Monday, January 30, 2017

Rapture and why I'm not bothered by it / Missu

Our imaginings is correlated to our world view.
The thought of the elect being lifted up to heaven to be met by the heavenly host is a powerful image for the Christians. This is what the elect hope for; this is the eschaton, the final event in the drama, the climax, the be and all of the faith, to be judged and to be deemed deserving of Heaven and all its glory and reward. Immortality! To infinity and beyond!

I have been looking forward to the rapture since I was converted, but upon becoming an adult, the excitement fizzled. Since then I have not lost sleep over it. As a child who was bombarded by eschatology at a young age, like most church kids, I guess,  rapture became one of those things that may not come in my lifetime like the millions other Christians who have died in anticipation of the second coming from 33AD to the present, 2017 CE. 

I have come to the to the conclusion that when it happens, it will happen, no need to lose sleep over it. Relax and plant apples as Luther advised. It’s like an earthquake (the biblical analogy is thief but there are burglar alarms and CCTV now, so an earthquake is better) if it will occur, it will, nothing we can do about it, but we can prepare for it or if one is rich enough he/she can can go live in a space station where there's no earthquake, but better be prepared for radiations. 

But it is easier to prepare for the rapture than for an earthquake. There's a formula: have faith, pray the "prayer" with tears if possible, go to  church, be a model citizen, etc., the whole ethics thing. I'm talking about the method, as to the execution, I mean, from experience, waking up on Sundays to go to church is one hell of an ordeal. 


I mean, this is an alternate take on it.
Another things is the idea of exclusivity. If the Roman Catholics believed that they are the elect and it so happens that they are, doesn't bother me a bit if they all go levitating towards the heaven. I'll be happy for them, maybe I'd catch a Jimi Hendrix performance with 99% people condemned to hell.

I mean, there a lot of us who will be left behind like the Mohammedans, Buddhists, Hindus, Pagans, Baptists, Methodists, etc. It could go other ways, anyways, like maybe it's the INC, or the ADD, or the Baptists, the evangelicals which ever way. But exclusivity dictates that only a group will go to heaven and to meet the Creator in rapture. If the heavenly plan is to save the world but  only about.001% of the world's population responded to the call and the 99.99% condemned, doesn't bother me at all. What is bothering is to see children dying because of wars, poverty, catastrophes, terrorism, religious fanaticism or fundamentalism, global warming, etc. 


We are in the information and communication technology age
an update of the image of rapture would be in digital format.
My imagination runs wild whenever the idea of rapture is mentioned behind the pulpit. Would the elect be literally or physically lifted up to heavens in flesh and blood? How about those who are inside buildings, wouldn’t the roof prevent them from hovering up?  Their faces being squashed by the levitating force versus the solidity of the ceilings , etc.

Of course it could be that elect will become porous like Flash who has the ability to go through walls by vibrating his molecules at a certain frequency blah, blah, blah This could very well be, the atom of elect's physical bodies' vibrating through some mystical divine physics are able to pass through material obstacles, even lead lined ceilings like in nuclear missile control centers, there are elects there, surely.

Or the elect could be teleported a la Star Trek. Picture you are talking to friend, who is an elect (of course you already know that because he belongs to a certain church), and then the rapture occurred, suddenly he is disintegrating before your eyes as molecules and atoms in binary bits vaping into God knows where. I guess the heavenly host could use quantum entanglement principle in using this method.

I am not making fun of any doctrines here but these are the actual thought process that happens in my head during sermons. I try to turn it off but there’s no switch.

But has anybody theologized or theorized about the rapture methods? Naahhhh…I guess it’s useless to speculate about these things.

Of course to the reverends, these are childish stuffs because for them what the Bible says, is what the Bible say. I mean they are not enamored by the idea of splitting atoms and manipulating the time-space fabric. They are more into the adult and spiritually important matter like splicing the soul from the spirit.

By the way, I'm a Southern Baptist, I just like to make fun of these things. Hehehehee


Okay. Read the analyses and have even given my own take on the Q and A to add to the multitudes of armchair beauty experts, like me. I guess it’s easy and natural to analyse and give opinions about what happened in hindsight, it’s easy to fault Maxine, our Miss Universe bet. But after the initial moments of disappointment, when the smoke cleared up, she is still our Miss Universe and she did her best. If I were in her shoes, I would be still thinking about the last words of the question, my head still conjuring up thoughts and words to express them, I think I would have only said “Bonsai” before the timer rang.

What is the mark of the beast? Is it 666, or 777, or SSS? What numeric symbols will Satan use, Hindu-Arabic? Jewish? Greek? Chinese?

One thing that makes my head paused and then grind is when I hear a preacher talk about numbers. There’s the fear that the social security number, credit card number, the HUMID card, etc. are omens of the end of days and that these numbers are evil because it portends the arrival of the beast. In the preacher's belief, these numbers are the precursor to the mark of the beast, the dreaded 666.

The dreaded mark

Try as hard as I can to switch off my critical thinking head (or Satan’s voice) I cannot help but think.

Christianity has its own numerology, the belief that numbers have mystical relationship with the divine. 

There are a lot of numbers mentioned in the Bible and some of them are:

3 for resurrection, trinity
4 for the four corners of the earth
6 for imperfection
7 for the seven days of creation/perfection.
12 for the twelve tribes
40 for the forty days after Jesus rose from the dead
And so on.

These numbers have been studied, decoded and interpreted by laymen and scholars of all  ages and theological persuasions. Because these numbers have been granted mystical and spiritual meanings, not by the Scripture itself but by the interpreters and the mystics, it sprouted mysticism and superstitions. But I would leave it at that. If you’re interested about what these numbers mean and the mysteries behind them, try Wikipedia for a start. I will not dwell on the numerology, instead I will ask some basic linguistic questions especially about the mark of the beast, the dreaded 666.

First is it the number, the literal figure or the concept behind the number that really matters.

Numbers are symbols which in themselves are meaningless. Think of it as a currency or money that we use to exchange ideas instead of merchandise. Whatever the origins of these symbols are doesn’t really matter in the discussion, but the fact is that they exist and they are part of our language and for each symbols, through social agreement or laws, etc. are assigned values. So, like currencies, its value is limited to those who are participants in these agreement of value assignments and naturally, like currencies, these numerical symbols have no meaning to the people who does not recognize or assign value to these figures, they are not participant to the language game (Wittgenstein).

1. In what language was the Bible written?

The Old Testament is written in Hebrew. So, what are the numerical symbols in Hebrew?

Let us see the chart below:

Supposed Satan and his cohorts arrived and started stamping people with the figures resembling that of 777, which is really 666 in Hebrew, the language the OT was written, which on the other hand corresponds to the number of perfection in our modern numeric system as written in the English Bibles. How should the common non-Hebrew literate Christians respond? I mean, I hope they would not line up to be marked because they have been told that 7 is God’s number!

Of course, since the Bible is pretty old, these numeric symbols maybe different from the chart, it could be similar to number 4, who cares, but the idea is there. Is it about the actual number or is it the concept, the idea behind it?

Lets try the Greek, the language of the New Testament.

According to the Greek chart, the equivalent of the Hindu-Arabic 6 is similar to our “s”. So, when the beast and his cohorts arrives and started stamping people with SSS or what looks like it, what should be the response since it is really 666 but the Beast ,because he’s Satan and he's smart and found a way to get around the number rules, used the Greek numeric symbol to dupe Christians into being stamped because they have been brainwashed to fear the Hindu-Arabic  number 666.

The argument could go on using the same line of reasoning, should the Chinese watch out for 666 or Chinese characters corresponding to the number 666, the Japanese, Koreans, Thais, and other people that do not use the English alphabet and the Hindu-Arabi numeral system.

Of course, it could be argued that since the Hindu-Arabic is what is commonly used in the world especially in transactions, it is only logical that 666 would be used. But then this proves that it is not the literal symbol, number, that really counts, because the original number is written in Hebrew or Greek or Aramaic which is translated into the Hindu-Arabic characters, then it is all about the idea behind the number. I mean, I could go on…but do the math.

Of course there's a real, factual, historical explanation for the number 666. Well, you dont have to go to the library and take out a tome about it, just google it.

Now, am I the only who have asked these questions. I supposed not...But personally, whether it is 666, 777, 888, 999...doesn't matter personally to me. Evil is not as mysterious as some would have it, evil  does not have the need for mystery. It is out there in the glaring light of daylight and the dark of night, identifiable by the naked eye and by the blind, slavery, war, poverty, apathy, religious fanaticism, bigotry, etc.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Firecracker names and what they say...

The year 2016 is about to end and I'm thinking about something to blog about. It's been a long time since I have blogged about something (or nothing) and I don't how to start the ball rolling again.

Anyway, I have noticed that yearly the amount of firecrackers are decreasing. I remember about two decades ago when my friends and I would start the new year revelry early by firing off firecrackers as early as September but compared to now, it's only a few hours before new year's eve when the intermittent explosion could be heard. Of course, I'm talking about our neighborhood and the case may be the opposite with others. 

But on the other hand, the size and the power of today's firecrackers has evolved to the weapon's grade level, which according to some police officers, is comparable to improvised explosive devices (IED) used by terrorists. Legally,  firecrackers should not exceed the 0.2 grams gunpowder limit allowed by RA 7183 and firecrackers that exceed this limit is illegal and should be confiscated by the Police but judging from the size and power of the new generation of firecrackers, it's obvious that they contain more than the 1.3 tablespoon limit. 

Anyway, the branding of these super-firecrackers is something to think about. It's sick, funny kind of sick, really, because most of these brands are named after the hottest issues of the day from supertayhpoons, sports, to local and international politics. When Bin Laden was the most wanted man by the US, a firecracker was named after him, then there's Manny Pacquiao to pay tribute to the pambansang kamao; Yolanda after the supertyphoon, Napoles and now Goodbye Delima. There was even a "Crying Bading" which smacks of homophobia.

What do these brand say? (to justify the title of the post). Nothing. I guess the manufacturers of these firecrackers think that the best way to end the year is to blast these issues into smithereens, with the exception of Manny Pacquiao, of course. Or they think they are just being funny.

When I was teenager, I used to love firecrackers and the noise of new years eve. Heck, we used to fire my father's 5 inch GI pipe "kalburo" (smelled like rotten eggs) powered canon which used to knock out our neighbor's fluorescent lamp because of the vibrations it created. It also used to knock off the roosting chickens in our talisay trees. My friends and I loved that cannon and we used to fantasize that we were firing a 150 mm howitzer by putting cans and coconut on its nuzzles as projectiles, unfortunately it got rusted and I had it sold to the junk shop.

But now I'm older, I guess my eardrums got sensitive because of age hehehehe. God, how I wish that we celebrate the changing of the year in total silence, in reflection.