Thursday, April 05, 2012

Tablet Wars


Posting the Ten Commandments in government buildings may soon become legal in Tennessee, and I for one am all for it. After all this is a central Jewish document, and if Tennessee wants to honor my people and our faith, well bless their little hearts.

What I don’t understand is why Christians would want the Ten Commandments posted. The text never mentions Christ and actually commands things that Christians have long since abandoned.

The Commandments open with a verse that makes it clear God is speaking to Jews, since we are the ones God brought out of Egypt.  The commandment against making and bowing down before graven images makes the image of Jesus problematic. Proclaiming the seventh day (Saturday) as the Sabbath makes Sunday sabbath worship inappropriate, and if we really banned all work in the Sabbath what would people do after church: restaurants would be closed, shopping would be impossible, and sporting events would be banned. We’d actually have to sit around and talk to one another! God forbid. And even honoring one’s parents is tough when so many of us are convinced that Medicare and Social Security are satanic. Of course there are the commandments against murder, adultery, theft, bearing false witness, and coveting, but I doubt anyone is in favor of only posting the last five Commandments.

I’m not saying that Christians didn’t and don’t have a right to ignore or change the Ten Commandments and worship as they choose—they do. I’m only asking why they would want to have such a clearly Jewish document posted on government buildings?

If I were a Christian and I believed that the United States was a Christian Nation, I would want to post the Beatitudes rather than the Ten Commandments on our government buildings. You know: blessed are the poor, the grieving, the powerless, the hungry, the kind, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, the unjustly persecuted. In fact even as a Jew who doesn’t believe the United States is a Christian Nation I would rather see the Beatitudes than the Ten Commandments on our government buildings. Talk about an agenda for national policy! Jesus rocks. And the fact that he rode into Jerusalem on a donkey rather than an elephant only makes me feel closer to him.

But maybe that’s the problem: Jesus is too liberal. It’s one thing to be commanded not to swear falsely in court, it’s another to imagine that we are to care for “the least of these” as Jesus called the 99 percent of his day. I wonder if passion for the Commandments isn’t a way of avoiding Jesus’ compassion for the poor?

Just asking. Please weigh in.

8 comments:

Marianne said...

Hi, read your comment in 365 nirvana here and now book by Josh Baran..love it! I dont get the connection between honoring our parents and SS being satanic. Yes its hard sometimes to honor our parents but we try just as we try not to steal and murder etc. You made some good points about the 2nd to 5th commandments..but as for the first one, being raised Catholic and later learning that we are all One ..I believe was meant for all of us to hear and not just for the Jews at that time. Yes the Jews were the first ones but I think anyone who finds the truth of our collective divinity and magnificence is destined to pass it on to whoever comes their way. Share the good news! I'll be tuning in as I love this subject of the Here and Now being God. thanks.

Marianne said...

Hi, read your comment in 365 nirvana here and now book by Josh Baran..love it! I dont get the connection between honoring our parents and SS being satanic. Yes its hard sometimes to honor our parents but we try just as we try not to steal and murder etc. You made some good points about the 2nd to 5th commandments..but as for the first one, being raised Catholic and later learning that we are all One ..I believe was meant for all of us to hear and not just for the Jews at that time. Yes the Jews were the first ones but I think anyone who finds the truth of our collective divinity and magnificence is destined to pass it on to whoever comes their way. Share the good news! I'll be tuning in as I love this subject of the Here and Now being God. thanks.

andrea perez said...

Why can't we just learn what our own Constitution says? How about line by line, the Bill of Rights in public buildings?
It seems so ....ugh!!!! Why the need to push the "BIBLE" down everyone's throat when we have our own documents in this country? Doesn't seem many people understand the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights or the Constitution anyway. And why not revamp some of that for the 21st century? Just saying....

andrea perez said...

I guess the question is still, why not the nice Jesus who cares about the poor (Liberal stuff) versus Don't do this, else I'll strike you dead (fundementalist stuff)
Why are we still at this 2000 years later? How about posting signs around government building that say stuff like: We use your money to help you. Or: No war, universal health care (that's what the 21% of income taxes we are taking from you Andrea, pays for) or We holds these truths to be self evident: Oh yeh: that goes back to remembering who we are and what we actually expect
as human beings living in the
United States.
What ever happened to the separation between Church and State?
Wasn't that what Jesus was fighting about?

The author of this blog is said...

Take two tablets and call me in the morning....here I am weighing in with my usual non-sequitors and shameless self promotion (or promotion of the Self, which neither needs nor shuns promotions) and some thoughts reways to turn the Pesach seder into an opportunity for Satsang
http://manofestoyomi.blogspot.com.au/2012/04/four-pesach-seder-as-group-therapy-as.html

The author of this blog is said...

One more post written, ad mittedly, in a slightly reactiv and fearful space:
http://manofestoyomi.blogspot.com.au/2012/04/bds-and-political-correctness.html

Cherilyn said...

I recently moved to a part of the country where 10 Commandment signs are like kudzu, sprouting on lawns and cars everywhere. Sometimes even next to signs supporting the Second Amendment, unfortunately. This post really makes me want to get a Beatitudes sign for my car, even though I think we should be living our values, not plastering them around.

I've really been struggling with a loving response to the Christan fundamentalists who seem insistent on their culture being the dominant culture in America. Thanks for the wonderful idea!

Paul B said...

Very well said Rabbi. I have often questionned the true motivation of fundamental Christians myself. In a book by Kyle Idleman entitled "Not a Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus" in which he defines the differences between being a "Fan" and a "Follower", he makes this statement regarding Jesus' address to the Pharisees:

"If Jesus were preaching this sermon today, I think he might say something like:

"Woe to you fans, if you would be as passionate about feeding the poor as you are your churches style of worship, then world hunger would end this week. Woe to you fans, if you sacrificed as much to care for the homeless and the hungry in the community as you do for your church building or place of worship, the need would be wiped out. Woe to you fans, if you would be as zealous about caring for the sick as you are about a "Christmas Tree" being called a "Holiday" tree, health insurance wouldn't be a problem."

People worry and fret about details of faith to avoid the true committments called for by Jesus.