Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Why Islam was Revealed by God

Why Islam was Revealed by God

Many Christians wonder why Islam was revealed. And likewise, some Muslims wonder why the people of Israel did not recognize Jesus as their Messiah. The two are not actually cause and effect. What happened is that God knew that while the Apostolic Church of Jesus (the Roman Catholic Church) would run true and remain pure in their Christianity, many of the Church's laity, some of the priests, and those who established their own independent Christian churches would eventually reintroduce pagan beliefs and dilute their respect for, belief in, and obedience to One God, despite Jesus' constant admonishments to worship only the One God. I'm not talking about the Trinity, which is faithful to Catholic Church teaching. I'm talking of the same old problem that God and his prophets constantly had to correct ancient Israel regarding the worship of other idolatrous gods by admixing pagan beliefs. They don't know that I know but I know both Catholic priests and Protestant and non denominational ministers who believe in reincarnation in secret. And the filth of "new age" that believes that God is just some universal spirit that is also subject to reincarnation has crept into much of Christianity through the laity. And I need to say no more about the attempts by the vile "women priest" and other movements to crucify a woman on the cross of Jesus, and to worship a dual Male-Female Godhead. The blasphemy and heresy would make me rend my robes if I owned any. They blab on and on, some of them thinking that I must be "someone" but "how could she be someone and still have married or dated" and they gossip and spy and apostate. They've even gone so far as to reintroduce Greek and Roman gods in their worship.

So God in his wisdom and all knowing, instructed the Angel Gabriel to instruct the Prophet Mohammed (Peace be upon him) to record and memorize, with the utmost clarity, that there is One God alone, who the Muslims call Allah. The Lord recognized that the Muslim people would be the most faithful and least prone to apostate on the belief of the One God as he revealed himself to Adam, Abraham, Moses, and the ancient fathers. Muslims find the security of knowing and trusting in the will of Allah, and do not chase idols and wish to dilute their own faith in order to self aggrandize, as do Christians who fall for pagan admixtures to their faith in Jesus Christ. The steadfastness of the belief of the Muslims in Allah, and their recognition of Jesus as from God in Spirit and Mary and their purity is to be highly commended.

More family laundry ha ha :)

Here's another crazy loon "reincarnation" story. My cousin, rest his soul, died just over four years ago. He was much older than me, and raised by my dad because my cousin's dad drank and deserted his wife, my dad's younger sister, when she had the baby. He was one of the kindest men I ever knew, my cousin, and his nickname was "kissing cousin." When I was a toddler I'd hide under the kitchen table when I'd had enough kissing from him! He was the first in the family to go to college and I still remember and can picture so vividly my being a little one crawling in my onesie flannels and getting under the table when he'd stop by after class in college, rushing to hug me!

Anyway, my cousin was born on St Patrick's Day, in an observant Irish family, but he was not religious in the least. He was kind and good, but had no relationship with God. Yet, incredible as this sounds, I learned that some people believe he is a "reincarnated someone" because he's related to me, was born on that saint's day, has the letters "l-a-m-b" in his name, his mom's name is Jesse (as in King David's father, but a girl, obviously) and best of all, my dad's nickname for him was boy "sprout" (which was a pun for boy scout and how my cousin was tall and thin like a sprout.) I came to find out that people have sucked up to my cousin (and still do so to his widow) because they thought they were hanging around with a reincarnated Christian heavy weight, but that he was too dumb to know it. My cousin's widow is still playing to their tune, and there's no point in my telling her, because she doesn't ever listen to anyone. The only quarrel I ever had with my cousin was about her blind "know it all" attitude... and it did come to a sad end, because both their health was ruined by living as they did. Neither knew they were being egged on in their lifestyle choices and access to money spent unwisely by people who were vampire reincarnation enthusiasts. I'm still amazed how people can think that people can die, go to the glory of God, and then be "sent back" because they didn't learn how to parallel park their chariot properly, and that they are remembering enough to be neurotic but do not remember the splendor and judgement of God. What total sinful tards who are looking at a long swift hard fall.

Bible Reading: Book of Isaiah

Isaiah 11:1-5

But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom. The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him; a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the Lord, and his delight shall be the fear of the Lord. Not by appearance shall he judge, nor by hearsay shall he decide, but he shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the land's afflicted. He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. Justice shall be the band around his waist, and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.

Jesse refers to King David's father, and Jesus is a descendant of that lineage. Jesse had eight sons.

Childhood story and Guan Yin

I have a lovely porcelain of Guan Yin, who is commonly referred to as the Chinese goddess of mercy. Here's a funny (though at the same time, pathetic) story. I didn't realize that there were people who watched what types of books I read, and what decorative art I purchased or made, thinking it would provide "clues" as to who I "really am" and if I'm a "reincarnated somebody." I didn't realize that this statue, plus my interest in the Chinese nation and people, was part of these loons being convinced that there was some sort of reincarnated presence in me.

What it actually is that the statue fondly reminded me of an incident in my childhood. Ever since I was a toddler I'd say my nightly prayers before bed, dedicating them to help those who cannot pray for themselves, and toward works of mercy. I would then sleep and dedicate my dreams to spreading the spirit and love of God. Well, one night, instead of just dreaming, I connected so strongly with the people of China that I actually got out of bed and stood in the corner, picking "peaches" off of a tree of mercy and distributing the peaches to those who needed it. My mother woke up and was dumbfounded. She asked me, "What are you doing?" and I answered, "I'm picking peaches." I was around four or five years old then, so this would have been in the late 1950's. Anyway, needless to say I never told her about my little mission, because she was not devout, to put it mildly, and certainly not imaginative. She did not want a child who stood out in any way, so I remained serene and undercover. I made sure to tell my body not to actually get up and sleep walk when going visiting from then on! :-)

Bible Reading: Corinthians (St. Paul)

1 Corinthians 2:1-12

But to us God has revealed them through his Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the things of a man save the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so, the things of God no one knows but the Spirit of God.

Bible Reading: Psalms

Psalm 89 (90)

O Lord, you have been our refuge through all generations. Before the mountains were begotten and the earth and the world were brought forth, from every lasting to everlasting you are God. You turn man back to dust, saying, "Return, O children of men." For a thousand years in your sight are as yesterday, now that it is past, or a watch of the night. You make an end of them in their sleep; the next morning they are like the changing grass, which at dawn springs up anew, but by evening wilts and fades.

A reminder of Gods eternity and Man's frailty. This is a prayer by Moses, who spoke to God face to face.

Cultural genealogy

Just a quick little post about ancestry because I'm listening to a talk show that is discussing this subject, in the subject of immigration.

On my father's side they were Irish (mother) and Scottish and English mix (father). They came over in the late 1800's by way of Canada, which was a gateway for many who emigrated to the USA. Apparently my great grandmother was pregnant with my grandmother during that sea voyage. There is also a great grandmother of mine on this side who came from Malta and is a descendant of the Tuareg people of North Africa.

On my mother's side they are German with also a strong Turkish ancestry on my grandmother's side. My looks show that relationship, as I was told when I visited Turkey. On my grandfather's side there are touches of French and Polish too, I hear.

I grew up with a German accent because of my mother, but not speaking the German language. In second grade I was sent to a speech therapist by the school to "get rid" of the German accent. Because I was trained not to speak anything but English at such a young age, this is why I do not speak any languages other than English, because learning them has become an obstacle. However, I find that I can learn a written language, especially calligraphy based, because reading does not trigger the "negatives" that speech "remediation" programmed me with. I tried to take an intro to ancient Greek at the New School in the late 1990's, but because they were so verbally based, I struggled, and the professor was openly cruel to me and I dropped out. I ended up teaching it to myself from books.

Good thing God has more patience and kindness toward people than they have toward their neighbor!!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Qur'an for Christians

Surah 20: 105-112

And if they ask you about the mountains. Say: My Lord will carry them away from the roots.
Then leave it a plain, smooth level;
You shall not see therein any crookedness or unevenness.
On that day they shall follow the inviter, there is no crookedness in him, and the voices shall be low before the Beneficent God so that you shall not hear aught but a soft sound.
On that day shall no intercession avail except of him whom the Beneficent God allows and whose word He is pleased with.
He knows what is before them and what is behind them, while they do not comprehend it in knowledge.
And the faces shall be humbled before the Living, the Self-subsistent God, and he who bears iniquity is indeed a failure.
And whoever does good works and he is a believer, he shall have no fear of injustice nor of the withholding of his due.

In the previous post where St Paul speaks of God providing his own oath, and as an anchor of the soul, there is very similar imagery in this passage from the Qur'an about the smoothness and lack of crookedness of God. Look and check in the Bible too where Elijah describes that the Lord speaks in "a small still voice" [1 Kings 19:12] and see it is virtually identical to "a soft sound." And notice how the last line is a clear statement of a familiar concept to Catholics, "works" and "believer" (faith, grace.)

Bible Reading: Paul, Book of Hebrews

Hebrews 6:13-20

For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself;
Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee.
And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.
For men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife.
Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath.
That by two immutable things; in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:
Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the vail;
Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

Everything that St. Paul wrote is of great importance. Remember that he was personally instructed by the Holy Spirit sent by Jesus, and so he had a formidable insight. Even among so many great things that he wrote, this passage is one of the most profound. He is able to explain the foundations of salvation history, of the truth of the Church, like no one else except Jesus himself. Notice how your understanding and confidence builds and is illuminated line by line in this passage.

Phil Drabble, Naturalist and Sheep Handler


Phil Drabble, the original presenter of the long-running television show One Man and His Dog, has died aged 93. Drabble presented the BBC2 programme, based around sheepdog trials, from 1976 to until he retired in 1993. At its peak in the early 1980s, the show regularly attracted audiences in excess of eight million. A naturalist and author of several books on wildlife, Drabble continued writing well into his 80s.

But his career as a wildlife expert, writer and broadcaster did not begin until middle age. Before that he was a factory worker in the Black Country, rising up the ranks to management level.


I loved that show! I only caught glimpses of it during its peak in the 1980's when I would regularly travel to London, but I followed its success with great fondness. Well, bless him on his journey to The Shepherd.

As an aside, my best friend from childhood had a pet Sheltie. Like many of those dogs she had an atitude, resulting in even the family avoiding looking her in the eyes because she'd growl. While we were all told to kowtow to her, I admit I let her know the pecking order by locking gazes with her on a regular basis. Ha ha, and when she growled I'd up the ante by narrowing my eyes at her. My friend's family would beg me to stop *laugh*, so I would, but only after making my point :-) I'll be darn but that dog even made it into a pop song not too long ago, no lie. Apparently someone knew someone who knew someone. That happens more than people realize!

Solitaire Game

Micki asked about the solitaire game that I just learned and totally love playing. It's from the book "101 Card Games for One" by Brenda Ralph Lewis, 2007 by "Amber Books." The game's called Scorpion and is one page 103. It's a tableau of 7 rows of 7 cards, with the remaining 3 cards kept in reserve for play after all possible moves used up. The top 3 rows have cards 1-4 face down, and 5-7 face up. All the other 4 rows have all cards face up. The objective is to build for each suit descending king to ace sequences within the tableau. You start at the bottom and move the next lowest card in suit, if it's available in the tableau, onto the card in the bottom row that you are playing. The trick is you have to take all the cards in the tableau column that is physically in place below your target card along with you. So you end up building these long tails that give it the Scorpion name ha ha.

There's an online version of the game with rules and you can see the tableau here:

I love playing solitaire. I learned from my dad, as he often started the day over breakfast with a few hands of solitaire, and when I was a toddler I'd wear my set of Mickey Mouse ears and sit on his lap and watch him play cards (and eat my breakfast off of his plate!) I find it relaxing and also enjoy collecting playing card decks, sometimes with childish likes, such as Scooby Doo decks. *wink* I have a friend, like I said in my post, who I virtually play with, by alternating game wins between him and me. He's leading in our third round 2-0 by the way :-) I take special care not to miss any moves when I'm playing the game that's assigned to his score column ha ha. I have a picture of him on the table where I play cards and he's always smiling, even when I get in front of him on the score :-)

A Caution Against Uncharitable Thoughts

Commentators and others who are of a sensitive disposition have noticed a number of events that are considered somewhat odd, even though on the face of it they seem like accidents, crimes, and so forth. There have also been a number of natural events that have some wondering if there is more to the events than meets the eye. The usual conclusion by those who are sensitive and observant is to wonder if there is a linkage to Biblical prophecy.

There is a more obvious linkage in some, but not all, of these incidents. The Bible admonishes against not only sinful deeds, but sinful and uncharitable thoughts.

Proverbs 24:7
For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee, but his heart is not with thee.

Matthew 15:18-19
[Jesus said]: But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness blasphemies.

It is ironic that some of the same people who believe in psychics, the efficacy of long distance prayer, and other non verbal forms of communication entirely miss that this is why the Bible is very firm against thoughts of sin and lack of charity in addition to the deeds themselves. "Coveting" for example is a state of mind, not necessarily the actual relationship or the theft. If you begrudge and envy the spiritual good of another person, that is one of the six sins against the Holy Spirit.

I read about two to three dozen newspapers and news sites a day and keep loose track of certain events and trends. There are a number of events that are occurring in part because they are fueled by someone's sinful or uncharitable thoughts, either their own thoughts or someone else's. Let me give a direct example. Any indulgence in an illegal drug, many prescriptions drugs (taken outside of correct needs and dosages) and consumption of alcohol leads to an impairment of judgement on the job, or while recreating. Likewise, thoughts that are devoted to sinful or uncharitable behaviors "take up space" that could otherwise be devoted to being safe and circumspect. Sinful and uncharitable thoughts put the thinker of those thoughts at higher risk of an adverse event happening. Even the possession of a guilty conscience erodes at one's attentiveness at hand, and a momentary distraction can have great results.

Sinful and uncharitable thoughts are also contagious, either consciously or unconsciously. Everyone knows the reality of the feeling of being "stared at" and how you just know when it is happening, and how disconcerting and often negative the results can be. People who are the recipient of negative thoughts can and do feel their effect. Think of the wordless way children may treat the outcast child, having only negative thoughts, for how real that can be in their effect. Negative thoughts are also contagious because people imitate them; it is the gang mentality. If one or more people have sinful or uncharitable thoughts, the people around them learn those thoughts and imitate them, either consciously or unconsciously.

Now, here's another wrinkle. Because we are living in days when the Holy Spirit is very active in order to save humankind from their own doom, there is a boomeranging effect to some of the negative thoughts that are willfully released. Some negative sinful uncharitable thinkers and those near to them end up falling by the very thoughts they had about the innocent. They wish an illness upon someone, and then lo! They fall with that illness themselves. If someone wishes ill upon a holy figure, for example, they may find that a revered figure in their own circles falls. It is a very serious problem in this overly mentally electrified society, with many people unable or unwilling to control their own thoughts and have serenity toward others. So many people have secret agendas for a large proportion of their day to day activities. While meanness of spirit and thought is not a new condition to humans, what is new is the high proportion of many peoples' days having "I'm going to get my own back" thoughts and "Think about the next time to get a gratification rather than full mindedness toward one's child or neighbor."

The connection between mind and body is both more powerful than humans realize, but also not as obvious in how it can be exploited as some of the "wise" think. The book "The Secret" is one example of a big boomerang that looks tasty at first glance. What if you wish for your child to get into the most prestigious school, and get that wish? And then that school is the one where they make their first drug connection. Humans mess things up when they think they know what is the best for them, rather than praying that God brings good things unto them, and not specifying. God never brings bad things (that's apparently human's job to bring bad things and sadness to each other.)

Let me give another example of how to look at this, at the power between mind and body. A few years ago it was discovered that a doctor who is a leader in Lou Gehrig's disease (ALS) has himself been diagnosed with it. This was a terribly sad development, and very poignant. As spiritual director, I was asked, "Why God would 'give' or 'allow' this good doctor to 'get' ALS when he has done so much good for others?" I pointed out that they have it turned around in order. People have an instinctive knowledge of their bodies and genes. It's quite likely that this doctor was attracted to ALS research because his body and soul felt the possibility of the ALS genetic and chemical pattern developing within his body. So strong is this doctor's spiritual strength, unbeknownst to him, that he felt his own calling within his own chemistry and genetic makeup. This isn't karma or any other bull**** idea of being screwed over by lives you don't remember, or God being mean, or having a hard plan. What God does have is the Holy Spirit to find the maximum good out of every life, with the goal always being eternal salvation for a life of a day, or 120* years. So one must always remember that humans cannot begin to understand the influence of soul and body in the network of life: only God can see the full picture, and allows humans to pursue their own will.

So now you can see why having a bad thought about someone else is dangerous business indeed. And being preoccupied with bad thoughts in a high risk lifestyle is a poor choice. God is not micro-managing people's lives and thoughts. After all, Adam and Eve insisted they were smart enough to do that and God has respected that wish to its full measure. But people who think only about how much they dislike someone else, covet other people and possessions, work over and over grudges and guilty consciences, look for alien anagrams in every word and number, crave hidden knowledge and power, and think they know what is best for themselves are setting themselves up for a fall and worse, they take innocent people along with them. People better start learning how to have non-agenda thoughts again. There was a time when only a handful of the powerful had agendas at all; everyone else just thought about their work, families, homes, food, and education. Now I'm amazed at how much craving for arcane and agenda driven thinking has infested every level of Western culture. This is one reason that Islam is as fruitful as it is, because by constantly touching base with Allah and his will, the faithful Muslim is inoculating his or her self from total agenda and arcane thinking. So yes, those of you who are wondering about some of the natural, accidental, and criminal events of late are correct to wonder if you are seeing something significant and ultimately unhealthy and unwelcome. Work with the Holy Spirit; not against the Holy Spirit.

A favorite joke

A favorite Jewish joke

This was told to me in the late 1970's by my secular Jewish ex :-) Just think, thirty years ago I heard this joke and it had much resonance, how about now?

One day a young Jewish man was surprised to receive a St. Christopher medal from a close Christian friend of his. Not wanting to be rude, he accepted it but had no idea what to do with it. So he called his friend Moishe and asked him what to do. Moishe said, "Take it to the rabbi and get a bracha."

So the young man took the St. Christopher medal to an Orthodox rabbi. He showed it to the rabbi and asked him to give it a bracha. The Orthodox rabbi was horrified and told him he certainly would not give the medal a bracha, and to take it and himself right out of there.

The young man then decided to try a Conservative rabbi. The Conservative rabbi was sympathetic, but hesitant to do so, because he did not really know how to apply a bracha in such a case. So rather than make a mistake, he respectfully declined.

So in desperation the young man decided to try a Reform rabbi. He found the Reform rabbi, who had on some tie dyed clothes and beads around his neck. He opened his hand and showed the medal to the rabbi saying, "Could you please give this St. Christopher medal a bracha?"

Upon seeing the medal the rabbi exclaimed:

"Nice St. Christopher medal! What's a bracha?"

ha ha ha, and I can't type this half as funny as this story is told in person.

Advice for depression/anxiety sufferers (part 3)

Advice for those dealing with depression (part 3).

I gave previous advice about taking a daily multivitamin, and taking one half an hour a day of TV or computer time away and instead reading a favorite nonfiction book. Here's a new activity to add.

In the previous blog post I quote Psalm 52 and draw attention to the last two lines of the psalm, which are wonderful, refreshing, and rich in their imagery.

I'd like you to select two similar lines from your Bible or Qur'an that are particularly inspiring, illuminating, but not agitating. The best ones are those that have a natural reference, as the first of the two lines has, plus a spiritual role model, as does the second line. They are lines that should make you feel centered and rooted when you read them, with a touch of refreshment. I suggest you use these two lines until you find ones that are unique to you. Handwrite or print them on several small pieces of paper that are handy for you to carry, and also to post at your place of work, and in your home. If you start of have a feeling of anxiety or the depression is impacting your ease of mind, read the lines and visualize yourself as the olive tree in the garden of God. You can also visualize the saints by thinking of them seated, looking upon the goodness that is life and viewing it with satisfaction. Remember, the saints thought life was good even though they had no modern conveniences, and often difficult and deprived lives, but with none of the societal and workforce induced artificial pressures of today. The martyred saints believed life was good; they did not surrender their lives for God because they thought life was bad (that is escapism, not true martyrdom.) Saints loved life and saw it as God's beautiful creation, even though it may be as subtle as an olive tree in front of God's house. So use your favorite passage to read as needed when you need a visualization and faith tool during the day's activities.

But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God: I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever.
I will praise thee for ever, because thou hast done it: and I will wait on thy name; for it is good before thy saints.

Bible Reading: Psalm

Psalm 52: David, upon his confidence in God's mercy, giveth thanks

Why boastest thou thyself in mischief, O mighty man? the goodness of God endureth continually.
Thy tongue deviseth mischiefs; like a sharp razor, working deceitfully.
Thou lovest evil more than good; and lying rather than to speak righteousness. Selah.
Thou lovest all devouring words, O thou deceitful tongue.
God shall likewise destroy thee for ever, he shall take thee away, and pluck thee out of thy dwelling-place and root thee out of the land of the living. Selah.
The righteous also shall see, and fear, and shall laugh at him:
Lo, this is the man that made not God his strength; but trusted in the abundance of his riches, and strengthened himself in his wickedness.
But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God: I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever.
I will praise thee for ever, because thou hast done it: and I will wait on thy name; for it is good before thy saints.

The last two lines are so beautiful and would make a great meditation, both about being an olive tree in the house of God, and also for Catholics, how it is good before thy saints.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Baseball Talk: Steroids

Baseball is my favorite sport. However, I've been furious at baseball twice in the past, the strikes of 1981 and 1994. I watched more football than baseball throughout the 1980's as a result. I literally did not watch a single game of baseball for years after each of these strikes. I was pretty mad from 1994 until the millennium. So I have a long memory and high expectations.

I'm beginning to get really mad at the thought of how pervasive steroids has been. It better get cleaned up and back to being America's best and most trustworthy sport. Grrrrr.

Baseball Talk: Barry Bonds

Ugh, if he takes any longer to get that hit number 755 I'm going to get a bat and do it myself for him. lol.

Prayers for the victims of NYC steam blast

Prayers for the victims of the huge steam blast in New York City of several weeks ago. Here is an article about the most severely injured survivor.


I have a lot of sympathy for him, as I do for everyone in pain, and pray that he will recover. This event has made me think about one of my close calls. Around ten years ago, when working in an office on Pine Street in NYC I was sitting at my desk in my office when a huge pipe in the wall less than two feet away from me exploded. I was saved from injury because the wall was solid marble. It tore through the wall but like a shield none of the water and whatever hit me as I ran out of there. In my case the substance was more like sewage water, but the force of the explosion was huge and that marble sure saved my noggin.

To SNAP and other priest abuse victims

Reading an article in the LA Times I see the question about what Jesus would have done about priests who abuse.

Answer: Jesus would have defrocked each one instantly on the first allegation of abuse. He would have encouraged the victims to pursue criminal remedies and he would have financed the victim's legal and health/emotional costs through the Church.

Angels Tutorial: Michael

The Archangel Michael appears in only three places in the Bible, and in none of those places does he speak for himself. Gabriel speaks for himself, and Raphael, the third of the three archangels mentioned by name in the Bible, has an extended visit to earth, recounted in the Book of Tobias. Yet Michael is only mentioned three times, and people have read an awful lot into those three mentions. One of them I discussed in the previous post. Here is the discussion of Michael in the Book of Daniel:

Daniel 10: 13
[Spoken by an angel who instructs Daniel] …but the prince of the kingdom of Persia stood in my way for twenty-one days, until finally Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me. I left him there with the prince of the kings of Persia…

Daniel 10: 21
…but I shall tell you what is written in the truthful book. No one supports me against all these except Michael, your prince, standing as a reinforcement and a bulwark for me.

Many interpreters think that because the word “prince” is used to describe both sides of the conflict that the angel describes indicates that the angel is describing a conflict of good and evil, of good and bad angels, of patron angels of “bad” nations against patron angels of “good” angels. That is actually not accurate. There are human princes of earthly nations and there are heavenly princes who intervene where there is God’s will. If you look at the Amplified Bible translation it is clearer that Michael is a [celestial] prince, as opposed to the human princes. I showed you in St. Jude’s epistle how Michael vied with Satan over Moses’ body, but they did it through influencing humans, Satan by tempting, Michael by strengthening faith. These aren’t celestial sword ‘n sorcery duels. Angels, mostly guardian angels but also angels sent by the Lord, are always trying to influence people, especially those in positions of power and influence, to act righteously. “Prince” is a title of nobility – of human nobility. The angel who speaks to Daniel mentions both Kings of Persia and Princes. The angel is referring to human Kings, and human Princes. Kings make decisions for their kingdoms, but Princes have great influence on those decisions and carries them out. Likewise, God makes the one and only “decision” through his will about salvation, while angels are “Princes” who carry out his will by attempting to keep humans on a righteous path.

It’s human nature to try to have hierarchies of angels, and assign them to various groups of society, since that’s the way people think. The later Judaism in particular, as it became more politicized and secular-plus picked up beliefs from surrounding pagan lands-fell into this kind of political party system of thinking about angels. But that is not what the angel is conveying in this vision with Daniel. Daniel is hearing the angel describe how angels are attempting to influence the actions of Princes in order to mitigate conflict. The angel describes Michael as “one of the chief princes,” referring to Michael’s role as one of the primary angels to intervene and influence political and military matters on behalf of God. Some read into this that Michael is the patron angel of Israel, because in this case he is acting on behalf of peace toward Israel or at the very least, military defense by Israel. But this is missing the primary point about the angel Michael. Michael is the most powerful angel that is mentioned by name in the Bible who “specializes” in influencing the nobility, politicians, and militias of nations on behalf of righteousness. This is consistent with his methodology against Satan on behalf of Moses’ body where he did not rebuke Satan, but strived with him (through the people of Israel.) Michael thus should be looked at as first and foremost the source of extraordinary guidance and protection for the “good king,” the “good politician,” and the “good nobleman.” God tries to influence people through their own guardian angels, through the Holy Spirit, and through the prophets. But in times of extraordinary national crisis, Michael works to influence the power broker onto the path of righteousness again.

This, then, is the key to understanding Michael’s role in the Apocalypse, as described in Revelation 12:7-8:

Then war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels battled against the dragon. The devil and its angels fought back, but they did not prevail and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. The huge dragon, the ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, who deceived the whole world, was thrown down to earth, and its angels were thrown down with it.

I’m not going to go into the whole interpretation of Revelation in this blog posting, obviously, but I will make a few comments for context. Just as the woman clothed with the sun and with the moon under her feet is a reference to the past Mary, who gave birth to Jesus and fled Herod with Joseph to save Jesus, and also to the future whereby a dragon seeks to devour children as they are born (abortion) so does this battle refer to the initial fall of Satan as described in Genesis, and the “living on” of Satan and his “angels” (followers) on earth, and their time runs out. There is not a literal battle between good and evil in heaven because evil cannot abide in heaven. The sheer physics of pure goodness disallows the capability of an evil thought; say nothing of actual evil beings, from occupying any space near heaven. What John was seeing is that evil at the end of times became so great that it reached to the very gateway of heaven, like a stench. Michael and his angels lead the final attempt to convert those who lead people into evil, and those who follow them. God presents this understanding to St. John by referencing sacred history (the rebellion of Satan and the fall) and coupling it with understanding of the future (the works of Satan and his followers rises up to heaven like a stench, and they run out of time and chances to convert and be saved, and possibly the entire human kind runs out of time for following too totally Satan.) We know this because in the beginning of Revelation an angel lights a gold censer and throws it down to earth. Read this:

Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a gold censer. He was given a great quantity of incense to offer, along with the prayers of all the holy ones, on the gold altar that was before the throne. The smoke of the incense along with the prayers of the holy ones went up before God from the hand of the angel; and hurled it down to the earth. There were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightening, and an earthquake (Revelation 8:3-5.)

Remember that incense is of great importance in Judaism, Catholicism, especially Orthodox, because incense represents the sweet smell of the word of God, the prayer of the people sent up to God, and the bloodless sacrifice. Notice the angel is not incensing heaven-it does not need incensing-but instead is throwing the censer down to earth in anger, along with the prayers of the holy ones. So this is how we know that while God shows St. John the strife as taking place in heaven, it is to illustrate to St. John the parallels in sacred history and the end of times that becomes triggered when the stench of sin and Satan’s following rises up to heaven itself in the level of its injustice.

This is one reason I am a little frustrated that prayer for St Michael’s intercession sometimes misses the mark. People should pray for St Michael’s intercession consistent with his primary role, which is to battle the influence of Satan within the hearts of the power brokers and decision makers on earth. St Michael does not run around helping people to not be tempted to steal or have sins of lust; there is a plethora of spiritual resources for that. It’s not that he minds, but it’s not a true understanding of his potency and effectiveness. World, corporate, military, aristocratic, spiritual, and social leaders ought to pray to St Michael to invite him inside their souls to work with them to be righteous and God fearing leaders and decision makers, and to recognize and withstand the temptations of Satan. Decision makers and “trend setters” are especially gullible to Satan’s temptations because as we saw with the example about the disposition of Moses’ body, Satan appeals to the “it just isn’t fair” justification of temptations, to make people think they are cutting corners against God to be “for the people.” Whether you are a President or a movie studio owner, there is always the temptation to be negative and depressive because something “just isn’t fair” and “I’m telling it as it is,” and thus drag down a people into ruin, either suddenly or gradually. This was what Michael sought to do by influencing the Princes of ancient Persia away from the temptations of the devil. And this is what he does as he battles the “dragon and its angels” in Revelation, because the dragon and its angels represents the devouring of life itself by humans who have abandoned a culture of life for a culture of death, until their very stench reaches heaven.

If you read all of Revelation with an open mind, you will see that Michael is not ever posited as being God’s “right hand angel.” Some people are tempted to think so, just because he is one of the three archangels who are named. But Michael is not one of the angels who are mentioned in constant attendance to God, even though don’t misunderstand, all angels constantly face and attend to God. Your own guardian, for example, constantly faces God, as Jesus explains in the passage about not harming children. All angels face God because their entire being, will, and light is from and of God. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael are special because through them, God allows humans to know that angels have identities and purpose. But it should not be assumed that Michael is a handy shortcut to victory in ones endeavors through prayer, or that he is the one to turn to when resisting mundane sin. The reason he is not is because by turning first to him rather than your own guardian angel, the Holy Spirit, the intercession and inspiration of saints including Mary, Jesus Christ, and most important God himself, you are missing all of these very accessible spiritual fortifications. One of Satan’s great temptations is to appeal to people’s desire for celebrity, class, social strata, and power structure and let them assume that heaven works the same way. When people pray to St Michael to protect them from sin, sometimes they are not doing the day to day work to avoid sin in the first place. In other words, they want St Michael to protect them from the consequences of hanging around with sleazy associates. Satan lets them be tempted into thinking that by going to the “top dog angel” that you are buying some intervention and protection insurance. Rather, prayer needs to involve opening oneself to spiritual resources that most fortify oneself to recognize and obey the will of God for ones own welfare. Sometimes praying for the intercession of a saint who can be a role model for dealing with a particular vice or temptation is the best thing to do, and there are many testimonials and witnesses of the help that is found in God through understanding the way of one of his servants or prophets. If a saint in their youth consorted with thieves, at some point he or she made a decision to lead a different life. The saint prayed for strength and clarity from God, but the saint did not pray to St Michael to protect him or her from unpleasant fall out from hanging around with thieves and benefiting from their livelihood.

So when you admire a portrayal of St Michael slaying the dragon, you should be admiring what it really means. It shows St Michael saying “Enough is enough” to grievous sin and the running amok of people who are weak in Satan’s influence and humankind’s own brokenness (since most of sin is not from Satan, but from humankind’s own base desires and painful brokenness.) Pray to St Michael to see with clarity how the decisions you make in your life, and how the “movers and shakers” that you support are Godly or not so godly. St Michael is a wonderful resource for those who need strength in fighting collective dark forces. Therefore firemen, policemen, military service people, government officials, civil servants, religious and spiritual hierarchical leaders and members, leaders of corporations and their employees, leaders of nations and their ministers, social service providers and mass media providers all would benefit from turning to the example of St Michael and asking for his help in discernment of what is truly righteous and what is not. He’s not a shortcut or a lucky charm for victory. He is the strongest team member and coach that you can imagine, however, in the areas I list above. Turn to him, but not from over inflating the combat with Satan imagery, to the detriment of self examination of the personal mundane sins and temptations, 99 percent of which are self and societal generated. But if you are a leader of men, I would advise a reaching out to St Michael for discernment and wisdom about God’s will.

Bible Reading: Proverbs

Proverbs 3: 13-24

Happy is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding! For her profit is better than profit in silver, and better than gold is her revenue; she is more precious than corals, and none of your choice possessions can compare with her.
Long life is in her right hand, in her left are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace; she is a tree of life to those who grasp her, and he is happy who holds her fast.
The Lord by wisdom founded the earth, established the heavens by understanding; by his knowledge the depths break open, and the clouds drop down dew. My son, let not these slip out of your sight; keep advice and counsel in view; so will they be life to your soul, and an adornment for your neck. Then you may securely go your way; your foot will never stumble; when you lie down, you need not be afraid, when you rest, your sleep will be sweet.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

About the Holy Spirit

About the Holy Spirit

John 14:26-28

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.

Glad I pay my insurance premiums on time...

...to that insurance company with the gecko.

"A 21-year-old man who was out in the middle of the night hunting geckos to feed a pet snake has died after falling 70 metres down a disused sewer shaft in Sydney.
The Daceyville man's body was recovered this morning from the former sewerage outlet below a Malabar headland in Sydney's eastern suburbs, police said." Sydney Morning Herald.

Bible Reading: Revelation

Apocalypse 6: 5-6

And I saw, and behold, a black horse, and he who was sitting on it had a balance in his hand. And I heard as it were a voice in the midst of the four living creatures, saying, “A measure of wheat for a denarius, and three measures of barley for a denarius, and do not harm the wine and the oil.”

The 8 Facts Internet Game Thingee

8 Facts You Never Wanted to Know About Me

"The rules are simple... Each player lists 8 facts/habits about themselves. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed. At the end of the post, the player then tags 8 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.'

1. Sometimes I eat only condiments, usually when I need an energy boost, or have run out of the type of food to support the condiment. Examples are solo spoonfuls of peanut butter, maple syrup, honey, jelly, pats of butter, and marzipan (almond paste.)

2. The Moody Blues were my favorite rock band, except when they came out with the drug sympathetic song “Timothy Leary’s dead.” I intensely disliked and banished them for years because of that song. When they proved albums later that it was just a fluke of the times, I became their biggest fan again. I always missed Michael Pindar though, because he melded into their songs overt love and praise of God.

3. I was born with a natural knowledge of mathematics and astrophysics. In 8th grade I won a small local science fair project not with the brilliance of what I did, but because I figured out a way to take a small piece of what I already knew and come up with a methodology by which I might have “discovered” it through experimentation. Even then the judges did a little bit of head scratching.

4. When people go to the zoo and say “Phew!” at how the giraffes smell, I think to myself how great I think that they smell! That unique giraffe smell is the result of chemicals that flag a high degree of health and antibiotic action within particularly the males. So for me smelling a giraffe is like appreciating a guy who used a nice antibiotic soap in the shower! Natural Zest!

5. I know when people are lying and/or pretending to be someone they are not. I rarely let on that I do because even as a child, I realized there was no escaping it, because it has become the general societal condition. I hope to teach people otherwise.

6. When I was a little girl my mother, who is a rough and aggressive person at best, gave me my first finger nail trim and did as painful a job as possible, skipping only the bamboo shoots. No fool I, I realized that if I developed the habit of biting my nails, she’d have no cause to cut my nails again. So I cultivated biting my nails for many years as a deliberate survival strategy and she never touched my nails after that first time. That’s one reason I can give good counseling to self cutters, because I get the logic.

7. One of my favorite things is to have a garden that yields fresh flowers for cutting every day. Carnations, gladiolas, and roses are my steady favorite flowers. I also make potpourri. I collect essential oils and design interesting mixtures of fragrances. I do ikebana (Japanese flower arranging.) Ideally, I’d like to do a new arrangement each day.

8. I always buy a house with a well.

*I tag anyone who wants to be tagged!*

Priestly celibacy: Now and Forever

The artificially created angst and anguish about Catholic priestly celibacy goes on. People who argue for priests having sexual relationships would have you believe that there has always been some question about this celibacy. But as recently as fifty years ago the faithful understood perfectly well why Catholic priests are celibate. It is only since then that the “sexual revolution,” tool of human’s pride and ultimate downfall, and of Satan, created question in some people’s minds. I can prove this by pointing out that few people misunderstand the parable about the rich young man who came to Jesus, but who ultimately could not give up everything to follow him. Everyone nods their heads and understands that when Jesus said to give up everything, he meant “give up everything,” and this young man could not give up his money, position, and possessions to follow Jesus. So why is it suddenly so difficult for people to understand that those who chose to follow Jesus must give up everything, when part of that “everything” is their sexual gratification? Hmm.

Jesus was, by definition, the first Catholic priest. Jesus devoted himself entirely to God from birth, and by nature of his virgin birth, was consecrated to God through his very coming into being. As part of devoting himself entirely to God, Jesus was unmarried and a virgin. Those who try to rewrite sacred history and speculate otherwise are simply listening to the whispers of the flesh and Satan to self-justify their lifestyle. Fifty years ago no one did this questioning, because people’s minds were not clouded by the lust that pervades global society today. Nowadays, too many people constantly look upon each other, on strangers, and even on infants and children with lust. The Virgin Mary warned at Fatima that many millions in the future would go to hell because of lust. She gave a good forty to fifty years warning in advance of this happening. So it has never been a question that Catholic priests are male, celibate, and continue the line of priesthood established by Jesus Christ himself by following his example. Those who cannot “give up all” should NOT attempt to become priests.

Part of discernment is if a man can be serene in chastity. If he cannot then he has discerned that he should not be a priest. He can still be a married deacon, or salt of the earth, faithful laity. There is no question that priests should and must give up everything for God, and that includes sexual relationships and encounters. I’ll be perfectly honest with you. Lack of vocations is no excuse, because that is just another battlefield in Satan and humankind’s complicity to destroy faith in God and pious devotion to him. I don’t care if only twelve people a year in the whole world accept the priestly vocation if they are the only twelve who are pure in their choosing priesthood.

Priests who “negotiate” what they give up for God are not priests. And they will answer for “lying on their resume (c.v.)” when they are judged by God. And I think I meant to make that pun! “Cafeteria” Catholics who argue for married or uncelibate priests are complicit in trying to dilute the priesthood, and in promoting blind lust that will result only in ruin, perdition, and downfall. The Catholic Church was born of Jesus Christ, twelve Apostles, and over a hundred disciples. So long as there are even a handful of priests ordained each year, the Church will survive. Even if the Pope was the last priestly man standing, the Church would survive. And we are far from having to worry about either scenario. So shun people who would even advocate for sexuality of priests, because knowingly or unknowingly, they are serving the agenda of the dark, and are actually the true un-humanists in the crowd.

Mystical Number 230

The number of calories in one "Hershey's Milk Chocolate with Almonds" candy bar! The mystery is how I can get away with eating one a day and not getting enough exercise :-)

Angels Tutorial - preface to discussing Michael


The archangel Michael is mentioned in three places in the Bible. Before discussing him overall, I’d like to explain the most mystifying passage about him:

Jude 1: 8-9
In like manner do these men also defile the flesh, disregard authority, deride majesty. Yet when Michael the archangel was fiercely disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, he did not venture to bring against him an accusation of blasphemy, but said, “May the Lord rebuke thee.”

Here is what happened between Michael and the devil about Moses, and how St. Jude came to obtain this knowledge.

As you know, Moses died before reaching the Promised Land, although he did see Canaan from the top of the mountain Nebo. He is buried there in the land of Moab, in a valley, by the Lord himself with his own hands, and his tomb remains an unknown place and will not be located. When Moses died the devil saw an incredible opportunity. He began to spread among the Israelites the notion that God was being “unjust” in not letting Moses enter the Promised Land in honor. The devil hoped to sow not only dissension and deceit against the word of God, and disbelief, but he also hoped to persuade the Israelites to actually tarry until they had found Moses’ body, dug him up, and “took him in honor to the Promised Land,” carried by the Israelites. Not only would people sin and disbelieve even more (if they bought into the argument that God was “unfair” to even his greatest servant Moses), but the devil also hoped that a dead body would become a revered object of worship. It is to this purpose he wished to place Moses, through the hands of the Israelites, not through his own magical abilities, since of course he cannot do any such thing; he must always work through humans. Michael responded in kind. This is why Jude relates that Michael did not accuse the devil of blasphemy, but was “fiercely disputing.” Michael spoke through Aaron and the other faithful to oppose this temptation. The temptation was overcome after people argued among themselves, and they moved on as God willed.

Now, when Jesus lived, he went up a mountain with Peter, James, and John, where Jesus was transfigured.

Matthew 17:3 And behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.

Now read very carefully these passages:

Matthew 17:9-10 And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying “Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead.” And his disciples asked him, saying ‘Why then say the scribes, that Elias must come first?”

Jesus told the three apostles not to tell the vision to no "man," but Jesus did not mean that they could not tell the other apostles, and even other disciples. Jesus did not want the general populace to know about the reappearance of Moses and Elias because they would have run with this, interpreting the news all sorts of crazy ways, and no longer let Jesus' ministry unfold as it was intended to. So the transfiguration and the appearance of Moses and Elias was freely discussed among the apostles and disciples. We know this because the first question that Matthew records is from “his disciples” about Elias; he is not recording a question from Peter, James or John. So the appearance of Moses and Elias was a great source of conversation and questions between Jesus and the apostles/disciples, and of course Jude was there. This is how Jude learned about what happened to Moses, because in the course of trying to understand whether Moses was a resurrected body or a spirit, Jesus explained to them that Moses’ body is still buried where God laid him to rest in Moab. Jesus also told them that the devil had strove to persuade the people to find Moses’ body and defy God’s will, break their faith, and build their resentment against God. The purpose of Jesus telling them this was to help them to recognize more clearly how the devil works. Jesus had just recently instructed them in the devil’s ways when he explained how the temptation of Jesus by the devil in the desert transpired. The devil often works to seem more “fair” than God, and to stir up false grievance and resentment against God. The devil tried that when Jesus was fasting, by implying that Jesus should have rule over earth and more food and comforts, just as he was fasting. The devil tried to look more considerate toward Jesus’ needs than God! So Jesus told the apostles and disciples when the subject came up of whether Moses was resurrected dead or a spirit from heaven in order to provide them with another example of how subtly the devil works, and seeks to look “fairer” and more “just” and “kind” than God. Because this was not new teaching, but considered part of the general instruction of the apostles and disciples, it was not made a point of the gospels. But it made a great impression on St. Jude.

This is part of the origin of St. Jude’s strong intercession when things are “impossible,” because he was known among the apostles and disciples as being, how should I put this…. He had a personality that was interested in hearing the gospel of Jesus that highlights how nothing is impossible through God. It was kind of his special inspiration as a man, and as a follower of Jesus, to attend most closely to those parts of the gospel that bolstered faith in even the direst of circumstances. This is why the story of the dispute between Michael and the devil made such an impression upon him. What could have seemed more sad and dire than the death of Moses, on the border of, but not within, the physical Promised Land? Especially with the great tendency of the people to fall into sin and idolatry even when Moses lived? So St. Jude saw this as an example of how even when one’s leader, Moses, dies, and the devil seeks an opening to tempt, that people are never really alone if they heed Michael as a speaker of the will of God. And of course, when Jesus died and resurrected, this story came back to St. Jude’s mind, of how just because Jesus is now gone from them, that God and his agents are not gone. So this is the explanation of the dispute over Moses’ body and how St. Jude came to know of it, and why it was so important for him personally to include it in his sparse writings.

Pop up ad asks me strange ?, gets response

I was checking my e-mail a few minutes ago, in preparation for writing my blog about the archangel Michael. While reading my email I was startled to see the AOL pop up screen suddenly change to black with a message "What if you died today? What would your family do?" or something like that.

I instantly saw myself atop a white horse, standing in front of the funeral parlor in my home town. This is the funeral parlor who took care of my dad in the 60's and my step dad last year. The white horse was Quinn, a giant horse who I often admired, petted, and fed as he was stalled next to the horses I rode as a student at a riding stable, many years ago. Next to me stood on the ground the son of the funeral home owner, who now is the manager. I tossed him a bag of gold from my right hand and said, "Hire 10,000 people to bury one million people."

So, that was my instantaneous thought to the grim insurance company pop up that suddenly disrupted reading my e-mail. Strange huh?

Friday, July 27, 2007

Angels Tutorial - Part Four


(In Progress)

Baseball Talk: Willie Mays

Baseball Talk: Willie Mays

I grew up knowing about Willie Mays while he was still with the "New York" Giants, before they became the "San Francisco" Giants! It shows the strength of the first impressions of a toddler baseball fan, because my mind stubbornly thought "New York Giants" for years after they moved. Anyway, Willie Mays was amazing, and I enjoy looking back on those black and white pictures, him making that over the shoulder catch in the World Series. Funny thing... growing up down the street from a dairy farm, I always thought "The Say Hey Kid" was "The Say Hay Kid" and I wasn't sure but I figured he must have been a farm kid too. Even in my very small town, everyone talked about baseball and Willie Mays in the same breath. When you think about him playing before I was born, my being a toddler fan, growing up, and when I go to college, he's traded to the New York Mets, it is amazing to think how long he played, and how great.

Bible Reading: Proverbs, Matthew, Thessalonians

Proverbs 17:3

The firing-pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the Lord trieth the hearts.

I'd like to explain this proverb because it's one of my favorites, but with people's lack of understanding of the context and meaning, it would be easy to miss the primary message.

One of the reasons that silver and gold were so highly prized was because they were noticeable. Because both silver and gold occur in their natural state, even the earliest of humans were able to spot them among the rocks. Many metals are not found in their natural state, so they would be virtually invisible to people who were not metallurgists and chemists. So early humankind learned to find and value silver and gold. Later as they learned how to heat things with fire, they learned that if they heated the rock that held portions of silver and gold, that they could melt the silver and gold out of the rock and obtain it in a pure state. Silver, number 47 in the periodic table, is soft enough that it could be melted in a "firing pot." There was more silver available, and it was easier to extract, and so only a firing pot was needed to obtain pure silver. Gold, number 79 in the periodic table, is harder to extract and requires a furnace. So to obtain pure gold, humans needed to use a larger and hotter device, a furnace. Also, as gold was more prized, a furnace represents a large scale effort under the patronage of a leader or king. So the proverb is escalating in the level of value of the precious ore (from silver up to gold) and in amount of effort required to obtain it in pure form (from firing pot to furnace.)

By placing the heart after silver and gold in this proverb, it is being illuminated as being even more precious than silver and gold. Therefore, instead of a firing pot or a furnace, the Lord is needed to effect the change of a heart to its purest form. In current lingo people have lost the meaning of "trying" so this is what I'm helping the Bible student to avoid. Today we might say "you try me" as in "annoy" or "stress." But in ancient times, trying referred to the chemistry of purification, just as I described, the melting out of silver and gold from the rock ore that holds it within. So the proverb is treating the heart just the same way as silver and gold, which is to recognize that it is not naturally found in pure form, and must be "tried" out of the impure container that it is within. All humans' hearts are bound within the natural tendency to sin and to be mislead, and also, even those of good heart may be bound within conditions that are oppressive and afflictive (war, poverty, illness, loneliness, and other hardships.) In either case, turning to the Lord is the only way that one can purify one's heart. Only the Lord teaches a person how to discard from around and within their heart all that is bad and unhealthy, and allow the space within to grow in the natural glory of the heart.

In Biblical times the heart was viewed as the center of all of a human's actions. Specific feelings and activities attributed to the heart in the Bible include: thought, love, hatred, joy, sorrow, rebellion, pride, desire, obedience, reason, consideration, perception, understanding, meditation, imagination, purpose, presumption, fear, mystery, doubt, and faithfulness/faithlessness. Remember, then they did not know of the functions of the brain, so the heart was the seat of both feeling and thought, and therefore of a human's entire value system. You can see in this list that the ancients recognized a mixed bag of qualities available to the heart, such as the extremes of obedience and rebellion, love and hatred. So in this proverb the reader is being taught that just as silver and gold are extracted from the ore, so too can a heart be purified in order to contain only the finest and most good of the qualities listed above. A heart that is "tried" by turning to the Lord and learning his ways is therefore able to purify out the hatred, and fill with love. A heart is "tried" to purify out the pride and fill with obedience and reason. So this proverb is not saying that the Lord sends affliction and is "trying the patience" of a person to test them into a pure heart, but rather, this wise proverb refers to the Lord as the instrument and way of purity of heart.

Centuries after this proverb was written, Jesus spoke about the reward that the pure of heart achieve:

Matthew 5:8

Blessed are the pure of heart: for they shall see God.

The wise St. Paul also shows knowledge of both the proverb, and the beatitude spoken by Jesus, as he brings the two together here:

Thessalonians 2:4

But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, who trieth our hearts.

You can see how important it is to understand what I've explained about the proverb in order to correctly understand what Paul is saying. He is saying that by following the gospel, even if men want the person to sin and speak incorrectly, that God purifies the gospel followers' heart. A hasty reading of this saying from Paul without understanding the proverb he is alluding to might make one think that he is saying that God sends certain men to "try" and "test" the believer. That is not what he is saying, and he makes that clear in the order of the words, as it builds up to the point, just as does the proverb itself, a proverb he assumes is known to most readers of this epistle.

God gave gospel as instrument...use it to proclaim.... even if others disagree....God through gospel purifies the heart.

One other thought; Paul uses the words "allowed of God" and "to be put in trust with the gospel" to underscore and emphasis the gospel as a gift and a choosing. God allowed people to hear the gospel and God allowed people to find their faith within them to trust the gospel. Paul is affirming again here that faith itself is a gift from God.

Solitaire Scoreboard

While watching the baseball scoreboard on the Internet I play a series of solitaire between me and a long distance friend! I divide between us hand by hand a series of 52 hands, recording the wins and loses. So far it's a split!

Number of Solitaire Wins:

Series 1: Me 5 He 2
Series 2: Me 1 He 2

San Francisco

San Francisco: Too bad there are still over ten virtuous people in that city. LOL.

Bible Reading: Proverbs

Proverbs 17:1

Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than a house full of sacrifices with strife.

Angel Tutorial - Part Four

Gabriel and the True Language of Angels

I meant to make one other point in my Angel Post 3 about Gabriel. Angels, by their nature, constantly praise God. When angels (and I'm talking about angels other than the guardian angels) speak to humans, they continue to praise God throughout their speech. You can think of it as their praise of God becomes punctuation and accent marks to their speech they are making to humans in human language.

This is one way that you can identify when you are truly reading scripture that includes angel speech. For example, Gabriel hailed Mary as "full of grace," which is a title for Mary but one that is based upon praise of God. Gabriel did not hail Mary as "the slimmest of women" or "woman with the best hair," but he gave her the ultimate praise of characterizing her as filled with the key attribute of God, grace.

In the Old Testament we overhear the angels praising God, as they continually sing "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts." This lives on and is imitated in the liturgy of the Mass, "The Sanctus." Angels continually speak their praise of God because that is their form of breathing, thinking, feeling, and speech.

So this is one of the ways that a reader can have total confidence that the prophet (Peace be unto him) was given the Qur'an by the angel Gabriel, because you can see Gabriel's punctuation in the form of praise of God (Allah) throughout. For example, the frequent use of the word "surely" is an angelic speech punctuation for constantly stating the total certainty in Allah. Another example is the frequent closure of a passage with praises such as "Allah is merciful, wise." A third example is the overall structure of the Qur'an as a discourse, not a chronology from start to finish, where the discourse liberally combines, often sentence by sentence, a fact with a phrase of praise.

There is no shortage of praise and worship speech in the Bible, but there is an increasing gulf between how the angels and the prophets speak with or about the Lord, and how many Christians emulate that devotion. Too many Christians ignore the example set by the angels, yet think they will join the angels in praising God, after a lifetime of not praising him on earth. What? And look at the resentment by some toward even reintroducing Latin in the liturgy of the Mass. People memorized the Qur'an front to end, and did not edit out the words of praise for convenience, yet some Christians balk at emulating the total humility and focus on the holiness of God, as modeled by the angels and prophets. Therefore I wanted to educate those who read that in reading the Qur'an, even if you are Christian, you can recapture some of the cadence and understanding of how Gabriel, in particular, representative of God and God's angels, speaks. When Gabriel speaks, whether in Arabic, Aramaic or Hebrew, you can think of many of the consonants, vowels, and the letters they are comprised of, and punctuation as being "praise of God" syllables. When people think they are hearing angels, they are not, if the bulk of their speech is about fortune telling, predicting the future, and exhorting people to prayer. Those are false signs derived either from one's own unconscious projections, or from unclean spirits. People and unclean spirits are too proud to speak in the pure speech of Godly praise, as they resist serving God with both words and deed. True angels speak only in a language that are syllables of praise of God.

Bible Reading: Book of Proverbs

Proverbs 15: 1-4

A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.

The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness.

The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.

A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

My Advice to A Friend With Problem

I have a "friend" I've had to advise about a very unpleasant and thorny problem over many years. She had another incident today and so I'm just repeating my advice to her.

The problem is that she is in a family that for strange and bogus reasons, has been stalked by another family, who consider themselves in some kind of "family feud" of the old crazy European sort. It's a one sided feud because my friend and the rest of her family didn't even know most of the people involved! The feuding family thinks it is some sort of honor vendetta going back to events that never occurred, but they have enshrined like crap in the family heritage. Anyway, very early on they focused on my friend for their anger. Their favorite tool is to take embarrassing photographs of her and then either use them for their own gratification without her knowing, or tell her about them and taunt her. Sometimes they blackmail her for money. I've told her to never pay blackmail money, because she has nothing to be ashamed of, but they find ways to get money from her nonetheless.

They specialize in taking nude pictures of her using long distance lenses, photos of her undergoing medical procedures, photos of her performing bathroom functions, and photos of her being intimate with men in her life. She first heard about this in college, and now she's middle aged, so she's had to endure this for a very long time. It started even before cell phone camera, digital cameras... it goes way back in time, but these people have access to the best equipment of the time. She's not a celebrity at all, so they do not even have that excuse for "the money shot." They do it for imaginary revenge and mortification. Well, here is the advice I've given her throughout the years. First of all, like me, she feels no shame about the human body and could not care less if they posted six foot high photos of her sitting on the toilet using a double roll of Charmin'. So she has no shame about the human body, or bodily functions, except the shame that she feels on behalf of people who have debased themselves, not her. People who do not care about some one else's "body of the soul" has already lost their own soul, and that of their children, who have learned their ways.

Secondly, they have particular glee in photographing her in what they consider "extra marital" relationships, and in hoping to get photos of certain specific sex acts. They've not gotten their fondest wish, of depraved sex acts, since she's not gay nor does she do much outside of what normal couples of a past generation did. For example, she had to have explained to her by a thirteen year old what a certain sex act was when the thirteen year old used the slang for that sex term, when she was receiving familial counseling from my friend! But they are thrilled at photographing her in her youthful college relationships, and in ones they consider her "extra marital" relationships. What these people do not know is that my friend's marriages were not valid - she's not been married. For religious reasons she was betrothed as a very young child to someone she has not been able to be with. That is her only valid relationship. So she has never been married, only betrothed to someone who did not fulfill the marriage. She considers it an unbreakable bond, even as he has not. Anyway, because in her own soul and witness she knows the truth, I've told her to continue to ignore the ignorance and evil of the people who think they have dragged her through the mud. All they have done is put themselves on the list of very angry angels that will drag them to a black fire someday that they will never escape from. Anyone who gets glee from personal pictures, especially of a lady who was abandoned by the man who was supposed to protect her from childhood, is in a state of mortal sin. Because of the stalking, in fact, this drove the lady in question into the arms of various men who took the role of protector and body guard. Sure enough, when she ended her longest relationship because she knew that it was not fair to the man who was "body guard" and not husband, the worst abuse occurred as soon as she was alone. If they had not stalked her (an early attempt was made on her via kidnapping even before she was in high school) and if her betrothed one had shown up, she would not have sought protection from the men that she had.

So I've told her to continue to ignore what they are doing, and to pray, as I do, for the children of such corrupt people, and all the youth who have fallen under their influence, that they can turn away from the eternal chastisement that their parents and "teachers" face.

Holy Spirit - Quick Reference Guide

The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit:

1 Wisdom
2 Understanding
3 Counsel
4 Fortitude
5 Knowledge
6 Piety
7 Fear of the Lord

The Sins against the Holy Spirit:

1 Presumption upon God's mercy
2 Despair
3 Impugning the known truth
4 Envy of another's spiritual good
5 Obstinacy in sin
6 Final impenitence

The Simple Life

I've just had a bite of homemade pound cake. My neighbor, here in this apartment complex, brought me some earlier today when she stopped by on a visit. She also brought me some Southern Living magazines, which I enjoyed. Even when I lived "up north" I always bought Southern Living, Southern Christmas... any books and magazines that profiled the genuine hospitality of the south. Anyway, the pound cake is great. She uses a lot of genuine butter and shortening, just as it should be. When you have a bite and swallow, it takes a few seconds and then there is the glow of the richness of natural dairy and oil.

Anyway, we chatted about families and the news. She's a widow in her 80's and her sons are having a house built for her to replace one lost in Katrina. She'll be moving in there soon. I can tell that she's glad to be having a house again, but she's genteel and low key enough to not rub it in! I miss having my own house and she shudders when I tell her that I have to put my rent payments on my credit cards. We both shudder as we share the week's roach story. She nailed a few as did I. They grow to nearly two inches here and have shells harder than what we supply our troops with in Iraq. I had two in my bathroom this past week, and one I had to kill by slamming it with my iron. They withstand direct hits, even with "Reading the Old Testament" book, so I've had to resort to using my clothes iron.

Angels Tutorial - Part Three

Angels Part Three

Christians know Gabriel from the annunciation, when Gabriel informs the Blessed Virgin Mary that if she agrees, she will bear Jesus.

Luke 1:26 Now in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth.
Luke 1:28 And when the angel had come to her, he said, "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women." [Gabriel on behalf of God bestows upon Mary the title "Full of Grace."]
Luke 1:35 And the angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee; and therefore the Holy One to be born shall be called the Son of God."
Luke 1:37 "for nothing shall be impossible with God."

Because Gabriel brought the good news of the birth of Jesus, Christians tend to think of Gabriel only in this context, as an angel announcing the birth of a baby. But Gabriel also announced a title given to Mary, "Full of Grace" (which some anti-Mary Christians choose to ignore), the reality of the Holy Spirit and the virgin birth (which secularists and corrupted Christians ignore), and affirmed that God is in control and nothing is impossible with God. Some Christians therefore miss the more robust energy of Gabriel, as the angelic voice of God, since they either disbelieve part of the message, or they focus only on the sound byte of the birth announcement and not the rest of the message.

Muslims do not have that problem because they not only recognize and revere the Annunciation of Gabriel to the Virgin Mary, but Muslims have further experience with Gabriel as Gabriel announced the Qur'an to the Prophet (peace be unto him.) Gabriel is named Jibreel to Muslims. Jibreel revealed and dictated the Qur'an to the Prophet. So Christians need to be aware that the harsh words about penalties and chastisement for not obeying the will of God does come from Gabriel's lips. Angels of God are not sparkly turquoise clothes and feminized faces saying "anything goes just as long as folks are all nice to each other, or better yet, do not interfere in each other's sinful lives."

For example the passage Surah 34:42 states "...We [the angels] will say to those who were unjust: Taste the chastisement of the fire which you called a lie."

It is Gabriel/Jibreel who provides to the Prophet the information about angels' role in the chastisement of sinners who refuse to believe God/Allah's role in judging the soul's dispensation to heaven or hell. It is also Gabriel/Jibreel who provides information about Jesus' birth (such as his ability to speak as an infant). These are just two examples of how Gabriel has been the voice of God/Allah both in the Christian faith and the Muslim faith. By understanding this you can better understand the fullness of an angel's reflection of all of God's will, not just one facet, one attribute, one event, or one emotion or thought. Gabriel announced the Messiah and he announced the Qur'an.

Angels Tutorial - Part Two

Angels - Part Two

This is going to be a quick but important point. Guardian angels join with a child at the moment that the embryo is formed and "quickens." That means that the guardian angel attaches to a child at the moment that the cell that becomes a baby is conceived, attaches to the mother's womb, and makes its first pulse of growth (cell division, which means growth, called traditionally "quickening.")

Now, think about this. An estimated 47 million abortions have taken place in the past several decades. That is 47 million guardian angels who came to earth, and then were told to "take a hike" and sent back to God with the action of aborting the child.

There is a disturbance in the force alright, Luke, but I don't mean from the fantasy world of a Hollywood film. There is a colossal aborting of not only potential human beings, but the angelic presences that those children brought to earth with them, only to be truncated and sent back to God. And you wonder why pro life preachers teach that there will be no peace on earth so long as abortion is used as licentious birth control? People are not only aborting babies just to have casual sex, but they are firing millions of guardian angels and sending them back to God with no gratitude.

Angels Tutorial - Part One

Angels - Part One

I need to get some information out there about the true nature of angels. Its bothered me for quite a while some of the misperceptions. Part One I'm going to deal with the only angels that humans directly deal with, that being guardian angels.

Few things irritate me more than the caponization of angels in the media and popular perceptions. In the 1980-90's I was baffled by the squads of people who think that angels are female or feminized men, that they are everywhere ordering the affairs of humans in a new age kind of way ("Touched by an Angel" a show that stills brings vomit into my mouth when I think of it... the only episode I watched was because Muhammad Ali was on it and despite him it was still truly awful.) Every lucky break or spiritual insight is attributed to some new age EEO balanced troupe of angels tromping around the countryside. Trust me, angels are not touchy feely. And if angels were ordering the affairs of humans we'd not see a lot of the crap we see now.

Any angel that is actually perceived by a living human being is a manifestation of either one's own guardian angel or someone else's guardian angel. So if you read those "angel rescue" stories, those that are truly angelic manifestations are initiated by and instrumented by guardian angels. Guardian angels are the only class of angels that have any interaction with humans at this time. I will discuss angels such as Gabriel, Raphael, and Michael in subsequent posts. They appear and intervene only in great prophetic events, and those events have been documented in the Bible and the Qur'an.

Learn what is told by Jesus about angels:

Matthew 18:10

Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones: for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.

In these two sentences Jesus instructs the true nature of angels. One is assigned to each child, and is the guardian angel. Angels by their nature constantly "face God." You can think of this as the analogy that angels, while they have personalities, their entire being is like a mirror that reflects God's will. One side of the mirror constantly faces God. It is that side of the mirror that gathers like light what God intends for them to do. This is why angels have different appearances as described in the Bible. Angels don't look like Irish ladies or racially diverse humans; they look like whatever is the will of God in an energy format (such as fire, water, nurturing presence, etc.) The other side of the angel faces whatever form of physical reality that the angel implements God's will upon. In this case, guardian angels constantly face God and constantly face a child, whom they accompany throughout life. Thus the third point that Jesus is making is that even the humblest of child has an angel of the same order as anyone else who walks the earth.

There is no human walking earth who is receiving favors or interaction from an angel other than one's own guardian angel, either singly or as the guardian angel interacts with other guardian angels. That's a lot of angels! Humans really don't need to make up in their minds for their ego the existence of other angels interacting with them, because as Jesus points out, guardian angels ARE in constant contact with God in heaven.

A Favorite joke from Long Ago

This is from my oldie but goodie collection:

Jesus comes upon a mob of people who are about to stone an adulteress. He steps forward to save her life, preaching to them, and saying, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone!"

As everyone hesitates a short, resolute little lady pushes her way to the front of the crowd. She picks up a huge stone and hurls it right at the adulteress.

With dismay Jesus sighs and says, "Mother!!"

(ha ha ha, I heard that one when I was a child and it's a wicked pleasure joke :)

Baseball Talk: Sandy Koufax

While writing about Dave Concepcion, I started to think about another of my great favorites - Sandy Koufax. I loved that guy! (Why did I think of him while writing about Dave C? Because Sandy attended the University of Cincinnati, so while writing about Dave's career at the Cin Reds, I thought of Sandy's connection there.) What's great about this story is that Sandy Koufax came to his senses and switched from basketball to baseball!! As a little girl I coveted getting a Sandy Koufax card. I didn't get his or anyone else's since we had no money for hobbies or extras... my older brother had the collection (still does) but I wasn't allowed to go through it and "play with his cards ha ha." But his was one of the cards I most wanted ever since the 1959 World Series. He was 23 years old then and had a 5 year old girl fan.
(Oh, and I liked Don Drysdale a LOT too, but that's a story for another post sometime.)

Baseball Talk: Dave Concepcion

More baseball talk. Another of my favorites is Dave Concepcion, shortstop for the Cincinnati Reds. I was fond of him in particular as he was starting his career in the early 1970's because he overcame perceptions that he was physically fragile. This was during the time that I was learning my lacrosse goalie craft and I had heart skipped patterns, allergies, and other issues that challenged my physical endurance in sports, so I found him to be personally inspiring. He also wore 13, one of my lucky numbers. Anyway, he played from 1970-1988 with these awards and stats:

9-time All-Star: 1973, 1975 - 1982
5-time Gold Glove: 1974 - 1977, 1979
Roberto Clement Award (1977)
Ranks 48th on MLB Career Games List (2,488)
Ranks 77th on MLB Career At Bats List (8,723)
Ranks 90th on MLB Career Plate Appearances List (9,640)
Ranks 79th on MLB Career Singles List (1,788)
Ranks 56th on MLB Career Sacrifice Flies List (86)

Bible Reading: Kings (Samuel) Saul becomes King

Read this exquisite passage. It describes what happened when Samuel, one of the great Old Testament prophets, called by God as a child, grows to be the prophet who God sends to find a King for Israel. Saul is the son of Cis, who with his servants, were seeking asses of Cis that had strayed. After an unsuccessful search, Saul then seeks a seer help him to find the asses, and is directed by maids drawing water to the city where Samuel may be found. Samuel, walking, sees Saul and then hears the Lord's voice telling him that Saul is the one he seeks who will be the King of Israel. Samuel takes Saul to where he was staying and prepares a dinner for him and thirty guests. He then tells Saul that God has chosen him to be King of Israel and anoints him with the consecrated oil and instructs him where to go and which people to meet. This is what happened to Saul then:

1 Kings 10:9-13

So when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, God gave unto him another heart, and all these things came to pass that day. And they came to the foresaid hill, and behold a company of prophets met him. And the spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he prophesied in the midst of them. And all that had known him yesterday and the day before, seeing that he was with the prophets, and prophesied, said to each other: What is this that hath happened to the son of Cis? Is Saul also among the prophets? And one answered another, saying: And who is their father? Therefore it became a proverb: Is Saul also among the prophets? And when he had made an end of prophesying, he came to the high place.

Is this not so beautiful? "God gave unto him another heart." In the same day that Saul was seeking lost animals that belonged to his father, he is found by Samuel, anointed King of Israel, and "God gave unto him another heart." I think that some who have been converted, or reverted, to their faith, even if the process is very gradual, can still relate to the sweeping personal grandeur of feeling God giving one another heart. And then the spirit of the Lord came upon him and he prophesied. This causes amazement among those who knew him and even a proverb arises from this, "Is Saul also among the prophets?" When God sends the Holy Spirit, there is a sweeping transformation that is so beautifully described here, as Saul goes from seeker of his father's lost asses to prophet and King.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Maybe a few fluke reincarnations happen

Dodo birds in human form.
(Ugh, just heard some exploitative new age crud.)

More about Mary, Qur'an aid in understanding

Surah 19:27-29
And she came to her people with him, carrying him (with her). They said: O Marium! surely you have done a strange thing.
O sister of Haroun! your father was not a bad man, nor was your mother an unchaste woman.
But she pointed to him. They said: how should we speak to one who was a child in the cradle?

In this passage of the Qur'an it is related how Marium (Mary) returned to her people with the baby Jesus. The people are surprised and disconcerted at the virgin birth, but they believe and show her great respect because they call her "sister of Haroun," who is Aaron, the brother of Moses and priest.

Yes, you read right. In the Qur'an Mary is hailed by her people as sister to the High Priest of Moses, Aaron. The Qur'an relates more respect toward Mary than do most Protestants. The Qur'an consistently points to Mary as the Mother of Jesus, and as the model of virtue, who was personally chosen and purified by Allah. Muslims believe and understand the immaculate conception of Mary much more than many Protestants, because they recognize that God would have made the purest vessel for Jesus, and that she would be totally without sin. This culminates in this wonderful passage where she is hailed as "sister of Aaron." This is another quality of Mary that Islam understands and reveres more than many Protestants do, because they understand how she is a role model for not only women, but for priests. Catholics give Mary a title of Mother to priests, because in the Catholic faith, she has given birth to the Catholic's first priest, who is Jesus. Muslims are able to view the purity of Mary as being like a sister to the high priest Aaron.

Further, throughout the Qur'an, Jesus is always referenced as "Isa, son of Marium." This is a title that they give Jesus consistently, it is not a chronological or biological reminder. It is true that they are not going to call Jesus "son of God" in the Qur'an, because that is not their faith. But notice that they do not just call him "Isa" or "Isa, a prophet," but they call him "Isa, son of Marium" as part of his title is his birth from her pure vessel. This is explained in this passage:

Surah 3:42
And when the angels said : O Marium! surely Allah has chosen you and purified you and chosen you above the women of the world.

So throughout the Qur'an, you can easily read it into their understanding that they viewed Jesus as "Jesus, born of Mary, the vessel purified by God" or as they would say "Isa, son of Marium" whom "Allah has chosen" and "purified."

Sometimes it helps to read the Qur'an when a non-Catholic Christian is tempted to not believe the validity of honoring Mary (not directing worship to her, but honoring her) because it helps to see the interpretation of the same events and Gospel by a brotherly faith that has no agenda in over-emphasizing Mary's role. The Prophet (peace be upon him) clearly understood and explained that Mary was chosen and purified by Allah and deserves the respect accorded a "sister of Aaron."