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Friday, April 23, 12-1
We began last Friday’s discussion of Dancing in God’s Earthquake with a reconsideration of Arthur Waskow’s idealistic promotion of ”rendering unto God what is God’s” at the expense of its often devastating consequences. Tom Plaut reminded us that speaking out against the government in light of our religious conscience led to massacres in Latin America. We then turned our attention to the concluding pages of Chapter 7 and Waskow’s thoughts on the need to honor diversity (we are all different parts of a jigsaw puzzle). Our discussion included a consideration of the Jewish prayer that’s to be recited when we encounter someone who is different (meshanah habriot).
Moving on to Chapter 8, we struggled a bit to make sense of Waskow’s reflections on various pairs of siblings who are in conflict throughout the Book of Genesis. Waskow points out that, for several generations, the traditional laws of primogeniture (which privilege the older child over the younger) were abrogated, apparently with God’s approval despite the conflict this engenders. Waskow presents those who sulk about this as being immature; he favors those who ”speak truth to power,” who wrestle with God (”If we fail to wrestle with God [i.e., find mature ways of working out our differences, and suppress our will to dominate], we will murder our brother”). Jacob, who purportedly did wrestle with God and became known as Israel/God-wrestler, becomes the poster boy in Waskow’s argument. He is later held up as an example of restorative justice in his reconciliation with Esau, the brother whose birthright he stole. Some participants took issue with the interpretations Waskow brings to the biblical texts when he makes his case for reconciliation as a means of liberation. Waskow’s seeming dismissiveness of other readings and interpretations (Are Cain’s motivations as clear as Waskow presents them? Are there other ways of interpreting Jacob’s meeting with Esau?)
When we meet this Friday, we’ll address some of the above questions and then move on to Chapter 9 ”The Sin of Economic Justice” (pp. 141-154); if time permits, which is unlikely, we’ll also get a start on Chapter 10.
Our informal discussion group is held online every Friday from 12-1. All are welcome to join us, regardless of their level of expertise or attendance at previous noon study group discussions. Dancing in God’s Earthquake can be ordered through a variety of internet outlets. If you have questions, or would like the Zoom link, please contact Jay Jacoby at email@example.com.
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