11 February 2007

On a Sun's day morning, dear Teacher-

When you get a chance, I am curious about the narrative of the dream that caused your recent contact. Also, any thoughts on my attempts at unlearning by means of this modern bile smearing bloggering - the "fool" in the "where angels fear to tread" - as Jesus Himself warned - "pray only in your closet" (Matthew 6.6) and stay off the street corners and infohighways.

I will ponder to dying day the proper direction and misdirection allowed to teachers by his/her conscience. I read today in his biography that even Julius Wellhausen had pedagogical misgivings- "Wellhausen received a professorship at Greifswald, [but] resigned in 1882 because he believed that his teachings were having a dire effect on theological students destined for the ministry, and because he had become a figure of controversy over his published views on the Old Testament."

By the late 1960s, not only had Wellhausen's now well developed "Documentary Hypothesis" (P-E-J-D sources) called into question the fundamentalists' understanding of authorship of Hebrew scripture, but Wellhausen's approaches to "biblical history" (1878) had also set off the largely failed attempts at "proving" Hebrew scripture through "biblical archaeology" - showing that any actual reality afforded Scripture before 1000bce was fanciful ethnocentric myth, at best, equal to Homer's stories - no Abram, no Issac, no Moses, no falling Walls of Jericho, no David, no Solomon, no Israel, not even a camel - and of all this, from my religious teachers, not one word.

Add to this, the wider body of huge mythological works produced between 1900 and 1960s- such as Fraser's 12 volume "Golden Bough"(1906-15); Briffault's 1800 page "Mother's"(1927); Graves'"White Goddess"(1948); and the early efforts of Joseph Campbell and Mircea Eliade. Again not one word. Perhaps to the odd high school bible student off to conduct a storefront evangelical series - a headsup might have been in order - a "look out for the truck!" or similar.

As a seven year old child, my father would pay me $10 to read small condensed volumes of a children's encyclopedia. His admonition was to "Skip over the mythologies, because they might cause one not to believe in Bible stories." Being an obedient child and seeing the shorter path to the $10s, I skipped the mythologies.

Now, as my own wandering muse, I am beginning to puzzle over the dynamics of "forbidden knowledge" and its dangers- "when to hold them...when to walk away". Silent knowledge surrounds us, as do severe reprisals for speaking. As a present example of the unspeakable, the last thing any of us in the United States are allowed to even ponder, during the Bushes' αρμαγεδδων, is the earlier question, "What Jewish homeland?" (above).

(And the mundane - even to suggest that wrapping evergreen roping around a bridge railing is an ancient vulvic/phallic exercise - this too is forbidden knowing - and never, ever suggest that a baseball cap, a pickup truck and the SuperBowl are the same compensatory symbols - be prepared for a bloody nose.)

Listen to today's NPR "Children of Abraham"
Further link to "what did the biblical writers know and when did they know it?" which in fairness to the "1960s" comment above, speaks of an ongoing controversy at present.
Image credit: Wm. Blake's Woman Clothed in the Sun


Richard said...

I also muse, as one of your early religious teachers, why --even in high-priced theological graduate school-- the underlying assumptions about the nature of biblical authority were not pressed home. If one is embraced (some say, seduced) by the system in which one's "calling" is validated, one's professional standing is publicly recognized, one's paycheck is endorsed, there is little incentive to search out, much less advocate that which would undermine the entire enterprise. It is the very nature of "church" at the conservative end of the spectrum to defend what is, to confirm and affirm traditional beliefs among those who belong, or whose parents are sure they MUST belong. It's not intended as a sinister system, though its consequences can be crushing. If one can't affirm it, one must exit. There are many ancient battles I cease to care enough about to fight, though the targets are often very easy.

Gary Regester said...

Further thought on the dynamics of teacher / students-

I realizing during the several months intervening this last diatribe on teaching and teachers that there is no one to blame except myself - even as early as four years old, I remember great doubt on the "status" suggested as "truth" by my parents and religion teachers - to then have patiently awaited THE "teacher" was the mistake. To not have taken matters more deeply in hand until arriving at age 50+ was the mistake. To assume cleverness on the part of persons who hold academic and medical degrees from high Universities was the mistake (without getting too deep into the wholesale oxymoron of the system accrediting itself).

All the last 200 years of materials and controversies have been available to me (meaning perhaps that teaching the methods of access to resources is the principle goal of "education" - others have so argued), though perhaps only now due to the internet, these materials are even more quickly available without having to live in some huge public library. Why would I have accepted the tiny paradigms of my elders, never suspecting the huge universe of quiet possibilities??

Still- it is a great and upsetting surprise that so very few persons wish the trouble of piercing or even disturbing the veil in the holy temple of Mammon inorder to reach knowledge untainted by this one filter - a frank discussion of the nature of information and its financial strings would make a good "Intro to anything" lecture on the first day of class.

Best "new" book - Oxford University Press' "World Writing Systems" - if the medium of Word is an crippled tool to the communication of the ineffable, best to learn the nature of the invention of the crutches.


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