11 July 2005

Something New

In my last post I ended by suggesting that we try something new now. I'm afraid I wasn't very clear about what that might be. I was trying to be clever and leave that up to my readers. It was also after midnight. Those of you who know me best know that nothing good comes out of my brain after about 10 p.m. or if it does, it's hopelessly garbled. So ... let me try this again, and give it some context.

At my church (but don't pay too much attention to that website) we've been looking at some of the Old Testament stories this summer. For some reason, we've been especially drawn to the stories that have assumed the proportions of myth in our society ... the stories that we're asked to swallow uncritically in Sunday School as children, and then never take out again and examine as adults. So ... because we do that at our church, we're taking them out again and examining them. We're calling the series, "Christian Mythology" and we haven't scared too many people away so that's good. This past Sunday (July 10) we looked at the story (Megillah or Scroll) of Ruth. You ought to know this story because in our western culture it is one of the stories that has become foundational.

I retold it as Ruth. I took off my glasses, wound myself up in about 12 yards of fabric, and retold the story of a peasant woman who lived about 5,000 years ago. It was hot in all that fabric, but sort of authentic. It was easier without being able to see, because I really had to stay inside my head. It was hard imagining what her life was like ... becoming a non-entity through no fault of her own; relying on the largesse of others for her survival; then a serendipitous re-marriage and rebirth. Her new husband was rich and generous to a fault. The kind of rich guy we like to hear about, but almost never see.

So here's my new idea ... read the story of Ruth. But read it as an meta narrative. As you read it, think about this question: What would the world look like if the rich western nations (say the G8) behaved like Boaz (rich new husband) rather than like the policmen/bankers that we do now? We've got plenty of stuff. In fact we've got so much stuff that we've had to concoct special rules to make sure our stuff is protected; so that no one can get to our stuff. It's gotten ridiculous (and I do recognize that perhaps I'm oversimplifying); but I just wonder what the world would look like if we used our largesse to make sure that everyone had enough to eat and good water to drink and a warm place to sleep at night ... to take care of the basics in Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs. Then maybe we wouldn't need to have a war on terror anymore.

Think about these things too ... think about how we treat the "widows" and "orphans" who are amongst us. Who are they? How do we treat the single moms? The moms who are single by choice and those who are single by chance ... when was the last time you went to the projects and helped out a father-less family? Do those families have a voice and a "say" in our society? Or are they as faceless and voiceless now as they were 5,000 years ago?

Just as an aside, and for your theology lesson for the week. Boaz is a good picture/metaphor for hesed. And now you know.

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