Monday, November 10, 2008

Mike: Response to Rami's November 4 Post

We, indeed, are in substantial agreement. As for your suggested additions and revisions, here's a brief response.

1. Agreed. Let's expand the maxim to include all creation.

2. I chose the term "flirt" with considerable intention. The sexual/relational connotations rest on insights from some of the prophets.

3. We differ a bit on the matter of pacifism. Insofar as I can tell, pacifism (which is a logical component of nonviolence)is the ideal of Jesus. When we take up weapons, we fall short of the ideal. I forsee no possibility of the ideal being realized at the corporate level, though individuals may on occasion attain it. The ideal, though, pushes us to make violence a last resort rather than a preemptive or first response.

4. We agree.

5. We agree.

6. Upon reflection, I think you are correct! The one caution I would urge is that we be careful not to indulge in self-righteousness when evaluating other's response to evil.

7. We agree.

8. We agree.

As for the remainder of your interesting post, as you know we hold different assumptions. From my perspective, all scriptures must be read and evaluated in light of what we believe we know about Jesus. When it comes to the Hebrew Bible texts you mention, my assumption drives me to at least two conclusions. First, the teachings and actions of Jesus make it impossible for me to maintain that God sanctions such violence. Second, I tend to think much of the Bible is a record of how humans apprehend or misapprehend God. God, to my way of thinking, gets a great deal of bad press, taking the blame for decisions made by humans, all of whom were conditioned by the culture(s) of their day.

Both of us, I think, argue that violence is part of the human heritage, ingrained in us both by genetics and culture. Controlling our violence is commendable. Transforming our natures, or from my perspective experiencing such transformation in partnership with God, remains a legitimate hope.

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