November 4, 2020

Asking the Big Questions by Harrell Beck, June 1983

 The Last Temptation of Christ:  
When you get to heaven, the first question is, "Have you read Job?"

We are the flowers in the Garden of God -
those whom God chooses to decorate his table.

Asking the Big Questions  -  making us face up to reality
In times of tragedy, God sends wise people (sages)
Until we can accept the humanity of Jesus,
we cannot accept our own humanity.

The Wisdom Tradition - 586 B.C. - Exile
"How shall we sing songs of the Lord in a foreign land?"

Define Wisdom in the Old Testament

1.    Wisdom is a skill.
2.    Wisdom is interpreting daily experiences (foundation of our culture is shaking)
3.    Wisdom is the search for justice  (love activated)
4.    Wisdom learns how to lament  (1/3 of Psalms are laments)
        * a strong upper lip is not always a virtue -"My God, why have you forsaken me?"
5.    Wisdom is asking the questions for which there are no answers.
        * we don't need preachers who make up simple answers.
6.    Wisdom is the search for new Torah   (Jesus gives us the Holy Spirit)
        * need respect for learning
7.    Wisdom teaches us that life is lived between faith and agnosticism
        * "I believe, Lord, help my unbelief."

Illustrations of Wisdom Literature

1.    Genesis 1  -  Where did we come from?  
                                    In the beginning God ...  (Von Rad, Gen.1 commentary on Gen. 2)
                                    In the beginning was the Word ...
2.    Proverbs  -  down to earth  -  justice in the streets
3.    Psalms of Lament - the black preacher: God doesn't want anyone in the valley
                                        who hasn't been to the mountain; nor anyone on the mountain
                                        who isn't willing to go to the valley.
4.    Ecclesiastes - more of Eccl. in your church than any other type; doesn't really care
                          - (middle class and needs to get off dead-center)
5.    Song of Songs - would be difficult to get it included in the canon today
                              - when the church stops being erotic, pornography sells very well
                              - love of God for people and love of people for people
                              - we are followers of the world's greatest lover