Archive for the ‘Abraham’ Category

The Initial Public Offering of Ishmael

Today is Eid al-Adha, an Arabic phrase for Feast of the Sacrifice. In all of human history, no writer ever tells a story except with a purpose. With a theme. In order to go deeper, back to the time when we were one. Before the split. To the root. This was a perspective of love. Deepest love.The Akedah

Anyone born after 1994 came to learn the story as a child.  About September 11th, like some kind of a new Halloween.  Perhaps as a consequence of what happened that day, the probability is greater than not for those born after 1980, somewhere in the Western World, that you are now Unaffiliated. Somebody perhaps who is living a provisional, disrupted life. Un-spoused. Uncovered, not incidentally, by your life as a freelancer. Even with the Affordable Health Act [which is costing me $800 per month as an unmarried man, with a $6000 deductible.]

For a freelancer, what defines life ? Race. Color. Creed. Gender. Or HOME?  Attached or unattached, there is the physics of sacrifice, after Abram’s first sacrifice of home.  So Abram had discovered the Spirit of a land, but only after he gave up the place called home. After he separated himself from home. And as a consequence, Abraham / Ibriham is the Christopher Columbus of the new world involving Church-from-State sacrifice.  Now depending on what book you subscribe to,with or without an acceleration of an importance, the finality of this discovery for all time was made as he tried to sacrifice his first born son. The Judeo-Christian world refers to the event as The Akedah. The Muslim world reads of the same story on Eid al-Adha. In either case, this is the story of the beginning of relationship. Humans with One God, in The Covenant based relationship. With real people.


Sacrifice is a violent act. What happens when the sacrificial act is not accepted by the community?  To begin with, at the time, by the mother of Ibriham’s son?  What cold shoulder of suspicion did Hagar give to both Abraham / Ibraham and Sarah after hearing of what had happened to Ishmael?  After Hagar had sacrifice her own purity out of her love for this couple?

What was Abraham / Ibraham doing with Hagar’s living loving visible innocence named Ishmael, at a time that Abraham / Ibraham had his other son named Isaac? Whereas at a point in the story where Hagar never had ‘lost my husband’, in a sense Ishmael, after he was set free, had lost his father? How old in the morning light of Eid al-Adha had Ishmael been, with the magnitude of human sacrifice, in these splits, with all of the tensions which start immediately after a split. Between family? In the hidden practice of EXILE. Forever. From your clan.

The hidden archives. What defines life but a mother? So when did the Western world discover from the hidden archives about the whereabouts of Ishmael? As if you too are entitled to have this protected status, carrying a name, as a descendant of the Prophet Abraham? Yes, over time a prophet becomes unwanted, like the presence of Ishmael is an unwanted intrusion, in his native land. When the Victim in each of the stories of sacrifice taught the importance of giving up the protected status that you once had considered to be the inheritance, in the name of Forgiveness. And both of the sons of Abraham – in stories on innocence – had come back to bury their father. Together.  

By sacrificing Ishmael and setting his first born son free, Abraham/Ibraham seems to have taken measure to make certain that his two sons would not compete against each other to the detriment of the world. And this was the real invisible sacrifice never quite celebrated on the Feast of the Sacrifice.

Formation: You in the story either with or without a religious tradition somehow acquired through Abraham. The Divine Comedy ends with the character, in The Dénouement, as the next generation takes over, better off than in the beginning. Like in the story of Noah, deleting the First Creation, before taking it back.  Ishmael, better off than at the start of the story.  In word and deed, set free …. only in a place that he does not know. And what of the art of language, without any stories of your own – a freelancer – without any body, except Adam’s story about the Tree of Knowledge?

Without a known language of their own, babies cry? Ishmael, but with a language of his own. A language to measure my God against your God, over who is best? When a people first share a language, before they can express what they sense about their God. The art of language involves immersion in spelling, grammar, vocabulary. The PLACE that specializes upon teaching to pass on the art of language…. for a certain consistency in a culture, with the young and the old. The greatness of Islam, of Christianity and of Judaism – that not many imans ever reveal these days – is when the same father taught you? Like Abraham once taught his two sons. Ishmael, with the mother with the language of a strange land …. of Egypt. How would Sarah ever intimately communicate with Ishmael? Had she recognized the problem, long before the end of weaning her own son Isaac? What is most true in the story is the imposition of the God of Abraham on Ishmael … in the way of circumcision. So why wouldn’t Abraham do the same thing in the way of sacrifice with his first born son that the Judeo-Christian world hears was also done with Sarah’s first born son. In the chronology of Sacrifice, in gratitude which leads to a need for Mercy/Forgiveness before Atonement. How? How to atone? Reparations? Deeds? To do good. To balance the evil in the world that I have a share in, from my own inheritance.

To pray through stories alone does not feel like prayer. Behold the part of language! How can a human be spiritual, except with a language that is their own? In evolution of …..why the illiterate suffer in a culture based upon the law, not learning the art of language, if the people do not know the depth of language. How would you trust the law if you did not know the language or the stories? In the HERE, after Abraham is gone? To pray without sacrifice does not feel like prayer. And in the story of both Eid al-Adha as well as The Akedah, both sons of Abraham live. For all the sons of Abraham, sharing something in common – in prayer with sacrifice – does feel like a cause for celebration. In The Dénouement, young men who went away and came back.

Passover

“Mostly they are the same lives. The same stories, over and over,” wrote David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker. We endow our lives with stories. When your relationships were so alive, as your prayers were so alive and you wanted others to then have the same experience. Mostly the same stories, generation after generation. In search of the Promise Land. With a great restlessness. Carrying the fire, with the importance of the binding in the relationships, in stories within your own tradition, about pure love. With God’s intervention in the relationship.

Moses was born into a story whose history long predates him. Like Abram, Moses was a member of a “tribe” and like Abraham, he carried the idea of a new nation, after the burning bush, based upon Abraham’s idea of a place to freely sacrifice? A nation based upon blood, though it is thought that the young would never want to know about pain, never want to know about war, pestilence or death? The young do not, for the most part, want to hear of the never-ending plagues? They do not want to hear about Israel,named after the renamed Jacob?

There is this poetic justice of Passover, when contrasted to the times of the birth of Moses in Egypt.  I wonder whether the Egyptians were then having kids? Behold, in the story of Moses, the outsider! To the Pharaoh, with the two kinds of people in his kingdom – those who were free and those who had become enslaved – there was this annoying Moses.  Or had it been the savers and those who needed to be saved, as the slaves were making the Pharaoh look bad? Was this a fear, like in Sodom, of the growing minority of outsiders? [Lot, who had married a woman of Sodom, had been the only outsider.] Contrast the ambiance in Egypt in the times when Moses had been born to the ambiance in Egypt during the plagues. Death was all around? New life was not?

Note the separation if not a halving in this unsettling story. To be moved, like Abram, from his place of birth. The writers who record, unknowingly, an identity in stories, never mention the heart-break when you sacrifice a homeland? For the Pioneers, the FIRST time in the story of firsts.  Born into a story whose history long predates me, note the Identity, here! The ones listed, in the metrics of measuring up to the past, to judge.  So Abram’s first born son was half-Egyptian, though never in his early life had he seen the land of Egypt? After Egypt had saved the sons and grandsons of Jacob – after the Ishmaelites had saved the life of the prophet Joseph – wasn’t the threat HERE, in the times of Moses, to the Hebrew slaves whose identity comes from the LAND?  Hadn’t that been the reason Abram left, in his Call, in the first place? When he sacrificed his father’s home? There is a threat when you identify so much – too much – with the native land?

Compare / contrast. The metrics of story. Miscasting Ishmael, as a son disowned, the story of Passover miscasts the slaves? The tradition of story – the Passover story – only makes sense in light of the larger narrative arc of God’s saving work with Israel – so much like the half of his mother’s family that Jacob came to discover, as he had moved in with them [those who had formed her]. Echoing this theme of fulfillment is, the larger narrative arc, from an every day invisible formation of his own creator, at what point you were felt to be half-slave? As you were losing your identity, in this more and more secular land, like in Egypt? In a slavery which consumed every moment of your life, without any law to protect you and your loved ones? When you were not free, the past and its tradition become so dispensable, in a secular world.

Formed to be different than those living in the secular world of The Egyptians. Concerning Identity …. what does make me belong here, even after The Call? Notice ever the saving LAND of Egypt, for more than 400 years? There is this hostility in the perspective to the past, over the power of the past that everyone has been born into, because the past carries a certain authority.

Passover. There is the past in the story. So a new nation, based upon Abraham’s idea …. like maybe Abraham once had considered what a son would be like? And is it ironic that his first-born son had been half-Egyptian, and it was Egypt that had saved the grandsons and grand-daughters of Jacob, who had been renamed Israel? In a story of the loss of innocent life, is there a missing perspective about this unsettling story of Passover. For the Pharaoh who lost his first born son – the one he thought would one day be king?

The Call, again. Did you hear the Call again, here, like Abram had been called out of the land to which he was born? And so another story about halving in this unsettling story of refugees, like Abraham’s first-born son, Ishmael.

Was there a great irony, in a disconnect from the time of Joseph when he had saved not only his father and the sons of Jacob but he had saved the Ishmaelites and all of Egypt? Behold another story about those who were saved, those who belong not to a land but, to us, still – the 600,000 refugees and their God. And what clearly had happened in the story of Passover, at the time of Moses’ birth through the time when Moses killed an Egyptian to save a slave, is that under the Pharaoh the past and its tradition had become so dispensable.

Over and over there is, for the sons of Abram, The Call. And in Passover, it is Moses who heard the same Call, to move the descendants of Abraham through Sarah out of Egypt. The story is not about political Power but something else. Did you feel all of the emotions connected to leaving? “I envy the dead with somewhere to settle down … permanently,” said the Syrian widow who envied the dead, while leaving in 2015 her loved ones behind . . . to be moved, like Abram from his place of birth? Life as refugees, for forty years! Behold Passover!  Note the halving/ separation in this unsettling story, as hearts are broken, as death is all around, but new life is not?

Had you read what had happened in Cologne on December 31, 2015, about the missing sacred, for younger people whose smaller attacks repeatedly have been discounted as random acts, by the secular leaders like Angela Merkel and the mayor of Cologne? It was like the gun violence, here, where I live. The secular world, in Belgium, treated Muslims from Morocco as victims who had no chance of succeeding, in life. What happens to a people who cannot be saved? To their Spirit? To move out of a kingdom, with powers of the monarch, into the land with more freedom where the majority ruled but you were always going to be the minority. You were not formed as the majority had been formed here. The KING of Morocco – unlike the Pharaoh – was happy to get rid of these discarded Moroccans who had come over time to sacrifice their identity? Clearly, these accused young male were giving up their religion and their identity which had taken up every moment of their life. Cast into a democratic republic, new belief filled the vacuum, that the end justifies the means? The young all around wanted consumer goods or some kind of worldly power over someone?  It had been young Moroccan men in Cologne on New Year’s Eve, involved in sexual assaults. [The unresolved mystery for this writer is how so many Muslims claimed January 1 as their date of birth.] Behold their underlying anger, that accompanies a lost identity!  What does the secular world not see about what had been left behind?  Behold the emptiness in the story, in the stories of the great unsettling and an emptying out.  Is it a wonder that ISIS – these pimps FOR sacrifice, for only their own temporal power – appeals to the refugees from a kingdom?

As you sacrifice a past, either voluntarily or involuntarily, the story of Ishmael had never been about a frothing rage at the colonialism of Sarah, using her handmaid to have a son. In the great unsettling, the story of Ishmael is not about a paternal Authority but something else – the spiritual power at work in an unsettling. The Call. His very own Call, just like the Call of Abram. And Hagar too listened to the voice of God, in another story of a saving love which comes out of the true sacrifice in leaving, as Abram once left.  


Passover is the challenge to remember for the children the unsettling story of invisible splitting. So had Ishmael been a victim? When each of the Victims in the stories of sacrifice – Isaac, Ishmael, Jesus – left behind to their followers this boldnes-for-life identity, like for a chocolate chip cookie. The unsettling boldness passed on by Abraham, to all of his sons and grandsons? This Passover season [which does extend for eight days] recall with bold gratitude the insertion into a rich family history of this ancient tribe of Abraham, with the attachment to the arc of God’s saving work through Abraham and Sons, both in the Land of Israel and wherever you happen to live, after the Great Unsettlings.  As a believer in one of the Abrahamic religions, consider the chocolate chip cookie and whether you had enough chocolate chips inside to even be considered a chocolate chip cookie, by both the inside and the outside world, or in the new world that you had entered.  With forty years of exile, to come.  What does happen when there is not a community of people there who had preceded me?  It is said in Belgium, “a less-integrated Turkish community has resisted the promise of redemption through jihad offered by “radical” zealots. The Turks, as a result, had held on to their identity in a foreign land.  Their children are not so split – YET – between the old world and the new.  And speaking of “saving love,” it is Turkey and Jordon which are saving so many refugees!

Behold the land which had once saved the sons of Abraham in Egypt, if the leaders there always did not. Note the Ishmaelites who did sell Joseph – at a time when slaves were sold – in the “Saving” in act of buying. A caravan of Ishmaelites had been given Joseph, after Judah had had his brothers sell Joseph – for a price, each time. Behold Egypt in the story, of salvation!  This selling of Joseph by the Ishmaelites, in the end, to the Egyptian, had saved him.

Behold the system, and the closeness to power in the story, in the household of the king! In the real world, behold The Pharaoh, counting the cost, 400 years later.  And slavery was about humans looking for enough ease! Yes, the Ishmaelites had sold Joseph . . .to a chamberlain.  Behold the pain of giving up, what you one day had had.

This ‘giving up’ was a Passover story. Just as saving or being saved, in the case of Moses, by the Pharaoh’s daughter. Living with the Egyptians before the split, with a closeness to power. Hadn’t it been a betrayal to the sons of Joseph who had saved all of Egypt to then enslave them? Behold the perspective of sacrifice: inside and outside over the devolution of sacrifice! “So where is the lamb, Abraham?”

From the saving LAND of Egypt, was it all of this LAND that needed slaves? Behold the invisible fertility which returned since the times of Famine!  The grateful-for- having-been-saved slaves!  When these people of Egypt had enough – Dayenu – and then forgot, by this point in the story, about all the people connected  to how Egypt had been saved.  So how, Moses, would the land be tended after our slaves were set free? What did a LAND do to a people’s spirituality, for these humans looking for ease!  Behold the threat of attachment to a place, if the Israelites too much belonged? Behold The LAND as a character in the story, with the sell-out, with betrayal, of your one-time saviors!  Did you have too much land or too much money if you ever considered purchasing a slave? Or not enough of your own fertile young kids to work the land?

With income and expenses, note the involuntary nature of his request to sacrifice your nation’s slaves, by this man named Moses. There would have been a revolt!  In the betrayal part of the story, in the Akedah, hadn’t Abraham betrayed his son?  How does that story connect to Passover? Why should the Pharaoh betray the Land and the future?  Had there been a threat of attachment? So did these slave belong to Egypt?  If your son never had a homeland, how would any of your descendants ever belong?  Did a son make a father too attached to the world?  Why HAD Abraham heard the Call to leave his home?  And then the Call to sacrifice his only son?  Whichever son!

It had been the chief servant who found Isaac, oh so damaged in the Akedah, as the reliance on the servants continued in this family, a wife. Hadn’t Jacob then betrayed Rachel by not saying no to the marriage with Leah? And then there were all the handmaid tales, with the sons and one daughter of Jacob, with sellouts, with betrayal, over issues of belonging?  Or in a world with all of the arrangements and the arranging, in  a world with dowries, was it the laws which determine belonging?  Locate all the betrayals…. in Joseph tattling on his brothers; in his brothers plan to sacrifice Joseph; even in the revised arranging to sell Joseph into slavery, based upon who was free and who was a slave in this family? And Reuben!  Yes, with the long-forgotten Reuben, did you ever see the voluntary nature of his sacrifice …. of the birthright?  And wasn’t that what had saved Joseph in the first place?  And by saving Joseph, Joseph had saved all their known world?  To have sacrificed the birthright, and his own sense of attachment, in the name of love.

Eve. Did you ever feel her conflict over the very first commandment?  In the one law about belonging in The Garden?  Like in the same conflict for Reuben, in the story how he lost his birth right, over a handmaid, in times when the law recognized handmaids as wives except with respect to an inheritance, though it had been Reuben who had saved Joseph after he was thought to have lost his inheritance.  And before Moses ever saved his people, there had been his sister Miriam who had saved Moses, risking her own life. In the name of sisterly love.


So wasn’t the conflict between Moses and Pharaoh – with the same deep emotions of his sister at the time that Moses had been born – over the recognition of the Spirit of God? After the God of Jacob once had saved all of Egypt, in a forgotten recognition of the God of Abraham? From out of The Call to KNOW – in sacrifice of Abraham’s son by Sarah – comes a recognized expectation to save. After Isaac is saved. And if you read the Quran, the same thing had happened to Abraham’s first born son. Unlike Ishmael, Isaac never physically leaves …perhaps because his faith is so shaken . . . as he is saved from Abraham’s image of God. Did you know of the involvement of a servant in the case of both these sons, after their own so personal involvement in the Akedah, then to find them a spouse?  In Ishmael’s case, it was the handmaid/ mother Hagar who found him a wife, as Ishmael learned over a time of discovery that he was born as no traditional servant. Behold the Post Traumatic Stress in the stories of the Victim, to make OUR lives a blessing …”bless those in need of healing”….. when no one would ever be the same!

Behold the conflict! “Though you are holier than I am, your God is not my God. Yet!”

Enough! Note the point of enough between Pharaoh and Moses, in the halving/ separation in this unsettling story, in asking for a place for his people to “freely” worship. Moses was challenging the Pharaoh who was connected himself to “his” people’s worship? Behold the Clericalism of the Pharaoh, where Church and State were one, who acted as mediator between the gods and the world of men. After death the Pharaoh became divine, identified with Osiris, the father of Horus and god of the dead, and passed on his sacred powers and position to the new Pharaoh, his son.  So compare / contrast the valuation connected to this blasphemy in Moses’ betrayal of the Pharaoh who had once saved him. Behold Moses, so perfectly formed by the Pharaoh, much like a prince of Egypt.  “We are not giving up our slaves …. over matters of worship.” Ask Abraham Lincoln, about April 15, 1863, on setting the captives free, without any compensation? Dealing with loss. Of not just the work force. “We are not sacrificing our slaves,” over issues of our god in Egypt!  Moses was asking the mediator as leader of the Church/State – a strong-willed monarch whose view of a rebellious slave-leader threatening old elites – to sell out existing religious belief in Egypt?  Was Moses asking Pharaoh to connect worship to love?

Behold the story of Liberation Theology, long before the controversy of Liberation Theology of John Paul ll with his South American theologians! Mission creep, threatening “our way of life!” Did you feel the mission creep of church or state, based upon the series of plagues from your God – the one that my people did not freely come to – in a challenge by your God, rather than my God? Or to my people? Compare / contrast, in the metrics of story, of blood in the story of Passover. Compare the children of Joseph to what the descendant of Isaac discovered, so much like the half of his mother’s family that Jacob came to discover, as he had moved in with them. The miscasting half of the family that he had never come to know, perhaps only heard about? When you never felt a part of a family that you did not know? The tradition of story – the Passover story – only makes sense in light of the larger narrative arc of God’s saving work with what always seems missing. In stories with various degrees of closeness, did you ever note the descendants of Joseph WERE related to the Egyptians, and not in a step-relationship. Who should be saved? Who should save, when these slaves were HALF- EGYPTIAN? 

“Mostly they are the same lives. The same stories, over and over,” writes David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker. As the first plague and the last plague involved a plague of blood.

Behold the rock of power meeting the pluralistic theological sands – shifting sand – of your slaves. Compare / contrast the metrics of story, as the blood of the lamb had saved the first-born sons of the Israelites, the Pharaoh was not quite so blessed. And did you hear the voice of Isaac from the Akedah on the story of Passover, about the whereabouts of the lamb?  Did you ever paraphrase Isaac over his ‘lamb’ question? So where is The ‘Saving’ love of prophets, formed to be different than those living in the present day secular world?  When power and position of Church and State were One!  A perfect first-born son!  Behold The Call – behold all the chances in his very own Calls in the story – that the Pharaoh did not heed, as another Pharaoh once had when it came to the dream of the Prophet Joseph.  And as a result, behold the intense deep emotional grief so personal all over Egypt, over all the perfect first born, considered to be pure Egyptian, lost!

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Larry Gillick Ascension Thursday Commonweal
Creighton Online Ministries
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Robert Mickens

On the Day That the Sacrifice Begins

I live half-a-mile from The History Center.  In the New World there is the unsettling in this place, whether on issues of history and memory, like with Church or State.  Had this been the same unsettling connected to the Messiah – in the beginning – dealing in public ministry, as History is used against you? Whether with cameras or like Laws of Church or State can be used against you … as PLACE – the invisible …. in what always has been here – is used against you? This Spirit from where you come … like in The Americas, founded on the back of slavery and Imperialism?

Consider that first day on the job as a Messiah. And the loss of this protected status … in the beginning, closest to home …. later all over Israel. With the entire tradition resting upon purity, washing, dinnerware, bloodlines. This theology of Purity, ever since the time of Abraham. With Sarah, his half-sister.

Move! Letting go! Sacrifice. Note The Bond, just like for Ishmael in the story of Hagar — speaking of captives and refugees — becoming invisible as you move …. God-like. Feel the great unsettling of The Spirit of the Lord, connected to authentic sacrifice! When nothing else is left…. locate the displaced in the story, like the Lakota in South Dakota. Yes,in order to survive, MOVE! — to what the Canadians called the Reserve Land. And then what is left of my center, as a child – as a captive, like Ishmael – looks to their parent(s) as authority figures? But did you feel the alone-ness in the story, for the son?

The noun Targum – Targumim (singular) –refers to “translator, interpreter,” derived from early semitic quadriliteral root ‘trgm‘, and the Akkadian term ‘targummanu.’ A translator of the Hebrew Bible is called a hammeturgem (he who translates). Necessary near the end of the 1st century BCE, with the common Hebrew language in transition, to give explanations, as Hebrew was being used for little more than schooling. Besides denoting the translations of the Hebrew Bible, the term Targum also denotes the oral rendering of Bible lections in synagogue. Other than the meaning “translate,” the verb Tirgem also means “to explain.” Writing down the targum was prohibited. Targum refers to “translation” and “explanation” or argumentation of spoken paraphrases, expansions and explanations of Jewish Scripture by a Rabbi in common worship, in the common language of the listeners, with paraphrasing in the common language after Hebrew Scripture was read.

“…. handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.’ Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him.”

In either saving or being saved, locate the comeback in the story …. with an audience that felt that they did not need another authentic sacrifice connected to a Messiah? Hearing of the great unsettling teaching, The Spirit of the Lord, in “their” synagogues …. praised by all. Into the real Promise Land, into the synagogue, Jesus had come back to Nazareth, to where he had grown up, and went according to ‘his’ custom into his synagogue, in public ministry, on the Sabbath day. And there in the House of God was the great unsettling Presence … in The Spirit of the Lord. Living with the invisible loss of language, as PLACE is used against you, as PLACE claims you as its slave? How old were, how blind were, how oppressed were the eyes of all in the synagogue? As your place of birth blinds you to the outside world.

With language directed at intimations of attachment, This Spirit from where you come … founded on the back of sacrifice. The humility,in an endurance for a generation, living under the great Roman Empire. Dealing with loss, for the those who were small, slow, weak? For those who endure, generation after generation, over and over, sacrifice. Loving not your teammates from Rome, but your neighbor. . . but who is my neighbor? Where so many try to choose their neighbor, based upon the choice of domicile. With all the different degrees of closeness to a neighbor, as your child becomes captive …to a PLACE founded on the back of sacrifice! Captive to an identity that they are born into. With a King who bowed down, as the Giant had bowed down in death to David.

There is this great unsettling, with the loss of this protected status, for the son of David, who had worked as a carpenter in a search for God’s Will? “… and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him.” Met with silence? Do you feel the invisible size in another story of sacrifice?

There is this great unsettling, with the loss of this protected status! With the choice of conversion to Islam, death, or exile — threatened the Jewish and Christian communities — and wasn’t this then what happened in the Inquisition to the Jews of Spain, in 1492. What had the prologue said about ‘mostly the same lives’ in that David Remnick book Reporting? There is an unsettling loss of this protected status which is connected to authentic sacrifice, to develop your very own abilities in all areas – intellectual, artistic, social, physical – of accomplishment.

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Besides meaning “translate,” the verb “tirgem” also means “to explain.” While Targum refers to “translation” and “explanation” or argumentation of spoken paraphrases, expansions and explanations of Jewish Scripture, writing down the targum was prohibited  — not unlike some communities banning or limiting study altogether of Rabbeynu Mosheh Ben Maimon’s (Our Rabbi Moses Son of Maimon”) The Guide for the Perplexed, as well as his writings on Jewish law and ethics.

According to scholars, otherwise equal under the laws of property, contract, and obligation, dhimmis did not enjoy, as citizens in the Islamic state, certain political rights reserved for Muslims.  Dhimmis — Jews and Christians  — had their rights fully protected in their own communities, but with certain restrictions.  It was obligatory for dhimmis to pay the jizya tax, which complemented the Islamic tax (the zakat) paid by Muslim subjects.  Excluded from specific duties assigned to Muslims, the various dhimmis communities were allowed to rule themselves under separate legal courts in the Ottoman millet system.  Under Sharia Law, the dhimmi communities were usually subjected to their own special laws, rather than some laws that were applicable only to Muslims.

Noting the history of Spain and the subsequent history of the Spanish Empire, the family of Rabbeynu Mosheh Ben Maimon (Maimonides) chose exile. Some speculate that it was likely that Maimonides feigned a conversion to Islam before escaping.  When brought up by a rival in Egypt, his forced conversion was ruled legally invalid under Islamic law.  Maimonides moved about for the next ten years in southern Spain, eventually settling in Morocco.  This was during this time when he composed his acclaimed commentary on the Mishnah in the years 1166–1168.

Yes, I live 800 meters away from The History Center which is somehow directed at intimations of attachment, like the attachment that I got at home from my parents and grandparents, to share a form of secular holiness that often is directed to a home … or a neighborhood … or a city. There was a distinct sense of place in my life which had always been asserting itself, enfolding over time, staking a claim on a people. Before it was lost or overtaken. Or just taken anyway? After you had come to know something about a place.

“… and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him… And he said to them,’Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.’ …They also asked, ‘Isn’t this the son of Joseph?’ …. he said, ‘Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place.’ When the people in the synagogue heard this, they were all filled with fury. They rose up, drove him out of the town.” And did you note, how after the reading from Isaiah in his hometown, Jesus became — in THE TRADITION  OF ABRAHAM, ISHMAEL, and ALL the descendants of the sons of Abraham  — homeless?  ‘For we know partially and we prophesy partially…’  So, in search of a Promise Land, Jesus chose exile.  

Note, while reviewing the words of Isaiah, the proclamation: ‘The Spirit of the Lord … has sent me to proclaim …. to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim….,” with the credentials of a carpenter.

Feel the alone-ness in the story, for the son of David.  God-alone prayer seems so selfish, without stories and without sacrifice….. and without a community to give and receive support. And according the the previous verse, Jesus had just come back from his forty days alone in the dessert.  For me, without a community to give and receive support, I would believe in neither miracles nor prayer.  In the God-question – in the perspective as the Receiver of prayer, without others – prayer is self-indulgent, affecting no one else, unless you did belong to a community.

‘They will fight against you but not prevail over you, for I am with you to deliver you, says the LORD.’ There is the unsettling loss of protected status, with the choice of exile; did you feel the alone-ness in the story, as a son of David? In Nazareth, “Jesus passed through the midst of them and went away.”

When the power of a culture is based upon a shared literature. In stories. “Mostly they are the same lives, the same stories, over and over,” wrote David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker. We endow our lives with stories, if the power in the ideals of a father – the bonds, the identity, and all the belief – is gonna survive. If the identity in a name is going to survive at another level. When you were forced to somehow start over.  Without a home. And there is the unsettling in this place, whether on issues of Church or State, when a human is displaced.

On the day you became the Authority over your own life – or think that you could do anything that you wanted….alone or together, though this is the perspective only if you were the Master, not the Handmaid.

Note these Victims of sacrifice, followed by the Post Traumatic Stress to anyone who personally knew the Victim – Ishmael, Isaac, Jesus – through stories of such personal sacrifice in the Book of Firsts of the Hebrew Bible as well as in the first book of the New Testament.

Locate all the victims in the Book of Firsts. Did you ever notice all the victims of rape in the Book of Firsts. The daughters of Lot whose own protected status is now connected to their father. Note the rape stories, connected to the daughters of Lot, later to the daughter of Jacob and Leah, Dinah, whose own protected status is now connected to her brothers … or not? Note the barren women, in half-relationships, in arranged marriage, with mostly informed consent? Locate all the victims in the Book of Firsts. Note the unsettling stories, of sacrifice, which includes Hagar, a woman whose own protected status is not connected to a man. Was Lot a rape victim, with all of the sons of his nameless daughters who went on to find their own nations? Did you ever note the chronology, where after the birth of Ishmael comes the story of Sodom? Doesn’t chronology – in the spotlight on the First Born all over the Book of Firsts – mean something? And those Ishmaelites were the folks who ended up saving Joseph so he might save his family as well as all of Egypt. Note the unsettling stories, with the various degrees of informed consent, just like in the story of Hagar’s pregnancy related to such personal sacrifice?

Could you connect the lives of the descendants of Abraham to unsettling sacrifice? And these were the sons who were related to such personal sacrifice. So how is the birth of Abraham’s first born son – on issues of power, ordering, shared dominion and freedom – related to such personal sacrifice? After the attempted sacrifice of Ishmael on Mount Moriah, after the birth of Isaac, after he is weaned – if you ever noted the chronology – Abraham sets the captive (Hagar) free, along with his own son. Yes, locate all the victims in the Book of Firsts. Did you count the barren women in arranged marriage whose sons all became prophets? Did you count Ishmael? Had there been agony in the arrangement in Abraham’s marriage, as Abraham was asked to sacrifice his first born son – to banish him when he had reached adolescence. In the perspective of Sarah, Ishmael was sacrificed in his exile from his father. And Hagar had been this woman in an arranged relationships, whose son became a prophet.

Living in denial, note the little attention paid to the VICTIM of rape … like Ishmael. In either saving or being saved, locate the need for a body before you ever sacrifice. With an appreciation for the mothers – before you note these Victims of sacrifice – locate who it was who first gave birth with agony in those days, before anesthesia. In that the first born son of Abraham was born a slave, was there in the manner that Ishamel was born a slave an imitation of attachment, for Sarah and Abraham? In a world where birth and motherhood give meaning and purpose to a human life – if your faith in God did not – over time Ishmael becomes unwanted to Sarah. What did Sarah know about all the agony connected to giving birth, with the various degrees of informed consent? On the day you became the authority, over your own life – or think that you did – are you conscious of your own protected status which is connected to authentic sacrifice that occurred in the past, over giving birth? With an appreciation for the mothers and their life cycle as women whose sons all became prophets, note – in the day and age now where so many believe in the organization called Planned Parenthood as well as this authority over your own body and consequential life (or think that you did) – and locate the agony connected to giving birth, with the various degrees of informed consent. With different degrees of education and experience – like music appreciation in elementary school – note the lack of appreciation connected to your perspective of Hagar, for what she was willing to do out of love. What did Sarah know about falling in love with a stranger, in that she married her half-brother – Abraham who had always been there – ten years older than she was? And wasn’t Abraham’s fatal flaw Sarah’s fatal flaw – not understanding what it means to really belong – that Abraham had been forced in the name of love to share with her? By locating all the victims in the Book of Firsts – focused since the argument of Cain with Abel – in either saving or being saved, what had motivated Abraham to travel first to Mount Moriah with his first born son, per the story in the Qoran. Was Abraham’s motive to subsequently travel to Mount Moriah with Sarah’s first born son, per the story in the Book of Genesis, the same? If you compare Abraham to Adam, did you see the same acquiescence to Sarah and her handmaid that Adam had given to Eve, concerning eating the apple? Were the female prophets married to the male prophets using, in the name of love, the God of Abraham? Isn’t this especially the same female fear of being used and exploited … connected to creation? Just as Sarah tried to have this God of a nomad belong ‘to us,’ through her handmaid’s son –through birth – Abraham set forth to Mount Moriah to have this God belong ‘to us,’ through his sons’ sacrificial death. Yes, locate the need for a body before you ever so personally sacrifice that a mother so well understood. How did Abraham address the anger of Sarah over the sacrifice of their protected status – like with the various degrees of anger by some believers – with such a perfect son? And the believers, as a descendant of the Father of Faith or anyone who personally knew the Victim – Ishmael, Isaac, Jesus – through stories of such personal sacrifice, believed that these Victims were perfect, up until the moment on the Mount when they were saved – before the Post Traumatic Stress. And the perfect really have no need for God? Or forgiveness?

Note how closeness and the Truth about closeness, through / with /in love stories, along with a feeling about the misuse of human power – to whom did this Living God really belong? – lead to a stories about Mercy and the birth right of God’s Mercy. As if you are entitled to have this protected status, carrying a name, as a descendant of the Prophet Abraham?  There is the realness of raw emotions after a son seemingly lost his father, of a closeness to his father.  Yes, over time a prophet becomes unwanted, like the presence of Isaiah was an unwanted intrusion, in his native land. When the Victim in each of the stories of sacrifice taught the importance of giving up the protected status that you once had considered to be the inheritance, in the name of Forgiveness. And both of the sons of Abraham – in stories on innocence – had come back to bury their father. Together.

Did you ever notice how you are on-guard with outsiders? Did you note in a relationship, the best humor is always domestic, like about a father or any family member …. if you had once been living in a spirited place? If mostly these are the same lives, the same stories, over and over, there comes the unsettling time in witness or hearing testimony about either true human sacrifice or an act of rape, that the unsettling sets in, again. Maybe like with the circumcision of a grown-up. And there is this long period of recovery, either for the Victim or for anyone, like her/his family, who had come to know the Victim. And there is this long period of recovery, in trying to return to what was once there. When a Victim was so innocent. And somehow this indescribable event is connected to learning how to pray, directed at God-alone prayer with others, out of the alone-ness in the stories. In the three Abrahamic religions, whether in the Old Country or the New World, there is the same unsettling for anyone who personally knew the Victim — Ishmael, Isaac, Jesus — with a closeness. In the three Abrahamic religions, if you were ever going to come to learn how to pray, you needed first an appreciation connected to a body and the stories directed at keeping a reverence for indescribable sacrifice directed at a Living God. But mostly you needed an authentic love relationship connected to a splitting if a sacrifice is ever gonna mean anything.

….. and then she died.

Perhaps you are able to connect the lives of the descendants of Abraham to unsettling sacrifice. But how was Sarah ever able to forgive Abraham after the attempted unsettling sacrifice of Isaac? How is the birth of Sarah’s first born son – on issues of power, ordering, shared dominion and freedom – related to such personal unsettling sacrifice in the lives connected to the descendants of Sarah? It is Sarah, per the chronology too often ignored – the mother of the sons of Abraham is key to their identity – who dies after The Akedah.

Memory is the key to any identity, touching your emotions in this tremendous bond, touching you deeply, connected to your identity. So “remember that you are dust, and unto dust thou shall return.”

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POST SCRIPT: ….. and then she died.

Perhaps you are able to connect the lives of the descendants of Abraham to unsettling sacrifice. Abraham, who discovered at the end of the story of his tremendous human longevity, was, in the dénouement — in the release of tension in the dénouement — coming back home in his lame-duck days, with his great sense of shame after wounding his own fertility, while dealing with loss of mostly power in old age, and starting over. Is pride, involving a desire for power, based upon knowledge – to somehow be more important than others – the most serious of the deadly sins for Chosen People?  Based upon more than surface knowledge, how is the birth of Sarah’s first born son – on issues of power, ordering, shared dominion and freedom – related to such personal unsettling sacrifice in the lives connected to the descendants of Sarah? It is Sarah, per the chronology too often ignored – the mother of the sons of Abraham is key to their identity – who dies after The Akedah. So was it Abraham wondering before The Akedah, or or Isaac wondering afterwards, if he had even mattered, begging to have had mattered, begging to be blessed, so that God would never forget, NEVER forget Abraham, just like THAT Holocaust — or had it been Sarah wondering if Abraham ever really loved her?

Recognize the developments after The Akedah story as Isaac, not Abraham, becomes the protagonist by the time of the dénouement of the story? So how was Sarah ever able to forgive Abraham after the attempted unsettling sacrifice of Isaac? Somehow the movement in the common stories, like the physics after The Akedah, or in Eid Al Fitr— creating something out of nothing, like with the lingering Spirit from a closeness, in the beginning — becomes this birth right, related to Closeness, even after all the splittings and separation  …. with all the lingering human doubts. So was Ishmael, was Isaac, ever able to forgive Abraham after the attempted unsettling sacrifice?   And how did they come to understand this God of Abraham Who had first called the Father of Faith, away from his own father’s home so long ago, giving up a sense of protected status connected to borders?  Since The Call of Abraham …. “Let me show you a Promise Land, a place you do not know….and you shall be a blessing.” … there is this unease over this place you do not know, similar to my unease when I am running late for an important appointment. Only a displaced son carried this unease related NOT to a clock but to an unknown place – a lot like over not belonging here – maybe so much like being a Jew in Germany in 1939, when you carried the unease with your every moment of your life, or like a one of the millions of refugees suffering mass displacement, from Syria in 2016?

Memory is the key to your identity, touching your emotional connection in this tremendous bond, with different degrees of deepness, in the 26 European countries without visible national churches that have abolished passports and any other type of border controls, on imitations of attachment, directed at union.  In a collective memory of forgiveness of others in the name of a forgiving God, on issues of inheritance and birth right — note the discovery of forgiveness through the son, in all the Abrahamic religions — with all the eye-popping tension in the story between those who were not good enough with those who seemed to be too good, there is this indescribable pain which creates memory in a culture — like out of that closeness, in the beginning.  As that closeness, in the beginning, often seems one day lost if not sacrificed, in a more secular world with such free movement.  Did you note how the son really ends up saving the father …or, in the case of Ismael, the mother?   On issues of union, beyond imitations of attachment?  Yes, “remember that you are dust, and unto dust thou shall return.”

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larry gillick, sj
jorge mario bergoglio, sj and molly mattingly

Daily Reflection Creighton Online Ministries

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When? ¿Cuándo?

When? The open-ended question of the Hebrew Bible, when will you? It was the great question of any relationship, when? To understand a relationship with any woman born in the Philippine Islands, a Western man in pursuit had better understand, in a culture with infinite poverty, a perspective that he was expected to save the entire family of his Pinay lover.

When? When will you begin to save us? The female perspective. It seems okay to spy from a female perspective on anyone with whom you choose to live. It is all about Homeland security. It is about fear about life …getting, providing security over the long-term. It is the perspective that develops when you carry the capacity to bear life, at the onset of an early age. When you might one day be pregnant.

Expecting. Behold the timing, in the WHEN, with the spirituality of the expectant. Sarah and Hagar. Jealousy, only later. That first born son was somehow expected in an agrarian culture to save Sarah and Abraham? And did you recall how Abraham had traveled to Sodom to fight to save Lot? What did you expect to happen? From out of his Call to leave home, in his quest to discover a new home, what did you expect to happen?

Did you ever keep track of all “the leaving” in the Book of Genesis? In the story of leaving, there was the first time when Abraham with his half-sister, their father and nephew Lot leave home. In the case of Jacob, had there even been a need to go? The only one who never seems to take leave is Isaac.

The Call. There was no mention of any conflict that led to the flight of Abram et al, the first time. God seemed to ask Abram to leave. So Abram and his family give everything up,including a familiarity with the people that they had come to know and trust. And so begins the open-ended question of the Hebrew Bible: when will You?

Men have bar fights over women. What do women do to fight, except leave? And that had been the solution to the resentment in the house of Rebekah living with Isaac and the God of Abraham over issues of power and birth right. Wasn’t it Rebekah who sent young Jacob away? In a reversal of the role of Abraham….only Abraham had been asked by Sarah to send Ishmael away. In the case of Jacob, had there even been a need to go? But that was the female defense?

To allow Someone to rule over you, for peace, after listening to a leader speak of socializing losses after privatizing gains, for all of his family, Terah seemed to have listened to his son. About leaving. With a focus on a Promise Land, but for what? So after sacrificing a home, the open-ended question of the Hebrew Bible is, “when will You?” Is the female perspective any different than with an expectation in the Philippine Islands? With a perspective, in a culture with handmaids and slaves, that a male spouse is expected to save the entire family, in a relationship. But with these new nomads?

Note the long wait …for Sarah … for all the barren women in the story of Firsts, recorded in the Book of Genesis. Yes, The Call is to KNOW. Abram is to leave, in his FIRST great sacrifice in the Book of Genesis, the story of FIRST times. Note all the characters who then take leave, following the example of Abram. And so begins the open-ended question of the Hebrew Bible: when? It is in the journey that Abraham comes to open up his heart as he comes to know God. The stories in the Book of Genesis, in the beginning of, is about coming to know God, in the long wait. After all the splitting, all the separation, all the halves. And so the first sacrifice. To save us, the displaced? And thus begins the open-ended question of the Hebrew Bible: when? In a story about hope and love …. when a Messiah? Because at some point like Abram, and Isaac and Jacob – and all the great women of their lives – we lose our innocence. So was it an embarrassing question to ask, ‘had there ever been a need to go, to come to know God?’

When? When will you ever sacrifice? When you first give up your homeland, like Sarai, like Abram …. in the first great sacrifice. And wasn’t that what happened when the servant of Abraham went looking to arrange a wife for Isaac, after The Akedah? From out of the Call to LEAVE home, behold Rebekah’s Call! For those who never really tried to read these days what were viewed now as “patriarchal” stories in the Hebrew Bible, there was the same role in the life of Rebekah as had existed in the life of Abram and Sarai, with always the ongoing stories connected to servants and handmaids. . . and the displaced. From out of her Call to leave, before the name change which came to mean something, maybe like when a woman used to take on her husband’s name. In the Old world.

Will you ever sacrifice? Will You ever begin to save us? When? Where? How? When will you personally deliver God to your Promise Land? From out of The Call to KNOW – that ends before Sarah ever dies, in sacrifice of her only son – comes the recognized expectation to save. After Isaac is saved. And if you read the Qoran, the same thing had happened to Abraham’s first born son. Unlike Ishmael, Isaac never physically leaves…perhaps because his faith is so shaken . . . as he is saved from Abraham’s image of God [and consequently the chief servant is sent to determine the future for Isaac as he selects his wife, as so much of the saving in Abraham’s life is determined by handmaids and servants].  And so the WHEN question, as the male standard is to never leave, again, but to love and to serve.  For a while.  In what is called the ‘daily double’ at the race track, ‘to love and to serve’ is what one woman can only do to fight, as the solution to the resentment in the house of Laban, where a man cannot open up his heart to love and to serve just One — but considers taking leave?

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Behold The Handmaid

Ecce ancílla! Behold the Handmaid … of the Lord!

In every story of the Hebrew Bible there is, when Abraham’s descendants are involved, the looking back. Like either for Lot’s nameless wife or Noah’s nameless wife. After all of the nameless received names.

The BoatHad you watched the news-clips this week from Macedonia or Hungary, and next week from Germany? In times of annihilation, as these sheep are willing to get branded by Church and/or State, in order to be saved. And note the earth in the story, in drought, in famine …. or even in times of plenty, but with winter not that far away. Behold the nameless in the story, carrying the Fear of the Lord with you, like perhaps the descendants of Ishmael these days?  With no emotional attachment to you, these Muslims expected to be saved with welcome – maybe like Egypt once extended that kind of hospitality to Jacob & Sons?  Only this time in Europe? Did you still feel the themes in these stories as a character is faced with being reduced to utter non-existence? Or just turned away?  Would you put some trust going in, in your God?  Did you work at knowing your God through stories, in the movement in the story toward growth?

In the story of Jacob, all the characters had names in order to peel away the layers— the essential truth, like in the book, The Boys in the Boat.  Note a leaving and the “Looking back.”  The moving forward, but coming back to the same themes about leaving again. When what happens in the boat is like “the chase scene” at the end, with suspense? That suspense is the reason to write – in the way of immersion – a book, for the roar of the gathered spectators.

The crowd. When Abraham’s descendants are involved, there is the looking back, like for Lot’s wife … to find not only the meaning, but the connection to the past, with the concern about the missing or a lost inheritance – or just the missing. Looking back, moving forward, but coming back to the same themes about leaving again. And so the focus on The Relationship – The True Relationship – connected to love.

So instead of remembering, the goal was to really come to know. For each of these characters of the Book of Genesis, there is The Call, in relation to Church and/or State. “Not by Might. Not by power.”

In the movement in the story, toward growth, a child doesn’t even KNOW how she/he were formed…or how I was created. So at what age do you explain? And how do you explain to the children of emigrants who left it all behind, living in exile – as a child of exile? Did you ever note until he is no longer heard from, how Reuben worked to stay immersed in what he had been born into? With the Birth Right. When his own father thought he had lost it?

“….by Spirit alone.”

Feel The MOVEMENT in the story, with the conflict, the tension. “There was constant strife between the herdsmen of Abram and Lot…” And now again. For Abram, as for Terah, even as for Lot in stories as over and over a father finds salvation through his son. And so the revised arrangement? Did you note the CALL, in this part of the story …. like the CALL that Abram once had answered, in the CALL in the story of Jacob? Did you look around at this part of the story for an answer to the “Where is the lamb?” question? As Jacob, like any nomad, feeling their alienation, while leading his sons to a place where they might belong? Real people have to decide how to rebuild lives, in relationships, after the one you loved the most had died. Or went missing, for a while.

Immigrants. Living with the vow of Covenant every day, with the emotional attachment connected to any living sacrifice, as God has a more recognizable name, to the crowd and so did these people. When Rachel died, did Jacob slight his primary wife left behind in the eyes of Reuben? His mother, Leah? Artlessly, slight her? Reuben’s action with the handmaid of Rachel in the rivalry between two sisters, on issues of closeness to Jacob were meant to challenge his father, with the Birth Right? To only over time, in renewing vows, come to know what the vow really meant.

“God from God, light from light, True God from True God.” Rowing blind into the future, with only a Spiritual guide of the one up front, as Art becomes worth dying for. Like in the book, The Boys in the Boat, this BOAT ends up representing a lot more than their individual lives. Thus after the tear, for what we had become TOGETHER, to take half-measures, again. Or half-wives.

Emigrants. What of the Post Traumatic Stress Disordering of Isaac and his God? What of the authority of a father, Abraham and the God of Abraham? Locate the denial and the fear in the life of Jacob which motivated him to get away again … this time from Laban, as he denied the authority of Laban and his gods over Jacob. Wasn’t that the resentment that Jacob had lived with, between his own mother and his father over what was not perceived to be an equality in the God of Abraham? And Jacob’s real birthright was in leaving, so much like Abram had left his home. And for each of the protagonists of the Book of Genesis, there is The Call, in relation to the Land with the invisible borders of “Church and State,” on issues of power and might.

Settle down! In stories about leaving and coming back, feel the Restlessness. Central to the stories in the Book of Genesis is the theme of barren versus fertile, with the Jewish theme of ENOUGH when compared to the theme of sacrifice, with Joseph – the 12th child. Wasn’t there enough? Jacob with all of these sons, as well as these earthen vessels called handmaids who raised the sons of Jacob. And it had been these sons of Jacob who had elected to sacrifice the first born son of Rachel, the woman Jacob truly loved. And because Joseph as well as Benjamin were raised by a handmaid, who better had a feeling for the land, if the theory held that Bilah, like Hagar, was Egyptian …or her sister, Zilpah, the handmaid of Leah? And especially in such a household, with a greater need for a handmaid than Sarah ever had, you would as a son of Jacob, authentically know these handmaids associated with fertility in the Hebrew Bible; a handmaid is a female slave, enslaved to the wife and mistresses to the husband – in the case of both Abraham and Jacob.

Ahotay was the father of both Bilhah and Zilpah, who had been taken into captivity. In setting this captive free, it is said that Laban (Rebekah’s brother) gave him a wife named Hannah. Their two daughters included the woman Zilpah who was part of the hoodwinking in the marriage of Leah, presented as the younger of the two Ahotay daughters as a handmaid. Zilpah’s older sister was Bihah who had later been given as a handmaid to Rachel by Laban and then given by Rachel to Jacob when she failed to conceive. After Leah had four sons, Zilpah had twin sons conceived with Jacob. Bilhah too had twin sons conceived with Jacob. Leah and Rachel – unlike Sarah – were each to claim the two sons as her own. However, without the wisdom of Sarah, the rivalry between two sisters carried over in the relationships of all of the sons of Jacob, in the “be careful for what you pray” lesson. So based upon the story, could you really ever believe that Laban had set this captive Ahotay free? And so the inheritance for all the sons of Jacob, with the battle over Laban’s notion of what “Set free” meant.

The arrangement. Pilegesh is recognized by some as an Aramaic word meaning “half-wife,” in reference to handmaids. So as a son of Jacob you would know intimately the rivalry between sisters, as developed between rival sons. Compare what was happening to this generation to the previous stories with the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac. When your wife in one perspective, or your mother in another perspective, is gone. So compare Rachel to Hagar, as the mother of these half-slaves. There is all of this holiness associated with the members of the household of Jacob, yet no one knew that a woman born to be a handmaid desired to both love and be loved by one man? Like you might look for One God? And what of the jealousy based on fertility of the two sisters, in the often overlooked theme of barren versus fertile? Or on the issue of ENOUGH?

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. It had been Sarah who asked for the banishment of her handmaid and her son. Why? The real Jewish theme, again and again in the Hebrew Bible, is one of annihilation, with all of these confounded separations in the stories of FIRSTS, in the Book of Genesis. So as Ishmael does get divorced from his father, what about the birth right? And with this separation, note the speed of departure, walking away at godspeed, described for any descendant of a nomad, to be at three miles per hour – not at the pace of a music video with a missing real emotional attachment. There was this lost emotional attachment …. In the perspective of the created. The blessed kids with their fears and the blessed anger which comes out from intimacy. On issues of power, when a divorce was what happened when a partner refused “the other” power over me. Maybe too much like the perspective of a child, as you clearly had made a mistake and you wanted to deny a portion of your past. Or your brothers did? When you were not equal. And the conflict here was between Sarah and her handmaid who were not, in this relationship, equal, as the first born was dispossessed of the Birth Right? In this family that believed in Birth Right. And the perceived inequality in this family was based then upon who their mother was.

The visible and the invisible. Forming the context as God’s Chosen People, did you feel the themes in these stories as a character is faced with being reduced to utter non-existence: 1) Adam and Eve, with their banishment? 2) The rest of the world, except for Noah and his family, at the time of the Great Flood? 3) Isaac on Mount Moriah? 4) And Ishmael in his very same Akedah moment on Mount Moriah thirteen years earlier, per the Qoran. 5) In the story of Reuben, the first born is dispossessed of the Birth Right again. And when your very own existence seems threatened, you turned to God? On matters of Atonement? After you sold someone into slavery?

According to Wikipedia, a pilegesh was recognized among the ancient Hebrews to have the same rights enjoyed in the house as the legitimate wife. But there was the conflict between the internal world and the external one, as far as strife. In who was Truly part of this family. With regard to social and legal standing – in the caste, in a world where shepherds were the lowest of the low – who were these sons of Bilhah? Bilah had been given to Rachel upon the marriage to Jacob, by Rachel’s father. So on issues of saving and being saved, on issues of slavery, what had Bilah taught the young men in their formative years – Dan and Naphtali, to whom she had given birth before Rachel ever did to Joseph?

And in relation to true purity, how can you forget the vexation and deception in the marriage of Leah to Jacob which seemed the inheritance that came from Rebekah’s family, now belonging as much to the sons of Jacob who are made up of the same percentage of blood from Laban that Isaac had had from Abraham? When you always married the eldest daughter off first – in the ordering, in the system within the house of Laban.

“Taking a chance on me.” Was Jacob looking for a place of peace when he left the homestead of his father? The irony was that this disrupted place was where he landed – in the homestead of his mother. Why do you think that in the relationship of Rebekah as an aunt to Rachel, his mother had left there in the first place, while facing the threat of being reduced to utter non-existence?

And with the hoodwinking of Isaac by Jacob, the hoodwinking of Jacob by Laban, what kind of sons did you expect Jacob to have? Having fallen for your mother’s niece like Abram fell for his half-sister …Jacob and so the sons of Jacob, hoodwinking their father for twenty-some years.

When you were raised by your mother’s handmaid, when you heard your half-brothers’ jokes about being slaves, did this rivalry teach you humility? Or did you grasp all of the resentment in the story?

JOSEPH

And so another handmaid in the story. Displaced by the Fear of the Lord, Jacob’s two beloved sons of Rachel had to contend in the world, as their mother was gone from their everyday life. So locate the missing in the story, in the lives of Rachel’s sons. What is missing is the mother, with the system substitution of the handmaid raising them – in contrast to how Sarah had banished her own handmaid – with still the ghosts of ingratitude toward Hagar’s sacrifice. So the ghost in this story is the mother of Joseph who neither Benjamin nor Joseph had ever really come to know, except through her handmaid.

Note the missing relation, if the chronology in the movement of the stories representing some form of growth – as a son came to save a father? — the inequality which threatened stability, based upon the PLACE and TIME that the two youngest were born into, with the displaced ghost of Rachel. And so, in their beginning, being sold into slavery, in the early story, a son is faced with being reduced to utter non-existence. Behold Joseph! Were you sensitive enough to the chronology over a lifetime to realize there was a significant period of time when Joseph never knew for sure – with his human doubts – whether he and his brother would survive? Even with his gift of prophecy. Because if your mother had not survived, why would you ever?

The all-knowing story-teller, working for The Academy of Private Detection, before answering the question whether the G*d of Jacob would live through and/or beyond Joseph, had some exploring to do in stories about leaving and coming back. And note the conflict over power in the story, when surrounded by so many of your kinsmen. This was the very same human condition, as seen at Sodom in the threat as everyone comes to think alike, when everyone does something the same way. Even like prayer? So on matters of sacrificing Joseph, what was the big deal, with so many other sons? Banished by his own brothers, into slavery. And then the growing set of circumstances, over twenty-some years, as Jacob and all of his sons are faced with being reduced to utter non-existence by famine, along with all of Egypt. And what had Joseph learned that allowed him to save everyone? Or was it the God of Jacob that saved them all?

And so the story of Joseph, in what preceded him. In the relation of God’s Will to an inheritance which had come down from Abraham, did you feel like half a son when your mother is gone? And the sons of Jacob thought that Joseph was gone for good, like his mother Rachel? So Joseph surely came to understand all the turmoil among his brothers.

Before Joseph had ever reached the age of reason, there had been the rape of Dinah which was followed by the adultery of Reuben with the concubine of Jacob. If, on issues of relationships and ownership and handmaids and slaves, Abraham’s concern had been focused on issues of purity, wasn’t sex with a handmaid either rape of “adultery?” As any rape was the wrongful attempt to show dominion over someone – in times of war, over a place, what if you owned someone? In the transition period, as Jacob’s sons became men is the context, after the sons of Jacob/Leah had rejected the proposal for an arranged marriage to Shechem, with their concern, fifteen or sixteen years before, about illicit relationships? And the focus has changed from Jacob to that of his sons, on issues over who was most pure.

Yes, how the sons humbled Jacob, per these stories, with the missing emotional attachment before recognizing the System Substitutions, with this next generation. What is invisibly carried with the change in creation? In the challenge of modern times, the same unfinished incomplete invisible condition is over the conflict between the affiliated and the unaffiliated. In the quiet conversion called family, among uncles and nephews, over keeping a separation … or over growth … or over the distinctions between their animals — which came out of knowing – note Reuben as the firstborn son, with more than the same rights in this household? And there was an incredible main difference – perhaps like the age difference between Reuben and Joseph … or like between a handmaid in the concubine and a wife — was that the handmaid as concubine did not have an inheritance or a dowry. So this sequel to the story of the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac continued to be one of inheritance. And if, as a reader, you happened to be Muslim, did you note the same basic conflict had been between Hagar and Sarah? And all of these stories passed down since the time of Abraham – including what was to come, as King Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines – involved a loving God, in the conflict over issues of who was most pure.

Now if you believed what is said according to Wikipedia – as it was regarded as the highest blessing to have many children, legitimate wives often gave their maids to their husbands to ATONE, at least in part, if they were barren – the main themes here are both somehow atonement and who it was who was able to first have an inheritance or a dowry, and then pass it down to the next generation. So is it the greatest of all irony that the dowry becomes that of slavery? And in the eyes of Ishmael, would you add the word “AGAIN.”?

The irony that Eve and Adam were displaced comes close to that of humor, unless you had some emotional attachment to these people. And in any family there are the differences in age between the eldest and the youngest, as well as the level of emotional attachment. Now according to Wikipedia – I am not Jewish so I have never read this myself – concubines are severely condemned in the Book of Leviticus. The simple truth is a human relationship was going to fail, if the women was not equal to the male. And it is the emotional attachment that I get from reading the Book of Genesis involving real people – people from whom I have descended – that gives my own relationships , human and divine, such depth.

And had it been because what Joseph had come to know through being around Bilah, who he had come to love as a mother? I sent an email to a friend of mine who now lives in New York City that a childhood friend of his lost his mother this week. “You knew my mother.” From St. Mark’s school … and at the Church. The mother who prepared the surviving son for the outside world. Long before she died. And there was a special bond because Bilah and her sons had really come to know Rachel, like Joseph never had the chance to.

Now according to Wikipedia – which I think gets it wrong without distinguishing the differences between the internal world and the external one, as far as strife way beyond legal status – the concubine commanded the same respect and inviolability as the wife, and it was regarded as the deepest dishonor for the man to whom she belonged if hands were laid upon her. But inside the family?

To live with an emotional attachment, did you see the first born son of Leah challenge his father, with the Birth Right, in a challenged based in a resentment that we all now live with. As experienced between Jacob’s own mother and his father, the ideal of a youth had been over what was not perceived to be an equality in the God of Abraham in relation to the spouse’s ideal. There is the resentment of Muslims over their perceived to be either equality or inequality of the God of Ishmael to the God of Isaac. There is the Fear of the Lord where I live over the related resentment of Muslims over their perceived to be inequality. So when it came to the handmaids, and living mostly all alone with the handmaid of Rachel, what had Joseph come to know about this world? And because the mother of Joseph died in childbirth, Bilah had formed Joseph to be who he was, Joseph acted friendly toward these sons of Bilah, the demeaned sons of the handmaids who were being called slaves by the first born sons of Leah, in a continuation of the story of who was better than who.

One of us. To keep a story of a great leader and prophet as written untouched. Were you sensitive enough to the chronology over a lifetime to realize there was at some point a significant invisible splitting that had gone on among the brothers? At some point did a people reverence something – a Land, a language, a story, a love – too much, with too little thinking about reality?

Language is always based based upon the PLACE and TIME. So how else did Joseph come to communicate with Egyptians except through a language taught by someone within his household who might know Egyptian? So the separation among brothers was based upon those who understood Egyptian and the other half who did not? And now reflect back on what had happened in that scene when Joseph was sold into slavery. Did you ever consider divorce and splitting as a form of sacrifice, in a new separation, based upon language with a refinement with a language?

One of us, and more – Joseph, when surrounded by so many of your kinsmen, knowing the language of the handmaids, one day rescued by…. was there any invisible irony that his brothers gave Joseph to Ishmaelites? To ATONE, for a perceived past wrong-doing of Abraham – if you wore blinders from the future that judged the past harshly? A human relationship is going to fail – which seems to be the wisdom of Sarah – if one man is not equal to the other.


As the first born son of Jacob challenges his father with the Birth Right, on the surface, Reuben is dispossessed of the birth right, until the reader comes to see the power of the Birth Right over time. It was with the power of birth right that Reuben saved the beloved son, who one day saved all of the sons.

“Behold the handmaid of the Lord!” It was the handmaid for whom Reuben sacrificed the birth right to challenge the morality of his father on issues of true love! In a world without Ten Commandments, feel the ghosts of the past, of issues of slavery. Examine the handmaids in the story who formed Joseph, which led to the saving of the entire line of Jacob if not Abraham, as you follow the Family Tree responsible for all of this Spiritual power, in a partial answer to the “Where is the lamb?” question, as a son came to save a father. So in a story with many perspectives of salvation, locate the VICTIM, through a betrayal, followed by denial, accompanied by Abandonment. The birth right was in a an act of saving – this so visible Act of Faith. And so, at some point to save someone, in an act of mercy. And so this BIRTH RIGHT, with a justified right to leave, with a lingering question of the degree of emotional attachment to one another, in a house filled with tattle-tales and hood-winkers; and hand-maids? In the end of the Book of Genesis is another evolving story with a theme to save and atone, at the same time. Together.

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System Substitution

Moreton Fig Tree “Small trees had attacked my parents’ house at the foundation.” Like in the Tree of Knowledge story, note the forced out native-born in the story, like the North American Indians, comparable to Eve and Adam.

System substitutions again, by Abraham. Note the circumcision, only after he went and fathered a child through his wife’s handmaid. So in the science of consequences, his first born son was a slave. If you did Algebra I.

In an apparition, there was suddenly the unexpected banishment, like an accidental death? And these stories just seemed to be repeating themselves. With the hovering ghosts of ingratitude toward Hagar, Sarah at least banished her handmaid and her son. The thing that got between two women might have had something to do with the methods of shared prayer if not shared belief.

Narrative tension is primarily about withholding information. In a story when both Abram and Sarai had the same father but different mothers, what has become of the command given to Adam to cleave? “Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother, and cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Though Abram had left home in his calling, here he was still cleaving to his half-sister perhaps out of the prejudice that he had about the outside world.

In any relationship, there is the issue of undivided support.

In an act that failed to distinguish, Abraham had fathered a child. And in the science of consequences, there is another separations and a split. In a perspective which challenged, to provide a fierce undivided support for a split child – did Ishmael belong to Abraham or to the mother? And so in the relationship, based upon cleaving, there is still the issue of support. So what is this perspective about a handmaid leaving the father of her son? If Ishmael belonged to Hagar, what of his relationship with Abraham, his master?

In a story when neither Adam nor Eve had a father or a mother, what is this new perspective for Ishmael about leaving a father? And I am drawn to the opening line in the National Book Award winner, The Round House: “Small trees had attacked my parents’ house at the foundation.”

So another author captures the story of beginning – in the conflict of the Native-born with the outside, with only the one post-Apple- Age-command given to Adam, about cleaving.

With the fear in the story, doubt was always the center of either mystery or faith which moved THESE STORIES beyond the power of imagination. If you get the small details wrong, with all the fear in the story about land and women and suffering, you will get the big picture wrong – affecting if not your money, if not your land, then at least your kids. And in growing up, based upon my parochial education, let me say that the Christian world in the Americas never gave a second thought about Ishmael until sometime after September in the first year of the New Millennium.

Hagar Spirit. It is the size and shape of ghosts which get through things. Feel the Post Traumatic Stress when a father sets a captive free. It seems fair to say that the lesson of the Emancipation Proclamation is that a society ignores the formation process of Creation by solely setting a captive free. So note another separation like between Abram and Lot, only this time between Abraham and the mother of his first born son. And were you sensitive enough to a chronology over a lifetime to realize there was a significant period of time when Abraham never knew for sure – with his human doubts – whether he would have any other son? Abraham who had negotiated with his God over saving 100 people in Sodom, in contrast to his ancestor Noah who failed to negotiate with God when he knew what was coming…. the father of faith, told what was coming. Before the discovery that God might be negotiated with. Note the conflict over power in the story, when surrounded by so many of your kinsmen, the very same human condition, whether as the last person on earth — or the first — and feeling so all alone? Living with exception to these kinsmen, with Sarah and all the strangeness of Sarah through the things not physically shared – the torture of her barren-ness for the inability to carry the God of Abraham to the next generation through a child. Locate the personal boundaries in the story, with violations of individual if not communal boundaries in the story of Hagar.

The all-knowing story-teller, working for The Academy of Private Detection, before answering the question whether the G*d of Abraham would live through and/or beyond Ishmael, had some exploring to do of the people without power in this chapter of the story? Chosen, like in a mate, if the G*d of Abraham would survive for his son, with the involvement of political and Spiritual powers? Through story, image is defined by others, especially in the way of Ishmael’s handmaid-mother. What is apparent to me in my religious tradition somehow acquired through Abraham is that every tradition of the Abrahamaic religions – Judaism, Christianity, Islam – has a need for both a story and a real living human body in order to pass on the method of prayer.

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. So in these stories locate the system substitutions again and again by Abraham, which over and over is repeated in the system substitution of his sons and grandsons. You learn these days in Algebra I about system substitution …and there is a theology of failure. Note the actions of substitution after Abraham realized his mistake.

The chronology in the life of Abraham started with the Call. The place in the story was always important – like the PLACE of origin – though Abraham acquired his wisdom over time because he just kept moving. So would Ishmael? There is something missing in the life of Ishmael. It is the hole that often can represent Spirituality. Note the reluctance of the narrator if not the Author of Life to state the self-evident about the inequality which threatened stability, based upon the PLACE and TIME that you were born into, with the displaced ghosts. In the beginning, like just another speck of dust – you. And when your father banished your mother over the conflict over the unconditional. And your father was gone from your everyday life. But in the case of Ishmael, not until he reached an early teen-age year.

Note the unconditional in this story, for those willing to keep moving, to start over – and the chronology which led to the idea of “unconditional love.” What transpired just before this banishment was the circumcision, after Abraham had gone and fathered a child through his wife’s handmaid. So in the science of consequences, his first born son, in the eyes of the world if not in the eyes of Abraham, was a slave.

In the ghosts of the religions of Abraham, stories do affect the way you pray … thoughtfully. In Ghost stories, this hole left in this birth of Ishmael is comparable to a hole left after a death. Remember, that thou art dust, visible and invisible. Long after you forget, one winter morn the quiet spirits of your ancestors show up again on your windshield after the morning frost melts ….and you notice that dust and it meaning, years later. When there is something in the hole that is now missing. As inequality threatens stability, in the construct of ghosts , there is the hole. And the construct of each and every ghost is still dust, from the dust of PLACE and TIME. Discussing the placement of Spirit in the hole – in the silence of Creation – the seen and the unseen construct of ghosts is still dust. Forever buried dust?

Did you grasp the resentment in the story? Why did Sarah even have a handmaid? Why did a childless woman need a handmaid? Was Abraham bringing back the spoils of war, as a sign of her worth … to prove her True worth …. like a Valentine from long ago? What had come between Sarah and the ideals of her handmaid over who she was: over identity and belonging, and over who this G*d of Abraham and of Sarah was? In having to still prove your worth at this age was there the lack of respect from outsiders to both Abraham and Sarah, without children? Did Hagar know the same feeling, as a handmaid? Was the wife of Abraham hostile that Abraham had taken in an arranged relationship – only a temporary one – a handmaid, against the mores of the people he had grown up with? Did Abraham and Sarai think that they could contend with a son born into slavery? When did the insight into the uncaring nature of others — a missing hospitality — begin that grew out of concepts of pride?

Order, before there was any law … in the beginning. Chosen first, but elite? Was the first born son better than the others? 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, as you assembled the children to hear the stories … about the the beginning of.

Did you ever follow the chronology which led to the idea of “unconditional love,” in the placement of the story of Sodom and purity — about intimacy — 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 to whom his new son belonged? Did you note the constant strife between the herdsmen — the stories over and over about shepherds — and now between Sarah and Hagar, which always exists in relationships? In the silent themes of PLACE, bloodlines, and the fertility which determine power and freedom, at this point in the Book of Genesis, Ishmael was the bastard son of Abraham, after Hagar had sacrificed her purity to her masters. When you were living as a conquered people and a conquered nation – with all the silent invisible hostility – Hagar had conceded forever not only her status but that of her son? But with the far off hope that something would one day change?

To connect the dots about Hagar, about intimacy, about unconditional love, Abraham has sacrificed his purity in the same way Adam had, to appease Eve. As 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, there was this this hole left from this birth of Ishmael? When there did not yet exist a rule of law. And so the innocence of Abraham sacrificed, in order that Sarah might have a son.

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 … wrote Daniel Mendelsohn in THE LOST.

And so the story of Abraham. An apparition is mostly an opening of light, if you did your Algebra I. And if it is Thursday, I am working on Algebra I and system substitution, but finding Abraham in the stories about sacrifice and human bodies, and their connection to unconditional love. How to communicate deep feeling of flesh and blood nomads in search of something, while unknowingly dealing with a tragic hero — in the story of the Father of Faith, concerning his God and the relationships of Abraham, moving slowly toward the proper way of worship … through stories about sacrifice and human bodies? “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. When your relationships at their foundation were so alive, but with a great restlessness. When you prayers were so alive….and you wanted others to then have the same experience. Even if sometimes you had to hood-wink a son.

Locate the VICTIMs by the end of the Book of Genesis. As Ishmael goes missing. And in a role passed to Isaac – who had to appreciate his own father’s pain about a missing son – and then in the story of Joseph, it is Jacob, who is the ultimate VICTIM of hood-winking in response to “Where is the Lamb” question. In these stories of the missing. Like Israel, surrounded by people who he could never really trust, even his eldest son of Leah. And did you witness in the stories of Jacob & Sons, all of the Violence over trying to be One? Again. And so the invisible God of Jacob, so distinct from the God of Abraham. If you ever spent the time to try and see. And did you notice a greater suffering as the living VICTIM went missing, for over twenty years, in a witness of the unseen? With so much emotional attachment … to first Jacob, and then his son, Joseph? And the long-forgotten first born son, Ishmael?

And so this birth right, connected to the invisible if not to the missing. Yes, locate the importance of the binding in the hole left in the relationships, in stories about unconditional love … with God’s intervention in the holes.

COPYRIGHT PHOTO of a Moreton Bay Fig Tree COURTESY OF, belonging to, HO TONY of New Zealand. Touch to enlarge the photo, to locate the Spirit in the tree. Is Abraham near the root?

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2015 POST SCRIPT:
Speaking of “system substitution,” the trial of Jason Rezaian, the reporter working for the Washington Post in Iran was not much different than the news stories from 2011 involving Dorothy Parvaz or even the arrest of Shane Bauer. Yes, when we endow our lives with stories. Through stories about sacrifice involving human bodies? “Mostly they are the same lives. The same stories, over and over,” wrote David Remnick, the current editor of The New Yorker, a one-time reporter for the Washington Post. Mostly these are the same stories, generation after generation. When your relationships at their foundation were so alive and you wanted others to then have the same experience. Because of a great restlessness you were born with, that seemed to move the next generation.

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As A Place To Be Neutral Is Lost Again

Homes. Homeland. The Law. Being dismissed from an action, having no cause of action” which does not capture in WORD what the conflict was about. To capture the range of what I am about. When you are not recognized in the Law, when you have no cause of action in the first place, you are legally homeless. “You have no dog in the fight,” or are not allowed to be recognized. When you are not “constituted.”

It was the War to End All War. The Great War. The Jews were bearing the brunt of the burden of this war, in contending with loss, not only on the battle fields where they suffered with the rest of the world, but also in their homes. The lost recognition … as you become just another body. “To be a part of” ….. to belong here. The population of seven million Jews, which at the time exceeded that of Belgium, bore the brunt of the war. Behind the lines of Russian and Poland was the Pale of Jewish Settlement where four million Jews lived. In fifteen Russian provinces, before the Russian revolution, what Lenin had set out to destroy was all shared belief so that all that was left was the belief and dependence upon the state.

When you are not “constituted,” you could be destroyed. The Grand Experiment called Lenin’s Russia makes the present age forget the past. The disaster which came out of the Cold War together with the Holocaust has contributed to memory loss of what happened one hundred years ago. When the War To End All War broke out, one-half of the Jewish population of the world was trapped in a corner of Eastern Europe that was absolutely shut off from all neutral lands and from the sea.

The place to be neutral was lost, in a disaster surpassing that of all other nationalities, in the threat that was alive to the innocent as much as in the story of Noah – to women and new children – in physical and economic loss, none have borne a greater burden than the Jews.

To annihilate God. In ways of moral and spiritual torment, there is strength that comes from sacrifice, per the story of Abraham with his son, in the story of the Akedah. “Of all the people that have suffered deeply from World War I,” a population of seven million Jews were threatened with extinction, in the War To End All War. Singled out, if not for their old peculiar ways…. by their peculiar geographic, political and economic position. Threatened by assimilation into the secular world, trying to keep ritually pure. Kosher Jews. At the time there was in Russian-Poland (read the history) over two million Jews. To the south was this frontier province of Austria called Galicia with one million Jews. Did anyone stop on religious holidays to note all the brothers fighting brothers in this great secular War to End All War? Yes, the Jews were fighting each other, just as the split German tribes – based upon the German line of kings in England and Russia – were fighting each other. In all the armies of Europe, there were more than 350,000 Jewish soldiers fighting for Russia and 50,000 Jews fighting for Austria-Hungary. Of the world Jewish population, probably 500,000 Jews were in the ranks of the fighting armies of Europe.

Like so much the current wars in Syria, Iraq, and the Cold Wars among the Muslims, in a rehashing of the War To End All War, in the unseen world against the seen one, when you are not “constituted,” you could be destroyed. “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, the importance was of the binding in the relationships, in stories about unconditional love. When your relationships were so alive, when you prayers were so alive. And you wanted others to then have the same experience. With God’s intervention, mostly the same stories, generation after generation…. with a great restlessness … carrying the fire, with your own tradition, in search of the Promise Land … as the place to be neutral is lost. Again.


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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
https://paperlessworld.wordpress.com/2014/04/07/after-the-birth-of-ishmael-the-story-of-sodom/ ] 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…..in 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. So there is a question if the children were being used? Were they, like Isaac, to be seen as a victim? When a life is spared – or three. In each of the stories, did you see the same things happening? 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. 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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Things Inadvertently Lost: In Ukraine

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 — Russia was now giving up its neighbors’ belief in 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? In current events based upon dealing with losses, it is not even past.

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Jacob & Sons, Part II

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?”
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“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 — with his epiphysis, in the invisible growth center, like within a bone, called soul — 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 occurred before the death of Rachel. And in retribution, the sons of Jacob, led by the second-born 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? Did you note the CALL, in this part of the story? Like the CALL that Abram once had answered? And in the CALL in the story of Jacob, did you look around at this part of the story for an answer to the “Where is the lamb?” question? As Jacob, like any nomad, wanted to go back to a place where he had been once known – for the arranged marriages …. so 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, in the mores of the sons of Jacob who had been formed by their different mothers, or by 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 …. after the sons of Jacob had betrayed their father.

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?

So did Abraham disown Hagar and her son when he set them free? What was the perspective in this family of Jacob? Had there been a threat that the sons of Jacob’s handmaids would be disowned, if not set free?

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 Jacob’s 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, the first born son, ever explained to Joseph how Jacob had tried to take his birth right away like Jacob had with his own brother Esau? When did you discover that Jacob was this flawed hero? Or had this been 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, on world issues of insiders and outsiders? 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 blood purity, but lived on? And so begins the long period of time with the question, “dead or alive?” About the birthright, like in this story of Joseph – with the long-range repercussion, that the young never saw after what they were born into, so much like the hostility of Rebekah, after Isaac had married this outsider, through the arrangement by a servant of Abraham. To one day FEEL the inner hostility to the age-old institutions, by the servants.

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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