Monday, August 31, 2020

Review of Another Avitar


Another Avitar by S P Somtow

Not only do Superman, Wonder Woman and Bat Man have secret identities, but so, apparently, do the entire Hindu Pantheon. Krit's identity was unknown even to himself. As far as he knew, he was only an orphan boy living in an orphanage in middle of Klong Toey, Bangkok's largest slum community. Then, fellow deity Ganesh in the guise of his English teacher enlightens him. 

On one hand, he's awakened to some new powers; on the other, he's just a kid, and an orphan one at that, with a propensity for mischief. He fumbles around, enables his fellow orphan to win money in the lottery, and other antics, until the English teacher cum banana-scarfing elephant god begins to teach him a few things, starting him on the path of what promises to be a series of novellas spanning his new career - set in seamy Bangkok, sprinkled with humour and irony. 

Bangkok is a fascinating place, as I can attest as one who has lived there much of my life. I've even worked for a short spell at the children's institution in Klong Toey that sort of inspired the setting. 

I expect great things from this series. 

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Review of Somtow's The Utopia Hunters

Utopia Hunters


It's a collection of stories, each casting its light of meaning on to a bigger story; that inhabited by a young female artist named Jenjen. Through the stories, each told by the Rememberer, Tash, she slowly comes to understand the particular point in history in which she finds herself; namely, the beginning of the fall of the millenia old empire of the Inquest.

Those who have been reading the Inquestor series already know some of the characters of the stories: the Inquestor Ton Elleran, Sajit, Veruneh, Siriss, Aryk; some appearing both in their stories and in the overall story - Ton Elleran in particular. 

From the collection of stories, we can now piece together Elleran's life history. They help Jenjen discover what made Hokh Ton Elleran into the sad, tragic old man she meets as an eight year old in the opening chapter. 

Some of the stories confuse her further, revealing the cruel side of the High Compassion, casting Ton Elleran as no better than the rest: but they also show the view he has from the inside, and his conviction that the Inquest must fall.

Jenjen realises her part in it, as an artist, and she fulfills her role.

In the same way, this book fulfills a unique role in the Inquestor series, following the logical progression of the bigger story, but at the same time, creating a diversion by sprinkling in the smaller stories, some of which have been published in various Scifi journals during the heyday of classical science fiction.

A good read...

Saturday, July 04, 2020

A step into Uncharted Scifi

S P Somtow's Light on the Sound 

After reading or watching so much space fiction, when it seems like all the possible scenarios have probably been used at some time or another, and space warriors remind you of the US Marines, and the future of the galaxy is English speaking white, from S P Somtow's Inquestor Universe comes a breath of fresh air. 

Light on the Sound is the first in the series, though it's the third one I've read and reviewed. It begins with a piece of prose describing a feature of a habitable planet like nothing ever imagined by the aforesaid works of space fiction, a gigantic covered crater with a dense atmosphere, in which swim - or fly - the delphinoids. These are a giant fish-like (or bird-like) creature with giant exo-brains (is that a word?) that give them a consciousness of the overcosm - that network of logical lines that links every part of the galaxy, enabling faster than light travel. Only the delphinoids know how to navigate the overcosm, but they don't. They just fly about their massive "sunless sound" singing about it, emitting both light and sound that would drive ordinary humans mad for their sheer beauty. 

A delphinoid, connected to the right technology, is useful for enabling a space ship to navigate the overcosm. The only ones that are able to catch them are a race of deaf and blind humans, who have been doing this for many millennia , as part of their culture. The sunless sound is their whole universe. 

After the opening prose, the world opens up further through the eyes of 14 year old Kelver, a common peasant boy, whose life begins to take a totally unpredicted turn. That has to do with his meeting the second main character in the story, a girl from the other side of the "sky wall", the great dark area where the delphinoids live. 

Her people have been innocently hunting the noble creatures which they can neither see nor hear for millennia, thinking they are guiding them home. However, Darktouch has a "birth defect"; she can both see and hear. She hears the song of the delphinoid on her first hunt, and realises something is very wrong. 

So, there's that proverbial question, "How do you describe colour to one blind from birth?" Somtow skilfully describes her sensations through her point of view in a world where there are no words for sight and hearing, and she thinks something is wrong with her. Even for the seeing, it's a dark world, so the difference isn't as profound as it would be outside. But there's enough to start her on her journey. 

The third main character (actually the second in order of appearance), is the Inquestor, Ton Davaryush, who has just been appointed King of the planet. Through him, we discover the ins and outs of the Inquestral universe, the Dispersal of Man, the god like status of the Inquestors, and their guiding philosophy of High Compassion. However, Ton Davaryush has also known something is badly wrong, ever since his encounter with a sentient star. 

Then, there's Lady Varuneh, an equally interesting character. All their paths cross, and they set out together, determined to right all the wrongs. Their path twists and turns, they discover things… 

But the reader also discovers life beyond warp-speed and planetary colonisation. Even in listing the concepts involved in this story, I've only scratched the surface. This is certainly a worthwhile read, and a first step into a new world of hitherto uncharted science fiction.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Being Two: a review of P Somtow's Homeworld or rhe Heart

If you've read any of the others of Somtow's Inquestor series, you'll remember Sajit as the wisened musician, a character as only a virtuoso as Somtow Sucharitkul could invent, who  under the patronage of the Inquestor Ton Elloran, has creat a music lover's paradise. In those earlier stories, we learn only enough about him to wish we could learn more. And now, here's our chance to do just that. We meet Sajit as a ten-year-old. 

However, my advice here is, don't rush headlong into this one unless you've read at least one of the earlier books in the series. Any of the first two or three will do. They're ok as stand-alone narratives. Things are sufficiently explained in those that you need to know before beginning Homeworld of the Heart - things like, what is an Inquestor? Why their obsession with utopias? Their cosmic game of makrugh, child soldiers with their deadly laser eyes, that vast habitable shell surrounding the black hole in centre of the galaxy, where whole stars are pulled through the gaps at the poles of the sphere; and other things. That's not a criticism. To go through the whole explanation yet again would be tedious. Time to get on with the story, but do your homework first if necessary. It will be well worth it. 

Somtow's multicultural upbringing has left him with a profound ability to understand yet other cultures, and he uses that to full advantage in the inquestor series. I particularly appreciate that aspect, as I'm a bit that way myself. It is good to see science fiction that doesn't assume that the future of the galaxy is Anglo white. 
Because of the name, I tend to picture Sajit as Indian. The cover (painted by Somtow's protégé Micky), however, pictures him more Thai looking. The name could be either - or Khmer. 

The culture, in this case, is both primitive and highly advanced. People travel about via displacement plates (for teleporting), and use other equally advanced devices on a daily basis; and yet they share a taboo with some of the most primitive tribes of earth: twins are considered an abomination. When they're born, one of them must be killed at birth. 

Sajit has something worse than a twin, a "dopple". It was cloned for him by someone very high up, who has an interest in Sajit's future, so that it could be sent in his place when it was time to be drafted as a child-soldier. But Sajit awakens his dopple prematurely, without anyone else knowing, and they bond. He names his dopple Tijas. 

The story of not-one-but-two Sajits takes many an intriguing turn. There are expectations of Sajit's future that run contrary to his own longings; there's a planitary crises that's the result of the great game of cosmic chess - complicated by a bureaucratic error (and of course, the gods don't make mistakes); there are relationships complicated by time dilation; and more. All the while, Somtow keeps us glued, all the while imparting to the reader the aspirations and longing of the two boys for each other. Love does what love requires, even if it's fighting each other to save the other's life.

He weaves it all to a climax, but their story isn't over. There's more to come in another sequel. 

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Where do I stand on abortion?

An answer that's likely to displease both sides of the issue...

The root problem is the unequal treatment of the genders. Of course, you say, that's sort of obvious, isn't it!

Yes, there are aspects that are obvious on the surface, but I don't think we understand how deep it goes.

From the beginning of history, people have taken advantage of each other. The strong and dominant rise to the top. If it's at the expense of the weak and vulnerable, that's always been considered par for the course. We have always tended to think of those at the top as superior to those at the bottom. Kings are superior to the gentry, who are superior to the peasants; Masters are superior to the slaves; the rich are superior to the poor, bosses are superior to their employees - and yes, men as superior to women. That's on the surface.

If we look at what actually happens, we get a different picture. Often, we see the strong standing on the shoulders of the weak (in which case, who's actually stronger?). In ancient times, it wasn't uncommon for an illiterate slave owner to have a well educated slave whom they set to work tutoring their children, or other tasks requiring up to date know-how. Aesop, famous for his fables, was a slave. To this day, we often see bosses and team leaders who are less skilled in key areas than their employees.

In too many cases, we see people who were good at their job elevated to the position of a boss, and find they make a bad boss. They were better at what they were doing before, because that was their skill set. The previous boss was actually good at being a boss, though he didn't have the skill of the first person. Now, he’s also been promoted beyond his level of ability.

Different skill sets, yes, but who's superior? Who is higher on the social ladder? Who gets use of the executive lounge? Why?

And how do you explain to your neighbours, or to your mother-in-law that you turned down a promotion because you've already got the job you're good at - without sounding like you're making an excuse?”

I think it has a lot to do with having eaten of the fruit of knowledge of good and evil.

Now, if we look at the world of women, we can also find a lot more below the surface. Throughout our male dominated history, we do find a few outstanding exceptions to the all too pervasive meek and dependent role of the female. In the Bible, we have Moses’ sister, Miriam, and the four daughters of Zelophehad. And what about the prophetess Deborah? Even the Apostle Paul, who on the surface seems to favour a male leadership in the Church, yet highly praises such female leaders as Priscilla, Junia and Phoebe. In his instructions to Timothy and the Corinthians, Paul was only dealing with facts on the ground; women who are illiterate, and have hardly ever been outside their home (like most women of his time), don't make good leaders. Paul was simply being pragmatic, not speaking ex-cathedra.

In secular history, there's Cleopatra, Nefertiti, Joan of Arc, Elizabeth the First, Victoria… And look at recent history: some of the most male dominated societies in the world, like Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Turkey, have had female prime ministers, while the “most modern country in the world” hasn't had a single female president”. The two female prime ministers UK has had were anything but the “slap-your-face-with-my-bra” types.

Often, the very fabric of society,  even the most male dominated, has been held together by the women, the mothers. They handle the family finances, keep the family in line. The men have the positions, the power, the salaries; but they spend their money before they get home, leaving their wives to come up with the extra money to feed the kids, keep them in school, and keep the world from falling apart.

So who's really superior? How are we equal, or unequal? Does equality mean uniformity?

Can we be free to take a good look at the strengths and weakness of either gender (or of any other classification, for that matter) without offending the social justice warriors?

Fathers are different from mothers. At their best, each adds a different aspect to the stability and quality of a family. Women bosses add something to a company or a team that men bosses don't, and vice versa. The same with women heads of state.

That's in a perfect world. The world at its worst?

Women are more responsible than men. Why? Women get pregnant, and are stuck with the kids, while the men are free to run off anywhere they please and make more babies. That's the very factor that has always made women weak and vulnerable, and it's also the source of their strength.

So, how do we equalise things? Do we try to enforce uniformity where it doesn't exist? Do we say to the women, “You don't have to go through with this pregnancy”? That will only make women just as irresponsible as men. Equalising by dumbing down is not the answer.

What if we didn't choose the easy way out? What if we put the same expectations on men as we do women, and make them just as responsible for a pregnancy as the woman? What if a woman's maternity leave were at the expense of the child's father? We now have the technology to prove who the father is.

This would have to go far beyond the legal issues. It requires a cultural change. What if it were just as much an insult to call someone a “playboy” as a “slut”? What about adding a few mandatory titles to men's names to alternate with “mister”, the same as women have Mrs, Miss, and Ms? What if a man's reputation were just as tarnished by how many children he's fathered (by as many women), as a woman's is by how many times you see her pregnant?

Can we hope for a society like that?

Okay, my opinion on abortion: I believe it's wrong. I believe it's murder. By allowing it, we're taking the easy way out, enforcing equality by forcing uniformity where it doesn't exist.

On the other hand, by campaigning to make abortion illegal, without giving equal attention to the other issues I've described above, we Christians become nothing more than a bunch of hypocrites. Had we been fulfilling our mandate all along - the mandate that was pushed forward by the likes of Hannah
Moore, William Wilberforce, and others, that gave birth to the the women's suffrage movement, the abolition of slavery, child labour laws and other reforms - we could have led the way towards equality of the genders, thereby preempting the excuse of legalised abortion as an equaliser.

On the other hand, if we now deprive people of the legal avenue of abortion, while keeping them from state aid to enable them to support the children we're trying to save, we place ourselves as the target of Jesus’ condemnation: “They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger.” (Matthew 23:4)

Sunday, April 07, 2019

Hard Brexit and the Ulster Covenant

This book, HEAL NOT LIGHTLY, was written by a friend of mine a number of years ago, but the message is especially vital right now; especially as we face the prospect of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

Since the Good Friday Agreement, we've been living in a time of relative peace - that's "peace" as in "no noise", or "no people being killed", but one that requires "peace walls" between communities that still hate each other.

With a hard border, a major supporting factor for the Good Friday Agreement will have disappeared. We could be back to square one. It's time to tackle the root of the problem. That, according to Harry Smith, is the Ulster Covenant. His book gives an excellent background and a way forward. You can  buy it here.

My grandfather and my great-grandfather both signed the Ulster Covenant. It was a covenant solemnly sworn by two thirds of Protestants in Northern Ireland in 1912, to fight and be willing to die rather than submit to rule by the Dublin government, which was perceived to be Catholic controlled. In effect, we coerced Great Britain to keep us.
The crowds outside Belfast City Hall waiting to sign the
Ulster Covenant on 28 September, 1912

The Ulster Covenant was signed before God, and, in the words of Bob Dylan, we had "God on our side".

The only hitch was, God never gave us the mandate, as Christians (which is what Protestants are), to fight or spend our energy in making the world safe for our own kind. So rather than assuming we have "God on our side", should we not ask, are we on God's side?

The sentiment that both inspired the Ulster Covenant and is reinforced by it, is the same that is now pushing us towards a hard border situation; but what's worse is, the same sentiment also insures that the road beyond will be fraught with violence and strife. The next decision facing NI after a hard Brexit is whether to remain in UK, or reunite with the Republic. The Good Friday Agreement stipulates that that would be the choice of the people of NI. It will most certainly be debated, with more than just words...

I believe, with all my heart, that we've come to the crises point in Northern Ireland history, in which we have to examine our attitudes and correct the mistakes of the past. God has been telling us about this; we are now approaching the due date.  For myself, I've asked God's forgiveness for my grandparents' part in the signing of that covenant.

I believe that's our only hope for true peace.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

An Answer to the Moral Dihlemma of Theism

Let's say you're omnipotent, and you want to make a clock. There are two ways to do it:

The first way would be to create a dial with hands that always point in the right direction in response to the actual time. The big hand would move around the dial once every hour, always landing on the twelve at the exact moment the little hand arrives at whatever o’clock it is, simply because you commanded it to. You could either command it to follow that pattern for all eternity, or else you could dedicate one small part of your infinite mind to physically moving it according to that pattern. There would be nothing of what we call clockworks inside, just a giant cosmic miracle dial responding to your decree on its own.

The second way would be to build it with all the wheels inside meshing together, timed by the flywheel, driven by the power-source, working with utmost precision, insuring that the hands point to the right numbers on the dial at the right time of the cosmic time progression. Any addition you made later on would be powered by and in sync with the existing clockworks. It would be designed to work all on its own without any effort from you - except you could add an input device whereby you could make any corrections, such as, “increase speed by one millionth of a second”. We'll talk more about this input device later.

From reviewing all the evidence, both from science and from scripture, I'd have to conclude that a certain Omnipotent being that we know, chose the second of the two ways, the “clockworks” model when creating this universe. A lot of folk religion does seem to favour the “miracle dial” method, as well as, perhaps a few early scientific models. However, even early scientists as Aristotle and others leaned in the direction of a clockworks type of universe.

How does science point to a clockworks model? There are the four forces (that we know of), gravitational, electromagnetic, the strong and the weak; and we now know that atoms consist of dozens of types of particles, each rendering possible, various facets of our existence, including life.

Though we've always taken it for granted, actual life integrated with physical substance isn't an easy thing to come by. We know that rocks can't be living. Minerals can't hold life, nor can any other elements or simple compounds - although we now have very complex electronic circuitry with the right programming to make it act like it's alive (isn't that right, Alexa? “Yes, that's right”). But only the extremely elaborate intricate structure of the DNA molecule can actually hold life. We still don't know how it works, nor how to recreate it. All we can do is grow it from existing DNA.

When God said, “Let there be light,” the big bang occurred at just the right intensity to divide that initial microscopic speck into a humongous mass of photons, all at the right density to enable the formation of atoms of every size and type - the clockworks that would eventually enable life. Had that big bang been even the slightest bit more intense, physicists tell us, all that would have been enabled would have been hydrogen atoms. Life could never come about. Anything ever so slightly less intense and the universe as we know it would, again, not have been possible.

Even at the right intensity, the time still had to be right. The Omnipotent Being said, “let light be separated from darkness.” Ripples appeared on the outward flowing stream of light, and gravitational and magnetic forces began to go to work at pulling it together to form galaxies and stars. The nuclear reactions within each star formed the various particles into atoms, splitting them again, completely dissolving them and remaking them into atoms again, while some that had spun off beyond the outer periphery formed into planets. When at least one planet had cooled sufficiently, God said, “Let the water be separated from dry land, and let an atmosphere appear.” Only then, was life even possible. We are living in what is called, “The Goldilocks Zone” where it is, like junior Bear's porridge, “Just right!”

So, how much time passed between these events that led to it being “just right” for life of any sort to make its appearance? Some say billions of years, others say only a few days. The thing about such intense gravitational force as was present at the big bang, is that it greatly speeds up time, so the first couple of aeons could have been a couple of days. To God, it doesn't make any difference anyhow, as a day and a thousand years (or a billion, as far as that goes) are all the same. It was all a part of fixing the clockworks to accommodate life, and setting up that relatively short Goldilocks zone where humanity could live and roam, and fulfil his destiny.

There is reason to believe that the seventh day of creation was much longer than twenty four hours. According to Hebrews 4:3-11 we are still in the seventh day. God has been resting, and it remains for some of us to enter that rest.

So, God told man on the sixth day, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea, the birds in the air and every living creature that crawls on the earth.” God gave His creation over to humanity for safekeeping, set His alarm clock, and rested.

Well okay, He's not exactly sleeping. Remember, there's that input device whereby He can make adjustments, and that is through interaction with humanity, to whom He gave the authority to manage things. That input device is, in fact, the life that He breathed into man that brought him to life. So, humanity is both a product of the grand universal clockworks that God had spent so much time designing and developing, and alive with the breath of God Himself. Where other creatures are simply products of the clockworks, and therefore subject to determinism, humanIty is above that and is capable of true creativity, making decisions that can't be predicted by knowing all the maths. So, humanity, created in God's own image, holding God's life in his DNA, both belongs in the physical universe that produced that DNA, and transcends it. He is a higher order of being, meant to be God's own friend. That's who God gave the authority over His creation.

But we also know that the first couple of humans blew it, creating a Mess (with a capital M) that all humans coming after would have to live with, so God has been making heavy use of the input device.

Everyone is affected by The Mess, some more than others, and in different ways, prompting many to say, ‘It just isn't fair!” There's nothing about The Mess that's fair. People are enslaved, bullied, tortured, slaughtered, bereaved, left destitute, while others reap the benefits, living high off other people's suffering; all because of how human nature has been skewed.

Early humans took on board something that they were told not to, and that gave us an acute sense of good and evil. On the surface that sounds good, but look closer. What it was, was an obsession to compare everything. The first humans looked at each other and then at themselves and said, “Your body is beautiful, but mine? Oh dear! Stop looking at me!” (To this day, we think of nudity as evil, but God made it clear that that’s only because we think it is, when He said, “Who told you you were naked?”)

Later, someone said to his brother, “You are better than me, so God loves you more than me, therefore, I hate you!” That led to the first murder.

Later still people began saying, “Sex with you is nice, but I could have a better time with someone more beautiful/handsome than you;” and, “You have a prettier woman than I have, and a stronger beast of burden, nicer tools and more land than I have; but I'm stronger than you, so I'm taking it.”

Actually, the basic desires aren't bad in themselves. A healthy sex drive is a good thing, and some desires and urges are simple survival instincts. It's when we're obsessed with comparing the quality or quantity with what others have that it gets out of proportion.

And so, because some were stronger than others, while following the same skewed logic, we've ended up with the unfair Mess that we're in.

Now, question and answer time:

First, how can a loving God allow those things to happen?

The answer: remember the Two possible ways for an omnipotent being to build a clock? Had He chosen the Miracle Dial method, that would be a very good question. If everything worked simply because He had His hands on it making it work, then everything would run perfectly, and all the aforementioned evils wouldn't be happening. But He didn't do it that way. He went with the Clockworks model, designing the universe to run according to the laws of physics and quantum mechanics in a cause-effect continuum. Moreover, because humanity is a transcendent being, as well as an integral part of the clockworks, we had the power to screw things up on a grand scale, which we did.

Then why didn't the Omnipotent Being do something about that before things got out of hand?

Keep in mind, the nature of the universe He made, the clockworks, the careful timing, the laws of physics and the quantum mechanics, and all the preparation that went into the Goldilocks Zone; it's clear that God took no shortcuts. All of that work went into the preparation of humanity's place in the vast clockworks of the universe, as a functioning part of the clockworks.

So, let's rephrase that question: Why didn't the Omnipotent Being do something he hadn't ever done since detonating the Big Bang; and stick His finger into the clockworks, stop the universe, undo the human mistake and then start it off again where it left off?

That's not His way. He had already put humanity into the pilot seat, and had begun His day of rest. Humanity was given the freedom of choice, and with that comes living with those choices. Freewill is a dangerous thing.

Perhaps the next obvious question would be, wasn't God morally wrong in giving humanity freewill when He knew where it would lead?

There are many angles to that one. Part of the assumption is that it was like trusting the keys of the family car to a young child. Others picture it as setting a bowl of sweets on the table, and telling the two-year-old, “Don't touch!” The way the Adam and Eve story is often told, one quite easily comes away with that conclusion. However, if we examine the accounts more carefully, we might get a far different picture: The first man had already named all the animals, and, according to Rabbinical tradition, used sounds that matched the nature of each creature, like a well studied Kabbalist would. So, was Adam no more than a small child? Perhaps it was more like the father entrusting the keys to the car to a son nearing adulthood, who already knows how to drive safely and responsibly, and has already proven himself on many occasions. The son is ready, by anyone's standards, to be trusted with such a potentially dangerous machine. But he still messes up at the critical moment, causing death and destruction. Who is morally responsible for that?

That leads us to another angle:  why was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil there in the first place?

One thing we don't pretend to know is what ultimate purpose it served. There are a few theories, such as: maybe it was meant for  later after humanity had matured to a certain level; or that it was simply there to test humany's obedience; or as a chance to exercise his power to choose. Perhaps none of them completely satisfy everyone, but there is the other consideration: Adam, as we observed, had been there longer, knew what was what, and knew what he was doing. Eve was a new arrivals, so she was easily deceived.

When Adam discovered that Eve had eaten the forbidden fruit, why didn't he take Eve by the hand, lead her to where God would be walking in the cool of the day, and say, “I'm afraid we've had a miss-hap. Eve has gone and eaten from that tree you told us not to, because the snake told her it was good for her. Isn't there anything that can be done for her?” He didn't do that. He simply ate of it himself, knowing full well what the consequences were (and people point to the Genesis story to show how superior men are to women. How was that superior?).

Yet another angle is, would it really have been better to be products of determinism than free will? If we were, would we be enjoying the levels of creativity that we do, pushing the limits to what's possible, or indeed, even discussing free will versus determinism? It's clear from a close examination of Scripture that God's intent in creating humanity was to enjoy companionship on that level.

It's on that level that we see that God, by making use of that “input device”, initiated a midcourse correction intended to eventually bring everything back into line with what it's supposed to be. As anyone knows, who fixes things, some fixes may take a while, and in mid-fix, look even worse than when we started out. That Fix (with a capital F) involved instituting a covenant with various ones, which gave the Omnipotent One the leeway to manifest His Omnipotence in a limited way (things like parting the Red Sea, etc) without overstepping the mandate He had given humanity. In fact, that was the whole point of having a “chosen people”, so He could “legally” maintain a presence on the earth so He could carry out the Fix. Humanity created The Mess, humanity must play a vital part in The Fix.

What about those who have been suffering in the meantime, simply because The Fix is still in the works? What of those who have never heard of The Fix?

The traditional assertion is that every man, woman, boy and girl, puppy and kitten who hasn't read aloud the Sinner's Prayer from the back of a Chick tract, will spend all of eternity burning in the intense fire of hell; it doesn't matter how miserable their life was on earth.

I believe there is a hell, and also a world to come, in which the meek will inherit the earth. I also believe that being fully initiated into God's Kingdom is through repentance and faith - being born again by the Spirit of God. We’ll talk about that in another post. However I also believe it is a mistake to assume that Theologians have distilled the sum of all truth from the little we can read of scripture. I do believe God is just, and besides being omnipotent, He is all knowing. He knows the lives of every abused child, every slave, each bullied and beaten vulnerable person, from beginning to end - and He's just. I can only trust Him with that. That’s a part of having faith in Him.

We do get some vague hints from the Bible, the following from Yeshua's parables:

The parable of the rich man and Lazarus: A rich man who had everything, but never showed mercy to poor diseased Lazarus who sat at the door grabbing what crumbs fell from the dishes as they were being carried out to be washed. Both died, the rich man went to hell, while Lazarus went to a comfortable place and was held in the bosom of Father Abraham. We're not told that Lazarus was a born again Christian, nor whether he was Torah observant; only that he was receiving compensation for a life of misery. The rich man was, apparently receiving just compensation for non Torah observance, particularly of those parts of the Torah that command us not to neglect the poor of the land, to see to the needs of the widows and orphans and the refugees - about consuming the earth's resources without giving anything back.

The parable of the sheep and the goats: At judgement day, the Judge of all the earth sits on His throne, directing some to move to His right, and others to His left. To those on His right He says, “I was sick and you helped me; I was hungry and you fed me; I was imprisoned and you visited me etc… enter into the joy of the Lord.” Those people replied, “Huh?” “When did that happen?” “I've never even been to church!” “I never saw you…” And the Judge replied, “Oh yes you did. When you befriended that homeless kid, when you went out of your way to check how that very sick looking man was doing, when you paid out more than you could afford to feed that family… you were doing it to me.” To those on His left, He had other things to say.

As I said, the above are hints as to God criteria for judgement. A major one is according to how we judge others. Yeshua said, “Don't judge and you won't be judged. By what standard you judge others is how you will be judged.”

I picture one of us standing in the queue at the final judgement: The man just two ahead of you approaches the throne and says, “I was really bad, I know. I had such a bad temper, I beat my wife and my kid A couple of times, and…”

The judge interrupts him, “Yes, you confessed that to me, and by my grace, you were beginning to overcome in that area. You were on your way to becoming a truly good gentle husband and father before your brother-in-law shot you. You are forgiven. Enter into the joy of the Lord.”

The one just before you approaches, saying, “I'm not sure I'm worthy to enter. I couldn't keep my hands to myself, always flirting, my wife divorced me…”

“But you kept looking to me for forgiveness, and you were slowly being transformed by my grace. Enter into my joy.“

Then it's your turn. “I can't think of any reason I can't just enter, can you? I mean, I wasn't nearly as bad as those other two, and they…”

“Not so fast. What about when you went to church wearing a shirt that hadn't been ironed, or that time you were seen picking your nose in front of the City Hall? And then there's the time you bent over to pick up a coin, and the top of your bum was showing!”

“C'mon! Those are such small thing! Those two ahead of me were…”

“I can't judge you the same as them. You wrote your own rulebook when you judged others by how they conduct themselves in public, so I have to judge you by the same standard you judged them.”

Maybe not exactly like that, but you get the picture.

James says in his epistle that by fulfilling the commandment to love our neighbour as ourselves instead of judging and favoring some over others, we qualify ourselves to be assessed by the royal law of liberty.

This brings us to our biggest obstacle; by taking on board the Knowledge of Good and Evil, we've made ourselves experts in judging others, and that, in turn, subjects us to judgement.

By showing mercy, giving people the benefit of the doubt, forgiving personal offences, releasing grudges, we place ourselves under God's mercy. However, we can't simply “unknow” the Knowledge of Good and Evil, can we! As much as we try to forgive and forget, it just keeps coming back. Also, some wounds are so deep that we find it impossible to forgive. That's where we especially need The Fix.

Just as The Mess was created by humanity, so also was The Fix, in the person of Messiah Yeshua. The Omnipotent One had been spending all of human history setting it up so that He, by human consent and cooperation, could send The Fix in the person of His Son, the human, Yeshua.

After spending a lifetime telling us about The Fix, Yeshua Himself became the target of every injury, abuse, slander, false accusation, and was finally subjected unjustly to the most torturous death imaginable; absorbing the shock of all human injustice, while uttering His last words, “Father, forgive them.”

As a human, Yeshua had the authority of a human, but without the setback of having gone wrong. He expended all the energy He had been given, and all the authority He had, until there was no more to expend. The intensity was such, He underwent death; thus, the perfect exercise of human authority, completely undoing the Mess, making The Fix available to all of humanity.

So, what exactly was it that this perfect exercise of human authority enabled the Omnipotent One to do? Something along the line of what He did with the first human, when He breathed into him the Breath of Life. It was so powerful that it brought Him back to life, complete with his body, but in a highly enhanced state. What's more, because it was officially enabled by human authority, it has the potential to affect all humans, solving all the world's problems, eventually bringing resurrection from the dead (in the same enhanced state). It's a force greater than we can imagine, and it's been in our hands ever since.

So what's wrong? We’re like a bunch of kids sitting on top of a machine more powerful than a nuclear reactor, but we're fighting over a game of marbles. … a bit like having a supercomputer in our pocket -or in my case, at the end of a selfie stick - and using it to look at pictures of cats, and getting into arguments with people we've never met. Isn't that just like us?

So now the Fix is in place, it's there in the clockworks, but it's still up to humanity to apply it. That's what we're on about now - some of us anyway.