Monthly Archives: August 2019

On Gun Nuts and bulls goring…

candlelight vigil – for one of the 947 mass shootings in the last two years and 214 days?

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Welcome to “read the Bible – expand your mind:”

This blog has four main themes.  The first is that God will accept anyone.  (See John 6:37.)  The second is that God wants us to live lives of abundance (John 10:10.)   The third is that God wants us to do even greater miracles than Jesus.  (John 14:12.)  The fourth – and most overlooked – is that Jesus wants us to read the Bible with an open mind.  See Luke 24:45:  “Then He” – Jesus – “opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.”

And this thought ties them together:

The way to live abundantly and do greater miracles than Jesus is – as noted – to read the Bible with an open mind.  For more, see the notes or – to expand your mind – see the Intro.

In the meantime:

Saturday August 24 is the Feast day for Bartholomew the Apostle. Unfortunately, he may best be known for the famous massacre on his feast day in 1572.  There’s more on that and “St. Bart” below, but speaking of massacres (and some recent responses thereto):

I recently read on Facebook that “when Cain killed Abel, God didn’t blame the rock.”  I then Googled the phrase and saw that it came from a “Top NC Republican.”  See Top NC Republican on Mass Shootings: “Cain Killed Abel.”  (And “God didn’t punish the rock,” to which the article writer responded, “It’s so weird how gun violence has nothing to do with guns.”) 

Which sums up the response of “gun nuts,” and with it the need to clarify.

To me a Gun Nut isn’t the guy who thinks the Second Amendment is perfectly valid – including the “well-regulated” part – and goes along with the idea of responsible gun ownership.  A Gun Nut is the guy who refuses to consider even the most trifling, minimal attempt to “maybe, kinda sorta” try to find some way to cut down the number mass shootings plaguing the nation.

So getting back to that “top NC Republican.” Lt. Governor Dan Forest referred to Genesis 4:8, “One day Cain suggested to his brother, ‘Let’s go out into the fields.’ And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother, Abel, and killed him.”  Notice there’s nothing about a rock, which doesn’t speak well of Forest’s knowledge of the Bible. (See also the Titian painting below right.  And for another interesting take see “Cain killed Abel with a rock”? … atheism.)

The point?  Forest seemed to say that – according to the Bible – the “powers that be” in this country have no responsibility whatsoever to correct an ongoing problem resulting in frequent, unnecessary death. His take? If a man kills 40 people with an assault weapon, you hold only the man responsible. You don’t look for “cause and effect,” and you don’t even try to find out if even one person’s life could be saved by some reasonable solution.

Which is of course a gross misinterpretation of the Bible.

For one thing, Forest apparently didn’t read far enough.  In Genesis 4:9 – after the murder, shown at right – God asked where Abel was. Cain answered, “I know not.  Am I my brother’s keeper?” To which God said, “Your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground!”  (Genesis 4:10, to which the Good News Translation adds, “like a voice calling for revenge.”)  Which leads to this question.  If God could hear the voice of one victim “crying out from the ground,” how could He possibly not hear the voices of 3,788 Americans, victims of mass shootings in the last two years, 214 days (plus)(Conservatively-estimated, as of August 20, 2019.)

Which brings us to another Bible take, on how American society as a whole has a God-given duty to end repeat killings of which there has been ample warning.  See Exodus 21:28-29:

If a bull gores a man or woman to death, the bull is to be stoned to death…  But the owner of the bull will not be held responsible. If, however, the bull has had the habit of goring and the owner has been warned but has not kept it penned up and it kills a man or woman, the bull is to be stoned and its owner also is to be put to death.

So it may be true that God didn’t “blame the rock” for killing Abel.

But according to the law of Moses – Exodus 21:28-29 – the owner of a bull who keeps killing can’t avoid guilt by saying, “Don’t blame me!  Blame the bull!” According to God’s Word, the owner of a rogue bull is responsible for his failure to keep the second death from happening. (Or the third, or the 3,788th.) As reasonably interpreted, that principle applies to American society as a whole, when it knows the danger of repeated, ongoing mass killing.

On that note, see Dog owner charged with murder after fatal mauling (8/22/19):

The owner of three dogs that fatally mauled 9-year-old Emma Hernandez on Monday has been charged with murder…  Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy announced Thursday that Pierre Cleveland, 33, will face charges of second-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter and having a dangerous animal causing death.

That  third charge – having a dangerous animal causing death – goes directly back to Exodus 21:28-29 (It was noted at the hearing that members of Cleveland’s family “cried out in the courtroom when [the] prosecution alleged Cleveland knew his dogs were dangerous.”)

So did the pit bulls themselves – alone – “cause” the fatal mauling?  Or was it a combination, of pit bulls being inherently dangerous and the owner’s failure to “keep the dogs in check?”

Some further notes:  The dogs were set to be euthanized (in accordance with Exodus 21:28), on which note prosecutors argued that Cleveland knew the dogs were dangerous. Yet he left them alone, “despite the dogs allegedly having killed a puppy in Cleveland’s home a week before.” Then too “one of the dogs had also killed multiple puppies on July 29.”

So to repeat:  According to  Exodus 21:28-29, Americans as a group – by and through their elected representatives – can’t escape responsibility by saying “blame the rock!”  Which brings us back to the Feast day for “St.  Bartholomew, also known as Bartholomew the Apostle.*”  As to that famous massacre see St. Bartholomew – and “his” Massacre (8/2017).

More to the point – and as to the Catholic Church’s responsibility for the massacre – here’s what Pope John Paul II said in August of 1997, in Paris, where the massacre took place:

On the eve of Aug. 24, we cannot forget the sad massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Day… Christians did things which the Gospel condemns. I am convinced that only forgiveness, offered and received, leads little by little to a fruitful dialogue… Belonging to different religious traditions must not constitute today a source of opposition and tension. On the contrary, our common love for Christ impels us to seek tirelessly the path of full unity.

So here’s hoping that some day soon we too in America may begin a “fruitful dialogue.”  Like on how to stop the great number of mass shootings that presently plague our nation…

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The Louvre, August 24, 1572: Catherine de’ Medici (in black) considers “her” massacre

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The upper image is courtesy of Mass Shooting – Image Results.  The photo accompanies an article, “Stop blaming the mentally ill for mass shootings.” With a comment by conservative author Ann Coulter: “Guns don’t kill people, the mentally ill do.” The article noted less than 5 percent of the “120,000 gun-related killings in the U.S. between 2001 and 2010 were committed by people diagnosed with mental illness.”  Instead, people with mental illness were more likely to be victims. “You’re more likely to be attacked by other people, more likely to be shot,” one professor said. “You’re odd. You’re a target.”  Also, mass shootings are most often attributed to things like disgruntled workers or family disputes. “It’s loss of control by people who are extremely angry.”  Finally the article said efforts to link mental illness and violence are “a political strategy to turn attention away from more serious efforts to restrict access to the means of violence – which is guns.”

The black-and-white image to the left of the paragraph “Saturday, August 24” – “Jesus-and-fig-tree” – is courtesy of Jesus, Philip, Nathanael and the Fig Treesacredstory.org.  

The Cain and Abel image is courtesy of Wikipedia:  “Cain and Abel, 16th-century painting by Titian.”

Re:  The number of “recent” mass shootings.  See An update on “Trump’s” mass shootings, from a companion blog, first posted on May 3, 2019, but updated August 20, 2019.  As of 8/20/19 the number of mass shootings in the last “How long has Trump been president” stood at 947.  The definition of mass shooting – a minimum of four victims – led to the calculation of 3,788.

The image at left of the paragraph with “set to be euthanized (in accordance with Exodus 21:28),” is courtesy of Bull Gore – Image Results. Accompanied by an article, “British student escapes death after being gored by killer bull at Pamplona festival.” Thus note that Exodus 21:28 apparently doesn’t apply to injuries resulting from one’s own stupidity. See also Running of the bulls – Wikipedia.

More about St. Bartholomew: This “St. Bart” is generally identified as the Nathanael Jesus saw – in the first chapter of the John’s Gospel – sitting under a fig tree. As to the way he died, one tradition says that during his last missionary journey he was “flayed alive and crucified, head downward.” 

The lower image is courtesy of St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre – Wikipedia.  The full caption:  “‘One morning at the gates of the Louvre,’ 19th-century painting by Édouard Debat-Ponsan. Catherine de’ Medici is in black. The scene from Dubois [is] re-imagined.”

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As noted in the opening blurb, this blog has four main themes.  The first is that God will accept anyone.  (John 6:37, with the added, “Anyone who comes to Him.”)  The second is that God wants us to live abundantly.  (John 10:10.)   The third is that we should do greater miracles than Jesus.  (John 14:12).    A fourth theme:  The only way to do all that is read the Bible with an open mind:

…closed-mindedness, or an unwillingness to consider new ideas, can result from the brain’s natural dislike for ambiguity.  According to this view, the brain has a “search and destroy” relationship with ambiguity and evidence contradictory to people’s current beliefs tends to make them uncomfortable…  Research confirms that belief-discrepant-closed-minded persons have less tolerance for cognitive inconsistency

So in plain words, this blog takes issue with boot-camp Christians.  They’re the Biblical literalists who never go “beyond the fundamentals.”  But the Bible can offer so much more than their narrow reading can offer…   (Unless you want to stay a Bible buck private all your life…)

Now, about “Boot-camp Christians.”  See for example, Conservative Christian – “Career buck private?”  The gist of that post is that starting the Bible is like Army Basic Training. You begin by “learning the fundamentals.”  But after boot camp, you move on to Advanced Individual Training.  

Also, and as noted in “Buck private,” I’d previously said the theme of this blog was that if you really want to be all that you can be, you need to go on and explore the “mystical side of Bible reading.*”    

http://www.toywonders.com/productcart/pc/catalog/aw30.jpgIn other words, exploring the mystical side of the Bible helps you “be all that you can be.”  See Slogans of the U.S. Army – Wikipedia, re: the recruiting slogan from 1980 to 2001.  The related image at left is courtesy of: “toywonders.com/productcart/pc/catalog/aw30.jpg.”

*  Re: “mystical.”  As originally used, mysticism “referred to the Biblical liturgical, spiritual, and contemplative dimensions of early and medieval Christianity.”  See Mysticism – Wikipedia, and the post On originalism.  (“That’s what the Bible was originally about!”)

For an explanation of the Daily Office – where “Dorscribe” came from – see What’s a DOR?

St. Mary, “Virgin,” and more on Jerusalem…

Sassoferrato - Jungfrun i bön.jpg

Mary (mother of Jesus) responded to the Holy Spirit’s call “to set out on a mission of charity…”

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Thursday August 15 was the Feast Day of St. Mary the Virgin, as celebrated in the Episcopal Church.   See August 2014’s St. Mary, Mother, and also Mary (mother of Jesus) – Wikipedia:

She is identified [as] the mother of Jesus through divine intervention.  Christians hold her son Jesus to be Christ (i.e., the messiah) and God the Son Incarnate.  Mary (Maryam) also has a revered position in Islam, where a whole chapter of the Qur’an is devoted to her, also describing the birth of Jesus. . .   [She] is considered by millions to be the most meritorious saint of the Church.  Christians of the Catholic Church[,] Anglican Communion, and Lutheran churches believe that Mary, as Mother of Jesus, is the Mother of God and the Theotokos, literally “Bearer of God.”

There’s more on Mary in the August 14 post.  Meanwhile, in getting this post ready I found a draft-post on my recent three-week pilgrimage to Israel, starting with my second full day in Jerusalem. (May 13. See too On my first full day in Jerusalem.) But since I’m starting another overseas pilgrimage in under two weeks,* I should probably get this one out of the way.

For starters, we arrived Saturday night and the driver from St. George’s got us quickly through the dreaded Israeli security at Ben Gurion airport.  But then had a tough time finding my lodging on Al-Isfahani Street.  Later, after settling in my new room, at 4:10 that morning I heard what I took to be an explosion.  It was actually a cannon, marking the start of another day of Ramadan.  (The idea is to give people a chance to eat and drink before the all-day fast.)

That Sunday I wandered Jaffa Street and found a great place to eat, the BeerBazaar.

hasmon1About noon Monday I hooked up at the St. George’s Pilgrim Guest House and met up with my fellow course pilgrims. (Including the nine I flew over with.)  Tuesday featured lectures, orientation and a walk to the Pool of Bethesda in the Old City.  On Wednesday we visited the southeast part of the wall around the Old City.  (The “City of David,” from where we could look east across Kidron Valley to the Mount of Olives.)  We slithered through Hezekiah’s tunnel – shown at right, it’s very long, dark and damp – and came out at the Pool of Siloam.  Then we visited the Hasmonean tombs.

That afternoon I took off.  The group was scheduled to visit the Holocaust Memorial.  However, I was familiar with that episode of man’s inhumanity to man from my youthful studies in Judaica (Including – in 1969 – considering the Israeli Army as an alternative to the draft.)  So I wandered back to Davidka Square  – and the liquor store I found Sunday.  I got a bottle of Sommelier, for some brandies-and-water back in my room at night.

Thursday May 16 we visited Ein Kerem, the Church of the Visitation and Mary’s spring.  After lunch at the “Tent Restaurant, Beit Sahour,” we visited the Church of the Nativity and St. Jerome’s chapel and tomb, both in Bethlehem.  The church was both packed and crowded.

There we stood a long while, waiting to do a hump-through-a-tunnel extension of the tour.  It was then I noticed a fellow pilgrim in danger of getting stressed out by all the crowds and noise.  So I did a Good-Samaritan thing – kind of – and persuaded him to join me at the garden restaurant next door – and have a prophylactic Taybeh (Palestinian) beer.  I wrote later:

In situations like this you have to pick your battles.  It’s always seemed to me that finding a spiritual “pilgrimage” breakthrough usually comes in relative solitude, not when you’re surrounded and jostled by hordes of hot, sweaty and pushy “fellow travelers.”

walledoffmurraySpeaking of which, the theme of the Visitation to Mary was “Mary responding to the prompting of the Holy Spirit to set out on a mission of charity.”  But I didn’t see a whole lot of charity in the visit we made at the END of the day.

That is, we ended the day at the Wall of Separation, also known as the “Israeli West Bank barrier.”  And in a bit of sarcasm – or irony – we stopped at the “Walled Off Hotel.”  (Shown above left.  Luckily, the hotel included a bar, where I enjoyed another Taybeh Palestinian beer.)

See Banksy′s hotel with ′the world′s worst view′ opens in Bethlehem, which said this:

“With a play on words on the luxury Waldorf Astoria chain, this place is called the Walled Off Hotel, because it was built almost immediately next to Israel’s separation wall in the Palestinian-ruled city where Jesus Christ was born.”

Which of course would be Bethlehem, where Jesus was born and “God’s love, mercy, righteousness, holiness, compassion, and glory” were expressed in Him.

But seeing the Walled-off Hotel in His birthplace, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Later that night I had a first experience doing wash-and-wear clothes in the shower, then taking them to the rooftop terrace to hang them out to dry.  During the day it gets “hot as Gehenna” in Jerusalem, but at night it’s generally quite pleasant.  Cool and breezy, “Up on the Roof…”

Then I had my shot or two of brandy and water.

Later still I did some reflecting on the day, and especially the last visit.  I was tempted to conclude that the road to both freedom and spiritual enlightenment seems to be littered with dumbasses along the way.  But hey, that wouldn’t be Christian…

And for those thinking that my free-time was focused ONLY on swilling beer:  I was also doing a weekly overseas alternate exercise program.  (In what free time we had.)  Specifically, a week’s quota of two hours of yoga (1.86) and four hours of calisthenics (3.8), for a total of five hours and 40 minutes.  Plus 500 half-pushups (making adjustments for being old), and 1,000 (that’s ONE THOUSAND) ab crunches.  So I wasn’t ONLY swilling beer in my spare time…

That covers the Jerusalem visit to Friday, May 17, when we visited the Judean wilderness, the Jordan River and Jericho.  (Modern and ancient Jericho, Tel es-Sultan.”)  I’ll be writing more on my visit to Israel from that point on, but first I have to get ready for my visit to Portugal…

Where hopefully I won’t find any “Walls of Separation…” 

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wallsep1

That look about says it all…

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The upper image is courtesy of Mary (mother of Jesus) – Wikipedia.

The Mary’s image at the start of the main text is courtesy of Mary’s Spring Ein Karem – Image Results.

The quote on Jesus, Bethlehem and “Walled-of” is from Deep Significance of the Birth of Jesus Christ.

Re:  “Overseas pilgrimage in under two weeks.”  I fly to Lisbon on August 28.

I took the photograph at the end of the main text.  (“Lower image courtesy of…”)  A fellow St. George’s pilgrim took the photo of the Walled-off Hotel, left of the paragraph beginning, “Speaking of which.”  I also took the photograph of that “Hasmonean tombs” slither-though. 

St. James – and “my next great pilgrimage…”

Camino Portugués – one of many Camino(s) de Santiago – that will be “my next great adventure…”

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Last Thursday, July 25, was the feast day for James, son of Zebedee, one of the Twelve Apostles.  Tradition adds that he was the first apostle to be martyred, some time around 44 A.D.

He was a son of Zebedee and Salome, and brother of John the Apostle.  He is also called James the Greater or James the Great to distinguish him from James, son of Alphaeus.

For more on this James see Wikipedia, or the post St. James (“10/23”) – and the 7 blind men (Illustrated at left.)

That post noted that October 23 is the Feast Day for another James, the brother of Jesus.  Which can be confusing.  (Not least of all because there were as many as six or eight “Jameses” in the Bible.)  Again, “James (’10/23′)” and see also “Hola! Buen Camino!”  (From October 2017.)

[I]n case you’re confused – about the number of “Jameses” in the Bible –  there are at least three men named James in the New Testament, and possibly as many as eight.  (See “BIO of Philip and James…”)   In that list, James the Just (“Brother of Jesus”) is listed third.  James the Less – possibly the “son of Alphaeus” – is listed second.  Listed first is St. James the Greater – “for whom the Camino de Santiago* is named,” and who is in fact the Patron Saint of Pilgrims.  Which is something I mentioned in my last post, On a pilgrimage in Spain.

Which brings up my next pilgrimage.  In 2017 – and as noted in the paragraph above – my Utah brother and I hiked (and biked) the most popular “Camino,” the French Way (In my case, to Santiago de Compostela from Pamplona. where among other things we drank at the Café Iruna of Ernest Hemingway fame – a “whole ‘nother story.”)  But a month from now – September 2, 2019 – my brother and I will start hiking the 140 or so miles, from Porto “back” up to Santiago.*  Via the Portuguese Way, and this time we’ll be joined by my Utah sister-in-law.

On a related note see Feast of Saint James the Apostle in Spain – timeanddate.com:

Many people in Spain celebrate the life and deeds of James, son of Zebedee, on Saint James’ Day (Santiago Apostol), which is on July 25.  Saint James was one of Jesus’ first disciples.  Some Christians believe that his remains are buried in Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

Map of GaliciaThe article noted that July 25 is a public holiday in “Basque Country, Cantabria, and Galicia, where it’s a day off for the general population, and schools and most businesses are closed.”  (A side note:  The “autonomous community” – or province – of Galicia, seen at right, is in northwestern Spain, and that’s where Santiago de Compostela lies, as the “provincial” capital.) 

The article added that:  1) according to Christian tradition this James may have traveled to the area now Santiago;  2) this James was beheaded in Judea in 44 CE, but also that 3) his disciples carried his body by sea to Padrón, on the Galician coast.  Then they  buried his body “under what is now the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela.”

Which is why it’s popular as a hiking-slash-pilgrimage route.  On a related note, see On Mary of Magdala and James the Greater, Saints.  Aside from noting – again – that this “July 25” James is the Patron Saint of Pilgrims, the post also cited 2016’s St. James, Steinbeck, and sluts:

The point being that I’ve gone on a few pilgrimages in my time, and am fixing to go on another one this September…  And in the Sluts post, I noted that in the spiritual literature of Christianity, the concept of pilgrim and pilgrimage may refer to “the inner path of the spiritual aspirant from a state of wretchedness to a state of beatitude…”

Another side note:  It’s better to hike the Camino – in Spain or Portugal – during a month like September, as we did in 2017 and will do again this year.  It’s less hot and “touristy.”

See also “On to Jerusalem,” a post about last May’s pilgrimage to Israel:

[A] pilgrimage can be “one of the most chastening, but also one of the most liberating” of personal experiences.  [Like] hour after hour of butt-numbing, back-aching canoe-paddling[, for days on end.  Or during the 2017 Camino trip where] the chief ordeal was hour after hour of hiking, much of it across the dry and dusty Meseta of northern Spain.  Which meant sore achy feet and blister upon blister…  So the question for the upcoming trip to Jerusalem:  “What part of the trip will help me ‘find a sense of my fragility as a mere human being?’”  And “What part of the trip will be ‘most chastening, and also most liberating?’”

And which are some pretty good questions for my upcoming nine-hour flight to Lisbon, and from there to Porto, where three American pilgrims will hike north to Santiago…

So stay tuned!  I’ll be posting “further bulletins as events warrant!”

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Calvin and Hobbes

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The upper image is courtesy of Portuguese Camino De Santiago – Image Results.  The image is accompanied therein by a page “Camino de Santiago – Portuguese Way,” put up by “REI,” that is, Recreational Equipment, Inc.  See also Camino Portugués – Camino de Santiago.

Re:  On “St. James the Greater.”  As noted in the main text, that post included some regrettable errors about which “James” was involved.  On that note, and according to Wikipedia and other sources, “In the Episcopal Church of the U.S.A. and Lutheran Church, James, brother of Jesus and martyr is commemorated on October 23.”  But again, the Feast Day for James the Greater is July 25.

On the “Santiago.”  Iago is the Spanish form of the name “James,” itself a variation, a “a modern descendant of Iacobus, the Latin form of the Hebrew name Jacob.  James is a popular name worldwide, but it is most commonly seen in English-speaking populations.”  Other Spanish variations include “Yago” and “Diego.”  Thus the town of “Saint Iago.”  James (name) – Wikipedia.

Re:  Miles from Porto to Santiago.  Google Maps had three routes, with two going through Pontevedra, as we will.  One of the two routes is 134 miles, the other 141.

Re:  John Steinbeck and “sluts.”  The “sluts” at issue were mentioned by Robert Louis Stevenson in his ground-breaking 1879 work Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes.  It was considered a “pioneering classic of outdoor literature,” and it inspired Steinbeck‘s 1962 book, Travels with Charley.

Re:  My last-May trip to Israel.  See On my first full day in Jerusalem, and “Back from three weeks in Israel.”  See also “If I Forget Thee, Oh Jerusalem,” for some pre-trip research I did in April.

The lower image is courtesy of James, son of Zebedee – Wikipedia, with the full caption, “Saint James the Elder by Rembrandt[.]  He is depicted clothed as a pilgrim;  note the scallop shell on his shoulder and his staff and pilgrim’s hat beside him.”