Preparedness Pays II: Slight Change In Plans

Today’s topic was scheduled for later in the series, but when you get someone saying this, and then Sarah says this, and a list like this pops up, it makes a point/makes one wonder.

Preparedness is about much more than basic sustenance and comforts. It is about taking care of the things that truly matter: family, Family, life, and spirit. In the worst case, it is about rebuilding so as to take care of those things and for a better future. It is about helping ensure that the best of our generation and previous generations survives, and that does indeed include philosophy and the far more important Faith.

I think it was at the start of Lucifer’s Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle (stupid lightning), one of the characters is overseeing the final stages of securing a cache of good and important books against what was to come. Plan to revisit this a bit, as how it was being done is a good way to do things. Can’t really remember, but it seems that this character was not the only person/group doing such a thing.

That is a good thing, and I think we need to do it on whatever scale we can. If you think that your books (or anything else) are safe, you are not paying attention. Christianity and Judaism are under attack from multiple quarters. The progressives hate anything that detracts from their control and the supremacy of their deity, the government. When various Muslim groups talk about ‘first the Saturday then the Sunday people’ know they are not joking. I could go on, but if you look, you will find. If you will see and think is the only real question.

In my younger days, I often got into trouble for ‘reading ahead’ on assignments. Today, I’m encouraging you to read ahead in thinking about the need to preserve knowledge, civics, and most of all, Faith. I want you to read this and this, courtesy of my friend Snarksalot, so you can be thinking a bit before we get to the topic of food. Think and read ahead, as I am increasingly worried we are all behind the curve.

Today is one of the few times I will ever tell you to hide what you have done and deny all you have done. I say that because I can see how any number of things can unfold such that large-scale efforts to restrict and censor information, to seize and destroy knowledge, could take place. Not just in limited areas, but large-scale efforts even. I hope we don’t go there, but if you are looking and staying informed on the censorship-industrial complex and more, you should be concerned.

There are three major areas of knowledge to be preserved by everyone.

First, there are the books and more that tell you how to do things like canning, preserving, sewing, knitting, and more. They are the books on survival, on how things used to be done before the advent of modern refrigeration and food preparation/preservation. These are things like the Foxfire books and similar. It’s things like the Ball canning or other food preservation books. It’s the emergency medicine books and guides. It’s the old Boy Scouts Field Guide and similar. Got a favorite or a list to share? Sing out in the comments.

Second, there are the books that shaped our lives and the Great Experiment that was/is the American Republic. It’s books on civics, on discourse, and those that show what can be done by a free people. It’s Paine, it’s L. Neil Smith, and so much more. It is also the books that have shaped us as individuals. In my case, I very much want to preserve the key works of C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, Kipling, Heinlein, and more. Again, if you have a list or suggestions, sing out in the comments.

Third, there are the books of Faith. For me, that would be the Bible as well as some other key works. Heck, I would print out and include a copy of the Didache in that since I don’t have a bound copy (only electronic). BTW, if anyone has any of the other translations they would care to share, I would appreciate it. For you, it may be different. In fact, I would recommend including multiple copies of the Bible, including give-aways if you can get them.

If you belong to a group that can do something on a larger scale, do it. Secure it. Hide it.

Some quick thoughts. First, if you can, go hardcover and/or archival editions of as many books as possible. If needed, they are going to be very much needed and used. Paperbacks and cheap are not going to be up to that type of use. That said, do whatever you can.

Second, particularly on books of Faith, but for as many others as you can, do multiple caches and hide them well. Treat them as the first rule of Preparedness Club, taken up several orders of magnitude and put on steroids. Forget about them, and tell no one about them, until it is time to either keep the knowledge alive or bring it back out.

We will be revisiting this topic, but I just have an odd feeling I need to get this out now. That you need to be thinking and acting now. We are a resilient and inventive species, especially when it comes to hiding and doing things our “betters” don’t want us to do. There is a long history of humans hiding things from rulers, from scrolls of old to history they wish to deny or destroy. Of hiding Faith and knowledge from those in the majority who do not share and want to destroy such. Make our ancestors proud.

Yes, I will be going into a bit on how to prepare and store books and such. This is a huge topic, and there is much to explore. I also hope you have much to share, especially suggestions on the works that are essential in every category.

For now, the word is out and the seed planted. What comes next, on several levels, is quite literally up to you.

Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving once we have medical issues cleared up, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

Preparedness Pays II:

Intro

Slight Change In Plans

The Monastery Retreat

If I went in for long titles, I would probably add something about ‘the weekend I didn’t know I needed’ as I truly didn’t realize how much I needed, and on how many different levels, to do this. My only regret is that it wasn’t longer. Well, that and I wish I had gotten to play fetch with some new friends one more time.

The men’s group at the Church I’ve been attending did a retreat/visit to a Greek Orthodox monastery up in Michigan (no, we are not Greek Orthodox) I understand that it is a yearly tradition for the group, and that sometimes there are other visits for families and such. Thinking if I get the chance, I would like to go back again.

After a long drive (it’s several hours from Indy), we arrived in the afternoon and got settled in the bunk room available to five of us. Well, we got settled and I had my first meeting with two of the residents: a pair of border collies. Who were quite willing to play fetch until we or they dropped, and if it had been allowed to go on that long my money was on us dropping before them.

Not too long after we attended our first service, which was entirely in Greek. If you have never attended an Orthodox service, you are supposed to stand for the entire service. This not always being possible, especially for those of us not in prime physical shape, there were some standing seats available. These are rectangular wooden cubes where you can stand, half-sit onto a seat, or fold it down to have a regular seat. They are up against the walls, as the sanctuary is somewhat small.

I really liked them, and using the top part was able to remain standing for entire services. Anytime my balance got iffy, I could use my arms to steady myself. I did use the half-seat a couple of times, particularly during one three hour service (Vespers, Matins, and something else combined). We caught on quickly to some cues that helped us know when to do things, and I even recognized a couple of words. It doesn’t hurt that the Orthodox liturgy is essentially the same across all Orthodox churches, just in different languages.

After morning and evening services, we were fed and boy were we fed. For all that fasts were happening, the food was tasty and plentiful. I’m trying right now to start recreating a curried chick pea (garbanzo bean) dish we had the first night, that was served over rice. Any hopes I had to losing weight during the visit were dashed early. As it was, none of the meals were huge and the portions were reasonable. And delicious. We were also served lunch on Saturday, which I was not expecting.

We had some time to read, and I made use of it to read Psalms in the new study Bible and the book for the course I am taking at Church. Something to be said for doing such sitting and looking out the window seen above as you read. Nice also to have others doing the same, and to be able to discuss some of it.

The monastery is a working farm. They have chickens for the eggs (which they use and sell); sheep and goats for milk (used for yogurt, soap, and more); herd protection dogs as there are coyotes and more about; and the two border collies to herd the goats when they take them into the woods to forage a bit. Heard about the coyote who was seen sitting at the fence one day, looking in at the sheep and goats — and the livestock guardian dog sitting facing him and asking him to come on in so Wylie could be dealt with properly and permanently.

Several of the livestock guardian dogs are Great Pyrs, but they have at least two that are part of a new breed (Colorado something something) being bred with an eye towards smaller farms/areas. One of the Pyrs is still a puppy, for all that he is almost full grown and I’d estimate to already be at least 100 lbs soaking wet (which he was), and he was not shy about asking for skritches. Nor were the LaMancha goats (they have those and Nubians, moving towards all LaMancha) shy about asking for skritches and such. Turns out they love being scratched and skritched around their horn bumps and were delighted to have people who were willing to do so for extended periods of time. The goats were kidding, so there were several kids racing around and doing what goat kids do.

They also grow produce on-site, and in addition to the “garden” area are building what I would term a greenhouse complex to be able to grow produce year round. The small number of monks there stay busy! Their day starts at midnight and their first service is about 0300 I think. They rest a bit around dawn, then do morning service and go work the farm until time for evening services. They try to be in bed by 2000 hours. For them to also take in visitors like us is something else.

The Sunday service is very well attended, and is putting a bit of strain on the small sanctuary there. They now have Greek Orthodox attending not just from Michigan, but Canada and I think elsewhere. One person indicated they had driven an hour (two?) to be able to attend the service. Had to put out chairs to accommodate everyone.

Forgot to mention, they have a bakery (in the process of expansion) and a small coffee house they open on Sundays after the service. It’s become the social center for the Greek Orthodox community and when the weather is nice (it was a bit cold while we were there), the people spill outside to sit at tables or just enjoy the immediate area. They do really good Greek coffee (delightfully chewy) and the Abbot was kind enough to offer me a small bit of a more spirited libation (essentially Greek moonshine was how he described it) to go with it.

I did make it out into the woods/larger grounds for a short time on Saturday, exploring out onto the peninsula that juts out into the lake. The area has lots of bogs, and I heard that the entire area (not just their lands) are considered wetlands. The ground was almost too wet for good tracks, but was not surprised to learn there were deer and more in the area. Know that next time I go back I will be taking a pair of Wellys with me.

Their bookstore was a temptation, but I was good (mostly) and only came back with some of their kosher dill pickles and a jar of the maple syrup they tap and make on-site. Oh yeah, forgot to mention they do that, make beeswax candles, and have a small bee operation as well. For the candles, they buy the wax elsewhere as what they produce there would not be enough to really even get the machine going I think. I wasn’t joking when I said they stay busy. One monk said they don’t fish the lake because they don’t have time to fish. I heard that if you come during the week, you may have the chance to help work the farm. Think I would like that if I can do it.

It was a far cry from my first visit to an Orthodox church many years ago. That one was just outside the Kremlin, and a young woman insisted we go to Church on Sunday. So, we did and I didn’t have a clue of what was going on or why there were no chairs, pews, etc. She lit a few candles, told me the service was over, and that we needed to depart. I was pretty sure things were still underway, but got told no, time to go. Found out recently that her behavior may have been a holdover from Soviet days, where if you just went in for a few minutes and not the entire service, you were not harassed by the authorities. Since the Soviet Union had just fallen a few years before, it makes sense.

While pretty much everyone stayed put during the service at the monastery, if you attend an Orthodox service and haven’t been before, it may be a touch confusing. In most Western churches, you arrive, sit down, and stay in place (allowing for standing, kneeling, etc.) for the entire service. In most Orthodox churches, there can be a lot of movement as people go to light candles, offer prayers and such even during the service. About the only time it stops is when Scripture is being read and during the homily. I will also share the words of an Orthodox writer I read a while back, who noted ‘there is often a simple and concise way to say something: that is NOT the Orthodox way.’ That one still makes me laugh.

In short, the visit was good for my soul on several levels. It also let me see how I could do on a trip and in handling a pack (I used an assault ruck for the visit). I came back refreshed in more than one way, even though I admit to being a little tired today (mostly the travel I think). It was different, and good. Thought I would share just a bit of it. And leave you with a thought inspired by the startled look a sculpture in our bunk room.

Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving once we have medical issues cleared up, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

Prayer Request

Yesterday, I did the difficult but important visit to say goodbye to someone. M is a member of the Church I’ve been attending, and welcomed me when I started attending. She almost always had a big smile and a lot of enthusiasm the times I saw her, and her love of music was obvious. She was older, but still moved pretty good and even volunteered to work in the bookstore. The last time I got to chat with her was in that role, where when I said it was dangerous to my budget to enter the store she laughed and said I needed to spend more there.

I did not know her husband (call him S), who did not attend (any) Church, but have since learned that M had let a few people know that he was not doing well. Apparently, on Sunday, M had a massive and unrecoverable stroke and is comatose. Her husband passed a short time later. She will likely pass soon herself.

Please join me in praying for them both. Thank you.

The Church Lunch

For all that I am still dragging, I wanted to talk about the Church lunch I did yesterday. After our Sunday service, we have what is called a coffee to break fast, but most would consider it a lunch. People volunteer to provide the entree, and others bring in salads, desserts, and other delights. Given my background cooking, particularly for wounded and troops, I decided to volunteer.

Admittedly, I’ve not done anything like this in a while and definitely not since the lightning strike. So, in some ways it was a test to see if I could do something on this scale from both a mental and physical standpoint. Yes, I was pushing it a bit on more than one level, but felt like it was something I needed to do. Never mind that I wanted to do it.

So, an opportunity came up a couple of weeks ago to step in and help out. I grabbed it, and began planning. Rather rapidly, I decided to do spaghetti with two types of sauce since I had been told a while back that each meal needed a vegetarian/vegan option for the monastics who attend (though I found out later that they don’t participate in the coffee). So, given that and some of the Lenten restrictions, I decided to do a puttanesca variant along with a simple red sauce and two types of pasta.

I checked with several sources to be sure I could use anchovies in the puttanesca variant, and found out it was the last day I could do so. Works (worked). I keep checking the sign-up site and got a bit nervous in regards not seeing other things listed/people signing up, so thought I might should provide a bit more. After going through several options, I decided to do a play on it being cheesefare Sunday and do a cheese plate. Rather, two cheese plates as the idea is to have lines down both sides of the table(s) where the food is laid out to speed the flow. I also decided to do two little dessert trays just to be sure there was something sweet on the table. Later, decided to add some salad as well.

So, I did go over my initial budget, but it was well worth it. Interestingly enough, as shopping progressed early in the week, I kept running into bargains on the things I was after. Found some good cheeses and dessert items at very good prices (if not on sale) at Trader Joe’s. At the restaurant supply store, found a wheel of ethnic cheese and a huge container of mozzarella pearls at an almost ridiculously low price. I was disappointed that Fresh Market was out of my usual olive spread (which was on sale) but they had something similar. Yes, I prefer to get good assorted olives and chop them up, but those prices have gotten ridiculously high, so I use the olive spread. They also did have the smoked kalamata olives I’ve come to love adding, so got them. GFS had salad, a cheese assortment, and mini chocolate eclairs at a very good price. I also picked up various disposable serving plates and bowls to cut down on clean-up and such.

I also got permission from the landlord to really use the kitchen, particularly on Saturday. While there were some minor issues on that (housemate mostly), things got done. The landlord’s reaction when he walked in Saturday morning and saw the oven and most burners in use was actually amusing. I began marinating the pearls in olive oil and my homemade Italian seasoning blend on Thursday. Note: I did replace the red pepper with a mix of chipotle and smoked paprika(s?). Friday, I began the process to bake two loaves of sourdough bread. Interestingly enough, after I had volunteered, Audrey and her clone (who needs her own name) really took off so that I had plenty of starter for baking.

Saturday afternoon just before Vespers, I took almost everything down to the Church kitchen so that I would be ready to go early Sunday morning. I was also starting to get worried that I had not prepared enough food, didn’t have enough pasta, etc. I decided to not try to do anything last minute, but to have faith. Such was a good reminder.

Sunday morning very early, I was down in the kitchen starting the prep for service. Had verified the grocery nearby would be open in time if I did need more pasta and such. Oh ye of little faith…

My serving plans went out the window rather quickly. It wasn’t two small cheese plates, but three very full and large cheese plates by the time I finished prep. Two of the plates were centered by small brie wheels, surrounded by English coastal cheddar, three different Spanish cheeses, some of the ethnic cheese, and more. The center of the third was the ethnic cheese, surrounded by yet more cheeses. It wasn’t two small dessert trays, but three full and large dessert plates. Two big bowls of salad with more left over at need. Instead of two medium plastic bowls of pasta, it turned into two large stainless steel bowls of pasta (in part because the hot pasta turned the plastic bowls into modern art, much less not holding half the pasta). It was a large pot of puttanesca-style sauce and one of my enameled dutch ovens full of red sauce. Two baskets of sourdough after slicing. A nice bowl of marinated mozzarella pearls. Two wonderful ladies brought in salads, and one of them brought in some savory “pancakes” (crepes really) with smoked salmon and cheese and a huge plate of sweet “pancakes”/crepes/blini with raspberry jam. Another lady brought in an assortment of Japanese cookies. Another lady brought in a big tray of a Ukrainian dessert made with filo dough and a sweet cheese. I wish I had gotten a photo as we laid it out, but did get the one above about half way through.

The red sauce was okay, but the puttanesca-style sauce was a huge hit. The bread was also a hit, with people asking about sourdough, starting your own starter, and more. I think the only reason I came home with three small pieces was that they got lost in the folds of the serving baskets… I had bought some take-home compartmented trays, and they came in handy as people took meals home for others or for later (which I strongly encouraged).

I really need to thank my friend John, who left the service early to give me a hand, and it was needed. I had filled the large pots for pasta with water (big enough they covered from my belt up to my shoulders) and gotten them onto the stove, but it was a bit of a challenge. They were, I think, the largest and heaviest objects I’ve lifted since both the lightning strike and getting both shoulders replaced last year. He helped with the cooking of the pasta, and — even more importantly — got them off the stove and into the strainer for me.

Oh, I should mention that while I did not get to take part in the service directly, they do have a speaker in the kitchen so I could listen and take part in the singing and responses. Good part of that is no one else was subjected to what passes for my singing…

Two or three of the ladies of the Church took over the clean-up and shooed me out of the kitchen after lunch. I may have mentioned I’m taking a class at that time, and am very much enjoying it. For all that parts of it are all Greek to me (pun pun), we are getting into some of the joys of translating scripture and more from Greek and how word usage has changed. It is a bit jarring to hit condescension not in the modern usage (being an arrogant jerk, etc.) but in the original usage of willfully lowering from an high level to a far lower level (as in God becoming man). Great class, important, and the ladies were determined I not miss it. I can’t thank them enough.

John was also kind enough to drive me back to the evening service, for which I am grateful. I was fried since I had gotten up at 0300 to be ready to start prep work at just after 0700. Yes, I often start slow after getting hit by lightning. I’m also glad I was smart enough to take my walking stick as I needed it. Most of the time I don’t (IMO, other opinions may vary), but I knew I did then. Since it was forgiveness Sunday, it turns out prostrations were done in the service.

It was not just about asking forgiveness from God, but also our fellow man in the form of the men and women of the Church. You know, that whole ‘debt/debtor, trespass/trespasses’ thing. Now, rumor has it that I might be a very slight bit stubborn (and prideful even) on occasion. Despite the word being given that one should only take part in the prostrations if you were able, I decided to at least try to do them. Early, I got down on my knees and stayed there until the prostrations were over. Then, I worked my way back up to sitting on the pew, and then stood back up.

However, we were not yet done. The next part had us go up, prostrate to God, and then we started asking and giving forgiveness to each other. This starts with you going to each member of the clergy, and prostrating to each other while asking and granting forgiveness to each other. I made it through the Clergy doing the prostrations. Mostly. I had some issues part way through, nearly bashed one of them in the foot when I dropped my walking stick that I was using to get up and down, and just did the bow from then on. It was a good service and actually a very gratifying process as we bowed, forgave, did a three-part hug, and worked our way around to take our place in the line.

Admittedly, at one point I did look reproachfully at a friend and say “Ya’ll never said anything about calisthenics!” To be honest, it wasn’t as bad as my first Episcopal service where I kept waiting for someone to call out “Jumping Jacks” as part of all the kneeling, standing, and such — very different from the far more staid services I grew up with in the Methodist Church.

Oh, and remind me later to discuss the book I just got that is a new translation of St. Patrick’s surviving writings. Turns out, most/all translations are based of of more modern Latin, whereas he worked in early medieval Latin. The person who did this translation actually studied and has worked with early medieval Latin extensively, and apparently actually translating on the language he used makes a considerable difference. Who knew? Sort of like Caesar apparently saying in Greek “Kai su, teknon” which Shakespeare translated into Latin as “Et Tu, Brute?” Problem is, in the vernacular of the day, kai su can be translated as more ‘See you in hell punk’ than the noble line created by the Bard. See here and here for a bit more on that, though both cite the same work. The book is from a publishing company that as Sister I know helped found/founded. More on this later.

I was reminded by more than one person about loaves and fishes, and how what comes in each week, even when meager, is always more than enough. It was good to know that while it is a challenge, I can still work out the timelines and do something like this. Even better, I can provide a bit of tastiness and more to those in my Church. That means a lot to me, especially now.

Some Thoughts On The Crucifixion

As a reminder, I am not a theologian. I am a bit of an amateur historian, however. This time of year, a Christian does think of the Death, Resurrection, and the Ascension just a bit. One of the tropes used to attack these things, and Faith, is to attack the Crucifixion itself. However, I find those attacks only increase my Faith.

Crucifixion has been used in various forms around the world for most of recorded history. The Japanese used a version of it that utilized a framework rather than the cross of the Romans. Some cultures just tied you to a tree. For this post, let’s just look at the Romans and take some of the attacks on a case-by-case basis.

For Romans, crucifixion was reserved primarily for the lower classes and subjugated peoples. If my memory is correct, full Roman citizens rarely were crucified. It happened, but it was not the norm.

I seem to recall that such executions were often done outside the city gates and along roads, so that all could see what happened to those who broke the law, particularly Roman law. In some places, a site was chosen so that the public could gather and watch, and the happenings observed from the city walls or such.

Attack One: Romans didn’t use the Cross as depicted by Christians. While it is true they most often used a tau-cross, they did use the Christian cross when a message was being sent.

The fact is, the Romans were cheap. They were not going to spend any money they didn’t have to on dealing with the riff raff. The Christian-style cross cost money (and time), therefore was reserved for when they wanted to send a message.

The standard way of doing things was to tie the victim to the cross-member and have them walk thus bound to the site of the execution. More on scourging and such in a bit. If not already naked, they were stripped and then Roman soldiers would stand on stools, piles of rocks, or other such to lift the cross-member up and fit it into a pre-cut slot of the post. The victim’s feet would then be loosely tied into place.

Pretty much immediately, the victim would begin to twist and writhe as it was rather painful. I seem to recall hearing the phrase ‘the dance that has no steps’ to describe this. To add to the physical, there was also an element of psychological torture in that the victim knew they were just off the ground, and if only they could touch it they could relieve their suffering and/or escape.

This is also why troops guarded the execution sites. It kept friends or family of the victim from coming and freeing them. For those troops, there could be other benefits, as it were. One such was obtaining any clothing or (rarely) jewelry from the victim, which could then be sold or traded. Little extra cash, as it were. There was also rape and other physical pleasures to be had.

The troops were also there both to encourage or prevent various attacks on the victims by the public. Another part of the torture that was death by crucifixion was that the public could throw things at you, hit you, sexually assault or humiliate you, etc.

It also could be a slow process. Someone in decent shape, unwhipped, etc. could last for days. As such, the troops had an iron bar that after three days (or other period specified) they would use to break the legs of those being crucified so that they died more quickly.

In contrast, what we now know as the Christian-style cross took a bit more time. The cross-member had to be fitted in place and secured, and it took several people to raise it up with the victim on it, get it into the prepared hole, and wedge it in place. For most riff-raff/scum (as the Roman’s saw it), the tau-cross was the cheaper and better option, and could be re-used many times.

Attack Two: Use of nails. There are about three different attacks, and I will reserve one of them for discussion next.

Again, the Romans were cheap and they were not going to spend any more money on executing the riff-raff than they absolutely had to. For the vast majority, rope was used as it was cheaper and reusable. It was also much easier to produce, even using local products.

Nails, however, were labor intensive to produce which only added to their expense. In construction, they were only used when pegs, wedges, tongue-and-grove and such would not work. Nails also were not always reusable, even from crucifixions because of the various stresses put on them during, and especially after when trying to remove them.

They also seem to have hastened death, and as such were reportedly used on those the Romans wanted to die in quickly. Which meant that they were often used on the royalty/leadership local (subjugated) populations who challenged Rome but a protracted death could cause unrest. See this on a Jewish prince, and I suspect there is a tale to tell behind this story. Especially since I seem to recall recently reading that they had found twelve nails buried with the man.

So, the idea that the Romans never used nails is moot, and they did use them on local royalty and others they wished to die in a hurry. For all that they mocked our Lord, keep in mind that he was by Roman standards treated like royalty. That had defied Rome. For all that it was intended as mockery, the sign above him on the cross, in three languages, proclaiming Jesus to be King of the Jews. You see it abbreviated as INRI (Latin), and INBI (Greek). In their mockery, they also declared him royal.

It also ties back into the charges against him, of which Pilate found him innocent. Pilate did not want to kill him, and so washed his hands of the affair after doing all he could to make it go away quickly. Bit more in a moment.

Attack Three: Positioning of the Nails. What little archaeological evidence we have is that the Romans tended to drive nails through the heel bone. This guaranteed that the condemned wasn’t likely to come loose. There are accounts of nails being used in the wrists, though no archaeological evidence to support that.

Keep in mind that the bodies of people crucified often were not buried, but essentially tossed on a midden heap. Most had rope used on them, not nails. So, there is not a lot of forensic evidence, which some use to attack the account in the scriptures.

The thing is, people making such attacks try to pull their “ah ha” without any understanding of why the Crucifixion happened

Yes, if you put a nail in the foot or palm, they can be pulled out. If you saw the most recent John Wick movie, the scene with the knife showed one way it could be done. But, that ignores the all-important why.

Christ chose to die for us out of love. He placed himself on the Cross in and with love, and it was love that held him in place until the end. He did not die because God demanded blood, Blood, BLOOD and death for the sin of Adam and Eve and the subsequent sins of the world. There was no penal substitution; rather, Christ paid the debt of Adam out of love, so that we could become spirit-bearing men and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Attack Four: Too Quick. This attack is an odd one, but basically according to those making it, Christ died too quickly and the timeline doesn’t add up.

Part of me really doesn’t understand this one, but here’s a few thoughts. We’ve already covered that the use of nails seems to have been tied to hurrying things along. What a lot of people don’t get is that Christ wasn’t just whipped, he was scourged.

A scourge is a nasty thing. It is a whip, usually with three or more strands, that is embedded with metal and sometimes glass. The Roman scourge tended to use chunks of metal and sometimes metal hooks on the end of those strands. Others had metal chunks or balls along with bits of glass, metal, and metal hooks. Short version is that it stripped the flesh off the person on which it was being used, as well as pulverizing muscle, bone, and even organs beneath. For example, even a single blow over the kidneys could damage or destroy them. Under Roman law, there were no limits to the number of blows, though they did want the victim to live long enough to go up on a cross or otherwise be executed.

For all that as a carpenter Christ probably had very good arm, shoulder, and back development, this would have been destroyed by the scourging. For those wondering why I say this, there were no power tools back then, only muscle power. As a result, carpenters tended to have some development. Without those back and shoulder muscles, the ability to stay up on the Cross – which allowed better breathing – would have been diminished or even eliminated.

Add to it that Christ was quite likely severely dehydrated by that point, and you have a situation where a quick death is likely. Again, I don’t understand the argument that he died too quickly, especially in light of all of the above.

I think there was something else, but I failed to write down any notes or a list, so… I will add that I find depictions of other crucifixions, or modern ones cinematic or otherwise, that make use of a crown of thorns to be off-putting (to be polite) as there was only one known use of such. Also remember that every effort made to humiliate Christ backfired, and worked to his glory.

Some Thoughts On Prayer

I had actually wanted to do this a few weeks ago, but with not feeling well, well… It may be for the best, as over the last few weeks some points have been raised that I think may add to this. As always, these are only my thoughts and do not represent the official position, theology, or doctrine of any church. I am not a theologian so as with all things that are the word of man, take with a grain of salt.

Prayer is one of the most important and powerful things we can and should do as a part of Faith. It is an essential part of building our relationship with God, and it should be not merely a reflection of that relationship, but a means of deepening and expanding that relationship. It should be an exploration that becomes an exhortation within our soul.

There are many beautiful and wonderful prayers. The liturgical prayers of many churches are things of beauty and power, with the Nicene Creed (Creed of Constantinople) being the symbol of Christian belief and faith. Even with the issue of the Filioque, which I’m going to skip for now.

Prayer can and does bring about miracles, large and small. I have seen it, I have felt it, and I believe it. I have also seen prayer used in ways that can come across as grandstanding (at best) or as a weapon against faith.

The latter is one reason I tend to take Mathew 6:6 to heart. That bit of scripture is why I rarely post a prayer here or on social media. It is also because I have issues with certain forms of prayer.

The first of those forms is to demand God do what we want, how we want, and when we want (usually right now!). This is definitely not a new take on prayer, and man being man, it is as ancient as man. The problem with demanding a specific outcome, but also how and when it is to take place, is that it attempts to put us on the level of God. It may or may not be related to our tendency to see God as a superhuman rather than an entity that exists outside of time, space, and our understanding.

Thing is, things happen for a reason. It may be because we have free will and are stupid (Hey ya’ll, watch this!). Which is how lessons get learned. It may also be because something we do or experience will make a difference several generations from now. Remember, all of time and space are but one to God, who knows and sees all. Short version is, I do NOT know better than God what is right or needed for myself or anyone else. As such, I rarely pray for a specific outcome, for myself or anyone else. My own tendency is to go short and sweet, and in such cases I tend to ask to let that which is right to be.

Does that mean I would object if God were to heal me and make whole a rather battered body and mind? No, no it does not, not at all. In fact, I would (and could) dance a jig if that happened. The question, however, would be if that healing were the best thing for me, for my soul, and for God’s plan? That’s the key question, and the short answer is ‘I don’t know’ along with the fact I suspect it’s not. Strongly suspect even. Through prayer, I do have faith that what has and is happening has a purpose, meaning, and more. So, let that which is right be.

Which ties into another short prayer that I find opens doorways: I will to will Thy will oh Lord. It not only opens me up to the will of God, but also opens the way to a deeper and better understanding of Faith and faith. To the person who taught me that prayer years ago, if you happen to read this, thank you.

Unless it is a prayer of thanks, I have found short and open-ended works best for me. The times I’ve left things up to the Lord in addressing a need/issue, it has always worked out better than I expected. To use a potentially bad analogy, it’s like praying for a Mercedes-Benz. God may have been preparing to give you a Lamborghini, but if the MB is really what you want… Even during the aftermath of the last shoulder replacement, when the pain medication and other treatment were withheld by the night nurse, I did not ask for a specific outcome. I simply asked the Lord to help me, and began to pray the Rosary. Suddenly, it was as if a barrier dropped into place between me and the pain. Prayer answered.

I will note that words do matter. One of the sermon topics recently was in regards the blind man to whom Jesus restored sight. This one may well depend on the Bible translation you are using, but it is worth noting that the blind man asked Jesus to end the darkness, to deliver him from the darkness and restore the light. It wasn’t just about restoring his sight, but restoring his soul. Choose your words with care, and make them count.

One of the things I enjoy about the Church I’ve been attending since around the end of November, is that before the service on Sunday is a time of preparation. Not only of people getting ready and doing what is needed for the service, but also a time of prayer so that those attending the service can prepare themselves. I’ve been finding it a wonderful time for a variety of prayers and meditation on Faith and more. I don’t like what I see coming in this world, and as the song says I’m frightened for the children. I don’t see a way to stop things from going sideways, so I pray for God to do so.

I could ramble some more, but there is some food for thought here I hope. Just remember, prayer is not only a chance to ask God to help others and ourselves, but a chance to explore Faith, and to strengthen and deepen our relationship with God. It is not a pretty magic spell to get what you want; rather, an opportunity to gain that which you truly need the most.

PS: God does always answer prayers. Sometimes the answer is no. When that happens, I’ve always found it’s a good idea to examine what I was asking for. A selfish and/or self-centered prayer always deserves a no.

Things I Never Knew…

I did not make it to Church this morning, and it bothers me. Combination of things, from not feeling well to a mix of rain, snow, and 25 mph winds outside. Even with a car that would have been interesting. With bus and a walk…

Sundays I usually try to stay off social media, but I’ve hit it a few times today both checking on some events (terrorist attack on a Catholic Church, volcanic activity, etc.) and checking on some friends. Some of what I’ve seen reminded me of all the things I never knew about Scripture and Theology.

For example, right after 10/7 there were a whole bunch of influences and others popping up on social media not only shouting that Christ was King, but that Christ also wasn’t Jewish and the Old Testament had nothing to do with the Jewish faith. That a number of them also got into Blood Libels against Jews in general (and the Catholic Church to some extent) really wasn’t a surprise. Do wonder if silver is still the preferred mode of payment…

One of the most fascinating ones that has popped up is that Saul was in the service of Satan who loaned him to the Romans to pull off a con in terms of conversion and becoming Paul. This was done to destroy “real” Christianity at the start by Satan while the Romans kept it from becoming a threat to the Empire until they could co-opt it for their own. Who knew?

Still trying to figure out the person going after a friend demanding that she provide the scriptures as to why the Virgin Mary had to be kept in a hidden/non-public room behind a curtain and have blood sprinkled on her by a priest once a year. Yeah, you got me on that one. Not sure, but maybe conflating the Jewish Day of Atonement with something the Catholic Church doesn’t do today? Makes absolutely no sense, has no basis in reality that I can find, and so that person went from being muted to being blocked. I had seen the friend reply to a blank spot, got curious so looked, which may have cost me brain cells to read the stupidity and bigotry (point, accurate on two uses for blank).

Have been blocking a lot of antisemites as well as certain anti-Catholics since 10/7. If there is no chance of discourse, am just blocking. There are some who simply don’t know (or have been told things that aren’t true) and I try to share with them. Then, there are those who are convinced that their particular branch of the protestant faith was the true faith all along and had been deliberately hidden from the world by corrupted apostles and such until it was brought forth blazing from the breast of Zeus (and, yes, deliberate choice of phrase there) after the Reformation. I swear, it is as if the origins of the Church and the 1500+ years of religious history prior to the Reformation aren’t taught anymore. If I’m spotting the holes despite the holes in my memory, it’s pretty bad.

Maybe I do need to do a post one day dealing with the universal (which is what the Greek word catholic means) church and some of the history before the reformation. Sure wouldn’t hurt me to review some of the various conclaves, synods, and such. Besides, always fun to read about future saints having fist fights over points of theology. Yep, that happened and more than once if my faulty memory is correct. Amuses my inner 8-year-old to this day.

Besides, might be fun to make some of the anti-Catholic heads explode by discussing the Egyptian Coptic Christian Church (first to leave the universal church, in the 500s?) and the Orthodox Church (and the schism of 1054 with the Roman Catholic Church). Along the way point out some of the practices of the early Church (who did venerate the Virgin Mary and embrace the use of icons when and where they could, and also point out the Apostle Luke was one of the first Christian iconographers). Maybe get into why certain altar covers had relics and other important items sewn into them. Could be fun. Could even be needed the way things are going.

Have to think that the only one pleased to see all the attacks on the Theotokos/Blessed Mother is the Evil One. Heck, even Martin Luther himself supported the veneration of the Virgin Mary. Maybe it is time to update and even expand my post on the Empty Vessel theory they are pushing. Might also be fun to discuss how original church services lasted hours, and the process by which they have been brought down to an hour for many, and app. 1.5 hours for TLM and Orthodox services.

The fervor with which some go after any and all other Christian faiths does remind me of this:

About the only good line from the movie

And as for those denominations that are helping push all this, they should be glad Paul still isn’t alive as otherwise they would be getting a letter I suspect. Might be all the Churches/denominations would…

Some Thoughts On The Bible

Continuing my series of posts on faith and related, as I explore the holes in my memory and try to be sure I’m not missing anything important, at least in regards Faith. My explorations are my own, and in no way, shape, or form represent the official position of any denomination of Christianity — only my imperfect understanding of God and Faith. If anything here does help someone else, and does not distract or otherwise damage faith and belief, that’s a good thing. Bread upon the waters should never be considered a bad thing.

The Bible and scripture are where I’m finding a lot of holes in my memories. I know I’ve read several versions of the Protestant Bible in whole or in part, have read at least parts of the Catholic Bible (NAB version), and think I’ve read some or all of the apocrypha. I do remember enough to know that a favorite translation of mine is the King James version, though I’ve also read portions of the Revised Standard Version, Living Bible, and a few other hip and modern translations. I don’t recall being terribly impressed with the hip and modern translations. Guess I am old fashioned that way.

While I can’t remember reading a lot, I am pleasantly surprised at what scripture does pop up as I’m reading and studying. Which leads me to think that some of those memories are still there, somewhere, and that even damaged as my mind may be, guidance is happening.

No, my readings are not a nod to Sola Scriptura. While I think reading scripture is important, as is developing a personal understanding of scripture and Faith, I find the concept of scripture alone being enough/all that is needed much like eating the dry ingredients of a cake and declaring that to be the same as eating the final product. From what I have read, Martin Luther himself did not intend for this concept to be taken as far as it has by his followers. Even growing up in the Methodist Church, the lessons where we read the Bible were paired with presentations by various theologians and others on what the lesson meant.

While such augmentation did not extend back to the Fathers of the Church that I remember (and especially not to Catholic traditions and scholars), it added some leavening and richness that would otherwise have been missing. Again, what I remember of the past was that anytime there was that additional perspective presented, it boosted what was obtained from the Scriptures almost immeasurably. After all, to treat Faith as a purely intellectual exercise is to miss out on the depth, beauty, and love that transcend mere rationality and logic.

To my mind as it currently exists, I think that reading Scripture along with the thoughts of the Fathers of the Church and related sources is crucial to getting the most out of the experience. To put those words into the context of how and why things were done as they were boosts faith and adds to the experience of worship. It helps me to better develop my Faith and live the life I should be living.

That said, I would offer caution on some of the more modern takes being presented today. When it comes to prosperity and getting rich, rich, rich through Christ, I would simply suggest a search on the topics of rich men, wealth, and such then reading said scripture. Eyes of needles is perhaps the mildest of what will be found. Why no, I’m not a fan of prosperity gospel.

When it comes to the extremely modern take that Christ is your friend, your good and mellow buddy who is really laid back, ready to give you anything you need or want, share his stash, etc., with never a need for repayment, might I suggest running a search in the King James or RSV for all the times Christ called someone friend? Think you are going to have fingers left over, and it is worth considering his comments in those instances. For what it is worth, I do think Christ is our friend, just not in the modern meaning of such and very much in a more old fashioned way.

On a more fun note, I do remember an exercise that I was given somewhere around the ninth grade. For it, I was asked to read the Bible (any edition) as if it were a novel. While that was a bit of a challenge, doing so was a very interesting and positive experience. By starting with Genesis and working forward, it was interesting to see the developments and how much reading that way brought out the foreshadowing of Christ in scripture. I remember being very surprised by how much this exercise brought out.

More recently, I had the Book of Luke brought to my attention for a couple of reasons. One was the thought by theologians and historians that Luke interviewed/talked to not just some of those still living who knew Christ, but also the Virgin Mary herself. When you look at Luke, note the stories of his youth which are only located in that Book, and think of the stories only a mother could and would tell.

There is something else about Luke I was going to discuss here, but now can’t remember what it was. I miss, very much, having working short- and long-term memory. There are days it does get a bit frustrating, but I also have faith that it is for a reason, and there is something I am to learn or do as a result of this. I try not to let the glitches, and having my train of thought go off the rails, the bridge, and smash into the gorge, get to me. Too much.

I do remember that I wanted to say a few words about authorship and something for which I am thankful. As someone who has spent a good bit of my career translating scientificese and engineerese into something vaguely approaching American (gave up on English years ago, no one here speaks it anyway), I simply am glad that the Apostles were honest fishermen and such, and not academics or other such “learned” types. By the time the “learned” got a hold of their words, Tradition was already set for the most part. My opinion is that we are much the richer for it.

And, yes, I do realize that Luke was a physician and scholarly. He was not, however, an academic as we think of such and thankfully not an engineer. As a result, we have two books that are different from, but complementary to, the Books of Matthew, Mark, John, etc. Can you imagine the results if you were to turn most modern woke academics loose on Scripture? Shudder.

If I do remember the other item I meant to share, I will try to work it into a future post. For now, I am at peace with the gaps in my memories of reading the Bible given that somehow I am having the needed scripture (or info on where to look) pop up as needed. Yes, I do plan to add some reading of Scripture to my list regardless. Such reading and re-reading is a good thing, and I commend it to all.

The Series Of Posts:

Exploring Faith, Christianity, and Theology

Some Thoughts On God, And Man

Some Additional Background Memories

What Is Christianity?

What Is Christianity?

To hear about it on social media, Christianity is many things. It is a horror and abomination to some, the basis for a theological autocracy for others, and a seemingly endless source of disagreement for those who profess to practice it. Thankfully, for at least a few online, it is a source of strength, guidance, and hope for this life and the next.

It is sadly easy not simply to get distracted by minutiae, misrepresentation, and theological dead-ends, but caught up in them. I’m more than ever reminded that the greatest triumph of the Evil One is convincing people that he doesn’t really exist. I’m convinced that some of what I see presented on social media and in corporate media in regards Christianity is, in fact, the work of the Evil One.

Even with the holes in my memories, I think I can give a concise take on Christianity and lay out some areas for future expansion and explanation. I also want to bring out some aspects that I fear are, deliberately and otherwise, getting lost in the shouting as it were.

At its core, Christianity is the belief that God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to be born of the Virgin Mary so that he could live, suffer, and die for our sins. That through him, and him alone, we can obtain eternal life with God the Father. That we are saved by Grace through faith, not works. That the Bible is the word of God, infallible, and is the guide for our lives. That the reward of faith and of living the best we can the guides laid out for us in the Bible, is eternal life in Heaven (or a perfected Earth, topic for later); and, failure to accept Christ and live as we are commanded will result in our being sent to Hell.

Of course, there is more to it — much more to it — than that. Some of the points have been being argued since the Catholic Church (note, not the Roman Catholic Church) first started. Actually, some quick research shows the term Catholic truly got going in the second century of the Church, and it derives from the Greek word katholikos which is translated as “universal.” I may get more into that in a later post, as it is interesting linguistically and theologically. Even more interesting are the churches (flavors?) of Christianity that follow the Nicene Creed “…one holy catholic and apostolic Church.” More on that once we get into a discussion of the flavors.

In addition, some points I hope to get to in the future (hopefully near future) include salvation, baptism, confession and the forgiveness of sins, that Jesus is NOT our friend as we currently use the term, and the problems of theology via throwing out portions of scripture and theology we don’t like.

For today, however, I want to touch a bit on Grace and remind myself and others of one of the key tenets that is being deliberately ignored by both those who follow the pseudo-religion of wokeness/socialism (note, communism and socialism are two sides of the same coin), and those who profess faith but seem to fail to grasp what I consider some basics.

The common core (pun intended) is that both parties reject or ignore Grace. They both reject or ignore that God is Love, and that there is no sin that God can’t forgive via confession and penance.

It is well worth noting that in the secular pseudo-religion of wokeness that there is no Grace. There may be a temporary rehabilitation for political purposes, but that is only temporary and as soon as the need is passed one is once again cast forth. There is no true and real forgiveness for “sins” real or imagined in that secular monstrosity. Not even death brings absolution.

As for those who profess faith and appear to reject Grace, there are two points that come to mind. One is the start of the prologue to the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church:

God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life. For this reason, at every time and in every place, God draws close to man. He calls man to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength. He calls together all men, scattered and divided by sin, into the unity of his family, the Church. To accomplish this, when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son as Redeemer and Saviour. In his Son and through him, he invites men to become, in the Holy Spirit, his adopted children and thus heirs of his blessed life.

Again, God is love and he so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son to live, suffer, and die for our sins. A very good argument can be made that by rejecting this, by rejecting Grace, for those they consider to be in sin, that they are rejecting the sacrifice of Christ, and therefore Christ himself.

The other point I see is that they are in some ways a modern-day version of Donatism. Just as the Donatics felt the Church had fallen into sin and only they were the true Christians (and I seem to recall that they weren’t real sure about each other even), the modern version is quick to condemn others and paint individuals and even whole denominations with an unforgiving broad brush.

My own readings, study, and journey have convinced me that God doesn’t demand perfection as much as that we try for perfection within the limitations of mortal flesh. Continuously, exhaustively, and with repentance when we don’t make it. To paraphrase a line from a science fiction show (Babylon 5), ‘Sin is what makes us fall; but, the larger sin lies in not getting back up again.’ It lies in failing to try, to confess our failings and to ask for help, and then get back up and try again. Keep trying: you are NOT a failure, only human.

At some point, I want to address the concept of complex problems, such as medical issues, and why a single failure is not truly a failure. For all that I’ve heard ‘Oh, X must not have truly repented/believed/etc. or else they wouldn’t still have this problem’ (and yes, I’ve heard it more in the Roman Catholic Church than elsewhere, but it exists in all denominations), it’s an assumption based on error. Sometimes, God wants us to work through things the long way for a reason. Again, a discussion for another day.

I will note that my thoughts and beliefs are subject to change. For one thing, I think the day we truly die is the day we quit learning and growing. Life, and Faith, are not static and should not be static. We should continually be open to God, to learning more in and about Faith, and even the history of our Faith. As we do so, we gain a greater understanding not only of God and Faith, but of ourselves and what we can and should do. For a final thing, given that there are holes in my memories, something I used to know may come back or learned anew, which again will result in growth and change.

The core belief of Christianity does not change. What does change is our understanding of ourselves, our responsibilities in Faith and life, and the magnitude of God’s love and Grace for us all. For those that need to hear it, hang in there, have Faith, and know God does love you.

The Series Of Posts:

Exploring Faith, Christianity, and Theology

Some Thoughts On God, And Man

Some Additional Background Memories

Some Thoughts On God, And Man

After spending pretty much all day at Church yesterday, starting about 0745 and getting home about 0200 this morning, this is not going to be as long or as detailed as originally planned. That is probably the latest I have stayed up in more than a decade, much less after all the fun of the lightning strike and other health delights. I will say I had fun, and it was interesting to take part in various liturgical forms for the same service, and I learned a good bit as well. It also served to highlight how different apostles presented the same event in very different ways. That’s a discussion for another day.

I am also glad to report that today’s post has nothing to do with Yale or Buckley (1). That said, however, I need to make a note to myself that in later discussions of the Bible that I remember to give thanks that neither engineers or academics were involved with the original New Testament. Just ignore and roll with that one for now.

If there is a greater contrast between two parties in the universe, than between God and Man, I have yet to find it. Polar opposites is a good descriptor, and highlights the challenges of God explaining things to Man, and Man understanding (more often not understanding) what God is saying and intends.

While a number of theologians concentrate on the 12-15 characteristics of God, it is in my opinion best to focus on and understand the 3 prime attributes of God. Those attributes are the basis of trying to understand God and of the characteristics we have come to associate with God. They are also why we do not have a chance of truly understanding God without assistance. And, no, that assistance does not come from pharmaceuticals as there is no amount of mind expanding or mind altering drugs we can take that will let us truly grasp even a fraction of the mind of God. Trying such is a great way to burn out your brain and waste the gifts God has given you, at least in my opinion.

God exists out of time, as in before and after time as we understand it. Let’s look at the three key areas.

First, God is omnipotent. While that does indeed mean all powerful, it also means that God has the wisdom, judgement, and other characteristics that make him infallible. God does not, therefore, make mistakes. Which leads to God being almighty, because of this and because of what comes next.

Second, God is omniscient. God knows everything since he existed before time and will exist even after time (as we understand it) is gone. God sees all of time (and the before and after) as a single instant. Scripture tells us that God knew that a third of the Heavenly Host would revolt before they did so. God knows we are going to screw up, how we are going to screw up, and loves us anyway. Which is getting a little ahead of myself, but…

Finally, God is omnipresent. “No sparrow shall fall” is because God is present in everyone and everything in the known (and unknown to us) universe(s). There is nothing that happens anywhere (or any time) of which God is unaware.

Where we see probabilities for actions, God not only saw the probabilities but knew which would become reality (in this and even in other potential dimensions) before we even started to take actions. Keep in mind that while we deal (awkwardly and often unwisely) with this reality, God deals with this reality and quite probably more. Keep in mind that whole ‘known and unknown’ thing that pops up in scripture and life from time to time. Which, when you add in free will, makes for a complex situation that puts 3-D chess right out the airlock when it comes to complexity.

So, you have God who likely knows all and sees all across what we would consider multiple dimensions (though God may not see it as such, again a rather advanced discussion for another day). Then, you have us, mankind.

We are why most aliens lock their doors and speed up when passing by our cosmic neighborhood. God is a wondrous trinity of attributes (cough, cough, pay attention) while we know little and seem determined to get as many things wrong as possible. While the latter is a bit cynical of me, the former truly isn’t our fault. To explain why, I need to borrow from the late Kurt Vonnegut.

In one of his stories, I remember him describing humans as a figure who experiences life essentially bound on some sort of open rail car, the car only able to move in one direction while we can only look in one direction (off to the side?), and do so through a long tube that limits our field of view. Let’s face it, that’s not a bad descriptor of how we experience time (and space in a relative sense).

Our viewpoint is extremely limited, we have no real ability (other than some possibly limited bits of pre-cognition and related, again, a discussion for another day) to look ahead. As for looking behind, my own take is that we far too often fail to do so even when it would do us good. Those who fail to understand history are doomed to repeat it; and, those who seek to prevent the teaching of history are working as hard as they can to repeat it and not to the benefit of mankind.

Humanity also has an unmatched (as far as we know) ability to screw up. Much of that comes from taking the easy way on most everything. It reflects strongly in certain politics and political movements, where free and easy is the promise, along with the idea that no payment or work will ever be required to enjoy the largess. This despite rather clear evidence the world really doesn’t work that way…

While jumping ahead a bit, it is worth noting that the Old Testament can be condensed as follows. God: Do these things as I command and life will be good. Mankind: Yes, we will do that. Ooops. We didn’t, we got what we deserved. Please give us another chance. God: Okay, here’s a new covenant, do these things as I command, and life will be good. Mankind: Yes, we will do that. Ooops. We didn’t, we got what we deserved. Please give us another chance. God, possibly tempted to sigh: Okay, here’s a new covenant, do these things as I command, and life will be good. Mankind… For the record, that’s also an accurate summation of me and sin. There is the best of intentions, but the flesh (esp. my brain) is weak.

So, back on track (pun intended). We, mankind, really haven’t got a shot at understanding more than a very limited fraction of the mind of God. We simply are not wired to understand such in this form. Outside this form is an interesting discussion, but again one for another day. The fact is, however, we really don’t need to fully understand the mind of God in order to understand what God wants us to do.

Whether it is from the Burning Bush, the words of the prophets, or the parables of Jesus, the basics are there. Now, particularly in the latter, there is room for growth as it were. Keep in mind the ‘spoke and thought as a child’ bit as it applies to our understanding of God and his word.

For example, I’ve read some ‘learned’ (cough) discussion that God evolved in the Old Testament. After all, God went from a vengeful and emotional creature to the God we know today. This skips a couple of important points in my opinion.

First, in the earliest forms, Judaic belief held that God in Genesis was a first among equals (a concept that comes up again in scripture I believe, and most assuredly in Church politics). Judaism, however, went from from somewhat polytheistic to monotheistic far more rapidly and far earlier than almost any other belief system in the world.

Second, as it did so it was not God that evolved, but our understanding of God. Where we had tried to place a human face and understanding on something that is far from Human, as Mankind evolved our understanding grew as well. This mirrors our understanding of the parables of Jesus, where what we get out of some of them has indeed involved over the years (‘So that’s what it really meant!). That’s one of the beautiful things about parables, is that it is possible to see and understand more (look at this from over here!) as we learn and grow. Not only do I think God has a sense of humor, but I also think he’s efficient in such things, yet another point we may get into later.

What we do need to consider is that our understanding is limited. There are far too many out there who seek to place limits on God, which is something we have been told flat out not to do. For all that such can be amusing, it is also incredibly sad to see people proclaim that God has to do what they want because he has to operate on the basis of how they think God should operate. Such is often linked to extremely legalistic thinking on theology. My personal take is that the more legalistic you get on theology, the greater the chance you are, er, messing up by the numbers.

Indeed, today’s post brings up one of the greatest hopes for the individuals of mankind. I think I’ve been told this before, but a wise priest shared with myself and others that no good, reputable priest (or preacher) will tell you definitively where the soul of a recently departed has gone. They may have strong suspicions (I got the impression that this was particularly true to those who were not so good in life, and likely to go down as it were) but even if likely to go up one didn’t make that declaration. One reason is that for the former is that God is a being who transcends time, and we have no clue if in the final nano-seconds of a person’s life that God did not intervene to give that person a chance. After all, what is a nano-second to us can be an eternity to God. God’s love and mercy are infinite, so we do not know what God might do, especially given that our understanding is both limited and to some extent likely flawed. Just look at the number of times God has given mankind another chance in the Old Testament. Who is to say that such might not extend to an individual level? As for those going up, we may think that but we don’t know all and the only people known for sure (as far as we know) in heaven are the Saints and Martyrs.

Some food for thought as we explore the holes in my memories and I try to work some things out for decisions and more to come.

  1. One of the unexpected (and IMO unearned in some ways) honors in my life was to be an invited guest to WeaponsCon I many years back. WeaponsCon was the response by the late (and missed) Irv Koch to a number of science fiction conventions to banning weapons. At WeaponsCon one had to be armed at all times. It was the safest and most polite convention I think I’ve ever attended. The Guest of Honor was the late (and much, very much, missed) L. Neil Smith. My being put on a similar level to him is what I considered unearned. That said, we got along great and it was a true pleasure to meet him and get to spend some time talking on any number of subjects. To this day I love his description of William Buckley (as character Buckley Williams I think in The Probability Broach) rolling his eyes like a dying horse as both accurate and a bit of sheer comic genius. His entire take was so spot on…

The Series Of Posts:

Exploring Faith, Christianity, and Theology

Some Thoughts On God, And Man

Some Additional Background Memories