Sunday, 9 December 2018

TL:DR: The Genesis Question part thirty-one

Hi, Everybody!

I do this on Sundays:


31 August 14

Dear Troy & Mia; David & Marie:

My Christian reading this noon hour included John 1 to 8.  Further to my opinion that the Synoptic Jesus' response to John the Baptist's question: "…or do we wait for another?" would have been deemed inadequate by John (that what he was looking for was a simple "I am"), the Johannine Jesus uses the specific reference "I am" to the Samaritan woman in 4:26; to his disciples in 6:20; "teaching in the Temple" and "to the subordinates of the chief priests and Pharisees" three times in quick succession in 7:28, 7:29 and 7:33; and another three times in quick succession to "the Jews while teaching in the Treasury" in 8:24, 8:28 and (the capstone reference, "Before Abraham to become, I am") in 8:58. 

In answer to your question on my opinion of baptism in your recent letter, David, my own faith-based belief/opinion is that its efficacy hinges, to a great extent, on personal motivation.  The ritual ablutions that I perform five times a day before prayer (rinsing my face, mouth, nostrils, scalp, hands and forearms, feet) constitutes a kind of baptism.  That's certainly how I intend it: as a purification -- when coupled with my "Contract with God" prayer intention -- of whatever corruption has crept into my life in the previous number of hours. I think that formal baptism is probably most effective when it is coupled with a drastic curtailment of personal sin: that those who haven't previously been baptized who are baptized as adults and then consciously lead a more Godly life from then on probably benefit the most. 

Infant baptism seems to me a corruption of that intention:  essentially wasting the unique properties of baptism at an age when you are pretty much "sinless".  An artful corruption issuing from the adversary:  "if men are, by nature, good, then it should be no problem for them to be sinless after being baptized at whatever age.  And if men are inherently evil, then it doesn't matter what age you baptize them at, they're still going to be evil, so why not get it out of the way as early as possible?"

My faith is based in the idea that water is God's medium, so water is always a good idea and always efficacious whether you bathe with it, drink it or use it any other way for purification.

Coincidentally, this ties in with Ezekiel 32: 

Ezekiel 32

And it came to pass in the twelfth year, in the twelfth month, in the first of the month, the word of the YHWH came unto me, saying:

Son of man, take up a lamentation for Pharaoh king of Egypt, and say unto him; Thou art like a young lion of the nations, & thou as a [whale/dragon] in the seas: and thou camest forth with thy rivers, and troubledst the waters with thy feet and fouledst their rivers. 

Ostensibly a further indictment of Pharaoh (how many ways does the YHWH think that Pharaoh needs to be further indicted?) but -- as I read it -- actually the YHWH attempting to invert the self-indictment of the previous chapters (the YHWH indicting Pharaoh and therefore also indicting the YHWH in doing so) and to make it apply to God.  "Thou art like a young lion of the nations" the "young" part would pertain to the on-going debate between God and YHWH as to who is the younger being and who is the elder being.  The "whale/dragon" would be Leviathan, again: the serpent from the Garden of Eden (and Chauah's transparent lie therein) which has metastasized into gigantic proportions.  But now trying to make this into God by emphasizing God's medium as context:  "thou camest forth with thy rivers, and troubledst the waters with thy feet and fouledst their rivers." 

To which God -- Lord GOD -- replies:

Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will therefore spread out my net over thee, with a company of many people, and they shall bring thee up in my net.  Then will I leave thee upon the land, I will cast thee forth upon the open field, and will cause all the fowls of the heaven to remain upon thee, and I will fill the beasts of the whole earth with thee. 

That is, the indictment stands but it stands as a self-indictment of the YHWH.  It is the YHWH who came forth with God's rivers, who troubled God's rivers with his/her/its feet and fouled those rivers.  God is capable of being artful in his language as well:  "Then will I leave thee upon the land".  The YHWH inhabits the land so the metaphorical net will simply bring the YHWH forth from the YHWH's "hiding place" within the earth and cast the YHWH "forth upon the open field" accomplished "with a company of many people"  -- that is, those who are faithful to God.  God is indicating that it doesn't need to be "all the teeming millions of the earth", "a company" is all that is needed.  And that the YHWH will be, at that time and in that context, pretty much inert.  Something for birds to land on and as food for the beasts of the whole earth.

And I will lay thy flesh upon the mountains and fill the valleys with thy height.

An acknowledgement that the YHWH is of considerable size but not nearly as immense as the YHWH perceives his/her/its self to be:  the YHWH sees Leviathan, alternately, as an incarnation of his/her/itself (the largest sea mammal, therefore the YHWH is the largest living creature on earth) and as an incarnation of God coupled with the self-perception that the YHWH is greater than either incarnation.  It's a way of indicating the exact proportions:  YHWH, you know how big the mountains are and you know how deep the valleys are.  There's plenty of room there to house your form in toto.  You aren't that big.

I will also water with thy blood the land of thy swimming, to the mountains, and the rivers shall be full of thee.

I'm sure this was all coming as a surprise to the YHWH and was probably something the YHWH couldn't countenance:  just how small the YHWH is.  In the YHWH's imagination, if the YHWH's blood were fully unleashed, the earth would vanish.  What God is saying -- being omniscient He knows the YHWH's self-perceptions and how inaccurate they are -- is that the YHWH's blood, fully "bled out" like a sacrificial animal would "water…the land of thy swimming, TO the mountains [emphasis mine], and the rivers shall be full of thee".  The mountains will still be there even in the totality of the YHWH's blood, although the rivers will be "full of thee". 

To say this attracts the YHWH's attention would be to dramatically underestimate the effect.  The interest is so great that further elaboration takes up a great deal of John's Revelation when it comes time for that.  There's a kind of "spoiler" in Revelation 8:8:

And the second angel trumpeted and as mountain great to fire burning itself was thrown into the sea and became the third of the sea blood

That is, the "bleeding out" of the YHWH will make "the third of the sea blood".  Immense, no question, but still only a third.

The elaboration of the Revelation of the Blood in Ezekiel 32 occurs in Revelation 16:4-6:

And the third [angel] poured out the bowl of him into the rivers and the fountains of the waters and it became blood.  And I heard of the angel of the waters saying, Righteous you are, the Being and the Was, the Loyal because these you judged,
because blood of holy and of prophets they poured out, and blood to them you have given to drink; worthy they are.  And I heard of the altar saying, Yes Lord, the God, the Almighty true and righteous the judgements of You.


That is, the blood of the holy and of the prophets supersedes the blood of the YHWH, dwarfs it and devours it, in point of fact, even though a mere bowl of it is poured by the third angel into the waters. Even though, from where the YHWH is sitting in the earth (Revelation 14:19) and from the perspective of men its a blood event of great immensity beginning with the casting of the "net":

And threw the angel the sickle of him into the earth and gathered in the vine of the earth, and he threw into the press of the anger of the God the great.  And was trampled on the winepress outside of the city, and came out blood out of the winepress until the bridles of the horses from stadia thousand six hundred.

It really depends on where your "camera eye view" is of the Revelation of the Blood as to how immense it seems to you.  A river of blood 1,600 stadia in length and up to the bridle of the horses in height at ground level would be mind-boggling.  Less so when seen from space. 

Back to Ezekiel:

And when I shall [put thee out/extinguish thee] I will cover the heaven and make the stars thereof dark: I will cover the sun with a cloud and the moon shall not give her light.  All the lights of the light in heaven I will make them dark over thee, and set darkness upon thy land, saith the Lord GOD. 

This, it seems to me, is another "camera eye view" thing.  The apocalyptic events -- like the eruption of Krakatoa in 1888 but, presumably, multiple orders of magnitude larger  --  will affect the atmosphere in drastic ways, particularly when viewed from the earth.

I will also [provoke to anger (or grief)/vex] the hearts of many people, when I shall bring thy destruction among the nations, into the countries which thou hast not known. 

Yea, I will make many people amazed at thee, and their kings shall be horribly afraid for thee, when I shall brandish my sword before them, and they shall tremble at moment; every man for his own life, in the day of thy fall. 

For thus saith the Lord GOD, the sword of the king of Babylon shall come upon thee.

It's just a hint of what is to come, but suggests an immensity of which the YHWH is, in Ezekiel's time, unable to properly conceive.  Certainly partaking of a far greater immensity than the military forces under the command of the king of Babylon, viewed literally, would suggest.  Which, I think, is the idea behind it:  that God has a metaphorical "sword of the king of Babylon" in preparation for the YHWH that is as destructive as the literal sword is to Pharaoh king of Egypt.  In fact, Revelations, coming as it does almost six hundred years later, reiterates frequently

She fell, fell Babylon the great

definitely with the female gender dominant.  The Whore of Babylon.  And, of course, by the time of Revelations, Babylon has been dwarfed by Rome -- "the countries which thou hast not known" -- and is now just a metaphorical name for Rome.  It seems to me God's attempt to introduce a sense of scale into the YHWH's perceptions.  You think you're immense.  You thought Egypt immense. You thought Babylon immense. You think the Roman Empire immense and -- no question -- each is that much larger than its previous iteration.  But, relatively speaking, for God, they are all very small and very manageable.  As is the YHWH.  The more the YHWH attempts to "scale up" his/her/its own context, mentally, the more each context proves to be small and temporary.

I might be wrong, but I think the intrinsic logic of that would, eventually, prove inescapable for even the YHWH, when Lord GOD says:

By the swords of the mighty will I cause thy multitude to fall, the terrible of the nations all of them: and they shall spoil the pomp of Egypt and all the multitude thereof shall be destroyed.  I will destroy also all the beasts thereof from besides the great waters, neither shall the foot of man trouble them any more, nor the hooves of beasts trouble them.  Then will I make their waters deep, and cause their rivers to run like oil, saith the Lord GOD.

By the time the YHWH is both witnessing and experiencing the enactment reiterated -- that which was done by Babylon to Egypt is then done to Babylon by Greece and then done by Rome to Greece -- presumably a sense of proportion would have to begin to take hold: that all that prevails through these enactments on the human scale is faith in God.  As the "angel of the waters" puts it in Revelations:  

Righteous you are, the Being and the Was, the Loyal because these you judged, because blood of holy and of prophets they poured out, and blood to them you have given to drink; worthy they are.

All military and economic strength, population, wealth, they're all temporary no matter how permanent they look.  Loyalty to God is all that matters because it's reciprocal.  God is loyal to those who are loyal to Him, so the "blood of holy and of prophets" is the only long-term efficaciousness in these enactments.  Those who were loyal to God in Egypt endure, those who were loyal to God in Babylon endure, those who were loyal to God in Greece, endure. Those who were loyal to God in Rome endure.  And they're all that endure.

The YHWH attempts to "get with the program" after God has concluded what He had to say,

When I shall make the land of Egypt desolate, and the country shall be desolate from the fullness thereof; when I shall smite all of them that dwell therein, then shall they know I, the YHWH.

but misses the point:  which God then endeavours to drive home:

THIS the lamentation wherewith they shall lament HER [caps mine]: the daughters of the nations shall lament her: they shall lament for her, for Egypt and for all her multitude, saith the Lord GOD. 

Ultimately, only the successive enactments have the potential of fully driving the point home: there is a lot of lamentation that needs to be experienced until either the YHWH or the nations or their men, women, sons and daughters come to anything approaching cogent awareness.  It's addressed to the YHWH's female aspect which is certainly more attuned to lamentation than is the YHWH's male aspect.  "This is all so very unhappy" being a pretty apt summing up.  What is being resisted and what needs to be reiterated so many times is to attach the question of WHY? to the lamentation.  WHY does this keep happening?  Because of disloyalty to God.  The only thing in our world that is genuinely happy and which endures is loyalty to God.  All other happiness is illusory and temporary and, so, leads directly to lamentation. The evidence is always right there that that's true.  But the resistance to it is profound.  It takes a couple of weeks for the YHWH to respond:

It came to pass also in the twelfth year, in the fifteenth of the month the word of the YHWH came unto me saying:  Son of man, wail for the multitude of Egypt & cast them down, her, and the daughters of the famous nations, unto the nether parts of the earth with them that go down into the pit.

Ezekiel must have wondered at that.  How am I, a mere man, supposed to "cast down" anyone, let alone the "multitude of Egypt…her, and the daughters of the famous nations, unto the nether parts of the earth."  It's partly a Freudian slip and partly overlapping self-recognition and self-awareness on the part of the YHWH.  The male and female aspects coming to the same point of awareness at the same time and then needing to express that.  But, to whom?  Basically to each other, but with Ezekiel as the nearest repository.  It's actually the beginning of a nearly Shakespearean monologue of lamentation:

Whom dost thou pass in beauty? 

Egypt is beautiful.  The desire for beauty, appealing to the male aspect of the YHWH and the desire to be beautiful appealing to the female aspect of the YHWH.  Whom dost thou PASS in beauty, however, is another question.  Depends on what the nature of beauty is that you're talking about.  It certainly doesn't mitigate judgement:

Go down and be thou laid with the uncircumcised. 

The issue is the criteria.  Beauty is an attribute, but it isn't a criteria for redemption. 

They shall fall in the midst of them that are slain by the sword, she is delivered to the sword, draw her and all her multitudes.  The strong among the mighty shall speak to him out of the midst of hell with them that help him: they are gone down, they lie uncircumcised, slain by the sword.

Strength isn't a criteria anymore than beauty is.  And, as if for the first time, the YHWH looks around a recognizes that there have been a number of physically strong and physically beautiful civilizations before Egypt and before Babylon. All of them have gone down to the pit, all of them uncircumcised -- that is, self-evidently not in covenant with God:

Ashur there, and all her company, his graves about him:

Note the switch of gender:  the YHWH seeing the nature of reality through both male and female eyes simultaneously:

all of them slain, fallen by the sword, which caused [terror/dismaying] in the land of the living.  There Elam and all her multitude round about her grave, all of them slain, fallen by the sword, which are gone down uncircumcised into the nether parts of the earth, which caused their terror in the land of the living, yet have they borne their shame with them that go down to the pit. 

This new insight will feed into the Whore of Babylon narration of Revelations, but, at the moment the emotions invoked are a little too raw to explore as yet in Ezekiel's time: 

They have set her a bed in the midst of the slain with all her multitudes: her graves round about him, all of them uncircumcised, slain by the sword: though their terror was caused in the land of the living, yet have they borne their shame with them that go down to the pit.

Where does that shame come from? is the unanswered question.  Ultimately it will be addressed in Revelations 18:2-5 in no uncertain terms:

And he cried out in strong voice saying, She fell, fell Babylon the great and she became dwelling place of demons and prison of every bird and unclean and having been hated, because out of the wine of the anger of the fornication of her have fallen all the nations and the kings of the earth with her committed fornication and the travelling merchants of the earth out of the power of the unreined luxury of her they became rich. And I heard other voice out of the heaven saying Come you out, the people of me, out of her, in order that not you should share together to the sins of her, and out of the plagues of her in order that not you should receive, because were glued together of her the sins until the heaven and called to mind the God the unjust acts of her.

"out of her" -- that is, the Whore of Babylon not only is IN hell, she IS hell.

There are intimations of that in Ezekiel 32, but mostly just a sense of wonder on the part of the YHWH at how -- all-encompassing -- the consequences are in both the male and female aspects. 

There Meshech, Tubal and all her multitude: her graves round about him, all of them uncircumcised, slain by the sword, though they caused their terror in the land of the living.  And they shall not lie with the mighty, fallen of the uncircumcised, which are gone down to hell with weapons of their war: and they have laid their swords under their heads, but their iniquity shall be upon their bones, though the terror of the mighty in the land of the living.  Yea -- thou shalt be broken in the midst of the uncircumcised and shalt lie with them that go down to the pit.  There the princes of the North all of them, and all the Zidonians: which are gone down with the slain with their terror they are ashamed of their might, and they lie uncircumcised with them that be slain by the sword and bear their shame with them that go down to the pit.

As I read it, it just wasn't time yet for the full awareness of what that shame was made up of to be made apparent.  God concludes the chapter merely acknowledging what the YHWH has brought his/her/its self to see for the first time:

Pharaoh shall see them and shall be comforted over all his multitude, Pharaoh and all his army slain by the sword, saith the Lord GOD.  For I have caused MY terror in the land of the living: and he shall be laid in the midst of the uncircumcised with them that are slain with the sword, Pharaoh and all his multitude, saith the Lord GOD.

Next week, God willing: Ezekiel 33.

Best,

Dave


Next Time: I call it with this Cerebus crap, and start posting about the TV show: Riverdale! ("Past" Matt!!!)

6 comments:

Damian T. Lloyd, Esq. said...

Did I read somewhere that Dave got paid for this?

-- Damian

whc03grady said...

Yeah, like $10,000 or more. Most expensive salad in history.

Anonymous said...

Hey, here's Dave talking about how he prays five times a day!!

David Birdsong said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Damian T. Lloyd, Esq. said...

David B.: Your case would be a lot stronger if nobody had seen this stuff.

-- Damian

Anonymous said...

Probably gonna have to start quoting David B when responding to him.