Wednesday, December 4, 2013


A different look at that first Creation story. Part of Heschel’s interpretation is echoed by John Crossan. Crossan began his career as a Dominican priest. He’s not a priest anymore but that didn’t shut him up.

“Yet my father’s approach to the Sabbath did reflect some of the political concerns and language of the day; the themes of liberty and freedom recur in the book. He writes that we need the Sabbath in order to survive civilization: “Gallantly, ceaselessly, quietly man must fight for inner liberty” to remain independent of the enslavement of the material world. “Inner liberty depends upon being exempt from the domination of things as well as the domination of people. There are many who have achieved a high degree of political and social liberty, but only a very few are not enslaved to things. This is our constant problem - how to live with people and remain free, how to live with things and remain independent.” From Susannah Heschel’s introduction to Abraham Heschel’s The Sabbath. Which I’m going to have to reread say three or four times.

I was raised a Methodist Protestant. I'm still trying to wrap my brain around what makes a Quaker different from a Methodist. With some small success. So what do I do to make my life even more interesting? I decide to take on a Hasidic rabbi. Why do I insist on coming in during the middle of the story all the time? 

Heschel was a Polish Jew. A brilliant scholar who managed to make it out of Europe ahead of the Nazi extermination machine. He was descended from a long line of rabbis and he was a mystic. I suspect that English was his fourth language. At least. But, you’d never tell it from his writing. He handled the language better than many native writer’s I’ve read. But, he was a teacher and rabbi. It was his business to make the message as clear as possible. But, he was a mystic. And better read in small bites than big chunks.

He argued that we live in a world of space (and the things that take up room in that space) and time. God spent six “days” creating the universe and He pronounced that Creation to be good, even very good. Then he rested on the seventh day, the Sabbath which He set aside as holy. Special, a time set aside to keep our spiritual house in order. I covered part of this in an earlier post.

There are pundits, politicians, even churchmen who go on endlessly about our political liberty to the point of paranoia.  The Tea Party, the NRA and anyone who has swallowed the Ayn Rand koolade are at the top of my list. But when was the last time anyone pointed out that we can be just enslaved to the things that crowd our “space” as to any dictator?

 In fact the last Black Friday proved that some of us are willing to resort to violence in order feed that monkey on our backs. How many of us are willing to stand in line for hours so we can boast that we have the newest cell phone, video game console or whatever is “cool” at the moment. And what would happen to an economy built on “gotta have the newest whatever to prove that you are, damned if I know.”

Are we buying these things because we really need them? Or is it to try to quiet the gnawing void where our soul should be?

Oh and this from someone lives in a house that’s relatively low tech. However…we do have ten bookcases. I think it’s ten. I hope it’s just ten. LOL  I have yet to find a book with ALL the answers. However, there are a lot a books with one or two pieces of the puzzle.

1 comment:

Lisa :-] said...

This is excellent, and topical to not only the season, but to the entire consumer-driven American economy. Our entire way of life is based upon us being enslaved by things. sadly, I'm not sure there is an easy way out for us.