Sunday, October 02, 2005

Season of Faith

We are in the season of faith and politics. Historically, the fall crops are being gathered and stored, the final preparations for winter have begun, and it is a time for festivity – in days of old, a time to dedicate to the Gods and reflect upon our lives.

It is also a time of education and enlightenment. It is a time when we present our children the ancient wisdom and knowledge – and justify the work they have, or have seen , done. It is a time when our children learn the tools they will need tomorrow, and to appreciate the tools of yesterday.

With each step in the evolutionary process, we adapt our tales – fact becomes legend, and legend turns into myth. Each owes its existence to custom, and custom is born of hard earned experience. In time, and through the evolution of the telling, rules of custom find themselves overshadowed by the story.

As Plato (Gorgias 484B) said so many millennia ago: “Custom, king of all things mortal and immortal, leads the way.” We do not yield customs easily. They are a comfortable haven, in times of doubt. Our custom, that of all mankind, includes divine justification.

With the advent of writing, there came fixed laws – laws attributed to the gods, but born of custom and individual experience. When customs does not serve the times, when laws do not fit the times, they are modified – they evolve.

In this column you have read about the evolution of ancient laws, and misrepresentation of those laws can affect our modern lives. A reverence for Justice, a New Testament summation of Old laws carried to a new people; Old Laws became simple explanation of a single sentence.

At a time when Babylonian prophecy was to be fulfilled, the Talmudic Rabbi Hillel said: "What you don't like, don't do to your neighbor.” Then came a religious leader who would be put to death before his message became accepted practice – prophecy fulfilled. The teaching is rephrased: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Some would ask, “How can this be? Shall we now be free to steal, or even murder?“ The answer is, of course, simple – if you would have your property stolen, steal from others; if you would be killed, then kill; if you would have your freedom denied, deny others theirs.

We are told that evil will come among us. That is always a safe statement. The founder and titular head of the Christian Coalition and Civil League, Marion “Pat” Robertson, advocated murder, then – despite the fact it was on video tape – lied about it. His followers routinely lie, it is their way.

His organization lies about the content of scripture. It advocates hatred against our neighbors – and is quiet about those who actually violate the precepts Leviticus which give examination to then one rule which dictates justice for all.

As citizens, voters, people of custom, faith, or belief in fair play, we have and make choices. It is easy to regurgitate dogma as ancient teaching; but the just honor the origins and wisdom which gave rise to the words. We cannot blindly follow, but rather must examine and test the foundations.

In the Hebrew Calendar, the first of Tishrei (this year Oct 5th), is the birthday of the world, the day man was created, Sound foundations support timeless structures – “Justice” is such a foundation.

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