Satur-deja Vu

It’s been three years since I first saw Wasabi Baby. My advice is watch it at least twice.

Pope Francis is visiting Iraq. The main objective of his visit is to encourage the small number of Christians there and encourage Muslims to live at peace with those Christians. Some notable places Christians read about in the Old Testament, such as the Garden of Eden and Ur, the birthplace of Abraham, would be located in the modern nation of Iraq. Francis is expected to visit Ur on this current trip. Click here to read more about the pope’s visit.

You may know that what we call the Old Testament is basically the Hebrew Bible. The Genesis account of creation, the great flood, 10 Commandments, tabernacle, temple construction, King David, the Psalms, major and minor prophets… these are all things that Christians and Jews agree on. Christianity and Judaism take divergent paths at the Gospel accounts. The early Christian believers in Jerusalem (think Acts 2) had all been Jewish. In the early days of the Christian church, they continued meeting together in homes and also attended the synagogues and Temple. What you may not know is that Islam is rooted in the same Old Testament history. Pope Francis is going to (or by the time you read this may already have) visit Ur. Christians, Jews and Muslims all believe in Father Abraham. It is at this point, all the way back in the book of Genesis, that Islam diverges from Christianity and Judaism. Muslims believe that Abraham’s first son Ishmael, not Isaac, is the son of promise. Read Genesis chapter 21, about the birth of Isaac and the jealousy that caused Sarah to have Hagar and Ishmael sent away. When the food and water they were given as provisions ran out, Hagar cried out to God to not allow her to see her son die. And then:

And God heard the voice of the boy, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. Up! Lift up the boy, and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make him into a great nation.”

Genesis 21:17-18

God promised Abraham his descendants would become a great nation. Because of the scheme Abraham and Sarah concocted, because of incomplete obedience and not fully trusting God to keep his promises, Abraham ended up with two sons. Ismael, son of Hagar the Egyptian servant and Isaac, son of Sarah in her old age, were both blessed with large numbers of descendants that became great nations. (It’s in your Bible.) Christian and Muslim historians agree that Arabic Muslims are the descendants of Ishmael. While Christians and Jews believe that Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son Isaac, Muslims believe it was Ishmael that Abraham was offering as a sacrifice. That same rock, on the same mountain, would later be the spot their prophet Muhammed was lifted into heaven to receive revelation and then returned to earth to preach Islam. On that spot is where the Dome of the Rock stands today, on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, near the ruins of the Jewish temple destroyed in A.D. 70.

This may all be review for you but I know for a fact that many Christian attend church for many years and are totally unaware of this common history, a familial connection, between Christians, Jews and Muslims. In Galatians 4 Paul uses the stories of Sarah and Hagar to illustrate the differences between living under the Law and under grace. Islam did not arise until the 4th century AD but the people have lived in the region since antiquity. Orthodox Jews do not believe Jesus is the Son of God; Muslims do not believe God could have a son. They hold Jesus in high regard as a prophet but believe that Mohammed was the final and greatest prophet. There is some discussion and debate over whether the Christian God and Allah are the same deity. Muslims believe that Allah is one true God, the same one that Christians and Jews worship, but that we are doing it wrong.

On the left: al pastor, from Spanish meaning “shepherd style” also known as tacos al pastor. What you see is split-grilled pork and is a combination of ingredients indigenous to central Mexico and spices and techniques brought over from Lebanon. On the right: Pastor Al, the pastor/preacher son of Phil Robertson. He was not heavily featured on Duck Dynasty. Back then he didn’t even have a beard. He is a regular on the Unashamed Podcast with his dad and brother Jase. Jimmy Humphrey was talking about Cinco de Mayo coming up and mentioned that when ordering at a Mexican restaurant he usually chooses something more complicated than tacos, something that would be difficult to fix at home such as al pastor. When I saw “al pastor” Pastor Al was the first thought in my brain. I wonder if Pastor Al has ever ordered al pastor? I got a good response (lots of likes and laughs) when I posed this question to Unashamed Nation, the Facebook page for fans of the Unashamed podcast.

Let’s talk about Mr. Potato Head and Dr. Seuss. Neither has been cancelled. The decision to drop “Mr.” from the Mr. Potato Head product packaging, which they later backtracked, was made by Hasbro, the company that makes the thing. As far as I know there were no protests or marches in the street demanding that Mr. Potato Head be changed. In the case of the six Dr. Seuss books that will no longer be published, that was a decision made by his estate that holds the publication rights. Sales of Dr. Seuss books has soared this week but a lot of the titles you see people up in arms about, such as the Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham, are not on the list to be cut. Two of the books that are, McElligot’s Pool and the Cat Quizzer, have not been printed in recent years and some of the others were moving slowly. Neither Mr. Potato Head, the Cat nor Dr. Suess in general have been cancelled. They certainly weren’t taken down by the Biden administration, despite the memes you may have seen on social media.

In both cases decisions were made in an attempt to anticipate what consumers want. Inclusion is trending right now and Hasbro thought that dropping Mr. from Potato Head would appeal to young parents with preschool aged children. The Geisel family trust, whether you agree or not, felt that certain aspects of Suess characters from the mid 20th century were inappropriate for today’s children to see, learn and model. Both decisions were made by businesses in the name of doing better business. The spike in the sale of sale of Dr. Suess books bears that out, not because of parents that were pleases to see racial stereotypes done away with but by angry customers in protest. It’s like when Biden moved up in the polls and election day neared; the shortage in ammunition was caused by consumers hoarding and stockpiling, not because anyone at the federal level of government has made guns or ammo harder to get. In the case of Mr. Potato Head and Dr. Suess books, the positive and negative attention of traditional media and social media has led to the type of publicity money can’t buy and right now business is good. One might even consider these moves publicity stunts which have paid off in a big way at least for the time being.

Happy 13th Birthday Master’s Table! Actually, for the first 3 or 4 months it was “Clark Bunch’s Weblog” because every cool or interesting title I could think of was already taken.

Pineapple burger? If pineapple doesn’t belong on pizza maybe it goes here. There are no wrong opinions, discuss in the comments.

Radio Free Babylon stirred the pot this week with this Coffee with Jesus cartoon. So many people complained that they considered taking it down but made the decision to leave it up and let people feel about it however they wished. The comic writer was in a business and a man reached out his hand for a handshake and he took it. The connection felt good and that real life event turned into this comic. Backlash came swiftly as readers protested the notion that we should all embrace each other this early. I agree that for the time being we should continue to mask up, keep our distance, etc. until more of the population has been vaccinated. (There are no wrong opinions, you are free to disagree with mine.) But if you read the last two frames of the comic, cartoon Jesus is not saying we should all rush out and hug each other. The question is will we get there and the answer is yes. Not today, maybe not tomorrow, but physical contact is a part of the human experience and we need it. Maybe an embrace, maybe a hand on the shoulder, maybe you have specific rules regarding age and gender but we will get to a place and time where some sort of physical contact becomes normal again. This comic strip is not advocating anything dangerous or unhealthy.

Don’t forget about Happy Monday and Internet Monk Radio even if I don’t mention them each Saturday. And for a Saturday blog post that has more links and shorter stories (I don’t know how he does it) check out Daniel Jepsen’s Saturday Brunch.

One thought on “Satur-deja Vu

  1. After what I said about Phil Robertson not having a beard “back then” I just found out that he shaved this week! Al is 55 years old, the eldest of Phil’s sons, but shaving really takes the years off his look.

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