Monday, September 8, 2014

A Hurdle Too High

This first section is a little heavy. Sorry, but I need to fit this in somewhere because it's been on my mind and that's partly why I have a blog; to occasionally write about such things.

Ours can be such a gruesome world.

The Sunni jihadist group ISIL have beheaded two western journalists in recent weeks and have threatened to do the same to others in their captivity if the U.S. doesn't stop airstrikes against them. Apparently, the videos are online but I'm not one that has any desire to see them. It's disturbing to think that any human being could be so ruthless.

But here's what's been troubling me just as much.

As I read and listen to what people say about the horrific nature of what ISIL is doing, about how Islam is such a violent religion, I can't help but think back to the origins of my religion and see some events that make ISIL's barbarism pale in comparison. In the Old Testament, God commanded the Israelites to do exactly what ISIL is doing to those who didn't believe as they did. Except in the OT, God didn't give them a chance to convert or be killed as ISIL has.

Samuel 15: 2-3: God commanded Saul and the Israelites, "This is what the Lord Almighty says: 'I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys'"

Deuteronomy 20: 16-18: However, in the cities of the nations the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. Completely destroy them, the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites--as the Lord your God has commanded you. Otherwise, they will teach you to follow all detestable things they do in worshiping their gods, and you will sin against the Lord your God.

I'm not excusing ISIL in any way. I'm just feeling a sense of lostness and confusion because if I'm honest with myself I see that at its core the origins of my religion very closely mirror what I'm seeing in the actions of ISIL. I'm left wondering how I can possibly be expected to accept and embrace that which was described in the scripture above? That was supposedly my God talking!

Reconciling what happened in the OT with the instruction of Jesus in the New Testament to love our enemies has become a hurdle too tall for me and I simply can't get over it. I have yet to hear anybody put forth any sort of explanation that doesn't require me to set aside my common-sense and just accept that what God did back then was just. I can't do that.

Moving on.

Rachel is in the Boundary Waters with Tony and two other friends for a ten-day camping experience. She was a little stressed about it before they left, concerned that she'd covered all the necessary angles to ensure a successful trip. I hope it's going well for them. So far the weather has been great with moderate temps and no rain. I don't think they could ask for better weather this time of year.

I would imagine they're mostly in the throes of cellphone withdrawal now but they should be through that phase before too much longer. Haha!

We've taken a little hiatus from glassblowing as the summer is winding down. I feel a need to be on my bike and just doing outdoorsy stuff as much as I can. There'll be plenty of time for Foci once the weather turns cooler.

Speaking of Foci; they won the People's Choice Award for "Best Attraction" at the Minnesota State Fair! Very cool! They're set up in the newly revamped West End Market area. We spent some time there during our time at the fair and it was buzzing with fairgoers. That was nice to see.

I've been putting out a hummingbird feeder for several years but I never seem to be able to attract any visitors to it other than bees. I moved it to a new location this year from the side of our house to a place on the deck but I still wasn't having any luck. I decided that maybe the problem was with the bottled concoction from Fleet Farm that I'd been using to fill it. I instead decided to try a recipe my mom has been using for years with great success. Hers is a common recipe for 4 parts water to 1 part sugar and it works!

We've now got a pair of 'hummers' frequenting our feeder and I'm really happy about that! I don't think they'll be around much longer before flying south for the winter so I set up my Sony video camera and my GoPro over the weekend to get a better look at them while I still can.

I can totally see myself in retirement being that guy who creates a hummingbird haven so busy with the little guys that I have to refill my feeders every morning or at least every other day. We'll see.


edlorah said...

Kevin- Awhile back I think we were talking about some interest you had in meditation. Did you find anything in that?

Just my own two cents, but if I've ever experienced God it's been in the silence of meditation, where nothing is said or though, and nothing needs to be said or thought.

It's a noisy God who seems to be everywhere in the world today. But I think we know differently and see that for what it is. take care, Ed

Kevin Gilmore said...

Ed, Yes, I've been doing meditation still. I got out of my routine a little this summer but I still feel drawn back to it and absolutely find it helpful.

It took meditation for me to realize how busy my mind is when I don't rein it in. There's much comfort and rejuvenation to be found in its quietness.

I agree, Ed...thanks for your comment.

Anonymous said...

Kevin, I understand your concern and confusion about how our two religions began... with both a violent and loving G-d. I believe no matter what you feel about the Hebrew Bible Old testament) and the Christian Bible (New testament) one can look at them in many ways. Just made up stories (by men) that were written long after the events happened. And that these were the exact words from G-d. This is the literal interpretation. This is what conservative, orthodox, fundamentalists look at to decide how they, and everyone else should conduct themselves. Except of course almost none of those who profess to be following the words of G-d, actually do. Then there are people who might, or might not actually believe what is written down, but make adjustments for time, and different ways of attaining the general ideas set forth. So, no more animal sacrifices, for example. And there's plenty of the other 613 laws/rules that these people no longer follow. And then there are many followers who just look at these books as stories people wrote about to make sense of what had happened or was happening. They look to the books as offering guidance on how to live a good, just, fair and compassionate life.

ISIL seems like they profess to be a religious faction, from the fundamentalist side, but really are no more than out of work, often uneducated, thugs who are greedy and vicious. Most can't truly be doing this in the name of religion... even if they claim to be. This isn't what religion is about. You know this, I know this, and so do most others. What people did in the name of their faith long ago is different now. We have become educated, more understanding, better able to control our emotions and have empathy for others who may be different than ourselves. That reptilian side of our makeup still comes through.

If everything happened the way it was written... that was then, and this is now. Funny how with all our better communications and media changes G-d chooses not to write an updated version for the Big 3 monotheistic religions. Or maybe G-d has and no ones listening.

I believe just thinking and discussing what to believe, or what not to believe is more than most folks are willing to do.

And let us know when you're back in the studio. I'd like to find a time to come for a visit and see your work and how you do it.

Peace Rich Kessler

Kevin Gilmore said...


I always operated with the understanding that everything that was written in the bible was true and was meant to be there. It wasn't until relatively recently that I've decided for myself that there's very little likelihood that man didn't get his own slant on things within those words. In addition to that there are varying translations that we have to try and make sense of. It would be really nice if everything in the bible is the way God intended for it to be but I don't believe it.

So, where does that leave me? I can't say. All I know for sure is that I've never had more questions about my faith than I do now.

I didn't intend to go political here but this is an important point for me. I saw how I was duped by the propaganda being put out by right-wing media...Limbaugh, Hannity and the rest. I actually bought into it for longer than I care to admit. Given that, isn't it also a possibility that I've been accepting another lie foisted upon me by those in the church, pretty much the same people who make up the conservative crowd I once rubbed elbows with? That's been of concern to me lately. Maybe that seems a little paranoid but when I step back and see the nationalism on display in our churches and the connecting of the American flag with the church and patriotism and all the rest I get a little confused.

I have a good friend who's a Jehovah's Witness and I really admire how they live their they don't fly the flag or recite a pledge of allegiance and the rest. Their churches (Kingdom Halls) are not at all elaborate. I think that's the way God would want it. No, I'm not becoming a JW but when I contrast the way they conduct themselves with the mega-church I've most recently been a part of I see a huge difference and it concerns me. It concerns me that I've bought into another lie about God and how we do such a good job of making him in our own image.

Yeah, you have to wonder why all of the prophecy appears to have stopped and why we're left without an updated version of the bible. Or better yet, couldn't it have miraculously been written with additional instructions for an age that the people then couldn't relate to but that later generations would be able to use?