Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Spiritual Rhythms of Life for Today

Standards of measure have to be discovered, questioned, and assessed. Contraband finds its way into our lives and as it does, we can often end up living by a false standard. Illegitimate guilt and condemnation are unfaithful resources that keep us bound to the legalities of measuring up, which brings death, not life. We are called to live by the Spirit, as the law has already been fulfilled in the Crucified and Risen One.


Living Spiritual Rhythms For Today


Nita said...

Dear Greg,
Sorry about the long silence. I'm teaching a grad seminar on Ricoeur's hermeneutics of revelation and I'm using and indicating several of your writings --please check it out:
Now I have been also dealing with this problem of divine revelation with some Jewish interlocutors, one of them a rabbi who recently posted the following comment:
"Belief in Jesus as divine revelation made into flesh is a Christian idea that is not acceptable within Judaism."
My response (thus far):
[G-d 1/2]
Granted, from a Reform Jewish standpoint (and certainly from most Jewish, religious perspectives) to think that Jesus claimed to be G-d himself, the self-revelation that G-d has become human in space-time history (some 2,000 years ago in then Roman-ruled Palestine), sounds outrageous. And yet the Christian claim is that Jesus was actually fulfilling all the Hebrew Bible's prophecies, promises, and expectations about the Messiah who was to come and save Israel (and eventually all peoples of the earth). That Jesus Christ has not fulfilled such a salvation (which must comprise political liberation) is precisely what makes this whole issue problematic. Christians tend, of course, to take for granted their sincere belief that Jesus has spiritually fulfilled this (by making them spiritually fulfilled or "saved"). And yet political liberation (for instance, world peace among peoples), social justice (liberation from economic, social oppression and human exploitation of other humans), ecological liberation (environmental restautration of our decaying ecosystems), and the ultimate cessation of processes of degeneration, corruption and death (we all humans die after some decades of an ephemerous existence on earth) have not taken place. Some would hasten to add "not yet" –and point to the utopian dimension of all Christian beliefs.

Nita said...

[G-d 2/2]
Now Judaism cannot miss the messianic link to all these claims. After all, Christianity is a Jewish sect, the outcome of a peculiar interpretation of Palestinian, Essenian Judaism. Judaism itself has been interpreted, deconstructed, reformed, and reformulated in various ways since its very inception. To be a Jew is part of the very becoming of a self-understanding Jew, non-Jew or human being overall. The existential odyssey of becoming a Jew is common to Abraham's children (of all faiths, including Christians and Muslims) and to the children of Ulysses and other wandering fellow-travelers in search of a "promised land" or "paradise lost." Insofar as we are all quite homeless, human beings share in this messianic quest. Humans can be thus said to be of the same kind as homo messianicus, just as they stem from the Homo sapiens sapiens that fabricate tools (homo faber), play games (homo ludens), exchange goods (homo economicus), develop languages and rational skills (animal rationale) and cultivate a communal sense of coexisting together as social, political beings (zoon politikon). The diversity of religious experience, just like the diversity of languages spoken, economic, social, and political systems, cultural, ethnic, and juridical codifications, reflect all the different features that belong to the same journey into the meaning of humanity itself, understood in reflective self-understanding. We are our best self-creation and invention of ourselves, except that there is always something "other than" this selfhood which is prior to our own creation and transcends us in this very search. This is the otherness of the other, of every other human and of a wholly Other. In Judaism, this is the quest for G-d and the very revelation of G-d's personal and moral character. In order to become a Jew I must continue to delve into the meaning of G-d's revelation, as I am daily converting to the way of the Torah. I think Rosenzweig, Levinas, and Derrida have correctly perceived the existential correlation between Judaism, alterity, and ethics. So has Ricoeur, from a Christian standpoint.

Greg said...

Thanks. Great to hear from you. These are excellent thoughts to reflect on, as we seek to formulate and re-formulate the notion of revelation and a revelatory God.

Jesus may have inaugurated a new Exodus in proclaiming the words and deeds that bring an end to Exile for the Jews and all humanity, who await the consummation of the KOG.

Greg said...

Another thought. Jesus' self-understanding, as encoded in the NT, seems to have deep roots in the Hebrew Scriptures with their portrayal of God, and this may shed some light on the subject.

Nita said...

Hi, Greg! I have always appreciated your profound, touching thoughts and insights into the essence of the Christian experience. I'm still quite upset with the very subtle forms of idolatry and self-righteousness that characterize most of our experiences of Christianity and Judaism. It's funny that most Protestants are outraged with Catholics' handling of saints and icons in worship, and Jews think of Christianity as an idolatrous religion --but idolatry happens almost everywhere, just think of reification in our daily handlings with money, commodities and goods in our globalized world. Thanks, Greg, once again for your sensitive, edifying postings!
Shabbat Shalom!

Greg said...

Thanks for these thoughts.

I agree. The penchant for and accusations of idolatry are widespread. Perhaps, a move against idolatry is to inaugurate a greater sense of the realities of the economy of exchange and the economy of gift? But if so, it would seem we need a canon that can guide us in appropriate directions.