Discover more from Children of Job: Dark Encounters with Enlightenment
Moments in Eternity (Well, How DID We Get Here?)
The Bible-Trap and Keeping to the Right Path
“It would have been better not to have been born than to have witnessed the day that the Torah was translated.” ~ Carlo Suarès (citing rabbis), The Cipher of Genesis
A question was raised in the comments recently, regarding “being on the right path.”
This is a question I ask myself on a daily basis, and I doubt if a day, and certainly not a week, has gone by in the last thirty years that I have not asked myself this question.
Even to ask the question augments my concern that I am not on the right path; for otherwise, why would I even need to question it? And to some degree, it is true to say that, when we are on the right path, we do not need to think about being (or not being) on the right path. We just move forward.
Yet, at the same time, when this question does arise, in my experience, it doesn't necessarily mean I am not on the right path. After all, to really be on the wrong path would mean being totally oblivious of that fact, surely!?
(This is slightly similar to a cognitive conundrum I have, regarding enlightenment: if to be enlightened, by definition, means to know one is enlightened, what of all those delusional people out there who think they know they are enlightened but are demonstrably not?)
All of this is semantics. The “right path” is not linear because it is not a path. It is not bound by time or space, by chronology or steps and stages. It is not a Hollywood story arc that ends in salvation.
Yet, confusingly enough, it is (or appears to be) accumulative. The moments of our daily lives must be (re-) anchored in eternity, if they are to lead somewhere other than oblivion. When sufficient moments are (re-) anchored in eternity, a life becomes “saved;” it becomes “pinned,” or hooked, by God, like Jesus on the cross, so Leviathan can be drawn out of the depths of primordial matter, and all of Creation be seen for what it is: infinite.
Currently, I have three areas of engagement on my “path”: 1) material-mundane (land, house, goats, chickens and cats, vineyard, brambles, oh yeah, and married life!); 2) intellectual-spiritual (“Bible studies,” via this substack); 3) socio-cultural (the movie project).
These second two pursuits have naturally filled “the vacuum created by the arrival of freedom” (Bowie, 1980), following the interruption of my work with Dave Oshana. As a result, they are somewhat embryonic, unsure, tentative. They feel risky and potentially “not the right path,” as all endeavors do when they are still in the early stages of making new containers for old wine.
Yet both of these pursuits predate my involvement with Oshana, and with the idea of enlightenment, by decades. I wanted to make movies in my mid-teens; I became intensely involved with Bible lore in my early twenties. With hindsight, having just read a book called The Religion of Dostoyevsky, it was probably my passionate love for Dos that first seeded my Bible “obsession.”
Thus, it makes perfect sense that I am exploring the Bible now by looking at it through a literary lens. (And I still prefer Dostoevsky.)
“In ancient times’ symbols, parables, metaphors, images, legends may have conveyed a meaning for the understanding. We, today, need a psychological and rational approach. Therefore it is useless—and, we venture to say, harmful—for us to dally with interpretations of interpretations of what people have supposed to be revelations put forward by Abraham, Moses or Jesus.” ~ Carlo Suarès, The Cipher of Genesis
Recently, I received an email from a cohort (the same one who raised the question of paths in the comments) that studying the book of Job might be a “trap.” I responded by saying that everything is a trap, and that the only question was, can we get the cheese?
A less glib response would be that we are already inside this trap, the trap of the Bible and its lore, and that I am now studying it from the inside, without much choice about it, just as I studied “Hell” from the inside, with a similar or identical goal: to locate the mechanism that I hope will release me from it.
To find the exit.
Unsurprisingly, this suggests that, far from being a wholly new, post-Hell departure, Children of Job is rather the inception of a subtler, deeper analysis of the configurations of Hell, and a movement from the first to the second matrix. Our hellacious captivity must now be mapped onto the very belief in God that we thought was our way out of Hell!
As Carlo Suarès writes (in The Cipher of Genesis, an astonishing book which I intend to share more of in a future podcast):
Our instrument of perception being ourselves, if we do not perceive directly so as to be Revelation itself, why do we not “check” our instrument and detect the flaws in our functioning, instead of searching for truth with inadequate means? To discover where and what is the error: that is what truth is (p. 74).
Yet, disbelief in and denial of the God of the Bible is not the means to freedom, either (though it may be a necessary step), and ignoring the Bible and pretending it doesn’t influence our beliefs and perceptions in no way neutralizes the fact of that influence. As with the world, we must look at the Bible to look at the ways it has impaired, as well as enhanced, the functioning of our instrument.
The main principle for me to observe as a writer-investigator (i.e., in the #2 area of my path, intellectual inquiry) is: what engages me sufficiently for the life force to start moving towards those areas of blockage, confusion, conviction, belief, incomprehension, delusion, desire, and despair, to massage out those knots and move into new, undiscovered zones of perception, and to forge new connections, as within, so without?
So far, the posts at Children of Job have mostly been taken from a Word document of about 30,000 words that I wrote over several weeks, immediately following my abrupt cancellation from the Dave Oshana Project. I have edited out the parts that refer directly to what happened, and thereby left out the many parallels I was busy observing with (Jack Miles’ and Carl Jung’s interpretation of) the Book of Job. Whether any of that material ever makes it behind the paywall, for now, right now, I want to bring this column up to speed and into the present moment, by writing something that may help orientate us to this new space we have found ourselves in.
Ostensibly, the way I justified a return to (# 2) writing and podcasting for the Children of Job project was via # 1: the need to generate some income. So, for the first time, I have a paywall.
The reason I never wanted to have a paywall previously was that I couldn’t justify to myself charging for something that I knew I would do anyway for free. Now the tables in the temple have turned, however, and ostensibly, this site is only maintained for and by paying customers.
At the same time, it happens to benefit the rest of you, who either can’t or won’t make an offering, since currently I am making roughly half of the content available for free.
Children of Job currently has just under 400 free subscribers and just under 40 paid or complementary ones. My practical goal is to roughly triple those numbers, at which point I might conceivably be able to sustain the Land Made project without selling any eggs, goats’ milk or baby goats (or making any wine), before the money runs out. (FYI, I am not expecting the movie project to reap any material rewards; it is being done 100% for love.)
This means the non-paying subscribers have a handful of paying subscribers to thank for the continued content. It means that those who choose to become paid subscribers not only vouchsafe that content for yourselves, but are also helping to provide content for everyone else. The more paid subscribers there are, the more committed and enthusiastic this author will be about keeping up a steady flow of fresh fish.
Currently, since things are moving along well enough, I aim to provide one free full article and one free podcast each month. With enough paid subscribers, I could make all the content free! Except then there’d be no reason for anyone to pay to subscribe. D’oh! A weird sort of Catch 22. To try to transcend this obstacle, I will continue to give complementary access to as many of you as make themselves known to me in the right ways, and thereby pass through the invisible “playwall,” for example by joining me on the Jobcast, which (provided you make the cut) gives you a free month’s access.
(Email me if interested or comment below. If you wish to become a paid subscriber, or if you have already done so via the Substack channel, be sure and read this for a way to save on future costs.)
As always, this column comes down to living connections: establishing new ones and deepening those that are already established. Admittedly, this is not what was promised with the Land Made Man site, but being on the right path rarely, if ever, takes us where we thought we were going, and it turns out that there isn’t a great deal to say or write about getting back to the land, it just has to be got on with. Those of you who are really interested will eventually either do or come and see it for yourselves (once we get our techno-detox retreats running).
I can show you the trap. But you have to spring it.
“Revelation is not a fantastic message from a supernatural world. Surely the fantastic thing is to be alive and yet not to know what life is. The whole mystery of life is within us, and yet we search for revelations concerning it in books. Does thinking or speaking about God give us any knowledge of what God is? Are we surprised to discover that the human mind is in a state of total contradiction?”
~ Carlo Suarès, The Cipher of Genesis
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