"Moses Graduates From College": A Creative Study of Promised Lands and Mitigated Expectations, Tyler Ashman UG '21 (2319233)
One of the staggering storylines of the Old Testament is that Moses, the Israelite leader who faithfully guided his people out of slavery in Egypt, was barred from entering the Promised Land. Even though he had borne with a grumbling populace for forty years of wilderness wandering, he was not permitted to obtain this inheritance, due to momentary disobedience from years prior (Numbers 20:12). In this context, the personal and dramatic scene that concludes the Torah takes on a new meaning. Before his death, God takes time to point out features of the land that he is forbidden from entering. Elsewhere, I have argued that Moses’s exclusion from the Promised Land did not represent a failure of God to keep his covenant. Rather, in an act of divine justice, God reaffirmed his righteous nature (Exodus 34:1-9) to Moses while simultaneously revealing that the Promised Land was not the ultimate end of obedience. Rather, the intimate communion shared between Moses and God was a reward in and of itself. By participating in Moses’s final moments, God weaves grace into the otherwise dissatisfying end of Moses’s life. In this solo performance, I translate this theological research into a lower-stakes context: graduating college. Through a facetious examination of campus buildings visible from the sixth floor of the Lewis Center for the Arts’ Tower, I lovingly parody Moses’s story by searching for an antidote to disappointment - especially at institutions like Princeton, which promise much but often subvert expectations in challenging ways.