Ecce ancílla! Behold the Handmaid … of the Lord!
In every story of the Hebrew Bible there is, when Abraham’s descendants are involved, the looking back. Like either for Lot’s nameless wife or Noah’s nameless wife. After all of the nameless received names.
Had you watched the news-clips this week from Macedonia or Hungary, and next week from Germany? In times of annihilation, as these sheep are willing to get branded by Church and/or State, in order to be saved. And note the earth in the story, in drought, in famine …. or even in times of plenty, but with winter not that far away. Behold the nameless in the story, carrying the Fear of the Lord with you, like perhaps the descendants of Ishmael these days? With no emotional attachment to you, these Muslims expected to be saved with welcome – maybe like Egypt once extended that kind of hospitality to Jacob & Sons? Only this time in Europe? Did you still feel the themes in these stories as a character is faced with being reduced to utter non-existence? Or just turned away? Would you put some trust going in, in your God? Did you work at knowing your God through stories, in the movement in the story toward growth?
In the story of Jacob, all the characters had names in order to peel away the layers— the essential truth, like in the book, The Boys in the Boat. Note a leaving and the “Looking back.” The moving forward, but coming back to the same themes about leaving again. When what happens in the boat is like “the chase scene” at the end, with suspense? That suspense is the reason to write – in the way of immersion – a book, for the roar of the gathered spectators.
The crowd. When Abraham’s descendants are involved, there is the looking back, like for Lot’s wife … to find not only the meaning, but the connection to the past, with the concern about the missing or a lost inheritance – or just the missing. Looking back, moving forward, but coming back to the same themes about leaving again. And so the focus on The Relationship – The True Relationship – connected to love.
So instead of remembering, the goal was to really come to know. For each of these characters of the Book of Genesis, there is The Call, in relation to Church and/or State. “Not by Might. Not by power.”
In the movement in the story, toward growth, a child doesn’t even KNOW how she/he were formed…or how I was created. So at what age do you explain? And how do you explain to the children of emigrants who left it all behind, living in exile – as a child of exile? Did you ever note until he is no longer heard from, how Reuben worked to stay immersed in what he had been born into? With the Birth Right. When his own father thought he had lost it?
“….by Spirit alone.”
Feel The MOVEMENT in the story, with the conflict, the tension. “There was constant strife between the herdsmen of Abram and Lot…” And now again. For Abram, as for Terah, even as for Lot in stories as over and over a father finds salvation through his son. And so the revised arrangement? Did you note the CALL, in this part of the story …. like the CALL that Abram once had answered, in the CALL in the story of Jacob? Did you look around at this part of the story for an answer to the “Where is the lamb?” question? As Jacob, like any nomad, feeling their alienation, while leading his sons to a place where they might belong? Real people have to decide how to rebuild lives, in relationships, after the one you loved the most had died. Or went missing, for a while.
Immigrants. Living with the vow of Covenant every day, with the emotional attachment connected to any living sacrifice, as God has a more recognizable name, to the crowd and so did these people. When Rachel died, did Jacob slight his primary wife left behind in the eyes of Reuben? His mother, Leah? Artlessly, slight her? Reuben’s action with the handmaid of Rachel in the rivalry between two sisters, on issues of closeness to Jacob were meant to challenge his father, with the Birth Right? To only over time, in renewing vows, come to know what the vow really meant.
“God from God, light from light, True God from True God.” Rowing blind into the future, with only a Spiritual guide of the one up front, as Art becomes worth dying for. Like in the book, The Boys in the Boat, this BOAT ends up representing a lot more than their individual lives. Thus after the tear, for what we had become TOGETHER, to take half-measures, again. Or half-wives.
Emigrants. What of the Post Traumatic Stress Disordering of Isaac and his God? What of the authority of a father, Abraham and the God of Abraham? Locate the denial and the fear in the life of Jacob which motivated him to get away again … this time from Laban, as he denied the authority of Laban and his gods over Jacob. Wasn’t that the resentment that Jacob had lived with, between his own mother and his father over what was not perceived to be an equality in the God of Abraham? And Jacob’s real birthright was in leaving, so much like Abram had left his home. And for each of the protagonists of the Book of Genesis, there is The Call, in relation to the Land with the invisible borders of “Church and State,” on issues of power and might.
Settle down! In stories about leaving and coming back, feel the Restlessness. Central to the stories in the Book of Genesis is the theme of barren versus fertile, with the Jewish theme of ENOUGH when compared to the theme of sacrifice, with Joseph – the 12th child. Wasn’t there enough? Jacob with all of these sons, as well as these earthen vessels called handmaids who raised the sons of Jacob. And it had been these sons of Jacob who had elected to sacrifice the first born son of Rachel, the woman Jacob truly loved. And because Joseph as well as Benjamin were raised by a handmaid, who better had a feeling for the land, if the theory held that Bilah, like Hagar, was Egyptian …or her sister, Zilpah, the handmaid of Leah? And especially in such a household, with a greater need for a handmaid than Sarah ever had, you would as a son of Jacob, authentically know these handmaids associated with fertility in the Hebrew Bible; a handmaid is a female slave, enslaved to the wife and mistresses to the husband – in the case of both Abraham and Jacob.
Ahotay was the father of both Bilhah and Zilpah, who had been taken into captivity. In setting this captive free, it is said that Laban (Rebekah’s brother) gave him a wife named Hannah. Their two daughters included the woman Zilpah who was part of the hoodwinking in the marriage of Leah, presented as the younger of the two Ahotay daughters as a handmaid. Zilpah’s older sister was Bihah who had later been given as a handmaid to Rachel by Laban and then given by Rachel to Jacob when she failed to conceive. After Leah had four sons, Zilpah had twin sons conceived with Jacob. Bilhah too had twin sons conceived with Jacob. Leah and Rachel – unlike Sarah – were each to claim the two sons as her own. However, without the wisdom of Sarah, the rivalry between two sisters carried over in the relationships of all of the sons of Jacob, in the “be careful for what you pray” lesson. So based upon the story, could you really ever believe that Laban had set this captive Ahotay free? And so the inheritance for all the sons of Jacob, with the battle over Laban’s notion of what “Set free” meant.
The arrangement. Pilegesh is recognized by some as an Aramaic word meaning “half-wife,” in reference to handmaids. So as a son of Jacob you would know intimately the rivalry between sisters, as developed between rival sons. Compare what was happening to this generation to the previous stories with the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac. When your wife in one perspective, or your mother in another perspective, is gone. So compare Rachel to Hagar, as the mother of these half-slaves. There is all of this holiness associated with the members of the household of Jacob, yet no one knew that a woman born to be a handmaid desired to both love and be loved by one man? Like you might look for One God? And what of the jealousy based on fertility of the two sisters, in the often overlooked theme of barren versus fertile? Or on the issue of ENOUGH?
From age to age, from east to west, WHERE you come to feel a Living G*d, it is story that shapes the way you think, as you come to know in the ritual of seasons, with at least this quasi-religious timetable, where to find a Living G*d. It had been Sarah who asked for the banishment of her handmaid and her son. Why? The real Jewish theme, again and again in the Hebrew Bible, is one of annihilation, with all of these confounded separations in the stories of FIRSTS, in the Book of Genesis. So as Ishmael does get divorced from his father, what about the birth right? And with this separation, note the speed of departure, walking away at godspeed, described for any descendant of a nomad, to be at three miles per hour – not at the pace of a music video with a missing real emotional attachment. There was this lost emotional attachment …. In the perspective of the created. The blessed kids with their fears and the blessed anger which comes out from intimacy. On issues of power, when a divorce was what happened when a partner refused “the other” power over me. Maybe too much like the perspective of a child, as you clearly had made a mistake and you wanted to deny a portion of your past. Or your brothers did? When you were not equal. And the conflict here was between Sarah and her handmaid who were not, in this relationship, equal, as the first born was dispossessed of the Birth Right? In this family that believed in Birth Right. And the perceived inequality in this family was based then upon who their mother was.
The visible and the invisible. Forming the context as God’s Chosen People, did you feel the themes in these stories as a character is faced with being reduced to utter non-existence: 1) Adam and Eve, with their banishment? 2) The rest of the world, except for Noah and his family, at the time of the Great Flood? 3) Isaac on Mount Moriah? 4) And Ishmael in his very same Akedah moment on Mount Moriah thirteen years earlier, per the Qoran. 5) In the story of Reuben, the first born is dispossessed of the Birth Right again. And when your very own existence seems threatened, you turned to God? On matters of Atonement? After you sold someone into slavery?
According to Wikipedia, a pilegesh was recognized among the ancient Hebrews to have the same rights enjoyed in the house as the legitimate wife. But there was the conflict between the internal world and the external one, as far as strife. In who was Truly part of this family. With regard to social and legal standing – in the caste, in a world where shepherds were the lowest of the low – who were these sons of Bilhah? Bilah had been given to Rachel upon the marriage to Jacob, by Rachel’s father. So on issues of saving and being saved, on issues of slavery, what had Bilah taught the young men in their formative years – Dan and Naphtali, to whom she had given birth before Rachel ever did to Joseph?
And in relation to true purity, how can you forget the vexation and deception in the marriage of Leah to Jacob which seemed the inheritance that came from Rebekah’s family, now belonging as much to the sons of Jacob who are made up of the same percentage of blood from Laban that Isaac had had from Abraham? When you always married the eldest daughter off first – in the ordering, in the system within the house of Laban.
“Taking a chance on me.” Was Jacob looking for a place of peace when he left the homestead of his father? The irony was that this disrupted place was where he landed – in the homestead of his mother. Why do you think that in the relationship of Rebekah as an aunt to Rachel, his mother had left there in the first place, while facing the threat of being reduced to utter non-existence?
And with the hoodwinking of Isaac by Jacob, the hoodwinking of Jacob by Laban, what kind of sons did you expect Jacob to have? Having fallen for your mother’s niece like Abram fell for his half-sister …Jacob and so the sons of Jacob, hoodwinking their father for twenty-some years.
When you were raised by your mother’s handmaid, when you heard your half-brothers’ jokes about being slaves, did this rivalry teach you humility? Or did you grasp all of the resentment in the story?
And so another handmaid in the story. Displaced by the Fear of the Lord, Jacob’s two beloved sons of Rachel had to contend in the world, as their mother was gone from their everyday life. So locate the missing in the story, in the lives of Rachel’s sons. What is missing is the mother, with the system substitution of the handmaid raising them – in contrast to how Sarah had banished her own handmaid – with still the ghosts of ingratitude toward Hagar’s sacrifice. So the ghost in this story is the mother of Joseph who neither Benjamin nor Joseph had ever really come to know, except through her handmaid.
Note the missing relation, if the chronology in the movement of the stories representing some form of growth – as a son came to save a father? — the inequality which threatened stability, based upon the PLACE and TIME that the two youngest were born into, with the displaced ghost of Rachel. And so, in their beginning, being sold into slavery, in the early story, a son is faced with being reduced to utter non-existence. Behold Joseph! Were you sensitive enough to the chronology over a lifetime to realize there was a significant period of time when Joseph never knew for sure – with his human doubts – whether he and his brother would survive? Even with his gift of prophecy. Because if your mother had not survived, why would you ever?
The all-knowing story-teller, working for The Academy of Private Detection, before answering the question whether the G*d of Jacob would live through and/or beyond Joseph, had some exploring to do in stories about leaving and coming back. And note the conflict over power in the story, when surrounded by so many of your kinsmen. This was the very same human condition, as seen at Sodom in the threat as everyone comes to think alike, when everyone does something the same way. Even like prayer? So on matters of sacrificing Joseph, what was the big deal, with so many other sons? Banished by his own brothers, into slavery. And then the growing set of circumstances, over twenty-some years, as Jacob and all of his sons are faced with being reduced to utter non-existence by famine, along with all of Egypt. And what had Joseph learned that allowed him to save everyone? Or was it the God of Jacob that saved them all?
And so the story of Joseph, in what preceded him. In the relation of God’s Will to an inheritance which had come down from Abraham, did you feel like half a son when your mother is gone? And the sons of Jacob thought that Joseph was gone for good, like his mother Rachel? So Joseph surely came to understand all the turmoil among his brothers.
Before Joseph had ever reached the age of reason, there had been the rape of Dinah which was followed by the adultery of Reuben with the concubine of Jacob. If, on issues of relationships and ownership and handmaids and slaves, Abraham’s concern had been focused on issues of purity, wasn’t sex with a handmaid either rape of “adultery?” As any rape was the wrongful attempt to show dominion over someone – in times of war, over a place, what if you owned someone? In the transition period, as Jacob’s sons became men is the context, after the sons of Jacob/Leah had rejected the proposal for an arranged marriage to Shechem, with their concern, fifteen or sixteen years before, about illicit relationships? And the focus has changed from Jacob to that of his sons, on issues over who was most pure.
Yes, how the sons humbled Jacob, per these stories, with the missing emotional attachment before recognizing the System Substitutions, with this next generation. What is invisibly carried with the change in creation? In the challenge of modern times, the same unfinished incomplete invisible condition is over the conflict between the affiliated and the unaffiliated. In the quiet conversion called family, among uncles and nephews, over keeping a separation … or over growth … or over the distinctions between their animals — which came out of knowing – note Reuben as the firstborn son, with more than the same rights in this household? And there was an incredible main difference – perhaps like the age difference between Reuben and Joseph … or like between a handmaid in the concubine and a wife — was that the handmaid as concubine did not have an inheritance or a dowry. So this sequel to the story of the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac continued to be one of inheritance. And if, as a reader, you happened to be Muslim, did you note the same basic conflict had been between Hagar and Sarah? And all of these stories passed down since the time of Abraham – including what was to come, as King Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines – involved a loving God, in the conflict over issues of who was most pure.
Now if you believed what is said according to Wikipedia – as it was regarded as the highest blessing to have many children, legitimate wives often gave their maids to their husbands to ATONE, at least in part, if they were barren – the main themes here are both somehow atonement and who it was who was able to first have an inheritance or a dowry, and then pass it down to the next generation. So is it the greatest of all irony that the dowry becomes that of slavery? And in the eyes of Ishmael, would you add the word “AGAIN.”?
The irony that Eve and Adam were displaced comes close to that of humor, unless you had some emotional attachment to these people. And in any family there are the differences in age between the eldest and the youngest, as well as the level of emotional attachment. Now according to Wikipedia – I am not Jewish so I have never read this myself – concubines are severely condemned in the Book of Leviticus. The simple truth is a human relationship was going to fail, if the women was not equal to the male. And it is the emotional attachment that I get from reading the Book of Genesis involving real people – people from whom I have descended – that gives my own relationships , human and divine, such depth.
And had it been because what Joseph had come to know through being around Bilah, who he had come to love as a mother? I sent an email to a friend of mine who now lives in New York City that a childhood friend of his lost his mother this week. “You knew my mother.” From St. Mark’s school … and at the Church. The mother who prepared the surviving son for the outside world. Long before she died. And there was a special bond because Bilah and her sons had really come to know Rachel, like Joseph never had the chance to.
Now according to Wikipedia – which I think gets it wrong without distinguishing the differences between the internal world and the external one, as far as strife way beyond legal status – the concubine commanded the same respect and inviolability as the wife, and it was regarded as the deepest dishonor for the man to whom she belonged if hands were laid upon her. But inside the family?
To live with an emotional attachment, did you see the first born son of Leah challenge his father, with the Birth Right, in a challenged based in a resentment that we all now live with. As experienced between Jacob’s own mother and his father, the ideal of a youth had been over what was not perceived to be an equality in the God of Abraham in relation to the spouse’s ideal. There is the resentment of Muslims over their perceived to be either equality or inequality of the God of Ishmael to the God of Isaac. There is the Fear of the Lord where I live over the related resentment of Muslims over their perceived to be inequality. So when it came to the handmaids, and living mostly all alone with the handmaid of Rachel, what had Joseph come to know about this world? And because the mother of Joseph died in childbirth, Bilah had formed Joseph to be who he was, Joseph acted friendly toward these sons of Bilah, the demeaned sons of the handmaids who were being called slaves by the first born sons of Leah, in a continuation of the story of who was better than who.
One of us. To keep a story of a great leader and prophet as written untouched. Were you sensitive enough to the chronology over a lifetime to realize there was at some point a significant invisible splitting that had gone on among the brothers? At some point did a people reverence something – a Land, a language, a story, a love – too much, with too little thinking about reality?
Language is always based based upon the PLACE and TIME. So how else did Joseph come to communicate with Egyptians except through a language taught by someone within his household who might know Egyptian? So the separation among brothers was based upon those who understood Egyptian and the other half who did not? And now reflect back on what had happened in that scene when Joseph was sold into slavery. Did you ever consider divorce and splitting as a form of sacrifice, in a new separation, based upon language with a refinement with a language?
One of us, and more – Joseph, when surrounded by so many of your kinsmen, knowing the language of the handmaids, one day rescued by…. was there any invisible irony that his brothers gave Joseph to Ishmaelites? To ATONE, for a perceived past wrong-doing of Abraham – if you wore blinders from the future that judged the past harshly? A human relationship is going to fail – which seems to be the wisdom of Sarah – if one man is not equal to the other.
As the first born son of Jacob challenges his father with the Birth Right, on the surface, Reuben is dispossessed of the birth right, until the reader comes to see the power of the Birth Right over time. It was with the power of birth right that Reuben saved the beloved son, who one day saved all of the sons.
“Behold the handmaid of the Lord!” It was the handmaid for whom Reuben sacrificed the birth right to challenge the morality of his father on issues of true love! In a world without Ten Commandments, feel the ghosts of the past, of issues of slavery. Examine the handmaids in the story who formed Joseph, which led to the saving of the entire line of Jacob if not Abraham, as you follow the Family Tree responsible for all of this Spiritual power, in a partial answer to the “Where is the lamb?” question, as a son came to save a father. So in a story with many perspectives of salvation, locate the VICTIM, through a betrayal, followed by denial, accompanied by Abandonment. The birth right was in a an act of saving – this so visible Act of Faith. And so, at some point to save someone, in an act of mercy. And so this BIRTH RIGHT, with a justified right to leave, with a lingering question of the degree of emotional attachment to one another, in a house filled with tattle-tales and hood-winkers; and hand-maids? In the end of the Book of Genesis is another evolving story with a theme to save and atone, at the same time. Together.
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Ghosts writers – crime writing. As a detective, you had a past burden to be on the lookout – night and day – as the son of a famed detective, with all the personal threats afterward. For the substitute — stepping in where your predecessors left off — it is not as much a question of identity to the investigator, but proving “it.” As the editor saw it, the writer’s main characters — those with human power — just missed it. Almost all of them.
To run and write down, after you have come out of the shower – maybe like having been baptized in the Jordan, which looked in Minnesota like the St. Croix as the border of Wisconsin, just too big for one religion – these Abrahamic religions – for one leader to handle. What is yours forever … so another system substitution.
With a worry about the old Cain and Abel story later. To hold something precious … rather than release.
Jacob. First born sons. Birth rights. The guides. The tour guide and the confessional, with Wisconsin over there. Barbarism which separated one side from another – like the River Jordan? And so place in the sibling group concerning what you were born into …. the followers of Jesus, responding to not a perceived hostility but a witnessed hostility. The enforcement of not love but law. True law, with the borders … of good and of evil. As you begin to doubt the enforcers of the law.
Leaving. The main theme of Passover, in the beginning of, is leaving. So this story of The Passion was another Passover story with the same theme of leaving before anyone considered what would come next – like had come next for Moses and Joshua. After a brief period for grieving, what was to come …. just before the Roman destruction of the Temple … and the followers, leaving. And the unstated but the so apparent theme was the desire to leave the cruelty of the world? So get ready. Prepare. Rid your homes of leaven. Deflate your egos, as the firstborn son of Mary is struck down, do you feel the sacrifice of God in Passover? Why the leaving except because of evil? It is because of the separation, concerning all the separations in the Creation story? And here was a forgiveness over an indifference if not apathy about the separations?
The colt. The distance…. in the story. The Presence of the colt as the future? The movement, with the colt, to get somewhere, in the scene. The arrival. The escape … the separation, through death.
Roots. The opening of The Round House. “Small trees had attacked my parents’ house at the foundation.” Roots. Looking down on others or looking up at the cruelty of the world, sacrificing the “Closest Relationship.” A new book by Stanford historian Allyson Hobbs is about the socially constructed concept of race and racial identity. What about the socially constructed idea concerning religion, to move the world forward? Freely chosen roots, by Whom? Passing to freedom, so alone? Or like slugger Ted Williams, with the mystery of his own roots.
Note the exile because of racial ambiguity, about a time and a place in the land. There had been the importance of borders in the story in a racist society, between North and South. What about the religious ambiguity about a real time and a real place in the land? And this tethered colt, as the get-away vehicle, for those who “pass?” In disguise, like to escape discrimination in the United States? Note the episode at the fire, with a comment about Peter’s accent, in The Passion Story. Would Peter live through the night? (Men “passing” as women, like in the character in The Good Lord Bird. ) As the community of Jews – which Jesus, Mary and Joseph all belonged – sacrificed, in the story of The Passion – as Abraham tried to – a son.
Whether race, color, creed, find the invisible social act in The Passion: “Passing as white” is a social act. Those who collaborated – those left behind, no longer embedded in racial identity – no longer belonging and sharing memories of a past. Locate Jewish men, passing in the story – that the New Testament calls Apostles. Speak not a word to the white child as black mother, so the world never finds out that she is black. The comparison: Insiders to outsiders, slaves to masters.
Concerning the super power of invisibility, Stanford historian Allyson Hobbs writes about the loss to those who “passed” by walking away. A larger phenomena of “passing” in history is the totality of migration to a New World. The Noveau Riche, where they do not belong…..bringing the Asian and European if not African concepts of “class” to the New World. Note the name changes, while “Passing” as white. What is the cost of “gain” other than greater capitalistic opportunity? The sea is parted, to egalitarian elites. Note the never-ending acting by real people in this hidden practice of exile, in choosing to leave what you were born into. Looking for ghosts of the unconventional, did you know that slugger Ted Williams was a Mexican-American? There is a darkness of loss, living in solitude — giving in to the cruelty of the world? Ted never outright told you that he was Mexican-American.
The chapter. A long-unsolved crime. Cold Cases. Invisible and visible. Judas was nothing but a spy. Didn’t he feel, like Peter, the fear that all the Apostles would be tortured by the “powers that be?” And he had the age-old gift from Abraham to Isaac which came on Mount Moriah which was the gift of great restlessness. . . . . to change the world. Many think that Judas had hoped the Messiah would get involved in the political struggle that the Jews had under Roman domination. (So many modern-day Italians who admire the Romans never see that part of the story?) In a scene where so many have but one perspective of ‘MY brand,’ about ‘MY GOD,’ was it a wonder that popes in days gone by separated the domiciles of Jews, in the ghetto? So in what I think are the words of Larry Gillick, “All human beings desire safety and security in order to KNOW what to expect — how things are supposed to work, what people are like. With a knowledge to maintain a level of order in our lives. Sometimes, I can become so set in my ways that I develop what Ignatius (the founder of the Jesuits) would call disordered attachments to what otherwise would be good and holy things. As I become so attached to a structure, holding onto it for dear life, no longer free to allow God’s grace to enter into my life.”
And so the Passion. With the tethered colt, either stolen or ‘borrowed’ by the two Apostles but to be brought back to the rightful owner. . . later, it is assumed. And compare the age of Isaac and the age of Jesus in the stories of Abrahamic sacrifice, with the need to leave because of the cruelty of the world … and their “admission policies.” To warn the future, in sacrifice, by the father of faith – like my friend Tim, advising his son Tom not to become a lawyer, just as Tim was? To warn, in the perspective of Abraham about the world he had traveled, after his very first sacrifice of a homeland! How to warn the living, with outward signs? Through, with, in …. Sacrifice. With bonds to belong. This change is, by the end of the story, Jesus of Nazareth is the hero for surviving for the future. . . just like Isaac, Sarah’s first born son, had. In the denounement: ‘we’ somehow survived …this operation. And the invisible theme throughout the mystery is about the Love of God. To come to know, over time, the main character through the Victim in the story (which mostly is a love story).
The cold cases. Not too far from the border with Canada – where borders always protect one side from what appears to be the unmanageable other; this, it is said, is where you are able to hear at the start of a pigeon race, the sound of time flying. The aim set forth at the Dormady Academy of Private Detection, known by its neighbors as an old pigeon farm in northern Minnesota, is to find the Victim in each story. In the beginning of, a Victim always had to let someone else describe you. Like in any theology class, it is said that those descriptions are only as good as someone had come to know You. Whether letting someone else describe You, or describing Yourself to the missing, through a carrier pigeon. In a world where so many are not seeing the beauty in the Mystery, in relationship with/to others, and so many people detest pigeons.
The cold cases. Finite thinking. When everyone at Mass already knows the outcome. But before the statues get uncovered, before the Sunday morning Gospel, not too far from the border with the Red Sea, there was the difficulty for the first to arrive. As a result, too many forget the human part of the story, as there can be so little emotion reading history. Why can’t a narrative tell of all the emotions living through the times? This could only be a great story if you felt the emotions in the suspense, as the writer’s tingling can become more the editor’s numbness. Note the difficulty for the first to arrive, like in the blindness for Cain and Abel and the struggle over seemingly being finite. Whoever knew that we were all finite, in the beginning? After all of the separations, and the conflict over who among the characters was there first, separating the unmanageable goodness from invisible evil. The theme based upon something stolen. Like birth right ….. or a tethered colt. Over who among the characters was there first, there is all the difficulty for the first to arrive, asking…. “Who will roll back the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?”
Passing is not …. never has been … a solitary act. The difficulty for the first to arrive. Did you perceive the darkness at the time of day? The dispute over who was here first, long before electricity was invented. As if goodness is described by TIME ….. or by just one PLACE? When a greater ease came to those who arrive later. Over innocence … IF they conformed to the image prevalent in a community. This identity. . . based upon innocence, lost. The theme based upon something stolen at the command of Jesus. With the PROMISE to bring it back later to the rightful owner. So how does the original ending of Mark’s Gospel tie into the Book of Genesis? Over all the splitting and separation, when the mostly male spiritual leaders thought they knew – in a community. The original ending – in the first Gospel ever written, by Mark – involves only the female characters present at the Crucifixion. The original ending with these invisible women involves a silence and what is presumed to be fear. . . of the Lord? And the tie-in to the Passover Feast, with always the gift of great restlessness to change the world? For the finite in the story, “This is how you are to eat it: with your loins girt, sandals on your feet and your staff in hand, you shall eat like those who are in flight.”
Barbarism which separated one side from another, if you were willing to sacrifice your son, but without ever informing his mother? So with the theme of a purity sacrificed and a purity shared in relationship, there was the forgiveness needed for Abraham, by Sarah. What happens to the original separation theme in Genesis, yet while forced to choose to keep growing … in the beginning of? Do you feel the sacrifice, or only the emotions connected to the sacrifice? Did you ever feel the Agony – the emotions – in the Garden? Were God’s emotions like Jacob’s as he got ready to flee, after he had stolen the birth right?
So had Jesus stolen the birth right, like Jacob? With the help of his mother, by way of the great coverup of a virgin birth at the time. . . from all those who, in public service, were in the business of’ ‘saving?’ Or not? These people of Church/ Temple and State all in the business of ‘saving’, either as Roman soldiers or the chief priest? So who to save? When there were how many left to bury in Egypt at the time of the original Passover?
The original ending of the original Gospel of Mark involves only the invisible female characters who might have already come to know that you had to sacrifice your purity if your bloodlines would not become extinct. Behold these women in the story! Behold the great coverup by way of celebration of the Passover feast of The Akedah in the sacrifice!
Like Rachel as Sarah, Jesus was a man who was expected to somehow, in his very own way, to carry the Living God of Israel further in the world, beyond the tribes and the homeland where he was born. As growth was so much the measure of success, even when you were forced out, like in the Tree of Knowledge story, like the native-born in the story — like the North American Indians so comparable to Eve and Adam.
And so the unimaginable, the inconceivable, the unthinkable story of creation and The Passion ever since when, in the words of Picasso, every act of creation involves a form of destruction. So in the ax-to-the-frozen -sea ending, did you ever feel the displacement in the story of Jesus, with the deep feeling like a charley horse of the throat when you recognize the Post Traumatic Stress disordering sustained by his mother after your own kinsmen tried to kill you? As the Messiah was seemingly forced out, note the movement in the story of belonging which came out of a displacement in the story of Jesus. Like the women of Jerusalem in the story of The Passion, in passing on your culture with passion, I think about my grandfather’s mother who died in trying to increase the numbers, not far removed from the Great Famine, in her attempt – like either Rachel or any great prophet, for the delivery of God to the next generation – to replicate God’s greatness. And there was this affect on memory where you had witnessed the torture to the Messiah.
Deliverance. And so that colt tethered “on which no one has ever sat,” waiting. Waiting for the change coming. To settle down? With a control over, the concern about… power of mostly those who you know, or those who know, something to various degrees…… or thought that they did – that what is yours forever ..never becomes precious. Men not seeing that this was a love story. So rather than try to describe infinity, use a love story to have the invisible become visible … because of allowing someone else to describe You? With real living people. But as in trying to too quickly read a profile, online … missing the infinity in the stories.
The strangeness of it all, after the Great Flood — A SACRIFICE! What a bizarre idea, to sacrifice the future, through a son of Abraham! Sacrifice. Imagine the reaction of the outsider, upon hearing the story. . . of sacrifice. Imagine the reaction of an insider. Hearing each other’s concern about the private lives of his sons, as if it was anyone else’s concern — as if it was anyone else’s concern in the private relationships of these men — about the depth of their relationships. Or whether his sons, his descendants, his followers would adhere to the religious laws. . . and remain Kosher, based upon sacrifice. Identity politics, directed at sacrifice. The strangeness . . . saving something, with these identity labels, as the separation in brands. The body. The bond. The sacrifice, for others. The tree-like Cross. The forever reason – sacrificed – not killed – for others. Saving others. People did not want them to save? And there was never a mention whether that parked tethered colt — clarified to be an ass, just like in the story of that trip to Bethlehem — had ever been returned.
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Yūsuf ibn Yaʿqūb ibn Isḥāq ibn Ibrāhīm
donate, if you ever in your life felt chosen.
Daily Reflection Creighton Online Ministries
“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.
The doubts in the story. About each other. About their God. The movement in the story. Always the movement in these stories of the principals. The Flood. The Exodus. And having to take decisive action, to survive. So in this case there was the decree, just when you wanted to stay home. But maybe by leaving when the child was born, the locals would not talk so much about what had happened – or what was perceived to have happened.
There was the mixing of the public and private concerns, as well as the innocence in the story. When you somehow were innocently born into the evil in the world. Not unlike what happened to a judge who found himself surrounded by evil, if you were bothered by all the secret goings-on, in the name of super men, if not God, in the system under the National Security Agency, after what happened to all of the innocent kids in human history. In human history up until this point.
Life and death. Did you note the theme in the first chapters of Genesis, about movement. Noah and his unnamed wife, who must have felt so very much alone. So was this a new beginning or just an ending? Chosen, with your very own personal choices about continuing life. (Chosen – the contest was fixed in my favor, in a contest between the inside against the outside world?) The doubt in the story about life – that I was loved? The sacrifices made to demonstrate love, to remove the doubt, because there always was doubt that you were Chosen, until you were so very much alone. Like Noah. Or Isaac. Or Joseph, in Egypt in times of famine. Or another dreamer named Joseph.
Again and again, as your very private life would determine the future of the world: the mystery, with the seen and the unseen. Adam and Eve. Noah and his unnamed wife, while pairing up all the animals. When you feel so very much alone, with doubt in times of annihilation, while starting over as PLACE replaces TIME as a character determined who they were; did you ever sense from the displacement the deep feeling like a charley horse of the throat when you recognize a Post Traumatic Stress disordering, about what is lost of the inheritance if not the birthright as PLACE replaces TIME, in the New Creation? The theme over who would be saved, and with the involvement – some kind of involvement – with the use of your fertility, in times of annihilation as you were so personally threatened – with or without love.
The movement, the themes, in the stories: When in hindsight it all seemed so fixed, like last night’s Ms. Universe Contest. Missing the movement in the story, with the pain and the suffering. Far from your home, with the doubt whether you really had been personally Chosen. The always and everywhere doubt over some warped sense of those who were chosen after hearing true stories of annihilation, about the powerless and the innocent. When it was clear that even God was capable of mass killing of the innocent.
The human condition: when the last person on earth you could trust was gonna have you committed to a mental institution – the motive in the killings was the human condition, and being left so all alone? And scared.
The real Jewish theme, again and again in the Hebrew Bible, is one of annihilation. Of Abel. Of the world at the time of Noah. Of Isaac, in the story on Mount Moriah. When the focus was on the innocent, when the outside world got a view within. And all of the new threats – the inside and outside threats, to the Chosen People – which came out of envy and jealousy.
The same human condition, whether the last person on earth – or the first. The doubts in times of annihilation: again and again the stories of the past – and also in the present. The realization that these were such personal stories of fertility.
Here, the Roman concern of rebellion. So a census, for registration. When in Rome, with their fear, putting down all crazy religious rebellions. When inequality threatens stability.
So the census. So the journey, surrounded by other sons of David who had to register in Bethlehem – the long line of fertility. Maybe still struggling over the concept of the virgin birth. And we never hear in the Gospels anything about the timing of the wedding between pregnant Mary and Joseph. And how would a couple not keep talking about it. About who among the relatives were never invited – and the talking about the wedding. And so maybe the relatives caught a whiff of the tension, with the innocence in the story. Of Joseph. Of Mary. And if Joseph was from the line of David, from where did Mary originate? And was she even good enough for him?
All these Latter Day Saints concerned about the private lives of this couple, as if it was anyone else’s concern. Like the shared doubt at this stage between Joseph and Mary, they are in the story, so all alone. The innocent in the story – the already betrothed Joseph, representing the House of David. Why would the Virgin Mary get pregnant – however it happened, by the God of Abraham? And then sent off by the political authorities to a place of origin to register, to enroll for a numbering.
When surrounded by so many of your kinsmen, the very same human condition, when the last person on earth – or the first – feeling so all alone? So was this a form of societal shunning, with such an unconventional marriage, before the unconventional birth? Why else could you leave a woman and her husband so close to delivering a baby so all alone, in the story? Was it about another human concern – about who wanted to come between a couple that was gonna have a baby so soon. With all of the emotion involved, wasn’t there a sense of human shame? When you woke up in a strange town, surrounded by your extended family struggling over the concept of why they were not invited to your wedding, and you were forced to explain who you were and what you were doing here, if not how long you intended to stay – together. In Bethlehem. And then this pregnancy!
When there were honor killings by families in these times, over women who conceived a child outside of wedlock. The system, with the underlying relationships which came out of fertility, which was the basis of the registration – to whom were you related? With the Roman concern over ideas of rebellion which might be fermented by crazy religious beliefs. And the Jewish concern, with the six hundred and some laws from Leviticus. So how would you explain the pregnancy?
The deepest part of Christmas which came from stories about not just transporting a culture to an old place, but then somehow planting the culture. Through the Law. So there was the long spoken of Messiah and the birthright, along with the private life of the Messiah and his parents. The missing public spectacle. The movement, in how it was coming along? When you seemed so perfect as a baby, but it was always hard to so personally live with your God in this impersonal world. On this earth. With the God who stirred and disrupted. Chosen People.
Was there doubt in the story, in this very private story? Or fear, if not anger? About how a man from the House of David was somehow asked to deliver alone the Messiah. Joseph, so all alone? And about the ‘becoming,’ it is of note that Joseph had strongly considered divorce, at some time during the gestation period of the Messiah. When, if you celebrated the meaning of Christmas, you recognized the inner split in God over exactly who were His chosen people. And the properly credentialed latter day saints excommunicated you today over such divorce action — or after an apostolic investigation, excommunicated the sisters of St. Joseph — unless they found human grounds for annulment.
The conflict over power in the story. In a variant of dealing with denial, the decree from Rome was an attempt to show their dominion over the place? Of the insiders and the outsiders, note all the outsiders who tried to become insiders about what happened at the time. There was, thank God, only the latter concern by the latter day saints about the status of Mary’s soul. Mary born without sin, but surrounded by crime and sin in the world. By all the emotional responses to fear and anger, and to punishment, in a story.
To address all the doubts in times again and again of annihilation: the stories of the past – and also in the present. In this story about what it does mean to be CHOSEN. When over and over there were stories of indiscriminate human annihilation, and real people had to decide how to rebuild lives, in relationships. The relationship part of the story, when over time you had started to so privately reveal something about Yourself. From one generation to the next. So I strongly suspect that in gestation period of the Messiah that the birthright of Abraham was at play between this couple. The same birthright with sacrifice that came out of Sarah and Abraham’s relationship.
Philanthropy—that you might have what I had, in what seemed a normal way of life. Scripture is nothing but the history of how people who went before us learned how to pray. Abraham. Isaac. Sacrifice. The strangeness of it all. A bizarre idea, to sacrifice the future, through a son. Before there was the commandment about having “no strange gods before Me.” And so began Abraham’s dialogue with God, asking questions, seeking answers if he was doing the right thing. Questioning. Really, learning how to pray, in this evolutionary process toward forgiveness which begins with the remembrance of the relationships of the father of faith, with his God and his son –the bond. And as a result, there was over time some long-developed cultural trust in the personal story of doubt – in the bond. Marrying, despite the palpable doubt in each other, wrestling with the unrecognized birthright question…and passing it on, with such emotion. Generation after generation. But with a conflict in the story between the unrecognized sacrifices by a parent for a son/daughter who followed fathers and mothers, with no idea where the future would take him/her. Or ME!
Chosen. Like in a mate. Two people from two homes try to merge their ideas, with two personalities, of what is an appropriate environment for their child. And learning each other’s strangeness. Yeah, as if it was anyone else’s concern in the private lives of this couple – whether a couple would remain kosher. With the concern of all the latter day saints about the degree of how orthodox.
The perversions of Gentile people, by the all these latter day saints, missed the discussion of the form of their orthodoxy – until they missed,and I along with them, the doubt shared at this stage between Joseph and Mary. In the first months of their new relationship. When, like any nomad, you wanted to go back to a place where you were once known – so maybe a census. Known, like God had once been. In places where you were forced to just listen. Listening to Joe Lieberman, on his tradition: until the bereaved family was ready – if they ever were ready – to talk, there was just silence. After living through the real stories of annihilation, like twelve months ago in Newtown, Connecticut, note the importance in the story, again and again, of companionship in the silence.
Silence. The movement in the story over the shared doubt at this stage between Joseph and Mary. There was such concern about the private lives of these people – as if it was anyone’s concern – and I thought a lot about the Lanza family and the cause/origin of another indiscriminate human annihilation. Like in the story of Isaac. And all the unrecognized Post Traumatic Stress Disordering that resulted, on issues of trust between both people and their God. I thought about the human condition: when the last person on earth you could trust was gonna have you killed – or committed.
When doubt met belief. The movement in the story of bonds that came from compounded belief, of a real human birth. When you were surrounded by people who shared your belief, but with all of the real human doubt between people and families. The doubt that would continue to be a theme over a lifetime, in this evolutionary process toward forgiveness which begins with the remembrance of the relationships of the father of faith, with his God and his sons — with the suffering in the potential death of Isaac and in his not described relationship with Ishmael, just as Abraham had suffered with Hagar?
In this story of relative love, the conflict is when everyone was not the same – even noting the difference in another story of a son of the father of faith, Isaac, who was going to die, and Abraham was going to live. The annihilation, in prayer, in starting over each week. After sacrificing your best.
A day of awe, dealing with inheritance, later to be too much forgotten when it came to the mystery of the issue of birthright. In this story about a Living God and about belonging in the world, but sacrificing Your best. Abraham, who discovered at the end of the story of his tremendous human longevity, in the dénouement, was — in the release of tension in the dénouement —coming back home in his lameduck days, with his great sense of shame after wounding his own fertility. When you prayers were so alive. And you wanted others to have the same experience. The story about keeping something alive with sacrifice, with a passion, concentrating on this thing called physical and spiritual love – in my own fertility – that God would never forget. ME!
These descendants of a people from the ancient Semitic population: a descendant of Noah’s eldest son, taken to a place where they never had been? And so this trip to Bethlehem, by Joseph. Bethlehem, where Jacob buried the wife he loved. So Bethlehem was about this bond which had come out of birthright, between outsiders and insiders in these love stories? Where God had lost his “strangeness.” Rachel was an outsider who never made it back to the Abraham’s homestead. That a nomad, without his own sense of place, who was supposed to resolve the crisis over belief, in a foreign land, outside the garden in the first place. With all of the anguish again this year, in Bethlehem where people are still dealing with independence and multiculturalism, along with the changing roles of power. Bethlehem, where David had been born. With all the stories of post traumatic stress disorder: when you killed a giant, despite the commandments. With still the ever growing need for a forgiveness, in Bethlehem. To confer a spirit about shared belief, in the name of God, upon a king. With all the tension in the forgiveness story. With post traumatic stress on issues of trust, for the young, unknowingly dealing with a tragic hero — after a grandfather had once been ready to take a knife to your father. Wondering first about the genetic affect and then about the environmental affect on a son, in these love stories of how God lost his “strangeness,” about the birthright which had come down one silent night to Bethlehem.
To find your people. To form institutions based upon trust. To wake up among your own people everyday, one day able to escape your shame. Note the movement that came from the shame that Abraham, that Jacob, that David all had felt so personally. And now a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, from the royal line of Jacob – note the movement toward Bethlehem — with atonement, by God for all the present, past and future annihilation. Note the movement in the story concentrating on this new tangible physical and spiritual love – in a fertility – so that somehow for all the shame, I would never forget God.
TO Bethlehem. A virgin birth. Who would ever believe? In the story of the human condition, in the story of salvation history, when God came between Chosen People. So why not have Joseph be challenged by Mary, as Jesus one day would challenge the world? Who could, who would believe in a virgin birth – like on one dark December silent night Joseph finally had? Who would believe it now? To Bethlehem, a Messiah – who would ever believe? Or who could ever believe so personally in a Messiah — with all the personal stress between loved ones in passing on a human concept of God — now? That was the mystery. The darn near impossible. God! Who could believe in the “strangeness” of God? It was always the question. Then, and now – in all the connectedness this Christmas. And for every day of the remainder of your life, the world thought you — like your wife — were the parent of the Messiah. Who could one day save this world. As one silent night followed the last one.
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Homes. Homeland. The Law. Being dismissed from an action, having no cause of action” which does not capture in WORD what the conflict was about. To capture the range of what I am about. When you are not recognized in the Law, when you have no cause of action in the first place, you are legally homeless. “You have no dog in the fight,” or are not allowed to be recognized. When you are not “constituted.”
It was the War to End All War. The Great War. The Jews were bearing the brunt of the burden of this war, in contending with loss, not only on the battle fields where they suffered with the rest of the world, but also in their homes. The lost recognition … as you become just another body. “To be a part of” ….. to belong here. The population of seven million Jews, which at the time exceeded that of Belgium, bore the brunt of the war. Behind the lines of Russian and Poland was the Pale of Jewish Settlement where four million Jews lived. In fifteen Russian provinces, before the Russian revolution, what Lenin had set out to destroy was all shared belief so that all that was left was the belief and dependence upon the state.
When you are not “constituted,” you could be destroyed. The Grand Experiment called Lenin’s Russia makes the present age forget the past. The disaster which came out of the Cold War together with the Holocaust has contributed to memory loss of what happened one hundred years ago. When the War To End All War broke out, one-half of the Jewish population of the world was trapped in a corner of Eastern Europe that was absolutely shut off from all neutral lands and from the sea.
The place to be neutral was lost, in a disaster surpassing that of all other nationalities, in the threat that was alive to the innocent as much as in the story of Noah – to women and new children – in physical and economic loss, none have borne a greater burden than the Jews.
To annihilate God. In ways of moral and spiritual torment, there is strength that comes from sacrifice, per the story of Abraham with his son, in the story of the Akedah. “Of all the people that have suffered deeply from World War I,” a population of seven million Jews were threatened with extinction, in the War To End All War. Singled out, if not for their old peculiar ways…. by their peculiar geographic, political and economic position. Threatened by assimilation into the secular world, trying to keep ritually pure. Kosher Jews. At the time there was in Russian-Poland (read the history) over two million Jews. To the south was this frontier province of Austria called Galicia with one million Jews. Did anyone stop on religious holidays to note all the brothers fighting brothers in this great secular War to End All War? Yes, the Jews were fighting each other, just as the split German tribes – based upon the German line of kings in England and Russia – were fighting each other. In all the armies of Europe, there were more than 350,000 Jewish soldiers fighting for Russia and 50,000 Jews fighting for Austria-Hungary. Of the world Jewish population, probably 500,000 Jews were in the ranks of the fighting armies of Europe.
Like so much the current wars in Syria, Iraq, and the Cold Wars among the Muslims, in a rehashing of the War To End All War, in the unseen world against the seen one, when you are not “constituted,” you could be destroyed. “Mostly they are the same lives. The same stories, over and over,” wrote David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker. When we endow our lives with stories, the importance was of the binding in the relationships, in stories about unconditional love. When your relationships were so alive, when you prayers were so alive. And you wanted others to then have the same experience. With God’s intervention, mostly the same stories, generation after generation…. with a great restlessness … carrying the fire, with your own tradition, in search of the Promise Land … as the place to be neutral is lost. Again.
John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
In a season when something unexpected can break out, it is time today to pray for goodness and the people of Syria.
In stories about identity, the daughters of Lot were “one of them.”
In life and death.
Did you note the theme in the first chapters of Genesis, about movement, about life and death? In the urgency in the story which changed lives, in the framework of the story about Abraham and homelands, about being father to the multitudes, about sacrifice, what about Lot and his family?
What is too often glossed over in the next chapter is the realness of raw emotions after a daughter lost her mother, locate outsiders and insiders, and what is deep inside. In stories about relationship ….. what the daughters had been born into ….note the innocent in the story of lost innocence. In a story of intimacy and the problem of intimacy, there is the loss of the mother.
Genesis. It’s all fiction? When you get the small details wrongs….. in the beginning. People who were there…..told their stories. Consider what you had come to know about Lot, after he is rescued by his uncle Abram by waging war, after the prayers of Abram in the story about saving Lot and all of Sodom, after the next rescue by the angels of G*d out of Sodom. Consider all the risks taken to save Lot. Did you note the tension in the story of Lot connected to the love for Lot in the story, even after the separation?
When words carry weight, or since mostly words connected to Spirit carry weight, compare the G*d of Abraham to the god of Lot’s nameless wife, in the conflict over belonging to Sodom? There had been real intimacy problem as you are allowed to get close, when you now have to get closer …. in the days after losing your mother. After what had been their entire past had been sacrificed, along what had looked to be their future. After the angels of G*d had just saved these three from the fire and brimstone of Sodom, was Lot considered to be a victim after the incest – challenged, ridiculed. or beaten down – or were his daughters?
And so the story of the daughters of Lot, with the guilt of the father in the story, because his nameless wife died? [See
https://paperlessworld.wordpress.com/2014/04/07/after-the-birth-of-ishmael-the-story-of-sodom/ ] Glossed over in the story of Sodom in the next chapter is the consequences of a converted/inverted/perverted view of the G*d of Abraham, passed along to the next generation. Consider the world of Noah which was destroyed, along with Creation with Adam and Eve, sacrificing their relationship with G*d – over fertility issues, in true sacrifice. The readers of the Book of Genesis are carried now to the lives of Abraham and Sarah – as the half-sister of Abraham – with the separation theme, after all the splitting and cleaving.
Did you note the theme in the first chapters of Genesis, about movement: Chosen, with your very own personal choices about continuing life, with always the doubt in the story about life – that I was loved, with the sacrifices made to demonstrate love, to remove the doubt? Because there always was doubt that you were Chosen, until you were so very much alone, like Noah had been. Or Isaac one day would be. Or Joseph one day in Egypt, in times of famine. Again and again, as your very private life would determine the future of the world: the mystery, with the seen and the unseen.
Note the chronology after Adam and Eve: Noah and his unnamed wife, pairing up all the animals. Did they feel so very much alone, with doubt in times of annihilation, before starting over – only now TIME replaces PLACE as a character determined who they were; did you ever sense from the displacement the deep feeling like a charley horse of the throat when you recognize a Post Traumatic Stress disordering, about what is lost of the inheritance if not the birthright as PLACE and TIME are mixed, in the New Creation? The theme over who would be saved, and with the involvement – some kind of involvement – with the use of your fertility, in times of annihilation as you were so personally threatened – with or without love.
So was this a new beginning or just an ending? Note the chronology – both before and after the story of incest – of the Father of Faith. Lot is the son of the brother of Abram whose wife HAD been able to deliver, for the future, children – delivering the God of Abraham into the next generation. Note all the delay in the world with fertility, with all the technology and knowledge of reproductive medicine as if this was these days only a female concern – maybe because so many women were left alone, with or without love.
Note the significance of the placement of the story just after Ishmael had been born. Note the chronology, with the barren issue, after the manipulation of Sarah and Hagar in their unequal relationship, in the story of the birth of Ishmael? From out of the obsession – the sin – over having a son? In the story of relationship, note the significance of the placement of the story after the Call which included Abram, Sarai and Lot; then the Promise, the famine in Egypt, before Abram separated from Lot, after Abram traveled to Egypt, after he rescued his nephew Lot by waging war, with the Promise of a son, the pregnancy of Hagar, the next promise thirteen years later, the circumcisions with the concern of the Lord over Sodom, the hospitality to the three strangers, the advancement of the angels to Sodom, saving Lot’s family. So now Lot went up from Zoar and he dwelt in the mountain, along with his two daughters.
And in what would become a recurrent them, did you note the refugees in the story. Fleeing. And after their father has lost his love – how visible this love must have been – the daughter try to give their father something for what he had lost in response to a heart-throbbing tragedy. In Sodom, where you KNEW the dead. With a certain kind of innocent cowboy mentality, as if two daughters could fix the visible hole in Lot with an act of sex, in my perspective – a perverted perspective of a share of the deepness. Trying to deliver something, did a female perspective note the great message of love here?
And without trying to distinguish, most of us missed the love in the story. And pay attention to the chronology. Did you ever see the need once again for placement, after being displaced?
“He was afraid to dwell in Zoar; so he dwelt in a cave, he and his two daughters.” With their thought that the entire world had been destroyed, as in the Generation of the Flood, the daughters then try to save the world? Was the command of the Angels of God still ringing in their ears: “Flee for your life! Do not look behind you…” As the angels did take hold of the hands of the nameless wife of Lot as well as the two nameless daughters, and brought them out of the city of Sodom along with Lot…. after Lot did delay. In a story about relationship, what his daughters had been born into ….the innocence connected to the concept of sacrifice. Here is another incredible story about illicit sex leading up to the story of circumcision leading up the Akedah sacrifice. In this story of feeling paralyzed, with a conflict of private and public lives, the family of Lot heads for the isolation unit, as if there was an outbreak of Ebola. So very much alone even as the God of Abraham seems to triumph, as if this was a competition – that His rescue of Lot could happen twice – as the G*d of Abraham triumphed as far as Lot was concerned?
“Come, let us give our father wine to drink, and let us lie with him, and let us bring to life seed from our father.”
Note the comparative approach to religion: comparing sister to sister, uncle to nephew, half-brother to half-brother – to save the world. The native born, or the first born son, with a comparative approach to the G*d of Abraham, it is never stated that Lot had been tortured in his captivity, but I think that he had been. And like so many soldiers today, I believe that Lot sustained Post Traumatic Stress, as he had returned to Sodom after his rescue. And he fell in love, as an outsider. And his nameless wife, like any woman, wanted to go back to a place where you were once known – in the arranged marriage, where at least your wife was known. And so Lot’s nameless wife – before her death – living surrounded by her kinsmen, but living with exception to these kinsmen, with all the strangeness of Lot, as he savored the aftermath of being saved by Abram.
Innocence taken and never really sacrificed. That a daughter would ever consider ….. out of the pain of what came out of an image and likeness of the relationships of their parents – of sleeping with their own father. Sense the manipulation part in each of the stories, involving consciousness – like in this incest. Who are these people? So what were the names of Lot’s daughters who had been in an arranged relationship, determined by family, with now their existing post traumatic stress on issues of trust, like what still existed today in Afghanistan where a tribesman never would allow you talk to or see his daughters. After the Lot family moved, or had been moved by the angles of G*d, after you are no longer surrounded by the crowd of your kinsmen, but still you are allowed to get close …. as this “birth right” comes to involve forgiveness. In times of annihilation as you were so personally threatened, as Lot had once been, since having been immersed into a culture at birth of annihilation, as sex became a form of punishment – or the thinking about the method of punishment which left most readers gasping. And now, in the story, the nameless daughters of Lot in the cave, hovering with their father, with nothing behind the concept of replication except loneliness and booze? So it was Lot’s daughters who next collaborate, without their life-long friends and relatives? Did you feel the pain of his own virgin daughters betrothed to men of Sodom, who had lost their betrothed, in arranged marriages? Now what then as it came to their future, if they had a future? When Abram had prayed to save all of Sodom because of the family of Lot there, here were the survivors saved. The command given LOT had been, “Flee for your life! Do not look behind you ….. nor stop anywhere in the Plain..” And get a higher perspective …. about what the daughters of Lot sacrificed in the story.
If laughing is a good thing, is crying? From out of human emotion, there is the discovery of G*d. In system collapse and displacement, there is the discovery of not only G*d but that the Lord was really with you. Find the broken Spirit of G*d of the two daughters of Lot who had lost their betrothed, two sisters, their mother, their friends and relations in Sodom, and probably their own spirit of joy, broken in their real life experience in ‘inherited’ Post Traumatic Stress, like their father had out of war? These people had just lost their home. Could you feel the emotions of the people that were there, before getting caught up in human Triumph over a brother or over one son…. or of one tribe over the other, like the Moabites or the Ishmaelites in another story, in the discovery how to pray together, to believe together, to love together? How many folks do you know that would get drunk, as a method of grieving?
In a story about dominion, in times of real annihilation as you were so personally threatened, with war and its never ending aftermath, when rape is about power and domination over your victim – like in Sodom – now comes incest? “Since,” writes Rashi, “the younger one was not the initiator of the illicit relations, but rather her sister taught it to her, Scripture covers up for her and does not explicitly tell of her disgrace. But [concerning] the elder, who initiated the illicit relations, Scripture publicizes her explicitly, as Lot’s two daughters conceived from their father.” As you get the small details wrongs….. in the beginning … like I think the eleventh century French scholar Rabbi Schlomo be Itzhak [better known as Rashi] does here, you could lose a sense of being human.
To have to survive in this world while no longer belonging to a place much less a time: behold the daughters of Lot. Who could cover up the suffering by pointing to “the illicit” with a concern only with the illicit? Had you read about the concern of the survivors’ group called SNAP? Or about victims of incest or child abuse? Why did humans take sides over illicit sexual relationships? In the post-war questions about sides – why did you ever take sides, in the beginning? Out of fear, anger, distrust? To even consider that one daughter was more innocent or better than the other – to focus on competition instead of God and the Triumph of God’s love was a human failing. Was there an irony of their pregnancies after Sarah had tried her entire adult life to get pregnant? In the stories of intimacy and the problems of intimacy, whom did you cheer for – and why?
Like in Sodom, locate the innocence in the story, and what happens to the innocent, in these stories about preserving a Spirit amid system collapse. In reading the story, G*d seemed to be doing more of the arranging in the relationship with Abram, with Abram doing most of his own arranging with his wife, in the territory of religion called mystery, until he listened to Sarai about the arrangement with her handmaid. Contrast Abram and his thinking about the G*d of Abraham to his nephew, Lot, who had such a need to be led by Abram. Note the importance of the PROPHET in his life: the definition of esteem was that which came out of not just the G*d of Abram but, in this evolutionary developing story, but in the shared G*d of Abraham. The mystery in the promised vows, in the relationship from vows that led to the Great Covenant – the unconditional relationship – is based upon love and forgiveness. A Chosen People, who one day come out of their own PLACE, no better than any other people, if the Lord was really with you. And so much no longer like Eve who felt that she could do anything because of the place to which she had been born, but with the evolving female idea in trying to increase the numbers, for the delivery of G*d to the next generation – to replicate God’s greatness; a woman who was expected to somehow, in her very own way, to carry the G*d of Abraham further in the world, beyond the tribes and the homeland where they were born.
Even years later, in the inheritance, in the strange ways of this G*d, living in a future with the reduced set of circumcisions in their inheritance, dealing with loss, since the destruction of Sodom, would you ever cheer for a survivor – from Sodom? After the rescue and redemption, in the twenty-four hours after you witnessed the death of your mother, while expecting not only your own death but extinction of your father, would you ever feel that the Lord was really with you …. and with your Spirit? As the daughters of Lot, in the next sequence in the story, made their father their god, in this story? In its aftermath, filling the voids of his two daughters who had no understanding over why they had been saved, did Lot, as he came to grips with his shame, after he had offered his daughters to the crowd back in Sodom, have understanding?
In the beginning of …. connect the dots concerning Sodom and purity . . . to give to someone, to pass on. Philanthropy, on issues of accommodation. Through story, image is defined by others, especially in the way of Lot’s nameless daughters. In the vehicle that carried the future – language, earth, children, or story – up against war and its never ending aftermath, after Abram had waged war against slavery of Lot but he then next had allowed his wife to have a handmaid with whom he became complicit in the arrangements …. for a son. And then …. to sacrifice a son. How did this story connect to the next ones, in the story of the Family Tree?
And so this bond between Abram and his nephew Lot, after Abram has decided that his descendants would not go door to door, would not have radio shows. Relationship would be all about blood (which is why the Jewish tradition prohibits embalming — the blood is considered a part of the body to be buried with the deceased, along with any hair which comes loose while preparing the body, with every speck of blood, that is gathered in a linen bag and placed with the body in the casket.) Abram who had married his half-sister, and now Lot whose daughters were just as pure as Lot and his nameless wife from Sodom.
And thus begins, in the beginning of, the Moabites with a connection back to Cain and always the need to be saved. With the story of sacrifice, in a world with hunger, in a world filled with fear, with blood enhancing connected-ness, with an abrupt end. A lot like the ways and the reasons that a life could end so fast. There are emotions connected to sacrifice, when I offered something so personal. What had Abraham learned from the daughters of Lot, about a father prepared to give everything that is important away? When it looked as if you were giving everything away? In sacrifice? EVERYTHING! Like the family of Lot had just lost in Sodom.
With the academic freedom to know G*d and to love G*d and to finally serve G*d, there can often be a missing trust when people come to think alike. What is the thinking of your kinsmen who wanted a story covered up, like the origin of the Moabites? Recall the words at the time of the separation between Abram and Lot that had led Lot to Sodom: “There was constant strife between the herdsmen of Abram and Lot, as the complaints reached Abram about the misbehavior of Lot’s herdsmen, about the arguments between their shepherds. Therefore the elder Abram said to Lot: ‘Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdsmen and thy herdsmen. For we are brethren. Is not the whole land before thee?’
Compare how you prayed to others — not so much that you might pray better, but to find the Living G*d. In the anguish of living with G*d or without Him, as inequality threatened stability, I think that the story in this relationship between Lot and his nameless daughters was about what happens concerning the relationship AFTER the betrayal — in what would happen to the bond? So the Moabites had originated and come from this place called Sodom; from age to age, from east to west, WHERE you come to feel a Living G*d, it is story that shapes the way you think, as you come to know in the ritual of seasons, with at least this quasi-religious timetable, where to find a Living G*d.
In a PLACE, in a TIME, through story, image is defined by others, especially in the way of Lot’s nameless wife. So the displaced daughter who risked her virginity, for a son named Moab. What would Abraham say, with this night no longer covered up – with the pregnancies, after everyone heard about what had happened in Sodom, what did Abraham say? Or what did G*d say? After these three people had been saved from Sodom?
Note the wine in the story, used to change the consciousness of Lot. As a self-esteem of the people of Sodom, including the nameless wife of Lot’s — in more than just another story of pride — had been, along with their god, all based upon one PLACE, so in contrast to the G*d of Abraham. And you alone seemed saved by the angels who needed to grab the hands of Lot’s family – those two daughters had no understanding over why they had been saved, and did Lot?
As to what they had been born into, what was this selfish theology of Lot, demonstrated in how he was willing to sacrifice the purity of his betrothed daughters to save himself and these strangers (angels)? And people, and I along with them, always thought the conflict in Lot’s home was somehow associated between the G*d of Abraham and the gods of Sodom? In times when there might not be enough to share, with strangers, in a place like Sodom? So now there would be?
Did you ever feel the tenderness connected to the nameless in the stories of the “nones.” To savor its aftermath, consider the next story to follow “in the beginning of”, involving circumcision, with Abram’s growing concern over purity, after what he had done to Hagar, per the preceding chapter before this one about Lot, which would result in circumcisions for Abraham, Ishmael, and his slaves. Note the placement of the stories, when identity always came out of TIME and PLACE. The suggestion passed along was if you were to dwell in Sodom, like Lot, couldn’t you engage in licentious behavior .. and outside of Sodom where you did not know anyone and had lost your betrothed and any hope in relationships, couldn’t you do anything, without the knowledge of anyone you knew …. except if you were female? (And so the perspective of Lot’s daughters in the dénouement of the story of Lot, after his life in Sodom had been sacrificed?) Or couldn’t you do anything, if you owned a handmaid? Lot with his war-torn Post Traumatic Stress now without his wife and only with his shame – over his actions the NIGHT BEFORE – looking to get drunk …. again, maybe like long-gone relative Noah living with the agony of loss after his rescue with his ark? The unstated part of the story was if you consider what you had come to know about Lot, if Abram had not rescued Lot, Lot would have continue to live a life in slavery. Otherwise his captors would have killed him.
In the conflict over belonging, even with the innate desire for independence, in a world where rape is about power and domination in Sodom, what in the life of Lot was this incest about? When you owned someone? Could you feel, as Rashi never did, the hostility of the two nameless daughters of Lot with their broken spirit after their own father’s betrayal? Or their outrage with the always and everywhere doubt over some warped sense of those who were chosen after hearing true stories of annihilation, about the powerless and the innocent? When it was clear that even God was capable of mass killing of the innocent.
Isn’t the story abhorrent? Did you ever read Judy Herman’s Trauma and Recovery about the lost trust never recaptured after an incident of incest? Who really is betrayed in the story? It is the daughters who lost their innocence. What did Lot remember about the night? How is Lot damaged in the story, except to the communal standards with an audience, his reputation? It is the focus on the daughters who become the new heroes, afterward? It was what had happened the night before …..when there was the threat to his own daughters, at the invitation of Lot. So that Lot, this already damaged war veteran, might be saved? Outrageously, to save himself along with the angels of G*d, Lot had offered to sacrifice his own daughters – his perfect daughters – to the crowd. And could you feel the later story to come when Abraham took Isaac to Mount Moriah? What kind of theology was this, as you are ready to sacrifice the next generation?
Climbing mountains to get a higher perspective, with arrangements gone bad: it was all a facade – Lot’s espoused belief in the God of Abraham which came with a brand? The nameless daughters of Lot had just lost their betrothed, two sisters, their mother, their friends and relations in Sodom, and probably their own spirit of joy, broken in their real life experience in the prior twenty-four hours by what their own father had offered the crowd to save only himself. And they would have Post Traumatic Stress like their father had out of a war?
When in a different way of ownership, in forming a daughter/son and there could be the resentment. So now the daughters of Lot had offered themselves to their father, as the last person on earth who you could trust was gonna have you committed to a mob – the motive in the crime was the human condition, and being left so all alone? And scared. The goal in repeating this story is to gain access, through stories of discovery, to be better, like climbing mountains to get a higher perspective. There are always these gradual changes…..in what is called systemic theology, followed by the fear and the anger.
When a father finds salvation through his daughters. There is not much mention of Lot after this episode, after his daughters got pregnant on the same night – as to who would have the first born grandson of what was left of Lot’s family. One boy was called Moab. And after the beginning, there would be the appearance of the Moabites, like the later appearance of the Ishmaelites who save Joseph who saves the sons of Jacob; there is the appearance of the Israelites, in entering the “Promised Land”, who did not pass through the land of the Moabites (Judges 11:18), but conquered Sihon’s kingdom and his capital at Heshbon. After the conquest of Canaan the relations of Moab with Israel, Wikipedia reports, were of a mixed character, sometimes warlike and sometimes peaceable so much like the constant strife between the herdsmen of Abram and Lot, as when complaints reached Abram about the misbehavior of Lot’s herdsmen, about the arguments between their shepherds. And so this child would grow to form what became those Moabites, who descended from the house of Lot.
Spending time with each side – all these people surrounded by so many of their kinsmen, in the very same human condition shared, trying to do the same thing – whom did you cheer for, in the beginning, or since the days of rampage, as the Islamic State demands conversion in the manner that Abraham circumcised his own slaves? In all the aftermath of September 11, 2001, with the Power of God in these stories, were you still thinking about the method of sacrifice – which left most readers gasping, in the anguish of living with the past or without one, in this evolutionary developing story, in the shared G*d of Abraham? As I count the number of times that Lot was rescued which affected the delivery of the God of Abraham outside the land of Canaan.
In this Creation story that took more than seven days, here is the G*d of Abraham who hears and answers prayers. Rashi seemed to have missed the moment of the Book of Genesis of another new Creation – starting over, with only the power of G*d, more slowly revealing Himself to these two young women who needed something in their life, to replace all that they had lost. After the Holocaust in Sodom, if you considered the chronology in the story, connect the need of these two young women to both the need and the prayer of a older woman named Sarah. In a variant of dealing with denial, in an attempt to show their dominion over the place, when two daughters doubted the love in the world, here was the story of incest. Like the words in the opening of the Book of Genesis: “In the beginning of God creating the skies and the heavens – when the skies had been shapeless and formless, and darkness had been on the face of the deep, and God’s Spirit was hovering on the face of the water…..” To give birth rather than every day recount the horror of what you had just experienced! Living this night back in a cave, did the reader sense the environment of darkness? If you considered the future of the world, and delivering the G*d of Abraham – a much more personal G*d – for the future for three people who lost everything that mattered.
On issues of shared dominion between humans, if not between G*d and Lot, note the movement in the story of bonds which came from compounded belief, of a real human birth or two. How old were you when you felt this power inside, as you were now surrounded by people who shared their belief in you, even with all of the real human doubt between people and families – a doubt which would continue to be a theme over a lifetime, in this evolutionary process in the jittery interior female wavering feeling toward life – the butterfly within – to say something, when there was something missing. My God! A child. In this evolutionary process toward forgiveness which begins with the remembrance of the relationships of the father of faith, with his G*d and his nephew — with the suffering of the nameless daughters of Lot. Yes, in the challenge at this PLACE, in these TIMEs, I see the darkness along with the words in the opening paragraph of the Book of Genesis: “Let there be light.”
So was this a race between two sisters – after their mother is sacrificed – over who would have the first born? So did you ever feel the tenderness connected with the God of Abraham to the nameless daughters in this story of the “nones,” much like Abram had married his own father’s daughter? “Mostly they are the same lives, the same stories, over and over,” wrote David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker. When we endow our lives with stories. Mostly the same stories, generation after generation.
And so in the ENDING, a message of love. A child. A baby for each daughter, apparent even to those who do not look as closely at what happened. So there is a question if the children were being used? Were they, like Isaac, to be seen as a victim? When a life is spared – or three. In each of the stories, did you see the same things happening? The critic who never considered what it was these daughters had sacrificed, with an everlasting result in this inheritance …. from the sacrifice to somehow change the future. To amend their lives, in the movement from nameless daughters to mothers — and to father once again. Since the time when, at a place, Abraham in attempting to show how separate he was from all other men, just as Noah once had been… and it was due to The Call. And because these three left Sodom in response to the Call of the two angels, all three of them had survived, to carry the God of Abraham further into the world.
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Aseret Yemei Teshuvah
What you learn comparing: prospective husbands to real fathers.
In the movement toward the world from small to larger, you keep trying to love unconditionally … outside the tribe, like inside the tribe, until one day the entire world. It was the progression in the Book of Genesis, once that couple was forced out into the outside world. With all their flaws.
Exile, banishment, forced repatriations. Had you ever read the history of Post War Europe as borders changed? The Soviets had annexed Karelia. And then the Petsamo region of Finland. Nearly every Finnish Karelain emigrated into what remained of Finland. While American troops fought the Japanese in 1945, after VE Day, the Russians had taken the land of Eastern Poland, demanding that Germany be pushed two hundred miles further west, as Poland was given the German territory east of the Oder River and west of the Neisse.
In the story of the dispossessed, as any Irishman knows, there are Separtist Movements.
In the downward spiral of Russian history, the standards of living with falling birth rates were headed to subsistence. In times of trouble, desperate leaders stole, to somehow survive.
In the modern world, with cyber space, Reporters Sans Frontières is a France-based international non-profit, non-governmental organization, much like Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières), dedicated to the dispossessed. And in world with “spiritual but not religious” belief — a world without real borders — Russia was now giving up its neighbors’ belief in borders?
Borders? The strangeness of the borders, after the Great Annihilation — through sacrifice. In the New World Order, in the Reconstruction, some still believe in making sacrifices, through war, as so many others just shared doubt … over borders. What a bizarre idea, to sacrifice the present for a future.
Russia. Ukraine. The arranged marriage. With the strangeness of the borders. In a world where fewer and fewer people were embracing marriage, as if it was anyone else’s concern — as if it was anyone else’s concern in the private lives of these distant people, between these Slavic people who seemed so much alike, except over the degree of how orthodox their thinking. Over the dispossessed.
In the story of the dispossessed, you learn comparing the past to the present. Did you see the shadow of Neville Chamberlain in the stories coming out of Europe over this summer? There was always a blight in the outbreak of long-lasting peace, over the indifference — without allies for the dispossessed — over Motherlands.
In his need for seaports, Putin still believes in a buffer zone for the Commonwealth of Independent States around Russia, established for the common good, from a European Union (that might or might not include Ukraine as a de facto member of the Commonwealth of Independent States), over who do these people belong to, now? And there was this old tendency of Russian men to use brutal force within their homes to get their ways.
After the borders change. Again. So Russians with all of their brutal flaws could have access to the seas. Living without borders, sacrificing love, unconditionally … in the outside world.
“Mostly they are the same lives. The same stories, over and over,” wrote David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker. Was it William Faulkner who wrote that the past is never dead? In current events based upon dealing with losses, it is not even past.
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To save a heritage…. or my heritage … when everything seemed threatened again, after one thing led to another.
Did you ever take a lot of time with a story, to savor its meaning ….. like a good wine, to savor its aftermath? Had you ever connected the stories of inheritance in the family of Abraham – mostly the same lives, the same stories, over and over – in the variation of pride and vainglory from unconditional love which was part of the inheritance which developed out of “knowing?”
“There was constant strife between the herdsmen of Abram and Lot, as the complaints reached Abram.” Even among uncles and nephews, over keeping a separation … or over growth … or over the distinctions between their animals — which came out of knowing?
In the movement in the story, toward growth, note the human unrest when leaving again, even for the descendants of nomads. And so the preparation to go on a trip. For a seventeen year old, like his mother at that age, “being a shepherd,” Joseph was with his brothers, with the flocks in what they were born into. Sons of Jacob, living at a time in a generation when a woman’s worth was proven in child bearing. And there was much strife between the brothers over who their mothers were. When it came to the handmaids, Joseph was frequently with the sons of Bilhah, because his [other] brothers would demean the sons of Bilhah, who had been the handmaid of Joseph’s mother who had died; Joseph acted friendly toward these sons of Bilah.
And these were the settlements of the generations of Jacob, from their wanderings. The first cause of their wanderings was their flock, when Joseph was seventeen years old. As Joseph, in a sign of pride and vainglory, as a kid, behaved childishly, writes Rashi, fixing his hair and touching up his eyes so that he would appear handsome. And besides the gift of prophecy, at a young age, Joseph was a handsome tattle-tale. “Any evil he saw in his brothers, the sons of Leah, he would tell his father,” writes Rashi. His tales told to Jacob were about the violations of the norms of the day, by the first born sons of Jacob. And did your ears ring with the question of Cain, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (The better translation was not “keeper” but “watchman,” if you ever studied Hebrew.) Rashi writes that the sons of Leah, now grown men, demeaned the sons of the handmaids by calling them slaves, in a continuation of the story of who was better than whom. In the quiet conversion called family, Joseph suspected that the sons of Leah were engaged in illicit sexual relationships. On issues of giving everything up, on matters of sacrifice, the sons of Leah were also eating the limbs of living animals, on issues of torture, perhaps confusing true sacrifice with animal torture. And for reporting on these three matters, Rashi explains, Joseph was punished. In Genesis 37:31 it is stated that his brothers slaughtered and ate a kid … “When they sold him, and did not eat it alive.”
And so the significance of PLACE in the story, as Joseph came to Shechem: the place where the tribes sinned, where Dinah had been violated in days when Joseph was just a toddler, learning how to walk. And there the brothers, writes Rashi, plotted against him to put him to death.
Yes, before selling him, the brothers had intended to kill Joseph. So why would someone with the gift of prophecy walk into the trap? Could he not have saved himself, or was this a case where Joseph first needed to be saved, if he was to save. Even if he had the gift of prophecy, he had come to know THAT, as he had come to know his God. And Rashi writes, “in expression of modesty and eagerness, [Joseph] went with alacrity to fulfill his father’s command although he knew that his brothers hated him.”
On matters of self-esteem, it is of note that shepherds were considering the lowest of the low in the Egyptian culture. And people from Canaan were not normally even allowed to sit at table of an Egyptian. And so the importance of the first born son, Reuben, and the descendants of Ishmael, in the saving in the story of self-esteem. It was Judah, the fourth born son of Leah and Jacob, who “said to his brothers, ‘What is the gain if we slay our brother and cover up his blood? Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, but our hand shall not be upon him, for he is our brother, our flesh.’ And his brothers hearkened.”
As Joseph’s life is spared, by caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, so much like Isaac’s life had once been spared, like Jacob’s life had once been saved, and even like Abram had once saved the life of Lot before he spared the life of Isaac. As Joseph’s life is spared so much like ….. somehow the movement in the common stories seem repeated to a people who shared a past — so much like when Abraham had shown up, if you believed the story in the Qoran read at the end of Ramadan, on Eid Al Fitr, at the same PLACE as the same scene later played out, between Abraham and Isaac maybe a generation later, once Ishmael had been banished, like Adam and Eve — like in the beginning. So why not just end it all again, like on Mount Moriah, Noah-like without the ark? And God, if He let Abraham kill his son, then surely understood. About a killing like the physics in a sacrifice.
In the conflict over belonging, with too much independence, seemingly returning to the Promise Land, from where Jacob had come, to this place where a man had one wife and one God, note the very real relationship part of the story, when over time you had started to so privately reveal something about Yourself, from one generation to the next. As God tried to assimilate with His people, as the descendants of Abraham tried to assimilate into the New Creation after leaving the place of their birth behind. And that was the cause of hostility, for all the brothers?
Note that Joseph would not be as shaken as much as Isaac had been when Isaac really was the lamb that Abraham had planned to surrender now so long past. In another of these stories of betrayal over and over since Abraham really had betrayed Isaac in the Akedah, attempting to show how separate he was from all other men, just as Noah once had been, Joseph has acquired — with his epiphysis, in the invisible growth center, like within a bone, called soul — an inner strength.
In stories about identity, the missing connection for the sons of Leah is WHY they had been circumcised in the first place, indicative that they did not know God, since the time their sister Dinah, the daughter of Leah, had been violated? And that had occurred before the death of Rachel. And in retribution, the sons of Jacob, led by the second-born and third-born sons of Jacob and Leah, attempted to show their dominion over place after the sons of Jacob had rejected the proposal for an arranged marriage to Shechem. And their concern, fifteen or sixteen years before, had been about illicit relationships.
Where had Jacob been, with such a large family, for the past fifteen or sixteen years in his relationships with his sons? What had Jacob figured out about his birthright? The reporting that Joseph told him about the sons of Leah concerned still the illicit sexual relationships; “his master’s wife lifted her eyes, etc.” (Genesis 39:7).
As real people have to decide how to rebuild lives, in relationships, after the spouse you loved the most had died. Why had Jacob been called back to Canaan at the time his eldest sons were of the age for arranged marriages, with his pregnant wife Rachel? Who would these sons marry? Did you note the CALL, in this part of the story? Like the CALL that Abram once had answered? And in the CALL in the story of Jacob, did you look around at this part of the story for an answer to the “Where is the lamb?” question? As Jacob, like any nomad, wanted to go back to a place where he had been once known – for the arranged marriages …. so at least for the younger sons, living surrounded by his kinsmen . . . where at least the sons of Rachel would be able to marry suitable women through some form of arrangement, on issues over who was most pure.
Living with exception to these kinsmen, when Joseph to his family had allegedly become the outsider – or not. Did you note the obsessions in the family … over who was “chosen” or who had the birth right, as the sons of Leah, now grown men, demeaned the sons of the handmaids by calling them slaves – what ultimately leads to the demise. Of Joseph. For twenty-some years, in the perspective of Jacob (who had also left home for twenty years.) And what happens to those who obsess, who are not open to amending their lives — as a son reflects the father.
Yes, how the sons humbled Jacob, per these stories. The suggestion passed along was if you were to dwell in the house of Laban, just as Lot had dwelled in Sodom, couldn’t you engage in licentious behavior .. With your handmaids? When you did not know anyone else there, when your hope in relationships with your true love was blocked by the system, when the order of fathers involved the marriage of firstborn daughters, and you couldn’t do anything about that world you had moved into. (And so the perspective of Jacob’s sons in the dénouement of one story, into what they had been born into.)
What is the sacrifice, in the mores of the sons of Jacob who had been formed by their different mothers, or by the handmaids of their mothers? Note the separation in the story, involving the sons of Jacob, in the movement in the story of nomads. Where is the lamb now, for the grandsons of Isaac? I think that the story in this relationship between Joseph and his brothers and with their father is about what happens concerning the relationship AFTER the betrayal. Or what would happen to the bond, in the twenty-two years that transpired, before Jacob traveled to Egypt to find his son, to find salvation. After the sons of Jacob had betrayed Joseph …. after the sons of Jacob had betrayed their father.
When a father finds salvation through his son. Had there been a threat that the sons of Jacob would be disowned? What was their fears in the story over their own personal recognized illicit sexual relationships? Or had it been over eating the limbs of living animals, maybe like other members of Laban’s clan had done? What did this failure to keep kosher mean in their torture and eating of living animals? Or did this recall the command given to Jacob as he prepared to face off against Esau? That command in chapter 32 of Genesis had been “the children of Israel may not eat the displaced tendon, which is on the socket of the hip, until this day, for he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip, in the hip sinew.” And now their fears when there father heard reports about their behavior? And Jacob not dealing with the issue? When he had been so long immersed into the culture of Laban, which was his own mother’s family. Had you forgotten the moment when the hip injury occurred while wrestling with the angel in the night? Had you forgotten the visible injury …. the disabled in the story of Jacob and sons?
After all of Abram’s concern over purity, after what he had done to Hagar, which one day would result in circumcisions, leading up to the moment of the Akedah, what had become of the post traumatic stress of Isaac, in the conflict over belonging to the God of Abraham, because Abraham himself was so divided in his love, over issues of purity? Did you note the constant strife between the herdsmen — the stories over and over about shepherds — between brothers which always exists in relationships which come out of place, of bloodlines? When at this point in the Book of Genesis, how many of these sons were the bastard sons of Jacob?
So did Abraham disown Hagar and her son when he set them free? What was the perspective in this family of Jacob? Had there been a threat that the sons of Jacob’s handmaids would be disowned, if not set free?
And so the question of birthright. Was this the immaturity of a youngster with a developing inner talent but given no real direction, in this the slow development of the gift of prophecy, using a talent for personal profit to become beloved? “Any evil he saw in his brothers” – the sons of Leah –“he would tell his father.” How did people deal with strangeness, over who were your half-brothers or your full brothers? Sons so much like Eve who felt that she could do anything because she came from the Garden of Eden where God dwelled, or over who your mother was? Contrast the God of Abram and the definition of self-esteem to the concepts of the sons of Jacob with Jacob’s limited sense still of one birth right, no better than any other people, or any one son if the Lord was really with you. In this evolutionary developing story, in the shared God of Abraham, Chosen People who one day come to have their own children if not PLACE.
There is a danger living around your own kinsmen, as we all come to think alike with God before seemingly forced out of the Land of Canaan? So, Joseph suspected that the sons of Leah were engaged in illicit sexual relationships. And for reporting on these three matters, Rashi explains, Joseph was punished … by his brothers.
Behold the sacrifice. In the offense that Joseph could hardly have remembered, Reuben had slept with Bilah. What I believe to be missing in the mystery of the Book of Genesis is that neither Isaac nor Ishmael, in trying to save Abraham – on matters of shame – ever reported what had almost happened to their respective mothers, on Mount Moriah. In a similar coverup, had Reuben, the first born son, ever explained to Joseph how Jacob had tried to take his birth right away like Jacob had with his own brother Esau? When did you discover that Jacob was this flawed hero? Or had this been another “Don’t tell your mother” moment which seemed a part of THE birth right. Much like a journalism major has no idea what they are getting into in a place like Russia or in the Philippines, it is dangerous work to want to be a theologian. So did Reuben love these Egyptian handmaids like he knew his father who engaged in illicit sexual relationships never had? And fifteen or sixteen years later, there is Joseph reporting on the illicit sexual relationships of the firstborn sons of Jacob. And for this, Rashi explains, Joseph – on matters of shame – was punished by his brothers. With all the wars which came out of identity connected to PLACE, there is sacrifice, as fathers over and over are sacrificing their sons. In stories about the seen and the unseen, note how just as a brother saved a brother, like in a reconciliation between Jacob and Esau, as Reuben suggested that Joseph be cast into this pit in the desert, “… do not lay a hand upon him.” So with all all the hoodwinking in between, about whether he had been killed, Reuben unknowingly first sacrificed his birthright out of his unconditional love for Bilah, and now consequently came to save the life of Joseph who was allied with the sons of Bilah.
Note the movement in the story of belonging which came out of a displacement in the story of Joseph. It was difficult when you left the PLACE where you grew up to search for a mate who was as pure as Sarah, as Rebekah, as Rachel while living outside the tribe, in the growing world. When it had been Rachel who had been most pure in the story of Joseph. That charley horse of the throat comes on the day that you recognize the part of Joseph in the invisible sacrifice with the birth right, while living outside the tribe – in what he had come to sacrifice, in his role of the lamb. Even when the world comes to adore you… from his own position of awkwardness, after being accused of raping the daughter of the chamberlain, in a family that slaughtered the king’s animals, Joseph is imprisoned. In “the ax to the frozen sea ending”in the dénouement of the story of Joseph, did you ever sense from his displacement the deep feeling like a charley horse of the throat when you recognize his Post Traumatic Stress disordering, about what is lost of the inheritance if not the birthright as TIME replaces PLACE, on issues of identity? Joseph had saved his brothers, but had not saved himself, and in his marriage to the daughter of a priest of the sun-god seemed to have sacrificed a future? In a “be careful for what you pray” story, the sons of Jacob survived as outsiders until their grandchildren’s grandchildren became slaves for the Egyptians, based upon Joseph’s sacrifice of his identity.
When into what they had been born, Joseph’s two sons were half-Egyptian, so Joseph surely came to understand all the turmoil among his brothers on concepts of what it means to be sons of servants, handmaids, slaves, or God’s Chosen — in sitting at table with Hebrews or even shepherds. As the Book of Genesis concludes, Joseph succeeds where Abraham fails, giving up forever whatever he had come to know of God … if Abraham had killed his first born son over issue of purity? Living in the “credentialed” world, in order to make a living there is a need presenting credentials to the proper authorities, in order to be recognized with the right to speak about the meaning of pedigree if not birth right … in the sacrifice of birthright, to start over? When every act of creation, noted Picasso, involves a form of destruction. And so again Abraham’s idea, to sacrifice the future – through a son. Could Jacob ever explain, like ABRAHAM could to his to his son that he had fathered Isaac not for the world — but for Sarah, after he had fathered Ishmael for the world, so that his God would not die? And so this story which reflects all the conflict and turmoil in the lives of Jacob and Sons, on world issues of insiders and outsiders? As Abraham had tried to make a sacrifice of his own purity before God with Sarah for others, few outsiders would ever understand the Akedah. Imagine the reaction of an outsider, if they ever came to understand the continuum ever since the story of Cain, that first born son of Eve and Adam, in the connection of sacrifice to purity and the future of the world. In the stories of real relationship, by the end of the Book of Genesis, the sons of Joseph had forever lost their blood purity, but lived on? And so begins the long period of time with the question, “dead or alive?” About the birthright, like in this story of Joseph – with the long-range repercussion, that the young never saw after what they were born into, so much like the hostility of Rebekah, after Isaac had married this outsider, through the arrangement by a servant of Abraham. To one day FEEL the inner hostility to the age-old institutions, by the servants.
In the Middle East where there still is constant strife between the herdsmen like between Abraham and his nephew Lot, the sons and grandsons of Abraham were still dealing with the post traumatic stress over issues of purity, on the inheritance, over who was better than who – selling their brothers off, contending with betrayal, pretending their prayers reached higher than the prayers of those who had lost their sense of PLACE in the world, in dealing with all their human and divine relationships, in preserving the heritage and somehow passing it on. Locate the innocent in each of the stories: in the story of Noah and in all of the stories concerning Abraham. To save the world? To be put into a position to save the world through his son, like the son of David built THE Temple, this one son of Jacob. To really save all of Israel… for a while. In the focus of salvation, locate the conflict over who was most pure, when a child had no choice over the purity of the world they were born into – when you had so many different mothers living in the Motherland, with a missing peace. In these stories of Identity about Native-born and the aliens, over who was better than who, I have come to learn somehow to pray for peace, even when I, so much like Cain, am no longer among the most pure.
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Daily Reflection Creighton Online Ministries
Yūsuf ibn Yaʿqūb ibn Isḥāq ibn Ibrāhīm
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Daily Reflection Creighton Online Ministries
“Altogether, I think we out to read only books that bite and sting us. If the book we are reading doesn’t shake us awake like a blow to the skull, why bother reading it in the first place? So that it can make us happy, as you put it? Good God, we’d be just as happy if we had no books at all; books that make us happy we could, in a pinch, also write ourselves. What we need are books that hit us like a most painful misfortune, like the death of someone we loved more than we love ourselves, that make us feel as though we had been banished to the woods, far from any human presence, like suicide. A book must be the ax for the frozen sea within us. That is what I believe.” —Franz Kafka, the son of a chamberlain
Living in the “credentialed” world, in order to make a living there is a need presenting credentials to the proper authorities, in order to be recognized with the right to speak? Ever since the greatest commandment in the Garden had been to know God, locate the resentment over who exactly knew God best. (It was why, based upon what I heard this week from my eight-year old niece, women wanted to be ordained, symbolic of equal rights in over who knew God best? ) And so in this decade, in this century, in this millennium, another war – this time both inside and outside the tribe. Like ever since the time of Abraham, the father of faith.
There are other pieces written here as part of the Dormady Academy for Private Detection about the character ABRAM, who dedicated his life to the importance for a nomad to stay connected, through bonds both inside and outside the tribe… and passing it on. Was it just an accident that this civilization was able to build with deeper foundations, without building collapse?
There was this invisible connection to the theology shared by the majority of the young people with the way they were formed, through higher education, as the outside world became more threatening, with each passing generation… For Jacob & Sons.
Yes, there was a time when holiness was only found in the mountains and in the desert, where prophets fled to seek God’s voice amidst the quiet and the solace, uncluttered in a world that had then seemed much more calm, to allow themselves to be chosen, in the deepest part about prayer which involves listening, which somehow involved life.
In the ax to the frozen sea ending, did you ever feel the displacement in the story of Joseph, with the deep feeling like a charley horse of the throat when you recognize his Post Traumatic Stress disordering after your brothers tried to kill you, when you were seemingly forced out? Note the movement in the story of belonging which came out of a displacement in the story of Joseph. That charley horse of the throat comes when you recognize his part in the invisible sacrifice with the birth right, living outside the tribe, when he had become the sacrifice.
Did you recognize the same theme in stories from one generation to the next, about The Missing Persons Bureau? Yeah, just as Jacob had left his family behind, there is always an affect on the sons and one daughter in their belief in the God of Isaac. Over and over, there is the theme of separation, with the Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome after a loved one tried to kill, sacrifice or annihilate you. Would Joseph be shaken as much as Isaac had been, when Isaac really was the lamb that Abraham had planned to sacrifice?
Time. Timing. Creation. Where it was said by Picasso that every act of creation involves a form of destruction, as you break one bond and form another; as you no longer see each other, when you go away.
So how to keep a connection, in your private life, after you have gone away … in the outside world, as an immigrant, in the New World? In a world with both outsiders and insiders, there is this tremendous human problem contending with, connecting with, strangeness, as you arrived in a new land as a stranger.
Mostly through story-telling like people do, one of two things happen: either a truth in uncovered or something hidden is revealed about identities which came out of the banishment, a liberation, the exile, and/or the slavery. As told in story, uncovering of what seems lost to history, what a literature of ghost stories does is invite others inside, where maybe they too could be held in the arm of ghosts.
And so another CREATION STORY, when darkness had been on the face of the deep . . . on the face of the water – God said, “Let there be light.” When telling stories about people either reveals something hidden, or uncovers a truth.
Ghost stories, about holy ghosts . . . about Abraham and his sons and grandsons.
In the quest to KNOW, did you inherit a religion to be safe? Under constant fear of neighbors like in the Eastern Bloc of whispering campaigns, under surveillance? When your mother knew but never told you – that Abraham was your father, but you were asked to leave his tribal home, banished so much like in the story of Cain, who lived without commandments, like Adam and Eve. When you, as I, were born into ignorance, knowing nothing about the past, with centuries of silence, did you feel the QUIET CONVERSION THROUGH FAMILY in these stories?
There is also an awkwardness when someone adores you, much less when the world does – just ask an ‘only’ child. Parents do have tears when these folks go in service. So had there been a coverup from Sarai, from Hagar, in what it was Abraham had been doing on Mount Moriah? Before the son got back home? In the sacrifice of identity, maybe not unlike what my Roman Catholic Church has been living through for the last twenty years, when darkness had been on the face of the deep … and every act of creation involves a form of destruction?
And so another CREATION STORY. So who was better than whom, in the great identity question, in the ghosts of the distant ancestors, after a human betrayal of your first born son replaces the quiet CONVERSION THROUGH FAMILY, and the human consequences are loyalty oaths, as heresy became a crime and as one Abrahamaic religion tries to become the dominant power over those living far from the old tribe? Just like, for me under the leadership of the prior pope, in the century old battle against modernism.
Sacrifice. With all the wars which came out of identity connected to place, there is sacrifice, as fathers over and over are sacrificing their sons. Even, as I note the date that I write this, on D-day.
Feeling insecure in a sacrificial bond, why exactly – in the key moment or his life – had Abraham gone to Mount Moriah?
What was the one command given to Adam in the Garden, before the creation of Eve? There are so many people who want to control the Truth. What is the Truth about God? Much like a journalism major has no idea what they are getting into in a place like Russia or in the Philippines, it is dangerous work to want to be a theologian.
In another story about sacrificing knowing God, Abraham went to Mount Moriah. But what was his idea of sacrifice? Was this just some kind of Lenten offering, like my fifty-year old brother-in-law still gives up chocolate? What was the significance of all the chronology of the stories in the Book of Genesis? What was the connection between Ishmael and Isaac in the matter of sacrifice? And why do Muslims hear the same story involving Ishmael that the Hebrew Bible records about Isaac in this sacrifice on Mount Moriah? How was it this story followed the story of Cain and Abel? Or why? Did you ever note the chronology and the significance of the placement of the stories? Was that how you worked to solve the mystery?
If Abraham had succeeded, he would have given up forever whatever he had come to know of God … if he had killed his first born son. And over and over, there are stories in the Book of Genesis about the sons of Abraham sacrificing “knowing God.”
In stories about belonging, in the battle over modernism, about the living past surviving into the future, how did the Living God want to belong in the modern world?
The Missing Persons Bureau. What if there had been a Missing Persons Bureau, so Isaac could find what happened to his son, or so Jacob could find what had happened to Joseph. Or what happened after the rape of Dinah, after the death of Rachel. Rachel was the sister of Reuben’s mother. The handmaids. The servants. (To know. To love, To serve.) Note the significance of the first born son of Jacob with the hand maid, in the bed of the deceased. Get your scorecards here!
Time. Timing. Creation. Yes, where Picasso noted every act of creation involves a form of destruction, note the chronology in the life of Jacob, of first the battle with his brother, with concerns of being followed by his father-in-law as he tried to get back home, until the rape of Dinah, the vengeance of the sons of Jacob, just before the death of Rachel, until Reuben loses his birthright.
Did you ever notice all the hoodwinking in the stories about false idols? In stories about the seen and the unseen, note all the hood-winking. How a brother saved a brother, like Abraham had once rescued Lot, there was Reuben and Joseph, after Jacob had reconciled with Esau.
For a people without a homeland, there had been the dreams of Abram, followed by the nightmares of Isaac after the Akedah, in what I would call Post Traumatic Stress which was connected to the God of Abraham. In the naming of her firstborn son, Rachel went with Joseph, meaning “God has taken away my disgrace.” Was her disgrace marrying a guy like Jacob, when he had a wife who was her sister? Jacob who were never coming back to the nuthouse which had been the homestead of Abraham, with his thinking, then trying to kill within his own family, his son? And did you notice how soon Rachel died after God had taken away what she thought was her disgrace? The disgrace was removed from Jacob’s life? Or was finally being noticed?
And so the suffering of Israel. To silently remember the disgrace in the story which ends up saving the sons of Jacob, in the arc of generational justice through family, as image is defined by others, especially in the way of Rachel’s Egyptian (?) handmaid, not much different than the Egyptian handmaid belonging to his own mother. So did Reuben love these Egyptian handmaids like he knew his father never had? In the offense that Joseph could hardly have remembered, Reuben slept with Bilah.
In contending with the outside world, after a banishment and so much fear of the stranger in the outside world, did you ever note that most of the stories in the Book of Genesis begin with what loved ones did to each other.
What I believe to be missing in the mystery of the Book of Genesis is that neither Isaac nor Ishmael, in trying to save Abraham – on matters of shame – ever reported what had almost happened to them. In a coverup: “Don’t tell your mother.” And this was part of THE birth right.
So Reuben slept with Bilah … and how exactly did Jacob explain the immorality of his act, to Reuben and his other sons, when compared to his own actions with Bilah? And this was not the first recorded sin of the flesh, if you recall the actions of Abraham with his wife’s handmaid. So why was this act of Reuben offensive to Jacob, unless there had been unconditional love involved? Bilah “belonged” to Jacob through the family of Rachel? This “offense” resulted in the loss of birthright for the first born son? But consequently, it was Reuben who came to save the life of Joseph. About fifteen or sixteen years later.
The dreams, the prophecy, the dreams of prophets …. did you ever notice the importance of the PLACE of beds in these stories? For people without a Promise Land?
And so the story of Joseph begins. Only after Reuben had saved his life. In another “Don’t tell anyone” moment of the Book of Genesis. “Mostly they are the same lives, the same stories, over and over,” wrote David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker. We endow our lives with such stories, if the power in the ideals are going to survive. If somehow, this birth right is going to save us.
In the mysterious sacrifice to save the world, like when Abraham went to Mount Moriah – one of two things can happen: either a truth is uncovered, or something hidden is revealed about identities which came out of an exile. In another story about sacrificing your brother (not the son) if not your goal about knowing God – in story-telling which people do about the unsolved mystery – Joseph ends up in Egypt … so all alone, one day sleeping with an Egyptian woman whom he had married. As Joseph had become an outsider … alienated from everything important. in Egypt. And so ends the first part of the story of the birth right of Joseph … when every act of creation involves a form of destruction.
Daily Reflection Creighton Online Ministries
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Yūsuf ibn Yaʿqūb ibn Isḥāq ibn Ibrāhīm
donate, if you ever in your life felt chosen.
In stories about identity, Lot’s wife was “one of them.” Note the movement in the story of bonds which came from compounded belief, of a real human death. When you were surrounded by people who shared your belief, but with all of the real human doubt between people and families, that doubt would continue to be a theme over a lifetime, in this evolutionary process toward forgiveness which begins with the remembrance of the relationships of the father of faith, with his God and his sons — with the suffering.
The strangeness of it all, after the Great Flood — A SACRIFICE. What a bizarre idea, to sacrifice the future, through a son. Imagine the reaction of Rebekah when she heard the story, as an outsider, about Lot’s wife. Chosen, and learning each other’s strangeness. All these Latter Day Saints concerned about the private lives of this couple, as if it was anyone else’s concern – as if it was anyone else’s concern in the private lives of these men – whether a family would remain kosher. With the concern of all the latter day saints about the degree of how orthodox.
Yeah, so much like the shared doubt at this stage between Lot and Abraham, who are in the story, so all alone from the communities in which they lived, per the Book of Genesis. And over and over the theme of separation: “There was constant strife between the herdsmen of Abram and Lot, as the complaints reached Abram about the misbehavior of Lot’s herdsmen, about the arguments between their shepherds. Therefore the elder Abram said to Lot: ‘Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdsmen and thy herdsmen. For we are brethren. Is not the whole land before thee? Separate thyself, I pray thee, from me. If thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right, or if thou take the right hand, then I will go to the left.’”
Note the Garden of Eden in the story, in the separating, without hesitation, of Lot from Abram. Lot made the choice to journey eastward where he pitched his tent near Sodom, which was the same direction Adam and Eve had once headed after their banishment. Abram was left alone near Beth-El, receiving from his G*d another of His promises.
Sodom and Gomorrah were among five old cities east of the Tigris River, which for twelve years had paid tribute to the conquering powerful King Chedarlaomer of Elam, until the five cities rebelled. And so a war for independence; after thirteen years of independence, the king of Elam with the help of three neighboring kings marched upon the valley of the Jordan and met the enemy near the bitumen pits in the valley of Siddim, trapping the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah. A battle was fought and among the captives of King Chedarlaomer was Abram’s nephew, who had remained in Sodom. A messenger who had escaped from battle carried the news to Abram that his nephew was enslaved. Gatherering 318 of his men, Abram pursued Chedarlaomer, and in a nocturnal attack, aided by many a divine miracle, his guys defeated the superior force, freeing the people – including Lot – recapturing all the loot, bringing back in a march of triumph the captives while singing praises to the G*d of Abram. Accompanied by Lot, Abram then met the king of Sodom along with the 465 years old King Malkitzedek of Salem (Melchizedek) who, if you believed what someone seems to have inserted into the story, was the actual son of Noah, named Shem. In accordance with his priestly office, Malkitzedek gave to Abram bread and wine, adding to a typical offering his true and simple blessing: “Blessed be Abram of the Most High G-d, Who has delivered thy enemies into thy hand.” Abram then gave him a tenth of everything he had, in the aftermath of the war for independence for Sodom and Gomorrah.
Standing on the height near Beth-El, long before this war of King Chedarlaomer, Abram and Lot had gazed over a wide fruitful valley of the Jordan, like the rich land of Egypt they had just left behind. But the people in the valley “were wicked and sinners before G*d exceedingly.” Although he lived in Sodom, it is said that Lot was the exception to the cruelty of the Sodomites to all strangers. In a story that repeats itself, as Sodom is totally annihilated just as the entire world seemed to be in the story of the Great Flood, Sodomites offered no hospitality to a passing stranger, no consideration for the poor. It is said that because one of Lot’s daughters once secretly had given food to a stranger near starvation, this daughter had been burned in public (see the story of Plitith). And so the pleading of Abram before G*d to save the cities for the sake of the righteous who might be living in Sodom, after G*d had informed Abram of His intention to destroy Sodom, where Lot (who he had saved once already) lived.
When words carry weight. As the words take root….. ‘Take this’ bond. Before comparing the G*d of Abraham to the G*d of Isaac, note another separation between Abram and Lot, in in the conflict over belonging,with so much independence? Note the very real relationship part of the story, when over time you had started to so privately reveal something about Yourself. From one generation to the next. So to be so personally given a choice. As G*d tried to assimilate with His people, in a seemingly populated world. Since mostly words connected to Spirit carry weight, if you did not understand this story about the nameless wife of Lot, you would never understand what would happen on Mount Moriah between Abraham and Isaac.
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? It is never stated that Lot had been tortured in his captivity, but I think that he had been. When, like any nomad, you wanted to go back to a place where you were once known – in the arranged marriage, where at least your wife was known. And so the nameless wife of Lot, living surrounded by her kinsmen, but living with exception to these kinsmen, with Lot and all the strangeness of Lot.
In a variant of dealing with denial, there was the doubt. As the locals, attempting to show their dominion over the place, were having kids, to address all the doubts in times again and again of annihilation …. Post-war? In the stories of the past — and also in the present — in another relationship story about what it does mean to be CHOSEN, there is over and over indiscriminate human annihilation, as real people have to decide how to rebuild lives, in relationships. Maybe after losing one daughter who had already been burned alive in public.
The all-knowing story-teller, working for The Academy of Private Detection, before answering the question whether the G*d of Abraham would die when Abraham died, had some exploring to do? Chosen, like in a mate, needing a marriage certificate, or a death certificate, or just a wife, if the the G*d of Abraham would survive for his son, with the involvement of political and Spiritual powers?
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. Through story, image is defined by others, especially in the way of Lot’s nameless wife. Compare how you prayed to others — not so much that you might pray better, but to find the Living G*d.
Comparing things was the definition of poetry. Compare the perspective in a story — from the perspective of Abraham — with the voice of the story-teller. In the case of Lot’s wife, how would you acquire a sense of belonging without learning about the spirits, in the relationship part of the story, when over time you had started to so privately reveal something about Yourself, from one generation to the next? Not so much the holy Spirit, as my holy Spirit that led to the First Commandment: “I am the Lord your God.” Period. Paragraph.
Note the reluctance of the narrator if not the Author of Life to state the self-evident about the inequality which threatened stability: The fear of the Sodomites of outsiders, as if there was not enough there in the way of riches if all of the world discovered the riches – and then one day no one would be rich, like Lot. Always note the outsider(s) in the story of the Book of Genesis. And so the conflict of the G*d of Abram with the god of Sodom found more in the land instead of on the earth. Counting the cost of the earth of the irreversible environmental damage in the unsustainable world of straight growth, without death.
Starting over. To write it all down. Ever since memorizing the Abraham Lincoln line delivered about what was so self-evident, I have a reluctance to state the self-evident. Were all men really created equal? I feel safe to say that the Christian world has never given this story about Lot’s wife its due, if I could understand the comment that I heard ten days ago from a former priest: “It’s all fiction.” So in Catholic seminaries, young men are not taught to feel for the emotions that the characters in the stories had to live with – in this case Lot, trying to reach some understanding of what had happened. And what happens to someone who could not discover through stories real feeling — which came out of stories of betrayal — when you are surrounded by your kinsmen?
In the Judeo-Christian tradition, it is story that not only shapes the way you think, but the way that you pray. When doubt met belief. Aspiritual, not unlike being called asexual, from the reduced set of circumcisions like when you mother died …. or your father. To find the broken Spirit of God in ghosts, with the joy, the sorrow and the glory all eventually broken in a former priest, living with the reduced set of circumcisions in his inheritance, dealing with loss.
Note the unconditional in this story, for those willing to keep moving, to start over – not to be made into a statue, starting over, again. There was the Obedience, to move forward with Lot’s fertility, and not the culture that you had grown up in. When Lot and his family had been outsiders.
The place in the story was always important – like the PLACE of origin. Feel the desire of Lot’s nameless wife who was from Sodom or Gommorah (over issues of PLACE-related-always-to-fertility?) which becomes obsessive to her and is what ultimately leads to her demise. And what happens to those who obsess, who are not open to amending their lives?
Note the movement in the stories about identity, about fleeing, but marked as a pillar of salt, or marked only to laugh about identity, if you did not look for real human meaning in these stories?
Marked: The story of Lot’s wife and the evolutionary vow of obedience was connected to statues? I do not believe what happened in Sodom was about the sexual practices. There. But I am in a minority. I think that the story in this relationship between Lot and his nameless wife was about what happens concerning the relationship AFTER the betrayal — Or what would happen to the bond?
There was Abram’s concern over purity, after what he had done to Hagar per the just completed chapter, which one day would result in circumcisions. The suggestion passed along was if you were to dwell in Sodom, like Lot, couldn’t you engage in licentious behavior .. and outside of Sodom where you did not know anyone and had lost your betrothed and any hope in relationships, couldn’t you do anything, without the knowledge of anyone you knew. (And so the perspective of Lot’s daughters in the dénouement of the story, after their life in Sodom was destroyed.)
In the years that he had spent with Uncle Abraham, Lot had absorbed what he had witnessed of Abraham’s great hospitality. Did you pay attention to the chronology in these stories? So sitting at the gates of Sodom, Lot saw and greeted two strangers, inviting them to his tent. In doing so, Lot knew full well that he risked his life. Having learned of the presence of strangers, people of Sodom surrounded Lot’s house, demanding Lot give up the two visitors to be dealt with in the usual manner. In vain did Lot try to quiet the people outside his home, persuading them to leave the strangers alone. The more Lot spoke, the more excited the crowd became until finally the crowd threatened to kill Lot … until the angels (the strangers), as if was recorded, sent blindness on the Sodomites — if the Sodomites did not already have vision deficits. And so the PLACE in the story, as dawn was breaking. Invited to spend the night at the home of Lot and his nameless wife, the visiting angels urged Lot to flee with his family to avoid being caught in the impending destruction coming to this PLACE of iniquity. And though it is never specifically said, many suspect it was the nameless wife of Lot, as a native of Sodom, who had told someone that strangers were at their home. So it was Lot’s wife who had collaborated with her life-long friends and relatives? The command given LOT was “Flee for your life! Do not look behind you, nor stop anywhere in the Plain; flee to the hills, lest you be swept away.” With his own virgin daughters betrothed to men of Sodom, Lot did delay, the angels took hold of Lot’s hand, the hands of his nameless wife and two nameless daughters, and brought them out of the city of Sodom. And in my view, the angel who took Lot’s hand appeared in the image and likeness of a female, since gender seems important in the story.
When words carry weight, or since mostly words connected to Spirit carry weight, compare the G*d of Abraham to the god of Lot’s nameless wife, in the conflict over belonging to Sodom? Ever since the greatest commandment in the Garden had been to know G*d, who knew G*d best? As the nameless wife of Lot, note she was given a chance to be saved, according to so many who embezzled the story for their own purposes. Had the nameless wife of Lot even recognized that these strangers were angels of G*d?
Did you grasp the resentment in the story? The real conflict in the story was not so much the people of Sodom and the punishment of Sodom, but what had come between Lot and the ideals of Lot’s nameless wife of who she was: over identity and belonging, and over who this G*d of Abraham and of Lot was. Was the nameless wife of Lot hostile that Lot had taken in strangers against the mores of the people of Sodom, of whom she was one? And there was now a threat to her own daughters that night, at the invitation of Lot. So that Lot might be saved? Outrageously, to save himself along with the angels of G*d, Lot had offered to sacrifice his own daughters to the crowd. And could you feel the later story to come when Abraham took Isaac to Mount Moriah? What kind of crazy theology was this?
It was a theme over a pillar of salt, like I envision, quite impersonally, in the ruins of Greek temples. And so the nameless wife of Lot, born into the nameless fears of Sodom, surrounded by the crowd of your kinsmen — as your loving wife, immersed into the culture of Sodom at her birth, had to decide, with or without unconditional love; in an arranged relationship, determined by family, with existing post traumatic stress on issues of trust, like what still existed today in parts of the world where the tribesman of Afghanistan would never let you talk to or see his wife, much less tell you his wife’s name. Not unlike the norms or taboos of the men of Sodom? The theme, in the conflict of private and public lives, over who would be saved, and with the involvement – some kind of involvement – with the use of your fertility, in times of annihilation as you were so personally threatened, from having been immersed into a culture at birth, when sex became a form of punishment – or the thinking about the method of punishment which left most readers gasping; or later, in the conflict of private and public lives, out of the thinking of the nameless daughters of Lot as a kind of reward, in a later story of incest which might have come as a result of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in this incredible story.
Sodom and purity: To connect the dots about Sodom, about intimacy, in the placement of the story 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 whom his new son belonged to? Did you note the constant strife between the herdsmen — the stories over and over about shepherds — of Lot and of Abraham which always exists in relationships? (There are silent themes of PLACE, Bloodlines, and the fertility of Sarai.) When at this point in the Book of Genesis, Ishmael was the bastard son of Abraham.
To connect the dots concerning Sodom and purity . . . to give to someone, to pass on. Philanthropy, on issues of accommodation. The vehicle that carried the future. Language. Earth. Children. War and its never ending aftermath, when rape is about power and domination over your victim. To slowly invent words to pass on to your children, if not story. To communicate deep feeling while unknowingly dealing with a tragic hero — Lot. Concerning the resentment in this story, didn’t the nameless wife of Lot resent if not Abram, Lot? Because she had gone along once already with Lot, which had resulted in one daughter who had been burned in public, because the girl had been hospitable to one stranger. What was this selfish theology of Lot, demonstrated in how he was willing to sacrifice the purity of his betrothed daughters to save himself and these strangers?
When there might not be enough to share, with strangers? And people, and I along with them, always thought the conflict in Lot’s home was somehow associated with the G*d of Abraham? If you ever later sensed the hostility of Rebekah, living in the house around Abraham, to the male birthright to the eldest, did the nameless wife of Lot miss the uniqueness of Abraham in his day while living in a world of serial servitude and sex, for the nameless wives – over making a different kind of arrangement in his own life. (And hadn’t Abram heard the story of what happened first to the one daughter [was it their firstborn daughter?] of Lot before what happened to the entire city of Sodom.)
What quietly is in this story again was 1) Separation, 2) Slavery and/or indentured servants, 3) another nameless wife, 4) PLACE, in the story of purity, 5) SHARED dominion, 6) fear and 7) resentment. The people of Sodom used the riches from their fertility to simply grow more riches for themselves. And when an individual supersedes the “group think,” there would be grave punishment; the punishment to invoke a lasting fear in the community, to be spoken of for ages, dealt with threats of sexual punishment, which was an aftermath of war at the time. Because the fear of the Sodomites of outsiders was that there was not “enough” there in the way of riches if all of the world discovered the riches – and then one day NO one would be rich, like Lot had become living there. Or was their fear about drought and famine, as the Sodomites made PLACE their god, in the Post Traumatic Stress which lingered since the time Lot had once been held captive? SO to keep the outsider out!
Did you feel the concern of Lot’s wife over what she was leaving behind, like a statue, as Lot’s nameless wife looked back? According to Midrash, Lot and his nameless wife had four daughters, two of whom were married. The two married daughters and their husbands, along with the two future bridegrooms, remained in Sodom and perished. Unable to move on from what she had born into, note the lack of obedience in Chosen People to the heard commands of the angels of the G*d of Abraham. When a self-esteem of the people of Sodom, including the nameless wife of Lot — in more than just another story of pride — is, along with their god all based upon one PLACE, so in contrast to the G*d of Abraham. And thus the angels needed to grab the hands of Lot’s family.
A Promise Land. From a nomadic perspective of the infinity of G*d not connected to one PLACE, the G*d of Abraham is not connected to one place. Contrast the G*d of Abram to the thinking of his nephew, Lot, who had such a need to be lead by Abram. Note the importance of the PROPHET in his life: the definition of esteem was that which came out of not just the G*d of Abram but, in this evolutionary developing story, in the shared G*d of Abraham. The mystery in the promised vows, in the relationship from vows that led to the Great Covenant – the unconditional relationship – is based upon love and forgiveness. A Chosen People, who one day come out of their own PLACE, no better than any other people, if the Lord was really with you. And so much no longer like Eve who felt that she could do anything because of the place to which she had been born.
So contrast the concept of punishment that the Sodomites, if not the nameless wife of Lot, surrounded by so many of her kinsmen, the very same human condition, when the last person on earth — or the first — feeling so all alone, as you lost your sense of place. View this nameless wife of Lot looking back at horror to see what happened to her city of birth, with so many loved ones including the betrothed men of her two surviving daughters, like had once happened to one of her own daughters. So contrast that concept of punishment for the Sodomites…. with the concept of the punishment that came to Sodom that takes away a future, like the punishment bestowed upon what is now the nameless world that existed before the time of Noah, intended for the strangers, with the punishment that the Sodomites threatened just for Lot — the sexual punishment that always burdens the victim’s future.
Using the method of Spiritual Exercises from stories, when I was there in the story, as evangelization did not work for me, I had to read and reflect for myself what was going on in the story, not concentrating solely on the ending. With a philanthropy—that you might have what I had, in what seemed a normal way of life. Scripture is nothing but the history of how people who went before us learned how to pray. Abraham. Isaac. Immersion. The arrangements when marrying an outsider, with some new need for evangelization, replacing the old ways of immersion? So I did believe in parochial education, along with what it was in the Picasso line, about creation: that every act of creation involves a form of destruction. And who better than a woman to appreciate the words, in the days when maternal life was threatened with each birth of a newborn? When you are putting it all on the line, for the first born and the next born: “This is MY BODY.”
The lesson that a life-long nomad named Abram seemed to come to one day out of PLACE was that of Chosen People, no better than any other people, if the Lord was really with you. Ignatius of Loyola described spiritual consolation as breaking down all barriers – the barriers between “us” and “them,” and in order to walk in the ways of God, ultimately between “us” and G*d. People who develop human Spirit into something divine had to have an awareness about ghosts. Like the ghost of Lot’s wife, with an importance of the binding in the relationships, in stories about unconditional love. When your relationships were so alive, did you feel a great desire for naming in all of the stories about native population, and the wandering Jew, through identity stories about Native-born and the aliens, over who was better than who.
Could you find the unconditional in this story, for those willing to keep moving, to start over – not to be made into a statue? If the unconditional had ever been there? Or did you feel the anger of a woman after, over time, you had started to so privately reveal something about yourself, from one decade to the next? And Lot had tried to save only himself, because he had guessed it was his nameless wife who had informed on him?
As the nameless wife of Lot was given a chance to be saved, even after she had revealed the presence of the strangers in her home. What happened was that Lot’s wife choose not to listen to the angels of Lot’s G*d, questioning the truth about Lot’s G*d after Lot had tried to save only himself, because he knew G*d best? And so the real human resentment in the story, not unlike how the locals of Sodom more loudly attempted to show their dominion over PLACE.
When your prayers were so alive, and you wanted others to then have the same experience… passing on the Spirit in some kind of Abraham-like Crazy Glue, in a collective memory of forgiveness of others in the name of a forgiving G*d, on issues of inheritance and birth right. Did you recognize the shift by the end of the story that is now all about all of the daughters of Lot, if compounded belief is to stay with the descendants of Lot and his daughters? Like in a dénouement of the story, passing on the power in bonds between your own people, concerning Lot’s wife and daughters: all along the focus in the culture seemed to be allegedly on the male and his tribe, in Sodom. It was always hard in this impersonal world, on this earth, to so personally live with your God, with the G*d of Abraham who stirred and disrupted Chosen People, when to be “chosen” is not something a person learns to be, but is an identity contested and fought over, between those who were not good enough with those who seemed to be too good, and always the tension in this indescribable pain which creates memory in a culture. “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.
Locate the innocent in each of the stories: in the story of Noah, the story of Abel, the story of Adam, and in all of the stories concerning Abraham. Locate his conflict with others, trying to use their power, unblessed. When you had different mothers, note the difference between the brothers, or their nephews – the one who played the system, and the one who did not. When one guy had the world by the tail, and the youngest had suffered as a result of the Great War. And note what happens as you are surrounded by your own kinsmen who all think in the same manner, about good and evil.
When surrounded by so many of your kinsmen, the very same human condition, needing a certificate, of birth, of marriage, of baptism, of death, or needing a wife, or just a son, if the G*d of Abraham would survive for the future, note the involvement of political and Spiritual powers? Through story, when surrounded by so many of your kinsmen, the very same human condition shared, image is defined by others. And when surrounded by people suffering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, fertility was thought to be just another weapon of war? Against the mores of the people of Sodom, of whom she was one, Lot had taken in strangers, against the wishes of his nameless wife? So Lot thought he was better than the people of Sodom, as he, maybe like his G*d, tried to assimilate with His people, living with the reduced set of circumcisions post-war.
Note the underlying belief by all the member of Lot’s family that IT was nonsense, maybe like your view of the story itself, concerning any need to be saved, for another day, in another place. So was it nonsense that the fertility of the daughters of Lot had to be saved for the future, in any post-war world, from a cultural atmosphere, as people can then be triggered consciously or unconsciously. After the recovery of the next generation from Post Traumatic Stress Disordering which came from all war, note the recorded stories distinguishing good from evil. These stories were told about hope, for a better world, with the threat to institutions, needing to be saved like the euro? How much was Sodom like the present day part of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, surrounded by the crowd of your kinsmen just north of Riyadh, with the concerns about purity in the Wahhabi heartland? Or how much was Sodom just like Russia, wanting to keep the outside world away? With all the micro-managing bean-counters, in a world left to the bean counters who seemed to forget the goal was thought to be ensuring the sustainability of a nation through its fertility and its food. Like in Ukraine or Crimea, trying to use a power, unblessed? As few nations on earth had ever lost so many people like Russia or Ukraine in famine, or in the what the western world calls World War II — The Great Patriotic War. And in this great haunting, suffering was still so alive.
In the detachment which came from war, having grown up in the suburban world with a cultural atmosphere over the last 50 years of the suburban world, note a child or grandchild who did not share her father’s beliefs – about religion, about government, about the world, in times of revolution – after system collapse? And so the estrangement, in the detachment. In the detachment which came from war, even in suburban life, there is dysfunction out of leaving it all behind. There is the disordering which came from war, with varying degrees of compassion and cruelty, equanimity and fear, with the pathology which affected the expression of feeling as a result of conflict. And there is the mental illness as some kind of scarlet letter of our day, with the fear of mental illness which came out of the cultural atmosphere of war. And after we sent our sons to war, they came home, to settle in among us. Like in Sodom, locate the source of belief, held by all the member of Lot’s family — or like with the former priest born in 1930 — that it was all just nonsense.
By the end of the story, there is a change in the PLACE in the story, where Lot will have to live with an aim of shared “dominion” — a word suggesting an absolute fierce exercise of mastery. In his new location, in order to live with himself, Lot would need to seek forgiveness concerning how his action led to the death of his nameless wife as neither he nor his nameless wife ever really believed in each other. In the end, Lot is in need of forgiveness — from the G*d of Abraham as well as from his daughters.
Like in Sodom, locate the innocence in the story, and what happens to the innocent. In these stories about preserving a Spirit amid system collapse, did you see over and over a destruction of what institutions previously built … and concerning the themes of what the young are born into, an invisible change?
There were always these gradual changes…..in what is called systemic theology, followed by the fear and the anger. Was an outsider like me, really ever a threat to THEIR G*d or to them, if I risked my life in hospitality? In the days of rampage, as the Islamic State demands conversion in the manner that Abraham circumcised his own slaves, Islamic militants called D’aesh have attacked Christian communities in Syria, Lebanon and Egypt, burning churches while trying to annihilate their God along with the faithful. In Iran, people of the Baha’i faith have been jailed and killed; in Pakistan Ahmadi Muslims suffer mob violence. And all over the Middle East, anti-Semitism has erased Jewish communities. The suggestion passed along by these adherents of Islam, in kidnapping young women, was ‘couldn’t you engage in licentious behavior,’ if you were to dwell in these circumstances? Were these the same perversions connected to Abraham’s concern over purity, after what he had done to Hagar per the just completed chapter, with the long-term consequences.
When you lived under a dominant power of church and state… With the FEMALE fear of life versus the MALE fear of death, fertility was thought to be just another weapon of war? Note all the human perversions and conversions associated with the sons of Abraham.
And so the same question: “Abraham, where IS the lamb?” After you have been sent by outsiders to war? When the new wars were the old wars, over this God of Abraham, as sons set out to prove how they have come to know God like Abraham?
TheDeacon’s Bench, Greg Kandra
creighton online ministries