the story of abraham's aborted sacrifice of his son, isaac, continues to be in my thoughts. the writer of the devotionals i have been reading suggests that perhaps God was not so much testing abraham as God was using this incident to allow abraham to discover the depth of abraham's faith in God. this is a more satisfactory explanation for me, but not one that is in accord with the bible's account, which clearly says (at least in the translation into English) that God was testing abraham. what has been occupying my mind from this story is isaac. here is a father that he loves and respects who takes him far from his home, binds him, lays him on an altar that the two have built together, and raises a knife above him. what terror isaac must have been feeling, how desperately his mind must have been racing to understand abraham's treatment of him. why would a loving God ever subject a child to such treatment? my only answer is that God would not, and this story has some other meaning, one that i continue to pray to be led to.
the current talk of american exceptionalism has also been much in my mind. it seems to me that this belief that the united states is somehow ordained by God to be better than, more moral than, superior to all other countries is highly offensive. those who are promoting this view are, not surprisingly, evangelical christians who also believe in christian exceptionalism, and their views of both american and christian exceptionalism go hand in hand. smugly, they tell us that as americans and christians we are ordained by God to become wealthier, healthier, smarter than everyone else in the world, and i fear for our country and the world if their view becomes ascendant. isn't this the very attitude that Jesus railed against in his condemnations of the jewish leaders who proclaimed jewish exceptionalism while collaborating with the romans, who used the law to perpetuate a system which gave them power and prestige while the rest of the nation suffered?
today, as i sit in my home during the quiet of the early morning, i am filled with peace, knowing that everything is impermanent, that the current political turmoil is only temporary, that the cycle of life will continue. that very cycle is the permanence God set in motion and the cause of impermanence. my prayer today is that we will all know peace and the confidence that God dwells in us and around us and that God loves us despite our human frailties.