Monday, November 2, 2020

Biding with Biden or Trumped by Trump? This is THE week! Also, Sacks on Genesis.

So, this post might get extended later in the week, if the US election results are worth commenting about in some kind of Anglicanly way ... we can otherwise expect lots and lots of commentary, whatever happens.

Meanwhile, in Anglicanland, Ian Paul at Psephizo continues to post always-worth-reading material and a recent post (mostly a book review by Philip Seddon) alerts us to an excellent looking commentary on Genesis - actually,  to a set of commentaries on the Torah called Covenant and Conversation  - by Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks.

The blurb from the Genesis volume says:

"In this first volume of a five-volume collection of parashat hashavua commentaries, Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks explores these intersections as they relate to universal concerns of freedom, love, responsibility, identity, and destiny. He fuses Jewish tradition, Western philosophy, and literature to present a highly developed understanding of the human condition under Gods sovereignty. Erudite and eloquent, Covenant & Conversation allows us to experience Chief Rabbi Sacks’ sophisticated approach to life lived in an ongoing dialogue with the Torah."

Naturally I encourage you to read the whole of Philip Seddon's review, and even better, obtain the commentary or the whole series for yourself (as I am now aiming to do). But for today, and as a follow up to last week's post, here is one observation Seddon makes, about an distinctive feature of Sacks' writing which impressed him:

" The unbroken line of rabbinic tradition of what we could call ‘Rabbinic scriptural reasoning’, the single story of interpretation, by contrast with the divided and hardened competing histories of interpretation in Eastern Orthodoxy, Western Catholicism and Western Reformation Christianity. Unlike a former generation’s mockery of endless conflicting rabbinic authorities, there is deep respect for the prayer and thought of generations of ’the wise’. In a Christian context, this would be the approach of a Christopher Seitz, Brevard Childs, Ephraim Radner or Hans Boersma, of Ressourcement—returning to the original sources and foundations with a grasp of the full tradition."

That last sentence in large part is a point I was trying to make last week. That if to be "evangelical" is to read Scripture and then to re-read Scripture and then to re-re-read Scripture to find its meaning for today (as, indeed, rabbis have done through the centuries), then one way to do such reading and re-reading is to do so with an eye on how the "full tradition" of reading has taken place.

And noting Sacks' point, that the way to understand "conflicting ... authorities" (rabbinic and/or Christian), is not to mock the contradictions, let alone the authorities, but to dig deeper for the wisdom that may be found beyond the contradictions.

Which may be something for Anglicans to ponder, when so often in our history we have wanted to resolve all contradictions rather than live with (into?) them.


Father Ron said...

I may be wrong, but I think that most Episcopalians up yonder will be voting for Joe Biden - a man of peace(and a tru Believer in Christ).

I wonder what the O.T.Prophets would have said about the Rule of Trump!

Kublai7777 said...

I don't about the OT prophets but Paul might have said something like, "in our human weakness, God's strength is manifest!"

Anonymous said...

"I wonder what the O.T. Prophets would have said about the Rule of Trump!"

Thank you, Father Ron, for an interesting question that is deeper than at first appears.

In church, we most read the prophets who spoke to Israel on YHWH's behalf as his covenanted spouse. Here up yonder, there has long been a Puritan tradition of preaching that sees North America as a new Canaan. But can we compare kings of Israel to presidents of a secular state? To me, this US : Israel :: North America : Canaan analogy seems badly forced. In practice, it has sometimes been genocidal.

We mainly hear the chroniclers of Israel's monarchy in midweek readings of the daily office. However, they may be the biblical writers most attracted to the POTUS and other politicians as a topic. Their curiosity was a philosophical one about how post-Fall human beings who know the Creator of all bear power in a state modeled (despite his warnings) on those of other nations. In that way, they are like, yet unlike, say Tacitus who also chronicles much misrule, but sees its cause as more cultural (ie the decay of antique Roman virtue) than cosmic (ie the human capability for stable, just states is impaired).

Least of all do we hear the words of YHWH that prophets addressed to other states of the ancient Near East not descended from Abraham. Had a whale not swallowed Jonah, many of us might not know that YHWH had ever addressed cities like Nineveh who worshipped other gods. Are these the prophets he would send today to America and other secular states? If so, since they say little about governance, they might criticise our officers less than our mores.


Peter Carrell said...

This comment has come from Bowman Walton:

From noon on January 20, 2021, the POTUS will be the Democratic candidate, Joseph R Biden.

In the past century, incumbent presidents were not reelected in 1932, 1980, 1992, and now 2020.

In elections for the Congress, Republicans regained a few seats in the House and lost a few in the Senate. The majority party in the Senate will not be known until two runoff elections are held in Georgia.

These facts are patient of a minimal conclusion: America has removed a president who was unable to perform his duties, but states favoring his party have not repudiated his allies in Congress.

As long expected, Trump himself has lost, but Trumpism has survived. Into what shape the American right will shift remains to be seen.