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Visit the new "Participants Speak" Bulletin Board to read responses to your comments by project participants Dr. Paul van Buren and Rev. Christopher Leighton.


Leon R. Kass, Stephen Mitchell, Elaine H. Pagels, Naomi H. Rosenblatt, Jean-Pierre M. Ruiz, Marianne Meye Thompson, and Robin Darling Young participate this week. Among others, there is a Buddhist and a Catholic priest, a biochemist and a psychologist, a translator, and a medical doctor.


The GENESIS discussion groups in Baltimore, organized by the city's Institute for Christian and Jewish Studies, are all interracial as well as interfaith. Last week one group, made up of Jews, white Baptists, and black Episcopalians, tackled the topic of slavery after watching the FAMILY AFFAIR episode. Noting Hagar's subordinate status as a slave, one of the Baptists asked the Episcopalians how people in their predominantly black church felt about invoking Biblical examples to justify slavery. The episcopalians described how they tried to interpret carefully to discern what is essential to the Bible's message of faith, and what is non- essential cultural context which can be set aside and even repudiated. Then the Episcopalians asked the Baptists how much slavery was discussed in their church, which led to the Baptists giving a brief history of their denomination (which had been founded during the Civil War in response to slavery issues). Finally, one of the group's Jewish members told how her son liked to read a children's book about the underground railroad, FOLLOW THE DRINKING GOURD, at Passover celebrations. The child very keenly identified the Jewish experience of slavery in Egypt, which is commemorated at Passover, with the more recent African-American history. In a very personal sense, this discussion group realized that discussing GENESIS means discussing not only the text itself, but the history of the text's interpretation and its concrete implications over the centuries.

Blessed Deception

Blessed Deception

When Rebecca was pregnant with her twins, Jacob and Esau, she knew they were doomed to struggle. But what does it mean that she sides with Jacob and together they fool Isaac and cheat Esau of his birthright and blessing? Read the story of the BLESSED DECEPTION in your Bible in Genesis, Chapters 25 - 28, or hear Alfre Woodard tell it in this Web piece.

"You can read these stories as dreams or patterns for the soul." -- Stephen Mitchell, translator and writer.

1. A 1990 program, introduced by Bill Moyers, described another "Blessed Deception" practiced by a small French village during the second World War. The villagers, descendants of the Huguenots, interpreted the biblical phrase "love thy neighbor" as a directive to protect Jews from Nazi persecution. This community of 5,000 provided a safe haven to an estimated 5,000 Jews, many of them children. What is the name of the village?

2. What is the name of the program?
(Answers at bottom of page.)