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Luke Bennett
Luke Bennett

Living In Bondage: Breaking ##HOT## Free

There are a few incidents in the Abraham stories which throw some light on the difficulties involved and Abraham's methods to overcome them. There is the story of Abimelech (Gen. ch. 21, 22 ff.), which tells how Abimelech saw that God was with Abraham and that he wanted to make a covenant with him. During the negotiations, Abraham tells Abimelech that a well of water has been "violently taken away" from him, in other words, that a previous agreement between the two tribes has been broken. The same story is told at some greater length of Isaac in Genesis 26, 1-3l. There we see clearly what actually happened: Abimelech was frightened by the growing prosperity of the Abrahamitic tribes, he therefore broke the first covenant and sent them away. They departed peacefully and without breaking any of their own promises. Then Abimelech called them back, probably very surprised, and said to them: "We saw certainly that the Lord was with thee; and we said, let there be now an oath betwixt us, even betwixt us and thee, and let us make a covenant with thee." Now the initiative was with Abimelech; by not breaking his own promise despite the provocation, Abraham had not only taught his neighbor the value of covenants and promises, but how to enter into then freely and voluntarily.

Living in Bondage: Breaking Free

This was Abraham's way of convincing people of his own faith and of establishing trust on earth. Like his God, he brings consistency and continuity into the dealings of people and their living together; he makes it possible for everybody he meets to join him voluntarily because he does it freely and respects the freedom of the others. His thoughts design a continuous and consistent line of projects, all of which aim to establish and develop faith as a value- creating capacity of man. This free ethical thinking, like all other kinds of creative thinking, is projective and planned; it is reflective only to the extent that some reflection is needed for the formation of a properly designed project.

Let us try to understand this inconsistency of Abraham. Kierkegaard,in his great interpretation of the Abraham story in Fear and Trembling, says that he does not understand Abraham, that he cannot understand the quiet and certainty with which Abraham started on the dreadful journey and made his preparation for the sacrifice. He therefore concludes that Abraham's faith in God was so great that it was a blind faith, as though Abraham who had argued with God so often had given up arguing and became a believer. This is improbable. Moreover, if man is created in God's own image, a creative creature himself and master of all Being, how could God accept a human being as a sacrifice unto Him? We saw how much Abraham resembles his God and how much Abraham's God resembles Abraham; it is this God that Abraham deals with here and does not argue with because he had reasoned it out beforehand. In this greatest test in which God tempts Abraham, reasonable faith becomes a faith which keeps reason. Abraham does not "believe" and does not argue, because now he knows. He now knows his God, knows that this God cannot accept human sacrifices and therefore he does not lie to Isaac when he tells him: "My son, God will provide himself a lamb for the burnt offering." (Gen. 22, 8); he knows that lambs and rams roam the countryside in this land of shepherds and one will be there. The situation, therefore, is this: God tempts Abraham and Abraham tests his God, and Abraham knows beforehand that both will stand the test. Thus, he lets a "miracle" happen, gives a sign to his son and the other members of his tribe to show them who God is, the living God, the Creator of free creative creatures. This is a miracle of reasonable faith and the ever repeated miracle of free reason.

12. Homer was called by the Greeks the Father of Poetry. Why did Western culture, even after the discovery of a rich pre-Homeric poetry, accept the first great Greek poet as the father of all poetry? Pre-Homeric poetry is bound by myth and religious ritual. Homer liberated art, not only poetry, from all bondage and servitude; only in him does artistic activity become entirely free and creative in its own rights. The world which Homer created is the first free imaginary "fiction" in which all generations who came after him could participate and experience a possible transcendence of the given world of Being into a man-made meaningful world of imagination. Parts of the Odyssey and the Iliad are ascribed by some scholars to a pre-Homeric tradition and there is no doubt that bards used to entertain kings and provide pleasure for the great ones prior to Homer. No work like the Odyssey was needed for such social purposes. The poetic qualities of myths had been expressed before Homer; Homer was the man who discovered the possibility of treating myths in an entirely free fashion; he was no longer bound by them. The Greeks said that Homer (and Hesiod) gave them their gods. This sounds strange to us. We can hardly understand how a people would accept gods that have been fashioned or even re-fashioned by artists for art's sake, and still recognize them as a living mythological reality. This miracle of an artistic and mythological unity is what enabled the Greeks to lead an artistic imaginative life within their mythology and, at the same time, to develop this mythology freely into its great artistic forms (Greek drama). The pre-platonic philosophers (with the exception of Heraclitus and Socrates) and especially Plato himself, mistrusted this development. The metaphysicians always maintained that the ideas contained in myths must retain their authority even though they first have to be purified and cleared of all mythical metaphors. The main opposition of the metaphysician to poetry (see Plato's criticism of Homer) is the poets' treatment of myth, which seemed to them irresponsible and playful: The first introduction of mankind to the eternal realm of ideas was through myth; it had to be overcome, not by Homer, who created his own free artistic myth, but through metaphysics, which was a kind of purified and spiritualized mythology. Metaphysics, not art, should be the successor to mythology. Every myth, however, is a work of (unfree) art, and every work of art is a (free and not binding) myth. This fundamental relationship between myth and art is personified in Homer and manifest in his work; Homer handles myth as an artist would, he is no longer a mythographer who uses art in telling mythological stories. Yet, while he thus reversed the former relationship between art and myth, he maintained the relationship itself so pure that the Greeks could accept his work of art as a binding myth. This is the greatest triumph any artist ever achieved. It may also account for the strange fact that no artist ever dreamt of surpassing Homer, and artists always dream of excelling each other and all former models. Homer has not only remained the father of art, the originator of the free artistic capability of man; he is still its uncontested master. That is the reason why we have chosen him to tell us what free artistic creativity is and how it comes about. For this inquiry we first need a better understanding of the relationship between myth and art. Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Next 041b061a72


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