Monday, February 24, 2014

2 Esdras, Chapter 11: Birds of a feather

Finally Esdras gets to the good acid: he dreams of an eagle with 12 wings and 3 heads. She covers the earth with her wings and sucks up all the winds and her feathers start growing other feathers. Then she flies somewhere and is declared ruler of earth.

After a while of just sitting on the throne, or wherever she sits, she gets bored and stands up and starts talking to her feathers, telling them they can't all go to sleep at the same time. The voice is coming from her solar plexus. Despite having 12 wings, the eagle only has 8 feathers. One of them rises up and rules the earth. It does that for awhile, then it disappears and then the next feather takes its place.

After the second feather has ruled for some time, it also disappears, but then a voice tells it it's the last of its line and no other feathers will rule for half as long as it has. Then a third feather takes over the throne. This keeps going down the line and suddenly we're on the 12th feather even though literally in verse 11 there are 8, now suddenly it's verse 22 and there are 12. And then suddenly there are 2 more little feathers. And then suddenly the eagle is bald, and now it only has 6 wings.

At this point, whatever sort of trip Esdras is on goes bad and suddenly feathers are moving all over the eagle's body. Then they start reigning again, but poof! They disappear almost as quickly as they take over the crown. Then the heads wake up and start eating the feathers. Only at this point are the people on earth afraid. Then the head disappears and the head on the right eats the one on the left. Then a lion comes and chases the eagle.

The eagle speaks to Esdras and tells him to consider the nightmarish combination of Hieronymous Bosch and Edgar Allen Poe he's just observed and asks him if he isn't the last of the 4 beasts he sent at the end of Revelation. The lion rebukes the eagle for being a shitty ruler and banishes it

Sunday, February 23, 2014

2 Esdras, Chapter 10: Rape is the 12th worst crime

The continuing story of the weeping woman:

On the day of her son's wedding feast, the son went into the honeymoon suite and died. The neighbours put her to bed, where she stayed until the following evening. When everyone left, she came to the field, intending to sit there and not take food or water until she died. Unfortunately, she met Esdras instead.

Esdras, comforting shoulder that he is, rebukes the woman and tells her that the Israelites, nay the planet, have much bigger things to mourn than one dead groom, and she should be crying for those things instead. Then he tells her to shut up and become a good Jew so she can go to heaven and see her son again.

She refuses to go home and determines to stay in the field and die. Esdras starts lambasting her about all the things that have befallen the Jews. I would like to note that enslavement, priests being burnt alive, and women being raped are 10th, 11th and 12th on his list of terrible things, right behind the temple being destroyed and not being able to light candles. He tells her again to go home. All of a sudden, her face starts to sparkle and there's an earthquake. She disappears and in her place is a city. Esdras cries out for Uriel the angel, who appears, picks him up and asks him why he's so upset. Probably because he's been eating flowers for a week after not eating anything for at least 3. Esdras asks if he's dreaming or if the angel is finally going to answer all his questions. The angel promises that this time, god will finally reveal the truth to him, because of all the good, useful mourning he's been doing. 

The angel explains that the woman was Zion, and her 30 years of childlessness was the 30 years when no one made any sacrifices to god, until Solomon built a temple, which was the son. His death was the death of Jerusalem. When she got all sparkly, that was because she was impressed by Esdras' insensitivity, so she showed him the new city. Now Esdras is invited inside and tomorrow god will show him more.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

2 Esdras, Chapters 8 & 9: Pregnancy according to men

Chapter 8

The angel tells Esdras that not many people will make it into heaven. Esdras wants to know how corrupt people live, and also, how god could have made them. Then he mansplains pregnancy for us: namely, god makes it all happen, and god can destroy the resulting baby if he sees fit.

Next he tells us that he's in mourning for Israel, and then he starts praying that god will overlook our sins and see our good deeds. God promises to take these things into account when he destroys the world.

Chapter 9

The angel promises that when the end of days arrives, the faithful will be spared all the evil shit god is planning to unleash on the world. Unbelievers will die in pain. Then they tell each other a bunch of metaphors for how few righteous people there are compared to the vast numbers of unrighteous. They reminisce about the old days, when everyone was obedient, not like today when the kids don't want to listen to anybody.

Then the angel tells Esdras he can stop fasting, but question time is over for the rest of the week, but he can only eat flowers picked in fields with no houses in them, and pray. So he does, and after 7 days he lays down and pouts. Eventually he starts talking to god about how the ancestors weren't faithful and they were punished.

When he pauses for breath, he looks over and sees a woman in mourning. He asks her why she's crying and, clearly not knowing who she's talking to, she tells him to leave her alone so she can cry in peace. Of course he insists on knowing what the matter is, and she says she's infertile even though she's been married for 30 years and she prays constantly to god. Methinks I understand the problem here. But finally, she and her husband figured it out and had a son and when it was time for him to find a wife, she and her husband had a feast.

Monday, February 17, 2014

2 Esdras, Chapter 7: Life is pain

Esdras pauses for breath and an angel appears and tells him to stand up so he can tell him something that's gonna blow him away: the sea is set in a wide place, that it might be wide and deep (v. 3). Is you mind blown? Thought so. The angel also points out that if the entrance to the sea were narrow like a river, no one would be able to stand on the beach or rule it. The logic does not follow, but then it's god-logic.

He gives us a new scene to prove his awesomeness: imagine a city in a fertile field. The entrance to the field is a narrow bridge that only allows people to cross single file. One one side is fire, on the other is deep water. Now imagine a man inherits the whole city, but can't ever get to it. How could that guy receive his inheritance?

Esdras admits that all of this is true, and the angel says the sea and the city are Israel. God made the world for them, but then Adam fucked it all up, so now the world sucks, but the entrance to heaven is wide, as long as you want to go there.

Now the angel has some questions for Esdras, namely why is he freaking out about all of this? And why is he worrying about earthly matters when he should be focused on the afterlife? Then he reminds us that god is the judge and people are awful and eventually this is all going to end anyway when Jesus arrives in 400 years, even though this book was written sometime between 70 and 218AD, according to most scholars. Yup, this one actually promises Jesus by name, and it still isn't in the bible proper.

When Jesus arrives, god will kill everything for 7 days, then restore all the dead people, then there will be a new, wonderful earth with no suffering, just truth and faith. Of course, Esdras wants to know why it can't be like that now, and of course the angel says it just can't, but the end is on its way. Esdras points out that god shouldn't have made Adam, or just not tempted him, because how fun is it to live in the first century? Also, what's the point of a paradise, whose fruit endureth for ever, wherein is security and medicine, since we shall not enter into it? (v. 53) The angel tells him that men have been put on earth to do battle, and if we lose, we'll suffer, but if we win we'll get our reward. Esdras gives up for the moment and thanks god for his existence.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

2 Esdras, Chapter 6: 13 month pregnancies for all!

Before he made earth and it all turned to shit, god thought about all the questions he asked that Esdras couldn't answer. That's why he was too busy to give us things like vaccines or nitrogen fixation, see. And then he made the universe so he can blow it up at some unspecified future date. Esdras wants him to be more specific, but god replies with something vague about Jacob and Esau and tries to end the conversation.

Esdras, never one to know when he isn't wanted, now wants to know if god likes him. Actually, these two are perfect for each other, because they're both so annoyingly needy. They should just sign up on Between and leave the rest of us alone. Except that god was too busy pondering how to let the wind out or paint a voice to invent it for the next 4000 years or so. And of course, he won't let go of the end of the world question.

God tells Esdras to stand up, and he'll make a sound as loud as an earthquake, except the ground won't be shaking. So Esdras stands up and there's a voice and it promises it's close by and it will visit soon so it can judge everyone and destroy Zion. Afterwards, books will appear int he sky and everyone will understand, and babies will speak and women's pregnancies will be extended by 4 months, but there won't be any food. There will be trumpets of fear, however, which will make people fight their friends and fountains dry up. Those who survive will like it, because there won't be any evil or lying, and everyone will be faithful. The angel stops there and tells him to pray and fast for another 7 days, which now makes it 21 days since Esdras has eaten, so it's no wonder these fantasies are getting wilder and wilder. The angel also assures Esdras that god likes him because he's still a virgin.

After another week, Esdras wakes up again in the middle of the night with his spirit on fire. He recaps the beginning of Genesis for us, and concludes that most people aren't worth a bucket of warm spit, but they're in charge anyway, and the good guys are enslaved. So now he has a new round of questions, namely why aren't the Israelites in charge, and when will they be?

Monday, February 10, 2014

2 Esdras, Chapter 5: Limited womb space

The apocalypse is coming! There are a lot of signs to look for, so I'm just going to list the highlights: a trumpet will sound 3 times, then the sun will appear at night, a stone will talk, the delightfully named Sodomitish sea will throw its fish out of its water, menstruating women will give birth to monsters, then shall wit hide itself and understanding withdraw itself into his secret chamber (v.9). God stops then and tells Esdras there's more, but he'll have to fast and pray for a week to find out what it is.

Then Esdras wakes up shaking in the middle of the night. The angel hugs him and picks him up. The next night, Salathiel, who is some kind of mayor or something, comes and asks Esdras where he's been and why he looks so sad. He encourages Esdras to eat, but Esdras is too busy being a drama queen. He tells Salathiel to leave, so he can fast and mourn and pray for a new list of salacious things that will happen to the hell-bound.

He whines to god about how his people have been faithful and love the law, but now god has enslaved and scattered them. He asks why god didn't punish them himself, but got the Babylonians to do it. The angel appears and asks if Esdras loves the Israelites more than god. Esdras does not, but his kidneys hurt from trying to understand god's thinking. The angel explains that it's impossible, and Esdras wonders why god didn't abort him from his mother's womb then. The angel gives him another list of impossible tasks like show me the image of a voice (v. 37) and agrees to explain whatever he wants to know. Esdras points out the impossibility of the tasks and the angel explains he can never understand god, especially his love for his people.

Esdras asks what will happen to people who came before and after him, and god says his judgement is an infinity symbol. Esdras asks him to speed up the process, but god tells him not to get ahead of himself, and besides, the earth is too small to hold everyone, and likens the planet to a woman, who cannot have all her babies at once due to limited space. God says earth is the same. Next god tells him to ask a woman why people are shorter now than in the past. Ooh! Ooh! I know this one! Agriculture!

Monday, February 3, 2014

2 Esdras, Chapters 3 & 4: Fever dreams

Chapter 3

30 years after the fall of Jerusalem, Esdras was lying in bed, imagining the apocalypse and praying . He reminds us of what happens in Genesis and how the Israelites have always been sinners. He also reminds us that David built Jerusalem, but god had to destroy it. Now he's confused, because god has rewarded evil people and killed off good ones, and he wonders if the Babylonians are somehow better than the Israelites.

Chapter 4

An angel comes along and asks Esdras if he's trying to understand god. Yes, he is. So the angel agrees to show him three real ways of god and three fake ones, and if Esdras can tell them apart, the angel will tell him everything he wants to know, including where wicked people come from. Esdras agrees. The angel's first challenge is: weigh me the weight of the fire, or measure me the blast of the wind or call me again the day that is past (v. 5).  Clearly they don't have the internet, because the answers are: the ideal gas law, Anemometers, and TiVo, but Esdras can only say that no man can do any of those things.

The angel's next challenge is: If I should ask thee how great dwellings are in the middle of the sea, or how many springs are in the beginning of the deep, or how many springs are above the firmament, or which are the outgoings of paradise (v. 7) and of course Esdras can't answer because the questions are nonsensical, so the angel answers for him: peradventure thou wouldest say unto me, I never went down into the deep, nor as yet into hell, neither did I ever climb up into heaven (v. 8) because they don't know about scuba gear or space flight.

But the angel's basic point is that Esdras can't think outside the box, so he can't understand god or why it looks like the world is corrupt. Esdras counters that he'd rather not live if the only choice is wickedness or meaningless suffering. So the angel takes him into a forest into a plain, which I did not write incorrectly, and the trees start talking to him. Except that these trees are Ents and they want to fight the sea so they can make more trees. Meanwhile, the sea wants to attack the forest so for territory. But then fire comes along and burns down the trees and sand stops the water. The angel then asks Esdras who's right and how would he justify his answer and look, just because you can formulate the words into a question it doesn't mean you've asked a good question or that inability to answer it is somehow evidence of intellectual inferiority. Anyway, Esdras manages to decide that the land that the forest is on belongs to the woods and the sea has floodplains. The angel agrees and asks him to judge himself. He points out that earthlings can only understand earth and god can only understand the heavens. But Esdras counters that he only wants to understand why the Israelites are being punished and the bad guys rewarded, and also why life has to suck so much all the time.

The angel replies that the more he searches, the more he'll marvel, because the world is hastening to its end and doesn't know what is waiting for it on the other side. The angel promises that evil will be destroyed someday, so that good can grow in its place. But for some bizarre reason we need evil now. The angel asks Esdras to comprehend the extent of the evil that was sown into Adam's heart and how much it has grown, and how hard it will be to reap it all. Esdras asks when all this will happen, and why the meantime has to be so short and evil. The angel tells him he's trying to get above god. Esdras wonders if righteous people have never asked these questions before. The angel replies that everything will come to pass when the scales balance.

Next, the angel tells Esdras to go find a 9 months pregnant woman and ask her to keep her baby inside an extra month. Esdras replies that it's impossible, and the angel says graves are like that for souls. Esdras is still curious, and wants to know if the world is half over yet. The angel tells him to stand some distance away and sends a burning oven in front of him, then a raincloud. The angel points out that rain is more than drops and fire is more than smoke, but when each ends, we're left with droplets and smoke. Esdras prays to know if he'll be around for the end of days, but finally the angel confesses that he doesn't know.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

2 Esdras, Chapters 1 & 2: Forsaken Foreskins

Chapter 1

Blech. Yet another list of names. That's at least 3 since the beginning of the Apocrypha, which was only 9 chapters ago. I see why these books didn't make the cut.

After the list, Esdras informs us in the first person that god told him to show the people how evil they are, even though god was the one who brought them out of slavery in Egypt. That god was also the one who sent them into bondage is not mentioned. God also reminds us that he destroyed Pharaoh and several countries for the Israelites. He also fed them and watered them that time that he made them wander the desert for 40 years unnecessarily, which seems like the least he could do. He vows to wash his hands of them, to refuse their sacrifices and circumcisions. Then the threats start: casting out, no grandchildren, giving their houses away to newer, better people who will worship him properly.

Chapter 2

For ignoring the prophets, god will scatter his people, especially Assur, who he calls out in print as a giant faker. In addition, he will burn them, like he did to Sodom and Gomorrha. But people who believe in him, he will reward with tabernacles and ointment. They won't have to work. He will also raise the dead, because really the bible is just a giant zombie story.

Despite the fact that every prophet up until now has been ridiculed and ignored, god promises to send two new ones, Esay and Jeremy, as well as fruit trees and milk and honey fountains, plus seven mountains where he will grow roses and lilies for no reason other than to bring joy to the people. All they have to do is be nice to the unfortunate. He'll protect them when he sends the apocalypse.

Esdras received this message on a mountaintop, but when he came down and tried to spread the word that the world is going to end super soon, he was rejected. When the world ends, the faithful will be rewarded with white clothes. Also in his vision was a very tall man who distributed crowns. He asked the angel who the guy was, and the angel said he was the Son of God (v. 47). He instructs Esdras to share this vision.