You are gods – You are humans

Jesus answered them, “Has it not been written in your Law, ‘I SAID, YOU ARE GODS’?” (John 10:34) 

Taken from “I said, “You are gods, and all of you are sons of the Most High” (Psalms 82:6) 

The ability to be like God – is it true? Create and destroy, bless and curse, and the knowledge of good and evil – is it true? 

I think we are like God in the sense I have mentioned. We have the ability to give life – and the ability to take life. We have the ability to make someone’s life better – or to make someone’s life worse. We are aware of what seems ‘good’ and what seems ‘evil’. We have been given something unique – choice. 

It is taken from the beginning of the Genesis – we are ‘created in the image of God’. What does that image entail? I am not sure it is about physical appearance as much as it is about the way we were created to exist. In some senses we are ‘gods’ – not actually God – but likened to the Being that created us. 

It’s something to say ‘we are like God’ but it comes with a great responsibility – that is the venture of our lives. We have been given a choice – a proverbial forest in front of us – of choices to make on what to remove and keep. We have to make choices that will effect our everyday lives – for the good or for the evil – which will we choose to feed? 

Morality lies within our power – values are dependant on what we embrace – our paradigm is based on the perspective on life we enhance. Our responsibility is to balance how we will let things affect us – and how we will affect others. We may have a family (choice to create) or write a book (also creation). We may choose to slander someone’s reputation (destroy). We may develop a program to help the poor in society (bless) or we may forgo the needs of the single mother (curse). We can develop ways to ‘love one another’ (good) or find ways to divide one another (evil). 

This is your power – and this is your responsibility. God does not make your decisions for you – you do. You are gods – you may not be my God – but you have been given a similar ability. But you choose this day – build a house with the wood from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil or to leave it in shambles. But you cannot give back your ability.

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46 thoughts on “You are gods – You are humans

  1. i agree! Jesus had a high view of humanity and I believe awakened that idea, namely panentheism. God in all, through all, and above all. As an ancient midrash stated and was captured by John and the Gnostics, there was once one light, but that light shattered and the pieces went everywhere. we are but fragments of this one light and when we die, we become reunited.

    i think that’s beautiful. plus i have a high view of humanity as well. i don’t see us as nessicarily fallen, but limited definately. where we get into trouble is when we forget that we are “but a little lower than angels”. or when we think that we’re the light and other’s aren’t or vice versa. what is needed, and what religion should provide IMO, is a balance between both being part of the light and recognizing the light in others.

    rawk out!

  2. “i think that’s beautiful. plus i have a high view of humanity as well. i don’t see us as nessicarily fallen, but limited definately.” (Luke)

    I couldn’t agree more. Adding a bit of a different slant and focusing on the “fallen” part…I, and my lovely wife, became damn tired of being told by our church/denomination/professors/teachers/small group leaders that we were worthless little worms. God made us and everything else and called it good. Evil certainly scars it all, but that doesn’t make us worthless. We are God’s prize. I believe he holds me up and says, “Look at what I made. Isn’t it beautiful.” (And now I am ranting with a bit of a nasty tone) I get really tired of singing songs that speak of my worthlessness, and I get tired of the legal transaction theory of atonement being shoved in my face, and I get tired of being shamed into some sort of supposed righteous behavior by those in power who view religion as just a huge behavioral modification project. In fact, all of that is a large part of why I left the fundy’s in search of grace and love and something different. OK, I feel better now.

  3. Agree with all said. I grew up in theological circles (and still have connection with some) that take a weird sort of pride in saying how worthless we are. I would never think of my son as worthless!! Why would we imagine God taking that attitude with us?

    I think if we framed our thinking more in a way like you are describing Society, we would focus on being more responsible.

    On a side note, thank you for backing me up today on my blog. I have been growing weary over the past few months as I feel I am always being made to justify myself to folks who would like to push me out of the Faith. I appreciate the encouragement.

  4. Consider the context of the verse in Psalms…

    1 God presides in the great assembly;
    he gives judgment among the “gods”:
    2 “How long will you defend the unjust
    and show partiality to the wicked?
    Selah
    3 Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless;
    maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed.
    4 Rescue the weak and needy;
    deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
    5 “They know nothing, they understand nothing.
    They walk about in darkness;
    all the foundations of the earth are shaken.
    6 “I said, ‘You are “gods”;
    you are all sons of the Most High.’
    7 But you will die like mere men;
    you will fall like every other ruler.”
    8 Rise up, O God, judge the earth,
    for all the nations are your inheritance.

    To whom is this addressed? The word “gods” is meant in the sense of God giving authority to certain individuals…the Judges. It has nothing to do with whether or not we human beings are righteous. We are not. There is none righteous, not even one. That’s why we need Jesus, right? I am very grateful for Jesus, for the Father sending Jesus. That’s why I never get tired of singing songs about my appreciation, praising His grace and mercy. The angels sing, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty…” (not “holy, holy, holy is _insert my name_”). I’ll be glad to join them one day. Just my 2-cents. Have a good night! 🙂

  5. Each morning religious Jews recite passages from our texts along with quite a number of prayers.

    One such passage is from Numbers 6:24-26

    You shall be holy for I, Adonai your God am holy. [Not you can’t be holy, separate, but you shall be. So, how do we go about doing this? The text gives the answer.] You shall not insult the deaf, or put a stumbling block before the blind. You shall not render an unjust decision; do not be partial to the poor or show deference to the rich; judge your neighbor fairly. Do not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor. You shall not hate your brother in your heart. Love your neighbor as yourself. I am Adonai.

    Now some like to say this is too high of a standard which we can never follow perfectly, but where is it ever stated we have to be perfect? Torah never does say that! It gives us these high standards but when we continue reading in Torah we always find what follows isn’t up to that standard or is an exception to that standard, and that this is just fine.

    Look at how God stacks up to these standards:

    Don’t insult the deaf, yet it’s OK for God to bar handicaped priests from service in the Tabernacle. Oh, and that’s not an insult?

    Don’t put a stumbling block in front of the blind, yet an angel with a sword standing in the road ready to slay Bilam, whom Bilam can’t see but his donkey can, is OK?

    You shall not render an unjust decision, yet Zelophehad’s daughters had to argue and get the law given at Sinai changed so that they were given justice?

    Do not be partial to the poor, yet Torah law tells us many times we are to take care of the poor. I don’t see any such directive about the middle class!

    And what is a sign of God’s blessing in Torah? Money!! Herds!! Flocks!! Servants!! Yet we’re not supposed to show deference to the rich?

    Judge your neighbor fairly? Don’t stand idly by the bloodshed of your neighbor? Oh, unless God tells you to kill them, that is! Then it’s OK. Take all their stuff, too, and give some to the priests cause you know God likes God’s share of the loot as well.

    Love your neighbor as yourself…..Please point out to me one place in Torah where we showed love to our neighbors? One place. I see Egypt taking in Joseph, sort of, so he can save his brothers, I see in Ruth an outsider showing love to us, but where is our love to anyone else? MIA. And are we ever condemned for this? No. We’re told to go wipe them out some more! [I don’t think this is some overwhelming standard to uphold. One act of kindness to your neighbor and you’ve exceeded the standard set by God!]

    So for those who try to tell us about how God is so above us and we’re just nothings who can never meet God’s standards of perfection, I’m just not getting that picture from the plain reading of Torah. The standards we’re given are ones we can live with and ones we can always strive to perfect so that we become better people. (A rabbi’s wife taught a class I took at our local Jewish Community Center. One night we were talking about how the rabbis set up courts and she said flat out that the rabbis were more just than God.) I read the text and realize I can be at least as holy as God, perhaps even more so. We all can, on our own.

    We’re good people, not bad. We can choose wrong, but that isn’t because we’re wrong.

    A daily Jewish prayer: “The soul which You, my God, have given me is pure. You created it. You formed it. You breathed it into me; You keep body and soul together. One day You will take my soul from me, to restore it to me in life eternal. So long as this soul is within me I acknowledge You, Adonai my God, my ancestor’s God, Maker of all creation, sovereign of all souls. Praised are You, Adonai, who restores the soul to the lifeless, exhausted body.”

    ****As a disclaimer, I don’t take Torah texts literally. I use that view here for illustrative purposes only!

    Hey, I’m TK. Don’t even think about arguing with me! Torah is a very human book. We can really relate if we just take it off the pedestal for awhile.

  6. Torah is a very human book. We can really relate if we just take it off the pedestal for awhile.(TK)

    Is this not possible with all religious texts? And if so, then what makes Torah so special? Im not arguing your point of view, just questioning it. 😉

  7. Where did I say Torah was so special? I only said it was human! I cannot speak for any other religion’s books, only my own. Now, to me Torah is special, but if it’s not to anyone else, so what? I never claimed it had to be.

  8. “I appreciate the encouragement” (Andrew)

    I have been in your shoes – about 15 times in the past 3 years – and it hurts a little when someone can deny your faith in God – just because you are different than them. I really felt the person was setting you up to judge you – and I am not sure he was being ‘fair’…and I am all about being ‘fair’. Your welcome – I’d do it anytime!

    “It has nothing to do with whether or not we human beings are righteous. We are not. There is none righteous, not even one.” (HM)

    But aren’t the judges also human? Yet they get to make decision on righteousness…weird huh? I am not sure how righteous we need to be to render measurements in our personal lifes – in some sense we are all ‘judges’. I think your point is apt about the passage being about judges – them being ‘gods’ – but since we are ‘judges’ also – we are all like ‘gods’. It’s not that we are God – I wouldn’t make that weird step – but that our ability to weigh things like a ‘judge’ – is par for the human course.

    “We’re good people, not bad. We can choose wrong, but that isn’t because we’re wrong.” (Yael)

    I heard this view point in the PBS video about that God on Trial documentary – at the tail end this perspective is given – and it really is humbling for some reason. I like what you wrote – it means a lot to me also – it provides a view of God that asks us to question. I think we are good also – humanity is very good that God cares about it – and wants us all to care about it.

  9. The image of God has to do primarily with sharing His personhood or perhaps better, personality.

    Like God, we have intellect, will and emotions. We can love and create and choose and think and be indignant and hurt because of the image of God in us. We have an innate sense of fair play and an attraction to that which is holy because of the image of God that is imprinted within us.

    I do believe we are fallen however. Created “good”, but marred by sin. That is not the same as worthless; we have some worth precisely because we are created in the image of God, and thus the command to treat human life as sacred and precious (i.e. Genesis 9:5-6). Nonetheless, we are fallen and our wills are corrupted and bent towards self and away from God. I think history and the daily headlines bear that out pretty well.

    And so we need a savior.

    Redemption is good!

  10. And so we need a savior(Revolution)

    Little suggestion, dont speak in absolutes unless you are speaking for yourself. I dont much appreciate being lumped into your unworthiness.

  11. Not me either! As I have pointed out on numerous occasions, there is nothing in the story of Adam and Eve that teaches any ‘original sin’ or ‘fallen state’.

    From a previous post:

    Was Adam and Eve’s eating the fruit really such a horrendous thing? Did this one act send humankind into a tailspin from which it could never recover on its own?

    Yesterday I was reading some thought provoking ideas in the commentary while Torah was being chanted at shul:

    Perhaps what God said was not so much as a command as a warning. If you eat from this tree, life is going to become quite complex. Right now life is so simple, just eat, take care of the garden, hang out with Me and each other. If you eat the fruit you’ll have to make decisions and live with the consequences. Just getting food will be tougher, being around Me won’t be so easy anymore, family relationships will have undercurrents. Think very carefully before eating that fruit! Right now you don’t know anything about pain, sorrow, and disappointment, but you will know, trust me that you will know, once you eat that fruit.

    Some might wonder how we can make light of such a horrendous deed as disobeying God. Here’s the thing though, no where in this story or anywhere else in Torah is this act of eating fruit from the tree even called sin, much less ‘THE original sin’. It isn’t even mentioned again! Surely if it was so awful there would be pages and pages devoted to it somewhere in Torah? One page? One paragraph? One sentence? One phrase?

    God sends Adam and Eve out of the garden but perhaps that is more like getting your kids to finally leave home when they’re grown up. Enough being irresponsible. Time to go take care of the world I created. If the Garden was supposed to be the only place for us, why would God have bothered to create the rest of the world? The whole world was out there, we just needed some time before we were ready to get to work. After that God made some clothes for us and off we went.

    Did Eve do a bad thing in eating the fruit? Or was she the one who had the courage to grow up and be something more? Was it that she decided to become fully human and then shared with Adam so that he also would be wise?

    The text states “And the eyes of both were opened, and they saw’; for what man had seen previously and what he saw after this circumstance was precicesly the same; there had been no blindness which was now removed, but he received a new faculty whereby he found things wrong which previously he had not regarded as wrong. Besides, you know that the Hebrew word pakach used in this passage is exclusively employed in the figurative sense of receiving new sources of knowledge, not in regaining the sense of sight, “God opened her eyes” (Genesis 21:19) “Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened (Isaiah 38:8) Maimonides Guide For The Perplexed

    This explanation is interesting in that being able to see doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. Do we really want to live all our lives not knowing what is right or wrong, just being totally oblivious to it all? Part of growing up is learning what is acceptable and what isn’t. When we’re little much of what we do wrong doesn’t bother us, but do we want to live like that forever?

    Now some will say, ‘But Adam and Eve didn’t do anything wrong until this point.’ And I would counter with the text doesn’t tell us that. It merely tells us that prior to eating from the tree they didn’t know right from wrong.

    I

  12. Yael. I am not quite sure what I think of this interpretation. But I will say it is very interesting indeed and is certainly pertinent to the way I have rethinking my Christianity and the way I view God over the last couple of years. Thanks for putting it out there. You have given me something to chew for a bit.

  13. Yes, it’s a very Jewish interpretation. I remember quite clearly last year when we were finishing up the last parashah of Genesis in Rabbi’s Torah class he asked us to name some of the important stories of Genesis which we then listed and discussed. Only afterward when I was back blogging with Christians did it strike me that not one person in the class mentioned Adam and Eve. That’s when it also dawned on me that they are never mentioned ever again in Tanakh either, nor is there any mention of what they did. How important could it have been if it’s never spoken of again? For us, the answer is that it’s not.

    But, either way, I never am bothered if someone goes along with these interpretations or not. Actually if everyone just went along with them I would be bothered! Boring….

    Sometimes my whole purpose is just to show there are other views out there, kind of like breaking out of a mold or something, sometimes it’s to play around with ideas. I mean, can you imagine? If a person doesn’t know what is bad, then they also can’t know what is good. Everything would just be whatever it is, wouldn’t it, neither good nor bad? Is that really paradise? Maybe for some people but to me it just sounds too blah. What would there be to think about? I find life most stimulating when it’s lived with the tensions of opposites yet what kind of opposites are present in a perfect world?

    Anyway, if I only talk to people who think just like me, pretty soon would we even think?

    I was thinking about you the other day and this book I used to have that I think you would enjoy reading. The Gospel According to Moses. This Christian guy went to a Jewish Torah study for five years before he wrote this book. He didn’t convert to Judaism; he instead found studying with us impacted his life for the better right where he was. I see it sells used for a couple bucks. Well worth it. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book when it first came out. Since then I lent it to someone and that was the end…..

  14. We do have worth. I think I pointed that out :0)

    No need to be so defensive, dear TitforTat!

    As far as speaking in absolutes and lumping people together… what if it’s true? What if we in fact are all in need of a savior?

    I know the whole concept of absolutes is tricky and, especially in a pluralistic and emerging postmodern context, clearly a bit unwelcome, but I still think it’s worth asking “what if?”… I need to ask the same thing, if I am going to engage in dialogue with people who don’t think like me.

    Obviously I believe it to be true, and this, being a blog, is a forum for all of us to express our opinions and be agreed with or disagreed with, no?

    Please don’t take it personally…

    Enjoying the discussion!

  15. Please don’t take it personally(revolution)

    Well I guess if you dont use everyone for your example, and just refer to yourself and other Christians, then if wont come across as personal 😉

    I like the question what if. What if you are wrong and have just instilled a bunch of fear in all of your families and friends lives for their lifetime? What if rather than being proactive about making this world a better place you or some of your Christian friends just spend your time trying to convert people to a faith that is absolutely wrong, hmm what if?

  16. Since Torah doesn’t teach us that we need a savior, but instead teaches that Torah was given to us as a gift, that Torah is not difficult to follow at all, and that Torah is a treasure, I reject that particular ‘what if’. It seems like we have cycled through this particular conversation many times already, but I suppose it goes with the territory.

    I like your ‘what ifs’, John. When we began our journey into Judaism my oldest son told me he was glad we didn’t believe in Jesus anymore because he was now free of his fear that his dad and many of his friends were going to hell unless he convinced them to accept Jesus. I was so mad that I hadn’t noticed all this pressure being put on him. When I was a kid I just blew all that stuff off, but my son has a good heart and truly cares about people. Judaism is a much better place for him. He can put that caring to good use instead of wasting his life fretting and feeling guilty. Instead of spending his time learning new tactics for ‘winning the lost’ he now does much volunteer work in our community and in the world outside our community. He loves his life and he is thriving like you wouldn’t believe. It was the best thing I could have done for him, getting him out of the insanity. I don’t get into if Christianity is wrong or not, but it was certainly wrong for us. The scary ‘what if’ for me is, what if I hadn’t had the guts to make this move? What if my kid was still struggling to survive in a pressure cooker?

  17. I have indeed asked the ‘what ifs’. That is part of the journey of faith. In fact, to have any integrity at all, I need to ponder the possibility of me being wrong. I spent some time in my 20’s doing just that. Even here in my 40’s I can benefit from asking the question, if hypothetically, to myself.

    Now that I have spent years working through what I believe and why I believe Jesus to be the truth, I still need to put myself in your shoes and try, as much as possible for another human being, to understand things from your seat. I feel that we cannot dialogue effectively (assuming dialogue is the goal) unless I do so.

    Though I am convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Bible is true (as understood by Christians historically) and that Jesus is the savior of sinful man, I feel compelled to still try to understand things from your perspectives.

    It can’t hurt to think.

    Yael, I’m sorry that what you described was your experience with Christianity. I have experienced quite the opposite: peace and liberation. I do not find it so horrible that a holy God would be affronted by the sin his free-willed creation chose to embrace and demand a payment. I find that rather to be just. The beautiful mystery of the Christian faith is that God is as merciful as He is just, and so wrapped Himself in flesh and paid for the offense Himself. After doing so, He invites us to simply place our faith in Him and have that payment applied to us. I do not live in fear, nor do my friends and family. I live in freedom.

    I don’t deny the paradoxes and the tensions Christian theology creates, but I also cannot deny the fact that Jesus revealed Himself to me, and it is in the person of Jesus that I find peace. I cannot imagine it is a bad thing to wish that peace on others and engage in evangelism to that end.

    Reconciliation to God has been an amazing thing for me, especially in light of the fact that it was purchased at such a high price. Will you begrudge me if I attempt to share that possibility of reconciliation, even if you do not feel any of us have a need to be reconciled to God?

    I mean, your tone (both of you) seems a bit sarcastic and perhaps angry. I’m not sure I understand that.

    Nonetheless, as I mentioned, I am grateful for the venue to discuss these things. I feel it certainly enriches me. Hope it does for you too :0)

  18. Oh – one more thing…

    If in fact I have instilled fear (albeit sincerely and with good intentions) and attempted to convert people to “a faith that is absolutely wrong”, then 1) I am the biggest fool of all and deserve to be pitied, 2) I’m completley wasting my life being a pastor. There are jobs that pay way better and have way less hours! and 3) I am probably in BIG trouble with God

    But if there’s no wrath, then maybe I’m not in such big trouble?

    (Okay – that was a little facetious, but I mean well!)

  19. Revolution

    I am glad you have found something that brings you peace. Your view of what a creator could be just does not work for me.

    But if there’s no wrath, then maybe I’m not in such big trouble?(Revolution)

    See the thing is, you wont be punished for your actions, but by your actions. You reap what you sow. If you think your Creator will punish you if you dont bow down, then guess what, you live with the fear of that punishment. My sarcasm comes from the fact that you think I need to be saved to be ok with the creator, the difference for me is that I think were all ok with the creator. Maybe you should let Yael give you some advice on how and how not to read the Torah. Afterall its not a Christian book.

  20. You can call me Steve :0)

    “you live with the fear of that punishment” (TitforTat)

    I don’t. I really don’t.

    “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). Jesus took my punishment, and I love Him because He first loved me. Perfect love casts out fear.

    You have a very interesting take on Christianity. I kinda see how you got it I guess, but I obviously think it is innacurate. You keep coming back to fear and coercion, when the Spirit of God offers life and peace.

    Clearly our point of disagreement is whether we are inherently OK with our creator. I really want to understand the way you think, and I hope that you will try to understand me. I’m not sure how helpful sarcasm is, but I can live with it.

    I’d love to listen to Yael on how to read the Torah, and maybe Yael will listen to me on how to read the New Testament. Judaism is the root from which the tree of Christianity grows. I’m sure there’s value in hearing the Jewish perspective.

  21. Steve,
    Because I disagree with you does not mean I’m angry, it just means I disagree. That I don’t care for Christian teachings doesn’t mean I’m angry either, it just means I don’t care for them. See, it’s quite simple.

    If you were really interested in what I think on anything, you would just go read my blogs. Jason has them all linked on his sidebar, not at difficult to discover. And if I were interested in learning from you, I could go read your blog. See, it’s quite simple there, too. No need for any pre-arranged exchange.

    So, you are a minister. My father (z”l) was one as well as are many members of my extended family. I attended seminary for a year myself. These days I am preparing to enter seminary again, only this time so I can become a rabbi.

  22. Oops. I see it was John’s advice for Steve to learn Torah from me. Well, never mind…..I’ve looked like an idiot before and no doubt will a few more times in my life. I totally missed that comment of yours, John. My apologies to both you and Steve.

    Steve,
    That you find your reconciliation picture so beautiful is great. But you know, I already have my covenant with God, so how about you keep yours and I’ll keep mine and we’ll go out and try to make the world a better place as a result?

    Just have a care with your evangelism efforts because if you go around trying to lob off people’s God connections just because they don’t meet your standards, you’re going to put a lot of people in the abyss. Not everyone has a God connection of steel like mine, some are quite tentative or fragile. Real people, real families, real lives, real communities, can all be ruined by the over zealous who see life and God only one way and other beliefs as things to refute and demolish.

  23. I appreciate Steve’s comments (revolutioninthespirit)…they may differ from many of us – but I’ll bet he is a fair representative of what modern Christianity looks like in mainstream society (as per church to church I mean). I can dig that – we may differ theologically – but I think this is part of inter-faith dialogue – and better yet – just plain old dialogue.

    Here’s the thing about the ‘savior’ idea – what did we need ‘saving’ from or what is the meaning of ‘salvation’ as you understand it?

    I am not adverse to a salvation theology myself – I actually think people like King Jr. and perhaps even Gandhi led salvific lives. I tend to think the gospel teachings have this as part of their ‘ends’ – to be people of ‘saving grace’. An example, would be the idea in the parable of the Sheep and the Goats – and the kind of person Jesus admonishes – those who do not live a life of charity/helping the poor. The people in need are the same people this faith needs to direct attention to – not in the there and then – in the here and now. (This is just an example)

    But saved – to what? Heaven? God? Personal Help?

    I like the reconciliation idea – what does it look like to you?

  24. Steve, Revolution in the Spirit,

    Good comments! You have posited Christ Jesus in the correct way (I believe), and are attemting to spread the ‘Good News’ of redemption.

    Some folks, however, feel that there is nothing they need redeeming from…they are doing quite nicely on their own…they are not sick and need no physician.

  25. “You have posited Christ Jesus in the correct way…” (OldAdam)

    The ‘correct’ way – I am interested in this ‘correct’ way – what is it you think that is?

    “Some folks, however, feel that there is nothing they need redeeming from…they are doing quite nicely on their own…they are not sick and need no physician.” (OldAdam)

    I am not sure about that – but I know some people can make their way without a judgmental version of Christianity (which is all about pressure more than about grace). They may be seeing the doctor is ‘sick’ now.

  26. SocVs,

    The correct way to speak of Christ and the gospel (I believe) is the forgiveness of sins offered through Christ for those in need of it.

    If some people can make their own way without Christ Jesus…that is fine. Who am I to argue with them? Christ is (will be) their judge…not me.

    I wish them well.

    My job, as a Christian is not to judge but rather to offer tghe good news of the One who is the judge, that everyone’s sins are forgiven for Jesus’ sake, and that now there is no condemnation for all those who believe in this forgiveness.

    The Great Physician (Christ Jesus) is never sick. He is well. And He cures all our diseses and makes everything right again…by His death and resurrection.

    That’s the gospel!

    Thanks SocietyVs!

  27. Jesus will be my judge? Sure, whatever. Here we go again, Christianity is all right, Judaism all wrong. How many more ways can people say it? I keep finding out!

    Jason, this is off topic, but I found an interview with a Jewish professor, Jonathan Kirsch, who wrote many books, one of them on Revelation. Thought you might enjoy listening to him talk about this book.

  28. Yael,

    You give your viepoint, and that is alright, but I can”t give mine.

    I was under the impression that this was a blog that was interested in different points of view, Christian, Jewish, or whatever.

    Do you want a lockstep view of things? Is that your call (here)?

  29. It ever comes back to how to tolerate the intolerant. Your religion can not exist in a world of other religions but must trump all others. So, in order for you to speak of your beliefs you have to smear all the rest of ours in return. And yet you cry foul whenever the rest of us tell you to leave us out of your theology.

    That’s quite an act you’ve perfected. The perpetrator and the victim, all rolled into one.

    If your religion could just end at other people’s boundaries, the world would be a better place. Unfortunately, you can’t seem to see the problem and just keep right on with the same old, same old. Anyway, I find I have had my fill of evangelical Christian speak for the moment so I’m outta here for awhile again. It is relaxing for a few days to hang out here with Jason, but inevitably I grow restless to return to my own place. There are many books to read, thoughts to think, much Judaism to learn and that won’t happen sitting here.

    Jason, you’re great. Keep up the good work as always and come visit me at my place for awhile as I set off on another intense learning cycle. You should be used to this by now! My visits here are always a prelude to some great studying. I appreciate the motivation I derive from our interactions.

  30. Thanks Yael – I always apreciate your insight and your studies – I have much to learn from you in this regards…and in regards to Torah (but I am getting there – my latest post is a little prelude of sorts to some more open minded thinking). I appreciated your piece on there – very helpful and very insightful.

    I guess I am left to continue the conversation of the Christianized masses – a discussion I need to look deeper into also.

  31. Yael,

    You can rationalize with the best of ’em.

    My “religion” can exist just fine with others. I’m not trying to shut you up, but that is exactly what you’d like to do to me.

    Anytime I speak of Christ, you whine about it. Jesus said it would be like that. He was right.

    Let me say this one more time, since you seem not to have heard it the other 27 times that I have said it: I want to force no one to believe in Jesus. I condemn no one to hell, believers or not, if you don’t believe in Christ Jesus, then you don’t believe. I don’t give a rats rear end whether you believe or not.

    Did you hear me that time?

  32. “Did you hear me that time?” (OldAdam)

    Steve, calm down. You have to remember that Yael is not a Christian and has heard a lot of this stuff through-out her life – including from her family – and it was not a great scene.

    If she gets at offended ay some of our Christian speak – I can understand that – (a) she belongs to another faith that gets belittled and misrepresented by ours on a regular basis and (b) she has a history with the more fundamental aspects of our faith – that didn’t end as good as it could have.

    I also understand your viewpoint Steve – you should be able to speak your mind concerning your faith – but it could do without justifications like ‘Jesus said it would be like that. He was right.’ – that’s a little insulting (in my opinion).

    I know that we disagree and agree on some things – thats life I guess. I think it is a fact you and Yael cannot see ‘eye to eye’ in these exchanges – and likely for good reasons on both sides – if you both didn’t think you were right you might not be in your seperate faiths? Question is – can we get past that into more ‘peaceful’ talks?

    I am not here to play the blame game – Yael is my friend and Steve – so are you. Point is made – for both of you – now let’s sacrifice something? LOL

  33. Soc Vs,

    She is the one that is intolerant. She is the one that goes apoplectic every time I speak about Jesus, even when I am not addressing her.

    I think she is wrong and I give my point of view. She thinks I am wrong and wants to shut me up.

    Thanks for counting me as a friend, also, I do appreciate that.

    I don’t understand why we can’t have differing points of view without getting so upset with the person…disagree…yes…denegrate…not necessary and harmful.

    Thanks much, SocVs!

  34. SocVs,

    Thanks for the forum. I don’t want to sound sappy, but there aren’t many forums like this and I appreciate the opportunity to interact with you and the blogring you have cultivated.

    OldAdam – I am in agreement with you completely, but I also think anything we can do to keep the conversation “full of grace and seasoned with salt” is good. I have sensed some negative emotion in the form of sarcasm and even anger in the tone of some commenters, and hope to avoid being guilty of that myself. May we all avoid it – and if I’m gulity please forgive me!

    Peace

  35. I’ve been thinking lately about what it is we spend eternity doing (since I don’t believe we play harps). I have a lot of interesting theories I play with, but one of the most vivid ones lately is that we strive to be more and more like God.

    Considering that God theoretically has infinite power, that means that we’ll always have something to strive for, as we will never reach that goal, and thus we will always have room to grow.

    With that in mind, I think about your post here and our “godlike” natures here on Earth and the good or harm we can do in these frail bodies, with only the barest knowledge of how to shape reality. And I wonder, is this the reason that we need to follow God’s path and choose Jesus?

    Is the nature of salvation vs. damnation less about punishment than it is keeping out of Heaven those who will not embrace love, because those are the people who will misuse the power they would have access to in the afterlife?

    It’s just a random thought bouncing through my head, but it strikes me as an intriguing one.

  36. OK. With a day away, I will try, one last time to communicate. Likely I will again be accused of whining, but so be it. I’m a straight shooter who has no time for bullshit and I’m tired of being read so very wrong.

    My Jewish name is Yael. Think about it. Names have meaning and doubly so when the person chooses their own name. Yael means goat or going up. I picked it with a sassy smile on my face because parents normally would pick their child’s name so I chose the name my father called me, an old goat, the goat who got right back at him, the goat he could never break no matter what methods he employed, and trust me, he was a master. Going up also works for me. I’m always fascinating with the holy, usually striving to be just a little better, a little wiser, but not always. Look up Yael in Tanakh. She lured the enemy into her tent and put a stake through his skull. That’s one tough gal. Don’t be messing with her. This is the image I’ve chosen. You’re not going to move me, you’re not going to encroach on my space and if you try to do so, I’m not going to play nice. I’m not mean, I’m not angry, I’m not bitter. I’m tough because that is what it has taken to survive in my world and I am a survivor.

    As Jason hinted at, I have come through hell to get to where I am today. I grew up in an abusive home where I was the main target for abuse, abuse in the name of God, abuse at the hands of that Jesus you guys all love so much. You can claim this abuse isn’t true, but you weren’t there, you didn’t live through it. You think Jesus used his whips on people deserving of his anger, but in my world his whips were used on me and I was the brood of vipers he set out to destroy.

    Yet he couldn’t destroy me, nor could my father do so in his name. But, I laid in bed many a night, terrified, waiting, and I was not disappointed. I had nightmares for years. When I was twelve years old I vowed to myself that if my father ever laid a hand on me again I would kill him. Nice kid, huh? He saw it in my eyes and left me alone except with words. The words never stopped my whole life. My sister tells me my father was afraid of me, he should have been. In my teens and twenties I had no heart and plotted how I would kill anyone who messed with me. My own thoughts horrified me so I turned to thoughts of suicide instead.

    Yet, there was always another side of me that was fascinated with God, with Israel, and eventually with Judaism. Off and on for much of my life I tried various churches since that was the only God places I knew of, but every time I had to deal with that Jesus with whips calling people names and making fun of anyone who dared question him. I was angry at God for giving us Jesus. We didn’t want him or need him. I talked to pastors now and then, after all, my father was a pastor so this was a familiar world. They kept telling me I had to forgive my father even though my father never asked for it and never changed. It was all my fault, not his. I should have been a better person, a better daughter. I tried to forgive sometimes, but I never did. He didn’t deserve it.

    The God fascination never left me. I even went to seminary for a year, but it wasn’t for me. I walked away thinking I’m done with all this. I tried but obviously God wasn’t for me. I tried to raise my kids in church and send them to Christian schools because I thought they’d be better people, but I cringed many of time at what they were taught and had to put up quite a front so no one would know who I was and where I came from. And through it all I kept reading about Israel and Jewish history and wishing somehow I could understand God. People here may see me as some terrible person, but my soul kept longing to know and I still have that soul.

    Eventually I began studying Judaism seriously. I was so relieved to get to have God without Jesus. Finally I had a chance to push aside the bad and just cut to the chase. I wanted to convert,to Judaism but in order to convert I had to study with a rabbi and I despised all religious leaders. I didn’t want to talk to him at all, but I had no choice. I sat week after week with him, month after month, not being able to talk to him, yet wishing somehow he could know that I wasn’t a bad person, that he could know how much it cost me to sit there with him.

    Rabbi is a fantastic rabbi, eventually he found the key, one day I made some off hand comment that he honed in on. He asked me what I thought of God today. I told him I just wanted God to stay far enough away so God couldn’t hit me. He was a bit startled as to why I was there studying with him then, why hadn’t I just gone off into the secular world so I wouldn’t be bothered with God. My response to him was I had to think that maybe there was more to it all then I knew so I wasn’t ready to give up yet. He gave me an assignment, to go through the siddur, come up with four images of God that I liked, and then write about how I could incorporate those images into my life. That worked for me since I enjoy writing. This was the crack that slowly opened to allow Rabbi into my life, to allow a community into my life.

    Slowly, a piece at a time, over the course of years, I told Rabbi about my life. When my father died and my brother mentioned he knew he should feel sad, but a part of him was just glad it was finally over, I told Rabbi it was hard for me to hear because I always hoped at some level I’d just made everything up and it wasn’t so bad. Rabbi told me he always knew I was telling him the truth because it was consistent. The way I act, the way I respond, the way I think, the stories I told him, nothing ever pointed away from abuse. But, man, I wish it had at times, because I have to live with so many scars and I hate that.

    When I began this journey into Judaism my father said he would kill me and my kids. He called curses down on our heads in the name of Jesus. Most of my siblings were under his control so they wouldn’t talk to me at all except to try to convince me to believe in Jesus so we could all be one happy family again….My father’s congregation put pressure on me as well. They knew what he’d done and what he’d said, but ‘they forgave him’. Forgave him? It wasn’t their place to forgive him! He never asked me and he never repented ever, not up until the day he died.

    Rabbi never told me I had to forgive my father, I only had to honor him. I had to make sure he had a place to live, food and clothing, proper medical care if necessary and that was the extent. Rabbi told me some things can’t be repaired and that in life we reap what we sow and that is what my father was doing. For me he told me I was a good person who was reaping good because I kept fighting to rise above all that would beat me down and kept trying to bring good to my world. I liked hearing him say that, but I still don’t quite accept.

    Rabbi understood that it wasn’t my father who I needed to forgive, I needed to forgive God. And that’s what we worked on. How do I relate to a God who never came to the rescue of a little kid who so needed rescuing? And that’s where I am today. See, if I came into church with this struggling, there would be no place for me. To belong to a church you have to like Jesus and you have to believe in God. But, to belong to a synagogue you have to throw in your lot with the Jewish people and go on from there. So, I can keep engaging with God, keep trying to understand, even if I don’t like God or am angry with God. And it’s perfect for me. God knows that I get back in God’s face at times, but the fact that I’m even there at all is a miracle in and of itself. I’m not an atheist, but after what I went through I should have been. Yet I’m not. I spend all my free time studying Torah, studying Judaism, Hebrew, pondering life and what it all means. It makes no sense at all. But, I love it and this is my life.

    I worked in a place filled with evangelicals so they were forever bugging me. They’d sing hymns, leave literature, write notes, try to argue with me. Man, leave me alone already. I hated going to work but no one stood up for me. Rabbi told me to go work somewhere else, I instead determined to stand firm. And I did. And eventually they realized I knew the Bible like the back of my hand, knew their teachings better than they did, and they backed off. It was difficult, but I was not leaving. It was my place, too. Eventually the worst of them left, the rest of us started to joke around a bit, and we worked together in harmony until I moved on to another workplace. We still see each other now and then, we still chat and they still ask me those Bible questions because as Luke has pointed out, I know TK. (What he doesn’t know is I know all the rest of it, too, a gift from my father, as tough as that is to say, but I pretend not to since I’m not interested. My co-workers knew, however, so they ask me to help them find things from their side of the fence as well.) I realized I might be the only Jew with whom these people will interact and if I left, it needed to be on my terms, honorably with respect. And that’s how it was.

    Funny thing, part way through all of this a guy who wasn’t at all religious came up to me and said he wanted to become a Jew. Once I picked my jaw up off the floor I asked him why. He told me that he’d watched how I’d been treated and he’d watched my response and how I’d turned things around and that’s what he wanted for himself. That was one of the nicest things I’d ever heard. It was a tough time in my life, but it was worth it. If you’re curious, no, he didn’t become Jewish, not last I knew anyway. But, he respects us and that is a great thing to know.

    Around this time Jason came by my blog and commented. I told him to get lost. But, he didn’t listen so I started talking to him. No one can know how hard that was/is because I seldom get to talk to just Jason, I always have to also interact with the ones who come along and don’t know one thing about me or my life, don’t seem to even see me as a person, but are only to happy to let it be known I need Jesus, will have to answer to Jesus one day, etc. Out come the whips again; yet I never flinched before nor will I now. Jason’s words are different. I find him intriguing and try to see things from his POV as well. I’m no longer bothered when he talks about Jesus. Jason also grew up in an abusive household. He also lost a parent and a sibling. We can relate. Along the way I’ve met other people through him that I’m able to talk to, joke around with, find inspiration from, and hang out with, while all of us remain who we are, very different people with different views. It doesn’t sound nice to say I use them, but as one friend told me, in life we all use each other, so this place for me is therapeutic at times and hell at times. Sometimes I escape to here, sometimes I have to escape away. Yet Jason and I remain friends.

    I try to be accepting that other people like Jesus even if I can’t understand why. My mother liked Jesus and I loved my mother. She and I made our peace many years ago when I was in my twenties. She told me she never understood why she did what she did, but I knew, she suffered as well. I told her it was OK, what mattered was who we had become. She and I were so close after that, best friends until the day she died and my whole world fell apart so that I had to start rebuilding. I respect her religious beliefs. I don’t understand them, but I loved her.

    Now I have little doubt someone will read this and think, oh, if only Yael really knew Jesus, or if only she really knew God. Please, if that is your response, don’t tell me. My life and my interactions are just as valid as the next persons. I will never, ever think much of Jesus. The best anyone can hope for is that I come to dislike him a bit less, or no longer flinch whenever that name is mentioned as some wonderful being or that I won’t laugh so long when I read people going on about his sufferings as if it’s some big deal to suffer a few hours while so many others suffered, and continue to suffer, for days, months, years. You see, I am the history of my people and that is our experience with Jesus. Some may not like this, but it’s reality. I fit right in where I am. It’s my history as well, both personally and as one of my people.

    Secrets. So many secrets. My family was filled with them. The secret that we were a nice family. The secret of my mother’s ancestry that never came out until right before she died, that her mother was raised Jewish, that I was given Jewish ritual items unknowingly, at least on my part. And there is another mystery. Is the man who raised me my biological father? He told me several times he wasn’t, a former neighbor was. None of you have seen me so you don’t know. I look Native American, our neighbors when I was born were Native American so perhaps this was indeed true. I don’t know. No one talks about it. When I was a kid I was taunted with “Indian”. Last year when I was hospitalized and filling out forms the nurse was surprised, “Oh, I thought you were Native American,” she said. Last summer when I was at my kids’ Jewish camp someone told me, “You don’t look Jewish. You look Native American.” That’s my secret that I never talked about until after my father died. Nothing in my life seems to have been what it seemed. Scars. So many scars.

    So, that’s me; that’s why Jason is my younger brother and friend. Hey, I know no one asked to know any of this, but perhaps there is someone who will benefit. I know I did when I read Dagoods laying it all out there. I’m not an a bad person at all. I’m a survivor. I will always survive. I don’t know why when there’s supposed to be a God life has so much pain and horror. I don’t know why someone will say God answered their prayer for a new dress when God doesn’t seem to hear prayers of abused kids, but I keep wrestling with it all. I do know that when my life was in pieces I met my rabbi who, even though I was a total stranger without much to offer, took the time to help me connect to God, took the time to live out for me what it means to be a godly person. I will never betray him, my community, or the God with whom I have my covenant. Rabbi helped me take those shattered pieces of my life, put them into the Ark, and write new tablets which now are what guide my life. (The story of Moses and the broken tablets.)

    I have a great life, a good job, great kids, a wonderful community, a connection to the holy, a good friend in my rabbi, Torah to study, God to wrestle with, and some good online friends in Jason, John and Luke with perhaps more to come since who knows what life brings. What I do know: Life is good. I survived to live it to the fullest.

    For those of you with rocks in hand, have at. It won’t change one single thing. My life is good.

  37. I loved the long story Yael – I find it very refreshing to hear someone’s background – to see the struggle, the pain, the questions, the growth, the successes, and the path of life’s continuation – I am so much wiser for knowing it.

    I have loved getting to know all about your faith and background – the discussions always make me think and get new ideas a rolling for me – God forbid I ever become stagnant (and I am a little – lol). What really won me over was your genuine reasoning behind the Torah stories – when I first heard the Abraham story and ‘arguing with God; – I knew you were onto something very good.

    I look forward to learning more and more – discussing and debating – moving through issues of history and present – seeing what becomes of what is.

  38. Yael,

    Thank you for sharing that story. Wow. Very profound.

    I asked TitforTat some questions over on my site regarding the differences between Orthodox, Conservative and Reform Jews and their views on sin and atonement (as well as the views of more ancient forms of Judaism). He suggested I talk to you.

    Is that conversation something you think would be profitable?

    Let me know:
    http://www.revolutioninthespirit.blogspot.com
    or steve.laughlin@armitagechurch.org

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