Again, it’s been a while since I posted one of these, but I’m getting there, I promise.
I’ve had to read this chapter several times through to really make sense of it. On the face of it, it just seems to stand out strangely against the rest of the book of judges. What we have here is this bloke called Micah.
Now Micah’s Mum, apparently, had a fair bit of cash – 1100 shekels of silver – in today’s terms, around about $10,000 worth – which went missing. Ruing the loss of her silver, she curses, and Micah suddenly shows up with it, saying that he was the one who took it.
When I was a kid, I stole money out of Mum or Dad’s wallets … not regularly, per se, but a fair few times. One one occasion, I thought it would be really clever to hide it in my sock, like a shin guard, just pressed up against my leg with the sock pulled up over it. It wasn’t necessarily my best idea. As I’m asking Mum if I can go out and play (read, spend money on lollies and chocolates), she notices this little blue patch peeking out over my sock and asks what it is. Let’s just point out, there’s not a lot of things that can be substituted for a $10 note sticking out of your footwear. I was sprung, and boy, did I get in trouble.
I certainly didn’t get blessed – well, unless you’re Eliphaz in Job.
Blessed is the man whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. ~ Job 5:17
Micah’s Mum, though, responds when her son brings back her silver, with, “The LORD bless you, my son!”
Not only that, she then decides to consecrate it to God, and asks Micah to make a cast image, an idol, out of it. Which Micah does, not only that, but he finds a wandering Levite and invites him to come and live in the house and be his own personal priest – he’ll get a salary, clothing, food and a roof over his head. Sounds like a sweet deal, really.
So hence my confusion over this chapter. Everythign seems to be working nicely.
And Micah said, “Now I know that the LORD will be good to me, since this Levite has become my priest.” ~ Judges 16:13
Then I was reading through it the third time, and finally something jumped out at me.
In those days, Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit. ~ Judges 16:6
Isn’t this kind of like the world today? We’ve built this society that becomes more and more about doing what we see fit. As long as I’m not harming anyone else, then what do my actions matter? If it feels good, do it. Or even the one that I stood and lived by for several years: An’ ye harm none, do what ye will.
And for a humanistic form of morality, this is fine. If there is no God, then this is actually perfect. In fact, morality of this level still demonstrates that there is something more to us than just the physical need to survive, because in reality, without God, without something beyond what the physical, there’s no need to even concern ourselves with the harm of anyone else. Do as you see fit becomes simply do what’s best for yourself. Really, without any higher purpose, why should I even be concerned with inflicting pain, suffering or death on anyone else if it best serves my purposes?
And if you want to argue it, I’ve seen more than a few times, the meme come up on Facebook saying something along the lines of, “Like this if there are people alive today just because you don’t want to go to jail.”
That’s not about not harming others, it’s about keeping yourself safe. I don’t think there are many people in the world who haven’t at least thought once in their life that something would be good to do if it weren’t for the negative consequences they would potentially suffer.
Without leadership, the Israelites built this culture of everyone doing as he saw fit, but that left the door wide open for corruption to come in – not only to evey day you and me, but as this shows, even the priests could be corrupted against some of the clear instructions that God had given: like no idols.
There is a higher morality than what we come up with. There is a higher morality than the whims of society. We shouldn’t all just act as we see fit, because we don’t see clearly.
Review: Dreamlander by K. M. Weiland
It’s not that frequent that I reach the conclusion of a book and want to slap the author for not finishing it the way I want to. When it does, though, I have to recognize that they’ve achieved one of the highest goals that any author strives for: engagement.
It took me a lot longer to read K. M. Weiland’s Dreamlander than I would normally take. Perhaps it was because it’s the first time I’ve read a novel of this length on an e-Reader; perhaps it was the personal issues that I was going through during the time I was reading or perhaps it was the time taken to connect minds with a new author – whatever it was, it took me some time to really get into the novel, but the persistence was worth it.
Dreamlander is based on an intriguing concept that I’ve found myself wondering at times also: What if our dreams are actually occurring in another world, or parallel universe and our consciousness slips back and forth between the two as we wake and sleep? This isn’t Inception in book form, this is a thought that, when I fall asleep, a completely different character wakes up in another world. When we’re born, we’re born in two places: Earth and this secondary world of Lael, connected by our spirit and witnessing what our other self does in dreams.
One thing I found myself wondering was how to make that work logistically with my sleep patterns.
Weiland adds to this by creating a hero: Every so often, one person, a “Gifted” will actually travel between the worlds. Their consciousness from Earth will wake up in Lael, allowing them to, essentially, ‘walk between the worlds.’
Enter Chris Redston: Writer, cynic, skeptic and – frankly – whiny, annoying little brat.
Seriously, this might be the other reason why I took so long to actually get through this novel, because almost every time Chris does something I want to slap him, too. Which is why I was surprised that, by the end of the novel, I was so engrossed in the tale and so passionate about seeing things wind up how I wanted them to end. To do that, you have to care about the characters, you have to love them – and somehow Chris managed to endear himself enough to me by the end of the story that I actually cared what happened to him.
This is obviously thanks to some talented writing by Weiland. It’s not easy to make an anti-hero like Chris loveable to the reader – especially when so much of his time is spent trying to convince himself that it’s not real, or that he’s not good enough, or that he can’t succeed. Instead of being the hero that we all wish we could be, Chris Redston is the hero we’d probably turn out to be: Doubtful, insecure and completely lacking in anything resembling confidence.
The story itself is one, like so many in the Fantasy and Science Fiction genres, where the fate of the world is in the balance. There are times where the setting and the ‘almost-apocalypse’ events actually get in the way of things, causing some detachment. I found myself needing to just step back from things a few times, especially throughout the climax – which seemed to go on and on. And on. And on. When you’re riding the crest of a wave for that long, the actual breaking point ends up feeling more like a reprieve than a climax, and this is pretty much what happened with me.
Again, maybe this has something to do with the e-Reader against a real book. I didn’t have the same knowledge of the end coming because with a book, you feel those pages under your right thumb getting lower and lower, whereas there’s nothing with an e-Reader, but what I found was that the last few chapters were just this cacophony of excitement. It was a little overwhelming to try and deal with so much happening, and no time for me, as the reader, to breathe.
Nonetheless, Dreamlander is a story that succeeds in what I consider to be the important aspects of writing: It engages the audience, it contains relatable (if sometimes frustrating) characters, and it makes you think beyond just the words you’re reading. At the end of the day, I enjoyed it – and that’s probably the most important thing of all.
I was recently talking with a friend of mine about the abortion legislation going through the Tasmanian Parliament this week. As it was, we were spending time with her horses – one of whom is pregnant at the moment. She made the observation that if she was to suddenly decide that she couldn’t afford to feed both the mother and the foal, or simply didn’t want to, many people would be horrified if she decided to have that pregnancy terminated. They would offer to take the foal, to prevent the abortion happening, right?
I’m looking at getting a dog some time soon. I figure now that I won’t worry about the expense of spaying her – why bother? If she does happen to get knocked up by one of the other neighbourhood dogs, I’ll just arrange to get her an abortion.
Sounds pretty callous, right?
Are you thinking I’m a bad person? Cruel, even?
I am livid, right now, that the Tasmanian Government lower house has decided to approve the passage of the abortion legislation. I am disgusted by the fact that they would treat a human life as just a medical condition.
This is what they are saying. Pregnancy? Nah, it’s no different to cancer, or a tumour. We’ll treat it – just cut it out of you.
(For the idiots who need this explained: I’m using an example, and not stating that I think all abortions literally involve ‘cutting out’ the baby. However, if you want some reading, try this link – but fair warning, this is pretty graphic in its descriptions. http://www.lifesitenews.com/abortiontypes/)
This is what the Tasmanian Labor Party and the Tasmanian Greens would have us believe – that pregnancy’s nothing more than a condition. It is nothing but a medical condition that needs treating or curing.
It makes me sick to think that we have a government in place in this state who gives so little value to human life.
And what’s even worse, is the attitude behind it – one that saw a huge number of people loudly calling against the passage of the legislation. This, unfortunately, I can’t blame just on people like Lara Giddings, Michelle O’Byrne, Nick McKim, Cassy O’Connor et al. It’s the greatest flaw of our Australian parliamentary system: Representative democracy – but only of those who agree with the elected official. Ignore the voices of the majority – the numbers I saw suggested an 80/20 split between those who called against passing the legislation and those who wanted to see it pass. Last I checked, 20% wasn’t a majority, but then, to the Greens especially, that 20% are the only voices worth listening to.
I can only pray that the Upper House in Tasmania have a stronger attitude, one where democracy and the requests, voices and wishes of the people who they are elected to represent, come above their own personal beliefs and attitudes.
Lara Giddings described children protesting against the legalization and government-sanctioning of murder and infanticide as abhorrent.
Ms Giddings, let me tell you what is abhorrent – the unjust, unmerciful murder of the most innocent parts of our society. You, and those in this government who ignored the people you are elected to represent, should be totally and utterly ashamed.
I read an interesting quote in a good friend’s blog earlier today:
Have you ever wondered why people will say they’re having a baby when they’ve been trying to fall pregnant and the pregnancy test comes back positive but when they’re having an abortion, it’s just a foetus? ~ Dermot Cottuli – “The Question No Pro-Choicer Will Answer”
Unlike the marriage debate, I haven’t probably been as vocal on the discussion raging around Tasmania recently since Michelle O’Byrne tried to introduce new abortion legislation. That’s not because I don’t have a view on it, but rather because it’s so much harder for me to tackle this issue from a purely intellectual point of view, which is where I like to take my perspective from as much as possible, especially when publicly vocalising it like I do in writing here.
But here I am, getting involved and putting forward my thoughts on this.
I know that I’m not a woman – I think that’s pretty clear, but just in case anyone needed clarification, I’m not. Therefore I’m not entitled to an opinion, right? Wrong. This is also my country. This is also my state. I plan on having children one day and what we do with our society now is going to be what impacts on them as they grow up. The world that I help to create is the world that my children, my nieces and nephews, your children will grow up in.
This is why I stand against it, because it’s not just about me – it’s about everyone. It’s about the world we create, the society we form and the legacy we leave for our children.
I don’t like, though, to say I’m standing against abortion. What I’m doing is standing for life. I loved a meme that I saw going around Facebook over the past few weeks, saying that we define the end of life being when the heart stops beating, then why do we not define the start of life as being when it starts beating?
As a part of writing this, I’ve just done some reading about the early stages of pregnancy. The baby’s heart starts beating at around 6 weeks – which is actually, apparently, only the four week mark after actual conception. The child is, at this stage, not even the size of the eraser on the end of a pencil, but it has a heartbeat, a brain, a nervous system and even the beginnings of facial features developing. This is four weeks after the conception.
Reading this just makes me realize how miraculous it is.
This is a life.
A friend and I were speaking recently, and she made the comment to me that when her parents realized she was sexually active, they simply confronted her with the question of, was she ready to have a baby?
Another friend commented on my Facebook post about how 12 year olds shouldn’t be protesting at anti-abortion rallies, because they are too young. Yet that same friend commented only minutes later that they would be providing information to children the same age on how to put on a condom to help curtail the potential spread of STIs. Nothing to do with the most important consequence of unprotected sex: the child.
This is such a deep topic, but ultimately it’s simple. A baby is a baby. I’ll say that again: A baby is a baby. That heart starts beating only four weeks after conception. At the moment of conception, that zygote has 46 chromosomes – it is a blending of the mother and father’s genes.
It is not an inconvenience. It is not a medical procedure. It is a responsibility.
We have a responsibility to our children, both now and in the future, to provide them with life, love, liberty and a legacy.
Wrong is wrong. As adults we like to muddy the waters, we like to create grey areas.
And just to conclude, I want to share one final thing. I have a very good friend who, several years ago, was the victim of rape. She fell pregnant; she carried the baby to term, birthed her and has raised her to be one of the most entertaining, beautiful children I know. When I asked her if I could share this story, she told me that, “I honestly feel God gave her to me as a testimony.”
The testimony of that great friend, and her amazing daughter, speaks so many more volumes to me on this topic than anything else.
A child is a gift, people. It is the most beautiful blessing that we can hope to receive. It’s not something to be taken lightly; it’s not something to be considered an inconvenience or an unfortunate consequence.
If you don’t want a child, don’t get pregnant. If you don’t want to get pregnant, don’t have sex. It’s actually really simple.
I want to share something a great friend of mine put on their Facebook today:
Okay, I know very few read this but here you go. Marriage is preceded by monogamy. Marriage has many different definitions depending on where you were born, what culture you were brought up in and those around you. So in that respect Marriage is the ceremony that celebrates a monogamist couple. Monogamy is your own choice. Why is it now that we have to pass laws about a ceremony and recognition of someone’s choice of monogamy and who they choose to be with? Depending on your culture your answers will vary. All this is now is legislating love and we will continue to try and set rules and boundaries for ourselves just so that we can break out of the box, take the box down and put a new one in its place. That is how we all grow. Some boxes take longer to take down than others; some boxes still aren’t being taken down while others have already been demolished several times. When this has all passed, there will be a new crusade, and people fear for what it might include. Love is love. In the end, it is the love that matters and the laws that are for the people should be by the people. Not just by their representatives. ~ Dani Reimers
This is essentially the perspective that I’ve tried to get people to understand when I’ve been discussing the topic of marriage over the past year or two that it’s been at the forefront of the agenda. The problem isn’t with marriage itself; it’s with the definition of what marriage actually is. I wrote an article last year where I said that the biggest problem in this whole debate was that people were arguing over two sides of completely different coins.
And until we’ve got a clear definition of what we’re actually talking about, there’s no point continuing the debate. I’m serious, we might as well all pick up our bat and ball and go home, because there is absolutely no progress to be made without that first step.
Just like the two sides of different coins, we’re busy arguing about the dimensions and appearance of two different boxes, and neither side actually seems to be able to get that point.
The entire thing is only exacerbated by people with very little idea – and even less reason to be concerned – getting involved.
So just forget the boxes altogether. Instead of arguing over who should be allowed into which box, why don’t we just create a new one?
To do this, we first have to ask what is it that proponents of same-sex marriage actually want? A ceremony? A marriage certificate? A family?
None of this requires any change to legislation. Any couple can create a ceremony; they could even acknowledge the ceremony with a pretty sheet of paper that they sign. That couple can go out and have a family – whether by natural means, IVF, adoption or fostering. All of these actions are completely able to be done without any change to legislation. The only thing that requires a change in legislation is the legal recognition of a couple.
So why do we have a bunch of people screaming out about how all love is equal? As my friend said, love cannot be legislated – and certainly never should be legislated! Love has nothing to do with the law – and that’s whether you’re straight, gay, bi, polygamous or anything else. The fact that you love your partner isn’t going to be magically changed by the fact that you have a marriage certificate and some record in the local office of Births, Deaths and Marriages. That little record in that government office isn’t going to make any difference whatsoever to your love or your relationship. The only difference it makes is to the legal recognition of your relationship.
So this is my theory – create a new box. If you want, don’t even call it marriage. Call it the institution of… (scanning my desk for inspiration on a random word) The Institution of Chicken for all I care. All currently married heterosexual couples will have their marriages transferred to the Institution of Chicken, anyone who wishes to register their relationship with the Institute of Chicken gets the same legal rights as current heterosexual spouses get – and the same complications when you split up. If you choose to have a ceremony that demonstrates your commitment to one another, that’s fine, but it has nothing to do with the Institution of Chicken – the entire ceremony process is simply a private endeavour that you do or don’t choose to have.
This is, ultimately, what this entire debate comes down to – having a record in some government office that says yes, you’re in a relationship with this person – and having the state recognise your rights to one another as partners , spouses, husband and wife or whatever other term you choose to use.
Everything besides that government record is gravy, and is irrelevant to the change of legislation. You want to get married, but don’t care about that record? Go and do it!
Easter, Ostara, Ishtar and Jesus
Perhaps it’s just because the internet allows us access to so much more information than we ever had in the past, but it seems to be a much bigger thing of late to point out how the major Christian festivals are all of pagan origins, as if that somehow discredits them in some way. Coming up to Easter 2013, I’ve noticed the bandwagon getting a little more crowded than it has been in previous years.
The one that I’ve seen a couple of times so far, has been a depiction of the ancient Assyrian goddess Ishtar. This one’s actually slightly newer to me, last year I mentioned Ostara or Eostre, a may-or-may-not-have-really-existed goddess of German/Saxon religious origins.
Let’s just clarify one thing, though. It actually doesn’t matter which pagan deity you want to attribute it to, there are elements of pagan origins involved in the celebration of Easter.
There, I said it – and all the Christians gasped.
Frankly, with enough time and research put into place, I have no doubt that I could write a whole book on the origins of Easter. I’m not going to – at least not now, maybe one day. Instead, I just want to take a brief look at the overall topic.
Yes, there are probably pagan origins – although the fact that every ancient religion under the sun is trying to get in on the act kind of leads us to conclude that there’s no specific pagan festival that was actually the origin of the Easter celebration.
Most pagan religions held their celebrations to do with the time of year. Given that the most important element of these people’s lives was food and the harvest, it makes sense that they built their festivals around the cycle of life – and Spring is the time when seeds are being sown, winter is coming to an end and life is ‘renewing’ in its own sense. Most pagan religions (at least most that I’ve researched) held some kind of fertility festival at these times as a representation of the new life that came with the end of winter and the coming of the longer, warmer days ahead throughout Spring and Summer after the Spring equinox.
Bunnies and eggs, yes? Symbols of fertility and new life!
Just one thing – the egg tradition really doesn’t seem to have been a thing before Easter was recognized as a Christian festival. The origin of Easter eggs actually extends from the observance of lent leading up to Easter, where eggs were not consumed during those forty days of fasting. I’m yet to see any real evidence that suggests the practice of Easter Eggs was associated in any way with the pagan fertility festivals. Sorry, pagans, but it seems that you’ve stolen that one from the Christians, not the other way around.
Alongside these pagan festivals, though, is the observance of the Hebrew Passover. To give a brief rundown – the Israelites were enslaved in Egypt, and after a series of plagues, the final step was for the angel of death to come and strike down every firstborn child in the land. With the blood of a lamb over their doors, the Israelites were saved and the angel of death ‘passed over’ their residences on this fateful night – Passover.
(A slightly rough explanation, but I’m trying to conserve my word count here!)
The Passover, though, was celebrated around about the same time as these Easter festivals, being tied also to the Spring equinox. One of the final things that Jesus did was observe the Passover with his disciples – in Christian terms, this is the event of The Last Supper. It was very shortly after this that Jesus was arrested and then crucified.
What this means for Christianity is that unlike the celebration of Christmas, which probably has no chronological relation to Jesus’ actual date of birth whatsoever, we have a pretty good reference point to say that Jesus was crucified not long after the Spring equinox.
What it doesn’t mean, is that Christians stole a pagan festival to attribute to Jesus.
My birthday’s November 25, and a friend of mine is born November 28 – so a couple of years ago we shared a birthday party. It made sense, we had a lot of mutual friends, were looking to celebrate around the same time and it was a lot easier for us to organise something together and share the celebration. So what do you think the ancient cultures would have done? They have a tradition of holding this ‘Easter’ festival, which just happens to coincide with the recognition of Jesus’ death. Of course the traditions ended up merged together.
Does this mean Christianity stole Easter? Don’t be ridiculous.
Men get stupid around beautiful women.
Either we turn into bragging peacocks thinking that we need to give the best show, or we just turn into blithering idiots who struggle to string a coherent sentence together.
And in some cases, we just fall completely under the spell and allow ourselves to become completely vulnerable.
Now that last one, of course, in the presence of the right woman is not necessarily a bad thing. However, in the presence of the wrong one, well it can have disastrous effects.
Many people know that one TV show I enjoy watching is The Big Bang Theory – and there’s a tale in the backstory where Leonard was once dating this nice girl who was so interested in his work on a secret government project, and of course, he wanted to show it to her. Turned out she was a North Korean spy.
Men get stupid around beautiful women.
Samson, though, perhaps has to take the cake on stupidity. Here’s this guy, who’s been destroying the Philistines for years. Now clearly the guy had a weakness for Philistine women. First he married one, even against his parents’ best wishes and advice for him. Then at the beginning of this chapter he goes to Gaza and sees a Prostitute – presumably also a Philistine woman.
Then he meets Delilah.
Samson falls in love with this woman – and it sounds like it’s a pretty quick fall, too.
So he’s shacked up with Delilah, and after a while she asks him what the secret to his great strength is. Samson tells her a fib about how if he’s tied up with seven fresh thongs (that’s leather straps, people…) he’ll be no stronger than any other man.
That night, Delilah wakes him up saying the Philistines are here. He’s bound, conveniently, by seven fresh thongs – and snaps them without a problem. Samson escapes.
Now, you’d think there’d be a few bells going off in your head at this point – nothing, though, compared to when your girlfriend starts pouting about how you made a fool of her by lying to her. She asks him again.
Alarm bells, anyone?
Not for Samson. He goes ahead and tells her some other story – and again, it’s wrong. Again, Delilah complains that he lied to her and made a fool of her, and he tells her a third story only to have the same result.
Now at this point, it would be fair to assume that maybe Samson’s smarter than we’re giving him credit for. Perhaps he’s just playing with Delilah’s mind because he’s clicked on to what she’s up to, right?
Men get stupid around beautiful women.
A fourth time, Delilah asks Samson what the secret to his strength is.
Seriously, why couldn’t he just say a paleo diet and Crossfit six days a week?
No. Samson actually goes and tells this chick that the secret to his strength is his separation as a Nazirite. His hair has never been cut, and that’s why.
Men get stupid around beautiful women.
Now here, though, is my question. Why did God leave Samson? Why, when his hair was cut, did his strength fail him? Was it because his strength was actually in his hair?
Here’s what I think happened. Samson let go of God. He trusted Delilah with a part of himself that God was supposed to have.
Being a single guy, I will admit that sometimes it’s a real struggle to actually balance a relationship with God and the desire to have a girlfriend, get married, have a family. Of course they’re not mutually exclusive, but the thing is that you end up feeling like that hole in your heart where God should be could be filled by a partner instead. Then, you wonder if any partner will do.
I remember talking to a friend of mine about this stuff around a year or two ago, and about options and things like that. His wife, from the other room, suddenly yelled out, “She’s not an option if she doesn’t love Jesus!”
Of course, not all non-Christian girls are Philistines, or akin to Delilah, that’s not what I’m saying. However what I am saying is that a partner cannot, and should never, take the place of God in our lives. That was where, I believe, Samson fell. Not because his hair was cut, but because he replaced God with something less.
Julia Gillard – Don’t give up on her just yet
This entire entry requires me to choke down a lot of very loud words that I’ve spoken in the past.
I’ve spent a whole lot of time being critical of the Australian Labor Party, and particularly of Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan over the past few years. I was scanning through my Twitter history, a moment ago and realized that this time last year I was actually congratulating Kevin Rudd on his resignation as a Minister in the Gillard cabinet in preparation for a renewed leadership challenge against her.
I’m not exactly sure when it happened, but it’s fairly recent – like, the last week or two recent – that I’ve realized, Julia Gillard has grown on me as a Prime Minister. Apparently, this is just in time for the rest of Australia to decide that they can’t stand her and think she should be ousted in, if you believe the commentary surrounding the most recent opinion polls, potentially one of the most dramatic political annihilations of modern history.
So perhaps there’s an element of the whole typical, “Back the underdog,” Aussie character coming out of me here, but honestly, I’m not normally like that – at least, unless you count my tragic love of the Richmond Football Club.
What my problem has really been, I think, has been the et tu, Brute, factor of Julia Gillard’s prime ministerial ascension. I still have a very clear recollection of her telling the country that there was more chance of her lining up to play full forward for the Western Bulldogs than being Prime Minister, only days before she was part of the Great Rudd Assassination of 2010.
Now questions have arisen about just how much a part of this she actually played, and how she was perhaps the figurehead installed by those terrible Faceless Men of the Labor Party – but regardless, the simple truth is that you’d have to be deaf and blind or deliberately ignorant to have not seen and heard the rumblings that were occurring at the time, even if she didn’t have a direct part to play, she certainly must have had enough awareness to understand that suggesting she might replace Barry Hall instead of Kevin Rudd was a pretty barefaced lie.
And look, I still see this as a problem.
However, eventually you have to get past these things. There came a point in the era of this Labor Government where I had to admit that perhaps they weren’t just skating through the Global Financial Crisis on the tails of the excellent economic situation that the Liberals left them with. Just like that, eventually I’ve had to come to admit that perhaps not everything Julia Gillard does is with malice, selfishness and betrayal.
And in fact, maybe she has more integrity than I’ve given her credit for.
What I’ve seen mark Julia Gillard’s time as Prime Minister is determination, persistence and a remarkable strength to stand by her guns. For the record, I’m not now just doing a complete backflip and singing her praises, I’ve also seen her go back on promises – such as the Carbon Tax (sorry, “price”) – and make comments I wholeheartedly disagree with like stating that being in Government isn’t about listening to the people. What I am saying, though, is that she probably hasn’t been as bad as I’ve thought and made her out to be.
Now we’re six months out from an election and the opinion polls say that Gillard has fallen to her lowest approval rating in – ever? Not quite sure of that, but it’s really low. The media is saying that an election held today would effectively wipe Labor off the Federal map for at least a few terms. It probably wouldn’t be as bad as the Queensland election last year, but anyway…
The thing is, we’re still six months out from the election, and you don’t have to have been watching Aussie politics very long to know that that’s a long time for things to turn around. Add to that the error margin between opinion polls and actual election results (Liberal should have won in 2010, too, if you recall) and the picture’s far from disastrous.
The best thing the ALP can do right now is ignore the sensationalism surrounding the media and actually get behind Gillard – something that they seem to be doing. As it stands, I probably won’t vote Labor anyway in the next election – however I’m a lot more likely to with Julia Gillard leading the party than I would be to if it were Rudd.
Samson really had an odd life, when you think about it.
After the weird sequence of events that led to his getting married, only to then be betrayed by his wife and take it out on the Philistines, he goes home and her father gave Samson’s wife to someone else to marry instead.
Some time later, Samson cooled off a bit and decided that it was time to go back. So he returns back to Timnah again, only for his father in law to inform him that because he was sure Samson hated her, he gave her to someone else instead – as a consolation, he has another daughter that Samson can have instead. She’s younger, more attractive, take her instead! So Samson snaps again, goes out, catches 300 foxes, ties them together in pairs along with a torch each and sets them off in the Philistine’s fields to burn up their grain.
To borrow a phrase from Ron Burgundy: “Wow. That escalated quickly.”
In turn, after they realize that he did this as vengeance for being betrayed by his father in law, the Philistines kill Samson’s wife and her father. Which – as you can imagine – just aggravates Samson further. He kills a few more of them and then goes off to a cave – probably to cool down again.
The Philistines come up against Israel, Israel – well, Judah – say that they don’t want any part of it, but they’ll go get Samson, which they do. He lets them tie him up and take him to the Philistines, only to then break the ropes when he gets there. Spotting a donkey’s jawbone, Samson once again goes a little berserk and kills a thousand men.
Then Samson said, “With a donkey’s jawbone I have made donkeys of them. With a donkey’s jawbone I have killed a thousand men.” ~ Judges 15:16
Afterwards, Samson’s thirsty and calls out to God wondering why he’s been able to be victorious, only to die of thirst so that he can be captured after all. No offence to Samson intended, but that does sound very like the Israelites in the desert, when you think about it.
Not that I can talk – or probably not that most of us can talk, I’d imagine. I know for me, no matter how much I’ve witnessed God do, I still struggle to have faith that he’s going to come through next time, or that he’s going to provide for me.
But here, God opens up the landscape and Samson’s able to grab a drink.
To continue looking at the story, though. Obviously Samson’s wife wasn’t that good for him in the long run. When your first week of marriage pretty much ends up with a massacre of thirty people, that’s probably not a good start to the life together. Regardless, though, Samson goes back to his wife.
Most of the time it doesn’t necessarily matter if something’s good for us or not – we end up walking back to it. Whether it’s a relationship, something health related, an addiction, who knows. The point is that it’s very hard to just stay away from something that you liked, enjoyed or even loved. Samson liked this girl, even if she wasn’t that great for him – and he went back. The thing is, though, that it ended badly – worse than it did the first time around.
And that’s what I”ve found, too – going back to something tends to end up worse the more times you keep returning.
Just to finish, though, I want to come back to the end of the chapter.
Because he was very thirsty, he cried out to the LORD, “You have given your servant this great victory. Must I now die of thirst and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised?” Then God opened up the hollow place in Lehi, and water came out of it. When Samson drank, his strength returned and he revived. So the spring was called En Hakkore, and it is still there in Lehi. ~ Judges 15:18-19
There’s actually a lot in these verses, but just briefly, three things:
- Because he was very thirsty, he cried out to the LORD. We all get thirsty, we all get drained, especially spiritually. It’s at these times we need to cry out to God.
- Then God opened up the hollow place in Lehi, and water came out of it. When we’re thirsty, God will provide us with what we need.
- His strength returned and he revived. Drinking of God’s spirit will restore strength and revive us.
“People from opposite sides often have good relationships. You know, Romeo and Juliet, Tony and Maria from West Side Story, what’s-his-name and the big blue chick in Avatar.”
…To quote Big Bang Theory again…
Let me ask you something, what is it about these types of stories that make them so famous? Is the whole forbidden love thing that enticing to people? Or perhaps – and more likely – it’s the concept of love conquering all bounds that manages to keep it all together.
Whatever it is, here’s another one: Samson and his wife.
Here’s this guy – Samson – before his birth, his parents have been told that he’s to be set apart from birth, a Nazirite, so that he can begin freeing Israel from the hands of the Philistines. Once he’s grown up, he goes fro a wander down to this town called Timnah, spots a Philistine girl and decides he wants to marry her. So he goes and tells his parents. Their reaction, of course, is to ask why he can’t just find a nice Israelite girl to marry? Samson’s stubborn. Nope, she’s the girl I want.
The heart wants what the heart wants, doesn’t it?
His parents did not know that this was from the LORD, who was seeking an occasion to confront the Philistines; for at that time they were ruling over Israel.) ~ Judges 14:4
Now, I’m intrigued by the whole concept of this being “from the LORD,” in this verse. It only says that Samson’s parents didn’t know what was going on, so I’m curious as to whether God actually makes Samson fall in love with this woman, or he actually tells her that this is the woman he should marry.
Anyway, Samson and his parents go off to Timnah together, somewhere along the way Samson kills a lion – which isn’t seen by his parents and he doesn’t tell them what happened. Then he finally actually talks to this girl and decides that he likes her, so after a little while longer again he goes back to marry her. On the way, he stops by the lion carcass and there’s now a heap of bees hovering around it making honey – and Samson stops for a taste.
There’s a lot of back-and-forthing in this chapter actually, as Samson goes between Timnah and his parents’ house and back again. The short of it is, though, there’s a feast and he’s got thirty Philistines around him. Samson challenges them with a riddle wanting clothing from each of them if he wins, and if they win, he’ll give each of them an outfit.
Given that I just watched The Hobbit the other night, this week seems to have a theme of riddle games…
He replied, “Out of the eater, something to eat; out of the strong, something sweet.”
For three days they could not give the answer. ~ Judges 14:14
Which is, of course, the lion and the honey. Now the companions can’t guess it, so they tell Samson’s wife to go and find out the answer for him. She manages to manipulate the answer from him and momentarily the companions come back and tell him the answer.
Sometimes I think that God may have given Samson a heap of strength, but he didn’t necessarily match that with brains…
So Samson has to owe these guys an outfit of clothing each – thirty in all.
Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon him in power. H?e went down to Ashkelon, struck down thirty of their men, stripped them of their belongings and gave their clothes to those who had explained the riddle. Burning with anger, he went up to his father’s house. ~ Judges 14:19
Now here’s what I take from this chapter. A couple of things actually. See, God had a plan here all along. Going back to verse 4, God was seeking an opportunity to confront the Philistines. The story doesn’t exactly pan out in a wonderful tale of romance and love between two people from opposing sides transcending their problems and bringing happiness ever after. In fact, she’s manipulated by her side and in turn manipulates Samson to give her the answer to the riddle. Samson’s hurt, and takes it out on the Philistines – which is pretty much what was planned in the first place.
Now, going back to the whole thing of destiny, I’m going to leave it open here as to whether the plan was always for Samson to end up killing thirty philistines, or whether it was more generic and just forcing a confrontation. However, there’s one last thing I’d like to bring out of this.
Sometimes we feel like we screw up. Sometimes we go out and do something stupid – maybe not necessarily marry a Philistine woman like Samson did, but we do something that in all honesty, probably isn’t the best idea for us. Sometimes, like here, it even seems like everything has just gotten the best of us. Sometimes, though, it’s all under control. I’m certainly not saying that we should go out and kill thirty Philistines, but what I am saying is that if you think you’ve backed yourself into a corner and you’re not sure how to get out – try fighting.
Chances are, the Spirit of the LORD will come upon you in power too, and you’ll find yourself free.
And what did Samson do after that? He went back home. Don’t forget your roots, because if you feel like you’ve lost your way, chances are that’s where you’ll find your footing again.