IN THE BEGINNING…XIV (Genesis Series) by L. Milton Hankins

IN THE BEGINNING…XIV (Genesis Series) by L. Milton Hankins

”Some time later,” we are told that the Pharaoh’s baker and his cupbearer offended Pharaoh, and he put them in the same prison where Joseph was confined.  And it seems that they, too, had a dream one night.

Joseph noticed that they were distraught and asked them why their faces were so sad.  They told Joseph they had both had dreams, but they had no one to interpret them.  Joseph said that God was the interpreter and convinced the two officials to tell him about their dreams.  This is an interesting twist, as Joseph is about to play God!

In the case of the cupbearer, the dream (Genesis 40:9-11) indicated that the Pharaoh would “lift up [the cupbearer’s head] and he would be restored to his position at the court.  For his interpretation, Joseph only asked that the cupbearer remember him and get him out of the prison he had been wrongfully cast into.

When the baker heard the interpretation he was impressed and told Joseph about his dream.  In the baker’s case, the interpretation was not so favorable.  He was told, “Within three days Pharaoh will lift off [his] head and hang [him] on a tree. And the birds will eat away your flesh.”  The dreams, as Joseph interpreted them, came true.  The cupbearer was restored, and the baker was executed.

According to Genesis 40:23, “The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him.”

Pharaoh

Pharaoh

A full two years later the Pharaoh had some disturbing dreams. “He was standing by the Nile, where out of the river there came seven cows, sleek and fat, and they grazed among the reeds. After them, seven other cows, ugly and gaunt, came up out of the Nile and stood beside those on the riverbank. And the cows that were ugly and gaunt ate up the seven sleek, fat cows.” (Genesis 41:1-4)

Pharaoh fell asleep again and had a similar dream where “Seven head of grain healthy and good were growing on a single stalk. After them, seven other heads of grain sprouted–thin and scorched by the east wind. The thin head of grain swallowed up the seven healthy, full heads.” (Genesis 41:5:7)

Pharaoh was troubled by these dreams, so he called all the magicians in the land, but none of them could interpret the dreams.  The cupbearer then remembered the time when the Pharaoh had been angry with him and imprisoned him with a man named Joseph.  He told the Pharaoh that Joseph had accurately explained his and the baker’s dreams.

So, Pharaoh called for Joseph, and when Joseph had been shaved and his clothes changed, he was brought before Pharaoh. When asked about his ability, Joseph said, “I cannot interpret it. But God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.”  Now, it doesn’t seem that this was true in the case of the baker, but nonetheless, Joseph took the chance.

After Pharaoh explained his dreams (see above), Joseph explained that the two dreams were really about the same thing. And, you’ll notice, Joseph carefully inserted a special position for himself in the interpretation.

Here’s what Joseph told Pharaoh:  “God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do. The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good heads of grain are seven years, it is one and the same dream. The seven lean, ugly cows that came up afterward are seven years, and so are the seven worthless heads of grain scorched by the east wind; they are seven years of famine.

“It is just as I said to Pharaoh; God has shown Pharaoh what he is about to do. Seven years of great abundance are coming throughout the land of Egypt, but seven years of amine will follow them. Then all the abundance in Egypt will be forgotten, and the famine will ravage the land. The abundance in the land will not be remembered, because the famine that follows it will be so severe. The reason the dream was given to Pharaoh in two forms in that the matter has been firmly decided by God, and God will do it soon. And now let Pharaoh look for a discerning and wise man and put him in charge of the land of Egypt. Let Pharaoh appoint commissioners over the land to take a fifth of the harvest of Egypt during the seven years of abundance.wheat-1235854_1280 They should collect all the food of these good years that are coming and store up the grain under the authority of Pharaoh, to be kept in the cities for food. This food should be held in reserve for the country to be used during the seven years of famine that will come upon Egypt, and that the country may not be ruined by the famine.” (Genesis 41:25-36)

It doesn’t take us long to figure out that Pharaoh was so impressed with Joseph and his interpretation of the dreams that he put Joseph “in charge of [his] palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.” (Genesis 41:39-40)

Incidentally, Joseph was only thirty years old when he was put in charge of the whole land of Egypt.  Pharaoh also gives Joseph a wife.  And everything turns out as Joseph had said.  But Joseph was prepared. He had gone throughout the land and filled huge storehouses with grain, so, when the famine came, “all the countries came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe in all the world.” (Genesis 41:37)

desert-1086415_1920Chapter 42 begins with Jacob [Israel] learning that there was plenty of grain in Egypt, saying to ten of his sons, “Go down there and buy some for us, so that we may live and not die.”  Jacob did not send his youngest son, Benjamin, because he was afraid that some harm would befall him. After all, he had already lost one of his favorite sons by Rachel at the hands of his other sons.

When the brothers arrived in Egypt, they bowed down to Joseph, who was, of course, in charge of selling the grain.  Joseph recognized his brothers right away, but they did not recognize him.  Naturally, I suppose, Joseph gave his brothers a hard time.  “You are spies!,” he told them. “You have come to see where our land is unprotected.”  Of course, the brothers denied that they were spies, but Joseph insisted.  Then, after his brothers told him who they were, he told them again, “You are spies. And this is how you will be tested to see if you are telling the truth. If you are not, then as surely as Pharaoh lives, you are spies,” and he threw his brothers into prison.  After three days, one of the brothers was kept in prison but the rest were sent back to Canaan with grain.  Joseph told them to bring the “youngest brother [Benjamin] to me, so that your words may be verified and that you may not die.”

Conveniently, for story’s sake, the brothers realized what they had done to their brother Joseph, and they wept.  Joseph, of course, understood what they were saying.  He took Simeon from them and had him bound.  He put their silver bags into the bags of grain and sent them on their way.

When they found their father [Israel] in the land of Canaan, they told him all that had happened.  Jacob was horrified at the thought of Benjamin being exposed to the dangers down in Egypt and refused to let him go.  However, the famine grew worse, and the time came when it was absolutely necessary that Israel’s sons make the return trip.

Taking Benjamin with them, they made the trip back to Joseph’s house in Egypt where they were treated with utmost hospitality.  “Deeply moved at the sight of his brother Benjamin, Joseph hurried out and looked for a place to weep. He went into his private room and wept there. After he had washed his face, he came out and, controlling himself, said, ‘Serve the food.’ (Genesis 43:30-31)  Joseph arranged his brothers by age, and when the food was served, the youngest Benjamin was served five times as much food as the other brothers.  Although it was highly questionable for Egyptians to eat with Hebrews, “they feasted and drank freely with him.” (Genesis 43:34)

A word needs to be said here about dreams.  It seems to me there are two or three ways we can look at this picture.  First, back in that early time, people did have special dreams and they made momentous decisions as a result of them. Frankly, who is to say that people do not have dreams today that would have specific life applications if they were properly analyzed?

Second, dreams were made up and used after the fact by storytellers to explain events that could not otherwise be explained.  It does seem significant that Joseph got into trouble with his brothers in the first place because of a dream and that dreams kept cropping up in the lives of those people who were involved in Joseph’s life.

Third, and frankly, I think this is most likely the case, the dreams in these stories serve as vehicles for the plot.  When we study the text carefully, we realize how convenient it is to have this vehicle to move the story along.  I believe, too, that the use of this type of plot development shows considerable development in the art of storytelling.  And, as a matter of fact, dreams have continued to play a major role in storytelling up to this time.  If I were teaching a course on short-story writing, I would be inclined to go back to the story of Joseph as an early example of framing plot structure.

In the next chapter, Joseph fills his brothers’ sacks with grain and places in each sack the silver they had brought to purchase it.  However, in Benjamin’s sack, he places his own special drinking cup. cup-367231_1280 camels-949851_1280Joseph’s brothers had not traveled far when he sends his officials out to apprehend them.  This is, of course, a ruse whereby Joseph can arrange to keep Benjamin near to himself and to persuade his elderly father to come to Egypt.

The brothers plead for the life of Benjamin when the cup is found in his possession.  Genesis 44 is an interesting and cleverly written account of Joseph’s arrangement with his brothers. Joseph is overcome with emotion when the brother’s plead for Benjamin’s life and explain to Joseph how it would destroy their father if they were to go back without him.

When he can stand it no longer, Joseph asks that all of his servants leave him, and he reveals to his brothers who he actually is…the brother the sons had long ago sold into slavery.  His weeping is so copious that it is heard throughout the household, even to the Pharaoh’s private quarters (Genesis 45:1-2.

“I’M STILL HERE…!” by Ernie Tucker

“I’M STILL HERE…!” by Ernie Tucker

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I arrived in Eastern Kentucky in 1968, perhaps expecting to stay a year or two and then move on to greener and better pastures. I’m still here, so I must have liked something. I’ve learned to love the hills and the streams (though we haven’t always taken the best of care of either), the changing of the seasons, the trees and wild flowers, the regional traditions and the stories which go along with them, and the local family histories, all of which still are here. I never again want to live in a place where redbud trees don’t bloom in profusion in the spring, and where native white dogwood doesn’t dominate some of the hillsides.

I like Eastern Kentucky because, let’s face it; it’s not like every other place in America. For me, there may be no greener or better pastures than those I’ve found in Eastern Kentucky.

I heard expressions when I came here that I’d never heard before, wonderful expressions combined with regional pronunciations. A woman bragged to me, the college professor, that her daughter was “making a doctor” at the University of Kentucky in Lexington. I looked around to see if anybody was listening, although I was reasonably sure that some of that was going on in my hometown Louisville, too, but we didn’t brag about it to complete strangers! I later learned that “making” meant becoming, or studying to become.

A young man and his full-voiced friends came into a restaurant in Ashland, sat down near where I was eating and said, “You sprang your lag?” (“Sprained your leg?”). “No,” his friend replied, “a sprang, like in the garage door!” A student of mine informed me that he had “some tire on his car’s tar.” Only later was I to realize that what he had was tar on his car’s tire, a switch that some wordsmiths call “vowel reversal.” I also learned that “ranch” and “French” are often pronounced the very same way (“ranch” and “franch”), so you had to be a little careful when ordering salad dressing in a local restaurant.

“I wouldn’t care to,” replied a woman in response to a request I’d made. Where I came from, “wouldn’t care to” meant you didn’t want to, but here it meant, “I’ll be glad to do it. You just ask.”board-64269_1280

I was also to learn that there were certain things that had “heads,” such as the “head” of the hollow, and I found that the “head” of the creek was where the creek “commences.” I didn’t know that. And, I found that we don’t pass around praise or compliments freely: “pretty good” is about as good as it gets! Now, where I came from, pretty good meant pretty bad, but not in Eastern Kentucky. Pretty good meant very good indeed! But! But! There’s always an addendum, an additional ending, to remarks like “pretty good.” I call it “the Eastern Kentucky addendum.”

Consequently, I learned not to say “thank you” too soon. “You’re not a bad (the equivalent of “pretty good”) looking man,” said a lovely coed to me in a hall at Ashland Community College. I said, “Thank you.” I spoke too soon! She said, “For an old guy!” “You were pretty good; no, you were really good,” said a man after I had spoken to his service club in downtown Ashland. I said, “Thank you.” Again, I spoke too soon. “In fact,” he said, “you were a lot better than you were the first time you spoke to us,” his idea of a compliment!

After I had spoken for about forty-five minutes at the First Baptist Church, an elderly man rose up and said, “Professor Tucker that was the best four hours I’ve ever spent!” I think he was joking!

A fellow whom I had never seen before came into a restaurant where I was having lunch and said, “You’re Ernie Tucker, aren’t you?” I said, “Yes!” He said, “I understand that McAdoo Williamson and you know everything.” I said,

“Thank you!” He continued, “You and McAdoo, I’ve heard, know a hundred percent of whatever there is to know.” Again I said, “Thank you!” He said, “I understand McAdoo knows 98 percent of it!” font-425829_1280My friend McAdoo, who was named for Woodrow Wilson’s Secretary of the Interior, died in 2003, and did seem to know almost everything.

I love stories and I’m a pretty good listener, too. If a story has a genuine ring to it, I try to jot it down. I’ve always loved to talk to people who are older than I, though for some reason, there seem to be fewer of these people these days, and if they came off the farm or from a small town or had worked in the mines, I wanted to talk to them. Their stories are wonderful, often loaded with humor.

Kentuckians are storytellers, almost all of us, from Pike County on the Virginia border to the Jackson Purchase in the west. We tell stories, and we expect you to like them. If you don’t like stories, or if you come from a place where story telling is not a tradition, my advice is that you pretend to like them, because if you give any indication you don’t like our stories, if you turn away, for example, or you attempt to change the subject, or if your eyes go to the top of your forehead, we will never, ever, speak to you again.

MAKE AMERICA SATIRICAL AGAIN by BHeming6

MAKE AMERICA SATIRICAL AGAIN by BHeming6

A REVIEW OF THE EDITOR’S SATIRE ON TRUMP’S FIRST YEAR IN OFFICE

trumpIn this contemporary satire about Donald Trump’s potential first year as President of the United States, Milt Hankins illustrates the ridiculousness and devastation that could result from him becoming the President. It starts with him staying in his New York City residence until he finishes renovating the White House to his liking, then talks about the wall and the immigration problem, followed by the issue of nepotism and Trump appointing all his family members to government positions. It also addresses his tendency to dismiss questions or other people as stupid or foolish instead of addressing the issue at hand. The article discusses Trump using executive orders to abolish government programs and pay off the debt to the Chinese, while giving jobs to people as well. Hankins pokes fun at his tendency to discuss his personal relationships with leaders and how they all “love him” and his confidence in his negotiating abilities in terms of stopping ISIS. The central argument made here is that Trump would not be a good President because of his bold assumptions and questionable attitudes towards certain groups or issues.

One key device that shapes the impact of the message is the use of dialogue and quotations. Hankins says that the president said he would not be appointing any women, but when a reporter reminds him that he appointed his daughter to Secretary of State already, Hankins inputs a quote for Trump: “That’s different!” Hankins then proceeds to say that Trump called the reporter stupid and rude. This is to mock his unfiltered attack on other people and suggest that it is bad for a president of our country to conduct himself in such a way. In the next paragraph, Trump is quoted and says, “Women reporters with blood coming out of their eyes or wherever will no longer have access to the press room.” He also says, “The press room is in my Trump Tower lobby, and I have the authority… a mandate to do as I please!” Hankins is using dialogue here to comment on his ignorance and what some would call obnoxious sense of wealth.

Hankins produced this work in order to scare people away from voting for Trump as President. Today, Trump is leading in the polls for the Republican nomination, so it has not yet fulfilled its purpose, but the rhetorical argument is sound nonetheless and he effectively uses dialogue to produce feelings of doubt or fear about Trump in this satirical article.

THE FLOWING RIVER (a poem) by Ralph Gonzales

THE FLOWING RIVER (a poem) by Ralph Gonzales

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The flowing river of life meanders to the sea

        then evaporates,

        defying gravity….

Rising under the bright, golden benevolence of Sol,

     raining down power to this earthly creation…

     endless plying within the white/grey cloud ships

     that roam about endless skies.

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The third dimension seems infinite,

                   but may be as large as a single rain drop

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                   that falls from the Heavens to begin its earthly journey

                   treading the same path to join the sea of

                   endless souls.

Is it not time now for a commitment to end

         this needless destruction of sentient beings

         by those who try and bend Mother Nature into a

         misguided will….

Dripping with dominance and greed.

Is it not time to love and embrace our humanity

       and be humane to each other.

War, starvation, ignorance, destruction, hatred

       …a few of many words that need not exist.

If we do not try, the depravity of the Second World War

      will raise its ugly head and strike

      like a coiled viper.

We must create a world filled with goodness

     that needs only be but a choice….

     not doing.

How easy can it get.

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You flip the coin…good or evil…

You take a stand.

Choose!

Nirvana on earth can be a reality.

GETTING DIRTY IN THE GUTTER by Beth Rankin

GETTING DIRTY IN THE GUTTER by Beth Rankin

currentevents headerSo now we have Presidential candidates comparing hand sizes as an indication of how large their dicks are? What? To put it mildly, if a bit crudely, they are total schmucks. schmuckWe should not be surprised.

What had surprised me initially but now I have fallen to a state of dismay, is how many of my fellow citizens are so titillated by this entertainment they do not seem to remember that this contest is not for the biggest jerk in the country but for our President and representative to the rest of the world. When people say they support Trump because he tells it like it is, it is easy to remind them that they no longer speak to family members who have done the same thing for years. Why is speaking crudely an asset?

As more and more people climb on the Trump bandwagon I am still amazed at those that ignore the fact he has talked about how beautiful his daughter’s body is and he would “date” her….in other words, incest. I am amazed that the photos of his wife with her surgically enhanced breasts exhibited for all of us to see is not a matter of concern over the slutty nature of the woman who could become our First Lady but a gut reaction from men who drool over sexy broads. I would expect the constituency who cuts funding for women’s health clinics and does not want to teach sexual education to kids before their hormones lead them into activities with consequences, that that group of people would be making SOME comment about concern for the gutter level of the Trumps. (I think this is the same group that scorns the dress code of Muslim women to cover their head or even their entire body.)

But now, we have people who are not really thinking. Maybe this is a horribly true reflection of our education system which teaches for the test and not for the ability to reason. I suppose if you vote for the winner of a Presidential election you might think you won. You might think you passed the test. But in reality, you may have failed at an important life decision and the consequences of that support may really come back to bite you.

We need to look at those consequences.

For all of you who support Republican candidates who want to bomb the Middle East because of fear of terrorism, take a moment to think it through. No one seems to take a minute to think who might not like that idea, besides all the innocent people who live there. (I suspect many people here don’t care about them anyway, back to the prior adage that the only dead (fill in the blank) is a dead one.) But, no one is thinking that if we unleash the bombs, so might anyone else who dislikes us. No one is thinking about how WWIII will start.

For all of you who hate abortion, cutting off access to a legal procedure is not the right choice. Abortions have been going on for millennium. Backstreet procedures have ended up maiming and killing many women. Supporting a candidate who says he will stop all legal abortions is supporting someone who says they will change the law. You might support that, but realize you are about to kill your sisters. hangerYou can start counting dead bodies of adults, I suppose.

For all of you who hate people being on welfare and want to cut programs but look the other way when you notice the homeless in your town, be aware the problem will get worse. People who say we should have smaller government are usually not active in their communities to work social programs. If we are not going to work on this on a local level, each one of us, then we need some help and that is why the federal government stepped in.

COMPLAINFor all of you who want change but never get off your butts to help make that possible, your comments are not helpful. Your actions show you really don’t care. You just want what YOU want and are little different from anyone else in that regard. Only if you help work it so the least of us can get more comfortable living and eating and working situation, your bitching and moaning does nothing to help.

For all of you who just buy another gun so you will be ready to join the fight, what are you fighting for? If you think you are going to protect your family, if your mottos include “out of my cold dead hands” then you are not working to building a nation for all of us, but part of what will tear us apart.

For all of you who want the illegals to go back home, go work in the farm fields for a season. Hell, work for a week…if you can handle the physical activity. And then live on only what you earned. And please, think back to your own family history and try to really understand the motivation for those ancestors who were willing to leave all that they knew in search of a better life. If your family does not know its history, perhaps it’s because there is something particularly unpleasant they were trying to forget. Or something that did not include an element of pride? But if you can not find the feeling within you to understand why people come here now, you are not reaching into your soul deeply.

One thing is abundantly clear. Over the past 7 years this nation has been whipped into divisions. Back in 2007 Obama was elected by most of us in the hope of “change”. His slogan, Be the Change you want to see obviously fell on deaf ears. I think people sat back expecting improvement and their choice of talking heads lead them to believe things like medical coverage for all is a horrible idea. Their choice of talking heads lead them to think things should have been fixed in the first year. Their choice of talking heads has helped them forget what caused the issues President Obama had to deal with.

Who benefits if we are divided? Do you know…or care? If you don’t, you probably are continuing to support their goal. Is that your goal?

trump-pnataSo now, we have a clown show and the world is laughing. For all of you conservatives who believe that President Obama degraded America’s world image, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Worse, you will be contributing to it if you elect Trump or Cruz or Rubio. None are the leadership we need on a world stage let alone to bring our domestic situation to a healthier state. Several nations are considering banning Trump from ever visiting. From Mexico to Great Britain these are early warning signs that a Trump Presidency will not be respected by the world.nationalities_ethnicities_citizenships

We have had a few great Presidents, many of whom were not very popular during their time in office because of the programs they started that affected people in power to help others. And we have had some that introduced programs that hurt many people living in this nation. Most Presidents were in the middle, not great statesmen but people who tried to at least do no damage.

This election we have choices to elect a person with strong ideas of what is right for this nation. So many are out of touch with what we, the people, really deal with. Oh, they learn snippets from those of us who shout the loudest and have a crowd following. But we, the people need to look at the whole picture not just our favorite issue. effective-leadershipWho can lead us in our nation and in the world to bring us together in peace and prosperity? Think people…..use the space between your ears, not just your gut reactions. This is important. There are consequences.