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The Gifts of the Jews PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Fones   
Monday, 09 November 2009 07:14
I'm perusing an interesting, quick read by Thomas Cahill, author of "How the Irish Saved Civilization," called, "The Gifts of the Jews." In it, the author describes how our very notion of human individuality and even history itself, is a consequence of God reaching out to Abraham and initiating a relationship. Remnants of the pre-Abraham understanding of life as a series of repeating, unending cycles still exist - the traditional Buddhist and Hindu worldviews, for example - and we westerners really don't appreciate how novel and contrary to the evidence of nature, with its cycle of seasons, stars, menstruation, birth and death - is the idea of individuality, life as a journey, and history.

As I'm reading it, I'm conscious of the ongoing temptation to repeat the Fall in my own life; to try to "become like a god," and manage the events of life. I'm also aware of how easily our approach to faith and God can become transactional: if I do this, then You will, necessarily, do that. Whether it's becoming obsessed with liturgy done "just so", prayers said a certain way, or simply becoming immersed in doing things my way and trying to ignore the fact that my existence is utterly unnecessary and laughably insignificant on its own, we tend to try to avoid the wildness and incomprehensibility of God. Even when we can see the "reasonableness" of God's actions, it's invariably in hindsight.

Two hugely important lessons of God's self-revelation to us - ones we have to learn over and over again - is that with God anything and everything is possible, and that we cannot ever presume to know His mind unless it is revealed to us - and even then, it's tough to understand (as the number of Christian denominations indicate), much less believe.

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