Skip to main content

esther 10

in what seems like an afterward, added later by an editor to put a nice bow on the story, chapter 10 of esther is a mere 3 verses long.  all we learn is that the king imposed a tribute; that all his good works are recorded in the annals; and that mordecai rose to second in charge, held in high esteem by the jews.  as is typical of women characters in the bible, esther isn't' even given the dignity of an end to her story.  we have no idea what happened to her.  we only know that because of her courage, mordecai rose from sackcloth and ashes to glory.  in that sense, it is a redemption story.  but a messy one, to be sure. 
i hope that at least some of you have enjoyed this lengthy jaunt through what seems to be a both familiar and yet completely unfamiliar little story in our scriptures.  i (mostly) tried to avoid moralizing and sermonizing here, although it creeped in from time to time.  instead, my goals were to (1) show the freedom we have as we engage and interpret scripture to re-imagine and retell it.  esther is an ancient story now preserved on tissue-paper-thin pages of bibles around the world.  in fact, our bibles are full of these stories.  and we often only engage them as dusty old worn out antiquity.  however, if we give ourselves permission, and offer our time and energy and creativity, we can find new life in the ancient words.  we read in the bible that all scripture is God's breath, and i think that part of interpreting the bible is breathing along with God.  getting in tune with God's breath.  listening to its rhythm and pace.  feeling its warmth on your face.  for me, that involved gluing pits of paper to old ray conniff albums and writing free-form poetry that captured my response to the story.  i don't know what it would look like for you, but don't be lulled into thinking that the bible is boring!  here is the truth: while it may at times be difficult to understand, it is so often anything but boring.  it is full of action and adventure, blood and guts, sex and lies and revenge.  and somewhere in the midst of all of it, we find God, who still turns stories of brokenness into stories of redemption. 
also, i (2) wanted to highlight the carnivalesque in the book of esther.  most people wouldn't immediately think of this upon reading the 10-chapter book, but i rely heavily here on a book by Kenneth Craig called Reading Esther: A Case for the Literary Carnivalesque which presents a great case for how the book of esther is a particular kind of literature aimed at challenging people of power by making a farce of it.  the jews, you should remember, were in a period of awful exile, having lost their homes, their families (in some cases), their cultural identity, their language, their religious practices, etc.  they were a hurting people.  so, in that context, this book tells a story which, as far as recorded history is concerned, never seemed to really happen, in order to challenge the existing power structures (the persian government) and turn it upside down (even if in a farcical, court-jesterish kind of way).  it is a fascinating way to read the book, and you'll see evidence of it in the collages i made and the poetry i wrote.  in the end, the challenge for me is to be willing to use the platforms i've been given to challenge injustice (even if it's scary), and to be careful not to embrace the same corrupted/corrupting power that i have challenged.  it is an ongoing journey, the dangers of which are expertly and captivatingly exposed in the book of esther. 
again, i hoped you enjoyed this experiment.  if not, sorry.  good news for you: its over now.  tomorrow i will announce the winner of the sunburst collage.  you can still get in the drawing before midnight today (saturday).  just go here and comment about what you would want 40,000 of.  have a great weekend, and remember that you might just be called to be where you are...for such a time as this.  peace.
esther 10
paper collage on vinyl lp; paper collage on album cover
gregory a. milinovich

esther (ten)
it doesn't take long.
for long to look right.
backwards looks forward,
the world is upside up.  again.
we will embrace our new position,
with little grace.
if we pick up the oppressor's mask
and wear it with pride.
we become our own enemy.
as mordecai can become haman,
when the world turns over,
we can become the hater,
the breaker, the killers.
it is time to rise to the challenge,
to answer the call.
it is time to hear the voice
to turn the world upside down. again.
it is we who are guilty,
we who wear the masks.
it is we who play the game,
the charade of power.
(WHERE IS GOD IN ALL OF THIS?)
perhaps we have been placed here
for such a time as this.
perhaps we all have king inside.
perhaps we all have mordecai inside.
perhaps we all have haman inside.
who are we?
who will we be?
will we strip off the masks,
make a difference,
turn the world upside down
at such a time as this?
HERE IS GOD IN ALL OF THIS.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

#thoughtsandprayers

i made these comments and prayed the following prayer at one of our worship services at SPWF yesterday, and had a few folks asked if i would post them, so there they are: 
It has been a season of terrible tragedy.  And I have noticed in the news a trending phrase: thoughts and prayers.  It even has its own hashtag on twitter and other social media, but net necessarily in a good way.  People are understandably tired of hearing about others’ thoughts and prayers, when that is only a thinly-veiled way of saying that our only obligation to those who suffer is a brief moment of silence, or nothing more than a tweet or public statement.  The truth is that, for those of us who follow Jesus, much is required when our neighbors suffer.  We are called to do justice where we can, to love kindness and mercy, and to walk with God through it all.  But let us be careful not to throw out the proverbial baby with the bathwater.  We are, as people of faith, those who know that prayer is not simply an em…

a divided tree

there is a tree in my back yard.  i'm pretty sure it's an oak tree.  at least that's what i think Shannon told me.  i don't know my oaks from my maples, my elms from my locusts.  to me, it's a tree: a corinthian column bursting up into life and glory.  full of sap and pulp and rings and bugs and cells pulsing with water and always reaching for something.  it is full of rhythm, reach and flourish then fall and die, and repeat. 

this particular tree, though, isn't of one mind. 

half of it's rusted orange leaves have given up their grip and surrendered -gracefully or not - to the pull of gravity and the threat of winter.  the north side of this inauspicious oak is just about bare naked, all sticks and straight lines, a skeleton of itself.  but the side that looks south is stubbornly resisting change.  no longer green, the leaves have compromised their summer vibrancy, but they are clearly not ready to concede death just yet. 

i feel like i can relate to this …

vote. and pray. but do not be afraid (the King is alive).

i'm not sure how many americans right now are feeling optimistic about the government.  i know i'm not.  in fact, while i didn't live through the civil war or anything, i have to think that faith in our elected leaders - indeed the whole system of electing them in the first place - is at one of its lowest points.  i just don't have a great deal of confidence in those individuals who have been elected, or in those who want to be.  i find myself slipping at times into what feels like a swamp of apathy: sinking, to be sure, but not sure that i care enough anymore to do much about it.  i see this attitude all around me: in conversations, on social media, and in popular culture.  perhaps there is no more clear indication of our nation's view of the government than this current election season, when we would teeter on electing liars and thieves, crooks and clowns. 

which is why i was so startled as i sat down to read psalm 72 this morning. as i read the ancient song, i…