About this blog

This Blog is named after an ancient gnoseological riddle which hints hidden, disseminated, omnipresent wisdom.
I invite you to search, listen and observe with me for "the word of tree, whisper of stone, and humming together of the abyss and stars."

2015/02/28

The Radical Love Songs for Lent and Easter

This Lent and Easter season at Rutgers we are reading the Song of Songs, also known as the Song of Solomon or The Canticles. It is beautiful, sometimes sublime, sometimes almost racy erotic poetry. (If you have never heard of it and are interested, the Song of Songs can be found in Christian Bibles close to the center of the volume, after Psalms, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes and before Isaiah and Jeremiah.)
    Of course the Song of Songs is not a normal Lent and Easter biblical reading for Christian churches. Traditional conservative Jews and Christians have always had a problem with this book. It was one of the last books to be included in the Hebrew Bible and it happened only after extensive rabbinical discussion. The Ancient Synagogue and Early Church accepted this beautiful book only after they “desexed” it by twisting it with a forceful allegorical interpretation where the groom became God (or Christ for the Christians) and the bride was supposed to represent the people of Israel (or the Church).
    In reaction to this emasculating allegorical interpretation, modern theology went all the way in the opposite direction. Modern approach of the twentieth century used an uninhibited fleshy reading and re-asserted and lifted up its erotic and at times XXX rated content. Most recent scholarship influenced by feminist as well as LGBT theology attempts to balance these older approaches and reach beyond them for some beautiful and powerful insights enriching our love, life and faith.
    In this postmodern interpretation, the Song of Songs presents us with a fresh worldview as seen by Ancient Near Eastern love. This world view might be old but it is also surprisingly timeless - the love perceives world in a gender inclusive and balanced manner as both lovers are given almost equal prominence. This love's worldview is also color (or race) blind or even better, actively attracted by the different and the other. Considering its intimate genre it also draws a surprisingly broad geographic circle. The love's worldview also has an intense interest in nature, in flowers, trees and animals both domestic and wild. Ancient love was clearly informed and interested in what we would now call the environment and ecology and the anti-consumerism movement. Ancient love was also realistic, it was exposed to prejudice, bullying, persecution, violence and abuse by the rich and powerful, and it protested and found the strength and means to fight back and to survive or come back.
    Thus the Song of Songs is beautiful erotic love poetry but also deals with race, gender, geography, environment, and abuse and prejudice from the perspective of the biocentric worldview of love, offering deep insights, transformation and encouragement. That is why we are reading these radical love songs during this Lent and Easter.

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