Exodus 16-19

Gluttony, and the waste that goes with it, continues to happen.  There doesn’t seem to be anything we can do to stop it.  Maybe it is just the nature of human beings in general.  In my modernised western world country there should be enough food to go round and yet tons of the stuff are thrown away daily, obesity is growing, and conversely increasing numbers of people find themselves having to access food banks for the bare necessities.  I like the notion that everyone should be able to access what they need and only what they need.  Unfortunately in today’s world, for the majority of us, we need to spend money in exchange for food.  That’s still no excuse for those to waste what they are able to acquire.

I grew up hearing the saying that ‘the Sabbath is a day of rest’, usually from my mum when she would sit down after Sunday lunch had been eaten and do no more – it was time to fend for ourselves.  No longer is the Sabbath a day of rest for many, even those with faith.  In today’s world, there is virtually no difference between the Sabbath or any other day of the week.  The world, or at least our little corner of it, is expected to be open 24 hours to cater to whatever we want to do right then.  While part of me thinks this is not necessarily a bad thing so the demand is spread and not concentrated, and anyway why should people who don’t believe be expected to observe, I can’t help thinking that we all need to take time to rest, and switch off and get away from the constant noise which assaults us daily.

Exodus 12-15

I had heard of Passover, not really knowing anything about it.  I’ll be interested to see how it is referred to throughout the rest of my journey through the Bible, and thinking of religious festivals that I have commonly marked or celebrated, will hopefully come to some conclusion as it why this is not celebrated as widely as others.

Reading of the journey of the Israelites out of Egypt, I’m reading it in a different light to that which I may have read it had I done so only a year or so ago.  I watched a programme on television recently, I forget now exactly what, when the crossing of the Sea of Reeds was analysed as possibly the first recording of a tsunami.  It’s one way of making sense of the world and plausible; whether I believe either version of events is another matter entirely.

Exodus 5-11

Moses asks the Lord why he ill-treats his people.  It is a very good question that I don’t have an answer for.  Being challenged can certainly make us stronger, more rounded and dynamic individuals but there is no need for ill-treatment.  People have indeed been made in the Lord’s image, and ill-treat other people daily.  Again, I come to that question, to what purpose?

If we are to take this section of the Bible literally, then I’m going to scream inconsistencies again.  If all the Egyptians animals die from disease (Exodus 9:6), how can they then be covered in boils (Exodus 9:10) and then killed by hail (Exodus 9:25).

Exodus 1-4

When will humans ever learn?  Ethnic cleansing, for want of a better phrase, is happening right now in the Middle East, Nigeria, and elsewhere that is less publicised.  We are not all the same, and quite frankly why would we want to be?  I may be naïve but I really don’t understand why we can’t live in some sort of harmony alongside others.  I cannot believe it is ever right to harm another person whatever the supposed justification.

That people need proof to believe in some things but then not necessarily others is intriguing.  From my own personal point of view, I quite happily believe without question that there is molten lava at the centre of our planet although I’ve obviously never been there, but someone is going to have some persuading to do to make me believe that there are other planets with life out there way beyond our solar system.

Genesis 37-50

The story of Joseph, but not completely as I thought I knew it.  Of course, artistic licence is used when creating a show and it’s the writer’s interpretation.  I have read this as a long section but I felt there was really no convenient place to break in Joseph’s story and I’m not sure how much I can learn from the story of Joseph and his family.  I’ve only really felt that you are being taught you will be rewarded for being honest and putting your faith in God, and punished for wrong-doing, which is not new knowledge.  We think there are some complicated families around now: Jacob’s is just as much so.  It seems a common theme that is not learnt from that no matter how difficult it is to do otherwise it is a dangerous thing for a parent to show favouritism for one child over another.

Genesis 32-36

I’ve been confused by this section and not sure what to take from it.  There is much wandering, literal and of my mind, and twice Jacob is told he will now be called Israel but yet continues to be referred to as Jacob – no wonder I can’t recall ever being aware of this until now.  Disputes over land have always been with us humans since time began.  Our need to stake our claim has caused much trouble and bloodshed.  As a species we seem to fall into two groups which are at complete odds with each other – those who travel far and wide always looking to explore and find new places to call home, and those who are not happy unless they are in their familiar place to which they feel a territorial right to.  Tending to be more in the first group myself, I don’t understand why many people in the second group feel so threatened by the those of us in the first.

Genesis 26-31

Should you make a bargain with God for reward in return for your faith as Jacob does in Genesis 28, verses 20-22?  Plenty of people do, even today.  But then someone who does is setting the goalposts from the start and seems suspicious and lacking in faith to me.  If you have faith in something, surely there shouldn’t be any question of bargaining to cement that faith.

I had this vague notion growing up of giving a tenth of income into your household away, whether to the church or charity.  This is presumably where this stems from.  While I do give to charity, the thought of giving a tenth of my household income away is a little frightening.  It would compromise my lifestyle quite significantly when the amount already paid in taxes I can do nothing about; to keep a roof over my head; and to feed and clothe is taken into consideration.  But then this would be faith: If you could give a tenth away without worry about meeting other obligations and still have all the essentials to live.  I guess I’ll lacking that right now and it certainly gives me something to think about.

Most of us know the story of Joseph through Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s musical, but here we have some of the background of family and factions to follow.  And it’s hardly surprising there were factions.

Genesis 20-25

I can’t find much to learn from in this section of Genesis.  However, I am struck by the offering of sacrifices.  The word was used a lot by interviewers during the Rio 2016 Olympics when interviewing athletes after their event, and I felt was overused and on the whole in the incorrect context.  In general I found it hard to accept that these Olympians had made many sacrifices at all.  They were doing what they wanted to do.  They had not given up much that they may have wanted to do instead in order to follow their dream.  Maybe they had been unable to be at a family event or that of a close friend because they were training or competing but if they had to give up drinking, eating certain foods, etc., were unable to buy certain material items, was this really a sacrifice at all?  It’s more likely their family have made more sacrifices than the Olympians themselves, giving up their own dreams or amending their own plans.  Being an Olympian takes a certain type of selfishness, and I am not condemning them for this as after all I enjoyed watching them compete, but a sacrifice would be giving up something they loved or their dream for another or others.

Genesis 17-19

Marking someone’s body irreversibly against their will is something we would condemn in just about any context in today’s world with Human Rights legislation.  A baby cannot give consent.  It leads me to wonder how their parents justify it to themselves when there is no medical reason for it.  If an adult wants to, then that is their decision to make, but a baby cannot give consent.  Whatever the culture, heritage, reason, whether circumcision, tattoo, piercing, what gives someone the right to change someone else’s appearance to mark them, make them the same and fit in.  There seems to be this preoccupation with conforming to some pre-conceived notion of what is ‘normal’.  What are people so fearful of?  All of us are unique, none of us are the same including identical twins.  None of us is ‘normal’.  There is no ‘normal’.  We are a unique combination of our experiences, knowledge and thoughts.  Yes, we need to be accountable if we harm others, but there are billions of ways to live a life and we should be free to choose that for ourselves.

It struck me after first posting this post, and not being a student of the English language, but does the word sodomy derive from Sodom as mentioned here in the Bible?

Genesis 11-16

Isn’t part of the problem of living in today’s world a lack of understanding of others.  Language is only part of it, and people were always and are always going to disagree but wouldn’t the world be a nicer place to live if we could only discuss issues with each other and not turn to violence.  When I speak of violence I speak of mankind in general; I am a pacifist myself and cannot understand the need in others for violence.  We have been given the wonderful tool of language, whichever that may be.  Yes, it would be easier if we all used the same one, but then diversity makes us richer and should allow for innovation and progress.

Judaism is not my faith and I don’t pretend to have much knowledge of it although I have come across people in my life who are Jewish.  Clearly though in this part of the Bible we are now entering where major aspects of that faith stem from.  Now is not the time for me to do any further research into it though as from what little I know, I feel this could never be my faith especially as I was not born into it.  Of course, I could be wrong about that.