Archive for the ‘The Art of Story-Telling’ Category

As If You Never Even Existed at All…..


“In a land that is not theirs.”

Did you ever compare/contrast  The Akedah as to the going-ons in a land that is not theirs at Passover, as remembered one year later?  Each according to their needs. When you either are or are not able to divide up in a land not yours the birthright.

In a land that is not theirs, with the knife… on the mountaintop … into thin air.  Resign yourself, sacrificing the hard borders, connected to Spirit, in harnessing the wind, with all the changing direction.  

A character who sticks. To you. Here. To the Land. This time.

And so begins the basic human conflict, with Cain and Abel. Over how to worship perfectly. But when there are TWO? Or over pride in worship, in a LAND? If you ever did. Even after one brother killed the other, over matters of worship. So in his “Regrets, I’ve had a few” moment, did Adam ever second-guess himself. Over not separating his sons, on matter of worship, like Abraham seemed to believe in. Or at least his half-sister, Sarai, did?

So, in how to pass on the proper ways to worship, was this the same thing that had gotten Eve and Adam banished into the real world? In the question of whom really knew God the best, as more and more, people gave up trying to know the God of Abraham best? Because I’m just a kid, caught in the middle.

So this rabbi, iman and the priest on this boat, caught between two worlds, in a storm…

Ghosted. Caught between, The Test. In a Land that is not theirs.. . caring but not caring about the one you left behind. Like Moses once formed in the house of the Pharaoh. In Egypt. The domestic handmaids who you loved. Like Hagar. But setting the captive free, yet only after some preparation. Holy? Prepared for their new worlds, living his last 40 years, living between two worlds, Moses with his brethren. Not letting Moses in, at the end because …The Land was not yet holy … or he was so caught between two worlds?

Rocking from east to west and back west to east… And so the conflict, between East and West, in matters of law and governing, there has always been over the concept of Authority. Dominion. The female mind likes to use reason, whereas the male mind just wants to use a force.

#MeToo! On matters of sex and sexual abuse, these days, when you are young, and do not take the power of fertility seriously, wrote Arthur Schopenhauer: “All truth passes through the three stages.  First, it is ridiculed.  Second, it is violently opposed.  Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”

So, did you know the joys, the sorrow, before the glory … of your own fertility?  With all of this Nothing to say with words you have been taught …. concerning your very own creations?

The SILENCE.  After you have given up home?  How can you love, Sarah, what is not yours?  After you try to give up your son?  In your existential crisis, facing an end….

As if you never existed at all.  This Invisible around here.  The disappearance.  The Missing.  With all of this Nothing in the story. . . as another creator faces death?  Or seems to be facing death…

“I am the resounding gong, if I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love. I am the clashing cymbal, if I have a gift of prophecy but do not have love. I am nothing, if I give away everything I own and hand my body over so that I may boast but have no love. Or my son’s. If I comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge, if I have all faith so as to move mountains, I am nothing and gain nothing. . . without love.”

As monopolies increase in size, and you try to be connected to them… in image and likeness, as you want your kids to be bigger, stronger faster, too. And more spiritual!

As “they” seize your child, in “selective service.”

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.  And no Warrants shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Once upon a time…. Isn’t the scientist’s purpose, that everyone be ONE. “A nation of farmers and small-town entrepreneurs,” historian Richard Hofstadter wrote, “were anti-authoritarian, egalitarian and competitive.”

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So, defend your and our independence through sacrifice!  Or lose your independence.  I am this resounding gong, if I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not sacrifice.

If I Give Away Everything

If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.”

The main themes: Life.  Hovering. Spirit. Love.  It is as if your own parents once fell from the sky, as the story begins, as you mostly stay with them every step of the way. And discover something about their lives, before you.

Genesis.  The lowest freshwater lake on Earth and the second-lowest lake in the world is The Sea of Galilee/ Lake of Gennesaret, 700 feet below sea level.  A thriving fishing industry at the time, with 230 boats regularly working in the lake, Flavius Josephus refers to the area as having very rich soil.  The Sea of Galilee/ Lake of Gennesaret in northern Israel in the time when the Israel had been split from Judah, is the largest body of fresh water in Israel and supplies fresh water not only to Israel but also to neighboring Jordan.  As other places around the lake rose to prominence, such as Tiberias and Qasr al-Minya, the NAME of the lake has changed, but not the lake.  ‘One may call this place the ambition of Nature,’ Flavius Josephus reported.

Genesis.  The BOAT!  Central to the stories about LEAVING. In stories about leaving and coming back, feel the Restlessness.

Genesis.  [Father to son].  Two boats.  Alongside the lake, with SONS of Zebedee.  By the end of the story, like Abraham, like Ishmael, like Jacob, LEAVING …. Everything.  To give something up, in order to create spirit.  Only after having been immersed into something.

Creation.  The Things You Carry.  Gestation.  Waiting.  The INVISIBLE Culture growing, in The Waiting.  Shared Dominion.  Praying back AND forth.  The unknown in the STORY of birth and birthright.

Collecting.  Preserving.  Mothers who go along with.  The HOME.  The journey.  The antidote, so personal. . . Submitting to Birth.  The childbirth.  A generation which now has the problem with The Forever.   Born out of The SPLITTING.  Carrying on, indeed.

Life and death and carrying on, indeed.  A character named Simeon.  What is the significance of a character named Simeon?  Or the FRESH water?  Or, Simon?  [See

Behold the audience, not in the places of worship?  Behold the platform.  Giving everything up.  Giving up mostly the real estate.   It had been like allowing Henry to take over the churches of Ireland.  Coming back a different way, after Jesus had just been chased out of his very own place of worship.  At home.  

Genesis.  The BOAT!  Yes, behold the BOAT.  There is 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 is lost or overtaken.  Or just taken anyway?  After you had come to know something about a place, 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.

“… 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. 

Did you feel the alone-ness in the story, for the son of David?  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.

While the crowd was pressing in on him and listening to the word of God, Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret.  Alongside the lake, he saw two boats there; fishermen had disembarked and were washing their nets.

On to the next story.  Formed differently.   And as an exile, Jesus needed a platform.  

Formed to lead….. but chased out of his Temple, where he is “known,” you thought.

Coming back a different way.  Chosen.  

The followers of The Baptist.  Compare/contrast the “savior” concept to “the Messiah.”

Missing it!  Like The Resurrection.  Like Judas missed it.  The main theme here.

Missing it. The fatal flaw.  Yours.  Mine.  The Land.  Peter gave up this Holy land.  Needing a platform.  Fresh water.  A boat. T o be heard.  Two boats.  A lake. H ow awkward to preach outdoors, to whom.  On the water?  Peter and Andrew.  Brothers.  James and John.  The Lake up North. The Inferiority,  m Israel, not Judah.  To be identified with the followers of The Baptist, coming back a different way.  When a prophet is beheaded.  And then to see, a second time, your savior crucified.  After you cast your lot with both of them.

Culture.  The real world.  The stories.  The themes.  An audience.  The thing missed.  Passing along this ease…. knowing.  Out deeper.  This Identity.  Taking in vain.  Like Paul.  With the power of The Press.  The first reporter, with his own followers. You never heard anywhere near as much about followers of the Eleven who survived and left.

The water.  The sons of Zebedee.  The Transfiguration.  The Apostles who had not followed The Baptist.  Their leader, Simon.  The name.  Not quite the name at the Presentation. Simeon.  A name can change, but not the lake.   

Birthright.  The Chosen.  Coming back a different way.  In the recapture of what once happened here.  Closeness.  Stories of Relationship.  When an “Apostle” named Paul persecuted Peter, et al.   Peter, James and John, identified with the followers of The Messiah.

In Israel.  “After all, we must settle our account with the dead before we can get on with our living,” write Daniel Mendelssohn.  The beginning of bad things, in the reasons that ‘we’ left there.  Yes, in Israel, expect the unexpected.  Isn’t this where Paul martyred Stephen?

The blasphemy!  The Baptist.  This connection of water to Spirit.  The water.  This connection of water to fertility.  Saving?  The outrage to claim that The Messiah had come.  In the perspective of Paul.  What had he written before his famous Epistles?

The inheritance.  Normal.  Formed differently.  Over three years.  These three.  Yes, compare/contrast Paul to Peter.  A different way?  This different way conflict.  And so it begins, again.

Serving.  Formed to serve.  Handmaids.  Mercy.  Public life.  Formed privately, for a public life. Forgiveness, associated mostly with private life/coverups.  The preamble to a story.  The canons. “The Acts of The Apostles,” written from the perspective of the followers of Paul. T he embezzlers of Spirit.  With still the anti-Jewish proem.  The excavation still going on.  The Something beneath something else. 

Books. Taken.  Three times.  Like Ireland, like Scotland, like Wales by the British.  The preface cut out.   In seminaries, it is so often taught that the Hebrew Bible is fiction.  With too many there just out memorizing what was a stiff foreign language.

 A Culture, taken.  These so stiff chief priests, as the old paradigms were unraveling.  About The Apple.  It is the same thing that got Adam in trouble.  With Eve.  These stiff explanations, before language had evolved. In your own words…..when you never had the chance to write, much less read.  With The Culture unraveling, again.  Then, recapture.

Getting into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, Jesus asked him to put out a short distance from the shore. Then Jesus sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. After he had finished speaking, Jesus said to Simon: ‘Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.’

Simon said in reply: ‘Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing. But at your command, I will lower the nets.

When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish and their nets were tearing. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come to help them. They came and filled both boats so that the [both] boats were in danger of sinking. When Simon saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and confessed: ‘Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.’

For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him and all those with him, and likewise the partners of Simon – James and John, the sons of Zebedee. [Father to son]. Jesus said to Simon: ‘Do not be afraid!  From now on you will be catching men.

When they brought their boats to the shore, THEY LEFT EVERYTHING and followed him.


Brexit! The ’loved-me-and-left-me’ song. On the saxophone.

The Glorious Mystery, Jacob. WHERE did you really leave The Establishment. Of your Church?

“With all of you wives. With my blood! My Spirit!” said the grandfather.

“Where is the lamb, father? Yeah, Abraham, what did you forget?”

The Call.

Old age?

Historic Preservation.  Tuck-pointed.  At a place where everyone knows the building if not the people who attend.

Clouded vision.  Cataracts.  The ability to see through the other side of the heavens. Ghosts.  The changing past.  Mystery, carried.

The Establishment.  The established Spirit.  The Remover of blood?


About baby teeth.

Losing the first Ones.  Teachers, like The Articles of Confederation, with Teeth.

The Replacements.  The Temple, restored. The need for teeth and books and teachers, the second time.

With the theme of being anointed … who?

The Land with no Spirit.  So, the first time Abram leaves, what is the reason? The unvoiced concern is? Loyalty to the Barren Land, like the desert?

The LAND of Abraham’s first born son. Bedouin-like. Was Hagar? With no loyalty to the LAND. Captive. Enslaved. Going through the motion, until the son becomes hers.

As the Spirit is set free. When your center has moved.

Who? Barren, the first time. Wanting more. Ask a mother what it is like, in Ordinary time, as your center is moved or sacrificed? These works of human hands, that you are setting up in arranged marriage. 

Did you know the scientist’s purpose, that everyone be the same? To give up creativity. To give up religion? To give up your child? In the human forces trying to take over, did you ever identify The INVISIBLE force in the story, of creation? What was the force like in the days of the Third Reich?

“I come from a family in which some deep injuries exist. The type of injury made by family member against family member which are profound. The type of injury which reaches across generations, affecting those not even born when they were committed. The type of injury that spawn subsequent injury of emotion, of relationship, of memory. Perhaps you can relate to some deep hurt among your family or friends, or in your life. When extending mercy in these instances can seem impossible … may seem even unjustified. Is it right to forgive or love someone who has done such wrong, letting them off the hook? The one who offended us so deeply?” — Scott McClure

Irish spirits coming forth.  Haunted.  Deserted.  Not knowing anything about the past, of this land, and their ghosts.  And their kings?

Ordinary time.  At three miles per hour.  Those Christmas cards.  Setting the ghosts free.  Largely left to police their own, bishops are facing the most scrutiny ever from secular law enforcement.

Power. To confer power. The Reconstruction after the Nazis. The Nuremberg Trials. Power?  The damage to a Land, first launching sweeping investigations.  Raiding diocesan offices, with subpoenaed files, setting up victim tip lines.  To hold ‘higher ups’ responsible for the irresponsible?  How to hold a leader accountable for the abuse actions of their lieutenants?  The disquiet.  Stillness.  To confer.  The Round House.  Church fires.  Incest.  Losing power, to secular law enforcement with their own troubles?  To confront the devil within.  Measuring the damage.  Choosing convenience over tradition.  This re-ignited fire of hell called ‘sex-abuse crises.’  Who would ever want to lead this church?

Generation Next.  Losing Spirit in the Land?  Is any spirit left?  Losing power actually over the Spirit in a Land?  With the theme of being anointed …who?

From a geographical place, Midianites were the ‘league’ of tribes brought together as a collective for worship purposes,” descendants of Keturah, as their fourth born son, like Judah.  From the second marriage of Abraham.  Rather than depicting a land, perhaps like maybe a Native American would understand, the general term is “Midianite” who, after a series of reverses [the most prominent of which are recorded in Judges 6–7], largely disappeared from the historical scene.  Abraham’s great grandson Joseph, after being thrown into a pit by his brothers, had been sold to either Midianites or Ishmaelites. The 40 years in voluntary exile?

With this theme of generational strife, disrespecting the past. Inflicting pain.  These “His mother is his father” Moabs. The word Mo’ab for Rashi mean “from the father”, since ab in Hebrew and Arabic and the rest of the Semitic languages means “father.”  The origin of the Moabites, Abraham, is your brother’s son. Lot’s eldest daughter.  Incestal relations.  She and her sister, having lost their fiancés and their mother in the destruction of Sodom.  Dealing with the loss of everything, deciding to continue their father’s line through intercourse with Lot, their father.  The elder got him drunk, within 24 hours of witnessing the loss of everything, to facilitate the deed and conceived Moab.  The younger daughter did the same and conceived a son whose descendants became the Ammonites.  Rashi writes that as a result of the immodesty of Moab’s name, God did not command the Israelites to refrain from inflicting pain upon the Moabites in the manner in which he did with regard to the Ammonites.  In the north of Moab are a number of long, deep ravines as well as Mount Nebo, famous as the scene of the death of Moses.  Prevented by God from entering the Promised Land, Moses is buried in an unknown location in Moab.  After 40 years [?] in voluntary exile in Midian after killing an Egyptian, Moses had returned to Egypt for atonement in some form, for which he is remembered.  With his wife, the daughter of a Midianite priest.  As the Spirit is set free, your center has moved.  Losing power, to secular law enforcement with their own plagues?  How to hold a leader accountable for the abuse actions of their lieutenants?

How?  How about forming a muted generation, amidst the noise?  Church fires.  As you give one established institution up.  These sacred institutions which form the Collective — Church and … State — Of the Land.  As you willingly give up The Establishment.

As the Spirit is set free. And so in these sacred institutions which form the Collective.  Church.  State. Israel, the confirmation name of Jacob, with these muted spirits?   When your center has moved.  And so what is a story about muteness in the Land of Israel and really the next generation, with a FATHER and son, “with MY son possessed by a mute spirit.”

Like The Earth’s mutedness?  This mystery might lead to a fear about questioning, as you remain silent. Sometimes you need to talk about what you consider personal or “selfish” – what is driven by the self-centered ego and what is just good, healthy self-care.

The Agitators.  Is anybody in there?   In the Battles, over Creation.  Henry VII.  His Church of England, in the 26 various plots about LEAVING, with The Mystery which you carried.  Or dropping the ball?   

Everybody knows that the dice are loaded.   Continue reading

Out-sourced Sacrifice

With staffs slashed, with news rooms down to 30 percent, with all the pub closings and church closings, and the death of the box store, the old hostile take-over world is changing. With the culture of online universities, and crematoriums rather than the Land itself, who still has a loyalty to the old places, to the Fatherland, or to Isaac, on Rosh Hashanah? What do you owe your father and his Fatherland?

Appealing to your vanity, Abe, in the directive, for all-time, that you SHALL be a blessing. To a place you do not KNOW, you shall be a blessing?
The Akedah

In an indescribable life, with Lot, with your half-sister, along with your own father… “On your journey, I shall bless you!”

So the events. The Call to give up your home, at the age of 70. The sacrifice of all that you have. “And I shall make your name great. And all shall praise your name?” And the event involves this idea of sacrifice, connected to not your son but your nameless mother. Leave! Your MOTHER-Land!

So after this idea of sacrifice – of the past – so the world will never forget, you have to now sacrifice the future. Or had the event been the miracle of Sarai finally giving birth, without a place called home, as a stranger in the land? At the age of 89! Or had the event been setting your first-born son, in the Call to Sarah to give up HIS home, free? Or in appealing to the opposite of your vanity, in the things which give identity, had the event been sacrificing her first born son, to set YOU somehow free?

Adoption. The National debt. Land as well as Land Management. The next generation. The price of the Louisiana Purchase, as the new states-to-come lead to a Civil War. Your own kids, left with this mortgage. How could you not feel the sense of punishment in the story about The Sacrifice?

“God, keep our Land, glorious and free!”

Like the North American immigrant, as to the question who am I, after leaving “it” all behind. The work in the Water and Soil Conservation office. In the lyrics of “Oh Canada” there is the hymn to balance liberty with security, with The Spirit of the Land directed at ‘Our’ God. With This Spirit comes but the crimes against the Spirit of our home and Native Land, with the adopted Spirit?  So you borrowed something that was never yours, to give to the future.  Behold the Tabernacle …. That God may dwell with men and women.

Given one chance to address The Court. To waste the bullet in the duel. With a hoped for Forgiveness, accompanied by change and NOT punishment. If you know the ending of Hamilton. “Go ahead and shoot.”

“When the earth has turned beneath you, and your voice is seldom heard.”

Measure the invisible things that come out of sacrifice – their love, their kids, their God. Measure and compare the themes over this lifetime, of you to your better half. The connection of infertility to fertility … separate from the issue of punishment. For the women there is this sense of punishment, while Abe was out there walking the Earth, getting a sense of the Living God. To grow something deep, forever, for all the places without borders.

The Elephant in the room. In what is missing in each story, which son gets to enter willingly? Did the chief servant and the slaves? The first born son as an adolescent? The elephant in the room was a missing freedom, in the story of circumcision… for the forced in and the forced out.  Like in the conception of Hagar, has the trauma ever been forgotten?  For Ishmael? The first born son, in Recovery, of something forgotten? By Isaac? Can you explain the hatred for Christian, Jews, Muslims, and all religion in the western world? Is it an envy that God seems to give all the riches to Christians and Jews and Muslims, if you have seen their places of worship, or seen just the people standing at this Western Wall?

There always seems something foreign about Orthodox Jews, Catholics, Muslims. Over their concern for the outside world. When all politics is local, how can you be concerned about the far away, like the Jews, the Christians, the Muslims are? So why do you have this sense of Punishment in the story about The Sacrifice? What had been missing in The Akedah?

What did Abe come away with in The Spirit of the Land directed at One God who he called ‘Our’ Creator?  From out of all the acts of saving, there is “Sacrifice.” Being saved. For just your own? And then there is the hospitality in saving others… While being so human. Out of The Call, what followed in the chronology? The man fighting in war to save Lot. The man fighting for the victim, in the collective SACRIFICE, like the God of Abraham did in The Akedah? The man, now fighting, clearing a spot, for the Spirit of a land and for a “dwelling place for Spirit.” So what is going on in these stories about giving up being either human or divine? Giving up your Homeland along with your home, then giving up your first born son, until finally sacrificing the first born son of your wife.

To believe in such Spirit of a Land, how human does Abraham seem to you? To have such intense desire, like Abe. Did you ever comprehend the difference between the human for a divine purpose … that all might be divine? There had been this connection of Ishmael/Isaac to one place, versus Moses/Jesus connection in the book of Exile, in giving something up, to all the Earth/ to all people. Could the half-sister of Abraham, the half-son of Sarah, the half son of God comprehend the difference between the human for a divine purpose? And what, if you were really born human, was the perspective of Joseph, to a foster Land if-not-adopted son?  Either the Joseph of the Hebrew Bible or the Joseph of the New Testament?

Did you ever comprehend in the stories of relationship, in the theme of “the missing” in the story of the Passion, the other half?  The half that Jesus cries out to? That he thinks he was wrong, in his leap of purpose, in this identity as The Messiah? In his Player Development, formed, by those related to Abraham, and then to be cut loose, Isaac – so much like Doug Mientkiewicz by the Minnesota Twins this week. Not fines AND suspension, or even banishment… but Death, as your father, through you, tries to save the world.

It is the second sons, in the world where firstborn sons are favored, who are supposed to challenge the Truth!  Now what, sport followers/ Apostles/ Sarah? When you had carpet-baggers running the show, everyone should be on edge!

The back and forth… “this alone I seek” prayer: “Hear and show me your ways, Lord!  One thing I ask…this alone I seek. To dwell in the House of the Lord, in the Temple. To be a part, Oh Lord!  Bring me to your dwelling.”

When you have to come back a separate, different way. So, 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. So the sons of Isaac were supposed to grasp something so Intangible that comes out of the freedom to leave, in the story.  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, like in the three Abrahamic religions – of Judaism, Christianity, Islam.

To convey and pass on a sacrifice: How many times would God intervene, after Sarah’s out-sourcing, in this disorganized human world? Did you comprehend the irony of a people who grab hold of what you had uncovered — Spirit — after once giving up everything, now hugging the past, so that the most important part of Abraham’s story would not be forgotten?

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#Remembrance Day #Rosh Hashanah 2017 #Sacrifice #montretacroix

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, with the tension caused when you just forget.  I forgot that Sarah’s name meant “princess.”  I also forgot that Hagar was actually the daughter of the Pharaoh who presented his daughter as a gift.  And an apparition mostly is 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.  And it took me about ten years after first writing on all this that I realized that the Pharaoh wanted something deep inside that he came to admire in Sarah.  Yes, locate the importance of the binding in the hole left in the relationships, in stories about  not only unconditional love … with God’s intervention in the holes, but about Spirit.

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?

#The Night Watchman

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.

Super Storm Sandy

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



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The Tiller Man

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?

Sex is to violence as beginnings are to endings.

The challenge in this love, in the challenge Eve presented in the Apple to Adam, in that choice which was made before I was born, in order that the existential crisis of the Creator could be overcome, “Choose me or choose institutional religion.” The hell with the stupid rule about the Tree, imposed by the Creator which really was not going to get Creation going again?

Adam choose Eve. And Creation was then back to a point where people could live with either no rules, or their own human rule of law. Did you ever see how much Augustine of Hippo, with his Confession, messed up the world of contemplation….all Christians had to believe in the Augustine theory about Original sin which steals so much Creativity from children brought up, in the beginning, as orthodox Christians.  That as First People, we were entitled to the Apple, if not the Garden?  What is your perspective of the rights of First People?  

Shared dominion. Thee distant king. The rule of law. Sex and violence. In the beginning. In the unraveling world. About this speed of the unraveling. Of my world? So with all the suddenness, what it would be downloaded to replace the Law?

The solemnity …of the Law? For your lawless son left? The only son left?

“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. 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.

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?

To bring it back? The Culture once here and lost? Did you grasp The Great Comeback story of Passover, when Moses was leading these sons of Abraham back to the Promise Land, from where Abram, Sarai and Lot had originated. 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 not in slavery to the Egyptians, but away from the place of origin, now wanting a stake in the world again, 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. Did you feel Hagar in the sorrowful mystery involving so many handmaids? 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? Setting the captives free! In 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.

I want my money back….I want my money back. 

Those 3rd Generations

Why were you here? What exactly was it that drew you here? To this place. Of all the places in the world to live. To your lover? Of all the places in the world to live. Of all the people in the world to love.

Why were you here? Did you even know? Something drew you. To Omaha. To an employer. To Fargo. To Sioux Falls. To St. Paul. To this town. To that cemetery. Something drew you. In Lourdes, Iowa. In 1992.

Why were you here? It was the type of question that you heard on retreat. Something had to have drawn you here.

It was June and I would soon be back on retreat. Something drew you back on retreat. Was it last year’s priest? A maternal grandmother? A great grandfather? A namesake?

Why were you here? The discussion always led back to the sense of wonder. A curiosity. Of my own.

The 3rd Generation. At the start of the 20th Century lived a man with my name. He was my great grandfather. He died within a couple months of my birth. Matt was a stock broker. By the time the Great Depression came along, his eldest son was 34-years old. Matt was said to own properties around town. When it came to time to collect rent, he let a lot of things go during the Great Depression. He was alleged to be quite a kind man. I was driving on a business call in Cresco, Iowa. In 1992. I stopped on the way back at that cemetery in Lourdes, Iowa. His first wife, my grandfather’s mother, was buried there. She had died during childbirth. Of her second born, who did not live.

Across the country my maternal grandmother was 30 years old when the Great Depression came along. Her name was Theresa. She was in the midst of her short married life that saw her with 11 kids by the start of World War II. Okay, long enough to have 10 pregnancies. By the end of the war her eldest son was in the seminary and her youngest was 3-years old. That was the point when her husband took ill. He was dead within a year. A woman with 11 kids did not have time to work. Somehow during the next few years, anonymous checks came in the mail. That was what sustained the family. That was life in the Irish American neighborhood at the end of the 1940s.

Looking for significance even in what seemed insignificant on the surface. People with a common past to begin with. What exactly was it that drew you here? To any friend.

How old were you when you had the chance to search for significance? Some people only began in their retirement. Others never really thought about it. In the post-war world. In 2009. Looking for a point to view. There were a ton of questions all along. Subtle ones. People with a common past to begin with. In family. It all made saying Grace much more heart-felt.

Those fourth generations were what the Torah meant, in new perspectives. About the God of Abraham. The God of Isaac. The God of Jacob.  The one who started writing the story.

Those “Givers of life.” From the past.

Throughout her life, Theresa was known for her pies. Of her descendants, one woman made pies like Theresa did. I did not know if this pie-making would be passed along to her 4th generation. By my generation. Of her 43 grandchildren.

Descendants from those “givers of life.” The 3rd generation.

Slicing the pie. In Minnesota, the Cowles family had owned the Minneapolis Star and the Minneapolis Tribune in the 1950s. Other branches of the family owned the Des Moines Register and The Ladies’ Home Journal. As one generation passed to another, the children all seemed to want the same size slice of pie. There was a desire for more, even when there were more family members trying to survive with the same pie. In the world of journalism, often the solution was to go public. To get a bigger slice of the action, less interested in the stories. The descendants, the inheritors wanted more money, not recognizing the still one pie to split. This was one factor in the crisis facing survival in the newspaper business.

One solution was to become leveraged. Becoming a stock company let the shareholders look for higher profits. There could be more out of control greed with shareholders. Market forces at work.

Something drew you here. What was it? The Cowles had a mansion on Park Avenue in Minneapolis. The neighborhood became run down over the years. The world kept evolving.

No one was buying the paper. The hard copy. The Cowles had sold out at the right time. For something like $1.2 billion. There had been descendants to please. The McCloskeys took over. And they sold out after a brief run. For $500 million. They stayed in the business, acquiring the Knight Ridder chain. Those descendants wanted their pie, if not the same size slices. In another very short time, Avista Capital Management’s investment had shrunk to a worth of $100 million. In 2008. Newspaper reporters were given pink slips.

Some good writers became part-time. Actually the best sportswriter in these parts. Pat Reusse, went to radio full-time. It was an interesting reaction. If people would not pay for the paper, why keep writing for them? Why give away your product? When unions could no longer protect the workers’ seniority, when the product was given away, this was one answer to affect change. When shareholders no longer could answer the question as to what exactly it was that drew you here? To this investment. To this city.

Quit writing for a while.  In the world of supply and demand, why not see how much the reader appreciated you?

Market forces. Sharing power. In alliances and coalitions. In those fourth generations. Getting a market share. Changing the way the pie was sliced. With a fear of market forces. Badly sharing power.

With fear, it was important to stay focused. So said a guest on Reusse’s radio show who had written a book.  Norman Ollestad.  He had survived a plane crash that took his father’s life, killing everyone onboard, except Norman.  I lost the other specific details as I climbed out of bed, with his voice.  In knowledge of how to respond appropriately, he stated fear was only one of the options.  He had survived because fear — he had learned from his father — was not a choice in times of panic.

Getting a market share. Getting out of bed, I heard of the importance of getting a market share.  In the newspaper business.  Editor & Publisher editor-at-large Mark Fitzgerald was yesterday’s guest, talking about what had happened in the newspaper business.  He had just delivered a speech to the Inter American Press Association in Asuncion, Paraguay, on the state of the U.S. newspaper industry.  Changing the way the pie was sliced.  With stock companies replacing newspaper families.  With new fears of market forces. When profits were diminished, and no one recognized the windswept change coming from Craigslist, while going all the way to Paraguay to discuss the forces.

The mission was still about finding the truth.  With each generation.  And finding the truth was not so easy even when it all seemed to be spelled out.  The mission for the fourth generations was still about finding something to say and then how to say it.  Most of the excitement in the romance was found in the early chapters.  As arousal gave way to fear, there was a lot more suspense along the way.  Fears about endings.  When love, not yet vanished, is still the theme.  Amidst the market forces.

My namesake’s only grandchild and his great grandchildren had all studied either journalism or English, to address exactly what it was that still drew the 3rd generation here to his place.  Still.

Amidst all the fear, looking to find something to say.  And then how to say it, in your own words.  About current events and the news.  About the attraction for baking pies.  It was a good definition of prayer.  Amidst the market forces, slicing the pie.

Those fourth generations and new perspectives.  With the same mission to discover the truth. In the news.  Or about what Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the Torah meant.  When finding the truth was not so easy, with budgetary pressure.  When people were not buying your product.  When the levels of passion seemed to be diminished.  Looking to find something to say, in your own words.


Interpreters and Translators


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.