No animals were harmed in the making of this blog... but 22,000 bats are dead from the filming scene of the Expendables 2 movie. I guess those bats were... well, expendable.
The Devetashka Cave in Bulgaria where Expendables 2 was filmed
The production was fined in November 2011, between $343–$3,440 by the Bulgarian environmental protection agency for illegally removing shrubs and small trees from the entrance of Devetashka Cave. They had been issued permits to build sets in the area, including a bridge to the cave, but environmentalists complained that filming may damage the cave, where 40 endangered species live. So the producers agreed to not film explosions, car chases and fires near the cave.
This didn't solve the problem. Environmentalists claimed that the bat population in Devetaskha cave had been reduced by up to three quarters-from approximately 30,000 recorded in 2010 to 8,000 in 2011. Because of the cutting down of vegetation and all the noise the large numbers of people make, not to mention all the dead bats, the production was eventually fined for violating their permit. Don't let a few dead bats stop you from watching six pounds of weapons-grade plutonium being brandished about in an effort to control half the world. And, then there are the larger-than-life action figures themselves to be seen, and the number is now up to 10 (where the first had only 7.) Wouldn't want to miss that premiering this weekend would you?!
Personally, I would rather see a movie filmed in an exotic locale where no bats or humans are slaughtered. This may sound like a "make love not war" campaign, but I think the presence of large stores of ammo spoils the ambiance for those of us with a genuine wanderlust. Though I frequently entertain fantasies of wandering the globe, I never think to myself (while looking through travel websites), "If they would just rip up a few bushes first, and kill off a few thousand bats now that would be an awesome place to see people blown to bits!" No, since I know you are wondering, I didn't see the first movie either. I'm waiting for the filming of "The Seafarers." Think... Nemo, Little Mermaid, Ponyo, Oscar (Shark Tale,) Winter (Dolphin Tale,) Free Willy, and Sinbad the Sailor join together to find Puff the Magic Dragon and bring him back.
Nature has always been a source of consolation. When I can get outdoors, I always feel better than when I am tied up indoors. Today has been a good day, with little pain. I was so sleepy because I woke up around 5 am before Larry left for work. But, I took a nap around ten and woke up feeling rested. I was able to walk around outside in the yard for about 20 minutes when the rain slacked off, and enjoyed the water world that a rainy day can become.
Otherwise, I am enjoying my new fish tank. Fish seem like such insignificant pets, but they are tiny bits of nature who hold you captive by the spark of life within them. Nothing is ever truly insignificant when it changes your focus. What may seem meaningless to others, may add meaning to your life. So, aside from the fish I already put in the tank: Anastasia & Sir Galahad (the pink & blue parrot fish,) Saphira (the fire mouth,) Jabberwocky (the Jaguar,) and John Caesar (the Black Convict); I now have five Tiger Fish and two Silver Hatchets. I discovered through research that the Tiger Fish can actually be identified as male by the layer of red on the dorsal fin and the red nose. So, it turns out all of mine but the smallest are male. I named them Bob, Bob, Bob, Bob, and Barbara Ann, respectively. I just knew that would be the appropriate thing to do. LOL.
As to the Silver Hatchets, since they are so thin and transparent, and since they love to float above all the rest of the fish at the surface of the aquarium world, I gave them archangel names: Gabriel & Raphael. Gabriel is the larger of the two. The names seem appropriate to me, if you know anything about the angels in history. Only two "good" angels' names were recorded in the Bible: Gabriel and Michael. Of those two, we see Gabriel performing as a messenger most. And, it is he that is credited historically to be the one who will blow the trumpet one day. Though all angels are messengers, which is the meaning of the word angelos, Gabriel seems to be a direct harbinger of good tidings from God. I like that. We all need a little good tidings, don't we?
There are two other angels not mentioned in the 66 books of the Bible, but they are found in the apocryphal books of the Bible, Ariel and Raphael. Oral Jewish tradition carried the names down, even though they weren't recorded per se in Scripture. Ariel is mentioned in Isaiah 29:1-7, and is used metaphorically for Israel or Jerusalem, who is to be punished by God for the fall of the nation. But the angel Ariel is said to be a demi-urge type angel of the earth, creation, and healing. But, he was a fallen angel. Raphael is an angel of healing as well, though unfallen. God Himself is known by the title Jehovah-Rapha, which refers to His healing power. Rapha is the Hebrew word for healing. So, with the names Gabriel and Raphael, I have a harbinger of good tidings and healing. Those are definitely good names for such pretty fish.
Why does all this matter? It doesn't within the fish tank. It is in the world outside the tank, and inside my head that it matters. The Bible says, "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." Philippians 4:8 I like to think about angels coming with healing in their wings, and about Messengers from God with Good news. For, it is God after all who gives us richly all things to enjoy 1 Timothy 6:17; not angels.
For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) 2 Corinthians 5:4-7
I have chopped this little selection out of a larger discussion on mortality and immortality, flesh and Spirit man. You see, whatever it is that ails you in the flesh, in my case my health problems, may cause you to wish to be "dressed" or clothed differently. Right now we are all dressed up in flesh, or mortality. We don't long so much to have this mortality taken off, so much as to have our new Spiritual bodies spring out of these earthly shells into new life, immortal and limitless. It is life we are wanting, not death.
If you watched the movie Avatar, you see the same idea. The protagonist is handicapped, and through the avatar he puts on a new body in a virtual world and is able to run and really live again. So you see, we love nature for the life that is in it. We love living animals because they have life within them. The natural world is bits of life all around us, messengers of the life that is within us, and that Spirit of life is our greatest gift.
Everybody knows Jesus. There is no more need for Sunday School teachers. From the least important person on Earth, to the greatest man alive, they all know and believe in God. Sound like prophecy? Well, it is yet to be fulfilled. Jeremiah spoke of a time when we wouldn't teach our fellow man about God, because we would all know Him personally. Jeremiah 31:33-34
Jacob was a five year old neighbor. I picked him, his little brother Justin, and their older sister up for church while they lived next door to me. His little brother seemed clueless, but Jacob asked questions, during the worship service, before we went back to Sunday School. Most of his questions were about why I or other people he noticed had their eyes closed (prayer) and such.
Most of Jacob's questions though involved the pastor. Why is that? What is it about the reading of the Scriptures and preaching that captures a child's ears? Jacob asked after a shout, "He sounds mad, is he mad?" I said "No, he is just excited in a birthday kind of way." While the Pastor was reading aloud Genesis one, Jacob asked, "Why is he saying a lot of words?" Of course that sounded funny. And, I have heard many adults say similar things in different churches when they were tired or impatient. But, that's not what Jacob meant. He had never been to church before then. He didn't understand the reason behind what was happening. But he understood that there was a reason for it, and he wanted to know what the reason was.
It is natural for the mind of man to seek to understand and make meaning of the world around him. This starts at birth. Newborn babies memorize the faces of their parents. They learn to predict and expect parents to do certain things. When I took them home that Sunday, it took a few minutes to get anyone to the door, because Mom had worked until after ten the night before. Jacob tried pounding on the window, and then called through the door, "Open up Mom it's us...your sons." That woke the chihuahua up... and got the door opened. It sounded cute to me, him identifying himself.
Note that last part of verse 33 above, "and will be their God, and they shall be my people." That is a common phrase in the Bible. It's not a one timer. I've mostly found it in the prophetic books: major prophets, minor prophets, and the Revelation. But, it's in Genesis, too. I'm not posting the references simply because it occurs so frequently. It is a major theme throughout Scripture that God wants to draw mankind to Himself, and that God is calling you to Himself.
God's plan is so simple. He wants to have us for His own people. Everything he does is with the plan and purpose of saving us. He died on Calvary to save us from the wages of death.
Back to the point about the reading of Scriptures catching a child's ear. I've noticed that even dogs notice the difference in the sound of Scripture. Many animals seem quite religious, in the same way that some animals are just bad. We rescued one puppy a few years back that turned out to be sick. He was crying all night that first night. I put the audio tape of the book of Psalms on in the middle of the night and Tekoa laid down quietly and listened to the tape. I've also met a few dogs who were simply viscous. They certainly seemed to need a little bit of religious training. It is a given that the animal world is aware of God. Even Baalam's donkey could see the angel with the sword before Baalam could.
I wonder what it must have been like for Adam to walk through the cool garden with God each evening. That close companionship had to be very much like what God has in mind in the Jeremiah passage above. Enoch apparantly experienced that same type of walk with God. Genesis 5:24 Hebrews 11:5 The knowledge that brings you closer to God is a good thing. Enoch knew God.
There is a chorus we used to sing in church in McDonough... "Draw Me Close" by the Katinas. That is certainly the cry of the human heart. For, though we are all at some distance from God now, in that day, we will all know Him even as He knows us. 1 Corinthians 13:12
It's like that with hamsters, you never know. I had bought a hamster and a fish with a tank and a cage set up during preplanning . But the hamster got sick. The kids were so sad when we found her dead during the first week. I bought another one at a different pet store and had him in the room on the morning this first four pictures were made, during homeroom. It was like a medicinal balm for their hearts. You could just feel the healing for their sorrow. Children are like that. They can't just ignore a dead pet. We named him Ralph S. Hamster because I had been reading "Ralph S. Mouse '" aloud each morning to the class. They loved the mouse in the book.
But, then came the morning we found the pink hairless little babies in the cage with Ralph. That was a shocker! One really young hamster had babies. Obviously she came home from the pet shop in the motherly way. You can imagine my shock as I looked around trying to figure out how this could have happened for one stupid minute. When, the truth sunk in we renamed her Angel. The three nursery pictures are from day one of life in third grade. The last five pictures are day 11, the day the strongest and bravest ventured out to walk about the tubes in his new world, while his tiny siblings slept through his discoveries.
You just never know do you?! 1 Corinthians 2:9