A Woman’s Role?

Yesterday, I started reading a very interesting book I found at the used bookstore in town. I love books about science and the bible, trying to reconcile spiritual matters with the physical. They intrigue me and this one has not disappointed me! It’s called “The Genesis Question – Scientific Advances and the Accuracy of Genesis” by Hugh Ross.

Here’s what I came across today that I really found fascinating and then had to go dig deeper online…well, as much as I could today anyway. I tend to get very excited about some topic and spend about thirty minutes googling and reading, but then have to get back to taking care of my family. I’ve got housework to keep up, people! Can’t just sit around reading all day!

Concerning Eve’s designation as “helper”, “’Ezer is the Hebrew word for “helper” in Genesis 2:18, 20. The Hebrews used this word with reference to a military ally (see, for example, 2 Chronicles 28:16 and Psalms 121:1-2), and all that is essential for victory.”

“Together, Adam and Eve, men and women, can conquer. Divided and embattled, they fail.”

And it’s true. 2 Chronicles 28:16 is when King Ahaz sends for help (ozr) and Psalms 121:1-2 is “I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help (ozr) come? My help (ozr) comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.” After a bit of research, I found that ozr and ezer are the same thing. It just depends on who’s writing it since it’s a transliteration.

Interesting. Right? So what happened? How come our Bibles say “helper”, “helpmeet”, or “similar helper”? Why do they not say “an ally”? It just means something totally different. Then I wonder well, if you really study it and cross reference like this guy did, then you’d see that the word is used in other contexts to mean “an ally” not just a “helper”. But then I wonder why the pastor wouldn’t fill us in on this instead of telling the congregation that wives are only “helpers”, not that that isn’t a pretty important role! But “ally” kind of implies a bit more, doesn’t it? So I Googled again and found another interesting read.

It’s called “Eden’s Mystery Job Description” I like this guys style, probably because it’s written like a train of thought but with more details. It’s something I aspire to do! He pointed out that in the Hebrew, Genesis 2:18 has another word after ozr that isn’t in anyone’s translation. It’s transliterated to mean “in front of him” but then it’s just dropped off in everyone’s translation. Why? What happened? When I say “God created a helper for Adam.” it seems to mean something completely different from “God created a helper in front of Adam.” Sounds weird but it could mean a lot of things.

I’ve got more reading to do about this and I’ll probably come back to it in twenty years because that’s how I do things, but I have to say right now, what better way for Satan to divide God’s creation against itself than to get someone to drop a few words out of a translation and put one conscious part of His creation above another and tell that part that God says you have to be submissive and take your husband’s lead in all things instead of partnering and becoming his ally. Sounds a lot like what Satan did in the garden. God didn’t really mean you’d DIE if you ate that fruit, did he?

Look where we are now. I know so few people that are actually partners with their spouse. They mostly seem as though they only tolerate each other at best, even Christian families. Was this Satan doing?

Notes on “The Great Divorce” by C. S. Lewis (1946)

The last time I read this was in 2007 and I loved it. To be honest, I love anything that Lewis writes. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it’s like he has a personal connection with God. The last time I read this was before I would make notes while I read books, so all I have is that I remember loving it. This time, the thing I took away most was the very end. I won’t give it away because it really just wraps up the whole thing but I will be blogging about it for sure.

The first thing I thought when I wrote down the title and publish date at the top of my note page/book marker was that it was published around the same time at “1984”.

From the Preface, “I beg readers to remember that this is a fantasy. It has of course – or I intended it to have – a moral. But the trans-mortal conditions are solely an imaginative supposal: they are not even a guess or a speculation at what may actually await us. The last thing I wish is to arouse factual curiosity about the details of the after-world.” And that is how the book ends as well. It’s a dream. We cannot fathom the reality that God is from the side we are on. There is no way to describe it but through our own dirty and distorted lens. But God is trying to talk to us. We can feel it every day in the quiet stillness of the morning and in the dark and fearful night; in those moments of sadness and joy that make us truly human, we hear His voice.

Here’s my interpretation. Each of us hears God in the way that makes sense to us and calls us closer to Him. That doesn’t mean that all interpretations of God or a lack of God are true. It does not justify relativism. God is the one constant reality and the one thing in common with all our interpretations. It’s just complicated. Your dream or understanding of what God’s reality is may not work for my mind. And it’s not the actual reality you dreamed of, only God’s way of speaking directly to you. Does that make any sense?

I loved Lewis’ idea of heaven, hell, and purgatory the last time I read this book. It has stuck with me for the last 9 years. It’s the idea that humanity cannot fathom the idea of heaven. When someone says to me that in Heaven we will have no male and female, no desire, no pain, no…choices? We will be perfect in God’s presence? I will admit I cringe. The humanity in me does not really desire that. All of those things are what make us human, aren’t they? Why would I want to give them up? But that’s only an inkling of an idea about what Heaven is. We cannot understand it in our dimension or reality.

What I think is that once we make the decision to trust God, that different reality will open up to us and we will understand fully. For God, it must be like trying to explain depth to a two-dimensional being.

My favorite bit of this book, my “ah-ha!” moment, was in Chapter 13.

“Only the Greatest of all can make Himself small enough to enter Hell. For the higher the thing is, the lower it can descend – a man can sympathize with a horse but a horse cannot sympathize with a rat. Only One has descended into Hell.”

“And will He ever do so again?”

“It was not once long ago that He did it. Time does not work that way when once ye have left the Earth. All moments that have been or shall be were, or are, present in the moment of His descending. There is no spirit in prison to Whom He did not preach.”

Do you get it? God is outside our reality. He is bigger than time itself. That’s why when someone says, God knows your plan, it feels like we have no free-will. That’s not the case. We can only see our own chosen timeline. God can see every choice by everyone at every time. He knows all your choices and their outcomes before you chose them. Pretty cool, huh?

I used to wonder a lot about Jesus. If the only way to God/Heaven is through belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, then what about all the people that lived before He came? It seems rather unjust for a just God to do that. But the answer is here in the idea that God is not inside our reality. When Jesus died for our sins, He did it for all mankind throughout time. When it happened, it happened in all time and somehow we all got the chance to believe. I can’t explain how exactly but I’m sure it’s there and we’ll all know the answer when we are able to be in the presence of God.

The whole time I’m reading this book I’m thinking I should put it down at the end of each chapter and really soak it in but I feel compelled to keep reading. I just love it so much. It’s definitely on my “read-again-soon” list. I’d really like to get all C.S. Lewis’ books and read through them often.

A Word From Dio

From Durant’s “Caesar and Christ”,

We cannot know what God is, but we have an innate conviction that he exists, and we feel that philosophy without religion is a dark and hopeless thing. The only real freedom is wisdom – i.e. the knowledge of what is right and what is wrong; the road to freedom lies not through politics or revolution, but through philosophy; and true philosophy consists not in the speculations of books, but in the faithful practice of honor and virtue according to the dictates of that inmost voice which is, in some mystic sense, the word of God in the heart of man.” Dio (AD 40-120)

When people who do not believe that any god exists say that humans can have a moral code without a god to guide them to it, are they actually feeling God within themselves? Is that sense of honor and morality toward others, the sense of actual right and wrong regardless of religious creed or upbringing, “God in the heart of man”?

Idol Worship

I do not “salute” the flag or say the “Pledge of Allegiance”. I do not treat the flag of the United States as a sacred object, just as I do not hold any other symbol as a holy object. I like hearing the national anthem being played or sung but it bothers me that when the crowd hears it and they come to a halt and face the flag, hats in hand. It gives me the creeps and reminds me of some kind of alien mind control movie. It happened recently at a sporting event, not in stands of corralled people but in a wide open space of a thousand people milling about through vendors and camps. The music started and everyone dropped what they were doing and commenced the ritual. If it had been a Christian ritual or Muslim call to prayer, people would have lost their minds. But this one, in this religion of state worship, the flag is a holy symbol and we must all respect it under penalty of violence. I will not. I worship only the Lord Himself. When we come across this ritual, we respectfully stand with others. Personally, I spend that time in prayer for peace on earth, to stop the wars, for the Lord to help me show compassion and love for those around me even those my country would consider enemies.

Books!

Whenever I stop reading a book before it’s finished, I always think of Alice in Wonderland when the Mad Hatter yells, “Clean cup! Move down!” in the middle of the tea party.

I’ve put aside the book “What is Islam?” by Shahab Ahmed. I’ve only read about half way through and I’ve got some good insight from the first half, but it’s just too academic for me right now. I have no other experience with Islam besides this book and what I’ve heard. I need something more basic to get a better understanding of what he’s talking about. 90% of the book is going right over my head.

What I did get was pretty interesting. He says he is trying to reconcile inconsistencies in what we perceive as “Islamic” in the world, things like Islamic art, the drinking of wine by some, and other things.

Here are some things I found interesting. “There are at least three hundred ethnic groups in the world today whose populations are wholly or partly Muslim.” Islam has been practiced differently across time and cultures, much like Christianity. I didn’t know there were sects of Islam like denominations of Christians. I learned that there are Islam philosophers. I learned that before the Western Enlightenment period, we didn’t separate religion and secular as we do today and that the Islamic world doesn’t separate it at all like we do. If we describe their practices in our terms, it doesn’t make sense. I couldn’t tell if the author is a Muslim in the sense that Middle Eastern people are. I didn’t read into the authors background at all. Are Western Muslims different than Eastern ones? Are Muslims in our country different than the ones over there? Would devout Eastern Muslim’s roll their eyes at this explanation as a Born Again Christian would at someone’s explanation of the Bible? And then there is this quote, “if we set upon our noses the conceptual premise that Islam is a complex cultural synthesis “like Christianity”, then we are peering forth dimly through the wrong glass.” Can I ever really understand Islam? Or can I learn enough to not be afraid of another culture and encourage others to leave them be?

I’m reading this because I want to understand more about what our people seem to be so afraid of. There are few people I’ve met that don’t want to just kill all the Muslims because it would make the world safer. What really bothers me is how many Christians I know that are happy to help the government destroy a group of people. Everyone thinks we are fighting some kind of evil in the middle east, some devil instead of a human group or other government. Do we do that for all our enemies? Why are they the enemy? What makes them so different that we can’t get along? Or is there something else hidden? I’m on the side of the idea of something hidden. I think Islam is just the excuse, the thing that the government is trying to set up as our enemy instead of what is really happening. If THEY told you what they were really fighting over, I believe fewer people would be so gung ho about joining up or sending their children to fight.

Concerns

I’ve heard many of my Christian friends talk about how terrible the Muslims are and that they are so “warlike” and infused with evil. I’ve heard that their whole religion is based on killing and hatred. Personally, I can see that in any religion, including my own, throughout history. It’s usually not based on any sacred text but on interpretation by a group in power wanting to keep it. Humans being humans.

I wanted to ask some of them, if they believed that these people are so evil would they kill them if they saw them? If they had the chance to rid the world of a little of this so-called evil, would they? I highly doubt any of them would. They really want someone else to do it. They want the military/government to do it for them. After all, “thou shalt not kill”, right? But it doesn’t say anything about promoting someone else to kill.

It reminded me of something I recently read in my morning Bible study time. If the Pharisees and Sadducees had been so offended by what Jesus said He was, why didn’t they just kill Him? If He was such an affront to God, wouldn’t God be happy with them if they stopped Him? But they didn’t want to kill Him themselves. They wanted Rome to do it for them. They begged the secular government to do their dirty work for them. All they wanted to protect was their power over people and their position in society. They weren’t interested in protecting God’s honor or defending their people from a perceived evil.

I don’t think God wants us to kill anyone. I don’t think there is an evil in this world that God cannot control. I believe He has called us to “Love God with all our hearts.” and “Love our Neighbor as ourselves.” And if that brings us death, then we are sooner reunited in His presence. God is my defense. I trust in Him completely.

Pilgrim’s Progress

My Harvard Classics reading today was a few of the last pages of Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress”. There is a children’s version that I used to read to my sons when they were little that is so cute. I’d never read the real one until a few years ago and I loved it. I hope they read it themselves some day.

This morning though, this passage hit home.

“only when they tasted of the Water of the River over which they were to go, they thought that tasted a little bitterish to the Palate, but it proved sweeter when ’twas down.” and in the margin “Death bitter to the flesh, but sweet to the soul.”

The whole last chapter is portraying many of the characters as they cross that “river” into spirit. It’s very touching. While I do not relish the thought of dying and leaving loved ones behind, the idea that once that bitter part is over the sweetness will overwhelm me comforts me. I hope that it comforts those I leave behind as well.

When my Grandma died, and we were very close, it was so hard to see her go, but I know she walked across that river into our Father’s arms and is happy there. That comforts me. I know she isn’t “watching over” us. In the blink of her eye we will all be with her in Heaven.

Thank you, Lord, for reminding me of that Truth!