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Margaret Aymer
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Dear friends, It has been hard to write this last Beatitudes blog. I realize that, although I am grateful to regain some of the time that I have spent traveling and teaching this study, I will miss all of you, and your faithful, Christian, honest wrestling with faithful living. So, I start this blog by saying thank you to all of you for trusting and questioning, for pushing back and pushing forward, and for all of your support in emails and posts to this blog. I am particularly grateful for those of you who tried the "new-fangled" things that PW put into place with this study: the DVD and this blog. I hope you liked them and that you gave lots of love to the folks in the PW office at Louisville, without whom none of this would have been possible. Special thanks again to Elizabeth Hinson-Hasty, Clifton Kirkpatrick and David Gambrell for their participation in the DVD and for... Continue reading
Posted May 6, 2012 at Beatitudes Blog
Photo by bitzi ☂ ion-bogdan dumitrescu, June 20, 2006, Creative Commons License As I sit to write this month's blog on the peacemakers, Syria's army has been unleashed against its own people in massacre after massacred. The global drumbeat of war against Iran is beginning to beat more loudly -- from Democrats and Republicans. The anger in Afghanistan over the burning of the Qu'ran --and the US military occupation-- has led to danger for military and civilian persons. And the constant, untreated wound of Palestine and the state of Israel festers still. As I set to write this month's blog on the peacemakers, Ohio's children have been shot and killed by a lone teenaged boy with a gun. The local drumbeat of gang warfare in our cities and towns from Tempe to Seattle to Chicago continues like a mad, racing heartbeat. The danger on the streets of Mexico from guns made in and trafficked from the United States continues. And... Continue reading
Posted Mar 5, 2012 at Beatitudes Blog
Happy February, Presbyterian women! Here we go on another of the beatitudes. This month, it's the sixth beatitude: the pure in heart who will see God. Of course, in our culture, February is usually less about "pure" hearts and more about these hearts: Photo by Dave Parker, cc license, http://www.flickr.com/photos/daveparker/2264374058/ But this is not what Jesus means in this month's beatitude. In this month's beatitude Jesus calls us to honor those whose pure. In Jesus' day, someone with a pure heart waled with integrity before God and the community. This is not an easy thing to do, is it? Even when we know that things are unjust -- that the poor don't have what they need for food, or shelter, or heat or medicine -- it is hard for us to know what to do about it. It is hard to live a Christian life of integrity in a society that pushes our hearts away from purity to selfishness, greed,... Continue reading
Posted Feb 2, 2012 at Beatitudes Blog
Suzanne, I'm glad you asked. I'm basing my translation on current research of the word μακαριος (makarios) as the Greek translation of the Hebrew ashre (honorable), which is part of the greater honor/shame system in the ancient world. Social-scientific work on the honor-shame system is done by scholars like me, and like Jerome Neyrey, Richard Rohrbaugh, Bruce Malina, David DaSilva, K. C. Hanson, Douglass Oakman and others. (One of the best sources to understand the entire honor/shame nexus is Hanson and Oakman's Palestine in the Time of Jesus: http://www.amazon.com/Palestine-Time-Jesus-Structures-Conflicts/dp/0800663098/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1328047536&sr=8-1) One of several articles on the makarisms (beatitudes and other places that makarios is used) as dealing with "honor" rather than words of power (which is what blessings are -- the Lord bless you, for instance), is thankfully also available on the web here: http://www.kchanson.com/ARTICLES/mak.html. I read it in its published form. In this, Hanson makes the argument that other scholars make: that the words μακαριος and ουαι mean more "honorable/shameful" than "blessed/cursed". The Latin translators of the NT understood this also. That's why they translate μακαριος differently from the Greek word for blessed eulogos, ευλογος. For ευλογος, they choose benedictus, the root of our world "benediction" --the word that actually means "blessing." For μακαριος, they choose beatus, a word that refers to someone in the community being held up as an example for others (thus beatification). Other possible translations you will see in the BDAG lexicon for Μακαριος are "privileged" and "happy." However, neither of these capture the circumstances of the beatitudes. (What would "happy are they who mourn" mean?) I hope this is helpful MA
Toggle Commented Jan 31, 2012 on Introduction - Greatly Honored? at Beatitudes Blog
Happy New Year, Presbyterian Women! Christmastide, the New Year, and the season of Epiphany all call us to renewed commitment of our walk of faith, as we live into this year of the Beatitudes. What better time than to let the fifth Beatitude lead us to making a New Year's Resolution. In the fifth beatitude, Jesus teaches his disciples to honor those who show mercy, for they will receive mercy. To get a sense of what Jesus may have meant by "showing mercy," we need look no further than the parable of the Good Samaritan. In it, Jesus demonstrates the three-fold work of mercy: feeling compassion, taking action, and establishing covenantal relationship. The first two of these are easy to identify--the Samaritan man feels pity and takes matters into his own hands, caring for the wounded man. However, we miss the power of the action of the Samaritan if we stop there. He also takes his own wealth -- two... Continue reading
Posted Jan 1, 2012 at Beatitudes Blog
November 1, 2011 Today, Presbyterian Women is All Saints Day. It is time to remember the saints who went before us, women like Dr. Wangari Maathai who planted trees to respond to deforestation and won a Nobel Peace Prize. Planting trees may seem to have little to do with those who hunger and thirst either for food or for justice, but for the rural people of Kenya, the repairing of the ecosystem of the forest meant food, fuel and other resources on which they depended for life, resources that were being cut down and not replaced by rich companies and the governement. At the risk of her life and at the cost of her marriage, Dr. Maathai started a movement to plant trees that began to rebuild the forests and restore the livelihoods, particularly for the women of rural Kenya. The late Dr. Maathai reminds us that there is a connection in the Beatitudes of Matthew and Luke between those... Continue reading
Posted Nov 1, 2011 at Beatitudes Blog
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Happy October, Presbyterian Women. I hope your fall is going well. I'll be seeing some of you in Arizona later this year! Today is World Communion Sunday, October 2. What better day for us to think together about the third beatitude! In the third beatitude, Jesus says that "the meek shall inherit the earth." (Mat 5:5). As you now know from the study, Jesus is quoting Psalm 37, a psalm that challenges those who oppress the "meek" or the "humbled" as I have translated it. According to the Psalmist, these oppressors are wicked and wrongdoers (37:1 ff.) What makes them wicked? They plot and scorn, draw the sword and bend the bow, borrow and do not pay back, kill and oppress. By contrast, the meek are connected with those who are poor, who are oppressed, who are the target of those the Psalmist calls "wicked." It is for this reason, I have called them "humbled" and not "humble." Their humility--... Continue reading
Posted Oct 2, 2011 at Beatitudes Blog
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Jun 14, 2011