Thursday, June 17, 2010

People of the Book - Jews, Christians, Muslims

“People of the Book” is a Muslim term to describe Judaism and Christianity and it is in reference to the OLD and NEW testaments.

In truth Muslims are also People of the Book which is the Koran, Quran or whatever flavor of the month English spelling it has lately.

The term came about in a time when Islam was still a verbal religion and before it had to be written down shortly after the death of Mohammed for fear that oral tradition would break down or disappear.

In this sense the People of the Book – Jews, Christians, Muslims share a possibly confusing term that is obsolete once you look at the facts.

Looking at the decline of Christianity in the west, I see the lack of reinforcement of the words and practices of the Book dying out. With the closing of my Catholic High in Philly, it is funny how they think that without grade schools, high schools, nuns, and a real, not a virtual, sense of community that it as a faith can survive. Faith cannot survive solely on the words, ink, of a bible or catechism that is hoped will one day to be revived during some decade in the future.

Christianity or parts of it are dead. Dead like the language Latin. The definition of a dead language is not that the original users are dead. The definition of death in a language occurs when no new words or meanings are rendered to the language. The language is no longer living or evolving in a positive direction.

In a sense you cannot mix apples with oranges in any accounting of things. If language is an apple then the written ink version of language transposed onto paper is an orange.

While the language is alive, the oral and written words are fruit. Once a culture dies, nothing in the translation of a dried up orange will ever give you the flavor of an apple.

The Nag Hammadi Gospels are only translations of words. The dynamics, energy of the original spoken word is lost in any present translation.

Peoples of the Book, Jews, Christians, Muslims may look at the dynamics or the number of new churches or mosques that get built at any time or in any place. Without a sense of community and a flow of growth in the belief system, People of the Book are just not alive. They are lost - without true community, true brotherhood and a shared hope of a better future for all the People of the Book.

It is not a matter to inspect the strength of the branches of the tree of life. It is the overall health of the tree of life that determines the health of the branches.

The global culture, the global reality puts a unique and as yet undefined essence into all religious faiths. That essence is how does it continue to be a living belief system of a system also recorded in a book - without being possibly dead like Latin at the same time.

God and other imaginary thoughts

Many believers in the Deity take on non-believers in debates that range in all sorts of the “intelligent” design arguments that goes something like – who do you think created all this?

Nature created all this I fear. And invention of toilet paper and flush toilets are not the ultimate intelligent proof of “God”.

Interesting thing about this whole “God” thing is how the Deists and the Theists have let a concept out there for three centuries in which God is distant (deism) or God is up front and in your face (theism). The universe or more accurately man’s perception of the universe is much more intense and diverse that it was three hundred years ago.

If the distant God of Deism of three hundred years ago was sitting on some obscure star in some church mural, he is now by default very much more close in the abundance of scientific knowledge pushing him in closer amidst all the other info in the scientific portfolio.

God if valid is no longer able to be distant in the modern world.

So too, God in your face and Theistic is a bit too much when you give God credit for all that “charmin”.

Which leaves me in the argument with anybody who wants me to believe in their personal god, I have to say that the concept of an unseen entity in our midst is plausible if only in our imagination. Which brings me to something quite silly. But let’s face it, somethings of our childhood linger on and one such thing is imagination.

Writing about English artist and poet William Blake a little while back made me realize how the simple, the imaginative, the creative, the real gets dragged and or beaten out of us in the phase and change from childhood to adulthood. Oh, the pity of it.

In any case, in any argument about the existence of a mono-theistic deity gets shrouded in my thought process because of my silent, good listening, childhood imaginary friend. What was his name? Oh yeah. I called him God.