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Reinventing Abraham: Organized Religion And The Crisis

Politics / Religion Jan 28, 2013 - 06:51 PM GMT

By: Andrew_McKillop

Politics

TOLERANCE AND UNDERSTANDING
We like to imagine that mutual understanding promotes tolerance. But the modern communication saturated 'global village' enables us to better hate people because we understand them all too well.
To be sure, religion is a major vector or enabler of organized hate and most starkly concerns adepts and fanatics of the so-called "Three Religions of the Book": because their numbers are well over 2 billion persons worldwide, this has "a certain significance".


Martin Luther’s exhaustive study of rabbinic commentaries as well as Hebrew scripture in no way prevented him from ordering his followers to destroy every single Jewish home along with every synagogue. The Edict of Nantes, in France, of 1598 granted Huguenot protestant Christians the right to practice their religion "without overt persecution" from the Catholic dominated state. Though Protestants had already lost their previous right to places of 'safe refuge' under Richelieu, they continued to live in comparative security. The keywords are "comparative security".  The 1685 Edict of Fontainebleau, issued by Louis XIV, revoked the Edict of Nantes and ordered the destruction of all Huguenot churches and Protestant schools. The number of dead and refugee numbers fleeing France, from 1681 with the creation of Dragonnade Catholic terror squads, is controversial but historians estimate there were up to 200 000 dead and 900 000 refugees fleeing France, due to this "understand your neighbour", that is hate your enemy process, through 20 years. Corrected for population, this would need at least 500 000 dead and 2 million refugees, today.

Adolf Eichmann, as a student, engaged studies of Hebrew with a Berlin rabbi, the better to understand the people he later planned to exterminate. Those Sunni Muslims believing in the 3 Holy Imams, not the 12 Imams of some Shi'a, include persons who will treat it as a personal duty to assassinate believers in Muḥammad ibn al-Ḥasan al-Mahdī, the imam that "Twelver Shī‘a" Muslims believe to be the Mahdī, the ultimate savior of humankind.

For some scholars, this problem started with Abraham.

Jon Levenson, the Albert A. List Professor of the Bible at Harvard’s Divinity School, in his book "Inheriting Abraham", rejects any idea that the Three Religions of the Book can be anything but competitive and exclusive, and can be violently so. They all use Abraham, to be sure, but the term “Abrahamic religions” is an error. On the contrary, Levinson says, the founders of both Christianity and Islam well understood Abraham’s role in Judaism. St. Paul’s transformation of Abraham into the father of "all who believe", and the Koran’s recasting of Abraham as a Muslim prophet who "announced Mohamed" both specifically reinvented Abraham to serve their own doctrinal purposes.

DIVIDE AND RULE
Levinson in fact goes further, like several historians and religious historians of recent modern history, examining the interplay of attempted "homogenization" of religious belief through concepts such as "Abrahamic religions", and economic crisis, the rise of nazism, fascism and totalitarianism during the 1930s Great Depression, and the probably certain role of institutional religion in coming civil and international conflict. What we find is that organized religion has an especially dangerous potential for massively increasing conflict, both within and between its 3 main "formats" of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and between organized religion and secular society.

Until World War I the main enemy of the Catholic church was the combination of democracy and secularism or the separation of the state and religion. From his first days in power in 1922, Pope Pius XI  set out to destroy the atheist state in the Soviet Union and prevent atheism, communism or even socialism and democracy spreading to other nations. As we know, his enthusiasm for his self assigned task led him to give open and strong support to Hitler. The preferred model of the Catholic power elite was monarchic, aristocratic, or even patriarchic, the rule by ancestors whether real, dead or mythical. Organized religion, as shown in the straight majority of Muslim-dominant countries "works better without democracy". Opponents of a corrupt and incompetent unelected government can be labelled "impious" or even satanic.

The triumph of the Leninist version of Marxism in the Russian revolution brought a new enemy of the Church to the forefront, but many historians agree that especially Marxism has strong elements of Christian or monotheistic religious values within it, for example the ideal of "one community beneath God", with God simply replaced by the State. Today, the State in almost any "mature democracy" actively seeks the support of organizedd religion, to more effectively divide and rule, to separate believers in the supposed No Alternative of crony capitalist "free market capitalism", from persons who do not believe in this failed model.

The attempt by government-friendly "oecumenical leaders" to create a paternal image of Abraham as a "unifying figure" who transcends the differences among Christians, Jews, and Muslims, and unites all 3 religions for the benefit of society - at least for the benefit of iPhone sales and to speed the growth of outplacement - is now a massively dominant project in the institutionalized religions serving the crony capitalist State. This project is at all times backed up in the government-friendly media.

We can easily suspect if this project has any shred of reality, and whether it can seriously backfire.

Whenever unemployment moves up another notch, or race-based, or religion-based street fighting occurs, leaders from all 3 major institutionalized religions will be there in the TV studio with their paymasters, the politicians who destroy the economy, our wealth, and our future with their degenerate crony capitalism. At the touch of the talk button, the authorized and instituionalized religious leaders will faultlessly gurgle the media-friendly fairy story that "the three Abrahamic religions” are united in their role of transmitting God's message to both taxpayers and the unemployeds. The storyline is that: "Abraham belongs to all of humanity and God cares for all his children".

Why should Abraham belong to all of humanity? For Jews and Christians, the answer lies in paternity and the strange logic of covenant: Abraham is the father of God’s people, through his later murdered son, Isaac, in Judaism. For Christians, Abraham was a mentor and supporter of the faith of those who belief in Jesus’ resurrection. More exotic and illogical: Abraham as presented in Genesis of the Christian Bible, never preached monotheism. The Abraham who smashed the idols in his father’s workshop first appears in Second Temple Judaic sources, and is further and radically "thought changed" as the Abraham of the Koran: in this book, he is the prophet of monotheism who prefigures Mohamed.

Abraham’s definitive act for Christians and Jews was his obeyance of God’s command to kill his son Isaac, but for Muslims this is at most a side issue, because their Mohamed is already announced or prefigured by Abraham. This is already a massively divisive ideological split, although little appreciated by many, and deliberately papered over by the beaming-but-serious religious patriarchs in the twinkling TV studios. As Levenson says in his writings, the binding and then murder of Isaac is translated and interpreted by Jews and Christians through rituals including circumcision, the redemption of the firstborn, and above all through animal and other sacrificial service, and food rituals. Especially for Jews but found in all 3 religions of the book, the replacement for sacrifice of the sheep and the ram, in place of Isaac, is closely linked with mystical concepts of sheep's blood or other animals' blood being able to keep out the Angel of Death.
http://carm.org/bible-difficulties/genesis-deuteronomy/why-did-god-tell-abraham-kill-his-son-isaac

ABANDON ADAM
Sacrifice is God’s gift of love, the means by which death is displaced or pushed away from murdered Isaac and by extension from the whole family of Abraham. Christianity transmutes these themes of love and sacrifice: In place of the near-sacrifice of Isaac, who is bound for death but miraculously spared, Jesus dies and is resurrected. Death-in-life.

Paul takes this challenge a step further, Levenson continues. The commonplace notion that Paul wanted to extend the Covenant of Israel to all peoples is entirely wrong: “For Paul, the Gentile Christians abandoned the Adamic identity for the Abrahamic". Adamic identity, we can note, is embedded in all 3 religions of the book, but in massively different and totally divisive ways.

All of the organized religions, especially from about 1000 AD onward, in their periodic and constant rewriting of their Holy Books, target the creation of universal identity linked with the sin-infected human essence, where abandonment of this sinful human identity is by way of adopting one of the 3 religions, and one of their internal formats, for example Protestant or Catholic, Shia or Sunni. Adamic identity insofar as it is permitted, especially for Christians concerns a status of "Pagans-in-Christ". This pagan or polytheistic underlay, which exists in all 3 of the religions can be presented as unifying rather than divisive, but for many scholars it is another and dangerous lever for the destruction of civil society and its replacement by a religious totalitarian state.

For the late-stage globalizing economy based on crony capitalism and the rule of greed-and-fear, the temptation of a massive social and ideological shift - towards religious totalitarianism - most certainly exists, as shown by the sequels of Arab Spring. What western media calls "Islamic fundamentalism" merely shows that society, confronted with a choice between crony capitalism and its massive social injustice, and traditional religious doctrine, can easily take the religious product with all that this choice implies for potential and further conflict.

By Andrew McKillop

Contact: xtran9@gmail.com

Former chief policy analyst, Division A Policy, DG XVII Energy, European Commission. Andrew McKillop Biographic Highlights

Co-author 'The Doomsday Machine', Palgrave Macmillan USA, 2012

Andrew McKillop has more than 30 years experience in the energy, economic and finance domains. Trained at London UK’s University College, he has had specially long experience of energy policy, project administration and the development and financing of alternate energy. This included his role of in-house Expert on Policy and Programming at the DG XVII-Energy of the European Commission, Director of Information of the OAPEC technology transfer subsidiary, AREC and researcher for UN agencies including the ILO.

© 2013 Copyright Andrew McKillop - All Rights Reserved Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisor.

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