Wednesday, March 31, 2021

We're misunderstanding the problem

Spiritual problems cannot be solved by administrative techniques.

The problem is not how to fill the buildings but how to inspire the hearts. And this is a problem to which techniques of child psychology can hardly be applied. The problem is not one of synagogue [church] attendance but one of spiritual attendance. The problem is not how to attract bodies to enter the space of a temple [church building] but how to inspire souls to enter an hour of spiritual concentration in the presence of God. The problem is time, not space.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 103 (emphasis original)

<idle musing>
It's really simple, isn't it? And yet, extremely difficult. We are trying to use techniques for attracting crowds, but what we should be doing is going for depth, not numbers. Jesus didn't go out looking for crowds; they came to him because they saw something attractive—something they wanted. He even turned people away. When's the last time you heard of a church or parachurch organization turning down a person who had cash in their hand? Or who was a well-known personality?

I can count that on less than one finger. Heschel is right, as usual, our problem is a spiritual one, not an administrative one. And the answer has to be spiritual as well...
</idle musing>

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

That flashy preacher? Look at his knees!

There are many who labor in the vineyard of oratory; but who knows how to pray, or how to inspire others to pray? There are many who can execute and display magnificent fireworks; but who knows how to kindle a spark in the darkness of a soul?

Some of you may say, I am going too far! Of course, people still attend “services”—but what does this attendance mean to them? Outpouring of the soul? Worship? Prayer, synagogue [or church] attendance, has become a benefaction to the synagogue [or church], a service of the community rather than service of God, worship of the congregation rather than worship of God.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 101

<idle musing>
Yep. It's just as true today as it was when he wrote it in the early 1950s. We like charismatic preachers. All the better if they tickle our ears. But if a Jeremiah or Ezekiel or Elijah stands up and says something, we fire them or ostracize them. We prefer profits over prophets. We want our ears tickled. We want prophets who prophesy abundance, more bread and wine. We don't want to hear the truth. We don't want to have to change our ways.

Nothing has changed about human nature. We just have fancier ways of expressing it. We still need to be born anew by the Holy Spirit.
</idle musing>

Monday, March 29, 2021

Does it help?

This is our problem: “We have eyes to see but see not; we have ears to hear but hear not.” There is God, and we do not understand Him; there is His word and we ignore it. This is the problem for us. Any other issue is relevant insofar as it helps us to meet that challenge.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 99

Friday, March 26, 2021

What we need

Let us never forget: If God is a symbol, He is a fiction. But if God is real, then He is able to express His will unambiguously. Symbols are makeshifts, necessary to those who cannot express themselves unambiguously.

There is darkness in the world and horror in the soul. What is it that the world needs most? Will man-made symbols redeem humanity? In the past, wars have been waged over differences in symbols rather than over differences in the love of God. Symbols, ceremonies are by their very nature particularistic. Symbols separate us, insights unite us. They unite us regardless of the different ways in which they are expressed. What we need is honesty, stillness, humility, obedience to the word of God. What we need is a new insight rather than new symbols.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 99 (emphasis original)

Thursday, March 25, 2021

'tis real

The uniqueness of the Bible is not in its symbolism. The religions of Egypt, Rome, India were rich in symbolism; what they lacked was not the symbol but the knowledge of the living God. The uniqueness of the Bible is in disclosing the will of God in plain words, in telling us of the presence of God in history rather than in symbolic signs or mythic events. The mysterious ladder which Jacob saw was a dream; the redemption of Israel from Egypt was an iron fact. The ladder was in the air, while Jacob’s head was on a stone.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 98 (emphasis original)

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

It's Metaphysical

Science does not know the world as it is; it knows the world in human terms. Scientific knowledge is symbolic knowledge. Trying to hold an interview with reality face to face, without the aid of human terms or symbols, we realize that what is intelligible to our mind is but a thin surface of the profoundly undisclosed.

The awareness of the unknown is earlier than the awareness of the known. Next to our mind are not names, words, symbols but the nameless, the inexpressible, being. It is otherness, remoteness upon which we come within all our experience.

Just as the simpleminded equates appearance with reality, so does the overwise equate the expressible with the ineffable, the symbolic with the metasymbolic.

The awareness of the ineffable, of the metasymbolic, is that with which our search must begin. Philosophy, enticed by the promise of the known, has often surrendered the treasures of higher incomprehension to poets and mystics, although without the sense of the ineffable there are no metaphysical problems, no awareness of being as being, of value as value.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 96

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

You've been had!

As background to this little post, I worked in distribution of audio and video for fifteen years. I also have been a marketer in book publishing for the last seventeen. So, I know of what I speak.

I've been following the Dr. Seuss thing a bit. When the Seuss people announced the discontinuing of the selected titles, my first thought was this: Oh, they must have been running low on stock and decided to make them OP (out of print). But, when a marketing person got wind of it, they thought, "Hey, this is a great opportunity to create some buzz!" Cancel culture is huge right now, as is sensitivity to racism. So, they score some points with the woke crowd by giving the inherent racism in an older title as a reason. Never mind that sales on these titles were slow and that it wasn't worthwhile to do a traditional print run. And it would give a nice bump to the sales of the nondiscontinued titles.

As I said to a former colleague, a brilliant, although unscrupulous marketing decision. Of course, marketing people with scruples are about as rare as a never-Trumper at a Trump event: Few and scorned as RINOs (MINOs—marketers in name only).

I let it go at that until this weekend when we went to a big-box store. We prefer to buy our groceries at a smaller store in walking distance, but there are some things that we can't get there, so about once a month we drive to the big box. We also needed some stuff at Menards. So, what do I see at Menards? A big shipper display of Dr. Seuss titles! And what do I see at the big box? At least one, maybe two (I can't remember for sure) shipper displays of Dr. Seuss titles! At both places, the titles were very picked over, which means they had been there for probably a week.

My distribution and marketing mind put two and two together, and I think I came up with four: This was a well-thought-out marketing plan. You don't put together as many shippers as they would have needed to supply the big box chain and Menards in less than a week! You have to make sure that you have the necessary stock, that there is enough cardboard, that the shippers are all assembled and skidded up. And probably in many of these cases, you can't ship direct to the store; you have to ship to the central warehouses for them to distribute them to the stores.

All that takes months of planning, going back to reprint some of the titles, getting the correct number and style of shippers, getting approval from the buyers at the various chains. Yes, this was a well-planned marketing blitz. I wouldn't be surprised if some enterprising employees bought out a good number of the soon-to-be-discontinued titles to sell at a handsome profit on e-bay and the likes!

Because, you see, as much as you might decry cancel culture, you fell right into the trap. If you really cared about Dr. Seuss being canceled, you would boycott the company doing the canceling. But you revealed what you really care about (and that the marketers at Dr. Seuss knew all along) was that your convenience was being infringed on.

So, my friend, if you purchased a Dr. Seuss book in the last two weeks, you were had. Owned. Played for the fool. You were played like an expensive violin for the benefit of profit.

Remember, with very few exceptions (Song of the South comes to mind), movies with blatant sexism and racism continue to be played and sold. All the studios did was slap a disclaimer on the front just before the movie. Dr. Seuss could have done the same. It would have been an excellent learning opportunity when you read the books to your kids and grandkids.

Instead, they went for the sure thing: Profit.

How very American!

P.S. I don't for a moment think Dr. Seuss was "canceled." Nor do I think free speech was infringed upon. It was a sales decision. Period. And would have been a nonissue if a marketer somewhere hadn't come up with this brilliant plan. Unethical, but brilliant. And I do indeed decry the racism and sexism of many older (and contemporary) titles. But I see it as an educational opportunity. You see, as a liberal arts person, I see the past as something to learn from. Learn from their blindness, yes, but more importantly, use them to shine a light on our blindness.

Just an
</idle musing>

It's the emptiness

No one eats figuratively, no one sleeps symbolically; so why should the pious man be content to worship God symbolically?

Those who are in the dark in their lonely search for God; those to whom God is a problem, or a Being that is eternally absent and silent; those who ask, “How does one know Him? Where can one find Him? How does one express Him?” will be forced to accept symbols as an answer.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 88

<idle musing>
Indeed! Nothing, and I mean nothing, substitutes for an encounter with the living God. And I don't mean a one-time encounter that you cherish and frame. I'm talking about a moment-by-moment breath-by-breath dependence on the living God.
</idle musing>

Monday, March 22, 2021

How free are you, really?

Identity and personhood are complex ideas that may have been quite different in the ancient past. Often, our contemporary inclination is to think of ourselves as individuals who operate with agency and intent, yet our actions, and consequently our various identities and personhood, are formed and directed as much by consciously and unconsciously inculcated social rules and norms as by freewill. Identity and personhood are relationally constructed, socially constrained.—His Good Name: Essays on Identity and Self-Presentation in Ancient Egypt in Honor of Ronald J. Leprohon, xix

What image?

The divine symbolism of man is not in what he has—such as reason or the power of speech—but in what he is potentially: he is able to be holy as God is holy. To imitate God, to act as He acts in mercy and love, is the way of enhancing our likeness. Man becomes what he worships. “Says the Holy One, blessed be He: He who acts like me shall be like me. ” Says Rabbi Levi ben Hama: “Idolators resemble their idols (Psalms 115:8); now how much more must the servants of the Lord resemble Him.

. . .

But man has failed. And what is the consequence? “I have placed the likeness of my image on them and through their sins I have upset it” is the dictum of God.”

The likeness is all but gone. Today, nothing is more remote and less plausible than the idea: man is a symbol of God. Man forgot whom he represents or that he represents.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 86–87 (emphasis original)

Friday, March 19, 2021

More on the image of God

As not one man or one particular nation but all men and all nations are endowed with the likeness of God, there is no danger of ever worshipping man, because only that which is extraordinary and different may become an object of worship. But the divine likeness is something all men share.

This is a conception of far-reaching importance to biblical piety. What it implies can hardly be summarized. Reverence for God is shown in our reverence for man. The fear you must feel of offending or hurting a human being must be as ultimate as your fear of God. An act of violence is an act of desecration. To be arrogant toward man is to be blasphemous toward God.

He who oppresses the poor blasphemes his Maker,
He who is gracious to the needy honors Him. —Proverbs 14:31
“You must not say, since I have been put to shame, let my neighbor be put to shame ... If you do so, know whom you put to shame, for in the likeness of God made he him." Rabbi Joshua ben Levi said: “A precession of angels pass before man wherever he goes, proclaiming: Make way for the image (eikonion) of God.”—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 85

<idle musing>
And that is a very good reason to be against the death penalty! Further, it is the reason that racism and sexism are so repugnant to God. All are made in the image of God, male and female, every race and nationality. All are to proclaim the wonders and glories of God together. Lord, haste the day when that is true!
</idle musing>

Thursday, March 18, 2021

In the image and likeness of…

And yet there is something in the world that the Bible does regard as a symbol of God. It is not a temple or a tree, it is not a statue or a star. The one symbol of God is man, every man. God Himself created man in His image, or, to use the biblical terms, in His tselem and demuth. How significant is the fact that the term tselem, which is frequently used in a damnatory sense for a man—made image of God, as well as the term demuth—of which Isaiah claims (4o:18) no demuth can be applied to God—are employed in denoting man as an image and likeness of God!

Human life is holy, holier even than the Scrolls of the Torah. Its holiness is not man’s achievement; it is a gift of God rather than something attained through merit. Man must therefore be treated with the honor due to a likeness representing the King of Kings.

Not that the Bible was unaware of man's frailty and wickedness. The divine in man is not by virtue of what he does but by virtue of what he is. With supreme frankness the failures and shortcomings of kings and prophets, of men such as Moses or David, are recorded. And yet Jewish tradition insisted that not only man’s soul but also his body are symbolic of God. This is why even the body of a criminal condemned to death must be treated with reverence, according to the Book of Deuteronomy (2 1:23). He who sheds the blood of a human being, “it is accounted to him as though be diminished [or destroyed] the divine image.”—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 84–85

<idle musing>
He keeps going, but that's enough for today. This section reminds me of the C.S. Lewis essay/sermon entitled "The Weight of Glory," which also gave it's title to the book, Weight of Glory (the other essays are well-worth your time, too).

We are all image-bearers of God. Whatever happened in Gen 3 didn't erase that image. It might have defaced it, making us "cracked eikons," as Scot McKnight puts it, but it didn't erase that image. Remember that as you face what you think are your enemies. Remember that when you are tempted to hurl insults at others. They, too, are images of their (and your) creator!
</idle musing>

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Just a bit of leavening…

One can serve God with the body, even with one’s passions; one must only be able to distinguish between the dross and the gold. This world acquires flavor only when a little of the other world is mingled with it. Without nobility of the spirit, the flesh is full of darkness. —Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 76

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Chaos, waiting at the doors

One of the lessons we have derived from the events of our time is that we cannot dwell at ease under the sun of our civilization, that man is the least harmless of all beings. We feel how every minute in our civilization is packed with tension like the interlude between lightning and thunder. Man has not advanced very far from the coast of chaos. It took only one storm to throw him back into the sinister. If culture is to survive, it is in need of defenses all along the shore. A frantic call to chaos shrieks in our blood. Many of us are too susceptible to it to ignore it forever. Where is the power that could offset the effect of that alluring call? How are we going to keep the demonic forces under control?

This is the decision which we have to make: whether our life is to be a pursuit of pleasure or an engagement for service. The world cannot remain a vacuum. Unless we make it an altar to God, it is invaded by demons. This is no time for neutrality. We … cannot remain aloof or indifferent. We … are either ministers of the sacred or slaves of evil. The only safeguard against constant danger is constant vigilance, constant guidance. Such guidance is given to him who lives in the reality of Israel. It is a system in which human relations rest upon two basic ideas: the idea of human rights and the idea of human obligations.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 75

Monday, March 15, 2021

The spoken word

Many of us detest the idea of holiness and consider it to be a waste of time, a meaningless concept, the invention of primitive man, notwithstanding the fact that this concept is rooted in the heart of every cultured person. Everyone knows the power of the spoken word. What really happens when a person opens his mouth and promises something? Superficially, only sounds emanate from vocal cords, and the lips are merely moving. So what of it? Why do we assume that loyalty to one’s word is the basis of all human relationships? The promise that was given, the contract that is made——is sacred, and one who desecrates it destroys the foundation upon which all of communal life is established. Until the moment I speak, the choice is mine, but once the words have left my mouth, I may not rescind or desecrate them. Willingly or unwillingly, the word spoken by me controls me. It becomes a sacred power which has dominion over me, lurking at my door and compelling my compliance. 61

Friday, March 12, 2021

Partnering together

We are partners with God, partners in everyday actions. We do not walk alone. We are not solitary in our toils or forsaken in our efiforts. The smallest one is a microcosm of the Greatest One. A reciprocal relationship binds each lowly one with the One on High.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 60

Thursday, March 11, 2021

How to judge value

All values are esteemed only to the extent that they are worthy in the sight of God, for only through the Divine Light is their light seen. Treasures of the world, though they be marked by beauty and charm, when they diminish the image of the divine will not endure. Fortunate is the person who sees with eyes and heart together. Fortunate is the person who is not entranced by the grand facade or repulsed by the appearance of misery. This is the mark of the spiritual personality; chic clothes, smiling faces, and artistic wonders which are filled with evil and injustice do not entrance him. Architectural wonders and monumental temples, which seem to testify to glory and honor, power and strength, are loathsome to him if they were built with the sweat of slaves and the tears of the oppressed, if they were raised with wrongdoing and deceit. Hypocrisy which parades under the veil of righteousness is worse to him then obvious wrongdoing. In his heart any religious rite for which the truth must be sacrificed is revolting. Deeds … are for the purpose of coupling the beautiful and the good, for the sake of the unification of grace and splendor. The criterion by which we judge beauty is integrity, the criterion by which we judge integrity is truth, and truth is the correspondence of the finite to the infinite, the specific to the general, the cosmos to God.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 59

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

The measure of a person (or society)

How does one measure dominion, beauty wealth, power? The soul of every human being possesses within it the tendency to value those things that it likes, and to bow down to that which appears to be valuable. This is a test that everyone passes. How easy it is to be attracted by outward beauty, and how hard it is to remove the mask and penetrate to that which is inside. If a Greek poet, for example, had arrived at Samaria, the capital of the Kingdom of Israel, he would have been surprised and overcome with emotion; he would have praised and lauded in verse the idols, the beautiful temples and palaces which the kings of Israel and their ministers had built. But the prophet Amos, after visiting Samaria, did not sing, nor did he bow to the glory of the ivory buildings. When he looked at the buildings of carved stone, at the ivory temples and the beautiful orchards, he saw in them the oppression of the poor, robbery and plunder. External magnificence neither entranced him nor led him astray. His whole being cried out in the name of the Lord: “I loathe the pride of Jacob, and I detest his palaces." Could it be that the prophet Amos’s heart—the purest of that generation—was not captivated and did not tremble before beauty? Was the prophet Amos lacking all feeling and appreciation for beauty?

When the annual congress of the Nazi Party convened in Nuremberg in 1937, journalists from all over the world, such as The Times of London, described with enthusiasm the demonstrations of the various Nazi organizations. They could not find enough adjectives to praise the physical beauty, the order, the discipline, and the athletic perfection of the tens of thousands of young Nazis who marched ceremoniously and festively before the leader of the “movement.” These writers who were so excited by the exterior splendor lacked the ability to see the snakes in the form of humans—the poison that coursed through their veins, which not long after would bring death to millions of people.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 58-59

<idle musing>
Not a whole lot has changed in the last 85 years, has it? We still bow before the gods we've created, be they silicon or flesh. We embrace the lies and become zealous to route the enemy, which unfortunately, is all too often a neighbor or family member.

Even if we happen to be right, which is usually not the case!, we have no right to seek vengeance. As scripture says, "Vengeance is mine. I will repay, says the Lord." Note that, it isn't ours. It is his. We, on the other hand, are called to pray for our enemies. And I don't mean praying an imprecatory psalm over them the way so many did over Obama. I mean a heartfelt concern for their spiritual and physical well-being.

And that just might mean doing something for them, too. Scary thought, isn't it? God might be calling you to embrace that person who disagrees with you! OK, scratch that, not he might be—he is callling you to embrace them.
</idle musing>

Tuesday, March 09, 2021

The siren call

The satan of publicity dances at the crossroads, moving with full strength. Who is the wise man who has not gone out after him, following his drums and dances? We tend to lick the dust of his feet in order to gain fame. In truth, the soul has only that which is hidden in its world, that which is sealed in its treasure houses. The quality of a person is internal. He does not live by what his mouth says but by the secret. The honor of a person is a secret. —Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 56

<idle musing>
Remember satan in Hebrew means "temptor"—and who hasn't heard the siren call of publicity in our fame-hungry world? This quotation follows-up on yesterday's, on the secret life.

True wisdom is cultivated out of the public eye, which is difficult to do in our media-saturated world. Taking the time to actually think is frowned upon. The fear of missing out is a very real thing. Who wants to be embarassed when someone mentions some little tidbit from the latest gossip or news mill and you don't have a clue what they are talking about? But that stuff is just hebel and shwa, vapor and nothingness, it passes away and what are you left with?

This pandemic and its associated lockdowns gave us a chance to be alone and cultivate inner strength. Instead far too many either used it to protest the imposition on their rights or to binge-watch whatever their favorite shows were.

As image-bearers, we should know better. We do know better. But that's too much work, isn't it? Binge-watching or binge-whining is far easier—and initially more rewarding. But, just like the scroll that John eats in Revelation, it turns sour in the stomach.
</idle musing>

Monday, March 08, 2021

True nobility

What is the meaning of nobility? A person possessing nobility is one whose hidden wealth surpasses his outward wealth, whose hidden treasures exceed his obvious treasures, whose inner depth surpasses by far that which he reveals. Refinement is found only where inwardness is greater than outward appearance. The hidden is greater than the obvious, depth greater than breadth. Nobility is the redeemed quality which rises within the soul when it exchanges the transient for the permanent, the useful for the valuable.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 56

<idle musing>
Indeed! And a rare thing to find now, isn't it? What with all the social media apps, it's rare to find someone who doesn't "let it all hang out" as we used to say many years ago. And, unfortunately, what "hangs out" is far too often less than noble : (

</idle musing>

Friday, March 05, 2021

Thorn in the flesh?

Our historical experience has taught us that our existence as Jews is not in the category of things which neither help nor hurt. The opposite is true: to be a Jew is either superfluous or essential. Anyone who adds Judaism to humanity is either diminishing or improving it. Being a Jew is either tyranny or holiness. Moreover, the life of a Jew requires focus and direction, and cannot be carried out offhandedly. One who thinks that one can live as a Jew in a lackadaisical manner has never tasted Judaism.

The very existence of a Jew is a spiritual act. The fact that we have survived, despite the suffering and persecution, is itself a sanctification of God’s name. We continue to exist, in spite of the scorn of the complacent, the torrents of hatred, and the dangers that constantly lie in wait for us. We always have had the option to solve the “Jewish Question” through conversion, and had we stopped being Jews, we would not have continued as thorns in everyone’s flesh, and we would not have remained an object of scorn. As individuals we would have tasted a life of serenity and security. After all, the Jew is an expert at adaptation and assimilation, and it would not be too much for him to mix with the nations, without their taking note of his joining them. Nevertheless, generation upon generation have withstood the test of their faith. Many blows could not douse the flame. With dedication we guard the fire, the truth, and the wonder.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 55

<idle musing>
Change "Jew" to "Christian" and I wonder how true it would be? It should be true...but is it?
</idle musing>

Thursday, March 04, 2021

Created equal?

The most urgent task is to destroy the myth that accumulation of wealth and the achievement of comfort are the chief vocations of man. How can adjustment to society be an inspiration to our youth if that society persists in squandering the material resources of the world on luxuries in a world where more than a billion people go to bed hungry every night? How can we speak of reverence for man and of the belief that all men are created equal without repenting the way we promote the vulgarization of existence?—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 31

<idle musing>
How much truer this is today than it was in the 1950s when he penned it!

Lord, have mercy on us and awaken us to the hypocrisy of our ways!
</idle musing>

Wednesday, March 03, 2021

Aim high!

The cure of the soul begins with a sense of embarrassment, embarrassment at our pettiness, prejudices, envy, and conceit; embarrassment at the profanation of life. A world that is full of grandeur has been converted into a carnival.

Man is too great to be fed upon uninspiring pedestrian ideals. We have adjusted ideals to our stature, instead of attempting to rise to the level of ideals. The ceiling of aspiration is too low: a car, color television, and life insurance. Modern man has royal power and plebeian ideals.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 31 (emphasis original)

<idle musing>
Indeed. Adjust the expectations from 1950 to 2020, but other than that, it's about right. We've set our ideals on material things and aiming low, we hit a target even lower. God has greater things in mind for those who bear his image!
</idle musing>

Tuesday, March 02, 2021

What's the problem?

I do not believe that repression is America’s major problem, as some writers maintain. America’s problem number one is the self-profanation of man, the perversion of the eighteenth-century conception of the pursuit of happiness, the loss of reverence, the liquidation of enthusiasm for the attainment of transcendent goals.

Our conception of happiness is based on an oversimplification of man. Happiness is not a synonym for self-satisfaction, complacency, or smugness.&tninsp;. . . Man’s true fulfillment depends upon communion with that which transcends him.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 30–31 (emphasis original)

Monday, March 01, 2021


I only have one comment on the golden Trump at CPAC. Everyone seems to be relating it to the golden calf in Exodus. Personally, I think Daniel 3 is a better analogy. My response? The same a Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego:
Know this for certain, Your Majesty: we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you’ve set up. (Dan 3:18 CEB)
That is all.

Perfect diagnosis

It is our duty to do our utmost in restoring physical health, but it is sinful to ignore the most essential requirement of being a person: the sense of significant being. Our community’s need of thought, understanding, intellectual expansion is profound and urgent. If not satisfied, we will all be bankrupt.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 28

<idle musing>
Yep. He diagnosed the current malaise of christianity in the US perfectly (even though he was talking about Judaism). And not just christianity, but the culture in general. While we are (sort of) fighting this pandemic, what of our intellectual and spiritual wasteland? Material goods don't give meaning to life!

The pulpits and the talking-heads in christianity are offering up a Trumpism that will never feed the soul with anything other than lies. We slice the budgets to universities, hiring only adjuncts. We expect public schools to function when we only offer them a reluctant slice of cash and then complain that the teachers are whiners and don't really want to teach when they are legitimately concerned for their (and their students') health.

Yep. Heschel was correct in his diagnosis.
</idle musing>