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Saturday, June 10, 2017

Proverbs 19-21

For this set, I will pull guidance to take correction.
Listen to advice and accept discipline,
and at the end you will be counted among the wise.

Flog a mocker, and the simple will learn prudence;
rebuke the discerning, and they will gain knowledge.

Plans are established by seeking advice;
so if you wage war, obtain guidance.

When a mocker is punished, the simple gain wisdom;
by paying attention to the wise they get knowledge
This idea that a fool never gains knowledge, but a wise person can learn from anyone is a compelling message from Proverbs for me, and has been since I was young.

Proverbs 16-18

Themes continue to be (1) don't be foolish, (2) wise people accept criticism, (3) Don't be stuck up, (4) be good to the poor.

For these I'm going to collect the last two categories.
The Lord detests all the proud of heart.
Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.

Honest scales and balances belong to the Lord;
all the weights in the bag are of his making

Pride goes before destruction,
a haughty spirit before a fall.

Whoever mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker;
whoever gloats over disaster will not go unpunished

The poor plead for mercy,
but the rich answer harshly

Honest scales have come up more than once.  I wonder if it is usual to have such a prominent teaching of justice for the poor.  It comes up often in Hebrew & Christian Scripture.  I'm not sufficiently educated in contemporary religions of the day to know if this is an interesting marker.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Proverbs 13-15

So, here we've got, "no corregir al hijo y no quererlo amarlo disciplinarlo," or in English "whoever spairs the rod hates their children, but the one who loves the children is careful to discipline them."  which is nice cuz  of all the child abuse, and whatnot.

 The bad guys in Proverbs are clearly the fools.    However, right behind them are those who take advantage of the poor.

Finally, I like this one for Carla from Top Chef, "better a little serving of vegetables with love than a fattened calf with hatred. "

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Proverbs 10-12

Proverbs drops into a rhythm that is reminiscent of what bothered me about Psalms.  Namely lots of statements about how the good guys will win and the bad guys will lose.  However, the difference between promoting wisdom and promoting faithfulness as the deciding factor makes a difference to me.  Proverbs feels like a statement of "natural consequences" whereas Psalms feels like prosperity gospel.

Here's my favorites from this reading:
  • Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues.
  • The Lord detests dishonest scales, but accurate weights find favor with him.
  • For lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers.
  • One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.
  • The prudent keep their knowledge to themselves, but a fool’s heart blurts out folly.
  • Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.
  • Whoever brings ruin on their family will inherit only wind
I like the better to keep your mouth shut and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt type proverbs.  I also like the very specific one about unfair scales.

The second to last one is interesting because it really sounds like an everlasting afterlife type promise to me. There are other verses suggesting the righteous path leads to life or even evading death.  The final verse of the selection is: In the way of righteousness there is life; along that path is immortality.

Interesting.  The final proverb is only tagged because it was the title of an old-timey movie and cultural cross references are fun.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Proverbs 7-9

So, there is stuff I like and stuff I don't like here.

I like, "Di a la sabiduría: «Tú eres mi hermana», y a la inteligencia: «Eres de mi sangre»."  Wisdom and intelligence seem to be under assault these days, and I like the idea of celebrating them.  I don't like Chapter 7's vilification of the woman--a prostitute & adulteress--but I super don't like the way the man is described as a naive victim like an animal that falls into a trap.

Chapter 8 personifies wisdom even further.  Including some language that is reminiscent of Genesis 1 and the conclusion of Job. "Fui establecida desde la eternidad, desde antes que existiera el mundo."

Chapter 9 clarifies that the gift of wisdom is not limited to those with natural skills.  Rather, Wisdom invites the simple to "Leave your simple ways and you will live; walk in the way of insight.” In Spanish, "Dejen su insensatez, y vivirán; andarán por el camino del discernimiento."

The foolish and the cynical are the targets of scorn in Proverbs.  I am rarely seduced or tempted by ignorance, but cynicism, to be sure, has a certain appeal.  It is good to be reminded to stay on the path of discernment.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Proverbs 4-6

Chapter 4 continues the advice to the author's son.  I notice the use of the path or the way as a metaphor for life.  There is also the concern for the evildoer.  Although, here, the path of righteousness is well lit.  It is the evildoer's path that is obscured and full of traps.  The device of relating the desire for wisdom (and intelligence) to a child creates a meaningful urgency and desire for lasting change.

Chapter 5 addresses sexual fidelity.  It is hard to pick apart what is my modern lens from what is in the text sometimes, but it seems to me that author exhorts his son to stay faithful to his wife.  To not share his wife with other (I'm looking at you Abraham!), and to not have sex with either the wives of other men or wayward women.  And the reason, the theme of the book, is to do otherwise is to live less well.

Adultery is also the concern of the second have of Chapter 6, which includes "But a man who commits adultery has no sense; whoever does so destroys himself."  Proverbs 6:32.  According to the headings, this theme continues on to Chapter 7. That's a lot of anti-adultery. 

NB.: something else that Jesus wasn't the first one to say, "Do not desire her beauty in your heart,
and do not let her capture you with her eyelashes."  6:24.

But it's not all sex. Let's end with some more general more morality, from Chapter 6.
16 There are six things that the Lord hates,
seven that are an abomination to him:
17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
and hands that shed innocent blood,
18 a heart that devises wicked plans,
feet that hurry to run to evil,
19 a lying witness who testifies falsely,
and one who sows discord in a family.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Proverbs 1-3

So, we're going to be working our way through Solomon's writings. In general, I prefer them to Psalms.  This passage closes with the Wise inherit honor, but the fools only shame.  Also within these verses the praise for wisdom and knowledge cautions to seek God's wisdom not your own.

So, we live in a world of ignorance and misinformation.  Reading a celebration of wisdom feels like something of a balm.  But, those who suckle at the teat of Right Wing Propaganda believe they have wisdom.  I suppose we are left with what bears fruit and what brings peace. The problem is that the anti-intellectuals and the white supremacists feeling free to spew hate now, will not bear the brunt of the destruction they are causing. 

Perhaps I'll read Revelation more sympathetically this year.

Song of Songs

There is a book in the Hebrew Canon that celebrates sexuality and even romantic love.  It describes physical beauty and longing of the heart.  It describes hard time in separation.  Then there is this bit.
Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you
by the gazelles and by the does of the field:
Do not arouse or awaken love
until it so desires
This exact stanza is repeated in Song of Songs 2:7, 3:5, and 8:4.  Weird.  Is it saying to wait until you're in love to make love?  I am not sure since it just says don't arouse love unit it so desires. 

The book contains little weird vignettes, including one in which the female lover is beaten up by the watchmen on the wall.  But then there is this little bit that pleasantly acknowledges that there are girls to young to be married off, I suppose.
8 We have a little sister,
and her breasts are not yet grown.
What shall we do for our sister
on the day she is spoken for?
9 If she is a wall,
we will build towers of silver on her.
If she is a door,
we will enclose her with panels of cedar.
To be honest, I mostly like this book because it gets under the skin of people who want to use religion as a way to control particularly women's sexuality.  As Scripture, it doesn't really speak to me.