Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Last Thursday, I celebrated my 58th birthday by going to a play called “How to Write A New Book for the Bible” by Bill Kain.  Kain is a Jesuit priest and a well known writer.  The premise is fairly simple:  a man moves in with his mother as she becomes too frail to take care of herself after the death of his father.  Over the course of the play, much is revealed about their family.  The mother dies, which is bittersweet for everyone because they loved her very much and will miss her, but didn’t want her to suffer, and also now the son can return to his life in New York City.  The premise is that the mother and father are as grand as any characters in the Bible and that the Bible is simply a very long story of a very big family.  Every family’s story could be added to the Bible. 

The idea that each family is of Biblical proportion is intriguing to me, and I think presents some suggestions of what “family” would be like in a fully commons society.  First, there would be no secrets and all would be known.   The Biblical heroes have serious shadow sides:  King David was an adulterer, Noah was a drunk, Jacob was a liar and a sneak, Moses did not want to help his people escape from Egypt, Abraham let the Pharoah think his wife, Sarah, was his sister and let Pharoah take her to his harem, and the list goes on and on.  Human beings doing their best, but only sometimes and other times acting pretty badly.  Having no secrets would help everyone feel more normal and would result in far fewer lies as there would be nothing to cover up.  We would know that love is constant, life saving, joyful but rarely unconditional.   Ironically, knowing that would allow us to forgive and move on much more easily.  We would, perhaps, find it easier to forgive ourselves and in so doing, create a world in which kindness was commonplace .  The cliché of the human family would begin to have real meaning as we looked at each other and saw everyone as a relative. 

This week we have possibly the largest family holiday in the USA—Thanksgiving.  It is one of biggest days for domestic violence programs, for drunk driving citations, accidents and travel delays.  A holiday of extremely dubious origin, it has become a time to simply have four days off in a row because unlike the birthdays of famous dead people, Thanksgiving can’t be moved to a Friday or a Monday.   

I am not a big fan of Thanksgiving, but have come to accept it as something that most non-Native American people celebrate and some even enjoy.  This Thanksgiving I will do my best to focus on being a member of a family that belongs in the Bible and use this holiday as a way to practice living a commons life as my current life.  I’ll let you know how it goes. 

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