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Showing posts from July, 2008

Peter on Reading Genesis (part V)

Part I: A freaky little book
Part II: A Convergent Conversation / Small Gods
Part III: The Human Face of God / And the LORD saw what He had made…
Part IV: A few things missing
Part V: An Evolving Covenant / The Initiatory Challenge
Postscript: The Expulsion from Eden
Afterward: Why does it matter?

This will be the last in the series of posts about Genesis, and I'm a slow enough reader that you shouldn't expect my posts on Exodus until Christmas at the earliest. Reading the Bible with this level of detail is going to wind up being a five or six year project. Worth it...but slow.
The Evolving Covenant
The last big surprise for me in Genesis is that the "covenant” between YHWH and his chosen people is established at least four separate times, and each time it’s a little different, with more conditions added.

The first time God approaches Abram, he's almost like Doctor Who picking up a new companion. He just sidles up to him and says, Hey, come along with me, I’ll show …

Peter on Reading Genesis (part IV)

Part I: A freaky little book
Part II: A Convergent Conversation / Small Gods
Part III: The Human Face of God / And the LORD saw what He had made…
Part IV: A few things missing
Part V: An Evolving Covenant / The Initiatory Challenge
Postscript: The Expulsion from Eden
Afterward: Why does it matter?


Here are a few things that are flatly missing from Genesis: There is no definition of marriage as between one man and one woman. Most of the patriarchs either had two wives or a wife and a concubine, and YHWH clearly had no problem with this. There is no individual salvation. When YHWH tells Abraham that he’s passed all the tests and won the big payoff, what he promises is “I will therefore bestow my blessing upon you and make your offspring as numerous as the stars in heaven and the sands on the seashore; and your descendants shall take over the gates of their enemies. All the nations of the earth shall bless themselves by your descendants—all because you obeyed my command.” (Gen. xxii…

Peter on Reading Genesis (part III)

Part I: A freaky little book
Part II: A Convergent Conversation / Small Gods
Part III: The Human Face of God / And the LORD saw what He had made…
Part IV: A few things missing
Part V: An Evolving Covenant / The Initiatory Challenge
Postscript: The Expulsion from Eden
Afterward: Why does it matter?

This series of posts began as entries in my journal, and I had some concerns that publishing them could seriously offend people. I’m glad to see that the comments so far have been positive. More than that—I’m glad to see that I’m not being taken as just sarcastic and cynical. The Human Face of God People talk about the God of the Old Testament being grand and majestic and cosmic, in contrast to the New Testament where Jesus takes on human form so that we can relate to him. And, yeah, the chapters prior to the Flood have God doing things like creating Heaven and Earth and establishing day and night. But those creation stories really seem like an afterthought. Gods seem to pick up creation …

Peter on Reading Genesis (part II)

Part I: A freaky little book
Part II: A Convergent Conversation / Small Gods
Part III: The Human Face of God / And the LORD saw what He had made…
Part IV: A few things missing
Part V: An Evolving Covenant / The Initiatory Challenge
Postscript: The Expulsion from Eden
Afterward: Why does it matter?

Fair warning: I am a starry-eyed neophyte in the area of Old Testament theology. I’m reading the Hebrew Scriptures for the first time, and while I’m gobbling down several commentaries along with it, my observations here are anything but scholarly. Fair warning #2: I'm going to be a bit irreverent at times. So many of the stories and anecdotes in Genesis are as familiar to me as Cinderella or Little Red Riding Hood, and when they’re told out of context, they have that same kind of storybook quality as the Grimm’s Fairy Tales, but when the stories are read within the whole book of Genesis, but without all of the pious Christian preconceptions that I grew up with, there are some profo…

Peter on Reading Genesis (part I)

Part I: A freaky little book
Part II: A Convergent Conversation / Small Gods
Part III: The Human Face of God / And the LORD saw what He had made…
Part IV: A few things missing
Part V: An Evolving Covenant / The Initiatory Challenge
Postscript: The Expulsion from Eden
Afterward: Why does it matter?


I have begun a serious re-reading of the Bible. It’s been a while. I stopped being Christian rather precipitously about 25 years ago, and even back then, I was focused almost entirely on the Gospels. This time around I’m starting with Genesis. Cat favors the King James translation. She’s an English teacher, so the archaisms of the language don’t bother her and she likes the way the KJV can really make the poetry sing. Back when I was Christian, I read Good News For Modern Man in high school and then took a liking to the Jerusalem Bible when I was in college, and eventually took a year of ancient Greek, hoping to read the Gospels in the original. I don’t remember more than half a doz…

Cat's Spiritual Journey, Part XII: This Forgiveness Stuff

All posts in this series:
Part I: Getting (and Losing) That Old Time Religion
Part II: Coming Home
Part III: The Fool's Journey
Part IV: The Underworld
Part V: Seven of Cups
Part VI: A Letter and a Kiss
Part VII: Morticia Loves Gomez
Part VIII: Nora
Part IX: Felicia Hardy and the Tower of Babel
Part X: When Babel Fell
Part XI: Community 2.0
Part XII: This Forgiveness Stuff

In some ways, what I have written on how my community, my family and I reacted to the divisions in our household seems grandiose to me. In truth, I'm a really lucky woman. In a world where domestic violence, child abuse, warfare and the violence that pits neighbor against neighbor are all commonplace, what, really have I got to forgive? What do I know of betrayal or suffering on any large scale?

Not much, honestly.

I know that my insights on hurt and forgiveness are small ones compared with the insights of a Nelson Mandela, a Gandhi, or many of the survivors of abuse and violence I've known over the years. But it…

Cat's Spiritual Journey, Part XI: Community, 2.0 OR: How Do You Mend a Broken Heart?

All posts in this series:
Part I: Getting (and Losing) That Old Time Religion
Part II: Coming Home
Part III: The Fool's Journey
Part IV: The Underworld
Part V: Seven of Cups
Part VI: A Letter and a Kiss
Part VII: Morticia Loves Gomez
Part VIII: Nora
Part IX: Felicia Hardy and the Tower of Babel
Part X: When Babel Fell
Part XI: Community 2.0
Part XII: This Forgiveness Stuff

This past weekend, Peter and I visited our old friends, Kirk and Amy, at Laurelin Farm, host to so many meetings of the Church of the Sacred Earth. Though my experiences with Felicia Hardy alienated me from that community for a long while, the story does not end there. Walking the land at Laurelin this weekend gave me some reminders about what Pagans (or any people, really) are capable of when we are gathered together in love.

As I said, I felt disillusioned by our community over how it responded to the schism within our coven and our house.

My coven was, at that time, a member of the Church of the Sacred Earth, a group of …

A Huge Sigh of Relief

I am so massively relieved to have finally put up Part X of the Spiritual Journey series, I actually feel a bit dizzy.

I've honestly been working on that sucker since October--October!--and I've lost track of how many drafts I've thrown out over the months. It's been hanging over my head like an unkept promise the whole time. And to think I started this project last summer because I thought it would make an easy series of writing prompts! Just a little light writing project to get me over the quiet dog days of summer.

Oh, man...

I'm sure I'll find things to rewrite in this one. And I can only hope I struck the right balance between fairness and detail--what to leave in, and what to leave out. Even after all these years, it's still really hard to write this particular story.

But at last, at long last, I'm done writing it! And I never have to write it for the first time again. Woo hoo!

Cat's Spiritual Journey, Part X: When Babel Fell

All posts in this series:
Part I: Getting (and Losing) That Old Time Religion
Part II: Coming Home
Part III: The Fool's Journey
Part IV: The Underworld
Part V: Seven of Cups
Part VI: A Letter and a Kiss
Part VII: Morticia Loves Gomez
Part VIII: Nora
Part IX: Felicia Hardy and the Tower of Babel
Part X: When Babel Fell
Part XI: Community 2.0
Part XII: This Forgiveness Stuff
Now the whole world had one language and a common speech...

But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building. The LORD said, "If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other."

So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city.

(Genesis 11: 1--8, New International Version.) This is a painful post to write. The fact that the story is as old as human communities doesn't ma…