Self-glorifying systems

What’s in your heart?

Someone who means to scam you is likely to complicate her or his story no end, to the end of first making it apparently more believable — Certainly only some singularly exceptional collection of circumstances could have put this person in need of your money. — or simply go on and on until you lose patience and give him or her cash just to get rid of the person.

I met this individual several times in the pre-dawn hours, near Northeast Market, on my walk from the shelter to church.  He apparently did not recall any of our previous encounters.  Part of his story was the same every time:

He’d caught this man raping his daughter, killed the guy, and served 17 years for the murder.

I never figured out what that had to do with his needing money from me now.

Related:  The Omen

Some religious systems do the same thing, to the end of seeking to make themselves grander, quite possibly more true and more factual, by sheer virtue of their complexity.  I don’t buy it.

At Messiah Truth some time ago, one poster mentioned that an acquaintance had become unhappy with certain features of traditional Christianity.  Another poster cheered that development, and proceeded to lay down certain principles that (he said) should guide that person’s path away from traditional Christianity.

They were pretty arcane.

I responded: “My congregation includes a substantial number of developmentally disabled people.  I have to keep reminding myself that whatever is essential for human beings to understand and believe, must be comprehensible to THEM.”

What’s in your heart?

Lutheran “orthodoxy” is a dogmatic theological movement within Lutheranism that has held tremendous political power at different times and places.  It preoccupies itself with knowing, in effect, all the right answers to all the right questions; and that leads to more and more complicated and abstract systems of ideas every step of the way.  Mastery of the whole seems finally to take an almost superhuman mind.  What you do, what you feel, don’t matter much; what you think is all that matters.

An example of a wrong question is synergism; whereas the Eastern Orthodox church accepts it, in the view of Western dogmatists, the question itself is wrong.

Related: Rationalism cannot save us

Talmud.  I say these things at the risk of misrepresenting what I presume to have learned from Orthodox Jews.  That said, Orthodox Judaism holds that, in Torah, God gave Jews 613 commandments; Talmud, the “oral Torah,” is an exposition of how they are to be observed.  It presumably was given to Moses orally at Sinai, along with the “written Torah” that’s included in the Bible.  It is vast, much vaster than the Bible: at the customary rate of studying one page per day, its study takes 7½ years.

As an example of how complex it gets, it’s not enough just to refrain from work on Sabbath; there are 39 specifically prohibited activities, including “plucking” (Matthew 12:1) and “carrying,” or transferring an object from one “domain” to another.  Just as to the latter, a famous question pertains to the “Law of Fours.”  On a Sabbath, a master sits inside his home, beside a window; and a servant stands outside the window.  An object is somehow transferred from one to the other.  It is held to be important to know, depending on just by whom the object is moved, and how: who sinned?  The master alone, the servant alone, both of them, or neither?

Let me propose a completely different question:

What’s in your heart?

I pass over, for now, similar available discussions of Hinduism, Buddhism, Qabala and Theosophy.

Judaism also tells me that God — Ein Sof — is “completely simple,” an unimaginable state, void of emotions, void of attributes.  Whether or not that’s so, I am convinced that Truth, whatever is the plan of salvation, must likewise be





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