Nameless Way 13

Success is as dangerous as failure. Hope is as hollow as fear.x_and_g_mq_2011n2

See the world as your self. Have faith in the way things are. Love the world as your self; then you can care for all things.

What does it mean that success is as dangerous as failure? Whether you go up the ladder or down it, your position is shaky. When you stand with your two feet on the ground, you will always keep your balance.

What does it mean that hope is as hollow as fear? Hope and fear are both phantoms that arise from thinking of the self. When we don’t see the self as self, what do we have to fear?

“Xena, why are people never content?”

“Because they have let their ego grow to become so great, Gabhopper, that their capacity for enjoyment has largely been displaced. Diminish the self, like emptying a cup, and there will be room for joy to enter. Renounce your greater passions, and indulge your lesser passions, and you will be content.”

“Why do people suffer so much?”

“Because they have let their ego grow to become so great, Gabhopper, and it is the ego that experiences pain and loss. Diminish the self, like emptying a cup, and your capacity to suffer will vanish.”

“Will this attitude prevent tragedy and ensure good fortune, Xena?”

“No. But when you can accept gain and loss with equal poise, people naturally look to you as a leader, and they will judge you to be of good character.”

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When Esau drew near with his four hundred men, Jacob put the eleven children with their four mothers, then passed in front of them and bowed to the ground seven times before230477_120278521455232_1334041182_n standing face to face with his brother. Esau embraced him, and kissed him, and they wept. So that whole feud was ended.

Jacob introduced his children and their mothers to Esau, and begged his brother to accept the gift of herd animals he sent him, “Because God has dealt graciously with me, and I have enough.”

Then after a short discussion, Esau agreed to go on ahead because Jacob had children and young animals who could not travel very fast. So they parted with good feelings between them, because blood is thicker than water. But the next time Jacob and Esau meet in the scriptures it will be to bury their father Isaac.

Now Jacob had one daughter, named Dinah, and when Shechem the son of the local governor saw this girl he seized her and either raped her outright, or at the minimum broke through her reserve and had premarital sex with her. But he came under the power of Dinah’s charm. Shechem fell in love with Dinah, and vowed to make her his wife. And Hamor the father of Sechem came to Jacob and his sons and said, “The soul of my son Shechem longeth for your daughter: I pray you give her him to wife. And make ye marriages with us, and give your daughters unto us, and take our daughters unto you. And ye shall dwell with us.”

Jacob let his sons do the talking in this incident, because he was upset that his only daughter had been defiled. His sons said to Hamor that it was impossible to allow Dinah to marry one who was uncircumcised. But if every male in Hamor’s kingdom were circumcised, then intermarriage was possible, because then they would be a single people.

This pleased Hamor, and particularly his son Shechem, who was every bit as smitten with Dinah as Jacob had been with Rachel. So Shechem was the first one to submit to circumcision. Then Hamor and Shechem went to the men of the city and told them all the daughters of Jacob would be available for marriage if they just did the same very small ritual of circumcision that Shechem had submitted himself too. If they only knew that Jacob had only the one daughter, Dinah, they undoubtedly would not have agreed. But they went ahead and did it.

And three days later when the defenders of the city were immobilized by pain from inflammation, Jacob’s sons Simeon and Levi came to the city and slew all the males of fighting age, including Hamor and his son Shechem, and they took their sister Dinah away. Then the other sons of Jacob sacked the whole city, took all their animals and children and wives and everything that was in their houses.

That was pretty good handiwork for boys. Simeon and Levi were 13 and 14 at the time, and they were the oldest ones, except for Reuben!

Jacob was far more circumspect. He was one who understood the consequences of actions. Jacob complained to Simeon and Levi that the worst thing the local Canaanites feared was being cut down one by one, so they will no doubt band together and wipe out Jacob and his entire household as a result of this incident. And his sons are astonished that their father would hold the honor of Dinah of such little account. The vengeful spirits of Jacob’s older sons will come into sharp contrast with gentle Benjamin (who is yet to be born) and especially Joseph, who is sold into slavery by his brothers, but whose only revenge is to craft a dramatic and heart-warming family reunion.

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My hometown

Vancouver (not Vancouver BC) Washington (not Washington DC) is the smaller sibling of Portland, Oregon, and suffers from an inferiority complex that is undeserved. Vancouver is already the fourth largest city in Washington, and if the Burnt Bridge Creek annex goes columbia-river-gorgethrough, it will pass Tacoma and Spokane to come in at second place only behind Seattle. But for a long time there wasn’t even a television station in Vancouver, and only three radio stations. All the local news is weighted toward Portland, therefore, and covers mostly Oregon issues. Vancouverites tend to feel cut off from the rest of Washington, like Klickitat County an hour to the east.

Unlike Klickitat County, however, Vancouver does not embrace the Oregon culture. The city wants to be part of Eastern Washington. It’s an island of WalMart conservativism in a sea of yuppie microbrew liberalism. Portlanders call the city “Vantucky” or “The Couve”. Vancouver is the methamphetamine capital of the United States. Home of the Tweaker.

Because Washington State has no income tax, and Oregon has no sales tax, the best strategy is to live in Vancouver and shop in Portland, which is only a hop over the Columbia River. As a result, Vancover has become a bedroom community of Portland. It’s too big for it’s britches, with the bridge traffic that goes with that. For a long time, Vancouver only had about 40,000 people, like Everett or Yakima or Bellingham, and it still has the modest downtown skyline of those second-tier cities. Now it has four times that many people.

The city sits at the mouth of the Columbia River Gorge, which cuts through the wall of the Cascade Mountains at virtually sea level. This means Vancouver continually gets the hot summers and cold winters of Eastern Washington. Seattle natives piss and moan when it breaks 90F or there’s one or two mornings when they have to scrape ice off their windshield. Vancouver can get temps of 106F in the summer and the whole month of February is frozen solid. Bitter cold. On the plus side, the Gorge is one of the most scenic areas in the world, as you can see above.

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The USS Barack Obama sets course for the Ukraine…


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Protect your property

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What’s wrong with this picture?


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Wrestling with the Holy

Out of the Laban frying pan, into the Esau fire.images

After Jacob crossed the river Jordan, he sent messengers ahead of him to meet his brother Esau and mention that he had a lot of oxen and asses and flocks and servants and hint that he could smooth over any hard feelings Esau might still have over losing his blessing.

The messengers returned to him saying that Esau was coming out to meet him with four hundred men. This worried Jacob to no end. He divided his caravan into two halves, in case Esau smote one, the other might escape.

Jacob prayed a humble prayer to his God for deliverance, and then set aside a portion of his herd as a gift to Esau. Two hundred and twenty goats, two hundred and twenty sheep, thirty camels, fifty cattle, twenty asses, and ten foals, which he sent with his servants to deliver to Esau.

They left Jacob alone, and he ended up wrestling a nameless being all night.

Some rabbis suggest that he wrestled with Michael, or even Sammael, the angel of death. Surely it was not Yahweh himself, for why would he fear the coming of the dawn like a vampire or wrestle a mere mortal man to a draw?

Could it be that Jacob is not wrestling with God or an angel at all, but his own mortality? In his dark night of the soul, with deadly Laban behind him and deadly Esau before him, Jacob took command of his own fate with sheer dogged persistence, not letting go of his quest for “life, and life more abundantly” even in the face of crippling pain, symbolized by the breaking of his thigh. “I won’t let you go until I have your Blessing,” he insists. He is rewarded with a new name. Passing through this great trial, the old man Jacob Heelclutcher falls, while the new man Israel Godclutcher goes on.

Everyone who comes up against Israel and his descendants ends up going away…permanently. You still see the Israelis around four thousand years later. You don’t see the Hittites and Amalekites and Nazis around anymore. Palestinians take note.

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