Monday, October 22, 2007

Notes Toward a Report: Question 3

How do our family relationships shape our fidelity to God and, potentially, the kind of theology we pursue?


Blogger Adam S. Miller said...

- God's first words to Abram (Gen 12.1) command him to leave his family and homeland
- textually, God speaks to Abram out of the void of his father's death (Gen 12.1); does this insertion of God into the line imply a break with patriarchy? if so, what are its effects?
- the patriarchal lineage (through Terah) appears to already be sputtering and disrupted before God's command comes (Gen 11.26, 28, 31)

2:12 PM  
Blogger Adam S. Miller said...

- In addressing the role of family, the centrality of Abraham’s relation to Lot must be taken into account. (Gen. 13)

- Does Lot function as a placeholder for the patriarchal order that God interrupted by commanding Abraham to leave home, family, country? Does Melchizedek – without father or mother – embody the divinely non-patriarchal order? The first priest in the Genesis being the first person without any lineage? (Gen. 13-14)

- Abraham’s family commitments (i.e., to Lot) plunge him into politics and warfare, though on the basis of such a commitment his political actions are marked by an excessive generosity. (Gen. 14)

- Does Lot have a choice to not settle outside the promised land? It appears that the land cannot support both Lot and Abraham. (Gen. 13)

6:32 PM  
Blogger Adam S. Miller said...

Genesis 17

- fecundity: binding our concrete natural inclinations to infinite possibility?

5:54 PM  
Blogger Adam S. Miller said...

Genesis 18

- Abraham’s relation to God is very different from Sarai’s; there is no evidence of a “joint” relationship

5:55 PM  
Blogger Adam S. Miller said...

Genesis 19

- What does the text’s general antipathy to the urban tell us about the politics?

- Lot’s hospitality ends in the following chapters in incest: the mark of a complete dissolution of social structure

- What should we make of the JST’s overturning of Lot’s offer of his daughters to the mob?

2:25 PM  
Blogger Adam S. Miller said...

Genesis 20-21

- why doesn’t Abraham’s story end here with the birth of Isaac? many rhetorical figures indicate that the story has cycled through to its conclusion; can we proceed to the next generation only by enacting a kind of traumatic cut/break/fall? this is to ask: how does the eternal round of creation work? how do we understand the parallels between the “generations of the heavens and the earth” and the “generations of men”?

- Gen 21, the birth of the covenant child is the expulsion of the child of the handmaiden (we need to read these events as belonging together)

- covenant and promise do not appear to be the same: Isaac receives a covenant, Ishmael a promise; promise = I will bless you? covenant = I will bless you so that you may become a blessing to others?

12:16 PM  
Blogger Adam S. Miller said...

Genesis 22

- the chapter narrates a “double” slaughter in which God requires Abraham to relinquish both his sons

- this recognition of a double sacrifice highlights the human costs of an unconditional fidelity? Abraham must sacrifice not only Isaac, but his relationships with Ishmael and Sarah as well? he must willingly sacrifice these relationships for the sake of God’s promises about these relationships?

- Abraham’s two sons: two ways of constructing community, Ishmael as the willful construction of family/community, Isaac as the kenotic construction of family/community

12:59 PM  
Blogger Adam S. Miller said...

Genesis 22/23

- it is Sarah’s death that finally leads to Abraham’s acquisition of a portion of the promised land; is this an additional trial? Abraham has to buy even the smallest plot of the promised land because none has been given to him, even for Sarah’s burial? is it a degradation of the covenant, a devolution into banal bargaining for the land? does Abraham have reason to want to “economize” Sarah’s death?

- is Sarah’s narratively contiguous death related to the akedah? even caused by it?

- typology requires us to turn our hearts to our fathers (the past type) and toward our children (the future antitype)? it binds generations together by abridging time?

6:46 PM  
Blogger Adam S. Miller said...

Abraham 1

- the deep connection between records + priesthood + family

- connection between the Word and priesthood and family: sealing is authorized giving of one’s Word

- is priesthood a way of “acting out” a typological relation?

- the opening verses set “my fathers” (the particular) over against “the fathers” (the universal) from whom the priesthood comes

5:53 PM  
Blogger Adam S. Miller said...

Abraham 2

- the image of Abraham pleading with God to have mercy on his father

- the problem of grace in the book of Abraham: perhaps the issue shifts in this book from receiving grace to giving grace? from receiving blessing to becoming a blessing? (e.g., 2.11)

- grace is received as grace only to the extent that it is given away graciously?

- this is the problem of the blessing of posterity: the relation of a parent to a child is the giving of a grace (life itself) that cannot be earned and, in the end, only related to by giving that unearnable grace to one’s own children

- the gospel: an attempt to work through the tangled complexities of the grace given to us by parents/Parents by taking up this grace as something that we ourselves give; sin is refusing or economizing this grace

- Terah tries to economize this grace by calling in Abraham’s debt when he tries to sacrifice him; Abraham marks no debts, pleads for his father’s life and wants to endlessly give this gift of life to his posterity?

7:06 AM  
Blogger Adam S. Miller said...

Abraham 3

- God appears to be described as experiencing time; time of a different “order,” but time nonetheless

- is God’s “other” time a different way of “relating” to time?

- does vs. 14 indicate we should read the entire discussion of astronomy as really a discussion about children and posterity?

- vs. 16 provides a fascinating formulation of infinity (for any two orderable things, there will be a third higher thing . . .): does this found a Mormon ontology on multiplicity/infinity rather than on unity or duality? does this formulation say: everything is one or many but there is no such thing as a dualism because two implies infinity? does our Mormon materialism demand a choice in favor of infinity?

- though intelligences are hierarchically orderable, ALL are co-eternal

- “to be chosen before we were born”: the immemorial, the always already of things having started without us, preceding as a non-recoverable pre-history

- the immemorial dimension of our own histories: our co-eternality? our definitive lack of any identifiable or recoverable point of origin?

- our immemoriality: the problem of our relation to our parents/Parents (or lack thereof!)

- a non-libertarian reading of our co-eternality: our “having always already existed” does not mark the epicenter of our irreducible freedom and autonomy, rather it means that there is NO beginning to which we could appeal as the auto-foundation of our liberty

- it may be worth noting that the moment the story gets ethically complicated (Ab. 2) the story shifts scale from the personal to the cosmological

- stars are used metaphorically in Genesis, but metonymically in Ab. 3 (Kolob metonymically stands in for God as a scepter for a king)

7:26 AM  
Blogger Adam S. Miller said...

Abraham 4

- it is important to Abraham’s account that creation is a corporate venture

- here the creation of the covenant community echoes (and is intertwined with) the creation of the world

- establishing the covenant community entails, each time, a creation of a “new” world?

- vs. 27, the empathic plurality of the gods gives greater weight to the introduction of sexual difference in that male/female are, together, in the image of the gods?

7:32 AM  
Blogger Adam S. Miller said...

Abraham 5

- the emphasis on the Gods counseling

- vs. 3, the curious use of the word “decisions”; generally decisions are only required when a way forward is not obvious or when the material situation does immediately appear suitable – is this why it’s necessary to constantly counsel? to get everyone’s consent in the ongoing (and not predetermined?) process?

7:36 AM  

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