On the Mixing of Family with Religious Privilege

I’m going to outline 1 side of an argument here.

Because religion is identity in some cultures, it is invested in and protected.  In order to protect it, some religious institutions maintain a hierarchy where there is increasing investment in order to gain access to the “holiest of holies”.  Why have a family lineage be the protector?  The argument could be made that because family is who one knows best, and who one can trust the most, it might be a safer guardian of a religious institution.

Some thoughts to work on.  What used to be grooming and separation of children for the priesthood from birth has in many religions been transformed into a long seminary with great financial cost to obtain leadership status.  One notes that this also happens in other professions – medical, legal …  The art of healing has long had as a part of its oath (Hippocratic) the family component.

I think in the above argument, it would be important to distinguish between institution and its cultural relevance, and relationship with God.  God can act outside of a religious institution, thereby offering everyone access to God, while at the same time, maintaining the institution, and God’s relationship with the institution as well.  The institution may reflect cultural identity, in addition to relationship with God.  The point of difficulty (often used politically) arises when people confuse worshiping God and worshiping culture.

This week in Torah study, we approached a part of Devarim that has a separation of sites of blessings and curses.  Two different mountains in fact, each equally occupied by 1/2 of the tribes of Israel.  One wonders about the separation of physical space.  Had a splitting of deity occurred – God and devil – along Zoroastrian lines such that offerings were made accordingly?  Almost certainly not (although the separation may in fact historically derive from this).  Instead, one is probably confronting a terror inside that “blessings” could not be distinguished from “curses” unless the physical locations were VERY distinct.  During times of tribal conflict in which each tribe presumed to have its own God or protector, the same difficulty would arise by having people from different tribes occupy the same sacred space.  So, there is a desire to have space where the prayer to God is clear.  So clear in fact, that one people would destroy any remnant of a former occupant’s religious sites, rather than resanctify them for their own purpose.  In a more modern monotheistic conception of God, these questions about physical space and access would need to be logically reassessed.

A little quiz on Deuteronomy (I worked my way up to 100% on the 2nd try).  The name of the chapter is Greek, i.e. not the original Hebrew name “Devarim” or “Words”, and means 2nd law in Greek.  It derives from a mistranslation of Dt 17:18 in Septuagint Greek where the actual Hebrew might be more accurately translated “He shall write himself the law before”, referring to the future king’s obligation to make a copy of the Torah.  The word Torah is singular.

Deuteronomy is a retelling of Exodus.  Although attributed to Moses, it is legitimate to wonder whether the book is not itself one of a king’s copies, consolidated to the other 4 books of the Torah.

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