Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Dissonant Voices

Posted: November 16, 2017 by leighannegreenwood in Uncategorized

On Sunday night we returned to our exploration of the Old Testament. Last time we were there, we found ourselves confronting some of the more violent passages. We challenged some of the traditional readings and started to hint at some counter narratives, and it was those alternative voices that we went back to listen to.

Arguably the dominant theme of the Bible is covenant, the relationship between God and creation, and so that is what we took as our starting point. We began by looking at three distinct covenants of the Old Testament – the Noahic, the Abrahamic and the Mosaic.

The first is found in Genesis 9, and is between God and the whole of creation. The second is given in several forms in Genesis 12-17, and promises land and blessing to the faithful descendants of Abraham. The third is given on Mount Sinai in Exodus 19-24, and sets the terms of the relationship between God and the people of Israel.

There seems to be a narrowing of the recipients of the promise, and an increasing conditionality to God’s blessing, a mirror image of the widening reach and expansive grace of the new convenant given in bread and wine. Put like that, it sounds like a steady diminuendo followed by a sudden crescendo, the Bible is far more dynamic than that.

To demonstrate this, Simon suggested five key words that describe the covenants of the Old Testament, as given in the passages above and as developed by subsequent generations, then gave us a selection of passages that stretch our understanding of them.

PEOPLE At first glance the covenant seems to be about defining a chosen people, and yet verses such as Isaiah 56:3-7 and Jeremiah 16:19-21 speak of God bringing in all the nations and embracing those who the law rejected.

LAND The promise of land as an eternal inheritance continues to hold significance for many, and yet Leviticus 25:23 rejects the idea of ownership, while Joshua 23:16 and Jeremiah 2:7 together suggest that the promise was conditional and the conditions have not been met.

RITUAL The sacrifices and festivals that formed the basis of religious life were seen as central to the maintaining of the covenant, and yet Amos 5:21-24 and Isaiah 1:11-20 have God rejecting these practices and asking instead for justice and reason.

KING The Davidic kingdom is often seen as the highpoint of Old Testament history, and yet 1 Samuel 8 makes clear the God never wanted to give Israel a king because kingship is by nature violent and exploitative.

TEMPLE The temple became the centre for all ritual worship, and yet 2 Samuel 7:1-13 sees God deny David’s attempt to build him a house, while in 1 Kings 8:27 Solomon questions whether the house he has built can really contain God.

Of course that brief summary doesn’t capture the richness of our discussion, but I hope it may at least jog a few memories or prompt a few investigations. At the very least it demonstrates how quickly the idea that we can ever say “the Bible says” collapses, an important thing to remember when we find what “the Bible says” troubling or confusing.

That’s not to say that we can simply dismiss the bits we don’t like without giving them a second thought, but it is to say that we can challenge them and look at them from different angles, because that is exactly what the biblical writers themselves were doing.

The dissonance of the Bible can be rather disconcerting, but it reminds us that the scriptures are a conversation we are invited to join, rather than a lecture we are commanded to listen to, and so it can also be incredibly liberating.

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Trust Issues

Posted: October 31, 2017 by leighannegreenwood in Uncategorized

It wouldn’t be much of an exaggeration to say that I have trust issues. I walk with my keys gripped in my fist late at night, I diligently cover my pin at cash points, and I lose hours of sleep to running worst case scenarios for even the most innocent of interactions. It’s not that I assume all strangers are bad, it’s more that I don’t know that they are not, and I’d rather be safe than sorry. I doubt that I’m alone.

The problem is, while sensible precautions are all well and good, this constant suspicion is exhausting, and it doesn’t feel very christlike. Especially not when I remember that Jesus shared his last meal with a man he knew was about to deliver him to his death. I’m sure he didn’t trust Judas, but neither did he hold him at arm’s length.

Sometimes circumstance will leave us vulnerable to being hurt, but if we spend our lives anticipating that hurt, we suffer from it whether it ever really happens or not, and it threatens to colour the way we way perceive and relate to those we should be treating as fellow bearers of the image of God.

I turned to the Bible for help this morning…and found myself sorely disappointed. Google ‘bible verses trusting others’ and you are rewarded with verse after verse declaring that to be a really bad idea. It seems many of the biblical authors also erred on the side of pessimism, although I can hardly blame David for being a bit grumpy about people when he was hiding in a cave because his old mentor was trying to kill him.

There is some good news though, because these verses about not trusting others are often accompanied by a call to trust God, and therein lies our hope. We cannot know that others will not betray or us or let us down, but we can hold on to the promise that God will not, and that can ground us enough to ease our anxiety and allow us to greet others with love not fear.

And so I leave you with some verses which I suspect will be familiar, but which we need to hear again and again, until they become the pattern of our thoughts.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4)

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7)

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. (2 Thessalonians 3:16)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27)

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29)

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Fall in Love

Posted: October 26, 2017 by leighannegreenwood in Uncategorized

I have talked before about my enthusiasm for the Ignatian tradition. One of the aspects of Ignatius’ thinking that I am only just beginning to grasp is the importance he places on desire. The church has often spoken of it as something to be mastered or repressed, but he believed that our truest desires were given to us by God, and so we ought to listen to them.

This poem, attributed to the Jesuit priest Pedro Arrupe, captures something of the beauty of giving in to those God-given desires, of following them and allowing them to change us.

Nothing is more practical than
finding God, than
falling in Love
in a quite absolute, final way.
What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.
It will decide
what will get you out of bed in the morning,
what you do with your evenings,
how you spend your weekends,
what you read, whom you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in Love, stay in love,
and it will decide everything.

~ Fr Pedro Arrupe SJ

I love this poem because I want it to be true. I want everything I do to be an expression of love, but I know that all too often duty gets in the way, and the things that have seized my imagination have to wait for a tomorrow that never comes.

If something of that resonates with you, perhaps you could take some time this week to think about the things that you have fallen in love with. Ask yourself how often you allow those things to decide everything, and if that is often enough. If you feel you are able, commit to living out of love more often than out of duty.

 

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I Have Seen (And Held)

Posted: October 19, 2017 by leighannegreenwood in Uncategorized

About a month ago I wrote about my response to saying the words “I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” during Evening Prayer, and I ended by promising myself that I would open my eyes to goodness. I want to come back to this from time to time, to share the goodness that I have seen. It would be a beautiful thing if you would share the goodness you have seen too, so please do comment on these posts.

 

I can’t think about the goodness of the Lord without thinking about my son. Not only is he a most excellent creation and so a supreme example of that goodness (I do concede to some bias on that point!) but he has also opened my eyes to goodness I had forgotten.

Two weeks ago I confessed that I’m not really at one with nature. About an hour after posting that blog, I took the little one for a walk to the park, and the look of pure joy on his face when he saw me kick up the autumn leaves made me think I’m missing out. I used to love seeing the trees change colour, but these days I’m normally too busy to notice. I need a toddler who has only just discovered the crunch of fallen leaves under his feet to make me pay attention.

A couple of days after that we went into town, and he stopped in the middle of the street to dance to an oompah band. Some days I would love to do a little jig or turn a cartwheel, but my sensible grownup head won’t allow it. People mind less if you’re dancing with a small child though, so I have rediscovered the joy of acting like a fool in public.

In some ways it’s easy for him. He doesn’t have an endless to do list scrolling though his head. He doesn’t have to think about how what is in the fridge. And he doesn’t know that five hundred people were killed by a bomb in Mogadishu three days ago. But surely those tasks and stresses and disasters make it all the more important that we do seek out goodness, so that we can retain some balance and hold onto some hope.

I want to learn to be more aware of joy and beauty for me, but I also want to do it for my son. At some point he will start to become aware of all the worry and sadness of the world, and I want to be able to teach him to still take pleasure in autumn leaves and oompah bands.

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Back to the Texts of Terror

Posted: October 11, 2017 by leighannegreenwood in Uncategorized

Two weeks ago we tackled the violence in the Old Testament, and last Sunday we took on the violence in the New Testament. I don’t know if that makes us brave or foolish, but it I’m pretty sure it leaves us in need of some light relief. Thank goodness we have a retreat planned soon!

The three passages we looked at did not contain any acts of violence, but rather violent language and violent imagery, and they were chosen because they appear to endorse or allow violence, and open up difficult questions about fairly weighty topics. We were never going to resolve holy war and eternal damnation and oppressive institutions in one evening, but I at least wanted to suggest some hopeful readings of some troublesome passages. By the end of the evening it was clearly that I largely succeeded in opening a large can of worms and giving everyone a nasty headache.

I can’t put the worms back in the can, and we’re going to need to come back to at least one of these issues in greater detail, but for now it may be helpful for me to explain why I said I was more comfortable with these passages then I had been a week earlier.

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Matthew 10:34

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.”

Sometimes reading the Bible feels like eating grapes. It’s all going well and then you comes across a sour one that sets your teeth on edge. This verse is definitely a sour grape, as it appears to make the way of Jesus a path that leads to violence, against everything we have come to expect.

However Matthew goes on to say that family members shall be set against one another, and while it is possible for relatives to come to blows, I would be suprised if the Roman authorities permitted Jewish households to keep weapons, which perhaps suggests that the sword is not literal, and that this is more about disagreement than violence.

Then there is the fact that the verse does not say who wields the sword, and we know that persecution was the reality of the early church, all of which makes we wonder if Jesus was prophesying opposition to believers, rather than permitting or promoting violence against nonbelievers. 

It’s also important to balance this verse against Jesus’ promise that “peace I give to you…not as the world gives” in John 14:27. Perhaps the truth is that he cannot promise the peace that is an absence of conflict, which is the best the world can do, but he can offer a peace that is the presence of God, which is something far greater.

I don’t feel easy about the idea of persecution, and I would resist any tendency to accept division between Christians and others as inevitable on the basis of this verse, but I do at least feel satisfied that this is not a call to arms, and that it does not deny the ultimate promise of shalom.

 

Matthew 13:42

“They will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

This passage is one of the most troubling in the whole Bible, as eternal torment is the most extreme violence imaginable, and yet it is preached on street corners with an alarming glee. The notoriety of the hellfire-and-brimstone brigade means it is virtually impossible to be ignorant of this imagery, but it also means that may of us have trained ourselves to walk past it.

The phrase “weeping and gnashing of teeth” appears several times in Matthew but only once in any other gospel, and so some scholars suspect that it reflects the perspective of the gospel writer more than the message of Jesus, that Jesus perhaps used it once and the gospel writer liked it so much he added it as an interpretation to a number of Jesus’ other sayings. I can’t say if that is true or not, but we only have to look at the variety of theologies in the church to see our tendency to take an idea and run with it, so it is at least plausible. We would still have to deal with the fact that Jesus said those words at all, but a single usage wouldn’t justify an entire theology of hell, especially as we know that Jesus was prone to rather colourful language that was never meant to be taken literally, the eye-gouging and hand-chopping of Matthew 18 being a key example.

I also find it interesting that all other instances of this phrase imagine the weeping and gnashing happening in an outer darkness rather than a fiery furnace, and in the Psalms the wicked are said to gnash their teeth at the righteous. That makes me wonder if this is the place where those who reject God are not punished, but rather left to their own devices. It still sounds like a deeply unpleasant fate, but implies less violence on God’s part.

Most significantly for me, there are a number of other passages which suggest that God wishes for all to be saved. 1 Timothy 2:4 and 2 Peter 3:9 both suggest a universalist desire, and although these do not come directly from Jesus and so must be weighed accordingly, they do reflect the expansiveness implied by Jesus’ insistence that he came for whoever would believe. And so I wonder if the fiery furnace and the outer darkness are a hypothetical future that will not be realised. In order for faith to be meaningful it has to be a choice, and so there has to be an alternative, but perhaps in the end no one will choose it.

I want to believe that all will be saved, that (as one theologian whose name I can never remember put it) there is a love so strong that in the end nobody can reject it, and while this verse and others like it trouble that hope, they do not extinguish it.

 

1 Peter 2:18

“Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.”

This verse has always made me uncomfortable, because it does nothing to challenge the violent system of slavery, but in fact seems to endorse it by setting out rules as to how to live within it. Paul does marginally better in Ephesians 6:9 by calling masters to show kindness to their slaves, but it still seems woefully inadequate.

This is where context is important. Dating New Testament letters is tricky, but they were likely written in the years leading up to or following on from the First Jewish-Roman War. It was a dangerous time, and rebellion ultimately led to disaster in Jerusalem. Whether the letter writers had learnt from the destruction of the temple or could see catastrophe on the horizon and wished to avoid it, it seems likely that this was a call to bear with difficult circumstances until they could be changed without causing greater harm, rather than a lasting instruction or ringing endorsement of slavery.

The other thing that makes me uncomfortable about this verse is the knowledge that it took a long time before the church challenged the institution of slavery because of passages like this, and the certainty that there are other institutions and ways of thinking that we have similarly failed to disrupt. Perhaps we have forgotten that the Bible contains a trajectory towards liberation and a promise that the Spirit will lead us into all truth, both of which point to there being more for us to learn and change.

Setting this passage in context encourages me that this was not an endorsement of slavery, and while I am left with a sharp discomfort at the idea of all that remains to be challenged, it feels like a positive one as long as it leads me into action.

 

Bonus: Revelation 19:21

The rest were killed by the sword of the rider on the horse, the sword that came from his mouth; and all the birds were gorged with their flesh.

I was asked on Sunday night about violence in Revelation, and I had to confess that I wasn’t even close to getting my head round that. It may be hypocritical of me to ignore the bits of scripture I struggle with, but it also feels irresponsible of me to introduce passages about which I have nothing constructive to say. However, I have done some reading on Revelation this week, and these are my initial thoughts.

Firstly, the churches are praised for meeting persecution with endurance, suggesting that retaliation would be seen as wrong, and therefore that human violence is to be discouraged. Whatever else Revelation might be, it is not a manifesto for a holy war waged by human hands.

Secondly, while divine violence is portrayed in fairly graphic terms, it is truly redemptive and the endpoint is the shalom of the new heaven and new earth. I would like to think that redemption can happen without violence, and that the battles of Revelation are purely metaphorical and written for dramatic effect, but if evil must be met with violence then this complete victory is the only thing that could justify it.

Revelation is a really dense book, and it relies heavily on symbolism and context that is not apparent to a twenty first century reader, so it would be a significant project to try and get a handle on it, but that glimpse has at least made me a little less frightened.

 

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The passages we have looked at over the past few weeks are ones I have worried over for years, and have largely tried to ignore in the hope that…well I’m not sure what I was hoping for really.

Tackling them head on has been difficult, and there is still work to be done, but I do at least feel confident that my instinctive discomfort with these texts is justified, that readings which glorify violence are not true to the God I know and worship, and that alternative readings are possible.

So that is why, even though I may not be entirely comfortable with every aspect of these passages, I am more comfortable with them than I was a week ago.

I Have Seen (And Heard)

Posted: October 5, 2017 by leighannegreenwood in Uncategorized

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about my response to saying the words “I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” during Evening Prayer, and I ended by promising myself that I would open my eyes to goodness. I want to come back to this from time to time, to share the goodness that I have seen. It would be a beautiful thing if you would share the goodness you have seen too, so please do comment on these posts.

 

I have never been someone who most often experiences God in the great outdoors. Watching the shadows pass over the hills or the colours shift in the sea is certainly good for my soul, but somehow it doesn’t amaze me. I think there is a part of my brain that says Of course the world is beautiful. God made it. That’s how it’s meant to be.

It is when I look up at a towering cathedral, or listen to a sublime piece of music, or read a poem that pierces my heart that I am truly amazed. Then there is a voice in my head saying How could another human being create something so wonderful? And the answer always comes back Because we have in us the divine spark of our creator God.

Perhaps I shouldn’t be so suprised by the things we are capable of. Perhaps I should think Of course the things we make are beautiful. God made us. That how it’s meant to be. But we are not quite as we were meant to be, and so there is a wonder in something of beauty coming from something capable of such ugliness.

All of this is to say that I most often see the goodness of the Lord as it is reflected by humanity, because that is where it catches me by surprise. And so the first thing I want to share is a recording of Allegri’s Miserere, a setting of Psalm 51 and a piece of music that makes my heart soar.

Confronting the Texts of Terror

Posted: September 28, 2017 by leighannegreenwood in Uncategorized

Last Sunday we tackled the thorny issue of violence in the Old Testament. We had previously discussed the idea that we cannot simply reject the bits of the Bible we don’t like, and so we threw ourselves into grappling with three of the most troubling episodes in the canon of scripture.

We began by simply reading the passages and owning what it was about them that we found difficult and disturbing, then introduced some contextual details that had the potential to change how we saw these stories. As always, a blogpost cannot capture the fullness of our discussions, but here are some highlights.

 

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Joshua 6:1-25 – Fall of Jericho

This is the Sunday school favourite in which the Israelites march around the city of Jericho in silence for six days, then sound their trumpets on the seventh day, at which point the walls of the city fall down and all that is within it (with the honourable exceptions of Rahab and her family) is destroyed. It may be a good excuse to make some instruments out of rolled up newspaper, but it’s not exactly child friendly.

Perhaps the first thing to note is that Deuteronomic history (the designation sometimes applied to the books of Joshua/Judges/Samuel/Kings because they appear to share key themes with the book of Deuteronomy) reads like a national epic with a theological bent. For example, the Israelites circumcised themselves and celebrated Passover in the run up to the battle, suggesting that this may be an idealised picture of a holy war, and the conquests of Joshua are a crucial part of the founding myth of Israel, standing alongside the covenant with Abraham and the exodus under Moses and the kingdom established by David.

We can add to that the fact that while the archaeological picture is mixed, current evidence errs against the biblical account. Carbon dating indicates that the walls were destroyed centuries earlier, and it is unclear if the city was even inhabited at the time of Joshua. Israel clearly had a presence in the land at the time, but on the basis of archaeology and other historical sources, less dramatic methods of conquest have been suggested. For example, the first Israelites may have been escaped slaves and native Canaanites starting new settlements or taking over abandoned ones.

It can be deeply unsettling to think that what he have called the histories may not be terribly historical, but ancient and modern minds understand history very differently. Thucydides appears to have been the first person to attempt to write a ‘scientific history’, and that was not until the fifth century BC. Before him, the approach to historical writing was the one exemplified by his contemporary Herodotus, who said he simply recorded what we was told. If the Old Testament was written according to the principles of Herodotus, it was recording the stories everybody believed to have happened, stories that may well have been confused or elaborated or politicised in the telling.

That doesn’t make the Bible completely false or deny that the inspiration of the Spirit had any part in its writing, but it does remind us that it in a very practical sense it is the product of human hands as much as divine will. If we accept this position, we seem to be left with one big unanswerable question. What is true and what isn’t? But perhaps that is the wrong question, or at least the wrong understanding of truth. Perhaps it leaves us with other questions. What does this story tell me about what it is to be human? What does the way it is told tell me about how the author saw God? What does the way I respond tell me about how I see God? What stories would I tell or have told? Those questions may ultimately be more fruitful.

 

1 Samuel 15:1-23 – Destruction of Amalekites

In this passage, God commands Saul to utterly destroy the Amalekites, and then rebukes him for sparing “everything that was good” and only destroying “everything that was weak and despised”. As with the passage from Joshua, it is the fact that this violence is commanded by God that is perhaps most troubling.

One possible response is to say that Joshua or Saul or the people who wrote all this down simply got it wrong. Whether they were wilfully using God to justify their own actions, or were genuinely mistaken in what they believed God wanted from them, God did not call them to carry out such atrocities. This may well be part of the answer (authorial bias in favour of this argument must be confessed here as it will colour everything else) but it doesn’t tell us why they thought it was appropriate to attribute violence to God and so we must continue to push these passages a little harder.

The introduction to the episode reminds us that the Amalekites had opposed the Israelites for centuries, beginning with an attempt to prevent their escape from Egypt, so perhaps it had reached a point where one or the other of them had to go. That may sound brutal, and we should resist any tendency to accept violence as inevitable, but at the same time we have to recognise that the ancient world was incredibly violent, and this is not an unusual story. Neither is it unusual to see violence attributed to the will or action of a deity. Our worship songs can still veer into a “my god is bigger than your god” mentality, and it is perhaps not surprising that a violent culture would interpret that as “my god is more violent than your god”.

It is also worth noting that another source from the Ancient Near East claims that the ban (the official term for the complete destruction of an enemy) was used against Israel, but we know that cannot have been the case because at least a remnant of the people of Israel has always survived. That suggests that this may have been a literary trope, not meant to be taken literally but to indicate a resounding victory, and to tie up a story without leaving any loose ends. We still like to tell tales like that. It’s why so many episodes of Doctor Who end with the apparent destruction of every Dalek, even though we know they’ll be back next series.

If this appears to be a common story told in a common way, we may perhaps ask what is distinctive about it, what made it worth telling. The climax of the story is not in fact the defeat of an ancient foe, but the rejection of Saul as king. It appears that God is angry because Saul did not kill every living thing with the Amalekites, which gives us a deeply disturbing picture of a bloodthirsty tyrant, but there may be something else going on. The attack on the Amalekites was meant to be about justice, but by sparing livestock because he thought it was good, Saul has judged the lives of cattle more valuable than the lives of babies, and attempted to turn violence to profit. So perhaps this story in some way functions as an attempt to regulate violence, in a context in which it seemed unavoidable, by keeping it focused on justice.

 

Esther 9:1-19 – Defeat of Haman

Haman has tricked Xerxes into writing an edict allowing him to destroy the Jews, and Esther has used her position in court to give Mordecai the chance to write a counter edict to allow the Jews to fight to defend themselves. In this passage, they slaughter their opponents and murder Haman’s ten sons, Haman already having been killed. It solves the problem, but it does seem a little like overkill.

In one sense, we have an easy get out clause with this one, as God is not mentioned at all in the book of Esther. Divine providence seems to be at work, as it is said that Esther has been placed at court “for such a time as this”, but it is Mordecai who instructs and is honoured by the violence of the narrative, and there is no clear indication that God desires or approves it.

If God is not responsible for the violence, we may ask why this story found its way into the canon. Perhaps is inclusion was deemed necessary as it is given as the background for the festival of Purim, although interestingly the festival seems to be marked primarily by the giving of gifts not a retelling of the story as is the case with Passover, and the verses that link the events of Esther to Purim say that it was the king who ordered the deaths of Haman and his sons, when in fact he ordered the death of Haman but only consented to the deaths of his sons. It is as though there has been attempt to move away from some of the violence, perhaps because the murder of Haman’s sons goes against Deuteronomic law, which in turn suggests this is an account of what happened not a model for what should happen.

It is also worth noting that Haman was not just a rival, but an anti-Semite who hated the very existence of the Jews. They were not a threat to him, as they lived peacefully in the land, but still he hated them to the point of seeking their destruction. At the risk of invoking Godwin’s Law, Haman was a Nazi. The reaction of the Jews may have been extreme, but their survival was on the line just as it was in the middle of last century, and desperate people do desperate things.

At any rate, it’s all too easy for us to say that Mordecai should have found a more creative and peaceful way of resisting Haman, but our own recent history shows that we still struggle to resist violence (at least on the scale we are talking about here) without resorting to further violence. We spoke two weeks ago about confronting the violence in the text in order to confront the violence in the world, and that seem particularly pertinent here. If we wish to condemn the violence of the Jews, then we must also condemn our own violence, recognising that it is not right even when we do not know how to avoid it, and we must continue to seek creative and peaceful resolutions.

 

There are no clear answers to the violence in the Old Testament here, but there are some challenges to the way it has traditionally been understood, and some lessons to take away and mull over. That’s important, because as we said a fortnight ago, we cannot change the violence of the stories we have inherited, but we can decide how we respond to them. It is a sad truth that some still use these stories to justify violence, but we can choose a better path, learning from them in order to foster peace.

We ended Sunday night with a hopeful look towards some of the counter narratives in the Old Testament, the stories which help us find that better path. They deserve more than an epilogue, so watch out for more on them…