Saturday, January 31, 2009

"Do not grieve as those that have no hope"

Christians quote this verse all the time to talk about the unrelieved despair of those who are not Christians when they face death. It really isn't that way, and they remind me of those Communists who used to see how hopelessly oppressed American workers were in the 1950s compared to those in the Soviet Union, since that's what Marxist ideology required them to see.

Well, how do people grieve when they have no hope? Here's some news. They don't become totally hopeless. They make up all sorts of false hopes. People without real hope chatter on about how the loved one is in heaven now, blah, blah, blah. That glib chatter, useless comfort that it is, is vinegar poured on a wound - and that's precisely because it is the chatter of those who indeed have no hope. And lots of "Christians" are just that way, quoting all sorts of Bible verses, blipping hastily over the detail that the verses quoted may in no way apply to the corpse they say them over. I still remember them chattering that nonsense over the corpse of Lyndon Johnson.

Well, the only reason you blip over such difficulties is that you have no good answer for them. That's being without hope.

Real hope is not just a quality that God gives, or a spiritual gift. Unlike these, according to Paul the apostle in 1 Corinthians 13, it's an attribute of God, along with faith and love. It's not a thing we find in ourselves. It's the expression of the divine nature formed in human beings. It doesn't come from within us, although it can be counterfeited, and that counterfeit kills.

The next time you see that someone needs hope, don't dig up some cheerful word, some Bible verse. Have a talk with God about your own despair, and until you get the real deal from above, shut up, already!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Obama, take away the pain in my stomach (Israeli woman of Machsom Watch)

I have nothing to add, except that this Israeli woman knows how I feel as an American Christian, and as an American citizen. She tells it better, and the video helps.

One difference is that she addresses this to Obama, who in fact can do something about her case, whereas neither of my pains can be addressed by anyone but my Father in heaven.

Friday, January 16, 2009

20 years ago

'We have not set up concentration camps and shall not yet do so, but we do have the mentality which makes such an action possible...When the Nation - Volk in the Nazi language - and its state power became supreme values there were no restrictions on the acts of man. We have such a mentality here. We are already behaving in the Occupied Territories, in the West Bank, Gaza and Lebanon in the same way as the Nazis did in their Occupied Territories in Czechoslovakia and the West. We have not yet set up concentration camps as they did in the East but how terrible is the situation that we have to mention this fact as the thing to differentiate us from the Nazis.'

'Yeshaayahu Leibowitz On the Whole World', Michael Shesher, Keter, p.78. Hadashot, 5 Febr. 1988

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Guest editorial: Gideon Levy in Ha'aretz

It seems fitting now to acknowledge murdered kids elsewhere. Levy writes about us at least as much as his own country. Would this be happening if our "Christian" preachers were not so eager to shed blood, like their fathers who supported lynchings and the annihilation of the Indians so that they could be robbed of their houses and farms? Levy's comment on the mark of Cain, brought to fruition in Lamech the 6th from Cain, is very theologically accurate. We see in Lamech the close relation to the mark of the beast in Revelation 13, the "faith" that we are made secure through killing and free by taking others captive.

Ha'aretz. January 10.009

The time of the righteous
Gideon Levy

This war, perhaps more than its predecessors, is exposing the true deep veins of Israeli society. Racism and hatred are rearing their heads, as is the impulse for revenge and the thirst for blood. The "inclination of the commander" in the Israel Defense Forces is now "to kill as many as possible," as the military correspondents on television describe it. And even if the reference is to Hamas fighters, this inclination is still chilling.

The unbridled aggression and brutality are justified as "exercising caution": the frightening balance of blood - about 100 Palestinian dead for every Israeli killed, isn't raising any questions, as if we've decided that their blood is worth one hundred times less than ours, in acknowledgement of our inherent racism.

Rightists, nationalists, chauvinists and militarists are the only legitimate bon ton in town. Don't bother us about humaneness and compassion. Only at the edges of the camp can a voice of protest be heard - illegitimate, ostracized and ignored by media coverage - from a small but brave group of Jews and Arabs.

Alongside all this rings another voice, perhaps the worst of all. This is the voice of the righteous and the hypocritical. My colleague, Ari Shavit, seems to be their eloquent spokesman. This week, Shavit wrote here ("Israel must double, triple, quadruple its medical aid to Gaza," Haaretz, January 7): "The Israeli offensive in Gaza is justified ... Only an immediate and generous humanitarian initiative will prove that even during the brutal warfare that has been forced on us, we remember that there are human beings on the other side."

To Shavit, who defended the justness of this war and insisted that it mustn't be lost, the price is immaterial, as is the fact that there are no victories in such unjust wars. And he dares, in the same breath, to preach "humaneness."

Does Shavit wish for us to kill and kill, and afterward to set up field hospitals and send medicine to care for the wounded? He knows that a war against a helpless population, perhaps the most helpless one in the world, that has nowhere to escape to, can only be cruel and despicable. But these people always want to come out of it looking good. We'll drop bombs on residential buildings, and then we'll treat the wounded at Ichilov; we'll shell meager places of refuge in United Nations schools, and then we'll rehabilitate the disabled at Beit Lewinstein. We'll shoot and then we'll cry, we'll kill and then we'll lament, we'll cut down women and children like automatic killing machines, and we'll also preserve our dignity.

The problem is - it just doesn't work that way. This is outrageous hypocrisy and self-righteousness. Those who make inflammatory calls for more and more violence without regard for the consequences are at least being more honest about it.

You can't have it both ways. The only "purity" in this war is the "purification from terrorists," which really means the sowing of horrendous tragedies. What's happening in Gaza is not a natural disaster, an earthquake or flood, for which it would be our duty and right to extend a helping hand to those affected, to send rescue squads, as we so love to do. Of all the rotten luck, all the disasters now occurring in Gaza are manmade - by us. Aid cannot be offered with bloodstained hands. Compassion cannot sprout from brutality.

Yet there are some who still want it both ways. To kill and destroy indiscriminately and also to come out looking good, with a clean conscience. To go ahead with war crimes without any sense of the heavy guilt that should accompany them. It takes some nerve. Anyone who justifies this war also justifies all its crimes. Anyone who preaches for this war and believes in the justness of the mass killing it is inflicting has no right whatsoever to speak about morality and humaneness. There is no such thing as simultaneously killing and nurturing. This attitude is a faithful representation of the basic, twofold Israeli sentiment that has been with us forever: To commit any wrong, but to feel pure in our own eyes. To kill, demolish, starve, imprison and humiliate - and be right, not to mention righteous. The righteous warmongers will not be able to allow themselves these luxuries.

Anyone who justifies this war also justifies all its crimes. Anyone who sees it as a defensive war must bear the moral responsibility for its consequences. Anyone who now encourages the politicians and the army to continue will also have to bear the mark of Cain that will be branded on his forehead after the war. All those who support the war also support the horror.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Two Poems

I offer these without comment at the moment, because others will have things to say, and mine won't deserve the first place which being in the post itself would give them:

Time does not bring relief; you all have lied
Who told me time would ease me of my pain!
I miss him in the weeping of the rain;
I want him at the shrinking of the tide;
The old snows melt from every mountain-side;
And last year's leaves are smoke in every lane;
But last year's bitter loving must remain
Heaped on my heart, and my old thoughts abide.
There are a hundred places where I fear
To go, - so with his memory they brim.
And entering with relief some quiet place
Where never fell his foot or shone his face
I say, "There is no memory of him here!"
And so stand stricken, so remembering him.

- Edna St. Vincent Millay

pity this busy monster,manunkind,

not. Progress is a comfortable disease:
your victim(death and life safely beyond)

plays with the bigness of his littleness
- electrons deify one razorblade
into a mountainrange;lenses extend

unwish through curving wherewhen till unwish
returns on its unself.

A world of made
is not a world of born - pity poor flesh

and trees,poor stars and stones,but never this
fine specimen of hypermagical

ultraomnipotence. We doctors know

a hopeless case if - listen: there's a hell
of a good universe next door;let's go

- e. e. cummings