Monday, November 26, 2012

Why we don't let children read the Bible

It's because of the next part of the Abraham story (among others).  If you have young children do not let them read chapters 16 through 19 of Genesis. 

In Chapter 16 they will be taught that if God isn't keeping his promises fast enough that they should try to help.  In this chapter we find Sarai - Abram's wife - trying to get him the children God promised by giving him her handmaid, who does indeed have a son, Ishmael

In Chapter 17 they will learn about circumcision and that God isn't sure if he is one, or three or two - because the conversation that Abram has with God moves between three men and God and aparently an angel and God.  Oh, and that God can change your name.

In Chapter 18 they will learn to bargin with God - as Abraham does to try to prevent him from destroying Sodom and Gomorah

Which leads us to Chapter 19 - in which they will learn about how not to welcome guests to your city, that your daughters can be used to placate a mob who wants your guests, that you should argue with God as you flee for your life - and then there is that incest thing that ends the chapter.

Okay - well none of that is, you will be stunned to hear, the point.  What I suspect that we are supposed to learn from this part of the saga is to trust that God has a plan and that when we try to help God's plan along we end up making a mess.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Abraham story begins

We don't have Abraham yet, we have Abram - he will become Abraham later.  But here we have the beginning of the story.  Abraham is called out of his father's home and sent by God to a new land with the promise that he will be the father of a great nation and that his descendants will be a blessing to all people.

So, Abram goes and God shows him some land and promises it will be his.  Then we get a little side story - a famine hits and Abram takes his wife and goes to Egypt - but he tells his wife to say that she's his sister so people don't kill him to get her.  Well, Pharoah decides he wants her and gives Abram livestock and slaves for her - but when God sends sickness to his house he figures out what's going on and sends her back and tells Abram to get out of Egypt.  This is one of those things the recurs in the story - things aren't going the wayAbram thinks they should, he tries to fix them and messes up a bit and God gets it back on track

So Abram gets back to Canaan and God makes a covenant with him - God promises that Abram will be the father of  a great nation and that his descendents will have the land - but he also says that they will be exiles and persecuted for 400 years.  Abram forgets that part later - but stay tuned.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Noah to Abram

We reach the end of the first of the four parts of the story in Genesis this week - with the end of the flood narrative and the geneology that takes us from Noah and his sons to Abram - later known as Abraham.

The intersecting circles of the Genesis story - the one of God calling the world and humanity into being and our response - and the one of us being close to God, moving away from God and God drawing us back - reach the starting point again ready to begin the next round - the Abraham story.

Two things to notice - the generations of Noah describe the nations of the world as they were at the time of King Solomon.  And the story of the tower of Babel, which gets plunked right in the middle of the geneology, explains that the Babylonians were arrogant and tried to reach God - and God dealt with them.  Both of those things make perfect sense when you remember that the final editing of Genesis took place while the nation of Israel was in exile in Babylon.  So the kingdom of Solomon was the high point of their history and the story that has the Babylonians exceeding their place and being punished by God for arrogance would have resonated deeply with the exiles.

We get Abraham next week - stay tuned.