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Nehemiah 11-12 & 1 Corinthians 9:1-34

09.21.2010

The first part of today’s Nehemiah passage discusses the systematic repopulation of Jerusalem.  Those who voluntarily leave their hometown to move to Jerusalem are praised for making a sacrifice for the good of the nation.  Where there are insufficient volunteers, however, the people draw lots to select which households will stay (90%) and which will move to the rebuilt capital (10%).  The rest of the passage, as well as the 1 Cor passage, is geneology.

Both serve as a reminder of how important family and hometown were to the ancient Israelites.  What I think goes unnoticed is that our culture is actually the odd one in terms of where family and birthplace fall on the heirarchy of priorities.  Most cultures today and nearly every culture in history placed more value on who your ancestors were, whether you passed on your line, and where you were born.

What are we missing?  In terms of consequences, I think that our emphasis on individuality and mobility has left us with a rootlessness, shallowness, and feeling of disconnect.  That’s a good debate to have for another time, though.* 

But I wonder conceptually what we’re missing that we’ve allowed our values to change so much over the past century or so.  Is this a conscious decision we’re making, to devalue family?  Is there some progress we think we’ve achieved in severing ties with our birthplaces? 

I don’t ask these questions rhetorically.  I am fully open to the idea that these negative consequences have come via trade off and that there are corresponding improvements to our quality of life.  I just want to know what we think they are and whether we think those improvements are worth the negatives.

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