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Easter celebrations 2: a new-ish perspective from Judaism?

Monday, April 21st, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron -- Seder and Supper, Resurrection and Easter? ]
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There has been a long dispute as to whether the Last Supper, at which Christ inaugurated the Eucharist, was a Passover seder or not.

The Gospel of John, 19.14, says that Jesus was taken before Pilate, tried and presumably cricified on the day of “the preparation of the passover” – whereas the three other (“synoptic”) gospels suggest the Last Supper was held on “the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb.” There’s immense poetry in the notion of Christ as the “Psachal Lamb” or “Lamb of God” — and the Lutheran theologian Joachim Jeremias‘ great work, The Eucharistic Words of Jesus, which came out while I was studying Theology at Oxford, makes a powerful case for the Supper as Seder view.

But what of Easter?

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And on the third day, he rose again:

Whereas Muslims tend to deny that the crucifixion took place — see Tim Furnish‘s fascinating blog post today about the Ismaili exception to this general rule — Judaism has until recently accepted that Christ may have died as described in the gospels, but asserted that the Easter resurrection concept was foreign to Judaic thinking.

There’s now at least one scholarly voice, and one piece of evidence, that suggests this may not be the case.

The burning question, apparently, is whether line 80 of this recently discovered “stone Dead Sea Scroll” known as the Gabriel Stone reads “making the dead live after three days” or “in three days the sign will be (given)”.

I am fascinated, but by no means scholar enough to debate the question. For more on the topic, see this 2008 New York Times piece. I have not been following the debate as it has unfolded, and am behind the curve on this one — so if anyone has a pointer to more recent scholarly resources, I’d appreciate an update.

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Mantegna, the Risen Christ:

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Marx repeats itself

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron -- an irresistible application of the DoubleQuotes method to a well-worn aphorism ]
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History repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farceKarl Marx, Eighteenth Brumaire.

Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remediesGroucho

With appreciation of the wit and skill of artist David Levine and the New York Review of Books

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Religion — or simple decency?

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron -- baruch hashem, exomologoumai soi, alhamdulillah ]
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In the upper panel, Rev. David Buck, an Episcopal priest, sits on the bench outside his church in Davidson, NC, that’s part of sculptor Timothy Schmalz‘s bronze piece, Homeless Jesus that he’s bought and installed there:

The Christ figure is shrouded in a blanket the only indication that it is Jesus is the visible wounds on the feet.

In the lower panel, we see Fatima Qassem, age 6, another victim of the warfare in Aleppo, who was wounded by machine-gun fire in both knees. As the AP report puts it:

Two months into the battle for Syria’s largest city, civilians are still bearing the brunt of the daily assaults of helicopter gunships, roaring jets and troops fighting in the streets.

Fatima’s doctor, Dr. Osman al-Haj Osman, works twenty-hour days, and is reported as saying:

My life is just the wounded and the dead.

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I composed this post yesterday from two images I ran across, each of them showing a different figure in roughly the same pose. The similarities between them once again raised the question in my mind whether religion is no more than the shell of a nut whose kernel is loving-kindness, or whether it is more — the very tree itself perhaps?

For myself I tend to think that while loving-kindness may be the essence, religion continues to bring us a wealth of tradition and imagery from which to draw inspiration:

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

As one who is a wayfarer at heart, and who has been received with hospitality in many traditions, those words from Isaiah are waybread indeed.

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Sources:

  • Statue Of A Homeless Jesus Startles A Wealthy Community
  • Wounded flood hospitals in Syria’s largest city
  • Both articles are worth reading in full.

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    In my own view, the “proof text” Rev. Buck quoted in the article, Matthew 25.40, is of critical importance not because of the ontological status of the person who spoke it, nor because it was included in a canonical collection of sayings by and about him that was gathered and officially sanctioned in the centuries following his death, nor indeed with regard only to an “actual homeless person” in a single neighborhood in North Carolina — but because it rings high and true, semper et ubique:

    Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

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    Of dualities, contradictions and the nonduality, yet more

    Monday, April 7th, 2014

    [ by Charles Cameron -- like a fox in the hen-house, artist Miriam Elia among the Penguins ]
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    Simply this:

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    You may recall my interest in the matter of non-duality, which runs all the way from the lofty theological abstraction of Nicholas of Cusa in his Of the Vision of God:

    I have learned that the place wherein Thou art found unveiled is girt round with the coincidence of contradictories, and this is the wall of Paradise wherein Thou dost abide…

    to a practical if unexpected means of obtaining ceasefires in “gun battles between police and gangsters”…

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    The unfortunate rabbit in the illustration atop this page has been cut in half. By a taxidermist who fancies himself a post-modernist, perhaps?

    The image comes from a book by artist Miriam Elia, brilliantly lampooning the contemporary art scene in the pages of a clearly satirical imitation children’s book in the Penguin Ladybird Books series. Penguin is flapping its legal wings, and wants any remaining copies of the book destroyed once the artist has recouped her costs.

  • Read the story at Hyperallergic
  • Read the story at the Independent
  • Read the story at the Guardian

  • Buy your own signed copy, quick, on eBay
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    Okay, as usual, the affair is subtler than our knee-jerk reactions might suggest, and while Penguin comes off a little flat-footed, it is in fact in reasonably courteous discussions with the artist by her own account, and perhaps something good will come out of the kerfuffle. Censorship has a habit of biting back.

    It’s the dual rabbit that concerns me, though. Can it be happy, sliced and spaced like that? IMO, the whole page is a brilliant visual koan.

    Run, Rabbit, run!

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    Sunday surprise #20: when mirrors breathe

    Sunday, March 30th, 2014

    [ by Charles Cameron -- my sunday surprise series is where i offer my own variant on cute cat pictures and quotes by einstein attributed to gandhi ]
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    Look!

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    Here for your consideration is a video of a box of mirrors that lives and breathes, believe it or not, on an iron lung:

    There are so many things going on in this video to delight me, I hardly know where to begin:

  • mirrors, hence symmetry…
  • mirrors mirroring mirrors, hence recursion…
  • distorting mirrors, hence carnival…
  • diffraction, hence moire effects, or the universe as silk…
  • prismatics, hence the many in the one in the many…
  • diastole / systole, hence the universal tide
  • the inanimate animate, hence the hard question in consciousness — aka “does spirit matter?” and “is matter spirit?”
  • breath, hence life itself
  • We could talk about any or all of these…

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    Source:

  • N-Light Membrane
  • Artists:

  • The Numen Group
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