Archive for September, 2009|Monthly archive page
We endow our lives with stories. “Mostly they are the same lives, the same stories, over and over,” wrote David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker.
Expanded school days. Expanded school years. The president wanted the urban society to abandoned the agrarian tradition of long summer vacations for kids. Because the world had evolved.
Evolution. Charles Darwin and his theory of survival of the fittest. Because the world had evolved. I had read the news story on the eve of Yom Kippur.
Theologians and economists. They were a lot alike. Really addressing human concerns about inheritance. Really addressing human fear. About the future.
Those Days of Awe. That August 2008 walk…..To Know God. Thinking about passing on what was most important in my own life. and now those Days of Awe. With the start of a new year, the Days of Awe about the depth of feeling between fathers and sons, wives, daughters, with God. A day of remembrance. Passing along this day of remembrance. With the question in the rabbinical school, “Why would God not evolve?”
In these Days of Awe, what does it mean to be bound? Bound by depth of feeling. And then, how tightly bound in relationship, to God? This year? And then passing on the inheritance. In a world when so many people had difficulty saving anything, there was the conflict over the spending with the saving. In the rabbinical school, where the questions were asked. About the conflict. Between generations. Was the God of Abraham really any different than the God of Isaac, in the monotheistic world of Judaism? What did it mean in the Akedah story? Was Abraham going to kill his son because he realized the time was fast approaching that God was going to take Abraham’s life. What should be spent? What should be saved? How to pass on what had been saved? Was the actual mystery in the Akedah story about Abraham challenging the meaning of his life, the part he remembered at this point, challenging God for all that He had given to him? Was the story about sacrificing his son, the Akedah, any different than the same challenge Isaac would one day face over the issue of inheritance. When Isaac was blind and was fooled by both his wife Rachel and his son Jacob. The same stories, over and over. Over passing on what had been saved. And who to pass it on to.
The conflict in the Akedah story was over an act of dementia, over a pragmatic act of sacrifice which went entirely against the passing on the inheritance? Was Abraham in this case really trying to fool God over this obsequious sacrifice, which ultimately may have been deferential but was not well thought out?
Was Abraham, in his story, just a little more surreptitiously coming to grips with the question of inheritance, little different that the same challenge Isaac faced over the issue of inheritance. Coming to grips with authority over the truth in the world? As Isaac had to come to grips with the authority of what might have been at this point a father with dementia. Ah, dealing with loss of memory in different ways. The perspective of an old man. The perspective of a son maybe 30-years old, who might never come to know, as Abraham had come to know, God. In the Akedah story, what was his real point of view over revelation of the truth that might be lost? The same stories, over and over, in dealing in subtle ways with God. As an old man late in life given finally a child, a son, but asked to sacrifice Isaac, facing the end of his line?
In the pagan world, neighbors all around were using burnt offerings to various gods and goddesses. Sacrifice, to never get too comfortable about the things of this world. Jewish guilt. Or was sacrifice an Irish thing. Because good times were bound to turn back into disaster.
Perhaps Isaac had ignored all his life the things that Abraham deemed important? Perhaps Isaac seemed much too comfortable with riches. Perhaps Isaac seemed even much too comfortable about his relationship with God. When for Abraham it had always been a struggle.
Stories. Mostly they are the same lives, the same stories, over and over, wrote David Remnick. With expanded school days. Expanded school years. As the old paradigms unravel? Yeah, theologians and economists were a lot alike. Really addressing human concerns about inheritance, and studying the signs. The signs of change.
Looking for the change in the story. To Isaac. To Abraham. To God. To me. About this unraveling world. My world. About the speed of the unraveling. And what it was that would be downloaded to replace it. With survival of the fittest, just a little more surreptitiously coming to grips with the question of inheritance and guilt. The changing point of view.
Because the world had evolved, from the same stories, over and over. With a changing point of view over revelation of the truth, about things humans deemed important Yeah, the president wanted this urban society to abandoned the agrarian tradition of long summer vacations for kids.
Passing on the inheritance. With too little thought about passing on what was most important in life. In the summer, where traditional activity could be ignored, for new things deemed important? This change, if this idea went through, would not really be addressing human concerns about inheritance, in about public schools.
Because the world had evolved. Though the academic world had evolved, with institutional public education, it was now, in this evolving society, with a changing point of view, all about money.
Mostly the same stories, over and over,” wrote David Remnick. In the changing world. Evolution. Not unlike printing more money, to solve problems. Bailouts in this evolution. Creating something out of nothing. The president wanted the urban society to abandoned the agrarian tradition of long summer vacations for kids, for expanded school years. In days of expanded currency, wanting kids to work harder. And because the world had evolved but not changed, parents would also have to stay home and work harder.
With the changing point of view, of this generation. Vacation time based on religious tradition would one day become a thing of the past? Not unlike honoring the Sabbath. Vacation time based on religious tradition would be renamed? In the age of diversity, where there was all this conformity to nothing. With too little guilt over the inheritance. Ignoring the inner need to be re-created. With recreation. But in the summer of daylight savings time, amidst the conflict over the spending with the saving, there was this new need for expanded school days, an expanded school year, in a world when so many people had difficulty saving anything?
Summer vacation. In an evolving world where more people will wonder the reason to save anything. Saving for what? Or to work harder for what?
Would summer vacation really become a thing of the past? Or just renamed? In these Days of Awe. Ready to sacrifice the kids.
To be! Or not to be?
These were the High Holy Days, the Days of Awe, the time of the year when the descendants of Abraham who never have relied on evangelism to increase its numbers, once again sat to ask the “to be or not to be” question of Judaism. Rosh Hashanah was a day of remembrance, with the start of a new year. It is a day of remembrance about relationships. Fathers. Sons. The past with the present. The Days of Awe lasted 10 days. The Day of Atonement begins at sundown on September 27th.
To be! Or not to be? That was the question that was facing Isaac, dealing with the beliefs of Abraham. A lot like any son had to ask when his formal education was over to address his own inheritance. For an Irish Catholic, I have been thinking a lot during these Days of Awe about Isaac. About the different perspectives of the two men in the story.
Rosh Hashanah. I have been thinking about the comparative approach to life. Fathers and sons. And points of view. About binding. The reading on Rosh Hashanah was about the Akedah, the account in the book of Genesis, of the binding of Isaac. When Abraham, at the command of God, takes his son to be offered as a sacrifice. Because of a seasonal piece in America magazine about the Akedah, by Harold Kasimow, from his perspective, I have been thinking about the study of comparative religion.
The comparative approach is all over the use of the reading of the Akedah on Rosh Hashanah. Fathers and sons, and the different points of view on this offering as a sacrifice on Mount Moriah. What does it mean to be bound? Abraham, at the end of life, when he was losing everything. And you had brought a child into the world in old age, having experienced so much loss. What does it mean, what did it mean to Abraham, to be bound? Bound by certain depth of feeling, in a totally pagan world? What was one man’s point of view after living life, as compared to a son who was no older than thirty.
A day of remembrance for all descendants of Abraham to reflect on the meaning of the binding as they continue the line of Chosen People. Fathers and sons. Women and men. From age to age. In the time when there was blood in sacrifice. When in the modern day with a comparative approach, the young still question why the need for sacrifice? Women and men question. When bleeding for the most part hurt? When there was real hunger, why offer the best calf to this invisible God? When there was pain in sacrifice. How had it all come down to this? The fear. And the pain. And the suffering.
Crazy. This Abraham who had already decided, well before the Akedah, “Every male among you shall be circumcised. You shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. Throughout your generations every male among you shall be circumcised.”
Isaac was not Abraham’s oldest, only Sarah’s oldest child. Her only child. One son to Abraham, the Abraham who had already decided that a form of self-mutilation would be a sign of the unconditional love. Not just for him. But for his slaves. “Then Abraham took his son Ishmael and all the slaves born in his house or bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s house, and he circumcised the flesh of their foreskins that very day, as God had said to him. Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin.” Crazy. Son Ishmael had been born thirteen years before Isaac. These crazy intimate self offerings to God.
Long before the Akedah, before sacrificing Sarah’s only child, these were the goings on. Long before, it was God who said to Abraham, “As for Sarah your wife, you shall not call her Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. I will bless her, and moreover I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall give rise to nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.”
Reflecting on the meaning of making some kind of an offering to God, when your relationships, with God, with your kin, in sacrifice, were based only on blood. When the entire basis of your identity and the subsequent generations was to be based upon blood. Concerning the blood in the Jewish tradition, I recall a reference in the book From Beirut to Jerusalem by Thomas Friedman about the time spent gathering, following an act of terror, spilled blood in violent death by the orthodox.
Abraham who had already decided. His descendants would not go door to door, would not have radio shows. This relationship would be all about blood (which is why the Jewish tradition prohibits embalming — the blood is considered a part of the body to be buried with the deceased, along with any hair which comes loose while preparing the body, with every speck of blood, that is gathered in a linen bag and placed with the body in the casket.)
Abraham and his reaction. The original ROFL, falling on his face, laughing. He said to himself, “Can a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Can Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” And Abraham said to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live in your sight!” God said, “No, but your wife Sarah shall bear you a son, and you shall name him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him.”
Isaac had to wonder, with a contemplation over point of view, with a comparative approach, when the young always have questioned, “Why did no one else? Why did my friends not have parents like this? What kind of nut case were these parents, my parents, Abraham and Sarah?” Why were only these Jews making sacrifice? Isaac HAD to wonder.
Amidst the descendants of Abraham who never have relied on evangelism to increase its numbers, this was the story of how Isaac for his own descendants discovered inheritance. In sacrifice, and with the story of sacrifice. With blood, enhancing connected-ness. As his father was prepared to give everything that was important away. When it looked as you were giving everything away? EVERYTHING! In sacrifice? In a world with hunger. In a world filled with fear. In an abrupt end. A lot like the way life could end so fast. Why?
What does it mean for the next generation to be bound to parental authority and the authority of God, whose ways often seemed so strange? Amidst a people who never who have relied on evangelism but concentrated on this thing called physical and spiritual love to change the world. Amidst a people who never who have relied on evangelism but concentrated, at least for males, on circumcision. And on blood. What did it mean to be a Jew? What did it mean when prophets climbed mountains, hoping to elevate a people or a nation while sacrificing Sarah’s only child?
This article on comparative religion had, after a lot of thought, moved me. The comparative approach to religion. The piece really about perspective in a story. On the eve of Yom Kippur, the Christian world hears a reading from the Book of Numbers. When God tells Moses to select seventy elders who would receive the same spirit of holiness which God had shared with Moses and Joshua. “This anointing would be given to them to assist him and help carry the burdens. Ah, but two of the elders were inside the camp and not in the exact and proper place to receive the blessing. Never-the-less these two were found prophesizing in the camp, “though they were not in the official starting lineup,” writes Larry Gillick. “Joshua, son of Nun, who from his youth had been Moses’ aide, said: “Moses, my lord, stop them!”
To move the next generation. How to move males? Who focused so much in their lives on games. Sports mostly. Men and games. Using power. Amidst a conflicted pagan world, even today. In the higher tech world. Of speed and power. In a world with so many lifting weights, power lifting. In a world of all the fast megabytes of Apple computers, without as much delayed gratification as Abraham had once had. This was the world when people who did not worship one God, my God, were thought to be pagan. How to keep something alive about the past, so that God would never forget Abraham. NEVER forget.
Thus the strange story of the Akedah. The story about sacrificing the next generation, in the name of God. The story about keeping something alive with sacrifice, with passion, concentrating on this thing called physical and spiritual love, so that God would never forget.
Without a comparative approach to religion, the Christian world loses the importance of these stories. Where the focus was on Sarah. “Sarah shall be her name. I will bless her, and moreover I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and SHE shall give rise to nations; kings of peoples shall come from HER.”
When you prayers were so alive. And you wanted others, never-the-less, to have the same experience.
The Akedah. When God had instructed Abraham to name Sarah’s son Isaac. The story was was really about Sarah and Isaac. “I will establish my covenant with him (Isaac) as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him.” Bound to God in family. In this fertility story.
So begins Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. To see how those bindings have been holding up. At harvest time. For the Chosen People. This year.
The Da Vinci Code. Living in the world with a comparative approach to life. It used to drive a mother crazy.
The author of The Da Vinci Code released a new book Friday, the third in a sequence, with the same cast of characters as The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons. Dan Brown tried quite successfully, based upon the number of books sold, to incorporate the comparative approach of religion into his fiction.
Rosh Hashanah. And the comparative approach to life. Fathers and sons. And points of view. The reading on Rosh Hashanah was about the Akedah. In the book of Genesis, the Akedah is the account of the binding of Isaac, when Abraham, at the command of God, takes his son to be offered as a sacrifice on Mount Moriah.
I read a piece in America magazine Thursday night about the Akedah by Harold Kasimow who has senior faculty status at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa. According to his curriculum vitae, he teaches a course on the Jewish Tradition in the department of religious studies, and his research interests include comparative religion and Jewish studies. He seems bound by the philosophy of the department of religious studies at Grinnell College, and the promotional ideas of how to attract students to classes there.
Rosh Hashanah. It is a day of remembrance about relationships. Fathers. Sons. In a then totally pagan world, the account of the binding of Isaac. With the intervention of an angel preventing the murder of Isaac, Harold Kasimow interpreted the significance of the story as a protest against human sacrifice. He writes that “a civilization is judged by the way it treats its children.”
A day of remembrance. I am not sure why Jews, with the start of a new year, need to be reminded that a civilization is judged by the way it treats its children. This point of view, focusing totally on the future and not the past, seems to miss any comparative approach. In a tradition that was all about a covenant of the past with the present day.
A day of remembrance. At the start of a new year. Fathers and sons. Bound in relationships. Chosen People.
There must have been a reason, something very great, that God above all others chose Abram in the first place, the just man of his generation. In a conflicted world. There was a depth of feeling between fathers and sons, in a conflicted world, that seems to have been overlooked by Harold Kasimow. What does it mean to be bound by depth of feeling in a totally pagan world, on a day of remembrance for all descendants to reflect on the meaning as they continue the line of Chosen People?
Rosh Hashanah is either the end of one or a start of yet another year. What did it mean in this Akedah story for Abraham, an old man late in life given finally a child, a son, but asked to kill Isaac, facing the end of his line? Or at least the end of Sarah’s line? In a totally pagan world, what was the point of view of the participants? With this comparative approach, of a father when as a young man leaving a place of comfort to go to an unknown place. Abram gave up a lot at a young age to acquire a kingdom, an unknown of some kind. With this comparative approach, in this scene — in a totally pagan world except for Abraham — was Abraham no better than any other pagan making a sacrifice?
The Akedah and authentic parental authority. What did it mean to Isaac for his father, for this father of a Chosen People, to consider sacrificing his only son? Or it should be said, the only son of Sarah, the woman he truly loved. In the eyes of Isaac, “ME!” As a grown son, leaving a place of comfort, to go to an unknown place with his old father. At the beginning of his adult life, at an age guestimated to be between 22 and 34, Isaac was no longer a child in this story. How did Isaac view his role in the Akedah, as the sacrifice? He certainly knew the story of his own birth. He certainly had heard how long Abram and Sarai had waited for his coming, of the covenant, and of the name changes.
In a polytheistic world. In a world full of polygamy, his father’s world, how did he get here? Isaac, in this family? And how had it all come down to this? In a totally pagan world that never before had instruction on how to pray properly, what exactly was the purpose of this sacrifice, of prayer, to this one God? In a world for Isaac, without as much delayed gratification as Abraham had had, was parental love just a joke? Or was Abraham’s love just a fraud? And this love for God? When for most young men his age, the lesson that life and death were no joking matters was learned over the long haul of life.
To have been a son of a woman who waited so long for a son, how did he belong here? On Mount Moriah? In search of God? What exactly was going on? So what exactly does sacrifice really mean? How was this a sacrifice except from the perspective of Isaac? So to live a life of sacrifice, does any child ever really know? Does any child ever really know the fear of a parent, and these fears which were alive as their kids? Or a least until a child graduated with a great deal of debt in a time of great economic fear? In a world with so much instant gratification.
“Where is the lamb for a burnt-offering?” Where is the sacrifice? What does it really mean for a people, for the next generation, to be bound in their prayers to this Creator? And what did it mean for a living ram to be caught up in all of this, bound in fear in the nearby thicket? A wild animal, catching the fire of the one lighting the sacrifice? Mammals and their fears surrounding the decision about sacrifice. With all the surrounding fear of wild animals, when bound up. Mammals in this evolutionary process, with decisions about sacrifice and the method of prayer.
What does it mean for the next generation to be bound to parental authority and the authority of God? Rosh Hashanah 2009, with the delayed gratification of Abraham thousands of years ago? Was it a time of great economic fear? Was it a time of war? To hear any story of true sacrifice and not appreciate the surrounding fear is to miss a point of view, the most significant tension in the story of decisions about sacrifice. About any sacrifice, in a conflicted world.
What was Isaac’s view of the meaning of things from the past, from a father whose ways seemed so strange? How in the name of God could his father have bought him to this scene? In a world with a no sense of the manner how to pray correctly, how did he belong in such a world? To such a tribe?
Taking the time with a day of remembrance, on Rosh Hashanah, in a totally pagan world, to reflect on the significance of the meaning for a son, for a people, to be bound? Unconditionally? To God? What does it mean to reflect on the meaning of life, in a day of remembrance about relationships…. Fathers … Sons … G*d. The past with the present, fathers and sons, and points of view, about the future. Why all THIS sacrifice? Why all this delayed gratification, like Sarah had had, waiting for a son, with Abraham.
The real comparative approach, to point of view, for Abraham, for Isaac, is how the next generation takes things from the past, and makes personal sacrifices now. People and institutions, in times of great fear. Taking all of this so personally, what does it really mean for a son, for a people to be bound? in a sterile world? For a son to be bound to these stories hundreds of years old? For a son to be bound to these stories 70 years after the start of World War II? Speaking of holocausts.
In a conflicted world with this lost sense of belonging for so many, in a world filled with deep fear? What does it mean in facing death, to keep making sacrificial offerings? In the story of decisions about sacrifice, what does it cost to keep giving to charity in harsh economic times, to those causes with great personal meaning? In a academic world with a new comparative approach, to point of view, losing the next generation focused so much on individuals and individual rights until the tribe was threatened. In a world with a lost sense of belonging? What was the comparative approach to life, when facing death? For institutions? For individuals?
I don’t really buy the analysis that “a civilization is judged by the way it treats its children.” I am not sure a civilization ever faces judgment. Another civilization declared bankrupt, in all of human history, barely is worth writing about. For me the most significant theme of the Akedah is the tension in the story on how to pray properly, with great passion when the prayers involve your own kids. In the never ending tension between fathers and sons. Between husbands and wives.
There is more and more this comparative approach to life used to attract the next generation. In the age of relativism. The comparative world looks too much at what our neighbors were doing, as seen on MTV. In an increasingly secularized world, in the world of reality television comes the celebrated substitution called diversity for the God of Abraham. Until you wondered what anyone believed in any more. Until you wondered what was worthy of sacrifice. For me a comparative approach to religion stated in the philosophy of the department of religious studies at Grinnell College falls more than a bit flat, in trying to attract young people to the traditions of the past. In a modern world that struggles with the search for truth, in a pluralistic world made for TV that embraces the word “diversity,” the comparative approach by an institution seems to ring hollow.
What was Isaac’s view of the meaning of his role in the Akedah, as both he and his father struggled to learn, with their different points of view, how to pray correctly? Rosh Hashanah seemed more like a day to reflect upon the quiet struggle to understand both parental authority and the authority of God. To struggle to understand sacrifice. To be personally touched by sacrifice. The quiet delayed gratification in having had sons and daughters in an instant gratification world. For me, the Akedah is ultimately about how alive your prayers can be when personally touched by sacrifice. A lesson taught amidst great personal fear.
“Where is the lamb for a burnt-offering?”
Sons who followed fathers. Generation after generation, the conflict in the story is between the unrecognized sacrifices by Abraham, in times of great fears, with a son/a daughter coming to an understanding, an awareness, of his/her role of sacrifice in God’s world. In hearing Isaac pose the above question, I think it more likely he came to a quick recognition that “…a son, a daughter is to be judged” by the way he/she treats and revers past tradition, studies past civilizations, respects authority, and make it into his/her own.
Crazy. Sons who followed fathers. A husband who could drive a mother crazy. Hey! Where was Sarah in this story? How did the mother to Isaac allow this entire scene to unfold? Without her?
Speaking of lost, that Dan Brown book just out — in sequels to stories about passing on power — was called The Lost Symbol.
The Associated Press is running an article today, posted on the Star Tribune website, about how the sex abuse crisis in the Roman Catholic Church comes to Italy. The writer must have been catching up of her news more than 7 months old. On January 22, 2009, the weekly news magazine L’Espresso published details of the exploitation and suffering in the city of Verona. Sixty-seven ex-pupils chronicled sexual abuse over a period of at least 30 years up to 1984 allegedly perpetrated by priests and brothers belonging to the Compagnia di Maria per l’Educazione dei Sordomuti. John Hooper first wrote about this in the Guaridan in February 2009. He wrote:
“For more than a century the Antonio Provolo Institute was regarded as a model of Catholic charity in action. It cared for the deaf mute children of families in a region, which, for most of that time, was among Italy’s poorest.” Giuseppe Zenti, the bishop of Verona, promised an exhaustive investigation, and said if the allegations proved to be true, they would represent a “lacerating wound” for all Christians.” At about this time the Minneapolis Star Tribune had objected to the fees imposed by the Associated Press, announcing their withdrawl which might be the explanation why this is now being presented as a news story.
The AP writer, Nicole Winfield, must have no clue about the meaning of numbers. She cites the 50,850 priests in Italy with its population of 60 million, comparing the abundant number to the 44,700 priests in the United States, referring to a nation of 300 million. She never cites the actual Catholic population in her story. She does not seem to make the important connection of priest count to the actual American Catholic population estimated at 60 million. The relationship of the Catholic population to the priest count issue also is never effectively drawn, though an astute writer might make that connection. I wonder how much of what she writes about that she does understand.
Religion was a lot like law enforcement. There was corruption in a police force on occasion. How did you maintain the law, in a world filled with evil? How did you maintain some semblance of order?
The news story focuses on goings on in a school over 30 years. Seventy-three cases over 30 years becomes “a culture of silence” which has surrounded priest abuse in Italy, according to the yearlong Associated Press tally. Seventy-three is now the AP standard for what constitutes “a culture.” It took more than 7 months to determine that 73 is what constitutes “a culture?” Among 50, 850 priests in Italy.
Most Christians who had heard the story of Judas were not real surprised any more by revelations that came out of Verona, Italy in January. But it was good to have a local newspaper back in the press community. Willing to throw its donation again in the collection basket. In the Associated Press.
With now a number closer to 7 billion than 6 billion, what was happening at this point in history? With this generation? I wonder what God had learned with the human population explosion. I had read that the Philippines ten years ago had 71 million people. The current population estimate there is 91 million people. So how had that Passover instruction, the one how to eat the lamb in proportion to the number of persons who partake of it, affected life there? Or here. in all of this traffic?
I greatly admire the scholarship of Jack Miles, a former Jesuit who won the Pulitzer Prize for his non-fiction work, God: A Biography. His curriculum vitae includes study at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and Hebrew University in Jerusalem, beside his Ph.D., in near Eastern Languages from Harvard. In my reading in either God: A Biography or to his approach to the Christian God in in his sequel, Christ: A Crisis in the Life of God, there is nothing heretical in the Christian perspective — if heresy could ever come out of a truthful attempt of discovering God, with no directed end to that of selfish use of power. I have read both books.
There was this nobility of human kind in that Genesis motive, God’s confession for existing: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” It was a mutual endeavor, when God was quoted by the author in use of what is called the royal “WE.”
God wanted an image, it was written. God needed an image to conquer that sense of loneliness? In creation? That underlying calm in a world was shattered. Yet day after day, most of the 6.7 billion do find food to eat.
With diffuse anxiety came war. Divorce. The ensuing dysfunction in family, with all that trouble communicating. And then the lies which ensued from the dysfunction. That was quite an aftermath to creation.
I wondered if He expected all of this aftermath? He had had a lot of silence before He set out with His creation plan. And any sense of loneliness, any sense of silence, was long since shattered in the prayers that must storm heaven every new morning.
God as a writer, looking for character in characters. And not getting a lot of cooperation. In the aftermath of all the discussion over the last 12 months of “too big to fail , how prepared is any author for the task of creating, I wondered? In the human writer, the writer has immense power along with self-ignorance, when self-ignorance has a lot to do with the need to create in the first place. At the start most authors have no idea for what he/she wishes. After taking pen to hand, Jack Miles asks, how prepared was God for what ensued? Is that why it took a few millennium to revise His plan? So God needed creation to realize what exactly he wished for in the first place? This was a lot like marriage….when a guy has no idea what he was in store for?
When it comes to women, there was a lot of talk these days about self-esteem. I have a friend with a Ph.D., who counsels young women all the time about their self-esteem. No one has ever gotten involved in procreation without some sense of self, to some degree, first. So with the education process, knowledge comes before any sense of self-esteem.
So once God bestowed the power to create, it was a lot like watching your own kids, and crossing your fingers, as they dealt with their powers to procreate, hopefully with a sense of good and evil. That second creation, with Noah, seems to have been an attempt to start over with some sense of morality, good and evil, to pass along to humanity. And so began the story of a Chosen People. A search for a Chosen People. Based upon blood.
In some parts of the world, this desire to procreate seems to have waxed and waned. Just as over time, Jack Miles writes, God’s desire to create subsides. Miles thought that this was the reason God has gone silent in the modern world. “The desire for potential carries within a tragic potential. Once you have seen your image, will you want to keep looking? Once you know who you are, will you lose your purpose?”
Wondering at some point if God did not expect more from humanity. In his book, Miles does address things like the different number of books in the Old Testament, as counted by Catholic and Jews. He addresses, as in any literary criticism, things such as point of view. But he never addressed the change from one book to the next, with all of these different authors, voice. Things like active or passive voice which can quietly change. When the authors never again captured God quite like the author had in the Book of Genesis.
There was a need for relevancy in the world. When you wrote for others. When you work became a prayer, in writing a book. When over time, in a generation, you discovered the meaning of a phrase. Yet when generations were so different from each other. In music. In prayer. So that was why the reference to the God of Abraham. The God of Isaac. The God of Jacob. This monotheism with one God who was so different over time. So that was the difficulty of those Catholics who knew God before Vatican II with those Catholics who came after?
On the eve of Labor Day. An author in search of the collective voice, in a world of iPhones and iPods. Amidst the need for relevancy, when as a writer, your work became a prayer. Whatever your work, there was still this need, this collective need, for a collective voice for a generation, in the search for relevancy. In an age where labor unions had died, only a faint collective voice in protest could be heard, in a need to be rescued. To cry out in protest. Over hunger. Over unemployment. Over sickness, without health insurance. Over abandonment. Crises in identity come over the erosion, the changes, with the times.
So what was happening at this point in history? Wondering at some point about this who-dunnit, if God did not expect more from humanity. The book, God: A Biography, stops at the end of the Old Testament. Were the answers back at the beginning of a story? In this nobility of human kind, in that Genesis motive? With a sense of good and evil? When God changed His theophany from individuals, like Adam, like Eve, to community leaders like Moses?
Wondering at some point what was happening at this point in history? If God did not expect more from humanity. With that generation in Egypt. His Chosen People. Remembering the Passover instruction. About the lamb that must be a year-old male. The lamb which shall “not be eaten raw or boiled. But roasted whole…None of it must be kept beyond the next morning. Whatever is left over in the morning shall be burned up.”
Thus the instruction that came with the Passover. Which still applied to my generation. In these traffic jams. “This is how you are to eat it: with your loins girt, sandals on your feet and your staff in hand, you shall eat like those who are in flight.”
So what was happening to this, with this, generation. To this nobility, in this mutual endeavor? With my generation? To that sense of identity? In the “too big to fail” world? With all this talk about self-esteem? At this point in history when the teaching on how to pray has long since been combined with instruction how to cook the lamb, with instruction on how to eat it, roasted whole, if we were to somehow survive? Together. “In proportion to the number of persons who partake of it.”
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The system: I always believed it was honest. I always believed there was some kind of perfect equilibrium. I believed my government for the most part was honest. I believed history was honest. I believed banks were honest, as were health care and baseball.
I believe Richard Nixon lost the office of the presidency because he was dishonest. Europeans never understood why Americans go crazy over dishonesty. The current world just did not seem real honest to me. There was a 15 words or less story about the 70th anniversary of the start of World War II on this day. The September 11th story, the 8th anniversary, will get a lot more words. Ratings from the 25 through 54 year old audience beat out truly significant history. It was all about the system.
The system: where someone somewhere decides the “Medicare rates” of reimbursement to hospitals and doctors. The Medpac board…made up of multiple stake holders, determining the reimbursement rate formula. There is a lot of cost shifting involved.
I heard a doctor discuss his own practice where under the system he could not take on a lot of older Medicare patient population. Too many, or he would go broke.
It was September. Twelve months after it looked as if the whole system was gonna crash and burn. The foundation called truth sure seemed to have moved.
Edward Gibbon wrote the History of the Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire during the years of 1776-1789. In his lifetime he served in Parliament, during the time the British fought a war in the American colonies. The theme of the book is that the Romans gave up political liberty to be a super power. A lot like I saw that the British had done to ruin the British Empire. Along the way, Gibbon wrote, the Romans were corrupting every aspect of their system. Until their people lost confidence in government, seeking only peace and order under a military dictator. Giving up liberty, for peace and prosperity, I heard a college professor profess say. Born in 1737 in the town of Putney, Surrey, the son of Edward and Judith Gibbon who had six siblings: five brothers and one sister, all of whom died in infancy. His grandfather, Edward, had lost all of his assets in the South Sea Bubble stock market collapse (1720), but regained much of his wealth eventually so that Gibbon’s father was able to inherit a substantial estate.
Sam Kashner has written a piece in October’s Vanity Fair about the publication of The Death of a President. In the 40 years since publication of William Mancheser’s account of the Kennedy assassination, “the Kennedy family has allowed the book to go out of print, according to John Manchester,” based upon their original agreement with Harper & Row. The son of he author noted to Kashner that royalties from The Death of a President helped build the Kennedy Library, though there’ is no mention of the book or the author anywhere. “He was written out of their history.”
The system: I always believed it was honest. I always believed there was some kind of perfect equilibrium. I believed my government for the most part was honest. I believed history was honest. I believed banks were honest, as were health care and baseball. INCOMPLETE