August 16, 2010
one a little bit less gorgeous than the one put out by the Lutherans, but worth it for:
August 5, 2010
Augsburg Fortress is releasing a new Bible Study plan, and they’re accompanied by videos like this one:
I found it surprisingly beautiful
and for more interesting than what I’m used to seeing in Sunday School curricula. Way to go, Lutherans.
July 13, 2009
Musician and author Ana Hernandez discusses Psalm 89 and the difficulty of praying from places of sadness and anger. This episode also features her song, “Kosi R’vaya” from her album, Inside Chants, written by Shefa Gold and sung with Ruth Cunningham.
If you’re podcast savvy, the XML feed is here: http://www.isaaceverett.com/audio/emergentpsalterpodcast/podcast.xml
If you want to to listen to it on
iTunes: click here: http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=322056809
If you’d rather just download it, the link is here: http://www.isaaceverett.com/audio/epp089.mp3
If you want to stream it from the site, click the big gray button below.
October 22, 2007
THE FUTURE IS CERTAIN – IT’S THE PAST THAT’S ALWAYS CHANGING
Another view of Creation in Proverbs 8:22-36
- Gather for dinner & social time 7pm @ Floridita’s, 3219 Broadway (1 train to 125th, cross 125th St, Floridita’s is at end of block)
- Due to Mr. Snodgrass’s academic schedule, the Bible-study will begin at 8:15
Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past. – George Orwell.
Scholarly studies have demonstrated that Genesis 1 is not the oldest creation narrative in the Bible. At least half a century before the Torah took its final shape, the book of Proverbs showed our familiar patriarch assembling the Earth – with the help of a feminine partner. This Thursday’s Bible Study will focus on the Bible’s first creation story (Proverbs 8:22-36), with an eye toward how it shaped the Genesis creation, the creation in John 1, and our understandings of the patriarchal “way of the world.”
TRICK OR TREAT – TWO CHANCES to participate in EXORCISMS & INVOCATIONS ritual
- Bowie is working on a Halloween Ritual for Wed October 31st exploring the power of language to impact reality! More info to follow.
- SATURDAY, Oct 27th from 11am-1pm, she’ll be doing this ritual with City Lights, another emerging church community in NYC, and would LOVE to have a couple other Transmissioners come along! If you’re available on Saturday and would like to help out with the planning for our Halloween ritual, please email email@example.com. Thanks!
An invitation from the Congregation of St. Saviour at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine. Lead by the Reverend Victoria Sirota, Canon Pastor and Vicar.
Saturday, November 3rd
9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m
Cathedral House, 1047 Amsterdam Ave
9:30-10:00 Registration and Breakfast
10:00-10:15 Opening by Reverend Sirota
10:15-11:45 Isabelle Silverman, Environmental Defense: “The Science of Global Warming”
12:45-1:00 Spiritual Meditation with Reverend Sirota
1:00-1:45 Elena Lomicky, Green Living Consultant: “Things We Can Do at Home to Reduce Our Carbon Footprint”
2:00-2:45 Bob Muldoon, Sierra Club: “Environmental Advocacy at the Community and National Level”
3:00-3:45 Frank Morris, Ecological Advisors: “The Spiritual and Economic Case for Environmental Investing”
4:00-4:30 Closing Service
People of all faiths are warmly welcomed to attend. We request a $12 donation.¬† Serving wonderful organic, vegetarian fare. RSVP required. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
June 28, 2007
by Bowie Snodgrass
Featuring Genesis 2:24 and 3:24, JPS trans
the fine art
let it be so bountiful!
into dry dust, breathe breath
god made the food garden
a river with four branches
and declared that from
hence, a man leaves his father
and mother and clings to his wife
so that they become one flesh
the mother of all the living
listened for good and evil
ate apple after serpent
and caused the couple
to be expelled outside Eden where
the cherubim and the fiery ever-turning
sword wait to guard the way to the tree of life
June 19, 2007
Hey, Transmissioners! To celebrate the summer solstice, we’ll be having a picnic ritual in Sheep Meadow in Central Park. It’s on the west side – the best place to enter is around 66th St. The ritual will be focusing on the creation account in Genesis and will be led by our resident dancer/choreographer, Sarah Godbehere, and me. The ritual will be open-ended, allowing for many different levers of participation, and will include elements of contact improv, pilates, meditation, and improv theater. Please wear comfortable clothes. =)
Since the park is pretty far away from a kitchen, feel free to bring food to contribute to the picnic. Also, if you like, please bring a prop to play with (umbrellas are encouraged).
See you then!
June 19, 2007
“then God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.”
Many of you probably know this already, but the Hebrew word which is usually translated as “soul”, i.e. nephesh, doesn’t really mean that at all. Biblical Hebrew, in fact, doesn’t even have a word for “soul.” Yep, you heard me right – all of those beloved passages like “Bless the Lord, oh my soul,” and “You shall love the Lord with all your strength, all your mind, and all your soul” don’t actually mean what you thought they mean.
Take this passage from Genesis, for example. When God breathes the breath of life into Adam, he becomes a “living being,” a nephesh chayah. Some people would interpret this to mean that God put a soul into the clay, but that word is also used for all the animals in creation, as in Genesis 1:24, “Let the earth bring forth every kind of living nephesh: cattle, creeping things, and wild beasts of every kind.” So either we make like the Hindus and believe that every dog, cat, and tapeworm has a soul or we are forced to call into question the central basic soul/body dichotomy which is so prevalent in our culture.
Genesis 2 gets it right; we are earthly creatures, physical creatures, and I mean “creature” in the literal sense of “that which has been created.” As I mentioned earlier, the word used for humanity in this passage, adam, is a variation on the word for soil, adamah. This word used to be translated as “man” or “mankind” and was later translated as “humanity,” but the most literal translation would be something more like “earth creatures.” As much as I love Origen, there’s no evidence here for the preexistence of souls.
Why does this matter? Ever since Descartes (or some might say, Aristotle), we’ve been taught to view pursuits of the mind and of the soul as higher than pursuits of the body. We’re taught that it’s what’s on the inside that counts, that sexuality is purely procreative and not spiritual, that only shallow people care about their appearances, and that people who work with their bodies should earn less than those who work with their minds.
And yet Genesis seems to tell us that we are our bodies. Suddenly the fact the average American spends 90% of his or her time indoors seems not only unnatural, but sinful. Suddenly obesity, alcoholism, and violence are not only physical problems, they are spiritual problems. Suddenly, taking care of our sisters and brothers with physical disabilities is a spiritual ministry.
Ultimately, it’s important to realize that divisions like “mind, body, and spirit” are completely artificial. All of those things make up who we are: our nephesh.
So at tomorrow’s Transmission, we’ll be celebrating creation and exegeting Genesis through movement, blessing the Lord with our entire integrated beings. Come join us in Sheep Meadow, 7pm.
June 15, 2007
I recently came into possession of an advance copy of The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible. It’s by A.J. Jacobs, a secular Jew, who spends an entire year trying to obey every commandment in the Bible. It’s startlingly entertaining and thought-provoking; Jacobs doesn’t set out to trash religion and, although he remains an agnostic at the end, he ends up being quite changed by the experience. It’s a worthwhile read.
At one point in his travels, he visited the newly opened Creation Museum. I’m including his reflections:
I told my friend Ivan – a good Catholic – that I was considering visiting a creationist museum and he let out a loud groan. “Those people give Christianity a bad name.”
I understand what he’s saying. It’s the way many Jews feel when we see a billboard announcing Rabbi Menachem Schneerson as the Messiah. Or the way many gay men feel when they see a Rip Taylor tossing a handful of confetti. It’s kind of embarrassing. Like Ivan, I’ve always taken evolution to be a cold, hard truth. As indisputable as the fact that the sun is hot or that Charles Darwin married his first cousin (the latter of which I learned in the encyclopedia and can’t get out of my head).
But creationism is Biblical literalism at its purist, so I need to check it out. I researched various creationist hotspots – both Jewish and Christian – and found a handful of possibilities. But nothing came close to Answers in Genesis. This is the $25 million, soon-to-open Kentucky-based museum – the Louvre for those who believe God made Adam less than 6000 years go from dust – started by an Australian evangelical named Ken Ham.
AiG is still under contstruction, which is fine by me. There’s something appropriate about seeing the creation of a creationist museum. So I flew down to Cincinnati, a few miles from the site.
A half hour later, I pull up to the museum – a low building with thick yellow columns perched on a gentle Kentucky hill. In the parking lot, I spot a bumper sticker of a Jesus fish gobbling up a Darwin fish.
I’m greeted by the publicist Mark Looy, a gray-haired man with a gentle, schoolteacher voice who guides me to a door that lets us into the lobby. It is, in a word, awesome.
The place is still deep in construction. Hard hats everywhere, the smell of sawdust, the whine of drills. But even in its unfished state, you can tell this is going to send the media into a Michael-Jackson-rial-like frenzy.
The first thing I see is a life-sized diorama of an Edenic scene. There’s a waterfall, a stream, and weeping-willow trees. An animatronic caramel-skinned cavegirl giggles and cocks her head to look straight at me, which is odd and impressive and disturbing all at once. She’s playing awfully close to a fierce-looking, razor-toothed dinosaur. Don’t worry, Mark tells me. In the beginning, humans and dinosaurs lived together in harmony. The scary incisors are for coconuts and fruit, just like pandas’ teeth.
When AiG opens, they expect thousands of visitors. And they’ll probably get them – polls say that as many as 50% of Americans believe in creationism. Not intelligent design. We’re talking strict, the-earth-is-less-than 10,000 years old creationism. (The creationists I met scoffed at Intelligent Design, which says the world was designed by a superior being, but not necessarily in seven literal days. The creationists think of it as some sort of nebulous theological mumbo jumbo).
Mark introduces me to Ken, the founder of AiG. Ken is wiry and energetic 56-year-old with a red Van Dykish beard. He quizzes me about my last book, the one about reading the encyclopedia, and I end up telling him about my ill-fated appearance on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. I was stumped by the question “What is an erythrocyte?”
“It’s a red blood cell,” says Ken.
He’s right. I’m thrown off-guard. A creationist who trumps me in science knowledge – that’s unexpected and unsettling.
June 12, 2007
Turning to the first chapter of Genesis, we find a very different portrayal of creation and, correspondingly, a very different portrait of God. Instead of a craftsman God, shaping clay like a potter, we have a royal God, summoning the world into existence by divine decree. Instead of playful, creative improvisation we are given a majestic sense of divine order.
Everything about this passage speaks of order. The passage is very stylized with regular repetitions – “God said… let there be… and it was so… and God made… and God saw that it was good… and it was evening and morning.” Furthermore, nothing is created at random; the world is created according to a repetitive scheme of sky, sea, land:
1) light (sky)
2) seperation of waters (sea)
3) dry land and vegetation (land)
4) stars, sun, and moon (sky)
5) fish and birds (sea)
6) animals and humanity (land)
It’s very interesting that this story doesn’t suggest that the world was created out of nothing, rather we are giving a glimpse of God drawing the world out of primoridal chaos. Before there is light, before God utters a single proclamation, the earth is formless and darkness covers the face of the deep. Rabbinic midrash makes a point of the fact that Genesis starts with the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet, not the first, suggesting that we are not entering the story at the very beginning. We just don’t know what happened before God created light and, perhaps, it isn’t very important to know. What is important, however, is that this present reality is not a random occurance.
It’s important to pay attention to the geography of these stories. Genesis 2 leaves no doubt as to the location of this narrative; Eden’s location is tied into the Tigris, the Euphrates, Assyria, and several other locations. The majority of the action takes place in a garden, and God condescends to talk to Adam about individual trees.
Genesis 1, however, is much more cosmic in scale. Scholars believe that this story was written several hundred years after Genesis 2, when the Israelites were living in forced exile in Babylon. While the early Israelites viewed God as a local, tribal diety who was to be worshiped in the temple of Jerusalem, the later exiled Israelites had no temple and no land of their own, and so they envisioned God on a grander scale. They needed God to be bigger than their Babylonian oppressors. While Genesis 2 says “God made everything around us and placed us here within it,” Genesis 1 says “God is God no matter where you go or who rules over you.” Very different emphases.
So what does a modern person of faith do with the various contradictions between these creation accounts? I claim that such a reconciliation is not necessary. These two stories were written in different contexts and they have different theological agendas. If these stories are read literally, then the mutual contradictions demand explanation. If, however, they are read theologically, these same contradictions create greater depth of meaning. Together, they show us a God who is both majestic and playful, both cosmic and personal, both immanent and transcendant.