"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Last Notes from "After the Apple"

After the Apple by Naomi Harris Rosenblatt --  last notes (see previous posts for more details on this book)

Lesson from Eve and Adam's scapegoating - "Taking responsibility for our imperfections is empowering, because blaming someone else for our actions necessarily assumes that we are victims who are acted upon. Acknowledging that everything we do matters focuses on the adult in us rather than the child. There must follow a behavioral change or at least a genuine effort; words alone are empty."  (pg. 11)

I liked this reminder and it made me think of things I see sometimes in blogs about men who cannot control their actions because women dress provocatively or, maybe not even that, women just exist and men find them irresistible.  To those who believe such things I say: grow up!

"Death confers a sense of urgency to life; the fact of death tells us that whatever we do is important, that we must not procrastinate."  (pg. 20)

Makes me wonder what I need to do before I die.

Lesson from Sarah and Abraham heeding God's word and leaving home later in life - They teach us "that we can start a new life at an advanced age, that we need not stagnate or despair as we grow old."  (pg. 24)

Good reminder as I age and feel less worthwhile.

"To me, the biblical emphasis on the barrenness of the matriarchs points out the importance of each individual to the survival of a minority community, by definition a people small in number.  By focusing on one couple's struggle to conceive, the Bible transmutes the mundane occurrence of childbirth into a momentous event and thereby reinforce the Hebrew Bible's overarching principle that each individual is uniquely formed in the Divine image. The dignity of an individual is absolute and must be respected." (pg. 35)

It is rather odd how often women in the Bible are barren especially in a culture where, to many, children basically represent your only hope of immortality.

Re: hospitality -- "So central is this precept that the book of Genesis admonishes us not once but thirty-nine times to be kind to strangers."  (pg. 57)

I thought that was pretty neat!

Concerning Rebecca and Isaac and his immediate love for her and how she comforted him after his mother's death:  "The narrator could have ended here by saying that Isaac and Rebecca lived happily ever after.  But this is the Bible, not a sequence of fairy tales designed to soothe the soul with comforting bromides.  On the contrary, the Bible is written realistically for adults and continually alerts us to the ups and downs of marriages, the rise and fall of families, as well as the virtues and flaws of the protagonists."  (pg. 61)

So true.

Remember the story of Tamar who dressed as a prostitute in order to have a child?  By her deceased husband's father, Judah?  He had shirked his lawful responsibility to her so she planned and took matters into her own hands by "do[ing] her homework, keep[ing] her focus on her goals, and think[ing] creatively and constructively on how to achieve them."   The author notes that "the biblical scribes treat Tamar's resourcefulness and defiance of convention with dignity and sympathy. Her story affirms that a single human being is able to make a profound difference to history, even if that person is 'only a woman,' an outsider, [she was Canaanite], and one of society's least powerful members. Tamar deploys imagination and initiative to control her own destiny rather than waiting for a miracle or resigning herself to perpetual servitude.  The Bible lauds and rewards her courage because they serve a goal larger than her own immediate welfare: the preeminent biblical values of family and continuity."  (pg. 115)

Note: Tamar's line went on to produce King David and still further Jesus Christ. She is one of the only women mentioned by name in the genealogy given in the book of Matthew.

About those who blame Delilah for Samson's fall - This "is similar to blaming Eve for Adam's disobedience in the Garden of Eden. Neither Adam nor Samson is forced ... Both are free moral agents responsible for the actions they take. Depicting men as weak-kneed victims of female machinations only serves to infantilize them and to deprive them of personal responsibility and accountability."  (pg. 128)

See my note above about growing up.

Hagar - first woman to whom an angel appeared

Michal - only woman in the Bible said to have fallen in love with a man; perhaps as the daughter of a king, her wishes were taken into account more than a common woman's would have been

Abigail - her "plea to David is the Hebrew Bible's longest single quotation attributed to a woman" (pg. 157)

I thought those were neat tidbits and wanted to share.

"The story of David and Bathsheba is a prime example of the Bible's 'tough love' approach to life. The Bible acknowledges that humans are both vulnerable and fallible, but it also holds us responsible for our actions. It teaches us that sexual behavior must be subordinate to a tradition of moral and ethical beliefs, and that lying to cover up sexual or other misdeeds is wrong. When David flouts this rule of life, the consequences of his behavior impinge on the lives of his children and bring misery and loss into his private life." (pg. 176)

This is what I mean when I say that I try to learn from the examples within the Bible. I don't use David as an excuse for having an affair. On the contrary, I realize God sees what I do and there are consequences - even for a king!

And since I'm a queen...heheheh, well? ;)


Rebekka @ Becky's Kaleidoscope said...

Thank you for sharing this post, I've enjoyed reading this one and the previous :) I definitely love the many stories of strong independent women in the Bible!

observant observer said...

Love what you shared here, I think I should reopen my bible again and learn the bible using my own perspectives combined with the wisdom of others. I should agree it's soooo rich that I should agree that indeed God's with us trough all if we just believe.
Thanks again for the nice post.

Susanne said...

Becky, thank you! I really appreciate your feedback. :)

OO, thank you as well. This author helped me see things in a different light and I really appreciated that about her. Being Jewish she also had Jewish tradition in her mind and occasionally would bring out points from it to enrich the text of the OT. Overall I really enjoyed the book.