Showing posts from November, 2018

You Know

Psalm 142 4(3) When my spirit faints within me, you watch over my path. By the road that I am walking they have hidden a snare for me. 5(4) Look to my right, and see that no one recognizes me. I have no way of escape; nobody cares for me.
Lately I’ve been dry as a bone when it comes to inspiration for my writing as drawn from the Daily Lectionary. Just now I got hung up on the Psalms. Whenever I read them, they seem to be full of enemies; pitfalls set for the innocent; dire wishes that God will smite the wicked (always according to the writer’s idea of who it is that’s wicked); complaints in which the writer whines about various miseries and emotional crises; and, last but not least, an odd sort of formulaic flattery in which God gets praised for being just great and doing wonderful things, in spite of all the scary enemies, hidden traps, bad people, and terminal angst. I had no luck on the internet, so I retreated to Robert Alter’s translation: 1 A David maskil, when he was in the cave, a p…


Psalm 125
Do good, O Lord, to those who are good,
and to those who are upright in their hearts!
5 But those who turn aside to their crooked ways
the Lord will lead away with evildoers!
Peace be upon Israel!

Is it possible that we have misunderstood what “good” is? If I believe that God rewards ‘goodness’ with health, material wealth, and happiness, then I’m left with only two conclusions: 1) God lies, or 2) I’m not good. Well, I reject both of those notions! Therefore, “good” must mean something different. I’m not sure, but I suspect that “goodness” is a quality, not a quantity. If goodness is a characteristic or a quality, then the psalm is saying something like,
“Add more goodness, O Lord, to the ones who choose goodness, and to those who are steadfast and honest in their hearts! But the ones who turn away down dark and crooked ways— leave them alone to enjoy each other’s nasty company!”
Zechariah 11:4-17(Verses 1 through 3 comprise a poem about a forest fire, in which Lebanon is urge…

Conspicuous Ambiguity

Shobogenzo; Genjo Koan 91
When we find this place, this action is inevitably realized as the Universe. When we find this way, this action is inevitably the realized Universe (itself). This way and this place are neither great nor small; they neither subjective nor objective; neither have they existed since the past nor do they appear in the present; and so they are present like this. When a human being is practicing and experiencing the Buddha’s truth in this state, to get one dharma is to penetrate one dharma, and meet one act is to perform one act. In this state the place exists and the way is mastered, and therefore the area to be known is not conspicuous. The reason it is so is that this knowing and the perfect realization of the Buddha-Dharma appear together and are experienced together. Do not assume that what is attained will inevitably become self-conscious and be recognized by the intellect. The experience of the ultimate state is realized at once. At that same time, its myste…

Making Distinctions

James 1:1-15
But let him ask in trust, doubting nothing; for the doubter is like a wave in the sea being tossed and driven by the wind. Indeed that person should not think that he will receive anything from the Lord, because he is double-minded, unstable in all his ways.
I couldn’t make sense of this passage, because it sounds like James is telling the doubter that he should not think that he will receive anything from the Lord, because he is double-minded. But I think James was too wise to waste his advice on people who can’t understand what he’s talking about. So, I fished out a bunch of translations, some of which said the same thing in different words, but some said something completely different. I went to the Greek, and I think I’ve figured out the problem. The phrase “should not” isn’t there! Literally, word by word, the Greek says:
But ask in assurance —not one making-of-distinctions(diakrinĊ)—for the making-of-distinctionsis like an ocean wave driven-by-the-windand agitate…

Sorry Sinners

Psalm 81
11 (10) I am Adonai your God,
who brought you up from the land of Egypt.
Open your mouth, and I will fill it.’

12 (11) “But my people did not listen to my voice;
Isra’el would have none of me.
13 (12) So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts,
to live by their own plans.

Luke 15:1-10
7 I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who turns to God from his sins than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need to repent.
10 In the same way, I tell you, there is joy among God’s angels when one sinner repents.” (CJB)

I guess it all depends on who’s listening.
I’ve met people like that: the ones who don’t listen. The ones who keep on complaining after they’ve gotten what they wanted. The ones who keep arguing their point even after everyone gives in. The ones who keep believing a lie even though they have proof that it’s false. The ones who point fingers whenever they’re trying to escape the consequences. The ones who think they know the way …


Luke 14:25-35 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
25 Large crowds were traveling along with Yeshua. Turning, he said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father, his mother, his wife, his children, his brothers and his sisters, yes, and his own life besides, he cannot be my talmid. 27 Whoever does not carry his own execution-stake and come after me cannot be my talmid.
28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Don’t you sit down and estimate the cost, to see if you have enough capital to complete it? 29 If you don’t, then when you have laid the foundation but can’t finish, all the onlookers start making fun of you 30 and say, ‘This is the man who began to build, but couldn’t finish!’
31 “Or again, suppose one king is going out to wage war with another king. Doesn’t he first sit down and consider whether he, with his ten thousand troops, has enough strength to meet the other one, who is coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he hasn’t, then while the other is stil…

Unless We Are

Luke 13:31-35
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you kill the prophets and stone to death those sent to you! How often I wanted to gather your children together the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings! But you were not willing! Your house will be abandoned. (NOG - Names of God Bible)
It took me a long time today, and a dive down the research rabbit-hole, but finally, after crawling out of the theological warren of Revelations and brushing its bitter desert dust off of me, I went back to the Gospel reading. (I always have trouble with readings from Revelations, and I’m generally in agreement with the Eastern Orthodox folks who don’t include it in the canon.)
“Chicks under wings” is where I ended up today. Most of us in the modern U.S. don’t have any experience with hens and chicks, except as a garden plant. Even if we keep chickens, we don’t breed them. We’ve never seen a real live hen with her chicks under her wings. So here’s a video: Hen hiding chicks. It’s cute, and faintly ridicu…

The Narrow Gate

Luke 13:18-30
Do your best to enter through the narrow gate…many will try to find the way in, and won’t be able to. Once the head of the household gets up and shuts the door and you are left outside, knocking and saying, ‘Lord, open to us!’ —then he will answer you, ‘I don’t know you or your hometown.’ Then you will say, “We ate and drank with you and you taught in our streets,” and he will speak, declaring to you,
“I do not know you, or where you come from!Back off! Employees of injustice; workers in falsehood!”
From the Zen rodeo:
Following the rules and protecting the regulations is binding oneself without rope.
Moving freely vertically and horizontally without obstruction is the way of outsiders and the nightmare army.
To preserve the heart mind and to purify it by letting impurities settle to the bottom in quiescence is the perverted Zen of silent illumination.
Neglecting the written records with unrestrained ideas is falling into a deep pit.
To be awake and not ignorant is to wear chai…


Psalm 119:73-96
92 If your Torah had not been my delight,
I would have perished in my distress.
93 I will never forget your precepts,
for with them you have made me alive.
94 I am yours; save me
because I seek your precepts.

That just completely speaks for me. I would have perished without the delight I find in the Word and the Way. The principles I practice, which come from God, are precisely what is keeping me alive. I belong to God, and by following the Way I am released from distress, distraction and ineptitude.
Revelation 16:1-11
Then I heard the altar say,
“Yes, Adonai, God of heaven’s armies,
your judgments are true and just!”

There are places in the New Testament where the writer(s) use some literary device to indicate a quote from the Old Testament or Tanakh. I haven’t been able to discover by what method, but modern translations usually indent the quoted passage. This quote only applies to one of the Names of God: Adonai Elohim Elohei-Tzva’ot/Adonai Elohei-Tzva’ot, which is tradi…