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Archive for July, 2017

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Yesterday, the Washington Post reported that a massive Antarctica iceberg—almost the size of the state of Delaware—broke loose from an ice shelf. This iceberg was already floating,[1] so may not add to the global sea rise. Yet it may de-stabilize the remainder of the Larsen-C ice shelf. It also gives map-makers more work to do, because this break-off will require “a redrawing of the Antarctica coastline.” Long-term? No one knows. Yet anyone who cares about global air and water temperatures is uneasy today.

I live on the East Coast of the United States, near Washington, DC. I am not a scientist. I don’t ship freight in Antarctic waters. I don’t own ocean-front property that would be destroyed by rising sea levels.

Why should you and I care?

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First of all, I invite you to follow along with the Genesis text* in your bulletin, as it will serve as a guide to what I have to say this morning. Second, I offer two caveats before I actually begin to explore the text with you.

A. We cannot ignore the fact that throughout the centuries, this text from Genesis 22 has been mis-used. Just as some have selected particular scripture passages to justify slavery, others have used passages like this “to justify the abuse of children.”[1] Specifically, in some artists’ renderings, Isaac is not only silent, but we do not see any personal features.  Isaac is rendered by many artists, for all intents and purposes, as an object, not a human being.

Rembrandt The Angel Prevents the Sacrifice of Isaac c 1635.jpg

This passage is also not meant to justify the very ancient pagan practice of child sacrifice. In fact, some scholars argue that one reason this text was included in scripture was to set the Israelites apart from pagan tribes who followed this practice.

B.  Abraham calls his son “the boy” when he speaks to the servants—“The boy and I will go up there; we will worship and we will return to you”—so we interpret that to mean Isaac is a child. However, the evidence in the text itself does not really support this. In the 21st chapter of Genesis, just before this story, we read that Abraham was gaining power, land and sheep as he made deals with some local tribes. Chapter 21 ends with this sentence: “And Abraham resided in the land of the Philistines a long time.” Chapter 22 begins: “Some time afterward. . .”

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