They make “electric haptic vests” which shock you to stimulate the feeling of getting stabbed.
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You know, like, you’re playing a game in virtual reality and your character gets hit. People want to feel that. They want the chance of pain to be real. They want consequences. It simply breaks the immersion if everything around you is hyper-realistic and 3D but bullets pass through you and nothing happens. On some level, you want the digital aliens to be able to harm you.
Danger, cost, a price to pay… makes something real. Without a price it’s just fantasy. You turn off the game, you close the book, you stop watching the movie… and all the monsters go away. They can’t actually hurt you.
Do you want that?
All the time?
Why do people ride motorcycles? Electric blue crotch-rockets going 123 miles per hour around desolate mountain turns. Leaning, the pavement mere inches from your face. Accelerating, faster and faster, until the thrill of speed overcomes the fear of death.
Life begins at the bleeding edge.
It doesn’t exist in a cubicle. People in cubicles died a long time ago.
Jumping out of an airplane. Wandering in the woods miles from nowhere. Camping amidst the grizzly bears. Surfing. Dating a guy everyone knows is probably unstable. Martial arts. Cave diving. Smoking cigarettes for forty years and daring cancer to come and find you.
Is life without danger possible?
Is life without consequences possible?
What if you couldn’t screw up? What if, no matter what you did, no matter how stupid or careless, everything was always okay?
Do you want that?
I saw often that we’ve over-spiritualized The Bible. Today everybody wants it to be an allegory or a metaphor. But listen. None of it is a metaphor. Zero. Except, I suppose, the parables of Jesus. One hundred percent of The Bible is meant to be taken at face value. It’s not “hidden” or esoteric. It means what it says. Growing up in church I would hear adults play off phrases in the Old Testament like, “and he went in to her”, as "oh, you know, he joined her in the tent. Went into the tent.” No. The Bible is very blunt. He went into her. They had sex. The text means what it says. Genesis speaking of “the waters above and the waters below” refers, literally, to the oceans below you and the waters above you. You know, those which occasionally fall from the sky like rain. When it speaks of a great wind causing the Red Sea to “stand up in a heap” it’s probably talking about more or less the same phenomena which causes the oceans to disappear during modern hurricanes. When it mentions 17 foot tall giants, it intends you to understand that once-upon-a-time some people were very tall.
The Bible means what it says.
People can’t understand it only because they can’t imagine that what it says could actually be true.
Eden is similar. The whole story, including The Tree of The Knowledge of Good and Evil, has been so metaphorized and spiritualized as to be incomprehensible to most people. They’re always looking for what it might “really mean” or trying to find archetypes within it or to examine it from a “Jungian point-of-view.”
Stop all that.
It means what it says.
And it means by the words “Good” and “Evil” exactly those things that a child would mean by them. Nor moralism, not “sin”, not a set of rules which you’re considered bad for breaking. No. The Knowledge of Good and Evil means the Knowledge of Pleasure and Pain. The knowledge of suffering. The knowledge of Death. “In the day you eat of it, you shall surely die.” In the day you eat, you will know what Evil is. You will experience it.
In the day you eat of it, you will feel pain.
Didn’t you want that? Did you want the electric vest?
Don’t you want things to be real?
In Eden there was no death. No sickness. Nobody ever felt pain. They didn’t have to work, they never had to toil. They never experienced frustration or hardship or loss. They never worked hard to achieve a goal and failed. They were never afraid…
And that got boring.
Because it meant they also never triumphed. They never experienced glory. They never beat an enemy or overcame an obstacle. They never pushed themselves to the limit. There were no limits. And because anything was possible, nothing was worth doing.
You want there to be consequences.
That’s why the apple was put there to begin with. Why God planted that tree. He knew the nature of reality. That it has to involve risk. And dear reader if you could go back in time, to the Garden, and take up the roll of Adam anew…
You would choose the same thing.
Because after a long enough time in paradise you would realize it was a prison. You would know intimately what we all know deep down. That life without consequences isn’t any kind of life at all.
So, we ate.
We ate and we entered the world of death. And, once you’re in that world, you have exactly two choices.
The Book of Job
The Book of Job is a curious thing. Nestled in the middle of the Bible with the rest of the “Wisdom” literature, it tells the story of Satan and God entering a wager. God looks at The Devil and asks him, pointedly, “Have you considered my servant Job? He’s an upright and righteous man who does what is right and shuns wrong.”
“Pfftt…” Satan scoffs. “Of course he’s like that. Look at how you’ve blessed him? Is he not rich? Does he not have a beautiful wife? Ten adult children? Is he not a respected member of his community with servants and servants for his servants? Does he not have livestock and land?”
“Ah…” The Devil whispers, extending a nimble bony finger. “But take it away… remove all these things from him, and you will see the true man. The real person beneath all that surface piety. Let me hurt him. Let me hurt him oh God, and Job will curse you to your face.”
Now, it isn’t obvious at first why God gives a damn what Satan thinks. Also, how is Satan in God’s presence? Wouldn’t that imply he was in Heaven? But wasn’t Satan cast out? Shouldn’t he be in Hell?
Well, yes. But every prisoner is allowed to represent himself in court.
That’s what this is see. Both this scene in the Bible, and this earth. This is the court. We are the evidence.
Satan rebelled against God. In their own way, in their own time, the angels also partook of the knowledge of good and evil. They had to. Else, again, how would they be real? In their own way the angels knew suffering. They knew pain. They knew death. And they, as we, were found themselves at a crossroads. Having learned Good and having learned Evil… did they still think Life was worth it?
Was existence worth it?
When a child dies do his parents find Life worth the suffering it causes? When a woman gets a breast cancer diagnosis, stage 4, is she grateful to have lived? When everyday is a grind against the clock, and your life is sucked out of you one minute at a time so you can pay your mortgage… When you’re a Ukrainian getting turned into red mist by an artillery shell…
When you dog dies. When you starve. When you get paralyzed or lose a leg. When you’re poor. When you’re raped. When your wife overdoses on pain meds and you find her corpse next to you in bed…
Is existence worth it?
Or… are you justifiably angry at God for having been made?
After all you didn’t consent to it.
Nobody consents to being made.
Some of the angels, tradition holds about one third of them, decided it wasn’t. They were given the knowledge of Good and Evil and turned on their creator for having brought them into a realm with the possibility for such pain. They revolted. Satan declared that God was not fit to rule for he had made such a dreadful mistake. He asked perfection of his creatures, and the consequences for not attaining it were too dire. He, declared Satan, was more merciful and more wise… That is why The Devil has always sought death. For himself and for everyone else. Fundamentally, Satan believes Life was a mistake. The most merciful act, in his eyes, is to remove people from the burden of their own existence. Which, after-all, is the only way to remove them from suffering.
For this reason Satan made war on God. For this reason Satan accused God.
Satan, of course, means “The Accuser.”
God is just. After the rebellion of Heaven was put down the rebellious angels were thrown in prison, under the earth, in Hell, “the place prepared for The Devil and his minions.” But, as I said, every prisoner is allowed out to make his case in court.
In the Book of Job God cares what Satan thinks because they are adjudicating Satan’s claim. Is life worth it or not? Was Satan right to rebel? Are his claims valid? And because God cannot be both the defendant and the judge of his own case a neutral third party was created. Man. A creature who would be able to see both sides. Made in the image of God, yes, but, also… made in the image of Satan. A rebel from the start.
“Let us make man in our image.” — Genesis 1:26
Who is us?
Who is our?
Does not Saint Paul say that we will judge the angels?
God allows Satan to take everything from Job. His wealth. His livestock. His servants. His public standing. His children. All of them. Dead. Killed by accident, assault, or illness. Bands of raiders lay waste to his property, a great wind knocks a building over on his children, his health is replaced with painful weeping sores which cover his body from the soles of his feet to the top of his head. Only his wife is left alive, and that so she can taunt him. “God clearly hates you,” she says, in not so many words. “Give up. Quit worshiping him and die. Curse God. Curse existence. Reject life. Have some courage and kill yourself.”
What will Job choose?
And… what will you?
Job is the evidence. You are the evidence. In the cosmic court right now the hearings are in progress. Life after human life is presented, weighed, and examined. Every life with every combination of pleasure and pain is laid before the Heavens. What did they decide? What has Mankind decided?
Is Life worth it?
… Is it?
The Answer of Jesus
Satan’s answer to the problem of suffering is Death. Death and vengeance. Retribution. It is unjust that you were brought into this world and every bad thing that ever happened to you you did not deserve. God must pay for it. Those who did it must pay for it. The only purpose of existence is to seek power such that you can tear down all that is and leave everything as it was before God made it. Formless. And Void. Deconstruction. The Luciferian project.
Is he right?
Up to you.
Christ’s answer on the other hand was different. Christ recognizes the problem. We do need consequences. The potential for Death, for pain, for failure… makes things real. That potential allows life to happen. You want the VR vest to hurt you. Going 123 miles per hour is only fun because of the real chance you might crash.
But Christ articulated something else. A way to have your cake and eat it too. You can live a real life, with real consequences, and also have paradise. Eden. You can eat the apple and go back in. You can have the knowledge of Evil and transcend it.
By forgiving all the evil.
All of it.
All of it forever.
Can you do that? Do you want to?
That’s Christ’s answer.
Is he right?
Again, it’s up to you.
We will judge the angels. We, like Job, are the evidence. We bear witness to the question of if God was right to make the cosmos or not. You get to choose. In effect, you judge God. You’re allowed to. He let us do it before Pontius Pilate. He lets us do it still.
If we want, we can curse him. Spit on him. Hit him. Throw him in the garbage. We can hate him. Declare him evil. Declare him wrong. We can agree with Satan that life is not worth it. That, actually, it was unjust to make us. That life isn’t worth the suffering.
Or, we can not do that.
We can forgive the Evil. And find, with Christ, new Life on the other side of it. Life that has its cake and eats it too. Life with consequences that gets to stay in Paradise.
You my friend are the evidence. This world is the trial.
What sort of evidence will you be?
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You have no right to talk about the value of life after what you did to Smokestack.
Coincidentally enough I was wondering earlier today about a discrepancy between the Septuagint and the Hebrew renderings of Psalm 51 where the LXX says explicitly that we judge God. Any translation of v4 from the Hebrew says something like, "...So that You are justified when You speak And blameless when You judge" (NASB). But the equivalent verse in the LXX (50:6) reads "...that You may be justified in Your words and overcome when You are judged" (Orthodox Study Bible). The 1851 Brenton translation says the same. I was wondering how that could be right. Who can judge God? But Ps 51 is of course a prayer of humility and contrition. It's David begging for forgiveness from God with a broken heart. Then you can tie that to Christ, who explicitly says that to be forgiven by God we have to forgive others (Mt 6:14-15). It all comes around to forgiveness again. Forgiveness being an act of love. And we really do pass judgement on God (favorably or not) by how much we choose to love others. I think all our hatred is ultimately directed at our Creator regardless of the immediate corporeal object we think we're hating. All love is likewise an act of praise.