Tag Archives: cross

On not Imagining Redemption

Jacob's Ladder by William Blake, sort of how I try (not) to imagine redemption

Blake, Jacob’s Ladder. Like the redemption you can’t imagine, you can’t see where the ladder is going.

All the “me toos” on Facebook remind me of certain aspects of Judaism I admire and sometimes envy, particularly the willingness to let evil and suffering just be evil and horrible without trying to fit it into a narrative of redemption, or at least not any redemption that one presumes to be able to imagine yet. Because there is nothing good, beautiful, or redemptive about any of this.

It takes a very appealing sort of courage and hope to live with evil that is just evil, and still say baruch atta adonai. I think this is why, for example, there’s never been much enthusiasm for rebuilding the temple, quite apart from the practical difficulties that would attend such a project. Until the Messiah comes, rabbinical Judaism doesn’t presume to know what a redeemed world would look like (and the Messiah could probably rebuild the temple without destroying the dome) [Jewish friends: please feel very welcome to offer correction to this characterization of your religion, should you find it warranted]. Continue reading

Facing the Monster

Emanuel_African_Methodist_Episcopal_(AME)_ChurchI learned of the dreadful massacre at the historic Mother Emanuel AME Church in South Carolina while lying on a sleeping bag on the floor of my empty apartment.  This is the very church of Denmark Vesey (1767-1822), a former slave who bought his freedom.  He attempted to organize what might have become one of the largest slave revolts of the U.S. antebellum era.  Those who recruited black soldiers to serve in the Union Army during the Civil War invoked the name of Denmark Vesey.

Continue reading