Gospels and War Stories

If you were going to tell the story of US involvement in Iraq, where would you start? The invasion in 2003? The Gulf War that started in 1990? Or would you go back farther?

You could go into detail about US, French, Soviet, and British support for Iraq through the course of the Iraq/Iran war that took place between 1980-1988. You might even want to go into detail about Soviet involvement in Afghanistan and the 9/11 attack because of its impact on the worldwide war on terror.

Or you could skip all that and tell the stories of the individual soldiers themselves. Both sides even, giving an utterly different and far more personal account.

It would probably be best to touch on all these topics to some degree or another, just placing emphasis on a few of the events while being briefer on others.

The same could be said of the 4 Gospels. When reading these biographies of Jesus’ life many notice the differences in the way they are told. And the differences are notable. One author may leave out details that the other authors emphasize. They may have events happening in slightly different order. Some contain the same saying but worded in a slightly different way or told in a different context.

They even start in completely different episodes in Jesus’ life. Matthew and Luke start with Jesus’ family genealogy as well as the events before and during his birth. Mark and John start in adulthood and scarcely mention his birth at all, although John includes a preamble which explicitly states that Jesus existed before the beginning of creation. In fact John tells us that Jesus was the agent of creation, through which all things were made.

So which of the Gospels is telling the story “right”? Whose timeline is “right”? Whose testimony should we trust? Luke doesn’t even claim to have witnessed anything at all. Luke claims that he investigated the different eyewitness accounts and carefully constructed the best & most orderly account based on his investigation.

I recommend thinking about the Gospels the way you would think about the war in Iraq. It’s not about whether the story is wrong or right, it’s about where a particular author puts the emphasis, what information they found most pertinent. If you were going to try to learn about the war in Iraq you should read a multitude of accounts to take in as many perspectives as possible. By comparing the different accounts you will find details that one author casually glossed over or ignored, that a different author spent more time on. Through the different accounts a more complete understanding will emerge. Each narrative will converge on  a more decisive & complete story that is more complete than any one book alone.

That’s why we have four Gospels
That’s why we shouldn’t be worried about the differences
The differences make the Gospels stronger.
The differences reinforce that we are getting multiple, real accounts

Everyone sees and experiences the world differently

The Bible acknowledges that
The Bible canonizes that

I trust the Bible because it brings me the same diversity of experience I see everyday in the world around me

THOSE people are destroying society

Whoever they are. I’m not sure who it’s supposed to be anymore that’s unstitching society. Uprooting our morals, our standards for what is acceptable. I really don’t know because so many of the arguments are silly

And so many don’t care to make an argument at all. They just care to identify a scapegoat

It’s

The Gays
The Jews
The Rednecks
The Latinos
The Blacks
The Scientists
The Atheists
The Catholics
The Mormons
The Millenials
The Capitalists
The Socialists
Hillary Clinton

THOSE people

Whatever

I don’t care about the scapegoating and labeling that obviously has nothing to do with what’s actually driving our society into darker and darker places

I did come across a great example of what’s destroying our society that has nothing to do with a scapegoat

The example is an incident that distills popular sentiments into a simple act

This young man knocked on a door for assistance and was met

With a gun

That my friends, is what’s destroying our society

I was a stranger and you welcomed me
– Matthew 25:35c NRSVCE

Nested Hierarchy

Finally, I wrote about Nested Hierarchy

I’m trying to keep this intro post as short as possible

…probably not doing a very good job though

Nested Hierarchy is the way I read the Bible. There are a number of ways to approach the Bible and many of them overlap

I’m just going to make a basic comparison here though

To contrast my view I’ll talk about a narrative hierarchy

That’s how we read most books

You start at the beginning of a book and read to the end, a straight line through the text

It’s an easy way to read for sure

That’s why most books are arranged this way; the beginning chapter creates a foundation and each chapter slowly builds on that foundation

I can’t read the Bible this way for one simple reason:

The Bible is not a book, it’s a collection of books

Some of the individual books have a narrative hierarchy, some don’t

But the collection as a whole definitely does not

So I have to look elsewhere for the foundation

I believe that foundation is Jesus

Jesus is the center of a nest, with the other layers in the nest built around him

Jesus is like an egg

The egg is the point of the nest
The egg gives the nest purpose
The egg is the reason the nest was built
Everything about the nest has to be viewed through the object at it’s center

I believe Jesus is the center of the Biblical nest

All the books of the Bible are read through the lens of Jesus

His teachings
His life
His death
His resurrection
His return

The books of the Bible have their purpose fulfilled by Jesus
Jesus is the reason this collection of books was built
Jesus is the point of the collection

The center of the Nested Hierarchy

This is a theological nest I’m talking about, others may use a similar nested approach but with a different goal.

A good example would be a historical approach. Instead of trying to find the theological center of the biblical texts you might try to determine which books were written first. Then you could look at the Bible in terms of how each book is related to those that came before it.

You could do the same with language or culture as the center around which everything was built

To be honest most of us use some combination of these different different approaches

Me included

But the most important to me is the the theological nested hierarchy

My theological perspective is definitely Christian. There are others as well.

Jewish theology for example. You could say that Jewish theology places the first five books of the Hebrew Bible at the center and builds theological interpretation of the other books around them. Those first five books are also know as the Torah or the Pentateuch.

Even Muslims revere the Bible, though they view it with the lens of their prophet and their holy book at the center

My lens is Jesus
Every book points to him
Every conundrum and question that the diverse writers of the Bible attempt to address are fulfilled by him

All of my beliefs, my faith flow from this method of understanding the Bible

The Nested Hierarchy of the Bible leads me to a number of different conclusions, many that other Christians don’t share

About history
About neurology
About physics
About human sexuality
About any aspect of life that I relate to by way of the Bible

All these conclusions and more are the result of reading the Bible as a Nested Hierarchy

The term nested hierarchy is used in a variety of contexts

Brain science

Genealogy

Those Russian dolls that fit inside each other

Reading about these examples might help illustrate what I’m saying here better than I can

I know that thinking this way has led me to many conclusions that other Christians would disagree with. I certainly disagree with many Christians as a result of my nested approach to the Bible.

I guess that’s one point of this blog

We can’t find common ground if we don’t understand each other. If you want to understand my religious beliefs whether you’re Christian or not

Nested Hierarchy is my staring point

For someone you love

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It’s hard to talk about love & suffering

they don’t seem to go together well

especially when it comes to the idea of a God who loves but allows suffering

So my thought for this Easter is something I think parents will understand better than I do

If I asked:

What would you do for your children? How far would you go? To protect them? To keep them safe?

Most of the parents I know would have the same answer:

Anything
I’d do anything for my children

I think maybe that’s why suffering exists, because love means you’ll suffer for someone you love.

You’ll place someone’s needs above yours

Above your own life

This is My commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends

John 15:12-13 NLT

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A’ Chàisg sona
Ka hari Aranga
Kristos sotonnheton;
oriwiio tsi sotonnheton
hyvää pääsiäistä
M’shee ho dkom!
Happy Easter

Links to

the images above

the most direct offense against the Truth

I am definitely not a Roman Catholic but I do find that faith very intriguing.

I especially enjoy the faith and history of the Maronite Catholic Church, which is in the full communion with the Pope and the Roman Church.

But today I have a particular excerpt from their Catechism on my mind:

Lying is the most direct offense against the truth. To lie is to speak or act against the truth in order to lead someone into error. By injuring man’s relation to truth and to his neighbor, a lie offends against the fundamental relation of man and of his word to the Lord

-Catechism of the Catholic Church 2483

In today’s world, in our media forms and practices, I feel this is particularly applicable.

I am increasingly concerned about the modern practice of following news sources that we identify with ideologically and ignoring all others.

As well as searching out online resources we already agree with. Then accepting everything that source says as fact.
If you don’t double check those claims and they turn out to be false, you’ve been lied to.

And I’ve started to wonder if failing at our own due diligence in regard to the information we accept and spread falls under the same category as the lies described in the Catholic Catechism.

Doesn’t the spread of information we don’t know to be true or false count as a direct offense against the truth?

Doesn’t it injure our relation to truth and to our neighbors?

I believe that spreading information without verifying its accuracy is equivalent with gossip.

The Catechism denounces that as well:

Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury

-Catechism of the Catholic Church 2477

And even if the Catechism means nothing to you, turning to the Bible brings the condemnation to another level.

In this👇text the level of evil associated with gossip is unambiguous.
Because wow, I don’t see many protesters with signs that say “God Hates Gossip”

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind and to things that should not be done. They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, slanderers, God–haters, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious toward parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. They know God’s decree, that those who practice such things deserve to die—yet they not only do them but even applaud others who practice them.

Romans 1:28-32 NRSVCE

Some would say this👆passage is about the consequences of being homosexual. But after running through that list, I recommend having a long think about the thoughts and actions being condemned here. I’m sure you’ll agree that those traits are common everywhere across all demographics

I believe that spreading unverified information on the internet is clearly a form of gossip. And if you believe that what the Bible says is true, have a think about what it means to gossip.

What a person’s insides are like if they are willing to spread gossip.

Agree or don’t; think on it.

at least this one’s dead

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the death of my wife’s slayer
brought no comfort to me
now a shape for loneliness
for a dream

-Silver Bride by Amorphis

What happened

What really happened

In the aftermath of the school shooting in Maryland (best time to talk about it) I’ll point out one thing:

the resource officer didn’t prevent the shooting

The school resource officer killed the shooter, preventing further violence.

That’s to be commended.

He stopped the shooting
He did not prevent it from happening

And there is something I don’t believe

I don’t believe that the parents of the 2 injured in this incident

or the parents of all the maimed and deceased from other school shooting over the years

Can now rest from their sorrows
Can bury their pain
Can forget the horrible loss they’ve suffered
And will be at peace with the fact that their children will grow up with a terrible physical reminder of their experience

Or not grow up at all

all because this one is dead

I could be wrong
But I don’t think those parents will be all that comforted tonight

(and for what it’s worth I don’t celebrate anyone’s death. In situations like this it was unavoidable that the officer take one life to protect the lives of other. But a human being is dead. I find no pleasure in that fact no matter how justified)

Update

This incident seems to fall outside the definition of a “school shooting” where we’re usually talking about a mass shooting

This likely fits into the category of domestic violence

Which is also a problem.

Maybe we should talk about that too.

Update

And now Jaelynn Willey’s dead

I doubt it’ll come as much comfort to her parents as they miss her presence, that the man who shot her is dead.

Because the violence that man started was prevented from going any further

Which is great

But it wasn’t prevented

And now she’s dead
And no one wins
Not in this lifetime

We already know the solutions to the Opioid crisis

If you take one notable thought away from this post, I hope it’s this:

Drugs hijack an important part of the brain and it has a devastating effect on the rest of the brain. The chemicals and cells being hijacked can’t perform all their functions correctly and it takes away your ability to be yourself and control yourself. If we want to stop this the answer is multidisciplinary medical intervention.

The ventral tegmental area (VTA), the nucleus accumbens, and the prefrontal cortex

👆These brain parts are the most important element of the answer to addiction👆

I see/hear people say it all the time

“Addiction is not a disease!”
“It’s about selfishness!”
“Addiction a moral failure”

No it’s not. It’s a function of your brain.

“But the mind can-“

No it can’t
Your brain IS your mind

There’s no debate about this anymore. Maybe you could talk about other parts of your nervous system as components of your mind, that’s worth discussing.

Doesn’t change the fact that your mind is biological

Not spiritual

We may have a soul (I think so)

But whatever the soul is, it’s not your mind.

And your mind is where addiction happens.

Those chunks of the brain I listed above are part of the reward pathway.

It’s a simple part of your brain.
It has one simple function: it tells you that you need to do something again.
It says “What you’re doing is important! Do it again!!!”

It usually reinforces pretty important activities

“Eating is good! Do it again!!!”
“Water is good! Drink it again!!!”
“Sex is good! Have them babiesssssssssss”

Chemicals carry those messages from one cell to the next. The more chemicals that tell you “do that again!” the stronger the urge to do it again.

And that’s where addiction is a monster.

All the big ones; opioids, alcohol, cocaine, meth
All of the debilitating drugs

They all highjack that reward loop by increasing those chemicals that tell you to repeat a behavior.

But they don’t just increase them.

They hyper elevate the level of those chemicals beyond anything your brain could do on its own.

They create an urge that’s stronger than any activity you could engage in.

They don’t say:
“Do this again! It’s important!!!”

They say:

“DO THIS AGAIN AT ANY COST!!!”

“DO THIS AT ALL COST!!!”

“DO THIS AGAIN EVEN IF IT KILLS YOU!!!”

“DO THIS OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN BECAUSE NOTHING COULD EVER BE AS IMPORTANT AS THIS DRUG”

Fixing that pathway is not about willpower
It’s not about freewill
It’s about biology

Even though other parts of your brain are capable of rewriting that pathway, they can rarely do it to correct drug addiction because drugs are UNNATURALLY strong

Medicine,
Therapy,
Inpatient Care

These are the answer to fix that part of the brain

Then comes the dumb response:

“Well if that’s how it works then you should never start in the first place blah blah bla blah bla”

Great idea 👍

Too late

Thousands, millions are already addicted. They are our friends, our neighbors, our family members. They’re doing what the reward pathway tells them: these drugs are important enough to kill your self over.

People you have loved your whole life, people you KNOW are not selfish will ignore anything and everything in their lives. Because the pathway is high jacked. And it tells them what’s important. They lose the ability to tell themselves.

So go build a time machine if you think the answer is to make them “not start in the first place”

I say we help them now.

ASAP

Use education to help prevent more addiction. Absolutely
But help your loved ones in the throws of addiction NOW
Support medical intervention, public health policy, cheaper healthcare in general.

Because this won’t stop

I know that my brain is the way it is on purpose. It functions the way it does for a good reason. Those simple parts provide basic functions. The complex parts surrounding those simple parts help you make sure the simple goals are accomplished as efficiently and effectively as possible.

I wouldn’t know that👆if I was addicted

None of that works if the simple parts are highjacked. The complex parts just can’t overcome that invasion.

Because the brain is a nested hierarchy
I should probably explain what that is 🤷‍♀️

And why I named this website after it 🤔
Of course you could google it too

Whatever

Educate yourself
Don’t take my word for it
Find the information

And use it to help save your neighbor

Don’t judge; do have compassion

Ask yourself:
What does it look like to love your neighbors?

Be the one who shows them mercy
Mercy for these accosted humans is treatment

Not punishment

I’ve definitely tried to keep the information I’ve presented here as non-technical as possible

Because who likes boring?

Even so, the chemicals and brain cells and brain functions I’m referring to here are all very complex and have many different functions.

Go learn about them all if you’d like

It’s very interesting and I recommend it

Information

Is

Power

Use

It