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  • three difficult stories tonight, and hopefully my plan is to get through all three of them, so we'll see how that goes.

  • So we're going to talk about the story of Sodom and Gomorrah and then the story of the the sacrifice of Isaac.

  • She is extremely complicated, complicated story, and so we'll try to make some headway without this story of Sodom and Gomorrah.

  • Is plenty complicated too.

  • Great.

  • So what we established last week, at least in part, was this idea that the Abrahamic narratives air set up as punctuated eh pox, I suppose, in Abraham's life.

  • And we were hypothesizing that, you know, you set out a goal for yourself in your life.

  • It's like a stage in your life.

  • You might say that, and then when you run that goal to its end, when that stage comes to an end, then you have to regroup and orient yourself once again.

  • And I was making the case that that's a good time to make necessary sacrifices.

  • You know, one part of that's because as you move through your life, you have to shed that which is no longer necessary and because otherwise it creates around you and holds you down and you perish sooner than you should.

  • And I think that's in large part because if you don't dispense with your life as you move through it than the stress of all that undone business and all those unmade decisions turns into a kind of chaos around you.

  • And that chaos puts you in a state of psycho physiological emergency preparedness, chronically and that just ages you.

  • And so it's necessary, in some sense, to stay light on your feet and also, I think, to renew your commitment.

  • Two your aim upward.

  • And I believe that that's what the sacrificial routines in the Abrahamic stories dramatized.

  • I said already that these things are often first portrayed very dramatically and concretely before they become psychologist.

  • And we'll see because one of the things that happens tonight as well in these stories is that when God makes his covenant with Abraham, this is the next part of the story.

  • It's also when the idea of circle circumcision is introduced into ancient Hebrew culture.

  • Now there's every bit of evidence that other cultures were utilizing circumcision beforehand, so it wasn't necessarily a novel invention of the Abrahamic people, but I see it's introduction as a step on the road to the psychology ization of the idea of sacrifice, right?

  • First of all, it's giving up something concrete, and then second, it signified by the sacrifice of a part of the body instead of for the sake of the whole.

  • It's something like that.

  • It's dramatizing the idea that you have to give up a part of yourself for the sake of the hole and eventually, well, by modern times.

  • That becomes virtually completely psychological in its in its essence, in that we all understand, perhaps not as well as we should, but at least well enough to explain it that it's necessary to make sacrifices to move ahead in life.

  • One of the themes that I'd like to explore tonight in relationship, especially to the sacrifice of Isaac, is that, you know, once humanity had established the idea that sacrifice was necessary to move ahead, which is really it's a discovery of incalculable magnitude, right?

  • The idea that the idea that you can give up something in the present and that will in some sense ensure a better future is an unbelievable achievement.

  • It's equivalent to the discovery of the future.

  • It's equivalent to the discovery of the utility of work, like its importance can't be overstated.

  • Okay, so it took a long time for people to figure this out.

  • Animals haven't figured it out, all right, we've figured it out, and it's hard.

  • It's hard for people to make sacrifices because, of course, the president has a major grip on you, as it should, because in some way you live in the present.

  • So anyways, there's the twin problem of getting the whole idea of sacrifice up and running and then figure out exactly what it means.

  • But there's a problem that branches off that, too, or a twofold problem.

  • So the hypothesis is that sacrifice is necessary to ensure the that the future is safe and secure and productive and positive and all of those things.

  • Okay, so then then question immediate two questions immediately.

  • Rise from that right?

  • One is Well, what's the proper sacrifice now?

  • We already talked about that a little bit with regards to cane enable in.

  • One of the things we saw was that Cane's sacrifice, whatever it was, was wrong.

  • Enables was right.

  • Noah's seemed to be right.

  • Abraham seems to you right there is something about a sacrifice that could be correct.

  • There's something about a sacrifice that could be incorrect.

  • The question is what would be the maximally correct sacrifice?

  • So because that's on obvious question to arise from the mirror observation that sacrifice is necessary.

  • OK, if you're going to sacrifice and it's necessary.

  • Well, how is it that you would behave if you were going to do it really well, if you're going to do it perfectly, Okay, so that's question number one, and then Question number two might be well, if the future could be better because of a sacrifice and sacrifices convey Arian quality than how much better could decide the future Be if your sacrifice was of the highest quality, right?

  • There's a limit issue there, and the limit is something like, Well, how good could your life be if you really got your act together and you gave up all the things that were impeding you in your movement forward?

  • If you did that forthrightly and and and with with integrity and with seriousness with with dead seriousness and you tried to set your life right, what is the upper limits with regards to how your life might lay itself out, and I would say, Well, we don't know the answer to that, But I think that the idea of something like the city of God or the Kingdom of God on Earth or the re establishment of paradise something like that is the answer of the imagination to the question.

  • How good could the future be if sacrifice was optimized?

  • And those are our critical questions, right?

  • And a narc?

  • A typical question is a question that everyone asks whether they know it or not, because sometimes you can act out a question.

  • An archetypal question is a question that everyone asks, and an archetypal answer is the answer that can't be made any better to that question, so I could give you an example of that.

  • The reason that Christ's passion is an archetypal story is because it's a kind of limit, right?

  • It's the worst possible set of things that can happen to the best possible person.

  • So it's a story that constitutes a limit.

  • It has nothing to do with the factual reality of the story.

  • That's a completely independent issue.

  • I'm speaking about this psychologically, is that certain stories can exhaust themselves in a perfect form, and that would be the archetypal form.

  • So that's the territory that we're going to wander around in a little bit today, and we'll use the stories as anchors be thinking a lot about the Sodom and Gomorrah story because it has.

  • Ah, it's classically associated with the biblical injunction against homosexuality, and that's often how it's red.

  • I would say, in particular, by the more fundamentalist end of the Christian spectrum, and I've thought about that a lot because it's pretty damn clear that the story of Sodom and Gomorrah has something to do with sexual impropriety.

  • But I've really come to.

  • The conclusion is very little to do with homosexuality, so we'll see how that interpretation prevails as we walk through this tonight.

  • Okay, so we'll start with a bit of a recap from last week.

  • So Abrahams had had his last adventure.

  • He's 90 years old, 99 years old.

  • Actually, the Lord appeared to Abram and said onto him, I am the Almighty God walk before me and be that perfect.

  • Well, that's quite the command now.

  • Alexander McLaren we talked about before, elaborated apartness slightly, and this is what he had to say.

  • If this is not precisely walking with God, the idea of walking before God, it is rather that of an active life spent in continual consciousness, of being naked and open before the eyes of him, to whom we have to give an account.

  • Okay, so that's that's an idea that's in keeping with the notion that what we're seeing an Abrahamic story is the call to adventure of the of man of the typical person, right?

  • Because your life in some sense is an adventure.

  • And I suppose the reason for that is that you're confronted by things that you cannot understand that you have not yet mastered.

  • There's a heavy price to be paid if you fail to conduct yourself appropriately, and there's a large reward to be gained if you conduct yourself properly.

  • And so that pretty much defines an adventure story and God calls to Abraham and tells him to move out into the world to leave what he's familiar with to go into the strange lands of famine and tyranny and to find his place.

  • And and that works out quite nicely for Abraham and so what?

  • That also means is that because Abraham is doing that consciously, at least, according to this interpretation, that he's not naive in his in his determination to move forward.

  • You know, I mean, I've dealt with lots of people who have anxiety disorders, you know, and one thing about people who have anxiety disorders is they are not mysterious to me.

  • I understand it's no problem for me to understand why people have anxiety disorders or why they're depressed or why they have substance use problems.

  • The mystery to me is always why people don't have all of those things at once, because everybody has a reason to be anxious.

  • In fact, we have the ultimate reason to be anxious because we know that we're vulnerable and we know that we're going to die.

  • And how you can not be anxious under those circumstances is a great mystery.

  • It's a massive mystery, and the same thing applies with regards to depression, and then the same thing applies to some degree with regards to drug and alcohol abuse.

  • But as I said last week, there's plenty of reasons to drown your consciousness and alcohol, that's for sure.

  • We could refer to the aforementioned anxiety and depression Not least, and so and the and the sorts of drugs that people are prone to take our chemicals that take the affect of edge off the tragedy of life.

  • So so it back to back to the issue of Of Fear.

  • Abraham is self consciousness.

  • That's what this commentary says.

  • But the thing is, is he moves for Despite that, he's self conscious and he knows the danger.

  • But he moves forward despite that, And that's actually the appropriate response in the face of actual, non naive understanding of what constitutes life.

  • Like if you're naive and you move forward, it's like, Well, what the hell do you know?

  • You know, there's no courage in naivety because you don't know what there is to stop you.

  • You don't know what dangers you might apprehend, but to be aware of what it is that your problem is.

  • So to be alert, existentially, let's there to be fully self conscious means that you're perfectly aware of your limitations and how you might be hurt and then to make the decision to move forward into the unknown in the land of the stranger.

  • Anyways, that's the I would say That's one of the secrets to a good life, and I can say that really, without fear of contradiction, I would, I would say, because the clinical literature on this is very, very, very clear.

  • What you do with people who are afraid and and to some degree depressed, but certainly anxious is you lay out what they're anxious about, First of all, in detail.

  • What is it that you're afraid of, what might happen?

  • And then you decompose it into small problems, hypothetically, manageable problems.

  • And then you have the person exposed themselves to the thing that they're afraid of.

  • And what happens isn't that they get less afraid.

  • That isn't what the clinical literature indicates exactly.

  • What happens instead is they get braver.

  • And that's not the same thing, right?

  • Because if you get less afraid, it's like, Well, the world isn't as dangerous as I thought it was.

  • You know, silly me.

  • If you get bravery, that's not what happens.

  • What happens is yeah, the world damn world's Justus, dangerous as I thought, or maybe it's even more dangerous than I thought.

  • But it turns out that there's something in me that responds to taking that on as a voluntary challenge and grows and thrives as a consequence.

  • And there's no doubt about this.

  • Even the psycho physiological findings are quite clear.

  • If you if you if you impose a stressor on two groups of people.

  • And on one group the stressor is imposed in voluntarily and on the other group, the stressor is picked up voluntarily.

  • The people who pick up the stressor voluntary voluntarily used a whole different cycle physiological system to deal with it.

  • They used the system that's associated with approach and challenge, and not the system that's associated with defensive aggression and withdrawal and the system that is associated with challenges much more associated with positive emotion and much less associated with negative emotion.

  • It's also much less hard on you because the the defensive posturing system, the prey animal system man.

  • When that thing kicks in, it's all systems are go for you.

  • You know you're the gas is pushed down to the are the pedals pushed down to the metal and the brakes are on.

  • You're using future resources that you could be storing for future time right now, in the present to ready yourself for emergency.

  • So there's there's there's nothing simple or truly at all about the idea of being called to move forthrightly forward into the strange and the unknown.

  • And there's a real adventure that's associated with out right.

  • So that's an exciting thing, which is part of the reason why people travel.

  • And then also to see yourself as the sort of creature that can do that is willing to do that on a habitual basis is also the right kind of tonic, for I hate this word for yourself.

  • Esteem, you know, because the self esteem has nothing to do with feeling good about yourself.

  • As as I already mentioned, there isn't necessarily reason why a priority.

  • You should just feel good about yourself.

  • But if you convert you yourself, acting in a courageous and forthright manner and encountering the world and trying to improve your lot and and taking risks, you know in a non naive way, well, then you have something that you can comfort yourself with a night when you're wondering what the whole damn point of his of your futile and miserable life.

  • And so and that's necessary because it's often the case that you wake up at four in the morning, or at least sometimes the case that you wake up at four in the morning, when things haven't been going that well and wonder just what the hell the point is, of your futile and miserable life.

  • You have to have some rial to set against that.

  • It can't be just rationalizations about how you know you're a valuable person, among others.

  • Even though that's true, that's not good enough.

  • You need something that's more realistic.

  • To set it against that, and observing courage in yourself is definitely one of the things that that that can help you sleep soundly at night when things are destabilized a little bit around you.

  • So back to the covenant, God tells Abraham, you make my covenant between me and thee and will multiply the exceedingly a neighbor and fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying, As for me, behold my covenant, my contract is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations.

  • Neither shall die name anymore be called Abram.

  • But my name shall be called Abraham for a father of many nations.

  • Have I made the and Heber means Hi father in Abraham, father of a multitude and I will make the exceedingly fruitful.

  • And I will make nations of the and kings shall come out of the And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after the in their generations, for an everlasting covenant to be a god unto thee and to thy seed.

  • After the and I will give unto thee and thy seed after the the land wherein thou art a stranger all the land of Canaan for an everlasting possession and I will be their god.

  • I love that line.

  • Really The line about the land where you are a stranger, You know, everything that happens in the Bible.

  • Almost everything that happens in these more archaic stories in particular is laid out geographically.

  • The metaphors geographic.

  • So you moved to a land that you haven't yet occupied.

  • Maybe that's full of strangers, and then the land is what's granted to you.

  • But it's perfectly reasonable to think about this from the perspective, from a more abstract perspective that's much more relevant to modern people with our incredibly complex societies.