Thursday, July 23, 2015

As many as the stars in the sky: mythic history and Genesis 15-17


The Noche cast has been here since at least 4 PM, going through their individual warm ups in preparation for tonight’s performance of Antigona. Meanwhile, Marsha, Russ and I are in the chapel, where Dion is handling the FARMIGO  food distribution, to study Genesis 15-17.

Lots to cover tonight. Lot and Abram have split up, deciding this place is not big enough for the two of them. Lot, dazzled by the well watered, irrigated plains of Sodom has gone that direction. Knowing what Russ Howard-Brook has to say about agriculture  vs. taking what God has provided, bad choice. No wonder then that when hostilities break out, (where did all these people come from? Where do all thee kings come from?) No wonder then that Lot gets taken captive.

So Uncle Abram has to put together a guerrilla force to win Lot back. When be succeeds, the king of Sodom offers Abram all kinds of riches (he’s played this game before and won) if we will turn over the people he has accumulated in this campaign. This time, even though he got over on Pharaoh, Abram refuses. Sure, the king of Sodom is B list compared to pharaoh, but nevertheless, Abram has stood his ground, refused to capitulate. Refused to become a mercenary. And as Marsha pointed out, these kings stay in his debt

Lot and Abram exchange no words. And Lot, apparently a slow learner, goes back to Sodom. (You know that’s not going to end well…) . So far we’re seeing more how the empire operates.

Abram starts to worry about succession, about offspring. Like is all of this going to go to the offspring of Eliezer of Damascus? (We didn’t know ironic reference to his chief of staff. ) There’s the touching scene where God takes him outside and show him the stars of the sky and tells him that’s how many offspring he will have.

Sarai comes up with the wise idea that Abram get together with their slave girl from Egypt, Hagar. When  she gets pregnant, apparently Hagar smirks at Sarai and gets sent away. An angel to the rescue. Clearly God cares for Hagar. She is part of his plan. And soon enough, she gives birth to Ishmael (Ismail).  Who apparently will have countless descendants. And will be a wild ass of a man with hands against everyone and everyone’s hands against him, living at odds with all his kin.  Ismail will be claimed as the ancestor of the Muslims. 

The God cuts a covenant with Abram. After a lot of animals are literally cut, comes this verse, source of so much trouble when applied to real life situations:

When the sun was down and it was dark, a smoking firepot and a flaming torch moved between the split carcasses. That’s when God made a covenant with Abram: “I’m giving this land to your children, from the Nile River in Egypt to the River Euphrates in Assyria—the country of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaim, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites, and Jebusites.

The maximalist Zionist dream.

Marsha wonders why Sarai and Hagar couldn’t have gotten together. Why did it all have to all be about Abram? And we discuss how this is not written as factual history, but as mythic history, to support an established empire. Marsha wonders what alternate stories were told around campfires that never got written down. And how all this mythic history continues to play a role in ideology.

As we leave, we pass through the backstage area for Antigona, the dancers and singers ready to go onstage.

Russ and I will head to the gate to continue the conversation.

Later, I'll find RL watching the Leverage where the team helps prevent an old church from being stolen by a developer. Hmmm. Mythic history....

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