This semester I am taking Interpretation as Resistance: Womanist, Feminist, and Queer Approaches to the Bible taught by Professors Alika Galloway and Carolyn Pressler. This week’s reading concerns the story of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar. Sarah is unable to bare children, which is unfortunate since her husband Abraham is supposed to father “a great nation” (Gen. 12.2). Sarah comes up with a plan to have Abraham use a surrogate: her Egyptian slave Hagar. Abraham agrees, lays with Hagar, and Hagar conceives. The Bible then tells us that Hagar “saw that she had conceived [and] looked with contempt on her mistress”(Gen. 16.4). Sarah responds by being so cruel to Hagar that she runs away to the desert. Upon finding a spring of water, Hagar meets an angel of God who gives her an ambivalent message: go back and submit to a life of cruelty but also your son Ishmael will be the father of nations. A mixed bag, for sure.
Many in our United community have waited with frustration as I have struggled to pen a response to the events of the last week. My challenges have not been about renouncing the events of Charlottesville or the comments of our misguided President but seeking a level of clarity about how we are called to respond.