Archive for April 13th, 2017

Sinful church and synagogue

April 13, 2017

I always start with my own collusion in the sinful architecture of all institutional religion. I bear some responsibility personally and for the church I belong to.In this manner I am with Pope Francis who defines himself as a sinner.


We must acknowledge that the Roman Catholic church the carrier of so much wisdom, visionary dreams and sacramental impulses is also partially deformed. Here I am constantly edified by the writing of William Stringfellow. He was not the first nor will he be the last to write about the wrong turn the apostolic church took under the Constantinian arrangement, the church’s alliance with state power.

Ever was it so…when we mounted Crusades, landed on Hispaniola and planted both cross and flag, stayed silent in the wake of the holocaust, when, as Americans refused to challenge Reagan’s assault on the poor (“I’m all right. Jack”), Nixon’s massacres in Vietnam, (“My country. right or wrong”), Bush’s catastrophic crusade in Iraq and latterly 56% of Catholics voting for Donald Trump. And in Canada we might mentionour toleration of assaults on indigenous life and Mother Earth.
We have often corrupted our biblical integrity. As a teacher I watched in sadness as so many good young people fell for the blandishments of a consumer culture . The church in Stringfellow’s wise words became “virtually indistinguishable from from the worldly principalities.”


Vatican ll was so right. The ecclesia must be ‘semper reformanda”, always updated and conformed to the way of Jesus. In this way Diarmuid Omurchu is correct:

We have come a long way from the fiery prophetic figure Jesus of Nazareth who shocked and disturbed the conventions of his day in the name of justice and liberation. Our respectability has taken a terrible toll on the authentic calling of Christian life.

We have lost sight of the deeper vision and lost heart for the passion and enthusiasm of God’s New Reign. The following of Jesus is not a respectable religion.

So now, the synagogue, an institution I cheer on. Everybody wins when the synagogue hangs on to universal values. Then there is Israel where many Jews become both conflicted and defensive. Non-observant Jews have raised israel almost to the godhead that is the state has become an object of idolatry and the principal source of Jewish identification. In one word, Zionist.

Robert Cohen, a Jewish British blogger focus on another delegitinization taking place: the gnawing away, year by year, at our right to uphold the most universal values of our Jewish heritage…Delegitimization” is the favorite attack word used by defenders of Israel’s unique (mis)understanding of democracy. All who dare criticize this human idol “want to wipe the Jewish state off the map. All who call for justice to Palestinians are ant-Semitic. Ridiculous, of course, Israel is here to stay but like most states it needs a reboot, a conversion from its racist existence.

Theologian Marc Ellis:

Passover arrives once again, the occupation continues, fifty years now and counting, with no end in sight. For all practical purposes, the Israeli occupation of Palestine is permanent. How can Jews celebrate Passover in such a context?

Passover began April 10. Cohen:

Today it has become little more than an annual act of communal hypocrisy. And in this year of bitter anniversaries (Balfour, the UN partition plan, the Occupation of the West Bank, the siege of Gaza) we’ll be taking that hypocrisy to depressingly new heights.
Zionism, which set out to create a modern redemption of the Jewish People, has slowly and surely destroyed the integrity of our Passover remembrance. The ongoing persecution of the Palestinian people in the service of a misguided notion of Jewish national self-determination has delegitimised our right to proclaim our foundational story of religious and political freedom. Why would anyone take seriously our right to speak out as Jews on the great moral issues of the day when we fail to face into the moral catastrophe of our own making?

He laments:
What’s different in this generation is that we have become the Pharaoh, we have become the oppressor and destroyer of others.

This did not go down with some in Great Britain
First, the Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis said I wasn’t Jewish because I’m not a Zionist.
Then, Prime Minister Theresa May said I’m antisemitic because I question Zionism’s notion of Jewish national self-determination.
And now, the Israel Knesset has decided I’m a would be terrorist because I support non violent protest in support of human rights.

Cohen suggests abandoning the traditional haggadah.

My recommended reading for your Passover celebration is the UN’s Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) report on Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid. Its authors are Professor Richard Falk, a former United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied and professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University; and Virginia Tilley, professor of political science at Southern Illinois University.
Their report is not a rant or a “hate fest” against Israel. It’s measured in tone and scholarly in the presentation and analysis of international law. It even anticipates and addresses the main objections to its findings.

Its conclusions are well argued: In different ways, Israel operates policies, with clear purpose and intent, that create an apartheid situation for Palestinians in Israel itself; in annexed East Jerusalem; in the Occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza; and for Palestinian refugees.
The outrage from the Trump and Netanyahu administrations was so instantaneous that they clearly hadn’t had time to read the report they were condemning. But putting the words “Israeli” and “Apartheid” in the same sentence was more than enough.  Two days later on the 17th March the report was removed from the ESCWA website at the insistence of the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and Rima Khalaf, the head of ESCWA, resigned her position saying: “… it is my duty not to conceal a clear crime, and I stand by all the conclusions of the report.”
Once again, the truth is too painful, too difficult, too political to face.

But the report is a worthy Passover text for this year. If we read it, carefully and faithfully, if we pay attention to its descriptions and analysis, it can free both Jews and Palestinians from our joint (but very differently experienced) modern slavery to Zionism. And, if enough others join this movement of liberation, then we Jews may even find a way back to a legitimate Jewish Passover.

Marc Ellis points out “that Jews of conscience are writing counternarratives where ”even Diaspora Palestinians are invited to Passover and attend. This expansion of the Exodus story is important. It reflects and represents a turning point in Jewish history.

Perhaps the preface to the Seder should be stated starkly: “What we, as Jews, have done to you, the Palestinian people, is wrong. What we, as Jews, are doing to you, the Palestinian people, is wrong.” Though confession won’t end the occupation, it states clearly the context of whatever Passover narrative follows.

Regardless of the particular telling, our Passover confession is a judgment on Jewish history and the present. It will remain for the future.

The prophetic stirs in the Jewish community