“Nephilim” – article for TAPSparamag’s June 2008 issue

December 15, 2009 - Leave a Response

A shorter, edited-for-space article appeared in TAPSparaMagazine. Below is the full, unedited article…..

Somewhere in our darker past, before the days of modern psychological discipline and scientific advance, we, the human race, believed that our life’s fortunes, illnesses, woes and serendipitous happenstances were firmly rooted in the spiritual and the supernatural. As we evolved our technology and sciences, we learned more and more about the mind and body, universal expansion and entropy, geological tectonics, and the movement of our solar system around a somewhat smallish star that burned in the Milky Way galaxy. Along the way, we dispensed with our reliance on the ethereal, casting aside our need for gods, devils and every cast of angel and demon in between. We corporately tuned-out our hearts, and turned our minds to the methodological pragmatic, allowing Science and skeptical thought to successfully supplant faith in that great “Something-Bigger-Than-Ourselves.” Quantifiable fact became the inevitable surrogate for the misty stuff of myth and legend. And while we may not have totally thrown out the baby with the bath water, we have successfully become a culture that discounts anything that cannot be measured by the Scientific Method, casting dispersions on experiential faith and even the slightest adherence to anything that smacks of an older spiritual belief system.

The paramount endeavor that occupies most of the recorded history of the Human Race – after the history of War, that is (which seems to be synonymous with the history of mankind) – is the great quest for discovery; the seeking-out of the whos, whats, wheres, whys and hows of our existence. And yet, while attempting, on that quest, to adhere to strict, quantifiable sources, we have let go the Spiritual; the innocuous, insubstantial, airborne flotsam that, when you actually look for it, seems to permeate every facet of being, down to the very spark of life, itself.

So, what if the outmoded, outgrown, discarded superstitions – the things of the unseen, unwanted realms – really do have their basis in some sort of truth? What if the superstitious banalities we brushed aside in the broad swath of our skeptical hand, were truly the evidentiary stuff of things not seen; the substance of a very real universe that dwelt and operated just below the surface of the visible, tangible world around us? What if there truly exists a viable, legitimate source code that, at times, finds its way through the barrier that divides the diaphanous from the substantive? What if Science ain’t the end-all and be-all of this universe, and we really are surrounded by forces of good, evil, light and dark? What if there really are living, vibrant beings who dwell and function beyond the veil of the dimension of the here and now?

What if the old myths and legends, really do have a meaty weight of truth and fact? What if Jehovah, Satan, Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, Shemjaza, Azazel, and a seemingly endless list of other angelic beings are not just the stuffs of ancient hallucinogenically-induced visions, but the very real names of overtly real creatures who live and interact with mankind since millennia past?

The quandary we face is that every one of these questions have answers that can only be substantiated by faith, as there is very little quantifiable proof that angels and demons exist beyond religious scripture and personal experience. We know that Good and Evil co-exist in this universe due to the fact that most of us have experienced these opposing forces on a firsthand basis, in one form or another. However, quantifying their existence can only be substantiated in the end result and affect, rather than the causal source.

During my seminary days, back in the early 1980s, one of my professors, Dr. Charles Aling – now the chair of History at Northwestern College in Roseville, MN – told me for the very first time, “All myth and legend has at it’s historical headwaters, at least a kernel of truth based in cold, hard fact.” It was this, then, original thought that became the philosophical teat on which my spiritual philosophies suckled. Together, they became the motivating factors in my personal studies of biblical and historical mysteries.

Noah’s Flood was always a great Sunday School story told with felt storyboard dioramas, where I learned that God destroyed the entire antediluvian world by universal flood that covered even the highest mountain peaks, and all because of the sinful nature and habits of his creation: man. As I grew older, it became more and more difficult to wrap my brain around the account found in the first book of the Pentateuch, especially in light of the fact that other ancient African, Mesopotamian and far eastern cultures had their own Noah-free versions of what seemed to be the very same ancient flood story. What is clear in most cultures’ flood accounts is that a massive, judgmental deluge ravaged the face of the known world as a result of “fallen angels” who impregnated human women, producing offspring. This started me looking at the Old Testament Genesis account through very different eyes, and wondering why these features had been omitted from my Sunday school education. The notion that the Genesis flood was Jehovah’s wrath excised on the earth as a direct result of the wickedness of mankind is a misinterpretation at worst, and a gross misunderstanding of the events, at best. The Genesis text clearly indicates that the watery judgment was directly linked to the intermingling between “beings who descended from the heavens” with human women, and the resultant hybrid race that was birthed by that intercourse. The notion that angels were sexless is pure political invention on the part of early church fathers.

Now, here is where the difficulty begins: on one hand we are discussing a story found in a spiritual text whose interpretation is faith based, and on the other, we are examining the details from the faith-based perspective that there existed “extraterrestrial” (not from this earth) beings who were the focal point of the issue. It’s rather like using psychic sensitives as quantifiable evidence for a haunting – they may be right on the mark, but you’ll never be able to apply the scientific method to such unquantifiable research practice. So, for the sake of this article, let’s just simplify the process and look at the account as written, parsing it down to gain a better understanding of what’s really contained in the text. And for the sake of space, we will call this little exercise, “Who Launched Noah’s Ark?’” Let’s start by looking at the text itself:

Genesis 6:1-4

1 When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that these daughters were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose.
3 Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not contend with human beings forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.”
4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days–and also afterward–when the sons of God went to the daughters of the human beings and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.
(Today’s New International Version)

These four verses from Genesis chapter six appear in the preamble to the account of Noah’s flood. Noah’s name appears for the first time in the text in verse eight where it states that he “found favor in the eyes of the Lord.” These four verses comprise a very interesting passage in that it differs in writing style from the rest of the book of Genesis, having earmarks of having been extracted, edited and perhaps even plagiarized – at least in part – from other extant contemporary source material. If you’ve ever written a term paper for school, it’s like paraphrasing material from external sources without quoting the source. After extensive study of this passage, Dr. David Penchansky, chair of Hebrew studies at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN stated,

“This passage has been edited, either by the writer of Genesis, or by later scribes. It most certainly does not match the writing style of the rest of the book, and the language in which it is written is ‘choppy,’ almost as if it is reproduced in the text as snippets from other source material. And the account was, obviously, far too well-known at the time to be omitted completely.”

Who are the Sons of God?
In this passage we are told that the “Sons of God” looked upon human women (other translations refer to these women as: “the daughters of men/man; men’s daughters; the beautiful women of the human race; and even, ‘these girls’”) and “saw that they were beautiful.” In some translations, the Sons of God “lusted after them,” and then “married any of them they chose,” or in some translations “they took the ones they liked.” The title, “Sons of God,” has been viewed several ways, and various translations refer to them as, “God’s Sons, heavenly beings, and Sons from the Heavens.” It is clear to most biblical scholars that the title, “Sons of God,” refers to angelic beings, and this is supported by other passages throughout the old and new testaments, as well as the apocryphal Book of Enoch, and various other historical texts. It is interesting that even Jesus of Nazareth, himself, was called “The Son of God.” Whoever they were, the text makes it clear that they were bequeathed by the God who was above them; sons by birth, or sons by creative act, their point of origin is clear in all accounts – they came from the heavens and had some claim to being called sons of God. The following passage from the Book of Enoch introduces them within the framework of the Jewish/Christian tradition – despite their appearance in a book that was banned from the canonical scriptures by The Church – and offers up a startlingly similar account to the Genesis 6:1-4 passage:

1 Enoch 7: 1-11

1 It happened after the sons of men had multiplied in those days, that daughters were born to them, elegant and beautiful. 2 And when the angels, the sons of heaven, beheld them, they became enamoured of them, saying to each other, ‘Come, let us select for ourselves wives from the progeny of men, and let us beget children.’ 3 Then their leader Shamyaza said to them; ‘I fear that you may perhaps be indisposed to the performance of this enterprise; 4 And that I alone shall suffer for so grievous a crime.’
5 But they answered him and said; ‘We all swear; 6 And bind ourselves by mutual execrations, that we will not change our intention, but execute our projected undertaking.’ 7 Then they swore all together, and all bound themselves by mutual execrations. Their whole number was two hundred, who descended upon Ardis (during the days of Jared), which is the top of mount Armon (Mt. Hermon in present day Israel).
8 That mountain therefore was called Armon, because they had sworn upon it, and bound themselves by mutual execrations.
9 These are the names of their chiefs: Shamyaza, who was their leader, Urakabarameel, Akibeel, Tamiel, Ramuel, Danel, Azkeel, Saraknyal, Asael, Armers, Batraal, Anane, Zavebe, Samsaveel, Ertael, Turel, Yomyael, Arazyal. These were the prefects of the two hundred angels, and the remainder were all with them.
10 Then they took wives, each choosing for himself; whom they began to approach, and with whom they cohabited; teaching them sorcery, incantations, and the dividing of roots and trees.
11 And the women conceiving brought forth giants.

According to Enoch, the Sons of God were created, bequeathed angelic beings who descended (fell down) to the earthly realm, and atop Mt. Hermon, made a pact to produce offspring with human women. To ascribe malevolence to these angels would not be wholly accurate, but Enoch’s book does intimate that should they carry out their plan, they were in fear of being held responsible for enacting a “sinful” deed in the eyes of God. Enoch goes on to tell of the attributes they brought down to the human race with them: enchantments, the making of weaponry, meteorology, astrology, astronomy, interpretations of moon phases, herbology and the signs of the sun, stars and moon. With these angelic-taught skills, mankind delved to the lowest common denominator by developing the art of warfare, and pursued wickedness to the point of stirring up Jehovah’s wrath. And the Sons of God were, indeed, held to blame, Shemjaza their leader somehow overlooked, and Azazel being held as the main culprit for introducing weapons and warfare to mankind.

And then there was their “giant” offspring.

The Nephilim
According to scripture, the offspring of the Sons of God and human women were the Nephilim, but I do not believe the term is solely attributable to the offspring only. The Sons of God who descended from the heavens, were known as the Nephilim once they took up residence in the earthly realm. So they and their offspring together became known as the Nephilim. It’s the very same scenario you have when an Irish immigrant moves his existence to America. He is Irish, but his emigrating act has given him the new title of American, and he and his offspring are now known by both titles: Irish and American, possessing a dual identity. But the children born to him in America bear the stronger title.

The writers of the 1611 King James Bible indirectly translated the word Nephilim as “giants,” yet the preferred scholarly translation is “fallen ones.” “Giant” can be better understood when you ascribe the values of height, distance from the ground to the top, descending from the heights, falling from the heavens, etc. While there are many scholarly views on the identity of the Nephilim, it would take an entire book to explore the different Hebrew and Aramaic root words that comprise the term. Then, once you’ve properly identified and translated the word, you have to take into consideration it’s interpretation based on the surrounding textual context, as well as the audience for whom the text is being written.

The root Hebrew word for Nephilim is the verb nephal, meaning: 1) to fall (to the ground); 2) to fall (in battle); 3) to be cast down; 4) to desert a location; 5) to fail. The “im” denotes plurality, giving us the “fallen down ones,” or the “ones who descended.”

The Nephalim can best be defined as a race of beings who descended – or “fell” – to the earth, abandoning their existence and habitation in the heavenly realms. They were angelic in origin, birthed by God, and they brought to the human inhabitants of the earth special skills, as well as an unearthly libido. Their offspring bore the same title of Nephilim, and the propagation of their mixed race on the earth led to the judgment of God in the form of a flood as described in Genesis and other ancient accounts. Also mentioned in the Book of Enoch is the fact that these beings descended to the earth during “the days of Jared,” the father of Enoch. His name means, literally, “Descent,” and he was named thus because the descent of the Sons of God to the earth, took place during his lifetime.

It is interesting at this point, to note that both Jared and Enoch are also mentioned in the bible. Genesis 5:18-24 says:

18 When Jared was 162 years old, his son Enoch was born. 19 After the birth of Enoch, Jared lived another 800 years, and he had other sons and daughters. 20 He died at the age of 962.
21 When Enoch was 65 years old, his son Methuselah was born. 22 After the birth of Methuselah, Enoch lived another 300 years in close fellowship with God, and he had other sons and daughters. 23 Enoch lived 365 years in all. 24 He enjoyed a close relationship with God throughout his life. Then suddenly, he disappeared because God took him.
(New Living Translation)

In the older archaic English of the 1611 King James Version of the bible, that last verse is worded, “And Enoch walked with God, and was not, for God took him.”

In Summary
Cultural traditions from all around the world have myths and legends telling of angelic beings who descended to the earth and interacted with human beings, ushering in some sort of cataclysmic, world-wide destruction of humanity that left scant, few survivors. When analysis of the languages used in the various accounts is compared, blatantly similar facts emerge, revealing a commonality between the varied cultural tales, substantiating a corporate mythos: flesh and blood beings who were revered as gods, interacted with humanity in the most intimate of ways. Can these things be quantified by the Scientific Method? Does this establish any sort of verifiable proof of a crossover between inter-dimensional races? I believe yes. While the data is not repeatable for experimentation, the historical annals speak loudly and clearly. When there exists such localized myths in geographical regions, repeated by other localized myths in far away geographical regions, over and over again, there is a certain scientific methodology at play. There is a message revealed.

There is so much more meat on the bones that I have presented above, that it would take weeks and months of reading to fully acquaint one’s self with all the material. What I have presented here is, hopefully, a tip-of-the-iceberg look at a very large, expansive topic. And it is my belief that that it is a subject of great importance in understanding our past, both historically and spiritually. There was a time where history leapt the established boundaries and intermingled with the spiritual, and if we look hard enough, and dig deep enough, we can find the wonderfully exciting buried treasure of discovery.

There is an incredibly revealing verse found in the new testament book of Hebrews. It is an engagingly mystical, yet somehow frighteningly admonishing passage in light of all we have explored above…

Hebrews 13:2

Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for in doing so, some have entertained angels without knowing it.

* * * * * * * * * *

Further reading on this topic:

1) “Twilight of the Gods: Polytheism in the Hebrew Bible” by David Penchansky

2) “Gateway of the Gods” by Craig Hines

3) “The Lost Book of Enoch” by Joseph B. Lumpkin and Joyce A. Dujardin


Ode to Cremation…..

December 15, 2009 - Leave a Response

Y’know – and here’s some phenomenal profundidty – I am not as young as I used to be.

I am on that delicate cusp between youth and encroaching old age; teetering ever so precariously along the edge of middle-age-dom, one foot raised and poised for the next step into that great vacuous space before me, the other so daintily balanced upon a banana peel. I look in the mirror in the morning and wonder what happened to the lithe youth who used to appear there, sans white temples and burgeoning man boobs.

I flash a grimacing smile at myself and look at my teeth, wondering if some future archaeologist will uncover my skull in what he would describe as a “late twentieth, perhaps early twenty-first century B.C.E. burial pit containing the singular remains of an elderly homo-sapien who we can deduce, by the wear on his incisors and rear molars, to have been a man of Northern Eurpoean descent who lived, primarily, on a steady diet of Captain Crunch with Crunchberries and broccoli…”

Gadzooks! Think of what distant future conclusions would be drawn by the condition of your earthly bodily leave-behinds. Yikes.

And then there’s drinking. I used to be able to drink like a fish. Now, after a beer or two and six shots of a well-aged single malt highland scotch, I feel somewhat unstable in the morning. I think I need to cut back to no more than three shots per sitting…..

Coffee… where’s my coffee….?

Acquired Wisdom…..

December 12, 2009 - Leave a Response

I’ve been told that I have lived 39 past lives. When I do the math – calculating each of my past lives as having had a somewhat average lifespan – I figure I am somewhere between 1500 and 2200 years old. Soul-wise, that is.

Of course, my figuring is based on the assumption that those past lives were chronologically consecutive. What if they weren’t…? What if there were gaps between lives, some great, some small. Couldn’t that provide room for a much greater soul-span?? Hell, my soul could have been here for the duration. Wow!! What an incredible amount of acquired wisdom must be bouncing around in my noggin!! Then again, who’s to say there isn’t a shitter-load of accumulated baggage screaming around inside my soul, tossing me about like a kharmic rag doll. Could explain a lot. Hmmm… damn Bhuddists.

(Note to Self: This whole Past Life Thing needs research….)

Dad Reckoning

November 23, 2009 - Leave a Response

While I was growing up I put very little thought into the kind of dad I was someday going to be. I was too busy daydreaming and doing the stuff that young boys do in their prepubescent years. Back then, I foresaw myself entering early manhood as the amalgam – perhaps even the embodiment – of all my childhood television heroes. I grew up on the TV, and all the figures of fatherhood and masculinity that the Hollywood of the 1960s and ’70s had to offer, daily paraded their wares in front of my young sponge of a mind.

During my childhood afternoons I found myself less in the sunshine or out playing in the yard, than in the dimly lit basement of my mother’s home, watching the Mel Jass Matinee Movie, airing such stuff as The Adventures of Robin Hood, with Errol Flynn swashbuckling his way across the thirteen inch screen of our black-and-white portable television. I had no idea that the movie was filmed in color, but I was drawn to the character more than the imagery. The twelfth century Earl of Locksley impressed me with his charm in the face of treachery, and his damn-the-arrows-and-full-speed-ahead bravado. I knew nothing of – and cared even less to know – anything about the alcohol-sodden real life of the actor portraying the character; I was totally enraptured with the fiction he created.

The 1950’s icon of fatherhood, Jim Anderson of Father Knows Best,represented for me the rock-solid family man in his omnipresent reruns. Always in love with his wife and children, he meded out familial justice and juvenile discipline as if he had created the things himself. The character represented something I was missing inmy own life and family, and he began to mould for me what I thought a man and father was supposed to be.

Then there was Old West government agent, James West of The Wild, Wild West who displayed a peerless tenacity in the face of danger, and a campy resourcefulness that weekly surpassed the contrivations and machinations of his evil foes.

Every day, for several hours-a-day, I absorbed the heroes of Tinsel Town. They were the manly icons that constructed my view of masculinity; the varied elements that comprised the surrogate father of my youth. There was, however, one cathode-induced hero who was able to stand head and shoulders above them all…..

No other syndicated character could compare with the fictional leader who, to me in my prepubescence, represented an image of what I wanted to become as a man; an escape from the turmoil of my youth. Designed by his creator to be the Horatio Hornblower of outer space, Captain James T. Kirk of the Starship Enterprise established for me the boundaries of what I began to believe a man was supposed to be.

I know that is a little scary, especially in light of Kirk’s womanizing ways, but there was something very different about the good captain that struck a chord of harmony with that little boy back in the late 1960s. It wasn’t until recent years that I was able to uncover the buried emotions of my past and discover why, as a young boy, I found a “kindred spirit,” if you will, with the fictitious space-age adventurer.

Now, for the record, I must state that while I believe in good psychology, I have a great fear of much of the psycho-babbly, gobbelty-gook associated with the more non-scientific facet of the craft. And, quite frankly, as a Guy, I am not always comfortable revealing the “creepier” side of my emotional make up. So if I delve into either of those areas too deeply, extend some gracious latitude by accepting what you can, and leaving behind what you cannot go along with.

As I was growing up, I buried myself in the lore of Star Trek, idolizing its main character, mimicking his mannerisms and persona. You were on very shaky ground with me if you ever criticized the Captain or his show to my face. There was a need for escape during those formative years of my life, and I have since learned that I used my affinity with Kirk as a means of burying the things that were too painful for me to deal with in the open. In a very real sense, I took my childhood pains and buried them in a metaphoric tin can somewhere out there in my backyard. And now as an adult man, searching desperately for the source of buried anger, hidden pain and modes of operation, I have stepped out into that old backyard in the misty dark of midnight with nothing but a flashlight, shovel and the tattered pieces of a old, hand-drawn map marked with an “X” saying “this way to buried treasure” sketched out so many years ago.

Captain Kirk, to me, was a lonely man. Sure he had friends, advisors and a great many lovers, but at his core, when you stripped away all the facades of his position, he was a man alone. The pains and mistakes of his past molded him into the person he was. His inner pain drove him to singularity, and he conquered his demons by cheating them and scrapping his way into the light.

As a kid, I had a great many demons in need of burying, and though I had no understanding or knowledge of the language or techniques of psychology, I found an ally in the starship captain when i effectively buried in him the things with which I was unable to cope. When I was six-years-old, my older brother and i were repeatedly sexually abused by an older man who watched us while our single mother was working as a waitress. Knowledge of these goings-on were kept very secret. My brother and I, under threat, never said anything of the incidents to our mother. The sexual abuse, along with years of physical abuse became the stuff of hidden baggage much later in my life. The anger, rage and fear of being controlled and/or abandoned that manifested in me as a child found a secure burial when I discovered Captain Kirk, a “father” who would take away the pain. These weren’t conscious, cognitive actions on my part, but rather the natural subconscious survival techniques of a mind too young to know how to deal with what went wrong.

The memories of the abuse never left me, but because I buried the feelings, those memories faded from full, vibrant color to back-and-white with a few shades of grey. When i reached the age of adulthood, I could recount the memories of the abuse, but never get in touch with how it actually affected me inside – and, quite frankly, I was oblivious to the damage that had been done.

In a very real sense, Kirk was the key to the unraveling of the mystery of my buried past. As I grew older, i grew less and less enchanted with the fantasy of Star Trek and its characters, and more into the mechanics of how a program like that was created and developed. I found that as i matured and in all earnestness sought to reconcile my past and dig for the missing pieces, Kirk became less and less of a necessity. I realize this now, but back then I had no clue of what was happening. The understanding has come with the retrospect.

As I began to learn more about myself and how to cope with the pain of the past, the Captain simultaneously became less of a hero figure and more of what he actually was – a fictional television character. As i learned to deal with my past, he became less important. In a sense, he held my pain until i was able to handle it myself. Funny how the mind works.

As I became a young man, I had no clue as to the nature of my buried issues, and it wasn’t until I hit my late twenties that a lot of this stuff even started to surface. By that time, Kirk had long since passed into the realm of childhood hero, replaced with a fondness that attached itself to the memory of how much I had idolized him as a kid. And I am convinced it is because he carried my pains.
So what does all this have to do with being a dad? Does any of this have anything to do with my faith? Easy. Even though i had all this junk sloshing around in my head, God, if you will, graciously provided avenues of coping until I was able to cope with what was really going on. This i accept by faith. In a very real sense, the fictional character of James T. Kirk became a divinely appointed receptacle for the issues that God knew I was just not able to handle. And as i grew stronger and more able to cope with these issues, God, in providential wisdom began releasing the facts. Of course you have to believe in a Higher Power for any of this to make any sense beyond the simple – or complex, depending on where you are – psychology of it all. My quest is still a work-in-progress, but I feel as though every day is a step in the right direction toward healing and overcoming my past.

Something else I learned through all of these experiences: God is there for me to dump on. God craves my trust and waits with open arms to receive my mess.

As a Father and a Dad, I want to instill in my children a trust in ME. I want them to grow up knowing who their father is, and that their dad is always available. I want them to grow up knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that they can dump on me and have full faith that I am there to receive them as they are and hold them up. And as they learn to trust and have faith in me, they will inevitably learn to trust and have faith in God. After all, God – if you believe this sort of thing – established fatherhood as a picture of what he ultimately is to humankind.

A valuable lesson I learned out of my past is this…. Dads (or Moms, as the case may be) are the best “portrait of God” children will ever have. Don’t let them find that picture in someone else or something else. Give kids what they are by nature craving. Be there for them, and show them a little bit of God.

Writer’s Block…..

November 15, 2009 - Leave a Response

Some days, I just haven’t a clue. There are no magic words, no prattling prose, no passionate reverie.

I look out my window. The sun crests the brown horizon, it’s shafts broken by the novemberene mosaic of branches, yet no words flood the echoing cesspool of my brain – no words play hopscotch off the tip of my tongue. I am devoid of ability to comment on the celestial rolling of the gears.

Ah, coffee, sweet coffee! Your aromatic tendrils curl around me, caressing my olfactories, stirring memories of other sunrises enjoyed from adirondackian vantage. I yield to your robusto. I capitulate to your grandiose tyranny. The passenger door of my soul is flung wide to your meretricious gaudiness, and for a short time, I accept your play-act as “one and only,” tempting me to bide longer when I leave my emptied cup as payment on the nightstand.

Ah, glorious coffee! Mental radiance in a ceramic cup! Arbiter of lucidity! Caffeine in excelsis!

My mind is an open conduit, a fertile playground to your ground-beanial suggestion….

Living Backward…..

April 23, 2009 - Leave a Response

I have often been accused of being over-analytical. Pshaw, i say. heh. Actually, I think i am too damn complex. I sometime dig so deep to gain understanding, that I get lost in my search.

However, I am coming to a place where I have started asking myself: does my analyzing provide any useful insights, or is it my attempt to control the “Uncontrollable?” Am I taking useful personal inventory, and going through rigorous reevaluation to actually acheive a goal of betterment, or am I engaging in these activities to merely avoid work that needs to be done by keeping my mind occupied?

I have learned that Knowledge is power, and I have striven to increase my base of knowledge in order to gain Wisdom and “power” in my life. But what I am also learning is that sometimes my thirst for Knowledge can be my attempt to exercise power where I am powerless.

“Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.”
~Soren Kierkegaard

I am NOT Brian Jacques

March 18, 2008 - Leave a Response

Hey Folks!
As the title of this blog alludes, I get lots of queries as to whether or not I was influenced by, or am familiar with the Redwall series by Brian Jaques.

The simple answer to that question is: Yes and No.

While I am familiar with Mr. Jaques’ titles, and the cover art adorning his books, I am wholly UN-familiar with the contents of his books, beyond some surface research I have done for the sake of comparison. I read one chapter of one of his books, then put it down so as to DELIBERATELY NOT write in any style that would be construed as being influenced by his body of work.

Since the genre in which I am writing and illustrating is similar to Brian Jaques work, I wanted to steer clear of being interpreted as a “copy cat” or a “Brian Jaques, Jr.” Not that the comparsison is not flattering, as his work is so prolific and wide-spread, with millions of avid readers, but when an author/artist creates something, he loathes the idea or notion that his “original” work is a copy of someone else’s. Hence my cognitive distancing of myself from Mr. Jaques’ books. To be frank, I have never read a single one of Brian Jacques’ books, in order to maintain my creative integrity on Tam O’Hare.

Here are some of the differences between Redwall and Tam O’Hare, as I see them…

1) Redwall is set in an almost medieval-like fantasy realm – albeit, very British in tone; i.e.: accents, dialects, etc.

Tam O’Hare is set in “real” history – England, Ireland and Scotland of the mid-sixteenth century, with actual historical nameplaces and geography. I have also incorporated the use of Gaelic phrases, as well as lots of nautical terms for the ships and sea battles.

2) Redwall’s characters are all fictional creations of Brian Jaques’ mind.

While Tam O’Hare, Horatio MacNutt and some of the other characters are all ficticious creations of mine, they are surrounded with, and interact with real historical characters – albeit fictionalized within their historical contexts – such as: Elizabeth I of England; Mary Stewart, Queen of the Scots; James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell; John Knox and several others.

3) Character names in the Redwall series. A recent 2002 release by Brian Jaques was entitled, Rackkety Tam, picturing a kilt-adorned, sword-weilding squirrel on the cover of the book.

Tam O’Hare is a character created by me in 1998, complete with a green bonnet, sword (a variation on the circa 1520 Venetian Serenissima Rapier), and a Scottish plaid mantle. The doublet Tam O’Hare is wearing was loosly based on the doublet worn by Charles I of England (from a painting done by Daniel Mytens in 1631 – about 50 years too late in fashion, but modified for my usage). All that to say that Tam O’Hare, while costumed by historical reference, is quite original. Oh, and his name was inspired by the old Scottish legend, Tam Lyn. and Rabby Burns’s, Tam O’Shanter.

4) Brian Jaques incorporates British dialects in hs characterizations, recognizable as haling from certain geographic locales in Great Britain.

Tam O’Hare is an Irish Lord of the 16th century, and the vocal patterns I write for him are very refined, with a smack of Irish turn-of-phrase. The pirate racoons in the book are written with what has come to be thought of as “pirate slang,” such as “…a ship the likes o’ ours, what is engaged in the buisness o’ piratin’…” or: “Cap’n sez, ye’re to stay in yer cabin! And we’re here t’make sure ye stays!” Pirate speak. heh.

5) The genre of Redwall is anthropomorphized – the ascribing of human form or attributes to animals.

This is a similarity between my work and Jaques’ work. Both stories are anthropomorphized – much like Micky Mouse, Disney’s fox as Robin Hood, Fivel the Mouse, Ren and Stimpy, Bugs Bunny, Brian the Dog in Family Guy, etc… ad infinitum…

6) Revisiting #1 above with a slightly different detail, Redwall’s geographic locations are fictional, set in a fantasy realm of Brian Jaques’ creation.

Tam O’Hare is set in historically recognizable locations in England, Ireland and Scotland.

7) Redwall, as far as I can tell by book titles and cover art, and the little bit of research i have done, is a series of stories that does not have a recurring main character.

Tam O’Hare is the main charcter of what I intend to be a series of books – wholly dependent, of course, on the success and public reception of the first. Sorry to say, but no matter how creative a book may be, if it does not SELL WELL, the publisher will not continue to contract future books. The planned series will focus on the exploits of Lord Tam O’Hare of HareHenge castle, each tale revolving around his exploits and the paranormal aspects of Celtic mythology as experienced in 16th century Ireland.

So, as you can see, while there are similarities, the differences are vast.

I am honored to have the comparisons drawn, but at the same time, am more than eager to distance myself and my work from that of Mr. Jaques’, in that The Rollicking Adventures of Tam O’Hare is a thoroughly original creation of my own, and will hopefully create it’s own “coattails,” rather than ride on the success of others.

Your questions and comments are more than welcome.


A Little Tam O’Hare History…..

March 18, 2008 - Leave a Response

I was just writing to a friend, recounting the highlights of this process, and I wanted to share some of it here with you… if you can indulge me the length…

The Rollicking Adventures of Tam O’Hare has been a long time in the making – nine years, to be precise. I started the book in December of 1998 after telling the stories to my, then, six-year-old twin daughters. At the time, their mother was away from our home undergoing in-patient treatment for her alcoholism (much to her credit, she has been dry ever since, and is still in recovery). So I was spending lots of extra time with Abby and Bryn, wanting to assure them that I was there, and that they were secure, in light of the fact that their mom was gone from us for such an extended period of time. One of the things I did with regularity was read to my daughters, but then I started telling little tales to them at bedtime and while we were just hanging around the house. After making up a few stories of a medieval Scottish mouse, they wanted to see what he looked like, so we all lay down on the living room floor and started drawing pictures with markers.

When we first started drawing, Tam O’Hare wasn’t Tam O’Hare at all, he was originally William the Mouse, bekilted and very Scottish – I think I still have the original magic marker sketch of him in a box somewhere….

William the Mouse, in marker…

While playing with stick figures and sketches on that living room floor, William eventually evolved into a rabbit – an Irish rabbit named Tam O’Hare. (O’Hare = hare = rabbit… clever, eh…?) heh. Anyway, we were all laying on the living room floor, drawing pictures, and Tam just came out. He apparantly wanted to be born, and there was no denying him. The girls said they were “ok” with me changing William from a mouse into a rabbit. The Scottish-to-Irish thing had little affect on them, but it was a bit of a struggle for me to abandon my Welsh/Scot ancestry for Irish. But the girls liked the name change, so it stuck.

Bryn and Abby around the same time…

…and Bryn and Abby now…

Well, needless to say, I was inspired, and the very next day, I sat at my drawing table and painted the first picture of Tam and his young squirrel squire, Horatio MacNutt before even writing down a single word of the story. That original painting is now the picture that adorns the front cover of the book.

My girls have watched this process for most of their lives. The written book first was in it’s “finished” form around mid-2000. My opriginal intent was that it be a big picture book, with 26 paintings and a short story for kids. My agent submitted it to several publishers, withmost of the story intact, but only a few illustrations. Most of those publishers came back saying they loved the artwork, but the book was “too short for a chapter book; too long for a picture book,” and they told my agent to have me “realize the book one way or the other.”

About that same time, my mother was assaulted and shot in the chest by a former spouse. My mom lived through the ordeal, but the attempted murderer was a fugitive from the law for a year and two weeks. Due to that incident, I ended up shelving the book for quite some time. During the first few months after the shooting, I founded a company with a friend called, Citizen Observer, and established a nation-wide fugitive hunting website, with the attempted murderer as the first fugitive listing. The website gained a lot of notoriety, and eventually, America’s Most Wanted came to us and did a ten minute piece on the scumbag. They had two days filming with us, and even had actors portraying allof us! While it was very serious business, it was also quite a bit of excitement.

During this period, there was word on the street that attempted murderer was going to come and extract a little revenge on me, threatening my life and the lives of my family. At the same time, my wife became pregnant with our son, Sam. There were many nights I sat awake, all alone in the dark of my house, with my pregnant wife and children sleeping upstairs, and me with a loaded shotgun across my lap, and a handgun on the table next to me. Those were stress-filled days, and I kicked very heavily into my “father and protector” mode.

Twelve months and two weeks after the shooting, the fugitive was captured and arrested, and, due to his past record (of which none of us were aware prior to the shooting), he is now spending the rest of his life in a federal penitentiary.

Several months later, my marriage succumbed to divorce, and a year-and-a-half later, I was awarded sole custody of my three children.

When I picked Tam O’Hare up again, he was nearly a stranger to me. So I re-read my own book, and found how much of it was encoded messages about my self and my life. On the surface, it was a whimsical tale set against the backdrop of 16th century England, Ireland and Scotland, but on a much deeper level, it was about the “hidden” things of my own spirit; the elements of character I wanted to see in myself; the missing pieces of the past written in code – even to myself. Those things are still very hidden in the text, and will probably never be readily accessible to the casual reader. The more I re-read, the more I decided I needed to put a lot more meat on the bones of the story, itself. As a result, the book more than doubled in size to it’s present form of 32,000+ words and fourteen chapters.

I resubmitted he book to my agent – who had been patiently awaiting my return to the work – and he, in turn, resubmitted The Rollicking Adventures of Tam O’Hare to publishers. Months passed and we received a few more rejections. Among them were editors turning me down on the basis that Tam O’Hare was “too much like Brian JacquesRedwall series.” This really angered me at the time, as I knew very little about Mr. Jacques’ work. I bristled, creatively, at the implication that I was a “copy cat” of his work. I think I took my manuscript and threw it against the wall, and walked away from it for quite some time. I toyed with it from time to time, attempting to keep the idea alive, but never could get my teeth sunk back in.

About a year ago, my agent made another series of submissions with some very good responses, albeit, still rejections. Simon & Schuster’s imprint, Anthenium, was “very impressed,” but rejected it as not being within their genre, but that they’d be “very happy” to look at some of my other manuscripts (yeah, like I had a stash of other manuscripts in the bottom drawer of my file cabinet, or something). Still, it was encouraging.

In recent months, it was an old friend who brought my book to actual publication. He gave me my first job as an artist waaaaay back in my high school days in 1977, and we have remained friends over the last thirty years. In March, he took on representation of Tam O’Hare, and it was his connections that landed me my publishing contract a year ago. And now I am in the throes of book two in the Tam O’Hare series: Tam O’Hare and the Banshee of BallGlenMorrow.

Tam O’Hare has been a long journey for me, riding the tumult of riches to poverty, divorce, familial crisis, and many attempts by me to shelve it and move on to other things.

I am ever so glad I didn’t.

Thanks again, for all your support and encouragement. And to those of you who believed in me when no one else did… thank you.



September 15, 2007 - Leave a Response

All night there was silence in the dark house,

Shadow met shadow, the clock chimed the hours;

The cat, abated from her nocturnal roust,
Lay sleeping, feet twitching as she stalked in the bowers

Of her dreams.

Quiet upon quiet where mind meets the dark,
Are remnants of the light you leave in this place;

That same light that with it brings a peace as stark

As the contrast between the moon’s sultry face

And the sun’s burning beams.

Three a.m. knows all my secrets,
Where Shadow meets shadow and Dark meets the mind;

Where day blends with memory and shows it’s regrets,

While your essence brightens and stealthily finds

Firm pinnings in my soul.

To know you as friend brings contentment and peace,
To my troubled, tempestuous, darkening heart;

With sadness and sweetness your life will not cease

Ever to reveal your softness, your art

To lay bare the truth.

Darkness and light, sweet tragedy and pain,
Are mixed in the cauldron of all that you are;

The fire beneath you refines time and again,

Setting you in the heavens as a white, shining star,

Whose radiance casts shadows.

You fill all my rooms with a brightness and love
Like an ephemeral nova whose beauty so rare;

Fleets while it’s warmth still lingers above,

As I reach to grasp what I hope might be there,

When I wake in the morning.

And now with the house so quiet, so still,
I sit in the Dark with the muse of your soul,
Bidding me trust and follow my will,

Until such a time when your heart is whole,

And your light seeks it’s own place.

A Nipple By Any Other Name…..

August 15, 2006 - Leave a Response

Why do men have nipples?


I have been vexed by this question a lot of late.

Recently, I was in the company of some friends at a local Irish pub that I have grown to call my own, staring blankly into my fifth Guinness as they all talked amongst themselves. In my inebric solemnity – and to no one in particular – I blurted out my question. The room grew silent, and I looked up, wondering why everyone had stopped talking.

Kelly Jo was the first to speak: “Well, you obviously haven’t been with the *right* woman, Scotty.” Then everyone started to laugh and went back to their conversations, dismissing me like yesterdays coffee grounds.

Yet, the question still remains. What the hell are my nipples for, anyway? I am a man, right? Will I ever nurse a child? Nooo… will people look at my shirt as I walk through the frozen foods section of my local grocer and say, “Wow! Look at the highbeams on that one!” I dare say, not. Are my nipples here for the sole purpose of having something to pierce and dangle a chain from… hardly… not into that whole self-mutilation thing.

Darwin might confide that he belives men’s nipples are the evolutionary residual of some primordial past when the genders were combined. Darwin was sucking up waaaay too much Galapagos ganja.

I even tried the whole cutting glass thing, and couldn’t figure out why the hell that ever became a popular phrase. All it did for me was give me a tile pattern on my knees while I knealt on the bathroom countertop smudging my mirror.

I posed my question to the janitor at my old office building late one night. He was a dissident Tibetan monk sojourning here in America after fleeing the cruelty of the Chinese government. Contemplating my query, he placed his palms together and looked me in the eye, his face filled with the peace of many past lives. “Why do men have nipples? It is because despite the slow grinding of the oxen, the earth remains patient.”


I was going to ask him to comment on the areola, but my better judgement o’ertook me.

So I pose my question to you, my friends, compatriots and allies…. why DO men have nipples. Release me from my quandry, free me from my consternation, help me sleep at night…..

Nippling out in my air conditioning…

p.s. Scotch… need more Scotch………..

Irreplaceable Moments of Time…..

August 31, 2005 - Leave a Response

I am overwhelmed this morning by the irreplaceable moments of time. Those fleeting brevities that go by without the slightest notice as I pass through the mist that will someday comprise the sum of my life.

Just last week, Amanda (everyone called her “Beaner”), the twenty-one-year-old daughter of some dear friends who owned the neighboring ranch to mine in Ellsworth, was killed in a tragic car wreck when her boyfriend fell asleep at the wheel. She was a bright, shining star paling the flickering pinpoints around her in the swath of the black velvety heavens – incredibly talented and creative; painter, writer, singer. She exuded an inner joy that very few people have ever even known could exist. What a loss! What utter waste of life…

I walked into the memorial service last week and put my arms around my dear friends and couldn’t say a word. I didn’t want to cry in front of them, as I wanted to give them strength and support and peace. My friend Jodi, Amanda’s mother, a woman my age, was beautiful and stallwart, wearing the deep grief so courageously and sadly. I looked her in the eyes and she put her hands to my face to draw me in close and whispered how happy she was that I was there. I was unable to say a word… I smiled and held her tight for a few brief, fleeting moments… and during those seconds saw the lives of my own children pass through my memory. In that moment I felt her loss and wondered how she could even stand there amidst all those people. That sort of pain would be something I could not even fathom having to bear. At that empathic moment I could feel what she felt, and I was overwhelmed beyond expression for her.

My emotions, of late, have been so close to the surface that I have needed to bury them in order to not be overwhelmed by them. I had to consciously push them down so as to not let this thing I felt for someone else consume me.

My daughters, who knew Amanda so well as their babysitter and friend, were sitting with their mom, watching a compiled dvd of photos. I walked over and touched my ex-wife on her shoulder, and the three of them looked up at me, eyes red-rimmed and faces drawn. I picked up my son and sat on the floor in front of Annette, as there were no open chairs. She placed her hand very lightly on the back of my shoulder for only a brief moment. As Amandsa’s face filled the TV screen in front of me, the soundtrack began playing that old Eric Clapton song about seeing someone’s face in heaven. I was suddenly, unexplicably overwhelmed and I could not stay in that place. I stood with Sam in my arms, looked at my kids and my wife and told them I was stepping outside. I did not want to break in front of them all. I needed to be strong for them, so they could make it through this horrible tragedy.

As soon as my face hit the outside sunlight, I began to cry. I walked down the dirt road to where I had parked my car, kicked off my shoes and sat crosslegged and barefoot in the dust on the side of the road, lit a cigarette and wept.

I buried my face in my hands and tried to pray – a thing I used to be able to do so well. Yet, for the first time in my life felt that there was not really anyone there who gave a rat’s ass about the grief and suffering and loss and emptiness; no one to receive with open arms the wandering soul. My four-and-a-half-year-old son came up behind me and actually started rubbing my shoulders and said, “It will be okay, dad.” I reached around and took him in my arms and told him how much I loved him. He smiled and went to find me a “special rock” that I could take home with me. It sits here on my desk as I write this.

Not long after, Annette and my daughters came out. I stood, and for the first time in five years, Annette put her arms around me and held me tight. This woman who has hated and abused and run, put her arms around me to comfort me. Me, who has been the strength and support for my kids and everyone around me was being comforted by the person who has caused us all so much pain and suffering over the years. I stood there and found I could do nothing else but hold her tight.

I held my children for a very long time that night, until they fell asleep and I carried them to bed.

I could not sleep.

God wrestles with us in the nighttimes of our lives, but when we awake in the morning, he is gone. He is a dim, hollow facelessness in the dark. Life is so short, and love is so fleeeting. I find myself sometimes grasping at things that will never be there for very long……


Where is the peace…?

Foxes and Gangbangers…..

August 9, 2005 - Leave a Response

I have a friend who lives in a small town in the Oregon mountains. She had to suddenly leave a conversation we were having earlier today, to go help a friend who’s cows had gotten out of their fencing. I wished my friend “good cow hunting,” and dispatched her with a “yippie-kai-ay!”

As I hung up the phone, I realized just how much I missed living in the country, where I had 40 acres and some two dozen horses. Chester, the big Belgian stud, would periodically get a good snout-full of mare-in-heat, and crash through the many-times-over repaired fencing that lined his paddock by the barn, letting out all the horses corralled with him.

Those were the good days. The days when I could set aside the morning’s work, saddle up Guinness – my six-year-old roper, and head down the dirt road and over pastures filled with golden-gray, knee-high grass, in search of my wandering, fugitive herd of horses. Invariably they were always in Glenn’s yard eating his wife’s garden, or at the Johannson’s, trampling the manicured, landscaped front yard of their ranch house. My horses prompted a few phone calls now and again, but never ill-will, as my neighbors were all pretty good folk. They knew Chester, and always showed up to help drink some stout and repair the fence every time he broke loose.

Yep… those were the good ol’ days.

Divorce changes a lot. Obviously. My twin daughters had been raised the first nine years of their lives waking to morning mist filling our valley and horses waiting for breakfast oats, stomping at the fence that surrounded our yard.

One February we had three foals born in our eastern pasture, which ran up to our back yard fence. I remember sitting one afternoon for an hour in the tall grass just beyond the yard. My girls and I were patiently waiting for one of the babies to cautiously make his way – along with his mom – from the far side of the pasture. Slowly, he walked all the way up to my girls, who quietly held out extended hands. Then, very lightly, he nudged them with his nose, and shot back off to the far end of the pasture, kicking his heels all the way down. My girls were as giddy as the foal.

Today, I live in the City. We have a rather large house on an acre of land, filled with old growth trees. The closest we get to our old ranching days is the front yard and the back patio, filled with birdfeeders. As a result of the divorce I lost the ranch, but I gained my kids, who live with me all the time. Instead of hiking to the “back fourty” where there were woods and a small creek, I take my son and we hike a mile-and-a-half up the busy city street to meet my now 13-year-old girls at their school and walk home with them. The noise of horses running and turkey gobbling and coyote howling has been suplanted by city buses, garbage trucks and police sirens. Instead of foxes raiding the hen house, we have gang bangers smashing our car windows to get my $100 walkman off the front seat. At least in the country, I could shoot the fox.

The City can go to hell in its handbasket, for all I care. I’ll take the fox over the gang banger, any day. And I’d rather round up horses and cows than fight morning rush hour traffic.


Is there a ‘Will’ in the House…?

July 12, 2005 - Leave a Response

The character of love has been on my mind a lot lately – my BIGmind, not my little mind (uhmm… nevermind). Anyway, not “character” as in a persona, per sé, but the stuff that comprises the thing.

Love is most certainly not an emotion. Sure, it can involve emotions when it takes on a more passionate, sensual or erotic form, or even the sort of love for people and things you hold dear, such as the fondness I have for my great aunt or my sister’s dog (not to compare the two), but that is not the thing I am thinking about right now.

If love were an Emotion it would most certainly pass away the moment my feelings changed. If I were angry one day, that could easily suplant the emotion of love, for emotions and feelings are highly shifting things that blow around on the breezes of stimulai and cause & effect.

What I am considering is that love, the Real Love, is that thing that is made up of choice and will. It is the stuff that endures despite changing emotions and malleable feelings, survival modes and toothpaste tubes squeezed from the top. It is, I think, in it’s truest sense, an act of my Will. I cognitively CHOOSE to Love rather than succumb to the forces that influence and affect me.

Hmmm… this requires more thought…..

Two prerequisites…..

July 5, 2005 - Leave a Response

I am convinced that there are two things that make a lasting relationship:

Thing #1: Compromise
Thing #2: Vulnerability

Without these, any relationship is doomed before it begins.

Disappointment with God… and Friends…

May 5, 2005 - Leave a Response

In recent months I've gone through an unbelieveable amount of devastating, emotional shit in my life. My not-so-usual response left me in a temporal, uncharacteristic depression and an a-typical abrasive moodiness that was the outer manifstation of inner turmoil - despite my wrongly thinking I was handling myself with a modicum of grace and tact. I tend to be someone who lets all his friends lean on him for help, council and support, yet during this period, my antics and out-of-character funk seems only to have driven the people who I considered my friends far away. Not only have I gone through some life-altering, devastating events, but to add insult to injury, the friends I thought I had seemed to grow distant and judgemental and gossiping, as opposed to closer and more supportive. This just added to the pile of hurt and pain.

I put my neck out there for my friends. When possible, i stand in the gap and make myself available to be there for them. I feel as if I open myself up to be there for any of my friends who need me, but when I stepped outside the box of my normal behavior due to uncharacteristic depression and discouragement, my friends took a hiatus. Through the grapevine I hear that many of them "express concern" over me, yet I have not received so much as an e-mail or phone call from any of them unless initiated by me. Well, that's not totally true, either. I have a couple of very close friends who do not fir into this category at all, and you know who you are. It just seems that the bulk of those who say they are my friends, vanished when I acted a bit uncharacteristically. Perhaps they weren't the friends i thought they were. As my friend amanda told me, "Time to reevaluate your friends, Scotty, even the ones you thought were your close friends." For someone half my age, and with half the life experiences, she just might be right.

If my friends' hurts, devastations and short-lived, uncharacteristic behavior drive me away from loving and supporting them, then I would need to reexamine whether or not my friendship with them was genuine. Sure, I like to surround myself with uplifting people and friendships that bolster and rejuvinate me. But in turn, I also like to be present for my friends who need my emotional and physical support. The sad fact is that when you go through hard times and your friends tend to abandon you, a deeper disillusionment sets in, and brings realizations to light.

So, I do what I always do... I pull myself up by my own bootstraps, no matter how long that takes, and move on to the realization that Life is accomplished alone. Polonius said to Hamlet, "The friends thou hast and tried, grapple them to they soul with hoops of steel." I need to reevaluate my friendships and determine just who is and who is not a Friend. This is most certainly a part of growth and wisdom-gaining.

On a slightly different vein...
I have Festival fiends and interactions, but that is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the course of my life and the people I know and interact with. I tend to come across in my relationships (Fest people, business associates, advertising and publishing friends) as a genuine person who is sincere and honest, somewhat charismatic, vital, entrepeneureal and in-the-spotlight. However, on the inside I'm crushed and struggling with the "whys" of Life. Despite my early days in seminary and pastoral work - and councilling, believe it or not - I have lost sight of what I used to believe was "God's" will (call it "Goddess," "Universe," whatever...), or hand in affairs, and the answers to the whole why-do-bad-things-happen-to-good-people scenario.

I have been doing a lot of thinking about this.

I wish there were good answers to this, because I have LOTS of those sorts of questions, lately.

The older I get, the more it occurs to me that God is NOT intimately involved in the flow of the events in my Life. Nor, does it seem, that he is all that concerned with those events or their various outcomes. I am finding that he is primarily interested in my responses, my character development and my desire to lean on Him. Look at this passage from the New Testament... 2 Corinthians 12:8-10.....

* * * * *
8.) At first I didn't think of (my afflictions and
emotional distresses) as a gift, and

begged God to remove it. Three times I did that,
9.) and then he told me, My grace is enough; it's all
you need. My strength comes into its own in your
weakness. Once I heard that, I was glad to let it
happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began
appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ's
strength moving in on my weakness. 10.) Now I take
limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these
limitations that cut me down to size - abuse,
accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ
take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I

* * * * *

Don't get me wrong, here, I believe God is there at all times, and is "sovreign over the affairs of mankind" (Daniel 4:34-37 - Nebuchadnezzar's praise after his
madness), but I believe He lets the events of Life unfold as they will - call it "Natural Occurance." His presence is not there to alter the course of natural
events, but rather, to give us grace and peace and a place to run to for help and comfort.

Life happens.

God is in control of the Universe, but does not stick His finger into the mix, unless to accomplish some purpose of His own mind and choosing. It seems to me
more and more that He simply has set Life in motion, governs over it, but does not involve himself in it's ebb and flow.

His "intervention" is incredibly rare. His grace, however, is ever-present. All we need do is appropriate it.

Sure, it's COMFORTING to think that God intervenes and performs miracles that alter the course of Life and History, but I just have not seen evidence of that.

What I HAVE experienced is God tugging at hearts and minds, God guiding and opening doors as we struggle through Life. I have rarely - if ever - witnessed God altering the course of natural events, and that seems to fly in the face of what I was taught in my Sunday School days as a kid. It is a bit disillusioning to find that "real life" is not the stuff of Sunday School fluff.

I remember one instance during my early twenties when I was in seminary, when a young couple in our church had new-born twins that were very ill. The entire
church, it seemed, camped at the hospital and prayed for a miraculous intervention on behalf of those children and their parents. The children still died two days later. It seemed that all of the "fervent, righteous prayers of upright people" had very little affect on the outcome of the natural events. God would have to have stepped in and altered physics to change the outcome.

What I learned from that event - and many subsequent events - was that God was little interested in altering Life's natural course, but that he was extremely interested in the unity the event brought. He was present to comfort and guide, but not to change the course of Natural Occurance.

Hmmmm.... I think as human beings, we tend to paint God in a picture that we seem to THINK he fits - and we have manipulated scripture to back up our desires. And then when He does not match up to that pre-conceived picture of our own making, we lose faith and fall into discouragement and disillusionment. It hardens us a bit, and we sit back and re-work elements of what we thought we already
knew so well. We are left in the wake, experiencing either a mode of blind faith that lacks understanding, yet acts in a "damn the torpedoes and full steam ahead" over-spiritualized bravado; or, we find ourselves in a state of incredible disappointment with God.

Either way, we have learned that God has not altered the events of Life's Natural Occurance.

The only real positive message I find in scripture regarding these things, is that God has promised to be there to help us cope, deal, muddle and manage our way
through the labyrinth of Natural Occurance. His grace is sufficient for me... it's all whether or not I choose to appropriate that grace. Of course, a lot of this is from the viewpoint of my early training. My spirituality has shifted a lot since then.

Any comments? Feelings? Disagreements? Concurances?