To Bear


The conflict of the old ways with the new mind. Nomads and their children, fighting for independence.

The narrative device communicating not information, but an instinct about goodness. The serial work by encoding key ideas into a kind of formulaic element, trains a reader to understand the key ideas in a kind of emotional shorthand — in a search between the lines for both the seen and the unseen.

First. Order. Before there was any law. In the beginning. Chosen first. In the serial stories there are the personal and/or nostalgic associations. Not for the light-hearted, the debate is over goodness in what, for so many, were just kid stories. Over whose sacrifice was best, in the debate over how to worship God which began as Abel, “for his part, brought the fatty portion of the FIRSTLING of his flock.” In the theme of “firstborn” and of chosen, with inheritance. When you assembled the children to hear the stories. In the beginning.

Emigrants having to leave. In what had already happened to the keeper of flocks, the tiller of soil. The first job descriptions after just the one bite. Of the apple. Cain and Able both who honored God from the work of human hands. And so the conflict, over whose work was better. The movement in the story, to move populations again, into the outside world, through righteous anger. One day to a promise land. With one refugee now tied down to the land. The anger at the unfairness of the system of old, or new systems which replaced them. The quiet irony in the later chapters about inheritance for the first born son, when Cain was the real first born son. And Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. Then the Lord asked Cain, Where is your brother Abel? (Though there are no quotation marks in the text.)

Repetition as the narrative device: Repetition, used carefully as a narrative, can enhance a written work as effectively as in a musical score or in photography.

So for this culture of force, stories which reflect something in the way of goodness for people made in an image and likeness. The repetition in the well-designed serial stories serves not as a thematic device—but like a scientist looking for patterns. Humans arrive with formulae since if something has worked once, likely it might work again. When you recognize the people in the story to be so much like you. That charting of repetition was also the basis for most science.

When your life becomes a formula, with personalities, plot structures, and noble character within, in order to develop comfort, with consistent shapes, often reaching consensus over right and wrong if not goodness over evil. When there did not yet exist a rule of law.

Cain: The estrangement. In a story about the second born being killed. The restlessness as the first born son tries to own if not the earth, the Creator. The jealousy was over the love of the Creator — or really human perception of the Creator. Based upon all the expectations of the first-born, like his mom and dad.

The pressure and stress of first-borns to keep it all going. Note the restlessness in the stories of wandering people, before the transformation sequence involving the Creator. After killing his brother, God sentences him to wander the earth – as a bit of a prelude to the stories of exile, for the ever wandering Jew. The theme when you were forced out. The restlessness of Eve, of Cain, of Abraham. The craziness? The inherited restlessness as renters tried to own the earth, with a forced fight for freedoms and independence. (The precursor stories of the conflict between Jews and Christians, between Islam with the west?)

Cain lived on, had intercourse with his wife, and became the founder of a city that he named after Enoch his first born son. And to Enoch was born Irad; Irad became the father of Mehujael, Mehujael became the father of Methusael, Methusael became the father of Lamech. Lamech took two wives – the first was Adah, the second Zillah. After Cain’s wife conceived and bore his first born son.

Bear: To bring forth; to hold up. To both try to reproduce and then produce. A transitive verb, taking an object. From Middle English beren (“carry, bring forth”), from Old English beran (“to carry, bear, bring”). In the burder of bearing a child, to both conceive and bear. To concentrate with a specific purpose – to bring to bear. To accept and deal with. Nautically, to steer.

To bring forth, out of the garden. As Cain, looking for attention, with his own self image and all, was in the unraveling world. Who could see the unraveling, as it happened in my world?

In what was the second of a long serial story that dealt mostly with love and fertility, the mystery was in determining who was heroic, and who was not. With an awareness of a missing bond at the beginning between the keeper of the flock with not only his Creator but with his brother. I think by the end of the story, with love and fertility, that Cain had become a lot more heroic. When the most difficult aspect of Cain’s role was in the dislocation from Adam and from Eve. A woman on the Creighton online ministry website last week wrote: “Throughout my life I have moved, relocated, and been transplanted. I have lived under the ‘authority’ of my parents,” relocating in her own life as a military dependent – a child – or a wife. Joan Blandin wrote that she had relocated 13 times until she became an instructor in a Spirituality Program, with her own certificate in Spiritual Direction. It is so difficult to run a national company to get your brothers, as equals, to relocate, to move-on with the mission, she was surprised to hear a provincial of a religious order say, about that the most difficult aspect of his role.

Nomads and their children in conflict with the old ways, with a new mindset, fighting for independence, who one day come to belong.

Copyright © 2012.

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