Here is a simple exercise:

Start with yourself.

You have two (2) biological parents.
(Hereafter, the word “biological” will be assumed.)
You are directly related to each parent.

You have four (4) grandparents.
You are directly related to each grandparent.

You have eight (8) great-grandparents.
You are directly related to each great-grandparent.

You have sixteen (16) great-great-grandparents.
You are directly related to each great-great-grandparent.

By now, you should have the idea.
Every time you step back another ancestral generation,
the number of generational ancestors doubles.

Let’s run the numbers as a two-column list. In the first column is the sequence number of the ancestral generation. In the second column is the number of people in that generation.

01 – 2 (parents)
02 – 4 (grandparents)
03 – 8 (great-grandparents)
04 – 16 (great-great-grandparents)
05 – 32 ( – simile – )
06 – 64
07 – 128
08 – 256
09 – 512
10 – 1,024
11 – 2,048
12 – 4,096
13 – 8,192
14 – 16,384
15 – 32,768
16 – 65,536
17 – 131,072
18 – 262,144
19 – 524,288
20 – 1,048,576
21 – 2,097,152
22 – 4,194,304
23 – 8,388,608
24 – 16,777,216
25 – 33,554,432
26 – 67,108,864
27 – 134,217,728
28 – 268,435,456
29 – 536,870,912
30 – 1,073,741,824

Your ancestors 30 generations ago are your grandparents preceded by the word “great” 28 times and, mathematically, there was over a billion of them.

If each generation represents 30 years, then your (great x 28) grandparents lived 900 years ago or (for the year 2011, the year this article was published) the year 1111 CE.

Based on six different studies of historical populations; the number of people in our 30th ancestral generation far exceeds the largest estimate of the global population in the year 1111. According to these six studies, it was not until the time span from the late 1700s to the early 1800s that the global population exceeded one billion. Based on these studies and our ancestral calculations, each of us is directly related to every person who lived in the year 1111 or, if a person was childless, we are directly related to the siblings or parents of that childless person. Furthermore, in the same way, each of us is directly related to every person who lived prior to the year 1111. This means that each of us is directly related to each and every monarch, king, emperor, pharaoh, caesar, caliph, ruler, pope, bishop, cardinal, priest, priestess, prophet, shaman, oracle, knight, soldier, sailor, fisherman, farmer, hunter, herder, carpenter, mason, artist, seamstress, peasant, slave – without exception, every person that lived prior to 1111. Each of us is related to Mohammed, Jesus, Confucius, Buddha, Moses and Abraham.

With this understanding of our universal connectedness to the past, we discover two contemporary humorous ironies:

1) Not only was the Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown a rip-roaring entertaining mystery-adventure novel, its plot dependence on the existence of a line of descendants of Jesus was a joke. If Jesus did have children, then each of us is a direct descendant of Jesus. If Jesus did not have children, then each of us is a direct descandent of the brothers and sisters of Jesus.

2) There is no such thing as a nine-century-long (or longer) line of royal ancestry. Each of us is a direct descendant of every royal family that lived prior to 1111.

The bottom line is this – we are all cousins and we are all mutts. We are one family and we are the only family. In an objective and indisputable way, we make the point of the universal family by moving backwards from today through our own genealogy, by traversing a history that is personal and direct. In doing so, we are forced to confront our universal connection to all people and all events that, previously, we thought either defined us separately and exclusively or divided us along lines of opposition. We have just proven that there are no races, no tribes, no ethnic groups, no castes, no royalty, no aristocracy, no social classes, no families and there has not been for at least 30 generations. Here is the real kicker – this same exercise, this same proof will have the same result for each generation. It was true for our parents. It was true for our grandparents. It was true 1000 years ago and it was true 4000 years ago – it has always been true.

Even though 1st Century CE did not have the same mathematics or even the same numbering system (base 10, a 10-digit numbering system that includes a zero digit and uses positional notation) there was still an understanding of the one universal family.

An account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah,
…..the son of David,
…..the son of Abraham.

02) Abraham was the father of Isaac,
03) and Isaac the father of Jacob,
04) and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,
05) and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar,
06) and Perez the father of Hezron,
07) and Hezron the father of Aram,
08) and Aram the father of Aminadab,
09) and Aminadab the father of Nahshon,
10) and Nahshon the father of Salmon,
11) and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab,
12) and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth,
13) and Obed the father of Jesse,
14) and Jesse the father of King David.

01) And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah,
02) and Solomon the father of Rehoboam,
03) and Rehoboam the father of Abijah,
04) and Abijah the father of Asaph,
05) and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat,
06) and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram,
07) and Joram the father of Uzziah,
08) and Uzziah the father of Jotham,
09) and Jotham the father of Ahaz,
10) and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah,
11) and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh,
12) and Manasseh the father of Amos,
13) and Amos the father of Josiah,
14) and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers,

01) at the time of the deportation to Babylon.
And after the deportation to Babylon:
02) Jechoniah was the father of Salathiel,
03) and Salathiel the father of Zerubbabel,
04) and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud,
05) and Abiud the father of Eliakim,
06) and Eliakim the father of Azor,
07) and Azor the father of Zadok,
08) and Zadok the father of Achim,
09) and Achim the father of Eliud,
10) and Eliud the father of Eleazar,
11) and Eleazar the father of Matthan,
12) and Matthan the father of Jacob,
13) and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary,
14) of whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah.

So all the generations from Abraham to David are
…..fourteen generations;
and from David to the deportation to Babylon,
…..fourteen generations;
and from the deportation to Babylon to the Messiah,
…..fourteen generations.
……….Matthew 1:1-17

This genealogy had at least two purposes:
1) To shockingly illustrate the inclusive nature of their ancestral history by including 4 women (their mention is emphasized in red), all of whom had an eye-brow-raising personal history.

2) By starting with Abraham, every Jew would realize that every Jew has the same history and that every Jew has an ancestry made possible by the inclusion and involvement and contributions of widows and gentiles and foreigners and outcasts and that their ancestors lead lives of questionable virtues and horrible mistakes and truly evil deeds as well as lives of great accomplishment, of questing for God and questioning God and wrestling with God and making peace with God and being in relationship with God.

We are one family
We are only one family
We are only family
We are family
There is no “here” and “there”
There is no “us” and “them”
There is only us
There is only here
…..and it has always been so.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

The previous [D]mergent articles by Doug Sloan
are listed here in order of publication:

……….GOD IS…
……….RECLAIMING the GOOD NEWS – an epistle
……….RECLAIMING FORGIVENESS – it’s personal
……….GOD IS – an update

This entry was posted in Christianity, church growth, discipleship, ethics, evangelism, ministry, missiology, morality and tagged , , , , , by Doug Sloan. Bookmark the permalink.

About Doug Sloan

Doug is a member of Central Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), 4950 East Wabash Avenue, P.O. Box 3125, Terre Haute, IN 47803-0125 (812-877-9959). Central Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is an open and affirming congregation. Doug is an Elder, has served as Treasurer, enjoys his continuing membership in the choir as the lowest voiced bass and currently is serving as an At-Large member of the Regional Board of the Indiana Disciples of Christ. As a member of the O&A Elders group, he helped write a resolution to change the ordination policy of the Indiana Region. The resolution will be presented at the 2012 Indiana Regional Assembly. He graduated in 2009 with a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from Indiana State University and a BS in Management Information Systems from Ball State University in 1997. Since August 2005, he has been a member of the CIS Adjunct Faculty at the Terre Haute campus of Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana. He has been published in DisciplesWorld and Encounter: Education for Meaning and Social Justice. In the summer of 2010, Doug became a contributor to this blog: [D]

7 thoughts on “RECLAIMING FAMILY

  1. In the article, for the generation span, I used the generous amount of 30 years. A more accurate length would be 20 years per generation. This would make 30 generations ago equal to 600 years and would take us back only to 1411 CE. The result is the same, it just happened much sooner – and it dramatically increases the number of historical figures to whom each and every one of us is directly related.

  2. Pingback: RECLAIMING CHURCH – REDUX | [D]mergent

  3. Pingback: RECLAIMING EASTER | [D]mergent

  4. Pingback: RECLAIMING THE FAMILY OF GOD | [D]mergent

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