My most recent pastor loves to commend believing in the Bible even when you don’t understand it. (Most recently, this was communicated in response to Old Testament saints’ polygamy.)
My father wants to write a book about the value of dreaming–not during sleep, but the kind of dreaming where you let your mind just freely choose a desirable future, no matter how likely, and then enjoy the accompanying sensation for as long as you can–even if it that future never comes true.
My wife is woefully unaware of Western Civilization’s most recent two and a half millennia of history, and simultaneously is one of the most happy and hopeful people I know.
My best friend, who is the most principled, and therefore inspiring, person I know, wonders if the coronavirus coverage and government and extra-government response is actually a strategic, coordinated, and intentional effort by those who oppose President Trump to prevent him from winning reelection.
Put another way, I think it’s time to escape for a bit. Will you join me?
I like to escape by focusing as hard as I can on something, anything that catches my attention. No more keyboard. No more blog. No more computer. No more news. No more family. No more house. No more job. No more planet. No more universe. Just me and the idea.
Today’s idea is making a vow.
The vehicle which delivered this idea to me is the passage in Judges where one Judge, Jephthah, vows to the LORD to sacrifice as a burnt offering that which comes out of his home upon his victorious arrival–if only the LORD will grant him certain victory. If you’re unfamiliar, his only daughter is “that which” comes out and he sacrifices her, with her encouragement.
I can imagine that some people would point to this story as reason to question scripture’s status as “worthy of study”. To them I would offer this reminder, “Jesus saved my soul. Jesus commended scripture. I’m sticking with Jesus.”
I can imagine that others would draw some ridiculous and irrelevant points about “vowing” and different “covenants” or more simply, “That was then, this is now–there is no need to dwell.”
Then, I can remember that at the end of a recent translation of Homer’s Iliad, or some other ancient classic, the critic commends it for containing characters who behave so inexplicably and unpredictably. In other words, the critic lauded the story for its messiness. The critic, I think, loved the story because it made the reader think, “Hmm. What would I do?” or “Hmm. Would I do the same thing? Have I done the same thing?”
Vowing is an interesting enterprise as it essentially brings into focus our integrity as individuals. Within “vowing” the group, the community, disappears.
In the account recorded in Judges, the situation’s tragedy is compounded by the daughter’s urging her father to keep his vow, his integrity–even though it would mean that she dies because of it.
Keep in mind that these people don’t know Jesus. There is no “personal relationship”. It’s back in ancient history and it’s over in a part of the world when what we call “theocracies” were at least normal, if not the norm. Also, keep in mind literacy rates in bible times and the chance that the daughter knew anything about Yahweh, other than he was her father’s god and some rote memorization of the most memorable laws, would be very difficult to defend. In other words, I think we could insert any other deity’s name and the story would present the same.
Despite all these words, I can’t untangle myself from the two questions, “Why make the vow?” and “Why fulfill the vow?”
Integrity. That’s why.
Okay. Escape over.
It was okay. But I got an email from H-‘s school district about COVID-19 during the attempt. Remind me to close that tab next escape-attempt.
The email contains a link to a “comic” on NPR’s website to use to help kids stay stress free. Pictographs? Really? We’re going to survive the pandemic because someone drew pictures?
What should schools do right now? The same thing they should always do, the same thing which they never do. Pack any children you can see into buildings and teach the kids how to read words. Make it clear that we expect everyone of any age to always fight through any sickness. Keep the posture that because of literacy, if you get sick in America, you don’t die. But most importantly, teach the kids how to read words. Teach the kids how to read words. Teach the kids how to read words.
We don’t need stress-free kids. We need literate adults.
And I just received another email.
I’m over it.
Two emails in less than one hour and four minutes counts as hysteria. This is embarrassing. Every single teacher and administrator involved in public schools should be embarrassed and ashamed for furthering this hysteria.