Friday, February 28, 2014

Sarah, Plain and Tall

Sarah, Plain and Tall on amazon.

Sarah, Plain and Tall coverPatricia MacLachlan brings us this month-long view into the lives of Jacob (the family's father), Sarah (his future wife), Anna (Jacob's firstborn), and Caleb (her younger brother). She writes about some of their animals and a few of their neighbors in the prairie heartland of the USA. The prose in this short chapter-book is plain and simple, yet it feels like poetry. If you don't already know the biblical narratives about Sarah, Caleb, Anna, and Jacob, consider checking them out in an internet search or an actual printed copy of the bible. I'm not claiming anything resembling exact parallels with the same-named people in this book, yet teasing out similarities is no stretch, either.

With a quick search I could not determine the exact year or decade for Sarah Plain and Tall, but I'd guess the end of the nineteenth century, possibly the start of the twentieth, so in terms of the year 2014, it was not within any of our memories. In many ways they truly were simpler times, simpler lives, yet we all need to remember, "There are always things to miss ... no matter where you are," and "You must have a garden, wherever you are." I'm very much looking forward to enjoying the rest of the series!

my amazon review: love this first book in the series!

a little random friday 5

Today Deb hosts a little bit random Friday 5.

1. A color that you enjoy (and where you find it).

life stuff buttonYellow! But not just any yellow. Whether pale, medium, or intense, it needs to be slightly golden, and also can be a single sweep of yellow, or part of a pattern or photograph. You can find it all over almost everything I wear, in my bedding, home furnishings and decorations, my art, my photography.... everywhere! Thanks for asking!

2. A food or drink you have discovered recently that is just da bomb!

Rather than being a recent discovery, when I returned to the east coast for a while toward the end of the last century I re-discovered Kellogg's Special K (only the original kind qualifies as da bomb) in a $1-a-bag selection from the food pantry, and have had to have it on hand ever since. It's one of my most fave breakfast treats, always topped with brown sugar, the milk is preferably half-and-half, but whole milk will do. Other than Original Special K, I'm take it or leave it regarding cereal.

3. A simile for tiredness

still hopeful in spite of

4. A random picture from your phone, camera or computer

hwy 8This one's from a series of pictures from my camera I took along I-8 and posted as a group of twelve on my Facebook design page last May. It seems so right today, now that we're finally getting rain to help our near-historically low water supply—in the form of a "once in every 5 – or maybe 10 – years storm" form. As my caption reads, "I love this sunstruck, parched, verdant, hope-filled place!"

5. Your least favorite bill: car mechanic, dentist or plumber?

Crazy as it may sound, I'd love to have the $$$ wherewithal to go to Tijuana and acquire a few dentist bills right now, so I'll choose the too many plumbing bills I had next to the last place I lived, though I'll admit the plumber was quite reasonable, and also friendly.

BONUS: If you are going to have a Lenten practice or discipline, what is it? If you have a book or on-line resource, be sure to share it!

Once again this year, I'm joining in with Facebook friend Stacey and the church she serves and their Lenten practice. The past two years we had a Facebook group; this year we'll be participating in Jan Richardson's virtual retreat, and also post some on our own in the existing group.

transfiguration 2014

Transfiguration 2014

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Land: Brueggemann

Because I read this edition from 1977, my blog may not completely apply to this 2002 revision: The Land:Place as Gift, Promise, and Challenge in Biblical Faith – Overtures to Biblical Theology

the land cover Wherever you are on this planet, actual earthly turf lies under your feet, forms the foundation of your house, your workplace, of everywhere you venture. For every one of us, "land" carries heavy literal and symbolic connotations that include dirt, soil, ground, territory, settled, belonging, rooted, secure. In this second decade of the twenty-first century we've recently experienced a major economic crash followed by far lower reevaluation of residential – and other – real estate, precipitated by people who imagined inalienable land could be "owned" as property and turn big profits. Families still get relocated by governmental and other entities from storied places into historyless spaces. We've been agonizing over seemingly endless, unstoppable atrocities against the land committed by Monsanto as well as by other huge agribusiness and manufacturing conglomerates. Especially considering those events, you need to read and take to heart this book by Hebrew Bible scholar Walter Brueggemann as he helps clarify and untangle law, gospel, history and hope!

If you've studied scripture even minimally, you know Egypt "...is not the place!" The Exodus wilderness on the way to the land of promise was not "the place," either. Unlike with those managed, controlled, counted bricks and bread under Pharaoh, in the wasteland of Israel's Sinai wanderings, human administration and management of anything (let alone land and its harvests) was impossible, so with manna and quail from the sky, with water from the rock, Moses' people experienced wildness as a life-giving, life-sustaining gift from Yahweh. For Israel, land would remain gift if they would continue trustfully obeying. Likewise for us, land will become gift if we will obey and trust.

In the Hebrew Bible there is no timeless space and no spaceless time; it all is "storied place." Brueggemann reminds us as "fructifier of the land" Yahweh is a fertility god who fully participates in the agricultural cycles with earth, farmers, vintners, and crops that typically we experience as the [almost] endless recycling of the same events. Yahweh also is Lord of history―not one who protects and assures continuities in our lives, but instead works the brand-newness of political, historical, social, and individual resurrection out of sometimes unimaginably radical discontinuities. Yahweh is Lord of the Lands and Lord of the Commands―a God who keeps covenant forever, who calls us to covenant-making, and covenant-keeping. A God who calls prophets to be a voice for the land and for the people.

Although The Land relates mostly the topic of turf and dirt, gift, obedience, and community in the Old Testament scriptures, the author also brings some possible Christological interpretations of the OT texts along with land-focused insights from NT gospels and Pauline epistles (particularly Romans 4 and Galatians 3 and 4). Remember, you simply cannot empty Abraham of land! Just as in Hebrew Bible times, during the earthly ministries of Jesus of Nazareth and of the early church, we need to be about the covenantal inter-responsibility of speaking and answering, call and response, amongst Yahweh, people, and land. "Listen to the voice and the claim of the land." WB reminds us scripture emphasizes not emancipation but rootage (you already know Paul of Tarsus' eleutheria / freedom ain't no emancipation proclamation!), not meaning but belonging―we are baptized into Christ, into the people of God in every time and place.

Blogger note: the inevitable outcome of living as covenantal, creation-care people is that we'll become an inclusive, welcoming, justice-filled Eucharistic community that displays the exhibition of the reign of God to the world.

my amazon review: land as gift, promise, and hope