THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS

meditationArticle by Barbara Cornell.

Syndicated from Barbara Cornell’s personal blog.

Fasting for spiritual reasons is a concept that is relatively new to me, as it was not part of my religious upbringing. But I’ve come to understand that fasting is a necessary activity. I’ve read quite a few others’ ideas about fasting, but I tend to do things the hard way: I figure it out for myself through trial, error and searching. Things that come any other way just don’t have the same value to me.

It’s been my experience that God never fails to respond to a fast. That’s empirical, direct observation. But I’ve always been interested in the «why» of things. Why would God especially respond to a fast? Does God benefit from my refraining from food? That’s an obvious no.

I’ve heard many say that it is the sacrifice that God responds to, «God always demands a sacrifice.» I’m skeptical. Rarely does God demand a sacrifice for no other reason that the sacrifice itself. Even when he asked for sacrifices of animals on the altar, there was a reason for it: because a thing is only as valuable to us as whatever we’ve given up to get it. You see it all the time. A pair of jeans at WalMart for $15 feels less valuable to us than the very same garment (some blue denim sewn together in the shape of your butt) purchased for $200. Put a $10 price tag on a purse and we think it’s cheap, put a $2000 price tag on the same purse and suddenly it’s a value statement. Studies have proven that people can be given the same wine in two bottles, one making it appear cheap and the other expensive, and people genuinely better enjoy the wine they believe is more expensive.

This verse came to me this morning when I was thinking about why God responds to a fast:

«And he saith, ‘Thy name is no more called Jacob, but Israel; for thou hast been a prince with God and with men, and dost prevail.’ And Jacob asketh, and saith, ‘Declare, I pray thee, thy name;’ and he saith, ‘Why [is] this, thou askest for My name?’ and He blesseth him there.'»
—Genesis 32:28-29

Jacob had been instructed by God to return home to his brother Esau, who was still pretty unhappy about that whole stealing of the family fortune thing, and on the way Jacob knew he was in great danger from his brother, but he went anyway trusting that God would keep his promise to fix that situation. The night before he was going to meet Esau, he stayed up all night and met a «man» (an angel) and wrestled with him all night, refusing to let go of the angel of God until the angel blessed him. And the angel told him he would receive the blessing he asked for, specifically because he stepped up to the battle and endured.

I’ve never heard anyone equate this story with fasting, but it occurs to me that this is at the heart of why God responds to a fast.

You remember the story of the caterpillar? A man sees a caterpillar struggling, wrestling to emerge from his cocoon. The man could easily break the caterpillar out of his cocoon, and it seems pretty cruel for the man not to help, especially since it costs the caterpillar so much to get out but it would cost the man nearly nothing to do it for him, but if the man does help, the caterpillar would certainly die. Because it is the struggle itself that gives the caterpillar the strength to survive.

THE HARVEST — A WORK OF THEOLOGICAL REALISM

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Article by PJ Cornell.

Overall assessment: 9 out of 10.

John Krygelski has given us something special with this book.

On the surface, the book seems to be a work of science fiction with gods and space aliens; and it could be described as science fiction — however, upon closer inspection, it becomes clear that this book is much more than that.  This book is what some, including (with some reservations) this reviewer, would consider to be a plausible realist’s explanation for God and the Bible.

This book is of interest on a number of levels.  In addition to having created a fascinating read, Mr. Krygelski has also created a philosophical treatise.  Think Jesus Christ meets Ayn Rand.  If you read the Gospel of Thomas and thought to yourself «Well, this makes more sense than what I was taught growing up,» then this book will resonate with you.  What is expressed here is not egoism, but neither is it altruism.  It rises above that obsolete distinction.

This book could be described as a work of Transegoist literature.

In this book, God is nothing if not a realist; and He insists that going to heaven requires that people achieve a certain strength of character, and he points out ways in which human morality, properly understood, is necessary for human survival as well as individual spiritual, psychological, and physical well-being.  I find the ethical ideas described in the book to be incisive, interesting and plausible.

Furthermore, Mr. Krygelski has developed his story (and the ideology expressed by it) within a scientific context, that seems to be mostly consistent with what I know about physics and objective existence.

My two reservations about the book are that, firstly, this book supports the idea of objective free will (as opposed to subjective free will), and does not make a strong enough case for it to my mind, and the antagonist, who we don’t really meet until the end, is far less complex than he should be, to my mind.

I must say that the Elohim character in the book is one of the most interesting characters I have ever encountered in fiction (and is, in many ways, a very plausible God archetype — which is a great accomplishment in and of itself), and, overall, the story was very engaging and difficult to put down.   I can’t help but think that if God exists and He’s coming back for us, that that event will bear striking resemblance to what this book describes.

I recommend this book to everyone.  It’s great work of fiction, it’s a compelling work of philosophy, and it’s a plausible explanation for existence and God.