Starting the New Year off right
As one year closes and another opens, many of us turn to the making of resolutions. Consider what might happen if all of us resolved to make 2007 the beginning of a new era in which the hungry are fed, the ill cured, the young educated and women and men treated equally.Do let us know when you intend to launch the Tenth Crusade, because I don't anticipate that last goal, or the one before it as far as it concerns young girls, will take place as long as Islam is around.
What if all had access to clean water and adequate sanitation, basic healthcare and the promise of development that does not endanger the rest of creation?
Imagine there's no outhouse,
It's easy if you try.
No bush or rock before us,
Behind us, double-ply.
Imagine all the people
Putting down the seat...
You may say I'm a dreamer,
But it's what I have to do.
God wants low-flow flushing
When the world goes to the loo.
We understand this work as a visible sign of building the reign of God. A vision of that reign lies behind the ancient Hebrew concept of shalom, which means far more than simply peace. Shalom has to do with the restoration of all creation to right relationship with God, so that the hungry are fed, the grieving comforted, the ill are healed and prisoners set free.I must be the only one who really hates all this "shalom" stuff. I must be, because I haven't read anyone else complain about it. And yet it gets right up my nose every time I read it. It's not that I don't like Judaism - on the contrary, I love it. I love it so much, I regard it as a free-standing religion with its own dignity and coherence, just like my own. I do NOT regard it as Christianity's storage basement, into which we can burrow to drag up sparkly little nuggets to ornament our own tradition whenever we get bored with it.
"Shalom" is a good word, I'm sure, but it isn't part of OUR tradition, any more than "Pax vobiscum" is part of the Jewish tradition, though I daresay there's nothing in the expression that would violate the tenets of Judaism. And I don't care that if you go way back into the mists of time, you can find Hebrew in Christian worship. That tradition didn't survive in our church, and to try to drag it in now feels like the ostentatious showiness of a pedant. Indeed, it's there in Mrs. Schori's over-eager lecture about the roots of the word and its real meaning. The same attitude was evident in her "explanation" of her "Mother Jesus" gaffe:
To those who accuse her of heresy for referring to a female Jesus, she responds with a typically learned disquisition on medieval mystics and saints who used similar language, including Julian of Norwich and St. Teresa of Avila. "I was trying to say that the work of the cross was in some ways like giving birth to a new creation," she said. "That is straight-down-the-middle orthodox theology."So straightforward and down the middle that no one but some professors had ever heard of it. Just as I've never heard a sermon that uses her favourite word "shalom" in my 30+ years as a Christian. But it's not at all unusual for liberals to consider that the mass of people just don't really understand anything at all. Schori writes and preaches to people like her: people who get their religion out of books and journals, not out of life.