy one.  I get to post plenty of pictures to illustrate my points.  This one you see here is from Pres. Voldemort's speech at the Coast Guard Academies' graduation a few days ago.

If you didn't hear the speech, you should try to at least listen to some snippets.  It was pure Trump at his best.  Most commencement speeches talk about the future and encourage the graduates to go out and make a difference.  Voldemort did that...just in his own special way.

It was ALL about him.

Basically, he used himself as the example of one who can preserve, so they should too.  If he an do it, despite all of the terrible persecution he has faced, they can do it!!!!  Hurray.

At the top of this post, I put in two quotes, with links underneath them to original sources.  The first was of Franklin Graham opining that God's hand is upon the anointed God Emperor Trump.  which is what Franklin has believed from the beginning.

The second is from Jeremiah Johnson, a Prophet of God. (Okay.) I don't know much about him.  He doesn't seem like a nut-bag. (Although I do know that there are a lot of ministries down there in Lakeland, FL. that cater to the craziest of crazies.) I guess he was right in one respect.  Voldemort got elected.

I think he might be on to something, just not in the way he expected. (More on that later.)

What I DID find interesting in his "Prophecy" was this part of the quote, "Though many see the outward pride and arrogance, I have given him the tender heart of a father that wants to lend a helping hand to the poor and the needy, to the foreigner and the stranger.”

Really?  A helping hand to the poor, needy and strangers?!?!?!  Really?

I take it that God didn't bother listening to Trump's comments about immigrants, Muslims or refugees.  Perhaps even the divine can develop hearing loss after a period of eternal existence.

As far as the poor and needy go, has anyone bothered to look at Trump's budget proposal???

I fully believe that the Spiritual Gifts are alive and well.  But I'm not sure that Jeremiah has them.





Okay, I put this picture in here just because it's hysterical.  This is a photo from Trump's speech at Liberty University.  I think the expression on the NON-White fellow's face says all you need to know.
____________________


Franklin Graham backs Voldemort because he is convinced that Christianity is under attack in this country.

DUHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!  When has Christianity NOT been under attack????  Christians have been in a minority in every single society it has ever existed in.  It was also been at war with the dark forces of this world from the get go.  Do you read the bible or not?!?!?!

The problem with Franklin and many, many other folks is that they believe the idolatrous lie that at some point, America (England, France, Germany...western Europe in general, too.) was a "Christian" country.  Biblically and theologically, there is no such thing...other Jesus' kingdom. You know, the one that he said was "Not of this world." (John 18:36)

BTW: That doesn't mean that America is a bad place by any stretch.  It just means that I'm not confusing it with being Jesus' favorite.

Franklin and many others believe that the rights of Christians are being taken away by secular Liberals and what not.  Voldemort said he would protect our liberties, so he is clearly God's anointed.

Voldemort did issue and Executive Order to not fully enforce the Johnson Amendment.  That made Franklin smile. (It is also such a toothless amendment that the ACLU didn't even bother sniffing about it.)

Also, Voldemort appointed Neal Gorsuch (Sp.) to the Supreme Court (I actually like him.) to keep a Conservative majority.  I've said it before, but I'll say it again; the previous conservative court majority gave us Obamacare and gay marriage.  I can't wait to see what this conservative majority does for us.

The problem with Franklin and other "Persecuted" Alt-Right Evangelicals is that the live under a lie...a delusion of their own enjoyment.  It has more to do with "White Privilege" than anything else.  Think of it as "Cultural Christian Privilege."  We've had it our way for so long, to see anything different is a threat.

If I have to stand next to a man in a dress, with false boobs, while I take a leak, I'M OPPRESSED!!!  If two mannish looking women ask me to bake a cake for their wedding, I'M OPPRESSED!!!!  If a muslim student at the local high school gets a day off for Ramadan, I'M OPPRESSED!!!

Extending equal rights in a pluralistic society is not oppression.

It's not that I see eye to eye with these folks.  I just don't see any advantage to them hiding in the shadows.  Please explain to me how keeping others down, and living in secret, benefits me or anyone else?


The fact of the matter is that I doubt Franklin or his kind even know many muslims, or Trans people, or what EVER. (I've been trying to get to know some trans folks, because I don't get it at ALL.)  Odds are, these folks don't know the real resurrected Jesus.  If they did, they would let him help and heal them with these issues.

It's pretty obvious that Muslims don't know the true Jesus.  It's a heck of a lot easier to befriend, help and talk to them about Christ over here than it is there.

Why would I want to keep these folks hidden?  It's hard to develop a proper relationship in which to share the Gospel with someone who is kept in a box.

____________________

The truth of the matter is that we ultimately wrestle with spiritual forces.  Politicians aren't much help in this area.  Only the resurrected Jesus is.

I figured out a long time ago that I am a minority where ever I go.  AND, whether I am in the U.S., Canada, Norway, China or Bangladesh, I am ultimately in Rome and Babylon.  I am a stranger in a strange land.  The church has always been at it's best when it understood it's minority and prosecuted status.

We live in a world that is hostile to God, and hostile to the Gospel.  It has always been that way.  Get used to that!  Rejoice in it!  Once you free yourself from the illusions, it's much easier to follow Jesus into his true kingdom.  He is the only one to put your hope in.  The ONLY one!  Certainly not some gutter level politician who gives you hollow promises.

____________________


Back to the "Prophet," Jeremiah Johnson.  He said that God raised up Trump to be his "Trumpet" in America.  As I said before, I think he may be onto something...but not exactly what "The Prophet" is expecting.

Maybe, just maybe, God did raise Trump up.  After all God is intimately involved with every raindrop that falls, so why not politics?

So the question is; Why?

Is it possible that God raised this man up, simply to let him fall on his face?  The man appears to be doing exactly that on a daily basis.

Did God raise this man up simply to use him to humiliate the "Americanized" church?  I hope so.

Perhaps, the coming fall of Trump will be the bitch-slap in the face to a church that has largely sold it's soul to secular politics.  I think that God must be mighty tired of so many of his followers putting their faith in politics of any kind, let alone Alt-Right kookery.  Perhaps, Trump is the very tool that God uses to smack to the ground  the very people who profess to love him, yet put their faith in idols

God's done it before....many, many times.  I see no reason why he can't do it again.

The final question is; Will the church listen?

Or will it remain, just like it's current idol, a...

P.A.B!


Peace...I hope.

Joe





Friday, April 28, 2017

Babel-ON



Now the whole earth had one language and one speech.  And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there. Then they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They had brick for stone, and they had asphalt for mortar.  And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” 
But YHWH came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. And YHWH said, “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them.  Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.”  SoYHWH scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city.  Therefore its name is called Babel, because there YHWH confused the language of all the earth; and from there  YHWH scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.
Gen. 11:1-9


That picture at the top is a Ziggurat...an ancient staircase of sorts.  This here is another picture of a Ziggurat with U.S. soldiers on a sight seeing tour.  They are fairly common in the Syria, Iraq and Iran.

They come in a variety of shapes and sizes.  But they all have in common is that back in the day, the ancients were trying to create a "Sacred Space" for their gods.  All Ziggurats were next to or on top of temples.  There is a debate as to wether the staircase was for folks to go up to the gods, or for the gods to come down. (Most are pretty sure it was for the local god to come down)


____________________


It's been a tough week for my Dad.  He had knee surgery on Monday, and has been in a lot of pain ever since.  I had to go to my folk's place after work on Monday to help lift him out of a chair and into his walker.  I've never seen him look so week.

Yesterday and the day before, I had to babysit him while my Mom and sister were out.  He's getting better fast, but is still in pain.  He also hasn't pooped in 7 days now. (TMI!!!!!) I'm concerned that when he does, we'll need to have him squatting in the garden, due to the amount of compost he is sure to expel.

At any rate, since I had to babysit, I brought along my Jewish study bible to read.  I'm determined to read through the entire Old Testament eventually.  I can't wait until I hit Leviticus and Numbers.  That's sure to be a hoot. 😑😑😑

What I like about this study bible is how much thorough commentary there is in it.  My NIV study bible is fairly watered down for my tastes.  They don't want to say anything controversial, and it's clear that they try to find an uncomfortable consensus.  It ends up being like Garth Brooks' music.  Finding solace in the lowest common denominator, and all wishy-washy.

Anyway, I really enjoyed reading about the Tower of Babel, and the Rabbinic commentary on it.  Supposedly, all humans spoke the same language at that time...or at least in this area. (Depends on how much of a Fundie you are.) But what's interesting if you are paying any attention at all, is that only 2 sentences before the beginning of this story, in the account of the Table of Nations from Noah's family line it clearly says, "These are the descendants of Shem according to their clans and languages, by their lands, according to their nations." (Get. 10:31) In fact, jump back to 10:5, and it says, "each with it's language."

So right before the beginning of the story of the Tower of Bable, the bible says that their were all these other languages being spoken.  Someone hostile to Scripture would point out this glaring contradiction and laugh.  Actually, they should laugh...and I'll tell you why in a minute.

So, blatant contradiction????  I mean, it's a bit unlikely that whoever was writing this down didn't notice those other sentences.  So what's going on?!?!?



This is one of those instances 
where linguistic and culture context 
need to be reaffirmed as being of central performance.  


In other words, the bible doesn't get it wrong.  
It's WE who so often get the bible wrong.

For starters, we have to remember who the Old Testament was written to, and why.  The O.T.s final form was completed during the time of Israel's exile in Babylon and within a few generations after that.  It was NOT written to 21st Century Americans any more than it was written to 18th Century Japan.

It was written for us, because it's God's word.  But it wasn't written to us.  So what ever you do, don't try and read our modern concepts of science, history, journalism and what not, into a culture that had no knowledge of or cared about those sorts of things.

If you try and read our concepts into this ancient text, you'll end up with "Name it & claim it" prosperity preaching or Young Earth Creationism.



Okay, so here's why you should laugh at this story.  It was meant to be funny.  Near as I can tell this is a satire of the Babylonians...an ancient version, anyway.


There's actually a LOT of humor in the bible.  It's easy for it to get lost in translation.  So that's another reason to stick to as much cultural context as possible.  Here's one for ya.  Most people don't know it, but the book of Jonah is actually a comedy...a bit like Alice down the Rabbit hole.  Try reading it that way some time, and you will pick up on the comedy themes in it.


If you've ever watched a skit on SNL or Key & Peele, you know what a satire is.  Are those skits meant to be an actual historical account?  Of course not.  But they're REAL!

There are a whole lot of digs at the Babylonians in the O.T.  Starting with the ancient Hebrew's alternative creation story.  Remember, the Babylonians conquered and exiled the Jews.  Now, this conquered people are getting a little payback.

The center of this story is the motivation for the building of this tower.  It wasn't to honor any god or gods.  It was meant to honor the people building it!  "To make a name for ourselves." A major no-no!

The humor comes when YHWH actually takes a look to see what's going on.  He actually has to come down out of heaven to even see this thing.  "Oooooh, look eeeeeeeeet's so tiny." (Say that with a high pitched voice.) Then he even brings the sarcasm about how if these folks can pull this off, YHWH is in big trouble.  So he grabs his divine council, heads on down and drops a bomb on their tongues using only his thought.

It's essentially the ancient near-eastern equivalent of someone pointing out to a big, buff muscle guy that his schwanzstucker is barely 3 inches of swinging death. (Okay, crude I know.  But you get the point.)  And that IS funny!

This is why I love the bible so much, especially in it's ancient context.  Sure, they didn't have iPods and what not, but it's the same old same old when it comes to human nature.  We really love to think that we're all that and a bag of chips.  There really is nothing new under the sun.  We have the very same issues today that they had thousands of years ago.

I mean, look at our current President.  A living, breathing pile of anti-social narcissism. "I alone can fix it."  He thinks he's God's gift to America, and far, far too many so-called "Leaders" in the church think so too.  All this from a man who said recently, "Who knew fixing health care would be so difficult?" Duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuh........

None of us should be all that enamored over our ability to successfully tie our own shoes.  God is no respecter of persons.  He isn't impressed by our ability to build a tall building or create one of those new fangled wireless devices.

Through his creative and sustaining will, this God holds the vastness of the universe together.  Every drop of rain that falls, ever blade of grass that grows, does so by his will.  Building a tower out of bricks isn't going to win you any gold stars next to your name.  Nor is your ability to repeatedly cheat on your wife and get away with it.

I wasn't much into science as a kid.  Now that I'm older and NPR has the podcast and radio show, "Radio Lab," I'm getting more and more into it.  Still, with every scientific discovery of how God goes about his business in the natural world, I realize how much we still don't know.  It makes me wonder if God is sitting on his throne saying something along the lines of, "Well, that took you long enough."

Here, now you can get your "Nerd" on along with me...
http://www.radiolab.org

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The ancient Hebrews were a gutsy bunch.  They were an exiled minority in an Empire that thought it was the baddest boy on the block.  Yet, these ancient Hebrews compiled a library of books that said, A) We are still God's chosen people.  He still loves us. B) This isn't over.  Our God isn't done with us yet.  C) Your tiny little gods are a true joke!  They didn't do anything.  Our God is the real one who created everything.  And D) In fact, you Babylonians are kind of a joke, too.  You might be big and buff, but that tiny schwanzstucker of yours is not impressive!

You have to admit, that's pretty gutsy.
(I suppose it helps when you have the Holy Spirit guiding your writing.)



I guess the ultimate moral of this satire is this; never be arrogant in front of anyone, especially not YHWH.  He might just teach you a lesson.  And apparently, he has no problem using humor to do it.


He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.  And what does the Lord/YHWH require of you?  To act justly and to show mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8


Good advice, that.  
Certainly beats trying to build a stairway to heaven.


Peace

Joe




P.S. For more resources on these sorts of things, recommend this video.  I also HIGHLY recommend John Walton's books, "The Lost World of Adam and Eve," and "The Lost World of Genesis One."  Finally, Dr. Peter Enn's "Genesis for Normal People."