Religion The Tower of Babel and The Navajo Story Discussion

Overview

This week, we get to the heart of this course. For the first half of this class, we have explored the moral intention of creation in general and considered the nature of humanity in particular. One way to summarize the readings as far would be “as God(s) created the universe, so humans must create society.” But, as you’ve already seen glosses such as these are always woefully inadequate. This week, the readings ask that we reconsider the ideas of society and culture. In our contemporary venacular, the terms society and culture are all too often confused. These readings ask that we consider their differences. In the Hebrew story, you will read about the Tower of Babel (most likely a reference to a polemic against the city of Babylon). In the Navajo text, you will read about the great, ancient North American city whose ruins are located in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico. In both stories, the idea that humanity’s great moral intention is too often derailed by our immoral inclination.

Readings

Alter, pp. 46-49

Kass, pp. 217-238; 242-243    https://archive.org/details/beginningofwisdo00kass

Zolbrod, pp. 99-112

Gambling on the Future 

Assignments

  • Theme Topic5
  • Assignment 5 Instructions:  Like last week, make use of the Social-Epistemic reading model as you focus your analysis on the following key terms in the text. In part one, focus on the unnamed humans in the Genesis story. Consider them in terms of your understanding of moral intention. In your view, what is their intention? Is it moral? Why? In part two, consider the Gambler in the Navajo story. How is he different or the same as the humans in the Babel story? Be sure to make use of the secondary texts as you explore the first two sections. In part three, how do the actions of the main characters in both texts reveal the immoral inclinations that are part of our moral intention? Finally, what do these stories reveal about the dangers of society as a context for human behavior? Are there any lessons in the texts that apply to our culture now?

Part one: focus on the unnamed humans in the Genesis story (the people who build the tower). Consider these people in terms of your understanding of moral intention. In your view, what is their intention? Is it moral? Why? Make sure you are using Kass and Alter to fully explain your ideas. 

  • Part two: consider the Gambler in the Navajo story. How is he different or the same as the humans in the Babel story? Again, consider his intention. Is it moral? Why or why not? Be sure to make use of the secondary texts and Zolbrod as you present your answers in writing.
  • Part three: how do the actions of the main characters in both texts reveal the immoral inclinations that are part of our moral intention? Consider what Kass says about humanity and our tendency to ignore our best selves. He also has some interesting ideas regarding human’s willingness to be deceived. Pay attention to those ideas as you write and think. 

Part four: what do these stories reveal about the dangers of society as a context for human behavior? Are there any lessons in the texts that apply to our culture now?

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