True freedom develops out of disciple and a healthy respect for necessity, writes Kathleen Norris. So beware the enemies of freedom.
Unless a wrong is named and addressed, its harmful effects will be passed on to future generations. And that wrong will never be overcome.
So why a MISSION of freedom? Beware the counterforce, always moving, never reflecting. Look into your own counter forces which are always reviewing data and video, like an NHL assistant hockey coach. There is danger within. The reader knows that the movement, in the story of whatever inside or outside demons, involves attempts to steal the ability to take pleasure in oneself and the world. As this work becomes a real burden.
Looking for ease, to maintain the status quo. Hiring people to assist execution and enforcement.
The enforcers. Just as writers must nobly endure self-destruction compulsions, in your fugitive frenzy, you need a way to come down. Exercise works. To come back to earth with a disciplined regiment. Other means can be more tempting: tranquillizers, booze, marijuana. In the words of William Styron, alcohol can be ‘a magical conduit to fantasy… an enhancement to the imagination.’ In the words of Bertran Russell, drunkenness may be ‘a temporary suicide.’ Know that neither an artist or a spy can maintain such a high level of creative intensity. Beware self-destruction.
There are ups and downs of the creative process. And the burnout factor. Be self-aware. When you worked hard all week, when you did not desire to think too hard in your leisure. About what you believed in. When you did not want to think too hard about the state of your relationships. Watch your sex lives too, and all the things which try to steal your ability to take pleasure in yourself and the world.
When you want to do something once and for all and be through with it, the basic human desire is for peace and to be back at the start. In your homeland, where you belong.
Gone, like the wind, with its power and wealth. In Minnesota, the past is both an ally and the enemy. The prejudice, the burdens you carry from the past. Goodness, but not getting the support you needed, for your eggs. People left teaching, people left families all for the lack of support.
To stretch. To record it all. The morning yawn that stretches the inner world into the outer.
Communal goodness. The gentle force. Beware making this force brutal. The near impossible visualized. Invisible, impossible, incredible. Like the story of God. “The Lord is with you.”
As the system captured us, in the monk’s living quarters, beware self-destruction. Affirmative action. Bailouts for everyone … for bad priests, for bankers exploiting the system.
Vainglory. Beware its lust to draw others to ourselves, for selfish purpose, warns Kathleen Norris. If you had acedia as a monk, the last thing to do is to remain alone and barren, “having made no progress in my cell.”
The canons, the life cycles for the high priests of finance. Ah, the steps to counter inflows of speculative money.Caught up in a SPIRIT of globalization to move the dollar down, the need was based, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the cost of the unfunded $190 million a day war effort, its is running a large trade deficit in the United States, inflation has been 1.1 percent, compared with 2.7 percent when the year 2010 began. Although it had been written that the Fed’s QE move would indeed bring down the dollar, it did not always happen at the start. In the beginning. Since the QE announcement.
Beware the counterforces responding in the invisible world of liquidity management, where interest rates along with cash reserves control credit growth. Caught up in the SPIRIT of monetary war, Chinese central bank has “decided to fight forcefully” against the Fed’s easing, in the ongoing monetary war, fought with every bit the intensity as the war effort in Afghanistan. In 2010, the government of China ordered banks five times to set aside larger reserves, to maintain momentum. This was one step in response to quatitative easing involving liquidity management elsewhere. A trade surplus seemingly gave those Chinese policy makers a confidence to keep tightening, in 2010. Soon to become the world’s second largest economy, from its build-up of cash, three years later the economic forces seem to be back where they were as Europe announced their QE inititative. So why is the equity market at record highs?
Power. To be caught in life cycles of power, freedom, fertility. John F. Kennedy, in his January 20, 1961 inaugural address spoke about the MISSION of freedom, which is connected to your fertility and to your money, to the quiet hunger in the story, with slavery in the same historic stories. Over and over the recurring story of Egypt, the story of slaves. To be caught in life cycles of “Forced Labor.” And the way of life of slavery, where animal spirits soar, like the way of a life of crime.
Living here under the history of slavery. Like the forced labor” in the Soviet Bloc, little different than life in the nineteenth century. Bonded labor, less a system today than in the past – but still serial servitude though wtih tactics to make it harder to identify. To be caught in life cycles of SLAVERY: In a world of BAD spirits, written about by a one-time slave in 1789.
Generation after generation in bonded labor of agriculture, there is the relationship even into the modern world with suffering. When you came from this culture where through history people had been treated as things, and it took two generations to wash out the influence, in the story of Exodus.
For how many years did slavery and overcoming slavery – the economic system of slavery, then overcoming system collapse – become the focus of American history? And it really wasn’t over.
So in the pursuit not of life styles, if the MISSION is freedom, how much joy were you entitled to, with the threat of the content of my crop . . . to others. The threat in your field of bugs as you tried to reproduce something, to just survive, as the mission was love and fertility to overcome human hunger. And so the envy, the jealousy, as you tried to grow something while looking for ease, as the mission was love and fertility. But what happens when you excluded one or the other?
Freedom, academic freedom, is not for the weak-minded. And so the focus on Hagar’s son as the son of a servant. In the beginning, unless a wrong is named and addressed, its harmful effects will be passed on to future generations. And that wrong will never be overcome.
In the motives of love, when you have nothing, nomad-like, how honest do you have to be? Feel the distrust over other people’s motives, without an understanding of your own culture … when those other motives were simple lust, and avarice, and greed. The deadly sins all directed at power. When you have nothing, nomad-like, how faithful do you have to be to anyone? When all you had was life … and when that was at risk, all you had was God.
And so there was Abraham, in the new beginning. Is it the awareness of the missing bond between the keeper of the flock, like the later missing bond between Isaac and Ishmael, between Jacob and Esau, the first recorded twins? And Cain, speaking of inheritance, having to leave again, like his parents. And now, Hagar with Ishmael, and the missing bond between the father of faith and the servant girl. The forced bond. The impositions on the people you were close to.
To know, to love, to serve. When your first son is a slave.
And so the reader, and the writer developing an awareness of the missing bond. In all of these stories about leaving and coming back, there is the serial servitude. In a world filled with doubt, it always has been tough to be in such an alliance with the true believers. In a world filled with doubt, over the known and the unknown. Like over climate change, globalization, and all the episodes of helplessness. In a world filled with doubt, like how Abraham had felt about his first born son.
True freedom develops out of disciple and a healthy respect for necessity. And slaves and servants did seem necessary, if you grew up trying to maintain a large home. But hostility developed among people who never had what you had, and what it was exactly which you tried to pass on. In systems caught in life cycles, set up where the first born son was supposed to get everything. But the mother did so much of the passing.
If the Spirit of God has set us free, unless a wrong is named and addressed, its harmful effects will be passed on to future generations. And I hope those Coptic Christians are treated a bit better in 2014 while living under a dominant power.
And beware the enemies of freedom to freely worship my God.
Copyright © 2013.
donate, if you ever in your life felt chosen.
No one is a born story-teller. With words, in translations, there was such a long learning curve that cut into you. In words and borders and getting across time, with power and dominion and in BONDS which came from stories.
To be moved. To be touched. The ease factor. The water in the faucet, or knowing the work involved once upon a time in simply getting water.
Did you ever consider the ease factor and sex. For Abraham. With Hagar. Or the ease factor for Adam?
Labor and delivery. The ease factor and the affect on women. Perhaps with an ease in birth control there was an appreciation for life lost. Born in the past fifty years when “the pill” was so readily available, was there a lost self-appreciation in birth control, as a result of the ease? Or a lost appreciation of women? When life is too easy, everyone loses an appreciation of the sacredness of life. Even men.
The witness of cancer. When all good prayer is accompanied by fear which can add to your quite personal interior life. When you lived in a new century when “national security” – The National Security Agency – was the new god, with everything centered around “national security.” And so the Fear of the Lord in the story is replaced by the fear of the NSA.
Wants and need. The inner feeling which can add to your quite personal interior life that you want something more? For Sarah. With Hagar, as desire becomes obsessive.
In the name of “national security.” Cheating, in looking for an ease, no matter the foundation document of the U S Constitution. As everything centered around “national security.” After the fears of the Cold War were replaced by the fear of Muslims. And so the Fear of the Lord in the story about Muslims is replaced by the fear of the NSA.
And so the story of Eve. The waiting in the story, for something to happen. When there was so little movement in the Garden. Until Eve arrived. With her restlessness. With her need to be moved, to be touched, as in all of these stories. So how had Eve been marked with a sign of unease?
To be “better.” Cheating to be better, because the world revolved around you. Or cheating because of some innate fear – born into goodness, yet not feeling so good. Cheating, in looking for an ease, concerning this inner spirit to be “better” — perhaps like Adam, if not more God-like? Cheating to maintain goodness, or find goodness? Because without the inner restlessness of Eve, without the movement in the story, this would be either be the end of humankind, or a very boring story.
“And maybe Adam will love me as much as he loves God,” said Eve to the serpent. About Apple, or the fruit.
If it is true that sin has an allure which takes hold when desire becomes obsessive, which happen to those who obsess even over religion, over spouses, or if not over “faith”? Or those who obsess over “national security”. And the new forbidden? Don’t eat the apple.
Noting the desire for an ease, and the ease factor, when desire becomes obsessive. Noting her desire to be touched, when Eve was not present in the story for the naming of the animals. What could you learn about Eve from the story of Noah?
In stories about nothing but beginnings and endings, when it is the end for the rest of humankind, what did the marking — acts of distinguishing one thing from another — mean, when it is the end? Noah and his wife, enforcing abstinence among the animals, while keeping everyone separate. When the present becomes the past, that end was the threat to the present. (As marked by a circumcised male, or in the later new religion, a baptized one?) Noah, called to keep everyone separate, before the mix of this new Creation. The land in the story. When the land was the main character, with God hovering over the water? Time and place and land, but forgetting what happened in the formation of the land in the story? Before more of the fragmentations.
Marked. To be separate. Marked by the cleaving commandment, as human. There was something exciting within when you came across a great epic. “In fashioning ‘woman,’ writes Larry Gillick, “God gave the man a closeness to himself, but just not quite, and this form of separation or distinctiveness would form the framework for the real meaning of human love; a revelation of God’s love, but not a substitute or replacement for that love.”
Note a heaviness of a woman’s fertility, when compared to the lightness of a man’s, as the conflict in the story takes in the land, in the need to to belong. And soon the banishment, of no longer belonging here, with a new fear over being abandoned? By Adam, if not God?
Writes Larry Gillick, “I pause to insert a quotation meant to stimulate, confuse, and accept. ‘There is not a woman in the world, the possession of whom, is as precious as that of the truths which she reveals to us by causing us to suffer.’”
To be moved by unease, as something grips you. A restlessness. With the fragmentation in the carrying-on, after. Eve’s discovery was that not only she was somehow holy, but that her fertility was. From the ease of Adam mixed with the unease of Eve, the story continues with a second Creation which seemed to be based upon God’s unease with His own creation.
With her restlessness. With her need to be moved, Eve and her descendants. What could you learn about Eve from the story of Cain? What was the carry-over? To be marked like Cain, or over time like Noah’s wife, who were both somehow holy, as people in need of forgiveness, in these stories about nothing but beginnings and endings. As a father, a mother tried to leave a mark of holiness on you — like in the story of Abraham and Isaac, much like the story in the Qoran of Ibraham and Ishmael.
“Security,” for the insecure? Could you palpate the tension is in these stories, as God is perceived to be a threat, or the excitement when his God becomes MY God? Was Eve already feeling the inner fragmentation to come, like what Abraham had to contend with over his two sons, or Isaac with his two sons – or like what would one day soon come between Cain and Abel? The not so silent resentment, more like an inner hostility which came out of the pride” in somehow knowing God, which one day in the future led to conflict? There was the deep emotion in this story as the inside world threatened the culture of the outside world.
Despite the new ease for every woman on earth who felt the pride in fertility, with all the different levels of the ease factor, from all the pain of childbirth comes the inner feeling which can add to your quite personal interior life, from the time in your life when you wanted something more. The pain so intense that you somehow never forget – that nothing ever comes easy? Except maybe for Adam.
Google ads suck.
DoCoMo as trademark of NTT DoCoMo
iD, FeliCa-based paperlesssworld payment system
Boycott Apple. Laying the foundation for the new police state, Google, Apple and Yahoo all collaborate against the principles in the Bill of Rights, concerning the human rights that I was born into. And me along with them.
It is stories that map a place as well as a time. And yes, the same stories about match-making and being chosen change over time as the old tellers die off. As times change, especially from the perspective of the woman.
Growth, in almost all of human history, came through a system of arranged marriage. Was that the proclamation in marriage, when growth was the only measure of success? If you were dishonest in your reports of growth, what else was dishonest about your organization? (I once served at the age of thirty on a board of directors which allowed its president to send in money, claiming new members, trying to prove greatness to the national. Whether there was true growth, however dishonest.)
Power. Truth and story-telling, with words, in the story about power and dominion. Feel the BONDS which came from stories . . . feel the speed up, of success, in numbers while trying to increase and maintain numbers, through some kind of human arrangement. In a world of power and the story about power, you take something so private public in relationship – in either sexual relationship or in worship. That you might pray, like I prayed: did you ever realize how personal this all had been — maybe a lot like the act of reading is — or even worshiping can be?
To allow yourself to be Chosen, legitimately, like the woman named Rachel, with Jacob like his grandfather, doing the arranging – as opposed to what had happened to Isaac. Creating, then sustaining the illusion, in a parental kind of way. Power. Feel the presence of a spirit, that you might love like I loved.
Power. When you are born into something. When you as a child had no choice and you had to live with it – in the outside world, in the inside world. When at one point in life you were able to run away, and in a sense discover your own inner power, but you now at this point could not run away.
Power. Restlessness. Shame. The visible and the invisible, as busy men and busy women did not understand power — the power of just keeping company as chosen people. There is the craziness of men who feel empowered, in the thrill of the connection, of distant people within the tribe.
The ordering, the separation, growing suspicion, and the doubts about each other, when you were young, bound by the family rules. Rules that started to look, oh, too confining. About the ordering of society, where families had been identified within a community. With rules about power.
The movement in the story of power. Listen once again through the stories in the power in connection as the invisible birthright was passed on again in a family: That this God is somehow connected to me. The inheritance, based upon goodness, did not involve “luck.” To realize how – wired to the community –that through institutions of learning and books, but mostly through stories, God is connected to me.
Exodus was the movement in the story of Jacob, not so unlike the story of banishment sustained by Adam and Eve. Upon the advice of his mother, Jacob was having to take decisive action, to survive, suddenly leaving upon receipt of birthright which came out of nothing but deceit — in this case, based upon his mother’s decree, just when he might have wanted to stay home, Jacob left Abraham’s homestead, for Rebecca’s homestead. And hadn’t Jacob really been a Momma’s boy?
With an Irish intuitive sense of what was happening, what is called in German fingerspitzengefuhl – the fingertip feel that maybe your pitching coach understood — for me the story, still was all about Abraham’s old plan. He who was never coming back, you know. Home. To Sarah. Not after he killed her son, in sacrifice on Mount Moriah. As the past and the future were at odds, when reflected upon. And neither he nor his descendants could outlive this personal shame. Here so much was a living sacrifice by Isaac in role of a loving son; now, Jacob somehow was now being offered and given up as a living sacrifice to Rebecca’s family?
Note the vexation by Rebecca’s brother – Rachel’s father – not so unlike Abraham’s vexation with his son, Isaac. Once again there was a bit of the spirit of vexation: damage which is suffered in consequence of the tricks of another. Hoodwinking, not unlike Abraham getting Isaac to go on this three day journey, there was these stories of another trick on another journey. Over and over in the story of family, there is mention of hoods, of hiding, of idols. So all along, is God hoodwinking people to come to believe that they somehow are Chosen? What of the concept of unconditional love from the Covenant in the story of Jacob, as Jacob and Rachel gave up a belief in unconditional love to marry? Neither monogamy is present, nor was belief in monotheism shared for these two.
To know a land and its people was to know the stories. Have you ever left home thinking, maybe on a trip with Abraham to Mount Moriah, you were never coming back? Would you over time come to feel a shame over the greatness that you were born into? Did you ever feel the power in this story which comes from personal sacrifice while on the receiving end of all this deceit and the pretension in the every day aspects that took up every moment of your life. Did you ever note the separate belief connected to a place – to a land – like you discovered in a relationship with an outsider? Did you ever note how connected by belief you were as you shared a place in time, maybe somewhat like with a classmate?
Note the irony of the son of Isaac, marked for life by a mother, and the hostility of a mother with power in reduplicating Truth, in the arc of generational injustice based upon family pride. Like Jacob’s own mother had, there was Jacob living within a tribe, learning the mystery, as an outsider. Leaving home and not knowing if you ever would get back. Not knowing how long you would be gone. Like when you were drafted. Note the serious indefinite departures, after all this sex that the nuns failed to point out that Jacob had with one wife, two handmaids and now a second wife. Did you feel a hostility as an outsider, when you missed a feel, either within or not, for holiness?
Nice guys. Like in the insurance industry, there was a human resource department filtering out the people who just would not fit with the company, as it appeared in the public eye. Looking in the old days for guys, like Jacob, who every woman wanted to sleep with; a nice guy like Jacob, without any retribution. Leah. Leah’s sister. Their handmaids. I had failed to notice until relatively recently that there had been a lot of sex going on in Jacob’s bed, with his birthright. And Jacob, now with all of these wives and all of these children, and his belief in one blessing, with his one true love Rachel?
“Something that is yours forever,” wrote Chaim Potok, “is never precious.”
In the Jacob story, note the outsider, exiled from the world of theory, living at some point with now only memories but somehow wanting to make them your own. It was Jacob who thought a father with one wife had just one blessing to give. But Jacob was with his two wives and their two handmaids and eleven sons and one daughter.
It is stories that map a place as well as a time. What did the birthright of Jacob mean to the outsiders? To Laban who wanted his daughters connected to his sister’s family, so much like Abraham once had this same desire? There was the thrill of the connection, of distant people within the tribe, to others far away. It was part of the craziness of men who feel empowered. Did you feel the personal shame in the story of men who felt deeply inside that they were created to travel: men like Abraham, who felt so deeply inside that they had been created to travel the world. Men like Jacob who were never coming back to the nuthouse which had been the homestead of Abraham, thinking, then trying to kill within his own family, his son.
Yes, men like Jacob, hostile to and leaving that tradition behind. Before his attempt to return home, had Jacob really ever felt the presence of God directly, outside his youth? Beyond Canaan? Or outside his immediate family? But Rachel, from Laban’s family with belief in neither monotheism nor monogamy. Looking for the divine in all relationships even with superstitious women, looking for union with God, through their own flesh and blood. How could a man have a favorite child? How could a father or a husband with bonds, as the dogma of currency, show favor? Yes, how can Jacob have just one wife he loved the most? Or one son? Or one God?
What were the suspicions of this beautiful woman named Rachel, the young shepherdess grown, who had been born into this culture of deceit. Often in covert operations, a damage is suffered as a consequence of the tricks of another. And like Eve and Adam were punished by their cleaving, reproducing more people like themselves, so the story of Jacob and his wives.
When you were no longer so young, but still bound by family and the feelings which had come out of your family. What of the old rules which started to look, oh, too confining? Note the waiting in the story, to cleanse the influence of strange gods, from your native land, if that influence could ever be cleansed of the pretensions of the every day aspects that took up every moment of your life like a slave. A young shepherdess considered to be the lowest of the low – a shepherd girl willing to give her life for her sheep – on the receiving end and the giving end of all of his deceit, with Jacob who had wanted a piece of the institutions which had sheltered a civilization back home.
Power. Did you ever feel the power in this story – or the illusion of power — or the connection of the story of Jacob, in the story of the Promise Land, to the coming of a messiah? Have you ever left home thinking, as a child, you were never coming back? So much like Rachel, who was never coming back . . . but her children somehow find God in the story. These stories do not float free but are connected to a place – to a land. To know a landscape was to know the stories. So in this male dominated world, there had been Rachel, in shame over her fertility and infertility, another barren woman, the progeny of Jacob’s mother’s family, looking to bear a child to prove their worth. As if fertility came just from herself. As if she alone controlled fertility.
And what idol exactly had Rachel stolen from her father, Laban? (For all of these women in the stories of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, merging lives between two tribes and facing sterility as a human condition.) How unusual was it for Rachel to be allowed to name her first-born son, Joseph, noting that God “has taken away (in Hebrew asaph) my disgrace”? Finally, after all of the messy arrangements, with her father, her sister, her servant, her husband. Yes, her disgrace was to allow Jacob to have so many wives, to have been a collaborator with her father in the marriage of Leah? From the world of fertility at harvest time, there is this second-born daughter Rachel, from the tribe of Laban and Isaac’s wife, caught up in the generational injustice based upon family pride. Jacob, hoodwinking each of his wives to come to believe that they somehow are Chosen?
Exodus. What did it mean in the way of institutional thinking, to give up personal ambition to rejoin the tribe, with a desire to return to the world that he knew had always been mostly more honest? So the thrill of the connection, of distant people within the tribe, in his return not so much to an institution but to the home and way of life which had formed Jacob.
Though the etymology of Canaan is uncertain, one explanation is that ‘Canaan” has an original meaning of “lowlands”, from a Semitic root kn’ “to be low, humble.” Though Canaan included what today is Israel, the Palestinian territories, Lebanon, northwestern Jordan, and some western areas of Syria, in Biblical usage the name was confined to the country west of the Jordan, the Canaanites being described as dwelling “by the sea.” The Biblical narrative makes a point of the renaming the “Land of Canaan” with “Land of Israel” in marking the Israelite conquest of the Promised Land. Transhumance is the seasonal movement of people with their livestock in a certain subsistence mode. Wikipedia report that evidence of this moving — between-pastures cycle of agriculture — has been found showing shepherds staying with their flocks during the wet season and returning to graze them on the harvested stubble, closer to water supplies in the summer. There was a polarity between coastal towns and agrarian hinterland, illustrated in Canaanite mythology by the struggle between the storm god and the god of the sea.
Men who felt deeply inside that they were created to travel, like Abraham and Jacob had traveled, much like Cain had desired to travel, as his brother had gotten to. Jacob, soon to be renamed Israel, after Rachel dies. Note the nomads as itinerants who still were a member of a community of people who move from one place to another. In trying to pass something in the way of spiritual power on– in the way of conversion through spiritual journeys. Note the humility, like a shepherd’s, in accepting a certain kind of authority until kids grow up and did not want to just obey what had always been the authorized commandments which belonged to someone else. There was an innate need for explanation about beginnings and endings. You needed others to tell stories of this migrant – otherwise if you just stayed home you would go, over a time, crazy.
Did you ever see the connection of these stories to past stories, or a connection of yesterday to today? As the past and the future were at odds…hoodwinked to believe that you were chosen, or hoodwinked to believe that you were born into a world that always had mostly seemed more honest. In an innocent view of a child.
Did you see the very same shame in the story, like the hostility of the son of Eve, in the stories? So Jacob, the allegedly just man of his generation who, like his grandfather before him with his family ego, wanted to return with some revolutionary ideas about relationship. Abraham had had a concept about only marrying within the tribe, one women. And there was this grandson of Abraham who had discovered the one true God, marrying his mother’s nieces — or then two of her nieces, for God sake! Can you imagine the shock of Isaac when he heard the story about two of her nieces marrying one of his sons? Or the neighbors when Jacob returned, if he would safely return, to Canaan, with some degree of shame. Did you connect this to the hostility of Eve which she had to finally recognize in her son –even if a parent never came to blame themselves, their neighbors would. Hadn’t Eve eaten the apple out of a hostility toward the Creator?
“Why are you going back to the ‘Land of Canaan’, Jacob? With two wives, when that seemed the norm only within the tribe of Laban.”
Yes, how old were you when you felt the growing shame in the story? And so the shame and disgrace in these stories of firstborns and the world’s systems. Did you see the sacrifice of Rachel, forced to travel in her finals days of gestation? In the story of unconditional love, what kind of man would make their so pregnant wife travel, even when all the forces of the world came down on you? Did you wonder about the connection of false gods — false idols so much the center of this trip — to what exactly Jacob thought he was returning? Contrast Rachel, who had upheld her tribal rules, waiting to marry Jacob after seven years as her father finally gave his consent, with Jacob who had not his tribal rules. So Rachel had honored her father, as Jacob at this point really had not? And what of the shame of Jacob, in having to still address what he had done to all of the firstborn: Esau, Leah, and the systems that favored firstborn. After Jacob had hid with his family — with what was supposed to be the future — placed in front of him for some kind of protection, as either one or both of Isaac’s sons faced annihilation.
Exodus and the relationship conflict: Did you have a the ringing in your ear in certain words connected to this story not so unlike the initial conflict of Adam and Eve facing banishment? From that stated belief of Rachel with a birth of her first son: “God had taken away my disgrace”? Chosen. ‘Favored’ sons, with ‘favored’ wives and ‘favored’ sons. Note the hostility of those things which get in the way of either God or independence. Note, in the beginning, the hostility toward insiders – people using people – if growth was the only measure of success, when you were dishonest in your reports of growth, what else was dishonest about you and your organization, out for material gain and personal profit? Suspicions perhaps between women . . . envy between sisters, like between brothers: Esau and Jacob. Cain and Able? Were these the first pair of sisters mentioned in the Book of Genesis, who until this point in the story lived by the rules of their father, who allowed themselves to be Chosen. As Jacob prepared to meet Esau, were the word of Cain ringing in your ear, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”?
Jacob with his birthright, who somehow was above all other men. When you had it all, and you wanted to keep it? Jacob, with his two real wives and their handmaids, all caught in a borderless land, between the borders of the past, between two places, between customs of favoritism granted to firstborn sons/daughters in their tribal world, with handmaids, just like Hagar. The revolutionary Jacob, re-named Israel, for what he had done to the systems that favored the firstborn. And what of the shame of Jacob, in having to still address what he had done to all of the firstborn: Isaac, Esau, and Leah. What he had done to the people he had once loved, or based upon the system that he was supposed to? Did you feel the pride in the story, just as Jacob was returning to the world he knew, to the home with a return to a way of life — his old way of life — like an old institution which had formed Jacob, Rachel died delivering her second-born. In the movement in the story, with power in reduplicating Truth, in the generational injustice based upon family pride — Jacob now more and more like Abraham – note the perspective changes to the next generation?
Did you ever feel the power in this story, in Jacob’s discovery of a Living God, after he intended to wage battle to kill Esau, as Cain had killed Abel? Did you feel a connection of the story of Jacob, in the story of the nomad with the physical disability after his battle in the night – when a disabled nomad could not travel without pain. Note the humility in the story, which does give a certain power as all the force of the world seemed to come down upon you, as he gave up his perceived birthright, by sending flocks of his livestock to his brother in recompense of his crime. Had Jacob asked the Living God to bless his shame, as he prepared to meet his brother, in a battle between old tribal beliefs and what was missing for all other powerless beyond-the-firstborn people?
To lose either what you once had or what you once longed for and had waited, comes the discovery how to really pray, with a communal perspective. With the need to save the entire tribe. In one story of conversion, note those living with the system built for the human spirit of vexation. What Jacob was doing in the story was bringing HIS family back, feeling a command from Y*w*h to “Return to the land of your forefathers and to your birthplace, and I will be with you.”
Note the personal transformations in the generational injustice based upon family pride, in the dénouement of the story. Note the change in Jacob as a result of the death of his true love, with the power of his great love which in the end involved no deceit. Just as there was a hostility toward a brother who tried to take a birthright, just as Jacob thought his father had just one blessing to give, was there a hostility toward a God who tries to take life – like Abraham had once tried to take from Isaac –if you had never come to know the one true God? It seems that it was the power of unconditional love for Rachel, for his brother, that so moved Jacob to find a Living God, transforming hostility to love. As Leah was left having to care for Rachel’sons?
“Mostly they are the same lives. The same stories, over and over,” wrote David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker. As a birthright grew to the twelve tribes and some knowledge how to pray. Did you feel a growth in the suffering of one man, living with the system built for the human spirit of vexation, in the need for a larger place, for a Promise Land, for a place to freely pray and to try to love Isaac’s one true God unconditionally, and to atone for what he had done and what he had failed to do? Did you feel a presence still in the first recorded death of a woman in childbirth, in the human creation process, trying to prove greatness to God, which foretold so much of the history to come, as you were forced to somehow start over, with such a long learning curve, of a people shamed by what they had to endure. The leaving, the coming back informed and engaged in the world, to a place that it was believed God would return, in the “lowlands” called Canaan, with a Semitic root meaning “to be low, humble.” And there was Jacob, dealing with loss, wondering what would be the reception from Isaac and Rebecca, as to an anger and blame which went towards those who left you. And did you see an irony that by giving his blessing which came from the sacrifice scene on Mount Moriah, Isaac ends up with his birthright sacrificing his son Jacob for twenty years.
There was Jacob, in the days with a need for support. . . with his large family. To go home, to gather together, with Isaac to grieve. Together, a hoodwinked people who come to believe that they somehow are Chosen, but still having to contend with death, accepting God’s support and a support of one another, in times of grief? Friedrich Nietzsche said that it was the stories passed on from generation to generation about the deepest of all suffering –stories about love — which made life worth living.
So what was the connection in the bonds of a grown shepherdess to God Who made all of this possible? With the two children delivered by Rachel who would deliver a generation from hunger, what was Rachel’s connection to Moses, to the City of David, to a Promised Land and the long-line of Chosen People — as vast as the stars in the sky?
Copyright © 2012.
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Every year 529,000 women die in childbirth
The doubts in the story. About each other. About their God. The movement in the story. Always the movement in these stories of the principals. The Flood. The Exodus. And having to take decisive action, to survive. So in this case there was the decree, just when you wanted to stay home. But maybe by leaving when the child was born, the locals would not talk so much about what had happened – or what was perceived to have happened.
The theme in the first chapters of Genesis about Noah, when you feel so very much alone. (Chosen – the contest was fixed?) There was always doubt that you were Chosen, until you were so very much alone. Like Noah. Or Isaac. Or Joseph, in Egypt. In times of famine. Or another dreamer named Joseph. Again and again, the doubt in times of annihilation. When your very private life would determine the future of the world. Over who would be saved, and with the involvement – some kind of involvement – with the use of your fertility, in times of annihilation.
The movement in the story: When in hindsight it all seemed so fixed, like last night’s Ms. Universe Contest. Missing the movement in the story, with the pain and the suffering. Far from your home, with the doubt whether you really had been personally Chosen. The always and everywhere doubt over some warped sense of those who were chosen after hearing true stories of annihilation, about the powerless and the innocent. When it was clear that even God was capable of mass killing of the innocent.
The human condition: when the last person on earth you could trust was gonna have you committed to a mental institution – the motive in the killings was the human condition, and being left so all alone? And scared.
The real Jewish theme, again and again in the Hebrew Bible, is one of annihilation. Of Abel. Of the world at the time of Noah. Of Isaac, in the story on Mount Moriah. When the focus was on the innocent, when the outside world got a view within. And all of the new threats – the inside and outside threats, to the Chosen People – which came out of envy and jealousy.
The same human condition, whether the last person on earth – or the first. The doubts in times of annihilation: again and again the stories of the past – and also in the present. The realization that these were such personal stories of fertility.
Here the Roman concern of rebellion. When in Rome, with their fear, putting down all crazy religious rebellions.
A census. Yet surrounded by other sons of David who had to register in Bethlehem – the long line of fertility. Maybe still struggling over the concept of the virgin birth. And we never hear in the Gospels anything about the timing of the wedding between pregnant Mary and Joseph. And how would a couple not keep talking about it. About who among the relatives were never invited – and the talking about the wedding. And so maybe the relatives caught a whiff of the tension, with the innocence in the story. Of Joseph. Of Mary. And if Joseph was from the line of David, from where did Mary originate? And was she even good enough for him?
All these Latter Day Saints concerned about the private lives of this couple, as if it was anyone else’s concern. Like the shared doubt at this stage between Joseph and Mary, they are in the story, so all alone. The innocent in the story – the already betrothed Joseph, representing the House of David. Why would the Virgin Mary get pregnant – however it happened, by the God of Abraham? And then sent off by the political authorities to a place of origin to register, to enroll for a numbering.
When surrounded by so many of your kinsmen, the very same human condition, when the last person on earth – or the first – feeling so all alone? So was this a form of societal shunning, with such an unconventional marriage, before the unconventional birth? Why else could you leave a woman and her husband so close to delivering a baby so all alone, in the story? Was it about another human concern – about who wanted to come between a couple that was gonna have a baby so soon. With all of the emotion involved, wasn’t there a sense of human shame? When you woke up in a strange town, surrounded by your extended family struggling over the concept of why they were not invited to your wedding, and you were forced to explain who you were and what you were doing here, if not how long you intended to stay – together. In Bethlehem. And then this pregnancy!
When there were honor killings by families in these times, over women who conceived a child outside of wedlock. The system, with the underlying relationships which came out of fertility, which was the basis of the registration – to whom were you related? With the Roman concern over ideas of rebellion which might be fermented by crazy religious beliefs. And the Jewish concern, with the six hundred and some laws from Leviticus. So how would you explain the pregnancy?
The deepest part of Christmas which came from stories about not just transporting a culture to an old place, but then somehow planting the culture. Through the Law. So there was the long spoken of Messiah and the birthright, along with the private life of the Messiah and his parents. The missing public spectacle. The movement, in how it was coming along? When you seemed so perfect as a baby, but it was always hard to so personally live with your God in this impersonal world. On this earth. With the God who stirred and disrupted. Chosen People.
Was there doubt in the story, in this very private story? Or fear, if not anger? About how a man from the House of David was somehow asked to deliver alone the Messiah. Joseph, so all alone? And about the ‘becoming,’ it is of note that Joseph had strongly considered divorce, at some time during the gestation period of the Messiah. When, if you celebrated the meaning of Christmas, you recognized the inner split in God over exactly who were His chosen people. And the properly credentialed latter day saints excommunicated you today over such divorce action — or after an apostolic investigation, excommunicated the sisters of St. Joseph — unless they found human grounds for annulment.
The conflict over power in the story. In a variant of dealing with denial, the decree from Rome was an attempt to show their dominion over the place? Of the insiders and the outsiders, note all the outsiders who tried to become insiders about what happened at the time. There was, thank God, only the latter concern by the latter day saints about the status of Mary’s soul. Mary born without sin, but surrounded by crime and sin in the world. By all the emotional responses to fear and anger, and to punishment, in a story.
To address all the doubts in times again and again of annihilation: the stories of the past – and also in the present. In this story about what it does mean to be CHOSEN. When over and over there were stories of indiscriminate human annihilation, and real people had to decide how to rebuild lives, in relationships. The relationship part of the story, when over time you had started to so privately reveal something about Yourself. From one generation to the next. So I strongly suspect that in gestation period of the Messiah that the birthright of Abraham was at play between this couple. The same birthright with sacrifice that came out of Sarah and Abraham’s relationship.
Philanthropy—that you might have what I had, in what seemed a normal way of life. Scripture is nothing but the history of how people who went before us learned how to pray. Abraham. Isaac. Sacrifice. The strangeness of it all. A bizarre idea, to sacrifice the future, a son. Before there was the commandment about having “no strange gods before Me.” And so began Abraham’s dialogue with God, asking questions, seeking answers if he was doing the right thing. Questioning. Really, learning how to pray, in this evolutionary process toward forgiveness which begins with the remembrance of the relationships of the father of faith, with his God and his son –the bond. And as a result, there was over time some long-developed cultural trust in the personal story of doubt – in the bond. Marrying, despite the palpable doubt in each other, wrestling with the unrecognized birthright question…and passing it on, with such emotion. Generation after generation. But with a conflict in the story between the unrecognized sacrifices by a parent for a son/daughter who followed fathers and mothers, with no idea where the future would take him/her. Or ME!
Chosen. Like in a mate. Two people from two homes try to merge their ideas, with two personalities, of what is an appropriate environment for their child. And learning each other’s strangeness. Yeah, as if it was anyone else’s concern in the private lives of this couple – whether a couple would remain kosher. With the concern of all the latter day saints about the degree of how orthodox.
The perversions of Gentile people, by the all these latter day saints, missed the discussion of the form of their orthodoxy – until they missed,and I along with them, the doubt shared at this stage between Joseph and Mary. In the first months of their new relationship. When, like any nomad, you wanted to go back to a place where you were once known – so maybe a census. Known, like God had once been. In places where you were forced to just listen. Listening to Joe Lieberman, on his tradition: until the bereaved family was ready, if they ever were ready, to talk, there was just silence. After living through the real stories of annihilation, the importance in the story, again and again, of companionship in the silence.
Silence. The movement in the story over the shared doubt at this stage between Joseph and Mary. There was such concern about the private lives of these people – as if it was anyone’s concern – and I thought a lot about the Lanza family and the cause/origin of another indiscriminate human annihilation. Like in the story of Isaac. And all the unrecognized Post Traumatic Stress Disordering that resulted, on issues of trust between both people and their God. I thought about the human condition: when the last person on earth you could trust was gonna have you killed – or committed.
When doubt met belief. The movement in the story of bonds that came from compounded belief, of a real human birth. When you were surrounded by people who shared your belief, but with all of the real human doubt between people and families. The doubt that would continue to be a theme over a lifetime, in this evolutionary process toward forgiveness which begins with the remembrance of the relationships of the father of faith, with his God and his sons — with the suffering in the potential death of Isaac and in his not described relationship with Ishmael, just as Abraham had suffered with Hagar?
In this story of relative love, the conflict is when everyone was not the same – even noting the difference in another story of a son of the father of faith, Isaac, who was going to die, and Abraham was going to live. The annihilation, in prayer, in starting over each week. After sacrificing your best.
A day of awe, dealing with inheritance, later to be too much forgotten when it came to the mystery of the issue of birthright. In this story about a Living God and about belonging in the world, but sacrificing Your best. Abraham, who discovered at the end of the story of his tremendous human longevity, in the dénouement, was — in the release of tension in the dénouement —coming back home in his lameduck days, with his great sense of shame after wounding his own fertility. When you prayers were so alive. And you wanted others to have the same experience. The story about keeping something alive with sacrifice, with a passion, concentrating on this thing called physical and spiritual love – in my own fertility – that God would never forget. ME!
This descendants of a people from the ancient Semitic population: a descendant of Noah’s eldest son, taken to a place where they never had been? And so this trip to Bethlehem, by Joseph. Bethlehem, where Jacob buried the wife he loved. So Bethlehem was about this bond which had come out of birthright, between outsiders and insiders in these love stories? Where God had lost his “strangeness.” Rachel was an outsider who never made it back to the Abraham’s homestead. That a nomad, without his own sense of place, who was supposed to resolve the crisis over belief, in a foreign land, outside the garden in the first place. With all of the anguish again this year, in Bethlehem where people are still dealing with independence and multiculturalism, along with the changing roles of power. Bethlehem, where David was born. With all the stories of post traumatic stress disorder: when you killed a giant, despite the commandments. With still the ever growing need for a forgiveness, in Bethlehem. To confer a spirit about shared belief, in the name of God, upon a king. With all the tension in the forgiveness story. With post traumatic stress on issues of trust, for the young, unknowingly dealing with a tragic hero — after a grandfather was ready to take a knife to your father. Wondering first about the genetic affect and then about the environmental affect on a son, in these love stories of how God lost his “strangeness”. About the birthright that had come down one silent night to Bethlehem.
To find your people. To form institutions based upon trust. To wake up among your own people everyday, one day able to escape your shame. Note the movement that came from the shame that Abraham, that Jacob, that David all had felt so personally. And now a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, from the royal line of Jacob. Note the movement toward Bethlehem — with atonement, by God for all the present, past and future annihilation. Note the movement in the story concentrating on this new tangible physical and spiritual love – in a fertility – so that somehow for all the shame, I would never forget God.
TO Bethlehem. A virgin birth. Who would ever believe? In the story of the human condition, in the story of salvation history, when God came between Chosen People. So why not have Joseph be challenged by Mary, as Jesus one day would challenge the world? Who could, who would believe in a virgin birth – like on one dark December silent night Joseph finally had? Who would believe it now? To Bethlehem, a Messiah – who would ever believe? Or who could ever believe so personally in a Messiah — with all the personal stress between loved ones in passing on a human concept of God — now? That was the mystery. The darn near impossible. God! Who could believe in the “strangeness” of God? It was always the question. Then, and now – this Christmas.
Sir Humphrey Appleby
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An old scout born in Minnesota (Wes Westrum), on worship and baseball, once said: Many go, few understand. It was two years ago when I read a piece in America magazine about the Akedah, the strange story read on Rosh Hashanah about how to somehow keep this God alive, what has been haunting me ever since?
Rosh Hashanah. As Jews hear once again with the start of the High Holy Days, the account of the binding of Isaac. When it has always been tough to be in such an alliance, with the true believers. When the story, like all good stories, was about the future. At what point do you relinquish whatever identity you have inherited or seemed to have helped build yourself – with Abraham, prepared to give everything that was important away. In a sacrifice.
In the story about the interior system of belief, creating something out of nothing, for sons who followed fathers, generation after generation. Abraham, Isaac, and later Jacob, with their torturous relationships, in an under-populated world populated by mostly people living in denial, if not fear, of God. In the approach of fathers to sons, the comparative approach to the real God by fathers to sons, in themes of birthrights, of power and might, on life and death, with that identity commandment. Which started with the knife, at birth, as Abraham had used a knife on Isaac when he was born. And the conflict in this story was over the method that Abraham in the story used for “evangelization.” So again the knife in this story, like he had used on Ishmael when he was twelve or thirteen. And Ishmael could ever forget what his father had done? As somekind of punishment, for what he had done?
Crazy people, having to start all over, with God or without Him. Sons, when this was all over, wrestling with the unrecognized birthright question…and passing it on, with such emotion. To keep something alive with passion — having to choose, on another Rosh Hashanah. This Abraham with a split family who wanted others to have the same powerful experience, as he had had. Except maybe not like between Hagar and Sarah. Abraham who had shown up at the same place at least a generation earlier with Ishmael, if you believed the Qoran, in the reading at the end of Ramadan, of Eid Al Fitr with the same scene played out, only between Abraham and Ishmael. And when it was tough to be in such an alliance, with the true believers over the truth…and what it was you were you going do with it, once you discovered how to pray? In these relationships arranged by your family, the torturous ones over fertility, for the father of faith to his sons and to his God – over God and the inheritance of God. Maybe with a craziness not unlike all the things that happened on September 11th, if you lost the proper perspective — considering how to communicate the ideas all about identity and who Abraham was – if not outright crazy, after circumcising sons and slaves with some kind of fertility vow, as part of the identity commandment which involved power and fertility? How so different than other men, in their day. No wonder the stories of Sarah’s laughter, when she recognized all of Abraham’s craziness.
Born with a pre-existing condition. This story was all about of Isaac as a son of Abraham who must have seemed so crazy. With an overall theme directed at intimations of attachment, like the attachment that I got at home from my parents and grandparents. To share that holiness that often was directed to a home. Or a neighborhood. Or a city. From a distinct sense of place in my life which had always been asserting itself, enfolding over time, staking a claim on a people. Before it was lost or overtaken. Or just taken anyway? When you had come to know something about a place.
That a nomad was supposed to resolve the crisis over belief, oy vey! Over shared belief. In a foreign land, outside the garden. When you wanted to share a heritage or a culture. In a quest to redeem society, and not just himself, to somehow – even when you seemed so old – confer a spirit about the past, in keeping this God alive. How can it be helped if a seed grows where it lands, once it’s been scattered, no matter from where your ancestors came.
Abraham dealing with inheritance, later to be spun as issues of birthright. No matter where you lived, the struggle, the anguish, in the comparative approach of fathers to sons. Sons who followed fathers, generation after generation.
The deepest part of Rosh Hashanah which came from stories about not just transporting a culture to a new place, but then somehow planting the culture. In a new place. People dealing with independence and multiculturalism, along with the changing roles of power.
When you came credentialed by the proper authorities, and you knew something about unrecognized painful sacrifices, and you desired to give your son up, for a brand new institution. Because you had fear over lost belief? Over your realization how much Hagar and Ishmael hated you — or about Sarah, who you had almost an incestral relationship as your wife— passing on everything that she had planned about your family. And what was the risk that her kid would be crazy? Or already was crazy, as Abraham. Was crazy Abraham, at the end, acting for Sarah, as he considers a honor killing, wondering if a sacrifice would ever be recognized. To be blessed in the name of God, having to choose, when your prayers were so alive, and you wanted others to have the same bigger than life experience. When the French “blesser,” means to wound. So was it Abraham or Isaac, wondering if he had even mattered, begging to have had mattered, begging to be blessed, so that God would never forget, NEVER forget Abraham, just like THE Holocaust. Somehow the movement in the common stories, like the physics in the Akedah, or Eid Al Fitr, creating something out of nothing — like in the beginning. So why not just end it all on Mount Moriah, Noah-like, without the ark? And God, if He let him kill Isaac, then surely understood.
And so another Rosh Hashanah, as the Jewish world considers again how to keep something authentic alive about shared belief, about painful human sacrifice even after anesthesia had been invented. What exactly was Abraham having to choose, in his sacrifice on Mount Moriah? With an intensity of the stories, like the Akedah … to communicate the idea about what Abraham knew. About himself, about his life, and then the risk that God took with Abraham, with his kin and his wife — with his split family, with Ishmael, in his second chance with Isaac, and the quality of all of his relationships. Or not. The movement in this father of faith story, to confer a spirit in the name of God, in relationship — in the end, never feeling worthy through perfect human sacrifice. With an Irish intuitive sense of what was happening, what Germans call fingerspitzengefuhl – the fingertip feel that maybe your baseball coach understood — for me the story was all about the Abraham’s plan. He was never coming back, you know. Home. To Sarah. Not after he killed her son. When neither of them were ever coming back. Originally. These guys after all were nomads, for God sake. Can you imagine the shock of Sarah when she heard the story? Or the neighbors? About Abraham, the allegedly just man of his generation, who with his ego had a concept about only marrying within the tribe, marrying his father’s — but not his mother’s — daughter. Who would ever belief or forget this story? With the shame in the story, until the part about God’s intervention, as the past and the future on Mount Moriah at odds were reflected upon.
Stories about points of view, in a creator’s desire for perfection, in themes of birthrights, of power and might, in comparative approaches to God by fathers to sons on life and death, with all the eye-popping tension in the story between those who were not good enough with those who seemed to be too good, there is this indescribable pain which creates memory in a culture. To discover in the story somewhat unexpectedly, for sons who followed fathers, a Living God– power without domination – through the unforgettable pain of father and son trying to understand the manner to pray, in the story that transcends boundaries.
To confer a spirit about shared belief, in the name of God, with all the tension in the forgiveness story, with post traumatic stress on issues of trust, for the young, unknowingly dealing with a tragic hero — wondering first about the genetic affect and then about the environmental affect on Isaac, after a father was ready to take a knife to you. How did the wounded, like Isaac, still believe in his father of faith, the tragic hero who had married his father’s daughter? Would he ever accept authority again, or find his own recognized leadership role — in the dénouement of the story? In the age of multi-culturalism, as Isaac moved outside the enclave of Abraham’s home into his own, how did Isaac hold onto such crazy belief? When belief about Abraham’s God had to be so painful, in the remainder of his life. As he clearly needed some direction, after this experience, to find his own personal God.
How did the wounded, like Isaac, still believe afterward not only in the God of Abraham, but in his father of faith — this crazy nomad taking people from the ancient Semitic population, descendants of Noah’s eldest son, to places where they never had been? And now what would you do with the the God of Abraham?
Abraham, who discovered at the end of the story of his tremendous human longevity, was in the dénouement — in the release of tension in the dénouement — coming back home in his lameduck days, with his great sense of shame after wounding his own fertility. When the most serious of the deadly sins for Chosen People was pride, involving a desire for power, to be more important than others? As the plot becomes untied, dealing with loss of mostly power in old age, and starting over – to recognize the developments after the Akedah story, as Isaac, not Abraham, becomes the protagonist by the time of the dénouement of the story?
When the power of a culture is based upon a shared literature. In stories. “Mostly they are the same lives, the same stories, over and over,” wrote David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker. We endow our lives with stories, if the power in the ideals of a father – the bonds, the identity, and all the belief – is gonna survive. If the identity in a name is going to survive at another level. When you were forced to somehow start over. In new years, hearing the old stories which came out of Abraham-like relationships, and with all the unforgettable stories, in relationship. From our father in faith — the warriar sheik who in battle freed his nephew Lot – comes the story of people shamed by what they had to endure. The physics of blood of Abraham, telling things which a son had no capacity to imagine, with the long after-affects of war, on a surrounding society that celebrated war. Creating a lax atmosphere, around an old way of life. Watching eye-popping torture. Without knowing the details, or the affects on home lives afterwards. And with the need for revival.
To discover in stories an identity — your own identity — that you would one day find you really could not escape. In new beginning, circumcision based upon unconditional love, with the continuing themes of fertility and the Truth. Stories of crazy people — Chosen People — having to start all over. To recognize the shift by the end of the story that is now all about of Isaac, on Rosh Hashanah, if compounded belief is to stay with the descendants of Issac. After all of Abraham’s chances in life passing on that power in bonds, finally, like for Isaac, the return to the same place where he had started out as a young man, to begin again.
To gain access, in stories of discovery climbing mountains like Isaac, with divine intervention at the top of Mount Moriah — in a story about receiving strength and power in a crazy belief in this God today for daughters and sons who followed fathers — connecting with other critical thinkers, passing on in new years the power in bonds which had come out of the collective memory of the journeys of nomads.
Like in a dénouement of the story, passing on the power in bonds between your own people, passing on the Spirit in some kind of Abraham-like Crazy Glue,in a collective memory of forgiveness of others in the name of a forgiving God, on issues of inheritance and birth right. Accepting, like Isaac finally accepted his identity, as the son of the father of faith, as the ethnic enclaves broke apart and he needed a family to carry on the tradition. In another new year leading up to the Day of Atonement, this day was to commemorate a power in passing on the bonds of forgiveness.
Copyright © 2012.
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Boom! The Big Bang Theory. Creation.
To recognize My God. Abraham. When religion began dividing a people. A man in need of God. A man symbolic of the division between humans – with Hagar and Sarah. The rivalry. Having to decide about the power-base which has surrounded you, since your birth. About present valuations.
The movement in the story. Leaving, coming back, in an under-populated world. The repeated themes of fertility. Of exile and banishment. Of water, of floods. Of wells, of drought. Of enslavement. Of a way of life that could not be escaped from. The slow movement of nomads over time and space populated by mostly people living in denial, if not fear, of God. With themes of birthrights, of power and might, on life and death, so the comparative approach to the real God by fathers to sons, with that identity commandment.
Coming to know, to recognize God and His Image, concerning reproductions, prayer, intimacy, love. The relationship with a mission to love and to serve.
The movement in the story. Leaving, coming back. The females missing so much in the action of the story. In the stories of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The nomads all with barren wives. In clearly an under-populated world. The repeated themes of fertility, and the arrangements — with land. Exile and banishment, from land. The Promise Land, for its fertility. And a return to a place by the next generation with a greater degree of exercised freedom.
The relationship theme. The conflicts which moved a couple. Did you ever note how much the women taken as spouses were outsiders? Except for Sarah. Go back and see from where Sarah had come, in the story, in the arrangement, of Chosen People. With the relationship theme, within a keep-to-yourself culture. In a part of the world where a stranger had difficulty breaking into the mainstream. It is said that Minnesotans have this tendency to keep outsiders at a comfortable distant. Like the new people at work.
In a state, comparatively speaking, with a high percentage of homegrown residents. Specifically seventy percent of the people are native-born in Minnesota. “They’ve never been,” said Cathy Shaefer, in describing insular people not intentionally cliquish, “alone before.” People perhaps only too comfortable with their lives. This statistic of homegrown people, provided by the Department of the Interior, was so high thirty years ago that it was described as “overwhelming.”
Social life. And so the story of nomads, settling down. In this Minnesota culture that Garrison Keillor had made a living describing. In Seattle this same social malaise is known as the Seattle Chill. People of color might conclude that the missing genuine welcome is due to racism.
It was the difficulty of all transplants. The burning bush that Moses found is still in Egypt. When it was hard moving into a new environment to be ignited. Readers often overlook the importance of ‘place’ in a story that defines everything. Perhaps it is due to the old Scandanavian heritage of Minnesota, where people here are still described as so generous, yet so detached to the newcomer. And like a river or a mountain, the old Norwegians and Swedes have set the tone for the rest of us to follow.
When you are born into something: And much like the challenge faced by each generation, to make the God of my ancestors a Living God, so the communal challenges of a people set apart to live in community. With the movement in the story, as valuations changed. Finding the quiet humility in the search for a homeland with God.
Hillcrest High School
Art. To sell one book at a time. The magic. On issues of an established baseline of shared belief. When you see shared belief grow into the public sector. The developing bonds of trust.
In all the personal vanities of religion, God. Beyond the different divisions and conferences of Judaism, beyond the 20,000 fragmentations of Christianity. The vehicles of travel. The movement in the story. With Islam and Bhudha. With Taoism and Confuscious.
An arranged marriage. Looking for stability for your kids. When a love based upon romance goes bad. A marriage arranged for sex? When the charm eroded. When you lost your sex appeal. Letting someone place something inside of you. Like an idea about the future. It was probably the most feminine experience for a male. When the future was always left inside a woman.
To write about China. And to come from a culture, from a community that fostered concepts of one child per couple. Without protest, without voice, without memory, based upon oral tradition? Where the Gladys Kravitzes had united to formulate fertility policy. Politicians not so unlike the Russian Bolsheviks who broke away from socialism and like in the Youtube video called “I am God,” imposed their concepts of money and living on everyone. With new standards of living for health care and military service. And work. When one day the people pretended to work, behind the Iron Curtain. Like deep echos of both deep cannons and the neighborhood dog, the people there were still frightened by echoes in the dark of barking animals.
Private matters with such a public affect. When you see shared belief grow into institutions. Powerful institutions. Knowledge. Wealth. Fertility. Love. God. As the private and the public sectors intersect.
Art, as the measuring stick. What was the artist trying to say? In Art and language and culture? When the measuring stick of currency was oh so broken. When the language of art revealed your caste.
Denial. Acceptance. The movement. Of scatter-brained nomads, amidst so much stimuli, looking for God in all things.
Presumed dead. The anger. The fear. Following a war. Missing. Like Abel. At what point did the authorities allow a “missing person” report? The stories of identity. With poets and bards trying to capture in words the spirits within, into stories without. Into the terra firma world. (Looking for images and reflections of ourselves in other cultures.)
The attraction to Mystery. The magic in just the attempt to identify God. For someone else, through issues of an established baseline of shared belief. How much these stories – a primate trying to find the measured words – meant, to me. Looking for a vocabulary concerning spiritual matters. At some point to come to a story. And you are in the story. How much these stories mean, to me.
TO create humanity, with a desire for God. These eleven apostles. Waking up when their traveling companion was declared presumed dead. The thing buried by Fear? The story over and over: born into everything, and losing it. In the garden. And going in search once again. With this mutual desire. God and His people. And fertility. The shared choice to love, to reproduce. The things that stayed with you. Every day. The collegiality. The unchanging law. When you appeared to be losing everything at the end of the story. And always the fear. Of exile.
When you no longer were Chosen People? How things kept changing. Contemplating the change. And the emotions, the perspective which went with the change. In the outside world. Did you feel the inner tension of Cain, not satisfied to stay in one place –like the Garden — and not satisfied to till the soil. The inner tenion over accepting that he himself was from dust, and all the irony in the turmoil and the dust-up after killing his brother.
The buried anger. The buried pain. The exile. Until the day it came out in the wandering. With a deep sense of good and evil, about unrighteous affluence. Those who desired to hang onto what they had.
Power. The evolution. Of human power. The battle over acceptance of power with its institutions. Faith versus reason, in the aftermath of the Renaissance. What was the artist trying to say? In the art of the Renaissance? What was the artist trying to say in his/her Art and language and culture?
Quarterly reports of the prophets. Navigating closeness. To stay close to God. Life, like on a great river. Looking for mentors in life. People trying. People really caring to stay close to God. Like Adam had not. Motly because of Eve.
Adam lost his mentor about the time Eve came around. When he learned for the first time we were all gonna die. Somehow. With others. Or alone. When you were forced. Into relationships, with your co-workers. Or born into relationships. Like Cain. In family. Not unlike Eve. When you were born into something – the movement in the story – born to be this tiller of soil. The movement in the story, with your assigned place, or job description. And your jealous human perspective about it all. And anger.
Power. Force. Authority. To return to the world we had before a crime was committed. Talion law: An eye for an eye. The change from the Talion Law called Reconstruction. Converting mechanical energy of downward-flowing water into thermal and acoustical energy. In the age of terror. That replaced the age of consolidations. On matters of faith and morals, after the leveraged buyouts. Energy of Chosen People, given some direction in life. The Dissipation, with a concept of a wandering formalized. In the mainstream. With a certain idea of movement and birthrights and inheritance.
Run. Hide. Escape. Missing. Presumed dead. Following a war. The anger. The fear. Again.
The loss of an audience, without a story board. The power. Of Art. The need for the story board, for the artist. To figure out the puzzle. I happen to talk to my ophthalmologist twenty-four hours ago – my one time cross-country captain. And he mentioned the importance of a story board, beyond long distance running, that he heard a world famous author mention at a recent dinner at the high scchool we once had attended. So how can you either put together or try to read the Hebrew Bible without a story board? Where are you taking Me? How are you describing Me? The bulls in a china shop. What are you doing to the vehicle? How are you tending it?
And about the end of the story. In the mystery, where does the story line end? The loss of an author, without a story board. With themes of population. And growth, in fertility stories. In what had always been arranged marriages. After Abraham. Then the modern world, is God still in the arranged marriages?
To lead to an end. To tie it all together. What you needed to live. Beyond yourself. With a certain esteem, in this creation. With seeds and harvest. To try again, In another new spring.
The ultimate honor killing on Good Friday that so many Muslim women could identify with. In not another crime against humanity, but of divine sacrifice. For Resurrection.
Union. Relationships. That you might have, should have, what Adam had, what Eve had. Information, knowledge, or a personal experience – a family experience – of God’s love. When there still was only the commandment about the apple, focused upon knowing God, supplemented with a command focused upon knowing Eve, ‘cleaving’ in either bond, or in a kind of separation.
Was it worth your time, creating a relationship? In developing a common point of view, about an overall aim of the relationship. In enhancing connectedness to this world. When there had been something missing in my life?
The anger of Cain. Yeah, kids often seem oddly numb. About the hard questions. About these unexpected living arrangements, unprepared for growth. Over why Adam and Eve had been kicked out of the garden. When your kids did not feel so bad about something that they had never done. Like eating fruit, from one long lost tree. When the world was so unfair.
To be so dependent on the Promise Land, despite all of this freedom. Was it about expectations – my expectations about the world? About where an independent nomad might go? Because greatness was so lonely by one’s self. Descendants of believers who did not ask, did not dare ask this generation whether the one true God would seem relevant to them now in such an overcrowded world. Did not dare even ask if God, amidst all of the personal pronouns used, had ever been relevant to the parents. These Tree of Life stories about Chosen People, when God always met a person one on one, as someone developed their own relationship to the Tree of Life narrative, set in a world with enough people.
About your greatness. Get organized. Prove it. In a relationship. And then in the world. In the united state. My first ideals or the past and of “saving” the past, was based upon the world that my ancestors had given me. I had inherited it all. Like Isaac would. Like Jacob stole. Some, through the people I was related to. Some, through material wealth. From their DNA. Earned or inherited.
Looking for acceptance. When in the under-populated world there had to be movement in the story, by Adam and Eve. After the denial, the fear, and the inner conflict of nomads who wanted to keep moving, to bring goodness into the world, with the expectation to put down roots.
Acceptance about the garden. About the Promise Land, when there was a planet to inhabit. Those living arrangements. When you were just for the most part unconscious, navigating closeness, with a degree of cognitive love, beyond the involuntary cognitive and emotional state of your family life – broken. Then the Lord called to the man and asked him, “Where are you?“ The winds of change. How fast things happen. After just one bite of the apple.
To slowly think and understand. Who was this God? Wanting your own kids or grandkids to think. About their past. And the custody rights. Before all the unraveling. Emigrants having to leave the Garden. Through no fault of their own. Recognizing the distance in the story. When both men were heroes in the story, as Eve, as Adam, had been heroes. Waiting, to know more about the custody rights to God. To the God of Adam and the God of Eve. But not understanding yet how to pray?
To slowly think and understand. After Adam, what was the point of view of the next generation, in the search for the divine? About fertility? The keeper of flocks. The tiller of soil. The first job descriptions. Cain and Able. When they both honored God from the work of human hands.
And then after Cain, what was the point of view of the next generation? Were we all really related to him? When he was born into his job description. With Cain’s hostility in his part in the food he was eating every day. When it was his brother who was the nomad. Who got to tend the animals. Long before the day when the Egyptians thought shepherds were the lowest form of existence.
“When you should have what we have.” Freedom. Human rights. Free will. And original sin. Even when you had lost everything – the garden – which had seemed to provide meaning, which connected you to God. The lost birthright, in Chapter One, to the garden. And then you were forced to one day leave it all behind.
The anger at the unfairness. Of systems of slavery, or new systems that replaced them, with the sweat of human brows. As the tiller of the soil, tied down to one place. Not all that dissimilar to the anger at having to bear children? The imbalance in “relationship work,” and a resulting anger? More conspicuous – but not to me – that these were my kids, inheriting my sins.
In the Promise Land. In America. Now the missing bonds. The anger at the unfairness of the world. Homeless sons and daughters of immigrants. The ones who left the Old World behind. And now years later these children mostly of divorced parents? And God, sensitive to the dominant culture. Sensitive to the gap in the living arrangement. And more attuned to all those gaps, and the inequality of the gaps in the living arrangement – than the insensitivities of an old world, with the ideals or the past and of “saving” the past, based upon the world that my ancestors had given me which I had inherited.
So this child left wondering, how could such great parents be kicked out of the garden? For just eating the apple? And why should they lose custody rights? To the garden. Over a simple apple. How can God not love my mother, or father? Even if, in an updated story, they had been divorced? And why lose custody rights to the garden. Over one simple apple. Simply for eating an apple. Who could believe?
The living arrangements. For refugees. For nomads. With a delicate balance between separate identity and a connectedness, was God homeless in His world? Did God identify with nomads and shepherds, created in His image, formed in His likeness? In a world that is rich with possibilities for connectedness and attachment, the heart and soul of intimacy, the lifelong challenge, begins with a home. And an identity which came from a home. And then it was gone.
To move populations through righteous anger. Because, as Chaim Potok writes, “Something that is yours forever is never precious.” So a promise land. With freedom and safety. With an overall aim of the relationship – in a marriage, in a home, in a homeland — developing a common point of view, about an overall aim of the relationship. But you had to work at it.
Was it worth your time? When marriage was really about about trying to find a moral consensus. F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote about themes of youth, beauty and riches. And that was the world of modern pop culture, of America today, ruled especially by beauty and wealth. All the things glamorized by the media, of modern America. Fitzgerald wrote with characters that keep trying but at the end of the story, never really found themselves, in this country formed by people who left the Old World behind.
And so in this land of immigrants, the ongoing struggle for an identity,when you moved away from your ethnic group.
Killing your own brother? When Cain was at the end of the story still my own son, in the eye of Eve and Adam. And all that they had left.
Banishment. Exile. Excommunication. ‘Who in the name of God do you think you are?’ Cain and Able. The intent to take a life. Ishmael and Isaac, with their father. Jacob, with his brother and his own father. Taking a life.
And the ongoing struggle with the refugee question, in this land of immigrants, dealing with nomads.
And so Cain, in his quest for mercy. And perhaps in his struggle, in his own “relationship work,” to learn how to pray. In a leadership role in his own heroic quest for salvation. When prayer always re-cast the human image of God. And Cain, so badly in need of God.
The landscape of dating. Over the past 20 years or so, as town centers completely destroyed by bombs in World War II in Eastern Europe have been, over time, stone by stone, restored. In my lifetime, and in the lifetime like the contemporary artist I met, who was three years younger. Her family had left and had spent their time elsewhere during the Reconstruction.
In the sign of the times, the woman still looks like a a cheerful hippie, with a restlessness on display, over time perhaps becoming more visible. Getting perspective from an artist who liked to paint landscapes of the far off, and generally avoided the things up close. The divorced mother, now at war with her son, looking for a lasting relationship, talking with great honesty about her life on Yom Kippur. To me.
After being banished from the territories in the 1980s, with an art degree from the University of Illinois in Champagne, she had gone to San Francisco. She landed in Minnesota in 1982, where she remains. When she married in 1991, she said that she knew on her wedding day she had made the wrong decision. Her marriage lasted until 1997, with six years of marriage counseling. Her husband, she said, was shocked when she asked for a divorce. At the time she had two kids, the youngest having been born in 1994.
Unsettled. To tackle the deeper problems, with perspective, after a deep sleep, of the daughter of Ukrainian Jews who had never returned home to Chicago. The woman who seemed on Yom Kippur to want to come to grips with her sins. The main one concerning that she never really had loved the father of her kids. Perhaps not knowing about “the last clear chance doctrine” to be used in her own defense. On issues of contributory negligence, in her life.
People do not really say, to strangers, what is most true, like this. Living day to day, struggling economically ever since her divorce, making a living as a sign painter. Recognizing all of the restlessness, in her story of detachment. At a time when clearly, with perspective of time, she had not really known herself. THEN the remark of a stranger recognizing her for her modeling for his art class, naked. This was, most likely, no big deal for an art major, though the stranger hovered over our table way too long.
The landscape artist who bared her soul to me in an Irish bar, owned by a Brit, about what she hopes to be building upon. Six years ago she had become Christian, with no mention on how that affected her relationship with her kids. Having gone to Guatemala to build homes, the divorced mother with one daughter away at college, with her church group, in her restlessness. But now at war with her high school age son who lives with her – perhaps playing the game by something other than the official rules – but he would be ask to leave when he turns eighteen.
The divorced mother, hoping to build on a lasting relationship, talking with so much honesty about her life on Yom Kippur. Giving me the once over. Just once, in this Irish bar that was not really Irish, with bagpipe music airing. Despite her claim of being an artist, who now liked to take commercial jobs closer to home but with her free time she likes to paint landscapes of the far off, generally avoiding the things up close. Expecting pain in any relationship, expecting such little joy.
Life in Minnesota. People want to live here; they don’t want to leave. We don’t have high turnover.
After a provided quote from me by another landscape artist –“I have always worked and pulled my hair out simultaneously, but the higher motivation is the sheer pleasure and joy found in the depths of perceptual engagement.” — she then said she did not want to see me again. Perhaps coming to learn, in her continuing education, that that you could not love others, until you settled first upon really a known self, before moving on. After giving me the once over, moving to the the art of loving yourself.
PHOTO COURTESY OF Mediawatch
Who is Kirsten Varley?
You had to wonder, when called to prayer five times per day, about the content of the prayer. When prayer is really something that is not said, but an awareness kept, like keeping company, in an encounter.
To pray five times a day is to be available. To the Truth. How to exalt God? To confer a spirit….the slow patience while creating something in God’s image. A child. A story. The TRUTH. In the circle of revolutions. When revolutions are a process and not individual events. I know not why life is astir…in Iran. In the the torment of their God, and His people.
You had to wonder about the framework, the purpose, of the prayers in Iran, when called to pray five times per day, of those in power. With their prayers. Whether anyone truly wants to meet God. In their prayer encounter with a living God. In Iran.
With 62 percent of the vote, holding a seat in the United Nations, you were allowed to torture and murder – torture in the name of God– as part of the “security apparatus.”
The Islamists who since 1979 in Iran had morphed into elected autocrats once in office, exporting their tactics once sharpened by the neighbor to the north – Russia – to Syria and Lebanon and beyond. In a country without basic human rights of freedom of religion, or freedom of the press — where the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei approves the Minister of Intelligence and the Minister of Defense – the Quds Force which reports directly to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and serves as the linchpin in Iran’s regional strategy, had been dispatched to Syria. To interfere with the airspace where satellite waves and prayer were transmitted.
Between November 1998 and February 1999, the brutal serial killings were carried out of leaders of the Iran Nation Party, including Mr. and Ms. Foruhar, brutally murdered in their house; the kidnapping and killing in December 1998 of Mohammad Ja’far Puyandeh, writer and translator of literature on women’s rights; and writer Mohammad Mokhtari. With the Grand Ayatollah attributed the murders to foreign powers, the state investigation and prosecution of the case of these four became known as the serial murders, and lasted several year before eighteen Ministry of Information employees were presented as scapegoats, admitting that suspects were under pressure to confess that they had links with foreign entities. Killed in Iran by “rogue elements” in the security services.
The National Union of Journalists had released the video, throwing light on a conspiracy of the Khatami government to conceal the truth. With ongoing variation on a theme over the ensuing twelve year. In 2009, there were, dressed in civilian clothing, the Basij — in the hands of those with Special Forces and a special force in an Islamist Republic — crushing the dissent over the reins of that power. When death sentences had lost meaning, to people without freedom.
Navi Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights, criticized this week the conduct of the Syrian government, while torture by the Iranian government had been long accepted as the status quo. The conduct of the Iranian government, blessed by, held above reproach.
UN High Commissioner Pillay said, “Resort to lethal or excessive force against peaceful demonstrators tends to not only breed a culture of violence, serves to exacerbate tensions, and violates fundamental rights, including the right to life.”
Meanwhile, when killings were approved at the highest level, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called for unity among African nations, proclaiming “the UN decisions have always been against the interests of the African and Asian countries. Although the world’s independent countries comprise the majority of the United Nations member-states,” President Ahmadinejad in expressing his satisfaction with the formation of the African Union continued, “the UN has failed to defend the interests of independent states.”
Spinning the promotion of unity, with a people now repressed beyond a decade, you wondered if the locals ever interrogated their God. About power and might, and the use of earthly power. Over what was going on in their own world. And if this is how they treated their own, how did they treat their enemies?
Did the undefined interests of independent states include anything about independent belief, along with the freedom to freely pray? The spin on the Arab Spring from Iran is that these were not genuine popular movements in Syria but actually hostile outside intervention – perhaps too much like prayer – hostile to the Supreme Leader, directed at regime change. Called by Iran to be some kind of Western phenomenon.
Praying to the one True God, when killings were approved at the highest level. Connecting in praise and thanksgiving – in sacrifice – prayer is a process, an awarness kept, requiring tremendous freedom. No matter where you lived. When true revolutions are, not unlike prayer, processes, and not events. With God always at your side. When words do not truly articulate the truth. About the world. When silence – once used in the second half of prayer, to listen – had become, as in any dysfunctional relationship, the only weapon left. As leaders, while their Basij attack people and their Quds Force attack airspace, demonstrate exactly what it meant to take the name of the Lord Thy God in vain. And people kept praying five times per day.
When you lived in nations with illusion of power, even illusions about God-appointed leaders, to fight the counter-insurgencies of the soul sixty percent of Iranian homes and businesses, Reza Bagheri Asl, director of the telecommunication ministry’s research institute, told an Iranian news agency, would be soon on the new internal network.
When your God came credentialed by the authorities. The Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ‘s intranet, for the emerging conflict called the “soft war,” allegedly directed against the West. Ali Aghamohammadi, Iran’s head of economic affairs, said: that Iran’s national intranet would be “a genuinely halal network, aimed at Muslims on an ethical and moral level.”
Reza Taghipour, Iran’s communication minister, made mention of the coming new computer operating system to replace Microsoft Windows. In the national interest. For a nation where murder and torture of your own was approved, by the Supreme Leader. When the sons of Hagar mostly always showed perfect obedience to Allah. And the women on a normal day always felt so all alone.
It was a symptom of Post Traumatic Stress. After a great shameful event, everyone agreed to not talk about it. Everywhere. In post World War II, when the veterans came home.
Vanquished. As two lands are laid waste. Ten Years After. Like some kind of lingering song of a rock ‘n roll group, about the climatic effects of nuclear winter. As a generation loses its fertility. Yeah, and bin Laden was dead.
In war. Who do you believe in a war? The Church? A president? When crimes became immeasurable? With all the authentic post traumatic stress syndrome, in the aftermath. The irony of human justice, in a world laid with some kind of post-Nazi foundation of moral relativism to believe that a sovereign country has no right to judge the criminal who hurt its citizens. In a world, with so many young people who now felt that they should not be judged. When people no longer could believe in authority. For a generation which believes in no authority, what was to fill the vacuum of power? As no one went into politics, who I knew, with a well-formed conscious.
Global warming. Who do you believe about climate change? What do you believe about global authority? Long after an atomic bomb was dropped in war, like some kind of lingering song of a rock ‘n roll group, when invisible crimes became more measurable, when a force hits an immovable object, as the land is laid waste, in a western world laid without much of a foundation, and no one addresses the issue. When science forgot about nuclear winter?
In the physics of memory, in a world with so many grandchildren who felt that they should not be judged, comes global warming. The irony of human justice, about the climatic effects of nuclear winter.
War. Anger meeting anger. The powerlessness, as the aftermath of anger. In an unforgiving world of pierced tongues. With the distortions of power, even in the free world. Especially in the free world, reconstructed, in the dog eat dog world of capitalism. So what was worse, child pornography or torture? What if done in the name of Homeland Security?
When memory becomes a political issue. When vanquished.
How to use power?
The vacuum of power. When crimes became immeasurable? After the land is laid waste, in the physics of power and the abuse of power, comes nuclear winter. And Reconstruction, with the pain pills. For all the motherless children left behind.
War. Who do you believe in a war? It was a sad state of the world, when Russia becomes the spokesman for atrocities. Just as Russian Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov accused NATO of mounting an assassination attempt, illegal under international law, so had the Khaddafi government challenged the aims of the NATO mission, under international law. On the eve of bin Laden’s last day of life, the opponents of Colonel Khaddafi questioned whether Seif al-Arab al-Qaddafi, 29, and three unidentified grandchildren had actually been killed, or whether the announcement amounted to a ploy by Colonel Khaddafi to win sympathy and deflect blunt criticism of his own attacks on several rebel-held areas.
Issues not much different than the death of bin Laden.
In the aftermath, in the authentic post traumatic stress syndrome of war, who did you trust? When the American vision of justice, the irony of human justice, was one of vengeance and war. As the world lost its fertility. As a land is laid waste. Where once there seemed an universality in international law.
Sergey V. Lavrov said the NATO attack “arouses serious doubts about coalition members’ statement that the strikes in Libya do not have the goal of physically annihilating Mr. Khaddafi and members of his family.” Said the chairman of the international affairs committee in Russia’s lower house of parliament, Konstantin I. Kosachev, “I am very surprised by the total silence of the presidents of the U.S., France, and some other Western countries.” If reports of the deaths of Qaddafi family members are confirmed, it would drive home that the Western operation “is unacceptable to the same degree as the attacks by Qaddafi and his forces on civilians.”
Power as a force in life. How to use your mastery, to defend the land? After thousands upon thousands are dead, how to use power? When the land, when the ocean, is laid waste, beyond measure.
With all the authentic post traumatic stress syndrome, living in the aftermath. Coming home, to figure out how to use power, to defend women and children.
In a world laid out with inviolate human rights, in a vacuum of power when leaders still sought vengeance making all life meaningless, how to use power?
In the aftermath of war, the sense of belonging. The human attempt set in motion to pass on a culture communicated, not by bellicose conquest, not by allocation or purchase of fluorocarbons, but through fertility. Human fertility. When fertility was the only language which conveyed the sense of belonging. When the invisible became visible.
With all the distortions of reality, in reconstruction of the land. About questions of belief. Over the reality of post traumatic stress and climatic effects of nuclear winter, with the administration of pain pills. Pills for fertility, pills for the pain, paid by a national health insurance policy. For those who could not cope, in a series of chemical reactions set in motion which was breaking down the stratospheric ozone layer protecting Earth. With all the distortions of reality, in reconstruction of the land, it was about the new perspective in such a world with the changing light—and tattoos. Light pollution, as a consequence of nuclear winter, from nuclear weapons.
When invisible crimes became more measurable, over time. To see all of the injustice in the world. And to somehow respond — rather quickly. Before forgetfulness sent in. Above the troposphere.
Before the next meaningless war, a response. About what you believed to be most true.
When you shared a heritage, or a culture. And then the attempt to pass on that culture. In the stories. The sense of belonging. The language which conveyed a sense of belonging. To a group of people. To pass on, in like the eggs.
The symbol of creation had been forgotten? Like a good teacher, she wanted me to know about the importance of the hard boiled eggs, at the Seder.
This week I had heard an author who was a winner of the 2009 National Book Award speak. The book was Claudette Colvin: Twice Towards Justice. I never got to ask why the title, Twice Towards Justice. Phillip Hoose reminded me of the retired sixth grade teacher that I curl with. There was a sensitivity present in a voice that Hoose was trying to communicate. The morning after, I found an old interview where he told Willie Perdomo his purpose in writing is to go in search of a voice to be heard, which never really had been listened to before. Claudette Colvin, as a teen-ager was thrust into the spotlight of the “separate but equal” world of the American South. In an old interview, Hoose told a National Book Award interviewer, Willie Perdomo, that he had once heard complaints of a young student who objected that in the study of history there were no people her age in the stories which made her feel so “invisible,” as though she did not, would not, qualify as a real person.
As he discussed Claudette Colvin: Twice Towards Justice, I recognized a Southern perspective from those times about just another carpetbagger, this one from Yale one hundred years later, telling a society about what was wrong with it, as he tried to profit as an author. What good was it for someone from New England to preach about racial intolerance in a part of the world that he was never a part of?
There was a sensitivity present in a voice, but it was more the perspective that interested me. The subject of the book had turned down his request four consecutive years to sit down and tell her tale. With a developed sensitivity to preserve habitats from his job on staff at The Nature Conservancy, Hoose said in a National Book Award interviewer that extinction often was on my mind, as he writes books. In the National Book Award interview, Hoose said that his motivation to write about Claudette Colvin, a complete stranger, involved a danger of her story being totally erased from history. Well, I was not so sure that there was a need for an eraser, since most of the people alive more than fifty years later never had heard the story which “often is told incompletely in unflattering comparison to Rosa Parks.” A more honest appraisal of his motivation seemed to be found in Hoose’s description of his youth in Indiana, a state where he said the Klu Klux Klan dominated the Republican Party. And life in Indiana, in his perspective, was never much different in those day from Alabama.
When you shared a heritage, or a culture: He wrote to inspire an audience to forestall species extinctions. The one with the echo of an inner hollowness of death. Or the aching involved to get out –of an egg. When your freedom was restricted. Or in the pain of childbirth. And then the pain of getting what was inside out for any child. And species extinction always involved fertility.
One of Hoose’s first books was about his cousin, Don Larsen, who had pitched a perfect game in the 1956 World Series for the New York Yankees. I was aware that Larsen had died in the past 12 to 24 months. I was about to read a few of Hoose’s books. To find more about his attempt to pass on that culture. In the stories allegedly about dealing with loss, to forestall species extinctions. The Claudette Colvin story was about an imperfect world, man-made, about a system set up to forestall the extinction of a way of life, in one part of the country. In his attempt to pass on a culture, in the stories which conveyed a sense of belonging –in the language which conveyed a sense of belonging — I am not so sure that the author yet understood how this opus fit into the shelf with his other books. Except about being invisible in a world, when the subject seemed to revere an invisibility with her move to New York City after living in the spotlight during her teen-age years. After having sacrificed her invisibility, over a way of life, which put her own life in jeopardy. Over a cause, until her own young pregnancy, to forestall species extinctions. Gravida One, as one response. One strong response, about the injustice in the world. When Rosa Parks had a “natural gravitas” and was an “inherently impressive person,” said David Garrow, the author of Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
About the eggs. Yeah, the eggs had been forgotten at the Seder. Maybe a bit like Claudette Colvin was forgotten. I am not sure the author grasped the whole story, with a bit of fear in his one quiet reference to her pregnancy, in the time after her arrest. About the subject not wanting this book written until after she had retired from her job at a Catholic hospital. The story which somehow involved the eggs. The woman who, nine months before Rosa Parks, had been the real incubator of the protest over segregation on the Montgomery bus system.
Copyright © 2011.
PHOTO COURTESY of BACKYARDCHICKEN in Dexter, Michigan
Tuesday this goy was invited to a Seder dinner. When a family tries to comprehend their own tradition and its meaning in their own lives. In the reality show called daily life. With the movement in the story. The movement in the story of Passover and Jews. What did it mean, this Jewish identity? With your DNA, within this creation, you were related to Him, in your image and likeness.
How can you know God, without understanding Judaism? Tuesday night I learned about the customs of a Seder dinner, removing all leaven from a home – and maybe all the other things which inflate the egos in the rest of the year – in preparation for this day. When the preparation had taken the host’s father seven days, in the old days, removing the leaven from his home. Recognizing an underlying spirituality, about the ego in the story, about being Chosen People — perhaps because of the issues of inflation and bubbles of our times. Recognizing an underlying spirituality, about Chosen People, taming their egos, sharing so much with the rest of the world. Hearing of an origin of Jewish women and people “like us,” not, as told in Greek myth or like the story of Romulus and Remus in Rome, as a people descended from on high. With this sprinkled blood on the doorstep, when you let your God into your home, when you married within the culture. With the tradition of blood in animal sacrifice.
With the always present issue of blood, when you marry someone within your tradition and passed a tradition on. In a living arrangement, when you realized the continued existence of the tradition, your tradition, was up to you. When you made the discovery that the institution was somehow you. When you had somehow become the school, the temple….chosen. When you discovered the social meaning, in the age of social networking, when the conflict in the story was over more than shared belief, but shared blood.
The conflict in the story. With all of the movement in the stories comes the fear. And the primary fear was over fertility. Every fear concerning the next generation. About survival. And maybe the survival of tradition. Like the Passover story. When you go in Exodus, a bit uncertain when it came to your direction, after four hundred and some years in Egypt, and trying to get traction in the sand. In a certain involuntary cognitive state, and with high emotions over the intense unfairness in a system. But commanded with your life to know your God. With all the unknowns about would happen to the tradition, being caught in the desert. And all the emotions over survival. In Exodus.
The emotions of life over survival. Over the Promise Land, and your loved ones. In the Age of Divorce. Surrounded by other clans, which had such difficulty with concepts of union, in the your present day lives. And the primary fear was over fertility. In the earlier chapter.
Sarai. The laughter of Sarai, who needed a new name after the circumcision of Abram, in a scene which only Bob Newhart could try to explain. Over the phone. So because I always wanted to be a comedy writer:
Abraham, coming home after a long day at work, explaining circumcision to Sarah, at the age of 99 or 100. Like a Bob Newhart script, as Abram undresses.
“Uh, Abram. What’s eating you? You are moving kinda slow.”
“Well, I had minor surgery for something that had been causing me some trouble. “
“What is this word ‘surgery?’
“Well, I went under the knife.’
“Just outside Hebron. Away from the crowd. In a need for privacy.”
“No…I mean WHERE. Oh my God…. who did this to you?”
“I… um…. got circumcised yesterday.”
“You did what?”
“I am calling it a circumcision.”
“Really? Are you crazy? And who exactly did this for you?”
“I did it myself.”
“You? You? You can’t even fix the latrine. Why, in God’s name, did you do that? You know, we are gonna need new names after this, Abram. Both of us. New names.”
There had to be a reason for Sarai’s infertilty…and Abram thought it was due to him? So with a certain pagan view of the world, he took extreme measures? Maybe to remove something that was coming between him and his wife. To live and communicate now unconditionally. When you knew something and wanted to leave to the world this knowledge. The knowledge that took a lifetime to acquire. When something had been missing. Maybe when you were fertile. Maybe missing in your own childhood, or in your own neighbors. When something had been missing, and the plan then was to try it over. This time with maybe some spiritual direction. And maybe change, Norman Borlaug-like, the world.
The developing bonds. The lifelong challenge in the bond of a relationship. With the anguish that came to those who spent time trying to know, taking it to the deepest level within. And then creating something out of that knowledge. Before you died. Stories about the different levels of comfort, in relationship. When you wake up one day and hear that your wife wanted more in the relationship? And you did not have a clue what the heck she meant.
The movement in the stories. About Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The stories about the different levels of comfort, in relationship. Emotional stories about life and death. Over the Promise Land, and your loved ones. Stories generation after generation about fertility, and death. Did you ever note the ages of Adam, Noah, or Seth? To recognize the anguish which came out of the search for God, and the attempt to get comfortable with each other. For eternity. When prophets climbed mountains, with all of the emotions in a relationship. Or in one dimensional relationships. Over the quality of union. Or not. When perhaps God was not ready quite yet to be around Adam, Noah, Seth, forever.
Union. Enhancing connectedness. To this world. Developing a common point of view. Union. When there had been something missing in the union, if not my life. About an overall aim of the relationship, with a delicate balance between separate identity and a connectedness– when the going gets rough, to stay together.
Fertility. The emotions. Fear. Death. God. Coming to an acceptance of God, like the acceptance level a couple reaches with each other. “Lord, let me get on with my business. Because I am not fertile.”
And so the fertility of Sarah, at the age of 99 or 100. “Laughing” was the meaning of the name of her first born son. Like Eve, nothing ever belonged to Sarah of this creation until she had kids. And so the battle within for any woman, over pride, when she was yet to have kids, with a man who wanted the the old world back, after the banishment.
Like a nomad, navigating closeness, with a degree of cognitive love, beyond the involuntary cognitive and emotional state of intense romantic desire, when you were just for the most part unconscious … or really just trying to figure it all out. With American men too often just numb. When those neurons just did not feel the things we were supposed to, about the hard questions, beyond the involuntary cognitive and emotional state of intense romantic desire. For men too often just numb, about the hard questions, like greed. All men had it … some women. People throughout the world wanted to live like I had lived, like they saw in the movies. Greed fueled by media, for money and modern conveniences. Where It seemed there was not enough to be fairly divided.
SO after the public spectacle, for Eve and the apple, there was need for a wider audience. For Eve and her wider perspective about creation? Was there a need all along she felt to get out of the Garden? When nothing ever belonged to you of this creation until you had you firstborn child?
Passover. The story really more about the descendants of Sarai. With all of the work that went into this commemoration. The pain in the story about fertility. With the developing concept of sacrifice, of the best animal of the flock. Concepts over shared blood. Maybe why the blood of animals had been used in worship. To hear the story in Exodus, one year later, where the lamb was sacrificed and the people were to eat, “in proportion to the number of persons who partake of it.”
Keeping kosher. The anguish of keeping kosher. To recall the time during those four hundred and some years when virtually every aspect of daily life was connected to your life being a slave. With the sprinkled blood on the doorstep, when you let your God into your home. When you tried to keep things somehow sacred. With the always present blood, and issues of orders, when you marry someone within your tradition. With an origin of Jewish people “like us,” not, as told in Greek myth or like the story of Romulus and Remus in Rome, as a people descended from on high. With the tradition of blood in animal sacrifice, the so very personal commemoration of Passover as a vehicle to celebrate the very nature of God, and His work in the world. Through fertility.
With all of the anguish. Maybe like childbirth. Or in the 613 orders related to keeping kosher. With all of the dishes and pots and pans. The sacrifice that comes trying to maintain a tradition. With a certain amount of pain. When you work all week and came home to prepare the Seder. The anguish in being Chosen People, generation after generation.
The work of deliverance of the next generation. Nietsche wrote that the meaning in life, the memory of loved ones, is conveyed only through real stories about palpable heart-beating pain. Stories of deep love, of deep hate, with layers of suffering that would lie in memory forever. Great literature of a civilization was based upon such stories carrying a people, somewhere.
The unstated part of Passover, in the setting, if you were lucky enough to have inherited a tradition.
The carrying, of a people, like the ones you were related to by blood. Measuring the progress, one generation to the next. Passover was the paramount generational thing, THE family thing, not just a family thing. In the beginning. The movement in the story. With all of the first born dead, and the blood on the doorstep saved you. On the original Passover. After Moses asked the the Pharaoh, at the Lord’s stated request. “Let my people go to worship me.” With all of the firstborn dead, concerned about the unraveling of the next generation – the one which seemed to be losing hope, or looking to the identity of the dominant culture, like in the Egyptian world.
For Chosen People, and the fertility part of the story. Generation after generation, in stories about this inheritance, carrying a family somewhere — with a way of life –not so much as protection from the plagues, but about the solemnity of worship. To be deeply moved by worship by this God to whom you somehow were related. When children ask questions, to get things moving. To try and do right, generation after generation. With a certain anguish over knowing God. And to then try and do right, in virtually every aspect of daily life. Somehow carrying a burden of God, in a living tradition, with food. With a degree of anguish in being Chosen People, in trying to remain kosher, in the ever changing world. Not a story of survival, Passover was the story of freedom and salvation: how a people, in a story of first-borns for a people whose identity was repeated in the story of the first born sons of Abraham, of Isaac, were saved for history.
Passover. “And you shall tell your child,” …..about Passover and then this issue of inheritance. The reason why this night is different. Looking for meaning in it all.
The underlying tempo of movement, in all of these sacred stories, of the movement toward a freedom potentially as vast as all the stars in the solar system, against a conspiracy of the systems of the world they were born into. Children gradually learning to recognize a shame in living unquestioning lives. With memory of Passover conveying only through the personal anguish, the reason your were different. At one home defining Passover, the significance of a visible God and the significance – in bloodlines- of a Chosen People, to their God. And in the sacrifices freely given to this God.
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Tying it all together. Art. The power of art. The stated beauty in art. Like in the Pieta. With an intent to pass something on. Without words. To somehow move humanity forward, without words.
When you lost a generation. The excitement in recognizing the conflict in the story. To recognize the anguish which came out of the search. Wrestling with identity. TO move humanity forward.
Using words to try and get your arms around something. With the power of art.
Books and language and the future. Trying to understand each other. Telling stories, with such great themes. Through books and language and spirit and wisdom. On Opening Day, I was standing in Barnes and Nobles, grasping at the combination of sounds, into sentences, into paragraphs. Surrounded by all these books, not unlike all the stars in the sky, in the promise made by God to Abraham. About his descendants, and the stories thereof. The stories about the children of prophets. Stories of fertility and infertility. The parents who always thought and worried over their children and the choices of their children. If they had been blessed with children. On issues of birth, death, and fertility by the descendants of nomads. Because those children would one day have to go in search themselves. The movement in each story. The effort and study habits. That conflict written about in Genesis, which started in Chapter 2. About knowing God. The new struggle to know God. Once Eve and Adam had bit the apple. The struggle to keep in touch with God. For each generation. To move humanity forward. When we all were essentially cave men and cave women, going though different stages of learning. With all the the different stages of eating devices, and fire, and language. While learning a common tongue, to pass on whatever mental sharpness we had come to recognize on earth.
Dealing with insignificance, in a world with 7 billion people and you did not really know anyone. Because of the language barrier. The world with seven billion people, with one billion ideas per person. And the language of sex. The imperialism of the English language, imposed on another culture. Like the Irish. Or like Russian had been imposed in Czechoslovakia. Stealing something along the way. About the uniqueness about this part of the globe. Through the rag-and-bone shop of the heart. The emotions. Tying it all together.
Information. In the age of information, you could not get directory assistance at many companies. So more and more are headed in the wrong direction. In a world of domination and power. It was as if those alive had survived, based upon only their acuity and sharpness. Because of the greatness, for some, of the knowledge of past ancestors.
Language. Fertility and the future. The language of sex. Trying to understand each other. Trying to understand fertility, amid a population bubble. In the struggle to know someone. And the conflict in the story with other people and their one billion ideas.
Having to work to keep what your always had had. The artist taking something from the world outside, taking it to the deepest level within, and creating something out of it. When formal education was over. When my activity now, in my leisure or in my work, was somehow about finding my own goodness? To move humanity forward.
Attempting to grasp meaning. Over birthright and inheritance. Having sex. Again and again. When you were lucky, if you still were in a relationship. In a struggle of communication, with an authentic lover, over the deepest part of your being. Through the universal language of sex.
The choices of Chosen People. The anguish that came to those who spent time trying to know, taking it to the deepest level within, God. And then creating something out of it. To recognize the anguish which came out of the search for God. When you began, after a while, to recognize...God, beyond the beginnings and the ends.
The conflict in the story which started in Chapter 2. The excitement recognizing the conflict in the story. Over knowing God. Eve. Adam. Cain and Able. The conflict over who knew God the best. In a relationship. And the witnessing the same struggle in your kids.
To know, love, and serve. With passion. Measuring it all. Recognizing it all. When you poured your heart into everything, at a price.
The power of art. With an awareness of. The stated beauty, taking it to the deepest level, in art. When I prove my holiness through a medium. Like you. The descendants of Noah, these pastoral semitic-people with their related languages, dealing with significance, living in community. With all the ideas about immigration and population control. And this
new kind of climate change. Church and state, in union with my neighbor – or not – trying to maintain authority to regulate goodness and evil, in which everyone had a stake.
“I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you.”
PHOTO COURTESY OF internetstones.com
Men who in the busy world did not understand women wanted company. Their company. There was a change in cognitive dissonance at my age. About feeling needed. After all of these years. And now a lot of young women were just as busy. And men and women understood each other less. If that was possible.
Primogenitor. In those romance novels, of princes and princesses. In a historical relationship like the House of Lords – that un-elected second chamber from the past. With the system in use at the time, from a time when the royal prerogative held rein, forever. Primogenitor. When only the first-born male was going to get the home loan. Historic primogenitor, to purchase a castle. Historic refers to what is important in history – what is interesting or famous because of its association in history with persons or events. Historical refers to anything concerned with whatever existed in the past or the study of the past, whether regarded as important or not. Such as historical novels, or the House of Lords.
Stories of power. As one man became a living being. Historical Power. Men who did not understand women wanted company. In a divine kind of way. Maybe as God did. In the power struggle of relationships. In a world where knowledge for many was turned into money. But at the end of life, as someone lost the breath of life, what happens to all the things that you have known? After all the things you spent time reading, the things you paid to be tutored in? When your mind dies, the patent was lost along with the chance to make profit. Unless you wrote it down. Unless you wrote it down, there was no guarantee you would be read by the next generation, if you made claim to the knowledge.
The journey from an existing present into a living past. Using words to try to move humanity forward. Using words to convey the most important parts about being alive. About the bonds which came out of stories. The bonds running through the story. About the breath of life and becoming a living being. The enthusiasm of youth, trying to figure out the meaning. For themselves. Being touched. Feeling touched.
And the relationship question: what are you doing to me? To allow uncondtional acceptance, in the creation process. Creating something out of deep feelings….images of passion. Likeness. Like in a romance novel, only with the couple having to work at remaining sweet.
In the middle…in the story about the apple….in the middle of the garden stood the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It was this tree which would decide the rest of the story. Once the LORD God formed man out of the clay of the ground and blew, into his nostrils, the breath of life. And so man became a living being, with nasal hair. And, soon, woman.
Bloodlines. Reproductive care. Creating something out of deep feelings. And heavy breathing. Passion. DNA. The blending of the DNA of two people. When other people make us. Confronting the other people who make us. Working in the field of interpretation, addressing the answer to the question: What is this bond of family? Translating feelings of a dance-like art?
Bodies. In the body business of dance. In the vehicle of life called “body.” Disposing of, transporting, the bodies. From one generation to the next. In the ordering of society. When bodies had to be certified in birth. In the first stage of identification. And one day to find a formal cause of death, to certify life and death.
Philanthropy—that you might have what I had. When a spark had been ignited. From a time so long ago. Before Eve presented the apple to Adam. “We need witnesses, to our fertility, to say we lived; the historians to record the deaths. The next generation to prove the difference fertility makes,” writes the poet Thomas Lynch.
And then the start of the relationship stories. Based upon tradition. Viewpoints, with all of the consciousness of transition, more from father to son. In a historical relationship like the House of Lord – that un-elected second chamber from the past. With the system in use at the time, from a time when the royal prerogative held reign: Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob, Leah and Rachel, et al. And then Joseph. With no mention about what ever happened to THE TREE back in the garden. After the flood. But conscious of transition in the movement over land, with all the human construct, in words, in systems of male domination, between good or of evil in the story. The spirituality in transition, between the dry and the wet, in the ongoing story of creation.
About that time before Eve presented the apple to Adam – the apple which represented the different viewpoint of a man, of a woman, about God. Was the story any different than being in art appreciation class, hearing about the perspective of light used by artists? So, what was one bite? And then the forced migration. The two sons, of good people. The anger of the two sons over what they could have had for themselves. Without any sweat. In a world of just baseball, apple pie, and Chevrolets. Without a need for a bailout for GM. And then the floods, as the entire world became corrupt, and God lost his cool. Not unlike a divorce, from the first wife at an early age – then the second beginning, based upon the future movement of nomads. Semites in the dessert, like nomads in Russia, or in China, per the history. The movement in the story away, and then back home. In my tradition. Into civilization. After all the movement in the story, had you gotten any closer to God?
Once you know someone, once you loved someone, you somehow had to figure out how to respond. In your fertility? Like Sarah? And then the wives of Isaac and Jacob. Fertility was an important theme in such an underpopulated world. The same theme over and over, creating conflict for the ancestors of Israel: About that future movement of a nomad. Looking for fertile land. Looking for power.
Fertility. In the ordering of society, then came woman. With allegedly a noble male. In a relationship that took your breath away. With the insecurity about letting a man inside you. The fear over the self-destruction….of nomads who could leave at anytime. And reproductive care, or what would one day be called in the field of medicine, the old-fashioned method of sperm extraction, hopefully with relationship in some form.
It was a different world, when the world was so under-populated. With a different consciousness, especially among the women. Of ideals, and ideas….and, what seemed to be, your search for God. Because of animal-like desire from a historic — or was it historical — relationship, like the un-elected House of Lords in that second chamber? And so the human constructs, with the divine right of kings. Like in romance novels. It must have been so much easier for Adam. Adam who got to spend the original time alone with God. And then with Eve, who took his breath away.
Ah, the consciousness of nomads, over time. When sex led to union, but it disrupted the consciousness –so much. What was this power within? In the story about the Fall, and our many reproductions and replications, generation after generation. Was I just a perpetrator in another failed love story. With so many insecure people, how was it that I was so secure? About trust? With all of the variety of complications. With distance always a factor in a relationship, along with time and space. A woman with a goal to control her own fertility. And her children. With all of the variety of complications. And the fear which a young man carried around with him his entire life. In a modern democratic republic which mostly existed, seemingly in the age of media, to avoid the difficult issues. And hence, the borrowing against the future.
Translating feelings. Into kids. When neither I nor most of the audience had a clue. How astonishing life is day by day. Working in the field of interpretation. When you were young, bound by the family rules. Rules that started to look, oh, too confining. About the ordering of society, where families had been identified within a community. With rules about power. When busy men and busy women did not understand power. The power of just keeping company. And in the middle of the garden stood the tree. Still.
Philanthropy—that you might have what I have. When I was in the process of giving away a book. About what seemed a normal way of life . The movement in the story. From a time so long ago. Before the mysterious disappearance.
Having to resume a life, as if nothing had happened. All the ongoing movement in the story. Over the inheritance. The land was still here. The children grown. With a growing numbness. To the inheritance. And working for a losing cause. Cognitively impaired. With anger.
Philanthropy—that you might have what I had. What seemed a normal way of life. Like in the life of Cain and Able.
Having to resume a life, as if nothing had happened. After an injustice. Maybe after you have been forced to move. By the war. Or a sinking economy, with rising prices. Or by famine. Or just because your parents had shared one apple. And witnessing all of the truth which comes out of anger. With a demand for custody. Ask Eve. After she ate the apple. About the developing anger of her son, Cain. With his certain lack of self-worth which had developed. Working for a losing cause. A child of divorce asking about this all-loving God, with some doubts about the God of his father and of his mother. Over issues of fairness. And discrimination.
The Cain question: How can God not love my mother? Even if she had been, in an updated story, divorced? A child, wondering, how could such great parents be kicked out of the garden? For just eating the apple? And why should they lose custody rights? To the garden. Over a simple apple.
The Cain question: Waiting, to know more. About custody rights to God? On Ash Wednesday. Numb, at this point, about inheriting the earth. With an indifference in such a fast paced world. So, ‘Adios.’ To God. To the God of Adam and the God of Eve.
Wanting your own kids or grandkids to think. About their past. And the custody rights. To slowly think and understand. This creation. About all the problems in life. When both the giver and the recipient slowly thought about the great gifts.
Ashes. When you had to dispose of the ashes. What to do with the ashes? When one day you died. And the old-time costs of funerals were like the cost of health care. Just so prohibitive.
The old adage: Get lots when you are young. The anger over having been placed in a container of ashes, instead of in the ground. With all the expense of disposal.
The Nora Lynch story, by Thomas Lynch. To find me in his story. About ashes. What to do with our ashes. Mobile people wondering what to do with our ashes. In a society that spent so much to have mobility.
This western identity was so much about the mobility. Movement from one place. From home. With home security. With all the systems of home security and oil to keep warm. Oil to move around. Laws. Traffic regulations. Young people trafficked. Passports. Visas. Going to school. Junior year abroad. Going to work. Laws, to address the movement. The demand for mobility, and ‘destination’ weddings. With some sort of immigration policy. And caller ID.
Love. Coming home. Living with awareness. Nomads, with some degree of awareness, about all the movement. Awareness about how to position your feet. When you were not particularly aggressive about your personal life. But your wife was. About going places. About escapes.
The bonds which came out of stories. Using words to try to move humanity forward. Using words to convey the most important parts about being alive. Or, maybe Facebook. About true intimacy. Before people forgot.
Living with awareness. And how to position your feet. And learning how softly to hold the club. When a tradition was passed down to you, and it was your turn. But you messed up the mechanics, and due to a slice one day or a hook the other, you just were out of control of your intentions. And your short game. Oy-vey. Mobility. Distance. Speed. Maintenance. Having to be conscious about how close to keep the hands to the heart. The speed of understanding, when you were moving so fast, out of control. Compared to stationary people. The anger over having been placed in Group 2. As society distinguished the mobile from the immobile. Having been thought to be mobile, based upon your heritage. The anger at having been placed in Group 2, as immobile. With a dimming awareness —due to genetics, philosophy, or the environment. Which could not be my fault.
Escapism. Deep rooted self destructive behavior. The speed of anger. That never left. Below the surface. Lingering anger. The speed of understanding about the underlying anger. Over history. The self destruct in nature, that brings us to die each season. And then the ashes. With a slow speed in understanding. As your field lies fallow. Absorbing things, about the world. And the movement from one place. A lot like dust.
So, remember guys, that thou art dust.
The slow speed of understanding. About what to do with the ashes? Move to Phoenix? As a child of divorce. The anger over having been placed in this group. Separate. With pain. Because of some problems at home. With life. That had involved no choice by the kids.
Nomads. When you came from this tradition of nomads. Ah, with all the mysterious disappearance. Of nomads. With all the various degrees of understanding of God. But you should give thanks for all which you had. And for all the days of your life. And then start giving alms. To those who never had what you had. With various degrees of understanding, with the missing bonds, over the distance, which had never developed in relationship.
Love and mortality. Philanthropy. Passing it on, after your fertility was spent. Intimate sex and fertility, in such an unfair world. To somehow move a people in exile. Somewhere. The movement in the story. What had just happened here? Outside the garden. In this life? With all the need for numbers.
When you saw someone die. Or when you saw someone live. Demonstrating passion. To somehow demonstrate passion. Over the inheritance. The inconvenience in bad weather to demonstrate passion. Or in just bad times. Over a pregnancy. Or over the tradition. With the resources depleted. Money spent. And the growing pain. In a tradition.
Philanthropy—that you might have what I have. The slow speed of absorbing things, about the world as your field lies fallow. To drag a body out. To accept death. To start all over. In weakness to continue to accept yourself as you are. To finally feel moved. And to keep moving.
That you might have, that you could have, what I have. With the wise sincerity in content, Abraham and philanthropy. When on the surface Isaac seemed so undeserving. Like I was. Reading or hearing the stories. Of Abraham and philanthropy. That you might have what I have.
When you were moved by stories. Reading or hearing or witnessing one. About real life, freshly pressed. When I was in the process of giving one life away. A life that I never had been deserving of.
Sacrifice. For the slow. And all of this knowledge. And belief. And love. Based upon hereditary, or environment. The slow speed of trying to move humanity forward. In institutions. Or in other vehicles. Learning how softly to hold. When I was in the process of giving this gift away.
The slow speed of understanding. For nomads. When you were born into all of this. When you came from this tradition. Seeking, taking, sanctuary. With so many people indifferent, in good times. In such a mobile world. And seeing the passions become inflamed. Again. Over giving alms.
Remember man, that thou art dust.
So, with your slow speed of understanding, remember that thou art dust. Remember everyone, so that you might have what I have. And that you might keep moving. In alms-giving.
That you might have what I have. When you were moved to give alms. After reading or hearing the stories. About a real way of life. In real life. After reading or hearing the stories or witnessing one. When on the surface we were all so undeserving.
That you might have, that you could have, what I have. Life. From this God who was always involved in life issues. Giving life. Sustaining life. All the various varieties of life which, on the surface, seemed to be a losing cause.
And unto dust thou shall return.
Above PHOTO courtesy of LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
alphainvention bites the dust.
So what caused the death of alphainventions.com? Tweet sent in March indicated Cheru died before resurfacing in Denver.
Google ads suck.
An International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran report published in mid-January 2011 said that Iran has hanged an average of one person every eight hours since the beginning of the new year. Amnesty International is very concerned that, after an unfair trial, Saeed Malekpour is facing a death sentence in Iran, with reports “he was tortured in order to confess to his crimes.” Last month Dutch-Iranian Zahra Bahrami was executed, having been convicted of drug smuggling.
So what is worse, pornography or torture? A web programmer who had written photo uploading software that was used in a porn website, Canadian resident Saeed Malekpour was arrested in October 2008 by plainclothes officers . Kept in the notorious Evin prison in Tehran for the past two years, Saeed Malekpour had been initially in solitary confinement for almost a year without access to legal representation. One year after his arrest, Saeed Malekpour was put on state television to confess to his crime of designing and moderating adult content websites, acting against the national security, insulting and desecrating the principles of Islam. “A large portion of my confession,” Saeed Malekpour wrote, “was extracted under pressure, physical and psychological torture, threats to myself and my family, and false promises of immediate release upon giving a false confession to whatever the interrogators dictated.”
According to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran (ICHRI), 121 people have been hanged between 20 December 2010 and 31 January this year. Saeed Malekpour has now been sentenced to death for running “indecent” websites. If these were porn websites, his wife claims, they were without his knowledge. Informed of the verdict, the 35-year-old Iranian born web programmer is facing imminent execution and has been transferred to solitary confinement, until the supreme court sanctions the administration of his execution.
The principles of Islam. Or the administration of those principles. Or the view into the administration of principle, in view of human rights. The human rights to communicate something about living free. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took office in 2005, as president, 26 years after the 1979 Islamic revolution. The Khomeini government then had placed the Ministry of Culture in charge of reviewing all books before publication. With the imposition of strict rules on book publishing, which now under the current president’s regime, seem to threaten the life of a writer. A literary spring during the era of Mohammad Khatami’s presidency beginning in 1997 had once opened up the cultural atmosphere of book publishing.
The principles of torture that seems to be woven into the Iranian Revolution in 1979, which comes with the human desire for power. The power of one human to say who is stronger. The power of one human to say that he/she knows God best. The power of one human to say that he/she knows the manner to know God better. It all was the same conflict that Eve had with Adam, as she offered him the bite of the apple. It was the same conflict that had Cain kill Able. It all revolved around the first commandment relating to knowing God. That commandment was why Adam, why Eve, were not to eat the apple.
The power. Governments wanting power, cloaking police and secret police in plainclothes. Looking for challenges to power. Using torture to keep human power. Just as had been done following September 11th by the American government, distorting the principles of the American constitutions, when American power was challenged. Just as in Cairo, as plainclothes police arrest hundreds of demonstrating opponents of President Hosni Mubarak, placing them in detention, subject to torture. Since President Ahmadinejad took office in 2005, he has his security services detaining, using various method of torture on people off the street. Like the CIA had kidnapped people and held them in detention. Not all that dissimilar to the three Americans arrested near the border of Iraq, while on holiday, when asked by Iranian authorities to come over. A man in authority, in the name of government, in uniform, with power. The two males were at least provided legal counsel, even if they did not get to talk to their attorney alone on the day of the trial, before or after the court proceeding, in their trial this week. Their attorney, Masoud Shafii has said that he had not seen his clients since Sarah Shourd was released, with requests to visit them repeatedly denied by Iranian authorities.
When the government of law seemed subservient to government of men. The Iranian press reported the number of trial sessions will depend on the presiding judge. Did this all seem like a “show” trial, in a country with a religious state where you had to try to show others you prayed. In a system sounding a lot like a Communist regime, where you first had to belong to the Party. Only Communists had not been allowed to believe in God, publicly.
When absolute power corrupts, and provides distortions in concepts of fairness. The distortion that led Cain to kill Able. The distortions which lead to capital punishment, in the name of justice. The distortions which led governments to want to manipulate the news of the world, or just control the release of the Truth.
It was a challenge to governments to try and cover the news, based in Damascus, Syria. Where then 17-year old Tal al-Molouhi, a high school student has been under arrest since 2009, on charges of revealing information to a foreign country. In her blog. There was not much left in the rights of journalists as newspapers collapsed in the past few years. There was little left of the Society of Professional Journalists. Was this the same motivation behind the detention of Shane Bauer that no one writes about. A professional journalist based in Syria, with the 45-year ban on public demonstrations, state-run television, and all of the “security” forces, where the government goes looking for 17-year old bloggers. And graduates in journalism from Berkley are allowed to write freely, but just not hike on weekends?
When armed groups” in Iraq “receive financial and logistical support from Syria,” according to Iraq General Raymond Odierno’s previous comments to Al Hayat. Yet traditional media never really reports on the financial foundation of all these “insurgents” in Iraq. When the money for weapons, a great deal of money, most come from somewhere. Iran presenting itself as the natural representative of the non-Sunnis and non-Arabs nations, opposing both Israel and the West in the region, allied with Syria in support of Palestinian “resistance” to the supposed ambitions of the West and Israel in the region.
POST SCRIPT: On Valentine’s Day, chained and blindfolded, Tal al-Molouhi was brought into court and sentenced to five years in jail. In Syria. Where 80-year old Haitham al-Maleh has been incarcerated since October 2009 with a three year prison sentence for spreading”false information. About Syria, the recipient of Iranian oil money to prop up the power of the family of a long-time dictator.
Egypt. There no longer was a Society of Professional Journalists left. Not when their papers were on their last ropes. There were no labor unions offering protection. As governments smirked about it all. The news last week was about journalists being beat up and released. People like Hilary Clinton, who hated the press. AND it had been Obama who had kicked 3 journalists off a plane during the last campaign, because their papers failed to endorse him. On February 14th, the U S State Department in the way of Hilary Clinton has clamored for the rights to an internet connection, in the Middle East. The communication systems that could be bugged, or turned off or turned on. The ones which had been developed by the U S Military but became prevalent under the presidency of Hilary Clinton’s husband. Technology in which the location of every cellphone user could be found. The Clinton administration, not exactly the stalwarts of freedom, having set up the Joint Task Force-Civil Support in October 1999 as a “homeland defense command.” In 2002 this evolved into the establishment by the Pentagon of the U.S. Northern Command, charged with carrying out military operations within the United States. Up until the Clinton Presidency, the U S armed forces under Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 had been barred from domestic operations, except in specific, limited circumstances. There was a hollow ring to the words of the Secretary of State today, by a government which issued National Security Authorization letters which no one was allowed to talk to anyone about –not even a lawyer –under the terms of the Patriot Act.
In modern times, one universal truth since the French Revolution has included the anger and the fear that the young always directed at institutions which sheltered a civilization. Not at all unlike the anger and the fear that came out of slavery. Like in Haiti about the time of the French Revolution. Before the Louisiana Purchase. The anger and the fear directed at royalty and the clergy. At the time of the French Revolution, the anger at all of the estates, including the journalists covering the story.
The anger over the powerlessness. The always and everywhere identity of being a slave. This powerful identity from the past in the New World based upon race that is not allowed in polite society to be discussed. Or about that anger from the past which had come of slavery.
I spent part of last weekend with the descendants of displaced slaves. I attended a program on Sunday about rebuilding Haiti. After waking earlier that day to “Speaking of Faith,” a National Public Radio program that morning which had discussed life in western Alabama where shelter had always been based upon a social order of the soul, with its burden of history. The houses of western Alabama always had had porches, in a day when air conditioning did not cut off a family from a neighbor, with a concern of long-term survival. Whereas part of the rebuilding process, part of the architecture included recycling building materials of the past, and an architectural teacher from the University of Auburn mentioned the slave houses in this part of the Alabama. As he was talking about the importance of an architecture that was committed and engaged, he asked who now could ever understand in this day and age slavery? “Either its social and/or cultural part at the time of slavery?” In western Alabama, where had been the descendants — with its displaced slaves and the slave masters still present. Architectural students from the University of Auburn had to find out about the truth in the collective memory of slavery, in the architectural systems being re-created.
The Saint Paul Public Library offered a panel discussion with sponsorship of the Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library with mostly Haitian people. Max Adrien is a Haitian-born Hamline University French professor with a Ph. D., from Tulane University in New Orleans where he helped establish a Haitian Creole program. In examining Haitian history, he told the story which began on December 5, 1492 in Haiti. Where Columbus sank the Santa Maria. Why Columbus came, with the late 15th century European God. Perhaps initially with a 16th century benevolence. To find a route to the east. To avoid the Ottoman Turks –those fierce Ottoman Turks. Adrian said he had a B.A. from Loyola University in Chicago, and knew well the theology of Columbus’s world. In a five minute history, he spoke of the arrival of the French who formally claimed control of the western portion of the island of Hispaniola. With the encouragement of Louis XIV, the French West Indian Company had begun to grow tobacco, cotton, indigo, and cacao under the labor of the enslaved Tainos who inhabited the island before Columbus’ gang arrived. With high Taíno mortality attributed to a missing immunity to Old World diseases, a French monsignor had suggested going to Africa to import replacement labor. And thus the history of African slaves from hundreds of different tribes, with hundreds of different languages. The estimated number was 790,000 African slaves in 1783-1791. And so the story of displaced slaves, from Africa.
Thirty years younger than the United States, Haiti was the first independent black nation in the Western Hemisphere. Adrien discussed Toussaint L’Ouverture’s revolution from France that caused enough fear to Napoleon for the United States to complete the Louisiana Purchase. Louisiana, with its sugar base economy. Louisiana, with its same French connection. Louisiana, caught in the same slave trade triangle as Haiti. He made mention of crippling reparations paid to France after the country’s revolution in order to lift an embargo. And its history has shown the ongoing dependence ever since, based on reparations for the freed slaves, and with the old paradigm of slavery. In the 18th century, Haiti was the richest island in the Caribbean, with its economy based upon sugar.
Barbara Pierre-Louis, a Ph.D. candidate, gave a personal account of her Haitian history, where reference was made to Paul Farmer’s powerful book, The Uses of Haiti. Both of these speakers had been in Minnesota on January 12, 2010 on the day of Té Tremble. Roulio Lundy was a young Haitian who had married a Minnesotan in March 2009 but was home on the island. One of 19 children, he gave a moving account of visiting a neighborhood where a woman his own age had prepared him lunch as he readied to journey 60 miles in his car to return to his mother’s home on that Tuesday. After turning down an invitation to eat food three times, he finally took the food and put it in his back seat and set off for home. Five minutes down the road, there was upheaval on the road he was driving on. The sky turned black. And the buildings along the side of the road collapsed. It seemed the end of the world had arrived. He spoke of picking up 3 young men in his car as he resumed his travel, witnessing horror after horror of adult men sawing off their arms, to escape from the rubble of their buildings. Offers of all worldly goods were made by those trapped if somehow they could be saved. The four men distributed the food and water in the car as they came across horrific scene after horrific scene. And he found that the woman who had prepared his food had died in the earthquake. He had a flat tire later that afternoon, and took a wheel off another care to continue on, at one point abandoning his car. It took him until midnight on Thursday to complete his journey on foot to his mother’s home. He found that all of his family member were alive.
There were questions. One question was from a woman who had sponsored a child through the NGO called World Vision. The Minneapolis wife of Roulio Lundy suggested that the people in the audience take a different approach. She told of the dislike of non-government organizations (NGOs), who have been helping in Haiti for 50 years, with more poverty today than 50 years ago, with a greater number existing on less than $2 per day than ever before. The view there that the people were poorer, and the NGOs richer. Causing in the view of many locals, more damage than good. The NGOs that seemed to want to do something. That was the environment in Haiti before the earthquake.
Yes, I had spent part of the weekend with the educated descendants of displaced slaves. Maria Roesler-Lundy had married a descendant. Her husband was the only member of the panel who did not carry a post graduate degree from an American university. And all of the Haitians had spoken of the prestigious schools in Haiti. The few prestigious schools. Education maybe not unlike the air conditioning which had cut off so many from their neighbors. And there was this undertow of class, even among the descendants of displaced slaves, some who had gotten the chance to attend the prestigious schools, to pursue passing on the academics to the next generation. With or without the anger at the concept of the 16th century God.
The institutional advancement of a nation. Maria Roesler-Lundy came over to give a more explicit answer dealing with World Vision. She said her answer had not been about just World Vision. Her answer dealt with not giving just money alone to Haitian causes, but the need to get actively involved with the people in the nation. And when her husband compared this crisis of rebuilding to being about more than sharing money but similar to preparing food and then eating it with the people, and suddenly I was overcome with the realization that the only reason he was standing in front of me was because he had not stayed to share the food prepared by his former next door neighbor. And I understood the reasons hat he had wept at the conclusion of his speech delivered in Creole.
His answer was about creating a relationship. “Don’t try to change the Haitian people,” someone had opined on “This American Life.” The moderator had wrapped up the program quoting an American physician who had gone to Haiti long before the earthquake. He had commented upon all the Fixit types who come to town and get right down to work. Never starting the morning, as the locals ask each day, “How are you? How did you sleep?” There were now a lot of foreigners who skip the morning greeting each day. The advice of anyone going to Haiti who would deal with Haitians was “Try to understand their point of view.” Because in Haiti, there were some grateful and some ungrateful.
Institutional advancement in Haiti was a slow and cumbersome process, Apricot Irving reported on “This American Life.” The pitfalls of the old model of the 19th century benevolence could be seen over and over. Many Haitians were experts at receiving aid, but not changing their own lives, maybe attributed to a built up immunity to Old World theology, as some kind of remnant of an slave culture. Foreigners always in charge, with hope that the Haitians would catch on. Immunity maybe to the 16th century God of Columbus, who somehow had allowed slavery. And then the 19th century benevolence. As the slaves over time had become dependent on their slave masters. And now this cowboy culture from the US, when the problems are there to fix. The Fixit American Men from Mars, and their women, giving out of what these people did not have. Of technology. Of water. It was the social order of slavery.
The doctor that Apricot Irving interviewed said, “Build a citadel and you build another benevolent dictatorship. The cowboy to fix the problem. For efficacy, service and security…why not become a benevolent dictator?” The choice was to either continue the dysfunction, or to create a new model. To replace the old model in this slave culture. Of Papa Doc. Or the NGOs. Or think about the hard work of community building. When along the way, services in 2010 will not be provided. And that admittedly was a terrible choice. Building true community takes time….with a perseverance in a relationship. Between people.
So the reconstruction of Haiti. And the choice between the old model and the new. The old model which creates a new slave plantation, dependent on the masters. With all of the fruits just like before. . . With the distance. And the consequence. The ensuing anger, the violence…the discontent. Or the choice which comes with authentic generous sharing. When people gave, out of what others did not have, with a true caring. A never ending caring, which was seldom recognized when any people were enslaved. So the reconstruction of all of the shelter, in the New World, which always has been based upon a social order of the soul.
And so the spiritual architects, finding out about the truth in the collective memory of slavery, in the architectural systems being re-created. In the new discoveries of 2010, in the reconstruction of Haiti.
Creation. The Tree of Life stories. After Adam met Eve.
The first Tree of Life story. Somehow, the Tree of Life was associated with the challenge to know God. At the end of the stone age. Before the nomads set forth. From the garden. “God looked at everything He had made, and He found it very good.”
The apple. Adam. Eve. Adam was there first. In the story. And he DID seem to care. About God. And then about Eve. And she had wanted the apple. And so the story. About breaking the relationship with God.
And so there was this relationship. Cave men. Or men from Mars. In a relationship. Adam first with God. And then Adam with Eve. As she entered the story, the one commandment had preceded Eve. Just one commandment. The first commandment. About the apple.
In the narrative, the one commandment had never been given to Eve. But Adam seems to have passed down, to have explained, the one rule. Clearly he has explained the one simple commandment. When all humans, if actually acted upon to eat the fruit from the Tree of Life, were doomed to die.
To know God. For cave men, it is not possible to like, to love anyone, unless you first know them. The greatest gift to be passed down was knowledge. So, did Eve know God? Directly? Before she ate the apple? I see no reference that they ever really met. Face to face. What happens in a relationship when only one party knows, works at knowing, God? What was this attraction, her attraction, to God?
And so the story. About God. About creation. Giving Adam and Eve everything. And about inheritance. Not so different than what I had given my own kids. Knowledge. Money. The ability to survive in the world. Beyond the lifestyle of just stone age men. And stone age women.
And so the story. Creation. The injustice of creation. From the perspective of a writer in the Land of 10,00 Lakes. In the location of the lake. When Adam, or someone, might end up living closer to the lake. Living in the age of hysteria, there was all the injustice of creation. Or since the injustice that Adam was closer to God? Eve and the perceived to be injustice. When Eve, who had never gotten to spend time alone with God, like Adam had. What was Eve’s perspective in all of this? Apparently, Eve did not really care too much about the one simple commandment. Clearly when it came to the one commandment, her actions bespoke her beliefs. Did Eve know God? About the one commandment, she more or less said, “I don’t care.” Maybe not much different than my kids, she was born into all of this, and never inquired as to from where everything had come. So what would be Eve’s motivation, concerning the one commandment? Born in His image. Formed in His likeness. In the perspective of a woman. In a world where Eve did not have a lot of choice. It was either Adam or no one? Or the apple? Was Eve silently unhappy with Adam? When two people always argued about the important choices. But born second. The second child. The unfairness of it all. In this arranged marriage. In a role of having to bear children. Of the timing. Of not really truly knowing –even in the garden – God. Not really seeing God directly, before she approached the Tree of Life. Maybe the original agnostic. Or not too unlike how an adopted child goes in search of the birth parent, in the search for the divine. “What’s He gonna do to me? Or what will your God possibly do to us, when I eat the apple? And you do likewise.”
And then seeing this tree. So was the demand for authority, establishing a degree of order, proof of love? “Don’t eat the apple.” Or was this just a sin of pride, similar to the stories about the serpent? In days when Adam and Eve had not figured out the equation. Of God. Of each other. Of conditional love versus unconditional love.
Somehow, this Tree of Life was associated with the challenge to know God. Was the tree about Spiritual knowledge? Or simply the Truth? Or maybe the Tree of Life story was all about what was missing for Eve, and she wanted some knowledge of God, or desired to be like God.
Love and desire. Establishing the proper degree of order. What happens in a relationship over issues of sharing love? Or was it over issues of sharing authority? She only had wanted the apple? Or it was more than just an apple? Now in her desire to share in a relationship, with Adam, and with Adam’s God, there was this communal need for greater union, starting in her relationship?
In the love triangle of a man, a woman, and God, there was Eve. The text clearly states it was Eve who picked the apple. And she ate the apple first. But he did know from where the apple came, since Adam was with her at the time. He was an accomplice to picking the apple. Yes, Adam knew from where the apple had come. Poor Adam, having to decide between God’s authority, and Eve’s. Having to decide about actions out of love. Or actions out of fear. The fear of the Lord.
Eve broke the relationship with God. With the inheritance, the dowry in the Garden of Eden, lost.
Trying to understand order. Law and order. Or God, trying to figure out Eve. She must have been a lot more complicated than Adam. And if Adam wanted to help populate the earth, in his relationship with Eve….well, God and His one commandment had to play second fiddle. What could you do about it? In the perspective of Adam? If you loved this woman? Adam had already figured out not so much her mystery, but he was letting Eve decide everything. In the days before any guy ever had married. But if he was smart, and wanted to try to be happy. Because maybe the fear of the Lord was not proportionate to the fear of Eve.
Now Adam seemed honest. Real honest. And he said that he ate the apple, because the woman that he shared a relationship with had first eaten it. He seemed to have wished to have shared in all of her mistakes. In her human nature.
Cave men. In the stone age. How hard cave men had worked. With their clubs. Lovable stone men. And their women. Like the one who had picked the apple? In power struggles of knowledge. About the Tree of Life. When Eve was essentially saying, “I don’t care.” About that one commandment. Had she failed at the Tree of Life, in the challenge to know God? Cave woman with their power struggles with men, and with God. Or just their insecurities, in the days before make-up. And before matchmakers.
How hard people searched to find God after Adam and Eve. Because Eve ate the damn apple. When at that point, God had seemed pretty satisfied about His relationship with Adam and even Eve, even if Eve was not satisfied.
Maybe it was a lot like last night. Speaking of clubs. In the discussion who the Appleton minor league baseball club had been affiliated with. For the past 50 years. In Wisconsin. Adam’s noble human nature seemed greater than mine. I just offered the right answer. Never was there an affiliation with the Minnesota professional baseball club. NEVER. While the three women in the room talked to each other. And arrived at the wrong answer.
Presenting the hard work of the past. By cave men. With cave women. How hard cave men worked. For water. For cave women. In those Byzantine relationships. Before marriage. Cave men who did not even seem human. Compared to me. They did not seem real lovable. Compared to me. Until forced to choose, like I was forced to choose. In looking for union, with a woman not unlike Eve.
Such was this, the start of unconditional love. When Adam was forced to choose. Between God and Eve. And he knew enough to tell Eve she was right. On behalf of procreation. And the future of the world.
It was in January that I visited that 3,000 year old fort in the Aran Island. Amidst all the rock. And no real tillable land. How hard in the culture it had been then for the Irish. And then over time. In their hard, hard lives. How hard their lives were, compared to mine. How hard people worked for their food. My ancestors. The tour guide that day talked about Oliver Cromwell. Was he in the Aran Islands, I asked? Noel the bus driver said he had been. Then 6 weeks later, on a public television show with Rick Steves, it was stated Cromwell never was there. Last weekend, my friend with all the family in Ireland said, speaking about dealing with authority, Cromwell was never there. But Adam and Eve might have been.
Yes, how hard people worked for water. And the hard work to find food. That present day nomads took so much for granted. When man and woman had failed in the instruction to cultivate and care for the earth. And now doomed to die. God who made the heavens and the earth, now had an additional purpose for His heaven?
Afterward, the punishment. For those cave women, with their calculating stone hearts, about dealing with authority. Women who, similarly, since Eve had to carry Adam’s children within. Only now God would be intensifying the pangs of child-bearing. And Eve had in every day life an affliction of desire to be with Adam, and he was to be her master. With no mention if Adam was allowed to remind Eve of this.
So the theme of pain, along with human nature. In the beginning. It seems apparent that even Adam could never boss around his wife. Like you ever could in a true relationship, boss someone around. And when God never had much luck with Eve, either. In this chapter.
And so the story about breaking the relationship with God. Presenting all of the hard work of the past, but with this need for healing. With a need for healing, for the present day nomad doomed now to die. Somehow, the Tree of Life was associated with death. And relationships. And how hard relationships were. Especially for cave women, with their cave men. And how hard people searched to find union again with God, ever since the beginning.
So what had been changed by Eve, after sharing an apple? With the ensuing theme of pain, when it came to the kids. Eve, soon to be taking care of someone else, in those ensuing relationship, with her own kids. With their same kind of doubts over obedience and authority.
The memory of it all. All the hard work required in relationship. Did Adam ever get to ask God if relationships were harder than creation? And then dealing with loss. The irony that soon Eve was to be dealing with her kids who often, too, said, “I don’t care.” So the ongoing pangs of bearing with your sons, the one who looked a lot like Adam, physically. As the need for more commandments multiplied, until there were state legislatures.
So what else had been changed by Eve, after sharing an apple? After eating the fruit from the Tree of Life, Eve had this longing every day to be with Adam, and he was to be her master. And THAT was Adam’s punishment in all of this.
And so the theme for everybody of pain, with fertility, which, for the most part, had felt so good. At least in the beginning. And the irony of all of this apple business, which had started over the relationship. But finally, for the present day nomad doomed now to die, there was at least God, and the memory of it all. When it seems apparent that, in Adam’s view anyway, if Eve had never came around, no one believed how great it had been here. Between Adam and God. But with no real reason to write it all down. Not until there was such conflict, such pain. And women, with their viewpoints about the various degree of pain. Theirs was the worst. And to write it all down, otherwise no on would believe it, until they found out all the hard work required in relationship. Based, in different proportion, on love and authority. And the irony of all of this. That Adam never had an apple juice again. In his life.
And so the story of creation, and procreation. Before the editors and proof-readers were hired.
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Maybe you have been in the Paperlessworld before. Maybe you have read about the Akdedah. What has never been brought up until now is the connection of Noah to the story. Oh, there has been mention of who was Abraham, as well as who was Sarah.
“Welcome to the Dormady Academy of Detection. This semester we will be using as text The Lost by Daniel Mendelsohn. As your will read, Mendelsohn is fond of quoting a twelfth century rabbi, on the meaning of the Book of Genessis. ‘The key issue for Rashi is that the wrong reading suggests an incorrect chronology of Creation: That God created the heavens and then the earth, then light, and so forth. But this is not how it happened, Rashi says. If you get the small details wrong, the big picture will be wrong too.’”
It is Daniel Mendelsohn who oberves, “The story which began with Creation which is and was the story of the acts of distinguishing one thing from another, but ends by alluding to the… distinction between a man and a woman knowing God.” This is the most crucial distinction of all.
To unquestioningly buy it: war, slavery, religion, if not God. And so the Akedah in which the real main character is Isaac. The story begins with Creation which is the story of the acts of distinguishing. When we inherit and accept things, and eventually one day our sons and daughters quit the act of distinguishing.
And so the story of Abraham, when who is gonna remeember another death, like Isaac’s? And why would you make this stuff up? With God somehow sharing in Abraham’s suffering. When in the words of Gene Tiffany, discerning the dignity of suffering, as suffering delivers us to a new place, and suffering is never below a creature of God.
When suffering brought its own dignity, even to a nomad like me. Note all the things which allow a nomad to travel, not unlike the things which allow a man to retire: money, food, wheels, or some form of transport. And so Abraham, the descendant of Noah. So who was Noah? What do you know about Noah?
Daniel Mendelsohn adds much to the picture of Noah, by reviewing each and every word of the story.
Marked. Noah’s wife. Abraham. The connection of self-esteem to work,or the lack thereof. The connection to slavery. The sweat of the brow, and the suffering.
There was a recognized everyday need, when you were marked, by what others saw. With all the seem-to-be ends in the stories… of Cain. Or of Noah’s world. Not much different than the moments when the Akedah story seems about to present the end of Isaac, if not of God, as revealed to Abraham.
Was there not a missing interest, by the majority of other folk alive at the time, in the God of Abraham? And was this not a threat to the future, in the apathy in a world when everybody spanked their kids?
The seen and the unseen. Like a ghost stealing your consciousness, the clouds really did get in the way of a spiritual journalist.
Most surprises are negative. Creation and the always differences between what you set out to make and what you make. Ask a parent. It cannot be all in technique. You gotta try to say something.
Recognizing the theme in the first chapter of Genesis “to separate,” note from the stories how heroes attempt to separate “my creation” from the rest of creation? And thus the developing concept of “CHOSEN” from all the rest. If there had not been a need for a connection to Cain, was there a need in the stories for a connection to Noah’s wife who was the one descendant after the story of the second creation connected back to Cain? And did you ever wonder if Cain got spanked?
Note the marked fertility. Why had Abraham marked his slaves, Hagar’s son and Sarah’s son? Just like Cain had been marked. And just liked Noah’s wife had been marked on her forehead which was the first thing any stranger would remember about her. So had the real appeal of Noah, to God, been in his wife? Or had the over-powering appeal of Noah to God been, as the just man of his generation, connected to whom he had chosen as his wife? And at this point, there was not enough attention to the story, at least by Christians like me who had embezzled the story of Noah, but had never thought enough about the meaning in the story.
“Noah, if you want to do mankind a greater service, tell funnier jokes.” Because Noah sure comes across as rather bland.
Somehow that line is connected to Allen Konigsberg. But hadn’t it been Noah’s wife who first asked Noah why the chicken had crossed the road?
A nomad who had been born of Noah’s nameless wife, without laws and commandments, but only norms. The movement in the story of a man without borders, moving amid strangers with danger. The connection of blood to bonds. The sons of Noah’s wife all had names. And so much like her forefather, Cain, it is said that the wife of Noah had a large distinguishing mark on her forehead, since the time of birth. Like Gorbachov? But in times of greater illiteracy and belief in luck, did the neighbors believe this was some kind of mark of a witch?
And so the story of Noah’s wife, when who is gonna remember another birth, or the mother’s over-powering pain of childbirth, unknown, unreflected upon? The unreflected upon pain of over-powering sacrifice which seemed to cross the line, if not the road which perhaps Abraham had so quietly inherited?
The seen and the unseen. To be marked just a little more invisibly. And so the connection of the two – between a distinguishing past and a future of the WORLD – of Noah’s wife to Abraham.
Maybe if you had attended the Dormady Academy of Detection you would also have recognized the blood associated of Noah’s wife to Sarah, whose name after all meant laughing — or her son’s name did. With a great need maybe for funnier jokes.
Did you note Noah’s nameless wife, who had outlived the nasty neighbors, knew why the chickens were crossing the road. Because it was gonna rain like hell.
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Rosh Hashanah in 2013 is a celebration of that kind of deep inter-connectedness and inter-dependence which begins in New York City in about five minutes, and where I live in 60 minutes. In a modern story of conversion, Rosh Hashanah was a day of remembrance, much more important than the day coming up in seven days, about what happened in 2001. The themes of both dates seem to be the inter-connectedness of sacrifice to annihilation, involving the future and my personal fertility.
I think it fair to deduce that those brought up in a Universal church were supposed to believe in Universal law. For everyone. This was the theology of the Catholic church that many Catholics had a hard time swallowing — social justice for everyone. Who would be paying for it? There are various degrees in belief, like in Sharia law, if you believed in the eye-for-an-eye justice — who was paying for it — like for Syria, whether there should be punishment for everyone within their borders for having waged their own Civil War, between the Sunnis and the Shiites, now with chemical weapons; with germ warfare. Sacrificing more Syrians for the death of the innocent.
After the story begins with Creation which is the story of the acts of distinguishing one thing from another, here now is Abraham as THE heroic human figure in the Bible, after the Second Creation. It is of note that God uses story to communicate from age to age, from east to west. So on another Rosh Hashanah –the Jewish new Year — what exactly had Abraham ever really given up in the story of The Akedah? In his entire life, what had Abraham really ever given up? Here was a man so concerned with the purity of his lineage, before he ever had kids, who had gone looking within his father’s home for a bride. Why had he moved away from home in the first place? Clearly movement was part of his life – the prime part of his life. So at one point he wanted his own homeland? For what? For what reason?
To have to write it all down: the sequence, in a modern story of conversion, that your reach should exceed your grasp. Abraham and his lost control, like mine? Not unlike the spirituality of bees, there were homes and homelands as well as nomads like me who never wanted be weighed down. That was the inner struggle of a nomad — until you had a girl, who might have told you she was pregnant. There was the pain to be alone with your fertility. Is’t it funny how talkative women want to live with contemplative men?
“Why do you really care who my God is, Sarah?”
So by the end of this Akedah story, Isaac is saved. With how my contemplation has gone over the past four years, Rosh Hashanah asks the question once again, that Abraham always seemed to be asking his sons, WHAT are YOU doing with MY tradition? Are you saving it,or sharing it, or letting it die? As your interest in the past is supplanted by your fascination with the future — Abraham surgically removing foreskin on all his slaves as well as his sons — which you made claim to through fertility, which Abraham made claim to through his son, with both of his sons. Like God made claim to, if you were Christian, through His son. And the followers of Mohammud considered all of us infidels, unless you prayed like the descendants of Ishmael. So did you believe that morality was universal, or did you believe, like I believe, that morality was relative – maybe that salvation was mostly relative – passed down through generations, like in the stories of the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament)? Here now is the father of faith, Abraham, as THE heroic human figure in the Bible. And I wonder what he thinks about how all of his sons got along in human history, distinguishing one son from another, in a modern story of conversion. Making people pay, as Isaac was gonna pay, maybe like for Obamacare, in a story concerning private belief and public policy.
You can look at how my contemplation has gone over the past four years, about how private deceit led to public shame when Abraham got home. And the story has been passed down ever since. To be born as a descendant of Noah and Noah’s wife, in a world in need of saving, was there a fair amount of shame to claim that his God had led him to Mount Moriah to sacrifice his son, in this story read on Rosh Hashanah — about one father, one son and one woman — a loving wife and mother:
In the need to get the message out, in the need for the story to be spread to people with more and more leisure time, food, travel, education, there was the packaging … conveniently instead of with suffering, in a story. Everything was more convenient than what a nomad had to live with. Maybe except for love, and its formation. Note the suffering between a husband and his wife that came out of a relationship with an Egyptian servant girl had grown into the suffering between a father and his son (Abraham-Isaac), or over his two sons. Until finally the suffering between a father and his family that came out of a relationship with a woman from another tribe had grown into the suffering between a father and his sons (Isaac-Jacob),or over his two sons. Until this suffering between a father and a son had grown into suffering between a father and his family, until finally the story grew into, has grown into suffering between a father and all people. Between Christians and Jews, between the Judeo-Christian world and the Muslim one.
And so the Atonement, for Abraham. Over your realization of how much Hagar and Ishmael hated you — or about Sarah, who you had almost an incestral relationship as your wife— passing on everything in an arrangement that she had planned about your family. Did you recognize God in all of the deep suffering, in these stories? Did you see the human deception in the arrangements, with a need to hold onto something. The things in a modern story of conversion which affect perspective: speed, the distance, and all the senses that perceive.
Did you recognize the deep anguish in the story? It used to be more evident in my life with the way the day Friday was distinguished from all the rest. It was due to more and more convenience that the world lost a connection to the deep anguish. The suffering between a father and a son (Abraham-Isaac) had grown into suffering between a father and son (Jacob and Joseph) over the loss of a mother/wife. Note the slight evolution in the perspective in the stories, between generations. In a story after story about ‘something’ missing between one father, one son and one loving wife and mother. So how would the descendants deal with missing rain, or missing food? And always the movement in the story of the descendants of nomads. The threat to all the tribe, if you learned how to diagram the sentences, seemed to be about a missing love.
Rosh Hashanah in 2013. To have to write it all down, in story of the celebration of a kind of old deep inter-connectedness and inter-dependence, but much more about a personal anguish. So hear once again this story and feel the deep anguish in the story, as the world tries to decide what to do about Syria, and a war that seemed to be starting in about five minutes in New York, or maybe in an hour where I live.
Copyright © 2013.
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Days of Awe 2013
Aseret Yemei Teshuvah
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Being secure in one’s ‘papers’ in a paperless world
Visitations. The wake. What was left in a wake, after death?
Homelands. The feelings which might develop seeing a loved one die, alone.
If Abraham wasn’t strange enough, planning to kill Sarah’s son, there was the strangeness of Isaac.
In all of the years that Jacob was away, did you ever notice that Isaac never once went to visit him? And if it had been simply a matter of anger at the stolen birthright, there is never mention that Isaac had ever met his in-laws. And as a consequence, if that had been me, I think I would have questioned exactly whether my husband or whether my father loved me. One of the basic tenets of love is the witnessed pursuit. And in the stories about Isaac, there was a missing pursuit about everything.
Isaac was a badly damaged man, after what had happened to him when Abraham took the knife in the name of God to him in that moment on Mount Moriah. His growth in the way of feelings which might develop out of what had happened on Mount Moriah seemed stunted. And as the sons of Isaac surely must have come to appreciate, it seemed perfectly reasonable for any man to lose trust not only in his father Abraham, but in the God of Abraham. So this guy Isaac suffered one of the first case of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome ever recorded in history.
Invisible. Like you never even existed at all. The feelings which might develop if you came to wonder if your father ever loved you, as if you never even existed at all. Battle fatigue. Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. The hostility which came to someone forced to go to war, forced to annihilate another tribe. And afterwards, note the symptoms, reflected in a form of missing pursuit like Isaac showed in the search for a wife. And were there further symptoms reflected in a form of missing pursuit of the God of Abraham? Symptoms that were felt by anyone living in a home or a homeland with someone with Battle Fatigue or Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.
“You don’t care who I am.” Invisible. The feelings which might develop from the plumbing of the land, with so much Battle Fatigue Where the dead are buried like the unknown water and sewer pipes in the modern world.
Banked time: What went on here in this place in history? And as in all of these stories, to sense a lingering hostility as well as the inherited things which had gone before you. When you inherited so much in all of human history, with so many people who felt that they could annihilate other tribes.
Time quantified, neatly stacked away, wrote Louis Erdrich, banked in both history or on premises called institutions. Left in a wake, after death. Feeling loved? Was there a sense of missing love in these stories between the men – Abraham, Isaac, Jacob?
Concerning the mystery of the visitations, had Jacob also sustained a form of missing pursuit, by not ever going home? Was he bothered by having to live in a totally different environment from the one he was born into? With the feelings which might develop in such an environment. In an environment without much feeling except fear and hoodwinking.
Living in the wake. Of fear. Of mistrust. Of competition between brothers and sisters. With the pride over all of this craziness of religion — the “unbelievable most ticklish but loving form of destruction” as people quit believing in each other. To take a quote from Louis Erdrich. Chosen people who felt that they could annihilate one another. Before they considered the outside tribes.
Born into the holy land. Born into a time of annihilation, with fear of ending up with nothing in times of darkness, of war, of rebellion, of drought, of another war. What was it like waking up today in Cairo, in an atmosphere of another annihilation? There were so many badly damaged men living in the environment of war and rebellion, who wanted to extend the damage to another generation. And then there were the refugees, like the hundreds of thousand Iraqis, Syrians, Iranians, Kurds, all living life with their wives, as Jacob lived his life with his wives. Only now, if you note a certain irony, it was the hundreds of thousand invisible exiles like Jacob. With their dream about a Promise Land.
What was left in a wake, after death? Did you feel the same kind of invisible battle that the Muslim Brotherhood had, with their own brothers, so much like the same recorded struggle in the Hebrew Bible?
If Ibraham wasn’t strange enough, planning to kill Hagar’s son, there was the strangeness of Ishmael, per the reading on Eid-al-Fitr. Ramadan was over seven days ago. Muslims are recommended to use different routes to and from the prayer grounds on the day the end of Ramadan was celebrated — based upon the story read that day, and not for their own personal safety. When the young, when it came to the disoriented understanding of some kind of true sacrifice, an imposed sacrifice, were never going to exactly do as the elders were doing.
Copyright © 2012.
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It is stories that map a place as well as a time. And yes, the same stories change over time as the old tellers die off. In stories, like about match-making, marriage, or being chosen.
It is through stories that a place as well as a time is charted, about grandsons and great-grandsons, about world events and local ones. And so this week, I contemplated the story of Jacob so much like his grandfather, and so much like what I have come to feel about my own family.
The power of a culture is based upon a shared literature instead of oral story-telling. Now these stories mostly were read privately and no one knew what you knew.
Passing on your culture with passion, and a Godspeed. So that, at least concerning a depth of both trust and love, a family was split. In such an imperfect world, a distance developed. By the fourth generation a deepness had set in. And with gratitude about how all this had come to pass, the descendants felt forced to look deeper and then try to record it.
Stories are passed along at gravesites, for a while, about the relationships like within this particular tribe of Abraham, before the laws inscribed upon stone tablets. And yes, the same stories change over time as the old tellers die off. And so the stories were recorded.
A woman does express the depth of her feeling, in childbirth. Like Rachel, who made all of this possible, there was in my family a woman named Minnie. Minnie had married a man who was my namesake in the nineteenth century. She gave birth to her firstborn in 1896. A short-time later she died, like Rachel, giving birth to her second born. Minnie’s firstborn was my grandfather.
The reason for the intensity of a woman seemed to mostly come from her fertility. There is the lifetime commitment in fertility for a woman, so much like an old country’s religion. A newborn belonged so much more to a mother than to a father.
When a woman, once she had a child, could no longer be nomadic. Marked for life, so much like Rachel, a woman was expected to somehow bond, in her very own way to carry the God of Jacob further in the world, beyond the tribes and the homeland where they were born? So there was a connection of the Promised Land to fertility and these somewhat invisible women, so much like God’s invisibility, in these stories.
Woman passing on so invisibly the power in bonds which had come out of the collective memory of the journeys of nomads. To discover in the story somewhat unexpectedly, for grandsons who followed grandfathers, a Living God – power without domination – through the unforgettable pain of a father and son trying to understand the manner to pray, in the stories that transcends boundaries. These stories were about points of view, in a Creator’s desire for perfection, in themes of birthrights, of power and might, in comparative approaches to God by mother/fathers to sons on life and death, with all the tension in the story. Between those who were not good enough with those who seemed to be too good, there is the tension this indescribable pain which creates memory in a culture. All along the focus in the culture seemed to be allegedly on the male and his tribe.
Did you recognize the shift by the end of the story that is now all about all of the sons of Jacob and his one daughter, if compounded belief is to stay with the descendants of Jacob and his wives? Like in a dénouement of the story, passing on the power in bonds between your own people, passing on the Spirit in some kind of Abraham-like Crazy Glue, in a collective memory of forgiveness of others in the name of a forgiving God, on issues of inheritance and birth right. The goal in repeating the story is to gain access, through stories of discovery to be better, climbing mountains like Isaac, or having to cross the the ford of the Jabbok like Jacob as he met his estranged brother — in a story about receiving strength and power in a crazy belief in this God today for daughters and sons who followed fathers — with divine intervention, like at the top of Mount Moriah. When Abraham was wrestling with the issue of what son to give his inheritance, either Isaac or Ishmael? Like with the shame of Jacob, who stood behind all of his wives and children, as he came to meet Esau — not unlike the shame of Abraham, ready to kill Sarah’s firstborn. So was this battle really about who had carried the God of Isaac further in the world, beyond the tribes and the homeland where they were born? Or was this somehow the same inner struggle of God, in favoring one tribe of people, or just one brother? As neither of them, from their quite personal battle, originally at least on the eve of the battle, seemed to be ever coming back? Maybe a lot like in the story of the Akedah, when Abraham took his on up the mountain to be sacrificed. Grandsons, when this battle was all over, wrestling with the unrecognized birthright question — and passing it on, with such emotion. How could God ever show favor on one brother or one nation? To keep something alive with passion, these grandsons of Abraham with a split family, as Abraham had a split family, who wanted others to have the same powerful experience, as he had had. And so the many descendants of Abraham who thought they could do anything –inside or outside the tribe — because these people had come to know God through the faithfulness over time from a parent who was offered so much forgiveness in return for sincere offerings on the part of each generation.
In reading the stories, God seemed to be doing more of the arranging in the relationship of Isaac and Rebecca, with Abraham and Jacob doing most of their own arranging with their wives, in the territory of religion called mystery. Those questions which have enduring force in their lives beyond the the province of human investigation. And then there was Abraham’s idea of a relationship seen in his offering Sarah to the Pharaoh, which would not play real well these days in Peoria — if the God of Abraham, or the God of Isaac, or the God of Jacob, was ever coming back. Or if the descendants of Abraham transporting God would succeed in their own transport of this God to the next so highly opinionated and so combative generation.
Leaving. Coming back. The son of Minnie fought in The Great War between old systems of monarchy controlled by arrogant kings against each other cousin’s kingdom, for more power. In battle with the United States Marines, the first family member back in Europe since the family had left to avoid The Great Famine was wounded. When The War To End All War came to an end, he was still hospitalized from wounds, as his fellow Marines had left to return to their homes. When he clearly felt he was in a foreign land, not knowing the language by these strangers surrounding him. And I recognize an inheritance for this young man, like for so many men willing to destroy their own life for a greater cause, just as the glorious transformation of his mother from a girl willing to give her life to create.
In my Irish-American family who so often pray about the blessed fruit of a womb, most of us have forgotten the key role of Minnie. After writing “The Event Planner…” Minnie has been on my mind during a week of discomfort caused by the weather. Like Rachel, Minnie was a woman who was expected to somehow, in her very own way, to carry the God of Ireland further in the world, beyond the tribes and the homeland where she was born. Minnie died in trying to increase the numbers, not far removed from the Great Famine, in her attempt like either a great prophet or like Rachel, with my namesake, for the delivery of God to the next generation, to replicate God’s greatness. When growth was so much the measure of success. And I connected her life with the words I heard from the great golfer Jack Nicholas 36 hour ago about the moment in his life when he realized, he said: “I must be better than I think I am.”
God so made the world, visible and invisible. And landscapes do not talk to strangers.
In a world of stories not as often told, there is one old emerging story here to assist your consciousness, without recompense. There could be a threat in stories based upon pride, of being distinct from your neighbor, but your stories of a past should not fit comfortably, otherwise why would, why should, young people care?
God so made the world, and someone wrote the stories. So to capture the reader in story — to explain why to care — comes the mystery. In
There is an old conviction in a land where they burn the peat that riches lay not on the land but beneath it. Little is what it seems in this landscape, in a land so poor in County Cork. And city people seldom pay attention to the clouds or the land that they drive over, where the dead sometime walk in the lower portion of the scene. Did you hear in the silence the sounds from the landscapes, with the fairies living in this landscape still, among the living? =
“If you ever go across the sea to Ireland…where the women speak a language strangers do not know.”
Any good history begins in strangeness, with strange characters.
It is the landscape that makes part of the everyday miraculous. People and things from the past resurface there. To walk through the landscapes, you must know the stories. Because stories are embedded in and define the landscape, the death of the story is a small death for the land itself. These stories matter, are a powerful tool, and the closer you get to County Cork where they burn the peat, the more powerful they become. There find the long-been-forgotten stories once so intensely local which helped to mark each townland as so separate.
Unlike nostalgia, the past is full of dead things preserved on papers, or in the land itself — though mostly unremembered by any living person. And so the stories about where your heroes are? With the same kind of surety that religion, based upon stories, once held in all the world, now rendered at least partially mute, there was this Irish pride about place, distilling information about mitochandrial DNA from the maternal side which seldom strays far from place.
“Place” in the story, or the pain of childbirth. Any good history begins in strangeness, when the newborns cannot comprehend, as the past speaks a language that these strangers do not know. What do you share with your heroes, but of a PEACEFUL landscape. What you share is not stories of a past about this land, but the past?
To protect the past…. to protect a place called home threatened by outside forces, and finding the gravitas in the great forced migrations, which threatened the lightness of your inner being as you faced your own extinction. SO maybe the land had failed for a time the locals during the Great Famine, as twenty percent failed, in the fetal distress from the motherland, to survive or left.
Any good history begins in strangeness, with strange characters formed on an island, in isolation from the rest of the world. The old question of why heroes, mostly at battle against the outside world, is to keep the outsider out. When a homeland was, for those who forever left, for those who stayed contending with displacement, an ideal still to be passed along, with the old need for prayer and a place to pray?
Migrations from a place called Ireland where the stories mark the landscape as clearly as the hedgerows and the ruins. In the battle of lightness versus gravitas, you carried the lightness of stories, once so intensely local, with their own fairies living in this landscape, until the stories became national by the 1930s. Irish-born leaders in this Irish Free State went out to construct an Irish culture, distinct from the English culture which the Irish felt had contaminated the country, without recompense.
In a world of stories not as often told, there was the lightness of your migrations from this land only orphaned –of course, never dead — until reinvigorated by emerging fertility and the old emerging stories here to assist your consciousness. It was stories with word traffick, of rural people and the land which had become The Garden of Eden.
Irish immigrants –the sons and daughters of history — only banished from the Garden of Eden which of course had never died. But a trust is so slow to return, if it ever would return, post-famine. What makes the green blade rise, to be mowed down once again? Little is what it seems in this landscape, in a land so poor in County Cork where the dead sometimes walk in portions of the scene. So do fairies live still in this landscape, among the living?
In the beginning of God’s creating the skies and the heaven – when the skies had been shapeless and formless, and darkness had been on the face of the deep, and God‘s spirit was hovering on the face of the water – God said, “Let there be light.” –from Daniel Mendelsohn’s The Lost
Creativity is like either a morning fog or the night itself: It begins to vanish in an Irish landscape like darkness after a few hours. In the real world, with all the warring parties who really care about nothing but a future, who cares about a past in the present? Who really cares about the lightness of your darn dreams, and what is left over from the previous night’s dream with you?
“I love that glass mug.”
“There is some kind of appeal when you can see through something. To somehow know the content from the sense of scent, in the way you knew the hovering steam inside a glass mug of Irish tea.”
The fog, the steam, the goodness of the landscape, transparent, like in a glass mug. . . in a hovering spirit, from the ancient peat bogs, near, as you are surrounded by these kind of spirits. For hundreds of years, before refrigeration and before imports, the people relied and ate only the local produce, from the land. More than simply a place, beyond the vast acreage, about the Irish ghosts and Irish fairies, a land formed in such a way – to feel the hovering greatness of the Divine Presence. If you believe.
And God so made this world, visible and invisible. Out of thin air. Feel the spirit in the air – the same air that gives wing to the birds, gives wings to the notes of a singer which sluices my heart and puts wings on my own heels – in Ireland, where the landscapes do not talk to strangers but miraculous things happen as people and things from the past resurface there. And I somehow had so personally inherited a knowledge of people who I had never known, or never seen –ancestors from Ireland, like people anywhere in time or place who had starved to death, whose spirits would come out again. Knowledge of people, their vanishing lives and hovering Spirit that belonged to a place and to a people across the sea, seemingly impossible for a descendent of Irish immigrants to know and to understand. And so a deeper feeling in the need for “our people,” with our visible and invisible vulnerabilities and imperfections between the sexes over fertility which moved creation. There were the deep feelings that these ancestors from Ireland had, though little different than what I had, in reacting to the circumstances that they lived through, when I somehow had connected to them. It was the stories which had been missing in the times of Noah. To know through reading, in backward glances at history, the do-overs, after the story of Noah. When I no longer had to go through, live through, the same turmoil, the same rebellion, which disrupted lives.
In the realm of ghosts, nothing was reliably in the here and now: feeling a presence in a silent night, the spirits, hovering. The dead rise from their graves, and somehow I had inherited the stories with the conviction of the importance of “the process” as a visible product – to the Irish. Stories which Richard White writes about in Remembering Ahanagran: A History of Stories, like the fairy forts and Gurney’s Hole, or the holy well at the Holly’s – places where other time and other dimensions intrude on the everyday world. And the closer you get to County Cork where they so personally cut into the sod for the peat, you might feel a connection to the land where dead were buried — when the dead were buried with a new spirituality to add to the landscapes, to the stories: to quietly infiltrate the land — like a spy.
In a world with a need for personal identity, I had this knowledge – a head full of stories associated with this land surrounded by water, and God’s hovering Spirit – of the places to which I had traveled, but mostly local knowledge useless any place where there is so much food.
Time and place and land. Forgetting what happened in the formation of the land in the story as the land, a homeland — though silently remembered —was a character, for people so unique who always inter-married. With the little changing border. Could you feel a closeness because you shared the same interior space – inside and more inside, a host of surprising truths helping in some child-like cases, an old spirit emerge?
“If you ever go across the sea to Ireland . . . where the women speak a language strangers do not know.”
Stories of a past should not fit comfortably, should not be flat. In a story once so intensely local – like the one about Lot’s wife and her personal identity from the land of Sodom which she could not ever leave behind – it was conflict of the past with the present which always moves a story. There the once forgotten stories –-the stories once so intensely personal if not private, with the hovering smell of the turf-fire — should not become like wisps of vanishing cigarette smoke, banned in public place, but like the moon over the Cliffs of Moher, should rise up to meet every returning prodigal.
Connections. The Private. The Public. Visible and invisible, the different world of land and landscapes from different times, before things had become so easy. These landscapes do not talk to strangers, in the new world of cremation and the book burning, though things do here resurface, in the rising of the moon, from an always buried past. In the awkward silence, listen. Stories associated with places where you had to take in everyone, like a spy. When you cannot get out, except through stories, and in trying to pass something in the way of spiritual power on, you needed others to tell stories– otherwise you would go, over a time, crazy. Did you ever feel the power of Irish ghosts and Irish fairies – that many an outsider confuse with the power in Irish whiskey — in stories?
To be captured first by not the landscape but stories about this land. Did you hear in the silence the sounds from the landscapes? I have come to tell you stories of the rising from the dead, because when life is too easy, no one is ever gonna move. And so the deeper feeling in the need for “our people,” with our vulnerabilities and imperfection between the sexes, over fertility which moved creation.
And so out of thin air, the creation STORY of the Garden of Eden, with the land in the landscape where you had to take in everyone — keeping the outsider out, the insider in — came this call to feed the hungry at the door. So to whom did this land really ever belong?
In the land that, Delores Keane sings, owns you. It is the land that takes in the overflow of people. Yes, the riches lay not on the land but beneath it. T’is said grief was the tax that Irish paid on the richness of a life, if not the land with all of its parameters which tried to hold us in. Over the past 18 months, I have buried two more relations named Tom. It has not been a good decade for any of the Toms of my life. In the passing of the most recent Tom, I went looking for the song that was played as the concluding song at the requiem for my Uncle Tom. And now when I hear the song that my brother-in-law desired sung at his own recent funeral, I hear the words as more the words of the dead to the living.
May the road rise to meet you . . .
So to capture the reader in land — to explain why to care — comes the mystery. In Ireland.
May The Road Rie To Meet You
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Narrative tension is primarily about withholding information. With a fear in the story, doubt was always the center of either mystery or faith which moved THESE STORIES beyond the power of imagination. If you get the small details wrong, with all the fear in the story about land and women and suffering, you will get the big picture wrong – affecting if not your money, if not your land, then at least your kids.
“What is interesting to me is that every act that follows – light and dark, night and day, dry land and oceans, plants and animals, and finally man from dust – is described as an act of separation. What did God do when he saw that the light was ‘good’? He separated it from darkness, and then proceeded to go on separating ….The story begins with Creation which, as we have seen, is the story of the acts of distinguishing one thing from another. It ends by alluding to the most crucial distinction of all, the distinction between Good and Bad, a distinction that becomes apprehensible to humans only by eating the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge, a tree about which the Torah tells us that it was (like light) ‘good’ ….. that it was desirable for comprehension. -from Daniel Mendelsohn’s The Lost
When the goal all along of a good translator on a dead language – a lot like at a currency exchange in a land so foreign, or maybe a lot like in the ongoing family relationships after a divorce – should be to promote quality understanding by its people reaching for some kind of union, about shared belief.
Did you feel the restlessness of a young man? Over the imposition. The anger over outside influences. Like the International Monetary Fund. How dare the IMF! How dare you tell us how to live! Or how dare the church? Or how dare the United States of America, if you lived in a Muslim nation since the Gulf War, which goes back a generation.
Facing the emerging challenge of enlightenment epistemology and the secular political order, in the method, validity and scope of western government with their money: the independent women who are so hard to relate to. As achievement alienates men, as men once alienated their stay-at-home wives. There was a disconnect between a generally PROMISING financial reality and their deep-seated financial fear. Woman, with her fears: It was not the pride in financial independence, with the matching arrogance as much as the “bag lady” fear: the fear of being destitute. To be left as a bag lady. To be left only with your bag. The fear of a woman with fertility.
The strangeness of power. Asset seizure. The insiders and the outsider in the story, with tension between individuals, families, and states over the human power to impose. A reverse side of the same human rights question, in the balance between church and state, is seen in China, in their integration project to nationalize fertility, since this fertility was all just a personal commodity, under the safety of the nation. A homeland, with migrants leaving and coming back. And the anger of those forced to stay.
In the beginning. Did you ever think about the writer who wrote the Book of Genesis? With the male perspective, in the ordering and a concern over who came first. Dust and the significance of who came first, in the way of leadership, when there had been no man to work the soil. Dust!. Note the ordering and the way in which Adam discovered his solitude: “BUT FOR ADAM THERE WAS NOT FOUND A HELP MATE FOR HIM.” Rashi comments: “When He brought them, He brought them before him as male and female. Thereupon Adam said, ‘All of them have a mate, and I have no mate!’ Immediately, the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon him.”
And yes there was the naivete in the story of “the calling of the names” which refers to the division of the species as – male and female – they passed before Adam, and he contemplated their nature as to which of them would be a help to each other in procreation so that they should beget offspring. And so Adam contemplated his own procreation, before a sudden change of consciousness if not his perspective.
Perspective: the closer you are, the less objective you will be.
All of the strangeness in the story. When things the first time would look strange to a child, if a child had a memory. Just as little children are frightened of turbans, veils, or burqas, in all the things which we had never seen, before the first time. Like Eve, as God’s gift. And how my nation today, in trying to reach a parity, not fairness, seemed afraid of this strangeness. And even after the creation of Eve, there is the appearance in the story of so few women. Did you notice that Adam did name his wife – and he got to name his wife, and not the other way around – though there was no discussion of the wedding ceremony, concerning this “wife.” And he of course was forced to believe in monogamy as a gift from the one God, because he had no other choice. And to listen to the penalties assessed after each ate the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge, when they got too smart for their own fig leafs: “To the woman He said, “I shall surely increase your sorrow and your pregnancy; in pain you shall bear children. And to your husband will be your desire, and he will rule over you.”
Behold the Naivete. In the beginning, when you were born into something, when you were only able to distinguish good from evil in a story after eating of the fruit. When Adam and Eve already were in relationship but then in need for the widest form of perspective. With a need for clarity, with all of the risk in bond markets. I believe that a woman, especially, tends to overlook the red flags once she slips between the sheet — perhaps as a involuntary reaction to prevent her from labeling herself a “slut.” I believe that a woman, especially, loses clarity about a new man in her life once she sleeps with him.
Bond markets. The search for high yields and some form of clarity. And so education and the need for a wide perspective — and maybe that apple. In the bond market, no one seemed to ever care about the soft law approach in the event of a significant event that seems quite disruptive to bond markets. Like expulsion.
“And to man He said, ‘Because you listened to your wife, and you ate from the tree from which I commanded you saying, “You shall not eat of it,” cursed be the ground for your sake; with toil shall you eat of it all the days of your life.’”
And so both the pleasure and the pain in the story of life and death: the humor in the story — the very dry humor — with the curse of the serpent to eat dust, after man had come from dust.
But what was the commentary of 11th-century French scholar Rabbi Schlomo be Itzhak who is better known as Rashi on the line: “Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother, and cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” In a story when neither Adam nor Eve had a father or a mother, what is this perspective about leaving a father and a mother? What was a perspective with no other visible woman, to what this “wife” meant at the time? And this sentence seems an unnatural placement, since there is no such thing as parents and children. So, in the narration of the story of Adam and Eve, is there a change in the point of view, in this commandment, inconsistent in a narration of what was going on? And in the story what is this COMMAND given only to Adam “to cleave to” ? What is the interpretation when to “cleave to” is “to adhere closely; to stick; to cling.” Though “cleave” has another very different meaning. “To cleave to” can mean “to split or separate something, especially along a natural line of separation.” So as a consequence of Adam listening to his wife, a man is to leave his father and his mother to cleave to his wife? An exactly how is a man — a cave man — going to bond to a wife?
This author captured the story of beginning – until this rather abrupt sentence of a new command. When the first command was focused upon knowing God, and this next command focused upon knowing Eve, beyond the power of imagination — in either bond, or in a kind of separation. Narrative tension is primarily about withholding information, and the author of the Book of Genesis with a poetic style, had left so much tension, if this was the original scroll, about belonging.
For the new migrant, just as God did when He saw that the light was ‘good’, He separated light from darkness and then proceeded to go on separating. Now about this fear of a woman with fertility, to be left only with your bag – to be left as a bag lady. So finally, like man from dust, man from woman is described as an act of separation, but with a closeness?
And so another commandment: To “cleave to.” Because Eve was above the law, above the one simple command – expiation. From out of, to admit to and extinguish a guilt incurred, to put an end to guilt. So once again, in a command to Adam – especially after the mysterious and somehow moving symbol in the garden of a tree that represents both the pleasure and the pain, I have come to think, from knowing things – to separate something, about God, along a natural line of separation. In the beginning, there was now shame, after Adam joined in with Eve. And the size of the problem had come from missing all the love that God had for the world, in the ‘not knowing’ by Eve? And so this next commandment, through a payment of the penalty, about cleaving?
In the sands of time, doubt always is in the center of the mystery story about dust, and fertility and growth. Did you ever note the separate belief in the story of Adam and Eve? With both the pleasure and the pain in the story of life and death.
In the relationship with her husband, how dare He tell me how to live! So Adam shared in Eve’s sneakiness. Spiritual, not real kosher — with an anger over outside influence. Would her sons inherit their mother’s sneakiness and the quiet hostility that went with it –not outright telling your husband that you would not be worshiping the God of Adam? And then the shame. And from out of shame, to put an end to guilt, comes life. Given new life.
To extinguish the guilt incurred, to carry the future, Eve and Adam are to produce new life. “To the woman He said, ‘I shall surely increase your sorrow and your pregnancy.’”
In another act of separation, as you faced expulsion in light or darkness, to be left only with your bag. The movement in the story for all of the migrants and immigrants since the very beginning: and so Adam contemplated his own procreation, with the doubt and fears beyond the power of imagination which develops into such deep feeling … in this need to cleave comes a closeness from maybe the fear of outside influence, in a human need to just belong. And so this sin of pride — better expressed as a sin which came out of hostility — which came out of not belonging to a place but somehow knowing a Living God? Or a hostility about not knowing — in such a personal part about not knowing God. Because neither God nor mankind in partnership are going to survive long if you do not come to recognize both hostility and shame, living in the world.
“What is interesting to me is that every act that follows – light and dark, night and day, dry land and oceans, plants and animals, and finally man from dust – is described as an act of separation.” — from Daniel Mendelsohn’s The Lost
“Mostly they are the same lives. The same stories, over and over,” wrote David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker. In a long narrative tension from withholding information from later generations, which shows up in later chapters, we endow our lives with stories. And a few key words in the acts of distinguishing one thing from another kept showing up over and over in the family history: “Vexation.” The damage which is suffered, often in covert operations, as a consequence of the tricks of another. The seen and the unseen. And instead of some kind of death penalty for eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, Eve and Adam are punished by their cleaving, reproducing more people like themselves, but in the process discovering the depth of the love of God through each other. In consequence of the tricks of Another, in their united problem in the beginning missing the size of all the love that God had for the world, this narrative tension primarily is about information withheld. And of course CLEAVAGE.
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Beaver Cleaver. Wally Cleaver.
No one is a born story-teller. With words, in translations, there was such a long learning curve that cut into you. In words and borders and getting across time. With power and dominion. And BONDS which came from stories.
I am this descendant of island people. People who lived in one place, mostly in rural areas for hundreds and hundreds of years. My blood is all Irish. I am reading Richard White’s book, Remembering Ahanagran: A History of Stories. White explains in this book what a homeland means, when you burnt the peat and ate only local produce. And saved the produce. For hundreds of years, before refrigeration and before imports. He is the son of an Irish mother and a Jewish father, after exodus.
Richard White writes about memoirs and history, about belief or disbelief, in dealing with loss, as your own world was coming to an end, in exodus. After all the lateral moves, but still the connections. Settling down, marrying outside the tribe.
When you were born into something: what had a homeland meant as a place you burnt the peat and ate only local produce? And, living within the tribe, learning the mystery, you had to save something.
In exodus. The movement in the stories was not so much to change the world, but only the people in it. Note the outsiders, exiled from the world of theory, living at some point with now only memories but somehow wanting to make them your own. In immigration, like Jacob’s.
In exodus. Like Rebecca’s, Jacob’s mother, living within a tribe, learning the mystery, as an outsider. Did you feel a hostility as an outsider? The holiness, either within or not. Crime and punishment, and stolen birthright. It was the outsider in the story – Rebecca – who was involved in the stolen birthright (but a birthright from only one side of the family) which would so much involve the future. What had been the birthright from Rebecca’s family? What she had been born into? She was the brother of hoodwinking Laban, the ultimate of hoodwinkers. So what was the the inheritance from Rebecca who was from a family of hoodwinkers, which Jacob would later come to so intimately know. So was it Rebecca who wondered what could be wrong with stealing a misunderstood birthright?
Note the future in the story, in this marriage, arranged by Abraham. Like the project of becoming a wife, there was the known and the unknown; the visible and invisible; the practical and the impractical. Speaking of choosing and of the chosen. There was a theme of “knowing” or not knowing, the birthright. One oh so very personal experience, about the right way, like in any relationship. Living in captivity, in an arrangement of the times, what had been Rebecca’s experience of the God of Isaac, before any idea about how to raise two kids? What was her personal experience of – based upon scarcity, limits, and human needs — sacrifice. When you lived under a dominant culture, like Rebecca. From one side of the family, would there have been some lingering hostility to the special attention given to the God of Abraham, with Isaac’s post traumatic stress since the moment on Mount Moriah? Rebecca, coming from a different family, with a different concrete examples of marriage — one visible, the other invisible. And her fertility as the outsider was what needed by all the descendants of Abraham.
Private and public lives: the inheritance of Jacob from his mother was as the outsider — after his forced immigration to just survive? Just as Richard White writes about memoirs and history, about belief or disbelief, in dealing with loss, so the stories of people to whom I was related – or maybe over what it meant to be chosen, and to live with birth right. If you had figured out what Isaac’s birthright had been, which would be passed on to Jacob.
Stories of drought and birthright and barren women, after the flood, as outsiders in the world. Like from the emergence from the rectangle that Noah lived in for forty days. The movement in the stories: Exodus. Freedom. Numbers. Like the twenty years that Jacob had gone away — if it had been twenty years, living in a different culture with his stolen birthright? And in these stories about the book of numbers, there was always the threat of outsiders to Chosen People, if not the earth. So in stories about insiders and outsiders, as a descendant of immigrants, I was so much like Rebecca or Jacob. When the twenty years signified the years of Jacob’s fertility which had come to an end. And then the movement in the story, again, long after mother and son collaborated over this stolen birthright.
From the emergence from the rectangle that Noah lived in for forty days, note the forty in the story. Or the twenty years that Jacob spent with Rachel’s father, living in another culture, with a climate change. Did he feel a hostility as an outsider? Would there be a loss of spiritual power learned by marrying into an outside culture? Jacob, circumcised as his father, living away from the kosher type-rules? Living as outsiders, living with birthright, which of his own sons had been circumcised? How, if circumcised, had these boys felt living in a world of public baths? Would they always feel to be outsiders? Were the sons of Rachel better than the sons of the other women who Jacob fathered children with? And which of the twelve tribes of Israel was most pure, most really Jewish?
Chosen? Jacob with this undeserved birthright. Trying to hang on to an undeserved birthright. In words and borders and getting across time, with power and dominion, and BONDS which came from stories. With favored sons, if not real favorites. With the strangeness in this Living God of Abraham. Did Jacob think in only one dimension, with his multiple wives, about the meaning of his birthright every day? Over his different way of life, when his grandfather was still alive?
Insider or outsider? The gestation period of forty. Darkness and light. When did Rebecca feel used over her forty weeks of gestation, living amid the strangeness of the family of Abraham with his God? The pride in fertility: like Rebecca in the story, there was the deep emotion in the story for every woman on earth, when my God is perceived to be threatened, along with the excitement when God is with us – now.
So which of the two sons was most like Rebecca? And is not a mother allowed to have favorites, and bestow a birthright? In the outside world, feeling so shut out -– maybe feeling so much like Cain had. Did you feel a hostility which grew from the pride of either outsiders or insiders?
Inheritance. Chosen. Feel the hostility as an outsider, to the holiness — either within or not — so much like fertility. Crime and punishment, and stolen birthrights. When mothers had favorite sons, before fathers had favorites, like Joseph. With a shame in these stories. Learning the mystery, as outsiders. Feel the hostility as an outsider, learning the mystery only at home.
Chosen? Remembering Ahanagran: A History of Stories. There is this spatial change, in the size of things, as a child grew. In the perspective about size, in both public and private lives. So what was the change in the spiritual direction in the dénouement of the story of Rebecca, in the movement in the story of outsider, as her son married into her very same family? What was her shame after her son left with the stolen birthright? And how many years did it take Jacob to discover the meaning in the birthright?
From living outside his tribe, somehow learning the mystery, to ever so slowly discover the shame in this story. Abraham had married his father’s—but not his mother’s —daughter. Sarah. Oh, those crazy biblical relationships. And Jacob had then married into Rebecca’s family in the same way in a largely pagan world, with nomads migrating in large numbers. In his lateral moves, in exodus. But still somehow connected, settling down, marrying outside his father’s tribe.
Those crazy relationships. And you wanted others to have the same experience. “Mostly they are the same lives. The same stories, over and over,” wrote David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker. When we endow our lives with stories, did you notice the same perceived threat of outsiders to the free worship by Israelite slaves, with a missing hope in the world, when Moses was born. Moses, the descendant of Jacob — the grandson of Levi? The perceived threat was proved true, generation after generation, leaderless, powerless in the outside world, unless somehow united in belief which came out of stories, in a passed on perspective of spatial change.
Moses. After he had grown, from living outside his tribe, somehow learning the mystery. Children gradually learning to recognize a shame in living unquestioning lives. Like after what had once happened to Isaac, or after killing an Egyptian. Truth is not a property of thought which guarantees validity to my thinking, in either politics or religion. In the outside world. As proven, as, one by one, these great prophets had violated the Ten Commandments, before the Ten Commandments were placed on stone. In words. In stories about a powerless people. But since the beginning, in all of human history there were people who felt that they could annihilate other tribes. Like Abraham thought he could sacrifice his own sons. And a wife who came from the outside must have had some inner feelings about getting out. About escape. In explaining a motivation to write, to “cover” events through people, in stories about leaders, note the fear and anxiety over which human will lead us, or save us, next? Like Moses. Jut like Rebecca tried to save her one son? In stories about powerless people, Moses like Joseph somehow had come to know the Pharaoh.
So what had Moses come to know with his time in the Egyptian world, growing up so close to the Pharaoh, in a world of power, after facing his own extinction. Until he was rescued by the Pharaoh’s daughter, in a story about human power structure. What had ever been passed on to Moses of his own culture? Had Moses even been circumcised? And what had happened to the birth right by now?
There was holiness which come from story-telling. In the realness of the mystery stories of people to whom I was related even in exile, like in Irish fertility, as written about in Remembering Ahanagran: A History of Stories. Movement. The leaving, the coming back informed and engaged in the world. And the anger and blame which went towards those who left you.
Who could, who would ever believe in Moses – like on one dark Egyptian night when so suddenly the Israelites picked up and left? Like Jacob. All of them this time, to the Promise Land. Who would ever believe so strongly in the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob. Who would ever so strongly believe in such a Living God?
Truth and story-telling, with words. Feel the BONDS which came from stories. Did you ever realize how personal this all had been — maybe a lot like the act of reading is — or even worshiping can be? Power. Restlessness. Shame. The visible and the invisible. To take something so private public, in a world of power. Was that the lesson of the invisible birthright, passed on in the family? From a new inner shame over letting Jacob go? Everyone’s anger at Jacob, not so much for stealing the birthright as much leaving across the desert –this dry bowl of never ending bitter tears– with the birthright.
There was the personal transformations in the movement in the story, reduplicating Truth, in the dénouement of the story. In the shame of Rebecca, over the lost power at home? The innocent in the story was in Esau, who is lost sight of for twenty years. How did Rebecca ever reconcile with Esau over what she had done to him, with her collaborations? Rebecca who had not liked the women that Esau brought home, which resulted in a favoritism toward Jacob. Or was it about the gods of the women who Esau brought home?
Chosen, for the next generation. Note the outsiders in the story. Note the fertility of all the barren women of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Truth and reconciliation: shame could not be inherited — neither Rebecca’s shame, nor Abraham’s shame, nor the shame of the twelve tribes of Israel could be passed on; nor could the transformation from guilt. There was such emotion which come from collisions of public and private lives, in dealing with life and death and goodness, when you lived under a dominant culture. So was it the genes from Rebecca that allowed Moses, that had allowed Jacob, to sense the hostility either at home or in Egypt, over who was really chosen? Sensing the frozen hostility as an outsider, in the wrongful detention, and asking the others: “Are you ever gonna go?”
“Let my people go.”
The movement in the story: the power passed on in stories was in the long learning curve, visible and invisible, about “where are you taking us?” About who really chose whom. With a vision of prayer and a better life. A people set apart, with the first idea of an afterlife. In a Promise Land. For a place to freely pray. And to somehow, with a spiritual dimension, with a bond, just survive.
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