Shards of God
And Excerpt From A Book And My Thoughts About the Subject
I have been reading “Constantine’s Sword: The Church and the Jews” by James Carroll. I’ve been slowly working my way through this book, doing my best to understand everything that is said, making my notations and marks in the book, and will be passing it along for the next person. It is a great book on true history, written by a former catholic priest about the rift between the Jews and christians, and more specifically the catholic church. He removed himself from priesthood to save his christianity.
I was raised a christian. As I was groomed in the christian faith, and even as I grew up, reading the bible, the feeling that I got about the Jews is that they were “evil” people bent on destroying any faith that wasn’t like theirs. Today, much to my mother’s dismay, I am sure, I am not a christian. I believe and love God, the one God above, that is the very same God of the three main religions of Judaism, Islam, and Chistianity (and other religions, I am sure). I believe that He is a God of love and understanding, and I don’t believe, nor do I approve of, the preaching of fear and exclusivity that has overwhelmed the religions. Organized religion, in my opinion, seems to be more focused on the business of being in business, not of saving anyone, of which they make me feel is merely a secondary catch.
I was afraid, for so long, and felt so very lost for so long. There were many things in the Christian faith, that I just could not swallow, but in a predominantly Christian nation, it seemed to be detrimental to make it known that I was anything else, but Christian. But was I being true to myself? In the rest of my life, I stand for what I believe in, and even though I voice my position, I attempt to do it in a manner that is non-conflictive, and, in the very least, informed. Why in the world, in a category that is so exponentially more important, would I neglect myself for the mere reason of going against the tide? Where else in my life have I worried about not being main stream? No where! Last year, I finally sorted things out and concluded that while I believe in God, and I believe that Christ existed, I believe that the way to God is through God and God alone. He is too loving of a God to limit the paths to Him.
Exodus 20:1… And God spoke all these words, saying:
Exodus 20:2… “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
Exodus 20:3… You shall have no other gods before Me.
Exodus 20:4…You shall not make for yourself a carved image–any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”
(Chapter 20 of Exodus, the revealing of the Ten Commandments)
I have paid for my decision, in losing so-called friends, people whom I thought very high of, and were close (or so I thought), but turned their back because this thinking was different from theirs. I try to remind myself that it is their loss, but it still hurts. I would be a liar to say otherwise. In all fairness, I have good friends of many faiths, including jewish, muslim, and christians, who are very tolerant of my exploratory questions, and we have some very educational and revealing conversations. They are assets to the religions they embrace. My life is richer for knowing them and having them part of my life.
I look at society today, here in America, abroad, below, and see so many fads, rituals, and practices, and I see the ancient roots of the old ways in many of those traditions. Have you every wondered why you do something, beyond the fact that your parents did it? Have you ever wondered where family, religious, or cultural traditions come from? I do. I ask a lot of questions, do a lot of research, as those who know me know quite well. Why is society so tolerant when it is convenient but not when it is necessary? Such as holiday traditions: christmas trees, giving presents, easter eggs… those things are accepted in christian traditions and celebrations, but why doesn’t that tolerance extend to understanding other people of different faiths, races, ethnicities, etc., and accepting them as equals? If you are a christian, didn’t Christ reach out to all in a non-confrontational, non-judging way? He preached God’s love and embraced everyone. I would love to see people start to get along, instead of choosing to walk the path of the Mord Sith: it’s my way or not at all. It seems that man has allowed religion to become a source of brutality, and that’s not what it was supposed to be.
This book has been very informative of the history of christianity. The original concept of christianity, the way Christ intended it to be was very warming, very loving. Politics and the evilness of people have brought the religion through the centuries bloody and scathed. I can’t help but hear the voices “God wills it!” from the Crusades. I don’t think the religion is lost, per say, for it is the people that can make it into something beautiful again, and I think there are people that do make it beautiful. But I think it’s important for people to research their roots, both in genealogy, but more importantly, in the traditions of your life and religion. If we do not understand the past, or in the very least, know it, how can we grow as a society? I found this particular part very interesting:
(This is image is not reflective of this book, but rather my impressions of the book.)
From Constantine’s Sword: The Church And the Jews, Part 5: The Inquisition: Enter Racism, Chapter 37: The Religious Response of the Jews, page 388:
By the time of Luria’s arrival, Safed was a vital center of Jewish scholarship that ran the gamut from text-observant Torah study, to unbridled mystical theorizing, to feats of memorization, to pursuits in chemistry and astronomy along tracks laid down by Kabbalist texts. “In the span of less than three years—that seems in retrospect like a lifetime—the young kabbalist burst upon the mystical scene in Safed… He offered his followers a profoundly disturbing secret: he helped them understand the nature of evil and the means by which it would eventually be overcome.” God, too, was understood, as grappling with evil. In Luria’s view, as Harold Bloom summarizes it, creation itself is “God’s catharsis of Himself, a vast sublimation in which His terrible rigor might find some peace.”
Refracted through Luria’s genius, Kabbalah offered a bracing worldwide view that enabled its adherents to stand amid the swirl of individualism that marked the unfolding new epoch—without being swept away by it. Kabbalah was rooted in an enduring faith in Israel as God’s chosen people, and that peoplehood was never more to the point. Thus Jews found a way to temper the individualism that would mark the coming modern age. Because exile was defined as essential to the human condition, the scattering of the Jewish people would become a condition of cohesion, not dispersal.
Luria’s teachings spread quickly through the traumatized Jewish world. In an ingenious leap of religious imagination, Luria enabled Jews to transcend their recent experience of catastrophe by positing a primordial catastrophe—“tsimtsum”—in which elements of the Divine Being were splintered into an infinity of broken pieces. These “shards” are the stuff of creation. The purpose of creation, this splintering of God, was seen as nothing less than, in Silberman’s words, “destroying the principle of evil from within.” Once this shattering of the divine has occurred, it becomes the responsibility not of a single Messiah, but of the Jewish people to bring about the gradual restoration of cosmic unity and god’s own being, the ultimate ingathering of those broken pieces—a redemptive process that is called “tikkun olam”. The Messiah will come when the work of the Jewish people has been accomplished, which will be done through faithful study of Torah, observance of the Law, and performance of works of justice. “Tikkun” is one of the most precious ideas ever to strike a human mind. It is the “restoration of creation [which] must be carried out by the religious acts of individual men, of all Jews struggling in the Exile, and indeed of all men and women struggling in the Exile that Luria saw as the universal human existence.”
(This image is not reflective of the book, but rather my impressions of the book.
What I got from this is that redemption is available, and based on the actions and responses of the people, or, more importantly, the individual. It is not up to any one Messiah, but it is up to the people to listen to the true words of the Messengers, and to heed the true meaning of God’s message. I found it interesting, that despite the hell that Christians had placed his people in, he did not allow his anger to cloud his mind in his interpretations of the unchanging texts of the Jewish people. He listened to the true message of God, unchanged since its original inscription, and, true to those words, let everyone know that it wasn’t exclusive to any set of people, to any group of people, but an open invitation to all of those who just listen to the world of God, and live by His laws.
The man mentioned is Isaac Luria (1534-1572). He was born after the Spanish Inquisition which was established in 1478 which replaced the Medieval Inquisition that forced Christian conversions from other faiths, especially Jews. The Medieval Inquisition was under papal control, and gave these options to non-christians: convert, be exiled, or die. The Spanish Inquisition (also known as the Tribunal of the Holy Office of the Inquisition, or the Spanish People’s Inquisition) was established by Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabelle I of Castile. During the Spanish Inquisition, the Catholic Church sought to insure that all recent converts (conversos), especially Jews and Muslims, were true to their conversions and not secretly practicing their own sacred religion. The options to the people is practice and be true to christianity, die, or be exiled. Isaac’s people were in exile. There were quite a few said inquisitions, with an almost continual activity of micro genocides all over Europe even before the Holocaust was being planned in the early 1930’s (initiated January 30, 1933 and ended on May 8, 1945). When Isaac was born, the Jews were forced into exile all over Europe if they refused to convert to christianity. It was during these exiles that jews were forced to wear patches to identify that they were jewish, living jewish ghettos that were often times fenced in, and were not allowed to hold positions of power. These times were the concepts used for the Final Solution.