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Showing posts from September, 2017

A Drift of Pinions

Job 38:1-7 NRSV: 1Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind: 2 Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? CJB: 1 Then Adonai answered Iyov out of the storm: 2 “Who is this, darkening my plans with his ignorant words? …. NRSV: 4 Where were you when I laid the foundation of the Earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. CJB: 4 “Where were you when I founded the earth? Tell me, if you know so much. Hebrews 1:1-14 NRSV: (2)……a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. 3He is the reflection of Gods glory and the exact imprint of Gods very being,….. CJB: ….his Son, to whom he has given ownership of everything and through whom he created the universe.3 This Son is the radiance of the Sh’khinah, the very expression of God’s essence, NRSV: 10And, In the beginning, Lord, you founded the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands; 11 they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like clothing; 12 like a cloak you will roll them…

Wherever You Go, There You Are

Old Testament 2 Kings 5:1-19a
17Then Naaman said, "If not, please let two mule-loads of earth be given to your servant; for your servant will no longer offer burnt offering or sacrifice to any god except the LORD. This is the story of Naaman being healed of leprosy by Elisha. Naaman was arrogant and stubborn at first, wanting to be healed according to how he thought it should work. His servants convinced him to try it Elisha’s way, which tells me two things: First that Naaman’s servants and slaves loved him in spite of his cantankerousness, and second, that Naaman’s attitudes were practical and flexible. That’s probably why he was such a good war-leader. Anyway, after he was healed, Naaman wanted to give gifts to Elisha, but Elisha would have none of it. I couldn’t figure out what the two mule-loads of dirt was all about, and had to look it up. Naaman wanted earth from Israel to take home to his own country so he could build an altar to the God of Israel on top of it. I was reminde…

Fire From Heaven

Creator/ Firemaker/ And the LORD God/ And the fire maker/ formed the man from the dust of the ground/ formed a man of dust on the tinder/ and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life/ and he blew into the tinder the breath of life/ and the man became a living soul./ and the man became a living fire.
Genesis 2:7

2 Kings 1:2-17   "If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty."
אש (esh, Strong's #784); meaning ‘fire’, and איש(iysh, Strong's #376) meaning ‘man’.
I’m still hung up on the notion of ‘consuming fire’. It’s evident that Jesus clearly did not endorse the idea of a vengeful, wrathful God. So when it comes to Elijah calling fire down on hapless messengers from the king, I feel compelled to figure out what the message is. If it isn’t, “Mess with God, or his designated flunkies, and you’ll be sorry,” then what is it?
I found an article about the symbolism of fire in the bible, and I also found plenty of descriptions th…

Limping with Two Opinions

1 Kings 18:20-40 Okay. This is going to be a doozy. The phrase "limping with two opinions" leaped on my back and bit my neck like a lion taking down a zebra. I’m almost never willing to take the Bible in a literal sense, but for the first time I felt a shudder of revulsion at the thought of trying to manufacture a metaphorical meaning for the story of Elijah and the 450 prophets of Baal. Not literal, but not metaphorical either, but stuck in the hard place between them. This made me remember our practice at the Waystead of seeking the ‘third option’. Here is what I said about it in another article: “One of the most important guiding principles we have developed is what we call “the third option.” This is very useful in the times when we have become stuck in between two alternatives and feel that we have no other choices available. The discipline of the third option is to actively think outside that ‘either-or’ box, and look for a solution that ‘changes the rules’ in a way that …

Zen, Social Activism, and Suffering

I almost always have a feeling of discontent (dukkha) when I encounter a way of looking at the world that exhorts me to define suffering as victimization. This way leads people to become social activists, fighting “injustice,” “poverty,” “violence,” and causes them to want to change “society” to make it a 'better' place. This way of thinking seems to me to miss the point. I call it "bootstrapping,” because it makes me think of the old saying that describes a certain kind of futility by the phrase, “trying to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps.” It can't be done. It seems to me that people often perceive concepts like "injustice" as entities in their own right, with a kind of inimical but impersonal life of their own. This leads to the belief that ideas can do battle in the arena of social activism and when righteousness is the victor, then "society" will change for the better. I see this as a form of delusion, and exactly the sort of error tha…