Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Tuesday sermonette

I spent a good part of Sunday in the emergency department of Yale New Haven Hospital -- as a visitor, not a customer. That place is weird as hell, let me tell you.

Anyway, here's the rest of Genesis 4.

19 Lamech married two women, one named Adah and the other Zillah. 20 Adah gave birth to Jabal; he was the father of those who live in tents and raise livestock. 21 His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all who play stringed instruments and pipes. 22 Zillah also had a son, Tubal-Cain, who forged all kinds of tools out of bronze and iron. Tubal-Cain’s sister was Naamah.
23 Lamech said to his wives,
“Adah and Zillah, listen to me;
    wives of Lamech, hear my words.
I have killed a man for wounding me,
    a young man for injuring me.
24 If Cain is avenged seven times,
    then Lamech seventy-seven times.”
25 Adam made love to his wife again, and she gave birth to a son and named him Seth, saying, “God has granted me another child in place of Abel, since Cain killed him.” 26 Seth also had a son, and he named him Enosh.
At that time people began to call on the name of the Lord
So, first of all, marriage is not between one man and one woman. It is rather unlikely that these occupations various occupations are entirely hereditary. And whatever being avenged seven times means, being avenged seventy-seven times is even stranger. Lamech took revenge on his attacker it seems. He gets away with it, but anyone who tries to get revenge on him will be in deep doo doo. What is the moral or theological significance of this? The conclusion seems to be that whoever commits murder first gets away with it, and anyone who tries to punish them is the real criminal. Contrast that with what we are usually taught to think about the Ten Commandments.

Apparently Adam hasn't gotten any for a few years, but now he does and he gets another son and a grandson. And all this time, it seems, people have not been worshiping God. Now all of a sudden they do.

So, these stories continue to be both muddled and ridiculous. (Again, where are all these wives coming from?) Their significance as moral instruction, theology or cosmology is also entirely obscure when it isn't offensive. It doesn't really matter, however, because this material is never read in church and preachers in general ignore it. Christians never have to think about it. People who claim to be fundamentalists or biblical literalists inevitably cherry pick the passages they pay attention to.


Don Quixote said...

I attended various synagogue services and Hebrew school functions for years. I never really understood most of it ... though I am impressed that my Jewish ancestors survived for thousands of years without a country. I think that organized religion is a real mixed bag, but because of my upbringing I think that Christianity is the biggest crock of shit of all, mostly because of the sheer number of people who have been killed by so-called Christians. I think people are people, and that there are good Christians and horrible Christians, good Buddhists and rotten Buddhists, good Jews and Muslims and Zoroastrians and Sikh and terrible ones.

To paraphrase a quote I heard once, "Any system of thought or living--be it capitalism, communism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, etc.--would work very well if it were practice by men and women with hearts of gold."

Don Quixote said...

practiced, that is :-)

Cervantes said...

I wonder how Jews typically relate to these Just So stories? One thing about Genesis that I haven't mentioned is that God creates humans, not Jews; only later are there Jews and non-Jews. I haven't heard of anyone even considering this problem.

Do even orthodox Jews believe that all of this is literally true? In any case, they have selected which of the laws prescribed in the Torah to follow, and which to ignore.

Don Quixote said...

Well, Abraham was supposedly the first Jew, 5778 years ago ... he smashed his father's idols and began to worship monotheistically. So being Jewish is not a genetic trait, of course ... Job was not Jewish, and the story about him being a righteous man is one of the most famous in the Tanakh. There are plenty of holy and non-holy protagonists in the five books, and it seems to have nothing to do with whether or not they were Jewish. As to the belief in literal meaning, I suppose it's an individual thing; but the point for really Orthodox Jews is to study the written and oral traditions. It's like getting a black belt in a martial art--the study can be life-long, with ever more breadth and depth of knowledge, I guess.

Cervantes said...

Aha. So at that point I suppose God must have stopped talking to everybody else, who wasn't chosen?