Do you suppose the grass sang when His resurrected feet trod the ground of the garden where He had been buried?
Given the recent months of teaching here, consider again what Paul says about Creation and the Fall:
For the creation eagerly waits for the revelation of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility — not willingly but because of God who subjected it — in hope that the creation itself will also be set free from the bondage of decay into the glorious freedom of God’s children. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers together until now. Not only this, but we ourselves also, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we eagerly await our adoption, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:19-23 NET)
We can argue about precise meaning of Greek wording here, but you have to remember that Paul still thinks in Hebrew. More, it’s a the Ancient Hebrew perspective renewed under the influence of his personal education with the risen Christ. We have only a sketchy idea what Paul experienced during those three years in Arabian seclusion, but how would one describe a direct encounter with the Savior? This was an extended period of daily Presence in which Paul had to reevaluate the whole of his rabbinical education in light of divine glory.
Creation experiences a partial redemption whenever any one of us comes free from Western intellectual influences and experiences God’s divine Presence in the heart. When the heart awakens to its full sensory faculties, we are reconnected to some of what Adam had in the Garden. We cannot hope to understand intellectually what the heart knows about a universe that is actually alive and conscious on some level. Even if this is all just metaphor, we are wholly changed when we embrace whatever ineffable truth is behind that metaphor.
God subjected Creation to the Fall simply because its sole purpose is serving as a nest for our human condition. We are surely unable to fully comprehend why God created a place for us, what is His ultimate purpose in deciding He wanted people. What we do understand is the emphatic assertion that we are the purpose for the universe, so far as we are ever likely to understand anything. We are to treat the universe as our rightful domain on this level of existence. We need only properly understand how to assert that dominion.
It comes by opening up the mind to serve the heart, because the heart is the only human faculty capable of reconnecting to the universe directly. Creation joins in calling out to us all day long to hear with our hearts. A primary symptom of full awakening is that you begin to sense the living world around you directly, but that your mind only gains access second-hand. Instead of silly cathexis, the Devil’s artificial perversion of genuine love, you experience the agape faculty that God designed for us. Cathexis is, at best, just icing on the cake, not the substance of what really matters.
This is what Paul calls the “glorious freedom of God’s children.” Several other places in the New Testament remind us that we have a part of that, a down payment or earnest bond (try Hebrews 6, for instance), during this time on the fallen plane of existence through embracing His Laws in the Person of Christ. That moral awareness is the Presence and character of our Creator — it was there all along, but now we can see it and let it use us.
I don’t take myself that seriously, so if you are amused, I’ll laugh along with you.
So, for example, as a pretty serious woodsman with hand tools, you should not be surprised if I tell you that trees talk to me. Not in terms of language with cognitive content, but through my empathy and in my heart. They speak of acknowledgment to me, but even more is that they all speak of God’s glory. Some trees have adopted me, actually calling for my attention. By coming into friendly physical contact with them, they help my bad shoulder feel better, improving my ax strokes. Yeah, I’m a wacko tree hugger, even hugging the ones I have to cut down.
Oh, and I hear similar praise for my Father from the grass and weeds in the yard. And birds always sing praises to God. At least, that’s what I hear.
I’ve changed computer OSes again. Did it ever occur to you this is not just a good way to experiment and learn, but it also keeps the government spying agencies on their toes? Not long ago, they found a couple of ways that Linux can have spyware, though it’s quite rare and targeted. So my frequent changing teaches me, if nothing else, how to wipe the system and preserve my data. I’m really good with personal data backups and even better with installation issues people face.
So today I’m running OpenSUSE 13.2 — I haven’t messed with SUSE much in recent years. Like most Linux hobbyists, I used Red Hat some back in the late 1990s because it was the easiest thing to get. However, I soon discovered SUSE and liked it much better. During the time when Novell owned the company, SUSE lost of lot of user appeal, with way too much emphasis on the corporate market. There were only a couple of decent releases and the rest were buggy crap. That period of controversy over their business deals with Microsoft didn’t bother me nearly so much as the continued bugginess. Once they broke free and regained some independence, the quality slowly climbed back up. The current release represents what they are capable of when allowed to do their own work. I was having enough trouble with Debian to decide this was a good time for a test drive.
I also elected to stick with the 32-bit version. The difference is marginal, and I’m not suggesting it’s a bad idea to go with the new trend in making things all 64-bit. Unfortunately, there are plenty of projects that are important to my work that don’t work in 64-bit. Thus, the scale is ever-so-slightly tipped in favor with staying in legacy mode.
I’m also still using XFCE because I can’t tolerate other desktops any more. Fortunately, SUSE makes it an option during installation, and it’s fully fitted with all the necessary SUSE system management facilities. However, whoever manages this part of SUSE’s software needs an attitude adjustment. They insist on forcing you to accept their bad defaults for things like the panel. Used to, you could login the first time, delete your configs, logout and come back in with the generic XFCE defaults. Now the system simply regenerates the bad SUSE styling by default. So it takes a bit of fixing to put things where they belong. Look, buttheads at SUSE: People who use XFCE are not idiots who need hand-holding. We chose XFCE because we do not like that newbie-oriented hand-holding shit. (Open Source developers are notoriously anti-user. When someone forces them to consider the user, they still don’t understand the concept of accommodating ordinary user wishes.)
I also now have access to an Android device. As a writer, I naturally insisted on getting a keyboard for it. I ordered a folding keyboard that came in last night and I’ll be playing with it some today. For those of you amused by my computer technology stuff, you’ll start seeing some Android stuff soon. So, for example, on Android in particular, I am a huge fan of Opera. Both the regular browser and the old Opera Mini have their best use cases. The latter is a great way to just read stuff and it saves on your data transmission bandwidth. However, it tends to scale text down at odd times and it becomes unreadable.
There are precious few Linux tools ported over to Android, and some of those are not free. That means finding a different way to do the same stuff when it happens that the tablet is all I have with me. I’m not much for mere consumption of the Internet; if I can’t write and share my thoughts, I have no use for Net devices.
Thanks for stopping by to share a laugh with me.
Update: If you are going to use XFCE, I recommend you follow this guide (scroll down a ways) and disable PulseAudio. While the controls will not be the same as pictured, the similarities should be sufficient for users to figure it out. Open YaST, select Sound, look for the “other” button and configure PulseAudio by turning it off. Log out and then log back in. Your sound should still work and you won’t run into oddball issues with PulseAudio doing stupid stuff with permissions.
However, I find the whole problem with fonts isn’t just a little challenging. If you use the Infinality system, it will never be better than what you get with Win7, and anything running in WINE looks awful. If you use the Muzlocker trick, it breaks too many essential system libraries. If you just leave it alone, you may be able to tolerate it, but I got a headache just looking at it. I don’t think I’ll ever understand why SUSE makes it so damned complicated for the ordinary user to reverse their choice to cripple font rendering. Nobody else makes it that hard.
So I’m back to using Scientific Linux.
The Curse in Genesis 3 is universal, covering the entire expanse of human concerns because it binds the whole universe. If nothing else, we know that time-space limitations affect only the fallen plane of existence. We were not designed for this, and a part of us knows it. The tension between what we experience in this fallen state against what something deep inside tells us is our birthright is sufficient notice that we need redemption. We know instinctively we are in prison; the question is how to deal with that.
Note how the imagery in the Bible indicates the fundamental nature of each gender’s curse. This highly symbolic and abbreviated mention points out the answer to our fundamental needs. The preacher then compares that with our broad social awareness and tries to show the path out of the Curse. We exit this life triumphant when we have done all that humans can do with God’s illumination and power in the revelation of His character. So the question before us is how we — male and female — handle the mess we are in when born under this curse.
Wallowing in the Fall is an answer. It is the answer chosen by most of humanity, to one degree or another, and the very foundation of Western Civilization. Ours is the anomaly in human existence; all other civilizations took for granted that there was an escape and that it was worthy of our highest aspirations and efforts. This is why I say that discovering universal moral truth is the only proper focus of human searching. The West is the first to avoid that question entirely, striving only to make the most of our fallen existence by asserting forcefully that this all we could possibly have. Whatever passes for higher aspirations in the West is just a better version of our fallen state.
The Curse assumes the worst in the sense that, since Adam and Eve would not stick to their callings, they were not permitted the instinctive knowledge of moral truth. Adam started out in union and communion with nature, able to manage as God’s representative by His moral authority. Since he refused to guard that treasure, it was taken from him and he was left to face nature with barely enough leisure to consider his folly. But it was enough, because God knows our capabilities — He designed us. Our whining is entirely unjustified. While we are here in this world, we can seize upon at least a taste of eternal redemption by embracing the revelation of God. For men, a little more love means a little less sweat. Fundamental to a man’s redemption is learning the empathy that reconnects us with the universe as a living moral entity. We as men are the ones guilty for not guarding that communion; we are the ones who brought the universe under the Curse. It only fights us because we don’t love it enough to sacrifice and redeem it. God gives us a chance to begin the long journey walking back up the path to Eden and redemption of all things.
For a woman to find redemption is learning to negotiate with her man. Eve made an executive decision way out of her reach. Her damned lazy husband didn’t rise up to stop her, which is why the fundamental question for a woman is whether her man is strong enough to restrain the wildness of her weaker nature. His redemption is getting off his butt and taking charge; she’ll both love and hate that. It requires empathy from him to bear her confusion. It takes empathy from her to see what drives him and make the most of it. He offers something powerful enough to justify her surrender; she surrenders and commits in wild abandon. This is high moral truth.
There are exceptions for individuals in both women and men, but our human society was meant to be a collection of moral household dominions. The whole structure of Ancient Near Eastern feudalism is our human nature; this is what we are wired for and it is the path to redemption. The woman cannot take charge and assert her unique approach over the man’s. She is supposed to be somewhat materialistic in the concern for keeping life possible through structure and care. She is supposed to be distracted by caring for the kids and what human life requires. She is not supposed to assume that her instinct is God, but is from God as an input into the whole mission of God’s glory. She is wired to seek a mate who puts God’s glory first, and to commit herself to that mission. It’s all about the mission, and the man is God’s chosen steward for all final decisions. A woman’s redemption is negotiating with a man’s tendency to cast aside everything in pursuit of his vision. He cannot do it without her because he’ll discard essentials due to the narrowness of his vision. He needs reminding of the costs of having to replace essentials that an emergency might justify dropping.
Men are supposed to exclude certain considerations and allow their women to handle those things, but they are also supposed to include her by including her concerns, as well. Men are supposed to know that they cannot enslave their wives, but must accept her wholly, not stripped of inconvenient free will and aspirations as if she were a mere extension of his will. His empathy is how he does that. Her empathy is remembering that God put the man in charge, and he is not a mere extension of her nest-building imperative. Thus, the ultimate redemption of woman is negotiation, not demand. She is not an independent entity offering only contract services; she is owned and owns. It’s not about rights but feudal dominion. She is on the team and teamwork is the redemptive atmosphere. The struggle to preserve the union of two lives within the demands of the mission calling is the human ideal. It is the path to recovering universal morality — this is sexual identity.
What a man and woman negotiate in their division of labor in their own Garden of Eden is subject only to God’s approval. There are broad generalities, but it’s really down to how the man and woman want to conduct their household. From that basis, they then negotiate with their broader community. Ideally, their primary considerations would be within a faith community, but we all know how likely that is in our broken and profligate evil atmosphere in the West. It’s just barely possible in the ebb and flow of human events that we can build small communities of faith, but they only work so well as they reflect the proper overlap between fundamental moral principles and what’s literally possible.
Yes, we have to consider the prevailing culture and how we balance between avoiding contamination while intruding on their awareness with our faith. Sexual identity is tied up in all of that, because if you don’t understand the broader vision, you cannot understand the particulars.
It’s not for me to say whether, or how, it will affect any of you, dear readers and parishioners. For me, there are changes. In ways large and small, we live in the time of Peleg again (Genesis 10:25). It’s a delicious Hebrew understatement about the days of Peleg; it was the days when the tectonic plates all shifted, shattering the primordial land masses to form our current continents.
I want you to understand something about the way I write for this blog. I was once a good ole Baptist preacher boy, faithful and true to that part of American culture. I knew something was wrong — lots of things — but I figured it was me. I just needed to knuckle down and obey the rules. But I couldn’t, and didn’t, and the system refused to take me seriously even when I did. I drifted through a few other denominational groups before I realized I didn’t belong to any of them. I could still work with certain organizations here and there, but I didn’t belong in the system. Many small steps mixed with a few big leaps, and I left the system altogether. Some ties took longer to cut. And frankly, I believe there are a few left. I don’t cut until it becomes obvious it’s necessary.
Somewhere along the path, my soul was liberated from a bondage of lies. I discovered that a lot of truth was already in me, but buried under deception. The Holy Spirit works that way. When He raises you to life, you get all of Him. You spend the rest of your days here on earth discovering what He is for you, plunging into the Realm of the Spirit to find the path marked with your DNA. With the help of others I meet here and in meat space, I discover more of the path, more of the spiritual land I’m supposed to occupy for His glory. The truth was there inside of me all along; I just had to discover it. So when someone presents something that God intends be part of my soul, it’s simply a matter of recognizing the truth.
This blog is the narrative of my discovery. Sometimes I wonder if what I am trying to get across actually comes out my words. As I noted previously, all I can do is try to describe what I experience, in hopes that some of it might sound familiar to you, too. Some of what I’ve written in the past couple of weeks are fresh discoveries. Sometimes I discover the truth in the writings of others; sometimes I discover it in their questions. It’s been there all along, but until you bump the trash aside, intentionally or accidentally, I might not have bothered to explore that issue. Sometimes I discover stuff while I am in the process of writing it. Poking around in my soul, trying to find the right words or the right image, itself tends to open up surprises. Yet it always seem so obviously consistent with what I already have.
Some of you drew close when my story sounded like yours. When I moved too far away, you left or simply stopped paying attention. It was a joy to share that moment with you. My life is better for that moment of overlap. Whether or not I have warm feelings for you is another matter; God lets nothing pass over me that isn’t in His best interest. And what serves His interest is my interest by definition. Stay with me as long as He uses me to bless you. Move on when that doesn’t happen any more. That is only good and morally right.
As you might expect, the same is true of non-human influences, too. It’s also true of politics, economics, etc. Peleg saw an entirely new landscape between his birth and death. But even if I experienced the same thing literally, I can tell you it’s much more important to note that my world figuratively is being transformed before my eyes. I won’t bore you with the thousands of little things that changed with our without my fingerprints, but the changes are mandated by a higher power. Some of what I’ve discovered recently has fit me for a different mission. I have only vague notions of what that looks like, but the operations in my heart are huge and my brain just hasn’t quite caught onto it all.
So here is Brother Ed warning you: I don’t know what’s coming, but it’s huge. I don’t anticipate this blog going away. I do anticipate you’ll notice big changes for me. I cannot imagine how some of you will escape experiencing some of it in your own lives. Maybe you’ve already begun to notice. As always, I’m here for you.
The key to reclaiming biblical manhood lies first in teaching your mind to obey your heart, and developing a genuine masculine tenderness and empathy. Women have their own kind of empathy. You would expect some overlap in effects, but the fundamental resonance of the heart is different for women.
Our society has no problem with women having empathy. Indeed, our society only allows men to have it when they are effeminate, or at least tamed and boyish. This is consistent with the feminist mythology that men can never be anything more than boys, that their moral development stops at the threshold of puberty. Feminist orthodoxy asserts there are no adult men, only boys that become dangerous. Women are the only adults on the planet. Thus, men are acceptable only when they are sufficiently feminine.
Of course, this mythology fails when the individual female finds one irresistible because he’s just too manly. So the woman will do a lot of self-justification and personality contortions to absorb the thrill. Chances are, a part of what makes him manly in our culture is his lack any real concern for her in the first place, so at some point things will break. She’ll start pushing him to fit the myth and he’ll resist, sneer, or simply disappear. This serves only to justify her mythology until the next time.
We can only guess how the modern feminist will react to a spiritual man with a shepherd’s commitment and empathy. However, it’s all too likely his heart will warn him off and he won’t take seriously any overtures or criticisms. She’s just another very lost sheep.
It’s just as hard for a woman to travel the long distance to truth as for men, but the struggle is entirely different. Western Civilization has formally institutionalized the Curse:
I will greatly increase your labor pains; with pain you will give birth to children. You will want to control your husband, but he will dominate you. (Genesis 3:16 NET)
Keep in the mind the nature of this passage within the context of Hebrew language. There is an obvious meaning and this is a pretty good translation into English, but the symbolism is even more important, because it speaks on multiple simultaneous levels. The obvious point is that conflict is a default feature not easily overcome. The nature of the conflict will be her instinct to control elements of the relationship not delivered by God under her dominion.
Yes, godly women are meant to hold a measure of dominion. Characterizations popular in our culture, even among mainstream Christians, is woefully misleading. The whole point is not defining her dominion, but establishing the nature of teamwork as the basis for defining one that fits the team in question. That women are essential to the process of human government, from the nuclear family household all the way up to empire, is simply too obvious. Eve did not start out in the garden as mere arm-candy and pleasure unit.
Rather, the curse assures us that in our fallen state, every woman has an instinct to have a man, but will want to control elements of this union for which God did not equip her. She may well succeed in gaining that control, but it will be contrary to cosmic moral harmony.
But only in the broadest terms is her proper dominion defined in Scripture. We are given the image of nest-builder. While the Law of Moses is fairly precise in some ways, we need to remember that it’s contextual precision. We have to see through the particulars to understand the moral abstractions. What does her man, her clan, her tribe and nation need from her? What part of the vast labors are to be divided to her? She must have some say in this, but she will not always get her way.
Indeed, it is modern feminism that strives so hard to regulate and define a priori what men must allow globally — total control of anything she wants. She always gets her way, but only if her way is consistent with the orthodox mythology. For a bludgeon she uses the power of the secular state in the most intrusive details, and best from a state that is dominated by female presence. Let the men do the dirty work of enforcement, particularly against the impetuous boy-men to whom the women are linked by marriage or other forms of social control.
Yeah, there’s some serious female empathy there. It’s not hard to see that the entire range of materialistic, conformist, middle-class secular state evils arise largely from feminist dominance. In this, we can honestly blame women for the mess, but more accurately, it’s the feminine fallen nature.
Addenda: In a certain sense, Western men will always be little boys. That’s the nature of Western manhood, like Adam, to go along with Eve’s mistakes. That’s where we share the blame.
Having a masculine tenderness and empathy won’t keep you from lopping off a few heads, but it will teach you to approach the dirty task with greater moral justice. Popular images of Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) justice are rife with modernized perversions. We all recognize how Israelis and Arabs go after each other, but we forget that Judaism, Islam and Christianity have all been heavily Hellenized. While specifics vary widely, the broad underlying effect is obvious. What we see in the Near East today often bears no resemblance to the ANE. When you read a wider selection of ANE literature, you realize most of the talk of severity was just that — talk.
Have you ever noticed how many capital crimes in the Law of Moses required being caught in the act by two or three witnesses? That’s not easy to arrange for most things. Going to judgment with only one witness requires some pretty strong evidence before a judge under the Law can justify a full sentence. Most lesser penalties were bad enough, but I dare say the Law of Moses was far more merciful than most Western governments are today.
This is the whole point in masculine empathy. It’s a shepherd’s care for the whole flock, the entire community under your dominion. You measured all things in terms of shalom: How does it build and preserve social stability? How do the actions threaten it? Virtually no one in the position to judge was eager for the authority. It was a burden of care that required far more energy than most men wanted to exert for the role. Real ANE men of justice weren’t eager to take the responsibility for God’s moral peace in a community. It invariably meant having to play hard with someone you loved. It meant you had to disengage for that one person the unspeakable joy of open communion with the cosmos. Those men had something Westerners can’t even comprehend.
Men, I assure you: Once you’ve tasted that cosmic empathy, you’ll discover what a cheap trick cathexis has been in your life. In cathexis, your ego boundaries collapse and you are in love with the whole universe. It’s euphoric, but it doesn’t last because it doesn’t involve the heart. It is just hormones and emotions. It’s not voluntary and the ego boundaries will reassert themselves. When you finally understand the resonance of your heart with all the rest of Creation, you understand the difference between a passing cheap thrill and the voluntary connection with God Himself through His Creation. To find within yourself the indescribable moral competence of having your empathy and tenderness properly attuned to your being, your calling, your role in God’s plan for His glory — there are no words. Yet we find evidence that a significant portion of Hebrew men experienced this when the nation was compliant with the Covenant.
David knew this incredible power. It made him both patient with human weakness and yet unstoppable in battle. You see how he was too often overly indulgent with his own kin, and you understand just how hard it is to execute God’s wrath on your own. It ain’t supposed to be easy. It gives us a sense of how God feels withdrawing His protective covering from us when we sin. David erred to the side of caution and it cost him plenty, but God said David was a man after His own heart. How much did it cost God to be so incredibly patient and long suffering with Israel?
Look for this symptom: When moral justice is joy and peace, even if you had no active role in creating, you’ll know. When doing justice is not merely a nagging conscience but a pleasure that tells you unfailingly when you have hit your boundaries, you’ll know. When significant portions of your humanity argue with that sense of justice, yet you find yourself able to discern the true peace of Christ, you’ll know.
Be warned that it will make you do some of the craziest things, perhaps some of the very things you once ridiculed. It makes a woodsman hug trees and a farmer lie partially naked in the soil. It makes a hunter talk nicely to his prey and a warrior respect his enemy. It is nearly impossible to explain to Westerners with dead hearts. Yet, once your soul has taken this path, you’d rather die on the Cross than turn away from it.