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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Bible Study Moment: Putting The Fun,The Duh,and The Mental Back in Fundamentalism

At Yesterday's AROW rehearsal, a plaguing question entered my mind and it just wouldn't leave.

The question was, "What exactly was Rachel's role in the Bible?"

Why would anyone care about that, you ask?

The question arose because we are playing a Renaissance piece Called "
Auf Dem Gebirge" by Heinrich schutz. The text, from the Prophet Jeremiah, is about Rachel mourning for her children. Since I had remembered Rachel only as Jacob's beloved wife, and shoplifter of idols, I just had to get to the bottom of this. What was she doing lamenting along with Jeremiah, shouldn't she have been already hundreds of years dead?

So what do a long dead woman's lamentations sound like when they echo
auf dem gebirge, you may ask? They sound like this, I guess.



I did a little homework, resulting in the following email thread:


On Feb 20, 2010, at 8:21 PM, Steve wrote:

About Rachel.

A little research has cleared this up for me.

The reason the Rachel reference confused me was that, as a figure in the Bible, Rachel shows up in more than one time and place.

In The Book of Genesis;

Rachel was Jacob's wife. This story holds some significance in 20th Century Feminist thought. When Jacob and Rachel and Leah (Leah was Rachel's sister and Jacob's other wife, thems was different times, y'know) fled from Leben, the wives' father, Rachel snatched two idols from Leben's house. I recall the Hebrew text describes the idols as "Kitchen Pillars". This theft caused a lot of trouble for everybody, and eventually Rachel had to rid herself of the idols. Some sources of Feminist Orthodoxy claim that moment to be the final battle whence Wonderful Gynocentric Goddess worship was subjugated by Phallocentric and otherwise yucky Patriarchy. Discuss amongst yourselves.

In the OT Prophets - Jeremiah (This is where Auf Dem Gebirge comes in);

Jeremiah brings up an image of Rachel weeping at the pains her children (i.e., the Children of Israel) are suffering upon exile from Jerusalem, many centuries after Rachel's death. In Jeremiah's reckoning, Gd hears Rachel's laments and promises that her children will someday return to Jerusalem. Note how well Rachel has learned to play the Patriarchy since her Goddess - loving, idol swiping days. I always forget that people were already telling Bible stories in Biblical times.

Jeremiah's story comes up again in Matthew's Gospel. In this retelling, Jeremiah's story becomes a prophesy of Herod's very nasty Massacre of the Innocents (Remember the Coventry Carol?).

I probably read too much.

On Sat, 20 February, 2010 20:48:35, X Replied:

Thanks for the illuminating research, Steve. Your scholarship is immaculate.

I believe that the debate between the adherents of Phallocentric and Gynocentric ritual mythos should never die, but remain central to the tenet that such debates are one of the most important, if not the sole purpose of funding seminaries and seminarians. In addition, the whole idea of idol swapping simply reeks of biblical transgenderism, and as such needs to be explained in very simple terms to the Westboro Baptist Church.

(Notice the clever swapping of swapping for swiping)

On Sat, February 20, 2010 9:32:29 PM, Y replied:

Ok, now that I've pulled myself off the floor from laughing so hard, I have to thank you both for all your fastidious research and expressions of opinion. No wonder I love you guys so much!

On Feb 21, 2010, at 10:58 AM, Steve replied:

I was careful in trying to express the existence of the gender-centric debate while withholding judgment. Guess I blew it on the withholding part ( I imagine the word "yucky" only rarely appears in Western Civilization's greatest intellectual discourse).

Many learned Medievalists apply Goddess - related principals about gender to their studies. There is overlap between these folks and our community of recorder players, so I need to be politic. I do not at all dismiss the Goddess Hypothesis in my mind, rather I find it, as well as other arcane scholarly hypotheses, to be a vehicle for combining cheap laughs with a somewhat forced semblance of erudition. This works better than jokes about Math.

Perhaps the occasional periodicity (i. e., cycles of 28) observed in Gothic Architecture is about more than just the Lunar Calendar and Euclidean Geometry. Perhaps not. Who knows?

On Sun, February 21, 2010 11:33:42 AM, X replied:

Of course I agree, especially with the implication that any and all erudition can serve as a vehicle for cheap laughs. Why else would I have substituted "swapping" for "swiping?" I certainly believe that a substitute definition for arcane is "fodder for bullshit."

What can I say after that, beyond...

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

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