Saturday, April 19, 2008

Racism in Tracing Origins

When I show people that the geneological data in Genesis reveals that Abraham's ancestors came out of west central Africa, they often ask: "So Abraham was black?" I reply that we don't know how he looked physically because the text dwells more on his faith than his skin. Still, the idea that Abraham didn't look like a European shocks some people. They have read history painted in white.

There is an interesting post at Stand Firm on this subject. I encourage you to read it and the comments.


NeoChalcedonian said...

Hello, do you have a post with a bibliography of some sort for readers who want to investigate what is discussed in your posts?

Alice C. Linsley said...

Much of the work published here is original research based on my 30 years of study of Genesis from the discipline of anthropology. The idea of a bibliography has been proposed before and I'll look into that when I have a break from teaching.

Until then, I'm glad to point readers to sources for whatever they read here. Let me know what interests you and I'll list further reading on that topic.

FrGregACCA said...

Derrida has long fascinated me. A long time ago, I wrote a paper for an undergraduate Philosophy of Interpretation class entitled "Deconsruction: End of Metaphysics, Beginning of Theology". The professor, who knew little about theology and wanted to know even less, was not amused.

You state that Derrida is coming from a semitic worldview. I assume you would say the same about Levi-Strauss, also Jewish, and perhaps, even Marx. (Hegel was not Jewish, but he writes in the same vein, no?) But doesn't Levi-Strauss argue convincingly that the idea of binary oppositions is universal in traditional cultures? Yin and yang, for example? Further, don't we find the same dynamic working in the fabric of the universe itself? Matter and energy, and positive and negative charges?

Alice C. Linsley said...

Father Greg, you've hit on something I had not considered before. All these men were Jewish and all held binary views of reality. Derrida disagreed with the Stucturalism of Levi-Strauss but clearly regarded his binary observations as significant. Hegel's dialectic assumes binary opposition and Marx's materialism and class struggle similarly require binary polarization. I think Derrida's contribution is in understanding the metaphysical center as function, rather than as the middle of a range of truth/reality. This "invariable center" is not knowable when we look at it straight on. When we look at the binary distinctions we sense the mediating presence of the center. Some people might conceive of this dynamic center as God.

Derrida is unique among these men in significant ways. He grew up in Algeria, on a street named for St. Augustine (a fact that left a lasting impression on him), and he spoke fluent Arabic. His approach to meaning reminds me more of Ephrem the Syrian. See this essay:

I also find elements of Afro-Asiatic mysticism in Derrida. I've written about how his thought corresponds to the Afro-Asiatic worldview here:

Thanks for prodding my mind. I'll be pondering this Jewish connection.

Alice C. Linsley said...

I just re-read my comment and realize that I have given the false impression that Hegel was Jewish. That is not the case, but he certainly had a great influence on several Jews who would leave their mark on the world.

Dharmashaiva said...

Emile Durkheim, also Jewish, hypothesized that religion was the basis of human thought, mathematics, and science, because religion developed the basic duality of "sacred" and "profane". Once that duality was conceptualized, other dualities and complexifications of those dualities could be conceptualized in the form of higher thought processes (e.g., the binary 0,1 notation of computer sciences).

By the way, have a Holy Pascha!

Alice C. Linsley said...

Thank you, my friend. May this day be blessed for you!