No amount of empirical information is able to accomplish that end. The extent to which deity is involved in events or outcomes can never be either verified or falsified empirically. Our dogged empiricism betrays us. The texts offer a different sort of testimony that we must respect.—Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament, 2nd ed., page 209
Friday, March 29, 2019
Thursday, March 28, 2019
Wednesday, March 27, 2019
Tuesday, March 26, 2019
Monday, March 25, 2019
Friday, March 22, 2019
Enki and Ninmah: servants of the gods: “The corvée of the gods has been forced on it.”In Israel people also believed that they had been created to serve God. The difference was that they saw humanity as having been given a priestly role in sacred space rather than as slave labor to meet the needs of deity. God planted the garden to provide food for people rather than people providing food for the gods.The explanation offered in KAR 4 shows that the priestly role of people was included in the profile, but still in terms of providing sustenance for the gods. The shared cognitive environment is evident in that all across the ancient world there was interest in exploring the divine component of humankind and the ontological relationship between the human and the divine. In Mesopotamia the cosmos functions for the gods and in relation to them. People are an afterthought, seen as just another part of the cosmos that helps the gods function. In Israel the cosmos functions for people and in relationship to them. God does not need the cosmos, but has determined to dwell in it, making it sacred space; it functions for people.—Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament, 2nd ed., pages 186–87
KAR 4: “The corvée of the gods will be their corvée: They will fix the boundaries of the fields once and for all, and take in their hands hoes and baskets, to beneﬁt the House of the great gods.”
Atrahasis: “Let him bear the yoke, the task of Enlil,let man assume the drudgery of god.”
Enuma Elish: To bear the gods’ burden that those may rest.“
Thursday, March 21, 2019
Wednesday, March 20, 2019
Monday, March 18, 2019
Friday, March 15, 2019
None of the Mesopotamian literature that deals with the pious sufferer shows this dimension of thinking. These individuals can only claim that they have done everything they know to do in terms of ritual and ethical responsibility. They have no basis to proclaim their innocence, only their ignorance and confusion. They make no attempt to call deity into legal disputation—they only plead for mercy. The book of Job therefore stands as stark testimony to the differences in perception between Israel and the ancient Near East as it seeks to demonstrate that there is such a thing as disinterested righteousness.—Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament, 2nd ed., pages 119, 126–27
Wednesday, March 13, 2019
News stories about drivers who hit cyclists often implicitly absolve the driver and blame the victim. First, there’s almost always a lack of agency coupled with the passive voice: it’s never “a driver hit a cyclist.” Instead, it’s usually something like “a cyclist was hit by a car.” (Yet you never read about how a shooting victim “collided with a bullet.” Go figure.) Then there’s generally some insinuation that it must have been the victim’s fault, often along the lines of “It’s unclear whether the victim was wearing a helmet.”and a bit later on:
the story quoted above is under 200 words long. There’s not a single mention of the motorist; instead, the victims were “struck by a pickup truck,” as though it were somehow self-driving. The account also contains no fewer than five mentions of the word “helmet,” yet it doesn’t remind people to drive more carefully or cite relevant motor vehicle code, not even once. The helmet exhortation is especially vexing since the little girl only sustained minor injuries. So, what, are we supposed to believe that if she’d been wearing a helmet the driver wouldn’t have hit her in the first place? Or are we supposed to think a child’s bicycle helmet offers meaningful protection against a Tacoma and that the real mitigating factor isn’t the luck that just happened to be on her side?
It’s almost like, in our bizarre logistical and ethical framework, dying while wearing a helmet is preferable to surviving without one. (emphasis added)
Tuesday, March 12, 2019
Monday, March 11, 2019
Friday, March 08, 2019
Thursday, March 07, 2019
Wednesday, March 06, 2019
Tuesday, March 05, 2019
Monday, March 04, 2019
Friday, March 01, 2019
The videos, instruction, and repetition play a trick on my mind, though. I start to think in terms of students and attackers, those I would protect and those I would kill. The latter are strangers— unnamed, faceless adversaries like the targets. My daydreams are no longer of classroom visits, sporting events, and kids making out in the halls. They are all adventure stories, and I am always the hero. An attacker is never one of my students. I never have to shoot one of my students.But, when an actual threat happens, it isn't whom they expect:
The training encourages this result. Everything about its vocabulary is designed to dehumanize our aim. The instructors’ military language—“soft targets” and “areas of operation” for schools, “threats” for shooters, “tactical equipment” for guns—rubs off. On the final day, a pep talk analogizes students with lambs. We are the sheepdogs, charged with protecting them from the wolves.
I am aware that this is changing my way of thinking. I enjoy how I feel. It is a potent energy, a righteous virtue that seems completely earned. The training reassures me of my decision-making ability.
The other recruits are undergoing the same shift. During downtime we discuss guns: which we plan to buy next, what ammo our districts will provide us, and how that ammo impacts a body. We have become gun nuts almost overnight.
I drive home in a devastated silence. I thought I knew Jason well, but I had never imagined him perpetrating a threat, or owning weapons. It was like something from TV, where newscasters narrate the steps leading up to a school shooting, how everyone had missed the signs. I imagine the shoot-out it could have been.<idle musing>
Riding through the dense countryside, I finally face the question that I had avoided from the beginning: was this right?
My decision to be armed in school had been made in the aftermath of yet another high-profile school shooting, and I had thought, “This is how I can keep my kids safe.” The training had done its work on me, too, lifting me out of my habit of cynically questioning everything. I felt reassured that of course, this is righteous. But now it was no longer a theoretical question of protecting kids at any cost. The faceless target at the shooting range, so absurd in its proportions, had a face: Jason, whom I wanted so badly to help. (emphasis original)
Sorry folks, but violence is never a righteous option. You can rationalize it all you want, but like this person, at some point it will stare you in the face and you have to decide whether to be honest with yourself (and God) or not.