The last two weeks were overfull with family and physical issues. I have come to the end of comments I had as a buffer and need to replenish my energy and this blog’s queue. I expect to be back to finish this look at Genesis in the near future. Blessings on your energy. ~Wesley
We began at a beginning, a very good place to start. Of course there are questions of what other story this beginning rose in the midst of. There is a Jewish way of thinking that what are known as miracles (the breaking of an established order) were already in place before a formal beginning and readied for later use. This suggests a miracle is not a miracle pulled from somewhere outside the system or magiced into being by access to a secret password.
In fact, we began with two polar beginnings. From the second we hear a sentence of death upon any transgressors of G*D’s right to good and no-good. We have just witnessed such a boundary crossing and were surprised that the sentence of death did not fall from the sky and collapse Heaven’s vault.
This is more than a delay or having bail posted or be paroled. It is an exile with a formidable foe should one attempt to sneak back in to rest in the cool of the evening.
Death delayed is not death avoided.
Exile (with or without a presence of an active G*D or a g()d just as absent) will be a recurring theme that echoes down to the current day.
At the end of Chapter 3 there is a booming, “You’re out of here!” from the home plate umpire. We are banned from the field, dugout, stadium, parking lot, and environs.
There is relief in exile. We live for another day!
There is anxiety in exile. How will we scratch out a living?
There is fear in exile. The sentence was only postponed.
There is hope in exile. A second thought may yet lead to a third thought of a retrial and acquittal (this is different than a pardon or reconciliation).
It is time to pause and regroup. How’s the story going for you? Worth continuing or time to put it down for more pressing matters?
The second creation story officially ended at 2:23. Verses 2:24–25 insert a fable’s moral.
At this point Creation 2.0 draws a curtain on its Act 1. Here are two reflections during this intermission.
- The morality of a series of new creations loosed by ’ishah and ’ish clinging to one another in both a bonding ritual of “one flesh” or generating a separate “single flesh” child has come down to us in its heterosexual truncation that marriage equals one man and one woman.
The United Methodist Church is presently “unclinging” itself—dividing into its competing visions of Grace—forcing Arminian (female?) apart from Calvinist (male?). This division over sexuality reveals different relationships between a creator and creation that goes far beyond the wedge issue of sexual orientation. The war over grace is more than this current battle over the limits of marriage within a culture and its ecclesial counterpart of ordination as a relationship between humans and G*D.
Such a division reveals the limits of morality as a decision-making tool.
- I appreciate The Beginning of Wisdom: Reading Genesis by Leon R. Kass. This resource is a stimulant to this blog.
Kass writes as a philosopher using Genesis as a lens to look at the topic of Wisdom. He does an excellent job of noting alternative perspectives from biblical scholars not in the mainstream. His book is a helpful adjunct to a pious/devotional or traditional approach to the Bible.
Kass has been correctly critiqued for his tendency toward patriarchy and male privilege when it comes to matters regarding sexuality. His writing on the second creation story (including the coming Act 2 — “Adam, Eve, and Serpent”) needs attentive reading lest the traditionalist bias of dominion over a created order and the female part of an androgynous first ’adam hold sway in a reader’s response to the story as told.
With this caveat, I do recommend this resource for its emphasis upon wisdom and midrash that keeps Genesis pertinent to today. Kass’s focus on narrative and philosophy over piety and morality is refreshing and stimulating.
My apologies for the multiple posts. Something was adding extra code to my blog posts and it has taken quite a bit of time to try to track the culprit down. At this point, past coding errors have been corrected and I’ll try to figure out if this was a one time error or if there is some other intersection that is causing the difficulty.
My current expectation is that things will return to the one-post-a-day, Monday through Friday.
Change in Posting Schedule
I’ve been posting on this blog seven times a week. It is time to do G*D one better and take two days off—Saturday and Sunday.
May you rejoice in not spending a few minutes here and employ them in a silent appreciation there is anything at all (especially you).
If that is too much to ask, you might be interested in seeing if your library has a copy of The Book of Genesis: Illustrated by R. Crumb. The primary text is the same as I am using for these comments, a translation by Robert Alter.
Will be back on Monday barring creeks that don’t rise notably higher or some other complication.
“Not Sure” Improves the Situation
“If you know that you are not sure, you have a chance to improve the situation. I want to demand this freedom for future generations.” ~Richard Feynman, The Meaning of It All: Thoughts of a Citizen-Scientist (p. 28).
E.E. Cummings announces in his play, Santa Claus: A Morality,
Ladies and gentlemen: If you have been
deceived by some imposter—so have I.
If you all have been tricked and ruined—so have I.
And so has every man and woman, I say.
I say it, and you feel it in your hearts:
we are all of us no longer glad and whole,
we have all of us sold our spirits into death,
we are all of us the sick parts of a sick thing,
we have all of us lost our living honesty,
and so we are all of us not any more ourselves.
—Who can tell truth from falsehood any more?
I say it, and you feel it in your hearts:
no man or woman on this big small earth.
—How should our sages miss the mark of life,
and our most skillful players lose the game?
your hearts will tell you, as my heart has told me:
because all know, and no one understands.
—O, we are all so very full of knowing
that we are empty: empty of understanding….
To get out of the built-in traps of every life grown within the limits of any family or society there needs be an appreciation for holding light and lightly in a finer sieve than those of prior generations. To not do so is to constrain self and future generations to the limits of yesterday.
Future freedom is based on that of past and present. The more active observational investigation has been and is, the freer the opportunities we provide to nurture and nourish any who may follow after (contingencies of imaginative sclerosis and ecological disaster also need to be honored).
Our starting spot is the simple one of noting a different point of observation and finding a next metaphor that will not deny but enlarge to the point of moving to a more specific and thus, mysteriously, encompassing set of data and consequences.
Of course, this simplicity is increasingly more difficult than can be anticipated until it arrives and we exclaim “Of course!” and set about dethroning the latest king-of-the-mountain by way of an intentional and innocent affirmation of, “I’m not so sure.”
A Rule’s Exception
“The exceptions to any rule are the most interesting in themselves, for they show us that the old rule is wrong. And it is most exciting, then, to find out what the right rule, if any, is. ~Richard Feynman, The Meaning of It All: Thoughts of a Citizen-Scientist (p. 16).
The appeal to a rule qua rule needs one more look at the observational data—the experience of today’s ability to record observations in a new setting with new tools of measurement.
This ability to hold old data against new data is to have eaten from a tree of knowing outcomes and a willingness to alter them based on new information. When such connections to a new world are outlawed from the beginning, we don’t need to simply wait for some next great shoulder to stand on and with. When different outcomes are dismissed out-of-hand, we can be as certain as ever we can be that it is but a matter of time before the old rule crashes.
Such a crash has never been pretty or sweeping. There are still people aplenty who can only respond positively to a hierarchical structure where they know their place, their rule, and it will always be within a right-wrong binary—Heaven is up; Earth is flat.
Theology, the old queen from generations of incest, is always tested at the point of its current certainty. Ironically, it is its loyal opposition that carries its best hope of reinvigorating its line. The parade of religions seems never to end, like the parade of tectonic plates rising from below and diving deep below—mixing and sifting their moment in the sun, their dance of respiration featuring a coordinating atom of magnesium in chlorophyll and of iron in hemoglobin.
Of G*D & g()d
I’ve been reading Lloyd Geering’s From the Big Bang to God. The last section wonders if we can still use the old term “religion” for a new commitment to a structured form for meaning in a global setting beyond our fascination with clan. Geering offers no suggestion for an alternative.
The reliance of his text on Pierre Teilhard de Chardin is leading me to transition my usual marker of an evolutionary and mutating G*D to g()d.
This moves from othering capital letters and an asterisk encouraging a reader to look elsewhere for “more” to a more familiar lower case with space for a seed to be planted and evolve as it does (there is less here than we have come to expect).
G*D and g()d
are the current bounds or spectrum within which I find a delicious playground. and invite you to join me in playing with them as a way of sensitizing our awareness beyond cares of every night and noon.
It is time for me to get back into a bit of more regular writing. I thought of starting another site to do it but figured this might be as good as any to begin.
The main topic will be Genesis with occasional forays into other bits and pieces.
Note that those who use the subscription process always have an opportunity to unsubscribe at the bottom of the email you receive. If there are others you think might appreciate reading here, you can refer them to http://eepurl.com/cqvRmT to sign up to receive postings at 9AM the day after they are posted. If someone wants to taste this series, you can refer them to https://wildernessurgency.org.
First Post tomorrow.
Mark – Historical Fiction
You might be interested in a new book by RW Holmen—Wormwood and Gall: The Destruction of Jerusalem and the First Gospel. This is a story of Markos (who wrote the Gospel of Mark).
Holmen uses current historical and archeological findings to give credence to one background possibility for the currently invisible Mark. The lens through which he works is the image used by James Carroll that the Christian scriptures are “war literature”. Holmen uses his experience of being an Army Ranger to inform his telling the time of Mark from the expulsion of the Roman Army to their return and destruction of Jerusalem and subsequent years to the writing of the first gospel. I can highly recommend this telling.
Holmen has also written: A Wretched Man: A Novel of Paul the Apostle and Queer Clergy: A History of Gay and Lesbian Ministry in American Protestantism. I also highly recommend both of these. He has additional books about his Army experiences available on Amazon.