The fight to decide who the great provider is has not yet ended part 2

Hosea 12:8 states, “לַעֲשֹׁק אָהֵב כְּנַעַוֹבְּיָדוֹ מאזְנֵי מִרְמָה,” Canaan is explicitly referred to as a merchant. This is in Hosea’s time. Proverbs 31:24, in the middle of the Acrostic, “Woman of Valor,” recited by all Jewish men to their wives Sabbath evening relates, “וַחֲגוֹרנָתְנָה לַכְּנַעֲנִי,” “She gives girdles to the Canaanites/merchants.” If the writer of Joshua and Judges is from a later period, like the Babylonian exile, it would make sense to condemn the merchants who diluted the old ways of doing things. They were from the low country, which is to say by the Mediterranean Sea, and therefore the bringers of foreign lifestyles. When looking for a people to blame for the disaster, they make the ideal target.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The merchants brought the way of the nations. That is what merchants do for a living. They bring goods, and with the goods the way of living from other cultures. Psalm 115:4 begins a diatribe against the idols of the Canaanites, and it is part of Hillel. The referent has a double meaning. The silver and gold could refer to the market with its emphasis on silver and gold. It could also refer to the פסלים the Canaanites worshiped. It probably refers to both.

The main complaint of the Deuteronomy writer of Joshua and Judges is bringing the way of the nations. By the Babylonian exile, the writers were the established class, not the farmers, or the shepherds. Deuteronomy 9:4 tell us, “מר בְּצִדְקָתִי הֱבִיאַנִי יְהוָהלָרֶשֶׁת אֶת-הָאָרֶץ הַזֹּאתוּבְרִשְׁעַת הַגּוֹיִם הָאֵלֶּהיְהוָה מוֹרִישָׁם מִפָּנֶיךָ.” The writing is that of a very skilled writer. “לָרֶשֶׁת,” to inherit alliterates well with “רִשְׁעַ,” Russia, “Those who think themselves first,” and “מוֹרִישָׁם,” “to drive them out.” The skilled writing is not that of a farmer, or a shepherd. He is the established class.

Deuteronomy 9:4 translates, “Do not say in your heart, “It is because of my charity, the Personal Name has brought me in to possess this land, and because of these nations thinking themselves first that the Personal Name is dispossessing them before me. It is because of their thinking of themselves as first that the Personal Name, your Almighty Judge, dispossesses these nations in order to fulfill the promise he made on oath to your ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

The context Torah and Prophets gives us is not that of class war. The warning is not to be like the other nations, thinking themselves first. Deuteronomy does show the greatest concern for the less fortunate. Deuteronomy 15:4 tells us, “There shall be no one of you in need, if you listen to the voice of the Personal Name, your Almighty Judge, and carefully observe this entire Mitzvah which I enjoin on you today.” Deuteronomy 15:11 relates, “The land will never lack for needy persons; that is why I command you: “Open your hand freely to your poor and to your needy kin in your land.” God knows we will never follow the rules, so commands us to at least make up for past failures.

This takes away the third option of An Introduction to the Old Testament.” Some of the peoples fighting the Canaanites probably were Semitic, as opposed to the descendents of Ham who were the Canaanites. Almost certainly, some were shepherds fighting for their shepherding ways against the established farming and merchant ways of the more advanced culture.

We must follow Torah, not because we believe it is literally correct, it is not, but because we are evaluating about what they thought was the conflict. They are the only witnesses to this and thought the conflict was about who the real “בעל” the real head of the household, the real “אל” or Almighty Judge was. If we could ever get this right, there would be no need to fear anyone. God is the Great Provider. There is no need for merchants or market forces, or any of the garbage these false idols may seem to provide.

This is part 2. Please click here for part 1

The fight to decide who the great provider is has not yet ended part 1

When discussing the reason for Israel’s admission in to the Promised Land An Introduction to the Old Testament,” mentions three reasons theories as to how the Israelis entered the land. One of these theories centers on the idolatrous behavior of those already in the land. In this theory, Joshua comes in with Israel and in one massive war wipes out the original population.

One of the twelve apostles was a Canaanite.  An Introduction to the Old Testament,” points to many other examples of how Canaanites were in the land long after they were wiped out. This points to the second hypothesis; the conquest of the land was gradual. An Introduction to the Old Testament,” posits a third hypothesis, a Marxist one. At least some of the people who sided with Israel participated in a Marxist peasant’s revolt.

In our nation, the fight to decide who the great provider is has not yet ended, or possibly even begun.
This guy posed for Terri and Larry Garside as they were coming down through Klamath Falls.

An Introduction to the Old Testament,” asks us to abandon the literal reading of the text in light of a twentieth century understanding. If this were a peasant Marxist revolt, we would expect the writers to use a name for the enemy that vilified them. Canaan, “כְּנָעַן” refers to the people of the lowlands. They thought of themselves as the people of the soil juxtaposed to the people of Aram, the highlands people. They were not the only tribes living in the land at the time. If Canaan referred to elite as “An Introduction to the Old Testament,” maintains, why choose to name this people a word that simply means lowland, or humble people? Why list names to these peoples corresponding to tribes other nations report were really in the land?

There were two disputes between the Canaanites and the entering Hebrews. One concerned who the great provider was: “אל” or “בעל” and “עשתרת.” The Canaanites worshiped “בעל,” “Husband,” or the head of the household. His bride in the story is “עשתרת” or the woman of “תרת,” or “Ra” an Egyptian word. She was one of the daughters of Ra in Egyptian mythology. These individuals point to a farming culture. “בעל” dies in the winter and rises again in the spring. When he rises, the ground becomes fertile. “בעל” becomes the great provider.

Agriculture was a great advance in the development of culture. In the stories of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, there is minimal conflict between the Canaanites and the shepherds who were with them. Most of the people in the Promised Land were ranchers, shepherds, as were Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

As Joshua and the people of Israel enter the Promised Land, there is conflict similar to the conflict between the ranchers and the farmers of our American Midwest. The farmers put up barbed wire fences to keep out the cattle. Ranchers became upset as they tried to move their cattle from Texas to the railroads in Kansas. The ranchers of our Midwest were the wealthy tycoons. Hebrew is Hebrew for “Homeless.” Another difference is the cattle, “Chattel” or live stock. The American rancher raised cattle. The Basque peoples, who ranchers also did not care for, raised sheep, as did the Israelites. They were the odd men out.

What was the original dispute with the Canaanites? The only text we have as to the real dispute is Torah and Prophets. Were the original Canaanites farmers putting up fences to block the herding of the Hebrews? Was the dispute about who “בעל,” the Great Provider is?

An Introduction to the Old Testament,” brings up the dispute between the established folk who moved from agriculture to trading, built cities and traded with peoples from Carthage to Greece, to Egypt. He points to the desire to return to Egypt and the consumer mentality of Pharaoh, the Great Abuser, who makes the Jewish people a commodity.

In the consumer/trading mentality, “בעל” becomes Hermes, who becomes Mercury. The Great Provider of the agrarian people becomes the god of Merchants and thieves. As polytheism dies out the idea of a god becomes with a mechanical creation, or in Freudian terms, a great Id, who is more able to discern what is in man’s best interests than the collective Ego. The Super Ego and the ID join together to rationalize rampant consumerism at the expense of the poor.

This is part 1, please click here for part 2.

We will be part of the land six feet under with Sean Hannity or six feet over with God part 2

The story in Joshua is of a very violent entry into the land of Canaan. Archeology does not seem to bear out the violent entry theory. Archeology shows that Egyptians made their buildings out of stone, not mud, brick, and straw as Exodus stipulates. Babylon did. The writer transposes the oppression under the Babylonians back in time to the epic story of the Hebrew people suffering in Egypt, so the people can relate to the story. The reason for the violence being in the Joshua is that the anger the Jewish people had against Babylon is transposed back into time to the Canaanites. “If only we had eradicated all temptation to follow the ways of the nations, God would never have gotten angry and sent Babylon to destroy us. We should not only be angry with Babylon, but with the Canaanites too.”

I establish my Brit with you, with all of mankind, and with all of creation. All will re-enter the Garden of Eden, paradise. First, you have to take care of this place, this planet we call earth.

Genesis 9 tells us, “I establish my Brit with you, your descendants after you, and with every living creature that was with you: the birds, the tame animals, and all the wild animals that were with you—all that came out of the ark. I establish my Brit with you, never again will I destroy all creatures with the waters of a flood; there shall not be another flood to devastate the earth.” The contract is with all flesh, with all the land, not just mankind.

Leviticus 25 tells us, “The Personal Name told Moses on Mount Sinai, “Speak to those who quarrel with God and tell them. When you enter the land that I am giving you, let the land, too, keep a Sabbath for the Personal Name. For six years, you may sow your field, and for six years prune your vineyard, gathering in their produce. During the seventh year the land shall have a Sabbath of complete rest, a Sabbath for the Personal Name, when you will neither sow your field nor prune your vineyard.”

The next chapter tells us, “I will scatter you among the nations at the point of my drawn sword, leaving your countryside desolate and your cities deserted. During the time it lies waste, the land will make up for its lost Sabbaths, while you are in the land of your enemies. The land will have rest and make up for its Sabbaths during all the time that it lies desolate, enjoying the rest that you would not let it have on your Sabbaths when you lived there.”

This is what happened during the Babylonian Exile. The writer of Leviticus looks back in time, through the reign of the kings, the rustic life the people had before the kings, and all the way back to Joshua and sees what America saw during the Dust Bowl years of the Great Depression. America, the land of the empty people, אמי רקה , did not give the land its rest, so God made provisions for the land to take its rest. We find the same logic today, We listen to people like Sean Hannity tell his audience at Faux Noise how prideful the liberals are for claiming people could cause global warming. The liberals are doing the same as the prophets did before them. They look into the future and project what will happen, given the best scientific evidence, if things do not change.

The writer of “J” is very concerned for the land. He knows that if we do not take care of the land, the land will cry out to God and God will come down and get even. He will use climate change as the mechanism through which the world gets even. The land will have its rest. If we do not give the land its rest, God will give the land its rest and we will be part of the land again, six feet under the surface of the land. It is only a matter if we will listen to Sean Hannity and his ilk at Faux Noise, or if we will listen to God.

Torah, in particular the stories of life in the land, Joshua, I and II Samuel, I and II Kings is one large story, of living in the land, sometimes guarding and keeping the garden, sometimes living in loose confederation, as America did before our modern constitution. Sometimes they strove as we did to get back to the old Articles of Federation, as the south did in the 1860’s, sometimes with a strong central government, Washington D.C., Jerusalem, and sometimes with limited government/states rights, which allowed for the enslavement of peoples, north and south. Sometimes, we did not care for the land. Those old enough remember the Cuyahoga River catching fire in Cleveland Ohio, Love Canal, the Valdez Oil Disaster and the Deep Water Horizon. As Leviticus 26 predicts, when we guard and care for the garden, things go well. When we do not care for the garden, the land will have its rest. That is the reason we read Joshua, Samuel, and Kings.

We will be part of the land six feet under with Sean Hannity or six feet over with God part 1

These are the generations of the heavens and the earth at their creation. When the Personal Name, the Almighty Judge made the earth and the heavens there was no field shrub on earth and no grass of the field had sprouted. The Personal Name, the Almighty Judge had sent no rain upon the earth and there was no man to till the ground. A stream seeped out of the earth, watering all the surface of the ground. The Personal Name, the Almighty Judge formed the man out of the dust of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life. The man became a living being.

It may seem strange, discussing The Land: The Promise of the People of the Social Contract. Is not the Promised Land, the Promised Land, Israel, from Lebanon to the Red Sea? On the other hand, when we try to find the Garden of Eden, we find something interesting. As we look at the mural at our Cathedral, we notice how the Lamb stands atop four rivers. These are the four rivers of life from Genesis 2:4. Two of these rivers are easy to find, the Tigris and the Euphrates.

The third is a dry creek bed in western Saudi Arabia. The fourth defines the land of Cush, a land that stretches from Ethiopia and Somalia all the way to modern Libya. The Tigris and Euphrates are north and east of Israel. The Pishon and Gihon are to the south, east, and west. The land in the middle where we expect to find the Garden of Eden, is exactly where Israel sits today. The Garden of Eden is Israel.

Does not Genesis 3:23 tell us how God banished Adam and Eve from the garden? “God expelled Ha Adam, stationing the cherubim and the fiery revolving sword east of the Garden of Eden, to guard the way to the tree of life.” The apple in the story is the way of the nations. The Cherubim have a striking resemblance to the Babylonians who guard the way to Israel with a fiery sword, which devoured Jerusalem. Psalm 137 depicts the anger the Jewish nation had against Babylon for the destruction it reaped on Jerusalem.

The Garden of Eden is Israel in idealized form. It does not rain there. I mist comes up from the ground and waters the place. It is a garden, with plants and animals, there is no death there. Some think the writer of Genesis 2-4 was from Jerusalem and they identify him by his using the Personal name of God. All is ideal. Dr. Michael D. Coogan from Harvard Divinity School mentions the importance of soil, the land, and the people. Psalms 120-135 talk about the trip to the new Israel, the new Promised Land from Babylon.

Some in the pro-life movement notice that man becomes a living being when God breathes into them. They argue that life must therefore begin with breath. They forget that God does not breathe into Eve or her offspring either. Genesis 4:10, Deuteronomy 12:23, Leviticus 17:11, 17:14, and other places equate life/soul and blood. Blood is the only organ that touches each other cell in the body and it is present when the body has two cells.

Joshua Son of Nun/ a carpenter, with Peter Son of Nun the fisherman.

Moses and the people of Israel spend forty years walking through the desert on the way to the new Garden of Eden, the Promised Land. When they arrive, Joshua, whose name in Greek is Jesus, the son of Nun, the fish, takes the people into the Promised Land. Another Joshua, the son of a carpenter and who hangs out with fishermen, one of whom is Simon, who he calls Peter/the rock, he will call the Son of Nun, the fish.

Creation in Genesis relates the fight between Shalom and Violence

Genesis 1 starts with a grand portrait of the creation of the world. This portrait beings with God saying, “וַיְהִי-אוֹר “.יְהִי אוֹר “Be light, was light.” The big question is, “What color was the light?” “The Joy of the painter Bob Ross the Nicene Creed and I believe in One God Creator,” relates how the answer to that question is that light is diffused light. Light by itself has no color; it only reports what it reflects off of. Light allows God, and us to see how the cosmos God creates out of תהוּ וָבהוּ, wilderness and chaos, is good. “A Theological Introduction to the Old Testament,” relates how the writer of Genesis 1, a member of the northern tribes who uses the name, “אֱלהִים” for God did not necessarily believe God created the ordered world ex nihilo.

Genesis 1 is a rich verbal tapestry preparing us for all that is to come.

The text relates how Genesis 1 has been interpreted many ways through the centuries. The writer of Hebrews, chapter 4 relates the tradition, since for God one day is as a thousand years, Psalms 90:4, since St. Peter also relates the same tradition, and since Genesis 1 states, “Evening and morning, first day, second day… but no evening and morning seventh day, the seventh day has no evening, no end. There must only be seven millennium of history, before the Parousia.

When we look at Genesis 1 in light of the Great Assembly we find a different interpretation. The writer of “Striving to make an ideal world out of chaos” relates the chaos at the time the second temple was being built. The writers were codifying the traditions of J,E, and P. The D tradition was only written during the time of the last king of Judah. Within the priestly tradition there was dispute as to what a new Israel would look like. Israel and Judah had long since had their day. It was a glorious time when the eight tiered a acrostic was composed, along with the beautiful Song of Songs, about Judah and the Jewish temple. It had been a time of great art.

As scholars debated what they were going to include in their epic statement about who they were as a people, they must have debated what the cover of this work would look like. Today, publishers spend vast amounts of funds looking for the perfect book cover. With a glance, it must state what the book is about. Genesis 1 may well just be the book cover to the entirety of Torah. It may simply be a verbal tapestry written by an Elohist writer, pointing to what Torah is about.

If the writer of “Striving to make an ideal world out of chaos” is correct, the writer has two audiences. The first is the Persian satrap who commissioned the work. The second is the grand audience who hears Torah read to them for the first time, the common people who look to the rich tapestry set before them. If Torah does not reflect the rich heritage of their ancestors, they will reject it. If they reject it, so will that satrap. If there is a two audience theory of writing, there is also a two writer theory of writing.

Professional writers do not give their writing to clerks for proofreading, who check for basic grammar, punctuation, spelling… Professional writers give their writing to skilled rhetoriticians who look for rhythm and meter, who put in puns, rhymes, and alliterations. Genesis 1 was written by such a craftsman, who put everything into his craft. He would be insulted to find an advanced culture took his work of art as a literal interpretation of reality. As a verbal tapestry, Genesis 1 must point to who the Jewish people were as a people and their relationship with the rest of the world. Genesis 1 must paint a picture of how it sees the rest of the world. It is not history, nor is it meant to be so. It is a work of art.

We can believe the writer of Genesis 1 was so stupid that he did not know you cannot create light on the first day, the trees nourished by the light on the third day, and the source of the light of fourth. We can also believe that this writer came from an advanced culture and was writing art. Bob Ross, often drew the diffused light, with rivers, then put in dry land, and populating his land with plants, and trees. After his plants and trees, he often would add animals and maybe a person or two. This is the order of creation in Genesis 1, a literary landscape, not history.

יְבָרֶךְ אֱלֹהִים אֶת יוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי וַיְקַדֵּשׁ אתוֹ כִּי בוֹ שָׁבַת מִכָּל-מְלַאכְתּוֹ אֲשֶׁר-בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים לַעֲשׂוֹת

Genesis 1 ends with Kiddush.

A Theological Introduction to the Old Testament relates how Exodus slavery to deliverance to worship. Genesis 1 ends with Kiddush in chapter 2. The writer of Genesis 1 could be writing part of his tradition, which included this prayer. He passes his tradition on to the entire Jewish nation, and to the world. Torah proper begins with Genesis 2:4. It does not begin with history, but with folk traditions by a writer who uses יְהוָה אֱלהִים to identify God.There is a problem about relating traditions. We all remember the game of telephone. A group of around 20 children sit in a circle. The lead child gives a message to the second child who in turn passes it on to the third… at the end the last child repeats the message, which seldom resembles the original message. The traditions reflected in Torah work much the same way. As scholars, we try to find the original message when all we have is the last message. It is impossible to know for sure if Kiddush was around when the writer of Genesis 1 wrote his work.

If the stories look like Aesop’s fables, there is a reason. Αἴσωπος, from around 620–564 BC comes from the Middle East. Although we identify him as Greek, north of Israel, one tradition holds that he was from Ethiopia, south of Judah. A Theological Introduction to the Old Testament relates how the writers of Torah borrowed styles and even stories from their neighbors. Genesis 2 could relate how Torah writers borrowed from Aesop’s style.

Striving to make an ideal world out of chaos” relates how Genesis 3 may refer, not to some historical past, but to the writer’s present. The apple was the way of the nations, the cherubim were  Babylonian soldiers. The message is, if the Jewish people are going to be a people, they must first be Jewish.

Genesis 4 starts the discussion on violence and the importance of proper liturgical sacrifice. Genesis 4 is the story of Cain and Able. Immediately we find another name for God a different writer who refers to God as יְהוָה/השם the Personal Name. God moves from the impersonal force hovering over nature in Genesis 1, to the very personal, Personal Name who cares about his planet and all who are in it.

Cain means upraised one, and Abel means mist. Genesis 3:3 relates how Cain brings an offering of the ground. Abel brings from the first of his flock in Genesis 3:4. Cain brings from whatever. Abel brings from his best. “Striving to make an ideal world out of chaos” relates how important the temple was for the Jewish people. It also relates the difference between what is ללח or common and what is fit for sacrifice. Abel knows the difference, while Cain does not.

Another important lesson occurs when Cain becomes sad because God does not accept his sacrifice. Failure faces us every day, and we must face our failures as men. We must control our inclinations, not allow our inclinations to rule us.

The most important lesson comes in Genesis 4:10, “קוֹל דְּמֵי אָחִיךָצֹעֲקִים אֵלַי מִן-הָאֲדָמָה.” This odd reading literally translates, “The voice of my blood of your brother calls to me from Adam-ah.” Adam comes from the ground, and that is how he receives his name. Any attack upon any human being, for any reason is an attack, not just upon that person, but upon the image of God himself. Genesis 1 tells us, “וַיּאמֶר אֱלהִים נַעֲשֶׂה אָדָם בְּצַלְמֵנוּ כִּדְמוּתֵנוּ “ let us make man in our Shalom, and in our bloods. The Hebrew spelling of Shalom is different, but the two words sound the same. דְמוּתֵ is the Hebrew feminine plural of blood. God’s blood, his image was the image Cain attacked.

We find a similar message at the end of Genesis 1, “God blessed them, telling them: Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that crawl on the earth. God also said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on all the earth and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit on it to be your food; to all the wild animals, all the birds of the air, and all the living creatures that crawl on the earth, I give all the green plants for food.”

Hebrew rhetoric has a rule, “The General and the Particular.” This rule states that when we see a general statement followed a particular and then the general statement again, the general statement teaches us about the particulars. The general statement is about having dominion over wildlife. The particular is about eating the plants. The general statement is repeated about having dominion of wildlife. The passage ends with the particular about eating plants. The writer of Genesis 1 was a vegetarian, as was Daniel.

Genesis 9:3 tells us, “Any living creature that moves about shall be yours to eat; I give them all to you as I did the green plants.” The green plants were the staple of all who went before. That was the original plan, and if we want to follow God’s plan closely, that will be our plan. Genesis 9:4 goes on to say, אַךְבָּשָׂרבְּנַפְשׁוֹ דָמוֹ לא תאכֵלוּ “Only the flesh in its soul, which is the blood, you will not eat.” Deuteronomy 12:23 also states, “הַדָּם הוּא הַנָּפֶשׁ” “The blood is the soul.”

Genesis 9 goes on to tell us, “I am now establishing my Brit/Social Contract with you and your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you: the birds, the tame animals, and all the wild animals that were with you all that came out of the ark. I establish my Brit with you, that never again shall all creatures be destroyed by the waters of a flood; there shall not be another flood to devastate the earth.

Genesis 6 has two traditions about the founding of the flood. J beings the first by mentioning how The Personal Name saw how great the rot רָעַת of human beings was on earth, and how every desire that their heart conceived was always nothing but rot, רַע. The J version of the text states, “The earth was ruined/ שָּׁחֵתbefore the face of God and full of violence/ “חָמָס.” The modern violent Palestinian group is Hamas/חָמָס. The root failure is a lack of faith/participation in the image of God which leads to violence.

In Genesis chapter 9 the Elohist goes on to say, “God said: This is the sign of the Brit I make between me and you and every living creature with you for all ages to come: I set my bow in the clouds to serve as a sign of the Brit between me and the earth.” This Brit, this Social Contract is not between Noah, Rest, and God. It is not between Noah with his family, and God. It is with all of creation and God. When the Lakota talk about, “All are my relatives,” they are on the same page as Elohist.

We find this concept among the Muslims, Buddhists, Tao, and all major world religions. We are all in the web of the world and we suffer when the world suffers. When we do not care for the world, the world has a way of getting even. God put us in the garden to guard it and to keep it. He never rescinded that command. God is active in the world making sure that when we do care for it, he does his part and takes care of us, and the world.

The Hebrew word for prayer, “תפלה” is reflexive and comes from a root word meaning to judge. We sit in judgment of ourselves when we pray. The Greek προσεύχομαι is in the Middle Greek, so is also reflexive. The best example is what we do in confession. It is not coming to God with a list of “Give me’s.“ It is sitting down with God to decide our role in his plan. Genesis 1-11 relates this to the original audience, and to us, if we listen.

For another article in the Genesis series please read The Jewish people have three fathers and four mothers with something to teach us part 1

Moses and Zechariah move us from slavery to worship part 3

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name, Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she with silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Our Lady in the harbor and our Lady at our Cathedral speak to us about who we are as Catholics, and as Americans.

Pharaoh has not changed much in the six thousand years of recorded history. We look at those words from Deuteronomy. It is not to your fathers. The Jewish community derives their concept of the Physical Presence from this passage. Each generation relives, for the first time, each time they celebrate Passover, there escape from מִצְרַיִם. As A Theological Introduction to the Old Testament points out, they recline at table all as equals. They prepare dressed as free men, with the goods the Egyptians gave them. They eat foods reminding them of their oppression in מִצְרַיִם.

Catholics also have the concept of the Physical Presence, as do the Eastern Orthodox. For us it is also the Physical Presence of our escape from our old selves, our old adherence as victims to the double bind. Our escape is the body of Jesus Christ. It is no coincidence; Passover and Easter are from the same feast celebrated at the same time of year. We remember what it was like to be oppressed, to be in the double bind. When we see others suffer, we remember what it was like to be there, and we do something. This is justice. This is the national identity upon which Judaism and Christianity bases themselves. There is no room for tough love. If we remember this Mitzvah we can forget all the others, not because they do not apply, but because in fulfilling this one we fulfill all the others.

Deuteronomy teaches another lesson:

שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ יְהוָה אֶחָד

 וְאָהַבְתָּ אֵת יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ בְּכָל-לְבָבְךָ וּבְכָל-נַפְשְׁךָ וּבְכָל-מְאֹדֶךָ

לְבָבְis the plural of לְבָ, heart. We each love God with all of our hearts, plural. We each have more than one. Jewish tradition takes a Freudian move here. We each have many inclinations, some which are good, some not so good. Inclinations of themselves in Freud are neither good nor evil. How we use them, make them good or evil. “The Personal name told Cain: ‘Why are you angry? Why is your face fallen? If you do well, will it not be lifted up? If do not do well, failure waits as a lion at the door; and its desire is for you, but you rule over it.” Part of Pharaoh’s deceit is to convince us that we deserve no better, we, not he, is the evil one. God teaches us to love God with our evil inclination. Our inclinations by themselves are neither good nor evil.

God, the “Personal” name speaks to us in our weakness, reminding us how to “reflect upon three things and we will not come to the hands of transgression. Know from where you came, where you are going, and before whom you are destined to give a judgment. From where you came–from a putrid drop; where you are going–to a place of dust, maggots and worms; and before whom you are destined to give a judgment before the supreme King of Kings, the Dedicated One, blessed be He.” We are a putrid drop on our way to becoming dust and ashes. God knows this and loves us anyway. He thinks we deserve better, all of us deserve better by virtue of God making us in his image. That is the lesson of Deuteronomy 6:4-9.

Exodus 20 relates of the temple, “An altar of earth make for me, and sacrifice upon it your burnt offerings and communion sacrifices, your sheep and your oxen. In every place where I cause my name to be invoked, I will come to you and bless you. If you make an altar of stone for me, do not build it of cut stone, for by putting a chisel to it you make it common.”

God wants to present to us an image, which our Cathedrals and parishes try to emulate. We descend from that back of the nave to the altar area, much as people climb down a hill. Then we ascend up to the altar, much as St. Peter ascended with Jesus to the transfiguration. We climb up and down the rolling hills to a volcano.

Our churches are often darkened to remind us of the volcanic cloud. We have incense, not to remind us of the sacrifices; Jesus is our sacrifice, but to remind us of the volcanic cloud. We have flowers to remind us of Jesus’ lilies of the field, here today and gone tomorrow, and the lilies on the way to Mt. Sinai. Our Mass is meant to be a transformational experience. We transform from slaves in oppression/Egypt, and through liberation we become a community in service to God through service to each other, a true community of worship.

This is part 3. For part 1 click here.

For part 2 click here.

Moses and Zechariah move us from slavery to worship part 2

A Theological Introduction to the Old Testament mentions how Exodus does not name Pharaoh. In Egyptian “Pharaoh” means “Great House.” In Hebrew, it means, “rupture, rift, tear, split.” Pharaoh is the one who ruptures and destroys. He is oppressor. A Theological Introduction to the Old Testament mentions how pharaoh represents the cosmic destroyer, the chaos from the beginning of time.

We climb the mountains and the hills to get to Martin Luther King’s mountain top to be transformed into a caring people, out for the welfare of others.

Gregory Bateson first used the term, “Double Bind,” which describes what Pharaoh was doing. “הָבָה נִתְחַכְּמָה,” “Come, deal shrewdly.” Torah does not tell us how Pharaoh did this, but Double Bind theory does. Abusers start the double-bind relationship by giving gifts or privileges. The primary injunction is, “You should like what you are getting from me!” When the victim accepts, victimization occurs. The secondary injunction is, “I am punishing you! If the victim shows any resistance, “You should have escaped from me earlier,” serve as the third level injunction.

Pharaoh told Joseph, “Settle your father and brothers in the pick of the land. Let them settle in the region of Goshen.” The Jewish people get the pick of the land, delta, and put sheep on it. The sheep probably despoiled the land, and when they did, victimization began. “We gave you the best of the land, and you despoiled it.” “You chose to be here.”

Genesis tells us the Hebrew people were shepherds. “All shepherds were abhorrent to the Egyptians.” Genesis 47 also relates how Joseph first impoverished and then enslaved the Egyptians, “Look, you did it to us first.” Jewish people could leave any time they wanted to. Moses left and found his way to Sinai. Aaron left as well. 1 Maccabees 7 relates how Rome came into Israel at the request of the Jewish people. Many times in history, people and nations have fallen for the double bind. Pharaoh received free-swimming lessons for his use of the tactic.

A Theological Introduction to the Old Testament tells us, “The Hebrew midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, deceived pharaoh.”[1] How many people know the names of the nurses present when they were born? How many people know the names of the nurses present when their leaders were born? Compare this with the total absence of any mention of the name of Pharaoh’s daughter.

The midwives saved thousands of lives at the risk of their own. Pharaoh’s daughter saved one life, and only when Moses’ humanity presented itself to her through the reeds. The consequences of oppression are not limited to the oppressors but extend to those the oppression benefitted. It is a harsh lesson to those who think avoidance of direct oppression of others is enough to allow them to avoid culpability.[2] Shiphrah and Puah are directly compared to Pharaoh’s daughter to put in bold face the absence of Pharaoh’s daughter’s name. Pharaoh’s daughter, by not confronting her father with his failures, by only saving one, is not worthy of direct mention.

As Zechariah mentions in his song, God saves us for a purpose:

He promised through the mouth of his dedicated prophets from of old, salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us, to show mercy to our fathers and to be mindful of his dedicated Social Contract. This is the oath Sheva, (as in Elizabeth) he swore to E Pluribus Unum or father, to grant us that, rescued from the hand of enemies, we might give public service. λατρεύειν (from where we derive our word, liturgy) to him without fear in divine completion/ὁσιότητι and צֶדֶקה before him all our days.”

All of the Jewish understanding of this key  צֶדֶקה comes from Deuteronomy 5:1-7 and Deuteronomy 6:4-9, the Shema, or the Jewish Creed.

Moses summoned all those who struggle with God and told them, Hear, you who struggle with God, the customs and correct judicial precedents (That which come from the lips שְׁפָּטִ) which I proclaim in your hearing, this day, that you may learn them and guard to do them. The Personal Name our Almighty Judge cut a Social Contract with us at Sword. Not with our fathers did the Personal Name cut this Social Contract, but with us, each of us, alive, here, this day… I am the Personal Name your Almighty Judge, who brought you out of the land of מִצְרַיִם out of the house of menial labor.”

מִצְרַיִם is related to the Hebrew word for Leprosy and the Hebrew word for a wasp. They are both oppressive. מִצְרַיִם means oppression and stands for any force, cosmic or otherwise, which oppresses us. A Theological Introduction to the Old Testament is correct in pointing out how Pharaoh and Egypt stand for the same.

For part one, please click here.

For part 3 please click here.

[1] Brueggemann, Walter; Petersen, David L.; Fretheim, Terence E.; Birch, Bruce C. (2010-03-01). A Theological Introduction to the Old Testament: 2nd Edition (p. 103). Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.

[2] Brueggemann, Walter; Petersen, David L.; Fretheim, Terence E.; Birch, Bruce C. (2010-03-01). A Theological Introduction to the Old Testament: 2nd Edition (p. 111). Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.

Moses and Zechariah move us from slavery to worship part 1

Theological Introduction to the Old Testament tells us[1], “In the book of Exodus we move from oppression to liberation to community to worship.” We have a similar retelling as it relates to the Gospel in Luke 1, the story of Elizabeth and Zechariah. Elizabeth was old and sterile. Gabriel meets Zechariah alone in the Holy of Holies and tells him about John the Baptist. Zechariah is without hope; he does not believe. As a result, Gabriel strikes him mute. There are interesting corollaries with Exodus. Elizabeth means, “Oath of Elijah.” “Zechariah” means “Remembrance.” “Gabriel” means “Strength of God.” The promise of Elijah is sterile. There is no hope. All that is left is remembrance of past glory.

We descend the rolling hills to climb to the mountain of God

All that is left is for the community to call out into the empty Holy of Holies about the terrible suffering of the people. Forget for the moment that Zechariah, as Ma’amadot, could not have been in the Holy of Holies. Only the High Cohen could enter the Holy of Holies, and then only at Yom Kippur, a way of dating the event. St. Luke thinks Zechariah was in the Holy of Holies.

Moses complains he is not worthy to proclaim God’s message. “Moses told הָאֱלֹהִים: ‘Who am I, to go to Pharaoh, and מִמִּצְרָיִם אוֹצִיא אֶת-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל?” אוֹצִיא comes from the same root as Mitzvah or that, which comes from the lips of God. Like Zechariah, Moses balks at the Mitzvah to proclaim the Good News. Like Zechariah, Moses is in a position to talk to the elders of the people. Both Moses and Zechariah are unwilling elders of the people.

There is another interesting pun going on in this passage, “God said: ‘I am the God of your father, the God of E Pluribus Unum, the God of Isaac, and the God of heal.” Exodus 3:9 tells us, “וְעַתָּה הִנֵּה צַעֲקַת בְּנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל בָּאָה אֵלָי.” Now, the Isaac of the sons of those who struggle with God has come to me.” True, the spellings of Isaac and צַעֲקַת is different, but the sound is the same.

We see the same movement of oppression in Exodus and for Zechariah. It is the movement in Zechariah’s story, to liberate through the four carpenters. This brings Zechariah to the community who comes to see him at the naming of his son, John the Baptist, and to public service, which he relates in the Song of Zechariah, Luke 1:68-79, in particular  Luke 1:74-75.

Zechariah is also the name of the prophet who talks about the four carpenters, אַרְבָּעָה חָרָשִׁים, τέςαρας τέκτονας. The first of these is Elijah returned. The second, third, and fourth are Messiah Ben Joseph, Messiah Ben David, and Melchizedek, the charitable king. We wonder what Zechariah, named after the prophet thought when he hear Our Blessed Virgin recite a version of I Samuel 2:1-10. He must have understood these to be revolutionary words. “He shows the might of his arm, dispersing the arrogant of mind and heart. He overthrows rulers from their thrones, but lifts up the lowly. The hungry fills with nobility; the rich he sends away empty.”

Of Reno and Jerusalem panoramic views and living our lives in the present,” presents how Zechariah, St. Joseph, Joachim and Anne, and Jacob all knew what war was when waged against Rome. Assuming Zechariah knew the four carpenters tradition, he would have known Messiah Ben Joseph wages war against “Gog,” or Rome, and loses. Zechariah knew what Our Blessed Virgin, engaged to a Joseph meant. His son and Our Blessed Virgin’s son would not live to procreate his grandchildren. Neither John the Baptist, nor Jesus married or had blood offspring.

Moses must have thought the same as he received the command from the burning bush, Sinai. He was a convicted fellow, told to return to the scene of the crime and fight the ruler of the mightiest nation on earth. It is no wonder; he claimed he was not eloquent.

[1] Brueggemann, Walter; Petersen, David L.; Fretheim, Terence E.; Birch, Bruce C. (2010-03-01). A Theological Introduction to the Old Testament: 2nd Edition (p. 102). Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.


The obedience of faith is more than it seems part 1

One of the issues that conservatives want to discuss is homosexual behavior. We have five very strong quotes against this, all of which need to be understood in the Sitz in Leben, or the sitting in life, the context of the passages. The first of these is Leviticus 18: 22. The Hebrew for “Abomination,” “תּוֹעֵבָה” means, “Nauseating.” The original Hebrew says, “וְאֶת-זָכָר–לֹא תִשְׁכַּב מִשְׁכְּבֵי אִשָּׁה” This literally translates, “With males you will not lay, as with women.”

Torah is not a law book. “Torah,” “תורה” comes from a Hebrew root word, “הוראה” which means “Teaching.” It is the history of Israel’s struggle to understand God. As a result, there are contradictions in the text. This is because Torah is a living teaching and reflects this struggle to understand God. One of these disputes relates to who Moses is as a person. Exodus 6:20 tells us, “”Amram, married his aunt  Jochebed, who bore him Aaron, Moses, and Miriam.”

Leviticus 18: 22 tells us about how homosexual behavior is nauseating. Leviticus 18:12-13 tells us that marrying your aunt is also nauseating. Moses’ mother was also his great aunt. The writer of the Genealogy in Exodus was probably from the northern tribes, which scholars today describe by the name the used for God/אֱלהים. Leviticus 20:19 relates the same.

The writer of Leviticus, like Moses and Aaron used the name, “השם.” There were real disagreements between the writers in the northern tribes and these priests from Jerusalem. If the genealogy is correct, when Moses relates the commandment against the incest of marrying an aunt, he condemns his own mother and father. We all know the commandment about honoring parents. Leviticus 18 and Leviticus 20 must be understood in context of the debate between the four groups writing Torah.

Ladies, as Leviticus 18:22 reads, if you lie with a male, as with a female, you violate this Mitzvah If you do not, our species cannot procreate. Leviticus 20:13 is clearer, “וְאִישׁ, אֲשֶׁר יִשְׁכַּב אֶת-זָכָר מִשְׁכְּבֵי אִשָּׁה–תּוֹעֵבָה עָשׂוּ” The Mitzvah relates only to men, not women. Lesbian behavior is OK. We go back to Leviticus 18 and look for context to the passage, in particular verse 18:

וְאִשָּׁה אֶלאֲחֹתָהּלֹא תִקָּחלִצְרֹרלְגַלּוֹת עֶרְוָתָהּ עָלֶיהָבְּחַיֶּיהָ

“You will not take a woman to her sister, to be a rival to her, beside the other in her lifetime.” This passage does not seem to apply. We look for context in the passage, Genesis 29, the story of Leah and Rachael. Jacob violates this passage by marrying Leah, and then her sister, Rachael, his beloved wife. Levi and Judah are the second and third sons of Leah. The writer of Leviticus was a Levite. “A Jewish, is a descendent of Judah.

The story relates all the animosity and rivalry between the two wives their children. We can tell the same writer wrote both Leviticus 18 and the stories of Leah and Rachael because they use the same word for God, “The Personal Name.” The eldest son of Rachael, Joseph, is the child who leads the family into Egypt, and slavery. This is the consequence of violating Leviticus 18: 18.

We find stories in Genesis and Judges which relate violations of Leviticus 18: 22. They are at Genesis 19:1-15, in particular Genesis 19:5, and Judges 19:15-30. These passages make the context clear. The people in the wicked towns are not hospitable to strangers. Then they desire to violate Leviticus 18: 22 and Leviticus 20:13. In both stories the charitable man offers to give his daughter to the wicked men and they are inclined to take the offer.

Angels prevent Lot. In the Judges story the men complete their act. Sodom and the tribe of Benjamin are wiped out for their failures. In Jewish tradition, the great crime is not the homosexual behavior, but the lack of hospitality in both Genesis 19:1-15, and Judges 19:15-30. In Jewish tradition, a Sodomite is a legalist.

The last text relating to homosexuality in our Bible is Romans 1:5Romans 2:29, in particular Romans 1:18Romans 2:29. Romans 1:18 until the end of the chapter shows St. Paul as the articulate revivalist minister. He whips up the crowd; they do this; they do that; they do the other thing. Among the bad things listed includes, “God handed them over to impurity through the lusts of their hearts for the mutual degradation of their bodies.” “God handed them over to degrading passions. Their females exchanged physical relations for the metaphysical; the males likewise gave up natural relations with females and burned with lust for one another. Males did shameful things with males and thus received in their own persons the due penalty for their perversity.”

Jewish tradition, which St. Paul is taking for granted the crowd identifies with, Leviticus 18: 22 and Leviticus 20:13 applies to women first, and because of their perversion, it applies to men. As liberal Catholics we must understand this passage is in Romans, and we must acknowledge the existence of the passages in Leviticus, Genesis, and Judges.

Conservative Christians, including Catholics must look at the grander context of the passages. “They knew The Almighty Judge, but did not accord him importance as the Almighty Judge or give him thanks. They became vain in their reasoning. Their senseless possessed darkened minds. Claiming to be wise, they became fools. They exchanged the weight of the immortal God for the likeness of mortal man or of birds or of four-legged animals or of snakes.” Part 2 of this article will discuss exactly what this means.

For more on this subject, please read part 2

There is a great debate in Reno

If there is anything, which separates liberals from conservatives it is the conservative quoting of Thomas Jefferson, “He who governs least governs best.” We as liberals have problems with this quote. Thomas Jefferson never said it; Henry David Thoreau did. Thomas Jefferson made the Louisiana Purchase with an executive authority never given to him by the Constitution.

The phrase, “He who governs least governs best,” needs a predicate. He who governs least governs best to do what? To argue for more government than the least is to argue for incompetence. To argue for more government than is required argues for waste and nobody argues for waste. The socialist thinks government control of everything is governing the least. The capitalist, the communist, and the anarchist believe it is no government at all. If we want to see no government at all, look at Afghanistan or Somalia. It is not a pretty picture.

We look for the solution in two quotes from the Gospel. St. Peter, whose picture adorns our mural, says it all. Matthew 17:24 provides the statement and the context:

The collectors of the temple tax approached Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?” Peter replied, “Yes.” When Peter came into the house, before he had time to speak, Jesus asked him, “What is your opinion, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take tolls or census tax? From their subjects or from foreigners?” Peter said, “From foreigners,” Jesus replied, “The subjects are exempt.”

Without a predicate to guide our way, government regulation and taxation falls upon the foreigner, at least those who are foreign to us. For the rich, the poor need regulation and taxes. For the poor and minorities, it is the rich. When the liberals control Congress, they push taxes and regulations upon the rich and when the conservatives are in power, the reverse happens. We are leaves blowing in the wind, Ephesians 4:11-16. The second quote is as follows.

An argument broke out among the apostles about who was the greatest. Jesus told them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them and those in authority over them are addressed as ‘Benefactors. Among you, it shall not be so. Allow the greatest among you be as the youngest, and the leader as the servant. For who is greater: the one seated at table or the one who serves? It is not the one seated at table! I am among you as the one who serves.” Koine Greek has no punctuation, therefore no question marks. Context alone gives the punctuation.

As Christians, God calls us to act better. The last poll I found showed that 75% of Americans claim to be Christian. There is no reason for Matthew 17:24 applying to this great nation.

The conservatives believe that some men, corporate CEOs, and business owners are by nature good and do not need regulation. Liberals believe the writings of John Locke who noted that no man is a fair judge in his own case. That includes the corporate CEO, our religious leaders, the union chiefs, and our political leaders. We have tri-partite government because we believe everybody needs regulation, in particular the regulator. We believe that God created man in his image and likeness of God, but as St. Augustine, the man in the mural relates, we are also born with original sin. We are all imperfect.

As liberals, we believe our leaders are no different from the rest of us. We find the words in Deuteronomy 16:20, “Justice, justice shall you pursue, so that you may live and possess the land the Personal Name, your Almighty Judge, is giving you.” The Hebrew word is repeated. The first time it refers to justice, the second time to charity. In the movie Schindler’s list, the Jewish community refers to Schindler as a Tzaddic. He violates the rules in the name of charity. St. Luke refers to St. Joseph as a Tzaddic in Matthew 1:19. He violates the rules in relation to our Blessed Virgin, in the name of Tzaddic, charity. צֶדֶק means God calls us to serve each other.

A chapter later Deuteronomy says of our leaders, political, religious, in private enterprise, and otherwise, “You may indeed set over you a ruler whom the Personal Name, your Almighty Judge, will choose. From among your own kindred you may set a ruler over you; you may not set over you a stranger, no kin of yours. He will not have a great number of horses; nor make his people return to Oppression to acquire many horses. He will not accumulate silver and gold.” Our leader is to be one of us and he is to remain one of us. To qualify as leader, a person must know the price of a loaf of bread, a gallon of milk, a gallon of gasoline, how many homes he owns, and how many cars and horses he owns.

We are all imperfect human beings trying to get from the cradle to the grave in one piece. God made us all in his image, as our Catholic doctrine has always thought. Simon Legree is a work of fiction. St. Augustine, whose picture also graces our mural, taught us pure evil is harmless. Pure evil repulses everyone, depriving it of its power. God made us all in his image and likeness, liberal and conservative. We are also all born with original sin. We all need regulation, including our regulators/rulers.

There is the baseball game. Seventeen kids join together to play baseball. None has ball, bat, gloves, or the other tools of the game. They are unable to play until an eighteenth player comes along with all of this. Being a wealthy child, he wants to decide the rules and writes them to his advantage. The first question is, “Who owns the game?” They all do. The second question is, “Who owns the ball, bat, and gloves?” The last kid does and he is free to take his stuff home any time he desires.

If we are the uncle of this last child, aught we to act on behalf of the other seventeen? The true answer is yes and no. We do not act to protect the other seventeen. We act to protect the family name and the proper moral and ethical development of our nephew/or niece. We do act. Further, we act with the understanding that it is not our game. We have no claims to the game, or to the tools of the game. Government acts as an outside to the game, but as in insider in reference to his nephew/niece. We call our government Uncle Sam. Because all are citizens, nieces and nephews, government serves to protect us all. Government officials and employees are just citizens themselves. They are also only nieces and nephews, neither greater nor lesser than the rest.

We all like to say the Pledge of Allegiance. I pledge allegiance to the flag, of the United States of America, and to the republic, for which it stands. Catholics need to define just what we mean by a republic. The definition we learned in high school is that it is any form of government not a monarchy. This is really no definition at all. St. Augustine gives Catholics, a far better definition in his City of God, Book 2 chapter 21:

As among the different sounds, which proceed from lyres, flutes, and the human voice, a conductor maintains a certain harmony, which a cultivated ear cannot endure to hear disturbed. He elicits this in full, absolute concordiam by the modulation of voices unlike one another. Where we allow reason to modulate the diverse elements of the state, we obtain perfect concord from the upper, lower, and middle classes as from various sounds. What musicians call harmony, is concord in matters of state, the strictest bond and best security of any republic, and which by no ingenuity can be retained where justice is extinct.

St. Augustine agrees that running a state is about harmony. In matters of state, he calls this concordiam. Going on to quote Cicero, who quotes Scipio he writes, “A republic is the good of the people. The people, is an assemblage associated by a common acknowledgment of law, and by a community of interests.” A republic is a group of people with a common understanding of what is right, and who work together to promote the interests of all.

We are all in the game of life, a very serious game, but a game nonetheless. All bring to the game are resources, knowledge and skills. We all come to the game to get something out of the game. Some requests are reasonable; some are not. The job of St. Augustine’s orchestra conductor is to make sure the tuba does not drown out the flute. That is precisely what we see not happening in America today. The results are staggering.

In 1968, the poorest 50% of the population brought home 27% of all income, per the US Department of the Census. Today that figure is 19% and dropping. In in 1968 the richest 20% of the population brought home 56.1% of all income. Today that figure is 71.3% of all income. In America, 45,000 people die each year as a direct result of not having adequate healthcare. Eight thousand die in the first year of life, half pre-born, from a lack of adequate neo-natal care. Fifty.2 million people lived in food-insecure households, including 17.2 million children. Twelve.2 million adults and 5.4 million children lived in households with very low food security.

We also look at the crooked governor of Wisconsin who slashed salaries of teachers and firefighters, who locked the doors of the state capital with people inside, much as happened at the Triangle Shirtwaist factory and at the Hamlet chicken factory. We see the voter suppression in states like Florida, Wisconsin, and throughout the conservative south. We see the conservative governors supporting tax and budget cut madness, all in the name of minimalist government.

It becomes clear. Supporting minimalist government supports a culture of death. As Catholics, we support a culture of life and love of neighbor. The Hebrew word for Father is Abba. The Hebrew word for the one who is to come is Haba. The Hebrew word for love is Ahabbah. In Matthew 22:32 Jesus uses the Hebrew construct case to say, “‘I am the God of Abraham/ E Pluribus Unum, of Isaac, and of Jacob’? He is not the God of death but of life.”


Deuteronomy 30 speaks to the subject. This Mitzvah, which I am giving you today, is not too wondrous or remote for you. It is not in the heavens, that you should say, “Who will go up to the heavens to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may do it?” Nor is it across the sea, that you should say, “Who will cross the sea to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may do it?” No, it is something very near to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to do it.

This mitzvah is not found in great inductive logic, or old-fashioned deductive logic. It is not found in some “illative sense.” It is found in our hearts.

Deuteronomy 30 goes on, “I call heaven and earth today to witness against you: I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live.”

This last passage is one of the 613 Mitzvah of Jewish law, but what would it mean for this to be a Mitzvah? The command is to choose life. The answer per a Jewish sage I once read is that all life is life in potentiality. Deuteronomy 5 relates the temple was to have no steps. We are either going up the latter or down in promoting life. We are either promoting life to its fullest, or we are decreasing it, for ourselves or for others. God calls us to promote life for each other. Our debate is not about when life begins or when it ends. Our Pope has already decided that, if we did not already have the answer in Torah. The question is what life is in the meantime. Are we means of production, which our Catechism condemns, or are we made in the image of God. If the latter, as we treat each other, we treat the image of God within each of us.

The conservative candidate likes firing people, according to ABC News, from January 9 of this year. The Washington Post reports how this candidate put his Irish setter on the roof of his station wagon for 12 hours. When one abuses animals, it is not long before he also abuses people. The conservative candidate for president was the high school bully. The New York Times from 10 May of this year reports how this candidate engaged in bullying.

This candidate brandishing a pair of scissors led other boys on a hunt for a Mr. Lauber, teasing him and holding him down while the future candidate snipped off his long locks. When confronted, the candidate reported that he could not remember all of the harmless pranks he did as a kid. Mr. Lauber is no longer alive, the New York Times reports. For this candidate, this is a harmless prank. He cannot remember all the harmless pranks he pulled. This implies there are others, many others. My debate opponent likes inductive logic and illative sense. That is a fancy way of talking about probability. There is a trend here. It is a trend toward the culture of death.

There were 1,238,490 workplace injuries in 2009, not counting 5,000 deaths. The conservatives want minimalist government, which means cutting regulations and allowing these figures to increase. As liberals, we must ask the conservatives, how many lives must you waste before it is enough? We are not asking you to defend a pro-life position. We ask you to defend the culture of death.

We all remember the Deep Water Horizon Fire and the deaths coming from it. We all remember the conservatives apologizing to BP for re-implementing regulations to keep it from happening again. Minimalist government also contributed to the Monongah Mine Disaster of a century ago, which resulted in hundreds of deaths. In the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire, hundreds of more dead, more recently the Hamlet fire of ’92, with dozens dead. This is the result of minimalist government. The illative sense speaks to us very strongly to us here.

None of this promotes a republic, a people with a common understanding of what is right, who work together to promote the interests of all. None of this promotes life lived to its fullest potential for all people. Nation comes from the same root as nativity. A nation is a group of people born together, by common heritage, if not geography or blood. In our Pledge of Allegiance, we speak of one nation under God, not two, one black one white, one rich one poor, one enslaved by poverty, and one enslaved by its wealth.

We must ask just who is in the republic of which we speak. Our Pledge of Allegiance speaks of Truth and Justice for all. Deuteronomy 6 has an interesting quote:

When your son asks you, “What do these witnesses, customs and judicial precedents mean?” which the Personal Name, our Mighty Judge enjoined on you, you will tell your son, “We were once menial labor of Pharaoh in Oppression, but the Mighty Judge brought us out of Oppression with a strong hand… He brought us from there to bring us in and give us the land he had promised on oath to our ancestors. The Personal Name commanded us to do all these customs looking to the Personal Name, our Almighty Judge, always to have the satisfying life as we do today. This is our Tzaddic before the Personal Name, our Almighty Judge: to do carefully this whole Mitzvah he has enjoined on us.”

Jesus tells us in Chapter 5 of Matthew, “Unless your charity surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” The Jewish tradition coming from Deuteronomy 6 sets a very high standard.

From this comes the Jewish tradition of the four sons. Two of these sons apply to this conversation, the wise son, and the Russia son, the one who thinks himself first. The Russia son asks, “Why do you do these things?” The key word is “You.” He cuts himself off from the community. The wise son asks, “Why do we do these things.” We are all members of the community. We are all working people, striving to play the game of life.

The Ten Commandments begin with a prologue, the Prologue the Jewish community refers to as the first commandment: Moses summoned all those who struggle with God and told them, Hear, you who struggle with God, the customs, and judicial precedents, which I proclaim in your hearing, this day, to learn them, and guard to do them. The Personal Name, our Almighty Judge, made a Social Contract with us at Horeb; not with our fathers did the Personal Name make this Social Contract, but with us, each of us, alive, here, this day… I am the Personal Name, who brought you out of the land of Oppression, the house of menial labor. You will not have other mighty judges beside my face.

We stand before the Eucharistic altar. Little Flower parish makes the scene a little clearer. One descends from the back of the church until they reach the steps to the altar. At our Cathedral, we also see steps. This reminds us of our trip to Mt. Sinai, and our trip to the transfiguration. We walk up and down hills and valleys until we arrive at the promised mountain. Mt. Sinai is a volcano, and we represent this with incense.

We hear in the words, “The Personal Name, our Almighty Judge, made a Social Contract with us at Horeb; not with our fathers did the Personal Name make this Social Contract, but with us, each of us, alive, here, this day…” The Jewish community has the concept of the Physical Presence. For the Jewish community this Physical Presence is the escape from Oppression, through Passover. Our Eucharist commemorates the words behind the curtain, the Last Supper. Jesus broke that bread and passed the cup during Passover. We both celebrate the Physical Presence during the same feast.

We look up to the upper right in our mural. Pope Pius X leads working people to the Lamb of God. We look to St. Joseph, a carpenter. When we say we are no longer working people, we cut ourselves off from the greater community. The Ten Commandments no longer apply to us, but neither does the reward, eternal life.

We look to our Liturgy of the Hours, with the Magnificat and the song of Zachariah. Just how has The Mighty One done great things for our Blessed Virgin? “He dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.  He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly. The hungry he has filled with nobility and the rich he sent away empty.” Those were revolutionary words then and they are revolutionary words now.

Zechariah tells us, “God promised through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old: salvation/Jesus from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us, to show mercy to our fathers, to be mindful of his holy Social Contract and of the oath he swore to Abraham/E Pluribus Unum our father, to grant us that, rescued from the hand of enemies, we might give public service/Latria to him without fear in divine law and Tzaddic before him all our days.

There is a condition to our rescue, just as there was a condition to the rescue from Egypt. We, as a nation, and as individuals are to be Tzaddic, charitable. In Mark 10, Jesus quotes the Ten Commandments, at least the last six, “You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear vain witness; you shall not defraud; honor your father and your mother.” Jesus starts with the last five, and then moves back to grab the fifth commandment, as he understood them. If Jesus combines our last two, how does he come up with ten? The first one is the one listed above. It is the call to community, personally remembering what oppression is like, and then taking action when we see others suffer. Ultimately, it is the call to Eucharist and all that it means.

This brings another complaint we as liberals have with conservatives. Conservatives define our heritage in terms of economic prosperity. As liberals, we define it in terms of the words on our Statue of Liberty. “Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she with silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” As liberals, we look to our Battle Hymn of the Republic, as the place to look for our heritage:

“In the beauty of the lilies, Christ was born across the sea, with a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me: As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free, While God is marching on.” Our participation in the transfiguration transfigures us. It causes us to be willing to die for others, to make them free, free from slavery, Freedom of speech and expression, Freedom of worship, Freedom from want, Freedom from fear. This is what being a liberal means and I am proud to be a liberal.

In a sense, we have come to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is obvious today America has defaulted on this promissory note. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given us a bad check, which has come back marked “insufficient funds.”

We refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in this nation. We come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We refuse to believe there are not sufficient funds to pay a living wage to all people working full time jobs. We refuse to believe there are not sufficient funds to allow our children the highest quality education. We refuse to believe not all people can have life lived to its fullest in safe and comfortable housing, and in workplaces that are physically, mentally, and psychologically safe.

Do liberals have everything right? We are also human beings, in need of regulation. When we are wrong, we also need correction. Our focus is ready and our focus is sure. As I finish this statement one fact is sure, we cannot begin to discuss issues until we define who we are as human beings and as Americans. When we accomplish that, we come to cash that check.

We also do not want to hear about picking the worst of two evils. Our Encyclical Humanae Vitae tells us, “It is never lawful, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil that good may come of it to do evil in the hope good may come from it,” in Section 14. The Pope quotes Romans 3:8. In logic, there is the logical fallacy called false dilemma. We have 250 Catholic colleges and universities and 26 law schools, combined, graduating 70,000 students each year. There may well be lawyers watching this debate. Why do they not run for public office, supporting all of Catholic moral teaching? From this, we cannot find 535 willing to run for Congress and for President? We cannot find one? Are our universities failing that badly? Where are the Catholic/Christian candidates?