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|Friday, January 27th, 2012|
Genesis Study 6-11 John Chico Martin
What does it mean for God to remember (Noah and all that were with him in the ark)?
I think this gives some sense of the extent of creation. Though everything is
simultaneously present to God, his attention seems to move about. For him, making a
wind blow on earth is like turning off the kettle on the stove in the kitchen just at
the moment the record on the player in the living room needs to be flipped over and
right before the mailbox on the porch bangs shut and the postman backtracks down the
front steps. You donвЂ™t want to blunt the needle, youвЂ™re expecting a package from
Amazon, and already the brewed tea is getting cold. I count at least 334 days passing
from the time the wind is made to blow until God gives Noah the ok to get out of the
ark. No word about what heвЂ™s been up to all that time. Somehow, however, he soon
makes up his mind that in the future complete destruction will be off limits, for he has
come to terms with the fact that 'the inclination of the human heart is evil from
youth.' What is good when made goes bad rather quickly.
The story of the tower of Babel is an echo from the tale of the garden. Again we see that
traffic between heaven and earth carries good and bad in both directions. In this instance,
man would have succeeded in building a tower вЂњwith its top in heaven,вЂќ were it not for
the coming down to earth by God and his intervention through the confounding of language.
It is this act that confines earthly existence to its horizontal plane and defines heavenly
being by its vertical axis. No longer is it true for the whole earth that вЂњnothing that
they propose to do will now be impossible for them.вЂќ The reach of evil has instead been
limited. It has not been destroyed, for it is exactly this limitation “ rather than
destruction “ that makes the space for alteration. Brick and bitumen lie scattered as
the people who now move into their schooling and waiting for deliverance.
- John Chico
(A)How pleasant to have another entry in our study!
Immediate thoughts on the matter of God's ,as it were,
wandering focus of attention. Apart from the concept of
God having been at a developmental stage perhaps something
like what is now known as 'process theology', it occurs to
me that as it was said 'there is a tide in the affairs of
men..' concerning cultures 'the axial period' when socrates
and Buddha and Confcius were contemporary...for individuals
certain moments which are cusps of fate 'the hour of ...
visitation.' Fr Men speaking of this recalls H G Wells' story
the Door in the Wall about a man who sees a green door and finds a
sort of paradisial garden but then is driven by schedule to move
on and does not again find that door for all his looking until the
John Hought in a good book on evolution (he is a Jesuit who takes
his straight and rejects 'intelligent design' ) points out that
for something new to appear something old must pass away...perhaps
so with a time , or a field of events, some must be in the focus
and on the edge of the future and others recede into shadow...
these impressionistic rambles starting from the idea of God's field
of attention including certain points of focus.
I will add one more thought that as it is said by Chico
of Babel, and for that matter Noah's whole project also
of starting a new world, we have retellings, revisionings
of that sense of loss which is represented by the word
I suppose that each of our lives contains its own sense
of being thrown into the world and being towards death
to coin a phrase...our own memory of ourselves falling...
as a Mary Poppins story asks of a street light and a star
which is the reflection of which so I ask is the story of
my own fall the reflection of that of Adam or that of of
Adam and Eve the reflection of my personal story? of course
in one way the answer is obvious...just as that the light of
a star is more ancient than of the light on my porch even
if I see them together
but maybe as we see our own story also is a variant of the
universal one we approach the depth of the resonances of the
2.From Sue Talley
Only that the truth of theology sometimes (if not always) works
better in poetry than in prose, and I think that's why so much of
the Bible is so poetic.
Jonathan, when 4, conversed with me all the way from Philadelphia
to New York City about what the snake was doing in the garden in the
first place if it was going to make so much trouble. I found it
fascinating to think he could even concentrate on a subject for that
long. I certainly couldn't.
Nevertheless he was FOUR. And I [was and am older and yet]
Poetry is good enough for me.
ARK OF NOAH. HE QI (Chinese Christian artist)
|Monday, January 16th, 2012|
|Genesis Exegetical Procedures
Reading in Walker's A History of the Christian Church, I find a brief mention
of Origen's hermeneutics (pgs. 90-91). I post these quotes, which seem relevant
to comments on our second week's reading of Genesis. As an aside, I must confess
my extreme impatience with allegory!
Origen was certain that 'the only way to wisdom [is] through prayerful and exacting
study of the divine revelation of Scriptures.' (sola scriptura)
He 'repudiated the literalism of the rabbis and of Marcion (who insisted upon the
absolute novelty of the Christian dispensation and refused to see any anticipation
of it in the Jewish (or in any other) history").
Origen was convinced that in many places 'the literal sense was absurd¦or unworthy
of its subject¦or inconsistent with other passages'.
He was certain that 'writings inspired by God's Spirit must superabound in meaning,
so that even where the literal sense is important, much more is meant than is directly
The task of the exegete, therefore, is to disengage not merely the literal but also
the higher or deeper 'spiritual' sense, in accordance with Paul's admonition and
'the letter kills, but the spirit gives life (2 Cor. 3:6)
'Tell me, you who desire to be subject to the law, will you not listen to the law?
For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and the other by
a free woman. One, the child of the slave, was born according to the flesh; the
other, the child of the free woman, was born through promise. Now this is the
allegory: these women are two covenants[etc]" (Gal 4:21-27)
Accordingly, for Origen, the fundamental bearing of the spiritual sense of Scripture
is on our understanding of the human self's relation to God in Christ, of the life
of the church as the community of the new dispensation, and of the fulfillment of
that life in the restoration of all things.
- John Chico
|Wednesday, January 11th, 2012|
Genesis study 4-7 John Garland Chico Martin
The reading takes us through the story of Cain and Abel and into the story of
Noah’s Ark. How are these related?
Cain’s murder of Abel is the first violent act recorded in the scriptures. The
ongoing violence that follows this initial instance in the early life of man
corrupts the earth (Gen 6:11-12) and causes God to regret his creation of man on
earth (Gen 6:5). The grieving God determines to make an end of all flesh: to
destroy what he has created.
In the short time since the sixth day of creation, when God looked upon
everything he had made and saw that “it was very good,” the good has been
entirely corrupted by violence, or would have been, were it not for the initial
instance of a righteousness recorded in the scriptures. In the story of Cain
and Abel we see how one life of unrighteousness can corrupt the entire earth; in
the story of Noah, we see how one life of righteousness can restore the this
It is tempting to remark upon the briefly mentioned Nephilim, if just to make
this point: the corruption which is on earth and the consequence of human
violence has a counterpart in heaven. Satan, too, we might surmise, was created
good, as were “the sons of God” who “went in to the daughters of humans, who
bore children to them.” (Gen 6:4) The violence of these sons of God gave birth
to giants, neither heavenly nor earthly beings, rather a species of corruption
that was without hope of blamelessness, and so destroyed.
Putting this alongside last week's reflection, we might conclude that even as
good and evil can be falsely divided, their lack of division has an unyielding
1.Response from Jan Perkins
The trouble starts when God rejects Cain's gift for no explainable reason. But
reading into this from an historical perspective, Cain, a farmer of the soil
rather than a nomadic herdsman, undoubtedly is a thinly disguised Canaanite, not
one of the chosen people of God. Consequently, his gift cannot be accepted or
acknowledged. I have never been able to accept blindly and uncritically this
bias on the part of God. It seems like a clear case of injustice to me, or an
instance of some weird predestination, that, right from the start, Cain is put
to such disadvantage. If a parent behaved to his or her children in this
prejudicial manner, it would be deplorable.
2.Response from Seraphim
Looking back from the point of view and time of the author it can
be the Canaanite and the nomadic Hebrew as Cain and Abel. But
looking as it were forward from Adam, they are both primordial
figures in his dream of history which is to be, he sees also no
doubt in that dream the Kauravas and the Pandavas (of a single
family younger and older) whose battle for a throne consumes the
world in that great battle of Kurukshetra in which four million
died in fourteen days...and he dreams on and sees Jacob and
Esau and Shem and Shaun ,stem and stone, within that dream within
a dream of
history which is Finnegans Wake...
On the Nephilim, there is the story Walk Like a Mountain by Manly
Wade Wellman about a man in the apallachians too proud of his
'Genesis giant blood."
www.library.beau.org/lib/ebooks/baen/03/John the Balladeer/
3.Response from Janine Economides
Well, I have been thinking about this (doing a course on OT at the moment).
It seems to me that God's response hinges on a capacity for faith in the
individual -- and this is the case with other responses later on in the OT.
Cain's disposition in his response to rejected sacrifice shows his
unwillingness to return in struggle with relationship to God. Compare
this to Jacob wrestling with the angel for a blessing; Peter gives us a
different example in the NT after his own rebuke for denial of Christ.
There is a sense there of our own response to God's call -- in the OT it
is subtle but it is there in the character of Cain
4.Response from Elizabeth Wilcox
Yet God was willing to dialogue with Cain about it, " Why are you angry,why is
your face downcast?". But by what I see from scripture...Cain refuses to speak
to God and takes matters into his own hands by killing that which he thinks
is his source of his unhappiness. "The kingdom of God is within you". As for
creation, God said it was good, very good...and don't we truly witness that in
the beauty of the world around? The perfection found in the seasons, plants,
animals and such. The perfection of the human body, how it functions. Yet,
I was born with Cerbral Palsey. My hand does not function "normally" and I
limp...Does God somehow frown upon my existence?..my offering of life somehow
unacceptable compared to my able bodied older brothers?. I've been downcast..
resentful towards God..What did I do God that you made me thus? And Job asks
the same question because of his woes and has a great dialogue about it with
God...and as a result of it is humbled and blessed beyond measure.After having
five beautiful able-bodied children..I realized my insecurities did not stem
from my handicap...for I have witnessed them and watched others throughout my
life with the same insecurities...the same fears as myself and sometimes worse...
yet outwardly they were "good ..very good". Maybe sin...evil...comes from our
lack of dialogue with our Creator..and a refusual to question our perceptions
being true "good and evil falsely divided?"...for truly the kingdom of God
is within if we only care to "seek and you shall find". Maybe we could be a
tad bit more objective with our dealings in life?
5.Reply from Chico
Thanks for your response. One of the efforts I make when studying Scriptures
is to read their texts as they are written rather than how I might wish ithem
to be. I have found, as I wrestle with the puzzle of apparent contradictions
and personal disagreement, that the method of keeping everything present at
once leads to wonderful and surprising insights that I might otherwise miss.
I would therefore be inclined to accept the obvious reading of this text;
Cain's murder of Abel is an act prompted not by God's lack of regard for his
offering but by Cain's anger with and rejection of the God who (marvelously!)
helped birth him.
Gen 4:1 clearly states that Eve "conceived and bore Cain, saying, "I have
produced,"" so I would not be satisfied with an understanding of the story of
Cain and Abel that rejected Eve's conception of Cain, her and Adam's first
child. Even the argument that Cain represents sedentary life while Abel
represents nomadic life does not depend on such a misreading. However, God's
preference for the offering of one of the two brothers seems to me initially
interesting as an expression of the presence, intimacy, and personality of God
on earth and a truly effective way of establishing the grandeur of our created
existence in the heavens.
I look forward to our continuing dialogue,
will close this here but include following comments in the comment section
and of course welcome new ones from all readers
Eve suckles Cain and Abel as Adam works in field and God looks on from above.
image from slovenia c 1490.
|Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012|
Friends,This journal which I created for occasional extended studies has been
inactive for almost three years, the last series being on Rouault's
Miserere in 2009. John Chico Martin now proposes to do a series of
meditations, or studies, from the book of Genesis...each to cover
or represent three chapters. Here is 1-3. Comments welcome of course.
To get things started, I have these few thoughts.
1) The "us" in 1:27 suggests to some a plurality of heavenly beings
with whom God shares his court. Another reading might be the trinity of
persons in relationship in the one God. However, I am struck by the way
the "us" in "Let us make man in our image" is followed immediately by
the lovely lines of 1:27: "God created man in his own image, in the
image of God he created him, male and female he created them." A simple
and perhaps preferable interpretation is that the "us" refers to the
male and female aspects conjoined in the image of God. In this first
creation account, the male and female are necessarily created
simultaneously, as the image of God requires that both be held within
2) In the second creation account, Eve thinks the fruit from the tree
of the knowledge of good and evil "desirable for gaining wisdom." (3:6)
But why does she think so? Probably it is because the serpent has told
her that by eating this fruit, "you will be like God, knowing good and
evil." (3:5) However, as C.S. Lewis and Charles Williams argued, the
devil is a liar, incaple of speaking truth.
Adam and Eve are created "like" God, who does not die. The knowledge of
Good and Evil, however, is deadly; therefore, it is incompatable with
the wisdom of God. I can think of two ways that this might be so.
First, the knowledge of Good and Evil is but a partial knowledge, and
what is partial is not true. Second, the knowledge of Good and Evil is
something entirely absent from the wisdom of God, and therefore not a
knowledge at all.
Tonight I am left thinking that the two stories of creation in Genesis
illustrate the complementarity integral to our existence. In the first
instance, the image of God is complete because it is as much male as it
is female. In the second, the wisdom of God cannot be located within
the isolated knowledge of good and evil. The false division kills; the
completed image is eternal.
Shraga Weil. artist of 'Book of Life' above.
|Monday, January 3rd, 2011|
|Friday, April 17th, 2009|
|Rouault Miserere Series ended.
We came yesterday to the end of the Rouault series called
Miserere or ,after its two parts, Miserere-Guerre. It would
be possible to put another Rouault or two to fill up the
days of Easter Week, or Holy Week for us of the Orthodox
world, but let us end perhaps just with this image which I
also posted today on my own journal. Icon in dome over the
relics of St Sergius in Zagorsk(Sergiev Posad).
Shalom. Pax. Peace and Peace and Peace be Everywhere!
|Thursday, April 16th, 2009|
|Wednesday, April 15th, 2009|
|Tuesday, April 14th, 2009|
|Monday, April 13th, 2009|
|Sunday, April 12th, 2009|
|Saturday, April 11th, 2009|
|Friday, April 10th, 2009|
|Thursday, April 9th, 2009|
|Wednesday, April 8th, 2009|
|Tuesday, April 7th, 2009|
|Monday, April 6th, 2009|
|Sunday, April 5th, 2009|
|Saturday, April 4th, 2009|
|Friday, April 3rd, 2009|