I’m getting a trickle of questions about Jesus’ behavior, enough to start an outline, but most of them are rather late in His ministry. For the next chapter of our book it seems obvious to discuss biographical background and some childhood stuff. I’d like to see a couple of puzzles regarding the first portion of His ministry, if you have any.
Meanwhile, I got one question which didn’t seem to fit in the scope of our book, so I’m going to address it here. It falls under the epistemological differences between the West and the Bible.
To restate the question:
Most people don’t struggle too hard with the idea human nature is fallen, but that the whole natural world is fallen is tough to understand. Did nature somehow sin?
Answer: No, nature did not sin, but it was under Adam’s authority to some degree. His fall pulled the natural world under his curse.
The question arises from a particularly Western assumption. Most of us are aware of the analytical approach to discovery. Broadly, it consists of sampling human experience in this world, collating the data, and building logical categories to organize that data.
Anyone who has ever taken a college course in philosophy has probably heard the discussion of Plato’s reasoning on what defines the concept of “chair” or some other common physical object. The question is not one of semantics, but the idea behind the word. What is the essence of chair-ness? What differentiates it from other objects with a similar purpose? Upon such a pursuit hangs more important questions, such as: What is the nature of virtue? It follows such a mind would ask what was the nature of the Fall.
From the Greek philosophers we get this question of being and the essence or nature of a thing or concept. It’s no surprise Westerners then want to understand the nature and essence of the natural world as a whole. That humanity is broken is just about painfully obvious to almost everyone, but most Westerners instinctively doubt the intellect is fallen, too. So the remedies range all over the map within the realm of Western reasoning. The natural world would seem by Western assumption as exempt, but the Bible refers to that brokenness including some aspect or elements of nature itself.
Hebrew epistemology does not emphasize the analytical approach to all things. While aware of that approach, it’s not the default. The primary question of a Hebrew mind is: What is required of me? Most questions and issues are approached in terms of how it is experienced. Western logic presumes an ultimate objective truth, something existing independently. We have to figure out the content of that truth. This image of truth is completely missing from Hebrew reasoning, in the sense all things depend on God. Whatever it is we want to make of truth, it is of necessity a reflection of God’s Person. All truth is God’s truth, and anything contradicting His revelation must be a lie.
Where does that leave us? Paul approaches the Fall in the natural world most closely in Romans 8. In the 20th verse he mentions how Creation was “subjected to futility.” There is nothing in Creation at fault here — it didn’t go willingly. Something in the nature of Creation was forced by the God to participate in the curse of the Fall. A primary curse of the Fall is the constraints of time and space. That is, the existence of space and time as limiting factors in human experience is not part of our divine design, because the symbolic language of the Bible makes it pretty clear God and Eternity suffer none of that. Space and time present no constraints on God and His divine will, yet we are so deeply wedded to it, we are not even equipped to process that concept very far. I wonder how God could subject us to that constraint without forcing some portion of Creation under that it.
Obviously, the concept of Creation includes more than our part here under the Fall. However, we don’t experience any other part because it requires dying. At some point, Christ will return and remake all things. The portion of Creation we experience here will be ended, removed and replaced. Again, it’s beyond our comprehension, but it’s a standing promise. Thus, it’s probably more accurate to say the natural world is subjected to this futility, this fallen existence. It most certainly includes all we can know directly; we have to take the existence of another plane, a Spirit Domain, on faith. God created that, too, but it’s not fallen.
I mentioned the difficulty we have with this because Western epistemology asserts all existence is unitary. While there may be things and beings we cannot detect with our human senses, our logic assumes it is sufficient to yield knowledge of all things and nothing exists which is outside our logic. Keep in mind, Aristotle said this in so many words, and Aristotle was acquainted with Hebrew Scripture and philosophy. His description of a single unitary universe is a blunt rejection of what Hebrew scholars taught right there in his own city. Our Western intellectual assumptions about reality make no room for placing our known universe inside of a bubble of lesser reality, with distinct starting and end points. We have a hard time processing the idea there is a Spirit Realm which is wholly separate, and superior to this one. Taking such ideas on faith, without an awareness of the differences in epistemology, leaves you struggling to believe against the grain of all your mental reflexes.
Addenda: I hope my readers understand something important here. By no means am I suggesting you can’t live your life according to whatever epistemology best suits you. I fully understand my brain and temperament naturally runs along Hebrew lines, and Hebrew epistemology strikes me as totally natural, as if I were pre-wired to use it. I also understand most people are not that way. The reason so many rabbis embraced it during the Period of Silence was because it seemed more natural to them at the time. And it’s no secret computers would have been unlikely without a Western epistemology, along with a jillion other technological advancements. Somebody has to think that way, at least part of the time. It’s between you and God how you use or don’t use any particular epistemology — and there are more than two. What I do assert without discussion is you cannot hope to understand Scripture adequately without accounting for the difference between the Aristotelian West and the Biblical ANE Hebrew. God revealed Himself, by His own firm choice, within Hebrew epistemology. If you don’t take this issue seriously, you can’t claim to take God seriously, at least in terms of trying to understand His imperatives on your life.
Perhaps you’ll be entertained by this:
What you should take away is not so much belief in some of the wild theories out there, but the overwhelming assurance human science is so pitiful against the vast unknowns. Also, what we could know is actively hidden by those who do know, because those who have the power and wealth are determined to keep us ignorant. It’s not hard for them to do, since we have been thoroughly conditioned by the system under which we live. So thorough is the compromise, just try mentioning something not in the common orthodoxy of our world and see how people respond. Only if you have a very high charisma factor can you even get them to listen.
My point is not digging up the secret knowledge of the universe hidden under the propaganda, but simply the act of questioning common orthodoxy. I certainly don’t pretend to know the answers, but I’m absolutely certain the majority of mankind knows only a bunch of lies, and refuses to ask the questions.
In my devotion to the Bible, I note precious little is written of truly catastrophic events. Check out Peleg, whose name celebrates a rapid shift in the tectonic plates of the earth. Some previous great singular land mass was broken up during his life time. Yet somehow, people survived and humanity continued. What’s coming is unlikely to be The End itself. I say that in the sense we cannot possibly know or guess intelligently when that might be. It could come before I finish typing this, but it serves zero purpose to speculate. The point is we can’t know, so pretending all these events signal something of that sort is wasted effort.
Here we encounter the substance of Christian faith: We aren’t worried about it. Having established thoroughly on this blog how this plane of existence is inherently ephemeral, and it is wholly sanguinary yet proper to dismiss much of what passes for worldly concerns, we face these dramatic threats with equanimity. Not in the sense we don’t care millions will suffer and die; we aren’t at all happy about that. Rather, we know better than to think we’ll understand why, much less how to help. That is, except to help people understand death is merely the end of this existence, and there’s more on the other side, more than we could possibly know.
Because too many people take so seriously the things of this realm, we tend to over-dramatize in our minds expectations of how to face all this. That is, if I were to use the term “Elder Craft” instead of eldercraft, it would draw an entirely different range of interest. People would be checking to see what esoteric arts I am discussing, and seeking some advantage through various kinds of magic. In my mind, there is no real difference, except in the common associations people make, the mental baggage clinging to the terminology. What I see as the proper handling of the inexplicable in this world is the most elder craft, but there’s really not that much drama from where we sit today. I do from time to time spice things up a bit with parabolic language, trying to express things which can’t be put in human terms we recognize. Honestly, folks, the miracles and powers of the Age to Come are all there in my discussion of moral fabric and Spirit Realm. However, our interaction with such things will typically appear pretty mundane. But the secret to Methuselah’s near millennium of human life, while partly a result of a wholly different situation in terms of what the earth was like, is as much tied up in his clinging to God’s Laws as anything else.
No fictional portrayal, with all the special effects you’ve seen in the movies, will come close to the truth. It will overemphasize the manifestations of such things, but miss the whole point and undershoot the real drama because it’s beyond the human mind. Fighting for the opportunity to cling to the moral fabric is about as much adventure as I can really stand. As things go downhill fast in our American society, and the police state becomes smothering, I may well see some truly miraculous things as God’s power under His Laws defends my calling and witness. If not, my ability to resist whatever they try to wring from me will suffice. And if I simply die in the effort, that’s my ticket Home. In other words, I don’t get to choose most of that. What I do get to choose is the power to see that moral fabric, something invisible to mere human eyes, but shining brightly in my soul through spiritual vision.
I don’t fear the shift in the magnetic poles, nor any of the events connected to it on a cosmic scale. Should be quite entertaining to watch.
I’m not Green; I don’t worship Mother Earth.
The earth is only the mother of my flesh, the part of me I keep having to kill every day. I’m not too attached to it.
That doesn’t keep me from caring about the environment. There is a tension in a genuine follower of Jesus which stretches out a hand to leave this world, but reaches out to heal as much suffering as possible with the other hand. I’m not going to trash this world, but I’m not going to worry overmuch about keeping it pure and unstained according to some blind vision such as is common to Greens.
It was prophesied this whole mess has an endpoint. It’s approaching, and no human can calculate the time. God knows, but His calculus is utterly beyond anything we would recognize. It’s His property. He can do what He wants with it, and none of us is in a position to question that. He won’t allow it to die until He’s finished with it. Reading between the lines of His Word, we sense He is proving a point to an audience we cannot comprehend, but we are the center ring in the circus. It’s not so much a question of when the earth is done, but when we are done, when He is done with us. Something about our existence here is the main issue.
Because I care about that issue, and I care about the lives of those who must share this world with me, and those who come after me, I do what I can to keep it tolerable. I write and share my understanding, but I also try to leave stuff in the most useful condition possible. Some of my polluting is the result of too many things I can’t control, choices I don’t have. In order to be faithful, there are certain things I have to do. Not in the sense of accomplishment, but in obedience. If it’s in my hands, I’ll use it for His glory. I’ll make mistakes, but my mission is to keep trying. So the balance point between trashing this trashy existence versus keeping it useful to others is trying to keep an honest accounting with God.
Yeah, it matters if we pollute, but there are limits to what we can do without sinning the other direction.
It’s like an old Roman style sword; it cuts both ways.
Yes, those who adhere to God’s Laws can expect things to go differently. Those Laws are fundamental, the moral fabric of the universe itself. Since we moved here a few years ago, for example, storms and other natural disasters quit ripping this area. Two nights ago, I watched on radar as a fast-moving storm cell swept up from the south and collided with a very large batch of storms creeping our way from the northwest. The small cell steered the massive collection of storms away from us. People all around us faced hailstones ranging up to 5 inches (13cm) in diameter, fierce winds and heavy flooding rains. We barely got rain. We aren’t better than the people in those other places; we simply obeyed God’s Laws and reap the blessings. If more people obeyed His Laws, things would be different. That’s the way things work in this universe.
But that’s only half the issue. We were quite willing to face the total loss of all things we own. The Truth is more valuable to us than all the material goods of this earth. Indeed, we have already placed our lives in forfeit for His glory. We remain confident whatever we face is for His glory, and we glorify Him by how we face it. This is the other edge of the same sword. It’s not so much we have no trouble, but we view all such trouble differently. Nothing we do can keep God from working His own glory, but by our willing participation, that glory brings blessings. That is, what such participation brings is by definition a blessing. The only question is: How does God intend to glorify His Name through us? We give Him the credit, by our grateful thanksgiving, for sparing us from the destruction and sorrow.
He is the One who decides what “glory” means. That glory sword of Truth has two edges.
After nearly two weeks of exercising with my axes and saws on firewood, I think I need a break from that routine. Of course, the other workouts will continue.
I was surprised yesterday when I spotted ripe blackberries on one of my jaunts. I found a metal basket set which could be modified to fit my mountain bike, so now I’m riding to the picking spots. It’s much easier carrying the picking stick, collecting bucket and all the other junk I like to have on hand.
So I went back today and rejoiced to see quite a few already turned dark, when I started poking around under the foliage. Just the first day of picking, and all I took was the easy stuff. They are huge for the most part, with quite a good portion as large as the end of my thumb. It was enough to make a quart of paste after running through the blender. Whole berries and lumps are fine for pies and such, but for jam, I want my fruit pureed. Two quarts of berry sludge, after adding lemon juice, sugar and gelling agent, makes about five pints of jam.
We decided not to mess with sand plums this year. It was too much work for too little return. But they are ripe already. However, I won’t pass up the apples and pears, and the lone volunteer peach tree I saw on one road. In the fall, we should have a large crop of persimmons.
It’s going to be a very good year for wild fruit.
So very much of life is symbolic of much deeper truths.
I love fruit; it’s my favorite type of food. I’m quite fond of jams, preserves and jellies as a way to have fruit out of season. This is the first year our strawberries have produced enough to begin the process of making jam. I refuse to spray them for insects, so some of the fruit is pretty ugly, with scars and bite marks. Still, it’s just about worth the trouble.
Even better is the wild fruit and volunteer crops popping up around here.
There’s the apple tree behind my house, slowly dying and there won’t be quite so many this year. I believe if I cut off the dying parts, it will probably regenerate, but that takes years to produce fruit. Still, it has to be done. The pear tree a mile away in someone’s front yard, which all and sundry are freely welcome to harvest, is the best fresh eating pears I’ve ever had. I gorge on them during season. I also found a volunteer peach tree and some other apple and pear trees around here.
The early crop blackberries growing in this area are already putting out green clusters. The late crop is decked with white flowers, signaling a good harvest coming later in the summer. We are getting good rains so they should be abundant. Last year I scavenged and got two gallons. During better years I can get up to six gallons leaving a lot of lesser berries for others to eat. Then there’s the sand plums, and I keep scouting for more.
All it takes is the effort for most of this stuff. Half of it is knowing what to look for, and that’s not as simple as it sounds. Late crop blackberries are best by far, but they only grow in certain areas and have vicious thorns. You can only harvest the outside edge of any patches where they grow, and that’s only in sandy soil, high ground and out in open areas away from shade. While early crop blackberries grow all over the place, only where the sun hits them to they actually produce berries. But you have to walk around to gather them, and risk all sorts of other threats: poison ivy, chiggers and deer ticks love the same areas. But I’ve learned to spot likely areas while out riding, and found some great harvests that way.
Some of the finest, wisest minds in this world — perhaps the very finest available — are not in high profile positions, known by name. The best Christian teachers I ever encountered are people you’ve never heard of, people you could hardly find if I told you their names. The deepest thinkers were not professional academics, but people who did the most ordinary things. The face of God glows behind the masks of some folks you’d never give a second glance.
If you don’t know what He looks like, and aren’t looking for Him, you’ll never see Him.
First item is the main collection. We interspersed tomatoes with peppers, and each one is different. You may be able to see some early fruit on the purple tomato vine. In the background against the fence are peas, beans, another kind of peas and radishes. Somewhere far at the rear is lettuce.
At the opposite end of this patch is the strawberries. Last spring we planted one large and two tiny sprouts. The drought prevented much fruit from growing, but I watered and fed regularly, and when the rains came back in the fall, they spread out a little.
Women can wish all they want, and demand as much as they care, but they cannot change human nature.
Men are hardwired to check out your appearance and rate your sex appeal. Whether speaking to your or not, this is what’s going on in the background. If not, it’s probably because he’s almost dead. Plenty of men deny it, but that lie is simply the result of social conditioning. Women are doing the same thing, but on a different wavelength. Most people are able to keep that sort of thing to themselves as part of the internal noise we all have. The point is, you had better get used to it at the very least. If you are the least bit intelligent, you’ll take advantage of it in some way.
Men are hardwired to look. If you expose it, their eyes will travel there. Nobody should have to explain that. Even if they would never dream of touching you, are totally intimidated and crawling at your feet behind you, or if they hold you in utter contempt, their eyes will go where the goods are on display. Cover up if it bothers you, because even that sophisticated “to-die-for” rock star is doing all this in the back of his mind.
If you cut your hair like Jamie Lee Curtis, you are broadcasting a message men should avoid you. If you think about it at all, you probably did it as a response to female chatter. If you really had any notion about sex appeal, short hair is an epic failure. Get used to it. Even if you have good therapeutic reasons for cutting it short, there is a high statistical probability any man who says he likes it lying or is queer. Hardwired into the male psyche: Women who are otherwise a 10 lose 2.5 points for short hair. Lesser women lose even more.
The reason so very many women struggle with romantic relations is this vast load of manure-grade mythology and fantasy reflected in the likes of Chick Flix. If you thought Sex and the City was a revelation men should watch to understand women, all it proves is how utterly self-deceived you are. Women are nothing like that, despite their overwhelming wish to be so. Some men who know better will pretend an interest in such things only so long as it offers a chance to score with you. Then they’ll dump you as soon as they get tired of you, which may be the next morning. Men who don’t know better will play the game and deliver themselves entirely in your hands and you will never quite understand why you despise them for it. But it’s because the honest part of you kept chained in the basement is bigger and stronger than you’ll ever imagine, ripping apart the very floor on which you stand.
A perfect gentleman he may be, but if he isn’t undressing you with some part of his mind, he has no testosterone. Even a flaky old man like me, with no significant libido, having only ever touched one woman my entire life — I still have that motor running somewhere in the basement. This is normal; adapt to reality. The only way to avoid this is to avoid males.
Cherry picking your facts is actually a bigger lie than simply stating falsehoods.
On 3 May 1999, we had a bit of wind and rain outside our home. That’s the facts, but not the truth. Okay, it’s only some of the facts. We had several days of tornadoes in Oklahoma, and on that day it passed within a quarter-mile of our home — a mobile home. Our yard was covered with debris ripped from all those fancy houses. What if the path had been over ours? But if I were trying to sell real estate in that neighborhood, I might not want to discuss Oklahoma’s tornadoes.
If I’m trying to sell other things, like ideas, I’m sure to leave out pertinent information in order to press the case I wish to make. So we have millions of dollars’ worth of prize photography from the likes of National Geographic, whose editors hope you buy into the UN dominated program which grants them full power to decide when and where you can go to the potty, among other things.
If I wanted you to think I’m not going to conduct warfare against Iran, I’ll tell you some missile drill in Israel with American troops was called off. Meanwhile, the majority of all Western nuclear powered aircraft carriers were recently moved within flight range of Iran. And of course, I would not want officials admitting publicly that if Iran simply dismantled every fragment of their nuclear program altogether, it would not change the plans to attack them, but I would have to come up with a new excuse.
But if I was trying to sell Global Warming and draconian controls guaranteed to make Ethiopian refugees look wealthy, I wouldn’t just cherry-pick the facts, I’d invent new “facts” and change all the numbers to suit my theories.
Human activity in the main is a broad mixture of good and bad. Sometimes the precise same small action is both. I don’t begrudge the crackers digging up information, but I wish they’d avoid breaking stuff and pulling out credit card numbers. Still, the overall effect is probably salutary. If Bradley Manning did what they say, he broke the law while making us more free. There are a lot of things we might not know about were it not for the habits of computer crackers, things we really should know. Or could, if we bothered.
The Internet has done two things. First, it democratized global information sharing and retrieval. Pictures of the tornado damaged mentioned above were available by TV right away, but the Internet saved a copy and keeps it available. It’s not just fast and cheap, but durable. Plus, anyone who was there could take their own pictures and share them, and not rely on some editorial staff to put it into their broadcast. So we can catch videos of that otherwise unreported murder at the hands of police officers in some pricey shopping district, and see it posted on YouTube in seconds after it happened.
Second, the Net has democratized sharing of passions. The problem is, passions aren’t always interested in truth, nor even facts. They most often attach themselves to lies, frankly. Now more people in more places on the earth can have their brains rotted by Lady Gaga’s filthy music videos. And more people in more places can absorb the National Geographic vile hatred for freedom of human choice, and all the various shills of evil power pushing their lies.
It also allows me to share my own passions, for whatever value readers find in them. I’m not sure I know the truth of things, only what drives me. I certainly don’t want control over others, nor their stuff. I can handle National Geographic, just look at their pictures and videos and ignore their message. And not contribute any money directly. I’m pretty sure the Climategate “scientists” deserve far worse than they’ll ever get, which is nothing new.
The means to communicate is always a double-edged sword.
I was out on the trail today and ran into a hunter. He wasn’t particularly rude or anything, but he rattled off the name of the property owner, and who had the hunting lease. He told me I wasn’t supposed to be there. This is the first I heard they didn’t want anyone using the trails, so that ends the matter.
It’s not as if I feel any sharp sense of loss or anger over the work I did and can no longer enjoy. Frankly it was the adventure of exploring and the doing of the work itself. It was just a hobby. There are certainly other places I can walk.
Of course, this means I won’t be helping the firefighters next time there’s a wildfire, as well. By the time fire season comes around again, I’ll have forgotten too much, and things will have changed with the hunters now alert to other users. You see, there’s a bunch of kids and such who have been running around out there quite a bit. So there won’t be any maintenance and trash pick up without me there.
So when I turned to leave, I told the hunter, “Enjoy my trails.”