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If we eat the flesh of Jesus to reach communion with Him, surely Jesus must be able to reach communion with us by eating the flesh of humans?

It makes more sense than the Trinity, anyway.

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My mother once told me that every day, she prays that if I ever tell a lie, I’ll be found out. I don’t pray, but if I did I would pray that if I ever tell a lie, I’ll know it.

Do you ever worry you’ve lost your grip on reality? Mine has been tenuous at best from the get-go. I never had an imaginary friend, but I did imagine myself to be characters, people I made up or heard in stories. I wonder… I might have had many personalities from birth, and that was how I expressed it. I might have just been imaginative.

I remember the first time I thought maybe I was out of my mind. I was four or five, and I’d just finished performing a rendition of one of my first short stories. It was about the creatures who lived on the sun, and they would often happen to look at the sun, thus prompting (naturally) a full-throated scream. That was what one did when one looked at the sun, in my mind. I performed each scream with gusto to an indulgent audience of relatives, none of whom I can remember now. They weren’t important. What I remember is going to the bathroom and looking myself in the eye, and just… wondering.

Can you still tell lies if you’re crazy? If you don’t know the difference between reality and illusion, then is stating an illusion that different from stating a fact? If not, maybe everything I say is a lie. Hard to tell… All I can ask of myself is sincerity, but my opinions on just about everything can change from moment to moment, depending on my mood and focus and butterflies flapping their wings in China.

I don’t even know if I’m one person, or many. (That’s a lie.) Hush, you.

Ahem.

Now I’m on the subject, is there anyone who’s one person? Neurologically speaking, it seems highly unlikely. After all, a human brain is made up of many parts, awkwardly layered on top of each other in one of nature’s greatest kludges. The part of you that forms words literally does not inhabit the same universe as the part that has feelings. What does that make you? What does that make me, to be conscious of my own fragmentation? To exploit it?

I am very weary of shutting up because I can’t be sure what I say is true, or even meaningful. The fact is, anything I say about anything is speculation at best, but so is anything anyone else might say. If they can bluster and pretend they’re sure, God dammit, if they can claim to have Ultimate Certain Knowledge, if ANYONE can claim that with a straight face, to speak for God or to follow His commandments, if they can share the egotism of submission to certainty, then surely I can –

But it’s different for me, isn’t it? Always different. Why? Am I more self-aware? Smarter? Less judgmental? More freethinking? More emotional? Crazy? Who am I, that I can’t open my mouth without biting off my tongue?

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(I’m going through the Bible backwards, one verse at a time, and drawing what I imagine it says. I use no outside context – only the words on the page.)

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book

Welp, I’m boned.

The whole idea of The Bible In Hindsight is to add to the words of the prophecy of this book. I want to understand it, so to make it fit into my head, I connect it to my own imagination. That is how I learn. Evidently it is frowned upon.

I don’t know what plagues are described in this book, not having read it yet. Maybe it describes a plague of happiness, or a plague of good vibes. I’d look awfully silly to have worried about this if a plague of superhuman confidence were added to me. I suppose I wouldn’t mind looking silly, though.

But since I got the feeling that the author was referring to rather more negative plagues, I have to ask – why? That seems like a really extreme reaction to something as simple as adding some words to a prophecy. Is this verse something God’s lawyers told him to put in, so that He had an excuse to randomly plague whomever He saw fit? I guess the next time I get sick, I know what to blame.

I don’t like this God character at all. I hope we get back to Jesus soon. At least he had grace for all (the saints). All God seems to have are threats.

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(I’m going through the Bible backwards and illustrating my impressions, one verse at a time.)

And if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

This verse hits a few milestones – it’s the first time God has been mentioned by name, the first verse that does not contain the word ‘Amen’, the first time the book itself has been referred to as prophecy, and the first time God has been invoked as a threat.

I’m not really sure what constitutes ‘taking away’ here – is God asserting copyright? Because he could learn a thing or two from the Creative Commons folks about non-ambiguity. Is he saying that quoting or reprinting only part of the book is punishable by getting kicked out of some places I’ve never heard of before?

Whatever he’s trying to say, this verse is definitely a threat. But since the threat is so unclear, it’s not actually that useful to me, if I want to understand God’s likes and dislikes. Right now all I know about the character is that he has some real estate that he’s very proud of, and he uses it as a cudgel to get his way.

Maybe it’s really, incredibly important that not one word of the book of this prophecy go missing. Divine revelation does seem to be budgeted strictly. But if that was the reason, why wouldn’t the author just say, “Look, you guys – if one word goes missing, X, Y, and Z bad things will happen” and trust us to do the right thing? I object to coercion.

At least, by default, I have a share. I’m not removing one word from the book of this prophecy – I’m reprinting the entire thing, and adding my own interpretation. I’m doing so specifically in order to understand the original prophecy. Surely no reasonable Supreme Being could object to that?

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(I’m working my way through the Bible backwards, one verse at a time.)

He who testifies to these things says “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

Here’s what we know so far about this Lord Jesus character:

  • He has a particular kind of grace, which is meant to be upon all (or all the saints)
  • He testifies to “these things” (Presumably meaning the rest of the book, which I have not yet read)
  • He says he’s coming soon
  • The author of Revelation is excited for that to happen

Sounds like a great guy so far. Trustworthy, reliable, gracious, and punctual. What more could you ask for?

I mean.. A definition of “soon” might be nice. If his showing up really is going to be a big deal, I’d like to have a ballpark estimate of the time frame. Not the day or the hour, just.. I dunno, maybe an upper bound. “Surely, I am coming within the next million years.” Would that be too much to ask? Maybe he elaborates earlier.

I am intrigued by the use of Jesus as a credential – the author seems to be implying that this whole thing wasn’t his idea, it was the idea of Lord Jesus . The problem there, is that I have only the author’s word that his words are endorsed by Jesus. Lord Jesus may indeed be testifying to these things, but if he wasn’t, I’d never know. Maybe proof comes earlier.

At least I can be sure of one thing – the coming of Jesus must be happy fun times, for the author to get so excited. I can’t wait to reach the part where he explains what’s going to happen. First guess: Biggest party ever.

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So, here’s what this is: I wasn’t sure if I understood the Bible correctly, so I decided to go through it backwards, verse by verse, and illustrate my impressions as I went. I’m also coming at it with zero context – forgetting everything I half-remember about the stories, and the interpretations, and the doctrine. This way I can be sure I won’t miss anything. I only want to see what’s really there.

“The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.”

The “Amen” at the end is interesting, primarily because it comes at the end – of the verse, of the chapter, of the book, of the Bible. I’m assuming the first part of the verse is all that’s meant to be framed as a prayer, but I can’t be sure of that yet. I’ll remember this if anything crops up later (earlier) that I don’t understand.

From the rest of the verse, I know there’s a being named “Lord Jesus”, this being has something called “grace” associated with it, and that this grace is something that the author thinks everyone¬† (or in some manuscripts, all the saints) should have with them.

I don’t know about you, but I take a very different meaning from “grace be with all” and “grace be with all the saints” – the difference between unconditional love, and love for the in-group only. I don’t have any context yet, of course, but then we’ve only just begun (or in some manuscripts, ended).

The Bible I’m using doesn’t give me any more context for that footnote, and I won’t cheat and look for it elsewhere, but I already have lots of questions. Which manuscripts are more reliable? How can we know? Should I be worried that the very existence of multiple, contradictory interpretations prevents me from ever fully understanding the meaning of the text?

I’m sure humans can answer all my questions, but only with human answers. I’ll see if God’s Holy Word has anything to say on the subject. One verse at a time.

By the way, click here to purchase the Bible I’ll be using. If you’d like to follow along, and/or blog your own impressions, I would welcome the company.

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God of the Gaps: PHENOMENAL COSMIC POWER … itty bitty living space

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1. Find something you don’t understand.

2. Do your best to understand it. Note: This will drive you mad.

3. Before you finish, stop and figure out how to explain what you now know.

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The End of Male Role Models? is the last issue of Volume One.

I have nothing more to say about this.