Thursday, April 05, 2007

Was Abraham Just Another Desert Whack Job?

Bruce Fieler, author of Abraham notes in an interview with BookBrowse

that "Abraham embodies the fundamental human yearning to be descended from a sacred source...We can tap into his vast history and draw out a figure for our times...Abraham can be a source of hope and unity in a fractured world. He can play such a role because he is the most prominent figure that Jews, Christians, and Muslims hold in common -- the father of all."

As I was reading the full piece at the link above, I had a moment of revelation. We should study Abraham because it is precisely with Abraham that the nonsense begins. Abraham may be guilty of one of the biggest swindles in human history--claiming that God chose one people above all others and thus giving them privilege and dominion over the lands and lives of others. Our Jewish friends have used this particular piece of nonsense to their advantage to claim lands lost for nearly two thousand years and we in the West are, in a sense, co-conspirators by buying into it. Anyone using God to justify the dominion of one set of human beings over another is not only a borderline fanatic (no matter how devout) but he or she is missing the larger message (the sensus plenior) of Revelation as a whole. God is talking to all of us all of the time, as Neal Donald Walsch notes, and why? Because we are all his children. Perhaps even Christ was too circumspect to tell the Jews of His time any more directly than He did that the meaning of his new testament (after all what was he testifying about?) was that we are all brothers and sisters and that the old testament of Abraham was pretty far outside the outlines of His Father's program.

Christianity (and I tread on difficult ground here but must) is also guilty of the same concoction though derivatively so. Claiming that Christ was to come from the Chosen People would only enhance the pedigree of Christ for those needing a pedigree. Quite frankly, I find it hard to believe that Christians haven't fully reflected on the notion that Christ was only half Jewish. Why would the Jewish half need any further justification? Human beings tend to like stories that overlap and that have parts that fit together nicely and allegorically. Doesn’t this sound like what fairy tales do? Some of you may say, well yes this is why we like fairy tales: because they show us something of the original unity of goodness. Yes they do but they also show us a great deal of nonsense. What could be more bizarre, for example, than the story of Moses? His family, originally horse traders and caravan peddlers and the like gets detained by Pharaoh for reproducing too rapidly (what they really did to bug the Egyptians isn’t mentioned) and they basically want to go home (and it really isn’t that far as distances go—264 miles as the crow flies between Cairo and Jerusalem). So what is the big deal? These people knew how to travel. What was Moses really up to in the desert? More than likely hiding out from bandits and being chased by the Egyptians for theft of some sort. (Much of this is tongue in cheek but really 264 miles just isn’t that far). The point being that the Israelites went voluntarily into Egypt to trade and do whatever it is that Semites do. This means they left the Promised Land bequeathed to them by Abraham for profit and then when things didn’t work out—well a story had to be made up. They might have gotten lost but they knew how to get home. I’m going out on a limb here but I must say that I suspect that many of these desert prophets were not much different than Mohammed or Joseph Smith. All these old monotheists spent too much time in the sun and probably didn’t drink enough water.

The fulfilling of prophecies or the need to see the way it all hangs together in terms of divine directives strikes me as yet another contrivance, another support in the whole process of justifying the superiority of one religion over another for purposes of control, conversion and subjugation—in short manipulation—the raison d’ĂȘtre of all belief systems. This is different from preaching the gospel and converting by force of example, as opposed to making war with ideologies. What happens when belief systems become a substitute for faith? There seems to be an obvious flaw in all belief systems. Ideas cannot be substituted for faith and this is not to say that faith and reason are irreconcilable—far from it. Reason is the vestibule and the very chalice of faith but once the vestibule has been entered, and the chalice has been drained, action—stepping forward into the power of God is required—and that is a great mystery. How do we step forward into that great freedom unless moved by Freedom itself? What is it that prevents us from choosing this freedom that has existed since before the world began and why do we keep resisting it?

I digress into an area for future discussion—that great freedom being a door we must all enter. But how about this: God came when He chose to do so and human beings have made up a lot of stories about how and why He came because they can't quite wrap their brains around a God who would just show up to save his children. “I have come so that you might have life and have it more abundantly.”

If there is any message that all the prophets can espouse it is this: to believe is to have life more abundantly but with this comes the temptation not to lead by example but by force. In this, the example of Christ was paramount; he led by the force of his person and his relationship with the Father, and not by any other form of power other than that of the Spirit. Imagine telling a man to get up from his nets and follow him. This would be like going up to a grocery clerk, a stockbroker, a banker, a construction worker or even a travel writer and saying, “come follow me” and having the individual get up and follow you. Who would follow unless a divine power were not with you?

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