Sunday, May 12, 2019

#132 / The Begats

Alma Bracken Patton, my Mother

Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, and called his name Seth. And Seth lived an hundred and five years, and begat Enos. Enos lived ninety years, and begat Cainan. Cainan lived seventy years, and begat Mahalaleel, and Mahalaleel lived sixty and five years, and begat Jared. Jared lived an hundred sixty and two years, and he begat Enoch. Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah. Methuselah lived an hundred eighty and seven years, and begat Lamech, and Lamech lived an hundred eighty and two years, and begat a son, and he called his name Noah, saying, This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the LORD hath cursed. And all the days of Lamech were seven hundred seventy and seven years: and he died, and Noah was five hundred years old, and Noah begat Shem, Ham, and Japheth... 
            Genesis 5 [abbreviated]
The "Begats" go on and on. The Old Testament puts a pretty big emphasis on who begat whom, and you might notice that only the fathers get mentioned. Today is Mother's Day, and so I thought I should make clear that while I have nothing but appreciation for my own father, and for the role he played in my life (he is pictured below), I want to give my mother more than equal credit for helping me to become who I am.

A recent story published in The Sun, "The Apostate of Orange Street," got me thinking about the fact that while it is the men who most typically command and direct their children, and maybe particularly their sons, it is the women who most typically protect, nurture, and defend those same children. In the end, it all depends on the women. In the story I have mentioned, the father (stepfather, actually) is a commanding presence, but the young boy who is the main character, and who is, in fact, the "Apostate of Orange Street," is ultimately saved by his mother. It's quite a nice story.

I would also like to note, since I'm featuring the "Begats," that the New Testament gives a lot more credit to women, and to the role they play, than the Old Testament does. We do get introduced to Joseph and Mary, early on, as the parents of Jesus, but Joseph kind of drops out of the story for the most part, and Mary plays a central role, right to the end. People who go on their knees to worship The Virgin of Guadalupe would probably not take the same trouble to pay their respects, and to ask for assistance, from a shrine established to Joseph the Carpenter.

Popes and the patriarchy seem to have missed this message. I am thinking about it, and about my wonderful mother, on Mother's Day this year. Candidly, I would hope my own children have a similar feeling as they contemplate their two parents. I know which parent has most importantly supported and sustained my daughter and my son.

The Old Testament didn't miss the boat entirely. When Moses came down the mountain with the tablets, God had ten important things to say. Better pay attention to God is the first thing we are told, but the Fourth Commandment says we are to honor both our father and our mother. As a father, I think that's appropriate! It is both parents.

I want to give honor to both of my parents, but on Mother's Day this year, I am particularly expressing my great love for my mother, Alma Bracken Patton. Love you, Mom. And I miss you, too!

My father, Philips B. Patton (Not a footnote in my life!)

Image Credits:
Personal photos, Gary A. Patton

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