Archive for the ‘Brunch & Bible’ Category

One Voice…

Posted: February 13, 2019 by Ty in Brunch & Bible
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Esther (The Megillah (Scroll). It is an ancient story in the Hebrew Bible, what some refer to as the Old Testament, designated in the third section of the Jewish Tanakh (Writings). The festival of Purim is centered on the text. It is not until a rather awkward Deutero-canonical-Apocrypha ending is tact on in Greek that YHWH is blatantly mentioned. It is the story of Esther, who became the Persian Queen (492-460 BCE). It is a story of what good can come from evil, but also about unexpected blessings when the answers to Prayers can appear as No. Yes, this story came back onto my radar last night as my son was watching the Veggie Tales video- Esther, well worth the watch.

It starts with King Xerxes throwing a 150 day festival to show of his riches of money and flesh. When he demands his wife, Vashti, show up only in her crown to be the entertainment to the gathered dignitaries, she refuses, and well is deposed. Which leaves a vacancy in the Queenily department, yes Xerxes had a Haram, but that was not a queen. He does the normal misogynist thing and runs a beauty contest to find a queen among the young virgins. It is not a contest by choice however.

The nation of Israel was not well liked, Esther hid her lineage, when she was picked up for the, lack of a better term, cattle auction. Esther becomes the new queen. Now, at no point am I condoning this ancient practice where women were seen as property, and essentially forced into rape relationships. No, that is wrong, and it was wrong at that time regardless of what the morals of the time dictated.

What I am pointing out is how subterfuge was used by Esther, to actually make a change for the better within her world as Haman plotted the destruction of her people, Esther worked to reveal the plot and save the nation. She did this by playing into a role, and then asserting her own  power by standing steadfast in the truth.

Just let that set in. Both women in this story, Vashti and Esther, each took control of their won bodies and lives. They stood against evil, and each in their own way one. It is a story of transition, for it is about each finding their own voice, their own value, and their own strength.

How often when we are in a personal, professional or corporate transition do we let out own self shrink away and simply take up the familiar with a new paint job? Same work, same partner, same friends, even if their faces and names change, but at the core the same? Esther is a story of one travelling through the darkness, and finding a way for the light to shine through for an authentic new beginning.

Can we find that same light in our own lives?

 

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Renewing Leaders

Posted: January 27, 2019 by Ty in Brunch & Bible
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The stories of Nehemiah and Ezra  are about returns from exile. Communities growing and changing, rebuilding themselves. Deciding what is the important pieces of their historical story, and what needs to be left to the shadows. How many people and organizations are in this flux currently? Mainline or evangelical churches?

There are some keys lessons within these stories to be teased out. The first is a belief in what one is called to do. Nehemiah could have continued on as the cup bearer to the oppressor king, but he took a risk on something different. An act of rebuilding and renewal. I know many look to this as how devout he was, and this is probably true to hear the still quiet voice and respond, but there is still the internal struggle of change, the grieving for what is lost as one steps into the unknown.

At the rebuilding of the city wall, we get two lessons in leadership. One is being in the midst of the work with the front liners. Literally these workers were building with one hand, and had a sword in the other. Nehemiah as a leader understood the stressors that the workers were going through, the risks they were taking because he was not hidden from them. He was in the midst.

Then he would take midnight rides. Those times a leader must pull away from the day to day operations on the lines, to get to a higher plain (a balcony view some call it) to take in the whole scope of the work, the project. It can be a quiet coffee shop away from work in today’s world to remove distractions, unplugging from phone, e-mail, social media for a span of time- a day retreat, a few hours, to remove the constant white noise buzz of busyness, and rest in the silence. In the silence to hear the guidance, to renew one’s mind, heart and eyes to look anew upon what is being done.

This clarity leads to better understanding, on how to manager transition, transformation, rebuilding and renewal, while bringing as many as possible along for the ride. If there are losses, it can create a space where those are healthy transitions.

In Ezra we see the high priest, rebuilding the sacred imagery by rebuilding the temple. In ancient wars, as we see echoes of today by extremists, winning was not just beating the other army but proving one’s deity (ideology) superior to theirs by laying waste to that which they held sacred. It is in the rebuilding history guides us to the “discovery” of the lost fifth roll of the Torah- Deuteronomy. It is within this re-telling of the Law, that rules are tightened up and there is a move to transform the community. Though it still uses the same understandings, meta-narratives, and trappings that provide comfort.

It is easy when on the journey of change to want to be an iconoclast, I also enjoy blowing things up. Letting the pieces blow away in the breeze and start anew. Sometimes though, it is honouring what has come before, building the next level upon the already existing foundation. It was through this journey of renewal that the sanitized history of Israel would be produced- 1&2 Chronicles, which re-writes the stories of 1& 2 Samuel, and 1 & 2 Kings, but takes out all the drama, treachery, rape, bloodshed, and well, non-holy things that the people and kings had done to end up broken and in exile. The new history was a way to highlight that when things were done as they should be, when the new-old system was working properly, things were good. It was an encouragement text. It was also a prime example of how history can change due to one’s own point of view.

As one enters into leadership, it may not be as a Paul or a Peter striking something brand new, it could very well be tasked with a vocation like Nehemiah or Ezra in rebuilding and renewing. Which do you feel called into?


Story of Jonah

Jonah is the story of a minor prophet in the Hebrew Bible. He is minor because the story is short, not because it is inconsequential. It is the story of a man given a mission that does not want to do it. Many will take the tact of the journey of coming into your own within your chosen vocation. As Jonah is called to take a message of salvation to the non-Israelite city of Nineveh.

But there is another tract of the story, that is rarely mentioned in spiritual circles. Michael A. Martin in his 2011 Star Trek Enterprise Romulan War: Beneath the Raptor’s Wings touched on it. The Jonah curse he would write about, it was what Captain Archer was feeling after a previous encounter that the freighter, Kobayashi Maru and all hands were lost, the Enterprise needing to save themselves turning away and fleeing. It was due to a Romulan control weapon that took over allies ships to do the deed. It was a logical decision, and a hard one. The flood of transfer requests after left the Captain reflecting on Jonah, and the curse that many spacefarers and nautalists too, would focus on. It is in the first chapter, when Jonah first flees the call:

 The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”

But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.

Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship.

But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep. The captain went to him and said, “How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us so that we will not perish.”

Then the sailors said to each other, “Come, let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity.” They cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah. So they asked him, “Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for us? What kind of work do you do? Where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?”

He answered, “I am a Hebrew and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.”

10 This terrified them and they asked, “What have you done?” (They knew he was running away from the Lord, because he had already told them so.)

11 The sea was getting rougher and rougher. So they asked him, “What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?”

12 “Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he replied, “and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.”

Image result for jonah and the whale13 Instead, the men did their best to row back to land. But they could not, for the sea grew even wilder than before. 14 Then they cried out to the Lord, “Please, Lord, do not let us die for taking this man’s life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, Lord, have done as you pleased.” 15 Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. 16 At this the men greatly feared the Lord, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows to him.

-Jonah 1:1-16 (New International Version)

A ship in danger. The only way to end it, is to get rid of the cursed one. Fairly clear cut, but why is this so necessary a story in the spiritual journey?

It is an effect we see on dry land many times. The shunning, the avoidance. It can happen when one leaves your spiritual community. It is more prevalent however when one receives a diagnosis in mental health or physical health that can be chronic, long, enduring, or stigmatized this is an effect that takes hold of some. The length of time as family or friends does not matter, for it becomes a subconscious response of distancing.

It is the Jonah Effect as I have decided to dub it. That is a fear that if you continue the relationship with the person afflicted, or whose life is changing, that you will somehow become susceptible to what they have. That you will become associated with the diagnosis. The very act of shunning/distancing/relationship breaking you are employing due to stigma is the fear of it happening to you is what drives it.

The Jonah Effect…

Spin-Judge-Cycle

Posted: January 16, 2019 by Ty in Brunch & Bible, Spirituality
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Judges closes in all the chaos it opened in (Judges 17-21). That is where one has to pause for a moment, exhale, and seriously let the words of these stories sink in. We have people purchasing salvation by buying priests/Levites; we have a crazy murdered hacking up a woman, and a war brewing. The bridge piece in chapter 19, verse 1 is simply, Israel did not have a king. Say what? It is tossed in as this deflect the blame comment that they had no control because they were not like other nations.

What is seen at a deeper hearing level beyond the violence? Dysfunctional family dynamics theory. I mean all these nations are sprung from shared ancestors of Israel. We also note high levels of misogyny, rape, and murder. It is a spiraling tale of inter-generational trauma and outcomes. This behaviour has been normalized. It has been normalized back to the days of slavery in Egypt when this is how they were treated as property. The wandering in the Desert was to be a time of healing and purging this from their community. What happened though, was it became normative, and is carried through into the cycle of the stories of Judges. There is relapse into the darkness and violence of what is normal, a fear of moving into what they are meant to be in the Promised Land.

Ever had a journey through the darkness like this in your own life? Coming out of trauma, addiction, or violence? Trying to assert the new you, but it becomes so much easier to go back to what is comfortable no matter how horrible? It is the story of co-dependence, addiction and pain within the stories of Judges.

It is about the yearning to have what they do not. Not being content in their now, but looking to others and going oooh we want that. And yes, for Hebrew Bible readers you know in the books of Samuel that come next this yearning to be like others is answered with a king given them.But I digress.

The stories of Judges, and the cycle presented can be looked at anthropologically, sociologically, paleo-seti, theologically, psychologically, historically and/or allegorically. What should be coming to the surface is to value who you are, and what you have. Do not seek validation outside of yourself. It is also a warning that we are not to accept violence against our selves, and to know that we have intrinsic value.

At the core, these stories send a simple message, Love YOU.


We now enter the story of probably the most famous Judge. That being Samson, and of course, this bring with it the story of Delilah (Judges 13-16). It is a familiar story, following the cycle we have seen in Judges. The nation drifts, and needs to be brought back on track, although this reads more of a super hero or spy epic (or a pulpy hybrid). It has been the subject of movies and comics, I love what Grant Morrison did with the character in All-Star Superman (worth the read of the whole series):

Image result for Samson from superman

Now many would put aside the story of Samson as just fantastical. A baby born, while the mother abstained from vice, and his hair not be cut would be…well…a superman for his times. The goal being from conception to death that Samson would be a Nazirite, and what is a Nazirite? They are ones that are “consecrated” or “seperated” as prescribed in the Torah book of Numbers (6:2-21). This is the life being laid out for Samson before he was even born, talk about long-term planning or imagine legacy parenting of the wealthy.

Samson did not have a say in his destiny, but it was a destiny to save his people. To guide the way, to show a different path. Now the story itself is a back and forth covert tale, much like 2018’s The Kingfisher Secret about the subterfuge of Cold War era politics, and the USSR laying the work for a 2016 presidential sleeper agent (if nothing else the Trump White House has re-invigorated spy fiction). I can see Samson being this type of agent as he seeks out a bride from the enemy, to be able to move against them, that is the Philistines.

 When he came to Lehi, the Philistines came shouting against him. Then the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him; and the ropes that were on his arms became like flax that is burned with fire, and his bonds [f]broke loose from his hands. 15 He found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, reached out his hand and took it, and killed a thousand men with it. 16 Then Samson said:

“With the jawbone of a donkey,
Heaps upon heaps,
With the jawbone of a donkey
I have slain a thousand men!”

17 And so it was, when he had finished speaking, that he threw the jawbone from his hand, and called that place [g]Ramath Lehi.

-Judges 15:14-17

After his victory, this Nazirite actually becomes a metaphor for the nation. He loses his way, not some may say it is a spoil of victory and some fantastical non-sense that someone would do this. But he goes to Delilah, a sex trade worker, and yes a spy. Now for those who think that this can be implausible, I remind Canadians under the Diefenbaker government of Gerda Munsinger and Deputy Minister of Defense Pierre Sevigny

Munsinger was an East German sex trade worker, and a spy, yes the Justice Minister said there had not been a security breach. Let’s be honest though in heater politics of the Cold War, and the cycle of Minority governments of Diefenbaker and Pearson would one openly and transparently admit this without spelling the end of their party? A crass joke of the time speaks volumes to what was “known but not proven”:

Gerda Munsinger took one screw and the whole cabinet fell apart.

Still think that Delilah is not a spy? And I do not believe she was coerced or forced, she was working Samson like one works an asset in a bad 1950’s spy novel. She got the national secret of the Kryptonite to beat the Superman after nights of passion and playing. Almost an ancient re-enactment of the Maxine Bernie 2008 security breach in Prime Minister Harper’s Government when Bernier left classified files at his girlfriend’s house.

This is the shell game like stakes the Philistines and Israel were playing, with the two key players being Samson and Delilah. A Cold War or War of Terror match set, dancing around mutually assured destruction. Unlike Gorbachev and Reagan though, there was no freeze and wall coming down.

Okay, there was walls that came down, but mutually assured destruction was not escaped for Samson and the Philistines on the path they had set.

What a story. Also though a time of reflection as we enter election cycles in Alberta and Canada. Who are we? Who do we want to be? Let the answers to these questions guide your heart. Do not get caught in the cycle of mutually assured destruction. Do not play games for power and esteem as Delilah and Samson, but keep to the core of what life is about.

Judge Cycle 5

Posted: January 14, 2019 by Ty in Brunch & Bible
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As you work your way through the stories in Judges, it can begin to feel like a never ending loop of a bad run of Coronation Street, when the writers ran out of a bit of oomph. I mean, the cycle itself can be rather tedious, and I can hear the reader going, well how does this apply to today for surely we are not that dense or in a theocracy.

Yes and no.

It applies because it begins to tease out a change cycle. Truly, what is the Deuteronic history stories but a story of change and evolution of a collection of tribes. From slavery, to wanderings to establishing norms, to trying to figure out life within family dynamics (as it seems each nation is a cousin’s descendants). In any change cycle fear is a major thing, and that is why I believe there is this cycle issue in Judges (and today) for we do not want to leave what is comfortable for us. We see this in Ambilech’s story (Judges 9-10) where he appeals to the fear in change. Okay, let’s get real, change is a grief cycle, and as such we work through the stages of grief. Whether you are a Kubler-Ross fan, or a Senge, U Theory fan it is a journey:

Image result for kubler ross grief model

Image result for u theory

Throughout the journey of Judges, the message back to the tribes, to the person remains the same. Here are our constants, trust in that. Move forward in what we know is right, and what we know is wrong is to be cast aside whether it is old or new. It becomes a cycle, and yes, we must release the past eventually, but the processes of the past that only serve no purpose (like the old idiom don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater).

I would state that the moments of peace at the end of a Judge Cycle is the nation crystallizing or prototyping yet just not ready to step into performing. They cycle back to try again, it may take several runs, but each time something new is performing, something new is discovered that needs to be let go, as with Jephthah’s cycle of being a judge (Judges 11-12).

What I love is that it shows the challenge of accepting the new, the first line is that he is a son of a prostitute. Now, many in the ancient world or even today will not admit this profession exists due to patriarchy and oppression. But definitely in the ancient times without a man to “own” them, it is the route women were left with. Jephthah’s very birth was casting light on the darkness the tribes refusing to move forward in care and equality was doing to their own brethren.

It lays out the horrors turning away from the Law had wrecked on the tribes. So is this a statement for the need for legalism? No, for what is at the core of the Law, this is what needs to be remembered for even in the Torah it comes down to the Shema, which is boiled down to Love.

Are our actions in society out of love for one another?

Is it rooted in compassion and kindness? Knowing that we all are created with inherent worth, or have we simply commodified ourselves. The challenge of the Judge’s lineage in this story showing that someone had fallen into a societal label game and was cast aside. Do we do that today? With our medical codes? Diagnosis? Territorial-religious-economic stratification? Race? Gender? All become points of those on the in and the out.

What is the truth? Something we have known for thousands of years. We are all in this together, all the same, and it is when we stray from love and create false labels that we are hit with war, famine, and death. When hate overtakes love.

And no, it is not a quick transition or change. For in change as it involves the ickiness of life, and those dastardly emotions. It is about being present, and understanding that things will not be as they have always been amen amen. Rather it is knowing whether in the transition is it healthy or not? Does it honour our shared humanity or not? Are we able to let go, and let in what is being formed?

After him Ibzan of Bethlehem judged Israel. He had thirty sons, and thirty daughters he gave in marriage outside his clan, and thirty daughters he brought in from outside for his sons. And he judged Israel seven years. 10 Then Ibzan died and was buried at Bethlehem.

11 After him Elon the Zebulunite judged Israel, and he judged Israel ten years. 12 Then Elon the Zebulunite died and was buried at Aijalon in the land of Zebulun.

13 After him Abdon the son of Hillel the Pirathonite judged Israel. 14 He had forty sons and thirty grandsons, who rode on seventy donkeys, and he judged Israel eight years. 15 Then Abdon the son of Hillel the Pirathonite died and was buried at Pirathon in the land of Ephraim, in the hill country of the Amalekites.

-Judges 12:8-15 (English Standard Version)

And a few more cycles of inquisition, fighting back against the letting in, holding on to that which needs to be let go of. For what is the stories of Judges, but the stories of individuals and groups wrestling with the answer to the hardest question in life:

Who am I (We)?


We enter into the stories of Gideon (Hebrew name meaning destroyer one who has a stump for one hand). His challenge was the Middianites, who are linked to Abraham and Keturah’s son Midian.  For the modern reader the term Gideon probably brings to mind hotel room Bibles or New Testaments in Grade 5, by Gideon’s International. An  evangelical Christian organization of men in good standing in an evangelical or protestant church over 21 years of age. They state they take their name Gideon as follows (from their Wiki page):

Gideon was a man who was willing to do exactly what God wanted him to do, regardless of his own judgment as to the plans or results. Humility, faith, and obedience were his great elements of character. This is the standard that The Gideons International is trying to establish in all its members, each man to be ready to do God’s will at any time, at any place, and in any way that the Holy Spirit leads.

As we enter a new cycle of Judges…say it with me about what happened with Israel?

They screwed up!

(Judges 6:1-11)

So what happens? That’s right, a calling goes out…

Gideon.

(Judges 6:11-27)

A messenger comes, and through cooking, and food, and flame Gideon sees what he is meant to do. A direction is given to supplant the worship of Baal, by destroying and replacing with a worship of YHWH. It is interesting as this unfolds and you read the words in verse 11-27 how it can read like a science fiction story and makes one ponder the validity of a Paleo-Seti theology for this story.

 When the men of the town rose early in the morning, behold, the altar of Baal was broken down, and the Asherah beside it was cut down, and the second bull was offered on the altar that had been built. 29 And they said to one another, “Who has done this thing?” And after they had searched and inquired, they said, “Gideon the son of Joash has done this thing.” 30 Then the men of the town said to Joash, “Bring out your son, that he may die, for he has broken down the altar of Baal and cut down the Asherah beside it.” 31 But Joash said to all who stood against him, “Will you contend for Baal? Or will you save him? Whoever contends for him shall be put to death by morning. If he is a god, let him contend for himself, because his altar has been broken down.” 32 Therefore on that day Gideon[c] was called Jerubbaal, that is to say, “Let Baal contend against him,” because he broke down his altar.

33 Now all the Midianites and the Amalekites and the people of the East came together, and they crossed the Jordan and encamped in the Valley of Jezreel. 34 But the Spirit of the Lord clothed Gideon, and he sounded the trumpet, and the Abiezrites were called out to follow him. 35 And he sent messengers throughout all Manasseh, and they too were called out to follow him. And he sent messengers to Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, and they went up to meet them.

-Judges 6:28-35 (English Standard Version)

Interesting, it was an attacked designed to weaken moral of the enemy. You see, it was showing superiority of their God over another. Or perhaps their alien fleet backing them, ala Cold War geo-politics where one was backed by one super power or the next. Could this be the same thing? As the challenge is laid down, but does not appear to be met to bring Gideon forward, in fact a message is sent out why to further challenge the leadership.

Then Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said, 37 behold, I am laying a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece alone, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said.”38 And it was so. When he rose early next morning and squeezed the fleece, he wrung enough dew from the fleece to fill a bowl with water.39 Then Gideon said to God, “Let not your anger burn against me; let me speak just once more. Please let me test just once more with the fleece. Please let it be dry on the fleece only, and on all the ground let there be dew.” 40 And God did so that night; and it was dry on the fleece only, and on all the ground there was dew.

-Judges 6:36-40 (English Standard Version)

One would think that the messengers could speak directly to Gideon, or any of the people in their language, as we have seen in previous passages. Gideon takes a risk in “putting his God to the test” at a time when the almighty was testy. What it appears is an almost first contact like scenario, where one is finding ways to bridge communication and safety gaps between the cultures and species. Where the universal translator is faulty, but there is still a desire to continue discussion and planning as allies.

As we enter into the next part of the story, it can be seen as miraculous, the few beating the many (though historically a well outmanned group what is usually seen is at most a holding force until re-enforcements), what is seen is a direct promise (Judges 7) to have their back. That is a promise of victory, how is this possible?

In Paleo-Seti theology it is Gideon’s army being backed by alien technology. This can be seen in Star Trek episodes ala “A Private Little War” that saw the Klingons arming one side of a conflict, so that the Federation had to do the same (a balance of power). Is this a plausibility and possibility within the context of Judges? We had seen in written of in the Christian Testament, with the concept of the Elohim being the driving alien species in the emergence of homo sapiens, and the driving force being the contacts between alien and earth.

Image result for gideon made an ephodIt was a battle that dragged on, but with a small army, and superior technology Gideon was victorious. So much so that he was elevated in the hearts and minds of the Nation as not only a hero, but a leader. (Judges 8) One who could be seen as falling victim to his own hype, as he got the spoils of victory the golden earrings, which were then melted into an Ephod, a type of vestment worn by the highest priests, his was made of solid gold. As is noted in Paleo-Seti theology, the design of the vestments of the Temple times, were designed using the best of ancient world materials to provide safety from radiation in/around space vessels. The fact that Gideon crafted this type of garment can be seen as raising a level of protection, Image result for gideon made an ephodbut also due to the value of the garment showing that Gideon has surrendered a bit into his own elevated hype. For the vestment is crafted to place him above the high priest, into an almost King like space for the people.

It is one to ponder, hence Gideon slipping into this before his death, if this is why the people surrendered to the Baalist that were in retreat. Perhaps not trusting the Elohim would step in again?

Just some points to ponder from a different point of view.