Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Let me not see the death of the child

So there I was listening to a sermon on Hagar -- and sermons on Hagar are typically sermons I do not listen to-- but I kept telling myself to hope that the minister wouldn't slip into the kneejerk scapegoating of supposedly "bad" Bible characters and the making into sacred cows of supposedly "good" characters like Sarah. (Do not even let me go on about how racist and classist Sarah was with her "The son of this slave will not be heir with my son!" crap. Moses pretty much telegraphs how he feels about Sarah and Hagar by using the same phrase to describe the cruel treatment Hagar endured with the treatment the Israelites endured under the Egyptians.)

But anyway, there I was and the minister says, "Can you imagine what a horrible woman this is? Her son and her are in the desert and they're thirsty and dying and this woman is so selfish she puts her son away from her and says, 'I don't want to see my son die.'" Genesis 21:16

Okay, first of all, Ishmael was probably about thirteen.
Second, we all know Hagar is a bit emotional. She tried to throw herself off a cliff. This is not a particularly stable young woman.
Thir, Hagar's young. She was probably a kid when Pharoah gave her to Sarah. (It seems that Pharoah was the one who gave her to Sarah. Possibly as a wedding gift.) Heck, for all she knew her new mistress was going to be one of Pharoah's queens. She was probably brought up in the palace as a slave and then bingo all of a sudden she is given as a gift to a lying nomad and his wife.

But to this main point: How many of us could see the death of our child? At times when Gabe is very sick and in pain, I can't sleep. I'm so afraid for him. But I send my husband to look at him in his bed. Cause I just can't bear to see him suffer. So I don't know if one can judge a flaky emotional young girl who simply feels her heart will break if she sees her son die. Trust me... my heart felt --literally-- as if a knife had gone through it when I sat at my mother's side as she died in the hospital.
So then, who are these strong men of the 21st century to judge a dying girl in the desert?

I honestly don't know why Christians don't look at what Jewish rabbis say about these passages. As I've said before, In Judaism many rabbis have historically believed that Hagar and Keturah are the same person.


Dawn Fortune said...

I find it pathetic any time a man passes judgment on the suffering of a woman. They have no idea what they're talking about.

Carole McDonnell said...

Hi Dawn.

I think this is yet another case of people dividing the people in the Bible into good and bad people. They seem to feel the need to do this. They are brainwashed into whom they should love in the Bible and whom they should hate. And once they do this, they build hate upon hate because as representatives of the "bad" people, these "bad" Bible people must be used as symbols and can be dissed and hated on. So, we Christians are trained to love and excuse David but at the same time trained to hate Absalom, Michal, etc. So, here is poor Hagar and Ishmael...who will always be seen in the mind of certain simplistic Christians as people who should not have been born because "look how bad the Arab/Jew problem is! And it's all because of Abraham's mistake!" They totally forget that Abram had way more than two kids so they can't just blame Ishmael. It's kinda simplistic to divide Bible people as good or bad when it's not good or bad but faith that makes righteousness.

It utterly ticked me off. Pissed me off as much as it does when I hear folks talking about Job's wife as if they would be so much more supportive of their man if they had lost seven children, and all their wealth. Folks just tend to assume that if they lived another person's life -- especially the life of one of these supposedly "bad" people in the Bible, they would live that life better. Very judgmental and it pisses me off because it shows they are still legalistic for all their talk about Christian grace and they don't let the Bible talk to them or use their own minds. They just incorporate the doctrines and traditions of other teachers! Hope all is well. -C

Anonymous said...

As a minister, I hope to do my bible studies in prayer and allow Holy Spirit to guide me in understanding. Most of us have fallen in traps where we unwittingly allow the pastors and ministers be gods in our eyes, and our swords of God.

Any good pastor, in my opinion, would try to understand biblical narratives as the Holy Spirit intended, as well as encourage the flock to consult their Word on their own.

I admit that I have made mistakes in understanding people of the bible because I allowed how a pastor felt to overide my brain, and if I fall into the trap of that kind of interpretation, I hope it would be brought to my attention.


Carole McDonnell said...

I really think you'll do well. You have critical thinking. You think for yourself. I'm hoping the new bunch of ministers will do a great job of helping people to see what the holy spirit is saying in the Bible...instead of being kneejerk with kneejerk disdain and kneejerk sentimentality.


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