Monday, May 10, 2010
Blessed are the meek
Biblical religion, monotheism to be exact, was, and is, God’s anti-religion. It's God’s final attempt to help man deal with his nature. Man is not addicted to religion, man is religious. The Bible begins its narrative from within the human struggle to answer the “God question”, but it starts in the positive rather than the negative. It sternly affirms to the nagging voice in man’s head, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”.
We could all scoff at the Bible's two chapters on creation. It's possibly the biggest downplay on what ought to be God’s greatest performance. Think about it, here is God’s chance to take center stage, yet He strangely refuses to do so. Genesis gives us no exhaustive details on zoology, biology, physics, or astronomy.
Our scandalizing is justifiable, but only under the presupposition that intelligence is what’s needed to produce morals, ethics, and preservation of the human race. For the Bible this obviously isn’t the case and in some instances intelligence and morals never even cross paths. In what appears to be the blink of a literary eye, the Bible stops its discourse on creation, and begins a sixty six book discussion on “what does God require of you”.
The Biblical man understood that knowledge of his world was possible, but not primary nor central to his preservation. For example, knowing how to harvest wheat was very important, but behaving in a way that guaranteed you were around to harvest it, was more important. It was the “thing” above nature that arrested the Hebrew mind. The Jewish mind viewed the purpose of nature correctly from the beginning. It’s little wonder that the prohibitions against worshiping nature are explicit in Biblical text. And not only are they explicit but they’re implicit as well, weaving themselves into the Hebrew language. In Hebrew the word for sun, shemesh, comes from the root meaning servant. Thus the sun serves a purpose, but that purpose is not to receive the worship of humankind. As Abraham Heschel once put it, "Biblical man, very early on, had come to terms with the fact that the world is very mysterious indeed. Not in reference to miracles or phenomena but in reference to natural orders, and that the natural order of things insists that that the world of the known is a world unknown, of mystery and hiddenness."
Understanding typically depends on how much we know, but being comfortable with the results of that understanding depends on our attitude toward the unknowable, or what the Bible calls mystery. The scriptures say that the meek will inherit the earth, but it’s not because they dress monkishly, and appear to be contrite. Instead, their inheritance is the by-product of coming to terms with the mysterious existence that God made them a part of. The more comfortable we are with what we can't know, the more empowered we will be to make good use of what we do know.
Posted by A. Prado