I’ve knocked out a couple of poems, so let’s try another blog post. I still think blogging for me is kind of arrogant, as I don’t really have any kind of audience who wants to hear anything from me, and this site is supposed to be a way to show family and friends my poems and bits of prose, but let’s test this out a bit more.
So a recurring theme in a lot of my writings is a fundamental point that a theistic perspective views life, and the world, and all reality, as a story written by God designed to contribute to our creation as perfect and immortal beings able to exist in a perfect reality that follows this life. Contrarily, a spiritual world view absent of God considers reality to be whatever the creature experiences, without any sort of grand meaning behind anything arranged by an infinite creator.
Naturally, I hold to the former view. While the latter, godless view involves alteration of reality by human will, also known as sorcery or magic, the theistic world view also involves alterations of reality by participation in God’s purposes to a degree beyond the pale, as it were. Basically miracles. This has been a subject of great interest to me, as I think we are at a point in history where very unusual things are going to start happening. The COVID hysteria is an example of a world-wide phenomenon that can scarcely be called natural. Supernatural, or even infernal, seem to be better words to describe it, and I think things are only going to get weirder. While it probably can’t be described as sorcerous or miraculous, it might just be a sign of something.
Now I am not going to write about sorcery or miracles today, though it’s a subject of fascination for me. I am going to talk about signs, though. Signs are violations of laws of probability that show up in life that the theist “reads” like a story from God. Now servants of God are generally not supposed to ask for or demand signs. The Messiah was asked for a sign. He responded.
But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.Matthew 12:39
Nevertheless, he gave huge numbers of signs in the form of miracles, without anyone making demands on him. Further, Gideon asked for a sign, and God gave him an answer. He didn’t accept the answer, so he asked again, and God gave him the sign again. Finally he accepted the sign. So these things should be scarce, or scarcely asked for, and one has to accept an answer, or we have to accept if none is given. But they do exist, and when we don’t ask for them, they can actually turn up pretty frequently.
God doesn’t have a mouth, but he does talk. He does this by writing your life in such a way that things happen to you that you can learn from. Unfortunately, some of us, like me, overthink everything and interpret everything in multiple ways, and we can get bowled over by our own conclusions or not know what to make of them. This can have a pretty major effect on someone’s sense of direction and purpose in life. This is where I am. So with the above introduction behind us, let’s follow Alice’s white rabbit into wonderland.
So, I’m not exactly sure how to present details of this without the safety of cloaking things in the metaphors and rhymes of poetry and fiction. I will do my best to describe a situation that resulted in my asking for a sign, and what I think happened thereafter.
So I have these “enemies,” for lack of a better term. The really pathetic part is that these folks are supposedly Christians, respected in their community for their gentility. Of course, so were the politicos who strung up Jesus. Those guys weren’t “Christian” in the modern sense, but there was no “Christian” in those days. Jesus’ “enemies,” a small subset of wealthy and politically affluent members of the Pharisee movement, fulfilled all the requirements of “godliness” that were available to them in their time.
As for me, a couple of years ago, I got into an argument with some Christians. People who claim salvation via their profession of Jesus as their Lord and Savior. In my argument with them, I was forward and frank. Their response was to call the police on me for harassment, denigrate me in a grand fashion, and then block and ignore me. My response was to have an emotional PTSD collapse and go out and do drugs and have a psychedelic experience like nothing I have ever encountered in the annals of human thought. Except, perhaps, the story of Jesus talking to the devil in the desert. That would be it. And I have done A LOT of reading in my life. I know a lot about the kind of stuff mankind has gotten into. But nothing approximates what I experienced.
My inability to find peace with these Christians dominated the better part of my life for a very long time thereafter, and ultimately defined a lot of my sense of direction in life going forward, even to this day and beyond.
This all happened on the eve of my departure from Israel in 2019. Ironically, while I was in Israel, I was searching for direction, asking God to show me what to do and give me a path forward. God came up with this encounter with these Christians to ultimately answer a lot of my questions about the purpose of my life, with these bizarre experiences that just rocked my world. Only God could do something so weird.
Ever since, these enemies of mine have always been lurking in some way, shape or form in my psyche for what would end up being years now, and they show no signs of going away, despite the fact that I have had no contact with a single one of them for ages. Really, I experienced the mother of all neurotic psychological complexes, and I have no idea what to do about it.
Don’t cry for me, though. I am by all accounts a reasonably functional adult. Ask my mom and my daughter. I make it through the day fine. I’m as functional as I was before the whole ordeal, which wasn’t entirely functional. Remember, I am a PTSD veteran. But I do okay.
Nevertheless, there are some pretty profound differences between me and your average citizen, and those aren’t going to change or get better without help from the outside world. I’ve done all I can on my own. I’ve played every mind trick on myself I know how to play. I’ve fixed everything I can fix. Employed every therapeutic method a human can pull on himself. I’ve done all the recovery I can. And I’ll make it across the finish line, but what damage remains just isn’t going away via anything else that I may be able to do on my own.
This is the crux of everything. The way everything set itself up, contact with this clan of enemies, particularly the younger sister of the group, ultimately came to constitute a sign. In short, if these guys, or specifically this chick, could act like Christians and help out an enemy, help me to realign my mind and soul, extricate fact from fantasy, make interpersonal peace, that would REALLY tell me a lot about the direction to go in with life. To just put it on the line, to say it frank, it would tell me that God wanted me to have something to do with those whose claim to spiritual greatness is some sort of named service to the Messiah, Jesus Christ, or Yeshua the Messiah as they would probably call him, as they are Messianic types who live in Israel.
In more recent years before going to Israel, and certainly after, I’ve continuously and consistently been unable to see the Christian Church as anything different from the Roman Catholic Priests slaughtering Christians for reading the Bible that they themselves could not read because they did not themselves even know the Latin required to read the version of the scriptures that they were killing people for trying to translate into local vernacular. I just don’t see any difference between today’s Christians and the crewmen on the Spanish ships hauling their cannons to the capital of the Aztecs for the pulverizing of an entire civilization. And dare I mention the popes who shoved Jews into Ghettos and burned their books. I’ve long had my own love/hate relationship, mostly hate, with the Christian Church. But that is another story.
I have no idea if these enemies who spurn me even remember my existence. Over the last few years, I have dumped the contents of my heart into a variety of poems and stories relating to these events and people, some quite lovely, others rather unflattering, but as a whole I have been pretty much been musing to and about figments of my own imagination. I think it is the job of the poet to plumb the depths of one’s own psyche to show to the world at large without the mincing of words. I see my literary efforts as me blabbing to the wind in the hope that something might strike something within someone somewhere. That’s the greatest thing any writer can aspire to accomplish.
However, as of today, I have not struck anything anywhere with any of these Christian people. And that, to me, is a sign. To explain, I’ll introduce another concept. The concept of harmony of spirit. Jesus recognized this and spoke of it. He complained to his enemies that no matter what he said or did, these guys who would eventually crucify him would hate it. No matter what it was. They would disagree with it. No matter what it was.
It’s like going to court with your ex-wife. If you like salad, she will hate salad, and make sure the world knows salad is evil. If you blow her a kiss, she will find a way to be offended by it. You’ll be a pervert. If you agree to pay her money, it won’t be enough. Or it will be seen as a plot to try to harm her in some way. No matter what you do, no matter what you say, it will be wrong. If you say a thousand wonderful things to her, and one nasty thing, that one nasty thing will be the reason the judge needs to destroy you. She is just going to oppose you. No matter what you do. No matter what you say. No matter who you are or try to be. It’s just going to be wrong. It may be because she is strong and angry and out to destroy your from aggression. It may be because she is weak and afraid. It may even be because she is ashamed of how she has treated you. It really doesn’t matter. She will oppose you. She will try to destroy you. The why and the how doesn’t matter.
When you look at things like that, you see that the little details about who you actually are, or who she actually is, what anybody is actually doing, what is actually happening, these things don’t matter. She is just going to be your enemy. The reason she is going to be your enemy is because the spirit that inspires her is just not the spirit that inspires you. If it were, she would find a way to be on the same page as you. If she were inspired by the same spirit as you, you could say a thousand mean things to her and one nice thing to her and she would find a way to be impressed by the one nice thing and not worry to much about the thousand mean ones. She would find a way to make peace. She would find a way to be in harmony. And if you had the same spirit that she does, you would do the same. Somehow things would click, in some way, in some fashion, some sort of harmonious solution would result. No matter how mean to her you were. No matter how mean to you she was. Some amount of understanding, communication…something…would get you relating to her and her to you. But, no, she has been ordained to be your enemy. Your Satan. And you are hers.
That’s the way I am with these Christian people. No matter what I say, no matter what I do, they always have, and always will, find any and every avenue possible to not have anything to do with me. The efforts that they take to prevent themselves from being contacted or seen on the internet are utterly impressive. And frankly spooky. The internet is the only way I have of contacting them. And they are just not on it. They have set everything to private. They have taken down their pictures and their videos. You will not see them. They are Internet Amish. It just doesn’t exist for them. And they won’t be bothered by digital grotesqueries such as me. If avoiding Jonathan Bailey were directly proportional to personal wealth, they’d be billionaires. It’s almost like someone is paying them to do it. They get points for being gone. These are your upstanding servants of Christ.
While the above descriptions may come off like caricatures, I have another story to tell. I know a pair of rabbis. Ultra-Orthodox with their trench coats and beards and tztiztit hanging from their waists. They come from a group that will throw rocks at you for driving your car on the sabbath. The Talmud is their New Testament. They think you need to have two dish washers with two sets of dishes to follow the law of Moses. They call Jesus Yeshu, an acronym that means “may his name be erased.” They get into West Side Story type street brawls with other Ultra-Orthodox who think some Breslov rabbi is the messiah because they think some Lubavitcher rabbi is the messiah. They are absolutely not friendly to anyone who thinks Jesus is the messiah. But they applaud me for trying to follow the commandments of the Torah.
Recently I visited with a friend of mine, a Karaite Jew who comes from a completely different tradition than the guys I described in the paragraph above. I told him they were my friends, and that of all the Jews in Israel, I was going to them, at least initially, to look into unification with the people of Israel. He looked at me with shock. If anybody in the Jewish nation is supposed to hate me, it’s these guys. My response was that of all those in the nation of Israel who hate me, it’s those who call Jesus their Lord and Savior. These supposed enemies of the Messiah who I have followed most of my adult life are welcoming me, while these disciples of Jesus the Christ block me from every avenue of even communicating with them. To my Karaite friend, this was a miracle of no uncertainty. That I could be welcomed and mentored by a group of haredi Chabadniks while some Messianic Jesus types call the police on me for trying to talk to them because I am not nice enough to them or something.
Who are the Pharisees in this story? Jesus said there were only two commandments. Loving God and loving your neighbor. Elsewhere he said that to truly love your neighbor you have to love your enemy. In the New Testament, Pharisees are almost synonymous with “bad guy.” And these haredim are the direct cultural descendants of these so-called “bad guys.” But they call me to their land to show me a way forward. While the Messianic Christians of Israel break my jaw with their palms. I failed to play ball with them. Like Jesus failed to pay proper respects to the godless politicians who would eventually nail him to a beam of wood.
All of this of course plays havoc with my traditional indoctrination of who gets to call themselves a servant of God. Christians will tell you that the guy who claims Jesus is his savior is the servant of God. Anyone else is an enemy. But I know I am a servant of God. He who is not offended by me is not offended by the one who inspires me. And these people who have nothing to do with Jesus are not offended by me. While those who won’t even talk to me blast Christian contemporary music at all hours.
The slayers of the Aztecs had wonderful things to say about Jesus. Then they slew the Aztecs. This moves me to see that there is more to serving God than piping a name. What am I supposed to do with that? My theology is being shaken.
Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me.Matthew 10:40
So there it is. I’m being received by those who say that Jesus is the name to be erased. I am blocked by your friendly neighborhood Christians. I’m thinking that there is more to all this than yelling this name or that name. That’s the story that I am reading.
King David never heard the name Jesus. The common Christian answer is that if he had heard this name, and knew the story associated with it, he would have loved it. I think I am seeing how this actually plays out. You can’t just bellow out a name. You have to know what it means. And there are people who know what the name means, even though they have been taught to hate the name itself. A name is just a word, made of some letters. You have to have some kind of connection to what it stands for. And there are those who know what it stands for, even though they don’t use the word. And there are those who chant a name with stark regularity who don’t have a clue what it means.
I’m hoping my enemies see this and reflect for a second on the meaning of the name they supposedly glorify. Because after twenty years, my theology is changing. I’m coming to see that there is something essential that transcends culture, or even words, such as names. Those who know God will have the same spirit as I do, and they won’t throw me to dogs for evisceration.
My brothers and sisters will not block me because I have not pleased them. They will not cast me away because some word on my tongue does not meet cultural standards.
The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.John 3:8
There is no religious affiliation, no verbal moniker, that will attach you to God. At this sorry hour, not even “Jesus” will save you. You have to know what that word means. That’s what the story of my life has taught me. That’s what these Christians who have cast me away for not being nice enough have taught me.
I said that if these Christians could act like Christians and love their enemy, I would rest in the confidence that profession of Jesus as the Messiah would continue to mark clearly a servant of God. The Christians can’t do that. I don’t know why. To know that I would have to talk to them. And their chief goal is not talking to me.
It’s something of a scary road I am on. I asked for this sign. Do I have an answer? A part of me has a hope that I just can’t kill. So I prayed to God for a sign that depended on these Christians doing something. It’s been two years. Nothing has happened. It seems to me at this point that the sign is that I should go another way, divorced from the Christian community. But when does one have enough information to draw a conclusion? Maybe after three years I’ll figure out I’ll never hear anything from this Christian chick? Maybe after four? After five? I’m very patient, but just looking at it logically, when am I going to be confident to accept the answer? Also, keep in mind, the prospect of a complete divorce from Christianity for a guy who thinks Jesus is the messiah is a pretty daunting prospect. What would such a thing entail?
So okay, I told myself I would keep blog posts down to something like a thousand words because human beings just don’t read. I’ve failed. No one is going to read this thing. Maybe that’s for the best. It’s pretty personal. And it isn’t stuffed with metaphors and rhymes. But there it is. You know how I have read my life like like a sign. The fact that a Christian chick won’t have anything to do with me means far more than a Christian chick not having anything to do with me. It’s telling me what place I should give to Christians in general. I know there are a lot of great Christians out there doing great things, through whom God is definitely working. Even these Christians I am complaining about are sure to be doing wonderful things for the Almighty. But they are my ex-wife. They do not have my spirit. At least that is what I have seen for the last two years. And even still, I don’t know what to make of it. I guess because it feels like losing hope. But God sends his people on strange paths. And these are strange times.
So this will either be my last blog post, and I will go back to sticking with poems and fiction, or this will be my longest. Because it is almost like the old essays I used two write. So sorry for the length. I guess I am just learning about compressing ideas.