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-charge: I-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 undying 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 14:26, Rom 8:38,39 (already encountered, above), 1John 1:5 and Psalm 91 (no plague!).
Blessings are ours today, if we will have them.