Moses Escapes the Mall

Although it might seem just like one more “Moses parts X” cartoon, today’s Non Sequitur comic actually gets at an interesting point, if you think about it.

When people in modern industrialized nations talk about miracles, they often have in mind things like finding a parking spot, or finding one’s car after exiting (it may feel like escaping) the mall.

So many people have no sense of what slavery could actually be like, and what liberation from an oppressive dictator might entail.

Perhaps we do need a modern-day Moses, not to help us find his car or ours, but to actually lead us in escaping the mall and all it symbolizes, a consumer culture in which we exist like modern-day Pharaohs at the expense of others who make bricks without straw for our benefit more than their own.

  • http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/ Lothar Lorraine

    Hello James,
    I’m convinced like you that the central teaching should push every one of us to reduce poverty everywhere, to stop the economical exploitation of Africa by Western capitalists. But it is hard to overcome our own deep-seated selfishness (tiefsitzende Selbstsucht) as I experience in my life.

    I have another question which really troubles me. How should we talk to Children about the Exodus and the Conquest?

    I believe that most parts are non-historical and were written and compiled much later , but like William Dever, I am open to the possibility there was a Moses which truly led a small bunch of slaves out of Egypt and had a religious experience underway. Dever said that this is a singular event which archeology can probably neither confirm nor rule out.
    The books attributed to Moses along with the book of Genesis contains some wonderful stories and experiences with God, if one reads them with a background knowledge of Ancient Near East.
    But they also contain horrific things attributed to good, such as killing innocent babies and full-fleshed genocides, so that in the end I cannot appreciate the tales.
    If Moses and Joshua were as they’re described in the Bible, they were two mass-murdering criminals.

    A good German friend of mine who is rather liberal teach in Sunday school and he chooses to teach the nice parts of Exodus to kids while leaving out all the barbaric stuff or giving it an allegorical interpretation.

    I had an argument with him about that for I think that such an attitude is utterly irresponsible.

    I personally would teach those texts in the same way as gruesome imprecatory psalms: of an example how our sinfulness can lead us to project our petty hatred on the Almighty.

    What is your take on this, James? How can you appreciate these stories?

    I hope not to bother you with this long comment, please answer me only if you find the time.

    Lovely greetings from Europe.

    Lothars Sohn – Lothar’s son

    http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com

    • Gary

      Since you mentioned William Dever, I just happen to be reading “Who Were the Early Israelites and Where Did They Come From?”. Chap 2, “The Exodus – History or Myth”. Chap 3. “The Conquest of Transjordan”. As you probably know, written in the 8th-7th century BC (J&E), reworked by P in 6th-5th century BC, exaggerated like crazy. So COULD be based upon a small group headed by a guy named Moses, and most of the conquest was based upon cities existing in the 6th century, when written, and no evidence of the cities existing in the 12th century BC. So hyperbola, spin by someone doing the writing, to make a big deal about a questionable episode, but based, perhaps, on some fact. But can’t prove it. Page 232, “myth is A traditional story of unknown authorship, ostensibly with a historical basis, but serving usually to explain some phenomenon of nature…” “Calling something a myth does not mean that it is without any historical basis”… Rather comforting. I’d rather believe authors with spin, rather than a god, or a guy named Moses calling out Numbers 31. Would make me want to be a Gnostic, otherwise.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      My approach to such passages is encapsulated well in a quotation from Rabbi Harold Kushner, about precisely the question of how to talk to children about God: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/2008/02/quote-of-the-day-harold-s-kushner-2.html

  • David_Evans

    I think we don’t need a Moses. If enough of us express a wish to pay the extra cost on our clothes (let’s say, 20%?) of giving the workers who make them a living wage, and promise to choose that option when it’s available, it will be in someone’s interest to make it available.

  • R Vogel

    Wow, James. You just blew me away. The last half of the last sentence just broke my heart. How true, how very true. Well done.

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