Bowl judgments are not synonymous with bong hits. However, I can see the appeal of medicinal marijuana after reading Revelation 15-16 by day and following the presidential primaries by night. For the first time in thirty-three years of marriage, on two occasions, my husband had to wake me up from bad dreams. “What’s going on in my subconscious?”
My last post, What the Hell, discussed the division of humanity into two camps, good and evil. The bowl judgments are God’s final seven cans of whoopass; seven angels carry seven bowls filled with the wrath of God. Once the God fearing folk are safely in heaven with Jesus, each angel pours the contents of their bowl onto earth to obliterate beast worshipers.
I’m not going to go through what happens after each bowl is emptied because the consequences are similar to the plagues suffered by Egypt (plague of boils, plague of blood, plague of darkness, plague of frogs) during the time of Moses. These are documented in Exodus as well as in Revelation 16. John would have been very familiar with the two thousand year old writings of Moses; it was required reading and his visions repeatedly draw from the Old Testament.
After the seventh angel empties the seventh bowl, God says, “It is done!” Revelation 16:17
The subject matter in class this year is heavy. For the last several weeks, we have delved into hell, suffering, Satan, and a host of other dark subjects. There are some uplifting passages, but just as the reading lightens up, boom, John drops another bomb. This vision (Revelation) was experienced while in exile on the Greek island of Patmos and the elderly apostle had to have been spent. Was John going through a dark night of the soul or was he simply sticking it to the man (Rome)? I can’t imagine the horrible conditions he was enduring while in exile. Pot would have been a godsend.
All of this reading about choosing between good and evil has me thinking about the presidential primaries and how people must decide on a side. There’s the Democratic camp and the Republican camp, Bernie Sanders vs. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump vs. the GOP. I will admit that the media has sucked me into the quagmire. I laugh at John Oliver commentary and Saturday Night Live skits, but I also watch as many debates and town hall events as possible on both sides of the isle to draw my own conclusions based on personal observation and discernment.
Something that really struck me was the CNN Democratic Town Hall in Columbia, South Carolina. During this event, Bernie Sanders (Jewish) was asked about his spiritual belief system and Hilary Clinton (Methodist) was asked about forgiveness. I found both of these questions refreshing since they are in alignment with themes I talk a lot about in this blog. Their answers were, in my opinion, awesome and I have included them here.
The interviewer asked Bernie Sanders, “What is your religion? What do you believe in?” His response, ` .
“Every great religion in the world, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, essentially comes down to: ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’ And what I have believed in my whole life, I believed it when I was a 22-year-old kid getting arrested in Chicago fighting segregation, I’ve believed it in my whole life, that we are in this together, not just, not words.
“The truth is at some level when you hurt, when your children hurt, I hurt. I hurt. And when my kids hurt, you hurt. And it’s very easy to turn our backs on kids who are hungry, or veterans who are sleeping out on the street, and we can develop a psyche, a psychology which is ‘I don’t have to worry about them; all I’m gonna worry about is myself; I need to make another 5 billion dollars.’
“But I believe that what human nature is about is that everybody in this room impacts everybody else in all kinds of ways that we can’t even understand. It’s beyond intellect. It’s a spiritual, emotional thing.
“So I believe that when we do the right thing, when we try to treat people with respect and dignity, when we say that that child who is hungry is my child. I think we are more human when we do that than when we say ‘hey, this whole world, I need more and more, I don’t care about anyone else.’
“That’s my religion. That’s what I believe in and I think most people around the world, whatever their religion, their color, share that belief. That we are in it together as human beings.
“And it becomes more and more practical. If we destroy the planet because we don’t deal with climate change, trust me, we are all in it together. And that is my spirituality.”
Marjory Wentworth, Poet Laureate of South Carolina, asked Hillary Clinton, “Why do you think that forgiveness is so rarely an action that we take especially in terms of violent conflict and how could you as president harness the power of forgiveness in terms of helping heal all the division in our own country and beyond?” Her response,
“That is a great question. I could not be standing here if I had not been forgiven many times and if I had not been able to forgive, myself, those who I thought had in some way disappointed or wronged me.
“So I, as a person of faith, believe profoundly in the power of forgiveness and we need to do more to try to take that value, that experience.
“The best example I know of it in modern times is the truth and reconciliation process in South Africa. You know, I was very fortunate to spend quite a bit of time with Nelson Mandela. I know Bishop Tutu; I know others who were part of that process. It was just an astonishing leap of faith to bring together those who had been oppressed by apartheid, often physically abused, imprisoned, members of families who’s loved ones had been murdered, with their oppressors, their abusers, their murders, in a process that truly was a national effort to try to forgive enough that the country could be held together, that the nation could be born, that the work could begin. And it was to me a stunning example of what is possible.
“I think there’s a lot we could do in this country if we could figure out how to harness those feelings. And I see so much anger and fear and bitterness. Some of it’s being played out in our political system right now. The kind of language that’s being used, violent images, threats against people. It is deeply troubling to me because we have to try to unite our country, not divide it, if we are going to deal with a lot of the challenges that we face.
“So I would very much consider if there were a formal way, and if not, what we could do to talk more about forgiveness and reconciliation to try to begin bringing people together from different backgrounds, obviously different races, different ethnicities, and every other of the wonderful mosaic that makes up our country, so that people could begin, once again, to kind of see themselves in the other’s life. Maybe the old saying, walking, you know, in someone else’s shoes because I think that’s essential to sort of nurturing the ground out of which forgiveness and reconciliation and unity could come. I think it is one of our biggest challenges. I hope we find ways to try to address it. And I will certainly give it as much thought as I can and try as president to think of ways to lead that.”
Political ideology is important, yes, but I want to know what’s in a candidate’s heart. The answers to questions like these give us a glimpse; a loving and forgiving heart drives very different action than an egocentric and greedy heart. This is a central theme in scripture. I want a president with the kind of character I can be proud of. For me, discernment isn’t difficult after witnessing the presidential candidates during debates, town halls, etc. Some may find this hard to believe, but humility is something I look for. No one is perfect.
Why am I having bad dreams? Let’s see. There are voters out there so deeply entrenched in the traditional political ideologies of their families that they are blind to ideological flaws. There are people who don’t vote because they think their vote doesn’t matter. There are elected officials who are more interested in self preservation than the greater good. There’s the media’s tendency to feed fear and forget what lifts us. The light needs to shine in a lot of dark places. This presents profound opportunities for transformation and spiritual growth.
I am encouraged by how Americans are embracing the presidential primary and using it to facilitate change. There can be no growth without change. We’ll get there.
Perhaps my bad dreams are the result of something I ate.