Pillar of Fire

Talking about the nature of God is always good

by baldilocks

The Shack, a novel by William P. Young, is being made into a movie and it isn’t surprising that many Christians are up in arms about it. I read the book a few years back and found it fascinating, but I missed out on the controversy that came with it when it was first published in 2007.

At issue is Young’s characterization of the Holy Trinity, seen through the eyes of the story’s main character, who on the four-year anniversary of his daughter’s brutal killing is mysteriously invited by someone named “Papa” — his wife’s affectionate name for God — to the abandoned shack in the Oregon woods where the girl died.

He goes, reluctant and angry, unsure if he’ll be met by his daughter’s murderer.

Instead, he finds this: a Middle Eastern, Jewish carpenter named Jesus; the Holy Spirit embodied in a wispy Asian woman who loves to garden and God (played by “The Help” star Octavia Spencer) as the very opposite of the Gandalf-like grandpa figure modern society is used to seeing.

This depiction — God as a woman despite its gender-less designation [sic] in the Bible — has some critics incensed.

(Emphasis mine.)

Does anyone remember how God appeared to the ancient Israelites in Exodus 13:21?

By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night.

And in Psalm 91:4, God appears to take on the characteristics of an avian.

[The Most High] shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. 

Appearance, solid existence, and what each of those concepts mean seem to be the key issue when it comes to this controversy, but the problem is much more simple than that.

Even many Christians cannot not quite wrap their minds around the sovereignty of God and, therefore, around His omnipotence. He can appear as a cloud, a pillar of fire, or as a female member of the species He created. And, in this context, we might consider one of the names of God: El Shaddai.

El is another name that is translated as “God” and can be used in conjunction with other words to designate various aspects of God’s character. Another word much like Shaddai, and from which many believe it derived, is shad meaning “breast” in Hebrew (some other scholars believe that the name is derived from an Akkadian word Šadu, meaning “mountain,” suggesting strength and power). This refers to God completely nourishing, satisfying, and supplying His people with all their needs as a mother would her child. Connected with the word for God, El, this denotes a God who freely gives nourishment and blessing, He is our sustainer.

(Emphasis mine.) This does not mean that God is a woman.

Omnipotence and sovereignty–much less all the other attributes of God listed in the Bible–are hard pills to swallow, even for some of us four-dimensional beings who acknowledge that there is a whole aspect of reality that, because of our human limitations, is nearly inconceivable and, usually, imperceptible.

There is another simple problem with criticism of the novel; Young never says or intimates through the plot of the novel that God the father is a black woman or that the Holy Spirit is an Asian woman. In fact, he goes out of his way to demonstrate the opposite by contrasting “their”[i] nature with that of Jeshua, who, in the novel and the movie, both appears as and is a Middle Eastern human male.

Like any good novelist, Young gives his audience credit for being able to figure this out by reading the book instead of taking what other say about it as…ahem…gospel truth.

Simple. And fundamental. I plan on seeing this movie.

Meanwhile, have a Merry Christmas and a Happy Hanukkah!

[i] As a human being with attendant limitations, I am content with not being able to entirely understand the concept of God’s triunity.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel will be done one day soon! Follow her on Twitter.

Please contribute to Juliette’s JOB:  Her new novel, her blog, her Internet to keep the latter going and COFFEE to keep her going!

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baldilocks

The F-35 upon takeoff…those are 100 dollar bills

Trump recently came out against the high cost of the F-35 (as well as the replacement for his soon-to-be Presidential jet).  Critics were quick to dismiss his complaints, saying that ship has sailed already.  While Trump can’t fix the years of program mismanagement, he can certainly set things straight.

The F-35 competitor, the X-32 was not selected during the 2001 flyoff

As a quick history lesson, the F-35 started off on the right foot.  The concept was to get rid of a lot of different aircraft types and shift to three aircraft types that used about 70% of the same parts.  Two manufacturers had a fly-off in 2001, with the F-35 winning the competition.  The F-35 contract allowed it to go to a number of other countries (mostly NATO allies), as well as Japan and Israel.  It also relied on a very dispersed supply chain, which put jobs in 45 states.

After the flyoff, we don’t hear a lot about the F-35 until 2006, when the GAO starts worrying that the program’s accelerated timelines won’t work.  Then the cost overruns happen, and the cost per plane soared to about 200 million per copy (contrast with the original 98 million).  This caused not just a kerfuffle in Congress…key countries are now interested in ditching the program altogether.

So what is President Trump supposed to do?  If you’ve read the Art of the Deal, you can already guess:

  • Hold people accountable.  Exactly one person has been fired over this entire mess, MajGen David R. Heinz.  Most of the military leadership is still around, and despite problems, Congress has been approving them moving on to other jobs.  Trump is much more likely to hold them responsible for cost overruns.
  • Renegotiate the deal.  I doubt Trump will cancel the F-35, because the concept is good.  Most weapons programs have issues, including successful ones like the Arleigh Burke destroyer.  Trump will find where the government is getting ripped off and likely target a few key areas to renegotiate.
  • Get even.  Trump is not nice to those who make him angry, and he actively advocates getting even when someone hurts him.  Expect him to take an active interest in flag officer selections for major programs in the future, and likely shake up the defense acquisition process.

The biggest pushback will be from Congress, the same Congress that openly complained about the F-35 but ultimately did nothing to fix the contract or punish people.  Trump will use the bully pulpit on them, in order to get this major reform through.

It’ll be a nasty fight, but if anyone can do it, Trump can.


The views expressed in this blog post are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Navy, Department of Defense, or U.S. Government.


NG36B is a military blogger who regularly blogs at The Navy’s Grade 36 Bureaucrat. If you love your kids and America, you should buy his Kindle book about the Navy and read it to them every night.

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The Conversion of St. Paul

“Almost all the great saints were great sinners or, like Saint Therese, knew that it was by sheer grace that they were not,”

Pope Francis

In his spectacular piece at Medium titled The Lesbian and Her Trophy Wife Stacy McCain talks about the Hustle and the grift that professional lesbianism and feminism have become.

Circa 1975, when I was a drug-addled adolescent, the Vietnam-era hippie mentality was fading like an old pair of blue jeans, replaced by a mood of cynical hedonism, as the “liberated” lifestyle became just another commercial marketing pitch.

Feminism quickly became nothing but a hustle, a scam, a way for Madison Avenue to promote commodities. “Sex sells,” and feminism is always about sex. Maybe you’re the kind of natural-born chump who believes all that jargon about the “gender binary” and women being “systematically limited,” but I know a hustle when I see one, and feminism is the biggest hustle ever.
Big Tobacco cashed in selling the Feminist™ brand, and so did all those women who parlayed their talk of “oppression” into book contracts and TV appearances and tenured professorships in Women’s Studies programs. Meanwhile, of course, there were millions of young women who, failing to recognize “liberation” as a phony scam, were trying to reconcile feminist ideology with the reality of their own unglamorous lives.

The bottom line of the piece in many ways is a favorite saying of my own: “There is nothing more dangerous than an excuse.” but more on that another day.

But today I want to talk about a single paragraph that is tangential to the piece but not to my argument here:

Some of my Christian friends say we should pray for women like Robyn Ochs to repent their sins, just as some of my non-Christian friends aren’t bothered by “bisexuality,” which they hope might lead to a ménage à trois. However, I’m not sure there’s any religious hope for feminists, because I don’t know how you can repent of sin while “celebrating” your sin as an “identity,” and how can you save Robyn Ochs’ soul, when she’s an atheist who doesn’t believe she even has a soul? Feminists do not believe that there is any eternal truth — no right and wrong, no good and evil — nor do feminists believe that human life has any intrinsic value, which is why feminists kill babies.

Feminism: We must kill more babies, because we haven’t killed them all yet!
If you want to spend time praying for soulless atheist baby-killers, go right ahead, but there are a lot of other people who probably could use God’s help, and would actually be grateful for it.

While it is true that there are many people we should remember in prayer I would remind Stacy who is a great lover of the old Testament,  of the story of Jonah and God’s admonition to him as he fuses about a dead plant that gave him shade.

Then the LORD said, “You are concerned over the plant which cost you no labor and which you did not raise; it came up in one night and in one night it perished.

And should I not be concerned over Nineveh, the great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot distinguish their right hand from their left, not to mention the many cattle?”

Jonah 4:10-11

Of Christ’s words concerning the lost in Luke

Or what woman having ten coins and losing one would not light a lamp and sweep the house, searching carefully until she finds it?And when she does find it, she calls together her friends and neighbors and says to them, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost.’

In just the same way, I tell you, there will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Luke 15:8-10

And how many people over the centuries might be burning today if God didn’t take an interest in this particular murderous sinner?

I myself once thought that I had to do many things against the name of Jesus the Nazorean, and I did so in Jerusalem. I imprisoned many of the holy ones with the authorization I received from the chief priests, and when they were to be put to death I cast my vote against them. Many times, in synagogue after synagogue, I punished them in an attempt to force them to blaspheme; I was so enraged against them that I pursued them even to foreign cities.

“On one such occasion I was traveling to Damascus with the authorization and commission of the chief priests. At midday, along the way, O king, I saw a light from the sky, brighter than the sun, shining around me and my traveling companions. We all fell to the ground and I heard a voice saying to me in Hebrew, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goad.’

And I said, ‘Who are you, sir?’ And the Lord replied, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.

Get up now, and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness of what you have seen (of me) and what you will be shown. I shall deliver you from this people and from the Gentiles to whom I send you, to open their eyes that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may obtain forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been consecrated by faith in me.’

Acts 26:9-18

God obviously things such folk are wort the effort.  This is not a coincidence as C. S. Lewis reminds us through his infernal character Screwtape:

The great (and toothsome) sinners are made out of the very same material as those horrible phenomena the great Saints.

and gives this warning in that small story Screwtape Proposes a Toast.

The great sinners seem easier to catch. But then they are incalculable. After you have played them for seventy years, the Enemy may snatch them from your claws in the seventy-first. They are capable, you see, of real repentance. They are conscious of real guilt. They are, if things take the wrong turn, as ready to defy the social pressures around them for the Enemy’s sake as they were to defy them for ours.

And person familiar with the number of former abortion workers and advocates who are now tireless champions of the unborn know this to be true.

So I say yes it’s worth the time to pray for these women and I make the following suggestion to make it easier.

First lump all of the ladies that Stacy McCain writes about like Robyn Ochs into a single group called: Stacy McCain’s Women. This allows your prayers to be distributed to each new person Stacy adds to his list.

Then consider one of the two following prayers from my daily routine for them: the first invoking their guardian angel.

Angel of God their guardian dear, to whom God’s love commits them here, ever this day be at their side, the light and guard and rule and guide.

Finally offer a single decade of the Rosary (I suggest the Assumption) for them. Not specifically for their souls per say, but just for them and their needs, physical, temporal and spiritual. For who better to entrust these women to than Our Lady.

Of course you can use whatever prayer you like, what prayer is prayed is less important that it being done.

And what better day to begin the effort to produce rejoicing in heaven than the anniversary of the night where the angelic host celebrated the start of the great project of forgiveness with the words: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests”?