New Beginnings Prayer after Genesis 1-3

New Beginnings Prayer after Genesis 1-3

Creator God, in calling You Creator, we acknowledge You as the God of our Beginnings, all beginnings. And so we ask you to bless our beginnings this year. We ask you for light, and to help us separate light from the darkness of ignorance and selfish myopia. We ask you for the moon and stars, because our dreams are big and our aspirations great. We ask you to focus our attention on the beauty of this blue and green and brown earth and to protect us from the sharks and killer whales that often seem to lurk as we swim in your ocean of air. We ask you to help us respect the snakes and crawling things while resisting the temptation to act on their level or to climb up the false tower of our own hubris thinking we are better and taller and more independent of you than we are. And finally, we ask you to teach us how to get along, to keep us from wanting to kill each other, to show us how to talk politely about our differences and even to celebrate them. We accept the beginnings you have entrusted to us. We hold them in our hands and wonder at their promise. We promise to take care of them and to return them to you even better than they now are. But for this we need your hand on ours, loving us, consoling us, energizing us, renewing us and keeping us faithful....

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Noah in the Movies

Noah in the Movies

Scripture Genesis 6-9: The Flood I suppose we should all be happy that the film industry is still making movies based on the Bible.  It’s another proof that those sacred books will endure as long as people inhabit the earth.  The movie Noah has not received sterling reviews, but it is selling like a blockbuster just the same.  Now raise your hand if you think that the movie stays close to the details about the Flood in Genesis, chapters six through nine.   Right.  The movie runs over two hours.  There are four chapters on which to base it.   What’s a director to do, if he or she wants hordes of people to buy tickets to see it?   Why, interpret, or course, and embellish, and add characters and drama (oh, and use every special effect that has been invented)! It’s just extremely interesting to see how this age-old story is interpreted by 21st century writers and directors.  And who’s to say that the writer(s) of Genesis weren’t doing the same thing as they wrote down this ancient story of a huge flood that wiped out a lot of life.  Some of the early flood stories were found in the Epic of Atrahasis and in the Epic of Gilgamesh (see The New Interpreters’ Study Bible, p. 16).  There were others, usually following accounts of creation from chaos.  With the flood, chaos is allowed to return. As you read chapters 6-9 straight through, it is easy to discover that there are two stories in Genesis, conflated into one.  Primary evidence for that is in the use of two different names for God in the original Hebrew.  Biblical scholars have mapped out which verses belong to the “Yahwist” narrative and which one to the “Priestly” narrative.  In the Yahwist version, it rains for 40 days and 40 nights; in the Priestly tradition, the flood lasts for a year.  In the Yahwist, Noah is commanded to take seven pairs of clean animals, suitable for both eating and sacrifice; in the Priestly, only one pair of each is brought into the ark, whether clean or unclean.  In the movie version, we understand that no real animals at all were used—just virtual ones. Surely the liberties the director took with the movie, the addition of characters, including two granddaughters that Noah imagines he must sacrifice so that no humans would be left on earth; surely this makes the film controversial, and many critics have come forward, their complaints only adding to the hype and persuading more people to see it.  But the real controversy about biblical story of the Flood is that God gives up on his people and causes a natural disaster to wipe them...

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