“What a cute little baby” Says the genocidal maniacs

Chapters 1 and 2 of Exodus would be kind-of funny, if the stakes weren’t so high.

Joseph’s brothers and family had moved to Egypt.  They’d moved there after being promised by God that they would have countless decendants who would come to be important in the world.

When a new pharoah took power, all the things that Joseph had done were quickly forgotten.  The Egyptians began to fear the Hebrews as there numbers grew.

I’ve read secular history accounts about this time that state that Egypt had been an occupied power.  They’d been taken over and virtually enslaved.  When they got free they entered into this nationalistic, xenophobic stage.

I don’t remember the details.  I can’t cite a source.  And I have no idea how the Hebrew population in Egypt fared through this period of captivity.  So I’d be far from prepared to bet my life on any of this.  But this is all a kind-of interesting side-note, anyway.

The thing that’s almost funny is this:

The Egyptians couldn’t stop God.

Of course, that’s a ridiculously obvious sentence.  None of us can stop God.  But it’s funny, too, in a way.   Exodus states that they tried to turn midwives into collaborators.  They tried to beat them down through their slavery.  They engaged in the murder of the male children.

None of it worked: the Hebrew population grew, and grew, and grew.

And as they grew increasingly extreme in how they solved this “problem” one Hebrew mother engaged in a pretty interesting scheme.  She arranged for her baby to land in the laps of the Egyptian royalty.

I can only assume the queen and the princess new what was going on.  At the very moment they were speaking Hebrew babies were being killed.  Who knows if they were completely o.k. with this situation?  At the bare minimum though, they accepted it.

From the very first moment they set eyes on Moses, they recognized him as a Hebrew.  And they accepted him.  They raised him as their own.  There is no record as to whether they recognized the wierdness of their situation:

In the abstract, it was permissable to allow all of the Hebrew babies to be slaughtered.  But when they were confronted with one concrete little baby, he not only deserved to be allowed to live.  He deserved to be raised in the richest and most powerful house for thousands of miles.

The root of hatred, prejudice, and even genocide is in seeing other human beings as an abstraction.  When we are confronted with the concrete reality, the uniqueness of others, it becomes so much more difficult to hate.


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The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

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