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Tag Archives: redemption

SJT – Redemption (Midwife Openings)

This week’s theme Spiritual Journey Thursday word “REDEMPTION” had me scratching my head at first. I know the traditional religious meaning of the word “redemption” is the rich concept of salvation from sin through the atonement of Christ. But one also hears the word redemption used in another way. I read or hear it used often as a theme in story or movie.

(The site ranker.com, for example, has a list called “The Best Movies About Redemption.” The opening paragraph describes the theme:

“Some of the most beloved movies of all time feature the theme of redemption. These are the stories that motivate us to hold on to hope, fight to survive, always believe in the best, and recognize that anyone can change. This theme reminds us that life is a series of choices, and for every act of injustice there is justice around the corner!”)

One of the dictionaries I consulted defines this type of redemption:

“the action of regaining or gaining possession of something in exchange for payment, or clearing a debt.”

Many Bible stories include this theme. The story of Joseph comes to mind. Another much shorter tale is the one of the two midwives who defied Pharaoh’s command to kill the Hebrew male children as they were delivering them to help Pharaoh control the Hebrew population explosion. Bible commentaries suggest these two women, Shiphrah and Puah, were Egyptian overseers of a guild of midwives and that they were middle-aged. The Bible tells their story in Exodus 1:15-21.

Some years ago when I was writing a series of poems on Bible women, I wrote one about them. Here is their story of redemption:

Shiphrah and Puah (Artist unknown)

Shiphrah and Puah (Artist unknown)

Midwife Openings

Pharaoh said,
Kill each newborn boy!
Midwife code, training
each prospective mother cell
cries, Our lives, not theirs!

We will risk
raising Pharaoh’s wrath.
We fear God Yahweh.
To commit infanticide
means blood on our hands.

Hebrew boys
live despite king’s plot.
Yahweh smiles on us.
We grow great with fruitfulness!
Midwives may apply.

© 2015 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

spiritual-journey-framedThis post is linked to Spiritual Journey Thursday, hosted by Holly Mueller at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

What’s your favorite story of redemption? Have you experienced redemption in this way?

 

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Man Overboard (review)

Cover of Man Overboard by David DennyMan Overboard: A Tale of Divine Compassion by David Denny

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

You have probably heard the story of Jonah, but never like David Denny tells it in Man Overboard: A Tale of Divine Compassion. In 24 poems capturing the voices of Jonah, God, sailors, wind, whale, people of Nineveh, their king, even the vine and the worm, Denny retells this familiar tale with imagination and economy that nonetheless holds a treasure chest of riches.

Denny’s use of natural, cultural, and historic details delights, even as it grounds his flights of fancy in reality:

… my wife
clicked about my burning ears like a locust.
…. I untied all 613 knots
in my tallit” – “Flight” p. 4.

Those familiar with the Bible will recognize echoes of favorite passages:

“Seeing the dry bones of
my chosen ones scattered
on the ground…” (“Arise and Go” p. 23)

brings to mind Ezekiel’s vision from Ezekiel 37.

God’s inquisition of Jonah after Jonah complains about His lack of judgment:

“Where were you
when the Tigris began to flow? Where were you
when the walls of Nineveh were hosted to the sky?” (“God’s Response to Jonah” p. 25)

reminds us of God’s questioning of Job in Job 38.

In other places Denny subtly draws our attention to Jonah as a type of Christ.
“Can a man be born twice” Jonah asks after being vomited by the fish (“A Good Question” p. 19), and we hear Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus in John 3.

The story of “The Perfumer and His Wife,”

“… And when he told us
that like a fox without a den he had nowhere to lay
his head…” pp. 25-26

remind us of Jesus’ words in Matthew 8.

Most significant of the finds in this book for me, though, are Denny’s illustration of the subtitle: “A Tale of Divine Compassion.” Compassion oozes from these poems. God refers to Jonah as “my dove” (Jonah means dove), and speaks of “his lovely face” (“Arise and Go” p. 3).

The wind speaks of Jonah as “this little one” – “Stormspeak” p. 5.

God calls the great fish “lovely, sweet and langourous one” in “God Speaks to the Great Fish” p. 18.

To the Ninevites, God says:

“My heart delights in you, for you were lost and now
you are found…” – “Turning Point” p. 29.

As poems, the individual pieces are easy to understand even as they make good use of poetic devices like anaphora, paradox, onomatopoeia, personification, and surprising juxtapositions:

“I can’t go back now
My stomach can’t hold
that much crow” – “On a Hilltop Overlooking Nineveh” p. 41.

In Man Overboard, Denny opens our eyes to the compassionate song of redemption that plays a sweet counterpoint to Jonah’s blues of nationalistic pettiness. Thanks to this little volume, I don’t think I’ll ever read the book of Jonah in quite the same way again.

Thank you to David Denny and Lora Zill for the review copy of Man Overboard. A shorter version of this review first appeared in the Fall 2014 issue of Time of Singing.

View all my reviews

 
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Posted by on November 3, 2014 in Book Reviews, Religious

 

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