The election of Obama and the cause of justice

I recently came across a blog post that succinctly expresses the feelings that I’ve been hearing a lot in Catholic circles: Obama: A Deadly Irony

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A Protestant video on Catholicism

The following is a video produced by a Lutheran denomination giving a basic introduction to the Catholic Church.

Armed

I like Devon Gundry’s song and video very much. I love Mr. Gundry’s voice, and Justin Baldoni’s directing and all the actors are fantastic. I agree with all the Baha’is out there who have heaped praise on the video. The first time I watched it, though, something seemed off, and I couldn’t put my finger on it. I’ve been thinking about it, but I’d like to get some feedback.

Why is so much stress put on the religious affiliation of the characters? This isn’t just an old couple, this is a Jewish old couple. And the Jewishness is important. Same with the military wife’s Christianness and the homeless man’s Muslimness. It’s as if the director is saying, “Hey, look! She’s a Christian! He’s a Muslim!” The video doesn’t just portray people experiencing grief and pain. The video portrays a Jew, a Christian and a Muslim experiencing grief and pain. Why? And then why do they all recite Baha’u’llah’s words?

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There are two new tabs at the top of the blog. Q & A is for suggesting post topics or asking questions. The guestbook is for comments.

The “spiritual” meaning of bread, part 2

In the thread under The “spiritual” meaning of bread, Lukas has been arguing that “bread” in the scriptures means “teachings”.

Lukas brought up the following verse from Deuteronomy, where Moses is speaking to the people of Israel:

He humbled you by letting you hunger, then by feeding you with manna, with which neither you nor your ancestors were acquainted, in order to make you understand that one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. (Deuteronomy 8:3)

Commenting on this verse, Lukas wrote:

how exactly is this verse NOT comparing bread to the words of God? I mean, how would letting people hunger, then feeding them manna, be an effective way of teaching them that they live not just by bread but by the words of God UNLESS manna and the words of God are (at least on one level) the same thing? That connection between manna and God’s words is the critical connection to make here.

Let’s be clear that I agree that we can make a connection between manna (or bread) and the words of God. I disagree about what kind of connection we can make.

When the Israelites were in the desert, God did several wonderful things for them. For example, Moses struck a rock and water gushed out, and God caused manna and quails to appear in the camp for the Israelites to gather. All of these should have been lessons for the Israelites that ultimately their life is in God, and obeying God brings life.

Take the instance of Moses drawing water from the rock (Exodus 17, and I think there’s another incident in Numbers but I don’t have time to look for it). Christians associate water with life, and therefore with Christ. Many of the references to water in the Old Testament are believed to prefigure baptism, for example, which joins us to Christ. And since the commandments of God also bring life, it would not be far-fetched to associate water with the commandments. It would be far-fetched, though, to say that when the Bible mentions water, it MEANS the commandments. Water is still water.

Likewise with bread. Bread sustains life, so naturally it is associated with Christ. For most Christians the association is very strong because in the Eucharist bread and wine literally become the body and blood of Christ. And the manna in the desert, we believe, prefigures the Eucharist.

But all of those meanings do not coexist in the same verse at the same time. In the instance of Deuteronomy 8:3, manna serves as an object lesson: you were hungry and God fed you, so it isn’t just bread that sustains you, but also God’s command.

If you use “bread” as a code word for “teachings”, then the lesson of Deuteronomy becomes nonsensical:

He humbled you by letting you hunger, then by feeding you with teachings, with which neither you nor your ancestors were acquainted, in order to make you understand that one does not live by teachings alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

In order for the verse to make sense, then bread cannot always mean the same thing as teachings.

Once again, Lukas is displaying the Baha’i tendency to consider teachings, and the written or oral texts that convey those teachings, as the baseline of a religion. Maybe the Baha’is are right, maybe they’re wrong. My point is that there is nothing natural about this assumption. It is not, despite what several Baha’is have said here, the obvious or natural reading of the Bible.

In Christianity, the baseline of our faith is the person of Christ, not his teachings. His teachings point us toward Christ and make us like him, but always it is Christ at the center.

Observe how Lukas and I interpret the use of bread in the Bible. Lukas instinctively associates bread with God’s teachings, and I instinctively associate bread with Christ’s person.