Virgins, Incest and Old School Pimpin’

What You’ve Missed…
The first murder in history, taking the entire world population from 4 to 3.
* God regrets creating everything and destroys the Earth in a flood, saving only Noah and his family because of Noah’s righteousness, taking the entire world population from millions(?) to 8.  (We sure weren’t making existing very easy for ourselves huh?)
* The Tower of Babel; Greatest epic fail of the ancient world.
* God tells Old Man Abram that he will be the father of a multitude of nations, gives him the land of Canaan, gives him the name Abraham and gives us the Christian Hokey Pokey.  Oh yeah, and to seal the deal between them, God now wants the dudes to, well, “sharpen their pencils”.

Day 6
Daily Reading:
Genesis 18-21:7

If you like crazy sex stories, pay attention.  If you like crazy adventure stories, pay attention.  If you like crazy summer blockbusters with explosions, pay attention…because things are about to get ridiculous.

The setup: God has been hearing rumors that the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah are flat out ridiculous, (think Vegas…but on steroids and with way more perverts) and so He is going down to check things out and see what’s up.  Turns out the rumors are true.  Sodom and Gomorrah are jacked up.  How jacked up?  This jacked up:

Before they (a man named Lot and his two male guests who are angels) retired for the night, all the men of Sodom, young and old, came from all over the city and surrounded the house.  They shouted to Lot, “Where are the men who came to spend the night with you?  Bring them out to us so we can have sex with them!” So Lot stepped out to talk to them saying, “Please my brothers don’t do such a wicked thing.  Look I have two virgin daughters.  Let me bring them out to you and you can do with them as you wish.  But please leave these men alone…(Gen. 19:4-8)

Ok…that’s just insane.  Forget sports, literature or philosophy…we’re talking about people whose favorite collective pastime is rape.  This isn’t a society that turns a blind eye to rape mind you, or even a society where it’s simply accepted.  This is a culture where rape is actively pursued.  (This is where I don’t know how to respond…)

And how does Lot (a righteous man mind you) protect his guests?  By offering his two virgin daughters to the sex crazed mob to, and I quote, “…do with them as you wish.”  What!?  What is happening here?  What kind of place is this?  Who are these people?  The “good guy” offers up his daughters as sex slaves to an entire city of sex maniacs?  I can’t imagine those two girls coming out alive.  Is this a story in the Bible or some crazy Rob Zombie porn flick?

Basically long story short the angels confirm this is the most ridiculous place ever and God’s going to blow it off the face of the map.  They warn Lot’s family to get the heck outta Dodge, telling them not to look back.  As the family makes their way to safety God reigns down fire and burning sulfur, completely destroying Sodom, Gomorrah along with other cities and villages, wiping out everyone and everything completely.  (It’s like that opening scene of Armageddon…except EVERYTHING is totally destroyed and EVERYONE dies…even that little dog riding in the bicycle basket.)

During the chaos Lot’s wife, like the Nazis in Raider’s of The Lost Ark, just has to see what’s going on, looks back and…turns into a pillar of salt.  One second she’s a living, breathing human, the next she’s an ingredient.

Talk about a page turner.  And it doesn’t even stop there!  Because Lot’s wife dies, and his daughters want the family line to continue, they both decide to sleep with their father by getting him so drunk he doesn’t even realize what’s happening.  (Side note: This may be the first time in recorded history that a woman had to get a man incredibly, incredibly drunk so he’d sleep with her.)  So, that happens and they both get pregnant, producing sons who go on to be the fathers of nations themselves.

After all of that, the story shifts back to Abraham who has now pimped out his wife Sarah to the local king in order to spare his own life. (He thought it better to say she was his sister than his wife, so the king wouldn’t kill him in order to sleep with her.  This is one of our Biblical heroes remember.  The man God chose to be the father of all Israel.)

So what have we learned?  Well, for starters mankind is pretty messed up and prone to overindulge just slightly from time to time.  People do crazy things, including Biblical heroes who are just as flawed as everyone else.  This doesn’t seem to stop God from rescuing and blessing those He is in relationship with.  Also, crazy sex acts have been around forever.

Who knew history was so…entertaining?  Unbelievable?  Crazy ridiculous?  I don’t know what the word is…I just know it’s way more intense than the Bible stories I heard growing up.

I’m making popcorn for tomorrow’s reading.

God and IKEA Confuse Me

Day 1
Daily Reading
: Genesis 1-3

One day and three chapters into the project and I’m more confused than when I tried to put my first piece of IKEA furniture together. What the heck? I thought I had a solid grasp of the creation story. However after reading it for myself, I have come to the conclusion that I am just a simple, simple little man. For starters, it seems as if God is more like a cross between Jackson Pollock and a crazy mad scientist rather than…well, rather than God. By that I mean, He comes across not only as extremely creative, but almost experimental in nature (literally).

The first chapter of Genesis describes God’s process of creation and a few times it seems God is deciding things are good as He stops to consider how things are going…not that He had a whole set of detailed blueprints from the get-go.

The land produced vegetation – all sorts of seed-bearing plants, and trees with seed-bearing fruit. Their seeds produced plants and trees of the same kind. And God saw that it was good. (Gen. 1:12)

He SAW that it was good. He looked at what He’d created, made a judgment call that it was good, and so continued on making more stuff. He goes on to have the same reaction to the sun, moon, and stars. Same for the sea creatures and birds. Same for wild animals and livestock. And not to feed your ego…but after making people and seeing all life operating in beautiful harmony that only Walt Disney could be jealous of, He declares it very good. He decides all this after seeing it, not before, like He’s just making it all up as He goes.  Like an artist deciding he likes the direction things are going.

It doesn’t stop there. Later He sees Adam is alone and needs a partner (Gen. 2:18)…and so God, who knows everything, brings Adam all the animals He made, but no suitable partner is found (Gen. 2:20). Wait, what? Doesn’t God know everything? Did he really think an animal would be the best companion for a human? They went through all the animals before God decided to make Eve? What? Why is the process of elimination entering the picture here? I mean, I know it took Thomas Edison 10,000 tries to invent the electric light bulb…he’s human and experimenting. In Genesis we’re talking about the All-Knowing Creator. We’re talking about God. God who does everything exactly right the first time. This isn’t an experiment. Is it?

I’m imagining God saying, “Huh…none of these awesome animals I made are going to work? But there’s so many, and they’re so different. None of them are a good helper? Really? Interesting. Well, I’ll just make something else then. How about a woman…that might work.” And that thought really messes me up.

So maybe God really is a Creator. Someone who creates through process, someone who enjoys the process as much as the result. Maybe artists reflect God and how He works more than I thought.  Maybe God is incredibly creative…wildly creative even.  Not just inventive, but creative.

So much to think about, and I haven’t even brought up some of the questions I have from chapter 3.  [Was the serpent that tempted Eve the devil?  It doesn’t say he was.  Did God banish Adam/Eve from the garden because they disobeyed, or because He was worried they would live forever? (Gen. 3:22-23)  And does God worry?  And if God created us to be in relationship with Him forever why does it seem He doesn’t want Adam to live forever? ]

See what I mean? I’m only three chapters into this thing, and my pretty glass house of what I thought I knew and understood about the creation story has shattered all around me. So I’m left looking around helplessly for the only one who can help me rebuild that house. God himself. I can see why I need to ask His Holy Spirit to help me as I read His word. It’s just too much for my simple mind to comprehend on its own. And here I was proud of that college degree I earned.

So, in closing, day one of reading the Bible melted my brain. On to day two.

Kittens, Zombies and God

Welcome one and all to the latest internet sideshow!  Bearded ladies and Siamese twins are a thing of the past.  And let’s be honest, it takes a lot more than your basic freak show stuff to entertain mainstream audiences today anyway.  But amazingly, cute kittens are still enough to garner millions of viewers.  It truly is an amazing millennium.

But I digress.  So, what does this blog intend to offer you that you have yet to come across in this vast internet universe?  One simple man attempting to read and make sense of one of the most bizarre pieces of writing that exists today.  The Bible.  It’s full of crazy stuff!  There’s a talking donkey!  People rising from the dead!  And I heard that somewhere buried in there a guy sends a bear to maul a bunch of kids!  C’mon!  That’s just AWESOME!  And another time God becomes human!  That means God pooped.  That’s nuts!  And that’s not to mention all the sex, drinking, murder, greed, betrayal and war!  Days of Our Lives eat your heart out, this is some truly crazy stuff.

So here’s the deal.  I’m a Christian who basically sucks at reading his Bible.  It’s one of those things all “good” Christians do every morning, followed by earnest prayer that probably involves asking God to forgive all those sinners out there.  I wouldn’t really know.  I like to sleep in, and when I do eventually roll out of bed like a bear coming out of hibernation I seek out coffee and food.  Bacon is good.  It’s better if someone else puts in the effort to cook it though.  And later if I do feel like reading, you can bet that I’m reading some slightly-better-than-mediocre novel.  (In fact, Max Brooks is currently wooing me with World War Z.  Yeah, the Z stands for zombies.)

I also read books about other people’s experiences with God.  Like The Furious Longing of God by Brennan Manning, Radical by David Platt and The Heavenly Man by a Chinese guy named Yun.

However, as the new year approaches, I think it’s time for a little change.  And I do love Jesus a lot (the guy literally changed my life) so it’s time to really dive into the book that my beliefs claim to be the LIVING WORD of God.  See, even that’s crazy…the Bible is considered living.  What!?  What does a person do with that?  As a human with a functioning brain I can tell you that books aren’t alive, that they’re static.  Yet…here is a book that Christians claim to be living, to be full of LIFE.  I haven’t even tapped the keg for this party yet and already it’s getting out of control.  Next thing you know the cops are going to be knocking at the door before things really get interesting.

With all that said I’ve never read the entire thing before, but much of what I have come across has been everything from encouraging to frustrating and incredibly helpful to incredibly confusing.  So from Nov. 25, 2011 to Nov. 25, 2012 I am going to read the Bible through fully, and share my responses, thoughts and questions and hopefully entertaining insights here.  (For the record I’ll be using a New Living Translation of The One Year Chronological Bible.)  If this book is what my fellow Christians say it is…then it should be incredibly mind blowing and unlike anything else out there. Let’s hope for once a book lives up to the hype surrounding it.

Let the craziness begin!

(Images from The Queerist and Wikipedia respectively)