Rachel – Nice coincidence. As it happens – and I say this with no intention to flatter – “Rachel” has always been one of my favorite women’s names, an impression probably influenced not only by the sound of it but also by the vivid personality of its original bearer. But I always felt sorry for her sister with the funny eyes.

Angie – Hey, welcome back! I do keep up with your blog via RSS, though that’s not saying much since you haven’t been posting too often. Hope to see more of you soon.

Zhoen – enjoying the unknowable in a thick jacket of curiosity
Interesting image! I tend to think of curiosity as a willingness to be naked, to be vulnerable, so thanks for challenging that.

Brett – Yeah, that’s why I love the Bible – because it isn’t unified, and gives support to a number of different, often opposing viewpoints. Also because, except for some of the Christian parts, it doesn’t have any theology in it!

Not reification, just an ordinary, broad generalization doing violence to particulars.

wild ass – Psalm 104 is my favorite!

Our thinking about wilderness is so influenced by the Bible, as I guess I’ve written here more than once, that I wonder whether doing away with the notion of top-down order doesn’t in fact render the whole wild-domestic dichotomy untenable. Except that with animal and plant domestication, the difference from their wild relatives is way more than semantic, and I do think there’s a really useful (i.e. thought-provoking) analogy to be made between selective breeding and the increasing cultural simplification and standardization that societies seem to go through as they become more centralized. It’s not just religion, it’s everything connected with the life of the mind. I think you’ve read enough ethnography to know what I’m talking about.

But you’re right: this isn’t really a comment on religion per se, which changes as peoples’ needs for healing change. In other words, I vote for the 2nd of your suggested alternatives.

Thanks for being a good sport, by the way. I’m inordinantly pleased that actual ministers and rabbis sometimes find my blog worth reading.

Lorianne – Glad you liked the title, because I really struggled to come up with that. In fact, the first instar of this post had a different and altogether more pretentious title, “Walking with/out.” Then I remembered my favorite nickname for divinity, which I’m guessing is not included among the 99 beautiful names of God invoked by the Prophet.