And now for something completely different:
Gird up thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me. Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Hath the rain a father? From whose womb doth the snow come? Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion? Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season? Or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons? Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven? Canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth? Canst thou lift up thy voice to the clouds, that abundance of waters may cover thee?
I’m familiar with these lines because years ago I bought a silkscreen by Ben Shahn with many lines of Hebrew. It’s name was “Pleiades” and because I was an astronomy major, I asked what the lines meant. I was told “Canst thou bind the sweet influence of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion? Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season? …”
Later I found out that the “sweet influences of Pleiades” meant good luck, synchronicities, those positive things that happen to us, but that we can’t make happen. The “bands of Orion” mean those forces in the universe that we can’t change. Can you break the law of gravity? “Mazzaroth” are the signs of the zodiac.
When I found out that these lines come from the Book of Job, Chapter 38, verses 31 to 34, I looked them up. They are from the passage where God talks to Job out of the whirlwind. It begins “Gird up thy loins like a man, for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me: Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?” and goes on to say “Hath the rain a father? From whose womb does the snow come?” At this time I had been exploring the idea of God the Mother, and found myself amusedly thinking “what gender is this god?”
Recently I was talking to a friend about the silkscreen and said the lines “Gird up thy loins like a man, for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me, Where wast THOU when I laid the foundations of the deep?” I said it with lots of passion, and noticed later, when I went to look up the quote, it should be “foundations of the earth.” My friend asked why I had so much feeling, did I believe in that kind of god?” My first thought was no, I believe in a loving god, the one who loves us no matter what.
But later on, when I started asking questions about the nature of the god who loves me, and the nature of the spirit that became the universe, I saw that “God” was saying essentially that the Universe is great and complex and subtle and beautifully designed, and far beyond what a human could imagine, much less design, even the most intelligent human that ever lived on earth. I think of something like the periodic table of the Elements, which is actually quite an extraordinary design.
We did not make it up, we found it out, and it describes the pattern made by the invisible structure that the atoms are based on. The more I think about it, the more miraculous it is.
Then there are things like the salinity of the ocean. If you calculate how much salt gets washed down the rivers every year, and how many years have gone by since there were oceans (i.e. after the planet cooled enough that water could stay liquid) there should be much more salt in the oceans than there is. Why this is so is not yet known. When you add the fact that living cells do not tolerate salinity above 5%, and that the salinity of the oceans has remained constant for a very long time, you have to ask the question, why/how is this happening? James Lovelock’s Gaia Hypothesis is that the earth maintains conditions for life the same way the body regulates its temperature: many complex interactions by tiny creatures.
Job’s god might well say “Can you regulate the salinity of the ocean? Can you guide the bee to the flower? Could you teach the hummingbird how to build her nest?” etc etc.
I have been trying to reconcile this God with the one who embraced me saying “Welcome!” It occurs to me that there might be hierarchies of spirit, some in charge of galaxies, say, and the one I relate to as “God” is really an archangel, the archangel of our solar system. There is no “God”, only the enormous spirit that became the universe, and exists in everything, from the Andromeda Galaxy to red corpuscles in my blood to the iron atoms in those cells, and on up and on down, to dimensions we don’t even know.
I also think about my experience of the “Ocean of Compassion,” how the feeling was there, but with no sense of a person directing that feeling. Perhaps that was the compassion of the Universal Spirit. And perhaps, the Universal Spirit IS God after all.