The Purpose-Driven Boatwright

“How old was Noah when he entered the ark?” My girlfriend thought it was an innocent question. How was she to know that it could unleash something so crazy?

Really Weird Bible Stories Episode 2: The Purpose-Driven Boatwright

Noah. Weird dude. Born in a wicked generation. Not even a murmur that he mighta protested their funerals. First sentence in the Bible about him says that God liked him. Second sentence says this is his story. Third sentence: he’s a righteous man, blameless, and he walked with God. Fourth sentence, he has kids. Nice story; makes you wish ya coulda known the guy. No list of things he did or didn’t do, just that he was righteous and did nothing wrong, not exactly what he did or didn’t do. The Bible seems uninterested. Weird, I told ya. All we know is that God liked him, and he was a righteous dude. Interesting that it tells us that God liked him before it says he was righteous.

Then God tells him to build an ark. First recorded interaction between God and Noah, God says to build an ark. And Noah does it. No mention of protest. I guess they were tight and Noah trusted God.

The guy spends 120 years building a boat. A really really big boat. He spends 120 years of his life building a boat. Talk about the purpose-driven life. But wait a second – he spends 480 years without a whimper about purpose. He spends his life walking with God. Guess you could say his “purpose” was to save the whole human race… and he spends 480 years of his life not doing it. Talk about weird. Worse still, he spent those 480 years walking with God! God didn’t even tell him. Guess he was a sleeper agent.

So what did he do in those 480 years? He made a living. He walked with God. He married a pretty girl and they made (at least) 3 babies and got old together. They watched those babies grow up and find pretty girls to marry. Noah’s lovely bride doesn’t even get a name; we just call her “Mrs. Noah.” It isn’t written that by our modern standards he’d get tagged righteous, vis.: he never read the Bible (it hadn’t been written), he never went to church… Though I guess if you’re the only righteous man on earth it’d be fair to say there wasn’t a church to go to! On the other hand, II Peter 2:5 calls Noah a “preacher of righteousness.” But maybe that was after the warning of the flood, who knows?

You know the rest of the story: the flood happens, everybody else drowns, and only Noah and his family are saved. They get off the boat, Noah builds an altar and makes a sacrifice, and God is pleased and makes the first rainbow.

But here’s the part that the Sunday School teachers don’t put on the flannelgraph (because it’s not rated G): Noah grows some grapes, makes wine, and gets, well, plastered. Can you blame the guy? In his lifetime he watched the whole human race drown. Then he takes off all his clothes in the tent. Ham, one of his three beautiful babies (now quite old) sees his dad inside without his clothes on, then goes out and says, “Hey, Shem, Japheth, Dad’s inside without his clothes on!” Shem and Japheth walk in backwards and put a blanket over Daddy until he sobers up.

Then he does. He finds out the stories of who did what. He blesses Shem and Japheth, and curses Ham’s kid Canaan. Weirdness. Next thing the Bible says is that Noah died 350 years later. Guess his purpose was over.

10 kudos to the first person who can explain Noah’s purpose for the last 350 years of his life.

Episode 1: Wives for the Benjaminites

Really Weird Bible Stories That They Didn’t Tell You About In Sunday School.

When I was growing up, I heard a ton of Bible stories. The Creation of the World, Adam and Eve and The Fall, Cain and Abel, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and Joseph and his coat of many colors… But I’ve recently discovered a few that I never really heard in church, Sunday School, or anywhere. They’re weird. Really weird. And they’re hard to stamp a moral on. I’ve never heard them preached on. Not once. So without further ado, I present…

Episode I: Wives For The Benjaminites (Judges 19-21)

Here’s the setting: It’s the time of the judges. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are long off the scene. Moses has been buried by God. Joshua has led the children of Israel into the Promised Land, given his speech about “As for me and my house, we will serve YHWH.” All the cool judges you know about, like Ehud (kills a fat guy with a long sword in a quiet room), Gideon, Jephtha, Barack and Debra… they’re off the scene. Samson has crashed a Philistine party for the last time. We’ll skip (for now) the particularly weird story about a dude named Micah who makes a god and hires a priest but has the Danites swipe both from him and tell him “Shut up and go home.” But we’re skipping that. For now.

Scripture honestly says it best.

In those days Israel had no king. There was a Levite living temporarily in the remote region of the Ephraimite hill country. He acquired a concubine from Bethlehem in Judah. However, she got angry at him and went home to her father’s house in Bethlehem in Judah. When she had been there four months, her husband came after her, hoping he could convince her to return.

Weird, right? Why’d he wait four months? Scripture doesn’t bother to mention it. Maybe he missed her after all that time.

It gets weirder. Continue reading

Professor Optimism Quiz

NEW ENTRIES! Scroll down to Edit March 22, 2011 for  Goetz, Welker, Eilers, Lynch, Michelson, Clifton, Dekker, Hartle, and Ballinger!

Note: The following is NOT a transcript of actual interviews. It is a caricature of a few of my professors. Add your own to the end 🙂

Is the glass half-empty, or half-full?

Professor Latino, Digital Tools and Media Management:

The glass is half-full. But it doesn’t have enough lighting. And have you tried duplicating it in Final Cut Pro yet?

Dr. Bordeaux, Chemistry:

Well, technically, the glass is neither half-full nor half-empty. The glass can hold 300mL of H2O and it is currently holding only 139 mils. And that won’t be on the test, it’s just something I thought you might find interesting.

Professor Leeper, Intro to Digital Media Arts:

I’m not going to make a judgment call about whether the glass is half-full or half-empty. That’s something I want you to figure out on your own. You don’t really have the right to say whether the glass is half-full or half-empty until you’ve experienced it for yourself. And really, I think we talk way too much ABOUT the glass and don’t spend nearly enough time listening… to the glass… itself. We’ve talked enough; it’s the glass’s turn. I’ll get your comments on the blogs.

Continue reading

Fear Not

It’s been a while since I last blogged about fear. Quite a while.

The place was packed. I’d never seen this many people at Union Church, even close to Christmas. There were extra seats and everything, and even the extra seats were being filled – every single one. A few minutes after I arrived, they said to give the people around you a hug. The lady to my left had said “Good morning” instead of “He is risen indeed,” so I figured she was just a Christmas-and-Easter Christian and simply shook her hand. Then I went back to sending text messages to all my friends and a few acquaintances that said, “They could kill Him, but they COULDN’T KEEP HIM DEAD! HE IS RISEN!” After a few rounds of this, the nice lady beside me tried to shut my phone, smiled warmly, and said, “Stop texting! You’re in church!” (She really was smiling warmly, and wasn’t being old and mean). I flipped down to the message I was sending and showed it to her, grinning larger than was necessary. She smiled and left me alone after that. I slowed down the texting to sync with slower parts of the service… but wow. It was mostly worship songs after that, and it became increasingly difficult to send out text messages with my hands in the air. I accidentally bumped into the upraised arm of the nice lady to my left while I had my hands raised and eyes closed. Guess I’d made a bit of a happy mistake. She loved Jesus, too, or so it seemed.

I actually wasn’t planning on being at Union Church this morning, but because of the Dining Commons, Wendy’s, and Burger King all being closed, I ended up in a long line at McDonalds and heading toward being a half hour late for the church I’d intended to attend. That meant that, because this was one of those multiple-services-that-all-have-to-be-short churches, I’d miss the worship. I didn’t want to do that, not on Resurrection Sunday.

On the way to the other church, I saw a sign for N 200 E, where I’d have to turn to go to Union Church. I have no idea how these things work, but I just had a feeling or decided (I never figured out exactly which) to go to Union Church today. Maybe it’s just because they started at ten and it was now 9:57, but who knows? I slowed down fast and made the right turn to go to Union Church.

They sang a lot of songs. The service was about freedom. They performed the “Set Me Free!” skit, then the pastor came up and said that the theme for the morning was freedom – freedom from whatever it was was holding you, and then listed off a bunch of things that can hold us humans captive. He preached for a while, then gave an invitation.

They were giving out broken chain links to take home, as a reminder of spiritual broken chains, to everyone who went forward. As usual, I assumed that the invitation was not for me, but for somebody else, and that I would cheer them on. I didn’t have anything I needed set free from. God had already…  …Crap. The whole process of going from”I’m-okay” to “okay-maybe-I’m-no-okay” took about five seconds. I had a chain I needed freedom from. It was called Fear. Continue reading