I’ll be fast today, for I’m tired and I want to get to Lost sometime tonight.
1. For Black History Month today, I read encyclopedia articles at the library. I read about Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois in African-American Culture and History, and about welfare reform in the 1997 African-American Encyclopedia.
Booker T. told blacks to tolerate segregation and to work hard to become productive members of society, yet, in secret, he tried to undermine segregation through “tests” (whatever that means). W.E.B. DuBois was prominent in the NAACP, yet there came a few points where it couldn’t stomach him because of his socialistic and even Communistic sympathies. He eventually moved to Ghana.
The article on welfare reform said that 33 per cent of African-Americans are in poverty, and that the child poverty rate for African-Americans is in the forty per cent range. The child poverty rate is probably higher because there are poor families that have lots of kids.
The article closed on a Booker T. sort of note, saying that African-Americans need to rely on themselves and their communities rather than depending on the government, which (at the time, due to the congressional Republicans’ proposal for welfare reform) was thinking of curtailing benefits—or, more precisely, tightening eligibility requirements. It laments that many African-Americans spend more money outside of their communities rather than using it to support black-owned businesses.
2. In Ancient Israelite Religion, I read Eric Meyers’ “The Persian Period and the Judean Restoration: From Zerubbabel to Nehemiah.”
In 460 B.C.E., there was an Egyptian revolt against Persia, and Persia “tended to reverse the more liberal policies implemented by Darius I or even Cyrus the Great earlier.” This applied to the “coastal territories” (whatever they were) yet probably impacted Yehud. Could this be why my Bible comic books depict the Persian king as having a mad face at a certain point, whereas Cyrus and Darius had nice faces?
(I feel like Elaine on Seinfeld when she wasn’t having sex, and George after he did.)
3. I read about Psalm 96 in Mitchell Dahood’s Psalms II: 51-100. On page 357, Dahood contends that the Psalm’s universalism (“Declare among the nations his glory”; “He will govern the world with his justice”) does not necessarily mean that the Psalmist here is indebted to Second Isaiah (Isaiah 40-55), who has a universalistic vision of the nations worshipping YHWH. As Dahood says, “it is widely recognized that universalism, namely, the rule of God over the whole world as well as over one people, was current in the ancient Near East from the third millennium onward.” Dahood cites some secondary sources, which I’m not in the mood to look at right now. But what he says makes sense: every nation believed that its god was the top one. I know that many of them saw their god as the creator, so it’s not a far leap to conclude that they believed their god was supreme. But did they expect all nations to worship their god? That’s where I’m uncertain, and maybe those secondary sources Dahood cites could shed some light thereon.
4. On page 205 of Narrative History and Ethnic Boundaries, Theodore Mullen says that Saul’s prophesying in I Samuel 10:11-13 was intended to confirm his status as God’s chosen king. Perhaps, but what’s its significance in I Samuel 19, where Saul prophesies with the prophets after having been rejected by God for the monarchy, and in the very midst of his hostile pursuit of David? Was Saul being reminded of the pinnacle from which he spiritually sunk?
5. The first-second century C.E. philosopher Nicomachus says the following (as quoted on page 360 of John Denton’s The Middle Platonists):
When men suffer injustice, they are willing that the Gods should exist, but when they do injustice, they are not willing; and that is the reason that they suffer injustice [through divine providence], that they may be willing to believe in the Gods.