LONG AGO TWO HUNDRED ANGELS DESCENDED upon Mount Hermon in order that humanity might learn the mysteries of heaven, and then one day, while Azazel, Semjaza, and the lot of their fellow transgressors were sitting around weeping, the Prophet Enoch met them. He had been asked to write a petition on their behalf, that they might be forgiven of their sins. They were forbidden audience with the Lord and condemned from lifting their eyes up and beholding heaven. On the night prior, Enoch had fallen asleep by the waters of Dan and dreamt of beautiful places. He had visions of the very heaven which they longed to survey, and of a far worse place which awaited them. It was at the very ends of heaven and earth itself, the Prophet wrote, where he saw something horrible. There, in the chaos and the void, he witnessed neither a heaven above nor a firmly founded earth below, but a desert numbered with seven stars. These stars, Enoch wrote, had the appearance of “great burning mountains,” for as he stood there watching them, paralyzed with a trembling fear, they rolled about in the fire. And nothing could quench their torment.
“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in Him will I trust (Psalm 91:1-2).”
BEFORE INTRODUCING MYSELF TO PASTOR Dean Odle on the afternoon of November 9, 2017, I had already greeted several other presenters in the room. But unlike Flat Earthists Darryle Marble, Jeran Campanella, Bob Knodel, and Rob Skiba, our story does not end at the first annual Flat Earth International Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina. Oh no—for Dean Odle of Opelika, Alabama, it is only the beginning.
SCRIPTURE DOES NOT INTRODUCE US TO NADAB AND ABIHU as malevolent men. Quite contrarily, they were the eldest sons of Aaron—priests of the one true God. Nadab was heir to the office of high priest. Abihu was next in line. Nobody else but their father and Moses their uncle were given a more prestigious standing among God’s chosen people. When Moses spoke with God upon Saini, the people of Israel had been instructed not to go “up into the mount, or touch the border of it” on clear instructions that “whosoever toucheth the mount shall be put to death.” (Exodus 19:12) Even wild animals were to be put to death, should they dare to wander upon Sinai’s skirt. The children of Israel could only watch the fire from afar while the ground jolted their balance and pitch-black smoke clotted the blue sky as it would from a furious furnace—covering their ears “while the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder…” (Exodus 19:19). And yet Nadab and Abihu were specifically named among the “seventy elders” who were instructed to meet God upon the mountain.
IN THE LATE SUMMER OF 1926 AUTHOR P.L. TRAVERS stood on the doorstep of poet and Irish senator William Butler Yeats Dublin home soaked and disheveled—her arms bundled with the branches and berries she’d collected from the island of Innisfree. In return Yeats showed the 27 year-old the egg his canary had just laid. By Hollywood standards, Travers was no great beauty. Her dreams of achieving stage and silent screen stardom had sailed, and she’d only recently moved from Sydney to London in order that she might earn a wage reporting on the very theatrical world which was otherwise determined to reject her. Adding insult to injury, the boatman whom she had hired to charter her to and from Innisfree in the pouring rain had identified her landmark as Rats Island. But in truth, the Avalon of Yeats imagination didn’t actually exist. Yeats knew it and Travers knew it. For this reason, some say Mary Poppins, the fictional nanny from her book series, was born that day. Travers desired the unseen realm, and quite ironically, the branches and berries she’d collected in a torrential downpour attested to her devotion. Her preference was for witchery.
WATCHING A DISGRACED 81 YEAR-OLD BILL COSBY—holding his cane while handcuffed and led to prison for what may prove to be the remainder of his life—brought me absolutely no satisfaction. His crime is certainly not justifiable by any social or moral standard. The law rightly requires that he pay for what he has done. But for many of us this is a somber moment, and I think that is a good thing.
ON THE SIXTH DAY OF CREATION THE LORD GOD FORMED man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul. God later caused the man to fall into a deep sleep. Upon opening his eyes, he beheld a woman near his side. The Hebrew word nephesh can be translated as “living being” or “soul,” and is aptly applied in the King James as “living creature.” A careful reader will likely observe that Adam, not overlooking his wife thereafter, were in fact the last recorded souls to be made in relation to the creation week. Before Adam was formed from the dust of the ground and Eve from his rib, the waters and the air and the whole face of the earth had already brought forth abundantly a host of living creatures—each after their own kind. And yet, the man and his wife were not simply living souls. Unquestionably, they were God’s crowning achievement. They were the result of a conversation. Let us make man in our image. Ever since Moses penned these words mankind has sought a definition as to what it exactly means—and yet the Bible never explicitly gives one. But let us not overlook the forest for the trees, because God’s image is the story of the Bible.
IT IS OFTEN ASSUMED BY THE CLERIC that Paul the Apostle agreed with Saul the Pharisee, his fleshly counterpart, on any number of extra-Biblical doctrines, particularly the immortal soul; that the road to Damascus did little to reform his erstwhile faith in the celebrated oral dogma of Hellenistic Judaism—despite an intervention by the written Prophets, whom I have no doubt rehabilitated him; nor abolish his wealth of worldly education, particularly a diploma in Platonism. When Ananias found the last Apostle shortly after his arrival in Damascus, he met the authenticated Saul—a blind man. “And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized (Acts 9:18).” Straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, and as he did so, “increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus.” By this we are to understand that his conviction of the truth of the bona fide religion strengthened tenaciously every day as he made obsolete the dark speeches of his former companions and acquaintances by thoroughly stifling their perversities at the throat. Paul’s life was a courtroom—and quite ironically, still is. The jury today must deliberate on the most elementary of Christian doctrines, because Paul’s good news for both the Jew and the Gentile was not the immortal soul. No, no—quite contrarily, it was the resurrection of the dead.