Abraham, River of Faith: Chapter 4, Part 3

Now, we have seen how the Great Barge made its’ way through history, as the vessel of one people, in one place, at one time. From their river, the Euphrates, came the Tigris, and the vessels for it, the kalak. Let us then examine the navigation of those tiny boats, for history will turn on them. Indeed, all the world will soon be covered by the swarm of them out on their run.

Following the reports of the resurrection of the Messiah, a frenetic wave of activity covered the Roman empire; first in Judea, then in Greek cities like Corinth, Thessaloniki, and the Gallic city Galatia. Within a generation, men trained to go out into the waters of the nations-to be fishers of men, as the kalak is used often-to spread the word of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The most famous of these is of course Paul, the apostle to the gentiles; but, while chief amongst them, he was one of many who went forth, proclaiming the Good News.

There were fish to catch, for the Kingdom of God, and the early followers of The Way-known now as Christianity-left no stone unturned for those willing to repent and believe. They sailed the Tigris, casting their nets on all sides, looking for people to fish out and be saved. In the beginning, this was a tidal swell of activity, which was threatening to wash over the whole world. Indeed, until the age of Constantine, it looked for all the world like the Way might prevail against all odds. There seemed to be no way to stop the conversion of the Earth to the Gospel.

This is not empty rhetoric; Gibbons felt strongly that Christianity brought the Roman Empire down, as did Nietzsche. As a side note, I personally think the disease brought back from the Parthian wars of the third century did them in more than anything. Inflation was killing them, and political discord after the death of Marcus Aurelieus led to the splitting of the Empire into four factions. But it is perfectly reasonable to assert what Gibbons and Nietzsche did. An army with no weapons had beaten Rome-no weapons except having gained mastery over the fear of death.

You will recall our discussion of the impact of death on humans. Oddly, this is a dull sting to aboriginals and hunter-gatherers. They have an easier time accepting the way of things. Only as people became civilized did they become afraid: it would seem that having a luxurious life leads one to fear it ending. After all, if death eats you, what was the point of anything? If the only fate that awaits is nothingness, is it not the ultimate cruelty, to live long enough to realize that you are going to blank out, then go dark, extinguished, and erased?

The idea-the fact, in a Roman mind-that you will end was a torment they could not endure. They sought for every way possible to gain immortality-through writings, sculptures, histories. When you see these things, you seeing the Roman soul, flailing in fear, that they will not even be remembered. It was the keen awareness of this fear that the Romans used to dominate and control people; without this, Rome could not stand. A person who did not fear death was a weapon that could not be disarmed. This did challenge the Roman way of thinking, and undermined their cultural values greatly.

So, Christianity could be seen as an assault on Roman values themselves, as Nietzsche points out in Genealogy of Morals. Even today, I still cannot find a way to conclusively dismiss his argument empirically. While I do not agree with Frederick’s conclusion, his synopsis is quire valid. Romans did not like The Way. It was emasculating, prudish, and, well, Jewish. Romans liked conquest, personal glory, domination, and the glorious festival of the winter solstice, the Saturnalia. They were lovers of life, the Romans-for death was always after them.

Christianity is the death they fear, plus a new kind of death-a death to self, which took away the thin veneer of joy they had, in keeping Grendel upon the moors. In any other circumstance, they would have obliterated the offending cult-as they were famous for doing. But in Christianity, they finally met their match. They met an opponent who grew stronger as you killed them. Roman plebians-the commoners-who had long suffered under the patrician class, found that The Way offered them a power they could not have elsewise: the power to defy Rome. Slaves, as Frederick noted, were especially attracted to the Gospel, as it offered what they had never known, which was hope for a better tomorrow.

So the swell built, washing away the Roman power, and was being followed-even against psychotics like Diocletian-in the breadth of the Empire, surging as the Pagan ways were dwindling out. After Adrianople, Rome was an empty shell, a paper tiger that barbarians would to scoff-and later, take. Those people, the Goths, would elevate Christianity to new level-but at the price of creating a juggernaut of terror unmatched even in the days of Rome. This terror was Rome plus the Church, which became known formally as the Papacy. Please note, with acumen, the following:  This is not anti-Catholic. This is anti-Papal. I love my Catholic brethren fully and unconditionally. The Papacy is not Catholic: it is a tumor than grew up on the church. After the Peaces of Westphalia. the terror was finally leashed, and today is actually a spiritual center of some sorts, although the sybarite, hedonistic elements still remain strong within the Vatican.

The fall of the Terror of Rome was coterminus with the discovery of the New World (or, not Europe), and with this came a literal sailing of missionaries across the whole Earth, in the wake of Magellan’s epic quest to triumph over the insults heaped upon him by the King of Portugal. Unfortunately, this would not be the tale of epic splendor one would hope-for vessels meant to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ instead brought horror and darkness, and the commodification of people in the service of avarice. This is largely due to the impact of the arch-criminal of history, who harmed more than can be counted. This isn’t the standard bad guy-Hitler, Stalin, Mao, or even Karl Marx. This person cast a shadow over most of our planet that threw billions into ruin and nightmare, all through uniting the Gospel of Christ with that of Mammon. He is the son of the Papacy, who in fighting Popes became one, and the father of most protestant denominations in the West. This was Jean Calvin, and our next interlude will have to examine why he and his Papal counterparts made the Cross of Jesus Christ a sign of disrepute and disgust to most of humanity.

Popular Thought on Collectivism

There’s quite a lot of arguments made about how collectivism doesn’t and can’t work. Why does this interest us? One popular argument is that humans are–at their core–selfish and that there’s nothing we can do to change ourselves. A popularizer of this argument was Ayn Rand whose books are required reading for Paul Ryan staffers. She is still a household name in the U.S., especially among Libertarians.  For example, Eric Michael Johnson summarizes her ideas and popularity:
Ever since Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand has been gaining prominence among American conservatives as the leading voice for the political philosophy of laissez-faire capitalism, or the idea that private business should be unconstrained and that government’s only concern should be protecting individual property rights. As I wrote this week in Slate with my piece “Ayn Rand vs. the Pygmies,” the Russian-born author believed that rational selfishness was the ultimate expression of human nature.

“Collectivism,” Rand wrote in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal “is the tribal premise of primordial savages who, unable to conceive of individual rights, believed that the tribe is a supreme, omnipotent ruler, that it owns the lives of its members and may sacrifice them whenever it pleases.” An objective understanding of “man’s nature and man’s relationship to existence” should inoculate society from the disease of altruistic morality and economic redistribution. Therefore, “one must begin by identifying man’s nature, i.e., those essential characteristics which distinguish him from all other living species.”

As Rand further detailed in her book The Virtue of Selfishness, moral values are “genetically dependent” on the way “living entities exist and function.” Because each individual organism is primarily concerned with its own life, she therefore concludes that selfishness is the correct moral value of life. “Its life is the standard of value directing its actions,” Rand wrote, “it acts automatically to further its life and cannot act for its own destruction.” Because of this Rand insists altruism is a pernicious lie that is directly contrary to biological reality. Therefore, the only way to build a good society was to allow human nature, like capitalism, to remain unfettered by the meddling of a false ideology.
https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/primate-diaries/ayn-rand-on-human-nature/

Having not read Rand’s work I’m curious how this is different than the is-ought leap known as the naturalistic fallacy: https://www.britannica.com/topic/naturalistic-fallacy The Ayn Rand Lexicon tries to address this:

It is only an ultimate goal, and end in itself, that makes the existence of values possible. Metaphysically, life is the only phenomenon that is an end in itself: a value gained and kept by a constant process of action. Epistemologically, the concept of “value” is genetically dependent upon and derived from the antecedent concept of “life.” To speak of “value” as apart from “life” is worse than a contradiction in terms. “It is only the concept of ‘Life’ that makes the concept of ‘Value’ possible.”

In answer to those philosophers who claim that no relation can be established between ultimate ends or values and the facts of reality, let me stress that the fact that living entities exist and function necessitates the existence of values and of an ultimate value which for any given living entity is its own life. Thus the validation of value judgments is to be achieved by reference to the facts of reality. The fact that a living entity is, determines what it ought to do. So much for the issue of the relation between “is” and “ought.”
http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/is-ought_dichotomy.html

This leaves me rather mystified. I agree that values depend on what the goal is. (the values of a thief are different than the values of a police officer) One wants to gain more money for themselves and the other (while also probably wanting to gain money for themselves) also wants to enforce a standard of voluntary behavior when attaining money. However, why is life an “end in itself.” Since Ayn Rand was an atheist I fail to see how undirected evolution has value. It is nature. The animals that evolve are selected for because of their ability to survive. Just because one species of animal survived better than another doesn’t make it more valuable. What if an animal evolved that was out-competing us for resources and was causing our extinction? I don’t think Ayn Rand would argue that it, therefore, should wipe us out, especially if it was a species of communist insects like ants. More issues (in addition to the is-ought problem I mentioned) with Ayn Rand’s philosophy are discussed here:
Rand in addition to selfishness advocates for capitalism:
in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute. (Rand 1957 [1992]: Afterword)
Capitalism, “the unknown ideal”, is for her the only political-economic system compatible with this philosophy because it is the only system based on respect for human beings as ends in themselves. The free-market libertarian political movement, though largely disowned by Rand, drew—and draws—great inspiration from her moral defense of the minimal state, that is, the state whose only raison d’être is protection of individual rights.
This is one fact you don’t hear often. To say Ayn Rand “largely” disowned the libertarian movement may be a bit of an understatement:
Q
What do you think of the libertarian movement?
AR
All kinds of people today call themselves “libertarians,” especially something calling itself the New Right, which consists of hippies who are anarchists instead of leftist collectivists; but anarchists are collectivists. Capitalism is the one system that requires absolute objective law, yet libertarians combine capitalism and anarchism. That’s worse than anything the New Left has proposed. It’s a mockery of philosophy and ideology. They sling slogans and try to ride on two bandwagons. They want to be hippies, but don’t want to preach collectivism because those jobs are already taken. But anarchism is a logical outgrowth of the anti-intellectual side of collectivism. I could deal with a Marxist with a greater chance of reaching some kind of understanding, and with much greater respect. Anarchists are the scum of the intellectual world of the Left, which has given them up. So the Right picks up another leftist discard. That’s the libertarian movement. [FHF 71]
Q
What do you think of the Libertarian Party?
AR
I’d rather vote for Bob Hope, the Marx Brothers, or Jerry Lewis—they’re not as funny as John Hospers and the Libertarian Party. If Hospers takes ten votes away from Nixon (which I doubt he’ll do), it would be a moral crime. I don’t care about Nixon, and I care even less about Hospers; but this is no time to engage in publicity seeking, which all these crank political parties are doing. (George Wallace is no great thinker—he’s a demagogue, though with some courage—but even he had the sense to stay home this time.) If you want to spread your ideas, do it through education. But don’t run for president—or even dogcatcher—if you’re going to help McGovern. [FHF 72]
Her reason for disowning the libertarians was made quite clear and it may surprise you:
Q
Libertarians advocate the politics you do, so why are you opposed to the Libertarian Party?
AR
They’re not defenders of capitalism. They’re a group of publicity seekers who rush into politics prematurely, because they allegedly want to educate people through a political campaign, which can’t be done. Further, their leadership consists of men of every persuasion, from religious conservatives to anarchists. Most of them are my enemies: they spend their time denouncing me, while plagiarizing my ideas. Now it’s a bad sign for an allegedly pro-capitalist party to start by stealing ideas. [FHF 74]
I don’t often hear that libertarianism is compatible with anarchism or voluntary collectivism as the “Libertarian Socialist Caucus of the Libertarian Party” shows:
Another prominent libertarian philosopher Robert Nozick describes such:
The official purpose of Part III of ASU, “Utopia”, is to show that the minimal state is not merely legitimate and just; it is also inspiring. This purpose is advanced by sketching a framework for utopia that is inspiring and noting that this framework is highly akin to—Nozick actually says “equivalent to” (333)—the minimal state. Yet Nozick also says that the framework might not have any “central authority” (329). Still, the framework is akin to the minimal state because it is an institutional structure that enforces peaceful co-existence among voluntarily formed communities. It protects the independence of such communities and their freedom to recruit members and also protects the liberty of individuals to enter and exit communities as they respectively choose. Although Nozick is not explicit about this, we have to presume that the framework enforces the same norms of personal freedom, property, and contractual compliance that the minimal state enforces except insofar as individuals voluntarily relinquish such rights within the communities they enter.
In fact, I would like to see a libertarian thinker who would say that voluntary collectivism is wrong. This is because Libertarians start from the position of individual rights:

As Libertarians, we seek a world of liberty: a world in which all individuals are sovereign over their own lives and are not forced to sacrifice their values for the benefit of others.

We believe that respect for individual rights is the essential precondition for a free and prosperous world, that force and fraud must be banished from human relationships, and that only through freedom can peace and prosperity be realized.

Consequently, we defend each person’s right to engage in any activity that is peaceful and honest, and welcome the diversity that freedom brings. The world we seek to build is one where individuals are free to follow their own dreams in their own ways, without interference from government or any authoritarian power.
https://www.lp.org/platform/ (accessed 2019-01-02)

This is where the left and the right could potentially agree and work together. More on that may come in another post. The second problem with Ayn Rand’s argument for selfishness and capitalism is not metaphysical but factual.  Eric Michael Johnson writes affirmingly of Peter Kropotkin’s discoveries:

What he found was that competition was virtually nonexistent. Instead, in every nook and cranny of the animal world, he encountered mutual aid. Individuals huddled for warmth, fed one another, and guarded their groups from danger, all seeming to be cogs in a larger cooperative society. “In all the scenes of animal lives which passed before my eyes,” Kropotkin wrote, “I saw mutual aid and mutual support carried on to an extent which made me suspect in it a feature of the greatest importance for the maintenance of life, the preservation of each species and its further evolution.”

Kropotkin didn’t limit his studies to animals alone. He cherished his time in peasant villages, with their sense of community and cooperation: in these small Siberian villages, Kropotkin began to understand “the inner springs of the life of human society.” There, by observing “the constructive work of the unknown masses,” the young scientist witnessed human cooperation and altruism in its purest form.
. . .
He advocated that natural selection was the driving force that shaped life, but that Darwin’s ideas had been perverted and misrepresented by British scientists. Natural selection, Kropotkin argued, led to mutual aid, not competition, among individuals.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-prince-of-evolution-peter-kropotkin/

We rarely hear this.  We usually take for granted that nature is a heartless matriarch who feeds one of her children to another after the slightest mistake on the former’s part. Although humans are part of the natural world, making arguments about animal societies won’t convince everyone since humans are unique creatures. More formidable still (in my opinion) is the common idea of the doctrine of original sin in Christianity. The mechanics of original sin are not often clearly delineated, yet strangely, the conclusion is that selfless expectations are bound to create disaster for humans.  Fortunately, we can resolve what is possible with humans:
As, of 2010 at least 15 Kibbutzim in Israel “still follow the full traditional communal model” (there are 270 total according to this article)
Today there are some 260 kibbutzim and as this experiment evolved over the last century and longer, they seem to be experiencing some sort of a revival. But as most kibbutzim prove by their very existence, staying alive requires working together. . .

KIBBUTZ DEGANYA, which eventually split into Kibbutz Deganya Alef and Deganya Bet, developed into one of Israel’s most iconic institutions, and led the way for the hundreds of kibbutzim thereafter. It was established in October 1910 by a dozen men hailing from Russia. They were inspired to pursue the Zionist socialist vision in Palestine by working the land during what is known as the Second Aliya.
https://www.jpost.com/Magazine/A-uniquely-Israeli-institution-543296

The waiting lists are the most recent in a series of changes that the kibbutz movement has undergone since the financial crisis it faced in the 1980s. And in recent years, most kibbutzim are accepting new residents only as fully fledged members, with full rights and obligations, rather than as people simply living there. Many of the arrivals are children of the kibbutz who are returning home.
Many kibbutzim simply cannot meet the demand, and it’s not just the wealthy kibbutzim near the center of the country that are a draw, but also smaller collective communities in outlying areas. Kibbutz movement secretary general Nir Meir says every year, on the eve of Shavuot, the number of babies on the kibbutzim is tallied. This year the number exceeded 3,000.
Speaking to Haaretz, Meir attributed the growth to a number of factors. One is that the era in which kibbutzim were allowing non-members to move in, living in new neighborhoods that were being built, but not really fully part of the kibbutz community, is over. At the same time, the kibbutz movement extracted itself from its earlier financial crisis and changes on kibbutzim “made the way of life a lot more attractive,” Meir asserted.
Ein Dor and Yizre’el in northern Israel were both established in 1948. One was privatized in 2003, while the other still serves three communal meals a day and adheres to the old kibbutz socialist ethos – can you guess which one is thriving today?
. . .
Ein Dor is certainly not a failing kibbutz today, but Almog says it isn’t the most financially successful, either.
. . .

A 30-minute drive away in the Jezreel Valley, Yizre’el is among a handful of kibbutzim that still embraces the old-fashioned principles of communal life.

Here, monthly allocations are based not on job description and title, but on seniority at the kibbutz, family size and need. At Yizre’el, the mess hall is still the place where all members take their three daily meals (free of charge) and gather for events, activities and important votes.

. . .
Today, Yizre’el is one of the richest kibbutzim in Israel thanks to its controlling stake in a company that is the world’s single largest supplier of robotic pool cleaners. Maytronics, which is traded on the Tel Aviv stock exchange, has a market capitalization of 1.9 billion shekels (about $540 million). Last year, it boasted almost $200 million in sales (almost exclusively exports) and net earnings of $24 million. Maytronics, which is 60 percent owned by the members of Yizre’el, now has subsidiaries in the United States, France and Australia, and recently opened a second plant in northern Israel.
Of course, this only shows what is possible not what is likely. There are many more cities than kibbutzim. Yet, this type of system may be more common than rich westerners would know.  Some societies in third-world countries operate on a similar level of sharing. For example, a sojourners commune was normal for refugees from Nicaragua:
A couple of us from Sojourners were showing the group around. We introduced them to our tenant organizers, who were helping neighbors in massive tenement buildings join together to hold landlords accountable for fair rents and repairs. We stopped in and picked up a snack at our food co-op. We took our guests into our daycare facility for preschoolers and our neighborhood center, where older children were receiving after-school tutoring and adults computer training. There we talked with the group about the structure of our life: the shared assets, communal living, prayer.
All this was met with complete silence. We got none of the tough questions and challenging arguments we were used to from detractors—or the accolades of admiration and expressions of just-how-impressive-it-all-was that spilled readily out of the mouths of supportive observers. Just polite smiles. Translation was not the problem, as the Spanish interpreter had done a marvelous job of describing it all. The spokesperson for the group thanked us for our time, and they left.
The translator came back around a few days later to explain. “They didn’t understand that this is unusual in North America,” he said. “This is how they live—looking out for one another and each other’s children, sharing their food and everything they have, praying for God’s protection.” Of course.
Ultimately it is your decision what to value. We can talk about what we would naturally do all day but if something is possible for one human to value I believe it is possible for others. (what a libertarian idea) On Robert Nozick, the Standford encyclopedia comments that we don’t actually know what types of communities would suit human beings:
It is inspiring to anyone who appreciates how little each of us knows about what sorts of communities best suit human beings in all their depth and diversity and how much the operation of the framework assists individuals in their discovery of and engagement in communities that enhance their respective well-being.
Joyce Hollyday states that she believes collectivism is even natural for humans:
Now I’m closing in on 60. As I ponder my life, I give thanks for a rich and roundabout journey that has brought me back to community by intention. I share life on a small farm in the mountains of western North Carolina with friends. I co-pastor a faith community that includes additional friends and families that are committed to living justly and in peace. I try to remind myself often that those of us who inhabit industrialized, digitalized, privatized early-21st-century North America are an aberration on our planet and in human history. That we even have to engage in conversations and write articles and organize conferences about how to “do community” speaks of our poverty and our alienation from the way of being human. We have lost sight of the fact that we are designed to live interdependently, caring for one another and sharing all that we have for the sake of the common good.
As it turned out, the visit by the Central Americans was not our last at Sojourners. They soon returned when they discovered the traumas and frights of our competitive and unwelcoming US culture. And as the terror in Central America escalated, Spanish began to be spoken in more and more of the homes in our neighborhood.
I have presented a rough outline of where the left and right may agree and of how human nature is compatible with the communal system. We hope it provokes some thought.

Abraham, River of Faith: Chapter Four, Part Two

Abraham, River of Faith: Chapter four, part two

     So, we have discovered the basic state of play for mankind in the time of Jesus.  It was to this broken, fallen world that He came, draped in human flesh, Emmanuel, God with us.  He ministered to the Hebrews, to the tribes of Abraham, to the Great barge, because only they could
know who He was.  No one else would have understood His miracles, His sermons, His sacrifice.  Having ministered for three years, He established His church, and prepared her to got out into the rest of the world, to make disciples of all men, in preparation for the day when the rivers merge again.

     He explained by parable, that He wanted His hall filled, for the great day of His marriage, and that the disciples were to go and preach, ‘whosoever will’.  From Matthew 22:

Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.’ 10 Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered together all they found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with [e]dinner guests.

     This stands in stark contrast to the first journey on the Euphrates.  The requirements were harsh, terrifying and immutable.  There was no grey area for behavior under the Law.  This seemed like a bum deal to the Hebrews; after all, they bore the Torah through the desert, and suffered greatly for it.  We see the mind of Judah in the parable of the Prodigal: the older brother, the one who remained, was angry that the profligate was received.  And in the parable of the vineyard, those who worked all day were angry that the wage was the same for those who worked an hour.  To be honest, they kind of have a point.

     It seems grossly unfair that the gentiles would be treated as family by El Shaddai.  What was the point of separating out from the nations, if those nations are welcomed in anyway?  I sympathize with the Hebrews in this: like Jonah, I have to call BS on what must be called as such.  The Ninth commandment compels it.  I can understand the older brother: why did he remain and work, if the younger could party and come back like nothing happened?

     Well, as the story goes, the older brother, Judah, did not get shorted after all.  The Father comforts him, and says, clearly in Luke 15

29 But he answered and said to his father, ‘Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never [k]neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends; 30 but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your [l]wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.’ 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you [m]have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.’”

     Yahweh has never left Judah, not even in the worst of times.  He cannot, for Judah is His inheritance.  While the Gentiles were welcomed in, to be loved, restored, and uplifted, he has no portion on the farm.  It is, in fact, Judah’s farm.  Now, please pay close attention to the following words:

     This not about the love of God: this is about the proprietorship of the farm.  Jesus loves all mankind, no exceptions.  He paid for the sins of all people, no exceptions.  He sent His disciples to all the world, no exceptions. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is supernumerary to all barriers, all thoughts, all constructs of matter or will than do or can exist.  There is no power, in hard or limitless reality, that can interpose between the soul reaching to be saved, and mighty hand Yahweh to do so, as he attests in Isaiah 59. 

     That love belongs to all His progeny, no exceptions.  However, the administrative functions of the farm-those are not handed out to the wedding guests.  Those belong to Judah.  This will rankle a few people-and let me state that I am a gentile by birth-but the facts are intransigent.  The older brother has, as his portion, all the Father has.  This is established by the leadership team of the next reality, the final one, immortal, impervious to darkness.  Eternity is going to be run by thirteen Jewish men.  One Messiah, Yeshua, and His twelve friends, the Apostles.

    If you think that is incidental, try this.  Flip a coin thirteen times in a row, and try to get all heads.  Unless you have an Altered Carbon download, you will die of old age before that happens.  A permutation of 2 to the 13th power is pretty huge; it’s a series circuit that fails the first time you flip tails-and that just represents that they are are males.  That they are all Hebrew males-the chance of that event occurring is so  astronomical that I can’t calculate it.  It would be a theta value, which in Trigonometry is a number so small, it can be said to be 0, even though it is not.

     So let’s face the facts: Judah has not been subjected to ‘replacement theology’.  El may add to that number-after all, there were Ger who followed the Law, and were counted as native born, with an inheritance (ezek 47).  But Judah is given reign over the estate.  When all things come to an end, when the Millenium is over, and this world obliterated, the leadership team of New Jerusalem, which has a gate for each Tribe of Israel, will be Hebrews, and those who joined them on the Great Barge. 

     If this chaffs you, please remember that if you attending the wedding of the Lamb, you are not on fire.  That is a benny worth-well, anything.  If you are on fire, that is your job.  Not being on fire is an amazingly  good deal, especially when we earned it.  So, I am alright if I say ‘Sir’ to a Hebrew-considering that I could be saying “AHHHHHHHHH!” as I run around perpetually immolated.  Perspective, at times, is a virtue worth pursuing.

     This segue will lead us right to where Paul discusses the Jew and the Gentile, in Romans 3, where he explains that Hebrews have lost nothing.  Rather, the goyim have gained life, and the love of God, which can be spread around to as many as will receive them.  Now, we have returned to Romans 4 again, where the circumcised and uncircumcised children of Abraham are being brought in their vessels.  We will discuss the Kalak one more time, so that we can envision the day when all the vessels of faith join up in that happy armada, the Marriage of the Lamb.

Abraham, River of Faith: Chapter Four, Part One

So, what then is the purpose of having a Tigris?  El gave a Law to His people, to govern their existence.  Why then does the Tigris branch off at all?  After all, it would seem that He had a plan in place for the superintendence of His people.  But that proved to be the very reason the Tigris run was needed.  There were people living in this world that had grown up under the aegis of inquiry.  These had never heard of the written Torah, and did not know how the universe worked.

The civilized world was built on power, brutality, and avarice, all of which stemmed from one source: the fear of death.  From the mighty to the small, death plagued the soul of fallen men.  It was the spectre on the moors, a dread banshee that could not be repelled.  In fact, the more power and largess an empire acquired, the more the feared death.  The race of power makes one aware of the danger of power; thus, as one gains power, one fears losing it even more.  This was true for civilizations as well as people; the savagery and cruelty needed to make civilization (as Nietzsche detailed in Genealogy of Morals) always leaves a haunting whisper in the mind of the victor, as he surveys the dead he slaughtered to become a king: one day, this will be you.

Death, the constant northern star of fallen man’s literature and art; Death, the motor that drives his quest for first medicine, then immortality; Death, the hand and their throat, waking them in the night, waiting silently just beyond the door, silently, patiently.  Death, the cessation of anima, obsessed fallen man.  Death is the progenitor of all the gifts of civilization, either through the arts, philosophy, medicine and logic, or through mathematics and science, through which power may be gained.  It’s invincibility, omnipresence, and inevitability made it a god to men, literally.  Every ancient pantheistic religion had a god of death, who generally had to be appeased to stave him off.

If you think I am overstating this, pick up some Camus, or give Ingmar Bergman’s Seventh Seal a watch.  For an abridged version of existentialist angst, watch What if Ingmar Bergman directed the Flash? on youtube.

Ultimately, we can go back to the man that the Greeks and Romans revered as the great sage: Homer.  It was he that penned the verse by which all of them lived:

“Any moment might be our last. Everything is more beautiful because we’re doomed. You will never be lovelier than you are now. We will never be here again.”

This diatribe is of overwhelming importance, because you can now see how the minds of men were formed by history.  It was to this verse that Paul referred when he wrote “13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope”.  (1 thess 4).

Now, I must be thorough, which requires a quick statement.  The Greeks were investigating the possibility of the immortality of spirit as early as 400 bc, in what were called the Eleusinian mysteries.  So the idea of escaping Death was not totally unheard of.  These cults were highly guarded and secretive, probably because they were sexual rites.  For the majority of mankind, however, it seemed that life was a cruel joke,  in which Camus said it was absurd to assign meaning.  It is perhaps summed up best by T.S. Elliiot:

“I will show you fear in a handful of dust.”

It was to this world, a world without hope, a world of fear and terror, ruled by empires of fear and terror, that the Great Barge brought the sacred scroll, Torah.  Alexander of Macedon introduced the Hebrews to the world, and they moved to his eponymous city, Alexandria.  There, the Greek would work with them to translate the Torah into the Septuagint work that survives today.  Things were looking good, until the Hebrews revolted against the Seleucid Greeks (Seleucus  being a general of Alexander that inherited part of his master’s empire upon Alexander’s death).  Antiochus IV placed a statue of Zeus in the Temple, prefiguring the Abomination that causes Desolation in the End Times, when the Antichrist sits in the 3rd temple’s holiest seat, and declares himself God.  This led to the Maccabean revolt, which plunged Judea into constant turmoil and violence, until the Diaspora in 70 ad.

It was to Judea that Yeshua ben David, known also as Jesus, came with His ministry.  His work was strictly limited to the people of Israel;  not that He was a racist, but His focus was on the Hebrews, not the Goyim.  This was intended, for the Hebrews were versed in the Torah: they were educated and instructed by the Law, and moreover, knew of the prophesies that accompanied the arrival of the Messiah.  Jesus performed His miracles to show the Hebrews that He was the Anointed One, of whom the prophets had spoken.

In short order, the power elites of Judea worked to kill Jesus.  Like the empires of men, they feared death, and the loss of power.  That should have been the end of it.  But then, the world changed in three days (note: for a Hebrew, three days means “one whole day, with part or all of a day on either side of it’).  The impossible, if the reports of this man Jesus could be believed, had occurred.  Mankind’s ancient enemy, his tormentor, his god-like foe, had been thrown down.  As lunatic as it was fervent, the cries rang through the streets of Jerusalem, tearing down walls between Greek and Jew, and giving mankind the hope that they had never known:

“HE IS ALIVE!”

To the Greek, the Roman, the fallen, this simply could not be.  Death could not be defeated. And yet, here they were, the tribe of Christians (as Josephus called them), willing to face the very power at which all men and empires quailed, to proclaim the name of Jesus to Rome and the rest of the world.  Here, the Tigris Run, the Gospel of the Risen Christ, would burst forth from the water table made flush by the mighty Euphrates, to bring the light of the Torah to all mankind, borne on the modest Kalak that bears the joyous refrain:

He is Alive.