Archive for the ‘Birth right’ Tag
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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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
donate, if you ever in your life felt chosen.
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
No one is a born story-teller. With words, in translations, there was such a long learning curve that cut into you. In words and borders and getting across time, with power and dominion and in BONDS which came from stories about ‘Forced labor’ like in the Soviet Bloc, little different than life in the nineteenth century. Bonded labor. Less a system today than in the past – but still serial servitude. Not just servitude but serial servitude. Passed on, like a religion. Ever revolving. Ahead of the evolving human law that punishes. Or outlawed with tactics to make it harder to identify. https://paperlessworld.wordpress.com/2014/03/12/hagar/
Serfdom. Poverty is a factor in all slavery, with unscrupulous owners of business, on the legal edge of criminal slavery who focus on the price of a product like cotton, to be sold in another market. Not as well-known is the Asia-Pacific slave trade in South India, writes Siddharth Kara on chattel slavery in the modern context, with ‘Dead Bondage’ contract after a deed-of-sale had been outlawed in 1833. Generation after generation, the relationship carries on in the bonded labor of agriculture, into the modern world.
To be caught in life cycles of SLAVERY: In a world of BAD spirits, written about by a one-time slave in 1789. The suffering, generation after generation in bonded labor of agriculture. There is the degree of suffering even in the relationship of slavery into the modern day world.
Note the irony of the history found in the Hebrew Bible with the goings-on after Joseph, knowing the story of the Egyptian handmaid which afflicts the world today. Note the connection of Passover to the story of slavery, since slavery “by the sweat of your brow” was the affliction since the times of Adam, in the beginning.
When slavery was always connected to the earth. When the earth is the vehicle that carries the future, as humankind is to have a shared dominion, with ‘forced labor,’ in a bonded kind of labor that never would end and which would involve your children’s children.
Hagar, without a husband, in human bondage trying to make a decision about the future with her very good master, Sarai. Here was another lamb story which was never heard until more than 700 years after the common era began.
We all belong to an age, and it is not our fault. Looking for independence, women more and more are rejecting not just servitude but serial servitude in the institutions; in the crisis of modernity, maybe people were rejecting all of the work involved to care for just one child.
Having to start over like Hagar, out from human bondage. Did you feel the ghosts of fragmentation which came out of independence, in the conflict over belonging? Did you feel the ‘independence’ in the stories of an independent people, maybe in compliance with the right “to be forgotten” initiative of the European Union, as Google has started to remove certain of their search engine results? Or so they say.
Did you read to be ahead of where the world was moving, as the old world was dying, with all the fragmentation …. but with The Spirit in the fragmentation. Did you read the warnings about ending up like Hagar, so all alone? Note once again the suddenness in the story.
Had there been a reluctance at Gettysburg in the line delivered about what was so self-evident, to Abraham Lincoln? And speaking of loss of life, to men named Abraham, compare a sacrifice at the end of life, offering all that you had built up to incremental sacrifice made each day … or when you were young and forced to put it all on the line.
Creating a cycle of vulnerability. More nimble and transitory, in the modern world, the supply chain – the corrupted supply chain – comes from the human desire for a cheaper product, for greater ease. The greater unease created over the desire for ease. Everyday concern one day is transferred from the price of the products consumed to the cost to the victims in the economic systems. It is the awareness of the missing bond between the keeper of the flock, like the later missing bond between Isaac and Ishmael, between Jacob and Esau, the first recorded twins? And like Cain, speaking of inheritance, having to leave again … just like Hagar.
Living history. Whoever could believe how it all began? In the story about how it all happened, did your kids believe the chronology, before they arrived? Or was this just a secular chronology, denoting attitudes, activities, or other things which have no religious or spiritual basis? Did the kids even ask? In the beginning of – when the skies had been shapeless and formless, and darkness had been on the face of the deep. About our chronology? And their personal appearance on earth.
To be dumped. Onto earth. Not knowing. To go back to the beginning: Banished again, like Hagar and her genetically modified son. Hagar, without a husband. Living with her bastard son, Ishmael. In what all the ghosts of saints have learned over a lifetime, in the seeds of charity and forgiveness, here was another lamb story.
Firstborn sons. Birthright. Planned parenthood. Creating, then sustaining the illusion, in a parental kind of way about systems like slavery. Feel the presence of a spirit, that you might love like I loved, in a powerful kind of way. Feel the power, in relationship.
“From age to age, from east to west,” we all belong to an age, and it is not our fault. Does it matter so much WHEN you were born? When your membership in a tribe was everything, and the place in the story was always important – like the place of origin.
Feel the desire between two women over issues of fertility which becomes obsessive, which does happen to those who obsess — even over religion, over spouses, if not children? TO be moved like the clouds from stories about life and death to replicate. In what all the ghosts of saints have learned over a lifetime, in the seeds of charity and forgiveness, Hagar, living with her bastard son, Ishmael. In the story that surely marks the New Millennium like — at least, the Irish people in the Twentieth Century, forgot. In all of the stories, over and over, about deleting the First Creation, before somehow taking it back. How could I ignore all of the bad choices Hagar had made in collaboration with her master? That was the story of Ishmael which led into the story of Isaac.
The War on Terror. The times we are born into. To be caught in life cycles of SLAVERY and serial servitude, was there shame ever felt over the damage that you had done so far to this world? Was there need to set forth to start making amends over the conflict with the past, and all of our institutions. After the Space Age, where there is cyberspace, and there is no THERE there. No right or wrong? Just ask the National Security Agency about their interpretation about the meaning of human rights, if not torture, under the two past American presidents as concerns over security become so obsessive.
The weakly connected villains with the spiritual direction of a butterfly, denoting attitudes, activities, which have no religious or spiritual basis, the real New Millennium generation born under these two presidents with the genetically modified idea about goodness and evil, if not constitutional rights.
“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, when your relationships were so alive but with the missing self-awareness in the story about allowing yourself to be Chosen, legitimately. Look in all of these stories about the descendants of Abraham, at the manner of the arrangements in relationship, even like the woman named Sarai doing all of the arranging with Hagar. Look at the way Sarai used her human ownership-power, here. Sarai, doing the arranging – as opposed to what had happened to her with Abram – when she was chosen from Abram’s father’s household. When your prayers were so alive and you were barren, but you wanted others to then have the same experience, to avoid extinction. With or without God’s intervention in the relationship. Note the importance of the binding in the relationships, in mostly the same stories about unconditional love, generation after generation.
Or the disappearance. To go back to the beginning, what all these ghosts of saints since the time of Noah were contending with was displacement, with their children looking for a spiritual direction. A woman using only her power through serial servitude who was expected to somehow, in her very own way, to carry the God of Abraham further in the world, beyond the tribes and the homeland where she was born? When growth was so much the measure of success, but from serial servitude, no human could ever really grow.
From the visible and the invisible, in stories about birthright held back, contending with displacement, did you carry an unrealistic expectation that a woman is gonna know God like I know God. Or that you son might replicate God’s greatness as Sarai — a direct descendant of Noah’s nameless wife — dreamed to do. Have you ever, like I have, heard a story of how a woman went ahead with a wedding when she knew that she was doing something wrong? It was like forcing a shot in basketball, which was never there, when time was running out on the shot clock.
In the stories of the seen and the unseen, the relationship is never entered into on a consensual basis between an owner and a slave. The word used is “Mistress” if female, not “Master.” On matters of shared dominion, the mistress dominates and there is no true sharing. And when your son hears one day about the circumstances of his birth, how would a mother maintain parental control over their child when it came to the concept of the connection of sex to “relationship?”
Did you feel the human force in the story of Hagar and Sarai? So what is your perspective concerning this story with Abraham, in what would later happen? Why had Abram ever left home in the first place — had he been banished? He married his half-sister, for God’s sake? Was there a connection over the command to cleave and the meaning of “cleave” in all of this? What is your perspective of the man who imposed circumcision on all of his nameless slaves, as well as on Hagar’s son? His thirteen-year old son, Ishmael, like all those adult SLAVES, would never forget the pain that Abraham inflicted in the name of his God with their own circumcisions. So was Abraham, after the birth of Isaac, after the unreflected upon pain of over-powering sacrifice which seemed to cross the line, if not the road which perhaps Abraham had so quietly inherited from Noah’s wife, banishing Hagar from the Promise Land just as Adam and Eve, as Cain had once been banished? Or was he setting the captives free?
In the stories of the seen and the unseen, in modern stories of displacemnt, after all the 20th Century Liberation Movements, with liberation theology and more emancipation proclamations, there currently are 28.4 million slaves in the world, or were at the end of 2006, per Siddharth Kara, of which 1.2 million were trafficked nameless sex slaves sold into another market. As Catholic Relief Services reports, “In every 800 trafficking cases worldwide, only one person is convicted.”
Copyright © 2014.
Being secure in one’s ‘papers’ in a paperless world
Daily Reflection Creighton Online Ministries
donate, if you ever in your life felt chosen.
Reacting to the shared unexpected, which will change the future of the world … as a student, Jorge Bergoglio came across an 18th-century painting, “Our Lady, Undoer of the Knots,” which showed the mother of Jesus persistently undoing the knots in a long rope, which resonated deeply for him. This “Undoer of the Knots” might involve the job description of the current pope with his struggle in our day with, however small Vatican City looked to be on a map, what is the office of both a temporal and spiritual monarch, to meet and challenge the “doctrine” about God then and now which needs undoing?
To consider that in Ireland, probably no different than Argentina, per a 2012 commissioned survey by Amarach Research by Ireland’s priests’ association, showed that three out of four Irish Catholics find the church’s teaching on sexuality “irrelevant.” Did the priests wonder, if faith was about shared belief, what belief was shared any more? Were these questions about the truth about sex any different than with what Ishmael had to contend? When the people with power always wanted to just banish the enemy, perhaps because they had no sons of their own. But would their mothers set the captive free?
IN OTHER NEWS ABOUT NOMADS, The White House said Thursday that in his sixty-second month as president, President Barack Obama had ordered a review of deportation practices, an announcement that comes amid pressure from Hispanic groups to scale back deportations of those who were considered illegals and not quite human, like a slave.
The Woman Who Never Returned: Wasn’t this above story about sexual abuse? Chosen people who felt that they could have sex inside the other tribe, with no idea of their traditions? Wasn’t that the story of “choice” in the world of democracy – the goal of Bill Gates and Planned Parenthood, or of genetically modified seeds which Mr. Gates is promoting if not for his family, for the rest of the world? When God gets near in your suffering, as God gets near as you clear out room, when it might seem like a void inside but it was some kind of unknown process. Or one not understood. Wasn’t that the story of the 21st Century war– chosen people who felt that they could annihilate the other tribe? If you owned the world, or tried to?
Note how no one ever asks how it was that Hagar had become a handmaid, or how this Egyptian had come into the house of Sarai. Had her arrival been a result of war? Or just the gift of the Pharaoh? In all of human history, the harm from the culture of war was in reducing the other human being to an object. And when you own a body, you could do anything.
To confess my sins to my son through stories not so much Chosen as much as “Privileged” people? Isaac, more like his momma, never left home? Isaac and place, in the story of generational justice with the prophet leading you somewhere. To stir you up. When you sacrificed a son … on Good Friday. Or Hagar. To give up your son to your mistress? And Abraham, sacrificing his sons, for Hagar, for Sarai? To scream out in story, to object as you carried the future. As you father, juggling all of these things local and the distant, in the inside and the outside world, was going to sacrifice you because when you own a body, you could do anything… for the ones you felt closest to? To make claim to your God, but to punish along the way his son, in the name of unconditional love?
Aseret Yemei Teshuvah
allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. http://www.subhanahuwataala.com/
Being secure in one’s ‘papers’ in a paperless world
Daily Reflection Creighton Online Ministries
Rabbi Abraham Skorka
Maybe you have been in the Paperlessworld before. Maybe you have read about the Akdedah. What has never been brought up until now is the connection of Noah to the story. Oh, there has been mention of who was Abraham, as well as who was Sarah.
“Welcome to the Dormady Academy of Detection. This semester we will be using as text The Lost by Daniel Mendelsohn. As your will read, Mendelsohn is fond of quoting a twelfth century rabbi, on the meaning of the Book of Genesis. ‘The key issue for Rashi is that the wrong reading suggests an incorrect chronology of Creation: That God created the heavens and then the earth, then light, and so forth. But this is not how it happened, Rashi says. If you get the small details wrong, the big picture will be wrong too.’” https://paperlessworld.wordpress.com/2013/09/20/noahs-wife/
It is Daniel Mendelsohn who observes, “The story which began with Creation which is and was the story of the acts of distinguishing one thing from another, but ends by alluding to the… distinction between a man and a woman knowing God.” This is the most crucial distinction of all.
To unquestioningly buy it: war, slavery, religion, if not God. And so the Akedah in which the real main character is Isaac. The story begins with Creation which is the story of the acts of distinguishing. When we inherit and accept things, and eventually one day our sons and daughters quit the act of distinguishing.
And so the story of Abraham, when who is gonna remember another death, like Isaac’s? And why would you make this stuff up? With God somehow sharing in Abraham’s suffering. When in the words of Gene Tiffany, discerning the dignity of suffering, as suffering delivers us to a new place, and suffering is never below a creature of God.
When suffering brought its own dignity, even to a nomad like me. Note all the things which allow a nomad to travel, not unlike the things which allow a man to retire: money, food, wheels, or some form of transport. And so Abraham, the descendant of Noah. So who was Noah? What do you know about Noah?
Daniel Mendelsohn adds much to the picture of Noah, by reviewing each and every word of the story.
Marked. Noah’s wife. Abraham. The connection of self-esteem to work,or the lack thereof. The connection to slavery. The sweat of the brow, and the suffering.
There was a recognized everyday need, when you were marked, by what others saw. With all the seem-to-be ends in the stories… of Cain. Or of Noah’s world. Not much different than the moments when the Akedah story seems about to present the end of Isaac, if not of God, as revealed to Abraham.
Was there not a missing interest, by the majority of other folk alive at the time, in the God of Abraham? And was this not a threat to the future, in the apathy in a world when everybody spanked their kids?
The seen and the unseen. Like a ghost stealing your consciousness, the clouds really did get in the way of a spiritual journalist.
Most surprises are negative. Creation and the always differences between what you set out to make and what you make. Ask a parent. It cannot be all in technique. You gotta try to say something.
Recognizing the theme in the first chapter of Genesis “to separate,” note from the stories how heroes attempt to separate “my creation” from the rest of creation? And thus the developing concept of “CHOSEN” from all the rest. If there had not been a need for a connection to Cain, was there a need in the stories for a connection to Noah’s wife who was the one descendant after the story of the second creation connected back to Cain? In a world where most surprises are negative, did you ever wonder if Cain got spanked?
Note the marked fertility. Why had Abraham marked his slaves, Hagar’s son, and Sarah’s son? Just like Cain had been marked. And just liked Noah’s wife had been marked on her forehead which was the first thing any stranger would remember about her. So had the real appeal of Noah, to God, been in his wife? Or had the over-powering appeal of Noah to God been, as the just man of his generation, connected to whom he had chosen as his wife? And at this point, there was not enough attention to the story, at least by Christians like me who had embezzled the story of Noah, but had never thought enough about the inside meaning in the story.
“Noah, if you want to do mankind a greater service, tell funnier jokes.” Because Noah sure comes across as rather bland.
Somehow that line is connected to Allen Konigsberg. But hadn’t it been Noah’s wife who first asked Noah why the chicken had crossed the road?
A nomad who had been born of Noah’s nameless wife, without laws and commandments, but only norms. The movement in the story of a man without borders, moving amid strangers with danger. Note the insiders and the outsiders in the story of migrant nomads, after the ark landed, in a world without borders. Trace the connection of blood to bonds. The sons of Noah’s wife all had names. And so much like her forefather, Cain, it is said that the wife of Noah had a large distinguishing mark on her forehead, since the time of birth. Like Gorbachov? But in times of greater illiteracy and belief in luck, did the neighbors believe — with group thinking and collective behavior — this was some kind of mark of a witch?
And so the story of Noah’s wife, when who is gonna remember another birth, or the mother’s over-powering pain of childbirth, unknown, unreflected upon? The unreflected upon pain of over-powering sacrifice which seemed to cross the line, if not the road which perhaps Abraham had so quietly inherited, from the nameless wife of Noah?
The seen and the unseen. To be marked just a little more invisibly. And so the connection of the two – between a distinguishing past and a future of the WORLD – of the nameless wife of Noah to not only Abram but to Sarai.
Was it about what was fashionable at the time? Maybe if you had attended the Dormady Academy of Detection you would also have recognized the blood associated of Noah’s wife to Sarai, whose name after all would come to mean “laughing” — or her son’s name did. With a great need maybe for funnier jokes.
Did you note the nameless wife of Noah, who had outlived the nasty neighbors, knew why the chickens were crossing the road. Because it was gonna rain like hell.
Copyright © 2013.
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Aseret Yemei Teshuvah
Oh let all who thirst,…
And let all who have nothing…
without money, without price.
And let all who seek…
And let all who have nothing…
Bring the ones who are laden,
bring them all to the Lord:
bring the children without might.
“Feeling secure in one’s ‘papers’ in a paperless world,” said Captain Obvious. “How did we ever miss this before?”
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Rabbi Abraham Skorka
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It is stories that map a place as well as a time. And yes, the same stories about match-making and being chosen change over time as the old tellers die off. As times change, especially from the perspective of the woman.
Growth, in almost all of human history, came through a system of arranged marriage. Was that the proclamation in marriage, when growth was the only measure of success? If you were dishonest in your reports of growth, what else was dishonest about your organization? (I once served at the age of thirty on a board of directors which allowed its president to send in money, claiming new members, trying to prove greatness to the national. Whether there was true growth, however dishonest.)
Power. Truth and story-telling, with words, in the story about power and dominion. Feel the BONDS which came from stories . . . feel the speed up, of success, in numbers while trying to increase and maintain numbers, through some kind of human arrangement. In a world of power and the story about power, you take something so private public in relationship – in either sexual relationship or in worship. That you might pray, like I prayed: did you ever realize how personal this all had been — maybe a lot like the act of reading is — or even worshiping can be?
To allow yourself to be Chosen, legitimately, like the woman named Rachel, with Jacob like his grandfather, doing the arranging – as opposed to what had happened to Isaac. Creating, then sustaining the illusion, in a parental kind of way. Power. Feel the presence of a spirit, that you might love like I loved.
Power. When you are born into something. When you as a child had no choice and you had to live with it – in the outside world, in the inside world. When at one point in life you were able to run away, and in a sense discover your own inner power, but you now at this point could not run away.
Power. Restlessness. Shame. The visible and the invisible, as busy men and busy women did not understand power — the power of just keeping company as chosen people. There is the craziness of men who feel empowered, in the thrill of the connection, of distant people within the tribe.
The ordering, the separation, growing suspicion, and the doubts about each other, when you were young, bound by the family rules. Rules that started to look, oh, too confining. About the ordering of society, where families had been identified within a community. With rules about power.
The movement in the story of power. Listen once again through the stories in the power in connection as the invisible birthright was passed on again in a family: That this God is somehow connected to me. The inheritance, based upon goodness, did not involve “luck.” To realize how – wired to the community –that through institutions of learning and books, but mostly through stories, God is connected to me.
Exodus was the movement in the story of Jacob, not so unlike the story of banishment sustained by Adam and Eve. Upon the advice of his mother, Jacob was having to take decisive action, to survive, suddenly leaving upon receipt of birthright which came out of nothing but deceit — in this case, based upon his mother’s decree, just when he might have wanted to stay home, Jacob left Abraham’s homestead, for Rebecca’s homestead. And hadn’t Jacob really been a Momma’s boy?
With an Irish intuitive sense of what was happening, what is called in German fingerspitzengefuhl – the fingertip feel that maybe your pitching coach understood — for me the story, still, was all about Abraham’s old plan. He who was never coming back, you know. Home. To Sarah. Not after he killed her son, in sacrifice on Mount Moriah. As the past and the future were at odds, when reflected upon. And neither he nor his descendants could outlive this personal shame. Here so much was a living sacrifice by Isaac in role of a loving son; now, Jacob somehow was now being offered and given up as a living sacrifice to Rebecca’s family? And did you get the sense that Jacob was never coming back?
Note the vexation by Rebecca’s brother – Rachel’s father – not so unlike Abraham’s vexation with his son, Isaac. Once again there was a bit of the spirit of vexation: damage which is suffered in consequence of the tricks of another. Hoodwinking, not unlike Abraham getting Isaac to go on this three day journey, there was these stories of another trick on another journey. Over and over in the story of family, there is mention of hoods, of hiding, of idols. So all along, is God hoodwinking people to come to believe that they somehow are Chosen? What of the concept of unconditional love from the Covenant in the story of Jacob, as Jacob and Rachel gave up a belief in unconditional love to marry? Neither monogamy is present, nor was belief in monotheism shared for these two.
To know a land and its people was to know the stories. Have you ever left home thinking, maybe on a trip with Abraham to Mount Moriah, you were never coming back? Would you over time come to feel a shame over the greatness that you were born into? Did you ever feel the power in this story which comes from personal sacrifice while on the receiving end of all this deceit and the pretension in the every day aspects that took up every moment of your life. Did you ever note the separate belief connected to a place – to a land – like you discovered in a relationship with an outsider? Did you ever note how connected by belief you were as you shared a place in time, maybe somewhat like with a classmate?
Note the irony of the son of Isaac, marked for life by a mother, and the hostility of a mother with power in reduplicating Truth, in the arc of generational injustice based upon family pride. Like Jacob’s own mother had, there was Jacob living within a tribe, learning the mystery, as an outsider. Leaving home and not knowing if you ever would get back. Not knowing how long you would be gone. Like when you were drafted. Note the serious indefinite departures, after all this sex that the nuns failed to point out that Jacob had with one wife, two handmaids and now a second wife. Did you feel a hostility as an outsider, when you missed a feel, either within or not, for holiness?
Nice guys. Like in the insurance industry, there was a human resource department filtering out the people who just would not fit with the company, as it appeared in the public eye. Looking in the old days for guys, like Jacob, who every woman wanted to sleep with; a nice guy like Jacob, without any retribution. Leah. Leah’s sister. Their handmaids. I had failed to notice until relatively recently that there had been a lot of sex going on in Jacob’s bed, with his birthright. And Jacob, now with all of these wives and all of these children, and his belief in one blessing, with his one true love Rachel?
“Something that is yours forever,” wrote Chaim Potok, “is never precious.”
In the Jacob story, note the outsider, exiled from the world of theory, living at some point with now only memories but somehow wanting to make them your own. It was Jacob who thought a father with one wife had just one blessing to give. But Jacob was with his two wives and their two handmaids and eleven sons and one daughter.
It is stories that map a place as well as a time. What did the birthright of Jacob mean to the outsiders? To Laban who wanted his daughters connected to his sister’s family, so much like Abraham once had this same desire? There was the thrill of the connection, of distant people within the tribe, to others far away. It was part of the craziness of men who feel empowered. Did you feel the personal shame in the story of men who felt deeply inside that they were created to travel: men like Abraham, who felt so deeply inside that they had been created to travel the world? Men like Jacob who were never coming back to the nuthouse which had been the homestead of Abraham, thinking, then trying to kill within his own family, his son?
Yes, men like Jacob, hostile to and leaving that tradition behind. Before his attempt to return home, had Jacob really ever felt the presence of God directly, outside his youth? Beyond Canaan? Or outside his immediate family? And with Rachel, from Laban’s family with a belief in neither monotheism nor monogamy. Looking for the divine in all relationships even with superstitious women, looking for union with God, through their own flesh and blood. How could a man have a favorite child? How could a father or a husband with bonds, as the dogma of currency, show favor? Yes, how can Jacob have just one wife he loved the most? Or one son? Or one God?
What were the suspicions of this beautiful woman named Rachel, the young shepherdess grown, who had been born into this culture of deceit. Often in covert operations, a damage is suffered as a consequence of the tricks of another. And like Eve and Adam were punished by their cleaving, reproducing more people like themselves, so the story of Jacob and his wives.
When you were no longer so young, but still bound by family and the feelings which had come out of your family. What of the old rules which started to look, oh, too confining? Note the waiting in the story, to cleanse the influence of strange gods, from your native land, if that influence could ever be cleansed of the pretensions of the every day aspects that took up every moment of your life like a slave. A young shepherdess considered to be the lowest of the low – a shepherd girl willing to give her life for her sheep – on the receiving end and the giving end of all of his deceit, with Jacob who had wanted a piece of the institutions which had sheltered a civilization back home.
Power. Did you ever feel the power in this story – or the illusion of power — or the connection of the story of Jacob, in the story of the Promise Land, to the coming of a messiah? Have you ever left home thinking, as a child, you were never coming back? So much like Rachel, who was never coming back . . . but her children somehow find God in the story. These stories do not float free but are connected to a place – to a land. To know a landscape was to know the stories. So in this male dominated world, there had been Rachel, in shame over her fertility and infertility, another barren woman, the progeny of Jacob’s mother’s family, looking to bear a child to prove their worth. As if fertility came just from herself. As if she alone controlled fertility.
And what idol exactly had Rachel stolen from her father, Laban? (For all of these women in the stories of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, merging lives between two tribes while facing sterility as a human condition.) How unusual was it for Rachel to be allowed to name her first-born son, Joseph, noting that God “has taken away (in Hebrew ASAPH) my disgrace”? Finally, after all of the messy arrangements, with her father, her sister, her servant, her husband. Yes, her disgrace was to allow Jacob to have so many wives, to have been a collaborator with her father in the marriage of Leah? From the world of fertility at harvest time, there is this second-born daughter Rachel, from the tribe of Laban and Isaac’s wife, caught up in the generational injustice based upon family pride. Jacob, hoodwinking each of his wives to come to believe that they somehow are Chosen?
Exodus. What did it mean in the way of institutional thinking, to give up personal ambition to rejoin the tribe, with a desire to return to the world that he knew had always been mostly more honest? So the thrill of the connection, of distant people within the tribe, in his return not so much to an institution but to the home and way of life which had formed Jacob.
Though the etymology of Canaan is uncertain, one explanation is that ‘Canaan” has an original meaning of “lowlands”, from a Semitic root kn’ “to be low, humble.” Though Canaan included what today is Israel, the Palestinian territories, Lebanon, northwestern Jordan, and some western areas of Syria, in Biblical usage the name was confined to the country west of the Jordan, the Canaanites being described as dwelling “by the sea.” The Biblical narrative makes a point of the renaming the “Land of Canaan” with “Land of Israel” in marking the Israelite conquest of the Promised Land. Transhumance is the seasonal movement of people with their livestock in a certain subsistence mode. Wikipedia report that evidence of this moving — between-pastures cycle of agriculture — has been found showing shepherds staying with their flocks during the wet season and returning to graze them on the harvested stubble, closer to water supplies in the summer. There was a polarity between coastal towns and agrarian hinterland, illustrated in Canaanite mythology by the struggle between the storm god and the god of the sea.
Men who felt deeply inside that they were created to travel, like Abraham and Jacob had traveled, much like Cain had desired to travel, as his brother had gotten to. Jacob, soon to be renamed Israel, just before Rachel dies. Note the nomads as itinerants who still were a member of a community of people who move from one place to another. In trying to pass something in the way of spiritual power on– in the way of conversion through spiritual journeys. Note the humility, like a shepherd’s, in accepting a certain kind of authority until kids grow up and did not want to just obey what had always been the authorized commandments which belonged to someone else. There was an innate need for explanation about beginnings and endings. You needed others to tell stories of this migrant – otherwise if you just stayed home you would go, over a time, crazy.
Did you ever see the connection of these stories to past stories, or a connection of yesterday to today? As the past and the future were at odds…hoodwinked to believe that you were chosen, or hoodwinked to believe that you were born into a world that always had mostly seemed more honest. In an innocent view of a child.
Did you see the very same shame in the story, like the hostility of the son of Eve, in the stories? So Jacob, the allegedly just man of his generation who, like his grandfather before him with his family ego, wanted to return with some revolutionary ideas about relationship? Abraham had had a concept about only marrying within the tribe, one women. And there was this grandson of Abraham who had discovered the one true God, marrying his mother’s niece — or then two of her nieces, for God sake! Can you imagine the shock of Isaac when he heard the story about two of their nieces marrying one of his sons? Or the neighbors when Jacob returned, if he would safely return, to Canaan, with some degree of shame. Did you connect this to the hostility of Eve which she had to finally recognize in her son –even if a parent never came to blame themselves, their neighbors would. Hadn’t Eve eaten the apple out of an unease if not a hostility toward the Creator?
“Why are you going back to the ‘Land of Canaan’, Jacob? With two wives, when that seemed the norm only within the tribe of Laban.”
Yes, how old were you when you felt the growing shame in the story? And so the shame and disgrace in these stories of firstborns and the world’s systems. Did you see the sacrifice of Rachel, forced to travel in her finals days of gestation? In the story of unconditional love, what kind of man would make their so pregnant wife travel, even when all the forces of the world came down on you? Did you wonder about the connection of false gods — false idols so much the center of this trip — to what exactly Jacob thought he was returning? Contrast Rachel, who had upheld her tribal rules, waiting to marry Jacob after seven years as her father finally gave his consent, with Jacob who had not his tribal rules. So Rachel had honored her father, as Jacob at this point really had not? And what of the shame of Jacob, in having to still address what he had done to all of the firstborn: Esau, Leah, and the systems that favored firstborn. After Jacob had hid with his family — with what was supposed to be the future — placed in front of him for some kind of protection, as either one or both of Isaac’s sons faced annihilation, just like on Mount Moriah?
Exodus and the relationship conflict: Did you have a the ringing in your ear in certain words connected to this story not so unlike the initial conflict of Adam and Eve facing banishment? From that stated belief of Rachel with a birth of her first son: “God had taken away my disgrace”? Chosen. ‘Favored’ sons, with ‘favored’ wives and ‘favored’ sons. Note the hostility of those things which get in the way of either God or independence. Note, in the beginning, the hostility toward insiders – people using people – if growth was the only measure of success, when you were dishonest in your reports of growth, what else was dishonest about you and your organization, out for material gain and personal profit? Suspicions perhaps between women . . . envy between sisters, like between brothers: Esau and Jacob. Cain and Able? Were these the first pair of sisters mentioned in the Book of Genesis, who until this point in the story lived by the rules of their father, who allowed themselves to be Chosen. As Jacob prepared to meet Esau, were the word of Cain ringing in your ear, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”?
Jacob with his birthright, who somehow was above all other men. When you had it all, and you wanted to keep it? Jacob, with his two real wives and their handmaids, all caught in a borderless land, between the borders of the past, between two places, between customs of favoritism granted to firstborn sons/daughters in their tribal world, with handmaids, just like Hagar. The revolutionary Jacob, re-named Israel, for what he had done to the systems that favored the firstborn. And what of the shame of Jacob, in having to still address what he had done to all of the firstborn: Isaac, Esau, and Leah. What he had done to the people he had once loved, or based upon the system that he was supposed to? Did you feel the pride in the story, just as Jacob was returning to the world he knew, to the home with a return to a way of life — his old way of life — like an old institution which had formed Jacob, Rachel died delivering her second-born. In the movement in the story, with power in reduplicating Truth, in the generational injustice based upon family pride — Jacob now more and more like Abraham – note the perspective changes to the next generation?
Did you ever feel the power in this story, in Jacob’s discovery of a Living God, after he intended to wage battle to kill Esau, as Cain had killed Abel? Did you feel a connection of the story of Jacob, in the story of the nomad with the physical disability after his battle in the night – when a disabled nomad could not travel without pain. Note the humility in the story, which does give a certain power as all the force of the world seemed to come down upon you, as he gave up his perceived birthright, by sending flocks of his livestock to his brother in recompense of his crime. Had Jacob asked the Living God to bless his shame, as he prepared to meet his brother, in a battle between old tribal beliefs and what was missing for all other powerless beyond-the-firstborn people?
To lose either what you once had or what you once longed for and had waited, comes the discovery how to really pray, with a communal perspective. With the need to save the entire tribe. In one story of conversion, note those living with the system built for the human spirit of vexation. What Jacob was doing in the story was bringing HIS family back, feeling a command from Y*w*h to “Return to the land of your forefathers and to your birthplace, and I will be with you.”
Note the personal transformations in the generational injustice based upon family pride, in the dénouement of the story. Note the change in Jacob as a result of the death of his true love, with the power of his great love which in the end involved no deceit. Just as there was a hostility toward a brother who tried to take a birthright, just as Jacob thought his father had just one blessing to give, was there a hostility toward a God who tries to take life – like Abraham had once tried to take from Isaac –if you had never come to know the one true God? It seems that it was the power of unconditional love for Rachel, for his brother, that so moved Jacob to find a Living God, transforming hostility to love. As Leah was left having to care for Rachel’s sons?
“Mostly they are the same lives. The same stories, over and over,” wrote David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker. As a birthright grew to the twelve tribes and some knowledge how to pray. Did you feel a growth in the suffering of one man, living with the system built for the human spirit of vexation, in the need for a larger place, for a Promise Land, for a place to freely pray and to try to love Isaac’s one true God unconditionally, and to atone for what he had done and what he had failed to do? Did you feel a presence still in the first recorded death of a woman in childbirth, in the human creation process, trying to prove greatness to God, which foretold so much of the history to come, as you were forced to somehow start over, with such a long learning curve, of a people shamed by what they had to endure. The leaving, the coming back informed and engaged in the world, to a place that it was believed God would return, in the “lowlands” called Canaan, with a Semitic root meaning “to be low, humble.” And there was Jacob, dealing with loss, wondering what would be the reception from Isaac and Rebecca, as to an anger and blame which went towards those who left you. And did you see an irony that by giving his blessing which came from the sacrifice scene on Mount Moriah, Isaac ends up with his birthright sacrificing his son Jacob for twenty years. Would Isaac come to see a growth of the concept of “Chosen” in the family of Jacob, as his own son had not come to banish the sons of the handmaids of his two wives?
There was Jacob, in the days with a need for support. . . with his large family. To go home, to gather together, with Isaac to grieve. Together, a hoodwinked people who come to believe that they somehow are Chosen, but still having to contend with death, accepting God’s support and a support of one another, in times of grief? Friedrich Nietzsche said that it was the stories passed on from generation to generation about the deepest of all suffering –stories about love — which made life worth living.
So what was the connection in the bonds of a grown shepherdess to God Who made all of this possible? With the two children delivered by Rachel who would deliver a generation from hunger, what was Rachel’s connection to Moses, to the City of David, to a Promised Land and the long-line of Chosen People — as vast as the stars in the sky?
Copyright © 2012.
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God so made the world, visible and invisible. There is an old conviction in a land, with landscapes that do not talk to strangers, in a land where they burn the peat, that riches lay not on the land but beneath it.
To assist your consciousness, there is one old emerging story here: God so made the world, and someone wrote the stories. So to capture the reader in story — to explain why to care — in a world of stories not as often told, comes the mystery. Of Ireland.
Little is what it seems in this landscape, in a land so poor in County Cork. And city people seldom pay attention to the clouds or the land that they drive over, where the dead sometime walk in the lower portion of the scene. Did you hear, in the silence, the sounds from the landscapes, with the fairies living in this landscape still, among the living?
“If you ever go across the sea to Ireland…where the women speak a language strangers do not know.”
Any good history begins in strangeness, with strange characters. But it is the landscape that makes part of the everyday miraculous, as people and things from the past resurface there. To walk through the landscapes, you must know the stories. Because stories are embedded in and define the landscape, the death of the story is a small death for the land itself. These stories matter, are a powerful tool, and the closer you get to County Cork where they burn the peat, the more powerful they become. There find the long-been-forgotten stories once so intensely local which helped to mark each townland as so SEPARATE.
Unlike nostalgia, the past is full of dead things preserved on papers, or in the land itself — though mostly unremembered by any living person. And so the stories about where your heroes are? With the same kind of surety that religion, based upon stories, once held in all the world, now rendered at least partially mute, there was this Irish pride about place, distilling information about mitochandrial DNA from the maternal side which seldom strays far from place.
Deliverance. Any good history begins in strangeness, when the newborns cannot comprehend, as the past speaks a language that these strangers do not know. What do you share with your heroes, but of a PEACEFUL landscape. What you share is not stories of a past about this land, but the past?
To share this past, to protect the past…. to protect a place called home threatened by outside forces, and finding the gravitas in the great forced migrations, which threatened the lightness of your inner being as you faced your own extinction. SO maybe the land had failed for a time the locals during the Great Famine, as twenty percent failed, in the fetal distress from the motherland, either to survive or had to leave.
Any good history begins in strangeness, with strange characters formed on an island, in isolation from the rest of the world. The old question of why heroes, mostly at battle against the outside world, centers upon keeping the outsider out. When a homeland was, for those who forever left, for those who stayed contending with displacement, an ideal still to be passed along, with the old need for prayer and a place to pray?
And so the migrations from a place called Ireland where the stories mark the landscape as clearly as the hedgerows and the ruins. In the battle of lightness versus gravitas, you carried the lightness of stories, once so intensely local, with their own fairies living in this landscape, until the stories had become national by the 1930s. Irish-born leaders in this Irish Free State went out to construct an Irish culture, distinct from the English culture which the Irish felt had contaminated the country, without recompense.
In a world of stories not as often told, there was the lightness of your migrations from this land only orphaned –of course, never dead — until reinvigorated by emerging fertility and the old emerging stories here to assist your consciousness. It was stories with word traffic, of rural people and the land which had become The Garden of Eden, where the prayers of the lowly still pierce the clouds. After the Great Famine.
Forced out emigrants, banished by what they were born into. Descendants of Irish immigrants –the sons and daughters of history — only banished from the Garden of Eden which of course had never died. But a trust is so slow to return, if it ever would return, post-famine. What makes the green blade rise, to be mowed down once again? Little is what it seems in this landscape, in a land so poor in County Cork where the dead sometimes walk in portions of the scene. So do fairies live still in this landscape, among the living?
In the beginning of God’s creating the skies and the heaven – 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 – God said, “Let there be light.” –from Daniel Mendelsohn’s The Lost
Creativity is like either a morning fog or the night itself: It begins to vanish in an Irish landscape like darkness after a few hours. In the real world, with all the warring parties, who really care about nothing but a future — who cares about a past in the present? Who really cares about the lightness of your darn dreams, and what is left over from the previous night’s dream with you?
Knowing someone: there is the outside resentment about the network where people came to know, trust and love one another …. like in the evolutionary stages of religion. Sharing something in common, like from a glass mug. I love a glass mug, with a kind of appeal when you can see through something, to somehow know the content from the sense of scent, in the way you knew the hovering steam inside a glass mug.
“Presence.” Guarded by Mystery, in the war going on over the napkin holder between a new generation.
Guarded by the Mystery. Stories which Richard White writes about in Remembering Ahanagran: A History of Stories – places where other time and other dimensions intrude on the everyday world. And the closer you get to County Cork where they so personally cut into the sod for the peat, you might feel a connection to the land where dead were buried — buried with a fresh spirituality to add to the landscapes. Yes, when you can see through something, to somehow know the content, in the way you knew the hovering steam inside a glass mug of Irish tea. For hundreds of years, before refrigeration and before imports, the people relied and ate only the local produce, from the land. More than simply a place, beyond the vast acreage, about the Irish ghosts and Irish fairies, a land formed in such a way – feel the hovering greatness of the Divine Presence. If you believe.
The fog, the steam, the goodness of the landscape, transparent, like in a glass mug. . . in a hovering spirit, from the ancient peat bogs, near, as you are surrounded by these kind of spirits. There is a human tendency to forget what happened in the formation of the land — in any story the land as a homeland was a living character. To silently remember that God so made this world, visible and invisible. Out of thin air, with such thin borders. Feel the spirit in the air – the same air that gives wing to the birds, gives wings to the notes of a singer which sluices my heart and puts wings on my own heels – in Ireland, where the landscapes do not talk to strangers but miraculous things happen as people and things from the past resurface there. And I somehow had so personally inherited a knowledge of people who I had never known, or never seen –ancestors from Ireland, like people anywhere in time or place who had starved to death, whose spirits would come out again. Knowledge of people, their vanishing lives and hovering Spirit that belonged to a place and to a people across the sea, seemingly impossible for a descendent of Irish immigrants to know and to understand. And so a deeper feeling in the need for “our people,” with our visible and invisible vulnerabilities and imperfections between the sexes over fertility which moved creation. There were the deep feelings that these ancestors from Ireland had, though little different than what I had, in reacting to the circumstances that they lived through, when I somehow had connected to them. It was the stories which had been missing in the times of Noah. To know through reading, in backward glances at history, the do-overs, after the story of Noah. When I no longer had to go through, live through, the same turmoil, the same rebellion, which disrupted lives. Feel the hovering spirit of a people from their vanishing lives that belongs to this place.
The fog, the steam, the goodness of the landscape, transparent, like in a glass mug. . . in a hovering spirit, in the realm of ghosts, nothing was reliable in the here and now. Feel a presence in a silent night, with the spirits, hovering, as the buried dead add to the landscapes, add to the stories — to so quietly infiltrate the land like a spy along the thin borders of the past to the future . The dead do rise from their graves, and somehow I had inherited the stories with a conviction of the importance of “a process” as a visible product – to the Irish. And the closer you get to County Cork where they so personally cut into the sod for the peat, you might feel a connection to the land where dead are buried.
In the realm of ghosts. Time and place and land. In a world with a need for personal identity, I had this knowledge – a head full of stories associated with the places to which I had traveled – mostly local knowledge useless any place where there is so much food. Could you feel a closeness because you shared the same interior space – inside and more inside, like “PLACE” in a story like with the pain of childbirth – which helps an old spirit emerge, along with a host of surprising truths about this land surrounded by water and God’s hovering Spirit?
“If you ever go across the sea to Ireland . . . where the women speak a language strangers do not know.”
Stories of a past should not fit comfortably, should not be flat otherwise why would, why should, young people care? The stories were once so intensely local – like the one about Lot’s wife and her personal identity from the land of Sodom which she could not ever leave behind – it was conflict of the past with the present which always moves a story for people so unique who always inter-married. With the little changing border, there could be a threat in story based upon pride, of being distinct from your neighbor. There the once forgotten stories –-the stories once so intensely personal if not private, with the hovering smell of the turf-fire — should not become like wisps of vanishing cigarette smoke, banned in public place, but like the moon over the Cliffs of Moher, should rise up to meet every returning prodigal.
Connections. The Private. The Public. Visible and invisible, the different world of land and landscapes from different times, before things had become so easy. These landscapes do not talk to strangers, in the new world of cremation and digital bookstores, though things do here resurface, in the rising of the moon, from an always buried past. In the awkward silence, listen. Stories associated with places where you had to take in everyone, like a spy. When you cannot get out, except through stories, and in trying to pass something in the way of spiritual power on, you needed others to tell stories– otherwise you would go, over a time, crazy. Did you ever feel the power of Irish ghosts and Irish fairies – that many an outsider confuse with the power in Irish whiskey — in stories?
To be captured first by not the landscape but stories about this land. Did you hear in the silence the sounds from the landscapes? I have come to tell you stories of the rising from the dead, because when life is too easy, no one is ever gonna move. And so the deeper feeling in the need for “our people,” with our vulnerabilities and imperfection between the sexes, over fertility which moved creation.
And so out of thin air, the creation STORY of the Garden of Eden, with the land in the landscape where you had to take in everyone — keeping the outsider out, the insider in — came this call to feed the hungry at the door. So to whom did this land really ever belong?
In the land that, Delores Keane sings, owns you. It is the land that takes in the overflow of people. Yes, the riches lay not on the land but beneath it. T’is said grief was the tax that Irish paid on the richness of a life, if not the land with all of its parameters which tried to hold us in. Over the past 18 months, I have buried two more relations named Tom. It has not been a good decade for any of the Toms of my life. In the passing of the most recent Tom, I went looking for the song that was played as the concluding song at the requiem for my Uncle Tom. And now when I hear the song that my brother-in-law desired sung at his own recent funeral, I hear the words as more the words of the dead to the living.
May the road rise to meet you . . .
So to capture the reader in land — to explain why to care — comes the mystery. In Ireland.
May The Road Rise To Meet You
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“Feeling secure in one’s ‘papers’ in a paperless world,” said Captain Obvious. “How did we ever miss this before?”