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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Maybe it wasn't pigeons

Typical urban ministry day. I take a turn sweeping the steps, removing an empty Smirnoff bottle. Working with Martin to plan his summer staging of Antigona at West-Park. Another question every day. But so exciting to be anticipating this unique production born at West-Park to be performed at West-Park. Serious issues about smells emanating from the pigeon tower. (We’ve been seeing more walking  wounded from up there who’ve made their way in somehow…) Seems the Koreans were upset enough to send people out for a picnic.

Time to make a plan. See if  Bill Tripp from Portland’s Light Tower project might finally be ready to take off and be a way to tackle this.  I get the info off to our councilmember, Helen Rosenthal. And resend to our leaders. (http://west-parkpress.blogspot.com/2013/05/coming-to-candidates-debate.html)

I hear an exclamation from Leila in the sanctuary. I look up, she comes in, well, aghast. It might not have been the pigeons, she says. And she takes me in.  Under a large corner table in the rear of the sanctuary, she found a large blanket stuffed under it. And when she removed the blanket, she found our large white Easter basket that we use for brochures, etc. Someone had used it as a port -a- potty. Yeah, that’s right, someone shit in the Easter basket. There are several other questionable items under the table. I ask her to go get me gloves. And a large trash bag. And I do what I always used to do on the steps. I clean up. Pick everything up, bag it, dump it outside in the trash. She heads for bleach and cleanser.

 A lot's about to happen. The Farmigo food has just arrived. Soon Dion will be here to run the distribution. The Riverside Orchestra is arriving for rehearsal. We do provide the best atmosphere of any Farmigo pick up spot. No one knows what just went down.

It’s just Russ and me for Bible study tonight. We’re looking at Genesis 9 and 10. So no more vegetarianism, the meat market is now open. But rare steak, steak tartare and blood sausage, well, no. Blood is pretty special. (9:4) So special any spilled blood animal or human, it seems, must be paid for in blood. Death penalty. (9:6).

Noah takes to agriculture. Plants a vineyard. Makes wine. The first vintage. Gets drunk, sprawls out naked. Poor son Ham walks in, unsuspecting. Sees him. Tells his brothers. There’s a comical scene of them walking in backwards with a blanket to lay over him. When he wakes up, hung over as Eugene Peterson puts it, he’s in a foul mood. Curses Ham  for what he had done to him. Huh? Like how was he supposed to know?

It’s a part of a set up to provide a back story for later narrative enemies. Ham has three sons, Cush ancestor of Africa, Egypt, who will enslave Israel (and be the father of the Philistines) and Canaan, who will be driven out to make space for the homecoming Israelites. And those Philistines and Canaanites will by myth become Palestinians.

We find this in the table of nations, which you’d like to skip over, but frequently familiar names pop up, Sidon, Gaza, Sodom and Gomorrah. I wish I had a guide to all the names and their meanings.

Cush fathers Nimrod, who will become the first mighty warrior. Who is said to be mighty before the lord, IE, in front of the lord. Confronting the Lord. In his face, so to speak. While Genesis is ambivalent about this, our guide Wes Howard-Brook is not. Nimrod’s rule is one of violent domination. He’s all about building cities. Occupying territory. This is new ‘reshith, a new beginning, the first time that word has been used since God’s creation, the first word of the Bible.

Nimrod runs around building cities, including the big one, Babel (or Nineveh, or Babylon…). We have here also a narrative undermining of the Enumah Elish founding of Babylon story. Nimrod has  built an alternate kingdom to the realm of God. And for Howard-Brook, an alienate religion.

What puzzles us is that up until this point, Howard-Brook has presented the farmers as the bad guys and the hunters as good. And now it’s a hunter who takes us down the empire road. What is clear is that Nimrod is acting in defiance, on his own. These cities are his creation, not part of God’s divine order.

Almost all the food has been given out. The orchestra is wrapping up. I’m gong to try and catch my friend Alex at her gig downtown and maybe my tour mates as well.





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