I don't even remember how we ended up on the subject of Babel, but let's knock it down and wrap it up.
Noting the abrupt transition from the one to the other, Kass asks whether "the election of Abram and his openness to the call, have something to do with the story of Babel?" Specifically, "Is there a logical and moral connection, not necessarily an empirical one?"
At the conclusion of Babel, the story of Abram begins with his genealogy, which is traced back to a fellow named Shem. The rest of the chapter describes various begettings and begottens, along with some impressive lifespans.
For example, the text deadpans that Shem lived 500 years. Afterwards, I notice that the lifespans are shorter and shorter.
Now, not only is Shem one of the main characters in Joyce's Finnegans Wake, he is Joyce himself (Shem the Penman).
I wondered why, but soon realized this was a rabbit hole from which we might never return. I managed to climb out, but it did end up delaying this post for 24 hours.
Shem is short for Shemus [she-muse] as Jem [Jim / James] is joky for Jacob [grandson of Shem, who plays a practical joke on Isaac to get his blessing?]. A few roughnecks [stiffneck Jews] are still getatable who pretend that aboriginally he was of respectable stemming [the genealogy of Genesis 11:10-32]... Trop Blogg [tower of Babel?] was among his most distant connections.... Ever read of that greatgrand landfather of our visionbuilders, Baaboo [Babel?]...
With regard Abraham's respectable stemming, Kass writes that
The name of the head of the line, Shem, means "name," the same as the word used in the Babel story, "to make us a name."
This culminates in God giving Abram his new name of Abraham, who "completes the rejection of Babel and heads off to found God's new way."
Kass ends the chapter with a coda on modern city life -- the new tower of Babel -- and it is again interesting to note that our vast urban centers are the greatest concentrations of secular progressivism. Which is why they want to end the electoral college, because it's our last line of defense -- a thin red line -- against their totalitarian dreams and wishes.
Kass asks a series of rhetorical questions;
"Can our new Babel succeed?"
Yes, but its success is a failure.
"And can it escape -- has it escaped? -- the failings of success of its ancient prototype?"
No, because myth is what happens every time. Every Democrat run city is deteriorating before our eyes.
"What, for example, will it revere?"
I don't know, scientism, celebrity, credentialism, mental illness, sexual aberration, state power.
"Will its makers and its beneficiaries be hospitable to procreation and child rearing?"
Well, in San Francisco there are more drug addicts than children, and in New York there are more black abortions than black babies.
"Can it find genuine principles of justice?"
No, only social justice.
"Will it be self-critical?"
Kass owes me a new keyboard because I just spit out my coffee.
"Can it really overcome our estrangement, alienation, and despair?"
Make that two keyboards.
Way back when we started this series of posts on Babel, we consulted Prager's book on Genesis. He says the story serves as a warning against our hubris and "against the often-immoral nature of cities."
I suppose I haven't been in the city (meaning Los Angeles) since the pandemic started, and before that I tried my best to avoid it. I never understood how a normal person would choose to live in L.A., until I realized that the city is indeed a giant community of abnormals -- obviously not 100%, since many people have no choice but to live there. But it has to be a majority.
Likewise, I haven't been to New York in almost 20 years. I can't even imagine the mentality of a place that would choose Bill de Blasio -- speaking of towers of babbling idiocy -- not just once, but twice. Again, thank God for the electoral college.
It is not surprising that so many of Israel's great prophets were shepherds, the most rural of folk. Moses, too, was a shepherd (Prager).
Shepherds. To which we might add carpenters, fishermen, truckers, etc.