Jezebel has become a cultural symbol for treachery, seduction,
immorality and idolatry. A Google search for her name brings up four
million hits—more than twice the hits for “Ahab." Why so much focus on
Biblical narrative evokes the emotional depth of human experience and
brings forward core questions about life. In this week’s Old Testament
reading, the widow fully expects to die—and soon, because of a drought
in the land.
Every spring when our church confirms members of our confirmation class, I reflect on my own experience of joining the church. I don’t think we called it confirmation back then—that was something the Catholics, Episcopalians and Lutherans did. We Presbyterians simply joined the church when we arrived at seventh grade. The point was to be able to take communion.
The parish liturgy committee decided to adopt the contemporary version of the Lord’s Prayer for use during worship. From now on, at least at one of the services, we’d be “sinners” instead of “trespassers.” The next Sunday a distraught man cornered me. “You’ve taken the Lord’s Prayer away from us!”
James Fenimore Cooper Jr. and Margaret Bendroth are rummaging through church attics and basements in the New England states, especially Massachusetts, looking for records of early American life. Some churches are reticent to part with old documents, but the two historians point out how vulnerable the documents are and offer to keep them in a climate-controlled rare book room at the Congregational Library in Boston. Among their findings: a church in Middleboro possessed an application for membership submitted in 1773 by a slave (New York Times, July 29).