More babble about Babel

Ok, so I am playing with words .. but here’s a thought … who is ‘us’?

In my translation of the Bible (New Oxford Annotated Bible Fourth Edition) the ‘Lord’ said, “Come, let US go down and confusion their language, so that they will not understand one another’s speech”.  This throws me back to the conversation at the creation of humanity ‘Let US make humankind in OUR image, according to OUR likeness..’.  Now I know humanity uses the ‘royal plural’ in speech these days, and it has to come from somewhere, but if God made humanity in its image, then God is both male and female, or a hermaphrodite, being a little of each.  That would explain one form of the ‘us’.  

Which raises the thought that if humanity was speaking with one language, easily understanding each other, joyfully worshipping God, why would Jehovah want to disrupt this perfection .. or weren’t humanity supposed to achieve this before Jesus came, to show God in all its glory?  And which God are we talking about anyway, since there is no Love and good in all that confusion .. or is there?

Humankind learns best through trial and error.  Given a perfect circumstances we are quite determined to find something wrong with it, throw in our own thoughts and opinions, and build a tower that leans like Pisa .. we don’t need any help from God to screw up, we have it down to an art form.  By Jehovah and friends stepping in and confusing the language, they would first have caused arguments, perhaps even wars, but after a time some people would have tried to learn each other’s languages, just as we do today.  Even sign language, or hand gestures can almost create a conversation, with some work.  Was that the plan?  To try and make humanity less perfect .. after all everyone was descended from Noah and his wife and daughter’s-in-law .. I wonder how those three felt after losing their parents in the flood, but that’s a side thought .. was Noah perfect, or just good at boat building?  

Reading on .. No, he definitely wasn’t perfect, he cursed his grandson Canaan for the boy’s father (Ham) seeing him naked.  My notes talk about incestuous behaviours, but to be ‘naked’ has another meaning.  It means to be truly visible in all your imperfections, to have nothing hidden .. so if Noah was not a good man, Ham saw this and ‘knew’ Noah differently from his brothers.  Can we compare this with being supposed not to look into the face of God, because we will die .. but why should we, if God is only about Love, then why would God’s ‘nakedness’ destroy us?  Why are we not allowed to be curious about God?  There was no written language at that time, only the stories passed from teacher to pupil, and parents to children, and those stories talked of the history, the mystery and the facts about God .. but not just the God of the Israelites, because that was before their time also, but Gods from other communities around them .. and yet, all those other communities came from the same source, so where did the different ‘gods’ come from, if not from human imagination?  I would think that the real God would truly want humanity to find It again among the muddle .. so confusing the language, to me, seems purposefully destructive.  Why did humanity need to be so severely punished in a time when they were scattering across the world anyway .. or was it because they were ‘not’ scattering?  No, that’s not true either, if you read your bible .. confusion on confusion .. and this book is translated direct from the ancient languages.

Gotta love it ..

Bless you all.

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Job and God, slave and master

Morning all,

I’ve had a long break thanks to Christmas and a busy beginning to the year. Coming back to Job is a bit of a thud. I would rather not think of what God allowed to happen to this man and his family, if the story is true, which is unlikely, given its history and the knowledge we have of its creation (see my last blog).

Stop over a minute and pop over here to Heather Benson’s very good site Move from this Mountain. Her question sparked my comment on the page, which I have copied here:

“God speaks in the book? Where? Oh I know, at the end where he ignores everything he has put Job through, and Job’s family and servants, and starts pontificating about how wonderous ‘he’ (God) is. How does that help me to understand ‘him’ .. when I am stopped dead by the cruelty of the actions, the lack of love that he showed Job through all the torture, and everyone else by terminating their lives .. just to show the devil that Job ‘might’ remain faithful?

The human mind wants to find answers to everything, its how we were created. Trying to find a ‘good’ answer in all the “I am bigger stronger .. and yes, crueler, than all your little pipsqueaks” .. is not what I think the God of Jesus is about. Jesus taught ‘love everyone as I have loved you’ .. if Job’s God was our God, I think we better hide.

The Book of Job was written by three men, not one, and not God. Using it as a tool to ‘know’ God .. doesn’t work for me.”

She also commented on the Why did God hate Job? blog, asking “what do you make of Job’s final speech in chapter 42”. It’s a really good question. You can read our discussion there. Let me just reprint a bit of my answer:

“If I did (take the book literally) .. I have more questions. His repetence is to say that he didn’t understand the ‘wonderous’ things God was doing for him (42:3), and so he’s choosing to repent in dust and ashes, anyway”. I don’t understand the wonderous things either, I certainly don’t see any. Since no purpose of God can be thwarted (42:2), in my opinion Job was trying to protect himself from more of God’s wrath. Think what he went through, think of the emotional and physical torture of losing your children and all those illnesses (not to mention the criticisms by people who were supposed to be his friends?) .. Job, unless he was a miracle unto himself, was a wreck. You don’t bounce back from that very easily unless you are insane .. or blocking it all out, which is insanity in itself. Job said to God ‘Hear (me), and I will speak, I will question you and you declare to me,” in other words he’ll believe everything God tells him, regardless of whether it is true or not. Satan has broken Job with God’s permission, and in being broken, if we believe what is written here, Job finally actually ‘sees’ God. What does he see? A monster, thoughtless, uncaring, unkind .. and terrifying. Of course Job gives in and decides to despise himself, because God has proved that ‘he’ despises Job. (To be a true follower of God, what else can he do but do what God wants?) Where does the repenting get him? He gets given gifts, new children, more cattle .. new wife? The old one seems to have turned her back on God? Isn’t that the way the devil wins people, by giving them everything they want before destroying them?

The story of Job unsettles people’s faith in God, and makes them look for answers they cannot find in the book itself, instead they decide to focus on other bits .. the bits that say how wonderous God appears to be .. all the pomposity, and the fall back phrase ‘God works in mysterious ways’. The only mystery here is who was this being pretending to be God? Or why was this book even included in the bible? At least Satan was acting ‘in character’, you can trust him to try and destroy humanity, but .. here .. we have God also trying to destroy one man ‘just because’.

One last thought: why the title of this page – a person with no will of their own is a slave to the person, or being, that broke their will. Job’s will was broken, regardless of what God may have given back to him, his trust was also broken. People also serve in fear instead of Love.

Love & Peace
Ama

Did Jesus love in accordance to the law …

I have spent the last few days answering comments from people on a couple of my blog pages, as well as the usual work I do, so had no time to blog. I was considering many questions in the process, and was given a very good one (actually two, but the other will have to wait) by a lady in one of the comments. I ended up writing over 1500 words, as a comment, and realised that it fits well as a blog, with a bit of restructuring and explaining .. so here goes.

Let’s define the Law as the Ten Commandments, for those are the ones that I think apply to Christianity.

A few days ago I watched a program on Moses and the Ten Commandments by a very intense Catholic lady, who, when someone did not agree with what she was saying, or say what she wanted, would talk straight over the top of them, and demand they answer in a way to suit her needs. Well, the program never said it was unbiased, but, going by the reaction of my family who are not madly Christian, it would have once again confirmed that staying away from Christianity and their judgmental beliefs and attitudes is a good idea. I don’t agree with that, but I do think the lady was a living example of why people run away from the church .. and in doing so run away from God, and that, to me, is heartbreaking.

And then Heather from Move From This Mountain asked me if I believed that “Jesus loved in accordance to the Law”, and at first I thought ‘Yes, he did’, but when I took it apart, I had questions. This is my reasoning –

I do not believe that all Ten Commandments provide a set of boundaries for moral behaviour, given that the first four are all about who God is and what He wants as suitable worship. But I do think it’s good to have those guidelines as honouring God is very important to me. The rest of the commandments do give us structure, but I have reservations …

1) I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other God’s before me.

I am grateful to God for my whole life, but I not aware of any ancestors from Egypt, nor Jewish ones, thought we can only follow our family lines back to Charles 2nd in England most clearly, though you never know. Does that part apply to me? It might? Do I put any other God before Him .. well, I was taught there was only one God .. so where do I find any others? Or were the preachers lying when they said there was only one God? Yes, Moses followers did make a golden calf and worship it, or whatever God it represented, but if it didn’t represent a real ‘god’ then why were we told not to put any other god’s before Jehovah?

2) You shall not make yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven, above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing the children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.

There’s a heck of a lot of stuff to answer in this one:

Do I believe in a jealous God, who will punish the children for the sins of the parents .. no. What did the children do to deserve that, or is that a threat to frighten anyone considering having children? But didn’t God say ‘go forth and multiply’, or words to that effect? So by not having children, because you fear what God will do to them when you sin, aren’t you sinning already, by not doing what God wants? I will honour and worship Jesus’ God, but I have no time for a God that fears that I will not follow It so much that It has to be jealous of a graven image? If you take the words of the Bible literally, I think paintings are out .. so God and Adam touching fingers (The Creation of Adam) means that Michelangelo has gone to hell, though he’s probably there already, given that he was not interested in women.

In my experience, God is not that small, that frightened, that fragile an ego, that It has to demand our undivided attention – otherwise we would all be monks and nuns .. and why doesn’t He/it appear to be doing so now? Where’s the smiting? Why did it stop? And why are there all those statues of Jesus, Mary and various saints in many churches of many faiths? Why aren’t the buildings burnt to the ground? Perhaps God understands that some people need a statue of Jesus up there in front of them, to help them focus their thoughts as they talk TO Him, not the statue. I agree a cow might not be a good symbol, but .. then I have wonder, if Jesus had been a cattleman, would cows have been ok? Did Moses ask God specifically to ban idols when he went to get the second set of tablets, just to put a stop to the cow worship? We will never know, and I have always wondered what the difference might have been between the first set of tablets that Moses brought down to the people, after being in God’s presence all that time, and the second set when he went back up the mountain in a flaming temper!

And the last question .. if God has steadfast love to the thousandth generation of one of his followers, what happens if the 627th generation decide to go with Buddha instead? Will he break his promise to the 1st generation to damn the children of this one for their parents change of belief?

3) You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.

Do I take the Lord’s name in vain .. I might sound like I do, usually when I am groaning about someone’s puzzling behaviour .. I even look to the sky when I said ‘oh God!’ .. it means ‘help me to understand, to be kinder, and more loving, because I need your help’. Does this mean I am damned or not? And what happens if we say it by mistake .. which anyone is capable of doing .. oh yes, we can go to confession and be forgiven by a living man, hopefully God is not mad at him and accepts our repentance – at least if we are Catholic.

4) Remember the sabbath day and keep it holy.

I love having the 7th day off, but I do not follow the Jewish custom of doing nothing on those days .. but that doesn’t mean I am not talking to God in my heart and my mind while I am tilling the garden to grow food .. or attempting to .. this amount of rain is killing my plants. The ground is just too wet where the vegetable gardens are. I respect the strength of the Jewish people who honour God this way but can only imagine the struggle it must be ‘not’ to do things I would not ordinary consider as work. And then there is the thought of which day is the 7th day? What day of the week did God start making the earth on? That comes from a midnight conversation with my partner about this question. Personally I can’t decide whether Saturday (a couple of religions), Sunday (Christianity) or Monday (the beginning of the business week) is suitable.

5) Honour your mother and father, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

Honour thy mother and father – that’s a tough one .. I believe honour and respect are earned, and should not just be handed out to anyone. I taught my children to respect their elders, as I was taught, but once they were old enough to see that the elders can often be nastier than children, how could I ‘make’ them continue to do so? I show respect to all people, even after they prove themselves unworthy of it, but I find it hard to respect someone such as a paedophile, and would not expect my family to honour them even if they ‘were’ a close relative.

6) You shall not murder.

Do not murder .. I’ll get back to that one. I’m going to end up turning that into a blog. Your question about the death penalty led to some interesting musings while I was cleaning my home this morning. Short answer is – I agree for the most part, but my question is ‘when is murder not murder’?

7) You shall not commit adultery.

I agree it shows no respect for any of the parties, including one’s self.

8.) You shall not steal.

Do not steal – I agree, and in a perfect world that would be logical in a society where everyone had enough of everything to live comfortably, but society isn’t like that. If you respect yourself, you can respect others and allow them to have what they have, without envying them so much that you have to ‘take’ what they have. But then, some people have nothing, and would die if they didn’t steal to eat .. does God see such extreme cases and understand, or are the laws arbitrarily applied? The rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and they do what they must to survive, because we don’t hear about God helping them by putting money in their hands – otherwise it seems the rich are getting more help than the poor, and yet the poor will inherit the earth – so who is helping the rich, and why?

9) You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.

Do not bear false witness – do not lie. I agree with that one. Morally it is simply wrong. You have to be very clever to be able to lie well, and maintain the facade it creates around you. Far simpler to tell the truth, also far more hurtful at times, and what do we do in circumstances where lying would save someone’s life? Do we honour our moralistic stand, or do we keep someone safe?

10) You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; wife; male or female slave; ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour. (my paraphrasing)

Do not covet your neighbour’s ‘anything’. Do not look upon what s/he has with envy in your heart, because it is a poison that can twist you up in knots, and our society is a nightmare for this with the ‘be like the Jones’ attitude, which is simply greed. I prefer my simple life. But I have a lot, when I stop and look around me – my family and friends, my safe place I live in, good food, clean water, beautiful surroundings (we live in an orchard), and bookcases covered in books, and other modern trappings, like the computers. I am very much blessed and thank God for the blessings He has bestowed on all of us, even when we are struggling, or think we are. But we have no idea of true suffering, for we do not live the way people in the third world live, and where is God there, at revival meetings knocking people down when His/its power touches them, or heals them, or filling their minds full of rapture, but not their stomaches. Can you starve to death on God’s Word, or are we supposed to eat the pages? Whoops, I just realised I have lost my temper for a minute (which is what happened when I wrote this yesterday).

The ordinances then go on to discuss slavery .. something I do not agree with.

The other night in the TV program I mentioned at the beginning one of the speakers lost his temper and made some very angry comments on the Commandments oppressing society, not benefiting it. At the time I didn’t agree with him, but having sat here writing this out .. in truth he might be right. Oh yes, they are great to give lip service to, but in reality our world stomps on the poor, those who have to steal to eat. And the rich get richer, just look at the Catholic Church and their abundance. They could feed the poor a million times over, and do they .. with their great collections of gold, jewels and other ‘idols’? What frustrates me most is that people see the wealth of most churches, the greed of some of them, and blame God for it, not man. They turn away from God because of it.

I prefer Jesus’ commandments “Love God with all your heart, mind and soul, and love others as yourself”.

Did Jesus love in accordance to the Law .. not in my opinion. He loved everyone, he talked about God with everyone, and I don’t remember him mentioning that El was a jealous God. Since jealousy and envy are sins, and Jehovah is jealous .. where does that leave us? And Jesus was not exclusive. He reached to everyone from the cross, if you believe what Athanasius wrote on the Atonement .. and I do. Maybe Paul is right, maybe Jesus did free people from the Law, since the Law came from Jehovah .. but I don’t think He freed us from moral behaviour. You cannot harm anyone if you think each thought through based in Love. And being me, I also think Jesus freed us from that jealous God. And God bless Him for that.

One last thought: Jesus said “until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished”. (Matt 5:18) We find it again in Matt 24:35, with whomever wrote Matthew telling us that no one but God knows when that would be. In my opinion, this means that Jesus’ death on the cross did not unbind us from the Laws of Moses, for the passing of heaven and earth are still being waited for in 2 Peter 3:10, and that was written long after Jesus had died. I think that is one of the many contradictions in the Bible. And as I have just said ‘where does that leave us now’?

And always more questions: ]

Do we need to be commanded to be righteous people? I guess we must, since so many people choose to follow a different path.

Can’t we follow our leaders and ask ourselves ‘what would Jesus do’ before each action, or unkind word? What does one do if they do not believe in Jesus, or dispute his nature, or whether he was a good man, a kind teacher, a false teacher, a prophet, God’s son, or a rebel?

What would our leaders do? And then I look at the various politicians in the world, many of who admit not to believing in God at all – and I wonder, as we are drawn into the darkness by the destruction of our faith, where it will all end? There was a reformation once, that split the churches into many pieces, perhaps we need another, to bring us all back together .. but I do not want a dictator for the whole world. Why can’t the ‘leader’ simply be Love?

Love & Peace
Ama

What do I believe …

I believe that the quickest way to learn something is to ask a lot of questions from people who know what they are talking about, but when you can’t ask the people, can you ask their creations? Would you ask my computer to tell you about me? What a strange tale it might tell. 🙂

Fundamentalists believe the Bible is the ‘unerring Word of God’, a book written by God for humanity, that explains everything in clear and precise terms, with no errors, or contradictions, within itself. It is made up of the Old Testament and the New Testament, with One God only throughout the entire work. But then we have all the other books (gospels) that never made it into the Bible, as we know it today, but existed, and still exist for many Christian church groups, as very important, which can be equally fascinating, and equally mystifying, some of them based on the books already accepted as Canon, and some that go off on puzzling tangents, but all of them relate to the Christian God. So who created them, if God didn’t .. and who gave Irenaeus, and various others, permission to choose what was the ‘true’ Word and what wasn’t? Was it God?

When someone comes up to me and says ‘God told me ..”, my first thought is always ‘which God’? And over the years, any number of people have said exactly that.

Which God? Why is there even such a question, if there is only One God? And why do we even think there is only One God, when the Bible speaks in the plural, right there in the first Book – Genesis. Genesis 1:26 states “Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness”. Our Likeness, not ‘my’ likeness. So how many Gods are we talking about? And does that have anything to do with the fact that the Jewish rabbis teach God has seventy-two names? Perhaps there are actually seventy-two Gods?

I believe there are two Gods in the Christian Bible, the first is called Jehovah, for the most part, and the other Jesus called out to from the Cross – “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” Why didn’t Jesus simply call him Jehovah, in that time of crisis, if it was his name? After all, Jesus grew up reading, learning and quoting the Old Testament.

Believing in two Gods makes me a Docetist of sorts, although I don’t believe that Jesus was not a man, but just pretending to be, and it certainly allows the possibility that the OT God could be such a monster, while the NT God was trying to teach us to Love and forgive. Once I started to understand this viewpoint, and the Gnostic way of looking at things, I was less in conflict in my heart and mind trying to turn the two Gods into one. And now I wonder why other people cannot see, or choose not to, that it might actually be true? No, they would rather turn away from ‘all’ Gods, or follow Pagan ones, than try and live with the conflict in their minds, or worse, become so virulent and angry trying to hold their faith together that they will attack the beliefs of others, or the person themselves, and condemn us all to hell? Is that what God wants? And no, I am not a Docesist, nor a Gnostic, I am, like so many others, a Christian, because I believe in Christ.

And so I invest time and money in hunting the Christian Bible for things that show it is a book written by men, and I find them .. and so do many others, like this site of Skeptics Annotated Bible, which, while some of the contradictions might be from badly translated bibles, does show that the book has its problems.

Theologists try to find the facts among the fiction in the Bible, which is why I decided I wanted to be like them and went to University to learn their techniques. The training has stood me in good stead. It has shown me how to be critical in my reading, and how to look at the issue, and not the person who believes it. After all, I am as intense in my beliefs as the average fundamentalist, and will debate my case as well as I can, given the opportunity .. and I do love a good debate. LOL

So let’s slip back into reviewing the God of the OT .. because I have questions .. lots of questions.

Love & Peace
Ama