Friday, February 22, 2013

Thoughts on Samson::Or, Not just a hoormonger.

 It is an odd thing to think, sometimes, that Samson's mentioned as a man of faith in Hebrews 11.  Reading over Judges 13-15 though, I saw a lot that didn't really stand out to me before.  For one, Samson was announced as being in special covenant with God "from the womb".  This means that babies are ALIVE, not potentially, (whatever that means) but actually, in there. Not only alive but in relationship to God. And there's recognition that what a mother eats affects her baby, since Samson's mom ('the woman', we're not told her name) is told not to eat any grapestuffs.
Interestingly, the Angel of YHWH only seems really interested in appearing and talking to Samson's mom.  Manoah has to go where she is to talk to Him.

Then once Sampson's out and about, he chooses the uncircumcised Philistine woman.  We could chalk this up to "the heart has reasons which reason does not know", but in this case, that reason is "It was from the Lord".   Granted, how could his parents know that, especially since it was against general policy to intermarry with pagans. Doesn't mean it was a good idea maritally though.

Then, Samson tears lions like young goats (nobody I know of tears young goats though, so maybe "like a bag of potato chips" would be a culturally appropriate).  But the oddest thing about this, aside from the fact that he just tore apart a lion, of course, is that HE DOESN'T TELL ANYONE!  Think of any young man you know.  If they tore apart a lion, would it not appear in their facebook feed? I mean, guys make a big deal about killing a fish!
Is this modesty? It would seem like it, since there doesn't seem to be any other reason for him not to tell.     So, plus one for Samson.

Next, one normally gets the impression in messages about Samson that he's an uncontrollable womanizer. But when he storms out of his own wedding, and leaves and comes back to find that his wife got given to another man, he doesn't just say, "meh, sure, I'll take her younger sister - she's even prettier!"  If he were "that guy", we would expect him to do just that.  But he doesn't.  And he still doesn't seem to have given up on that girl, either, because he takes the Philistine's attack on her (some kind of 'honor killing') as an attack on him.  So there was some real attachment there, he wasn't (it seems) just after anything with a certain curve to it.

Then his own people come to arrest him, but he doesn't blow them off or fight them.  He could have easily said: "Forget you guys, just try and arrest me and see what happens" but he lets them save face before the Philistines by their act of submission before he goes to town with the jawbone. So he seems to have a concern for his people, and a certain humility about his own strength.

Then, exhausted from cracking Philistines over the head with Donkey-parts, he does a bit of improv spoken word, a Hebrew Haiku of sorts.  Not my taste, maybe, but it's good Hebrew poetry and done on the spot.  So most likely not a mere meathead.  I don't know many football players that compose witty limericks after scoring touchdowns, usually they just jump around and slap someone's butt (don't they? I guess I haven't watched anyone score a touchdown in ages, so maybe this is just my own stereotyping at work.)  Anyway, Sampson's doing pretty well.  AND his following prayer acknowledges that the great salvation was granted not by Samson's awesomeness, but by the LORD.

OK, so next he's at a prostitute's place in Gaza.  And probably not for tea and conversation. And it doesn't seem that a whole lot of thought or confliction went into this decision.  So hence the title "Not Just a Hoormonger.  But sadly, he does seem to have been that.  At least this once. In his favor though, he does show some strategic thought and humor in waiting wil midnight when he could've just run out swinging, and carrying off their gates.

And then he pretty much goes down.  Delilah doesn't seem to have liked him, but he seems to have genuinely liked her.  And for all his whacking people with whatever came to hand (fists, foxes, temples), he never seems to have hit a woman (well, except with the temple).  This is something in his favor characterwise.

Is it sin to tell another Christian they're wrong in front of pagans?

Here's a late night conversation Brandy and I had over whether it's lawful for Christians to do something like, say, go to a church that supports and donates to abortion clinics and hold signs calling for them to repent.

See very low quality video HERE.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Mere Christian...On Faeries and Goblins!

Began reading through Richard Baxter's "The Certainty of the World of Spirits" and quickly came across an interesting passage:

"...Yea, we are not fully certain whether these Aerial Regions have not a third sort of Wights, that are neither Angels, (Good or Fallen,) nor Souls of Men, but such as have been there placed as Fishes in the Sea, and Men on Earth: And whether those called Fairies and Goblins are not such.
But as all these, and more such, are unknown to us, so God seeth it meet for us that it should be so, and we should not so much as desire or endeavour that it might be otherwise."

That's certainly in line with a lot of my own personal speculation (and my reading of the bible!), both in the possibility of what might be, and what our reaction ought to be to it all.  As much as I love fantasy, I can only wonder.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

This is why I am sending you prophets, sages, and scribes.

If no prophets' heads were filled with sights
had they not eaten the Maker's scroll
those gifts from the Father of all Lights
would not have planted in our souls

Who can hear without a messenger?
Who has ever lassoe'd God?
those who cast aside the primal word
were cast from Eden into Nod.

with eyes drawn by the founding Word,
the Spirit of the King,
prophets wrote bright times to come
times which blood would bring.

Do we not hear the voice of prophets?
Are apostles turned away?
can we reject His every messenger
but tell the Lord himself to stay?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

"You are not of an age to have thought much" said Reason.

The giant bent forward in his chair and looked at her."Who are you?" he said.

"My name is reason", said the virgin.

"Make out her passport quickly" said the giant in a low voice.
"And let her go through our dominions and be off with all the speed she wishes."

"Not yet" said reason. "I will ask you three riddles before I go, for a wager."

"What is the pledge?" said the giant.

"Your head", said Reason.     -C.S. Lewis, Pilgrim's Regress.


In conversations and disputes with others I'm often (well, I used to be) surprised with how reticent people are to actually dispute anything.  They get uncomfortable and flustered and often angry, and often after I ask them a question say something like "OK you're right, are you happy?"  Or "you win" as if they're worn out and trying to get me off their back.  Granted, I never wanted to be "on their back" to begin with, and I don't get why people treat approach discussion like a pacifist approaches a fistfight or a fat man approaches a flight of stairs.  My discussion partners and I often seem to have two completely different assumptions about what we're doing.

Rewind 2.5 thousand years, and you get back to some Greek guys called Sophists.  After devoting themselves to philosophy, they decided there was no truth and the real use of reason and language was as a weapon, an instrument of power to exercise your will over others.  Many sold their services to train young men in the used of language and rhetoric this way, as if they were teaching them swordplay.
Socrates disagreed, as did his disciple Plato. They believed that there was truth to be gotten to, a god to be served, and that was the point of language and reason to expose falsehood and seek truth.

In our day, or a few decades back, postmodern philosophers said basically the same thing as the Sophists, and said that anyone that gave an account of anything was on a power trip, trying to get people to buy into and fit into his story.

So, when I'm talking with people, it feels like I have to explain myself often.  I'm not trying to "win".  I haven't invited you to fistfight, or even to spar.  Reasoning is more than fighting.  They have some overlap, I won't deny that, but the fight of reason is hopefully against the common enemy of the combatants.

When I engage you in discussion, my aim is to combat untruth.  It may turn out to be in me.  It may turn out to be in you.  But either way that's what the blade of truth and reason was forged for.  The bladework of language is meant to serve that end. I don't want to "beat" you.  I want to serve both you and I and  even more centrally to serve the God of Truth.

Night Visions

Early last year I began reading through the bible on a general sort of program.  I placed tabs for Law/history, Wisdom/Poetry, Prophets, and New Testament, and then started moving to the right one chapter each.  In the past few weeks I've noticed a few common themes.  One is visions, i.e. dreams.  Most of the visions that I've seen in scripture are dreams.  Or, if not dreams properly, they seem to happen at night when the person is sleeping.  Daniel calls them "Visions of the night" (Dan 7:13).  The one I'm reading now, about the vision of the Ram (Persia) & the male goat (Greece/Alexander) is interesting.  The angels in the dream (well, maybe they're not angels, they could just be saints, it says "holy ones", so they could be holy angels or holy men) explain some of it to Daniel, but really he wouldn't have any way to know what it was about specifically, so he says that

"When I, Daniel, had seen the vision, I sought to understand it."

Which made me wonder.  If this were a dream you or I had, we might have dismissed it as just plain weird, a product of bad cheese or a busy day, probably not as a prophecy about raising up kings and deposing them.  But Daniel thought it was significant, and sought to understand.  Of course, in Daniel's case a voice tells Gabriel the angel to explain the vision to him, and Gabriel does.  That would be nice.  But how often to those sorts of visions come along?
Maybe more often than we might think?  Daniel sought to understand when we might seek to fix breakfast. Maybe there is a lesson here.  I don't know.

I do know that prophecy throughout the bible is very important.  It saturates every book I'm reading through.  God chooses someone to speak to and through, and speaks to them through angels or dreams, or personally. Isaiah 3:2 mentions prophets as an aside, like a normal vocation like soldier and judge.  He even lists is with unsavory occupations like diviner and skillful magician (druggist?).  This and lots of other verses seem to indicate that there were always lots of prophets, just many of them were false, and few of them were prominent. We know there were lots of prophets who are barely mentioned or not mentioned at all by name, like the one in Judges 6:8 who comes out of the woodwork, sent by God to answer the people's complaint. This seems to imply that there were many true prophets not even mentioned in scripture.

So why not today? Especially in this dispensation of the Holy Spirit by whom we were sealed for the day of redemption?  So much of God's work has to do with His Spirit. "The Spirit of the LORD clothed Gideon".  Daniel is often recognized with the words "The Spirit of the Holy God/s is in you".

Don't really know, but I am asking and praying for a restoration.  We know that God is with us, but Gideon's question remains:
"Please sir, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us saying "Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?" But now the LORD has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian.

And the LORD doesn't really answer, well, I suppose He does, but He answers by showing Gideon some of His wonderful works, and delivering them from Midian through Gideon.  He doesn't explain why He waited until that moment to do it.  Maybe that's what He's going to do with us? I hope so.  In the meantime, I am listening.