Handling Plague: Passover (Pesach) and the Blood of a Lamb

Wikimedia photo by Donald Macleaod, Stomoway Scotland

I’m a heretic, and also a daily student of the Bible.  I raised a few sheep for many years.  (They taught me much.) I don’t sit in pews anymore, except as a courtesy during celebration or bereavement.  I’m not a literalist, instead, choosing to read  between the lines of the text.  (My Tutor reveals lessons to me gradually, as I grow.)  May these words I now share comfort you, lessen your fear, and deliver you safely from every darkness and confusion.  (My prayer is simply to be a blessing today.)  And may the sun of righteousness arise with healing, to enlighten us all.  (Nothing can obstruct this bright, shining realization of God-with-us-and-in-us, forever.)  amen.

MOSES got an assignment: Go to Pharaoh (or Washington, or Wuhan, or Seoul, or London, or Madrid) and demand that My children be allowed to worship freely.  But he doubted :  “I’m not a showman, Lord.  I’m shy; I mumble.”   You know I-AM with you, Mo’.  Now go.

Nine times he went to his old home to plead with the ruler of the kingdom, warning them on behalf of the land where he grew up – but he was rejected, with plagues then befalling that nation – locusts, and frogs, and mosquitos, and maybe even  >fast forward >  air pollution, hurricanes and melting glaciers.  But the leaders still wouldn’t listen.

Sweet daddy Pharaoh, you’re not gonna like this next one, a cast which includes the angel of death, and all the firstborn sons of Egypt, but it will surely get your attention, (we hope) !  

ASIDE:  ¿ Does God like Jews and Christians better than Egyptians, Hindoos, Chinese, or atheists ?  Many believers think there is only one correct way (their way!) to worship, but I doubt this.  Daddy-God (“Abba”) loves all his children equally, and doesn’t give a rip about human institutions where people are taught to beat each other over their heads with their holy texts!

Long ago an angel renamed a man, a twin who clung to firstborn Esau’s heel, from Jacob (“Takeover-artist, or Wrestler“) to Israel, a name intended to remind believers that God is in charge, lest we forget.  This new name is both both complicated and simple.   “The Shama” – the central teaching of the Hebrew bible, (in my own mini-hip translation) says Remember, O Israel, you who call yourselves God’s-in-chargeI-AM is God.  I-AM is One.   (Consciousness!  Logos!  Awareness!   Reasonableness!)

Now, ONE is a thorny problem, a dilemma.   ¿ If All is One, is then God the author of plagues?  >>  ¿ Also, did you know that a virus is neither dead nor alive, sorta like a mousetrap? Hmm, not alive; can this be?  (If you still believe in the boogeyman, is it real?)  Well, if we spring that trap, or wisely avoid it, it’s no longer dangerous.    And that word, virus, in antique English, derives from Latin, meaning “the venom of a serpent”.  More hmm, which might remind us of the very first (nondual) commandment, with emphasis on the words good AND evil.  Don’t touch it!  (But will God really kick me out of paradise if I do?)  This question hints at the distinction between allegory and history.  And that awful man, Augustine, insisted that eternal hell was reserved for those who refused to recover from that first mistake, disobedience (or was it merely curiosity?) — seeing to it that any fellow theologians, differing with his views, were excommunicated, and their letters destroyed. (See Pelagius, and Origen, for examples.)

So much for a forgiving God!  You slow learners should now drop dead, as only the quick and bright will be saved.  (Pascal, a math wiz who is known as the father of the insurance industry, urged the praying of the sinner’s prayer, also known as Pascal’s Wager, “just in case”.)

Back to that dilemma,  ¿ This One – is S/He an absentee LandLORD off on vacation at the edge of the Cosmos, on a cruise liner with Zeus and numerous other subDivines, none of whom are afflicted ?    “Those kids back on planet Earth will get by with help from their elected babysitters” shrugs S/He.   (Well, that’s faith!)  Is there a third horn to this dilemma (trilemma)?

Let’s cut to the chase scene :  ¿ Can lamb’s blood really deliver us from terror?   ¿ Among all the world’s fundamentalists / literalists, do you know of anyone who has ever painted lamb’s blood on their doorframe?  (Not to be sacrilegious nor superstitious, but why not nail up a horseshoe, too, just in case it might scare away tigers, con artists, and other predators?)  Well, kids, that blood used by Moses and their crowd is meant as a reminder, not a magical repellent!  Besides, anyone who has ever walked past dried blood will confirm that it smells of death.  >  “Welcome to our home!  Do come in.  Pay no attention to that dreadful aroma”.

What was our earliest maximum fear?  No, not death, but rather, seeing mom and dad put on their overcoats – uh-oh, there goes my meal ticket!  (We could call this a belief of “separation”.)  ¿ So, what to conclude ?  >  grow up and quit with this ridiculous belief, already!)

Saint Paul said I die daily .  And along with the Boy Scout motto, Be Prepared, here’s an excerpt from a famous stoic and politician, named Seneca, on how to die gracefully:  (sorry, I couldn’t find Letter 24 to Lucilius, online, but this gives the idea :  Caligula, upon a dispute with Canius Julius; “Do not flatter yourself,” says he, “for I have given orders to put you to death.”   “I thank your most gracious Majesty for it,” says Canius, giving to understand, perhaps, that under his government death was a mercy: for he knew that Caligula seldom failed of being as good as his word in that case. He was at play when the officer carried him away to his execution, and beckoning to the centurion, “Pray,” says he, “will you bear me witness, when I am dead and gone, that I had the better of the game?” He was a man exceedingly beloved and lamented, and, for a farewell, after he had preached moderation to his friends; “You,” says he, “are here disputing about the immortality of the soul, and I am now going to learn the truth of it.”

OK, we’re all in summer camp now, or maybe it feels more like remedial summer-school, but God believes in us, and is a Patient Teacher.  We’re here to learn, but we need to admit that we’re just passing thru — as pilgrims.  Yeah, maybe just barely passing, but S/He believes we’ve got spiritual aptitude.  So let’s pay attention – maybe even pray attention.  “Desire is prayer” said one wise woman (chapter 1:9).  Prayer, which may be mostly intent-listening rather than pleading, can import some vital lessons from this human experience, enjoying them daily in the meantime — but they’re portable and perhaps exportable, writable in consciousness and on the heart, if we welcome them.  We may forget the lyrics of a favorite tune during our brief exit, but latching onto a few verses of scripture for the journey will nourish and comfort us daily, on our way past (or even thru!)  the graveyard.  Here are a few of my favorites :  Psm 27:4, John 14:26Rom 8:38,39 (already encountered, above), 1John 1:5 and Psalm 91 (no plague!).

Blessings are ours today, if we will have them.

 

TRUMP’s PANDEMIC & LEADERSHIP HOAX

© Dave Granlund.com — Political Cartoons.com (“fair use”)

“You go into a pandemic with the president you have, not the president you wish you had.”
~Paul Krugman, NYTimes

Excerpt:

Why did Trump and his team deny and delay? All the evidence suggests that he didn’t want to do or say anything that might drive down stock prices, which he seems to regard as the key measure of his success. That’s presumably why as late as Feb. 25 Larry Kudlow, the administration’s chief economist, declared that the U.S. had “contained” the coronavirus, and that the economy was “holding up nicely.”

Well, that was a bad bet. Since then, the stock market has more or less given up all its gains under the Trump presidency. More important, the economy is clearly in free-fall. So what should we do now?

I’ll leave health policy to the experts. On economic policy, I’d suggest three principles. First, focus on hardship, not G.D.P. Second, stop worrying about incentives to work. Third, don’t trust Trump.

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The DON, and Mitch Prepare to Give Away the Farm to BIGGIES.

. . . But She’s Watching for Slight-of-Hand, Fighting for Neighbors !

Elizabeth Warren, March 17

@SenWarren

1. Companies must maintain their payrolls and use funds to keep people working or on payroll.

 

2. Companies must provide a $15 minimum wage within one year of the national emergency declaration ending.

 

3. Companies are permanently prohibited from engaging in share repurchases.

 

4. Companies are prohibited from paying out dividends or executive bonuses while they are receiving any relief and for three years thereafter.

 

5. Companies must set aside at least one seat – but potentially two or more, as the amount of relief increases – on the board of directors for representatives elected by workers.

 

6. Collective bargaining agreements should remain in place and should not be reopened or renegotiated pursuant to this relief program.  


7. Corporations must obtain shareholder and board approval for all political expenditures.

 

8. CEOs must be required to personally certify a company is in compliance and face criminal penalties for false certifications.

Here’s a quote from Will Bunch, at Philadelphia Inquirer, with a link to Warren’s op-ed at CNN, on the topic of a just bailout for the middle class:

“When the 2008 financial crisis hit, the federal government responded with a bankers’ bailout,” Warren wrote this week in a CNN op-ed, recalling the tempest that put a once obscure academic on a near-miss White House trajectory a dozen years ago. “The rich and powerful got richer and more powerful. We should learn from the past and meet the challenges of this pandemic head-on, this time to deliver meaningful, grassroots relief directly to American families.”
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A M E R I C A ,  Y O U   B L E W    I T   !!!

For months I listened (and disagreed) while so many thinking friends said that Elizabeth Warren is sharp, respectable, cares deeply about justice for the middle class, but couldn’t beat Trump.

And then we saw her take down the $60-billion dollar man, Mike Bloomberg, in a NY-minute.  Rarely has there been such a devastating bout on a political stage.  Watch the one-minute segment below, and tell me that she wasn’t the ideal candidate to face Trump, the one-billion dollar blow-hard.

And what are we left with?  Two tired old white guys, one of whom can’t remember what he did in the past (Joe Biden); and the other, Bernie Sanders, who is too polite to confront his old friend, Joe.

So, what was it that caused this failure on the part of American voters?  — “unvarnished sexism” — according to Amanda Marcotti, of Salon.

In celebration of International Women’s Day, I wish we would all get real.

 

FOLK MEDs : Honey, Garlic, Pumpkin Seeds…

 

Sometimes old ways are superior to drugstore remedies. (BadPharma would prefer these approaches were forgotten, working diligently to discredit them, according to careful investigations by Dr. Ben Goldacre.) ¶ A recent study reported that raw honey (miel cruda) outperformed numerous commercial cough remedies. I’ve taken to gargling with raw honey, straight—no chaser, at the slightest tickle. (Don’t rinse the potency away.) There are plenty of recipes online that add other stuff to honey, which seems silly to me, as this is already perfect product. And there’s science behind this product of nature. (But don’t use it to treat infants, or children under two.)

Sometimes old ways are superior to drugstore remedies. (BadPharma would prefer these approaches were forgotten, working diligently to discredit them, according to careful investigations by Dr. Ben Goldacre.) A recent study reported that raw honey (miel cruda) outperformed numerous commercial cough remedies. I’ve taken to gargling with raw honey, straight-no chaser, at the slightest tickle. (Don’t rinse the goodness away.) There are plenty of recipes online that add other stuff, which seems silly to me, as this is a perfect product. And there’s science behind this product of nature. (But don’t use it to treat infants, or children under two.)

Sometimes old ways are superior to drugstore remedies. (BadPharma would prefer these approaches were forgotten, working diligently to discredit them, according to careful investigations by Dr. Ben Goldacre.) A recent study reported that raw honey (miel cruda) outperformed numerous commercial cough remedies. I’ve taken to gargling with raw honey, straight-no chaser, at the slightest tickle. (Don’t rinse the goodness away.) There are plenty of recipes online that add other stuff, which seems silly to me, as this is a perfect product. And there’s science behind this product of nature. (But don’t use it to treat infants, or children under two.)Sometimes old ways are superior to drugstore remedies. (BadPharma would prefer these approaches were forgotten, working diligently to discredit them, according to careful investigations by Dr. Ben Goldacre.) A recent study reported that raw honey (miel cruda) outperformed numerous commercial cough remedies. I’ve taken to gargling with raw honey, straight-no chaser, at the slightest tickle. (Don’t rinse the goodness away.) There are plenty of recipes online that add other stuff, which seems silly to me, as this is a perfect product. And there’s science behind this product of nature. (But don’t use it to treat infants, or children under two.)

Mayan pumpkins (calabasa)

Next we come to the mineral, zinc. This essential mineral is best consumed as nuts and seeds, instead of as processed supplements. Pumpkin seeds (pepitas; seeds from the cucurbita family) come from locally grown calabasas. (I buy pepitas at Slow Food Market on Saturdays, Reforma at c.33-d; 9am-1pm.) Pepitas are high in zinc, according to Dr Andrew Weil. A fascinating article about the modern discovery of the health import of zinc appeared at npr (National Public Radio). There is some question in my mind about the availability of zinc in Yucatan soils, but I don’t have access to the research article (which US taxpayers likely funded). Walnuts (nueces de castilla)are another healthy source of zinc, offering significant additional benefits (see two-year nurses study).

Homegrown garlic from western NY state.

Garlic bulbs with untrimmed roots, I’m told, indicate that it is locally grown, as the Chinese trim roots severely for shipping. Key to using garlic both as a flavor additive in cooking, and as a treatment, is oxidation, caused by smashing. Use the flat of a large knife, pounding with your fist to crush the garlic tooth; peel, and let it sit for a few minutes to oxidize. If for treatment, slice into slivers to swallow (without chewing)! Garlic is a healthy additive with many surprising benefits as indicated by these numerous mentions at Dr Weil’s blog.

From the same blog, Weil’s colleague, Dr Low Dog (her real name!) offers this excerpt, on respiratory homecare:  “I’d say upper respiratory infections, coughs and sore throats are at the top of the list. For these alone, we spend a fortune on antibiotics, over-the-counter prescriptions and health care visits. Yet there are simple steps you can take at home for pennies. One of the simplest ways to ease a sore throat is to gargle with sage and saltwater, which is both soothing and has wonderful antimicrobial effects. Studies have also shown that a sage and echinacea gargle is as effective as lidocaine for relieving the pain of a sore throat.  ¶  “You may not realize this, but according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the number one illness-related reason for visits to physicians in the U.S. is for cough. There are definitely many herbs that can address this common and annoying problem. My favorite is thyme – an amazing cough suppressant. It tastes delicious, and the science shows it has potent tracheal and laryngeal anti-spasmodic action. Honey is also very good. Honey alone has been shown to be a more effective cough suppressant for children than many over-the-counter medications. When you combine thyme and honey – I show various ways to do that in the book – you end up with a highly effective cough remedy.“ 

Sheep ranching in Yucatan

Naturalist Jim Conrad had several visitors on Monday. Early in the morning a pair of hunters walked past him, within arm’s length, while he sat in his front door, reading. They were carrying shotguns, said hello, apparently oblivious that they were intruding, and kept walking. Later in the day we would learn that another group of hunters, with dogs, were driving deer in their direction.

Around noon, after stopping for a plate of huevos Mexicanos in Teya, I delivered an old friend of Jim’s to the ranch for a site visit, while I engaged in some repairs. A valve, which enables Jim to fill a concrete stock tank providing water for local fauna, had broken. While I was rummaging in the stone hut for parts, Ines, another expected visitor showed up. At about the same time, I heard a male voice outside the hut say Jim’s name, at which point I met Tonio, a neighbor. We all collaborated in the repair, which was fun and successful. Here’s a look at the failed valve, but I never bothered to take a picture of the repair:

The concrete “funnel”directing water to the stocktank could no longer be filled, due to a broken lever.

Once we verified that our repair worked, it was time to walk along Jim’s extended trails, including past some Africanized honeybees, which had given Jim some trouble while working on the trail.

Since we were headed in the direction of Tonio’s ranch, he invited us to come see their operation which includes 27 head of sheep.

Here, a spotted ewe feeds her twins, who will soon be told to chew for themselves, being served notice by a kick in the head. (I know this, recognizing the size of her lambs, as we raised sheep up north for about fifteen years.)

Next, Tonio showed us their melipona honeybees. These bees are tiny, black, about the size of a housefly, and stingless. The honey is said to be medicinal, and is pricey, but rarely found, as the production volume is low.


Below, Ines asks Tonio about his raised-bed gardening, while Jim listens.

Louise peers down the well, which no longer needs a bucket, as they have a submersible pump to lift the water. ¶ Note the lush forage grasses, which Jim will surely write about, as he was fascinated with them. Apparently a clump was transplanted to the ranch, and has thrived during the secia (dry period) much to the appreciation of the sheep.
Softball sized clumps of tree cotton hang on the limbs of one of four varieties of ceiba tree, along the path.

I wish I had been quicker with my camera, as an old guy came around a bend with a huge load of firewood on his back, on our return to Jim’s hut. The path itself was enchanting.

Thus ends another delightful visit to the friendly hermit, Naturalist Jim Conrad, near Tepakán, Yucatan.

A Book Review : : THE OVERSTORY, (trees as a metaphor for life itself)

Photo, PBS.org (fair use)

For those who haven’t read this novel, The Overstory, (about trees as metaphor and reality) you are missing a new classic. (The chapter titled Patricia Westerford, a forest research botanist who discovers that trees communicate with each other, alone is worth the price of the entire volume.)  NYTimes author interview.  (Winner, Pulitzer Prize.)

The theme of the novel is a grand tapestry, perhaps detectable in this short excerpt:  

No one sees trees.  We see fruit, we see nuts, we see shade.  We see ornaments or pretty fall foliage.  Obstacles blocking the road or wrecking the ski slope.  Dark, threatening places that must be cleared.  We see branches about to crush our roof.  We see a cash crop.  But tress—trees are invisible.  

The book is long and the prose is vibrant.  The story is told thru its characters, and the early chapters are named after them.  Pay attention.  Make a crib sheet, even — a cast of characters with a thumbnail of their backstories.  These characters will reappear further into the account. Their accounts are gripping and the lessons instructive.  If you care about your home you will be glad you encountered this masterwork.

NASA photo by Reid Wiseman

 

 

Dust jacket quote from Margaret Atwood:

“If Powers were an American writer of the nineteenth century, which writer would he be?  He’d  probably be Herman Melville of Moby Dick.  His picture is that big.”

Senatorial KoolAid

Senators who believe that “Trump did nothing wrong” likely also believe that lying, cheating on a spouse, stealing, and murder are also ok, as this is the logical extension of their position.

Are we a nation of laws, or of fifty powerful Senators without moral conscience, and a nation of peons who will buy any slippery dodge of an excuse ? ? ? ?   Many of our Senators are disrespecting us, folks.  They are fearful toadies who simple want to retain their powerful positions, putting our entire system at risk of being run by mafiosos who swear there are no rules, but merely raw power. Many of these same Senators spoke against Trump’s nomination, but now cower when he looks in their direction.

This is a danger zone for Americans of every sort.  (Less than 20% of current Senators have served in our military; but the majority seem to serve themselves quite well.)   Don’t drink this KoolAid !!!  :  If you want to live in a country were there are no rules, and no recourse to recall those who believe there are no rules, then keep these bums in office.

Photo credit : Chris Favero, Wikimedia Commons

The Case for Conviction

Kangaroo court of the U.S. Senate

photo credit : anonhq.com

SEE COMMENTS.

> > > GRADUALISM vs CATASTROPHE < < <

ROW-ROW-ROW graphic from wikipedia

: : : WE INTERRUPT : : THIS IS NOT A DRILL : : :

CLICK  : “ Greta and George” :  “best short video of 2019”

Friends, I wouldn’t term myself “a survivalist” — and yet my genes, my DNA have flourished on this planet since near the beginning.  (I’m grateful to my ancestors for their wise choices!)  Yes, we’re all survivors – – – until we aren’t.  

The video urges us to PROTECT,  RESTORE, FUND . . . and

VOTE

for people who defend nature

https://www.mightyoaksprograms.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Blog_BoilingFrog.jpg

Thanks for sharing this link, sez Froggie !!!

 

MURDER and FORGIVENESS

An entire German family is murdered in a gang robbery.  The head of the family, severely injured, survives by playing dead.  He seeks forgiveness for the robbers, and starts a new family, living in the same house where it happened, by dire necessity.   He petitions the state for the release of those who had not touched the two guns used.  ¶  He and the family are pestered by reporters, not wanting to revisit those events.  He writes a manuscript and eventually publishes the account as a little book in 1960.  A grandaughter reads it and shares this account of deep, radical forgiveness.   (Clear writing and reporting by the grandaughter.)
                                                    Lilli Heinemann’s grandfather with his first wife and three of their children, all of whom were murdered in 1945

My grandfather’s whole family were murdered – but he found a way to forgive the killers

After 12 of his relatives were killed in a single night, where was his anger and pain? And what does his refusal to permit himself these feelings mean for me?

don’t know when I first heard my grandfather’s story. But I do remember the little green book with the white cross on it. The book was kept in a black steel cabinet in our living room, one that was usually locked, its contents mysterious. There must be important things in there, I thought, that were not for me to see.

My paternal grandparents were part of my childhood; my sister and I called them Oma and Opa and paid them regular visits, but we knew very little about our mother’s parents.  [Continued here.] repaired link

 

Film Review : : The GREAT HACK

Academic, David Carroll sued for return of his personal data (IMDB fair use)

 

Michelangelo’s David.  Photo by Yair Haklai, Wikimedia Commons

 

Sometimes life imitates art.  Such is arguably the case in The Great Hack, (youtube link to preview) — a documentary film featuring a modern-day hero – a mild-mannered academic named David Carroll – an American  digital rights philosopher who took on a billionaire’s empire.

In the Biblical epic, little David slew giant Goliath.  Today, our modern David brought down a powerful firm which was diverting the personal information of 87 million Facebook users, among others, for political targeting of “persuadables” in that group by suing for the return of his personal information.  And David Carroll did exactly that, at court in UK. 

In this socially-disruptive Netflix documentary, we learn about how thousands of our data points, which “THEY” know about each of us, are used to seduce us.  (No longer are we private citizens; we’re all naked, on the auction block.)  We’ve been identified, defined, profiled, and made ready for sale to buyers, for what they bet is our persuadability.  We have no say in what they will show us online, based on our deepest psychological secrets — which has been designed to appeal to our known vulnerabilities, histories, weaknesses, fears, and longings.

 According to the film, the firm Cambridge Analytica deployed  “weapons-grade communications tactics” in elections which had been developed by governments for psy-ops in digital warfare.   Persuading as few as 70,000 voters to change their minds was enough to sway elections in four US States, in 2016, according to the film.  

Netflix has done a superb job of following real participants around with video cameras while interviewing these whistleblowers, journalists for The Guardian, and former executives of the firm.  

NOTE:  Be sure to turn on subtitles, as there are challenging accents coming from some of the British participants. (However, much of the action follows several American individuals caught up in this frightening theft of elections.)  This real life drama makes “reality tv” into a yawn!