Friday, July 29, 2005

Blessing - and being blessed by - Emily

blessing Emily and being blessed
Originally uploaded by jeffstreet1.

Had Emily's big sendoff shindig last Sunday, but fear not! She's still around for a few more weeks.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

A little levity

In these times of wars, crime, lies and distrust, it is helpful to bring to mind those heroes of days gone by. In that spirit, I offer you:

The Ballad of Sheriff Yoder,
The Gunless Lawman

There came a stranger to our town, his hands were hard and blistered
He wore a white hat on his head, his face it sported whiskers
He wanted us to call him sheriff but we had our doubts
We just called him...Yoder (called him Yoder)

He was a Quaker from back east, he came with an agenda
To bring peace to the Wild Wild West, he wore a star on his suspenda's
He rode an old gray farming mule he called Zechariah,
But we just called him Yoder (the man, not the mule)

Now, Black Bart was the meanest cuss that you ever laid eyes on
He liked to kick on dogs and spit on kids, he was a western python
He came to town to challenge Yoder to a deadly duel
Came to shoot poor Yoder (the gunless lawman)

Because ol' Yoder was a Quaker he didn't believe in fighting
And Black Bart was pistol packing and as fast as lightning
Take this, Yoder! Black Bart yelled as the bullets flew
Flew toward Lawman Yoder (Deadman Yoder)

Now, it's hard to fight with someone who will not fight with you
And the way that Yoder stared him down made Black Bart come unglued
The bullets bounced all around, one struck Bart in the foot
The name is Sheriff Yoder!” (Sheriff Yoder)

The townfolks whooped and hollered as Bart danced all around
No one ever had the courage to face Black Bart down
The Quaker sheriff from the east had won our undying love
We called him Sheriff Yoder, Sheriff Yoder, Sheriff Yoder!

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Crit of Rome

Crit of Rome
Originally uploaded by jeffstreet1.

Vernon Easterhare Declares: 7/19/05, wee a.m.

Thoughts on Luke 13:12-17, 'Jesus Looses the Woman with Severe Osteoporosis.'

We have been sauntering through Luke in Adult Sunday School Class at Jeff Street since Christmas last, and coupled with scholarly exegesis have been quite 21st-century eisegetic asides thrown into the discussion. These do tend to enrich not impoverish our Sunday School dialogues.

Perhaps with this qualifying preceding paragraph I can cut away much of the point of this pericope in Luke, which is a healing story to justify therapeutic work on Shabbat, the Sabbath day.

We read that Jesus finds this woman in the synagogue on Shabbat: she is "bent over and unable to stand up straight." Today we would simply call this osteoporosis, a disease sympathetic to women since in great numbers they are subject to this condition. This very condition has always-- if I as a man-thing may be so presumptous as to say-- appeared to be a cause for women.

What I want to do is wax somewhat eisegetic-- deliberately read a little beyond the 1st century context-- into the world of things alive today. Like feminism. Like rights for the disabled. Like rights for all down-trodden folks.

Specifically, this is what I refer-to: in Luke 13:12 NRSV, Jesus is reported to have said,"Woman, you are set free from your ailment!" Now this quiteas readily could have been translated "Woman, you have been untied/loosed/freed from your WEAKNESS!"

I like to think that a disabled woman as an oppressed person gets untied from weakness; I like this because she NO LONGER HAS TO WORRY ABOUT HAVING TO FEEL OPPRESSED and because she NO LONGER HAS TO WORRY ABOUT BEING DISABLED and NO LONGER HAS TO WORRY-- FIRST AND FOREMOST-- ABOUT BEING A WOMAN-- AND A VERY FINE WOMAN AT THAT!

I hope the women can forgive my mouthing these words to pen about Jesus freeing the 'osteo' woman from feeling weak. I just hope-- in my own disability-- that I can feel freed from weakness by the power of Jesus!

Chicory Over Clarksdale

Originally uploaded by jeffstreet1.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Vernon Easterhare Declares: 7/16/05

In my last entry I wrote of Aramaic studies, how I pursue them. This past week, with a mind to apply the effort here to reducing a substrate from the sayings of Jesus I acquired The Critical Edition of Q (Augsburg Fortress Press, 2000) only to read in the preface that its editors-- on the basis of the judgment of an authorative Committee on Q-- that Q as a text never had an Aramaic original.
That was hot reading for me, but I do not wish to say this angered me. It merely turned around topsyturvy a lot of reading I had done. If as I said my objective is to live the real language of Jesus, then I am only closer to home than I thought if this language is simply the Koine Greek of the New Testament.
I fired off an e-mail to Dr. John Kloppenborg, one of the principates of The Critical Edition of Q and in effect asked this question: I AM LESS INTERESTED IN TEXTS THAN TONGUES; DO YOU REALLY THINK THAT THE FIRST LANGUAGE OF JESUS WAS GREEK?
His response was about what I expected, and not exactly assurance to quit studying Aramaic. Dr. Kloppenborg said that few believe that Jesus spoke Greek as his first language, although he may have been able speak some Greek, indeed may have been bilingual or trilingual. He also commented that from earliest Christian times Greek was the primary language.
I wish to embellish these comments with the additional notes that Dr. Kloppenborg is a world-renowned Q scholar, and equally proficient in every aspect of New Testament scholarship. He is a prolific writer known to even those who dabble in matters related to Q. I do not take his opinions lightly.
Yet I do wonder about the chain of reasoning here. At the bottom, there must be a bunch of talk which was Aramaic; Kloppenborg does not seem to deny that this is Jesus talking. I thought that was Q. The text of Q by the Committee to be Koine Greek; to me that has to imply translation from Jesus talk, which is still kinda Q.
So therefore:
"I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me."
----Psalm131:1c, NRSV

Monday, July 11, 2005

Building the Garden Of Eaten

Building the Garden Of Eaten
Originally uploaded by jeffstreet1.

Another Story to Struggle With...

Our pastor's sermon last week came from Genesis 27. It's Jacob's story of treachery and trickery. Wealth and power by deceit. And we're left wondering, Where is God in such a story? Here's an excerpt from Cindy's very powerful sermon.

The practice of primogeniture, in which the inheritance goes to the oldest son, was not just one rule among many, but was, according to Walter Brueggemann, the linchpin of an entire social and legal system which defined rights and privileges. In other words, this was how everyone knew who got what, right? You change this one thing, and the whole system could collapse. Just think if when people died, they began divide up their stuff among the slaves, and just think, if when people died, they began to divide up their stuff among the women? Pretty soon, you’d have slaves that wouldn’t need to work anymore, pretty soon, you’d have women that wouldn’t need to cook and wash and kiss their husband’s feet anymore…Couldn’t have that happen, could you?

You see, the culture of ancient Israel, like ours, was built on the basis of certain fundamental assumptions. These assumptions served and serve to keep the powerful in power. Walter Wink calls these “delusional assumptions,” and lists a whole slew of them. He says that it’s not just the powerful who believe and use these assumptions. The powerless also often swallow them hook, line, and sinker. Which helps us to understand why so many of the working poor voted for George Bush. He says that “the church has no more important task than to expose these delusionary assumptions as the Dragon’s game.”

Among these assumptions are:

•The need to control society and prevent chaos requires some to dominate others

•Those who dominate may use other people as a means to achieve their goals

•Men are better equipped by nature to be dominant than women, and some races are naturally suited to dominate others

•Violence is redemptive, the only language enemies understand

•Ruling or managing is the most important of all social functions

•Therefore rulers and managers should be rewarded by extra privileges and greater wealth of all kinds

•Money is the most important value

•The possession of money is a sign and proof of political and social worth

•Property is sacred, and property ownership is an absolute right

•In a nation or organization, great size is proof of its power and value

Some of us may even now be thinking, “So, and what’s wrong with that?”

Wink says that we’re socialized into our roles at an early age by means of these delusional assumptions. Dar Williams sings a great song, “When I Was a Boy,” about how when she was little, she learned to fight like Peter Pan, and she climbed on everything that she could find, and went all around with grass-stained shirts and dirty knees, she was fearless back when she was a boy…but how now that she’s grown, she has to have someone walk her home at night…Society has changed her, cheated her, taken away a valuable part of who she is. And she sings,

And I tell the man I'm with

About the other life I lived

And I say now you're top gun

I have lost and you have won

And he says, "Oh no, no, can't you see

When I was a girl, my mom and I we always talked

And I picked flowers everywhere that I walked

And I could always cry, now even when I'm alone I seldom do

And I have lost some kindness

But I was a girl too

And you were just like me, and I was just like you

But they were socialized at an early age into their roles by means of these delusional assumptions. Boys are tough and girls are tender.

So Jacob would have been socialized at an early age, too. As the youngest son, he would have grown up knowing that he could never receive ever the blessing. It just wasn’t done that way.

But what this story says to us is that even though it might not be “done that way,” that we have the power to do it differently. And that might mean that we have to step out of the bounds that society has prescribed for us, and that might mean that we have to risk and struggle and suffer, and that might mean that those who are in power and that those who are not in power, but who have nevertheless swallowed the delusional assumptions of our culture, will be greatly offended by our attitudes and by our actions. But this story comes down through the ages as a witness that we can choose to do it differently. To challenge those assumptions which maim and bind and destroy and diminish.

by Cindy Weber, who knows justice when she sees it

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Garter Catch

Garter Catch
Originally uploaded by jeffstreet1.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Vernon Easterhare Declares: 7/l/05

Hello after days and weeks in quietude! Yet things have been astir in my hermit's hovel here, hot as the inside of a black flivver waiting outside of a Kentucky bingo hall for "luck" to happen in dog-day Agugust afternoon gaming.

What novelties move the torpid air here? Why, the grace of God from the F. family of Jeff Street, the 'sweat equity' and the 'prayer equity' of Jeff Street Christian-siblings like S.L. and D.C., and the sweet help of Lady God, Better Fresh Air than any gambling joint's cheaps fortunes can offer.

So now I have a COMPAQ MV 520; what do I intend to do with it? Well, I shall tell you the DEEP DARK HOLY GRAIL SECRET OF MY ADULT LIFE: to live knowing (in the O.T. sense of 'experiencing') as closely as possible the REAL words of Jesus in his own language-NOT as pat as you might think this might be from studying Sunday School lessons. Jesus was not KNOWN to write, and at any rate it is thought that his tongue was Aramaic--a language kin to Arabic, close-as-a-hug to Hebrew, and a consonantal shift or so from Syriac, the dialect around Edessa, Syria. The New Testament IS written in Koine Greek, and a Syriac translation which enjoyed great prestige in the Orient and is quite interesting philologically, BUT THE GIST IS THAT THE ARAMAIC (OR HEBRAIZED ARAMAIC) MUST BE INTERPOLATED WITH THE GREATEST CIRCUMSPECTION FROM THE KOINE USING THE (USUAL) ASSUMPTION THAT THE LANGUAGE OF JESUS WAS SEMITIC, NOT INDO-EUROPEAN (READ HERE, "GREEK").

As a technical linguistic process, this interpolation is called "reconstruction," the process of working reconstruction is called similarly, "the reconstructive method." I HAVE TAKEN MUCH OF YOUR TIME, GOOD READER, EXPLAINING THE BACKDROP TO MY NEED FOR A COMPUTER AND INTERNET; NOW I SHALL DIP RIGHT INTO THE OCEAN OF MY VOYAGE FOR YOU!

I have excellent grammars and lexicons and concordances-- for a pauper-- with which to study Paletinian Jewish Aramaic of the lst-century (that which pertains to Jesus); but Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati has a datbase (HTTP:// under the aegis of the Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon Project: this WHAMO! resource has exhaustive Aramaic-English, English-Aramaic 'dictionaries,' complete texts of the Targums (Jewish Aramaic versions of the Bible), and ways to build 'concordances' using transliterated Semitic script into our Roman alpahabet, as well as 'links' and a welter of other information. This CHARISMA of a PC will mean that I can devote hour and hours and hours to my HOLY GRAIL AND LIVE THE WORD!