Sparks Near Inferno’s Gate

By the time you read this it’ll be Thursday. It’s Wednesday headed toward Thursday fast, and I am trying to exercise a way to write just to write something. For those of you who might anticipate a high level of quality writing here, bless your hearts for still holding out hope…

Because, what’s the sign say over the gate to hell in Dante’s Inferno? Come on, you know this one. … No?

“Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate.” The most popular translation is “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”

The journey begins and to me it often looks like this:

I heard a preacher on the radio, I know that’s kind of old fashioned but sometimes I’ll hear something that’ll spark my brain in some way. Well, spark it did. I understand that everyone who reads the Bible is going to come away with something different: a specific understanding, a mystery to explore further, an interesting topic, complete confusion, and so on.

It’s Christmas, but I can’t feel it.  Not now.  I feel like Santa left sadness, disappointment, darkness, worry, rage, loneliness, pain, and helplessness behind, along with reindeer shit, in my stocking. Where are you, Christmas? Whoever wrote this song found something they celebrated at the end of the song; I’m stuck between beginning and middle:

If your reaction, to reading or to life, is complete confusion, I’m right there with you, and also I’m sorry to say that my recommendation is to read more. And so it is that with Sunday’s confusing events, and the hated translation, I hoped was butchered, I have checked the Greek. What can I say, I just have weird things that push my buttons. I went to my standard resources, and read and reread. There’s a little word tacked on at the end of Luke 2:14 in the Greek. Doggone it if there is no comma, nothing exact to explain the exact implication. It just says “eudokia.” This is one place where I think King Jim’s translators got it right, though. If there’s a comma implied, it’s SO much better for me.

Curious? Go ahead: http://www.scripture4all.org/OnlineInterlinear/Greek_Index.htm ; dive in. Would I steer you wrong? It’s FASCINATING, really. Next stop on the rabbit trail? I went here: https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?t=kjv&strongs=g2107.

In my study, I do not see any indication that “eudokia,” “good will” is conditional and implies the requirement of God’s delight in order for Him to bequeath the promise of peace. So, though the language in the translation sometimes used implies it, the original language carries no such baggage. Thank God for that. So say whatever you feel like saying, translators who want to attach boat anchors and 16 ton weights to God’s grace. People seem to delight in doing that. Like this:

You want to get into heaven? OK, work for it. Work hard and maybe you’ll earn God’s favor.

Um… How do I know if I did enough good? And …that doesn’t answer the awkwardness of the bad things still on my conscience, so how can I trust that?

I don’t think it works that way. I believe there are no such boat anchors, because of several internal reference points in the same document. You could go back to John 3:16, which starts on the foundation that God loves the world and wants to save us. You could go to Galatians 2:16 or 3:10, which pretty much close the door on us ever measuring up to any kind of approval from God by our own good work. Or Ephesians 2:9-10, which are even more clear. Or Titus 3:3-8, which interestingly enough, makes the point to call out lazy Christ-followers who say, “OK, I’ve accepted God’s grace on my faith. I believe it, so I’m all good,” and they sit and wait for the end and don’t help anyone. There’s a thread though which says it’s not our works that save us, or restore us, or bring us into any kind of relationship with God.

There’s a point to all of this, and I’ll get back to it. It has to do with this preacher guy on the radio, and he went all the way back to Genesis with something that bugged me a little. I mean, I’ve said (above) that there are as many interpretations or understandings as there are people, so maybe the guy’s entitled to his thought process. He was talking about Christmas, and how God came to Earth “in the flesh,” or “incarnate,” which is a big word that means “in the flesh.” What he was trying to get at was that Jesus, the baby who grew to become a man, came as God’s gift of John 3:16 -“God so loved the world that he gave…” Jesus was protected into adulthood, until everything was ready and he was prepared to pay for all the bad things I ever did. OK, yeah, all the bad things you ever did too. Despite all of the attempts made on his ancestors’ lives and on his own, and if you read the story you’ll see those. If Jesus’ ancestors knew about it, they’d have been scared to death for their own lives. But it happened, and Jesus was born, and lived until he was ready and until the time was right. He had to wait until Israel was under Rome’s thumb, so the message could be shared with the whole world. If it was just Israel, they would have just done this:

Under just Israel’s law, no Roman or anyone else in the world would ever know what happened except Israel. But under Roman rule, the message would be visible to Rome and to Israel, and to the world. Under just Israel’s authority, the stars themselves would make less sense.

Rabbit trail #2: The sign for Israel is Pisces, the 2 fishes. (See also Mark 6:41?) The sign for Gentiles (the rest of us), is Taurus, the bull. Right between the two, hard to see hanging up there, is Aries, a ram. (See also Genesis 3:21, Genesis 22, very importantly John 1:29, and also, like a button on the end of a great piece of music, Revelation 5, and there are more, I’ll get to one or two if you can stay with me.) The Bible is a tightly woven tapestry.

This preacher on his radio show, though, said that when Jesus came to earth as a baby, it was the first time He had been in human likeness, or “in the flesh.” But the more I read it the more I wonder if God was showing us how He was going to try to save us, all along. This preacher said that when God walked in the Garden of Eden in the cool of the day (Genesis 3:8) he was not in human form. You remember Genesis 3, it’s where Adam and Eve screwed up, disobeyed God and fell, along with all their descendents including me, and took all of creation on a ripping rollercoaster ride, a twisting, screaming journey to hell in a handbasket. Try to deny it all you want, and then turn on the news. For some, the journey seems short, but on a cosmic scale it’s taking longer than 8,000 years, presuming a young earth, but that’s another can of worms and I am NOT touching it. I won’t go back. But this message, this implication, it bugged me, because the guy has no way of knowing that, and no way to back the statement up. This preacher wasn’t in the Garden with God back in Genesis 3. My Genesis 1:26 isn’t at all unclear: “Let us make humans in our image, in our likeness…”

What I’m saying is not that this preacher was necessarily wrong, or intentionally saying something to mislead. What I’m saying is we all have to dig in to the Bible for ourselves to find our own treasures. It’s important that each of us do that. My assertion is that if we ARE in the likeness of God, “in [His] image, then He must be, in highest form, the pre-image of humans.

To the point, here’s one treasure I take from my digging:

What if God was enabling the restoration of the relationship broken by Adam and Eve as the slain lamb in Genesis 3:21?

What if God was restoring the relationship broken by Abraham, as the slain lamb in Genesis 22?

What if God was enabling the restoration of His relationship with Israel through the symbols of Exodus 12?

What if God promised the possibility of restoration in Isaiah 53 (see the Lamb there in verse 7?), written 2716 or so years ago? And finally,

What if God was offering, if we believe, to restore the whole world, as the Lamb of John 1:29, sacrificed at Passover in John 19, and raised in John 20?

You don’t have to ask yourselves these questions, but I raise them for your consideration.

John wrote in maybe A.D. 90 or so, which puts it at 1926 years or less ago, and the events of John would have taken place maybe 800 years AFTER the prophecy of Isaiah 53. If you’ve followed me down the rabbit trails this far, just read the last few verses of John 20 (verses   29-31). 31 is important. How did Isaiah know 800 years early?

Because if God did that, who am I to say whether He pushed my sorry ass into this pit of despair for some restorative reason? I HATE the pit, but if there’s some value in my being here, then eventually it’ll be fine. I’d really rather not. But I get to hang out with some of you, here in the dark, and you’re pretty cool. Maybe we can walk together a while. Or just sit here, it’s better with your company.  I’m not anything like the Lamb. I just talk about Him, just like John did. I complain WAY too much to compare myself to Him. He is, if you don’t already know, “…One you do not know. He is the One who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.” (John 1:26-27) He can restore, or establish, a relationship with us, if I’ve read this right. I wish there were, but there’s no promise of any circumstantial changes. Only eternal changes. All it takes is our faith. I still have to walk through this shit for now, but eternally, I’ll be eternally better off than now. I feel abandoned, not that I’m nearly important enough to matter. But Jesus himself felt the same: “Eloi! Eloi! Lama Sabachthani?” (Psalm 22:1, see also Matthew 27:46; and, how did David know a thousand years early how that scene would play out?) It wasn’t just words to Jesus. It was agony far worse than I may ever know.

What if God pushed me into this pit of despair, or let the universe fucker push me, or let me fall all by myself, to encourage JUST ONE of my readers, to let me meet you, to reassure you of your beauty and incredible worth, to assert that God loves you in ways far more pure and complete and unimaginable than I am capable? To encourage you to have courage, and faith? Although I hate the test, although I hate the universe fucker for the whole journey, if you get it, you’re worth it to me. There are times when I hurt not because it sucks to be me, but because I know what you are going through and I wish I could do something that would effectively reduce your pain or just thoroughly and completely rescue you, but there isn’t anything. I pray for you, and can’t not weep.

Christmas is coming and I haven’t got anything tangibly helpful for you. I have a prayer for me, and may it be answered a thousand billion times, yes. And I have a prayer for you, and may it be answered the same, a loud resounding FUCK, YES!!

Here’s my prayer for me:

OK, I confess, that was a joke. Well, halfway. Because I really do want that for Christmas too. But here’s my real Christmas wish for me:

Here’s my prayer for you, and maybe selfishly I want a little of that for myself too. If it gets answered, the way I want, there will be enough for you to share.

I’m going to go to work when I wake up today, because if I don’t, I’ll think about it and start crying again. This time it’s not just for me. It’s for you too.

It took me a long time, but I think I know why I cried for me on Sunday: It’s because I’m broken. It hurts. And try as I may, I can’t fix it.

And I know why I’m crying for you too: I’m broken that we’re all broken, we live in a world that is killing us, slowly and painfully, and we can’t do anything much about it, except to be there as an encouragement to one another. I hate that you hurt, and I wish life treated us all SO much better.  But while we’re alive, I want us all to share an eternal hope, even if we can’t have peace for now.

Please share that hope with me.

~Deon

Prayer for My Friend

Psalm 10:

12 Arise, Lord! Lift up your hand, O God.
    Do not forget the helpless.
13 Why does the wicked man revile God?
    Why does he say to himself,
    “He won’t call me to account”?
14 But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted;
    you consider their grief and take it in hand.
The victims commit themselves to you;
    you are the helper of the fatherless.
15 Break the arm of the wicked man;
    call the evildoer to account for his wickedness
    that would not otherwise be found out.

16 The Lord is King for ever and ever;
    the nations will perish from his land.
17 You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted;
    you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,
18 defending the fatherless and the oppressed,
    so that mere earthly mortals
    will never again strike terror.

Today a friend and fellow blogger goes to court to seek child support, among other things. I’m not sure of the other details of what the court proceedings will involve.  By itself, that’s stressful enough.  Add that her lawyer has no vision for her defense or reimbursement for what the guy had agreed upon at one time.  She respectfully calls the guy “the donor,” which is nicer than I would have to offer.  Add that she suffers bipolar.  Add panic attacks.  Add that because the donor is in arrears some $20,000, for about 5 years she has had to invest that much more into her child’s welfare and not in her car and home repairs.  Imagine where that has left her, yes, you probably have an accurate mental picture.  Add that she has other difficulties that trigger her when she has to spend lengthy amounts of time in traffic or in public places.

She is a loving, caring mom who is amazingly successful at doing everything for her child, in spite of everything she has endured in the past, and she, and her child, deserve better treatment than they have received from the guy or his, or her, family.  (I won’t call him a man until he mans up and does what he already agreed to do to take care of his child)

If you pray, please pray with me that she will be able to navigate what she calls “the dish,” with a supernatural peace, and that her lawyer
_______________________
law·yer

[ˈloiər]
NOUN
a person who practices or studies law; an attorney or a counselor.
synonyms: attorney · counsel · counselor · legal practitioner ·
legal professional · legal adviser · member of the bar · litigator · advocate _______________________
will courageously and successfully defend her and be her advocate (see also, Lawyer)
_______________________
ad·vo·cate
NOUN
a person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy:

synonyms: champion · upholder · supporter · backer · promoter · [more]
VERB
publicly recommend or support:

for her to receive what she needs, and for justice and a fair repayment schedule for the missed payments.

If you don’t pray, please send all the positive vibes you’ve got.  Thank you!

Here’s hoping, Morgueticia!

(Oh, and God, although David said to “break the arm of the wicked man,” please DON’T, as he’ll need that arm solid, to work hard and pay back his debt of child support, and to make the future payments.)

In The Beginning, Deon

Another blogging challenge handed down from on high, was to write my own creation myth, so here goes:

1:1 In the beginning Deon was easygoing, carefree, innocent and beautiful.  And Deon was powerful and created his world. :2 And thus the world was crafted, in the image of Deon, created he – easygoing, carefree, innocent and beautiful.  :3 And one day as Deon walked, observing all that he had created, he happened to witness a sight, and lo, it was the evening news.  :4 and the creator Deon heard of wars and rape and arson and theft and fraud and other mistreatment of people by other people, and he did not understand. :5 An imbalance, an unfairness, a confusion, and so it was that Deon, in a fit of disappointment, clicked the “off” switch on his remote control, destroying that corner of the world he had created.  :6  He strolled out to his swingset and he did fly.  :7 Feeling the soft, tickling breezes on his face, and the warm sunshine, :8 Hope was restored once more, and Deon returned to his haven for a freshly baked peanut butter cookie and a glass of cold milk.  :9 Turning on the television again, he changed the channel until there was amusing animation, :10 and it came to pass that Elmer Fudd was a terrible shot, which was fortunate for Bugs Bunny.  :11 And in the end, Elmer and “Da Wabbit” made friends and did sing together, a lovely aria, and did ride off together into the sunset.  :12 And the evening and the morning went and came again.

2:1  Deon had not the cognizant skills to realize why certain corners of the world were flawed, nor to question why all were not as innocent and loving as he.  :2  He did not understand what the people were doing, but knew in his heart that they weren’t doing it right, as people were hurting each other and being mean.  3: And the news program’s images hurt the heart of Deon.  :4  And so did Deon select a fresh, clean, crisp piece of paper, and fresh crayons.  :5 He drew an innocent boy crying big, brokenhearted tears, watching a television set showing the world, shattered, in pieces.  :6  Deon the creator showed his mum the picture, and explaining, almost started crying again, :7 and she asked him to draw a happy picture, but she treasured his depth of understanding and saved both pictures for the refrigerator door display case. :8  He desired in his heart that his world should be repaired, and lo, the new picture repaired everything.  :9 His new picture showed a rainbow and sunshine, and smiling people. Both the rainbow and people were made of all sixteen different colors, :10 and behold, all the people were holding hands and being nice to one another.  :11  He drew their faces with smiles but explained that they were all singing their different songs but somehow their music made a perfect mash-up, and everything made sense. :12 And the evening and the morning went and came again.

3:1  Alas, the world Deon had created and dwelt in spun on, no longer controllable or understandable.  :2 The people were deeply selfish, taking for themselves and not sharing.  Thus spake the evening news, and Deon shut it off again.  :3 Deon wanted people to understand, so he drew his happy rainbow picture, eight more times. :4  When the sun rose again, he went to his neighbor’s mailboxes, the eight nearest his home, and did deliver unto them the message of peace.  :5 He did have to explain it to the neighbors, and the explanation was good.  :6 Thus, a movement began.  7: That week, his neighbors each made their own pictures and gave them to neighbors and friends and family.  8: And he created more pictures during the day of his creation, :9 until his crayons needed to be replaced.  :10  And the evening and the morning came again, and this time, as it was Deon’s birthday, he opened a small package and lo, there were sixteen crayons in a box, :11 And Deon was happy, and did consume chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream and a big glass of milk.  :12 and blowing out his six candles, he wished for all to share and be happy.