Tag Archives: coincidence

But was it really a god-wink?

My pre-sleep ritual consists of scrolling through reddit for up to an hour (some of those questions about creepiest/weirdest things you saw in some line of work are so engrossing) and then reading a book for up to an hour.  I do not recall which subreddit or post I was looking at last night when I got the idea to look up the differences between Lutherans, Episcopalians, and Presbyterians on YouTube.   I ended up watching part of this video about whether it’s true that Lutheranism is the True Catholicism, which then prompted me to check out the content creator’s channel.

I bounced around through a few videos and suddenly got the idea that I wanted to read the Bible…but not in the Sunday School sort of way.  I still have the one from when I was ten-years-old, but I wanted to read an edition that provided more historical context.  Of course, The Ten Minute Bible Hour would have not one but two playlists about the text and a video where he provides an overview of many popular editions.

Why would I want to read a book that so many people have turned to in times of extreme duress but also to justify harmful behavior?  What could I gain from it now that I wasn’t able to when I was going to church every Sunday through my junior year in high school?  Despite being raised non-denominational Protestant, I never considered the Bible to be like a To-Do List or a brand styleguide.  At the same time, though, I didn’t think about it as a text separate from dogmatic teachings of a particular religion.  I never read all of the Bible either (not even in college when I attended the Asian Christian Fellowship meetings every Friday for a couple years).  On a whim, I decided that I would read all of the Bible…mostly because I think I would enjoy reading it now as story, as parable, as letters to a cynic.  And, I wanted the violent bits that my Sunday School teachers probably summarized instead of having us read the source material.

cynical

I went to the Barnes & Noble at the Mall of GA today to go looking for a new Bible.  I almost got a Precious Moments edition of the Catholic Bible just because I wanted one when I was a kid, but instead went with the Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible NRSV.  Since Song of Solomon has always been a favorite book, I flipped straight to it to see what supplemental information flanked the pages.  What did I find? Sections on the “Historical Setting,” the “Literary Setting,” and…

Key Concepts:
~ Love and sex are powerful forces in our lives.
~ Wisdom will result in discipline and an understanding of appropriate timing in love (1091).

If you’ve only ever heard a couple lines from the Song of Solomon, it’s probably the second verse: Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine. *

The notes at the bottom of the page for verse 2 indicate that “A kiss on the lips was a passionate expression throughout the Near East, though Egyptians touched noses instead…the comparison of the man’s love to wine is analogous to a stock metaphor of Egyptian love poetry, in which lovemaking is compared to pomegranate wine or to beer…the Egyptians knew wine, but they favored beer.  In contrast, Israelites preferred wine, and no word for beer occurs in Biblical Hebrew” (1092).

Sold.  This particular edition weighs 4 pounds and measures 6.50 inches (width) x 9.40 inches (height) x 2.30 inches (depth).  As I held it up before me, I thought to myself, “This is going to save my life one day.”  I mean physiologically.

I moved on to the DVDs and after I finished milling about there, I happened to look up and my eyes fell upon the other Robert Matzen book about Audrey Hepburn.  The commemoration of my not having died for a year is just a few days away and between the reason why I went to the bookstore in the first place to where my gaze landed, the thought entered my head that “oh, this is my god-wink experience…goddess-wink, theologian-wink.”  I want it to be as such, something more divinely premeditated than synchronicity or fate.  Au fait, there will be a meaningful purpose and reason for why I wanted to read the Bible, which led me to that particular Barnes & Noble…so that I could also read Robert Matzen’s book.

C’est possible aussi que comme l’instance il y a une semaine, I was just at the right place at the right time.

*The NIV version says instead, “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth–for your love is more delightful than wine.”

A Sense of Belonging and the Miraculous

When I was washing my hair tonight, my mind wandered to what-if scenarios involving gunshots and holy texts.  Imagine, if you would, a group of friends (or strangers) traveling in one car on the way to an interfaith service.  With their destination just around the bend, they get caught in a crossfire at an intersection between a band of thieves and a few off-duty police officers.  Each of the five inhabitants of that car gets shot.  Legs, arms, torsos, and abdomens get punctured.

Or do they?

Customers at a nearby gas station hear the gunshots and call the paramedics.  After arriving at the emergency room and receiving treatment from the hospital staff, it becomes apparent that even though these individuals were each struck three times, none of the injuries were life-threatening.  Major arteries missed by centimeters, ball-and-sockets missed cleanly, and no reproductive parts were put in disarray.

Imagine the look of disbelief or curiosity on the nurses and doctors’ faces when they summarize the condition of the patients to the patients.  The Buddhist was saved by his Star Trek dvd box set that he clutched against his chest while driving.  The Muslim, sitting shotgun, was saved by the Qur’an leaning against his chest.  The non-denominational Christian was saved by the pocket NIV Bible he kept in his breast pocket.  The Wiccan was saved by an Oxford Dictionary, you guessed it, leaning against her bosom.  The football player was saved by his playbook and his 10,000 Youtube Subscriber award.

Would each person thank their god?  Would each person feel that their surviving is proof that there is a god and that there is only their god?  Or, would they be back to square one wondering that if they all lived, it’s impossible to know which god is “right” and if there really is a god at all? Which holy text is right?  Moreover, the football player puts a variable on things.  Either he made it because he was with deists or because it was a coincidence and his presence somehow negated the certainty that the rest of them had regarding the nature of the Divine.  The Buddhist would probably be the most chill, right?  He’d chalk everything up to the rhythm of life as would the Wiccan.

On the other hand, if this car were filled with atheists and one law-of-attraction practitioner and they were saved by various non-holy texts (a Bluray box set, a cookbook, an iPad, a giant stuffed bear), would they attribute their survival to coincidence? Dumb luck? Or look at the law-of-attractioner for an explanation?

AVStatueMD2016

Off Topic: No licorice tea for me, fanks berry mug

Just like the subject says.

emtn

I had near-death experience numero two today.  Oh, I’ve not shared the first one.  It happened a week ago; rather than get into the details, I’ll just say that a force greater than my own conscious mind was compelling me to participate in a series of actions that would’ve been most unwise.  I had never experienced such a detached loss of control prior to that moment.

This morning I decided to try licorice tea.  Not a good idea.

Comparing the liquids that I have consumed since I was a toddler, tea was never high on the list.  Between the ages of 365 days to twenty-five or twenty-six years, juice and milk have constituted the bulk of my liquid nourishment.  I drank much more carbonated beverages when I was in junior high and high school than I did in college.  My water intake has always been at a minimum, but I’ve improved upon that greatly in the last five years.   Coffee and other espresso products were incorporated into my menu over ten years ago, when I was in high school.  Intake has risen stupendously in the 21st century.  But tea? I had sweet tea once in a while; I sipped it whenever going to a Chinese restaurant.

A lot of people cannot consume tea on an empty stomach, but I can.  As of this morning, black teas and green teas sit with me well.  Matcha mix for green tea lattes, however, are not welcomed–something I discovered last year.  After a weekend of ingesting the equivalent of a venti (methinks), my throat began to feel tight.  I could still breathe, but something wasn’t right.   I’ve stayed away from green tea lattes from that day and have been fine.

Whale.  Licorice tea appears to have a more severe adverse effect on me.  I made a small cup of it this morning.  After making jokes that it smelled like Pier 1 Imports, I took a sip and was thrilled that it didn’t taste like Pier 1 Imports.  I liked the subtly sweet flavor.  In the next fifteen minutes or so, while also drinking an iced latte, bottled water, and orange juice, I took two more sips–spaced minutes apart.  And then my skull began to feel weird.  The area between my eyes began to feel tingly.  The sensation was reminiscent of but not identical to caffeine withdrawal and how my body reacts to MSG (my face goes numb and feels warm).  It wasn’t unpleasant per se, just unfamiliar.

A couple hours later, it traveled to the top of my skull and then down to my cheeks, underneath my chin, and then to my throat.  My breathing was fine, my heartbeat normal, and I did not have a headache.  By lunchtime, I had observed that whenever I was up and walking around, I was pretty fine.  I only experienced the kind of sore throat/neck that one would have from screaming along during a rock concert.  The moment I sat back down, though, that unfamiliar sensation returned.  I decided to go to Phipps to take a walk and maybe eat something.

And when I was so close to my destination, I nearly got into a car accident (not my fault).  I was able to predict the other car’s lane-changing intentions in time to slow to a stop (in an intersection no less).  Usually when I’m able to avoid collisions (my fault or not), my heart rate immediately increases as do levels of adrenaline and incidence of sweating, whereupon I typically channel my inner swashbuckler and scowl in the general direction of the car that was in the wrong.   This time, I remember mild profanity and being agitated, but it wasn’t until I had parked and got out of my car did I realize something was really wrong.  My heart was beating very fast and my hands and feet felt cold, numb, and tingly.  I had to lean on a pillar in front of the door to catch my breath.  After going up one set of escalators, my breathing had become very heavy.  I leaned against another pillar because I was afraid I was just going to fall to the floor.  A security guard happened to be there and asked me if I was all right.

He went up to the mall level with me; I phoned to be picked up and then sat on a bench.  Two other guards came over to see how I was; the first guard stayed with me for about ten more minutes.  After my breathing was less audible and he determined that I would be fine unsupervised (and I said I just needed to breathe), he told me that if I needed anything the info desk would call security for me.  I think one of the guards went to the other side of the atrium to keep an eye on me.

I call this my second near-death experience not because I was clinically dead, but because I felt detached from my body in a manner similar to the first occurrence.  Yet, simultaneously, I felt imprisoned by my body.  My mom had called when I first sat down and when I flipped open the phone, I couldn’t hold it properly.  My hand didn’t feel like it belonged to me.  Poor blood circulation.

When I got home, I ate half a banana and had a chlorophyll mix drink (something I have to take after unknowingly consuming MSG).  What have I learned today?

1.  Yes, people can be allergic to tea, all kinds of tea.

2.  I will never drink licorice tea again or consume “real” licorice candies.

3.  As much as human beings and incompetent drivers still make me go “ugh!” I’ve broadened my “with the exceptions of….” range just a bit more.

4. Why any of this stuff happened is beside the point.  It’s not like the windshield wipers incident, where I eventually recognized the value of the initial inconvenience.  I’m just glad the security guard was there when I had gone up one set of escalators.  I think it helped having him there as a tangible, external focal point.

~!~

Future me chiming in here: this post was originally written in 2009 but just a few years later, I developed an intolerance to liquid cow milk, an aversion to tea on an empty stomach, and matcha mix is a-okay.  I still avoid licorice when possible.