Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Rami: Response to Mike's 3/24 Posting

I understand your hesitation about panentheism, though I find the statement “Were I not a Christian, I probably would be (a panentheist)” to be quite interesting.

I won’t belabor the point, but are you saying that if you didn’t know better as a Christian you would be fooled into taking the next best but still false position of panentheism? Or are you saying that because you are a Christian you cannot accept panentheism even though you suspect it’s true?

I ask this because I wrestle with this kind of thing all the time. As a Jew there is much I am supposed to accept that as a thinking, postmodern human being I cannot accept. I have rejected such notions as Chosen People, Israel as the Holy Land, and the exclusivity of God’s revelation in the Hebrew Scripture. I let truth (as I understand it) trump tradition every time. I suspect you do as well, but you may be better at making room for truth in your tradition than I am in mine. To be blunt, I am tired of making Judaism say things that I believe to be true but which the classical Jewish sages would reject. I would rather just say what I believe to be true and let Judaism fend for itself.

OK, on to something else.

I, too, am surprised (pleasantly) that while we seem to start from different places we end up with very similar positions. I say “seem to start” because there is much less to our differences than our word choices might suggest.

While I call the Exodus a parable and you call it history, we both approach the text as story, and ask the same question: What does it mean to us today? Whether we call the text history or parable matters less than how we use it, and because we use it more as a guide to psycho-spiritual truth than historical fact we come to some very similar conclusions.

Given your statements about panentheism and Taoism, let me suggest two books to you (and to our readers) that you might find interesting. You may have read these already, but they were new to me. The first is Sallie McFague’s The Body of God which argues that panentheism is the deepest understanding of Christian incarnationalism. The second is Christ The Eternal Tao by Hieromonk Damascene which reveals the deep affinity between Taoism and the teachings of Jesus.

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