Sunday, August 7, 2011

God and the Struggle for Self-Identity (Joshua 5:13-15)

When Joshua was nearing Jericho, he looked up and saw a warrior holding a drawn sword. Joshua approached the warrior and asked, “Are you with us, or with our enemies?”
                The warrior replied, “Neither! I come to you as commander of the army of Adonai!”
                Joshua fell face down on the ground and said, “What command do you give your Servant?”
                The commander of Adonai’s army told Joshua, “Remove your sandals, for where you stand is holy ground.” And Joshua obeyed.
Joshua 5:13-15

"Neutral" is not what I want God to be. Queers are oppressed and I want a God like Moses had. I want a God who will finally hear our cries and takes action against our oppressors. I do not want Joshua’s God. I do not want a God who sends to me the commander of the armies of heaven carrying the news that neutrality is the new divine plan.

Joshua must have been devastated. He has to remove his shoes as his old friend and mentor, Moses, did. Yet Joshua is doing this without any promises of God’s favor. Did God not see in Joshua what God saw in Moses? Was Joshua less of a leader? Less of a person?

Although the holy ground motif invites comparison between Moses and Joshua, the scriptures are far too subtle for a simplistic contrast. The difference between Moses and Joshua is not a distinction between more and less. Rather we are being invited to reflect upon the discrepancy between the social location of the two men.

Moses was on the lamb, a murderer known to be an offspring of common slaves. No real Egyptian royal blood flowed through his veins. Like his people, Moses was outside the circles of power. God’s people were in need of liberation. Moses, the hero of the exodus, was God’s instrument for that deliverance.

Joshua is the hero of the conquest. Israel is no longer in need of liberation. Rather Israel is ready to engage her neighbors and begin her struggle for self-identity and self-determination. The issue facing us in the fifth chapter of the book of Joshua is not whose side God is on, but rather who side Israel is on. The Sacred is neutral for the choice here does not belong to God. The choice belongs to the people seeking to connect with God.

We often blame God for our plight and turn our backs to that which gives life meaning and completeness. We have confused the very human institutions of the church, synagogue, mosque, temple, or coven with the voice of God. They are not, and we should quit blaming the Sacred for the tyranny of bigoted people. If God is neutral with us it is because in our struggle for self-realization the choice of allegiance is ours, not God’s.

4 comments:

  1. So homosexuals skip Deuteronomy, and Romans? God is unchanging, the God of Moses WAS and IS the God of Joshua, and He still reigns RIGHTEOUSLY on His throne....

    You need to read the scripture and repent!

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  2. I do not advocate for censoring the received texts of the scriptures. I do advocate scritpural interpretation as conversation with faithful ancestors where we also are welcomed and invited to understand our experience as the word of God as well. It is this nexus of scripture and human experience that gives rise to dyanmic and deep understandings of God. For more on my hermenutical approach see the pages "Why This Blog?" and "Bibles Gone Wild."

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  3. D/L/R are about male hookers; R is also about converters for cult worship.

    Their god was j·hveh, the imperfective aspect verb "he gets" or "he'll get". But beyond this sense he and his other god-siblings and cousins are free to do as they like and contradict themselves.

    http://skepticsannotatedbible.com

    Jèsu's god was logho, which means "word" (after dàbàr; must be inspired by all of this ranting: http://classic.net.bible.org/search.php?search=word&page=2.), but it seems to be cognate to "lay" or "law"

    -àbŕàm's god was shaddæ, which means "hillish", the earth/ore/war-god equivalent to Enci, Are, Mars, or Tiw.

    Malcitsedeq's god was qhelijon, which means "upper".

    -ijjob's god was -elohijm, which means... "goddles", where -oh is variant of frequentative -àh.

    Even older was the Cànqhànij god -èl, and he still had kin which was why the above name had to be invented.

    Now if there were one god, there'd be one name and for one or all roles.

    But all gods are fake.

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    Replies
    1. Absolutely there are several names for God in the bible alone - El, Elshaddi, Elohim, Y-W- (Jehovah being a poor mistranslation of Y-W-), Adonai, Logos (although a later Greek interloper). All these names and many, many more outside the bible speak to the multiplicity of human experience of the sacred.

      Taken one way they can point to disbelief and that is a legitimate conclusion. Taken another, they can point to the search to name that which supports the cosmic evolution of life. Whether you put a center of consciousness in it or not I think we can agree that life is "more than me" and this "more" is very exciting to connect with - regardless of the name or no-name we might attach to it.

      We are not adversaries but fellow seekers, let's learn from each other - it makes the journey far more interesting. Thank you so much for sharing and shining light on this exciting aspect of sacred identity.

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