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Thursday, March 8, 2012


Everything about 'replacement' theology bothers me, but lately there's something about it which bothers me even more. Possibly one reason it does that is because I haven't really examined it till now, and it's this: behind 'replacement' theology is the colossally spiritually arrogant assumption that, of course, the Jews got it all wrong because (fill in the blank) but most often it has to do with how ruthlessly legalistic, vengeful and letter-oriented (as opposed to spirit-oriented) they were as opposed to we sweet Aryans, Africans, Arabs or whatever. We are truly loving people. We are the good little boys and girls who are sweet and docile and because (especially when compared with those wicked, ungrateful, kvetching Joos (how would Michele Bachmann mangle that word?)) of that, we got it right! Nyaaaaaahhhh! Nyaaaaahhh! Nyaaaaahhhh!
Right. We would never allow the letter to tie us up in legalistic knots and hair-splitting. We would never avenge one of our eyes with both our enemy's eyes and his relations as well; we would never seek revenge at all! Except on God's enemies, of course. Anyone notice how our enemies are classified as God's enemies as well?  While it's probably true that the first Gentile Christians greeted the Good News without the 'baggage' which  most Jews carried then, it didn't take them long at all to start accumulating their own 'baggage' and attaching it to God's narrative, now did it? Can we, in good conscience, deny that our eyes (especially the jaundiced eyes of the powerful) might be just as blind as were Annas's and Caiaphas's party in the Sanhedrin (it's worth remembering that 1) they didn't usually meet at night, 2) they didn't summon members likely to disagree with their agenda--sound familiar, Scott Walker et al.?--3)Gamaliel, then the president of the Sanhedrin, was not at Jesus's 'trial'--in short, the Sanhedrin's majority party stacked the deck!) and the eyes of the 'loaded' Jerusalem mob the next day? That we can either accumulate too much extraneous 'religious baggage' and/or be too frightened of losing what we have to see what, and with whom, God is doing? Make no mistake, Annas and Caiaphas and those they led were terrified! Not so much, probably, of Jesus himself as of Pilate and the  Romans: I've heard that when Jesus drove the moneychangers from the Temple, Annas, Caiaphas & co. had almost all they could do to convince Pilate this was only a 'domestic disturbance' and not the beginning of a revolt against Rome. Anyone ready to say they wouldn't be terrified under such circumstances? Any guesses as to how much Attila terrified Pope Leo I? Or how other barbarians terrified his successors? Take a long look at both Christian and Muslim history and tell me how much 'baggage' they, and we, didn't either keep from pagan days or didn't accumulate!
The Muslim community, majorities and minorities, is now in the throes of struggle of liberating spirit vs. the lethal letter. Among us, the lethal letter's force is weakened but the Spirit still needs nurturing and strengthening. Even in Israel, that battle is still being fought.
We so have no business, none whatsoever, acting as if 1) God was a man to dump Israel for us, 2) we're more 'spiritual', or spiritually fruitful, than Israel, 3) God's promises to Israel now belong to us. All that is a steaming, noisome pile of taurine droppings. The only way in which we Christians are the 'new Israel' is the same way that the states in the United States from Vermont forward are 'new states'. The original thirteen might be the 'old states', but they never stopped being states. And God never has, nor ever will, abrogate His covenant with the elder Israel. To say so is like saying our original thirteen states are no longer under the Constitution! No, our business is to stand with Israel as our senior in communion with God, as the trunk to which we branches have been grafted, as our miner's canary who tells us whether there are noxious gases seeping into the mine and as civilization's frontline in (by our 21st century lights) a profoundly savage region.
Let us pray that God may open our eyes to these things so that some of us may turn from our misguided folly regarding Israel and her enemies to where we all need to be for God's Kingdom and our civilization. This is one instance where the interests of both actually do coincide.

Saturday, March 3, 2012


Missouri slavecatcher Rush Limbaugh has revealed something very important to us in showing us how deeply he lacks decency, kindness or reason. Some of us have known this all along, including (if I may say so) myself, but till now, how many were listening? I knew this ever since I was one of the anti-Falwell demonstrators outside the City Line Marriott (since torn down) in November 1981. Back then, I would've liked to ask the preacher, "If our common Master hung with prostitutes, tax collectors and other sinners, why are you here with the scribes and Pharisees?" Anyhow, Mr. Hawgjowls Limbaugh has made it plain to us: it is the spirit of the scribes and Pharisees that now completely dominates the Republican party. It is the spirit of the elder brother in the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15). It is actually a spirit that wants to tell God He isn't fair in having the sun rise on the good and the evil or in having the rain fall on the just and the unjust. And they use an all-too-human way of determining who's who which boils down to this: Look like us, good. Not look, speak or act like us, evil. Put money in MY pocket, good. Take money out, evil. Get us exclusive earthly power, good. Compel us to share it, evil. The way they act could hardly be further from the behavior of Jesus while he walked the earth or from the God Whose nature Jesus shows and of which he speaks. Maybe something in them knows this--which is probably why public 'devotionals' matter so much to them and why I wonder how long has it been since any of them read Matthew 6:5-8 or Matthew 7:21 or Isaiah 29:13: 'This people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.' It certainly is, Rushie, it certainly is.
If any of today's scribes and Pharisees had either the Spirit of God or a heart which honestly seeks the Lord, wouldn't they understand that the Way comes down to right relation in all aspects of our individual lives and collective life? To do justly, love mercy and to walk humbly with our God--that is, in awareness of how little we can know of God in this life? To put our relationship(s) with God foremost and thereby learn how to rightly relate to our fellow humans and our fellow-beings with whom we share this planet? And to have an inkling of the right-relatedness within the Triune Godhead--Father, Son and Holy Spirit? Some will say that we cannot know what is within God, and they're mostly right, but I suggest the Trinity is a glimpse of the flow of love within God. Then that love flows out to us and all creation while it teaches us how, and invites us, to participate.
Neither slavecatcher Rush nor any for whom he speaks could have any inkling of this--and sorry little, if any, of God's Spirit. If they did, they could not be so ruled by such an evil killjoy of a spirit--one that wants us all to pay for any joy in our lives with ten times the sorrow and/or bile of bitterness! A spirit bitter, crabbed and ungenerous that roused Dickens, when he saw it, to righteous wrath! A spirit which wants to take as much enjoyment from our lives as it can, and make our joy directly proportionate to enriching its masters, already bloated with excess of earthly wealth, still further!
We must make this Limbaugh's Joe McCarthy moment. We already know he, and his minions, have no sense of decency. Hence, there's no question to ask, but only to repeat the statement of fact to ClearChannel's advertisers until they all pull their ads and compel ClearChannel to pull this loathsome slug who's polluted the airwaves, and our political culture, for far too long. And let the other purveyors of toxic talk take notice and, like the demons on hearing Christ's name, shudder.