To save a heritage…. or my heritage … when everything seemed threatened again, after one thing led to another.
Did you ever take a lot of time with a story, to savor its meaning ….. like a good wine, to savor its aftermath? Had you ever connected the stories of inheritance in the family of Abraham – mostly the same lives, the same stories, over and over – in the variation of pride and vainglory from unconditional love which was part of the inheritance which developed out of “knowing?”
“There was constant strife between the herdsmen of Abram and Lot, as the complaints reached Abram.” Even among uncles and nephews, over keeping a separation … or over growth … or over the distinctions between their animals — which came out of knowing?
In the movement in the story, toward growth, note the human unrest when leaving again, even for the descendants of nomads. And so the preparation to go on a trip. For a seventeen year old, like his mother at that age, “being a shepherd,” Joseph was with his brothers, with the flocks in what they were born into. Sons of Jacob, living at a time in a generation when a woman’s worth was proven in child bearing. And there was much strife between the brothers over who their mothers were. When it came to the handmaids, Joseph was frequently with the sons of Bilhah, because his [other] brothers would demean the sons of Bilhah, who had been the handmaid of Joseph’s mother who had died; Joseph acted friendly toward these sons of Bilah.
And these were the settlements of the generations of Jacob, from their wanderings. The first cause of their wanderings was their flock, when Joseph was seventeen years old. As Joseph, in a sign of pride and vainglory, as a kid, behaved childishly, writes Rashi, fixing his hair and touching up his eyes so that he would appear handsome. And besides the gift of prophecy, at a young age, Joseph was a handsome tattle-tale. “Any evil he saw in his brothers, the sons of Leah, he would tell his father,” writes Rashi. His tales told to Jacob were about the violations of the norms of the day, by the first born sons of Jacob. And did your ears ring with the question of Cain, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (The better translation was not “keeper” but “watchman,” if you ever studied Hebrew.) Rashi writes that the sons of Leah, now grown men, demeaned the sons of the handmaids by calling them slaves, in a continuation of the story of who was better than whom. In the quiet conversion called family, Joseph suspected that the sons of Leah were engaged in illicit sexual relationships. On issues of giving everything up, on matters of sacrifice, the sons of Leah were also eating the limbs of living animals, on issues of torture, perhaps confusing true sacrifice with animal torture. And for reporting on these three matters, Rashi explains, Joseph was punished. In Genesis 37:31 it is stated that his brothers slaughtered and ate a kid … “When they sold him, and did not eat it alive.”
And so the significance of PLACE in the story, as Joseph came to Shechem: the place where the tribes sinned, where Dinah had been violated in days when Joseph was just a toddler, learning how to walk. And there the brothers, writes Rashi, plotted against him to put him to death.
Yes, before selling him, the brothers had intended to kill Joseph. So why would someone with the gift of prophecy walk into the trap? Could he not have saved himself, or was this a case where Joseph first needed to be saved, if he was to save. Even if he had the gift of prophecy, he had come to know THAT, as he had come to know his God. And Rashi writes, “in expression of modesty and eagerness, [Joseph] went with alacrity to fulfill his father’s command although he knew that his brothers hated him.”
On matters of self-esteem, it is of note that shepherds were considering the lowest of the low in the Egyptian culture. And people from Canaan were not normally even allowed to sit at table of an Egyptian. And so the importance of the first born son, Reuben, and the descendants of Ishmael, in the saving in the story of self-esteem. It was Judah, the fourth born son of Leah and Jacob, who “said to his brothers, ‘What is the gain if we slay our brother and cover up his blood? Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, but our hand shall not be upon him, for he is our brother, our flesh.’ And his brothers hearkened.”
As Joseph’s life is spared, by caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, so much like Isaac’s life had once been spared, like Jacob’s life had once been saved, and even like Abram had once saved the life of Lot before he spared the life of Isaac. As Joseph’s life is spared so much like ….. somehow the movement in the common stories seem repeated to a people who shared a past — so much like when Abraham had shown up, if you believed the story in the Qoran read at the end of Ramadan, on Eid Al Fitr, at the same PLACE as the same scene later played out, between Abraham and Isaac maybe a generation later, once Ishmael had been banished, like Adam and Eve — like in the beginning. So why not just end it all again, like on Mount Moriah, Noah-like without the ark? And God, if He let Abraham kill his son, then surely understood. About a killing like the physics in a sacrifice.
In the conflict over belonging, with too much independence, seemingly returning to the Promise Land, from where Jacob had come, to this place where a man had one wife and one God, note the very real relationship part of the story, when over time you had started to so privately reveal something about Yourself, from one generation to the next. As God tried to assimilate with His people, as the descendants of Abraham tried to assimilate into the New Creation after leaving the place of their birth behind. And that was the cause of hostility, for all the brothers?
Note that Joseph would not be as shaken as much as Isaac had been when Isaac really was the lamb that Abraham had planned to surrender now so long past. In another of these stories of betrayal over and over since Abraham really had betrayed Isaac in the Akedah, attempting to show how separate he was from all other men, just as Noah once had been, Joseph has acquired an inner strength.
In stories about identity, the missing connection for the sons of Leah is why they had been circumcised in the first place, indicative that they did not know God, since the time their sister Dinah, the daughter of Leah, had been violated? And that had been before the death of Rachel. And in retribution, the sons of Jacob led by the second and third born sons of Jacob and Leah attempted to show their dominion over place after the sons of Jacob had rejected the proposal for an arranged marriage to Shechem. And their concern fifteen or sixteen years before had been about illicit relationships.
Where had Jacob been, with such a large family, for the past fifteen or sixteen years in his relationships with his sons? What had Jacob figured out about his birthright? The reporting that Joseph told him about the sons of Leah concerned still the illicit sexual relationships; “his master’s wife lifted her eyes, etc.” (Genesis 39:7).
As real people have to decide how to rebuild lives, in relationships, after the spouse you loved the most had died. Why had Jacob been called back to Canaan at the time his eldest sons were of the age for arranged marriages, with his pregnant wife Rachel? Who would these sons marry? And so Jacob, like any nomad, wanted to go back to a place where he had been once known – for the arranged marriages, where at least for the younger sons, living surrounded by his kinsmen . . . where at least the sons of Rachel would be able to marry suitable women through some form of arrangement, on issues over who was most pure.
Living with exception to these kinsmen, when Joseph to his family had allegedly become the outsider – or not. Did you note the obsessions in the family … over who was “chosen” or who had the birth right, as the sons of Leah, now grown men, demeaned the sons of the handmaids by calling them slaves – what ultimately leads to the demise. Of Joseph. For twenty-some years, in the perspective of Jacob (who had also left home for twenty years.) And what happens to those who obsess, who are not open to amending their lives — as a son reflects the father.
Yes, how the sons humbled Jacob, per these stories. The suggestion passed along was if you were to dwell in the house of Laban, just as Lot had dwelled in Sodom, couldn’t you engage in licentious behavior .. With your handmaids? When you did not know anyone else there, when your hope in relationships with your true love was blocked by the system, when the order of fathers involved the marriage of firstborn daughters, and you couldn’t do anything about that world you had moved into. (And so the perspective of Jacob’s sons in the dénouement of one story, into what they had been born into.)
What is the sacrifice, for the mores of the sons of Jacob who had been formed by their different mothers, or the handmaids of their mothers? Note the separation in the story, involving the sons of Jacob, in the movement in the story of nomads. Where is the lamb now, for the grandsons of Isaac? I think that the story in this relationship between Joseph and his brothers and with their father is about what happens concerning the relationship AFTER the betrayal. Or what would happen to the bond, in the twenty-two years that transpired, before Jacob traveled to Egypt to find his son, to find salvation. After the sons of Jacob had betrayed Joseph.
When a father finds salvation through his son. Had there been a threat that the sons of Jacob would be disowned? What was their fears in the story over their own personal recognized illicit sexual relationships? Or had it been over eating the limbs of living animals, maybe like other members of Laban’s clan had done? What did this failure to keep kosher mean in their torture and eating of living animals? Or did this recall the command given to Jacob as he prepared to face off against Esau? That command in chapter 32 of Genesis had been “the children of Israel may not eat the displaced tendon, which is on the socket of the hip, until this day, for he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip, in the hip sinew.” And now their fears when there father heard reports about their behavior? And Jacob not dealing with the issue? When he had been so long immersed into the culture of Laban, which was his own mother’s family. Had you forgotten the moment when the hip injury occurred while wrestling with the angel in the night? Had you forgotten the visible injury …. the disabled in the story of Jacob and sons?
After all of Abram’s concern over purity, after what he had done to Hagar, which one day would result in circumcisions, leading up to the moment of the Akedah, what had become of the post traumatic stress of Isaac, in the conflict over belonging to the God of Abraham, because Abraham himself was so divided in his love, over issues of purity? Did you note the constant strife between the herdsmen — the stories over and over about shepherds — between brothers which always exists in relationships which come out of place, of bloodlines? When at this point in the Book of Genesis, how many of these sons were the bastard sons of Jacob?
And so the question of birthright. Was this the immaturity of a youngster with a developing inner talent but given no real direction, in this the slow development of the gift of prophecy, using a talent for personal profit to become beloved? “Any evil he saw in his brothers” – the sons of Leah –“he would tell his father.” How did people deal with strangeness, over who were your half-brothers or your full brothers? Sons so much like Eve who felt that she could do anything because she came from the Garden of Eden where God dwelled, or over who your mother was? Contrast the God of Abram and the definition of self-esteem to the concepts of the sons of Jacob with his limited sense still of one birth right, no better than any other people, or any one son if the Lord was really with you. In this evolutionary developing story, in the shared God of Abraham, Chosen People who one day come to have their own children if not PLACE.
There is a danger living around your own kinsmen, as we all come to think alike with God before seemingly forced out of the Land of Canaan? So, Joseph suspected that the sons of Leah were engaged in illicit sexual relationships. And for reporting on these three matters, Rashi explains, Joseph was punished … by his brothers.
Behold the sacrifice. In the offense that Joseph could hardly have remembered, Reuben had slept with Bilah. What I believe to be missing in the mystery of the Book of Genesis is that neither Isaac nor Ishmael, in trying to save Abraham – on matters of shame – ever reported what had almost happened to their respective mothers, on Mount Moriah. In a similar coverup, had Reuben ever explained how Jacob had tried to take his birth right away? Or was this another “Don’t tell your mother” moment which seemed a part of THE birth right. Much like a journalism major has no idea what they are getting into in a place like Russia or in the Philippines, it is dangerous work to want to be a theologian. So did Reuben love these Egyptian handmaids like he knew his father who engaged in illicit sexual relationships never had? And fifteen or sixteen years later, there is Joseph reporting on the illicit sexual relationships of the firstborn sons of Jacob. And for this, Rashi explains, Joseph – on matters of shame – was punished by his brothers. With all the wars which came out of identity connected to place, there is sacrifice, as fathers over and over are sacrificing their sons. In stories about the seen and the unseen, note how just as a brother saved a brother, like in a reconciliation between Jacob and Esau, as Reuben suggested that Joseph be cast into this pit in the desert, “… do not lay a hand upon him.” So with all all the hoodwinking in between, about whether he had been killed, Reuben unknowingly first sacrificed his birthright out of his unconditional love for Bilah, and now consequently came to save the life of Joseph who was allied with the sons of Bilah.
Note the movement in the story of belonging which came out of a displacement in the story of Joseph. It was difficult when you left the PLACE where you grew up to search for a mate who was as pure as Sarah, as Rebekah, as Rachel while living outside the tribe, in the growing world. When it had been Rachel who had been most pure in the story of Joseph. That charley horse of the throat comes on the day that you recognize the part of Joseph in the invisible sacrifice with the birth right, while living outside the tribe – in what he had come to sacrifice, in his role of the lamb. Even when the world comes to adore you… from his own position of awkwardness, after being accused of raping the daughter of the chamberlain, in a family that slaughtered the king’s animals, Joseph is imprisoned. In “the ax to the frozen sea ending”in the dénouement of the story of Joseph, did you ever sense from his displacement the deep feeling like a charley horse of the throat when you recognize his Post Traumatic Stress disordering, about what is lost of the inheritance if not the birthright as TIME replaces PLACE, on issues of identity? Joseph had saved his brothers, but had not saved himself, and in his marriage to the daughter of a priest of the sun-god seemed to have sacrificed a future? In a “be careful for what you pray” story, the sons of Jacob survived as outsiders until their grandchildren’s grandchildren became slaves for the Egyptians, based upon Joseph’s sacrifice of his identity.
When into what they had been born, Joseph’s two sons were half-Egyptian, so Joseph surely came to understand all the turmoil among his brothers on concepts of what it means to be sons of servants, handmaids, slaves, or God’s Chosen — in sitting at table with Hebrews or even shepherds. As the Book of Genesis concludes, Joseph succeeds where Abraham fails, giving up forever whatever he had come to know of God … if Abraham had killed his first born son over issue of purity? Living in the “credentialed” world, in order to make a living there is a need presenting credentials to the proper authorities, in order to be recognized with the right to speak about the meaning of pedigree if not birth right … in the sacrifice of birthright, to start over? When every act of creation, noted Picasso, involves a form of destruction. And so again Abraham’s idea, to sacrifice the future – through a son. Could Jacob ever explain, like ABRAHAM could to his to his son that he had fathered Isaac not for the world — but for Sarah, after he had fathered Ishmael for the world, so that his God would not die? And so this story which reflects all the conflict and turmoil in the lives of Jacob and Sons? As Abraham had tried to make a sacrifice of his own purity before God with Sarah for others, few outsiders would ever understand the Akedah. Imagine the reaction of an outsider, if they ever came to understand the continuum ever since the story of Cain, that first born son of Eve and Adam, in the connection of sacrifice to purity and the future of the world. In the stories of real relationship, by the end of the Book of Genesis, the sons of Joseph had forever lost their purity, but lived on? And so begins the long period of time with the question, “dead or alive?” About the birthright.
In the Middle East where there still is constant strife between the herdsmen like between Abraham and his nephew Lot, the sons and grandsons of Abraham were still dealing with the post traumatic stress over issues of purity, on the inheritance, over who was better than who – selling their brothers off, contending with betrayal, pretending their prayers reached higher than the prayers of those who had lost their sense of PLACE in the world, in dealing with all their human and divine relationships, in preserving the heritage and somehow passing it on. Locate the innocent in each of the stories: in the story of Noah and in all of the stories concerning Abraham.
To save the world? To be put into a position to save the world through his son, like the son of David built THE Temple, this one son of Jacob. To really save all of Israel… for a while. In the focus of salvation, locate the conflict over who was most pure, when a child had no choice over the purity of the world they were born into – when you had so many different mothers living in the Motherland, with a missing peace. In these stories of Identity about Native-born and the aliens, over who was better than who, I have come to learn somehow to pray for peace, even when I, so much like Cain, am no longer among the most pure.
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Yūsuf ibn Yaʿqūb ibn Isḥāq ibn Ibrāhīm
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Daily Reflection Creighton Online Ministries
In stories about identity, Lot’s wife was “one of them.” Note the movement in the story of bonds which came from compounded belief, of a real human death. When you were surrounded by people who shared your belief, but with all of the real human doubt between people and families, that doubt 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.
The strangeness of it all, after the Great Flood — Sacrifice. What a bizarre idea, to sacrifice the future, through a son. Imagine the reaction of Rebekah when she heard the story, as an outsider, about Lot’s wife. Chosen, and learning each other’s strangeness. All these Latter Day Saints concerned about the private lives of this couple, as if it was anyone else’s concern – as if it was anyone else’s concern in the private lives of these men – whether a family would remain kosher. With the concern of all the latter day saints about the degree of how orthodox.
Yeah, so much like the shared doubt at this stage between Lot and Abraham, who are in the story, so all alone from the communities in which they lived, per the Book of Genesis. And over and over the theme of separation: “There was constant strife between the herdsmen of Abram and Lot, as the complaints reached Abram about the misbehavior of Lot’s herdsmen, about the arguments between their shepherds. Therefore the elder Abram said to Lot: ‘Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdsmen and thy herdsmen. For we are brethren. Is not the whole land before thee? Separate thyself, I pray thee, from me. If thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right, or if thou take the right hand, then I will go to the left.’”
Note the Garden of Eden in the story, in the separating, without hesitation, of Lot from Abram. Lot made the choice to journey eastward where he pitched his tent near Sodom, which was the same direction Adam and Eve had once headed after their banishment. Abram was left alone near Beth-El, receiving from his G*d another of His promises.
Sodom and Gomorrah were among five old cities east of the Tigris River, which for twelve years had paid tribute to the conquering powerful King Chedarlaomer of Elam, until the five cities rebelled. And so a war for independence; after thirteen years of independence, the king of Elam with the help of three neighboring kings marched upon the valley of the Jordan and met the enemy near the bitumen pits in the valley of Siddim, trapping the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah. A battle was fought and among the captives of King Chedarlaomer was Abram’s nephew, who had remained in Sodom. A messenger who had escaped from battle carried the news to Abram that his nephew was enslaved. Gatherering 318 of his men, Abram pursued Chedarlaomer, and in a nocturnal attack, aided by many a divine miracle, his guys defeated the superior force, freeing the people – including Lot – recapturing all the loot, bringing back in a march of triumph the captives while singing praises to the G*d of Abram. Accompanied by Lot, Abram then met the king of Sodom along with the 465 years old King Malkitzedek of Salem (Melchizedek) who, if you believed what someone seems to have inserted into the story, was the actual son of Noah, named Shem. In accordance with his priestly office, Malkitzedek gave to Abram bread and wine, adding to a typical offering his true and simple blessing: “Blessed be Abram of the Most High G-d, Who has delivered thy enemies into thy hand.” Abram then gave him a tenth of everything he had, in the aftermath of the war for independence for Sodom and Gomorrah.
Standing on the height near Beth-El, long before this war of King Chedarlaomer, Abram and Lot had gazed over a wide fruitful valley of the Jordan, like the rich land of Egypt they had just left behind. But the people in the valley “were wicked and sinners before G*d exceedingly.” Although he lived in Sodom, it is said that Lot was the exception to the cruelty of the Sodomites to all strangers. In a story that repeats itself, as Sodom is totally annihilated just as the entire world seemed to be in the story of the Great Flood, Sodomites offered no hospitality to a passing stranger, no consideration for the poor. It is said that because one of Lot’s daughters once secretly had given food to a stranger near starvation, this daughter had been burned in public (see the story of Plitith). And so the pleading of Abram before G*d to save the cities for the sake of the righteous who might be living in Sodom, after G*d had informed Abram of His intention to destroy Sodom, where Lot (who he had saved once already) lived.
When words carry weight. As the words take root….. ‘Take this’ bond. Before comparing the G*d of Abraham to the G*d of Isaac, note another separation between Abram and Lot, in in the conflict over belonging,with so much independence? Note the very real 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 to be so personally given a choice. As G*d tried to assimilate with His people, in a seemingly populated world. Since mostly words connected to Spirit carry weight, if you did not understand this story about the nameless wife of Lot, you would never understand what would happen on Mount Moriah between Abraham and Isaac.
Note the conflict over power in the story, 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? It is never stated that Lot had been tortured in his captivity, but I think that he had been. When, like any nomad, you wanted to go back to a place where you were once known – in the arranged marriage, where at least your wife was known. And so Lot’s nameless wife, living surrounded by her kinsmen, but living with exception to these kinsmen, with all the strangeness of Lot.
In a variant of dealing with denial, there was the doubt. As the locals, attempting to show their dominion over the place, were having kids, to address all the doubts in times again and again of annihilation …. Post-war? In the stories of the past — and also in the present — in another relationship story about what it does mean to be CHOSEN, there is over and over indiscriminate human annihilation, as real people have to decide how to rebuild lives, in relationships. Maybe after losing one daughter who had already been burned alive in public.
The all-knowing story-teller, working for The Academy of Private Detection, before answering the question whether the G*d of Abraham would die when Abraham died, had some exploring to do? Chosen, like in a mate, needing a marriage certificate, or a death certificate, or just a wife, if the the G*d of Abraham would survive for his son, with the involvement of political and Spiritual powers?
From age to age, from east to west, WHERE you come to feel a Living G*d, it is story that shapes the way you think, as you come to know in the ritual of seasons, with at least this quasi-religious timetable, where to find a Living G*d. Through story, image is defined by others, especially in the way of Lot’s nameless wife. Compare how you prayed to others — not so much that you might pray better, but to find the Living G*d.
Comparing things was the definition of poetry. Compare the perspective in a story — from the perspective of Abraham — with the voice of the story-teller. In the case of Lot’s wife, how would you acquire a sense of belonging without learning about the spirits, in 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? Not so much the holy Spirit, as my holy Spirit that led to the First Commandment: “I am the Lord your God.” Period. Paragraph.
Note the reluctance of the narrator if not the Author of Life to state the self-evident about the inequality which threatened stability: The fear of the Sodomites of outsiders, as if there was not enough there in the way of riches if all of the world discovered the riches – and then one day no one would be rich, like Lot. Always note the outsider(s) in the story of the Book of Genesis. And so the conflict of the G*d of Abram with the god of Sodom found more in the land instead of on the earth. Counting the cost of the earth of the irreversible environmental damage in the unsustainable world of straight growth, without death.
Starting over. To write it all down. Ever since memorizing the Abraham Lincoln line delivered about what was so self-evident, I have a reluctance to state the self-evident. Were all men really created equal? I feel safe to say that the Christian world has never given this story about Lot’s wife its due, if I could understand the comment that I heard ten days ago from a former priest: “It’s all fiction.” So in Catholic seminaries, young men are not taught to feel for the emotions that the characters in the stories had to live with – in this case Lot, trying to reach some understanding of what had happened. And what happens to someone who could not discover through stories real feeling — which came out of stories of betrayal — when you are surrounded by your kinsmen?
In the Judeo-Christian tradition, it is story that not only shapes the way you think, but the way that you pray. When doubt met belief. Aspiritual, not unlike being called asexual, from the reduced set of circumcisions like when you mother died …. or your father. To find the broken Spirit of God in ghosts, with the joy, the sorrow and the glory all eventually broken in a former priest, living with the reduced set of circumcisions in his inheritance, dealing with loss.
Note the unconditional in this story, for those willing to keep moving, to start over – not to be made into a statue, starting over, again. There was the Obedience, to move forward with Lot’s fertility, and not the culture that you had grown up in. When Lot and his family had been outsiders.
The place in the story was always important – like the PLACE of origin. Feel the desire of Lot’s nameless wife who was from Sodom or Gommorah (over issues of PLACE-related-always-to-fertility?) which becomes obsessive to her and is what ultimately leads to her demise. And what happens to those who obsess, who are not open to amending their lives?
Note the movement in the stories about identity, about fleeing, but marked as a pillar of salt, or marked to laugh about it, if you did not look for real human meaning in these stories?
Marked: The story of Lot’s wife and the evolutionary vow of obedience was connected to statues? I do not believe what happened in Sodom was about the sexual practices. There. But I am in a minority. I think that the story in this relationship between Lot and his nameless wife was about what happens concerning the relationship AFTER the betrayal — Or what would happen to the bond?
There was Abram’s concern over purity, after what he had done to Hagar per the just completed chapter, which one day would result in circumcisions. The suggestion passed along was if you were to dwell in Sodom, like Lot, couldn’t you engage in licentious behavior .. and outside of Sodom where you did not know anyone and had lost your betrothed and any hope in relationships, couldn’t you do anything, without the knowledge of anyone you knew. (And so the perspective of Lot’s daughters in the dénouement of the story, after their life in Sodom was destroyed.)
In the years that he had spent with Uncle Abraham, Lot had absorbed what he had witnessed of Abraham’s great hospitality. Did you pay attention to the chronology in these stories? So sitting at the gates of Sodom, Lot saw and greeted two strangers, inviting them to his tent. In doing so, Lot knew full well that he risked his life. Having learned of the presence of strangers, people of Sodom surrounded Lot’s house, demanding Lot give up the two visitors to be dealt with in the usual manner. In vain did Lot try to quiet the people outside his home, persuading them to leave the strangers alone. The more Lot spoke, the more excited the crowd became until finally the crowd threatened to kill Lot … until the angels (the strangers), as if was recorded, sent blindness on the Sodomites — if the Sodomites did not already have vision deficits. And so the PLACE in the story, as dawn was breaking. Invited to spend the night at the home of Lot and his nameless wife, the visiting angels urged Lot to flee with his family to avoid being caught in the impending destruction coming to this PLACE of iniquity. And though it is never specifically said, many suspect it was the nameless wife of Lot, as a native of Sodom, who had told someone that strangers were at their home. So it was Lot’s wife who had collaborated with her life-long friends and relatives? The command given LOT was “Flee for your life! Do not look behind you, nor stop anywhere in the Plain; flee to the hills, lest you be swept away.” With his own virgin daughters betrothed to men of Sodom, Lot did delay, the angels took hold of Lot’s hand, the hands of his nameless wife and two nameless daughters, and brought them out of the city of Sodom. And in my view, the angel who took Lot’s hand appeared in the image and likeness of a female, since gender seems important in the story.
When words carry weight, or since mostly words connected to Spirit carry weight, compare the G*d of Abraham to the god of Lot’s nameless wife, in the conflict over belonging to Sodom? Ever since the greatest commandment in the Garden had been to know G*d, who knew G*d best? As the nameless wife of Lot, note she was given a chance to be saved, according to so many who embezzled the story for their own purposes. Had the nameless wife of Lot even recognized that these strangers were angels of G*d?
Did you grasp the resentment in the story? The real conflict in the story was not so much the people of Sodom and the punishment of Sodom, but what had come between Lot and the ideals of Lot’s nameless wife of who she was: over identity and belonging, and over who this G*d of Abraham and of Lot was. Was the nameless wife of Lot hostile that Lot had taken in strangers against the mores of the people of Sodom, of whom she was one? And there was now a threat to her own daughters that night, at the invitation of Lot. So that Lot might be saved? Outrageously, to save himself along with the angels of G*d, Lot had offered to sacrifice his own daughters to the crowd. And could you feel the later story to come when Abraham took Isaac to Mount Moriah? What kind of crazy theology was this?
It was a theme over a pillar of salt, like I envision, quite impersonally, in the ruins of Greek temples. And so the nameless wife of Lot, born into the nameless fears of Sodom, surrounded by the crowd of your kinsmen — as your loving wife, immersed into the culture of Sodom at her birth, had to decide, with or without unconditional love; in an arranged relationship, determined by family, with existing post traumatic stress on issues of trust, like what still existed today in parts of the world where the tribesman of Afghanistan would never let you talk to or see his wife, much less tell you his wife’s name. Not unlike the norms or taboos of the men of Sodom? The theme, in the conflict of private and public lives, over who would be saved, and with the involvement – some kind of involvement – with the use of your fertility, in times of annihilation as you were so personally threatened, from having been immersed into a culture at birth, when sex became a form of punishment – or the thinking about the method of punishment which left most readers gasping; or later, in the conflict of private and public lives, out of the thinking of the nameless daughters of Lot as a kind of reward, in a later story of incest which might have come as a result of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in this incredible story.
Sodom and purity: To connect the dots about Sodom, about intimacy, in the placement of the story just after Ishmael had been born to Hagar. There is always the conflict over belonging to the G*d of Abraham, because Abraham himself was so divided in his love (over issues of purity), perhaps over whom his new son belonged to? Did you note the constant strife between the herdsmen — the stories over and over about shepherds — of Lot and of Abraham which always exists in relationships? (There are silent themes of PLACE, Bloodlines, and the fertility of Sarai.) When at this point in the Book of Genesis, Ishmael was the bastard son of Abraham.
To connect the dots concerning Sodom and purity . . . to give to someone, to pass on. Philanthropy, on issues of accommodation. The vehicle that carried the future. Language. Earth. Children. War and its never ending aftermath, when rape is about power and domination over your victim. To slowly invent words to pass on to your children, if not story. To communicate deep feeling while unknowingly dealing with a tragic hero — Lot. Concerning the resentment in this story, didn’t the nameless wife of Lot resent if not Abram, Lot? Because she had gone along once already with Lot, which had resulted in one daughter who had been burned in public, because the girl had been hospitable to one stranger. What was this selfish theology of Lot, demonstrated in how he was willing to sacrifice the purity of his betrothed daughters to save himself and these strangers?
When there might not be enough to share, with strangers? And people, and I along with them, always thought the conflict in Lot’s home was somehow associated with the G*d of Abraham? If you ever later sensed the hostility of Rebekah, living in the house around Abraham, to the male birthright to the eldest, did the nameless wife of Lot miss the uniqueness of Abraham in his day while living in a world of serial servitude and sex, for the nameless wives – over making a different kind of arrangement in his own life. (And hadn’t Abram heard the story of what happened first to the one daughter [was it their firstborn daughter?] of Lot before what happened to the entire city of Sodom.)
What quietly is in this story again was 1) Separation, 2) Slavery, 3) Another nameless wife, 4) Fear, 5) Resentment, 6) PLACE, in the story of purity, and 7) SHARED dominion. The people of Sodom used the riches from their fertility to simply grow more riches for themselves. And when an individual supersedes the “group think,” there would be grave punishment; the punishment to invoke a lasting fear in the community, to be spoken of for ages, dealt with threats of sexual punishment, which was an aftermath of war at the time. Because the fear of the Sodomites of outsiders was that there was not “enough” there in the way of riches if all of the world discovered the riches – and then one day NO one would be rich, like Lot had become living there. Or was their fear about drought and famine, as the Sodomites made PLACE their god, in the Post Traumatic Stress which lingered since the time Lot had once been held captive? SO to keep the outsider out!
Did you feel the concern of Lot’s wife over what she was leaving behind, like a statue, as Lot’s nameless wife looked back? According to Midrash, Lot and his nameless wife had four daughters, two of whom were married. The two married daughters and their husbands, along with the two future bridegrooms, remained in Sodom and perished. Unable to move on from what she had born into, note the lack of obedience in Chosen People to the heard commands of the angels of the G*d of Abraham. When a self-esteem of the people of Sodom, including the nameless wife of Lot — in more than just another story of pride — is, along with their god all based upon one PLACE, so in contrast to the G*d of Abraham. And thus the angels needed to grab the hands of Lot’s family.
A Promise Land. From a nomadic perspective of the infinity of G*d not connected to one PLACE, the G*d of Abraham is not connected to one place. Contrast the G*d of Abram to the thinking of his nephew, Lot, who had such a need to be lead by Abram. Note the importance of the PROPHET in his life: the definition of esteem was that which came out of not just the G*d of Abram but, in this evolutionary developing story, in the shared G*d of Abraham. The mystery in the promised vows, in the relationship from vows that led to the Great Covenant – the unconditional relationship – is based upon love and forgiveness. A Chosen People, who one day come out of their own PLACE, no better than any other people, if the Lord was really with you. And so much no longer like Eve who felt that she could do anything because of the place to which she had been born.
So contrast the concept of punishment that the Sodomites, if not the nameless wife of Lot, surrounded by so many of her kinsmen, the very same human condition, when the last person on earth — or the first — feeling so all alone, as you lost your sense of place. View this nameless wife of Lot looking back at horror to see what happened to her city of birth, with so many loved ones including the betrothed men of her two surviving daughters, like had once happened to one of her own daughters. So contrast that concept of punishment for the Sodomites…. with the concept of the punishment that came to Sodom that takes away a future, like the punishment bestowed upon what is now the nameless world that existed before the time of Noah, intended for the strangers, with the punishment that the Sodomites threatened just for Lot — the sexual punishment that always burdens the victim’s future.
Using the method of Spiritual Exercises from stories, when I was there in the story, as evangelization did not work for me, I had to read and reflect for myself what was going on in the story, not concentrating solely on the ending. With a 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. Immersion. The arrangements when marrying an outsider, with some new need for evangelization, replacing the old ways of immersion? So I did believe in parochial education, along with what it was in the Picasso line, about creation: that every act of creation involves a form of destruction. And who better than a woman to appreciate the words, in the days when maternal life was threatened with each birth of a newborn? When you are putting it all on the line, for the first born and the next born: “This is MY BODY.”
The lesson that a life-long nomad named Abram seemed to come to one day out of PLACE was that of Chosen People, no better than any other people, if the Lord was really with you. Ignatius of Loyola described spiritual consolation as breaking down all barriers – the barriers between “us” and “them,” and in order to walk in the ways of God, ultimately between “us” and G*d. People who develop human Spirit into something divine had to have an awareness about ghosts. Like the ghost of Lot’s wife, with an importance of the binding in the relationships, in stories about unconditional love. When your relationships were so alive, did you feel a great desire for naming in all of the stories about native population, and the wandering Jew, through identity stories about Native-born and the aliens, over who was better than who.
Could you find the unconditional in this story, for those willing to keep moving, to start over – not to be made into a statue? If the unconditional had ever been there? Or did you feel the anger of a woman after, over time, you had started to so privately reveal something about yourself, from one decade to the next? And Lot had tried to save only himself, because he had guessed it was his nameless wife who had informed on him?
As the nameless wife of Lot was given a chance to be saved, even after she had revealed the presence of the strangers in her home. What happened was that Lot’s wife choose not to listen to the angels of Lot’s G*d, questioning the truth about Lot’s G*d after Lot had tried to save only himself, because he knew G*d best? And so the real human resentment in the story, not unlike how the locals of Sodom more loudly attempted to show their dominion over PLACE.
When your prayers were so alive, and you wanted others to then have the same experience… 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 G*d, on issues of inheritance and birth right. Did you recognize the shift by the end of the story that is now all about all of the daughters of Lot, if compounded belief is to stay with the descendants of Lot and his daughters? Like in a dénouement of the story, passing on the power in bonds between your own people, concerning Lot’s wife and daughters: all along the focus in the culture seemed to be allegedly on the male and his tribe, in Sodom. It was always hard in this impersonal world, on this earth, to so personally live with your God, with the G*d of Abraham who stirred and disrupted Chosen People, when to be “chosen” is not something a person learns to be, but is an identity contested and fought over, between those who were not good enough with those who seemed to be too good, and always the tension in this indescribable pain which creates memory in a culture. “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.
Locate the innocent in each of the stories: in the story of Noah, the story of Abel, the story of Adam, and in all of the stories concerning Abraham. Locate his conflict with others, trying to use their power, unblessed. When you had different mothers, note the difference between the brothers, or their nephews – the one who played the system, and the one who did not. When one guy had the world by the tail, and the youngest had suffered as a result of the Great War. And note what happens as you are surrounded by your own kinsmen who all think in the same manner, about good and evil.
When surrounded by so many of your kinsmen, the very same human condition, needing a certificate, of birth, of marriage, of baptism, of death, or needing a wife, or just a son, if the G*d of Abraham would survive for the future, note the involvement of political and Spiritual powers? Through story, when surrounded by so many of your kinsmen, the very same human condition shared, image is defined by others. And when surrounded by people suffering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, fertility was thought to be just another weapon of war? Against the mores of the people of Sodom, of whom she was one, Lot had taken in strangers, against the wishes of his nameless wife? So Lot thought he was better than the people of Sodom, as he, maybe like his G*d, tried to assimilate with His people, living with the reduced set of circumcisions post-war.
Note the underlying belief by all the member of Lot’s family that IT was nonsense, maybe like your view of the story itself, concerning any need to be saved, for another day, in another place. So was it nonsense that the fertility of the daughters of Lot had to be saved for the future, in any post-war world, from a cultural atmosphere, as people can then be triggered consciously or unconsciously. After the recovery of the next generation from Post Traumatic Stress Disordering which came from all war, note the recorded stories distinguishing good from evil. These stories were told about hope, for a better world, with the threat to institutions, needing to be saved like the euro? How much was Sodom like the present day part of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, surrounded by the crowd of your kinsmen just north of Riyadh, with the concerns about purity in the Wahhabi heartland? Or how much was Sodom just like Russia, wanting to keep the outside world away? With all the micro-managing bean-counters, in a world left to the bean counters who seemed to forget the goal was thought to be ensuring the sustainability of a nation through its fertility and its food. Like in Ukraine or Crimea, trying to use a power, unblessed? As few nations on earth had ever lost so many people like Russia or Ukraine in famine, or in the what the western world calls World War II — The Great Patriotic War. And in this great haunting, suffering was still so alive.
In the detachment which came from war, having grown up in the suburban world with a cultural atmosphere over the last 50 years of the suburban world, note a child or grandchild who did not share her father’s beliefs – about religion, about government, about the world, in times of revolution – after system collapse? And so the estrangement, in the detachment. In the detachment which came from war, even in suburban life, there is dysfunction out of leaving it all behind. There is the disordering which came from war, with varying degrees of compassion and cruelty, equanimity and fear, with the pathology which affected the expression of feeling as a result of conflict. And there is the mental illness as some kind of scarlet letter of our day, with the fear of mental illness which came out of the cultural atmosphere of war. And after we sent our sons to war, they came home, to settle in among us. Like in Sodom, locate the source of belief, held by all the member of Lot’s family — or like with the former priest born in 1930 — that it was all just nonsense.
By the end of the story, there is a change in the PLACE in the story, where Lot will have to live with an aim of shared “dominion” — a word suggesting an absolute fierce exercise of mastery. In his new location, in order to live with himself, Lot would need to seek forgiveness concerning how his action led to the death of his nameless wife as neither he nor his nameless wife ever really believed in each other. In the end, Lot is in need of forgiveness — from the G*d of Abraham as well as from his daughters.
Like in Sodom, locate the innocence in the story, and what happens to the innocent. In these stories about preserving a Spirit amid system collapse, did you see over and over a destruction of what institutions previously built … and concerning the themes of what the young are born into, an invisible change?
There were always these gradual changes…..in what is called systemic theology, followed by the fear and the anger. Was an outsider like me, really ever a threat to THEIR G*d or to them, if I risked my life in hospitality? In the days of rampage, as the Islamic State demands conversion in the manner that Abraham circumcised his own slaves, Islamic militants have attacked Christian communities in Syria, Lebanon and Egypt, burning churches while trying to annihilate their God along with the faithful. In Iran, people of the Baha’i faith have been jailed and killed; in Pakistan Ahmadi Muslims suffer mob violence. And all over the Middle East, anti-Semitism has erased Jewish communities. The suggestion passed along by these adherents of Islam, in kidnapping young women, was couldn’t you engage in licentious behavior, if you were to dwell in these circumstances? Were these the same perversions connected to Abraham’s concern over purity, after what he had done to Hagar per the just completed chapter, with the long-term consequences.
When you lived under a dominant power of church and state… With the FEMALE fear of life versus the MALE fear of death, fertility was thought to be just another weapon of war?
“Abraham, where IS the lamb,” after you are sent by outsiders to war?”
Copyright © 2014.
Lumang Tipan. kahulugan ng “kay Bera hari sa Sodoma, at laban kay Birsha hari sa Gomorra”
Nordic Visitor, GreenlandTours, Sisimiut.
You are welcome to follow this blog, along with 19 other people who together are trying to resolve the Greatest Mystery… through story.
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 about ‘Forced labor’ like 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. Not just servitude but serial servitude. Passsed on, like a religion. Ever revolving. Ahead of the evolving human law that punishes. Or outlawed with tactics to make it harder to identify. http://paperlessworld.wordpress.com/2014/03/12/hagar/
To be caught in life cycles of SLAVERY: In a world of BAD spirits, written about by a one-time slave in 1789. The suffering, generation after generation in bonded labor of agriculture. There is the degree of suffering even in the relationship of slavery into the modern day world.
Serfdom. Poverty is a factor in all slavery, with unscrupulous owners of business, on the legal edge of criminal slavery who focus on the price of a product like cotton, to be sold in another market. Not as well-known is the Asia-Pacific slave trade in South India, writes Siddharth Kara on chattel slavery in the modern context, with ‘Dead Bondage’ contract after a deed-of-sale had been outlawed in 1833. Generation after generation, the relationship carries on in the bonded labor of agriculture, into the modern world.
Note the irony of the history found in the Hebrew Bible with the goings-on after Joseph, knowing the story of the Egyptian handmaid which afflicts the world today. Note the connection of Passover to the story of slavery, since slavery “by the sweat of your brow” was the affliction since the times of Adam, in the beginning.
When slavery was always connected to the earth. When the earth is the vehicle that carries the future, as humankind is to have a shared dominion, with ‘forced labor,’ in a bonded kind of labor that never would end and which would involve your children’s children.
Hagar, without a husband, in human bondage trying to make a decision about the future with her very good master, Sarai. Here was another lamb story which was never heard until more thann 700 years after the common era began.
We all belong to an age, and it is not our fault. Looking for independence, women more and more are rejecting not just servitude but serial servitude in the institutions; in the crisis of modernity, maybe people were rejecting all of the work involved to care for just one child.
Having to start over like Hagar, out from human bondage. Did you feel the ghosts of fragmentation which came out of independence, in the conflict over belonging? Did you feel the ‘independence’ in the stories of an independent people, maybe in compliance with the right “to be forgotten” initiative of the European Union, as Google has started to remove certain of their search engine results? Or so they say.
Did you read to be ahead of where the world was moving, as the old world was dying, with all the fragmentation …. but with The Spirit in the fragmentation. Did you read the warnings about ending up like Hagar, so all alone? Note once again the suddenness in the story.
Had there been a reluctance at Gettysburg in the line delivered about what was so self-evident, to Abraham Lincoln? And speaking of loss of life, to men named Abraham, compare a sacrifice at the end of life, offering all that you had built up to incremental sacrifice made each day … or when you were young and forced to put it all on the line.
Creating a cycle of vulnerability. More nimble and transitory, in the modern world, the supply chain – the corrupted supply chain – comes from the human desire for a cheaper product, for greater ease. The greater unease created over the desire for ease. Everyday concern one day is transferred from the price of the products consumed to the cost to the victims in the economic systems. It is 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 like Cain, speaking of inheritance, having to leave again … just like Hagar.
Living history. Whoever could believe how it all began? In the story about how it all happened, did your kids believe the chronology, before they arrived? Or was this just a secular chronoloy, denoting attitudes, activities, or other things which have no religious or spiritual basis? Did the kids even ask? In the beginning of – when the skies had been shapeless and formless, and darkness had been on the face of the deep. About our chronology? And their personal appearance on earth.
To be dumped. Onto earth. Not knowing. To go back to the beginning: Banished again, like Hagar and her genetically modified son. Hagar, without a husband. Living with her bastard son, Ishmael. In what all the ghosts of saints have learned over a lifetime, in the seeds of charity and forgiveness, here was another lamb story.
Firstborn sons. Birthright. Planned parenthood. Creating, then sustaining the illusion, in a parental kind of way about systems like slavery. Feel the presence of a spirit, that you might love like I loved, in a powerful kind of way. Feel the power, in relationship.
“From age to age, from east to west,” we all belong to an age, and it is not our fault. Does it matter so much WHEN you were born? When your membership in a tribe was everything, and the place in the story was always important – like the place of origin.
Feel the desire between two women over issues of fertility which becomes obsessive, which does happen to those who obsess — even over religion, over spouses, if not children? TO be moved like the clouds from stories about life and death to replicate. In what all the ghosts of saints have learned over a lifetime, in the seeds of charity and forgiveness, Hagar, living with her bastard son, Ishmael. In the story that surely marks the New Millennium like — at least, the Irish people in the Twentieth Century, forgot. In all of the stories, over and over, about deleting the First Creation, before somehow taking it back. How could I ignore all of the bad choices Hagar had made in collaboration with her master? That was the story of Ishmael which led into the story of Isaac.
The War on Terror. The times we are born into. To be caught in life cycles of SLAVERY and serial servitude, was there shame ever felt over the damage that you had done so far to this world? Was there need to set forth to start making amends over the conflict with the past, and all of our institutions. After the Space Age, where there is cyberspace, and there is no THERE there. No right or wrong? Just ask the National Security Agency about their interpretation about the meaning of human rights, if not torture, under the two past American presidents as concerns over security become so obsessive.
The weakly connected villains with the spiritual direction of a butterfly, denoting attitudes, activities, which have no religious or spiritual basis, the real New Millennnium generation born under these two presidents with the genetically modified idea about goodness and evil, if not constitutional rights.
“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, when your relationships were so alive but with the missing self-awareness in the story about allowing yourelf to be Chosen, legitimately. Look in all of these stories about the descendants of Abraham, at the manner of the arrangements in relationship, even like the woman named Sarai doing all of the arranging with Hagar. Look at the way Sarai used her human ownership-power, here. Sarai, doing the arranging – as opposed to what had happened to her with Abram – when she was chosen from Abram’s father’s household. When your prayers were so alive and you were barren, but you wanted others to then have the same experience, to avoid extinction. With or without God’s intervention in the relationship. Note the importance of the binding in the relationships, in mostly the same stories about unconditional love, generation after generation.
Or the disappearance. To go back to the beginning, what all these ghosts of saints since the time of Noah were contending with was displacement, with their children looking for a spiritual direction. A woman using only her power through serial servitude who was expected to somehow, in her very own way, to carry the God of Abraham further in the world, beyond the tribes and the homeland where she was born? When growth was so much the measure of success, but from serial servitude, no human could ever really grow.
From the visible and the invisilbe, in stories about birthright held back, contending with displacement, did you carry an unrealistic expectation that a woman is gonna know God like I know God. Or that you son might replicate God’s greatness as Sarai — a direct descendant of Noah’s nameless wife — dreamed to do. Have you ever, like I have, heard a story of how a woman went ahead with a wedding when she knew that she was doing something wrong? It was like forcing a shot in basketball, which was never there, when time was running out on the shot clock.
In the stories of the seen and the unseen, the relationship is never entered into on a consensual basis between an owner and a slave. The word used is “Mistress” if female, not “Master.” On matters of shared dominion, the mistress dominates and there is no true sharing. And when your son hears one day about the circumstances of his birth, how would a mother maintain parental control over their child when it came to the concept of the connection of sex to “relationship?”
Did you feel the human force in the story of Hagar and Sarai? So what is your perspective concerning this story with Abraham, in what would later happen? Why had Abram ever left home in the first place — had he been banished? He married his half-sister, for God’s sake? Was there a connection over the command to cleave and the meaning of “cleave” in all of this? What is your perspective of the man who imposed circumcision on all of his nameless slaves, as well as on Hagar’s son? His thirteen-year old son, Ishmael, like all those adult SLAVES, would never forget the pain that Abraham inflicted in the name of his God with their own circumcisions. So was Abraham, after the birth of Isaac, after 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 from Noah’s wife, banishing Hagar from the Promise Land just as Adam and Eve, as Cain had once been banished? Or was he setting the captives free?
In the stories of the seen and the unseen, in modern stories of displacemnt, after all the 20th Century Liberation Movements, with liberation theology and more emancipation proclamations, there currently are 28.4 million slaves in the world, or were at the end of 2006, per Siddharth Kara, of which 1.2 million were trafficked nameless sex slaves sold into another market. As Catholic Relief Services reports, “In every 800 trafficking cases worldwide, only one person is convicted.”
Copyright © 2014.
donate, if you ever in your life felt chosen.
Reacting to the shared unexpected, which will change the future of the world … as a student, Jorge Bergoglio came across an 18th-century painting, “Our Lady, Undoer of the Knots,” which showed the mother of Jesus persistently undoing the knots in a long rope, which resonated deeply for him. This “Undoer of the Knots” might involve the job description of the current pope with his struggle in our day with, however small Vatican CIty lookd to be on a map, what is the office of both a temporal and spiritual monarch, to meet and challenge the “doctrine” about God then and now which needs undoing?
To consider that in Ireland, probably no different than Argentina, per a 2012 commissioned survey by Amarach Research by Ireland’s priests’ association, showed that three out of four Irish Catholics find the church’s teaching on sexuality “irrelevant.” Did the priests wonder, if faith was about shared belief, what belief was shared any more? Were these questions about the truth about sex any different than with what Ishmael had to contend? When the people with power always wanted to just banish the enemy, perhaps because they had no sons of their own. But would their mothers set the captive free?
IN OTHER NEWS ABOUT NOMADS, The White House said Thursday that in his sixty-second month as president, President Barack Obama had ordered a review of deportation practices, an announcement that comes amid pressure from Hispanic groups to scale back deportations of those who were considered illegals and not quite human, like a slave.
The Woman Who Never Returned: Wasn’t this above story about sexual abuse? Chosen people who felt that they could have sex inside the other tribe, with no idea of their traditions? Wasn’t that the story of “choice” in the world of democracy? Wasn’t this the goal of Bill Gates and Planned Parenthood, or of genetically modified seeds which Mr. Gates is promoting if not for his family, for the rest of the world? When God gets near in your suffering, as God gets near as you clear out room, when it might seem like a void inside but it was some kind of unknown process. Or one not understood. Wasn’t that the story of the United States — chosen people who felt that they could annihilate the other tribe — in the 21st Century? When you owned the world?
Note how no one ever asks how it was that Hagar had become a handmaid, or how this Egyptian had come into the house of Sarai. Had her arrival been a result of war? In all of human history, the harm from the culture of war was in reducing the other human being to an object. And when you own a body, you could do anything.
To confess my sins to my son through stories not so much Chosen as much as “Privileged” people? Isaac, more like his momma, never left home? Isaac and place, in the story of generational justice with the prophet leading you somewhere. To stir you up. When you sacrificed a son … on Good Friday. Or Hagar. To give up your son to your mistress? And Abraham, sacrificing his sons, for Hagar, for Sarai? To scream out in story, to object as you carried the future. As you father, juggling all of these things local and the distant, in the inside and the outside world, was going to sacrifice you because when you own a body, you could do anything… for the ones you felt closest to? To make claim to your God, but to punish along the way his son, in the name of unconditional love?
Aseret Yemei Teshuvah
allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. http://www.subhanahuwataala.com/
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.
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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 Genesis. ‘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.’” http://paperlessworld.wordpress.com/2013/09/20/noahs-wife/
It is Daniel Mendelsohn who observes, “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 remember 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? In a world where most surprises are negative, 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 inside 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. Note the insiders and the outsiders in the story of migrant nomads, after the ark landed, in a world without borders. Trace 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 — with group thinking and collective behavior — 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, from the nameless wife of Noah?
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 the nameless wife of Noah to not only Abram but to Sarai.
Was it about what was fashionable at the time? Maybe if you had attended the Dormady Academy of Detection you would also have recognized the blood associated of Noah’s wife to Sarai, whose name after all would come to mean “laughing” — or her son’s name did. With a great need maybe for funnier jokes.
Did you note the nameless wife of Noah, who had outlived the nasty neighbors, knew why the chickens were crossing the road. Because it was gonna rain like hell.
Copyright © 2013.
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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? And with Rachel, from Laban’s family with a 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 while 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 niece — or then two of her nieces, for God sake! Can you imagine the shock of Isaac when he heard the story about two of their 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 an unease if not 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, just like on Mount Moriah?
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’s 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. Would Isaac come to see a growth of the concept of “Chosen” in the family of Jacob, as his own son had not come to banish the sons of the handmaids of his two wives?
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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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, as 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.
Copyright © 2011.
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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.
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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, carrying something deep within, when it came to the kids. Eve, soon to be taking care of someone else, in those ensuing relationships, with her own kids, with their same kind of doubts over obedience and authority.
The memory of it all … with 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 unimaginable, inconceivable, unthinkable story of creation and procreation ever since, before the editors and proof-readers were hired and got a hold of it, when, in the words of Picasso, every act of creation involves a form of destruction.
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the jiggle test
What you learn comparing: prospective husbands to real fathers.
In the movement toward the world from small to larger, you keep trying to love unconditionally … outside the tribe, like inside the tribe, until one day the entire world. It was the progression in the Book of Genesis, once that couple was forced out into the outside world. With all their flaws.
Exile, banishment, forced repatriations. Had you ever read the history of Post War Europe as borders changed? The Soviets had annexed Karelia. And then the Petsamo region of Finland. Nearly every Finnish Karelain emigrated into what remained of Finland. While American troops fought the Japanese in 1945, after VE Day, the Russians had taken the land of Eastern Poland, demanding that Germany be pushed two hundred miles further west, as Poland was given the German territory east of the Oder River and west of the Neisse.
In the story of the dispossessed, as any Irishman knows, there are Separtist Movements.
In the downward spiral of Russian history, the standards of living with falling birth rates were headed to subsistence. In times of trouble, desperate leaders stole, to somehow survive.
In the modern world, with cyber space, Reporters Sans Frontières is a France-based international non-profit, non-governmental organization, much like Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières), dedicated to the dispossessed.
And in world with “spiritual but not religious” belief, a world without real borders, now Russia was giving up its borders?
Borders? The strangeness of the borders, after the Great Annihilation — through sacrifice. In the New World Order, in the Reconstruction, some still believe in making sacrifices, through war, as so many others just shared doubt … over borders. What a bizarre idea, to sacrifice the present for a future.
Russia. Ukraine. The arranged marriage. With the strangeness of the borders. In a world where fewer and fewer people were embracing marriage, as if it was anyone else’s concern – as if it was anyone else’s concern in the private lives of these distant people, between these Slavic people who seemed so much alike, except over the degree of how orthodox their thinking. Over the dispossessed.
In the story of the dispossessed, you learn comparing the past to the present. Did you see the shadow of Neville Chamberlain in the stories coming out of Europe over this summer? There was always a blight in the outbreak of long-lasting peace, over the indifference – without allies for the dispossessed – over Motherlands.
In his need for seaports, Putin still believes in a buffer zone for the Commonwealth of Independent States around Russia, established for the common good, from a European Union (that might or might not include Ukraine as a de facto member of the Commonwealth of Independent States), over who do these people belong to, now? And there was this old tendency of Russian men to use brutal force within their homes to get their ways.
After the borders change. Again. So Russians with all of their brutal flaws could have access to the seas. Living without borders, sacrificing love, unconditionally … in the outside world.
“Mostly they are the same lives. The same stories, over and over,” wrote David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker. Was it William Faulkner who wrote that the past is never dead? It is not even past.
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“Altogether, I think we out to read only books that bite and sting us. If the book we are reading doesn’t shake us awake like a blow to the skull, why bother reading it in the first place? So that it can make us happy, as you put it? Good God, we’d be just as happy if we had no books at all; books that make us happy we could, in a pinch, also write ourselves. What we need are books that hit us like a most painful misfortune, like the death of someone we loved more than we love ourselves, that make us feel as though we had been banished to the woods, far from any human presence, like suicide. A book must be the ax for the frozen sea within us. That is what I believe.” —Franz Kafka, the son of a chamberlain
Living in the “credentialed” world, in order to make a living there is a need presenting credentials to the proper authorities, in order to be recognized with the right to speak? Ever since the greatest commandment in the Garden had been to know God, locate the resentment over who exactly knew God best. (It was why, based upon what I heard this week from my eight-year old niece, women wanted to be ordained, symbolic of equal rights in over who knew God best? ) And so in this decade, in this century, in this millennium, another war – this time both inside and outside the tribe. Like ever since the time of Abraham, the father of faith.
There are other pieces written here as part of the Dormady Academy for Private Detection about the character ABRAM, who dedicated his life to the importance for a nomad to stay connected, through bonds both inside and outside the tribe… and passing it on. Was it just an accident that this civilization was able to build with deeper foundations, without building collapse?
There was this invisible connection to the theology shared by the majority of the young people with the way they were formed, through higher education, as the outside world became more threatening, with each passing generation… For Jacob & Sons.
Yes, there was a time when holiness was only found in the mountains and in the desert, where prophets fled to seek God’s voice amidst the quiet and the solace, uncluttered in a world that had then seemed much more calm, to allow themselves to be chosen, in the deepest part about prayer which involves listening, which somehow involved life.
In the ax to the frozen sea ending, did you ever feel the displacement in the story of Joseph, with the deep feeling like a charley horse of the throat when you recognize his Post Traumatic Stress disordering after your brothers tried to kill you, when you were seemingly forced out? Note the movement in the story of belonging which came out of a displacement in the story of Joseph. That charley horse of the throat comes when you recognize his part in the invisible sacrifice with the birth right, living outside the tribe, when he had become the sacrifice.
Did you recognize the same theme in stories from one generation to the next, about The Missing Persons Bureau? Yeah, just as Jacob had left his family behind, there is always an affect on the sons and one daughter in their belief in the God of Isaac. Over and over, there is the theme of separation, with the Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome after a loved one tried to kill, sacrifice or annihilate you. Would Joseph be shaken as much as Isaac had been, when Isaac really was the lamb that Abraham had planned to sacrifice?
Time. Timing. Creation. Where it was said by Picasso that every act of creation involves a form of destruction, as you break one bond and form another; as you no longer see each other, when you go away.
So how to keep a connection, in your private life, after you have gone away … in the outside world, as an immigrant, in the New World? In a world with both outsiders and insiders, there is this tremendous human problem contending with, connecting with, strangeness, as you arrived in a new land as a stranger.
Mostly through story-telling like people do, one of two things happen: either a truth in uncovered or something hidden is revealed about identities which came out of the banishment, a liberation, the exile, and/or the slavery. As told in story, uncovering of what seems lost to history, what a literature of ghost stories does is invite others inside, where maybe they too could be held in the arm of ghosts.
And so another CREATION STORY, when darkness had been on the face of the deep . . . on the face of the water – God said, “Let there be light.” When telling stories about people either reveals something hidden, or uncovers a truth.
Ghost stories, about holy ghosts . . . about Abraham and his sons and grandsons.
In the quest to KNOW, did you inherit a religion to be safe? Under constant fear of neighbors like in the Eastern Bloc of whispering campaigns, under surveillance? When your mother knew but never told you – that Abraham was your father, but you were asked to leave his tribal home, banished so much like in the story of Cain, who lived without commandments, like Adam and Eve. When you, as I, were born into ignorance, knowing nothing about the past, with centuries of silence, did you feel the QUIET CONVERSION THROUGH FAMILY in these stories?
There is also an awkwardness when someone adores you, much less when the world does – just ask an ‘only’ child. Parents do have tears when these folks go in service. So had there been a coverup from Sarai, from Hagar, in what it was Abraham had been doing on Mount Moriah? Before the son got back home? In the sacrifice of identity, maybe not unlike what my Roman Catholic Church has been living through for the last twenty years, when darkness had been on the face of the deep … and every act of creation involves a form of destruction?
And so another CREATION STORY. So who was better than whom, in the great identity question, in the ghosts of the distant ancestors, after a human betrayal of your first born son replaces the quiet CONVERSION THROUGH FAMILY, and the human consequences are loyalty oaths, as heresy became a crime and as one Abrahamaic religion tries to become the dominant power over those living far from the old tribe? Just like, for me under the leadership of the prior pope, in the century old battle against modernism.
Sacrifice. With all the wars which came out of identity connected to place, there is sacrifice, as fathers over and over are sacrificing their sons. Even, as I note the date that I write this, on D-day.
Feeling insecure in a sacrificial bond, why exactly – in the key moment or his life – had Abraham gone to Mount Moriah?
What was the one command given to Adam in the Garden, before the creation of Eve? There are so many people who want to control the Truth. What is the Truth about God? Much like a journalism major has no idea what they are getting into in a place like Russia or in the Philippines, it is dangerous work to want to be a theologian.
In another story about sacrificing knowing God, Abraham went to Mount Moriah. But what was his idea of sacrifice? Was this just some kind of Lenten offering, like my fifty-year old brother-in-law still gives up chocolate? What was the significance of all the chronology of the stories in the Book of Genesis? What was the connection between Ishmael and Isaac in the matter of sacrifice? And why do Muslims hear the same story involving Ishmael that the Hebrew Bible records about Isaac in this sacrifice on Mount Moriah? How was it this story followed the story of Cain and Abel? Or why? Did you ever note the chronology and the significance of the placement of the stories? Was that how you worked to solve the mystery?
If Abraham had succeeded, he would have given up forever whatever he had come to know of God … if he had killed his first born son. And over and over, there are stories in the Book of Genesis about the sons of Abraham sacrificing “knowing God.”
In stories about belonging, in the battle over modernism, about the living past surviving into the future, how did the Living God want to belong in the modern world?
The Missing Persons Bureau. What if there had been a Missing Persons Bureau, so Isaac could find what happened to his son, or so Jacob could find what had happened to Joseph. Or what happened after the rape of Dinah, after the death of Rachel. Rachel was the sister of Reuben’s mother. The handmaids. The servants. (To know. To love, To serve.) Note the significance of the first born son of Jacob with the hand maid, in the bed of the deceased. Get your scorecards here!
Time. Timing. Creation. Yes, where Picasso noted every act of creation involves a form of destruction, note the chronology in the life of Jacob, of first the battle with his brother, with concerns of being followed by his father-in-law as he tried to get back home, until the rape of Dinah, the vengeance of the sons of Jacob, just before the death of Rachel, until Reuben loses his birthright.
Did you ever notice all the hoodwinking in the stories about false idols? In stories about the seen and the unseen, note all the hood-winking. How a brother saved a brother, like Abraham had once rescued Lot, there was Reuben and Joseph, after Jacob had reconciled with Esau.
For a people without a homeland, there had been the dreams of Abram, followed by the nightmares of Isaac after the Akedah, in what I would call Post Traumatic Stress which was connected to the God of Abraham. In the naming of her firstborn son, Rachel went with Joseph, meaning “God has taken away my disgrace.” Was her disgrace marrying a guy like Jacob, when he had a wife who was her sister? Jacob who were never coming back to the nuthouse which had been the homestead of Abraham, with his thinking, then trying to kill within his own family, his son? And did you notice how soon Rachel died after God had taken away what she thought was her disgrace? The disgrace was removed from Jacob’s life? Or was finally being noticed?
And so the suffering of Israel. To silently remember the disgrace in the story which ends up saving the sons of Jacob, in the arc of generational justice through family, as image is defined by others, especially in the way of Rachel’s Egyptian (?) handmaid, not much different than the Egyptian handmaid belonging to his own mother. So did Reuben love these Egyptian handmaids like he knew his father never had? In the offense that Joseph could hardly have remembered, Reuben slept with Bilah.
In contending with the outside world, after a banishment and so much fear of the stranger in the outside world, did you ever note that most of the stories in the Book of Genesis begin with what loved ones did to each other.
What I believe to be missing in the mystery of the Book of Genesis is that neither Isaac nor Ishmael, in trying to save Abraham – on matters of shame – ever reported what had almost happened to them. In a coverup: “Don’t tell your mother.” And this was part of THE birth right.
So Reuben slept with Bilah … and how exactly did Jacob explain the immorality of his act, to Reuben and his other sons, when compared to his own actions with Bilah? And this was not the first recorded sin of the flesh, if you recall the actions of Abraham with his wife’s handmaid. So why was this act of Reuben offensive to Jacob, unless there had been unconditional love involved? Bilah “belonged” to Jacob through the family of Rachel? This “offense” resulted in the loss of birthright for the first born son? But consequently, it was Reuben who came to save the life of Joseph. About fifteen or sixteen years later.
The dreams, the prophecy, the dreams of prophets …. did you ever notice the importance of the PLACE of beds in these stories? For people without a Promise Land?
And so the story of Joseph begins. Only after Reuben had saved his life. In another “Don’t tell anyone” moment of the Book of Genesis. “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 such stories, if the power in the ideals are going to survive. If somehow, this birth right is going to save us.
In the mysterious sacrifice to save the world, like when Abraham went to Mount Moriah – one of two things can happen: either a truth is uncovered, or something hidden is revealed about identities which came out of an exile. In another story about sacrificing your brother (not the son) if not your goal about knowing God – in story-telling which people do about the unsolved mystery – Joseph ends up in Egypt … so all alone, one day sleeping with an Egyptian woman whom he had married. As Joseph had become an outsider … alienated from everything important. in Egypt. And so ends the first part of the story of the birth right of Joseph … when every act of creation involves a form of destruction.
You are welcome to follow this blog, along with 19 others, who together are trying to resolve the Greatest Mystery though story.
Yūsuf ibn Yaʿqūb ibn Isḥāq ibn Ibrāhīm
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Daily Reflection Creighton Online Ministries
Originally posted on Paperlessworld's Weblog:
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…
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The First Creation: Who was the first guy is to remember the incredible amount of pain, in the beginning.
Darkness. Human consciousness. What is life but so much sleep? About needing a place to sleep. Home and homelands. Warmth. When you have been provided for.
Light from light. Peace. Unconscious dreams.
God and human disruption. Adults. Children.
Restlessness. Unrest. The movement in the story which disrupts the subconscious.
Ghost stories. To start with nothing. To continue with nothing of substance. To organize the ghosts stories. To proclaim what was once here. To wake up with a roar. About the do-overs. To remember chapter after chapter, as new people entered, where you were yesterday before you lost human consciousness.
The invisible story-teller who come and goes. Receive my holy begotten Ghost, and all of Its lightness.
Note the Fear of the Lord in these stories. Like my fear of the strangeness of other religions. The seen and the unseen.
Directed elsewhere by God – losing whatever it was I had been working on yesterday. Raising human consciousness by reading and writing stories. In the stories of the strangeness of God found from the recorded stories by wandering Jews.
The stranger. The tremendous human problem contending with strangeness … And if the fear was of the stranger, note that most of the stories of the Hebrew Bible in the Book of Genesis begins with what loved ones did to each other.
Insiders. Outsiders. Private lives. Public life. Leaders in the tribe. And so the conflict of two brothers stationary with the land, when their parents had been in conflict with the land itself. Didn’t the conflict in the story of Cain and Abel involve an inherited curse? When you inherited a curse, to tend the cursed earth, which had happened over what Eve and Adam had somehow done.
The inheritance. The conflict in the story was between how each brother dealt with their inheritance, in a humility of being human. Born out of, created out of, humility, with goodnesss one day challenged. Born so perfectly andd fighting once again to create the perfection. The conflict between the brother stationary with the land (the one that Abraham and all his descendant would want of their own) and the brother who is free to roam the earth with the flocks. Like an animal.
To disrupt your peace. The alarm. The fear in a new day. Darkness. Blindness. Limits. Borders. The hurry. Before you forget these stories of disruption. Or hurry, before you die. The movement in the day.
The nightmare of being lost. The story of the wandering Jew, so much like Cain. Needing a home and homeland, like in the Second Creation.
Jacob. The stranger. The son of Isaac who left home. The spiritual direction in the lives of Isaac and Jacob and Begotten people affected by their fathers. The father of faith. Note the great restlessness blessed for Isaac’s return to the world, after a three day journey with the father. Compare Abraham’s return to his home after Mount Moriah to the return of Jesus, post-Resurrection. Feel the holy change in these stories, in the denounement. Taste the humility of Isaac – and me along with him. Note the unseen Fear of the Lord in these stories — like my fear of the strangeness of other religions. Note how even the leader has fear.
Light from light. Begotten people. There is a difference between people who came before Noah to those who came after him, in these ghost stories. In the First Creation there was the future without a future, and consequentially all of these sterile people.
Meet the people in the Second Creation who asked to have the earth blessed once again; people like Abel in the do-overs, with still the tension in these family stories of people who grew up close to one another, from a pride that came out of work along with the incredible amount of pain. The inheritance which came out of what loved ones did to each other. The conflict of goodness blessed, as well as the opposite, as some people in the stories seem too good, or knowing the muck from which they came, saw the necessity of somehow distinguishing.
Bonds. Tribal bonds. The fire that bonded us. The fire in word, in sacrifice, in relationship. The fire in our community, like the Spirit in a basketball team. “I had to replace that fire, through, with, in young people.”
There was tension in any relationship, in the manner of connecting, Overcoming the human condition of loneliness by tribal bonds There was the hostility always connected to religion, over who was better than whom. There is also the awkwardness when someone adores you, much less when the world does – ask an ‘only’ child. Having tears when these folks go in service.
Sacrifice. Feeling secure in a sacrifical bond. To break one bond and form another, as you no longer see each other, when you go away. To keep a connection, in your private life. Outsiders. Insiders. The tremendous human problem contending with strangeness.
Story-telling. Stories, like people, do one of two things: either uncover a truth or reveal something hidden about identities which came out of the banishment, the liberation, the exile, and the slavery, as told in the stories – to uncover what seems lost to history. What a literature of ghost stories does is invite others inside, where maybe they too could be held in the arm of ghosts.
What Picaso said about creation, that every act of creation involves a form of destruction. And so another CREATION STORY, when darkness had been on the face of the deep…on the face of the water – God said, “Let there be light.” When telling stories about people either reveal something hidden, or uncovers a truth.
Ghost stories, about holy ghosts. In the quest to KNOW, did you inherit a religion to be safe? Under constant fear of neighbors like in the Eastern Bloc of whispering compaigns, under surveillance. When your mother knew but never told you – that Abraham was your father, but you were asked to leave his tribal home, banished so much like in the story of Cain, who lived without commandments, like Adam and Eve. When you were born into ignorance, knowing nothing about the past, with centuries of silence, did you feel the QUIET CONVERSION OF FAMILY in these stories?
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 a delight in the eyes of Eve, and that it was desirable for comprehension,” and it was because of this goodness, this delightfulness, this desirability that Eve ate of it.
-from Daniel Mendelsohn’s The Lost
Who was better than whom? Why did Abraham go to Mount Moriah? In the ghosts of the distant ancestors, human betrayal of your first born son replaces the QUIET CONVERSION OF FAMILY, and the human consequences were loyalty oaths, as heresy became a crime and as one Abrahamaic religion tried to become the dominant power, for those living far from the old tribe.
Though every act of creation involves a form of destruction, the modern day pledge to Abraham should be that we will never kill any of our own – those who believe in Abraham’s God – again.
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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.
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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.