All That I Have Written Is Straw. . .

Meanderings of a Catholic Devout

Update and semester recaps

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Just a brief update, as I logged on and realized it had suddenly been five months since I provided any sign of life. And if you keep track of substance, probably closer to a year.  I have lots of meanderings to share, but limited in time.  Work and academia take my attention from the love I have to writing, momentarily, in addition to the joys of marriage and the upcoming joys of motherhood (more on that in 2014). Much to comment on socially: legal rulings, Pope Francis, amazing conversions, etc. All in due time, I suppose.

I also realized that I hadn’t provided a semester recap in the Spring 2013 and as I’m on the eve of taking a final exam, I shall provide a summary of interesting dwellings lest I forget.

Spring 2013:

I took two courses this past Spring: Puzzling Passages in Scripture and Patristics (Study of the Church Fathers). What I’ve learned will be short, as nearly half a year has passed!

  • I have researched the heck out of the Jacob story and have found some satisfying possibilities for the funny stories related to him.
  • The story of Lot and Book of Kings is intriguing on how they deal with rape and the theme of hospitality. Apparently the latter was more important than the former. It’s hard not to put today’s standards of morality on texts written thousands of years ago.
  • Nothing will beat hanging out in Patristics class with a Monsignor and about 20 priestly seminarians, watching the ceremonial opening of the conclave that eventually elected Pope Francis. That’s one of those “where in the world were you when xx happened” moments for me. Especially since Houston’s own Bishop was a possibility.
  • I no longer fear the researching of old Patristic texts.
  • Origen should be a saint. The reason why he’s not is rather silly, in my opinion.
  • I am less impressed with St. Augustine of Hippo than I was originally.  But that’s only because I am further impressed by other Church fathers.  As J.H. Newman said (and I paraphrase), one cannot study the Church father’s teachings and not become Roman Catholic.
  • Deutorocanonical texts may be my next reading project, post-graduate school. I discovered this while research the Didache, but that only scratches my curiosity about some other texts. And no, I’m not referring to the Gospel of Thomas.
  • I learned I like writing exegetical papers.
  • The passages in Genesis are now forever ruined for me and banned from wedding usage. Adam did not appreciate Eve as much as one would believe. Not trying to be feminist. . . there really is textual evidence of this in the passages.
  • I’m always going to be wondering if Isaac really made it down the mountain with Abraham. The text is ambiguous.
  • The true meaning of apocalypse means “uncovering” or “unveiling,” not the end of the world. Additionally, for those who already know, the Book of Revelations is a political commentary, not meant to be prediction of things to come.

Fall 2013

For the fall semester, I took Pauline Literature and Pentateuch.

  • I have much more respect for Paul than I originally did. As with most people, they only believe the conversion story describe in Acts. However, Paul doesn’t actually mention his conversion with quite the same luster as Luke would have it. And as my professor put it: “Who knows more about Paul? Paul himself or Luke?” Point taken.
  • Some parts of Paul are meant to be interpreted in light of modern morality standards. Others are not. For instance, the parts about slavery. . . probably not true for today. The parts about women covering their heads? Well, one has to understand that the trend for pagan worship was for women to have their heads uncovered and Paul’s plea was for Christians to set themselves apart from pagans. . . thus things like covering women’s heads (and men uncovering theirs).
  • Only seven letters of Paul are authentic, or so the scholars say. However, canonically, it does not matter. Academically, it makes all the difference in the world.
  • Previously, I had only been exposed to Romans in my Philosophy studies. But now I think Corinthians is my favorite letter.
  • The history of the Jewish people is no longer a mystery to me. Theirs is a great story of God’s mercy and grace.
  • Beforehand, I don’t think I truly believe the Exodus really happened. Like other parts of the Old Testament, I sort of subscribed to the theory that much is told as a literary truth–an embellishment of some similar but less dramatic act. This was because there is no historical evidence that it happened. No clues in the desert. No history in Egyptian records. However, now I’m not so sure that it didn’t happen. Why would a people boast about slavery and being wanderers? Why put so much pride in your ancestry over that, if it didn’t happen.  Noted that it probably wasn’t 600k men who took off, but the Egyptians were notorious for excluding records that might cause them embarrassment.
  • The creation stories, as most intellectuals know, are copies from other Sumerian and Mesopotamian stories. A quick worthwhile read to any who think that the creation story and Noah’s ark is unique to the Jews need to read myth of Atrahasis and the Enuma Elish.  Even the Fall of Man is described within Enuma Elish. The only thing that separates the Jewish adaptation of this myth is the role of God. In the Hebrew Bible, the God is one of interaction and saves his people out of love. The other gods abandon their “projects.” But the historical point worth noting is that nearly every ancient culture has a creation and a flood story. Apparently, the earth did flood.
  • Even though there will be much poetic license taken to interpretation, I’m quite looking forward to the new Noah movie starring Russell Crowe for entertainment purposes. I’ve never been one to roll my eyes at Hollywood fictionalism, unless its derogatory and serves no purpose other than to trash an image of the Church.
  • The meaning and symbolism of each plague of Pharaoh is intriguing and brilliant–assuming the author(s) intended it so.
  • An incredible amount of the Catholic (and some other Christian) liturgy still derives from Judaic practices.
  • Miriam should not be overlooked in importance of her role during the Exodus.
  • The book of Numbers is quite entertaining. Rebellion after rebellion. I’d be pretty angry, too, if I was God.
  • “Eye for an eye” and other lex talionis is probably not literal in the context of the Bible, as some people would take it. It was probably meant to demonstrate the idea that the punishment should fit the crime.  I wish some governments would get this. Ahem, Middle East? Backwoods country folk? Montana judges?
  • I still love the Jacob story.

That’s all I’ll write for now, while I’m thinking about it.

If I don’t get the chance, have a wonderful, blessed Advent and Christmas season!


Written by Written Straw

December 10, 2013 at 4:16 pm

Posted in Catholic, Life

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