While the Judahites were the recipients of physical violence, they only had the power to return rhetorical, fantasized violence. They were forced to entrust actual retribution to other powers: to God, and perhaps to the Persians (envisioned as God’s agents).
Who produces American history textbooks? Beyond historians’ work, this question demands a reckoning with political partisanship that creeps into the publication process of history textbooks. A comparable phenomenon can be traceable in ancient textualization of sacred memory. Acknowledging political forces in knowledge production helps renegotiate one’s perspectives on sanctioned discourses of historical memory in modern and ancient worlds.
Accompaniment in fear, in suffering, in trauma: that seems to me to be an appropriate call for Christians over the past three Easters. We are still sitting in a messy, middle space – enduring in grief, and hoping for a new day, a new creation.
Joseph’s claim that it was God who engineered the situation for good is indicative of a person, or at least a narrative character, who has experienced healing over time, away from his abusers. He has reframed his narrative to better suit how he sees himself and his world now, a world where he has power.
It is only in the memories of Jesus the fully human that we can find what I argue is the greatest power of the Passion for human lives held captive by the oppressive forces of Empire: the strength to face our crippling fear, stare the full oppressive might of the state in the face, and refuse to cede our full humanity – our joy, love, compassion, and hope – in service to the state’s liturgies of violence and fear.
We must remember that even when the pandemic is over, this nation will still be under threat by people and forces who have declared war on everything and everyone it defines as “other”. We must remain committed to being hospitable to the stranger, and caring for the most vulnerable.