“Dominion” has a bad rap these days. The creation mandate to “have dominion, fill, subdue, and rule” the earth is regarded with suspicion: It gives human beings religious justification for environmental rapacity, domination of the other, sexism and racism.
The Bible recognizes this possibility. The first king in Scripture is Lamech, who already carries out all the horrors of tyranny—multiplying wives, multiplying vengeance, multiplying taunts.
Yet in Lamech’s dominion there is already a clue to another form of dominion. Lamech’s sons invent animal husbandry and music, and the latter points to the deeper significance of our rule over the creation.
To make music, I need to control my body—my intake and outgo of breath, my mouth, lungs, vocal chords. Music-making results from dominion over my own body; dominion over my own body comes to its telos, we might imagine, in my ability to sing, to praise.
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