January 31, 2014

End of the month tends to be extraordinarily busy, so for now, I shall simply list those things that need further contemplation.

John 5:41 – the various translations can change that verse drastically.  One translation “I do not accept glory from human beings.”  Another:  “Your approval means nothing to me.”  Another:  “I receive not honor from men.”  Those are the three basic, with minor variations after that.  From context, the third makes the most sense, but the other two are interesting variations within the context.

Today’s commemoration was about the co-founder of AA, Samuel Shoemaker, an Episcopal priest, from whom came most of the 12 steps.  Given the information from my friend about her father and his involvement in the organization, it interests me.

Resurrection of the body – this is in the Apostle’s Creed, and means different things to different people.   For Catholics like my father, it means that you don’t give away your organs after death, you don’t get cremated, because when Christ returns, the physical body gets resurrected.  (I’m going to be irreverent here, so if that bothers you, don’t read further *grin* – Zombie Apocalypse anyone?)  I’m sorry – the whole concept of physical resurrection for people who have been dead for long periods of time (not talking about Christ’s resurrection, obviously) just creeps me out.  I tend to look at “the body” to mean “the body of Christ” or the Church – those who believe in Christ will be made whole in the image of God, the way that we were created, and other than Christ, as far as we’re aware, God doesn’t have a body – I think I discussed this previously regarding our present forms being both spirit or soul and body.  To my way of thinking, we only need the spirit portion to be resurrected.  ‘course, I could be wrong, and those people who were cremated or gave away their organs after they were done using them will be completely screwed.  In any case, I need to look up how other cultures view the “resurrection of the body”, ’cause I’m curious how other people view this.

It’s Friday – and I’m obviously in a weird mood.  I ended morning prayer this morning with a wish for humanity to behave itself for God today, so that He gets an easy end to this week.  And then of course, we’re back to the whole linear time concept….  Life is a circle.

January 29, 2014

Timelessness – this is a concept that actually runs through most liturgical prayers, and yet is never actually focused on. Currently considered the fourth dimension by scientists, although there are some trying to change that. For ever and ever. The Gloria Patri in saying “as it was in the beginning, is now and will be forever.” Is it actually possible for a human being to truly grasp the concept of non-linear time? Is that an oxymoron? *grin*

This train of thought began with the story of Ishmael this morning. Interestingly, Jews, Christians and Muslims consider Abraham a common ancestor and “father” in the sense of foundation in our belief systems. Ishmael, however, is the ancestor to whom Mohammed is traced.

God promised both to Abraham (through Sarah) and to Hagar that their descendents would be innumerable. Again, a number truly unfathomable by humans.

And for whatever reason, this brought to mind Christophanies – the appearance of the Christ “before” His appearance as Jesus, in the Old Testament. I remember the first time Pastor Craig brought up the concept – it was entirely new to me, and was fascinating. Unfortunately, Episcopal priests looked at me like I was insane when I asked them about it, which goes back to my original statement – liturgical churches offer much evidence of the concept of non-linear time and/or timelessness for the Divine, but don’t really explore that concept.

So thinking about the concept that Christ has always been, just as God has always been, just as the Holy Spirit has always been – three in one, the Trinity – and then trying to work out how to word the thoughts into English, as we’re not really prepared to do that. The number of words used to describe time, or reference in time – verb tenses, etc. just really don’t facilitate such things.

Take “forever and ever”. In Hebrew, that is transliterated as “l’olam va’ed”, but the literal translation of that is actually “to the distant horizon and again” meaning “a very distant time and even further”. Hebrew actually takes into consideration the finite nature of the human brain – this is what we can imagine, and it’s a little further than that. So the concept of Christ appearing at any point in the Bible or even today is necessarily in a linear fashion for the human brain to make any sense of it – but if He is outside of linear time, the creation of the earth and the resurrection of His human body might be at one and the same instant – but we have no method of describing that in any way that we can comprehend.

I feel like putting up a warning sign to any who might attempt to read and make sense of this: you’ve seen Angel’s brain – this is her brain on incomprehensible concepts – proceed at your own risk…

January 28, 2014

Day late, with much to atone for.

I work for a transcription company (not to be named, by their own policy), and yesterday, I typed a legal seminar. Not a big deal, other than the type of file generally makes me twice the amount of money normal files make, and it was a very long file. I should have, however, turned it in unfinished for the language used. I honestly have no problem with swear words, and am used to typing them in police interviews and such, but when the Lord’s name gets regularly not only taken in vain and combined with those swear words, and is sometimes even used individually *as* a swear word, it’s time for me to stop typing. And I didn’t. I allowed the promise of the extra money to hold sway and went against not only God’s law, but the principles set out to guide me this year. And my conscience has been making me pay for it since.

So on that note, I’ll end this. It’s already the 29th, and I have lots to get done as it snows beautifully outside. I’m thinkin’ the church needs to get the amount I made on the file – I’ll split it between the two of them. And in the meantime, I’ll go chop wood.

January 27, 2014

It seems I am making it a habit to miss Sundays, so I’m just not going to worry about it any more. 🙂

I liked the sermon at HT yesterday, talking about fly fishing and religion. 🙂  It made us wonder if we could perhaps tie in vacations for Episcopal priests with one of the local fly fishing companies to get supply priests in once in a while. 🙂  But what was great was the concept that you applied the lessons in fishing – learning the habits of the fish, what they ate, where they hung out, etc. – to fishing for people.  Meet each person on their own ground and comfort zone to introduce them to Christ.  And then, of course, the catch and release method. 🙂

This was followed by the annual and vestry meetings, so I didn’t make it to DoH this week, unfortunately.  I’ll have to pick up a copy of the sermon next week.

James 1:5:  “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

Tao:  “The wise man is one who, knows, what he does not know.

I’ve been praying for wisdom for dealing with one of my sons.  And I was reminded through a sarcastically meant comment that my son is a grown man, responsible for his own decisions and consequences, good and bad, and that if I’m not asked for advice, I need to not give it.  No matter how much I think the other person might benefit from what I might have to say.  Again, stillness, silence – there is value in those attributes that I apparently need to practice more. 🙂

Along with listening.

January 25, 2014

In this morning’s prayer, I was reminded of the gift of silence. And how, while my head could fill up the silence with its normal babble, it can also quickly remember the joys of meditation, of being filled with stillness, and simply being in the presence of God.

I actually have a favorite guided meditation, but it is the sound of that meditation in German that makes it  special.  The words themselves are actually fairly normal for meditations, but the sound of the German words actually encourages the feeling of reverence you get when you enter a cathedral (particularly those found in Europe), and feel the automatic need to whisper so as not to disturb the stillness.   To see it in English, go here.  The German is below:

Zeit der Stille
Zeit ohne äussere Betriebsamkeit,
Zeit, während der wir mit dem innern Ohr, unserer Seele,
den Gedanken und Träumen lauschen.

Zeit der Stille
Zeit ohne äussere Betriebsamkeit
Zeit, um den leisen ewigen Tönen
in unserm Innern zu lauschen,
unsere Seele nährend aus der Stille.

Das heilige Schwingen – der Heilige Geist,
die Ur-Stimme Om, Aum, Amen,
das Wort, das heilige Naam,
uns ansprechend als Stimme des Vertrauens,
immer mit uns, bei uns,
in allen Wechselfällen des Lebens.

Wenn wir leiden und nicht bei uns sind,
nehmen wir uns Zeit, Zeit der Stille,
und suchen unseren Wesenskern,
uns stärkend durch Linderung und Trost.

Sitzend in Meditation oder
liegend in entspannter Haltung:
höre auf deinen inneren Begleiter,
er scheint in dir zu leben.
Horche, horche, horche… und
behalte die sanfte Melodie.

So wie du lauschest
dem Wind oder Regen und ihrem lindernden Trost,
so lausche der sanften Stimme in dir.
Je mehr du der innern Stimme horchst,
umso vernehmlicher wird sie,
auslöschend die Trübung durch schwere Gedanken.

Das Vertrauen auf deinen inneren Führer
gibt dir Kraft und Ruhe.
Mein Segen ist immer mit dir
bei deinen Versuchen,
deine innere Stimme, dein heiliges Selbst,
zu vernehmen.
Om, aum, amen.

Perhaps today is a good day to practice stillness.

Update on 1/21/14 Post

Okay, way cool modern-day information about a flood story – this one coming from the area that was Babylon (modern-day Iraq) with a 4,000 year old tablet that gives the specifications of a boat that was built round as a huge coracle – a type of boat commonly used by only one person during this time period, which would have done well for surviving in a flood.  Here’s an article about it.  Interestingly, there will be some people who have decided to follow the directions and see what they get. 🙂

January 24, 2014

Today’s topic has to do with priesthood, and how that is defined by various religions through time. The commemoration today was about Li Tim-Oi, the first woman to be ordained to the priesthood in the Anglican Communion in 1944.  There are many fascinating things about this woman, born in Hong Kong in 1907 and dying in Canada in 1992.  She was a woman who worked tirelessly with refugees from China, and having attended a four-year college, had worked for years as a Deacon.  Only after three years had passed when there was no priest available to bless the eucharist did the Bishop of Victoria, Ronald Hall, call her to become ordained.  Interestingly, ordaining a woman was compared with Peter’s conversion of Cornelius, the Roman centurion considered to be the first convert among the Gentiles.

Within the Episcopal Church, it appears that there’s an average of 20 to 25% women priests, and incoming priests are approximately 50/50 male and female.  Interestingly, it is the liturgical Protestant churches and “liberal” Jewish (Reform and Conservative) which ordain women – orthodox Protestant, Catholic and Biblical churches do not.  Unitarian Universalists (which are generally not included within Christian church counts) have over 50% women clergy.  I have to wonder how much of that is tradition – people feeling more comfortable with a male leading a congregation – and how much of it is truly Biblical, as we have seen many women in the early Christian churches who led and preached as a team with their husbands (i.e., Lydia), or where there was a need.  Among Baha’is, while women can and certainly are elected to Local Spiritual Assemblies and National Spiritual Assemblies, the Universal House of Justice is comprised of 9 men.  Woman may lead congregations of women only in certain sects Islam (although there have been a few mixed congregations in “first world” countries).  Most Pagan groups will have both male and female for balance to lead, although it will depend upon their focus.  Some will have only male or only female.

Interestingly, this started out to be about Melchizedek (Greek/Latin writing), or Melchi Zedek (Hebrew writing).  I think, however, that will have to be an entry for another day. 🙂

January 23, 2014

Today’s Old Testament story is from Genesis: the Tower of Babel. This has to be one of the most difficult problems for secular scientists and strict religionists to find commonality, but there is evidence of it.

Part of what has always been interesting to me is the concept of being created in the image of God. Other than Christ, the Bible does not acknowledge God manifesting Himself in human form, although other religions talk about the Manifestations of God that I’ve referred to previously in this blog. In any case – first semantics question – is there a difference between the “creation” of God and the “making” of man? To my way of thinking (which, granted, is based only upon my own imagination – I do not in any way, shape or form claim to know the mind of God), our soul is what is created in the image of God. In deciding that among His creations, man was the one most capable of combining with the creation of the soul, God became the “missing link” that evolution will never find evidence of. The change from homo erectus to homo sapien would be the combination of man and soul.

Another fascination to me is the study of languages and beyond that, the development of cultures.  It fascinated me to learn that there are Hebrew words scattered in every language on earth – modified, of course, but the roots are there, as is much of the culture of the Jews found in the creation of new cultures, new religious practices, etc.

So, going to the culture that generally has one of the oldest written histories – China – which is far removed from Babylon, you find many interesting facts.  You also find evidence of Hebrew root words in their language, and similar cultural practices.

Most other cultures do not go quite so far back in written history, so by the time they got around to writing things down, culture had drifted much further by then.  A comparison/contrast is more difficult.  Additionally, since Moses is the one to create the Pentateuch (whether written by God, as the Jews believe, and given to Moses; or written down by Moses as told to him by God, as most Christians believe), that’s also more than 500 years distant from the events at the Tower of Babel.  Seeing history from a distance, with no contemporaneous sources – it can be difficult to ensure complete accuracy, and at the same time, it may make certain things clearer without the confusion that occurs at the time.  History, however, is almost always written by the victors, so there is that to consider if, as Christians believe, Moses was the one to write the Pentateuch.  Different topic for a different day. 🙂

Do keep in mind that I’m speculating – and my mind can imagine interesting things. I do believe that science and religion must agree with one another, and don’t believe they must be mutually exclusive.

January 22, 2014

Today is the Saint’s Day for Vincent of Zaragoza (spellings can be varied, just ask Mark Twain *grin*), and it occurred to me that there are a few interesting things to note about Vincent.  First, he was appointed Deacon to Valerius of Zaragoza, the Bishop, who is said to have had a speech impediment, and therefore did not speak often in public.  As Deacon, it was his job to preach about Christ and assist conversions, but he also took upon himself to speak on behalf of Valerius.  Valerius had the higher station, and yet when both were arrested by Diocletian, Vincent was the one put to death.  At that point in time, I would have to believe that Diocletian would have considered Vincent the greater threat, as he was eloquent, and spoke of the “One God” and of Christ, convincing others through his teachings of the truth of the Faith.  Valerius, while having greater authority, could not or would not speak in such a way as to accomplish the same.  Vincent even convinced his prison guard to convert before his death.

So, this leads to another pair that spoke on behalf of God – Moses and Aaron, where Aaron spoke on behalf of his younger brother in the Egyptian court.  In this their roles were distinctly different, in that Aaron played a “ministerial” role, while Moses directed what actions were to be taken.   In this instance, it was a combination of both Word and Action that led to the freeing of the Jews.

And this leads to the concept of the Word, and the power of the Word.  God spoke the world into existence.  John points out that in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.   There are warnings about speaking throughout the Bible.  Two commandments of ten are about speaking:  You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor; you shall not take the name of the Lord in vain.  Proverbs is full of warnings about speaking and the power of the Word.  For liturgical churches, and from what I’ve experienced with Biblical churches, we all invoke the name of Jesus Christ for the power in our prayers.

It makes me curious, as there are so many modern sayings – look at what I do, not what I say; sticks and stones can break my bones, but names can never hurt me; actions speak louder than words; well done is better than well said.  It used to be that an agreement and a handshake was far better than a written contract – my word is my bond.

When did humanity decide that the Word has lost power?  And I rather wonder, did God change his mind about the power of the Word?  If not, should we perhaps learn to make sure that our Words match our actions, and that we are careful in what we say, seeing that there actually is quite a lot of power in the Word?

Adding this ’cause a lovely lady posted it to her Facebook page, and it’s a great reminder:

Trust

January 21, 2014

It’s always interesting having someone else there for Morning Prayer. There are certain things in the liturgy said responsively when there’s more than one person, but honestly – I think it’s better said together. For instance, there is a call: “Lord, open our lips” and the response: “And our mouth shall proclaim Your praise.” Said separately, it’s okay, but said as a whole, it makes more sense.

Today’s Old Testament reading sparked a conversation about the Flood, and science and religion in general.  I rather like how Abdu’l-Baha put it in one of his Paris Talks:

“If religion were contrary to logical reason then it would cease to be a religion and be merely a tradition. Religion and science are the two wings upon which man’s intelligence can soar into the heights, with which the human soul can progress. It is not possible to fly with one wing alone! Should a man try to fly with the wing of religion alone he would quickly fall into the quagmire of superstition, whilst on the other hand, with the wing of science alone he would also make no progress, but fall into the despairing slough of materialism. All religions of the present day have fallen into superstitious practices, out of harmony alike with the true principles of the teaching they represent and with the scientific discoveries of the time.”

I’ve never found religion and science to be incompatible, but rather that they tend to use different vocabularies for the same thing.

As with the entire concept that all humanity is descended from Adam and Eve, the concept that all humanity is now descended from Noah’s family (3 sons and their 3 wives), does not allow for enough genetic diversity for a viable race.  What I think many people forget to take into account is that the Bible is kind of the history of one line of people.  Other lines enter in, walk in parallel and exit over time, but the main characters come from the one family.

Starting with Adam and Eve – Adam can be representative of Adam Kadmon (Hebrew for “the first man”) and Eve representative of Havvah Kadmon (Hebrew for “the first woman”).  However, by themselves, Adam means mankind, and Havvah means womankind.  God created Adam and Eve – all of mankind.  The Bible tells the story of the first pair.  Who had 3 sons.  Given the complexity that God wove into our DNA, I’m thinking He probably arranged for a bit more genetic diversity. 🙂

So, then go up to Noah’s family.  The story of the flood in history is actually told in a wide variety of cultures, all happening at approximately the same time, so you have to believe that it is a historic event documented within the Bible (sometimes the history part can be difficult to prove).  However, those stories have to come from the ones who survived the floods…  They have their own histories and legends surrounding the great flood.  The Epic of Gilgamesh speaks of a story remarkably similar in Sumeria; the Myth of Deucalion in Greece, which is supported by the myths of the actions of the King of Arcadia at the time (and that’s a truly heinous story); the Myth of Dwyfan and Dwyfach in Wales; the Hindi Tale of Manu from India; or the Brazilian Myths in South America.  (And if you want more, there’s a list compiling them here.)

There are, of course, commonalities and differences in the stories.  Most involve a material versus spiritual/evil v. good/god-like v. lower self issue.  The time period for the flood is roughly the same.  In some, there are those who prepare ahead of time, saving what foods, animals and good people they can.  In some, it’s a complete last-ditch effort to survive.

Through all of them is a period of time the land is unable to be tilled, and the introduction of eating more than fruits and vegetables is introduced.  If we look at today’s “global warming” or “climate change” concepts, we can see that they’ve been around a good, long time – in the old days, apparently it was the fault of God, rather than man’s fault.  🙂  (Sorry, I have to laugh at the hubris that mankind thinks it can affect the Earth to a great degree.)  In any case, weather records weren’t really kept at that point in time, at least not that survived history.  Great floods, great draughts, great fires, volcanoes – those all made the news of history that survived.  Other than that, it’s speculation.  But, given the widespread stories of the flood, in areas not covered by the family lines in the Bible, I think it’s pretty safe to say the Earth went through a pretty major shift, and people all over survived in small pockets.  We get to hear the stories of Noah and his family in the Bible.

Conflicts between science and religion don’t make sense.  God created both.