Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Follower of Moses

Newsweek Magazine (Belief Watch March 16, 2009) reports on a growing trend among some Christians to drop the label Christian in favor of “A follower of Jesus.” “Christian” it seems is too loaded with right-wing rhetoric, homophobia, and Republican party politics to speak to millions of people who take comfort in the teachings of Jesus and, perhaps, find salvation through his death and resurrection.

I have no god in this hunt (get it, “god” is “dog” spelled backwards; no god in this hunt, no dog in… oh, forget it) so I have no problem with this change of labels. I was thinking, however, that it might apply to my situation as well. Maybe I should stop calling myself a Jew and start referring to myself as a follower of Moses.

Well. Maybe not Moses, but Hillel. Moses is too violent for my taste. Look at his response to the call for democratic reform by Korach and 250 of the leaders of the Israelites. Moses has God sanction first a plague that kills thousands of his opponents, and then sanction the murder of thousands more. Talk about collective punishment. And then, of course, there is the little matter of the genocide against the Hittites, Amorites, Jebusites, Termites, Websites, and any "ites" Moses convinces the Lord are bad for business. Moses is too violent, so I don’t want to be a follower of Moses.

Hillel is more to my liking. Maybe I should call myself a follower of Hillel. What I like about Hillel is that, thousands of years before it was de rigor, he managed to reduce the entire Torah to a tweet: “Do not do unto others what you would not want others to do unto you.” I mean you could learn that Torah in seconds, and thus free up all those hours that your Jewish friends spend in Hebrew school.

I suspect, however, that Hillel may have a been a bit disingenuous with his Twitter Torah. After all given his definition how many of us would circumcise our sons?

Anyway, given the penchant of the the Jewish people for argument and diverse opinions, not all Jews would choose to be followers of Hillel. Some Jews might be followers of Shammai, Hillel’s personal Lex Luthor. Others would prefer to follow Moses or Aaron or even Korach.Now that I think of it I might might even disagree with myself and drop my FOH status for the more challenging FOEBA, follower of Elisha ben Abuyah, the great doubter of the Talmud whom the rabbis dubbed Acher, the Other.

But why choose only one person to follower? Religion could be like Twitter where you can follow as many people as you like. In fact I think we should create Twitter accounts for all the great sages of humanity. People could “follow” Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, Buddha, Muhammad, Lao Tzu, Chuang Tzu, Krishna, Patanjali, the list is endless. Throughout the day these people would tweet from their published works. Since they wrote the books copyright wouldn’t be a problem. (Disclaimer: I’m not a lawyer, so don’t trust me on this.) All we would need is a group of dedicated volunteers to collect and post the teachings daily.

Anyway, I like the idea of naming the hero you follow. Let me know whom you would follow by posting them in the comments section of Toto. I think we could all learn something from that.


Sharon Wendt said...

Apparently I am a 'Follower' of you . . . at least that is what it says on the left side of my screen when I read your columns ~ "Follow and Connect." I'm good with that, I will claim you. Why? I love the way your mind stretches, gets quirky, goes to places I have never considered and somehow remains profound at a cellular level ~ all this when words can be very difficult. But there is a concern . . . Blogs tell us who we follow, Facebook announces who our friends are . . . I haven't been introduced to Twitter but it wasn't a kynd reference in my old-fashioned experience. Fortunately I am a Follower of Rabbi Rami and I believe he'll sort it out.

Grégoire said...

I worry that you might find this mildly offensive, but then again you shouldn't care what I think.

Just call me Apikoros.

"Death is nothing to us..." and all that.

Maggid said...

Oh, Good!!!! Sharon got there first - I spent a few hours thinking about this - and, if the person (or people) don't have to be dead guys - then, obviously - I follow you (check what Sharon said, please - then ditto me) - if it has to be a dead guy - this week i choose R. Chanina b. Dosa - stories about him a wonderful - I also choose Lewis Carroll (yeah, the Dodgson guy) - Well, really - it's the Cheshire Cat I choose (CAN i choose a fictional character????) - a grin without a cat . . . curiouser - (some interesting people follow you - good thing you don't have to buy them lunch, hm?)

Patti said...

I followed Christ.

The life, while devout, was one noted - heaven. Well, two notes; heaven and stay out of hell. Yup, getting into one and staying the hell out of the other. When I removed the focus on both these eternals from my belief system, it left little purpose for the Jesus of Christianity’s fame. I need to find another reason to follow him, a less egocentric reason. I would like to follow him for his life and not his death, still trying to figure that out.

So for now, I like not following anyone. Not trying to be other than I am and just trying to, for the first time, allow myself the opportunity to find and follow me.

You don’t want followers. You have said quite clearly in the past; “Buy my books, attend my seminars, read my blogs, but don’t follow me.” That was good advice for someone who could have easily plopped you right in place of Jesus and followed yet another. Thanks for pushing us out of the nest and letting us know you are no messiah, just a man with a voice and flowing ideas.

I won’t follow you, but your ideas are helping me find my way. Thank you.

Peter Schogol said...

Konko Daijin, founder of the Konko Faith and a guy who spoke warmly about drinking sake and getting laid.

anam cara wppc said...

I am most familiar with the Christian tradition & would suggest to Patti she explore Cynthia Bourgeault who describes Jesus as a wisdom teacher in "The Wisdom Jesus: Transforming Heart and Mind--A New Perspective on Christ and His Message."
I like Kabir Helminski for his Sufi wisdom teachings, too. An unsolicited plug is Rami's book, "The Divine Feminine," which describes wisdom books of the Bible. Lastly, I understand Richard Rohr should be publishing a book later this year on Paul, which I expect will have some gleanings of the wisdom tradition, as well. So, I guess for the purposes of this Rami riff, I follow the wisdom teacher, as s/he appears.

kiwimac said...

I suppose then I follow a combination of folk from Epictetus to Te Whiti o Rongomai.