Thursday, December 31, 2009

Donna and Dan - 21

More of the continuing saga of the love history of Dan and Donna, being just hours away from entering the year of our 25th anniversary. I began writing a once-a-week story or poem to or for Donna about four weeks ago and will continue the countdown to our June 1st anniversary...

I returned home from Murray in shame (from dropping out) and in love (from having met Donna). I was 18 and jobless so I did what comes naturally to young fellas in such situations: I joined a band.

Early in 1982, two of my best buds and I started a Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) band we called Remembrance.

Initially, we were just two acoustic guitars and a bit of harmony doing a few covers (BJ Thomas, anyone?) and a few originals. Our role models were Keith Green, Steve Camp, Larry Norman and DeGarmo and Key.

We wanted to save the church and the world with earnest Christian rock and roll and searing lyrics. We met regularly for prayer, Bible study and band practice. We would go on to play extremely sincere, exceptionally below average light Christian rock for about ten years, recording two cassettes of music ("Mechanical Man" and the lesser quality sophomore effort, "Name I Can't Even Remember").

We traveled all around Louisville and the Southeast US playing churches, street corners and wherever we could get a gig, giving our cassettes away for donations or for free. But I'm getting ahead of myself (by the way, the slideshow video accompanying this posted contain actual photos and scratchy recordings of da band - be warned, it's not pretty...).

Whilst I looked for a real job and began the work of starting this band, Donna and I wrote letters to each (and wrote and wrote and wrote), made phone calls and had the occasional visit - mostly her traveling to see me, as I recall. We missed each other with a passion in those weeks and months in between visits. Oh, how we longed to be in each others' arms, if only for a quick visit.

Donna and I shared an enthusiasm for CCM and I'm relatively sure that when it came time for our February and March birthday gifts, we probably gave each other cassettes of maybe Amy Grant, Brown Bannister, Andrus, Blackwood and Company and, of course, the late, great Keith Green.

We have saved most of our letters we wrote in those first few years of long distance dating (Murray is about 4 1/2 hours from Louisville). Here's an excerpt from one from that first year...


Thanx for the letter. Sorry I sounded depressed on the phone. I'm kinda wantin' to call you now, but reckon I better not. I'll answer your letter first.

Thanks for telling me I'm beautiful. I don't know why you're so good to me when I only give you a bunch of headaches...

And on it would go. She'd write about college. I'd write about job-hunting or Remembrance or we'd both write about Christian bands we were listening to and the news from our respective churches and families. We couldn't afford many calls and so writing is all we had, and writing is what we did.

Being young, unemployed and with few resources, finding ways to make that trip across those million miles between us was nearly impossible but it was the one thing we wanted more than anything.

Could this new, deeply-felt love withstand this distance, with no assurance of any change to come for years?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Prepare ye the way

Misty Path
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
Roughly eight centuries before the birth of Jesus, Isaiah wrote...

The Spirit of God, the Master, is on me because God anointed me.
God sent me to preach good news to the poor, heal the heartbroken,
Announce freedom to all captives, pardon all prisoners.
God sent me to announce the year of God's grace...

Israel was a companion of hard times and acquainted with grief, being a conquered people in a foreign land. Isaiah assured them that the oppression and injustice which they faced daily were not part of God's will.

Hundreds of years later, young Mary - still living in an occupied state and familiar with oppression and hard times - echoed Isaiah's protest, rejoicing in the news that she would bear a son, saying...

What God has done for me will never be forgotten,
the God whose very name is holy, set apart from all others.
God's mercy flows in wave after wave
on those who are in awe before him.
God bared an arm and showed God's strength,
scattered the bluffing braggarts.
God knocked tyrants off their high horses,
pulled victims out of the mud.
The starving poor sat down to a banquet;
the callous rich were left out in the cold.
God embraced the chosen child, Israel;
God remembered and piled on the mercies, piled them high.

Shortly afterwards, John the Baptist was born and his father also echoed Isaiah, reminding everyone that God was with the poor and oppressed...

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel;
God came and set his people free.
God set the power of salvation in the center of our lives,
and in the very house of David God's servant,
Just as God promised long ago
through the preaching of God's holy prophets:
Deliverance from our enemies
and every hateful hand;
Mercy to our ancestors,
as God remembers to do what God promised to do

And John grew up, going on to be a wild-eyed preacher in the desert, calling Israel to repentence, preparing the way for the promised one. Luke describes it this way...

The crowd asked him, "Then what are we supposed to do?"

"If you have two coats, give one away," he said. "Do the same with your food."

Tax men also came to be baptized and said, "Teacher, what should we do?"

He told them, "No more extortion—collect only what is required by law."

Soldiers asked him, "And what should we do?"

He told them, "No shakedowns, no blackmail—and be content with your rations."

The interest of the people by now was building. They were all beginning to wonder, "Could this John be the Messiah?"

But John intervened: "I'm baptizing you here in the river. The main character in this drama, to whom I'm a mere stagehand, will ignite the kingdom life, a fire, the Holy Spirit within you, changing you from the inside out. He's going to clean house—make a clean sweep of your lives. He'll place everything true in its proper place before God; everything false he'll put out with the trash to be burned."

There was a lot more of this—words that gave strength to the people, words that put heart in them. The Message! But Herod, the ruler, stung by John's rebuke in the matter of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, capped his long string of evil deeds with this outrage: He put John in jail.

Then, finally, Jesus began his preaching, once again echoing Isaiah (literally quoting him, this time), saying...

God's Spirit is on me;
God's chosen me to preach the Message of good news to
the poor,
Sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and
recovery of sight to the blind,
To set the burdened and battered free,
to announce, "This is God's year to act!"

As we reflect upon this season, upon all that led up to Jesus' birth and the way that God has come to live amongst us, let us give thanks that God IS with us in very real and tangible ways and let us live our lives by God's grace in the steps of the one who came preaching good news to the poor and the day of liberation and salvation.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone.

And on earth, peace, good will to us all.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Donna and Dan - 22

1993 Donna Dan Jordan
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
The winds were blowing the snow straight on towards the freezing VW microvan, swirling in a hypnotically straight line towards my windshield. Driving became nearly impossible, I could barely fight the urge to curl up in a blanket and go to sleep. I would stop every few miles or so, jump out, run around the van, splash some icy snow on my face to try to wake up, then get back in the van and try driving a bit further down the road.

I wanted so much to see Donna, but was it even going to be possible??

While my first college career began and ended before that first semester at Murray was over, the Dan and Donna love story did not. After spending much of our free time together that first semester, taking walks, talking about God and the Bible (yeah, we were Baptist geeks) and Contemporary Christian Music (yeah, we were CCM geeks, too), talking about Donna's classes and our plans, it came time for me to leave Murray, knowing I wasn't returning.

Knowing it would mean a huge physical separation for our newfound love.

Murray State University and Donna's home are both nearly five hours away from my Louisville home. And here I was, going back to my parents' home as a college drop-out and no job. My only plan was to look for work and to start a CCM band (oh, boy!) in the meantime.

But we made phone calls. We made plans to visit and, when that first Christmas rolled around, my parents graciously (foolishly?) allowed this 18-year-old manchild to borrow their old VW microvan and make that five hour trek to the dark corners of far western Kentucky to visit Donna at her parents' home for the very first time.

The problem was that their VW had no heat.

At all.

In fact, even with the vents off, cold air blew in.

And the weekend I planned my trip was a bitter cold one. And a snow storm was a-brewing.

Nonetheless, I dressed in layers, grabbed a blanket to drape across my lap and put on my gloves and ventured out into the cold, to make the long frigid trip across the barren grounds of a snowy western Kentucky.

The first fifty miles or so, I still pulsed with enthusiasm and energy, but the snow was picking up and I still had to drive the endless empty stretch of the Western Kentucky Parkway. Being winter, night fell early and the cold winds blew straight through the VW windshield, icing it over. I had to continually use the ice scraper on both the outside AND inside of the windshield.

I reached Beaver Dam, the halfway point, an hour behind schedule and freezing and tired. I warmed up with some hot chocolate at the rest stop and, with my strength renewed a bit, headed back out to make the second half of this Arctic trek. Hoping I'd make it alive.

On and on I trudged. Stopping occasionally to try to warm up and wake up (to no avail), scraping the windshield and moving on again. Having nearly reached the end of the WK Parkway, I was about defeated. It was getting very late and I was worn out.

I stopped at the Eddyville Penitentiary exit, found a payphone at a dark lonely gas station and called Donna.

"I d-d-don't think I can m-m-make it, sweetie. M-M-Maybe they'll put me up for the night at Eddyville?"

"But you're nearly here," she lied. "You can make it, can't you? Please??"

And so, I re-wrapped myself in my insufficient cocoon of shirts, jackets and blankets, pulled my thin gloves over my trembling fingers and restarted that cursed VW.

After leaving the main highways, I trudged, trembling and trepid, down the one lane roads towards my final destination. What seemed like hours passed, snow drifting across the road and entrancing me as it whipped towards the windshield, with me forcing my eyes open in an act of superhuman determination.

When finally, I spotted the house as it was described to me, its lights shining barely through the blizzardy gusts of snow and ice. I pulled into the driveway, praying I had reached the right place.

There she was! Donna came to rescue me, prying me from the frozen VW and helping me get into the doors.

Instead of greeting anyone, I ran straight for the cast iron woodstove in the corner of their living room, holding my frozen hands over it to begin the thawing out process, hoping against hope that no fingers would be lost.

And her parents' first impression of their future son-in-law was the teen-aged college drop-out who had run to a decorative (ie, NO HEAT) woodstove to try to warm himself up after barely being able to drive a few hours through a beautiful winter night.

Bad first impressions aside, they graciously welcomed me into their home and we all warmed to one another in time.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Bible and Economics...

Lorelei Elizabeth
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
Part of an on-going series looking at what the Bible has to say about wealth and poverty and how we manage our economic affairs. You can find the entire series over on the left in my links under "The Bible and Economics," or right here.

Today, I'll look at a timely passage, from Luke 1. This contains the song Mary sang after finding out she was to give birth to Jesus.

I'll point out that in this story, God has chosen a poor, humble teen-ager as the vessel in which to bring God's "Good news to the poor," as Jesus himself later declares. I'll also point out that Jesus, the almighty son of an all-powerful God, was born in a stinky barn in the humblest of conditions. I'll also point out that, in Luke 2, Mary and Joseph made a "dove offering," which indicated they were likely poor. According to Wesley's Notes...

"2:24 A pair of turtle doves, or two young pigeons - This offering sufficed for the poor. Lev 12:8."

Upon learning about this Jesus who was soon to be born into dire, scandalous circumstances, Mary sang...

"My soul exalts the Lord,
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
For God has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave;
For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed.
For the Mighty One has done great things for me;
And holy is God's name.


God has done mighty deeds with God's arm;
God has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart.
God has brought down rulers from their thrones,
And has exalted those who were humble.

And sent away the rich empty-handed.
God has given help to Israel God's servant,
In remembrance of God's mercy,
As God spoke to our ancestors,
To Abraham and his descendants forever."

Understanding the circumstances in which young Mary found herself - a poor, pregnant out-of-wedlock, teen-aged young Jewish woman, part of an oppressed people in an occupied nation who were not unfamiliar with impositions, hardships, poverty and hunger - perhaps we should not be surprised that she would sing of a Day when ruthless rulers and oppressors would be brought down and the unjust rich sent away empty-handed, the humble exalted and the poor would be "filled with good things."

It is a point well worth remembering this Christmas season.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Donna and Dan - 23

Originally uploaded by paynehollow
Continuing the countdown until our twenty-fifth anniversary, in roughly 23 weeks, now.

Her lush fingers roll over mine like
fresh water running over a stream of age-graced stones,
smooth, playful, tender, electric

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Donna and Dan - 24

Donna Dan
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
Continuing my 25 week countdown to the anniversary of Dan and Donna...

After meeting Donna at the BSU retreat, I was infatuated. I found out her first name at the retreat, as well as which dorm she was in. I believe I probably stopped in at the BSU a time or two after that at random times to see if I could catch her, but without much luck.

Other than stalking the BSU, I had no way to contact this Cinderella. No internets to search, no facebook contact or cell phone, nothing.

Fate intervened. Or perhaps college.

I saw a note one day on the bulletin board at my dorm.

"Adopt a Little Sister!"

Apparently, Murray State University was in the matchmaking business. They had an "Adopt a Little Sister/Big Brother" (not to be confused with the actual charitable organization...) program to give guys from the men's dorm a way of meeting ladies from the women's dorms. Sweet! It gave me a chance.

I looked up her dorm name and went down the list of names.

"Donna Helton. Freshman. From Arlington, KY."

That had to be her, I hoped against hope.

I signed up and requested "Donna Helton. Freshman. From Arlington, KY." as my little sister.

This gave me access to her phone number and a chance to see if my detective work had paid off.

Now all I had to do was work up the nerve to call her (no mean feat for this shy 18 year old boy).

"Hello? Is this Donna Helton?"


"Hi, my name is Dan Trabue. I THINK we may have met the other night at the BSU retreat... Was that you? I was the guy who made witty banter about the size of your high school..."

Or words to that effect.

It WAS her and she was open to talking to me (that is, she didn't hang up on me rudely).

We met some more and talked some more. I walked her to her class and danced home to my dorm, got some change and went to play Pac-Man until she got out of class, when I'd try to find her "accidentally" and walk her to her next class and begin the cycle again.

Eventually, I asked her out for a date. Or so I thought.

There is some debate on this point, but the first TWO movies we saw were Disney's Lady and the Tramp and the new horror/slasher flick, Halloween (this would be about Halloween time, 1981). Now, my memory says that we saw Lady and the Tramp first and that was our first date. Donna, however, thinks our first trip to the movies was just two friends going to a movie and not an actual date, which did not come until the second movie. Also, we aren't sure which movie was first.

Nonetheless, we were hitting it off and, after walking her home through the cool, dark night after that second movie - holding hands! - and upon reaching her dorm front door, we shyly said our goodbyes and shared a kiss.

Our first, sweet, sweet kiss.

Ahhh, young love...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

On Reading the Bible...

Girl Reading with Joy
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
To give people a rough idea of the prayerful reasoning process I might go through in studying the Bible (keeping in mind that I strive to use scripture to interpret scripture, interpret all passages through the teachings of Jesus, use the clear to interpret the obscure, strive to understand language and context, etc), I offer the following...

1. The Bible says,

"yet [God] will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations." Exodus 34

2. This passage says God will punish even the children, grandchildren and great grandchildren for a man's sin.

3. This would be an example of an unclear or obscure passage. God punishes children for the sins of their parents?? That doesn't make sense, can it possibly mean that literally??

So what do we do? We weigh it against all of scripture and against Jesus' teachings. We strive to understand context. We interpret the unclear through the clear.

4. So, we look further and see that the Bible also says,

"Yet you say, 'Why should the son not bear the punishment for the father's iniquity? [as per Exodus 34 -dan]' When the son has practiced justice and righteousness and has observed all My statutes and done them, he shall surely live.

"The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father's iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son's iniquity..."
Ezekiel 18

5. THIS passage quite clearly says God WILL NOT punish the children for the sins of the father.

6. Now pay close attention: IF we take BOTH of these passages literally, then they contradict one another. That would send a mixed message about God. SOMETIMES God punishes children for their parent's sin. Sometimes God is quite clear that this will NOT happen.

7. Do you think God is of two minds on this notion? More importantly, do we have any reason to believe God does things one way sometimes and the opposite way other times? I don't.

8. What does Jesus have to say about this notion of punishing children for parent's sin?

When Jesus is presented with a blind man, the disciples ask if he was blind for his own sins or for his parent's sins? This seems to be a clear reference to the popular notion then that the sick and disabled were ill because of - as a punishment for - someone's sin. Jesus rejects this notion, saying,

"Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him." John 9

Jesus is very much about personal responsibility. What YOU DO for the least of these, what YOU DID NOT DO for the least of these. There is nothing in Jesus' teachings (that I can think of) that support the notion that innocent children are punished for their parent's sins.

9. AND SO, we have referenced the obscure passage with other passages throughout the Bible, and through Jesus' specific teaching. Additionally, we can take the obscure/hard to understand passage (the notion of God punishing the innocent for someone else's sin just seems quite contrary to our innate sense of Justice and Righteousness) and look at it through the clear (Ezekiel's "the soul that sinneth shall die..." - which makes logical sense, whereas the Exodus 34 passages don't) and all of that adds up to my conclusion that God does NOT punish the innocent for the sins of the guilty. Ezekiel is quite clear and supported by the rest of the Bible.

10. CONCLUSION: God does NOT punish the innocent for the sins of the guilty. This would be an example of a Big Truth - one of the important conclusions we ought to draw from the Bible and from our own reasoning.

11. So, now what do we do with the passages like Exodus 34 (and there are others) that seem to conflict with Ezekiel and the Big Truth? MUST we reject it as "obviously" wrong and thus suggest that the Bible is unreliable?

I don't think so. We can do many things with such a passage. We can try to reinterpret it, in light of the CLEAR teaching. For instance, the notion of punishing others for the sins of the father COULD just be a figurative way of explaining the ripple effect of sin, the natural consequences of sin. A father who is sinful in that he is abusive towards his children MIGHT have the result of causing emotional problems with his children, which in turn, might cause emotional problems with THEIR children.

This is an EXTREMELY rational explanation of a passage that, taken literally, does not make sense AND conflicts with clear biblical teaching. Now, by taking it in this OTHER way, that does not mean that we are rejecting the Bible, just that we are seeking truth.

12. In fact, we might even say, "well, I don't know WHAT Exodus 34 means, but CLEARLY, it can't mean that God punishes the innocent for the crimes of the guilty. That doesn't make sense, biblically or logically. It must mean something else."

We CAN leave it at that. We don't have to be able to explain everything - including the odd and obscure - in the Bible to understand the clear. The Big Truths in the Bible are abundantly clear, it seems to me.

13. And so, we have established the Biblical "Big Truth" that God does not punish the innocent for the guilty's crimes. And then, we come across a story which does appears to have an example of just that. A story where God commands Israel to destroy a city - and specifically including the children therein - and this story SEEMS to conflict with the Big Truth that we have already established.

Now what? What do we do with such a story?

14. Well, we don't HAVE to do anything with it. We can say, "Well, I don't know what it means, but clearly it can't mean that God punishes the innocent for the crimes of the guilty - that contradicts clear Biblical teaching and obvious logical notions of Goodness and Justice.

15. But we don't have to do that. We can also try to explain it. We can, for instance, recognize THE CONTEXT of the writing - what STYLE it was written in. These stories occur in sections of the Bible that tell historical sorts of stories, BUT it was written in a day when such histories were not written like they are today. Back then - in prehistoric times - stories were often passed on in Legendary, Mythical or Epic storytelling conventions. In these conventions, the details aren't always factual, as they are not the point of the story. OFTEN (always in ancient writings??) histories were told to impress a point(s) upon the listeners.

IF that is what happened here (and it seems a reasonable conclusion since:

A. That's the storytelling style of that time period, and
B. Taking it literally would conflict with clear biblical truth)

Then perhaps the point of the story is NOT to say, "This is what actually factually happened, detail for detail," but rather to refinforce Truths such as "God is with the oppressed," or "God is with God's people when they are faithful to God," or other such truths.

This seems the most logical, likely explanation for biblical stories such as these and a literal interpretation would conflict with clear biblical teaching, so on what basis would we do anything OTHER than assume that they are SOMEHOW figurative (ie, I'm not saying that's the one and only True Way of interpreting that passage, just that it's a logical biblical conclusion - whereas assuming it's literal is neither logical nor biblical)?

THAT would be the process I use for studying such a passage.

So, given how extremely logical and biblical this process seems to me, on what basis would I reject what seems to be the most Godly biblical explanations and assume someone else is right?

Friday, December 4, 2009

A Light For Our Path...

Advent Candles
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
First, let me point to a fine Advent reflection over at the Jeff Street (my church) blog. Our daring youth minister, Roger, wrote and passed on a wonderful start to our Advent season that is worth reading.

Moving on...

I've been in conversations with the usual gang lately (names withheld to protect the guilty), and we were discussing biblical exegesis and why we take some parts of the Bible literally and some parts figuratively. Most on the Right freely admit that they take parts of the Bible figuratively (no one much believes that the earth has four corners or that Jesus really wanted us to poke our eyes out, for instance), so it's not a matter of WHETHER we take the Bible literally or not - none of us do, fully - but WHEN do we take a passage literally and when do we not.

I suggested some fairly standard/orthodox critical biblical reading criteria that I use (judge any one passage based on the whole Bible, judge any passage based on Jesus' specific teachings, interpret the unclear and obscure through the clear, strive to understand context and language, etc). From what I gather from them, their main approach to deciding what is and isn't literal is the "obvious" test - ("It's OBVIOUS that there aren't four corners of the earth, so it must be figurative..."). I pointed out that that is a fairly subjective measure but never got much of a response except what we've come to expect from them (yer an idiot!).

When it came to a specific passage like where God commands Israel to wipe out a city, including its children, I would say to them, "Well, isn't it OBVIOUS that a good and just God would not command the slaughter of children," which was not well received. (No, is the short answer. It is not obvious that God would not command the of children - who says they're "innocent," anyway?)

Anyway, all of that to say that this led me to ask, continually and with never an answer: ON WHAT BASIS? On what basis would we assume that such an outrageous statement about God ought to be taken literally? Just because it is obvious to them? That's not a very authoritative source.

Because it was written in a section that is "obviously" history was their best answer. To which, I responded, yes, OT passages like this ARE telling a history. BUT they are doing so NOT in the manner that we tell history today, but using more mythical, legendary, epic type of storytelling.

This led me to do a bit of research (and I know that this has been done and done better by others, I just couldn't find a source online - please feel free to point to any books or sources for better info) about how history was passed on in the early years of human history. Consider...

A Light For Our Path...

Advent Candles 2
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
1. I believe most scholars consider "recorded history" as beginning sometime around the 7th century, BCE, not quite 3,000 years ago. Thus, the period prior to the 7th century, BCE, most scholars (again, I believe) refer as "prehistory," or before recorded history.

2. The OT stories occur generally between 6,000 BCE to about 500-ish BCE [source]. The stories of the Return from Exile as told in some of the latter [chronological] stories of the OT would be amongst the last stories told.

3. Thus, MOST of OT history falls into the "prehistory" category - these are stories told before recorded history.

4. The Epic of Gilgamesh would be another example of early "history," as told in the norms of the day...

"Gilgamesh is one of the oldest recorded stories in the world. It tells the story of an ancient King of Uruk, Gilgamesh, who may have actually existed, and whose name is on the Sumerian King List. The story of Gilgamesh, in various Sumerian versions, was originally widely known in the third millennium B.C. After a long history of retellings, this story was recorded, in a standardized Akkadian version, in the seventh century B.C., and stored in the famous library of King Assurbanipal. "


5. These stories were recorded faithfully and carefully.

"There were schools for scribes that taught a set curriculum of texts to copy precisely and in a fixed order. This resulted in lots of copies being made of many stories, with few variations, because accuracy of transcription was highly desired."

[same source]

6. Nonetheless, the stories do not always remain unchanged...

"Without a fixed written text, stories can be told for thousands of years, varying from teller to teller, adapted to this folk and that folk, with the names of kings, places, people added and subtracted to meet the needs and interests of a current audience. The story of Gilgamesh was originally part of such an oral tradition. "It is virtually impossible to determine when the material was first written down, let alone when it originated orally or how long it existed in an oral tradition. Rather it can be assumed, from the materials handed down from succeeding ancient peoples and languages, that it was not composed all of a piece and at one time but was added to gradually and varied by many tellers.""

[same source]

7. From that same source, we see that Gilgamesh was likely a real king and so in some sense, this was a "history." And yet, the story has Gilgamesh seeking immortality, was the son of a goddess and contains a description of a "netherworld" and other conventions of Epic Storytelling (which does not stick strictly to literal facts).

8. In other words, in Gilgamesh, real history and fictional embellishments occur side-by-side, back and forth with no warning as to what was literal and what was fiction. That was not the point of the storytelling. It was a different culture with different norms for passing on history. They weren't WRONG for telling historical tales that weren't wholly factual, it was just the way they did it. For us to suggest ancient cultures which mixed fact and fiction interchangeably were wrong or duplicitous for doing so is cultural elitism.

9. Gilgamesh is not alone in using Epic Storytelling norms for telling history. We have Homer's Iliad, describing the Trojan War, for instance, as well as the Odyssey and Virgil's Aeneid. Ancient histories often included gods and goddesses, real people and fantasy events. Do you have any examples of what we might call "actual" histories (ie, histories told without obvious fictional devices)? I can't think of any, especially anything from the time period 6000 BCE to 1000 BCE - the very period we are talking about.

So, if you can't provide any instances of history being told in wholly factual ways from that time period, if all our earliest examples are more of the Epic Storytelling vein, then that suggests to me that such a storytelling style was the norm of the day. ON WHAT BASIS would we conclude that these OT stories were passed on differently?

If you can provide no examples offering a different , then on what possible basis would we presume that the OT histories are told in a wholly factual manner, contrary to the norms of I believe most ancient storytelling?

It would seem to be cultural hubris to assume that THEY MUST tell history in the same manner that we do. Says who? ON. WHAT. BASIS?

If it's merely your hunch, once again, why should someone believe you? "On What Basis?" is a meaningful question to answer IF one is taking Bible study seriously.

Seems to me.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Donna and Dan - 25

Donna and Dan 1
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
Six months from today, my wife and I will celebrate our 25th anniversary. In honor of the pending hootenanny-extravaganzapalooza, I thought I would post a memory, story or poem for my beloved Donna once a week(ish) each of the next 25 weeks.

Now, I know what you're saying ("Awwwwwww... how sweet!") and I know what you're thinking ("how boring!"), so I apologize in advance if you're not the sort to wax sentimental. Feel free to skip over them if you are so inclined. Some things you just do for yourself.

Now, set the wayback machine for that day back BEFORE we married, when we first met way back in September of 1981...

Kim Carnes was singing about Bette Davis Eyes, Brother John Lennon was still with us and singing about how it's Just Like Starting Over, while George Harrison sang of All Those Years Ago. REO Speedwagon, Rod Stewart, Air Supply, John COUGAR (not yet "Mellencamp"), ABBA, Bruce Springsteen and the Oakridge Boys (Elvira) were all on the radio. Disco had all but died in our land and few mourned.

Raiders of the Lost Ark, Stripes, American Werewolf in London, History of the World: Part I and The Evil Dead were among the movies playing that year.

Donna was raised in rural Carlisle County just outside of Arlington, KY, population maybe 400? She attended Carlisle County High School and was at the top of her class of about 30.

I was raised in the south end of Louisville, KY, near Churchill Downs and attended urban Manual High School. I was relatively smart but mostly an underachiever. That is to say, I was not at the top of my class of 400. On the other hand, Donna was only about 40th from the BOTTOM of her class and I was way up about 300 from the bottom of my class, so it's all relative.

Donna and I had graduated in May of 1981 from our respective high schools and we both had elected to attend Murray State University in far western Kentucky. We both had grown up in traditional Baptist churches and so, upon arriving at Murray, we did what all good Baptist college kids did: Found the Baptist Student Union.

We were both relatively shy and yet looking to establish new friends and began considering the options at the BSU. They had Thursday night vespers (a prayer service, I think), a choir and other activities and, early on in the school year, they planned an overnight retreat for college students to get to know one another and the BSU. We met at this retreat.

A volleyball game had started and, since I loved volleyball (and since there were several eligible-looking young women playing), I joined in. I noticed this one pretty gal wearing what looked to be her high school t-shirt - it listed the entire graduating class of maybe 30-ish people. Since my class was so huge compared to hers, I suavely chose to make fun of her school.

"THAT'S your WHOLE graduating class??! Our chess team had THAT many people on it!"

Har. Har.

For her part, Donna says that I had caught her eye, too. Must have been my witty banter and mad volleyball skills. She says she was playing her best in order to try to impress me (she says she could tell I had a competitive spirit - not true, says I. She still disagrees...). I thought she played pretty well, for a girl (yeah, I was also much more of a sexist pig back in the day).

Donna is convinced it was her volleyball expertise that won me over and so she has not played volleyball again since that day, for fear of shattering the illusion. Actually, she had me when she smiled at my lame joke.

A friendship had begun...