Archive for the ‘The Art of Story-Telling’ Category
“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.
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?
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.
Larry Gillick, livelydust.
Lost power. Dealing with loss, in times of hurricanes, in electoral years. We endow our lives with stories, if the power in the ideals of a mother/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. The essential lesson to pass on to the next generation is that there was no illusion that your fertility was sacred. Or was meant to be sacred.
Power was the first of all pleasures… passed down to little kids. In both trying to deliver people, like the truth or the news in the Information Age, and to save the people stuck, even in the Age of Technology. When systems were collapsing. And so the movement in the story dealing with loss – exile, banishment, journeys outside the garden. As the promise to give each other experiences of waking up to each-others’ truths. Whether dealing with loss when something was taken away from you, or when you simply lost: belief, possession, power. When you seemed stuck, and nothing was moving.
Shakespeare wrote that knowledge maketh a bloody entrance.
TO camouflage how scary the real world is. When you were forced to somehow start over. With each generation. Lou Gerhig had it all wrong when he confused luck with Providence, in calling himself one of the luckiest men on the face of the earth. Maybe that was the precursor of things to come in the tradition of Germans in the 1930s.
To lose your intense dedication. And the cause was? Or when you just lost your power over something or someone.
Dealing with loss. Those biblical stories of famine — or flood. Chosen people, those wandering restless beings, actively pursuing a duty on earth to survive – those every day threats of death, extinction, genocide. Over and over the leaving, the coming back. Joseph, the dreamer. The things that led to 400 years of slavery, the melodies that italicized the words.
Illusion is the first of all pleasures… passed down to little kids. What happens in a famine to people? Under the pressure of coping, the ties between people wither. Starvation produces – the ironic use of language – a pragmatic desperation which too is a human coping mechanism. As people and their relationships wither.
“Self-acceptance depends on self-awareness; self-donation depends on self-acceptance.” To have a home to escape to, from the tumult. From death and extinction. (The intense dedication was not some illusion.)
“One cannot accept what one does not know,” Larry Gillick writes. And a Swedish-American female responds: “I believe and strive for self-awareness, self discovery, self-empowerment through music, nature walks, bon fires, festivals, ocean, boating, yoga.
Inheritance. Very spiritual …possibly on the mystical side.
“You cannot give what you do not have.” You can never go back. After tasting even more freedom. No child could ever really go back home because “you cannot step twice in the same river.” When you leave dependency and become independent, whether as a woman, or in China. To be caught up in the world. Those Biblical stories are about when you get so caught up in the world and its storms.
To confuse luck with Providence, and then to pass on the concept in a secular world. When it was really about being chosen, to try and love better. So what is spiritual beauty? “What is wisdom?” is the better question. It starts with knowledge, moves to loving and ends in serving. The responsibility that comes with gifts: power. This power to love was the deepest thing about me. And sex was to be used to overcome extinction.
When you worked in the scary world and came how to the emotions? And suddenly I was supposed to responded to all of the emotions? To have a depth of understanding which developed over time about people. In an election year, power and might. Kings and queens. And presidents.
Chosen people. Creating, sustaining the illusion. The connection to pride — the basic sin of pride — in the expendable world. The world of fertility at harvest time, in a year of drought). When you lost your job. Without unemployment, without pensions and social security, when your job was it. But people do not feel sorry for you after a certain age. And instead you would face punishment.
Illusion is the first of all pleasures… passed down to little kids. By this time in my life – based upon what time does to a spirit – I think I am cultured. I enjoy the twenty-six basic themes repeated over and over in all the stories. 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.
Lost power and The FAMINE SONG: Take our hearts…take our lives. We are the signs of Your life, with us yet. In a relationship. Take our bread, take our hearts. . . We are Yours.
In times of hurricanes, in electoral years, in ivy towers far away. When God seemed so distant. As people without shared beliefs try to pray or try to vote, the production seems more stilted or staged, like at a political rally over human power. Yet no one in the audience knows how strong the bond is in this community, when belief is shared. Between people.
I have a pet peeve in people who communicate in the vagaries of languages. Using “this” and “it” and not defining the subject in a sentence. And so the state in 2012 of the English praying Catholic world with leaders preoccupied with untouchable “spirit” this Halloween. With the war fought over the preoccupation with translation, there was a loss of the established concept of base – that God is love. There is a beauty when people with shared belief pray – that is what comes from a familiarity from this group. “God be with you.” Not His Spirit, but God!
Feel the emotions left in the wake of the winds of Sandy: the fear, the denial, the soon to come anger. There is a beauty when people with shared belief act on behalf of each other, during times when power was lost. If the power in the ideals of a nation – the bonds, the identity, and all the belief – is gonna survive
PHOTO COURTESY OF JASON OTT, THOUGH THROUGH HIS FAKERY, AS THIS IS NOT A TRUE PHOTO, LIKE SO MANY POLITICAL FLYERS.
In the beginning. The solemnity, in the beginning. Before the unraveling.
Girls. Girls, looking for attention. With their self image, and all. In the unraveling world, she spent a lot of time on her self-image. And she looked great.
I had not given enough thought . . . about the old paradigms unraveling? The change in the story…. to the garden. To me. About the unraveling world. About the speed of the unraveling. Of my world? And what it was that would be downloaded to replace it.
The solemnity. Of this young woman. The one that I met last week. Or was it 20 years ago? What are you gonna do with these gifts? Over time? The ones I downloaded before there was an internet
“I want to reach the deepest part of your inner being.” If she had one. So I bought this Tea for the Tillerman 8 track. For my car.
In the beginning…..just one bite of the apple. The ambition in the story …of the characters.. The ambition of a man, the ambition of a woman. In the world. Even in the garden. The story about the future. About time.
The solemnity….with an awareness of the solemnity, in the beginning. In a relationship. In the search for the divine. Who could see the unraveling, as it happened? To my world. With just one bite. Where was my attention? Where was her attention? Wanting a piece of me. She wanted a piece of me. And I wanted a stake of her. Despite the doubts about what seemed most true.
All those questions. In the beginning. No real answers … in the beginning. Who knew the solemnity, in the beginning? With just one bite? When it was not enough to encourage, to applaud. When there was the need to act. On love.
Man in Search of Woman. Woman in Search of Man. Winter into spring. The radical change. In the beginning, no real answers. Abraham Joshua Heschel titled a book, God in Search of Man.
In the Torah, the point of view … “Then the Lord called to the man and asked him, ‘Where are you?'” How fast things happen. The winds of change, after just one bite of the apple.
The point of time … in these stories. Since the days of the perfect tenses, in the past. Before all the unraveling …the keeper of flocks, the tiller of soil. The first job descriptions. Cain and Abel. When they both honored God from the work of human hands. And then what happened? In the story? When the future was now. As boundaries were set.
The Promise Land. What happens in the Promise Land? What was supposed to happen there, in the garden? To the garden. With the winds of change. When somehow the tomatoes, the old-fashioned tomatoes, became organic tomatoes. Was this tort reform? With an increased price? How fast things happen to the Law. Once the Law was passed down. The anger at the unfairness. Of systems of slavery, or new systems that replaced them. In the Promise Land, have you seen the price of organic fruit and vegetables?
To move populations through righteous anger…to a promise land. Emigrants having to leave. Through no fault of their own, refugees. With a desire for freedom. And safety.
What was the point of view of the next generation, in the search for the divine? In the point of view of Cain, the tiller of soil. The first born. Trying to work on becoming more worthy. In the beginning. In sacrifice. Freely trying in worship, bringing an offering to God from the fruit of the soil. Thoughtfully, in worship, what else could a tiller of soil have brought? As the keeper of flocks had brought the best firstlings of his flock, God looked with favor on his brother and was not impressed with Cain. The best offerings from the soil never really stood out. The point of view was all about God’s. Cain deeply resented God’s point of view. Or maybe he resented that he had been asked to be the tiller of soil? When his work never would stand out. The bonds developed in relationship, through sacrifice. In kinship to God, and thoughtfully passing on that kinship. Maybe it was the missing bonds which never developed in relationship, through sacrifice. With sincerity in content. And Cain took out his resentment in his relationship with God on Abel.
Content, much like the view from Ontario in the 17th Century, from an Ojibwe: “Where there is much grass, even in the month of the flowers.”
Beyond the reach and vocabulary of the masses, there is content. The high priests with their Office, starting their day, all over the world … priests who were instructed to thoughtfully read the same thing –in a sense, praying for content in the day. With implications, in the beginning, a priest in worship, reads his Office. Over what is inside…. what else might a priest have brought …. but words? Reading his Office, over what is inside.
Looking for the human “fragment of salvation,” in the search for the divine. Note all of the conflict over points of view. Where was my self-image in all of this, and how could I prove something about myself ….through my work? Where exactly was I needed — like Abel had been needed? Who exactly was ever worthy of this inheritance? When the firstborn actually had the land, it had been Abel who was forced to live like a shepherd.
“I’m Just a Kid, Caught In the Middle.” In these stories that were so much alive, about Cain. Did he become the keeper of the flocks, when Abel was gone? After the moral outrage of murder of his brother? When Abel was gone, from the point of view of God, was there moral outrage? In the days before the great famine and all of its implications, there was still Cain, responsible for growing the crops. The crops connected to the fatted calf that Abel had been sacrificing. So had Cain gotten what he set out for, after the murder — a job change to his own self-image? And in the content of his self-image, how had the world changed?
Where were you in these stories? Like all these people in the Torah who had multiple wives? Esau. Jacob. Or Abraham, with his wife’s servant girl willing to do anything. The seemingly holy men of the Torah. In the times, in a world without specific laws about sex or even commandments about murder. After Cain, what would be the point of view of the next generation, in the search for the divine? About fertility?
Live. Work. Love. Pray. Where were you in “this’ story? In “this?” Did you feel the restlessness of a young man? Did Cain ever see his own part in the food he was eating every day. In this work? In this family? From the crops which had been so alive. “This” food. Had Cain inherited something else from Eve and from Adam? Was it the “Let me out of here” feeling as a 21-year old: Let me out of this school, this garden? And let me into the real world.
The food that he needed. That every free young human needed. That came from his work. Enslaved by so much work? Each day because of the sweet apple…because of his father. Or had it been because of his mother?
Passover. Wanting a pass in this life? When there was so much work, too much work, to be done? Do you see all the people who are enslaved by all the work? Who has time to worship or look for God? Where was I in the story? Enslaved by what Egyptian in my life? In my job? In the ongoing story of my family? About all the unraveling in my world.
It was all about the content. The networks … whether television, or the internet. Beyond the hardware and the software, it is about the information. And self-image.
Content, relevant content, in the world of current events. There is need for content, in search for the divine, with the internet. Would relevant content survive, in the point of view of the next generation?
Paying for content. With the current business model, Comcast was paying ESPN, the Big Ten Channel, Disney, Fox Sport for entertainment. In Madison, Wisconsin, the parent company of WISC-TV, the CBS affiliate, no longer shows up on the lineup of channels courtesy of his AT&T U-Verse feed. On cable television, sports networks did not even need to sell commercials for their content to survive. Comcast, the local cable provider with its wires into my home, was dispersing money to the networks, while the same Comcast, the local internet service provider, was not paying anyone for providing the content, in this business model, the networks do not share their revenues from sponsors with the cable providers. As a result, like the newspapers throughout the world, soon the traditional radio and television networks would be dying. As their product was read for free. With no mention of financial assistance.
“When you should have what we have.” In search for the divine. Freedom House, a US-based international non-governmental organization which conducts research and advocacy on democracy, political freedom and human rights, published its annual report assessing the degree of perceived democratic freedoms in each of the world’s countries: 89 countries could be called free (46% of the world population live there), 58 countries “partially free” (20% of the world population), and 47 countries not free (34% of the world population, or 2.3 billion people).
When you should have what we have. Freedom. Safety. Content. The point of view of a story: There was introduction of a resolution on human rights in the the European Parliament about Belarus initiated by the European People’s Party, whose member is European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek. With no mention by him of financial assistance to help the people of Belarus on issues of use or abuse of power by the current oppressive leadership. European Parliament had not challenging the sovereignty of a nation, like the United States had done in Iraq; rather, the European Parliament adopted a resolution expressing regret over absence of progress in the area of human rights and freedoms. Karel De Gucht proposed an agreement on partnership and cooperation between the EU and Belarus which could motivate Belarusian authorities toward democratic reforms. With no mention of financial assistance.
Passing on a way of life. Like Passover. As you had lost everything. Or when you seemed to have suddenly lost everything. Like Eve and Adam were banished from their home. And then Cain.
Passover somehow is this ultimate profession of love . . . with the suddenness in these stories. Passover was not so much a protection from the plagues, but about the solemnity of worship. In the beginning. Even when you had lost everything which had seemed to provide meaning. When you one night left it all behind. Surrounded by the plagues of the world. Like real estate bubbles. Or inflated stock indexes. Or fiat money that might be soon worth nothing. After you had worked all of your life for something and it was gone. Where you had lost a daughter. Or a son. Or a spouse caught up in the material world. Or a parent in The Holocaust. Or like the old holocausts of worship, when symbolically everyone started over each week. Like Cain or Abel. In search for the divine. That you might have, should have, what Adam had, what Eve had. Information. Content. Or a personal experience, a family experience, of God’s love.
The solemnity. Spending a lot of time on self-image. In worship. So the next generation could reach the destination which had come with a struggle. The Promise Land. So who was worthy of this inheritance? after your first-born son had murdered his brother. Who is worthy of this religious tradition? Of the Promise Land. After Moses asked the Pharaoh, at the Lord’s stated request. “Let my people go to worship me.”
“Let my people go to worship me.” Beyond the reach and vocabulary of the masses. In the search for the divine. Like Cain before him, Moses had killed, and now what? When you shared a heritage, or a culture, What would be the point of view of the next generation? When you had lost everything, or you seemed to have suddenly lost everything. Like Eve and Adam were banished from their home … and then Cain. With the suddenness in these unsettling stories, now Moses, trying to work on becoming more worthy, in the point of view, with sacrifice in self-image and solemnity.
With all of the movement in the story, like Cain, having to move again, perhaps with awareness in if not an understanding of the missing bond — like the later missing bond between Isaac and Ishmael, between Jacob and Esau, the first recorded twins. The content of Passover was through sacrifice and hard times, developing a kinship to your God, as a people developed a point of view which had once been God’s viewpoint alone. Bonds which developed in relationship, through sacrifice, to God’s point of view, when His work, His creation, had never once stood out to that tiller of soil, but now would to these one-time slaves? Stories like the one about Cain, about Noah’s wife, about Abraham and Sarah, and now about Moses, to inspire an audience to forestall species extinctions. The one with the echo of an inner hollowness of death. Or the aching involved to get out –of an egg. Passover was not so much a protection from the plagues, but about the solemnity of worship. In the beginning … as the ultimate profession of love.
When you had lost everything, what would be the point of view of the next generation about stories read for free, with no mention of financial assistance? Like the lack of assistance from the Pharaoh, until the death of his own firstborn? In the book Writers on Writing written and published by Bread Loaf Anthology in 1991, Richard Ford begins one chapter in this book called “Reading,” stating that he really learned to read at the age of 25 as he prepared to teach English in college. Ford’s problem was teaching young students in the relevancy business — who demanded relevancy in everything — how to read carefully. Could you compare the number of generations that the Hebrews spent in slavery to the number of generations between Adam and Eve until arriving at the point of the story of Noah? In an approach of numbers to the Book of Genesis …. if you approached God, as presented in those 30 foot scrolls of the Torah of the Hebrew Bible, to one developing character, in what has been lost about the First Creation, and what must be done to bring it back. Ford’s problem was teaching young students about character, point of view, with authors showing growth and change of the character. Even with God, in the stories in the Book of Genesis, characters are presented having to answer for themselves the questions: How did He affect you? Did He frighten you? Did you love Him? What was He after? Did He change much during the time that you knew Him? What most impressed you about Him?
Once hearing complaints of a young student who objected that in the study of history — there are no people her age in the stories which made her feel so “invisible,” as though she did not, would not, qualify as a real — the study of history mostly involves the pain of adults, in what has been lost about the First Creation, and what must be done to bring back the missing bond which led to the first of all murders — after the beginning, with a solemnity after the unraveling, with all the resulting shame.
Rushed out of Egypt. Six hundred thousand men on foot, not counting the children, set free. Along with their numerous flocks and herds … with no mention of the women, during the lambing season. After 430 years in slavery to the Egyptians, wanting a stake in the world beyond that place of slavery. In the Promise Land. Freely trying in worship, bringing an offering to God in the desert. With a sincerity in content. Thoughtfully, in worship? With all of the radical suffering in the world, along with the radical love, maybe with a developing bond which a slave could never quite develop in relationship. Through sacrifice and hard times, when a people developed a point of view which had once been God’s viewpoint alone — God’s point of view, when His work, His creation, had never once stood out to that tiller of soil, but now would to these one-time slaves? Bonds which developed in relationship, through sacrifice. In kinship to God. A viewpoint thoughtfully passed on through that kinship. In answer to the question. ‘Who in the name of God do you think you are?’
Copyright © 2010.
Understanding. The mission in the field of interpreting sounded a lot like priesthood, translating a clarity of the language. Finding the truth was not so easy even when it all seemed to be spelled out. The worry concerning a clarity of the language is reduced as “we” — fill in the denomination – “utilize the most qualified interpreter. We understand that accuracy means everything and must never be compromised.” Or so says the literature of one service offered for interpreting and translating to court services and lawyers.
Understanding. So what happens when men do not listen? To women? To God? Was it in the volume? Was it in a readiness to hear? Was it in the pronounciation of the speaker? Was it about a tiredness in the listener? And how much repetition was required to get it all right?
Understanding. My lawyer offered some advice to my dentist on the eve of his wedding. He told him that he would never make another decision about his domestic kingdom ever again, IF he was smart. His advice was just to go along with his wife’s tastes. My dentist told him to keep flossing. My lawyer also has offered advice over the years on issues of understanding. He told us, as someone married longer than either of us, that he understood his wife only about 35% of the time. And because he tried to understand her, it was not an issue of effort. Over the years, his kids helped serve as interpeters. After all, together he and his wife had taught them to talk. I have not asked lately how it all was going.
Understanding. Understanding. It ain’t easy. It was not easy to try to see the most tender side of someone, even when it was not an issue of effort. Love was about weakness and strength. And there was a spiritual dimension. It was not always easy to try to see the tenderness of God, in his weakness and strength. God in human form, in you and in me. In His son. His strength was in His weakness. In the poor around us. In the world that needed attention.
Understanding. A church’s true mission has been in the field of interpreting and translating, to promote quality services of its people. And the members of a church play a critical role, with services carried out by the seasoned and professionally trained, just like in those services offered for interpreting and translating to lawyers and court services.
The process. For the observant, the interpretation process is ongoing every day. Interpreters did more than just translate, when communication involved more than just sounds. Deepening one’s knowledge of the language spoken, interpreters looked for meaning in words which worked together, in verbs that gave nouns action.
Understanding. The Good Book was now interpreted into English from Aramaic, from Hebrew, the original text. But we still needed to know how to read correctly, to ask a lot of questions, to discover the original text. I tried to see the character of God unfolding each day. And like I was taught to consider, what was the message? What was His intent? How did He affect me? Did He frighten me today? Did I love Him? What exactly was He after? Had He changed much during the time that I knew Him? What most impressed me about Him?
In the end, the questions were not much different than those asked by a lover. If you were trying to love that lover? Either in reading the Good Book or living in the real world. In the end, it was all about the change in the process. The effect in me. On me. And interpreting and translating were not quite the same function.