Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Odds and Ends

The Cynic Librarian is hosting a carnival dedicated to my favorite theologian, Soren Kierkegaard, and he has kindly included my recent post concerning Fear and Trembling. The carnival also features a link to S.K.'s MySpace entry, which indicates that he has 250 friends - certainly more than he had in real life.

Andy at Sinning Boldly has a great post on the different ways of praising God.

Ben Myers and Kim Fabricius both have profound posts on the theological vocation of people with disabilities. As Kim says, "It is not, observe, a question of the abled bringing help to the disabled – just the reverse: the disabled are the ones who bring help to the abled by showing that we are all, one way or another, limited, broken, and needy flesh, who are who we are only in interdependent relationships where asking for help is a sign not of our weakness but of our created and redeemed humanity."

Finally, as one with a rapidly receding hairline, I was naturally attracted to an article on Slate.com entitled "Further Proof that God Loves Bald Men" (it's part of David Plotz's series, Blogging the Bible). I really like Plotz's take on one of the most bizarre episodes in the Bible, which concerns the prophet Elisha:

At last, we've reached the crazy, horrifying, inexplicable finale. As Elisha is walking to Bethel, a group of boys—"small boys"—start mocking him: "Go away, baldhead! Go away, baldhead!" I've written before about the Lord's profound affection for bald men. Here He demonstrates that His fondness for cue balls has veered into dementia. Elisha turns around and curses the boys in the name of the Lord. After his curse, "two she-bears came out of the woods and mauled 42 of the boys."

Yep, you read it right. The Lord sends bears to commit a mass mauling, all because of a bald joke.

After much head-scratching—bald-head-scratching, since I'm a bit of a ping-pong ball myself—I realized there's one possibly sympathetic interpretation of Elisha's behavior. He's new at this prophet thing. He hasn't learned his own powers yet. Until he picked up Elijah's mantle, he was a regular guy. His curses had no more effect than ours did. But now he has superpowers, and his every action has consequences. His passing curse—presumably tossed off the way you might give the finger to a tailgater—suddenly has potency it never had before. He learns the hard way—or rather, the 42 boys learn the hard way—that "with great power comes great responsibility." (Oh wait, maybe this is like Spider-Man.) You can't go around crippling every tyke who insults your haircut. In this charitable interpretation of the baldie-bear story, we must assume that Elisha is as horrified by the episode as we are, and that it helps him learn that he must only use his powers sparingly, and for good.


Anonymous said...

I really like that interpretation of the Elisha story. It beats the heck out of the "you're thinking about it too much" explanation that I give to my friend who constantly brings that story up as what horrifies her about the Bible.

Thomas Adams said...

Andy -- Yes, I'm sure that particular Bible story has caused a great deal of consternation over the centuries. Perhaps your friend will be won over by Plotz’s “charitable” interpretation. BTW, have you had a chance to read much of the Blogging the Bible series? Plotz's posts are always amusing and often insightful, although he is sometimes too irreverent for my taste.

Anonymous said...

Actually, I hadn't come across the series until you mentioned it. I'll check it out.