Friday, September 30, 2005

While I'm at it

As long as I'm plugging things I care about...

Check out our dear friend Mike's website. He's an awesome musician and very socially conscious. If you live in LA, check out his show on Oct 11 at the Viper Room (9 p.m.). If you live in the OC, he plays weekly at Plush in Fullerton. You will not be sorry. He's a very charismatic entertainer and sincerely stands up to the Man.

Also, yesterday I joined the Pasadena Museum of California Art. Why? Because it's $25 for students ($45 for non) and I like supporting museums. But mostly because they are teaming up with 19 other local museums and all offering 20% discounts in their stores in Nov and Dec. Now I don't know about you, but I do nearly all my Xmas shopping in museum stores, because they have the most unique stuff. Participating stores/museums (any of which you can join, but PMCA is just really cheap) include: LACMA, PMCA, Pacific Asia Museum, Autry, CA Science Center, Japanese American Nat'l (way funky), Walt Disney Hall store (love it!), Library Store (best place for cute kid/baby stuff), FIDM museum shop (home of Star Wars costume exhibition), Museum of Neon Art, Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels (love that shop!), the Getty, and a few more.

I'm a big bargain shopper so this was like heaven for me. Go check it out. Visit Kara at PMCA and say I sent you.

Sign the Petition for Peace

This is a unique idea - to send not only a personal note, but also a photo to your representatives. It's to ask them to formulate a workable exit strategy for the Iraq occupation. Please sign, if you feel so inclined. If you can find my entry, you'll see my beautiful niece!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


Does it make sense to stay married if you’re not in love? Or if the person makes you miserable or crazy? Or if you have grown into a completely different person who would never have married your partner in the first place?

What if you’d both be happier and more fulfilled and successful with someone else or alone?

I’m in love and happy and like the life I have with my husband. But we grew into our marriage. And there are things I wish I’d had a chance to try – or will have a chance.

I know couples who are so unhappy with each other. Can only complain about each other. They need to be released.

Marriage is so different now than when the Bible was written. It’s meant so many different things in history, and now is evolving again. Can we really say for sure what the requirements are? Should we have permission to divorce? Jesus spoke against it strongly, but he was talking about something different – something that left women without choice or resources. It’s simply not the same thing today. Back then, it ruined a woman’s life. Basically forced her into an immoral or impoverished state. That’s not what it does any more.

Have we left today’s couples without a choice to end an unhappy marriage?

I don’t know what I think. William Countryman (in Dirt, Greed, and Sex - great book) says Jesus wasn’t even talking about what we think he was talking about when he referred to Genesis. Countryman gives a compelling argument for divorce, particularly when one was married on the shaky grounds of being “in love.”

I don’t know. I don’t personally want to get a divorce. But I’m no longer sure that always sticking it out in a terrible relationship, or even just an unhealthy one, is truly the right thing to do. I’m not entirely sure it’s what God would want, even.

Randomness from my day yesterday

“If we cannot experience the present moment, who’s to say we will appreciate any future moment?”
(Rev. Elizabeth Davenport, PhD)

(in other words, if you don’t live life on earth, what makes you think you’ll know how in heaven??)
(I saw one that said “Philosopher” and was smitten)

From a Sikh I was delighted to chat with: We don’t baptize like other religions – at birth – for us, it’s a choice the individual makes as an adult.
(I thought that was amusing in light of Protestant baptism wars)

“A melody can have a holiness that transcends the words that go with it.”
(Rabbi Jonathan Klein, who then played a Sufi song and a Jewish song with the same melody, only the Jewish was in a minor key, another ironic observation)

From a forum on gender, religion, and sexuality: heterosexuals are expected to talk about their family life, spouse, children, etc., or people will suspect them or think they are unfriendly. However, if a homosexual person talks about his or her home life or partner, suddenly they are talking about their “sex life.” Why do we limit the home and family life of GLBT people to what they do in the bedroom?

And finally, here’s some happy:

Windows Media:

Real Player:

Save Pets From the Next Hurricane

I think this is a great idea. It was devastating to watch all the animal lovers being ripped away from their beloved furry children. I know I would have felt the same desperation as they did, watching my babies be taken off to who knows where. I think this legislation could really help. God knows if the Big One hits and we fall into the ocean, I'll be swimming with two cats on my back. Here's the details:

The Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act, H.R. 3858 (PETS Act), would require state and local authorities to include pets and service animals in their disaster evacuation plans.

You could help save thousands of people and pets from anguish—even loss of life—during the next major disaster, just by asking your U.S. Representative to support this bill.

Help prevent what happened after Katrina from ever happening again. Take action now. Visit this link to ask your U.S. Representative to support the PETS Act (H.R. 3858).

They Lied, They Died

I found this ad very powerful...I missed it - I guess LA Times is considered a waste of space - we don't need any more convincing out here! - but True Majority was kind enough to send me the link.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

First Day

Oh, I am so burned! The death class is beyond ridiculous. I think there are over 85 people in it! The prof said that he was asked whether he wanted to cap it at 50 but he didn't want to - well, now he's sorry. Dang it. I was thinking it would be 20 people or so - a nice small group able to really get into the material, really share our stories. Now he's talking about how the class won't work if people don't show up - I don't see how it will work if they do! This is insanity. There's simply no way to discuss this topic in sucha huge setting. How can anyone get real about this?

We're going to have small groups for the last 15 mins of class (wonder where that many groups will go?), but I still fear not being able to really learn. This class - really, so many classes here...I never had undergrad classes this big. I thought grad school would be smaller, not larger! I would leave the class but I don't know what else I could take. I'm so pissed. Bad, bad idea.

I can only pray that people are very, very bored tonight or turned off by the topic or maybe the prof will cry and people will want to leave.

By the way, Kitty woke up fine this morning. Prayer works.


People's experiences are shared. We've known people who died from the ages of 11 minutes to 105. More younger than older people have died. Several suicides, overdoses.

The prof has a way of making the 100 people seem intimate. And everyone has a story to tell. It just might be OK. At any rate, it will probably be smaller next week. I'll wait it out. I met some cool people I want to keep getting to know. And tons of friends are in the class. And I want to take the class so badly. It will be okay. All shall be well, right?

Sunday, September 25, 2005

How can we help?

Today we visited a new church and I liked it and J did not. We might wind up at different churches. Is that bad? Does it matter if spouses worship together? We didn't really do so at our last church, since we were both always involved in leading worship. This may not be that different (particularly if we get involved and start leading again).

My kitty is sick. She started vomiting yellow this morning, no food or anything, just liquid. She's lethargic and is sitting by herself in the corner, which is completely not like her. We let her go outside and sit under her favorite plant. At least she can puke out there. But I'm so worried. She's going to the vet tomorrow. If you don't think it's dumb or a waste of time, pray for her.

We saw "The Constant Gardener" last night. Coming up soon my school is screening a documentary, "Dear Francis", also about Africa, AIDS, etc. This is increasingly catching my attention. What struck me most about the film was something reiterated by several characters throughout: the people in Africa just aren't as important as the people elsewhere. They are not human to us. Their crises do not garner our attention or concern. They are simply nameless masses of confusion and pain and we just don't deal with it.

A couple of times someone talked about helping "this one" person, and it touched me very deeply. Why is the world ignoring this continent? Why isn't this all over our news? Why don't people care?

We are so wrapped up in ourselves. I wouldn't presume to say that the devastation in America right now isn't worthy of attention and aid, but at least that only comes around once in a while. Displaced, starving, dying citizens are not an every day occurence. It's shameful that we couldn't help them. But it's also shameful that we turn our eyes away from the world's losses that are more frequent and widespread.

I don't know what to do with the world. I want to help it. After hearing a woman on Oprah plea for ministers to come pray with the folks at the Astrodome, I wanted to fly there instead of to see my family. After seeing this movie, I want to chuck everything and just go feed people in Africa, or pass out medicine, or whatever I can do. Is what I study - what I want to do - worth anything? The temptation to see things like art and beauty as trivial is extremely strong in the face of human suffering.

But J would say that without the art and the beauty there would be no point to easing the suffering - or it wouldn't be eased at all. And you know, the movie backs that up. The people are most happy when they are singing and playing music in a parade. They create art to show their appreciation for aid - such as the mobile a child makes for Tessa or the singing accompanying the UN food drop. Beauty is inherent, isn't it? Art is a natural response to goodness. It also comes out of goodness. It fosters it and helps it grow. Even food doesn't always do that (in the film, it creates further chaos by bringing tribal raiders upon a village).

Maybe it's not so pointless after all. But still. We should care a lot more than we do.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Ah! I've crossed over!!

We did it...we crossed over to the other side.

We bought an iMac.

I'm actually quite tickled, although it does mean we can no longer take a trip to London for Christmas, but how realistic was that anyway? (still, if you have $1200 to spare, you can get there with three nights hotel from British Airways - a steal, if you ask me - from LA - cheaper from elsewhere)

S'okay. J's got a conference that's actually during the week between Xmas and New Year's in New York City, and I'm thinking that might be a really fun place to be at that time of year. We didn't care much for New York last time we visited, but perhaps it would be different at the holidays.

Anyway, the point was to say that we've bought the iMac, which means we're going back into filmmaking I suppose. I'm told I'll have my wedding video edited, but after 7 years, I'm not holding my breath. At least it will be a fun new toy to play with.

Wheaton Standards

While I was visiting my alma mater, I picked up a copy of the Record and there was a great story in it entitled, "The Evolution of Wheaton Standards" (by Paige Winfield). I know some (maybe several) Wheaties read this blog, so here are some bon mots for you:

Definition of "Dink": the required beanie purchased by freshmen at registration and worn whenever appearing in public until Thanksgiving. This rule was suspended on Friday evenings and Sundays and if the freshmen beat the sophomores in the Homecoming push-ball contest. Dink-wearing freshmen also had to bow down to all seniors.

The 1950 etiquette handbook outlined these expectations: "There aren't slack times in the dining hall as far as women wearing [slacks] are concerned. In the same vein, sweatshirts are not acceptable for men. ... Sunday, of course, means church-going attire all day." Thankfully, the 1969 student handbook did allow women to wear slacks to the dining hall...when the temperature dropped to 10 degrees.

The 1937 student handbook stated: "Students not known to be studying at the library and who are habitually absent from their rooms from 7:30 to 10 p.m. are reported on general priniciples, since such students are frequently headed for academic failure and elimination from school."

Also in 1937, students had a curfew of 10 p.m. M-Th, 11 on Friday, and 10:30 on Saturday. I guess nobody went out on Sunday. By 1949, women had to be in by 10, but men could stay out until 11:15. But if a man caused his date to return after curfew, it was tradition for him to present her with a long-stemmed red rose for each late minute.

In 1959, men had to sign out when leaving after 11:15 p.m., but women had to sign out and give their destination when leaving after 6 p.m. By 1969, women had to sign out when leaving after 10 p.m. or when leaving the town of Wheaton.

In 1860, students were forbidden to marry while enrolled, and opposite genders could not visit each other's rooms nor study together without the presence of family members.

The 1950 etiquette handbook gave this tip: "The protective male is usually on the ball unless he over does it. Just remember that she's fragile and absolutely unable to do anything for herself - including giving her order to the waiter - so if you keep the situation well in hand you'll be all right. And don't let her independent attitude fool you. Women love to be pampered."


Thursday, September 22, 2005

Star Wars Costume Show

Giant Star Wars show at FIDM! Get your geek on!

Feminary getting boring?

I give my full permission and endorsement for you to run my site (or the New York Times) through the Valley Girl translator:

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Home again

Overall, a good trip. I mean, good to see so many friends and family, and great to see the baby, whom I love. Too long of a trip - too much time to spend with anyone, much less one's relatives. And too little time now before school starts again. I have today - one glorious day (until the afternoon when I'm needed elsewhere) with J. I need to get him up out of bed!

Have you tried "Ghetto Fries?"

Natural Disaster?

Acts of God or sins of humanity?
by Wes Granberg-Michaelson

From a vacation cottage Karin and I watched on TV as the desolation unfolded in New Orleans and the Gulf coast. Through that agonizing week we sat helpless with millions, while the world's most technologically powerful nation could not provide food, water, and rescue to fellow citizens whose desperate faces filled our screen and haunted our consciences.

Commentators described Hurricane Katrina as a "natural disaster," or at times as an "act of God," like language used in some insurance policies describing events beyond human control. It means no one is liable. Except, of course, God. And that's what troubles me. How can a God of love, Creator of all that is, be responsible for such terrible, destructive disasters?

But as I listened, reflected, and prayed during that week, another question emerged. Just how "natural" was this disaster? Consider this, for instance. When Katrina left the Florida coast, it was classified as a "tropical storm" - not even a hurricane. It picked up tremendous power as it passed through the Gulf of Mexico, in part, experts think, because the waters of the Gulf were two degrees warmer than normal. So by the time it reached New Orleans, it was a category four hurricane.

Years before becoming general secretary of the Reformed Church in America, I led a group studying global warming and the responsibility of the churches for preserving the environment when I served as director of Church and Society for the World Council of Churches. Even then (1990), a clear global scientific consensus warned that global warming due to human causes - especially the accelerated use of fossil fuels - was causing disruptive climate changes. And I clearly remember listening to scientists say that one effect could be that storms such as hurricanes would increase in their intensity and destructive effects because of warmer waters and changing sea levels. So a part of Katrina's fury was not completely "natural."

And there's more. New Orleans was built between the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico, with much of the city below sea level. Its vulnerability to flooding from hurricanes was partly protected by the wetlands between the city and the Gulf. These act like a "speed bump," absorbing and lowering some of a hurricane's force. But they've been disappearing, making way for shopping malls, condos, and roads, so 25 square miles are lost each year - an area the size of Manhattan. And the city has kept moving closer to the Gulf.

Moreover, the levees and dams constructed to protect the city and "control" the Mississippi deprive the wetlands from the sediments and nutrients that naturally would replenish its life. There's a lot "unnatural" about this "act of God."

And then, consider the victims. Those who have suffered the most are the poorest, and most of them are black. Twenty-seven percent of New Orleans residents lived below the poverty line, and many of those simply had no cars, or no money, and no way to leave. That also isn't "natural." The poverty rate, and the gap between rich and poor, continues to increase in this nation, and that is a national disgrace. More to our point, that's a sin, condemned by literally hundreds of verses of scripture. Those most vulnerable to Katrina have been kept on society's margins by persistent economic injustice and racism.

I celebrate the tides of compassion flowing in the wake of Katrina. Organizations such as Church World Service and the Salvation Army bear the compassion of Christ to the desolate, homeless, and hopeless. And I still don't fully understand why, in the providence of a loving and all-powerful God of creation, things like hurricanes and earthquakes happen.

But I do know this. When I see the devastating effects of Katrina, I don't simply regard these as an inexplicable "act of God." I also focus on the sins of humanity. We've disobeyed God's clear biblical instructions to preserve the integrity of God's good creation, and to overcome the scourge of poverty. In the aftermath of Katrina, we desperately need not only compassion, but also repentance.

Wes Granberg-Michaelson is general secretary of the Reformed Church in America. Reprinted from the Church Herald, October 2005. (c) 2005 by the Church Herald, Inc. Used with permission. Another version of this article will appear in the print version of the October 2005 Church Herald and on the Church Herald Web site

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Book rec

So I read a whole book on the plane out here, which hasn't happened for a while since I've been reading such dense books. But I found a nice light read that was actually pretty entertaining. It's called The Preservationist by David Maine, and it's the story of Noah told from multiple perspectives (like his wife's, son's, etc.). It brings up some interesting solutions to troubling questions, such as where did all the wood come from for the ark and how did they get all the animals (particularly those not indigenous to the region). It has some nice moments of grace and is a quick read with some fun ideas.

Dreaming still

Man, I had a vivid dream last night. It involved an artist who was completely in love with me. His name was Parker. He wasn't anyone I know. And he was so totally cool and into me. But I was not sure and was dating a few guys, and eventually I lost the artist who went and got married. I spent the rest of the dream regretting losing him. And when I woke up, I felt so depressed, like I'd lost the love of my life or something.

I wonder if I'm missing out on something I should be devoting myself to.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Save me

So we decided not to watch Sideways, because of the language. Which is completely fine. It wouldn't be enjoyable for them or for me. So why bother?

I did watch Saved with my parents tonight, and with my sister and her husband earlier in the week. The latter enjoyed it, laughing a lot and generally saying it was fine, although they disagreed a bit with the conclusions (which most Christians do). Now I've seen it four times and I have a really different take on it - the first time it's too much at once and you don't know what to think, but after several viewings, I'm laughing less and thinking more as I watch it. I see echoes of Jesus' words to the religious leaders of his day. I see a lot of bad behavior from all sides, and a lot of moments of grace (which are fleeting and infrequent and easy to miss). I see solid faith from a few characters and an interesting journey to faith from others.

But really the only way I see all this is that I've seen it enough times to get past the cheap jokes and to be able to buy into the story, cheesy dialogue and all (hey, it's a teenage comedy!). Actually, that was my parents' one criticism, was that it was "stupid." Which is actually bothersome - I'd rather they were offended. Simply saying it's stupid is basically saying that a person who likes it likes something stupid which is questioning their taste in general (and their intelligence to a degree). What's funny is that probably half of what they watch I'd consider stupid (although I usually say something like "the critics all hated that", since it's unfair to judge it without seeing it). But they considered Saved stupid. So how bad must it be?? Wow. Well at any rate, from the way it makes me feel to have something I enjoy called stupid, I think I shall try to avoid judging others' taste in that way in the future.

Still, my husband points out to me that they may think the characters are unbelievable, but then, I have some pretty unbelievable characters and situations going on in my extended family! Which is amusingly true. We all know people (or are related to them, more likely) whose lives we wouldn't believe if we saw them on the big screen. Yet there they are, acting out in all their ridiculousness. It's a funny world.

Speaking of the big J, I miss him so terribly. I told him never again will I vacation without him and if we have to travel for business more than a couple days, we'll take the other person along. This is no good. I prayed God would provide us jobs near one another always. Yep, all my friends were right, this was too long. Not because of who I'm with, but because of who I'm without.

Wow...I never really thought I'd be homesick for LA. I used to cry when I got on the plane back to there. This time I cried leaving. This definitely isn't home anymore. Well it hasn't been for nearly a decade, and this house has really never been for me. When I dream about a home, it's always my childhood home, not here. And my folks may move again into another house that is foreign to me. That is how it goes.

Now I really should get to bed as it is late. One more story: Sunday we went to the Evangelical Free Church (that's a Protestant denomination, not Episcopal) and I was talking with a woman who was a friend of my mother's. She asked about life, and I told her I was in seminary, blah blah. And she asked what I'd do with that degree (that maddening question to which I have no answer!) and I said I could be ordained a priest, adding that I'd be a "priest" because I'm Episcopalian. And she said that was really interesting, because her niece, she's not E..E...(Episcopalian? I filled in) - yes that. Her niece isn't one, but she studies the Jewish religion at college.

Well, super!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


I both love and like my family, most of the time. They have quirks but I'm learning how to deal with them. For instance, with one member, she's very much like my baby niece in that she has to just get all her angst out and then she's fine. So the best course of action is to sit quietly while she says her piece and let her work it out. I used to argue, but that is worthless.

It took 5 whole days to have a major fight with my mother. That's not bad. And the fight wasn't really - more a misunderstanding. Over money of course, which I've now decided is a subject I should never broach with the parents.

Took less time to get pissed at my brother, but he's just on a completely different wavelength than me these days. I think the only way we could be close again would be to live nearer one another and actually interact in one another's worlds. Right now, we're too distant and sheltered from each other.

Which is a sad thing. My siblings turned out to be really nice people and I would like to know them better. But alas, for some incomprehensible reason, they choose to live in the Midwest, and I just can't go there.

Speaking of, it's so freaking muggy here! I'm sitting here just sweating. And it's not even hot. The air is wet. Oh, I hate this. I can't breathe here! (that may have other sources than just the weather, come to think of it...)

Thanks for all the comments. It's fun to hear from you all again. I'm going to the gym soon - gotta work on my plumpness. Then must buy books. Then I get to go to Chicago for two days! Yaaaaaaaay! What a great city.

Although I will say that I've not decided really anything to do there. I guess we're going to the Art Institute to see the Toulouse Lautrec show, and to the new park. What else should we do?

Saturday, September 10, 2005

How our families change us

It's so weird how just a few hours here have turned me back into a person I left long ago. We fall into these old patterns so regularly and easily. And they are survival mechanisms but they are also annoying, particularly if you feel like you've grown a lot since leaving.

I brought my family two of my favorite movies from last year to watch, "Saved!" and "Sideways". But my brother turned everyone off of them. Because Saved "ruthlessly mocks Christianity" and Sideways has a naked man in it (someone heard). Also it is all sex. That's right, bro. It's two hours of non-stop doin' it. It's actually a porno that somehow slipped an "R" rating which fooled critics and audiences into liking it and getting it all those silly Oscar noms. Of course that means nothing because "Kinsey" was also nominated.

Here's the funny thing - does anyone else in the world care about looking at a naked human being, or is it just them? Because sometimes I feel like it's so stupid to care about that. You go to the art museum and you don't disparage the nudity there. Everyone present is married so they've all seen naked men. What's the big deal?

But it would ruin it for me if I couldn't laugh at my favorite parts because I was nervous about how my family felt about the film. This has ruined many a movie for me over the years. They huff at nudity and talk about sex being "naughty" and make verbal tut-tutting over language (as per usual, violence bothers them not a bit). It makes it extremely difficult to enjoy anything that's been made for adults with them.

Not that I need to watch trash - but sometimes you do need to see the bad side of people for the film to get its point across. The sex and even language in Sideways isn't remotely glorified. It's obviously wrong. And the film presents it as such. And it's like real life.

But no, they'd rather watch "The Pacifier" with Vin Diesel. Because that's absolutely nothing like real life. And god help us if we have to burst the Christian bubble.

I complain a lot but of course I love them. In fact, the worst part is that I feel bad because they make me feel like I'm a bad person. I don't like them thinking badly of me and I'm afraid they do because of what I choose to watch. What I enjoy. I feel lower, and then my ego kicks in and I feel higher, and neither is right.

I'm writing so much more than I'd planned on vacation. I guess there's a lot to say around the fam. My dad apologized by the way, although I have a pretty strong feeling that he was told to do so.

*sigh* Keep writing me. I need support!

Is God a cat person or a dog person?

I was thinking about this as I was waiting to fall asleep last night. I always have some silly matter come up in my mind while I'm being an insomniac. It passes the time.

So I was thinking about if God would prefer cats or dogs. And I thought, well maybe dogs, because they are loyal and loving, and they always come when called (unlike people or cats), and they are mostly predictable and love spending time with you.

But then I thought maybe cats, since they obviously have free will (like people, who are supposed to be in God's image), and although they can be aloof, when they give you love, you know they really mean it. That hard-earned kitty loving is super-meaningful.

I suppose that it would depend which animal one prefers. Both exhibit qualities that make them lovable and hateable to humans, and I imagine to God too.

I don't guess it matters much, as long as they're both in heaven.

BELIEFNET.COM'S LIVE PRAYER SERVICE FOR THE VICTIMS OF HURRICANE KATRINA is running a live online prayer service for the vicitms of Hurrican Katrina this weekend. It is available at

Friday, September 09, 2005


Hello, my friends, writing you from Iowa because I have big my ever-loving father told me I'm fat! Woo-hoo!

It's a moment every girl dreams of.

(shit there's a giant spider on the wall and I'm arachnaphobic) - this is going to be a quick story.

Yes, dad actually said I'm "pleasantly plump." Can you think of any more terrible thing for a man to say to a woman? Particularly in our relationship?

Then I must have looked shocked and I mumbled something sarcasting so he started backtracking. He said, "Well, I don't mean you're fat, you're not obese, you're just...(wait for it)...bigger than average."

Oh, okay. That's much better.

J had a giggling fit about that one. My mother rolled her eyes. I personally was a bit astounded.

Yippee, it's so GREAT to be home!!

Well at least I can get my revenge by blogging on him.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Hooray! School's out for...September?

Well, I've finished another quarter. Everything's turned in and I can officially switch off my brain for three whole weeks. Sort of. I seem to be getting roped into a lot of extracurricular activity. Plus I have to buy next quarter's books, which I turn into a ridiculously complicated rite of passage involving, price comparisons (thank goodness Fuller's bookstore posts prices online), and the occasional visit to a used bookstore hoping for a miracle. Unfortunately, my last visit to Archives in Pasadena yielded only a peer taking the same classes who'd already snapped up the used copies of the books. Curse you, Michelle!

(just kidding)

Now I'm setting out for the great Quad Cities of America. It's on the Mississippi encompassing a little of Iowa and a little of Illinoise (can't help the spelling - blame Sufjan). I'll meet my niece finally, and see several long-lost friends, and maybe go raise a little hell in Wheaton. I'm definitely visiting Millenium Park in Chicago and the Trappist Monastery in Dubuque (the one selling caskets - woo hoo!). In all that time I hope very much to sit and veg at some point.

Those of you with a deity, pray that my family and I can stay civil for 2 weeks. Whew, that's a long time to spend with the parental units.

I'll try to post from there. Wouldn't it be amazing to be completely bored?

Gotta go catch a plane. Happy Birthday Dan!

Saturday, September 03, 2005


[By your offspring shall all the nations of the earth gain blessing for themselves.]

Hi! I’m Tamar. (waits for reaction) What? Never heard of me? That’s not surprising. I’m not exactly a popular stop in the lectionary. But oh, mine is such an important story! I simply must tell you. You have to know – all you Gentiles out there – you must be told that you are not forsaken by the Almighty!

You can find me in Genesis 38. Oh, go ahead, you can look it up if you don’t believe me. I don’t show up in any of the musical versions of my more famous relative Joseph’s story, despite the fact that my tale falls right in the middle of his – and I think I’d inspire some very interesting songs!

So why is my story in the middle of Joseph’s tale? Well, it has some parallels. In the chapter, Joseph goes down to Egypt (unwillingly) with the Midianite slave traders. Jacob goes down into the depths of depression after losing Joseph. And my tale begins with Judah going down from his brothers to make merry with the locals.[1] Later, I “go down” in a way also – by compromising my honor for a higher purpose.[2]

But I’m getting ahead of myself. The important thing for you to know about me is that I’m not Judah’s relative. I may or may not be officially a “foreigner” – but at the least I’m definitely an outsider to the chosen family. Judah decides to marry outside his clan, you see, and his son Er follows suit by marrying me (oh, my, Father Abraham and Mother Rebekah would most certainly not approve!) After his brother Joseph has been sold to outsiders, Judah buys into his surrounding culture. By his action, I get to join the ranks of Melchizedek, Jesse, and Balaam by connecting with and influencing the chosen people.

Israel has a tenuous relationship with outsiders, but we are not always seen as bad. I like to think that our positive contributions to the chosen people inspired El Shaddai to consider the outsider when making laws. He goes so far as to command that “The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself” in Leviticus 19:34 and, in Deuteronomy 24:17, warns his people not to “deprive a resident alien or an orphan of justice.”

But back to my story. Er was struck down by the Almighty for his wickedness. This was my introduction to the God of the Patriarchs. Yikes! I was a little surprised…and a lot relieved. I always liked younger brother Onan better anyway. You see, there’s this thing – “levirate law” – and it says that Judah had to keep giving me his sons unless they were married to someone else, so that I could bear an heir for the family. So Onan was next in line. But what a loser he turned out to be! Oh, yes, he was plenty happy to use me for sex – but he wouldn’t do his duty of giving me a child![3] He was not respecting the divine mandate to be fruitful, and worse, he was squandering God’s blessing by not producing heirs! Well, this time I was in the cheering section when the Almighty struck again. God acted on my behalf, I like to think. And I decided I’d get on board with God’s plan for this crazy mixed-up family, even if it meant marrying Judah’s youngest son, little Shelah (who hadn’t even hit puberty yet). This was a powerful God and I wanted to be part of his work in the world.

But Judah saw things differently. He assumed I must be at fault for his sons’ deaths. So he lied to me to get me away from Shelah. I bought his little ruse at first. Then about twenty years passed and I realized that Papa was not cooperating – I was still sitting around in widow’s garments instead of wearing maternity clothes. As it turned out, Judah was more worried about his reputation and sexual needs and business concerns than about taking care of his obligations to family (both Shelah and I were stuck without futures).[4] Judah was even working against the Almighty by not continuing the chosen people.

You are probably wondering why I cared so much. Shouldn’t I have been relieved to be released to go home and be rid of this wacky family for good? But no, you see – I was not free. As long as Shelah was alive and unmarried, I would commit adultery for remarrying (legally I belonged to him). And regardless of whether he took me, without children no one would provide for me in my old age (my own family had sold me and I no longer was their concern). Without having a child… “it’s like being without an identity…without status or position. We [women] feel we have nothing to offer the community, and no part in history. Without children, we make a name neither for ourselves nor for another. They are a life-and-death matter for us!”[5] I was trapped with no recourse or protection without a husband or a son. That’s when I sprung into action.

Like my foremother Rebekah, I fancy myself quite the chess player. And I’d figured out these men by now. They’re just fine with using a woman for pleasure without commitment.[6] I knew Judah would fall right into my trap. Like his father before him, Judah was hoodwinked by a woman in a veil who sleeps with him – a woman he conceivably should have recognized by voice! Of course, my voice was so unimportant to him that he didn’t even recognize it – I just hide my face and he had no clue.

You know what really gets me? Judah immediately condemned me upon learning of my pregnancy. What a hypocrite! Fortunately, I was clever enough to secure my future not only by getting pregnant but also thinking ahead to prove my child’s paternity.

My main problem with Judah was that he wasn’t acting as my redeemer, playing his proper role in the family. You are familiar with the story of another foreign woman in our line, Ruth? Now that Boaz – that’s a man who knows his place! I had to force Judah to do the very thing that the customs and later laws expected: to redeem my position and save me from perpetual widowhood and childlessness.

He did own up to that eventually, but only because I forced him to. Thank God I’d demanded so much of him during our little encounter! He’d certainly demanded plenty from me by that point (and I’d always complied). I wasn’t even asking him to do anything but fulfill his obligation. He was the one preventing the continuation of his family line – scandalous! Like silly Onan, spilling his seed. These guys did not get it – El Shaddai was working through their family – but they had to keep having children to keep the promise going. There I was – ready and willing to make babies for them, and they totally dumped me. Damn straight (imitating Judah) “She was more righteous than I!”

You know, I never did get an apology from that man. Not even for demanding that I be burned! He confessed, and my plan worked, but he still kept his self-righteousness intact. That burns me worse than the fire could have done. Judah never did take the Almighty seriously, not really. But I did. And I joined (or maybe I should say, “wrestled my way into”) the blessed family.

Judge me for poor morals if you want to, but theologically I was right in line with God’s intentions – I, the outsider, the woman, the widow, fulfilled El Shaddai’s plan for this family. I was willing to “go beyond social convention and even to risk [my] life” because I saw the worth of this family’s promise. It wasn’t just about saving my own skin – it was about preserving the future of the family in which God Almighty was “deeply invested”.[7]

So you may wonder whatever happened to me. I had the twins, but then we don’t hear if I am ever married or have any more children. Did I just fade away after my role as “walking womb” had been fulfilled? Much has been made of my “disappearing act” at the end of the story, as if it somehow belittled me as a person.

Friends, I don’t think so. I am one of four women mentioned in Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus! I most certainly did not shrink from remembrance, and thanks to dear Matthew, have been given my rightful place in the salvation story of the world. Not only was I incorporated into the chosen people, I was part of bringing forth the ultimate Redeemer of all people.

Like Joseph, I “preserve life.” (Genesis 45:5) “Regardless of what might have been ‘meant for evil’” in my story, “God meant it for good.” (Gen 50:20)[8] I kept God’s chosen people on track. And he rewarded me richly for my boldness and righteousness by putting me in his peoples’ line of kings and ultimately, making me an ancestress of the King of kings. Gaining that blessing was hard work – but it was completely worth it.

[1] Shaw, 27.
[2] Ibid, 31.
[3] Spina, 42.
[4] Ibid, 48-50.
[5] Shaw, 42.
[6] Spina, 45.
[7] Ibid, 50.
[8] Ibid, 50-51.


Aschkenasy, Nehama. Woman at the Window: Biblical Tales of Oppression and Escape (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1998), pp. 79-92.

Shaw, Suzanne. “Letters to the Editor of Genesis” from First Person: Essays in Biblical Autobiography, edited by Philip R. Davies (Sheffield Academic Press, 2002), pp. 26-36, 41.

Spina, Frank Anthony. The Faith of the Outsider: Exclusion and Inclusion in the Biblical Story (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2005), pp. 35-51.


[Yahweh favors the weaker vessel]

I’ve been called many things in my day and many more in yours: Schemer, Trickster, Liar, Cheater. Some are kinder, thinking of me as strong, impulsive, gracious, clever, self-sufficient, and independent. The truth lies somewhere in between. I wasn’t perfect but I didn’t have much control over my life, either. When I met Abraham’s servant, I can’t say what came over me, but somehow I knew that he was my ticket out of obscurity. I “felt the pull of God.”[1]

So I arrived in a field and fell flat on my face in front of Isaac! Luckily, he seemed eager enough to meet me that my clumsiness wasn’t a deterrent. Took me right into his mother’s tent, he did! And then…we…talked. About Mommy. Yes, what a fun consummation that was. “Is it any wonder that [we] didn’t have children for twenty years?”[2]

Actually, we spoke of many things that day…or at least Isaac did. I learned of his horrible childhood – losing his best friend and older brother, his mother’s nearly manic control over the household (and then one day she just went off and died), and the last secret to come out, the darkest of all, the one which almost robbed me of a husband long before either of our parents thought of marrying us.

I heard enough to know that I did not want history to repeat itself. I grabbed on to one thing Isaac told me about and never let it go – and that was God’s covenant with his father and now with him. Suddenly I found my purpose in life: with my womb, I controlled the destiny of God’s people.

God gave us women a vital place in his story, rescuing and elevating us from inconsequence. God made not only land but a people vital to his means of reconciliation with humanity – and how could a people exist without women? Daughters become as important as sons for their power to bring forth chosen life. Despite being the weaker sex, we are indeed remembered by God.

It was a difficult pregnancy. Oh, those babies kicked! They tore at my insides. And not just physically: I was terrified of losing these children that I wanted so badly. I was not going to lose them to chance or any sort of false “test,” and I prayed for them earnestly. God heard my prayer and sent me a revelation: I recognized that the normal order of things could be usurped in favor of a better plan.

God wasn’t interested in the firstborn son who was valuable in the world’s eyes. God shows his might through the weak. Jacob was unlike the leaders of other peoples and therefore was clearly the one God would choose. Esau was powerful, and God doesn’t usually like to deal with powerful people, who are given to pride or rivalry with God.[3] Later, Jacob’s children would learn this when God smote Pharaoh, and when they themselves poorly selected their first king.

And so I loved Jacob, because of the promise, and because he reminded me of my own beloved Isaac, who was also the second son and was so vulnerable (I secretly believe that Isaac preferred Esau because he reminded him of Ishmael).[4] I guess, with all my attentions, I did repeat one of Sarah’s mistakes and doomed Jacob’s poor wives to my fate of being married to an incurable Mama’s boy. (sighs happily)

As Isaac aged, I knew he needed to pass on his powerful blessing. I stayed close to his bedside, listening for any clue to his plans. Had he also caught God’s vision? What if he hadn’t? His bond with Esau was so strong. Throughout the history of the patriarchs, “the father's favoritism for the firstborn repeatedly leads to trouble – as in the case of Ishmael, Esau, and Reuben. It is the mother who discerns God's design and helps the son destined to carry it on – as in the case of Isaac and Jacob. As in the case of all socially inferior people, women understand more about power and survival than those in power, and so are in a position to see more clearly than their husbands.”[5] “If we must channel our influence through our children or through our ‘deceit’ (I prefer to call it ‘imagination’) or through our sexuality, because we do not have a public forum to speak out for ourselves straightforwardly, then let it be so. We will not stand by passively and watch God’s word go unfulfilled when we could have done something about it any way we can.”[6]

I changed the plan – and history – as I saw fit. Please, don’t look so shocked. You all know how my brother Laban later treated my own son! I obviously come from nakedly ambitious stock. I knew how God ultimately wanted things to turn out, and I just gave Jacob a little “push.”

I probably should have just talked to Isaac – told him about the oracle – instead of misleading him. But I did pay for my rash behavior. God allowed our little game, but also made me live with the consequences (and I accepted the curse willingly). Because of what I did, Esau hated Jacob with a fatal anger. I lost Esau’s respect and love. I had to send Jacob away. Oh! It tore my heart to pieces, that day! I know I did right by my family and followed the way of the Lord. But I never saw my dearest son again. I never met my many grandchildren. I never saw my sons reconcile.

In the end, I paid a price. Not for being weak and powerless, but for being ambitious and asserting power. In the end, I learned my own lessons by living them.

[1] Visotzky, 153.
[2] Ibid, 154.
[3] Shaw, 42.
[4] Visotzky, 137.
[5] Frankel, 21.
[6] Shaw, 41.


Aschkenasy, Nehama. Woman at the Window: Biblical Tales of Oppression and Escape (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1998), pp. 103-106.

Clines, David J. A. What Does Eve Do to Help? and Other Readerly Questions to the Old Testament (Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series 94: Sheffield Academic Press, 1990), pp. 78-84.

Frankel, Ellen. The Five Books of Miriam: a Woman's Commentary on the Torah (New York: Grosset/Putnam, 1996).

Rosen, Norma, “Rebekah and Isaac: A Marriage Made in Heaven,” from Out of the Garden: Women Writers on the Bible, edited by Christina Buchmann and Celina Spiegel (New York: Fawcett Columbine, 1994), pp. 13-26.

Shaw, Suzanne, “Letters to the Editor of Genesis” from First Person: Essays in Biblical Autobiography, edited by Philip R. Davies (Sheffield Academic Press, 2002), p. 41-43.

Visotzky, Burton L. The Genesis of Ethics (New York: Three Rivers Press, 1996), pp. 121-155.



Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat: I was the one who believed in the promise. Oh, sure, El Shaddai gave it to Abraham. He was the one who got talked to. But read the story again – I’m the one who’s always trying to help things along. Abraham is running around testing God at every turn, and I’m just trying to keep him from screwing everything up! I trusted in God’s faithfulness to us, and time and again I was proven right.

God had his hands full taking care that his promise wasn’t misunderstood. First, there was the whole Egypt debacle. Abraham (he was Abram at the time, but who can keep these things straight?) assumed right off the bat that the child of God’s promise was Lot. He was our only living male heir, after all (what a lack of faith – I knew God wouldn’t cut me out of the picture so easily!). That’s why Abraham took Lot to Canaan, and later to Egypt. Of course, Lot had to be protected at all costs – and Abraham wanted to save his own skin – so I became an expendable and convenient way for Abraham to do well in the land.[1] What kind of example was that for little Lot? No wonder he later offered up his daughters to abusive strangers – he learned from Father Abraham that women are little more than bargaining chips!

But here’s the question that Abraham would never answer for me: Why would a man who has actually heard from God audibly, and moved all over creation on account of this promise, suddenly turn into a big chicken?

Of course I went along with it – I didn’t really want them to be eliminated. And I trusted God to protect me (unlike Abraham). I must say things weren’t all that bad in the royal palace. I even fancied the idea that perhaps my bringing forth the promised nation would somehow be seeded through Pharaoh. It would serve Abraham right for giving me up so easily – and for bothering me about being barren.[2]

But I realized that was all wrong. I didn’t belong in Pharaoh’s harem. I was being oppressed, just like my many children would be in this land in later generations. I remembered El Shaddai’s covenant and I cried out for God to make things right.[3] And what do you know? God did it. So you see, I was right all along.

Things were never really the same after that. I couldn’t trust Abraham to be competent with the covenant. And you must understand how horrible it was. Ten years without a child after being promised one! Lot hadn’t worked out, and I wanted God’s promise to be true. So I had to take matters into my own hands. I did what I thought I had to do to give my husband an heir. I turned to a surrogate mother.
Can you understand why? I didn’t know how it would turn out. “The mysteries of baby-hunger, the famine that forces desperate women to take desperate measures on either side of the birthing line, the mystery is powerful, something in God’s hands.”[4]

Secretly I thought my husband might be beyond his ability to perform (we didn’t have Viagra in those days, dears). But he did just fine with the slave…and that killed me. Oh, why didn’t Abraham say no – protest my suggestion, insist that God would provide? He was the one given the promise! He was the one who spoke to God directly! I could be excused my error, but Abraham should have known better. He should have trusted God’s hesed to provide.

El Shaddai did teach him that lesson later, in a much more difficult way. But I get ahead of myself.

So the slave conceived a child for me, and Abraham was then perfectly content to have Ishmael be the child of promise. All of which was fine, until the slave began acting like she was his mother! That was not the arrangement! Since when is the slave the mother of the heir? We had to get that straightened up right away. I was Ishmael’s mother. And El Shaddai was, of course, on my side, because I was again trying to fulfill the promise. Here I’ve been waiting all this time for our family’s blessing, and I do what I can to help, and what do I get for it? A whole lot of attitude from a girl who does not know her place![5]

I set that girl straight – and my husband wisely trusted me to do so. Then after all our sacrifice for her, she runs off. That was plain stupid. Off she went with the promised child – our child. I prayed for her safety and return, out of the generosity of my heart.[6]

And return she did – boasting of talking to God on a level with Abraham! That did it! That heathen witch could never talk to my God. Not when I can only listen behind the scenes. I have to hide and be ashamed for what I hear. And El Shaddai would reward her for her brash behavior![7] Even making her mother of a nation?! No, it could not be true.

I had to get her out of my house. She was a liar and a bad influence on my precious Isaac. And once again, God told Abraham to do as I said – because God knew I was the protector of the covenant, I was the one who trusted him.

Besides, my banishing the slave wound up being a nice object lesson for my descendants. Perhaps I mistreated the Egyptian, but that horrid race certainly gave it back to us a hundred fold! My children, the “great nation” of which I was Mother, was enslaved for four hundred years by the very people of the slave and her son. Really, if you look at it in “a providential light, [my] actions are the first step in the divine plan leading to Sinai.”[8]
But I’ve gotten the story all mixed up again. You don’t even know where my precious Isaac came from, do you? Let’s leave off the slave’s story – I dislike it so. We can just forget that girl – and her boy – ever existed.

You probably heard about our reactions to being told of Isaac’s impending conception. And I’m sure you understand why we laughed. But I want to make one thing clear: when God took me to task for laughing (he expected more faith from me than Abraham, of course), “I denied my laughter not because I doubted God's capacity for miracles but because I doubted my own.”[9] I believed, as I always have, in God’s steadfast love and promise to our family. But for once in my life, I was afraid of my ability to live up to expectations. As always, though, my momentary lack of faith did not prevent El Shaddai, blessed be he, from doing what he promised.

Oh, and you’ll love this – what does Abraham do, now that he knows for sure I’m the bearer of the promised child? He up and moves us all again, and passes me off as his sister to yet another king, while I’ve got the covenant baby inside![10] Will this man’s lack of faith show no limit? God put a stop to that behavior right quick. Abimelech didn’t even get a chance to see me. As usual, I was looking out for the promise – God knew he had a faithful partner in me.

So Isaac was born and I named him, not only after our snickering but also my joyful giggles at his birth, and the love that welled up in me every time I looked in his face and burst out in a laugh.[11] And we had more unpleasantness with the slave, but as I’ve already mentioned, God rescued the promise yet again by ensuring Abraham listened to my counsel.

Finally, as we neared the end of our lives, it was time for Abraham to stand up on his own. It was time for him to claim the promise. El Shaddai got me out of the way and proposed a most evil plan to my husband.

Sometimes I wish he’d tested me. But then, he knew I couldn’t hold up. After everything I’d been through to get this child, there was no way I’d have relinquished him. I think I would have gone up the mountain and slit my own throat for Yahweh’s pleasure.

So it’s just as well, in the end, that Abraham was asked to sacrifice Isaac. Abraham needed to own the covenant. And later, he was there to talk to El Shaddai about how it feels to send your son to die.

I wound up on another mountain, Horeb, apart from Abraham, during the dastardly deed, and not long after I did yield up my spirit. It hurt my son, but he was comforted with a good wife his father found.

My Abraham had finally laid hold of the promise. But when you tell my story, remember how I was on board from day one. I spent all my life working in God’s will for my family. And the Almighty One remembered me, and made me the mother of his most beloved people. Truly, he is a God of steadfast love.

[1] Clines, 69-70.
[2] Visotzky, 32.
[3] Van Dijk-Hemmes, 232-3.
[4] Visotzky, 42.
[5] Goldingay, 87.
[6] Frankel, xv-xvi.
[7] Visotzky, 48.
[8] Frankel, 19.
[9] Frankel, 23 (italics added).
[10] Clines, 75-76.
[11] Goldingay, 77.


Clines, David J. A. What Does Eve Do to Help? and Other Readerly Questions to the Old Testament (Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series 94: Sheffield Academic Press, 1990), pp. 67-78.

Frankel, Ellen. The Five Books of Miriam: a Woman's Commentary on the Torah (New York: Grosset/Putnam, 1996).

Goldingay, John. After Eating the Apricot (Carlisle: Solway, 1996), pp. 65-101.

Nunnally-Cox, Janice. Fore-Mothers (New York: Seabury Press, 1981), pp. 5-9.

Teubal, Savina J. “Sarah and Hagar: Matriarchs and Visionaries,” from A Feminist Companion to Genesis, edited by Athalya Brenner (Sheffield Academic Press, 1993), pp. 235-250.

Trible, Phyllis. “The Sacrifice of Sarah,” from Feminism and Theology, edited by Janet Martin Soskice and Diana Lipton (Oxford University Press, 2003), pp. 144-154.

Van Dijk-Hemmes, Fokkelien. “Sarai's Exile: A Gender-Motivated Reading of Genesis 12.10-13.2,” from A Feminist Companion to Genesis, edited by Athalya Brenner (Sheffield Academic Press, 1993), pp. 222-234.

Visotzky, Burton L. The Genesis of Ethics (New York: Three Rivers Press, 1996), pp. 20-120.


[Living in relationship with the Living God]

Good morning. I am the Mother of All Living. But you can call me Eve.

What do you think of my story? Do you know it? Or do you just think you know it? Let me let you in on a few secrets: my story has nothing whatsoever to do with science or history. In fact, I can’t even tell you for sure if I really existed! And I find it infinitely silly when people look at my tale – full of talking animals, fruit that holds the power over life and knowledge, and one severely anthropomorphic deity – and try to see it as some kind of historical fact. Come now, my children. You see elements such as these in other works and immediately you understand they are not literal. Why do you force my story to be so many things it is not?

Oh, dear – excuse me. I’ve already gone off on one of my tirades and you’re just sitting there pleasantly waiting to hear what I have to say. Forgive me. I want to tell you about why I am there, not why I’m not.

I woke up one beautiful, sunny day and saw a rather hairy creature standing before me, mouth agape. He pointed at me and said, “Wo-man.” I stood up, smoothed my hair, put out my hand, and said, “How do you do?”

From then on, I suppose, he had a companion worthy of him, but I’m not so sure it worked both ways. I found more to talk about with the animals, usually, although I did enjoy hearing the story of how God wasn’t satisfied with Adam and made me to improve upon the original. I was Human Being Version 2.0, in today’s parlance. Naturally, it was a bit difficult for Adam to keep up with me, the poor thing. But I did my best to humor him and let him follow me around while I explored our world.

Of course you all are waiting for me to get to the meat of the story – the Big Moment when that slithery silver-tongued serpent shows up and deceives me and all the order of things falls into chaos. Well, why should I? You obviously know it all already. I’m interested in sharing things you don’t know so well.

And the main thing is this: without me, you wouldn’t be who you are. Not that you wouldn’t exist (that much is obvious). You wouldn’t know God the way you do – or the way you could if you don’t already. My curiosity may have damned me, but it opened up the world to you. It gave you the ability to be in a real relationship with your Creator.

But the process to get there had to be painful. I disobeyed. God learned the strong will of humans overtakes our better judgment (then again, did I even have judgment before? It’s so hard to remember that innocence).

For whatever reason, God gave us power. Not only dominion over the earth, but also over each other, and even over God. My action was the first in a long line of rebellions, which led to so much pain. My own children took it to the next level – and the pain that caused was immeasurable.[1]

And what the pain leads to is vulnerability and need. It leads, ironically, to the loss of dominion.[2] We feel alienated and lost in the world. We know we cannot run things on our own. God has set up the world beautifully and we’ve failed to keep it “good.”

But once you deal with this, realize another thing: our “intense desire for God, never satisfied, arises from our separation from him.”[3] This is the legacy I leave to you: your longing for God. (God, of course, has always longed for you.) My actions did no less than “set in motion the wheels of salvation.”[4]

You can thank me when we meet again.

[1] Goldingay, 40.
[2] Shaw, 44-45.
[3] Grizzuti-Harrison, 1.
[4] Ibid, 1.


Goldingay, John. After Eating the Apricot (Carlisle: Solway, 1996), pp. 33-45.

Grizzuti-Harrison, Barbara. “A Meditation on Eve,” from Out of the Garden: Women Writers on the Bible, edited by Christina Buchmann and Celina Spiegel (New York: Fawcett Columbine, 1994), pp. 1-2.

Shaw, Suzanne. “Letters to the Editor of Genesis” in First Person: Essays in Biblical Autobiography edited by Philip R. Davies (Sheffield Academic Press, 2002), p. 44-45.


[Every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually]

(Dinah enters and addresses the audience timidly at first, then her voice rising)
How does my opinion matter? I’m not the voice history has recorded. You can just read about me in your book there and see what everyone else says. You don’t want to hear my side of things. It’s not a pretty story. You won’t go home with happy feelings about the world. Or yourself.

(Since no one has moved (presumably) she reconsiders)

All right. In order to tell you my story, though, we have to go back to my mother’s. You see, her life was one of rejection and loneliness. She had to trick her husband into marrying her. Her own sister hated her for it. Even making children didn’t help – she continued to be rejected by Father. She even had to bargain for nights spent with him (well, wouldn’t you, if you discovered every night meant another son?). She was miserable and since I was there with her in the tent, I got to listen to her constant complaining. She made it very clear that you have to go after what you want in life because people will not care about you unless you make them.

By the time I’d reached womanhood, I was determined not to end up like her. I was not going to be bound to a man who did not love me because of “family duty”; without friends – even her own sister! I would have my own relationships, both with women and, if God blessed me, with a husband. Who did I have to hang out with? Really? My six brothers or the other half-brothers? They were all busy all the time, and the younger one, Joseph, was a real pain in the behind. No thanks!

So I set out from our camp one day to see who I would see. I was hoping to find some companionship among the women of the land. I didn’t understand why we had to be so exclusive all the time! My brothers were always nervous about the other clans, and I thought if we made friends with them, then we wouldn’t have to be holed up all the time.

If you’ve read your book you know what happened next. Or at least, you know what my brothers say happened. You’ll never know the real story.

(Her voice rises again)
What if I went out looking for adventure? Maybe I was seeking a girlfriend and wound up finding my soulmate. Maybe my brothers made up that story about rape to save face when Father knew, everyone knew, that I’d just disobeyed and gone off to choose my own man, not from their precious tribe, not obeying mutely like my mother!

(Shutting down) You’ll never know. Because I fell silent. Was it trauma? Was I protecting myself? Or was I simply not allowed to speak? You’ll never know.

What’s more telling is what happened next. My brothers believed I’d been raped. But rape is not a women’s ordeal – it is significant only for its economic and political repercussions.[1] My situation offered an opportunity to one-up the neighbors.

So the men all got together and discussed my marriage to my captor, and more exchanging of women. I – still held (possibly against my will) – was a pawn in their negotiations with their neighbors. I became merely a symbol of the family honor. But as a breathing, living individual – I had no relevance in their lives.[2] Father was more concerned with his status in the community than with what happened to me. My brothers were angry that I’d gone off without their permission and gotten myself – no, them – into this mess.

Just to up the ante, they threw in the neat little caveat about all the men getting circumcised. It wasn’t enough that they were planning to summarily execute the entire city. They wanted to strip them of their manhood. It was simply cruel. It was premeditated murder with torture thrown in to make a point. This from the “chosen” family – the family of the Creator-God!

Still, you might wonder, if I’d gone out on my own before – why not run away again? Honestly, I didn’t have much choice. I didn’t want to die alone in the wilderness. And “staying with the man who claimed to love [me] was certainly better than returning to an unhappy mother, a neglectful father, and hotheaded brothers.”[3] Becoming a wife was my best option. I was “spoiled, unclean, unable to cleanse [myself] from this violent act.”[4]

So my brothers showed up and “rescued” me. Then they killed the lot of them. When I asked why, why did they go to such extreme measures (for surely it wasn’t on my account!), here is what they told me: whatever happens to me reflects on them: if a daughter is molested, the whole tribe is seen as raped. Essentially, it means my clan has no rights or status in this land where we are living.[5]

Like I said, it’s all about power, status, and honor. Family honor. Not my honor.

You know what this means, then? If I hadn’t gone out looking for trouble, none of this would have happened. I broke my family’s rules and caused bloodshed. My brothers treated other women the same way I was treated. And it’s my fault.

I just wanted to make friends. I just wanted some little bit of companionship – to not be so lonely. So unhappy. I didn’t want to become my mother.

I did not ask for this. Now “before [me] stretches a whole lifetime as a ‘defiled,’ unmarried woman at the mercy of [my] strict, unloving father, and, later, as a poor relative shuttling among [my] brothers’ busy households.”[6] My life was over.

Where was my father’s God in all this? Joseph would speak of this God giving him visions. Mother even attributed her fertility to God, believing God was on her side over Aunt Rachel. Father would go out and talk to God (or himself?) and come back with all sorts of ideas about where we should move next. But God never showed up to save me, or the Hivite babies. God let me be taken. God let my brothers run amok. So much evil repaying evil. The world is a dark place. Sometimes I wonder why God doesn’t destroy us all and start over.

(Begins to leave, then stops and reflects) One of the teachers says, “A society that makes certain members invisible is doomed to have moral dilemmas explode from the shadows and rain carnage upon every member of the tribe.”[7]

Maybe by talking to you, I’m not so invisible any more.

[1] Aschkenasy, 53.
[2] Ibid, 52.
[3] Ibid, 61.
[4] Nunnally-Cox, 22.
[5] Aschkenasy, 55.
[6] Ibid, 60.
[7] Visotzky, 203.


Aschkenasy, Nehama. Woman at the Window: Biblical Tales of Oppression and Escape (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1998), pp. 43-62.

Nunnally-Cox, Janice. Fore-Mothers (New York: Seabury Press, 1981), pp. 20-22.

Visotzky, Burton L. The Genesis of Ethics (New York: Three Rivers Press, 1996), pp. 193-203.

Prologue to the Midrash

“Gentlewomen, it’s clear that we’ve all been victims of this editorial process called life. We’ve been left out and written out, disappeared, died, and been overshadowed (and not by the Holy Spirit!). Only a few of our stories have been told, and even then only in part, and only from the point of view of the men to whom we related or the men to whom the story was relayed. The whole of the people of Israel, and I dare say the whole world, has suffered and suffers still from the permanent lack and loss of our distinctive voices. Something essential about the character of God and the image of God has been tragically lost. For our own sake and for the sake of humanity, no longer should we allow what men say about us to be the final word!”

- Leah, to her fellow foremothers
(Suzanne Shaw, “Letters to the Editor of Genesis”)

Thoughts on the Emergent Church

(excerpts from a report on Jim Wilson's book Future Church)

Wilson’s general statements are overall quite correct. He talks about the need to bring back the arts and provide room for God’s movement not only in services but in running a church. He says we must be unafraid to be blatant Jesus freaks while at the same time never faking our faith. He emphasizes that the Future Church will not be homogenous in age, race, or socio-economic status – and that means not just members, but leadership. He identifies the biggest need of people in our technological age: connection with others. The Church will only succeed if it makes relationships central to everything it does. This will affect the style of leadership (peer as opposed to hierarchical), preaching (narrative instead of expository or topical), fellowship (small groups instead of cavernous halls), and evangelism (inviting friends instead of sending flyers or knocking on doors). I agree with all of these notions and do believe that churches which implement them will succeed.

However, when Wilson gets deeper into some of these concepts or illustrates them using particular churches, I feel that his arguments do not hold sufficient weight. For instance, in the chapter entitled “Get Spiritual” he frequently uses the word “spiritual” to describe ambiance: darkness and candles and chairs in a circle. Last I knew, “spiritual” wasn’t something you could call into being by setting up your auditorium a certain way. Also, he talks a great game about being authentic and connecting with people for who they really are, but he still seems to define success by numbers and conversions – neither of which should really be the point. He talks about church’s mission statements, vision statements, charismatic pastors, PowerPoint, and praise bands as if these are somehow the key to finding real church.

What I think is happening is that Wilson cannot help but fall into the modernist trap of proposing “systems” for others to follow. His book has to propose something practical for other people to do, otherwise, why will they buy it? And so, despite his efforts in the conclusion to insist that there’s no formula to follow, throughout the book he is obviously praising certain methodologies which have worked for others. I fear that a modernist church would pick up this book and just start trying to implement what they find inside, without paying attention to their own church’s needs and gifts. He quotes Mark Driscoll (Mars Hill, Seattle) saying, “Our temptation is always to take an approach and turn that into a system, and I think that’s the death of what the Spirit of God is trying to do.” (p. 223) Let us hope that church leaders read that far into the book, and take that statement to heart.

There is one vital element to the success of the church in America, which has been a theme not only in this book but all the books I’ve read this summer, and was emphasized most strongly by Karen Ward (Church of the Apostles, Seattle) at the Brehm Conference. That element is churches relating to their local context. In the end, the key to our churches remaining relevant and important to our culture is their ability to minister to their local community. This means we don’t focus on writing books or curricula for a national audience; we don’t televise our services coast-to-coast; we don’t try to grow to the point where we’re sapping other parishes of members. There are enough Christians in America, and enough committed leaders (if the full seminaries are any indication), that everyone can do this and not leave anyone out. In his conclusion, Wilson tells a nice story about feeling his own call to the mission field, and his wife confirming the same. But when they asked God where he’d like to send them, God said, “Gee, I wish you’d be willing to be missionaries in your own town!” As Wilson puts it, “Ouch!” So what did he do? He began learning Spanish so he could preach and relate to the growing Hispanic community in his town.

That is the sort of missions work that Americans are called to in this age. A mission with an impact all the way down the street.

Wisdom in Conversation

Wherein representatives are summoned from the books of Wisdom to discuss the Meaning of Life.

¨ Job
¨ Friend (Job)
¨ Solomon (Proverbs)
¨ Qoheleth (Ecclesiastes)

Solomon: My child, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments; for length of days and years of life and abundant welfare they will give you.

Job (not buying it): Do not human beings have a hard service on earth, and are not their days like the days of a laborer?

Qoheleth: I, the Teacher, when king over Israel in Jerusalem, applied my mind to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven; it is an unhappy business that God has given to human beings to be busy with. I saw all the deeds that are done under the sun; and see, all is qahal and a chasing after wind. What do mortals get from all the toil and strain with which they toil under the sun? For all their days are full of pain, and their work is a vexation; even at night their minds do not rest. This also is qahal.

Job: For misery does not come from the earth, nor does trouble sprout from the ground; but human beings are born to trouble just as sparks fly upward.

Solomon: All our steps are ordered by Yahweh; how then can we understand our own ways?

Qoheleth (explaining): All things are wearisome; more than one can express; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, or the ear filled with hearing. What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun. All human toil is for the mouth, yet the appetite is not satisfied.

Solomon (in agreement): Sheol and Abaddon are never satisfied, and human eyes are never satisfied.

Qoheleth: I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had spent in doing it, and again, all was qahal and a chasing after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun. What gain have the workers from their toil? I know that there is nothing better for them than to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live; moreover, it is God's gift that all should eat and drink and take pleasure in all their toil.

Solomon (not sure about this): Do not be among winebibbers, or among gluttonous eaters of meat; for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and drowsiness will clothe them with rags.

Qoheleth (insisting): There is nothing better for mortals than to eat and drink, and find enjoyment in their toil.

Solomon: Whoever loves pleasure will suffer want; whoever loves wine and oil will not be rich.

Qoheleth (reflective): There is an evil that I have seen under the sun, and it lies heavy upon humankind: those to whom God gives wealth, possessions, and honor, so that they lack nothing of all that they desire, yet God does not enable them to enjoy these things, but a stranger enjoys them. Likewise all to whom God gives wealth and possessions and whom he enables to enjoy them, and to accept their lot and find enjoyment in their toil--this is the gift of God. For they will scarcely brood over the days of their lives, because God keeps them occupied with the joy of their hearts. This is what I have seen to be good: it is fitting to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of the life God gives us; for this is our lot.
(therefore…) I turned my mind to know and to search out and to seek wisdom and the sum of things, and to know that wickedness is folly and that foolishness is madness.

Job: Truly, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.

Solomon (agrees): The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Job (ruminating): Where shall wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding? Mortals do not know the way to it, and it is not found in the land of the living. The deep says, 'It is not in me,' and the sea says, 'It is not with me.' It cannot be gotten for gold, and silver cannot be weighed out as its price.

Solomon: Take my instruction instead of silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold; for wisdom is better than jewels, and all that you may desire cannot compare with her. There is gold, and abundance of costly stones; but the lips informed by knowledge are a precious jewel.

Job: Where then does wisdom come from? And where is the place of understanding? It is hidden from the eyes of all living, and concealed from the birds of the air. Abaddon and Death say, 'We have heard a rumor of it with our ears.' God understands the way to it, and he knows its place…he saw it and declared it; he established it, and searched it out. With God are wisdom and strength; he has counsel and understanding.

Qoheleth: Wisdom is better than might; yet the poor man's wisdom is despised, and his words are not heeded.

Friend: Should the wise answer with windy knowledge?

Qoheleth: Words spoken by the wise bring them favor, but the lips of fools consume them. The words of their mouths begin in foolishness, and their talk ends in wicked madness; yet fools talk on and on. No one knows what is to happen, and who can tell anyone what the future holds?

Solomon (aside): Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.

Qoheleth: I have acquired great wisdom, surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me; and my mind has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge. And I applied my mind to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is but a chasing after wind. For in much wisdom is much vexation, and those who increase knowledge increase sorrow.

Solomon (sarcastically, imitating Qoheleth): Waywardness kills the simple, and the complacency of fools destroys them; but those who listen to me will be secure and will live at ease, without dread of disaster.

Qoheleth (retorting): The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.

Job (mediating): Those who withhold kindness from a friend forsake the fear of the Almighty.

Qoheleth (easing; thinking aloud): All this I laid to heart, examining it all, how the righteous and the wise and their deeds are in the hand of God; whether it is love or hate one does not know. Everything that confronts them is qahal, since the same fate comes to all, to the righteous and the wicked, to the good and the evil, to the clean and the unclean, to those who sacrifice and those who do not sacrifice. As are the good, so are the sinners; those who swear are like those who shun an oath. This is an evil in all that happens under the sun, that the same fate comes to everyone. Moreover, the hearts of all are full of evil; madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead. Moreover, I saw under the sun that in the place of justice, wickedness was there, and in the place of righteousness, wickedness was there as well. I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked, for he has appointed a time for every matter, and for every work.

Solomon (picking up on this last thought): Whoever is steadfast in righteousness will live, but whoever pursues evil will die. Be assured, the wicked will not go unpunished, but those who are righteous will escape. One who walks in integrity will be safe, but whoever follows crooked ways will fall into the Pit.

Friend (adding): Surely the light of the wicked is put out, and the flame of their fire does not shine. Their strong steps are shortened, and their own schemes throw them down. For they are thrust into a net by their own feet, and they walk into a pitfall. A trap seizes them by the heel; a snare lays hold of them. Terrors frighten them on every side, and chase them at their heels. Their strength is consumed by hunger, and calamity is ready for their stumbling. By disease their skin is consumed, the firstborn of Death consumes their limbs. They are torn from the tent in which they trusted, and are brought to the king of terrors. They swallow down riches and vomit them up again; God casts them out of their bellies. The heavens will reveal their iniquity, and the earth will rise up against them. The possessions of their house will be carried away, dragged off in the day of God's wrath. This is the portion of the wicked from God, the heritage decreed for them by God.

Solomon (now on a roll): When the wicked are in authority, transgression increases, but the righteous will look upon their downfall.

Qoheleth (yes, but…): The wise have eyes in their head, but fools walk in darkness. Yet I perceived that the same fate befalls all of them.

Job (likes this): One dies in full prosperity, being wholly at ease and secure, his loins full of milk and the marrow of his bones moist. Another dies in bitterness of soul, never having tasted of good. They lie down alike in the dust, and the worms cover them. The womb forgets them; the worm finds them sweet; they are no longer remembered.

Friend: Think now, who that was innocent ever perished? Or where were the upright cut off? Surely God is mighty and does not despise any; he is mighty in strength of understanding. He does not keep the wicked alive, but gives the afflicted their right. He does not withdraw his eyes from the righteous.

Solomon: For Yahweh gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk blamelessly, guarding the paths of justice and preserving the way of his faithful ones. No one finds security by wickedness, but the root of the righteous will never be moved.

Qoheleth (thoughtfully): For to the one who pleases him God gives wisdom and knowledge and joy; but to the sinner he gives the work of gathering and heaping, only to give to one who pleases God.

Solomon: For the upright will abide in the land, and the innocent will remain in it; but the wicked will be cut off from the land, and the treacherous will be rooted out of it. The Righteous One observes the house of the wicked; he casts the wicked down to ruin. Whoever wanders from the way of understanding will rest in the assembly of the dead.

Friend (resigned): Can a mortal be of use to God? Can even the wisest be of service to him? Is it any pleasure to the Almighty if you are righteous, or is it gain to him if you make your ways blameless?

Qoheleth (in agreement): For who knows what is good for mortals while they live the few days of their vain life, which they pass like a shadow? For who can tell them what will be after them under the sun?

Solomon (reassuring all): Do not be afraid of sudden panic, or of the storm that strikes the wicked; for Yahweh will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught.

Qoheleth: I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to the skillful; but time and chance happen to them all. For no one can anticipate the time of disaster. Like fish taken in a cruel net, and like birds caught in a snare, so mortals are snared at a time of calamity, when it suddenly falls upon them.

Job (bursting out): Know then that God has put me in the wrong, and closed his net around me. Even when I cry out, 'Violence!' I am not answered; I call aloud, but there is no justice. He has kindled his wrath against me, and counts me as his adversary. For the arrows of the Almighty are in me; my spirit drinks their poison; the terrors of God are arrayed against me. I was at ease, and he broke me in two; he seized me by the neck and dashed me to pieces; he set me up as his target; his archers surround me. He slashes open my kidneys, and shows no mercy; he pours out my gall on the ground.

Solomon (taken aback, seeking a reason for this): The righteousness of the blameless keeps their ways straight, but the wicked fall by their own wickedness. The righteousness of the upright saves them, but the treacherous are taken captive by their schemes.

Job: If I have walked with falsehood, and my foot has hurried to deceit--let me be weighed in a just balance, and let God know my integrity!

Friend: Can mortals be righteous before God? Can human beings be pure before their Maker?

Qoheleth (kindly): Surely there is no one on earth so righteous as to do good without ever sinning.

Job (relaxing a little, more sad than angry): Indeed I know that this is so; but how can a mortal be just before God? If one wished to contend with him, one could not answer him once in a thousand. Therefore I will not restrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.
(to God) I cry to you and you do not answer me; I stand, and you merely look at me. You have turned cruel to me; with the might of your hand you persecute me. You lift me up on the wind, you make me ride on it, and you toss me about in the roar of the storm. But when I looked for good, evil came; and when I waited for light, darkness came.

Qoheleth: Do not say, "Why were the former days better than these?" For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.

Job (persistent): Why is light given to one in misery, and life to the bitter in soul, who long for death, but it does not come, and dig for it more than for hidden treasures; who rejoice exceedingly, and are glad when they find the grave? Why is light given to one who cannot see the way, whom God has fenced in?

Solomon: My child, do not despise Yahweh’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for Yahweh reproves the one he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.

Friend: How happy is the one whom God reproves; therefore do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. For he wounds, but he binds up; he strikes, but his hands heal.

Job (exasperated): Have pity on me, have pity on me, O you my friends, for the hand of God has touched me! Like a slave who longs for the shadow, and like laborers who look for their wages, so I am allotted months of emptiness, and nights of misery are apportioned to me. When I lie down I say, 'When shall I rise?' But the night is long, and I am full of tossing until dawn. My flesh is clothed with worms and dirt; my skin hardens, then breaks out again. My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle, and come to their end without hope. Remember that my life is a breath; I loathe my life; I would not live forever. (defeated) Let me alone, for my days are a breath.

Qoheleth (commiserating): I thought the dead, who have already died, more fortunate than the living, who are still alive; but better than both is the one who has not yet been, and has not seen the evil deeds that are done under the sun.

Job: Why did I not die at birth, come forth from the womb and expire? Why were there knees to receive me, or breasts for me to suck? Now I would be lying down and quiet; I would be asleep; then I would be at rest. Or why was I not buried like a stillborn child, like an infant that never sees the light? There the wicked cease from troubling, and there the weary are at rest. As the cloud fades and vanishes, so those who go down to Sheol do not come up; they return no more to their houses, nor do their places know them any more.

Solomon (in wonder): Sheol and Abaddon lie open before Yahweh, how much more human hearts!

Friend: For his eyes are upon the ways of mortals, and he sees all their steps. There is no gloom or deep darkness where evildoers may hide themselves.

Solomon (trying to comfort): For human ways are under the eyes of Yahweh, and he examines all their paths.

Job (not comforted, cries out to God): What are human beings, that you make so much of them, that you set your mind on them, visit them every morning, test them every moment? Will you not look away from me for a while, let me alone until I swallow my spittle? If I sin, what do I do to you, you watcher of humanity? Why have you made me your target? Why have I become a burden to you? Your hands fashioned and made me; and now you turn and destroy me. Remember that you fashioned me like clay; and will you turn me to dust again? Did you not pour me out like milk and curdle me like cheese? You clothed me with skin and flesh, and knit me together with bones and sinews. You have granted me life and steadfast love, and your care has preserved my spirit. (calm now, speaks to the others) I know that my Redeemer lives, and that at the last he will stand upon the earth; and after my skin has been thus destroyed, then in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see on my side, and my eyes shall behold, and not another.

Friend (suggestive): If you will seek God and make supplication to the Almighty, if you are pure and upright, surely then he will rouse himself for you and restore to you your rightful place. Though your beginning was small, your latter days will be very great.

Job: If I summoned him and he answered me, I do not believe that he would listen to my voice. If it is a contest of strength, he is the strong one! If it is a matter of justice, who can summon him?

Friend: If you direct your heart rightly, you will stretch out your hands toward him. If iniquity is in your hand, put it far away, and do not let wickedness reside in your tents. Surely then you will lift up your face without blemish; you will be secure, and will not fear. You will forget your misery; you will remember it as waters that have passed away. And your life will be brighter than the noonday.

Solomon: Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.

Friend: Agree with God, and be at peace; in this way good will come to you. Receive instruction from his mouth, and lay up his words in your heart. If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored.

Solomon: Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. The blessing of Yahweh makes rich, and he adds no sorrow with it.

Job: (not convinced) But ask the animals, and they will teach you; the birds of the air, and they will tell you; ask the plants of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of Yahweh has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of every human being. If it is not so, who will prove me a liar, and show that there is nothing in what I say?

Qoheleth: Though sinners do evil a hundred times and prolong their lives, yet I know that it will be well with those who fear God, because they stand in fear before him, but it will not be well with the wicked, neither will they prolong their days like a shadow, because they do not stand in fear before God.

Solomon: In the path of righteousness there is life, in walking its path there is no death.

Job (still fighting, but letting go): He destroys both the blameless and the wicked. When disaster brings sudden death, he mocks at the calamity of the innocent. If it is not he, who then is it?

Solomon: No harm happens to the righteous, but the wicked are filled with trouble. Yahweh’s curse is on the house of the wicked, but he blesses the abode of the righteous. The wise will inherit honor, but stubborn fools, disgrace.

Qoheleth (seeking middle ground): There is a qahal that takes place on earth, that there are righteous people who are treated according to the conduct of the wicked, and there are wicked people who are treated according to the conduct of the righteous. I said that this also is qahal. What happens to the fool will happen to me also; why then have I been so very wise?

Job (relenting): God prolongs the life of the mighty by his power; they rise up when they despair of life. He gives them security, and they are supported; his eyes are upon their ways. They are exalted a little while, and then are gone.

Qoheleth: In my vain life I have seen everything; there are righteous people who perish in their righteousness, and there are wicked people who prolong their life in their evil-doing.

Job (accepting; philosophical): Shall we receive the good at the hand of God, and not receive the bad?
(to God) See, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth. I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.

Qoheleth (satisfied): So – I commend enjoyment, for there is nothing better for people under the sun than to eat, and drink, and enjoy themselves, for this will go with them in their toil through the days of life that God gives them under the sun. Just as you do not know how the breath comes to the bones in the mother's womb, so you do not know the work of God, who makes everything. I know that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it; God has done this, so that all should stand in awe before him.

Solomon (wryly): It is the glory of God to conceal things.

Qoheleth: God will bring every deed into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.

Solomon: All those who are arrogant are an abomination to Yahweh; be assured, they will not go unpunished. Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always continue in the fear of Yahweh.

Qoheleth: The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God, and keep his commandments; for that is the whole duty of everyone.