Archive for October, 2014|Monthly archive page

After the Birth of Ishmael: The Need For Intimacy

Lot “Flee to the hills, lest you be swept away.”

In stories about identity, the daughters of Lot were “one of them.”

In life and death.

Did you note the theme in the first chapters of Genesis, about movement, about life and death? In the urgency in the story which changed lives, in the framework of the story about Abraham and homelands, about being father to the multitudes, about sacrifice, what about Lot and his family?

What is too often glossed over in the next chapter is the realness of raw emotions after a daughter lost her mother, locate outsiders and insiders, and what is deep inside. In stories about relationship ….. what the daughters had been born into ….note the innocent in the story of lost innocence. In a story of intimacy and the problem of intimacy, there is the loss of the mother.

Genesis. It’s all fiction? When you get the small details wrongs….. in the beginning. People who were there…..told their stories. Consider what you had come to know about Lot, after he is rescued by his uncle Abram by waging war, after the prayers of Abram in the story about saving Lot and all of Sodom, after the next rescue by the angels of G*d out of Sodom. Consider all the risks taken to save Lot. Did you note the tension in the story of Lot connected to the love for Lot in the story, even after the separation?

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? There had been real intimacy problem as you are allowed to get close, when you now have to get closer …. in the days after losing your mother. After what had been their entire past had been sacrificed, along what had looked to be their future. After the angels of G*d had just saved these three from the fire and brimstone of Sodom, was Lot considered to be a victim after the incest – challenged, ridiculed. or beaten down – or were his daughters?

And so the story of the daughters of Lot, with the guilt of the father in the story, because his nameless wife died? [See ] Glossed over in the story of Sodom in the next chapter is the consequences of a converted/inverted/perverted view of the G*d of Abraham, passed along to the next generation. Consider the world of Noah which was destroyed, along with Creation with Adam and Eve, sacrificing their relationship with G*d – over fertility issues, in true sacrifice. The readers of the Book of Genesis are carried now to the lives of Abraham and Sarah – as the half-sister of Abraham – with the separation theme, after all the splitting and cleaving.

Did you note the theme in the first chapters of Genesis, about movement: Chosen, with your very own personal choices about continuing life, with always the doubt in the story about life – that I was loved, with the sacrifices made to demonstrate love, to remove the doubt? Because there always was doubt that you were Chosen, until you were so very much alone, like Noah had been. Or Isaac one day would be. Or Joseph one day in Egypt, in times of famine. Again and again, as your very private life would determine the future of the world: the mystery, with the seen and the unseen.

Note the chronology after Adam and Eve: Noah and his unnamed wife, pairing up all the animals. Did they feel so very much alone, with doubt in times of annihilation, before starting over – only now TIME replaces PLACE as a character determined who they were; did you ever sense from the displacement the deep feeling like a charley horse of the throat when you recognize a Post Traumatic Stress disordering, about what is lost of the inheritance if not the birthright as PLACE and TIME are mixed, in the New Creation? The theme 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 – with or without love.

So was this a new beginning or just an ending? Note the chronology – both before and after the story of incest – of the Father of Faith. Lot is the son of the brother of Abram whose wife HAD been able to deliver, for the future, children – delivering the God of Abraham into the next generation. Note all the delay in the world with fertility, with all the technology and knowledge of reproductive medicine as if this was these days only a female concern – maybe because so many women were left alone, with or without love.

Note the significance of the placement of the story just after Ishmael had been born. Note the chronology, with the barren issue, after the manipulation of Sarah and Hagar in their unequal relationship, in the story of the birth of Ishmael? From out of the obsession – the sin – over having a son? In the story of relationship, note the significance of the placement of the story after the Call which included Abram, Sarai and Lot; then the Promise, the famine in Egypt, before Abram separated from Lot, after Abram traveled to Egypt, after he rescued his nephew Lot by waging war, with the Promise of a son, the pregnancy of Hagar, the next promise thirteen years later, the circumcisions with the concern of the Lord over Sodom, the hospitality to the three strangers, the advancement of the angels to Sodom, saving Lot’s family. So now Lot went up from Zoar and he dwelt in the mountain, along with his two daughters.

And in what would become a recurrent them, did you note the refugees in the story. Fleeing. And after their father has lost his love – how visible this love must have been – the daughter try to give their father something for what he had lost in response to a heart-throbbing tragedy. In Sodom, where you KNEW the dead. With a certain kind of innocent cowboy mentality, as if two daughters could fix the visible hole in Lot with an act of sex, in my perspective – a perverted perspective of a share of the deepness. Trying to deliver something, did a female perspective note the great message of love here?

And without trying to distinguish, most of us missed the love in the story. And pay attention to the chronology. Did you ever see the need once again for placement, after being displaced?

“He was afraid to dwell in Zoar; so he dwelt in a cave, he and his two daughters.” With their thought that the entire world had been destroyed, as in the Generation of the Flood, the daughters then try to save the world? Was the command of the Angels of God still ringing in their ears: “Flee for your life! Do not look behind you…” As the angels did take hold of the hands of the nameless wife of Lot as well as the two nameless daughters, and brought them out of the city of Sodom along with Lot…. after Lot did delay. In a story about relationship, what his daughters had been born into ….the innocence connected to the concept of sacrifice. Here is another incredible story about illicit sex leading up to the story of circumcision leading up the Akedah sacrifice. In this story of feeling paralyzed, with a conflict of private and public lives, the family of Lot heads for the isolation unit, as if there was an outbreak of Ebola. So very much alone even as the God of Abraham seems to triumph, as if this was a competition – that His rescue of Lot could happen twice – as the G*d of Abraham triumphed as far as Lot was concerned?

“Come, let us give our father wine to drink, and let us lie with him, and let us bring to life seed from our father.”

Note the comparative approach to religion: comparing sister to sister, uncle to nephew, half-brother to half-brother – to save the world. The native born, or the first born son, with a comparative approach to the G*d of Abraham, it is never stated that Lot had been tortured in his captivity, but I think that he had been. And like so many soldiers today, I believe that Lot sustained Post Traumatic Stress, as he had returned to Sodom after his rescue. And he fell in love, as an outsider. And his nameless wife, like any woman, 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 – before her death – living surrounded by her kinsmen, but living with exception to these kinsmen, with all the strangeness of Lot, as he savored the aftermath of being saved by Abram.

Innocence taken and never really sacrificed. That a daughter would ever consider ….. out of the pain of what came out of an image and likeness of the relationships of their parents – of sleeping with their own father. Sense the manipulation part in each of the stories, involving consciousness – like in this incest. Who are these people? So what were the names of Lot’s daughters who had been in an arranged relationship, determined by family, with now their existing post traumatic stress on issues of trust, like what still existed today in Afghanistan where a tribesman never would allow you talk to or see his daughters. After the Lot family moved, or had been moved by the angles of G*d, after you are no longer surrounded by the crowd of your kinsmen, but still you are allowed to get close …. as this “birth right” comes to involve forgiveness. In times of annihilation as you were so personally threatened, as Lot had once been, since having been immersed into a culture at birth of annihilation, as sex became a form of punishment – or the thinking about the method of punishment which left most readers gasping. And now, in the story, the nameless daughters of Lot in the cave, hovering with their father, with nothing behind the concept of replication except loneliness and booze? So it was Lot’s daughters who next collaborate, without their life-long friends and relatives? Did you feel the pain of his own virgin daughters betrothed to men of Sodom, who had lost their betrothed, in arranged marriages? Now what then as it came to their future, if they had a future? When Abram had prayed to save all of Sodom because of the family of Lot there, here were the survivors saved. The command given LOT had been, “Flee for your life! Do not look behind you ….. nor stop anywhere in the Plain..” And get a higher perspective …. about what the daughters of Lot sacrificed in the story.

If laughing is a good thing, is crying? From out of human emotion, there is the discovery of G*d. In system collapse and displacement, there is the discovery of not only G*d but that the Lord was really with you. Find the broken Spirit of G*d of the two daughters of Lot who had lost their betrothed, two sisters, their mother, their friends and relations in Sodom, and probably their own spirit of joy, broken in their real life experience in ‘inherited’ Post Traumatic Stress, like their father had out of war? These people had just lost their home. Could you feel the emotions of the people that were there, before getting caught up in human Triumph over a brother or over one son…. or of one tribe over the other, like the Moabites or the Ishmaelites in another story, in the discovery how to pray together, to believe together, to love together? How many folks do you know that would get drunk, as a method of grieving?

In a story about dominion, in times of real annihilation as you were so personally threatened, with war and its never ending aftermath, when rape is about power and domination over your victim – like in Sodom – now comes incest? “Since,” writes Rashi, “the younger one was not the initiator of the illicit relations, but rather her sister taught it to her, Scripture covers up for her and does not explicitly tell of her disgrace. But [concerning] the elder, who initiated the illicit relations, Scripture publicizes her explicitly, as Lot’s two daughters conceived from their father.” As you get the small details wrongs….. in the beginning … like I think the eleventh century French scholar Rabbi Schlomo be Itzhak [better known as Rashi] does here, you could lose a sense of being human.

To have to survive in this world while no longer belonging to a place much less a time: behold the daughters of Lot. Who could cover up the suffering by pointing to “the illicit” with a concern only with the illicit? Had you read about the concern of the survivors’ group called SNAP? Or about victims of incest or child abuse? Why did humans take sides over illicit sexual relationships? In the post-war questions about sides – why did you ever take sides, in the beginning? Out of fear, anger, distrust? To even consider that one daughter was more innocent or better than the other – to focus on competition instead of God and the Triumph of God’s love was a human failing. Was there an irony of their pregnancies after Sarah had tried her entire adult life to get pregnant? In the stories of intimacy and the problems of intimacy, whom did you cheer for – and why?

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. In reading the story, G*d seemed to be doing more of the arranging in the relationship with Abram, with Abram doing most of his own arranging with his wife, in the territory of religion called mystery, until he listened to Sarai about the arrangement with her handmaid. Contrast Abram and his thinking about the G*d of Abraham to his nephew, Lot, who had such a need to be led 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, but 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, but with the evolving female idea in trying to increase the numbers, for the delivery of G*d to the next generation – to replicate God’s greatness; a woman who was expected to somehow, in her very own way, to carry the G*d of Abraham further in the world, beyond the tribes and the homeland where they were born.

Even years later, in the inheritance, in the strange ways of this G*d, living in a future with the reduced set of circumcisions in their inheritance, dealing with loss, since the destruction of Sodom, would you ever cheer for a survivor – from Sodom? After the rescue and redemption, in the twenty-four hours after you witnessed the death of your mother, while expecting not only your own death but extinction of your father, would you ever feel that the Lord was really with you …. and with your Spirit? As the daughters of Lot, in the next sequence in the story, made their father their god, in this story? In its aftermath, filling the voids of his two daughters who had no understanding over why they had been saved, did Lot, as he came to grips with his shame, after he had offered his daughters to the crowd back in Sodom, have understanding?

In the beginning of …. connect the dots concerning Sodom and purity . . . to give to someone, to pass on. Philanthropy, on issues of accommodation. Through story, image is defined by others, especially in the way of Lot’s nameless daughters. In the vehicle that carried the future – language, earth, children, or story – up against war and its never ending aftermath, after Abram had waged war against slavery of Lot but he then next had allowed his wife to have a handmaid with whom he became complicit in the arrangements …. for a son. And then …. to sacrifice a son. How did this story connect to the next ones, in the story of the Family Tree?

And so this bond between Abram and his nephew Lot, after Abram has decided that his descendants would not go door to door, would not have radio shows. 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.) Abram who had married his half-sister, and now Lot whose daughters were just as pure as Lot and his nameless wife from Sodom.

And thus begins, in the beginning of, the Moabites with a connection back to Cain and always the need to be saved. With the story of sacrifice, in a world with hunger, in a world filled with fear, with blood enhancing connected-ness, with an abrupt end. A lot like the ways and the reasons that a life could end so fast. There are emotions connected to sacrifice, when I offered something so personal. What had Abraham learned from the daughters of Lot, about a father prepared to give everything that is important away? When it looked as if you were giving everything away? In sacrifice? EVERYTHING! Like the family of Lot had just lost in Sodom.

With the academic freedom to know G*d and to love G*d and to finally serve G*d, there can often be a missing trust when people come to think alike. What is the thinking of your kinsmen who wanted a story covered up, like the origin of the Moabites? Recall the words at the time of the separation between Abram and Lot that had led Lot to Sodom: “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?’

Compare how you prayed to others — not so much that you might pray better, but to find the Living G*d. In the anguish of living with G*d or without Him, as inequality threatened stability, I think that the story in this relationship between Lot and his nameless daughters was about what happens concerning the relationship AFTER the betrayal — in what would happen to the bond? So the Moabites had originated and come from this place called Sodom; 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.

In a PLACE, in a TIME, through story, image is defined by others, especially in the way of Lot’s nameless wife. So the displaced daughter who risked her virginity, for a son named Moab. What would Abraham say, with this night no longer covered up – with the pregnancies, after everyone heard about what had happened in Sodom, what did Abraham say? Or what did G*d say? After these three people had been saved from Sodom?

Note the wine in the story, used to change the consciousness of Lot. As a self-esteem of the people of Sodom, including the nameless wife of Lot’s — in more than just another story of pride — had been, along with their god, all based upon one PLACE, so in contrast to the G*d of Abraham. And you alone seemed saved by the angels who needed to grab the hands of Lot’s family – those two daughters had no understanding over why they had been saved, and did Lot?

As to what they had been born into, 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 (angels)? And people, and I along with them, always thought the conflict in Lot’s home was somehow associated between the G*d of Abraham and the gods of Sodom? In times when there might not be enough to share, with strangers, in a place like Sodom? So now there would be?

Did you ever feel the tenderness connected to the nameless in the stories of the “nones.” To savor its aftermath, consider the next story to follow “in the beginning of”, involving circumcision, with Abram’s growing concern over purity, after what he had done to Hagar, per the preceding chapter before this one about Lot, which would result in circumcisions for Abraham, Ishmael, and his slaves. Note the placement of the stories, when identity always came out of TIME and PLACE. 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 …. except if you were female? (And so the perspective of Lot’s daughters in the dénouement of the story of Lot, after his life in Sodom had been sacrificed?) Or couldn’t you do anything, if you owned a handmaid? Lot with his war-torn Post Traumatic Stress now without his wife and only with his shame – over his actions the NIGHT BEFORE – looking to get drunk …. again, maybe like long-gone relative Noah living with the agony of loss after his rescue with his ark? The unstated part of the story was if you consider what you had come to know about Lot, if Abram had not rescued Lot, Lot would have continue to live a life in slavery. Otherwise his captors would have killed him.

In the conflict over belonging, even with the innate desire for independence, in a world where rape is about power and domination in Sodom, what in the life of Lot was this incest about? When you owned someone? Could you feel, as Rashi never did, the hostility of the two nameless daughters of Lot with their broken spirit after their own father’s betrayal? Or their outrage with the always and everywhere doubt over some warped sense of those who were chosen after hearing true stories of annihilation, about the powerless and the innocent? When it was clear that even God was capable of mass killing of the innocent.

Isn’t the story abhorrent? Did you ever read Judy Herman’s Trauma and Recovery about the lost trust never recaptured after an incident of incest? Who really is betrayed in the story? It is the daughters who lost their innocence. What did Lot remember about the night? How is Lot damaged in the story, except to the communal standards with an audience, his reputation? It is the focus on the daughters who become the new heroes, afterward? It was what had happened the night before …..when there was the threat to his own daughters, at the invitation of Lot. So that Lot, this already damaged war veteran, might be saved? Outrageously, to save himself along with the angels of G*d, Lot had offered to sacrifice his own daughters – his perfect daughters – to the crowd. And could you feel the later story to come when Abraham took Isaac to Mount Moriah? What kind of theology was this, as you are ready to sacrifice the next generation?

Climbing mountains to get a higher perspective, with arrangements gone bad: it was all a facade – Lot’s espoused belief in the God of Abraham which came with a brand? The nameless daughters of Lot had just lost their betrothed, two sisters, their mother, their friends and relations in Sodom, and probably their own spirit of joy, broken in their real life experience in the prior twenty-four hours by what their own father had offered the crowd to save only himself. And they would have Post Traumatic Stress like their father had out of a war?

When in a different way of ownership, in forming a daughter/son and there could be the resentment. So now the daughters of Lot had offered themselves to their father, as the last person on earth who you could trust was gonna have you committed to a mob – the motive in the crime was the human condition, and being left so all alone? And scared. The goal in repeating this story is to gain access, through stories of discovery, to be better, like climbing mountains to get a higher perspective. There are always these gradual changes… what is called systemic theology, followed by the fear and the anger.

When a father finds salvation through his daughters. There is not much mention of Lot after this episode, after his daughters got pregnant on the same night – as to who would have the first born grandson of what was left of Lot’s family. One boy was called Moab. And after the beginning, there would be the appearance of the Moabites, like the later appearance of the Ishmaelites who save Joseph who saves the sons of Jacob; there is the appearance of the Israelites, in entering the “Promised Land”, who did not pass through the land of the Moabites (Judges 11:18), but conquered Sihon’s kingdom and his capital at Heshbon. After the conquest of Canaan the relations of Moab with Israel, Wikipedia reports, were of a mixed character, sometimes warlike and sometimes peaceable so much like the constant strife between the herdsmen of Abram and Lot, as when complaints reached Abram about the misbehavior of Lot’s herdsmen, about the arguments between their shepherds. And so this child would grow to form what became those Moabites, who descended from the house of Lot.

Spending time with each side – all these people surrounded by so many of their kinsmen, in the very same human condition shared, trying to do the same thing – whom did you cheer for, in the beginning, or since the days of rampage, as the Islamic State demands conversion in the manner that Abraham circumcised his own slaves? In all the aftermath of September 11, 2001, with the Power of God in these stories, were you still thinking about the method of sacrifice – which left most readers gasping, in the anguish of living with the past or without one, in this evolutionary developing story, in the shared G*d of Abraham? As I count the number of times that Lot was rescued which affected the delivery of the God of Abraham outside the land of Canaan.

In this Creation story that took more than seven days, here is the G*d of Abraham who hears and answers prayers. Rashi seemed to have missed the moment of the Book of Genesis of another new Creation – starting over, with only the power of G*d, more slowly revealing Himself to these two young women who needed something in their life, to replace all that they had lost. After the Holocaust in Sodom, if you considered the chronology in the story, connect the need of these two young women to both the need and the prayer of a older woman named Sarah. In a variant of dealing with denial, in an attempt to show their dominion over the place, when two daughters doubted the love in the world, here was the story of incest. Like the words in the opening of the Book of Genesis: “In the beginning of God creating the skies and the heavens – when the skies had been shapeless and formless, and darkness had been on the face of the deep, and God’s Spirit was hovering on the face of the water…..” To give birth rather than every day recount the horror of what you had just experienced! Living this night back in a cave, did the reader sense the environment of darkness? If you considered the future of the world, and delivering the G*d of Abraham – a much more personal G*d – for the future for three people who lost everything that mattered.

On issues of shared dominion between humans, if not between G*d and Lot, note the movement in the story of bonds which came from compounded belief, of a real human birth or two. How old were you when you felt this power inside, as you were now surrounded by people who shared their belief in you, even with all of the real human doubt between people and families – a doubt which would continue to be a theme over a lifetime, in this evolutionary process in the jittery interior female wavering feeling toward life – the butterfly within – to say something, when there was something missing. My God! A child. In this evolutionary process toward forgiveness which begins with the remembrance of the relationships of the father of faith, with his G*d and his nephew — with the suffering of the nameless daughters of Lot. Yes, in the challenge at this PLACE, in these TIMEs, I see the darkness along with the words in the opening paragraph of the Book of Genesis: “Let there be light.”

So was this a race between two sisters – after their mother is sacrificed – over who would have the first born? So did you ever feel the tenderness connected with the God of Abraham to the nameless daughters in this story of the “nones,” much like Abram had married his own father’s daughter? “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. Mostly the same stories, generation after generation.

And so in the ENDING, a message of love. A child. A baby for each daughter, apparent even to those who do not look as closely at what happened, in the story.  These two nameless daughters of Lot had seemed to not only have lost their mother, their past, but their future.  So there is a question if the children were being used?  Were they, like Isaac, to be seen as a victim? All the world now knows the story of Sodom.  But wasn’t this the story of Genesis of Israel’s largest rival?  So, when a life is spared – or three.  In each of the stories, did you see the same things happening?  This time to the grandchildren of Abraham’s beloved deceased brother.  in another story of the missing, the critic who never considered what it was these daughters had sacrificed, with an everlasting result in this inheritance …. from the sacrifice to somehow change the future. To amend their lives, in the movement from nameless daughters to mothers — and to father once again. Since the time when, at a place, Abraham in attempting to show how separate he was from all other men, just as Noah once had been… and it was due to The Call.  In another story about either the forced in, or the forced out, did you ever feel the tenderness connected to the nameless in the stories of the “Nones”?  And because these three left Sodom in response to the Call of the two angels, all three of them had survived, to carry the God of Abraham further into the world.

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