Category Archives: Paravibes

The Vibe of the Sabbath

 

The Sabbath, or Shabbat as it is known to the Jews has an ultra-chilled out vibe. Very little goes on during Shabbat aside from resting, praying and meeting friends and family. This beautifully relaxed vibe has its origins right at the beginning of Creation. God has expended so much energy creating the world in six days that he needs a day off, and it is in honour of this self-enforced quiet time that Jews throughout the world keep Saturday free and Christians do their best to keep Sunday special. The original Shabbat was not just to remember God’s incredible creative achievement – there is no record of a Sabbath being kept in Egypt. The Sabbath became a combined celebration of the Creation and the release from Egyptian slavery. Not only that, Jews see this weekly day of calm, peace, idleness and prayer as a foretaste of the vibe to come when the Messiah returns. Nowadays, the Sabbath has an almost exclusively Jewish vibe and many Jews spend part of their day off in a synagogue. That doesn’t mean that Christians are excluded from the party – they just choose Sunday as their special day and often spend some of that day in a church. Officially, Jewish Shabbat begins around eighteen minutes before sunset on Friday and lasts until three stars are clearly visible in the night sky on Saturday. The Jews have a list of thirty-nine kinds of work that may not be carried out on the Sabbath, plus any number of rituals which the faithful must adhere to in order to keep the faith. Christians are less focused on Sunday rituals, though many choose not to work or go shopping unless absolutely necessary. An easy going, not much to see here vibe with a trip to church or temple thrown in.

General vibe of the Sabbath: day of rest

Factvibe: the word sabbatical comes from the word Sabbath

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This is the kind of vibe you might expect to come across on the Sabbath

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The Vibe of Heresy

Heresy sits comfortably along its fellow vibes, apostasy and blasphemy. However, heresy is seen as more serious as it questions the central vibe of Christian teaching. Apostasy is switching to a different religion and blasphemy is really about being rude, dismissive or otherwise flippant about the things that the Bible holds dear. Throughout history, heretics have had a rough ride. The vibe, it would seem, is the vibe, and anyone who dares mess with the programme does so at their own risk. In the days when there was only one true faith and that faith was organized and governed by the Roman Catholic church, popes and bishops did not take kindly to any local ‘re-interpretation’ of the vibe. That was a place that only a few bold and enlightened souls dared to go. To their credit, many of these alternative believers stuck to their guns, even when the torture chambers of the Spanish Inquisition or the flames of the bonfire began to kick in. A lesser punishment for not towing the Catholic party line is excommunication, where a Pope informs you that you have been kicked out of the church for good (or at least until you change your mind about God), but many church bigwigs were able to take this one step further and hand out the death penalty. For many of these hardcore Catholics, the party ended when Martin Luther nailed a list of complaints against Roman Catholicism to a church door in Wittemburg and invented Protestantism. Now it was the turn of Protestant kings and queens to burn Catholics, many of whom ended up being made into saints. In the last two hundred years, the church has chilled out a little, especially as it has lost much of its power to the state. People are free to practice whatever religion they want, although the Roman Catholic Church continues to excommunicate people who claim to be Catholics but then break rules that Catholics are meant to keep. All in all, an ugly vibe that was dealt with very badly for hundreds of years and sent many otherwise good people to a premature and violent grave.

General vibe of Heretics: Believers who dare to differ.

Factvibe: Jackie Kennedy Onassis was excommunicated for marrying the divorcee, Aristotle Onassis without getting permission from the church first.

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A bonfire. Often the final station stop for heretics in less enlightened times.

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The Vibe of the Fruit of the Spirit

People are people and people are bad. Thus runs the vibe of the Fruit of the Spirit, seven lovely vibes that only true believers have access to. And because people are people, they can’t help screwing up. They are destructive, self centred, greedy, aggressive, angry, arrogant, cheating and many other vibes besides. Thanks to believers’ ability to channel the fruit of the spirit, all the bad impulses can be overruled. The fruit are named by Paul in his letter to the church in Galatia in modern day Turkey and include love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. However, these vibes are very broad, and need to be narrowed down a little. Love is the self-giving type that thinks of others first, joy is the elation that comes from being filled with the Holy Spirit and peace is the sense of serenity that comes with being at one with God. Patience is of the long-suffering and anti-revenge kind and kindness isn’t about being nice, it’s about doing the right thing to help people, hence the vibe ‘being cruel to be kind.’ Goodness is straightforward – this vibe is about being moral and virtuous. Faith keeps believers strong regardless of what hostilities they may face and gentleness keeps any headstrong, vengeful vibes away. Lastly, self-control is the power to have mastery over your own behaviour. The list is dished out by Paul in a letter that describes the new sense of freedom enjoyed by believers in Jesus. Or in other words, thanks to the Fruit of the Spirit, Christians have special superpowers that allow them to behave unlike other people and to break free from the old patterns of behaviour that usually end in tears, lawsuits or fisticuffs.

General vibe of the Fruit of the Spirit: Secret weapons for believers

Factvibe: The Greek word for peace, eirene, gives us the girl’s name, Irene

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The fruits of the spirt aren’t the kind of fruits that can be peeled and kept in a can

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The Vibe of Demons

It’s easy to think that the vibe in Heaven has always been one of milk, honey and gentle harp music. Not so. Christians believe that there was once a war in the Heavenly realm. Several angels, led by Lucifer, decide they can make better decisions than God and organize a rebellion. Their plan is at best misjudged and at worst, a one way ticket to an eternity in exile: God casts them not just out of Heaven but straight into Hell. The angels who follow Lucifer become demons – agents of evil who generally do their best to mess everything up on earth. These demons attempt to take control of their victims and lead them down dark and destructive paths. However, when confronted by Jesus, demons instantly lose their vibe. As God in human form, Jesus is instantly more powerful than any angel, even one who has gone over to the dark side. In fact there are sixty three mentions of demons in the New Testament, and several of these agents of darkness come face to face with Jesus, most notably in the form of two men living in tombs and who are possessed by demons who shout abuse at Jesus. Jesus orders the demons out and they then inhabit a herd of pigs who, unsure what to do with the vibe, leap off the nearest cliff. Over the centuries, much mental illness has been mistaken for demon possession by Christian do-gooders, but more discerning Christians still believe that demonic forces are at work on Earth and that the battle for souls is an ongoing one. A good versus bad vibe, with horns on.

General vibe of Demons: Bad angels

Factvibe: Someone possessed by a demon is called a demoniac

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The vibe of demons, in a highly caffeinated canned drink

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The Vibe of the Dead Sea Scrolls

The Dead Sea Scrolls are a bunch of ancient texts placed in large stone jars and hidden in caves in a place called Qumran on the shores of the Dead Sea. Some of the scrolls contain chunks of the Old Testament and were written over a 300 year period leading up to 68AD when Jerusalem was besieged by Romans, after which the scrolls were hurriedly hidden. Bible boffins believe that the scrolls were written by an ultra-strict sect of hairy monastic vegans called the Essenes, and that Qumran was their library. The scrolls include almost a thousand separate texts and were written on a mixture of papyrus, animal skins and copper in a number of different languages including Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. After spending almost two thousand years enjoying the view of the Dead Sea, they were discovered by a young shepherd in 1947 when one of his flock disappeared into their cave. Needing money, the shepherd grabbed some of the jars and sold them to a local merchant for £5. Since then, the scrolls have had an adventurous life, passing from hand to hand and finally ending up in their own special museum in Jerusalem. As for the vibe of what is written on the scrolls, there are chunks of every Old Testament book apart from Esther. Apparently the Essenes weren’t pleased that she married a Persian and so she was excluded from the vibe. There are also some other bits and bobs that give rules and regulations of how to live and behave in the Qumran community. What makes the Scrolls special to those who believe in God is that, until their discovery, the earliest Hebrew Bible texts were from around 900AD. Amazingly, many of these texts are almost identical to those written on the Dead Sea Scrolls, almost one thousand years earlier. It appears that, with the Old Testament, the vibe is the vibe and despite not having the ancient texts to copy from, Bible scribes never strayed from the plot.

General Vibe of the Dead Sea Scrolls: The Very Old Testament

Factvibe: The shepherd who found the scrolls forgot where the cave was and it wasn’t found again for another two years.

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If a beast like this hadn’t wandered into a cave, we would have no Dead Sea Scrolls

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The vibe of Blasphemy

The vibe of blasphemy is all bad. No good can come from such a thing. Blasphemy suggests that God is wrong, or imperfect, or not all that good. Believers are certain that God is immaculate and all powerful, which is why they have very little time for anyone who thinks otherwise. In a world ruled by those who believe in God, blasphemy is a dangerous game. Early blasphemers learn the error of their ways in brutal fashion: they are taken outside the Israelite camp in the Sinai desert and bashed to death with rocks. From then on. The Bible has no time whatsoever for people who want to insult, alter or otherwise mess with the program. With its irreverent vibe, blasphemy sits comfortably alongside heresy (not sticking to the script), apostasy (no longer having faith in God) and infidelity (never having faith in the first place). Christians believe that the name of God is holy, and so any instance where this name is simply being used to make a point (For God’s sake! Jesus! Cor Blimey!) amounts to blasphemy. In other words, it is a crime against God, which is the very worst crime in the bag. Consider that next time you want to shriek “OMG OMG!” because you just won a competition on a radio phone-in.

General vibe of Blasphemy: Badmouthing God

Factvibe: As late as 1922, salesman John William Gott was jailed for blasphemy in Edinburgh.

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Ok. You’re happy/surprised/shocked. We get it. Enough already

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The Vibe of 40

The vibe of the number forty permeates the Bible like some kind of numerical muzak. Events happen for forty days or forty years as if there were no other number to choose from. Noah’s Flood? Forty days. The Israelite wanderings in the Sinai Desert? Forty years. Jesus’ Temptation in the wilderness? Forty days. Before his defeat at the hands of the shepherd boy David, the giant Goliath challenges the Israelites every day for forty days. Moses sends spies to explore the land of Israel for forty days. Eli, Saul, David and Solomon all rule for forty years. And so on and on and on – the number forty appears a staggering 146 times in the Bible. Many religious types believe that this endless sequence of events that last either forty days or years is divine coincidence, others are less certain. Forty might actually just be a Biblical way of saying ‘umpteen’ or ‘a large number of’ – a generalization that can be seen in later writing, such as in Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. The question remains: why forty and not, say, thirty, or fifty-five? The ancients believed that forty years constituted an epoch, or generation. Or in other words, a significant length of time between two events. Whatever the reason, the forty days or years always bring with them the vibe of some kind of godly testing, trial or punishment, the result of which is far more important than any number.

General vibe of 40: Lots of

Factvibe: Jesus predicts the fall of Jerusalem and in 70AD, exactly forty years after his execution, Roman Emperor Titus lays waste to the city.

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Today, 40 is the age life begins. Back in Bible days, 40 was everywhere

The Vibe of the Seven Virtues

Yet another vibe that doesn’t quite make it into Bible, the seven virtues are a perfect antidote to the seven deadly sins. The full set includes chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, patience, kindness and humility and is also known as the seven Heavenly Virtues. The vibes originated as four Cardinal Virtues laid down by the ancient Greeks: temperance, wisdom, justice and courage. The three theological virtues of faith, hope and charity were thrown in by Paul in his letters to the first churches. However, it wasn’t until Prudentius, a Roman governor from Spain, wrote his poem Pyschomachia four hundred years after the death of Jesus that the seven virtues as we know them appeared in the same list. As for the virtues themselves, chastity doesn’t just mean abstaining from rudies, it implies holding back from the booze and being honest to everyone. Temperance suggests saying no to drugs and alcohol but it is in fact about self-control, moderation and general abstinence. Charity concerns itself with self-sacrifice and love rather than popping coins in charity buckets. Diligence is about keeping busy, managing your time and not giving up, while patience has less to do with being good at waiting, it is thecharirty vibe that helps you get through difficult situations. Humility gives credit where credit is due and is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less. All in all, seven vibes that are actually very difficult to live by, but which are worth aiming for nonetheless.

General vibe of the Virtues: How to be good

Factvibe: Each of the seven virtues has an equal and opposite deadly sin. For example, diligence is the opposite of sloth.

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Patience. Not just a computer game, also a virtue

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The Vibe of Sin

Not to be muddled with Original Sin, sin is basically any vibe that disappoints God. Sadly for humans we can’t help acting in a way that falls short of the ideal set by Jesus. And this isn’t just the big stuff – robbing, stealing or running off with our neighbour’s wife – the vibe of sin is that the devil quite literally is in the detail. Gossiping tongues, potty mouths, wondering minds (and hands), game playing and selfish behaviour all get rolled up in one big bundle called sin. Tightwads? Greedyguts? Bossyboots? They all go in. There’s no escaping the stuff, it’s all around us and, so the Bible tells us, all inside us too. We are riddled with the stuff. In fact the very reason God sends Jesus is to show people what life looks like without the involvement of sin. Even that isn’t enough, we as people are almost too hardwired to doing wrong for there to be any hope for us. And just at the point when it looks like the whole thing is about to go beyond the point of no return, Jesus announces that anyone who believes in him and who is genuinely sorry for the trouble they’ve caused can have their slate wiped clean. Not only that, there is no end to the number of times this slate cleaning can happen. The vibe gets better – Jesus is still there with his soapy bucket and mop nearly two millennia after his official death. This act of being sorry for our sins is called repentance and the transaction where Jesus makes everything right again is called forgiveness. The vibe of sin appears to be with us for the long haul but so, thankfully, is the vibe of Jesus. A sin/win situation.

General vibe of sin: the bad that we think, say and do.

Factvibe: Many Christians hold to the democratic belief that all sins are equally bad

A red velvet cupcake - actually not in and of itself sinful.

A red velvet cupcake – actually not in and of itself sinful.

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The Vibe of the Seven Deadly Sins

Despite popular opinion, the Seven Deadly Sins don’t actually feature in the Bible, at least not in a neat checklist. A couple of them feature in the Ten Commandments, a few appear as nuggets of wisdom in the book of Proverbs, and Paul reels off a list that contains a lot more than seven. Not only that, the list has changed over time, rather like a top 40, hit parade vibe. As anyone who has watched the movie Seven will know, the current ‘Top 7’ are: wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy and gluttony. Not to be confused with the Mortal Sins which lead the offender straight to Hell, Roman Catholics believe that the Seven Deadly Sins are starter sins, or in other words, sins that might, if left untreated, lead to Mortal Sins and an everlasting toasting in the company of Satan. Having compiled their list of Seven Deadly Sins, the meticulous Catholics also appointed a demon to each sin but, happily, for each deadly sin there is a Heavenly Virtue which can at least act as something positive for people to aim for. Over the centuries the Seven Deadly Sins have provided inspiration for artists, painters and film makers and are one of the most popular Bible vibes that aren’t actually in the Bible.

General vibe of Seven Deadly Sins: Don’t do any of these

Factvibe. The current list was pulled together by Pope Gregory in 590AD.

Gluttony - one of the Seven Deadly Sins on a Christian's 'not to do' list

Gluttony – one of the Seven Deadly Sins on a Christian’s ‘not to do’ list

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