Posts Tagged ‘corruption’

Musings on 1 Samuel

Posted: February 15, 2020 by Ty in Spirituality
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Our family continues our nightly sacred text readings. We are currently exploring the Hebrew Bible story of 1 Samuel. Samuel, was the son of Hannah. A beloved wife, who was barren, and being mocked by the second wife for not providing children to their husband (yes biblical marriage at work). Hannah in her devoutness went to the Holy, and dedicated the baby if she was able to be a servant of God.

Hannah was found to be with child, and probably put of weaning for a bit longer than was necessary, for she was struggling. Struggling with her vows and promises, keeping her yes to yes…for she did not want to take her son to be raised in the Temple by the High Priest Eli, whose sons were–for lack of a better term corruptly abusive in all ways to the people. Yet, she followed through on her vow, with the joy of the life she had created, and nurtured that was now on a new path.

The path was that of being the last Judge and the first prophet Israel had since Moses. He was the high priest, the connector to the Holy for the people in their theocracy. Samuel’s ascension over Eli’s sons also leaves a lesson that those of faith need to re-learn, and should’ve been living the whole journey. See the sons were corrupt, they were stealing the sacrifices, and forcing the faithful into sexual relations (pedophilia, rapists). It took until Samuel for Eli’s family’s punishment to roll out, and the voice of the victims to be heard.  We are having an Eli moment now with the Jehovah Witnesses, Willow Creek, Southern Baptist/Canadian National Baptists; and Roman Catholic Church to name but a few… also with the desecration of the Imageo Dei, that is that all are wholly and beloved images of God, the corruption of power and creating the false dualism of Us-Them is what is tearing apart the Methodists for they are more concerned with sexual labels, than with the beloved wholly and blessed brother and sister of this world.  Just like Eli’s family was leading Israel astray and causing harm…so too are we in the religious now.

If it needed a further showing of what inter-generational trauma, and unresolved pain can do. Samuel has to deal with the people looking at their lives and not seeing the end of tyranny as a good thing and getting back on track, but as a moment to throw out the God with the priests– for they want a king. And God complies, with Saul who is anointed to lead the kingdom. So starts the lessons, as Shakespeare would point out about power and corruption.

For Saul, as king, believes that he is the final authority on what is right and wrong in life. His impatience leads him to take on the role of priest-prophet for he does not like Samuel’s tardiness. In essence he supplants God with himself and makes the worship about him, not the Holy Mystery that exists in everything and everything exists in. His power madness begins to show, and God lays the smack down for his downfall with the rise of the runt-shepherd as the new anointed–David…and we shall see how Saul’s tyranny unfolds, and David’s own corruption and possible causes, as my family continues the read (Currently ending Chapter 18).

What moments are you like Samuel?

When may you be Saul?

What can youd do to connect deeper in your walk with the Holy?


No pithey title for this one, sorry dear reader. It appears my re-emersion into daily scripture reading has brought about a series on the minor prophets (dubbed such due to their works being short not due to significance) or as the Hebrew Scriptures term them, the 12.

Nahum is a short 3 poem/psalm work that is best described as a post-apocalyptic horror scene. One has to ponder how this is to be used in worship or study? From around 663-613 CE this unknown prophet shares what sounds like a tale of braggadocio.  That is the error of reading the scriptures literally. What is presented is a story of the coming out of the Assyrian Captivity/Exile and the raising of the Assyrian Empire’s capital of Nineveh (yes, Veggie Tale fans, that town of famous remote from the prophet whom resided in the whale). Exile/captivity is a nice way of saying Judea was a conquered a people, they were slaves within Assyria.

So is it a boastful text?

Or is it a prophetic text, one that shows the people through their history what happens if they stay on the path they are on? 

It is a hard text to read, aside from the violence, there is what many would see through the 21st Century lens as misogyny, especially on display from these two passages:

Behold, your troops
    are women in your midst.
The gates of your land
    are wide open to your enemies;
    fire has devoured your bars.

-Nahum 3:13 (English Standard Version)

Rather crude and juvenile in the midst of the carnage throwing out the ancient equivalent to the 20th Century misogyny of “you hit like a girl”. Both are wrong, but what is as the core of the message. What are troops supposed to do? Fight for their nation, their core values, their beliefs. Unfortunately in this era, women were seen as less than, such they were not seen within these ancient cultures as having value. They were seen as driven by more primal urges, and not able to think beyond the here and now, and were easily cowed.

What would be an example though that shapes the troops having lost their core? Not having values to fight with so they collapse and are scattered?

When the only unifying force is the love-lust of power and money.

Which is a building upon the rhythm Nahum lays out for the Assyrians now, and his people as they escape enslavement with this previous passage in 3:4 (ESV):

And all for the countless whorings of the prostitute,
    graceful and of deadly charms,
who betrays nations with her whorings,
    and peoples with her charms.

No, this is not the scriptures slut shaming, or not understanding the dynamics of sex work, so please no pearl clutching from one end, on the other, know that this is the world Nahum was continually trying to warn people away from. See prostitutes back then, what we would class as sex workers today, were not in it by “choice” (though in Canada when the average age is 13-14 years old I do not know how one can say that now either). They were trafficked. There may be a looming power to take the money, but truly, it was trafficked for survival. These were the ones that were abandoned by family, who when husbands died the siblings would not take them in. They were ones abused and raped by invaders and seen as unclean, or refused to worship the proper deity. They were outcasts and cast asides striving for survival (for a reality check Xians- this is what Joseph was contemplating when he was thinking of putting Mary away quietly instead of stoning her).

The debauchery is in the commodification of the human existence. It is the lessening of the value of another that creates this horror cycle. What’s that? You are starting to see an equivalency in today’s world? Surely, in our enlightened times we do not create cycles of trauma and oppression that lead to debauchery and dehumanization like this? Does perhaps Nahum have a warning for us? A justice thread?

Wold today, instead of reading about prostitutes causing this it could be another P word? P-R-O-F-I-T-S.

We see this in the cult of money matters over people. Profits before employees ability to survive never mind thrive. The shifting debate in Canada from citizens rights to tax payers rights. It is all centered on the love of money, which is the root of all kinds of evil. For if your only value is in earning potential, does it matter how the money is earned to garner value? And what value do you hold in society if you can no longer or never could earn?

How do you value self and neighour?

Ah just Titus remaining on this journey. If you have a suggestion for an Epistle for reflection please leave it in the comments.

(Saint) Titus was the first Bishop of Crete. He was a disciple of Pauline Christianity. If you hold to a Paul authorship then they were written in the mid-60’s CE; but most scholars hold to a Pseudo-Paul authorship like 1 & 2 Timothy and place the writing around the mid-Second century. It is part of the Pastoral Epistles, letters written from the voice of Paul, to young leaders, both Timothy and Titus were mentioned in the journeys of the Acts of the Apostles. Crete is the largest island in Greece, and a hub for religious mosaic and commerce. It is a cosmopolitan centre, where much of what afflicted early followers of the Way had flourished, most notably religious exclusion due to their unknown Monotheism in the divine being of Jesus; and economic persecution via no one doing business with them as they would not swear oaths, and rumours abounded of their gluttony, cannibalism, etc.

Ah the Pseudo-Paul voice within these words is attempting balance, a move away from the character of Elders shown in 1 Timothy. He touches upon two challenges facing the gathering for survival:

This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife,[d] and his children are believers[e] and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer,[f] as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound[g] doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

10 For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party.[h] 11 They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. 12 One of the Cretans,[i] a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.”[j] 13 This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, 14 not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth. 15 To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. 16 They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.

-Epistle of Titus 1: 5-16 (English Standard Version)

Did you catch it?

  1. Circumcision Party.
  2. Cretens

Okay first off, Circumcision Party can be as painful as it sounds. It is not a circle and snip though. What it is, is the fundamentalists of the gathering. These are the ones that still want to be part of the origin religion of Judaism, and as such are holding the gathering to the 613 laws, plus commentary, plus ethical add ons by religious authority including and not limited to circumcision to be a member and be within the chosen. Obviously, if you trace original Paul, and back further to Brother Jesus’ teaching in his own journey, it was the fulfillment of the laws, prophets and rituals that made them not necessary. For the essence they were being moved towards as a people to change the world is what as needed. Yet, change is scary. Badly handled change can do harm. In the Reformation it created wars. In organizations today it can create mental and emotional distress and trauma in staff and leadership. The CP was attempting to maintain control, and saw a new-young leader as the way to do it.

The second part was the power and glory front. The no matter the means, just get to the glory, esteem, power and money for yourselves. This stereotype of Crete is where the anglicized term “cretin” came from. It was not only in the marketplace and Empire government, but existed as the other fundamentalist end. Yes, extremism is not just on one end of the spectrum. It exists in any system, and it is what is needed to be avoided, for within the extremes one can easily slip into corruption for it becomes about proving oneself right in their beliefs not about making one better or their community.

These were the cautions being brought to Titus. To know himself, but also not to succumb to populist movements that in the end supplant life giving love with hate. For it no longer is about divinity within. It is about the pursuit of power. Titus being new to a leadership role is being cautioned. It is a caution leaders, and people within any institution can and should here.

What cautions for extremism would you write to yourself that exist in your community?

Write a Pseudo-Paul letter to yourself.