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ALIVE

ALIVE is a book presented as a blog series about human life from its inception. It studies the purpose of life, the philosophy of life, and the difference between physical life and spiritual life. The book does this by delving into the relationship between humankind and its invisible but highly active and involved Creator.

Based on Biblical narrative ALIVE enters major events and fleshes them out. In so doing ALIVE makes discoveries about the origins and evolution of human life.

ALIVE combines imagination and scriptual accuracy to develop the themes of what it means to be much more than physically ALIVE. Although imaginative, ALIVE never contradicts Scripture. Enjoy and learn.

The Bride's Year

This is a series of posts that make up a story describing the Year of The Church. The Church is The Bride of Christ who will be married to Him at The Wedding Feast of the Lamb as described in the Book of Revelations to John. The Wedding of Jesus Christ with the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church occurs after the destruction of this old earth and the inauguration of the new earth, also known as The Land of Immortality. 

It is a tale of a cynical little angel that God sent to earth to learn about the mystical year of synchronic time and about His Betrothed.

My writing offers readers a fresh way of looking at and learning about orthodox Christianity.

The style is intended to help the mind and heart overcome old prejudices and awaken them to the Truth of God’s plan for the human-gods that were created in His image and likeness.

 

About the Blog

This blog is for those who take the line in the Nicene Creed seriously that says, “I await the resurrection of the dead and the life of the ages to come.” That is the life immortal into which Jesus Christ will someday usher renewed humans. For centuries these people have been called Christians, and they are still called Christians, but since Christianity has become such a broad term and Christ said that the gate into immortal life is narrow and difficult to squeeze through, then perhaps those few serious people would be better identified as “Aspiring Immortals”.

 

This blog is a journal of just such an Aspiring Immortal. Through stories, poems, and journal entries I teach orthodox Christianity. I am not a religious rebel, instead I’d rather identify with GK Chesterton, CS Lewis, and my favorite Saints such as Francis of Assisi, Chrysostom, and Climacus whose vision and creativity have guided so many aspiring immortals through this earthly life.

 

A companion to this blog is my book entitled “The Immortal Life (TIL).” TIL teaches orthodox Christianity to those who want to know the reason for life and death, good and evil. TIL explains it all from the fall of mankind to the annihilation of this planet with a refreshing contemporary voice that is at times even funny.

 

We all work very hard to improve life on this planet for ourselves and for each other. And yet there is so much more life has to offer. Aspiring immortals are the salt of this earth and the substance of the next one.

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    Wednesday
    Oct112017

    ALIVE: Chapter 57, Locusts

    After the hail subsided, even the angels Perambula and Gracefeld grew weary observing all that the transplanted Hebrews and the native Egyptians had to endure together with one calamity after another in a non-stop barrage of misery. No one was free to leave Egypt; everyone had to suffer not knowing what would come next to frighten or repulse them.

     

    “Gracefeld,”asked Perambula, “how are you managing to keep Pharaoh so stubborn through all this? I really thought that the hail had to be more than he could endure, knowing that it is in his power to relent and return to normalcy. His kingdom is utterly destroyed!”

     

    “It isn’t easy Perambula.”replied Gracefeld. “You see how many times Pharaoh weakened. Over and over I spoke through his heart, that surely the Hebrews would not return once they left. To have less than half of his workforce, and to be left with the least skillful builders would spell the end of his pyramid project. His own tomb could not be built. What is a Pharaoh without a tomb? Besides, I told him. No matter how bad it got, the Hebrew slaves would be the ones to clean it up and restore the fields.

     

    Then I tell him that he, not this Hebrew god, has ultimate authority. He loves that. To let the Israelites go would make him subservient to their magician of a god.”

     

    “Ooo Gracefeld! Did the Lord hear you say that?”

     

    “I don’t know.” said Gracefeld. “He didn’t say anything to me.

     

    Perambula, doesn’t it make you wonder why God has to cause so much pain and suffering to prove his greatness?”

     

    “No, not really.” replied Gracefeld. “Someday soon, the Israelites will need to remember these days. Besides, I imagine that to leave a destroyed country is easier than to leave a tidy country with their cozy beds behind them.

     

    They will need to know first and foremost that their God is almighty, that He has the power to destroy all that sustains them. Besides,” added Gracefeld, “their lives have been too comfortable. Now that they are such a large nation, it is time for God to completely extract them from their small world. Like a long lost Father, he wants to reintroduce himself and mold them. That will take much hard work on everyone’s part.”

    “Especially ours!”exclaimed Perambula. 

     

    “I believe you are correct. Enough chatting Perambula. We must prepare for the next calamity. Farewell.”

     

    The angels departed, one flew to the pharaoh and the other back to God for further instructions. Perambula found God speaking to Moses again.

     

    “Go to Pharaoh; for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his officials in order that I may show these signs of mine among them, and that you may tell your children and grandchildren how I have made fools of the Egyptians and what signs I have done among them-so you may know that I am the Lord.” 

     

    As instructed, Moses and Aaron returned to Pharaoh, with Perambula following closely, and Aaron said to him, “Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before Me? Let My people go, so that they may worship Me. For if you refuse to let My people go, tomorrow I will bring locusts into your country. They shall cover the surface of the land, so that no one will be able to see the land. They shall devour the last remnant left you after the hail, and they shall devour every tree of yours that grows in the field. They shall fill your houses, and the houses of your all officials and of all the Egyptians - something that neither your parents nor your grandparents have seen, from the day they came on earth to this day.’” When Aaron stopped speaking Moses turned and walked out with Aaron at his heels. Perambula and Gracefeld’s angel eyes met briefly to exchange a wide-eyed look before Perambula hurriedly followed the brothers out of the palace.

     

    Gracefeld stayed to hear Pharaoh’s officials say to him, “How long shall this fellow be a snare to us? Let the people go, so that they may worship the Lord their God; do you not yet understand that Egypt is ruined?”

     

    Before they reached the palace gates messengers were summoned to retrieve the brothers. When Moses and Aaron returned, Pharaoh said to them, “Go, worship the Lord your God! But which ones are to go?”

     

    Moses himself said loudly and slowly, “We will go with our young and our old; we will go with our sons and daughters and with our flocks and herds, because we have the Lord’s festival to celebrate.”

     

    Gracefeld whispered to Pharaoh, “See! They mean to leave you forever, and then who will clean up this place? This city is in shambles,” Pharaoh paused to listen to his invisible angel, and then replied indignantly. “The Lord indeed will be with you if EVER I let your little ones go with you! Plainly you have some evil purpose in mind. No, never! Your men may go and worship the Lord, for that is what you are asking.” Pharaoh gave the sign to his guards to escort the brothers out of the palace. Within moments they were gone, leaving Pharaoh to brace himself for the next event.

     

    As if returning home from a typical day at work, Moses and Aaron walked out of the palace and back to their favorite spot on the hill in silence.

     

    The Lord had been waiting for their arrival. He said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the land of Egypt, so that the locusts may come upon it and eat every plant in the land, all that the hail has left.”

     

    Moses obediently stretched out his staff over the land of Egypt, and the Lord brought an east wind upon the land all that day and all that night; when morning came, the east wind had brought the locusts. The locusts came upon all the land of Egypt and settled on the whole country of Egypt, such a dense swarm of locusts as had never before, nor ever shall be again. They covered the surface of the whole land, so that the land was black; and they ate all the plants of the land and all the fruit of the trees that the hail had left; nothing green was left, no tree, no plant in the field remained in all the land of Egypt. This time even Goshen was a swarm of devastating locusts. Man, woman and child, rushed into their homes and shut their doors tight. Window openings were covered to keep as many locusts out as possible. Screeches  and shouts reverberated throughout every building. The inside air grew thick and stuffy. It was hard to breath. The people’s hunger was gradually turning to starvation. Locust appeared everywhere as if they could pass through the walls. 

     

    It was as bad at the palace as it was in the hut. Pharaoh hurriedly summoned Moses and Aaron who were both quick to heed the request of Pharaoh’s messenger. The men crushed locusts with every step of their giant feet, as the streets were coated in swarming bugs who loud humming wings were deafening to the ears.

     

    No sooner had the brothers entered the throne room than Pharaoh said, “I have sinned against the Lord your God and against you. Do forgive my sin just this once and pray to the Lord your God that at least He remove this deadly thing from me.” Perambula looked over at Gracefeld with a look that said, “Is this IT?!” 

     

    Moses and Aaron turned and walked out. There was nothing more to say. They went directly to their hill and prayed to the Lord who immediately changed the wind into a very strong west wind, which lifted the locusts and drove them into the Red Sea; not a single locust was left in all the country of Egypt.  No one before, and no one since has ever received such instant response to a prayer as when Moses asked God to remove the locusts. The devastation was more than anyone could bear. 

     

    Gracefeld was given orders that it was still not enough. He would have to try harder to stiffen Pharaoh’s resolve in spite of the hunger and devastation. Gracefeld thought and thought of how he could turn this ship around again. “Oh Great Pharaoh,” said Gracefeld, “would you cave to the orders of a mere Hebrew, the false brother that so often stole the affection of your father? What will your son think of you, the great Pharaoh being tossed by the wind like a mere locust? No, this is a matter of dignity. The Hebrews must remain and restore your land that their god destroyed.” 

     

    Success! Pharaoh soon announced his reversal. NO! He would NOT let the Israelites go, after all. Not even after the locusts.

    Sunday
    Oct012017

    ALIVE: Chapter 56, Oh Hail!

    Miriam lay sleepless in the quiet darkness of the night. Thoughts that poured into her mind clashed with each other, taking turns for flashes of attention before dissolving. She felt the earth tremble under her.  She sensed the pain and suffering of her Egyptian neighbors while all was calm and peaceful in Goshen. They were still in Egypt, and yet they weren't. Her world was transformed daily while she remained fixed in her familiar home. She was confused and yet thrilled. Within a square mile existed both heaven and hell, peace and torment. "How bizarre," she thought, "for the most degraded of peoples to suddenly be the reason for calamity, like sweet revenge. Who is this God of ours?"

    Miriam had no one with whom to share these thoughts. Sepphora, being a foreigner, was a relatively free woman since the strangling hand of Pharaoh did not reach as far as Midian, Sepphora would not understand the magnitude of what was happening and Aaron was wrapped-up in his new role as spokesman and super-magician. Her neighbors were too busy with chores and forced labor to discuss how they felt about the series of calamities.

    While trying to fall asleep, she thought back to when she began to feel so unsettled. Was it when the calamities started, when the Nile turned bloody and the frogs and those horrible gnats appeared everywhere? She must have swallowed a cupful before they suddenly disappeared. No, oddly enough, she thinks she was most unsettled when the calamities happened to the Egyptians and not to the Jews. Who is this God?

    All her adult life, Miriam wanted to escape her captors, the pharaohs with their demands, but she wondered what this God would demand of her? Were they being set free, only to be flung into the clutches of a vastly more powerful tyrant? All her life Miriam made idols and worshipped them and prayed to them. She was in control of these gods made with hands. She placed her hopes onto these figurines. Sometimes they would grant her wishes and sometimes they didn't. But they never did anything on their own that she knew of, and they certainly never controlled nature like this. How could she love and trust this mega-powerful God of Israel Who spoke to her brother Moses, and wreaked havoc? 

    Before Moses came back into her life she only thought of God when she was being mistreated. For the most part, it was the menfolk who were the forced laborers. The women did the work they would have always done anywhere, raise the children, cook and clean. This was the kind of life no woman could escape, except prostitutes, and they had their own, worse and perverted forced labor.

    Perambula who was wafting through the house read the thoughts of Miriam and felt saddened. These people, these slaves of Pharaoh are so precious to God while they knew so very little about Him. Slavery and living among their oppressors stifled not only their freedom to assemble, and to fill their days, but their awareness of God. The concept of gods made by human hands, was too much for Perambula to bear.

    Trying to recall everything she knew about this God, everything her mother taught her, Miriam drifted into a deep refreshing slumber. She woke up before daybreak as usual, lit  the fire and was about to bake the bread-dough that had been rising all night.

    Aaron entered. “Good morning sister. Ahh fresh bread this morning!”

    “Miriam looked up and said with a hint of sarcasm, “What does our God have planned for us today?”

    Aaron replied, “I don't know. He just tells Moses before it is about to happen.” And then tossed a fig from the bowl into his mouth.

    Just then Moses enetered the room and said, “Come Aaron, let's go back.”

    “I’m ready.” replied Aaron enthusiastically and gave his sister a peck on the cheek and rushed out to catch up with Moses.

    In the middle of the night Moses had been awakened by the need to urinate. Back in bed, while trying to fall asleep again, the Lord spoke. He said, “Rise up early and present yourself before Pharaoh, and say to him, “Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews: Let my people go, so that they may worship me. For this time I will send all my plagues on you yourself, and upon your officials, and upon your people, so that you may know that there is no one like Me in all the earth.

    By now I could have stretched out My hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, and you would have been cut off from the earth. But this is why I have let you live: to show my power, and to make My name resound through all the earth. You are still exalting yourself against My people and will not let them go. Tomorrow at this time I will cause the heaviest hail to fall that has ever fallen in Egypt from the day it was founded until now. Send, therefore and have your livestock and everything that you have in the open field brought to a secure place; every human or animal that stays in the open field and is not brought under shelter will die when the hail comes down upon them.”

    As they walked Moses was anxious to deliver this message. He tried hard to repeat everything God said to Aaron in his garbled way while they walked to the palace. Aaron was made for this role. He remembered every word that Moses relayed to him, and never questioned or argued with the message.

    Moses and Aaron arrived at the palace, walked in, delivered their message to Pharaoh and his officials who had just arrived for the day's duties. At this latest message Pharaoh appeared dumbfounded. The timbre of Aaron’s voice was so clear and had such authority for a pitiful peasant, that Pharaoh had no response. His magicians had been reprimanded so severely that they hadn’t shown their faces in over a week. Moses and Aaron promptly departed. The officials followed close behind them.

    Those officials of Pharaoh who feared the word of the Lord hurried their slaves and livestock off to a secure place. Those who did not regard the word of the Lord left their slaves and livestock in the open field. On the way back home, Moses and Aaron returned to their favorite spot in the hilltop in Goshen to listen for further  instructions. Before long, the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward heaven so that hail may fall on the whole land of Egypt."

    Moses stretched out his staff toward heaven, and the Lord sent thunder and hail, and fire came down on the earth. And the Lord rained hail on the land of Egypt; there was haiI with fire flashing continually in the midst of it, such heavy hail as had never fallen in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation. The hail struck down everything that was in the open field throughout all the land of Egypt, both human and animal; the hail also struck down all the plants of the field, and shattered every tree in the field.

    Only in the land of Goshen, where the Israelites were, there was no hail. From their perch on the hill, Moses and Aaron could see the clouds ejaculating onto the neighborhoods in the distance.

    On their way home a band of locals approached Aaron and asked what was going on. He reported the news about the hail. Some of the men were astonished while one or two others chuckled.

    While the family was eating supper they were suddenly startled by a loud forceful knock on the door. Eliezer got up to answer it. It was no surprise to anyone to find a messenger from the palace who had come to summon Moses and Aaron.  The messenger, not much older than Eliezer, was drenched and bedraggled. Eliezer asked him to join in the meal and the Egyptian boy gladly accepted.

    After supper everyone stood up to leave for the palace. Miriam said, “Don’t you think you should find something to shield yourselves from the hail?”

    “Good idea!” said Aaron.

    “Indeed!” added the messenger boy.

    Miriam looked around the house and decided to let them take her platters to deflect the watery bullets.

    “We must be going now,” said the messenger. “Pharaoh will be furious that I have delayed.

    The brothers agreed and followed the young messenger out of their dry cozy home.

    As they made the familiar trek to the palace it was interesting to note how gradually the driving hail progressed from light rain to thousands of tiny bullets as they approached the palace. They used Miriam’s platters to shield their faces, especially their eyes from the driving hail so they could see where they were going.

    As they passed a field the brothers saw that the flax and the barley were ruined, for the barley was in the ear and the flax was in the bud. But the wheat and spelt were not ruined, for they were late in coming up. It was a tragic sight. Their walked turned into a jog. The streets were empty. Even the animals were sheltered, some in barns and others in homes.

    When they arrived at the palace drenched and dripping they were given towels to dry themselves and then the brothers proceeded to the throne room.

    Pharaoh had been waiting for them on his throne. Without a greeting, Pharaoh looked down at the marble floor and said meekly, as if he was about to choke on his words, “This time I have sinned; the Lord is in the right, and I and my people are in the wrong. Pray to the Lord. Enough of God’s thunder and hail! I will let you go; you need stay no longer.”

    Moses replied “As soon as I have gone out of the city, I will stretch out my hands to the Lord; the thunder will cease, and there will be no more hail, so that you may know that the earth is the Lord’s. But as for you and your officials, I know that you do not yet fear the Lord God.”

    “Be gone!” shouted Pharaoh forcefully. He had been humiliated enough and didn’t need these peasants to tell him whether he feared God or not.

    Aaron and Moses left the palace with the platters deflecting the hail that would have stabbed their faces mercilessly. It would have been impossible to look up to the heavens under those conditions.

    When they arrived at the first spot where there was no more hail, Moses stretched out his hands to the Lord; then the thunder and the hail ceased, and the rain no longer poured down on the earth. Moses listened to hear the cheers of the people he saw in the distance venturing out of their homes.

    Back at the palace, when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and thunder had ceased, he sinned once more and hardened his heart, he and his officials. He no longer saw a reason to lose his labor force, and once again changed his mind. So the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he would not let the Israelites go, just as the Lord had spoken through Moses.

    Monday
    Sep182017

    Freedom: The American Experiment

    ALIVE READERS:

    I have been on a mental trip away from Egypt and the plagues. The book I am about to describe made me realize that it wasn't the Jews only who were slaves of Pharaoh, but all Egyptians were equally under his whim and control. It was horrible how the Egyptian people had to suffer even more when God wanted to set His people free, without the benefit of achieving their own freedom. Fascinating to think that while God was trying to free "His people" meanwhile in Greece, He was introducing the concept of freedom to humankind through the brilliant minds of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, the three hierarchs of Western Civilization.

    I will return to Egypt in the next posting. For now, let's explore the concept of freedom and what that means to each of us.

    FREEDOM

    The other day, I was reminded and further educated about the birth of Western Civilization through a book by Edith Hamilton entitled The Echo of Greece*. The content is so important and relevant to today that I want to share it with everyone I know! I hope that the following excerpts will inspire and energize you too.

    What failed in Athens was not the brilliance of the new concepts of individual freedom and self-government, but that the people would not do their part as individuals to sustain it. Perhaps a reminder of our duties as individual guides of the system will help us to prolong this fragile American experiment beyond the mere two and a half centuries of its existence on earth.

    The founding of America, a fresh start, will never happen again on this planet. It is for Americans today to show the Greeks that we can maintain their concept of freedom through thousands, not a few hundred years. This takes frequent trips back to the standard. This short piece is one of those trips back to the ruler to check where our construction is straight or getting cock-eyed.

    ...

    The most precious possession of the Greeks was their freedom which was unique.

    Despotism was the form of rule, but not in Greece. Despots destroyed the individual to empower the State. They didn't enslave people, because they didn't have to. People under strong government control were already slaves of the state.

    Freedom is the power to live under one’s own control and not another's which was unthinkable to the [powerful] east: e.g. Egypt, Persia, Babylon, Assyria. The east could not conceive of order in any other way but despotism. Aristotle said that Asiatics were slaves by nature. They didn't know what freedom is. If they did, they would fight for it with their bare hands, if they had no weapons.

    Unlimited freedom is chaos. It would destroy humankind. So the Greeks discovered a way to achieve order through freedom. Men were to limit their own freedom through self-control.

    The Greek love of freedom was checked by an equal appreciation for truth. They sought and cherished truth so much that they even shunned exaggeration. They detested extremes and the idea of the limitless to keep a firm hold on reality.

    Sculptures with more than natural human beauty were the expression of the artist's discovery of the necessary relation between beauty and truth. Physical perfection evoked a sense of spiritual perfection. They were driven to find order out of confusion. They found it in beauty.

    What the artist did, the statesman also did by finding the relation between law and freedom. Both written and unwritten laws are the key to moderation, reality (truth) and order.

    Unwritten laws were even more important than written laws. The violation of unwritten laws didn't send you to jail, but were the basic condition of freedom for men living together, i.e. kindness, compassion, unselfishness... Laws were as nothing compared to the limits established by a man's free choice to be good.

    Arrogance, self assertion were detested by the Greeks, who favored restraining the impulses to unrestricted freedom, shunning excesses, obeying inner laws of harmony and proportion.

    In Greece, men started thinking of themselves as individuals. Slavery was common throughout the world, yet in Athens even slaves had the right of self rule. Human equality was essential to the concept of truth, freedom, and individualism.

    Socrates thought that every man's good was dependent on the good of the community. The two could not be separated. Only a good man could be a good citizen, and a state could only be good when its citizens were good. The condition of the state was bound with the condition of the souls who live in it.

    Socrates’ eyes were fixed on the individual, and on the individual part of him, the inner realm where he could be absolute master. Men were free when they were masters of themselves. Otherwise they were all citizen-slaves to the State.

    To expect a government to be good when dishonesty had crept in among the officials, or officials to be honorable when the voters were indifferent to their being so, was folly.

    Failure of the concept of freedom started when people voted to be paid for their public service. Plato and Aristotle both strongly objected. Instead of men giving to the state, they wanted a government that would provide them with comfortable lives. Self reliance, and service to the community were obscured to the point of disappearing. Athens began to be looked upon as a wealthy cooperative business in which all citizens had a right to share. The more that was demanded from the people of their government, the higher the taxes, till they were taxed out of existence. Votes were for sale as well as politicians. The freedom people wanted became freedom from responsibility.

    Yet, responsibility was the price for freedom. It could be had on no other terms.
    The true believers in freedom never regarded public office as a chance for private gain.

    They considered poverty among their fellow citizens as their own disgrace and measured their well being, not by outdoing each other, but by the soberness' of their daily life and absence of want among all the people.

    Isocrates believed in democracy, but he was aware of the danger in unchecked majority rule, perpetually threatening to pass over into mob rule. And of the fact that while the best in the community will always be a minority, rule by a minority had again and again resulted in loss of freedom.

    The failure came as men rejected the disciplines and responsibility of freedom - they wasted their youth in soft living. Lawlessness was looked upon as liberty, license as happiness. To them, the state was a means to satisfy selfish desires. [Ask not what your country can do for you…JFK]

    Wise self-control became less valuable than State control. True democracy is the renunciation of power.

    Plato was not a romantic, he was a realist who showed men what was real. Ugliness was there. Most people only saw the bad. Seekers of truth, the artist, the philosopher saw something else because they believed in the presence and power of inner divine light. They could discern the meaning of the ugliness going on, of what was important and what was not.

    Plato said to turn the eye of the soul to the light, looking at the good in all its purity; use it as a pattern.

    Plato died a happy man even though he was often disappointed. “Perhaps the perfect State can't exist,” Plato said, “perhaps it is laid up in heaven for him who wants to see it. That doesn't matter, a man can still order his life by its laws.”

    Through Plato, Aristotle came to believe in God. But Plato never tried to prove his reality. Aristotle, who was a scientist had to do so. Plato contemplated God, Aristotle produced arguments to demonstrate him. Plato never defined God. Aristotle thought God through logically and concluded he was the unmoved mover. "To find Him is hard and then impossible to utter Him. God is the rational center of an orderly universe.”

    Aristotle had a burning curiosity about facts. His biggest achievement was that he united the world of scientific thought with metaphysical thought, he joined philosophy, art, and religion with sciences. He held the two worlds together as no one else.

    ...

    The American system of government was derived from these basic principles that can guide us through the perilous seas of a world in a constant tug-of-war between good and evil.

    If only we could pivot our attention to what is good, beautiful, honorable. If only each of us, one by one, would think about Plato’s advice to “turn the eye of the soul to the light, looking at the good in all its purity; use it as a pattern” for our own internal dialogue, America would soon reflect its calm intelligent people, and the world could follow.

    The key to freedom is individuality. Individuality should always repel group-think. Our individuality should make each of us critical listeners/readers to broadcasts. Is the sentence an opinion without a fact to back it up? Is the sentence an emotional trigger, or does it have real substance that can be verified by multiple sources? We should turn away from broadcasts that are designed to inflame rather than inform. Dividing us and angering us is a sure way to control and conquer us. How important is freedom to you personally? Think deeply about this, make sure your decisions will lead towards freedom. If you disagree about the value of freedom, ask yourself if you should have the right to revoke the freedom of others who want to be free and are willing to accept the risks and work that freedom requires.

    One of the more frightening sentences I read was the one that said men allowed their leaders to be corrupt. How familiar, how frightening.

    Winning the America Revolution was a miracle. It was proof of the Ancient Greek theory that those fighting for the good will always prevail over those fighting for power. Imagine history without this miraculous war. Since our founding, time and again, we have seen despots rise who want to enslave people with their ideologies, and then physically control them. Study the rise of the Ottoman Empire, study the rise of Naziism. A chaotic centralized government is easy to grab. Is America being systematically set up, from within, to be conquered? The enemy of freedom is shrewd and patient.

    The foundation of a good nation is good people. Look inside your self for the light, for peace. When you find it, shine it brightly. Others will follow until we become a country filled with luminous people who love. A measure of our success as a culture will be when we promote beauty over horror in art and entertainment. We demand excellence in our food, the delicious, the beautiful, the nutritious; let us also demand excellence in what our eyes and ears absorb.


    *The Echo of Greece, Edith Hamilton, W.W. Norton & Co. 1957

    Friday
    Aug252017

    ALIVE: Chapter 55, The Great Divide


    Moses woke up feeling refreshed. The air was warm but clean. He had just been dreaming that he and his sons were leading the people out of Egypt; a vast army of families heavily laden with jewels and supplies were following them. A boy playing a flute walked beside him and his sons. In his dream Moses could see angels guiding them, as if the path had been mapped out for eons.

    Sepphora heard Moses rousing and called through the window from the kitchen area, “Good morning sleepyhead. What can I make you for breakfast? We have eggs today! Look, we have no flies! Isn't this wonderful?!”

    “Yes.” replied Moses, still deep in thought. “Eggs are fine. Is there any fish and bread?”

    Just then they heard a knock on the door and Miriam opened it after wiping her hands on her apron.

    A barefoot boy, seemingly out of breath from running announced, “Moses, the Pharaoh wants to see you right away. I am to take you, come.”

    Aaron looked in from his room and then over to catch Moses’ glance and smiled. “I’m ready!”

    Moses replied, “Go back and tell Pharaoh that I will be there after breakfast. Go; I know the way.”

    “But he will be angry if I don't bring you back as he commanded.”

    “Then wait for me outside.”

    The boy was happy to wait where there were no flies. He wanted never to return to the flies.

    Miriam looked over at Moses and said, “Perhaps this is IT! Pharaoh is ready to let us leave this wretched place.”

    “We will see.” said Moses “Aaron, there is no rush. What do you want to eat?”

    No one was in a hurry to walk into the Egyptian district with the swarms of flies everywhere.

    The brothers saw the neighborhoods, one after the other were in shambles. The people looked more miserable than ever. Dead flies, killed by angry humans, carpeted the ground. The city was in ruins because of the flies and the other calamities.

    Guards let the brothers go right in. There was more order inside the palace with its cavernous rooms and statues, but the flies were there too, as many, if not more densely populated than in the streets. Moses wished he had brought a woven fan to whisk them away.

    They reached Pharaoh sitting on his throne with slaves fanning him on three sides. Over the loud buzzing sound of thousands of fluttering wings and through the screen they created, Moses heard Pharaoh say, “Go sacrifice to your God within the land.”

    Moses replied, “It would not be right to do so; the sacrifices that we offer to the Lord, our God, are offensive to the Egyptians. If we offer in the sight of the Egyptians sacrifices that are offensive to them, they will stone us! We must go a three days journey into the wilderness and sacrifice to our God as He commands us.”

    Pharaoh thought for a moment and replied, “Alright, I will let you go to sacrifice to the Lord your God in the wilderness, provided you do not go very far away. Pray for me.”

    Then Moses said, “Good. I will pray to the Lord that the flies may depart tomorrow, from you, from your officials, and from your people, only do not change your mind again!”

    “You may be excused.” replied Pharaoh somberly anxious to be rid of the brothers so he could bathe.

    Moses and Aaron quickly walked back through the swarms of flies with their noses and mouths covered by their hands. They decided to go to the hill where they had prayed before. When they arrived, Moses lifted his arms and looked into the heavens saying “Lord God almighty, good God, great God who wants to free Your people from their oppressors, please remove the flies. Without waiting for an answer, Moses and Aaron descended the hill and went into the villages, Moses going to the right and Aaron to the left to announce to the people that they would be leaving the next day. Once again, men, women and children enthusiastically loaded their mules for the journey.

    God ordered Gracefeld to lead an army of angels to remove the invisible shield that kept the flies in Egypt so they could disperse.

    By noon the next day, as Moses promised, the flies were completely gone from Pharaoh, from his officials, and from his people; not one remained. Each Egyptian from Pharaoh to the smallest infant sighed with relief. No one cared how it happened so fast, only that the flies were gone. Women swept the dead flies into piles inside their homes and out. On every street a deep pit was dug to deposit the flies into. Relief became a fleeting sensation.

    Moses and Aaron were too busy organizing for their exodus to notice. They decided to start the journey the next morning. The word went out from one neighborhood in Goshen to the next to be ready.

    Meanwhile, Pharaoh changed his mind again. He called his chief guard in to announce that his permission was to be rescinded. The guards were to put a stop to the exodus of the Israelites.

    Gracefeld who was invisibly present observed this scene, pleased that Pharaoh could be so easily manipulated.

    “But sire! The people are ready! They have already begun to walk away! This will be a very difficult task!”

    “How dare you speak thus! Get your weapons and do as I command! No Hebrew is to leave the border of this land or it will be you who suffer! Go and don't let me see your face again.” bellowed Pharaoh to his very frustrated chief guard.

    Guards on horses were dispatched into every neighborhood to command the slaves back into their homes. This time, loud sighs not cries filled the air as the slaves obediently shuffled back into their homes to unpack their beasts of burden.

    Disappointed but not surprised, Moses too went home, into his bedroom to listen for the familiar voice of the Lord. After several moments of inner silence he heard, “Go to Pharaoh, and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews: Let my people go, so that they may worship me. For if you refuse to let them go and still hold them, the hand of the Lord will strike with a deadly pestilence, on your livestock in the field: the horses, the donkeys, the camels, the herds and the flocks. But the Lord will make a distinction between the livestock of Israel and the livestock of Egypt, so that nothing shall die of all that belongs to the Israelites.”

    The Lord then set a time, saying, “Tomorrow the Lord will do this thing in the land.” It was still light out so Moses immediately went to tell Pharaoh.

    The Hebrew people saw Moses walk quickly by as on a mission and wondered what would happen next. Some of them smiled to themselves and to each other. In the Egyptian neighborhoods the people were less cheerful to see Moses.

    The palace guards spotted Moses approaching and one was sent in to announce his approach to Pharaoh who agreed to allow Moses to be admitted. This time, Moses walked as one with authority into the throne room, made his announcement without stuttering, and without waiting for a reply, and without requesting permission to depart, turned and left.

    Pharaoh was stunned at the forcefulness of Moses. He called for his magicians and told them what he heard and to be prepared to do the same.

    The next day all the livestock of the Egyptians died, but none of the livestock of the Israelites died. Pharaoh inquired and found that not one of the livestock of the Israelites was dead. It was becoming more and more obvious to the Egyptians that something supernatural was occurring. Nevertheless, Pharaoh’s stubbornness was set as in concrete, a deep and firm foundation, and he would not give his permission, even to rescind it again, to let the people go. It was his form of retaliation. Powerful Pharaoh refused to admit defeat, to admit that there was a power greater than his own. It was foolishness.

    Without a moment’s delay for the Egyptians to recover from the calamity of their dead livestock, or for Pharaoh to wake up from his delusion, the Lord then said to Moses and Aaron, “Take handfuls of soot from the kiln, and let Moses throw it in the air in the sight of Pharaoh. It shall become fine dust over all the land of Egypt, and shall cause festering boils on humans and animals throughout the whole Land of Egypt.”

    The brothers walked on paths by fields of dead animals large and small, of dead cows without milk to give, of rotting lambs and goats. The stench was nearly unbearable so they walked as fast as they could to get to the palace. Once again the guards saw them approach and one went inside to ask Pharaoh if they should be admitted.

    Pharaoh filled with the curiosity and hope of one who is suffering, bade the guard to let them in.

    “What have you to say today Moses as if I didn't know. Have you come to see a broken man? You won't find him here! Your magic tricks don't bother me! I have the best magicians in the universe and one day you will see what they can do!”

    Aaron replied, “Sire, the Lord our God is greater than all the magicians that have ever lived. Our God is greater than your magicians and greater than your gods. Even your magicians shall be afflicted as never before.” The magicians looked on in fear and amazement thinking that this time Pharaoh demanded too much.

    Pharaoh’s face was hard and expressionless. He steely eyes revealed no fear.

    Then, Moses walked over to the cold kiln and reached inside where a large pile of soot and ashes waited for him. He reached in while Pharaoh looked on in confusion wondering what on earth this man was doing with ashes.

    Moses, with two fists full dripping with ashes went to stand before Pharaoh and flung his arms up in the air opening his fists wide. The fistful of ashes rose high and multiplied! It was upside-down rain. The magicians cried out in pain from boils that suddenly appeared on their skin. Painful boils. They rushed out to seek relief. Some went directly into the sea, others rushed for salves of any kind they could find.

    Soot appeared everywhere, inside the palace and out of it in every Egyptian neighborhood, and in the fields. Only this was a malevolent soot that caused festering boils on the skins of humans and animals.

    Moses and Aaron did not wait for any sort of response, as Pharaoh too was obviously in pain. As he watched them leave Pharaoh shout, “Get out!”

    This time Moses fully expected this reaction and walked quickly through the soot filled air past sore and moaning people, until he and Aaron arrived in the Hebrew quarter where the air was clean and children played and the animals were healthy.

    And Moses said, “I am hungry. What’s for lunch!”

    Monday
    Aug142017

    ALIVE: Chapter 54 The First Degree of Freedom  


    It uses a false measure for a free man to estimate the impact of seeing those swarms of flies buzzing around the Egyptian’s heads, and not theirs. It was like seeing a vast army of aliens from outer space coming to your rescue after 400 years of oppression. A free person might laugh at the sight of hundreds of sets of flailing arms creating a Jackson Pollock dance, but the slaves felt a mysterious multilayered satisfaction, as if justice was born, a flickering sunrise after the longest night. It was a sign from heaven that the earth was about to open up and swallow their suffocating world, consciousness and all. All they could do was to sit in a semi-paralyzed state and wait to see what would happen next.

    The two angels flying overhead reading into slave hearts and minds had pity on these crippled people imagining life with clipped wings. They wondered if they could safely make the short leap from slavery to humility.

    The slave is forced to submit to the will of the master, whereas the humble one voluntarily complies with the will of God without the fear or malice of a slave, but instead with the trust and faith of a child. The similarities between a slave and an child of God are striking and profound, and so are the differences. So much more profound than the difference between a steely willful free man and a yielding humble man. The willful man and the humble man can hardly know each other, being more like a tiger and an artist staring at the other with deep curiosity. No.

    The metamorphosis from slavery to piety can be silky smooth, albeit with lumps and grit. Each is made with a similar pliable fabric, a similar soft texture. Is this why the heavenly Father endured watching so many generations of misery between Joseph and Moses? Were those centuries of gestation and cruel pharaohs the crucibles of God to mold Abraham’s children into His own? The flies not bothering them, was the first centimeter of dilation before their birth into a brand new state of existence. It was the very first sign that these lowly people were special and beloved. The labor pains were still to come.

    The serpent staff, the bloody Nile, the frogs and gnats introduced the Hebrew people to their God with magic. This mysterious ancient God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob of lore became real by showing His power over nature in a shocking way. Egyptian and Hebrew alike witnessed the biggest magic show that there ever was and ever will be until the Second Coming of Christ. For the first time since Creation, the laws of nature, were defied by their Maker in order to show humankind, especially the oppressor-class, the source of real power.

    Magicians were allowed to duplicate the marvels. Yes, magic exists in this world of scientific laws, but only up to a point and no further. They couldn't make gnats because they weren't allowed to, and from that point forward the magicians were bereft of their false power.

    Thousands of years ago, in Egypt, through a series of shocking events God descended from His throne room to become obvious. It was a unique display of real power. It was real, intentional, purposeful, and effective. This chapter of human history, the story of this one people among the millions of ethnicities was as a flash of lightening that illuminates the heavens for a brief moment. If only we can grasp the sight that was exposed, and remember it through the generations and tell our children and our grandchildren what we saw; we would humble scientist and philosophers. It was loud and bright; it was frightening; it was alarming; it was revealing. It only happened once, and only needed to because God, the Maker of heaven and earth, only needed once to transform this one mass of slaves into a free humble people that He could call His own. He only needed one group that some day He would incarnate into for the grain of thirty-three brief years, for one purpose: to free humankind from the iron shackles of death, in this world and the one under it.

    And yet, even God with His armies of angels could not do this alone. He needed one human liaison, one child of man, Moses, whom He raised from birth.

    Moses is a giant of a man, because he was a humble man. He humbled himself to God by listening and doing what was asked of him. Moses allowed God to steer him. God needed Moses to link His power from heaven to earth through his greatest creation, humanity. Moses was most alive by virtue of his extraordinary ability, or was it fortune, to communicate with God, to be His tool.

    On the day when Pharaoh first rescinded his permission for the Hebrews to leave to worship their God, the people cried. This event too was part of their introduction to the Lord and King. This terrible disappointment was their first opportunity to become humble, trusting people of God. God knew He had to pry them away gently, so He did this with a succession of five offers by Pharaoh to allow them to worship in the wilderness.

    God knew that no one was yet ready to be free. He had to tease them out of Pharaoh’s clutches for their sakes and so Pharaoh could get used to the idea. This also explains why Moses only asked for three days when he meant forever.