Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Archtypal Abraham

The career of Abraham has been simmering in my mind the past couple of days.  It is well known that the land of Canaan, later the land of Israel, Judah, Palestine etc was often like a soccer ball kicked around by the power to the Southeast, Egypt, and from the other side from which ever state of Mesopotamia was in power, variously Babylonia, Assyria, Persia, etc. How were the people of  Israel to view their origins? Pedigree and genealogy was important to ancient people. Still is today to some extent.  I've looked into my own and I like it when I find stories about my progenitors and not just their names.  We all desire to know who we are and how we arrived to where we are.  And we think genealogy will tell us about that. So in 8th or 9th century Kingdom of Judah, when the writings that would eventually find their way into the early parts of the Bible were written, what could they have known about their origin from a wandering Chaldean?  At that point, about a thousand years separated them from father Abraham.  Of course they would feel a special connection to the North and East because their Semitic languages were similar.  And so, likewise they would share religious and cultural similarities.  And this in contrast to Egypt.  However, there was commerce with Egypt and other countries to the south and east, Ethiopians were common in Jerusalem. What could the authors of the travels of Abraham have really known about him and why did they choose to write what they did?

I'm sure others have written about Abraham from the perspective of the Hero's Journey.   I read Joseph Campbell's Hero of a Thousand Faces many years ago in which he describes the archetypal journey of the Hero.  I will not go into this in detail because I did not want to do a research project but speak from my memory and impressions.  I think Abraham's life journey bears similarities to the archetype hero's journey.  First there is the call to the journey.  Then the travels and adventures commence and it is critical that while on the way he learns certain things and passes certain tests.  He travels to Egypt.  It is fitting for the story and his descendants that he receive the friendship and sanction from the Pharoah. This is important to establishing his status.  His ultimate test is the ordeal of the sacrifice of his son Isaac.  (sidebar - the story also is for the purpose of ending human sacrifice in general).  Finally he achieves his goals, wealth and numerous progeny and a fine burial and he receives the Boon: all nations are to be blessed because of him.  It was fitting to have him originate from a place like the Ur of Chaldees, at the far eastern end of Mespotamia, so that his journeys take him, as the picture above illustrates, across the whole of the known civilized world.   This is meant to convey that his descendants are also first class citizens of the world, not hicks from the edge of civilization.   

Now the rationalist in me continues to think about the fact that for any person, the number of their ancestors going back a thousand years just about equals the population of the earth.  This is not actually the case because of cousins marrying and geographic barriers like the oceans, deserts, and mountains. but the point is that any enterprising person leaving home in Mesopotamia to seek their fortune in Canaan and who had descendants would be their ancestor.  Some who did that would not have passed the tests, dying early, giving up, continuing elsewhere. Some of the others may have. Abraham is the archetype.  He is not one person but many.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

CSC Phyllis Tickle - 6/5/14

I've read her two books on Emergence and viewed/listened to several of her youtube videos.  This is the best produced video.  Sound is crisp and clear.  Very enjoyable.  The occasion was the Thomas Olbricht Christians Scholars Conference held on the campus of Lipscomb University.  I think that in general outline her observation that Christianity goes through upheaval every 500 years and we are on the cusp of a new one is valid, whether or not the term Emergence continues.  A change in mode of communication changes how people think and act.  The Reformation/Enlightenment followed the printing press and universal literacy.  Our digital era is now changing us.  She talks about some of the changes going on, noting how the younger generations already think differently than us oldsters.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Brian McLaren Interview: We Make the Road by Walking

 I enjoy listening to Brian McLaren when I'm on the road and driving a long distance. Here is one of his latest videos. He speaks with a couple from the Raven Foundation. They seek to explore and apply Rene Girard's mimetic theory of violence. And Brian has been studying that as well.  It is something that I want to learn more about.  Mimetic violence is what killed Jesus.  I see it in action in our contemporary world as well.

Blog Archive