Friday, November 30, 2007

Fruit From the Tree of Life

Other than its location close to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil Genesis doesn't tell us much about the tree of life. These two trees shared the same address—the middle of the Garden of Eden. We do know that all of the trees in the garden were pleasant looking and good for food (Gen 2:9). The last tidbit we can glean is that if Eve or Adam had eaten from the tree of life they would have lived forever—regardless of whether they ate before or after the Fall. That fruit was the ultimate jackpot if you happened to take a bite.

Did God do anything to prevent this disruptive chomp from happening? Did God make the fruit of the tree of life ugly, covered with nasty thorns, or only available on high branches? Maybe it smelled bad.

When I read Genesis chapters 1 through 3 I usually think about it in three ways. As a creation story it's a haunting tale of paradise created and lost. As the beginning of the Bible it's a fascinating introduction to the relationship of God and man, the conflict between good and evil, and of the consequences of sin. And finally it's a personal lesson, reminding me that I disobey God's commands and as a result I too am worthy of death.

The tree of life is the solution to the sentence of death in each of these viewpoints:

  1. In the garden God places the tree of life off limits—an angel with a flaming sword blocks the way

  2. Later in the Bible (Numbers 21) something analogous to the tree of life is introduced, but with a surprising twist. The serpent is now associated with the tree.

    'While wandering in the desert the people of Israel spoke against God and were plagued with deadly fiery serpents, Moses prays for help and God instructs him “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.” So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live.' ESV

    Now a serpent (symbolizing sin) and wood come together as a solution. An act of will by the dying person is still required to get the prize of life. This story foreshadows the mysterious suffering servant that is prophesized in Isaiah 53.

  3. And finally, as the solution to my death sentence, Jesus is hung on another tree, takes my curse upon himself, and offers a personal opportunity to be redeemed. This new tree of life exists in the middle of my existence. All I had to do was pluck its fruit, lay aside my life, and eat.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

357 Magnum Meme

Heidi from Virushead has tagged me with the 357 magnum meme. It asks some basic questions about blogging. This tag was welcome because I have been suffering from blogger's block and these questions are a lot easier than the ones I am currently wrestling with. So here we go:

1. How long have you been blogging?

I have been blogging since December 2005. At that point the blogosphere was growing like mad and the basic technology had matured to the point where I could jump in relatively painlessly. Like most successful new technologies the new ideas were simple, and now look obvious, but anyone that posted material on a website before the advent of blogging knows that posting is a lot easier than it used to be.

2. What inspired you to start a blog and who are your mentors?

I enjoy writing and as I watched blogging mature I realized that it was a good match to my writing style. I tend to run out of gas on any subject after about a thousand words, which is about as long as you can expect any blog reader to hang around for. I have been a journal writer for a long time and I saw how blogging can be on-line journaling. Being in a public forum constrains me a bit, but it also motivates me to refine what I am saying. Regarding mentorship, my son Trevor preceded me in the blogosphere with In The Space Between, providing some much appreciated advice, encouragement, and for a long time was my only reader. He tracks the Web 2.0 technology closely and we enjoy speculating on what will happen next.

3. Are you trying to make money online, or just doing it for fun?

I’m definitely not in it for the money. On my Tickets Passports Money blog I plan to add Adsense and do an affiliate link—to learn the technology.

4. Tell me 3 things you LOVE about being online.

  • The creative aspects of posting are really fun. When I post something that works (at least for me) I feel the buzz of creating something that somehow transcends me, and perhaps is more enduring than myself.
  • Blogging is a new, unique communication medium. It’s not just an essay or a link. Unlike email it is a broadcast medium where you don’t know who you will reach, but the comment section provides the potential for the give-and-take of email or a forum. Through it we have the potential to tap into the energy and knowledge of millions of people.
  • Finding like-minded people. C.S. Lewis said, "We read to know we are not alone." The blogosphere is the same way. I link into really interesting people that I would never find in real life and through their writing feel an immediate connection. Their knowledge and their openness astonish me and motivate me to be better.

5. Tell me 3 things you STRUGGLE with in the online world.

  • Anyone that has a significant presence online must deal with truly scary people. I am thankful that I don’t have to deal with this, but anyone that followed the Kathy Sierra Story, or reads through the comments of popular blogs has seen that there are some real creeps out there. The misogynist element bothers me the most—for the most part I live in an environment that is supportive of women. The hatred of these guys is truly disturbing.
  • I struggle with writing for general interest rather for my self. I installed Google Analytics on my blogs mostly to see the technology in action, but now find myself checking it almost daily to see how many people have visited. I know that if I really wanted to build readership I should blog daily, but fundamentally that is not why I blog, and I need to stay true to myself in that.
  • I don’t want to be boring. I suppose I should also worry about being impenetrable—but I don’t. I’ve seen those looks in real life where the people are wondering what planet I came from, but I'll take that any day over being boring.