Starting all over – the Year of the Jubilee

May 21, 2006

Original Post Date:  5/21/2006

According to Hebrew law, every 50 years all transactions involving the sale of land get wiped out.  Null and void.  Kaput.  Blam.  Kaboom.

Oh – you bought that land last year?  Well, its mine again now.

I suppose it wasn't really that unfair– the price was adjusted for the remaining number of years until Jubilee, the way I understand it.

The intent of this law was to make sure things didn't get out of whack.  To ensure nobody got too powerful, too wealthy, that nothing that shouldn't become too entrenched would get too entrenched.

I was thinking tonight about how the "New-Agers" (as somebody called me on a blog today) get called "reappraisers" or "revisionists".  In my mind, we are just being true to the Gospel as it happened historically.  Was Jesus divine?  Dunno.  I don't think he knew either.  I don't really think it matters, and I still call myself a Christian.  Go put that in your pipe and smoke it.

But back to the Jubilee…  I was wondering– we have all this "stuff" that gets built up over time.  People go away and start thinking (see my previous post) about God.  They bring to the discussion all their baggage- let's even say their sins.  And that "stuff" gets incorporated into tradition.  Now we've got 2000 years of "stuff" in Christianity, more if you count our Judeo-Christian tradition.

What if we could just have a "Jubilee" year every so often, when we just "dumped" everything back to some "original setting", making sure that whatever had built up that was not supposed to be was put back to rights?  We could just have a "do-over."  Don't you wonder how the next generation would handle it?  Would there be another Inquisition?  Another Crusade?  Would they learn from our mistakes?  Or would they, because we aren't perfect, make the same mistakes– the same power grabs, retain the same fearfulness, be unable to trust and love– the same way our tradition has grown in its worst times?

What would be the base of this tradition?  The Bible?  The Bible itself wasn't canonized until 300 years after Christ.  The canonization was a political process.  All non-canonical books were destroyed to ensure that we couldn't have any "do-overs."  Only a very few copies have survived, and we are just now discovering some of those.

Would we still have fundamentalist Christians at the base of Christianity?  Or would the base be "New Agers"?  Maybe the base would be sandal-wearing hippies?

I don't know.  Maybe it doesn't matter.  I believe tradition is important, in the end.  It does serve a purpose of connecting us all together in the human family, and that brings us closer together and closer to God.  But I also wonder if there might not just be a place for a "religion Jubilee" every now and then to remind us that it isn't the tradition that we worship, nor the theology, nor anything other than the Creator behind it all.  I suppose in the end, the Sustainer which moves all of us forward in our journeys together and separately is working to ensure that Jubilee happens when it needs to.  It may not happen when I want it.  It may happen slower than I'd like.  But I can see it.  And that is comforting.

So maybe we don't need a human-instituted Jubilee after all.  Maybe all we need is patience, hope, and trust.  Watching the Holy Spirit work can be time-consuming work!


One Response to “Starting all over – the Year of the Jubilee”

  1. Jeff Says:

    Comments converted from old blog:

    Comments(11 total) Post a Comment David T
    Offline IM
    I was raised Orthodox Jewish, and then was an apatheist for 20 years before I found Christ. Fundamentalist Christians, I find, are so fixated on throwing out the entire Hebrew Testament that they never stop and consider what in there is worth saving. Prohibiting usury. Not speaking evil of others. Social safety nets.

    I’m not saying any of us have to become Jewish to be good Christian, but it’s way past time to revisit our Jewish roots. Some commentators think Jesus himself might have been a Pharisee; certainly he was Jewish, and especially in Matthew I can detect the Jewish ethical way of thinking that has almost been obliterated with the sola gratias and sola fideles.

    I like the idea of a doctrinal Jubilee. In effect, isn’t that what we Anglicans do when we revise our BCP? Our theology IS what we pray in the Daily Offices and the Eucharist, and it is constantly changing and growing to meet what Christ wants us to be as a body corporate.

    Monday May 22, 2006 – 04:43pm (EDT) Remove Comment
    Offline IM
    Yes – I think it is. AND – what happens when we revise the BCP? We’ve still got people going round with the “save the 1928 bcp” bumper stickers on their cars…


    Monday May 22, 2006 – 02:21pm (PDT) Remove Comment
    David T
    Offline IM
    And I just don’t get that. I mean, why 1928? If you’re really going to be traditional, why not 1789? Or 1549? I really want to know their justification for that because… bizarre.

    Monday May 22, 2006 – 06:16pm (EDT) Remove Comment
    Paul L
    Offline Jeff, I just wandered over here from titusonenine, where you took some unfair criticism, then took your leave. At your invitation, I dropped by for a visit. Unfortunately, this post and the subsequent comments were my first experience, and they don’t seem as welcoming as I had hoped. Superficial and dismissive comments about those with more conventional beliefs?

    I’m not a 1928-er, but does it seem possible that maybe its advocates aren’t simply being nostalgic or “traditional” for its own sake? Agree or not, they have plainly made their cases that they are opposed to the 79 BCP because of what they see as theological errors, not just because it’s new. (David T, if you “really want to know their justification”, plug “Peter Toon” or “Prayer Book Society” into a search engine.)

    You’ve also grossly oversimplified the development of the canon, and seem to infer that what we now have is therefore suspect (pardon me if I’m reading too much into it.)

    It does make me wonder whether you offer the level of discourse that you find lacking at titusonenine.

    Monday May 22, 2006 – 11:51pm (EDT) Remove Comment
    Offline IM
    Hi Paul, and thanks for taking the time to come by. I know posting here isn’t the easiest thing to do with the registration requirements.

    I’m sorry you have the opinion you do.

    Don’t forget to read the last two paragraphs of this posting– the conclusion. AND… I think that the point I make is that change is good. The folks who hang on to the old are being true to the gospel as it has been distorted by tradition, not the Gospel as it was originally revealed.

    I do think there is a big difference between the comments here and being accused of “sexism” on T19 simply because I am gay. That comment was, quite simply, ridiculous. The comments here post a point of view, and I don’t think they demonize any one particular person, while at T19 it was clear to me that the objective of many commentators was to see who could be the quickest to cast down any thoughts disagreeing with the point of view expressed there. That’s not what I am accustomed to, nor do I think is what Christ intended.

    Tuesday May 23, 2006 – 07:39am (PDT) Remove Comment
    Laura G
    Offline Ah…I finally figured it out! yeah! :o) So you can disregard my email question to you, Jeff. First I have to say that we have debated a few times on SR’s blog, and I read your comments on T19 as well. You always do a great job with respect towards others, as many on both blogs sometimes find it difficult to do. As issues get closer to the heart of the matter, they often get heated.
    I am going to take issue with your comment regarding the possibility of Jesus not being sure that he was divine. I think that he made himself extremely clear about where he came from, and who he was…completely divine and one with the Divine Father. To be honest, that is why I have always had difficulty with the arguement that Jesus was a good man and a prophet, but not the Son of God. He either was, or he was an extreme liar…which would not make him good at all. It is an either/or. That he is divine IS the base of Christianity. If that is gone, there is no Saving Message. Just a bunch of people trying to feel good and do the best they can.

    I agree with David T, also…there are so many great things we can learn from our Jewish heritage. (a great book to read on that is called “The Mudhouse Sabbath” by Lauren Winners) Christ didn’t come to abolish the Law. And the Pharisees have gotten a bad rap in church history. We would all probably like to emulate the Pharisees in many aspects of their lives. Paul was one, and God needed him to be in order to acomplish the plan He had for his life. The problem is that they (pharisees)were so caught up in “DOING” their religion, that they missed out on the “BEING” part of it… and they missed out on the Messiah. What they did was important, but it wasn’t everything. That is the message we should take away from them. Both are important to being Christians.

    Tuesday May 23, 2006 – 10:23pm (EDT) Remove Comment
    C W
    Offline Hey Jeff, great article and the idea is good. Getting reconnected to our Jewish brothers and sisters is an excellent idea that is alive and well at my parish in southern Oregon. We partner with a Jewish Reformed congregation, share preachers and will go to the Holy Land next summer together. We have and continue to learn much from one another. I may be progressive but I do believe that Christ was and is divine, the Son of God. I respect your view, Jeff, however and that is fine with me. The point is that God knows our hearts and that is what is most important. Blessings to you as you pursue your future according to His will! Catherine+

    Tuesday May 23, 2006 – 10:36pm (PDT) Remove Comment
    Offline IM
    I actually don’t think the divinity of Christ is the relevant point (I alternate between Christ as divine and Christ as the “historical Jesus), although I understand that is one of the most progressive viewpoints.

    For me the much more interesting question is: given Christ’s message, what are you going to do differently with your life tommorow? How are you going to follow Christ?

    Noting that the divinity of Christ did not get settled as a matter of church canon until around 300 years after his death, and that most Biblical scholars agree that Mark was the first Gospel written, it was written after his death, and the author of Mark nowhere has Jesus claiming to be the Messiah, I still think our focus has been too much on Christs death and not enough on Christs LIFE.

    I don’t suggest changing the canons on this. Whatever happened that day 2000 years ago, it was mystical. I just don’t know the technical details of how God accomplished it.

    Wednesday May 24, 2006 – 07:00am (PDT) Remove Comment
    Laura G
    Offline If Christ is not divine, why do we worship him more than Mohammad, or Moses, or Mother Teresa, or Ghandi, or George Washington, to Martin Luther King, Jr., or…the list could go on. Do you see this probably is the real point. Christ’s life means nothing more than anyone elses taken seperately from his divinity and death. He is just a good, knowledgeable Jewish man who challenged people to be better, if he is not the Son of God…if he who was Perfect did not die on the cross for us that are not AND resurrect on the 3rd day. He was the fulfillment of the prophets…He was and is the Massiah. We can’t ever lose sight of that. That is the core, as you mentioned in your article, and that is what is getting clouded over and missed.
    Jeff- I really like you alot, and enjoy debating with you. You seem very knowledgable, and make good points. You are willing to discuss and attempt to answer the tough questions acording to your beliefs, unlike many with whom I have debated who just side step and name-call. I respect that you are not ashamed about your stand; you are willing to stand up for what you believe. Regardless of whether we agree or disagree, I will always hold repect for those who do not attempt to hide from what they feel. That to e is where my frustration with ECUSA lies. They want it both wasys, as as they are seeing, it isn’t working. They need to decide what the are going to teach and preach, and then do it. But to be honest with you, my heart breaks if you really are ok( and/or truely believe) with even the mention of the fact that Christ may not be the Risen, Divine Son of God. This is what ECUSA will have to answer for at the final judgement. Allowing their flock to stray- no, actually leading them, so far from the truth.

    This was written out of love and compassion, not out of anger. I pray it comes across in that way. (Sometimes it’s hard to tell when you’re the one that agrees with what you’ve just written! :o) )

    Wednesday May 24, 2006 – 02:22pm (EDT) Remove Comment
    Offline IM
    Thanks Laura.

    AND… I believe Christ is the Risen Son of God. But I believe he was human. I think there are places in the Gospel where Jesus made some mistakes. And if he was truly divine, he shouldn’t have made any mistakes.

    Take for example, the place where the gentile women wanted healining and he compared her to a “dog”. That is not the action of the divine, inclusive God. He said at that point he only came for the Jews. I don’t think he knew all the answers. If he was divine, he would have had all the answers. But he listened to her, learned from her, healed her anyway, and went on his way. That’s something that is very human. It is being human when humans are at our best. And that is what I think Christ was.

    I don’t think that undervalues the resurrection, the crucification, or the trinity. I think it reinforces their value.


    Thursday May 25, 2006 – 06:47am (PDT) Remove Comment
    Offline IM
    One more quick thing:

    I don’t advocate a position where the ECUSA or any other Christian church would adopt an official stance on “de-divining” Jesus. I think, rather, it is like the bread and the wine made holy. Some people think they turn into the actual body and blood, some don’t. We don’t take a position because we just know something magical happens. It is up to each person to decide what they believe. And even if we leave things as having Jesus be “divine” I’m fine with that. I understand as I said earlier that this is a REALLY progressive position, and an emotional one for many people.

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