Friday, August 31, 2012

A Powerful Closing Night at the Republican National Convention

I just finished watching the last night of the 2012 Republican National Convention.  Although the talk today is mostly about the speech by Clint Eastwood (who conversed with an empty chair) and the speech by Mitt Romney himself, I thought that the most powerful moments of the convention were when Romney's Mormon friends talked about Romney's kindness and generosity towards them and their families, especially in hard times.  My favorite speech was that of Pam Finalyson, which you can watch here.  Pam's speech was emotional, heart-felt, authentic, and moving----and it had the most impact on me of any other speech at the convention.

The pundits who were covering the convention at PBS were remarking about how the speeches by everyday people were the most powerful at the convention.  David Brooks was saying that it is political malpractice for Romney not to have told us these stories until now.  Instead, because Romney is reportedly reticent and humble about his deeds of service, he has not talked much about them, and that has allowed many voters to feel that they do not know who Mitt Romney truly is, and it has permitted his detractors to define him as cold, heartless, and against women.

Overall, this was the best night of the convention----notwithstanding the weird Clint Eastwood speech.  Romney was seeking to define himself.  There were people featured at the convention who owned businesses that were helped by Bain Capital----as Bain stuck by them and helped them to turn around amidst hard times.  A liberal Democrat who worked in Mitt Romney's cabinet when he was governor, Jane Edmonds, talked about Romney's appointment of many women (see here).  And there was a moving video about Mitt's relationship with his wife, his sons, and his father, George (see here).  I was especially amused by how Mitt tried to save money on light-bulbs!

Will I vote for Romney?  Probably not.  I do not trust a candidate whose running mate proposed a budget that would cut Pell grants, to use an example.  (UPDATE: See here for a critique of the claim that Ryan's budget cuts Pell grants.)  Moreover, even if Mitt Romney himself is a kind man and has done progressive things, I do not think that the policies that he supports will have a positive impact on the country.  But he did well to define himself last night, and I hope that what was said remains a part of the political discourse, as much as I want Barack Obama to win.

Barack Obama's Dreams from My Father 15

I finished Barack Obama's Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance.  In my latest reading, Obama talked about introducing Michelle to his family----on both his father's side (in Africa) and his mother's side (in the U.S.).  Barack's white grandfather thought that Michelle was quite a looker, and his white grandmother considered her to be a woman with good sense!

What I want to focus on in this post, however, is a discussion that Barack had with Dr. Rukia Odero, a friend of his father and a former teacher of his half-sister Auma.  In my last post, I talked about Obama getting in touch with his African roots and the catharsis that was for him.  In my latest reading, Dr. Rukia mentions another side to that.  She says that many young African-Americans romanticize Africa, when----in her younger years----she and others tended to think that the answers were in America, as people sought inspiration in Harlem, Chicago, Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, and the Kennedys.  She says that African-Americans come to Africa looking for authenticity, but they are disappointed because there is no purely African culture.  Kenyans like tea, but this was a habit that they got from the English, and their spices for the fish meal that she and Obama were eating came from India or Indonesia.  Moreover, while you'd think from the fish-meal that the Luo ate fish, that wasn't the case for all Luo, and it wasn't always true because the Luo were pastoralists before they settled by the lake.  In short, the culture is in flux, and it has been subjected to foreign influences.

Moreover, Dr. Odero says that colonialism made many black Kenyans defensive about preserving their African culture, when, as far as Dr. Odero is concerned, there are elements of Kenyan culture that should probably go, such as polygamy and collective ownership of land, which have been abused.

I'm not sure what to say about these points, but I found them to be interesting.  Overall, this was an excellent book to read, and I can see why it gained the renown that it did.

Completing Jacob and the Divine Trickster

I finished John Anderson's Jacob and the Divine Trickster: A Theology of Deception and YHWH's Fidelity to the Ancestral Promise in the Jacob Cycle.

Anderson's argument appears to be that God supported Jacob's deception of people and Laban's deception of Jacob as ways to fulfill God's promises to Abraham: that Abraham would have numerous offspring, which would possess the Promised Land and be a means for the nations to experience blessing, and (if they curse Israel) cursing.  According to Anderson, Laban's deception of Jacob in giving Jacob Leah instead of Rachel was not divine punishment of Jacob for deceiving Esau; rather, Laban's deception gave Jacob two wives, which enabled Jacob to have lots of offspring.  Moreover, Jacob's negative experiences at the hands of Laban set the stage for Jacob to leave Laban and go to the Promised Land, after his presence with Laban had brought Laban blessing.  Anderson also shows that God in the Genesis narrative endorses Jacob's shady ploy to breed spotted and speckled animals, the ones Laban agreed would be Jacob's, for God saw Jacob's affliction at the hands of Laban.  And, after Jacob reunited with Esau, Jacob deceives Esau when he tries to get out of going with Esau to Seir, for Jacob wants to head to the Promised Land.

Anderson's discussion of Genesis 32 was a good read, especially on account of his insight that God disjointed Jacob's thigh and gave him a limp to remind Jacob of God's commitment to him within the covenant.  Anderson appeals to Genesis 24, in which Abraham's servant puts his hand under Abraham's thigh in making a promise to Abraham.  I was a little unclear, however, about why Anderson believes that God wrestled with Jacob.  Anderson argues that Jacob's wrestling with God had something to do with Jacob's wrestling with Esau, which was lifelong but which was a concern of Jacob when he was wrestling with God, since Jacob feared that Esau would kill him.  Perhaps Anderson's idea is that God wrestled with Jacob to show Jacob that he would survive his wrestling with Esau.  Yet, there is something significant in the text about Jacob wrestling and prevailing with God, specifically, and I wish that Anderson had gone into more detail about that (or perhaps he did and I missed it). 

Anderson does not go into a great deal of detail about when the divine trickster idea would have appealed to Israel, but he does speculate on page 176 that it would have spoken especially to Israelites dealing with empire----such as Assyria, Babylon, and Persia----for he says that "one has less use for a trickster God if one is in a position of power and authority."  In my opinion, the divine trickster idea looks pretty good when its supposed historical setting is juxtaposed with Anderson's view on the idea's theological significance: that it pertains to God's commitment to God's covenant with Israel, which blesses Israel and the nations.  I can somewhat sympathize with the divine trickster idea when it relates to God helping a people who were vulnerable in the face of powerful interests.  Otherwise, the divine trickster idea can easily degenerate into us vs. them (Israel vs. the nations, with God supporting Israel), unless the notion that Israel blesses the nations somehow counterbalances that.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Barack Obama's Dreams from My Father 14

In my latest reading of Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, Barack Obama relates the story that his Granny in Kenya told him about his paternal grandfather and his father.  On pages 429-430, Obama narrates:

"When my tears were finally spent, I felt a calmness wash over me.  I felt the circle finally close.  I realized that who I was, what I cared about, was no longer just a matter of intellect or obligation, no longer a construct of words.  I saw that my life in America----the black life, the white life, the sense of abandonment I felt as a boy, the frustration and hope I'd witnessed in Chicago----all of it was connected with this small plot of earth an ocean away, connected by more than the accident of a name or the color of my skin.  The pain I felt was my father's pain.  My questions were my brothers' questions.  Their struggle, my birthright."

As I read this passage, I thought about the scene at the end of Roots: The Next Generation, in which Alex Haley (played by James Earl Jones) hears about his ancestor Kunta Kinte from a tribal historian in Africa.  "You old African!", Haley exclaims.  "I've found you.  Kunta Kinte, I've found you!"

There are people who have disputed the accuracy of parts of Haley's tale.  There are also people who have disputed the accuracy of Obama's tale in Dreams from My Father, for that matter!  But perhaps both of them had a profound experience in which they got in touch with their roots and felt a little less disconnected from the world, as they gained or learned more about their identity.

Challenging Some Prominent Evangelical Narratives

I started John Anderson's Jacob and the Divine Trickster: A Theology of Deception and YHWH's Fidelity to the Ancestral Promise in the Jacob Cycle.

I'd like to start this post by sharing my experiences in evangelical circles.  In evangelical circles, whenever we read or talked about the Book of Genesis, we boldly proclaimed that the stories in the Book of Genesis communicate the message that God is patient with us despite our moral screw-ups.  That does not mean that God approves of our moral screw-ups, for our misdeeds can have bad consequences, or God may punish us as a form of discipline.  But God does not stop loving us, and God also works good out of bad situations.  In the Book of Genesis, the argument runs, God's people screw up: Abraham and Isaac lie to a king to save their own skin, Jacob often deceives people, etc.  And, indeed (the argument is still running), there are cases in which God appears to punish God's people, as when Jacob, who deceived his father Isaac to get the blessing, is himself deceived when Laban gives Jacob Leah instead of Rachel.  But God is still committed to Jacob, and Jacob presumably grows as a person.

I have to admit that I have not always found this evangelical narrative to be satisfying.  (And I'm not saying that it's the only evangelical narrative out there about the Book of Genesis, but I have heard it enough times and in enough places to conclude that it's a prominent narrative within evangelicalism.)  I suppose that I was somewhat convinced by the argument that God demonstrated his disapproval of Jacob's lying by arranging for Jacob himself to be deceived by Laban.  And perhaps an argument can be made that there were negative consequences of the way that Jacob lived his life: Jacob deceived others, and his sons, Simeon and Levi, deceived the Shechemites, slaughtered them, and brought the anger of the nations on the people of Jacob.  But I've wondered: If God is disciplining his people in Genesis for their moral lapses, why do they continue to make the same "mistakes" over and over?  Abraham not only lied to the Pharaoh and Abimelech, but he says in Genesis 20:13 that, everywhere he goes, he claims that Sarah is his sister, not his wife.  It evidently does not register with Abraham that what he is doing in wrong.  If God is disciplining Abraham, then God has failed, or is not communicating to Abraham what is going on.  Regarding Jacob, Jacob deceives throughout much of the story.  Even after Jacob suffers exile from his family for deceiving Isaac, he continues to mislead people in some manner: he tells Esau after they reunite, for example, that he will catch up with him, then he goes another direction.

Another issue that I have encountered in evangelical circles, albeit rarely, is that of divine deception.  Usually, this issue comes up when we are reading the Bible and come across a passage that offends our moral sensibilities, and so we try to explain it away.  For example, in I Kings 22, God sends a lying spirit to the false prophets.  Why would God intentionally try to mislead people?  Well, one attempt at a solution that I've heard is that everything back then was attributed to God, and so, when prophets lie, that is attributed to God, even though God did not cause their lying.  It amazes me that many evangelicals like to thump their chests about how committed they are to the Bible, yet there are salient cases when many of them fail to take what the Bible is saying at face value, or they imply that we should not accept the worldview of the biblical authors.

These are the sorts of issues that John Anderson discusses in his book.  He states his thesis on page 1: "I contend that God is intimately involved in and at times complicit in Jacob's deceptions----a notion that gives rise to an issue that is theological in nature.  What does this deception reveal about God?" Anderson apparently disagrees with the evangelical narratives that I discuss above: that God disapproves of Jacob's lying, and that God himself does not engage in deception.  Anderson believes that the opposite is the case, yet (if I'm not mistaken) he will try to see theological value in that.

In my reading thus far, Anderson mentions a variety of interesting things: the idea of divine deception in ancient Near Eastern, Greek, and even Native American stories, and also in the Hebrew Bible; how the Book of Jubilees (26:18) says that God was actually assisting Jacob's deception of Isaac; and the twenty year debate between scholars R.W.L. Moberly and James Barr about whether the serpent in Genesis 2-3 was right in what he said, namely, that Adam and Eve would not die after eating the fruit but would become like gods.

I think that it's difficult to identify what God thinks about Jacob's deceptions because, many times, we're not told explicitly.  As Anderson notes, there are times when God affirms his commitment to Jacob, without mentioning any disapproval of Jacob's lying.  But how can we know that God was actually assisting Jacob in Jacob's deceptions?  On page 79, Anderson notes parallels between Rebecca and Jacob's deception of Isaac in Genesis 27, and Genesis 21 and 24, in which God's role is more salient.  In Genesis 21, God tells Abraham to listen to Sarah and send off Hagar and Ishmael.  In Genesis 24, God is involved in leading Abraham's servant to Rebecca, the one who is to be Isaac's wife.  Anderson's argument appears to be that, because God is active in Genesis 21 and 24, and because there are parallels between these two chapters and Genesis 27, then God is active in Genesis 27.  Anderson states that, in Genesis 27, "Despite not appearing on stage, God is mysteriously at work in the deception of Isaac."  Whether Anderson's argument sets right with me, I can't really say.  I'd prefer for Genesis 27 to explicitly say that God is at work in Jacob's deception of Isaac, if that is its point; but I cannot rule out that Genesis 27 may be alluding to stories in which God is active.

As I said earlier in this post, a prominent evangelical narrative about the Book of Genesis is that God showed the patriarchs grace----that God blessed them, even though they did not deserve God's blessing.  But Anderson may be challenging that narrative, too.  Anderson states on pages 50-51: "God does not appear at Bethel and cast moral judgment on Jacob and Rebekah's shenanigans; God does not appear and castigate, rebuke, or reprimand Jacob.  Rather, God confers the promise on the most wily, and deserving, of patriarchs!"

I'm enjoying this book so far.  In tomorrow's post, I may address how Anderson deals with the argument that God showed disapproval of Jacob's deception by arranging for Jacob to be deceived by Laban, when Laban gave Jacob Leah instead of Rachel.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Barack Obama's Dreams from My Father 13

In my latest reading of Barack Obama's Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, I noticed similarities between certain Kenyan tribal customs and rules in the Torah: a man marries his brother's wife when his brother dies, for example.  There was also a sort of purity system, for a person in the Luo tribe with a rash or sores was regarded as unclean.  But there was a difference: the Luo tribe was against circumcision, whereas the Torah mandated it for Israelites.  There are probably sociological and anthropological explanations for these similarities and differences----a tendency to establish an in/group and an out/group, for instance.

Another theme that came up in my latest reading was that of trying.  One person named Yosuf did well in school and got job offers, but he was afraid to try, and so he mostly stayed with Granny and did chores for her.  Another person was persistent and knocked on doors, sure that his efforts would pay off at some point.

Finishing Roskop's The Wilderness Itineraries

I finished Angela Roskop's The Wilderness Itineraries: Genre, Geography, and the Growth of Torah.

Roskop's argument is that a priestly scribe wrote wilderness itineraries in the Torah to promote a program of Israel returning from exile.  According to Roskop, the priest was influenced by the use of itineraries that we see in Neo-Assyria and Egypt, whose annals employ itineraries to depict the king as a military leader and a defeater of chaos.  Roskop notes that P's wilderness itineraries portray Israel as a traveling army, which is consistent with the military focus of itineraries in Neo-Assyrian and Egyptian annals, and she also contends that the wilderness itineraries regard YHWH as the king.  In the same way that the Neo-Assyrian and Egyptian annals use itineraries to exalt the king, so likewise does P have wilderness itineraries to exalt YHWH as Israel's king.

I asked in my last post why P presents Israel as an army, when his program probably did not include Israel returning to the land and taking possession of it through military conquest.  Roskop said a few times in my latest reading that what is important to P is not the military aspect of the wilderness itinerary, but rather his vision of Israel returning from exile.  Roskop's view may be that P found the itinerary-genre as it was used in annals to be effective in promoting certain beliefs that he had----that YHWH was Israel's king, that Israel should move back to her land, etc.----even if he did not regard Israel as a literal army.

Roskop addresses a possible problem with her thesis: that we do not know how Israelite scribes in exile would have known about a Neo-Assyrian annals-genre that was "no longer is use after the eighth century B.C.E." (page 289).  She concludes on page 289: "The best we can do is explain as many details of the text as possible, and it is my present judgment that use of this form of the annals genre explains enough features of the wilderness narrative to posit that it was known and purposefully used, despite our inability to trace how the scribes knew it."  For Roskop, an exilic setting provides a reason that one would "write a narrative about marching home with the vessels of Yahweh that envisions how Israelite culture might be reconstituted in the land" (page 289), and so she believes that is the historical context for the development of the wilderness itineraries, not the eighth century B.C.E.

Roskop also addresses the argument of maximalist James Hoffmeier that the biblical narratives about the Exodus and the wilderness reflect the thirteenth-twelfth centuries B.C.E. and thus originated in that time.  Roskop effectively argues that even later people could have known ancient details, and she supports this argument by looking at Egypt and the Torah itself.  For Roskop, P could have drawn on something that was true long before him as part of his program of grounding his vision in Israel's distant past.  At the same time, Roskop also contends that the wilderness narrative drew from later geography, such as that of the sixth century B.C.E.  So were P and other biblical writers writing history----their understanding of what really happened in the past?  Roskop said a few times in my latest reading that what they wrote was not entirely history, but I wonder if they believed that they were conveying what really happened in the past, or if they knew that they were writing about things that did not actually happen but hoped that their audience would accept their writing as an authoritative depiction of the past, thereby embracing their ideology.

Another issue that Roskop discusses is the later addition of details to itineraries, and the motives behind those additions.  Many scholars agree that there are contradiction and tensions within the wilderness narrative when it comes to the journey of the Israelites, not to mention bizarre details.  Did the Israelites go through Edom or not?  Did they conquer Hormah or not (Numbers 14; 21)?  Why do they appear to zig-zag in so many directions?  Why would they encamp by yam suph a little while after they had crossed it and moved on (Numbers 33:11)?  For Roskop, later scribes added details to wilderness itineraries for a variety of reasons: to connect Numbers with Deuteronomy; to set the stage for the Balaam story, which is set in Moab; to promote the crossing of the sea as the time of Israel's redemption rather than the Passover; to claim that certain land was God's gift to Israel; etc.  Roskop argues, however, that the priestly agenda is what wins out, for Numbers 33  promotes the Passover as the time of Israel's redemption, in accordance with priestly ideology (though, as Roskop notes, Brevard Childs' view is the opposite, for he thought that P preferred the crossing of the sea as the time of redemption).

I will not go into thorough detail on Roskop's argumentation, but I would like to highlight two things that I especially liked.  First of all, on pages 247-252, Roskop discusses the problem of yam suph.  I'd probably have to reread that section to grasp the arguments of scholars on this issue and Roskop's response to them, but, on page 252, she makes the point that the product of the biblical writers' wrestling with yam suph is somewhat of a mess:

"The artificiality of this effort is quite evident.  The scribe must take the Israelites away from the problematic referent for Yam Suf and have them head toward the same Yam Suf referred to elsewhere in the wilderness narrative.  To do this, he gives the potential for encountering war as a reason for the diversion away from the military route.  While this reason does accomplish the goal of reference repair, the scribe must sacrifice some plausibility vis-[a]-vis the annalistic character of the wilderness narrative, given that the Priestly scribe has already cast the Israelites as an enormous army."

Second, Roskop discusses the difference of opinion between Gerhard von Rad and Martin Noth about whether there is a Hexateuch or a Tetrateuch.  Von Rad thought that the Torah (if you will) was a Hexateuch that extended up to the Israelites conquering the Promised Land in the Book of Joshua, whereas Noth believed it was a Tetrateuch that was separate from Deuteronomy and Joshua and ended (I think) in the wilderness.  Von Rad's reason for believing in the Hexateuch was that he could not envision the story not ending with the Conquest, since Conquest was a significant part of recitations of Israel's history.  As Roskop points out, however, perhaps the Tetrateuch did end with a Conquest, since Numbers 21 is about the Israelite Conquest of Hormah, but that Conquest became marginalized, and there were also additions to the Tetrateuch to connect it with Deuteronomy.  In this scenario, both Von Rad and Noth appear to have valid observations, but neither is entirely right.

I'll stop here.  This was a heavy book to read, since it meticulously covered a number of issues: literary criticism, ancient Near Eastern history and documents, archaeology, source criticism (if that is the right term, for she prefers a supplementary model to the Documentary Hypothesis), etc.  I found reading it to be worthwhile, particularly on account of Roskop's discussion of how later writers could have drawn from ancient details that were no longer the case in their own time.

Reactions to the First Night of the Republican National Convention

I just watched the first night of the Republican National Convention.  Here are some of my reactions.

1.  I can only speak for myself personally, but I thought that the Convention made quite an impression when it comes to policy.  Seeing that $15 trillion national debt on the debt-counter certainly was scary----but I wish that the speakers had illustrated how the national debt could concretely impact Americans in a negative way.  I also thought that the speakers did a fairly decent job in explaining how President Obama's taxes and regulations discourage job creation, as some appealed to the testimonies of entrepreneurs; moreover, a New Hampshire small businessman spoke.  Nikki Haley's speech was pretty good, especially when she talked about how the National Labor Relations Board's lawsuit against Boeing was inhibiting the creation of thousands of new jobs in South Carolina.  I had to read the speech online (see here), though, because I saw pundits instead of Nikki Haley as I flipped through the channels.

I did some online research to see where the Republican rhetoric was right and wrong.  A couple of people claimed that Republican-run states were better in job creation than Democratic-run ones, but this article argues that reality is more complex than that: While there are a number of states with Republican governors that have unemployment rates below the national average, there are also a number of states with Republican governors that have unemployment rates above the national average.  Moreover, according to the article, Nevada "has the second lowest tax burden in the country but tops the national unemployment list with a rate of 11.6%."  And, while Republican John Kasich at the convention touted his record as governor of Ohio, detractors argue that jobs were being created in Ohio near the end of his Democratic predecessor's term, that city Democratic mayors (and even President Obama) deserve some credit for Ohio's economic upswing, and that Kasich shifted the tax burden from the state to the local governments (see here).

On regulations, the Republicans may have a point, for even an article on the Huffington Post contends that there is a sentiment among a number of small businesspeople that government regulations are problematic (see here).  I don't want to compromise environmental and worker safety, but I think that steps should be taken to reduce red tape and perhaps streamline any bureaucracy that inhibits businesses from getting started.

I was trying to find some balanced information on the national debt, and some articles were better than others.  The national debt has indeed increased by about $5 trillion since Obama took office.  Why?  Some blame the stimulus, but that's not entirely at fault because it was only $700 billion (approximately).  Some blamed the Bush tax cuts, the wars, and the prescription drug benefit, but then others countered that we had these things during George W. Bush's Presidency, and the national debt did not increase as rapidly as it has under President Obama.  Probably the answer that made most sense to me is that the economy has been bad, and that means that the government's revenue has not been adequate.  I'm not confident that the Republicans would ameliorate the problem of the national debt, though.  For one, the Republicans were powerful in Congress while the debt was going up, so how could they escape at least some of the blame for the growing national debt?  Second, it has been argued that the tax cuts proposed by Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan could exasperate the deficit.  But, on the other hand, does raising taxes on corporations really solve the problem, especially when the corporations could then move to another country to avoid the taxes?

Regarding Nikki Haley's comments on Boeing, the National Labor Relations Board thought that Boeing was locating from Washington to South Carolina (which, if I'm not mistaken, is a right-to-work state) to punish a union in Washington.  This is a hard issue, in my opinion.  On the one hand, I think unions are good because they bring decent wages and benefits to workers, and I fear that workers are at a loss when a company can move to a right-to-work state and pay lower wages (or at least I'm assuming that wages are lower in right-to-work states).  On the other hand, South Carolina needs jobs.

2.  I wasn't overly impressed by Ann Romney's speech.  I thought that it was unfocused and that Ann was rather giddy.  The speech had its moments, as when Ann talked about the struggles of working women, and a woman in the audience was weeping as she applauded.  Also, Ann can be quite powerful in interviews.  But I did not feel that I knew Mitt Romney better after hearing Ann's speech, and that was supposed to be the speech's goal.  Ann talked a little about Mitt's willingness to help people, but I thought that Elizabeth Dole in 1996 did a much better job in describing her husband's reticent beneficence.  Ann perhaps should have told more stories.

Regarding Chris Christie's speech, he called for sacrifice, and that somewhat coincided with his "speak the truth even when it's hard" reputation.  But, as some of my more liberal acquaintances have noted, Christie acknowledged that his own father benefited from the G.I. Bill and that his grandmother took three buses (which I assume is public transportation) to work, and these are government services.  Moreover, my friends have said that Christie called for sacrifice and yet is not for the rich or corporations sharing in that sacrifice. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Barack Obama's Dreams from My Father 12

In my latest reading of Barack Obama's Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, Barack Obama is still in Kenya.  On pages 352-353, Obama talks about a conversation he had with a man named Francis about taxes in Kenya.  The roads were dilapidated, and Kenyans didn't like to pay taxes because they were reluctant to give their money to somebody else----due to trust issues.  Francis says that this is even true of well-off people whose trucks use the roads: "They would rather have their equipment break down than give up some of their profits."

This reminded me of the controversy that Barack Obama's comments on small businesses set off: Did entrepreneurs really build their small businesses, or should they be grateful to the government for giving them the roads and the schools that made their success possible?  I had a discussion with a libertarian friend recently, and he said that commerce actually came before roads and allowed for there to be capital and funds for the roads to be built.  In his reasoning, businesses came before roads, and not vice versa.  My friend did acknowledge, however, that there is an upward spiral----businesses result in roads, yet roads result in more production and an increase in entrepreneurship.

I wonder, though, about the well-off in Kenya who clung to their profits even when doing so resulted in dilapidated roads.  Perhaps the roads could give them more profits, and yet they were somehow making profits without good roads.  How?  I mean, if their equipment breaks down, it costs money to fix that!

More Functions of Itineraries; the Marching Army of Israel

I have two items for my write-up today on Angela Roskop's The Wilderness Itineraries: Genre, Geography, and the Growth of Torah.  Itineraries are documents that discuss travel from place to place, and we see itineraries in both the Torah and also other ancient Near Eastern documents.  What was their function?  Why did the ancients consider it important to tell their audiences about travel from one location to another, to another?  Roskop addresses such questions in this book.

1.  In my latest reading, Roskop continues her discussion of the use of itineraries in royal propaganda in Neo-Assyria and Egypt.  She talks about other ways that the itineraries could have functioned.  On page 102, she states that "Sabrina Favaro suggests that itineraries carry an ideological message of dominance over territory because they convey detailed knowledge, and knowledge is control", and Roskop believes that itineraries probably had such a function within Neo-Assyrian propaganda, since "The early Neo-Assyrian kings would have had an interest in conveying control of the Habur area..."  Roskop also says on page 125 that, in the case of certain Neo-Assyrian uses of itineraries, "Movement out from the home site to the site of battle and back created a picture of a geographically coherent empire with the king going out from the center and wealth coming back to it."  According to Roskop, one function of the use of itineraries in Neo-Assyrian royal propaganda was to convey the power of the empire. 

Roskop also talks about possible literary reasons for the inclusion of itineraries in royal propaganda.  First, on page 120, she says that the use of daybook entries in an Egyptian description of Egypt's battle with the Hittites served to "create in the audience tension and excitement".  Second, on pages 129-130, in discussing a Neo-Assyrian battle description, Roskop states that notices of where people camped provided a "pause in the action that allows the reader to breathe before the next violent episode..."

2.  Roskop proceeds to talk about the wilderness itineraries in the Torah.  She argues that we see in the Torah a priestly layer, and a non-priestly layer.  The non-priestly layer depicts the Israelites leaving Egypt as refugees.  The priestly-layer, by contrast, portrays the Israelites leaving Egypt as a moving army heading towards Canaan.  Roskop maintains that P's ideology in part was shaped by the destruction of the Temple, for she contends that P's traveling Tabernacle served to account "for Yahweh's presence among the Israelites after the destruction of the Temple" (page 155).  For Roskop, P in the Torah is setting forth a program of post-exilic restoration, which entails the exiles' return to Israel and their establishment of a cult.  Roskop holds that we see P's ideology in some of the itineraries.  First of all, there is an acknowledgment of the ritual calendar, as Israelites in P's itineraries rest on the Sabbath rather than traveling.  Second, P in Numbers 33 essentially snubs the Sinai theophany, for (according to Roskop) P does not want for Sinai or Horeb (fixed locations) to detract from the moving Tabernacle, which concerns God's mobile presence with Israel.  In a sense, P is using the itineraries to shape and frame the Torah's narratives according to P's ideology.  

(UPDATE: I may be misunderstanding Roskop here, for, later in the book, she posits a model in which P wrote itineraries, later hands added material to P for various reasons, and then Numbers 33 represented an attempt to shift the Torah back to P's ideology.  I'll get into this a little more in my post tomorrow.)

Why did P use the annals genre to depict the Israelites as an army leaving Egypt, especially when P probably did not envision a post-exilic program that involved military conquest of Canaan by the exiles (or such is my impression)?  In my latest reading, Roskop offers the suggestion that P is responding to Second Isaiah, who depicts the first Exodus as a time when the Israelites fled as refugees, whereas the Second Exodus is one in which they march boldly from Babylon to Israel.  P, in this scenario, wanted to show that the first Exodus was a time when the Israelites boldly marched.  Why?  Was it because P wanted to affirm that the Israelites always had dignity?  Was it because P felt that P could give more authority to a post-exilic program by setting it in the epic past, rather than by asserting (like Second Isaiah) that the events of the epic past were not as grand as what was to come?  Roskop may elaborate on this issue later in the book.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The New New Deal: Slate's Interview with Michael Grunwald

Time Magazine correspondent Michael Grunwald has a new book out about President Barack Obama's stimulus, The New New Deal: The Hidden Story of Change in the Obama EraClick here to read Slate's excellent interview with Grunwald.  In this interview, Grunwald discusses such issues as where Obama's stimulus succeeded, where it's been inadequate, where it resembles the New Deal, and yet how a New Deal like that of the 1930's is not entirely feasible today.  Grunwald also touches on GOP inconsistencies regarding stimulus and Keynesianism.  Grunwald argues that the stimulus has had concrete results, particularly in the area of green energy.

Barack Obama's Dreams from My Father 11

In my latest reading of Dreams from My Fathers: A Story of Race and Inheritance, Barack Obama talks about his experiences in Kenya, where he had family.

Obama liked Kenya because he felt part of a warm community, but over time he became skeptical of his family's affection because he was wondering if his family was warming up to him because he was an American and it thought he had money.  While Obama acknowledges that Kenya has close-knit tribalism----something that his father did not understand when he came to Kenya with his advanced education and expected the inhabitants to listen to his wisdom, while bypassing the tribal and kinship structures----Obama does not always present his family as warm and rosy.  When his father was down-in-the-dumps, for example, many in his family laughed at his problems, even though he was sure to help his relatives when he was on-his-feet. There is a touching story, however, about when Obama is playing basketball with his seventeen-year-old half-brother Bernard (who may not have been his half-brother, since it was not entirely known that Barack, Sr. was Bernard's father) and is encouraging him to pursue vocational training.  Bernard says at the end of the conversation that he's happy to have a big brother.  You can read about Bernard as an adult here.

Obama also tells a story about how he and his half-sister Auma were at a restaurant, and they had to wait to be served, but the black African waiters were quick to serve some white tourists.  Obama's half-sister----whom Obama earlier in the book said was rather forgiving----was bitter about the preferential treatment that the white tourists received and how Kenya tended to gravitate towards the highest bidder, but Obama tried to understand where the waiters were coming from----for they lived in a nation that had attained its independence, and yet whites still owned major parts of Kenya's economy, and so there was a sense in which black Kenyans were still on the margins.

My latest reading made me think about the times that I----a white person----have been in predominantly black settings, whether they be African-American, Latin American, or Caribbean.  Am I shown hostility because I am white?  Or am I basically treated like a king because I'm white?  Perhaps both, depending on where I am.  I one time talked with a white Seventh-Day Adventist who was a truck-driver and visited a black Seventh-Day Adventist church on one of his travels, and he remarked that he was treated like a king at that church!  How should I respond to that sort of set-up when I experience it?  Should I politely accept their courtesy, even though I'm sure that there are people who will tell me that I'm exploiting them so that I can feel special and accepted----in a world where I ordinarily am not considered all that special?  And yet, there have been black people who have told me that I'm fortunate to have their acceptance, since there are African-Americans who do not warm up to white people so easily.  So, in a sense, in my mind at least, I'm doing them a favor by embracing their acceptance, by acknowledging that they're being generous. And yet, by giving me an opportunity to hear their stories, they are doing me a favor----they are teaching me about what society is like, and the value of all of humanity.

Starting Roskop's The Wilderness Itineraries

I started Angela Roskop's The Wilderness Itineraries: Genre, Georgraphy, and the Growth of the Torah.  This book is about wilderness itineraries, such as the one in Numbers 33, which lists the places that the Israelites went after they left Egypt.

What was the function of such itineraries in the Torah?  Some scholars believe that the intent behind the itineraries was simply to specify where the Israelites historically went after leaving Egypt.  Roskop refers to James Hoffmeier, who maintains that the geographical details in the wilderness stories show that we're not dealing with a "concocted story written centuries after the purported event", for a writer simply concocting a story "would likely not bother with such trivial details as geography" (Hoffmeier's words on page 11); rather, for Hoffmeier, we're dealing with an "accurate historical report" (Roskop's words).  But, as Roskop notes, there are fictional works that refer to real-live places.

My impression thus far is that Roskop is arguing that the wilderness itineraries served an ideological purpose, within a history that was designed to shape the values of Israel.  She looks at itineraries in the ancient Near East, and they were often used for practical purposes: so a person could report to his superior officer about where he and his men had been, to keep track of routes from one place to another, etc.  But, as Roskop notes, there came a time when Assyria and Egypt used itineraries in larger narratives that had an ideological function: to portray the king as one who defeated chaos (through military victories, for example). 

What was the purpose of the itineraries within that?  Roskop states on page 90: "...a scribe might choose to capitalize on the implication of verisimilitude in order to make his account appear authoritative, whether or not it might be accurate.  He might also use the linear and goal-oriented characteristics of itineraries to help him depict a king who moved swiftly to the site of battle."  First, according to Roskop, the itineraries within royal propaganda could have served to give a sense of realism and thereby authority to the narrative, for Roskop states on page 81 that "we expect itineraries to be accurate", especially when they were used for pragmatic purposes.  How, after all, could one follow instructions on the basis of an itinerary if it is inaccurate?  Second, Roskop says that the "linear and goal-oriented characteristics of itineraries" could have exalted the king by portraying him as a swift warrior.

What is the ideological function of the wilderness itineraries in the Torah?  I have not gotten to that part of the book yet, but, in what I have read so far, Roskop refers to a scholarly view that the wilderness itineraries served to give the narrative a sense or realism and thus authority, as well as a scholarly view that the wilderness narrative promotes the Israelite ritual calendar.  On pages 34-35, Roskop appears (if I'm not mistaken) to regard the wilderness stories as "an origin narrative...set in valorized time, in the epic past."  She states:

"The epic past becomes the repository for a group's formative traditions; here they acquire authority because this past is closed off and must be 'accepted with reverence.'  Some of these traditions in the wilderness narrative are ritual, such as the calendar that governs the Israelites' collective life and, as Mark S. Smith argued, is written into the itinerary notices.  Some are social, such as the roles of priests and levites.  Israelite legal tradition certainly plays a prominent role.  Some of these traditions may even be historical."  For Roskop, the wilderness stories are an epic past that promotes Israel's traditions, rituals, and institutions.  Moreover, on pages 9-10, Roskop discusses E. Theodore Mullen's argument that scribes wrote the Torah narrative "to establish continuity between life before the exile and the envisioned life after it, especially for individuals who were born in exile" (Roskop's words on pages 9-10).

I find Roskop's arguments thus far to be plausible.  In terms of questions I may have, I have one about something she says on pages 27-28, as she discusses the difficulties in identifying the genre of the wilderness narrative, then says that we can identify the "subgenres" within it.  Roskop says that two scholars "recognized that this narrative might mix genres, but the need to identify a single intrinsic genre generated a 'genre'----saga of a migrating sanctuary campaign----that is otherwise unattested in ancient Near Eastern literature."  She then goes on to say that "It could be that the wilderness narrative is the only extant example of a saga of a migrating sanctuary campaign from the ancient Near East and that there are more of them to be excavated or located in a genizah."  I wonder if she would consider Greek and Roman historiography relevant to this discussion, for (as John Van Seters notes) there was an element in that historiography that presented founding fathers migrating from abroad to a country and conquering its inhabitants (see here).  For Van Seters, that is relevant to the Torah.

(UPDATE: On page 147, Roskop explicitly engages Van Seters' argument.  Roskop thinks that the depiction of the Israelites in Exodus-Numbers as a military unit is more consistent with "ancient Near Eastern administrative documents and military narratives" than with "antiquarian historiography".)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Calling You

At church this morning, we sang the hymn "Calling You", which was written by Hank Williams.  Click here to read the lyrics, and here to listen to the song.

The first verse especially stood out to me: "When you've strayed from the fold and there's trouble in your soul, can't you hear the blessed Saviour calling you? When your soul is lost in sin and you're at your journey's end, can't you hear the blessed Saviour calling you?"

This verse reminded me of a question that I have asked myself more than once: If found myself in a situation in which I'd want to get my life on track, would I go to evangelical Christianity for solutions?  I'd be very hesitant to do so, to tell you the truth, on account of the baggage that has accompanied evangelical Christianity in my own experience.  I do think it's beautiful, though, when people reconnect with their religion.  I know a couple of people who have decided to return to church after years of not going, and that's cool, in my opinion.  But enough things have convinced me that, in terms of me personally, evangelical Christianity is not an end-all-be-all solution.  Maybe others can make it work for them, so that it can give them joy and meaning and help them to live a moral, giving life.  But trying to fit into the evangelical mold has never been fruitful for me.  On the contrary, it's been rather toxic.

I still like going to church, though, because the people are nice, the services are relaxing, and it provides me with an opportunity to reflect on big issues.

Barack Obama's Dreams from My Father 10: Jeremiah Wright

In my latest reading of Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, Barack Obama talks about Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, which was pastored by Jeremiah Wright.

Why was the church so successful?  Obama talks about Wright's dynamism combined with his education, but there were also the activities that Trinity offered.  Moreover, while Obama says that there were African-American males who avoided church because they considered it to be more of an activity for women, he also discusses how church gives people a sense of mission, purpose, connection, and community----a place that honors people when they die.  And church gives people comfort during their problems.  Obama talks about a sermon that Wright gave, "The Audacity of Hope" (which happens to be the title of Obama's second book), which is about finding hope in the midst of hopelessness.  The sermon touches on economic and other problems.

Another issue that came up was Wright's hope that African-Americans would economically prosper, without succumbing to a middle-class mindset----one that focuses on prospering and forgets about those in the city who still have problems.  Wright's assistant was moving to the suburbs for the sake of her child, but Wright did not think that she was making things better for the kid.  According to Wright, he wouldn't have a clue about who he is, and life is not safe anywhere for African-American men.  That brought to my mind something I read earlier in Dreams: Obama mentioned a teacher who said that African-American children learn about other people's history and thus have a sense of alienation, plus the men lack fathers who can teach them how to channel their energies into constructive directions.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Barack Obama's Dreams from My Father 9: Forgiveness

In my latest reading of Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, Barack Obama talks about one of his Kenyan brothers, Roy, who had difficulty forgiving their father because the father always expected him to be the best.  On page 265, Obama says:

" [my sister] Auma I had...sensed a willingness to put the past behind her, a capacity to somehow forgive, if not necessarily forget.  Roy's memories of the Old Man seemed more immediate, more taunting; for him the past remained an open sore."

Some people have difficulty forgiving.  In my opinion, what they need is healing.  Unfortunately, my impression is that certain biblical writings give them judgment, instead.  I think of Jesus' statement that those who do not forgive others will not be forgiven by God.  Wow, that sure encourages healing, doesn't it?

Psalm 91

For my weekly quiet time this week, I will blog about Psalm 91, which is about God's protection of people from harm.

I used to know a preacher who liked to tell a story about Psalm 91.  He told me and whomever would listen that he would play Psalm 91 on a tape-recorder and listen to it over and over again at night.  This preacher was big on people disciplining their thoughts by meditating on God's word, for he felt that this could lead to a positive attitude, spiritual power, and even to physical healing.  One morning, he said, after he had listened to Psalm 91 repeatedly the night before, he was in his garage and there was a fire.  The very next moment, he was standing outside of the garage and watching it burn.  In his telling, God had removed him from the burning garage, protecting him in accordance with Psalm 91.

I appreciated the preacher's story and his teachings, for they gave me the hope that reading the Bible could lead me to have a good life.  And yet, as I see life, God does not seem to deliver everyone from danger.  There are still people----even Christians----who die as a result of automobile accidents, earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, and sickness.  In The Treasury of David, Charles Haddon Spurgeon apparently recognizes this fact, for he says that Psalm 91's point is not that God will protect everybody (or even every Christian) from harm.  Rather, according to Spurgeon, Psalm 91 is saying that God will protect those who are especially close to God----those who dwell in the Most High's secret place.

I suppose that, from a certain point-of-view, what Spurgeon is saying makes a degree of sense.  Wouldn't God, after all, want to preserve and protect those who are close to him and do good in the world?  But this notion somewhat compromises God's unconditional love, plus I have doubts that real life consistently works this way.  After all, during plagues throughout history, people were shocked that those who were the most proactive in ministering to the sick----Christians----themselves became sick and died.  And, although the preacher I mentioned at the beginning of this post talked at times about how one could become so spiritual and close to God as to escape death, he himself passed on.

I can still understand the psychological appeal of Psalm 91, though.  I pray for God's protection to be on myself, my family, and my friends, even though I wonder why there are people who die tragically.  I suppose that I can try to comfort myself with the notion that God has a plan.  That works for a lot of people, and perhaps it could work for me.  But I wouldn't tell someone who is suffering that.  Rather, I'd just listen and be there for the person.

My study of the different ideas about the setting of Psalm 91 was interesting.  There is one view that the Psalm relates to God's protection of the king in battle, as God protected the king's life, while his enemies fell due to being killed or getting a disease.  Another view is that Psalm 91, like Psalm 90, is by Moses.  According to E.W. Bullinger, whereas Psalm 90 is about the death of the cursed wilderness generation, Psalm 91 concerns God's preservation of Joshua, Caleb, and the next generation, the ones who would survive to enter the Promised Land.  Whether or not one accepts this as the setting for Psalm 90-91, some do maintain that there is a connection between the two Psalms: Psalm 90 is pessimistic and discusses the brevity of human life due to God's wrath, whereas Psalm 91 is about how God protects the faithful from life-threatening harm and gives them a long life. 

A third view is that Psalm 91 was spoken by David to Solomon.  The Targum has this approach, and the Septuagint ascribes Psalm 91 to David.  Moreover, according to Craig Evans, a Qumran document treats Psalm 91 as a Psalm of exorcism that David gave to Solomon.  Evans refers to Josephus' Antiquities 8:44-45, which presents Solomon as one who was an expert at expelling demons.

One perhaps can apply Psalm 91----even when bad things happen to good people----by treating it primarily as a Psalm about God's spiritual protection of people: that God guards faithful Christians from temptation and Satanic attacks, or gives them the strength to be faithful amidst attacks.  Psalm 91:13, after all, says that the faithful one will tread on a lion, and Evans refers to I Peter 5:8, which describes the devil as a roaring lion.

But, when I see how Psalm 91 is handled in the New Testament, I have my doubts that the early Christians believed that it concerned spiritual protection alone, while excluding physical protection.  For one, when the devil appeals to the Psalm in Matthew 4:6 and Luke 4:10-11 in an attempt to convince Jesus to jump off of a cliff, Jesus does not reply that God doesn't protect people physically but only spiritually (even though it should be noted that spiritual protection was probably a relevant concern to Jesus during his temptation in the wilderness).  Rather, Jesus says that one should not tempt God.  I take that to mean that, yes, God protects the faithful physically when they are in trouble, and yet that should not encourage us to be reckless or deliberately to put God to the test.

Second, even spiritual warfare can have concrete, physical ramifications.  In Luke 10:19, Jesus seems to refer to Psalm 91:13 when he says that his disciples will have the power to tread on serpents and scorpions.  That means that the disciples will have power over demons.  And yet, this had physical ramifications, including healing and driving demons out of people. 

So where does that lead us?  Does God protect or not?  Does God especially protect and empower those with faith, giving them authority over the unclean spirits, which cause spiritual and physical turmoil?  If so, why does God not appear to do this all of the time, as faithful Christians still suffer and die?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Barack Obama's Dreams from My Father 8: Can You Fight City Hall?

For my write-up today on Barack Obama's Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, I'll talk about the issue of success in social activism, while also drawing on some of my favorite passages in my latest reading.

In my latest reading, Obama has a conversation with his half-sister, who tells him about their father in Kenya.  Kenya was having a lot of problems: tribalism, government jobs going to people who were unqualified, and Kenyan politicians purchasing a bunch of land and businesses rather than redistributing them to the people.  Barack's father spoke up, and he was essentially blacklisted from working in the government.  He degenerated after that point.

Obama as a community organizer was trying to make things better in Chicago as he worked with others.  And, in areas, he succeeded, for there were neighborhood crime-watches and tutoring programs.  But there was one time when it looked like he was going to be successful, but he ultimately was not.  This was when he and others were lobbying local officials to investigate apartments to see if they had asbestos, and to get rid of the asbestos.  Obama and his team succeeded in getting the officials to investigate the asbestos.  But, because the federal government only appropriated so much money, the residents of the apartments had to choose between asbestos removal and new plumbing and roofing that they needed. 

There were inspiring stories about the community's anti-asbestos stand, though: A woman named Sadie, whom Obama didn't think would make a good spokesperson because she was rather mousy, ended up doing a good job and getting things done; Obama says that one of the officials with whom they interacted reminded him of his grandfather, who was broken down by life; etc.

But, in terms of concrete results, the crusade failed----and yet, as Obama notes, it was successful in that the community came together to seek change.

Is change possible?  In areas, perhaps so.  At least one should try.

Why Mark's Abrupt Ending?

I finished W.D. Davies' The Gospel and the Land.  Davies includes as Appendix IV an article by Gunter Stemberger entitled "Galilee----Land of Salvation?"  Stemberger is arguing against certain viewpoints about Galilee in the Gospels----that there was a Galilean church, for example----and his conclusion is that Galilee is emphasized in the Gospels because, well, that's where Jesus conducted his ministry.

But I don't want to talk here about the debates about Galilee.  What I want to discuss here is the issue of why the Gospel of Mark ends so abruptly.  In Mark 16, a man in a white garment appears to women at Jesus' tomb, says that Jesus is risen, and instructs the women to tell the disciples and Peter that Jesus will show up at Galilee.  But v 8 then says that the women told no one because they were afraid.  (Many scholars regard vv 9-20 as a later addition.)  Other Gospels present the women telling the disciples, and they also show the disciples having experiences of the risen Jesus.  But this is not the case with the Gospel of Mark.  Why?

What I understand Stemberger to be saying is that Mark does not want for his readers to focus on Jesus' appearances to a few witnesses in the past.  Rather, Mark wants for his readers to anticipate the coming parousia, and to realize that the risen Jesus still appears.

A professor I had at my undergraduate institution had another explanation for the abrupt ending of Mark.  My professor thought that the parable in Mark 4:26-29 was relevant.  That parable says (in the KJV): "And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come."

In this parable, a seed grows into a plant, but the planter does not know how.  Similarly, my professor said, Mark is saying that the Kingdom of God grows, even though we don't know how this happens.  In the case of Mark 16, how could the Kingdom of God have grown, if the women told no one about the risen Jesus because they were afraid?  Didn't the women need to testify to the risen Jesus for the church to even get off the ground?  Who knows?  It's a mystery!  God works notwithstanding human failure.  That was my professor's explanation of the abrupt ending in Mark.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Barack Obama's Dreams from My Father 7: Dilemmas on Race

In my latest reading of Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, Barack Obama reflects on race.

He highlights a number of dilemmas.  How can African-Americans gain the self-esteem that can help them to succeed, when poverty takes a toll on the self-esteem of many within the African-American community?  How can they advance, when even African-American leaders prefer to hire whites for tasks because (according to them) whites do things right the first time, or when African-Americans see other African-Americans as lazy, or when banks are reluctant to loan money for African-American businesses, thinking they might fail?  How can people within the African-American community reflect on what they may be doing wrong, when doing so essentially slaps down African-Americans, and when whites are quick to jump on such reflections to say that even African-Americans note a pathology within the African-American community?

I'm not entirely sure what Obama's solutions to these dilemmas are.  He does say that he believes in rooting self-esteem in people's experiences rather than race, which may mean that he wants for African-Americans to draw inspiration from the struggles of others within their community.  And he also discusses work that he did as a community organizer to bring a job-training program closer to residents of certain areas of Chicago.

Davies' Summary and Rootlessness

In my latest reading of W.D. Davies' The Gospel and the Land, Davies sums up his argument about Jesus, the New Testament, and the land of Israel.

Essentially, Davies argues that the land of Israel was de-emphasized within the church when the Gentiles entered it in great numbers.  The land promises that God made to Abraham and Israel were then downplayed, or they were reinterpreted in terms of cosmic renewal, an afterlife, a heavenly Zion, or salvation.  Davies acknowledges some complexity to this picture, however, as he notes that there were Jewish-Christians who still held fast to the land promises, and that Paul himself highly esteemed Jerusalem and supported donations to it during a famine.  Moreover, Davies contends that, even earlier than the church, Jesus himself "paid little attention to the relationship between Yahweh, and Israel and the land" (page 365).  Davies argues against the claim that Jesus was a Zealot and affirms that Jesus' focus was on the creation of a community "governed by selfless service alone" (page 352).  Davies also states that Jesus was open to the salvation of the Gentiles.

It was interesting to read Davies after Ben Witherington's Jesus, Paul, and the End of the World Witherington, like Davies, says that Jesus envisioned Gentiles worshiping the God of Israel.  But Witherington also affirms that Jesus had more of a focus on Israel, maintaining that Jesus wanted an outreach to Jews in the Diaspora and thought that some of them would be at the eschatological banquet.

Another issue that came up in my reading of Davies was roots.  Davies states that a reason that Gentiles admired Israel and entered the church was that they themselves felt rootless.  By joining the church, they became part of a family that Paul said went back (at least spiritually-speaking) to Abraham.  They inherited a history, in short.  But Davies also speculates that the detachment of the church from its Jewish heritage, which was in part due to the inclusion of Gentiles, led the church to focus on theology in its search for self-definition.  Judaism, by contrast, concentrated on halakah rather than theology, for, according to Davies, Judaism had no problem with rootlessness.  Davies mentions some things that complicate this picture, however, such as the fact that early Christianity itself had somewhat of a halakic focus, for Christianity was called "the Way", plus the Didache was essentially a collection of church halakah.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Paradise Recovered

I watched Paradise Recovered yesterday.  Paradise Recovered is a 2010 film that was written by Andie Redwine (see here for her blog).  I met Andie through friends who were recovering from Armstrongism.  Her movie is about spiritual abuse, and, as you can see from the film's web-site, it has won awards at independent film festivals.

The movie is about a devout woman named Esther who is thrown out of her home by her step-father (I think that's what he was) because she almost had sex with her step-father's son (her fiancee), a rising star in Warren F. Vanderbilt's religious organization.  Esther moves in with her co-workers at a health food store----Gabriel, a philosophy student who became an agnostic after questioning his minister father's religious beliefs, and Mark, a funny guy who enjoys watching televangelists but is not particularly religious.

You can tell that Warren F. Vanderbilt is based on Herbert W. Armstrong.  Both come across as authoritative and offer free literature on TV.  Both are anti-pork and do not believe in the traditional heaven/hell doctrine (rather than going to heaven or hell, you either go to Paradise or the Lake of Fire).  Both focus on the end-times.  Both believe that those within the church are saved, whereas others are deceived.  Both have church services in which people watch a minister on TV.  And both were under investigation by the state of California for misappropriating tithe-funds to buy luxurious items.  But there were also differences between the two.  Warren Vanderbilt's church met on Sundays, whereas Herbert Armstrong's church met on Saturdays (the Sabbath).  And, if Esther's step-father was indeed married to Esther's mother after Esther's father left, then that violates Armstrong's doctrine on divorce and remarriage (but, then again, that doctrine was changed at some point).

(UPDATE: The author of this post understands Esther's living arrangements differently.  I thought that Esther was living with her Mom and step-father, a pastor at Vanderbilt's church.  But the author of the post I linked to says that the pastor's wife was not Esther's mother.  I'd have to watch the movie again.  I may have confused the two because Esther's Mom was an alcoholic, and the pastor's wife drank a lot of wine.)

In part, the movie was what I expected: Esther stays with her skeptical friends and is shown a whole new world, and, during this process, she changes by becoming less legalistic and dogmatic, as her friends likewise learn from her and become a little more open-minded towards religion.  But the second half of the movie was more complex than that.  After some heavy drinking, Esther fears that she has departed from God.  She tells her fiancee that she misses God, and she returns home for a period of time.  Meanwhile, Gabriel consults his minister father, asking for advice on how to help Esther.  When Gabriel's father was sharing with Gabriel the Gospel, I was apprehensive that the movie was becoming a Christian movie.  But that was not really the case, for Gabriel's father says that he is proud of Gabriel for trying to find his own way and for helping people.  And, while Gabriel's father baptizes Esther, Gabriel remains a skeptic.

I thought that TF Fixer's excellent review on Amazon expressed what I liked about the film: "Two young men, Gabriel and Philip, are presented to Esther as choices for love. Philip, the malingering convert, appears to understand the problems with his church, but is willing to play the game for his gain - sexual and financial. Gabe stands as an agnostic, who really seems to believe in God, who proclaims his disdain for the trappings of organized religion, but who stands upon his beliefs, ambiguous as they are even to him. But then there are two fathers. Both just as firm in their belief in organized religion, both are pastors. Philip's father uses his position to control others. He does not care for the souls, only for his own power. Gabe's father gets it. He believes in God and organized religion. He stands firm in his own faith and will not apologize for that faith. But - and this is important - his confidence is so strong that he has no need to coerce, force, abuse others into the fold. Gabe's father understands the freedom that Christ affords. His is no legalistic faith and he can be proud of his son for being an agnostic, but living the love of Christ in a real sense."

My Blog Is 5!

Today is my blog's fifth birthday!

Most years, my Blogger blog does better than my Wordpress blog.  This year, my Wordpress blog did better, in areas.  My Blogger blog still gets many more views, mind you, but my Wordpress blog currently has more followers----81 is the latest count.  For some time this year, it seemed like every day on my Wordpress blog a post was getting liked, or someone new decided to follow my blog.  That can really spoil a person!  Then, I'm sad on days when my blog or my posts get no reactions!:D

In any case, thank you to those who comment here, and thank you to my readers in general! 

Obamacare and Fee-for-Service

On this blog, a point that I have made more than once is that Obamacare is moving Medicare away from a fee-for-service model----a model in which Medicare reimburses doctors for every service that they provide to their patients, thereby incentivizing doctors to order more services for the patients in order to make more money, whether the patients need the services or not.  Critics of this approach have maintained that the focus of Medicare should be on health results, not on reimbursing every service that the doctor performs.

But there is debate about whether or not Obamacare actually moves Medicare away from the fee-for-service model.  I won't go back to every post where I said that it does and correct myself, since that could be tedious, plus I may say that Obamacare undermines fee-for-service in future posts, since I have written some of the posts months in advance.  But I will post here some links that relate to the debate----one link that argues that Obamacare does move Medicare away from fee-for-service and offers documentation for that claim, and another link that argues the opposite.

1.  Stephanie Mencimer of the progressive Mother Jones argues here that Obamacare is moving Medicare away from fee-for-service.  She states the following:

"[Conservative mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah, Mia Love] pointed to doctors who buy new equipment and then are driven to use the equipment on as many patients as possible to pay for it. To put an end to such practices, Love said the country needs to move away from the fee-for-service health care model and toward a 'fee for outcomes' system. 'If we start aligning the incentives with the outcomes we'll start getting better health care, we'll get better services, and we’ll get more health care available for those who need it,' she said.  Love seemed unaware that Obama has already made huge strides in doing just these things through the Affordable Care Act. The health care reform law created and funded a host of new projects to move Medicare away from fee-for-service practices and towards different payment models, such as Accountable Care Organizations. These groups of providers work to coordinate care for patients and reduce duplication of service and unnecessary hospitalizations. If they succeed, they can share in the savings they help create. The law also includes pilot projects in which Medicare will reimburse health care providers for 'episodes' of care, rather than for every service provided, thus creating incentives for doctors and hospitals to better coordinate care and focus on outcomes—just as Love suggested." 

2.  Conservative columnist John Ransom here argues otherwise, as he refers to an article on the web site of the American Academy of Family Physicians.  This article quotes M.D. Robert Berenson of the Urban Institute:

"From the American Academy of Family Physicians:

"The U.S. health care system will continue to rely on a fee-for-service payment model for at least the next eight to 10 years, making it incumbent on policymakers to work on fixing flaws in the system for the short term. That's the opinion of health policy expert Robert Berenson, M.D., a senior fellow at the Urban Institute, who spoke as part of a panel on Medicare physician payment during the Family Medicine Congressional Conference here May 14-15.

"'It is going to take us a while to move to something new, and I would guess there will be parts of the country in which fee-for-service will be with us for a very long time,' said Berenson. 'We probably will not have the organization developed to take on new payment models and the collaboration and integration that most of these payment models envision in the near future.'"

Berenson appears to be arguing that Obamacare technically does aim to move Medicare away from fee-for-service, but it will take a while.  That's what I can't stand about Obamacare: It seems to take a while for some of its reforms to become reality.

Barack Obama's Dreams from My Father 6: Community Organizer

In my latest reading of Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, Barack Obama talks about his time as a community organizer in Chicago.

He talks about the different perspectives and the personality conflicts.  Some did not feel that community organizing was necessary because Chicago now had an African-American mayor.  Others, however, thought that community organizing was essential because there were still problems.  One African-American lady thought that a white organizer did not have the African-American community's interests at heart, and that the policies that he advocated would not really work.  The white organizer, meanwhile, felt that the African-American lady didn't like him because she wanted to be the one in charge.

There were Obama's attempts to become effective in his line of work, and Obama is candid about where he failed.  He came across to people as an interviewer and thought that leaving tracts or brochures would launch a successful operation, but the white organizer told him that he should work more at getting at the heart of people's discontent, listening to people, and showing them how community organizing could actually improve their lives.

There were some characters.  One person, Will, just left when he thought that a meeting was boring.  There was fear that he'd be the only one left to run the community organizing operation!

But, at the end of my latest reading, I gained insight into why the community organizers kept on keeping on, notwithstanding the challenges.  And it came from the lips of Will, who told about a time when things were better and children were happier, in contrast to the sadness, anger, and unhappiness of the present.  That inspired Obama, who was asked by a lady why he did community organizing when he did not appear to have a solid religion (at least at the time).  And it taught the lady that her reasons for community organizing and those of Barack were really not so far apart.

No Imminent Eschatology for Mark and Luke; Galilee and the Messiah

For my write-up today on W.D. Davies' The Gospel and the Land, I have two items.

1.  My first item is imminent eschatology, the notion that the end would come soon.  According to Davies, Mark and Luke do not believe in such a concept.  Following Stemberger, Davies maintains that Mark emphasizes Jesus' passion and resurrection rather than the parousia, and that "if Mark anticipated a very imminent Parousia he would not have bothered with problems such as marriage and divorce" (page 221).  Regarding Luke/Acts, Davies argues that Luke 21 distinguishes events in 70 C.E. from the end, that Luke 19:11ff. seeks through the Parable of the Pounds to counter the notion that the Kingdom would come immediately (I assume because the parable presents the master preparing to go to a far country and telling his servants to occupy until he comes), and that Acts 1:7 essentially discourages Christians from focusing on "an imminent end of the world" (Davies' words on page 265).  Luke 1-2 regards Christ as the coming Messiah who would restore Israel (perhaps soon, which was why people in those chapters are so happy about Christ's birth), but Davies believes that those chapters are pre-Lukan and reflect a primitive eschatology, whereas Luke looks beyond Israel to the spread of the Gospel throughout the earth.

There may be something to Davies' analysis.  For that matter, there may also be something to the arguments of A.J. Mattill, who argues in Luke and the Last Things that Luke/Acts has an imminent eschatology!  My question is this: Would believing in an imminent eschatology have necessarily precluded the early Christians from addressing concerns such as marriage and divorce?  I can somewhat understand why there are people who say that it would have, for, if the end is near, why discuss such issues as ethics, divorce, remarriage, community interaction, etc.?  But I can also think of reasons to answer the question in the negative: a desire for the community to be conformed to God's moral will in preparation for when the end will come, for example.

2.  In John 7:41, Jewish leaders sarcastically ask if the Messiah shall come out of Galilee, the implication being that they did not believe that he would, and therefore Jesus was not the Messiah because he was Galilean.  But Davies states on page 222: "True, there are passages where Galilee may be referred to in Messianic contexts.  These are Song of Songs Rabbah 4:16, with parallels in Lev. Rabbah 9:6 and Num. Rabbah 13:2.  In these passages, if the term 'North' be taken to refer to Galilee, then the Messiah may be connected with that area."

I checked my Judaic Classics Library.  I did not see anything about the Messiah being in the north in Song of Songs Rabbah 4:16, but I did see a reference to the Messiah abiding in the North in the other two texts.  The prooftext for this is Isaiah 41:25, which states (in the KJV): " I have raised up one from the north, and he shall come: from the rising of the sun shall he call upon my name: and he shall come upon princes as upon morter, and as the potter treadeth clay."

Davies also evaluates material about the Messianic or eschatological significance of Damascus in the Dead Sea Scrolls (IQS 8:12-15; 9:19-20; IQM 1:3) and rabbinic literature (Sifre Deut. ed. M. Friedmann 65a; 79b; Genesis Rabbah 78:12; Song of Songs Rabbah 4:8; 7:5; Numbers Rabbah 14:4).  Davies is discussing a scholar (Wieder) who maintains that Damascus includes upper Galilee.  But Davies disagrees with Wieder because Davies believes that some of these texts still emphasize the importance of Jerusalem, whereas Wieder (if I am understanding Davies' discussion correctly) holds that there was some sort of rivalry between Galilee and Jerusalem.  Moreover, Davies does not think that Matthew partook of some pro-Galilean, anti-Jerusalem sentiment, for Davies contends that Matthew ultimately relativizes the land by exhorting the disciples to take the Gospel to all nations.

But the importance of the North or Galilee in Jewish thought fascinates me (though I have to admit that I have not yet looked at the texts that Davies discusses).  Was the writer of the Gospel of John unaware of a Jewish association of Messianic or eschatological events with Galilee?  Could the presence of the rabbis in Galilee after 70 C.E. pertain in any way to their exaltation of the region?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Barack Obama's Dreams from My Father 5

In my latest reading of Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, Barack Obama talks about his time at Columbia University, his work in the corporate world, and then his entrance into the world of community organizing.

I'd like to highlight something that Obama says on page 121:

"I might meet a black friend at his Midtown law firm, and before heading to lunch at the MoMa, I would look out across the city toward the East River from his high-rise office, imagining a satisfactory life for myself----a vocation, a family, a home.  Until I noticed that the only other blacks in the office were messengers or clerks, the only other blacks in the museum were blue-jacketed security guards who counted the hours before they could catch their train home to Brooklyn or Queens."

This is an important passage because Barack highlights that he had dreams of a good life for himself, but he wondered if those dreams could be fulfilled because there were barriers that inhibited African-Americans from economically rising.

Interestingly, after Barack got an education and was thinking of becoming a community organizer, an African-American security guard named Ike tried to encourage Barack to go into something that would make him more money.  Ike saw that Obama had potential, and he wanted Barack to succeed financially!  But Barack was drawn to community organizing, in part because of his admiration for the civil rights movement.  Then, Barack felt, he could make a difference at a grass-roots level.

Heavenly and Earthly Zion

In my latest reading of W.D. Davies' The Gospel and the Land, there were two issues that stood out to me.

1.  First, there was the issue of the heavenly Jerusalem.  According to Davies, there's a notion in the pseudepigrapha that the heavenly Jerusalem will one day come down to earth, at the time of Israel's eschatological restoration and renewal.  But, in the Tannaitic period, there was more of a notion that the heavenly Jerusalem would remain in heaven, meaning it would not descend to earth.  As far as the perspective that is in the New Testament is concerned, Davies notes that the Book of Revelation presents a new Jerusalem coming from heaven to earth, but that Revelation differs from strong elements of Judaism in that Revelation depicts the heavenly city as lacking a Temple.  Davies also mentions New Testament passages that imply or talk about a heavenly Zion or Jerusalem----in Galatians and Hebrews----but, as far as I could see (and I could have missed something), Davies does not comment on whether the authors of these passages believed that the new Jerusalem would descend from heaven to earth.

Something on page 162 stood out to me: "But God's habitat is not on earth: he is in heaven, and Zion, therefore, must have a heavenly reality."  The concept of a holy mountain has long puzzled me.  I've read that there was an ancient view that gods inhabited a mountain----think Mount Olympus.  Perhaps such a view is in the Hebrew Bible as well, for God is said to dwell in Zion, and Isaiah 14:13 depicts Helel (which the King James Version translates as "Lucifer") attempting to exalt himself as he plots to sit on a mountain in the sides of Zaphon.  Isaiah 14 also depicts Helel seeking to ascend to heaven above the stars, but perhaps Helel in the story thinks that the mountain is so high that it reaches up to heaven and is above the stars.

But maybe it was the case that there were ancients who realized that earthly mountains were not actually occupied by God or gods.  In the case of ancient Jewish authors who recognized this, how did they deal with passages about God dwelling in Zion?  Perhaps what they did was to say that God dwelt on a mountain in heaven, not on earth, and that was how the concept of a heavenly Zion developed.

2.  Second, Davies discusses the issue of Paul's stance regarding the earthly Temple.  Paul believed that believers were a Temple (I Corinthians 3:16), but does that mean that Paul dismissed the value of the earthly Temple?  I have not finished this chapter, so I do not currently know where Davies will land on this issue.  But what I got out of my latest reading was "not necessarily".  One reason Davies gives is that Qumran and the Pharisees believed that they were somehow creating holy space that was similar to what the Temple offered, and yet that did not mean that they opposed an earthly Temple in Jerusalem.  Qumran thought that the Jerusalem Temple was corrupt, but it envisioned a time when Jerusalem would be purified.  And the Pharisees recognized the Jerusalem Temple.  Another reason is that Paul appears to present a picture in which Jesus will come to earth, cleanse the earthly Temple of the man of sin, and restore Israel (Romans 11:26; II Thessalonians 2).

Monday, August 20, 2012

William Windom

I just learned that actor William Windom passed on last week. 

Of course, he's known as Commodore Decker on the Star Trek episode, "The Doomsday Machine".  That's one of my Dad's favorite episodes (we called it "the tube one"), but there are other Star Trek episodes that I like much better!

Windom also played Ray Krebbs "father", Amos, on Dallas.  I put father in quotation marks because Ray's real dad was Jock Ewing.  My favorite scene was when Amos Krebbs tried to get Jock's attention on the street by saying "Mr. Ewing", and Jock looked behind him and gruffly said, "Yeah?", like Jock didn't want to deal with any riffraff.

I also liked Windom's role as the cold pastor in the Highway to Heaven episode, "A Child of God".  I wrote a post in my first year of blogging about this episode----see here.

And William Windom played the prosecutor in the movie, To Kill a Mockingbird, starring Gregory Peck.

Windom was in a lot of other stuff, but I remember him most for these roles.

R.I.P., William Windom.

Barack Obama's Dreams from My Father 4: Turning Points

In my latest reading of Barack Obama's Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, Obama talked about his experiences at Occidental College.  To me, they seemed to be turning points in his life that made him more mature.

Obama says that he began to notice something at Occidental College: when he spoke, people listened.  He enjoyed the applause that he received, but he also wanted to find some way to enable his words to make a difference in the world.  But, although he gave a good speech at an anti-Apartheid rally, he became discouraged that the rally did not make a difference----that people returned to playing frisbee, and the visiting trustees did not take the rally seriously.

Obama's girlfriend Regina tried to encourage Obama by telling him that his words can make a difference, especially when he speaks from the heart.  When Obama's friend Reggie then comes along and brags about a party that he and Barack had, in which they left a huge mess for the maid to clean up, Regina is disappointed at Barack.  She says that her grandmother could have been the maid who would have been stuck with that mess!  Barack began to realize that, although he lived as an African-American in a world that was unfair and racist, that did not exempt him from the rules of common courtesy.

(UPDATE: According to this article, which discusses David Maraniss' biography of Barack Obama: "Writing about his schooldays, Obama created a friend called Regina, a symbol of the authentic black American experience that Obama yearns for.  Maraniss found, however, that Regina was based on Caroline Boss, a white student leader at Occidental College. Regina was the name of Boss’s Swiss grandmother.")

Davies on Amos 5:25 (and Other Issues)

I started W.D. Davies' 1974 book, The Gospel and the Land: Early Christianity and Jewish Territorial Doctrine.

There were a variety of interesting items in my latest reading of this book: Davies' view that Christian biblical scholarship neglected the importance of the land of Israel in the Hebrew Bible; a rabbinic notion that being buried in the land of Israel atoned for one's sins, and another rabbinic notion that one had to be buried in the land of Israel to be resurrected; Babylonian Talmud Kethuboth 110b-111a, which says that those who walk four cubits in Israel are guaranteed a place in the World to Come, but also that it is a transgression of a positive commandment for a Jew in Babylon to go to the land of Israel; a statement in Mishnah Kiddushin 1:9-10 that one can only observe religious duties that depend on the land of Israel in the land of Israel, except for the laws regarding Orlah fruit, Diverse Kinds, and (in the opinion of Rabbi Eliezer) new produce; how different countries (i.e., Greece, Israel) viewed themselves as the center of the earth, and that even British maps during the time of the British empire put Britain at the center; G.W. Coats' view that the stories of the Israelites' murmuring in the wilderness were Jerusalem's polemic against Northern Israel, which asserts that Northern Israel forfeited its rights through rebelling in the wilderness; etc.

In the remainder of this post, I'll talk about Davies' discussion of Amos 5:25, which states (in the King James Version): "Have ye offered unto me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel?"  This was an important verse for Julius Wellhausen because he believed that it supported his argument that the priestly writings in the Pentateuch were later than the prophets, as Amos represents a view that the Israelites did not offer sacrifices in the wilderness, contra (say) the Book of Leviticus.  But Davies does not think that Amos 5:25 "questioned the Mosaic origin of the sacrificial system" (page 80).

First, Davies says that "The prophet was aware of material in the Book of the Covenant----which combines cultic and moral requirements" (page 80).  Davies tells the reader to compare Amos 2:8 with Exodus 22:25-47, and Amos 4:5 with Exodus 23:18.  Let's do that.

Amos 2:8 states about those who transgressed God's law (in the KJV): "And they lay themselves down upon clothes laid to pledge by every altar, and they drink the wine of the condemned in the house of their god."  I could only find Exodus 22:25-31 (since the chapter goes up to v 31), and it talks about pledges and giving God firstfruits and juices from the winepress.  There appear to be differences between these passages: Amos 2:8 is about drinking the wine of the condemned in the sanctuary, whereas Exodus 22 concerns people offering to God the firstfruits of their own wine.  But I think that I can understand Davies' point.

Amos 4:5 states regarding the transgressors: "And offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving with leaven, and proclaim and publish the free offerings: for this liketh you, O ye children of Israel, saith the Lord GOD."  Exodus 23:18 has: "Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leavened bread; neither shall the fat of my sacrifice remain until the morning."  Davies' point is probably that the transgressors in Amos 4:5 are offering a sacrifice with leaven and are being too open with the sacrifices (somehow), whereas Exodus 23:18 commands them to avoid offering their sacrifices with leaven and not to allow any of the sacrificial fat to be left over in the morning.

Davies' point is that the prophet Amos appears to be aware of the Book of the Covenant, and so Amos 5:25 does not contradict the Book of the Covenant's claim that God through Moses commanded sacrifices.

Regarding Davies' view on the meaning of Amos 5:25, Davies presents different options.  First, he suggests that the passage means, "Was it only sacrifices and offerings that you offered to me in the wilderness and not also moral obedience?"  Second, Davies says that Amos 5:25 could be saying that the Israelites indeed did offer sacrifices to God in the wilderness, but they also observed the moral demands of the covenant, and so Amos is exhorting the Israelites of his day to imitate the piety of the wilderness Israelites in Moses' day.  Third, because Amos 5:26 refers to Israelite idolatry, Davies speculates that Amos 5:25 may be saying that the Israelites did not offer to God sacrifices in the wilderness, but instead they sacrificed to other gods.

I talked in this post a while back about Niels Peter Lemche's view that Amos 5:25 is a Deuteronomistic addition to Amos, since the verse does not fit its context and reflects Deuteronomistic ideas.  But Davies believes that Amos 5:25 fits its context, in that it either follows v 24's emphasis on the importance of righteousness, or is part of the condemnation of idolatry that appears in v 26.  But I have to admit that v 25 appears a little awkward in Amos 5.

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