The Emergent Covenant Discussion Group (aka the Selah Covenant group) had a discussion this morning spinning out of Bill Moyer’s series entitled Genesis. The thing that got us started was when Gary called halt, maybe 16 minutes into episode one, and we chased off down the rabbit hole on the bit about “male and female created He them. In the image of God created he them.
Bill Moyers had a highly accomplished panel in his discussion. I refer you to his book for further details on who.
I was intrigued that no one brought up that the culture that produced what we know as the original Old Testament Genesis was polytheistic and used the word elohyim. Later traditions fixed on the “one God” theology and insisted that there is only one god. But before Aaron got busted for presiding over the festival of the Golden Calf, the Hebrews celebrated a number of gods. When Yahweh, the lord of the elohyim, proclaimed himself a jealous god, Moses moved in to destroy the graven image and the roasting meat being prepared in their honor. The master narrative has since gone with “no other gods,” struggling with the strange sexual duality of “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Genesis 1.27).
This word “image” certainly is intriguing in its multiplicity of potential meanings.
I’m particularly intrigued with the notion of a universal act of creation that is eternally NOW, that is universal, and that goes well beyond the community of organisms making up the self that I can see and touch.
The Elohyim go very deep in the animal and hand images of the ancient caves. Someone’s singing a story in the darkness. Think echoes. Think ethylene gases. Think of that absolute darkness, save for the tiny flame burning animal fat in my lamp.
An elder–someone like me–takes children to see the flickering bulls and lions running on the walls. We’d take a mouth full of red clay slurry, slosh it around and take in a big breath–and spitspray it out over our outstretched hands against a wall already deep in the images of hands.
This is the oldest surviving artistic expression of “I AM–I am what I do.”
The idea that really intrigues me comes by way of Paul Kingsnorth, who says Kevin Kelly writes a religious argument in his book What Technology Wants. Kelly thinks of techne as a life force. It sees a problem and devises tools to solve it. And not just for humans–ants build boats, either with leaves or with rolling rafts of their own bodies. Colonies of fungus travel the world on the bodies of human hosts.
Techne is the engine of evolution.
I look at my hand in that moment before the blueberry and clay slurry sprays forth. These hands skitter across a keyboard–my eyes engage words on the screen as they appear. I reach for the cup of hot coffee, looking out at the handspace around me.
Mid-December. Coming into Yule. Ross Douthat publishes The Return of Paganism, in which he says “Maybe there actually is a genuinely post-Christian future for America.” His final paragraph is quite intriguing:
“That embarrassment may not last forever; perhaps a prophet of a new harmonized paganism is waiting in the wings. Until then, those of us who still believe in a divine that made the universe rather than just pervading it — and who have a certain fear of what more immanent spirits have to offer us — should be able to recognize the outlines of a possible successor to our world-picture, while taking comfort that it is not yet fully formed.”
I wish to suggest a mind shift at this point. Douthat writes of “those of us who still believe in a divine that made the universe rather than just pervading it.” He fails to imagine that Creation takes place in every instance of time. It didn’t happen “once upon a time.” It happens right now. All the time.
Just pervading it? Imagining forth, I prefer to think.
For that called Body is a portion of Soul discerned by the five senses, the chief inlets of Soul in this age.
William Blake: The Marriage of Heaven and Hell