Rabbi Michael Shevack War or Warned

Rabbi Michael Shevack asks: Will the good and noble religions of the world stand up?

This is a call, not quite desperate yet, but a critical call nonetheless:
Will the good and noble religions of the world stand up? Will we stand up together? Will we galvanize our combined well-over 4 billion people? Will we create a blessed buffer against another wave of ancient insanity?

Ancient insanity?  First, let’s look at the insanity:

You may have noticed as late, the tremendous resurgence of the following phenomena: extreme authoritarian governments, with militant or fascist under-or-overtones; an aggressive push of economic powers against each other and a consolidation of wealth in an elite group with a despised underclass; the exaltation of more “white” culture over more “colored” culture; a push back against feminism, homosexuals; the usurping of indigenous lands and the violation of environment; and a hated religious group that nations are afraid are “taking over”.

Oh, and let’s not forget, ancient, very ancient– an increase in anti-Jewishness, in fact, a 60% increase by some measures.

Underneath this mayhem is an extreme idolatry-of-thought, which become institutionalized from the very moment the Western world supplanted Biblical law with Roman imperial law, somewhere in the Third Century A.D, and laid the foundation of Western Civilization.

The problem, too deep to fully unpack here, is a distortion of Pauline philosophy-somewhat rabbinic in its origin– with its seeming dualism of “spirit” vs. “body”– with pagan Roman imperialism. To the “covenant as to the spirit” vs. “covenant as to the flesh”, is added “Roman” vs. “conquered”, “saved” vs. “damned”. Later on, is added the modern dualism of Descartes’ res extensa (“outer” kingdom of extension) and res cogitans (“inner” kingdom, of thought). This combined with a lot of ancient Gnosticism, from many sources, revered within our scripture and its appendices, created a lethal thought-war between “mind” and “matter”.

Notice the analogical pattern:  The phenomenon rising is a consolidated force of cultic mind. What is being attacked are all the classic analogues of “nature”— women, “gays” (considered pagan, or “from the land), indigenous peoples, ecological or planetary issues, “bodies”. This includes “people of the covenant as to the flesh”, and their “land”, i.e. the Jews.

This is the gasoline, that the Hitler’s match ignited, with a lot of help from distorted Vedic philosophy. It was not happenstance that Hitler, ironically, sought to bring back Nature as God, toppling a feeble, “moral” conscience of Jews and Christians, resurrecting the pagan Roman Empire as his Third Reich. Unfortunately, his god-Nature was tinged with a contaminated, brutal “Darwinism” which equated “survival of the fittest” with providential preference. Evil.

Michael Shevack

Auschwitz Concentration Camp

Now, these exact same categories of thought, were also present in a more general, and less “religious” context than with Hitler. While in the West we saw the Holocaust, it is not happenstance that in the East, we saw Hiroshima;  the ascendency of human mind over the “mother”, matter.

And, analogously too, after World War II, the world saw, shortly thereafter, a re-balancing of this aggressive power-of-thought:  the rise of all things “natural”: women’s liberation, gay liberation, people of color liberation, ecology, Aquarian Age philosophy, Transcendentalist Eastern gurus.  And, yes, the historical return of the People of Israel to their “land” in 1947.

The Roman diaspora seemed to end. But, it did not. We are in danger, still:

This distortion of Judeo-Christian theology goes to the core of our identities as religious people. We do not proclaim, Gnostically, a radical duality between “mind” and “matter”, or between a good human “civilization” and a “nature”, which is considered “evil” or fallen. We proclaim a God, The Creator, who created Creation to be “GOOD”. This God created the human being to have dominion, but not domination. We have dominion (over life on the planet, and over matter) under God– i.e. respect for the Creator’s Creation. We are entitled to be creative, technological within Reason, God’s REASON, His/Her/Its Logos, or “design specs”. We do not have dominion based upon our own thoughts, self-delusions and self-idolatry.

For Christians– if you do not mind me saying so– as the very foundation of Western Civilization, Christ’s Incarnation implies that any dualism between body and spirit, if it did exist by virtue of some Original Sin, has been obliterated, through his death and resurrection, and ascension. The incarnation is antithetical to this brutal, and indeed, contemporary-ancient-pagan history that is resurfacing, now in a more threatening nuclear form.  Imperial pagan Rome always burned the land! Why not the whole world?

So, I’m calling on all good and noble religions, to stop the return of this endlessly-returning cycle, where “mind” is pitted against “nature”, and the God of History is not the same as the Creator God, but, in fact, superior to it. This still poisoning the blessing of the God of Abraham, who chose Abraham, after the “political idolatry” figured in the Tower of Babel story.

Please hear me, perhaps, a lone voice in the wilderness. I’m calling for a force of love and activated-justice, a spiritual pressure to stop this Gnostic tendency from resurfacing and cutting down the tremendous Life-Force that has been rebuilt since the end of World War II.

I’m calling for the world to once again, save my people, who, in this analogical system are, I fear, doomed. But, as we know from World War II, it’s not just about the Jews.

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