Tuesday, August 25, 2009

What's on God's Mind? Not Sure...

Just in time for the Jewish month of Ellul, which is the "prep month" for the somber and even scary High Holidays, a friend brought to my attention a hilarious, primitively-animated video that asks some pretty deep questions about Christianity.

It basically questions why God would bother to come to earth if He didn't want to significantly improve life for His creatures. Having just completed a very lengthy, intensive study of the Jewish scriptures collected in the "book" of The Twelve Prophets ("Trey Assar"), which contains some pretty strange stuff, it occurred to me that some of the same questions could be asked about them. Here they are able to convey to man anything God wants us to know (and there were thousands of these guys; only timeless prophecies are preserved) and yet God just didn't want us to have some pertinent information that could have made earthly life better and easier, and more in line with what God did suggest He wants for/from us.

This time of year, Jews use the metaphor that "the King is in the Field," ie, the King (God, obviously) doesn't make His subjects come to Him in His castle; rather, He's especially accessible to those who approach, coming out to their turf. What this means for us is that our solemn accounting of our actions and our heartfelt repentances will be more graciously received. I'd also like it to mean that it's easier for us to face our own mental and psychological housecleaning.

But the big deadline is Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year, anniversary of when the first man spoke), when our fate for the coming year is determined. It's then "sealed" ten days later, on Yom Kippur. Oh, we do have through the holiday of Hoshana Rabah to really, really, really repent, and for God to modify the verdict, but the actual decision happens with the Jewish New Year, the first of the Jewish month of Tishrei, which this year synchs to the solar calendar as sundown, September 18.

So, here I am, trying to make the most of this prep month, when the shofar, or ram's horn trumpet, is blown every day to wake us out of our spiritual stupor, and questions I repress just jump in front of my face. The ones raised in the YouTube (regarding the prophets, and other issues) are mere samples of the ongoing discussion I have with the Deity.

But conveniently, I do happen to be Jewish, and questioning and delving and confusion and "breaking one's teeth" over illogic and inconsistency is the "stuff" of this religion. Our sages are known for their questions (What's bothering Rashi?) and our leaders must justify any decisions and answers they offer, based on precedent and earlier sources. The rather bothersome bottom line for me, however, is that ultimately, we humans still have too many questions that are unresolvable.

So, is it better just to give up and enjoy a secular life? Or to be agnostic and admit that yes, there could be God, but it's impossible to know for sure what He wants? Or, to seek closeness through a particular religion? I do think that God desires the flourishing of several major religions, and probably doesn't want people killing each other over doctrinal differences (eg Sunni-Shiite sectarian violence). But then again, what do I know? It's a personal thing; each individual's relationship, or lack thereof, with God is as idiosyncratic as our affinities for particular foods or hobbies or people.

But when you try to live according to Jewish law, there's no escaping the questions. Take a look at the video and let me know what you think.


  1. Can't quite appreciate an Aussie-sounding Jesus.

  2. "I do think that God desires the flourishing of several major religions, and probably doesn't want people killing each other over doctrinal differences (eg Sunni-Shiite sectarian violence)."

    I agree with point B--God probably doesn't want people killing each other over doctrinal differences. But your prophets didn't teach that God wanted several religions to flourish. Wasn't the practicing of other religions what resulted in the Israelites being carried off into Assyria and Babylon?

    I enjoy reading about the Jewish holidays. Just this morning I read about the birth of Purim in Esther.

  3. John, Jewish scripture was provided for Jews; the provision of the "7 commandments for the children of Noah," ie everyone--shows that God assumes there will be Jewish laws,and simultaneously that non-Jews can be righteous if they follow these seven rules.

    Idol worship is also not acceptable in the Torah, especially for Jews, and the destruction of the Temples and exile was the consequence of Jewish idol worship.