You say ‘god-fearing’ like it’s a bad thing!? #2 in a series: #1 is here.
A Practice to release: drawing hasty conclusions
- Hasty conclusions based on expectation.
- Hasty conclusions based on a failure to see perspectives other than your own.
- Hasty conclusions when seeing what is actually evident is far more fascinating!
- As with artifacts from ancient cultures, like Bible narratives, for instance, and habits and behaviors of contemporary culture.
The Binding of Isaac
The story is familiar. And weird. Bob Dylan really does capture the mystery of it, and I will never apologize for genius [except to note the words on the page are not the same as sung] but never insult genius either to sniff that work in a class by itself does not fit any definition of what anything is worth. But see how Dylan boils this story down to its essence, that so-wide aperture that says this happens to Everyone, this bolt from the blue:
Oh God said to Abraham, “Kill me a son”
Abe says, “Man, you must be puttin’ me on”
God say, “No.” Abe say, “What?”
God say, “You can do what you want Abe, but
The next time you see me comin’ you better run”
Well Abe says, “Where do you want this killin’ done?”
God says, “Out on Highway 61”
There is a practice of deep reading that shows a deep contrast between the stories of old and the New Revelation from God. I heard about it by way of the great flowering of populist piety that was the abortive movement of Spirit in Latin America at the end of the 20th century:
How It’s Done
You read the story** as if you were present. Not an observer. Present. Imagining yourself one of the characters in the narrative.
Wait for it
This practice becomes quite necessary at one point in this story, and that is the end–the end as in what happened after the crisis, and the end as in the purpose. I doubt Bob Dylan would mind me revealing how he does his magic, so you do see what he did there? He put himself in that story and answered for Everyman (“lol no” …lol what happens next, and do not withhold the genius award)
Communion as confession
M’colleague Hebert Peacock it was who said, when Christians meet in communion (with all the confusion of levels going on in the understanding of what they are actually doing), what they are doing is meeting in their communal failure to actually follow Christ. If the shoe fits, yeah?
Short launch countdown
Peacock said to watch Peter in the gospel of his friend Mark, and ask if we are supposed to trip and fall over every threshold? As if supposed had anything to do with what is going on. (“lol no”)*
“You who philosophize disgrace and criticize all fears,” were you there? Were you in Abraham’s head when he had a nation to build? You who say that’s not God in that picture, no God you have ever met would be like that. Not any God you have ever seen yet. Rough God? never heard of that, right?
To philosophize and criticize is not always bad; but to always only philosophize and criticize is a great sin of omission.
The sin of failing to follow, at a certain critical time, could also result in a very great omission, the failure to hear the calling of your life.
The New Message describes philosophizing and criticizing instead of engaging with life as “collecting postcards instead of climbing the mountain of life.”
Call to spirit
To those who hear with spirit, the story is simply a variation of what Jesus was saying in Mt 5:30 (“if thy right hand offend thee”). Right hand, left hand, only hand, only son. Oops, “lol no,” the difference, the escalation, there is acutely observed among humans, thank you civilizing effect of religion on societies. But please, hyperliteralism is mere confusion of levels of meaning. Ignorance. The arrogance accompanying ignorance a defensive measure, a pre-emptive strike.
You really are going to point to this and try to say the Bible advocates this behavior, taking your child to the very brink of his own life, like it’s nothing? And you ask, what kind of human does that? Pro tip (thank you gospel writers, thank you indigenous practices of the people): the human kind of human, like you.
This is important now. Humans, if we cannot cooperate or negotiate on a human level, things are not looking good for us on a cosmic level. “Now is the time for your tears,” when you realize what you have allowed. (The time for tears is after the crisis, if you don’t mind).
After the crisis. That is the point of the practice of inserting yourself into the story of the Binding of Isaac. You get to explore that world a bit, perhaps to fill in some blanks. Actually, if you don’t mind not being too hasty to fill in those blanks, see first where they are. For instance, what happened next? Not so essential to the true call of the story, you’d think, but look at us, quibbling over details. There is a question you can ask then, when you ask what happened next. Did Abraham say, “Son, let’s keep this between the two of us, what do you say?” Because the story is here for us. Whose story is it? Just for the exercise, assume only two witnesses here. Enjoy your practice of ipnosis.
*Peter tends to shoot himself in the foot or put foot in mouth, so to speak.
**or in the scene, as in the previous post with harsh words from Jesus)