Holidays are holy
I love Debra Keefer Ramage’s essay “Holidays are Holy” in the December 2020 paper. I agree with the core ideas and values, and I hope that our society resets into something more equitable for everyone.
However, I question two points:
1) The Israelites probably were not enslaved in great numbers in Egypt. The Egyptians were good record-keepers, and so far, there’s no archeological evidence for that story. Therefore, Pharaoh didn’t “renege” on the deal to release the Israelite slaves (after his heart was hardened by God according to Exodus 7).
2) The very pro-slavery rules in the Bible are mostly horrifying and don’t deserve any positive spin. The rules are different for male Israelite slaves (free after 6-7 years unless they don’t want to leave a spouse behind in which case they are enslaved forever), for women and foreign slaves, and for debt slaves and Israelites owned by foreigners (free in a Jubilee year every 49-50 years). Sex slaves were the young virgin spoils of war or were daughters sold by their fathers. If you beat your slave and he lived for more than a day or two, you wouldn’t be punished because he was your property. See Exodus 21, Leviticus 25, etc., for more details.
These points matter because U.S. foreign policy is sometimes guided by the Christian Bible. In 2019 the U.S. provided $3.8 billion in military aid to Israel, some of which financed the regular bombing of non-Jewish Palestinians and the destruction of their homes and fields. American Christian Zionists, trying to speed up the return of Christ and to expedite the Rapture, directly facilitate the illegal land grab by Jewish Zonists.
Polly Mann, cofounder of Women Against Military Madness, estimated that Minnesota’s share of the “aid” to Israel (which has universal health care) from 2009-2018 was $886,428,240!
In Minnesota, it’s unpopular to publicly challenge anyone else’s religious beliefs, but I think it should be okay to honestly question the historicity and the values of our ancient stories. Indeed, we must do so. Even at Christmas.
Thank you, Debra Keefer Ramage, for a thought-provoking essay.
–Heidi Uppgaard, Mpls
(Let the doxxing begin!)