Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Crossroads with Abraham

We stand at a crossroads, some four thousand years from the day a man named Abraham gave up everything to follow a nameless god.

We don't know the exact date, of course. We don't even know if the story is true. Abraham isn't recorded by any other historian and he left no artifacts.

What we do know, is that this story, this tradition spawned three of the greatest cultures yet known to man: the Jews, the Gentile Christians, and the Muslims.

At this crossroads, many of us blindly reach back into the past in an attempt to refute the present, but many others question whether the tradition is even worth keeping any longer--if any faith is worth keeping any longer.

I propose a third path, one which preserves the wisdom of our ancestors, but recognizes their humanity and imperfection. A path which incorporates and embraces science and history and new learning--even when it conflicts with the ancient texts. God gave us the capacity to learn. It's foolish not to embrace it.

Further, I propose a reunification of all the children of Abraham.

A reunification that can only begin by setting aside the false prophesy of the apocalypse. We can only come together and live together if we abandon the fear that God will destroy the world and only by coming together and living together can we hope to prevent destroying the world ourselves.

If we don't do this, then the instinct for self-preservation will take over and more people will abandon their faith in order to survive and avoid any self imposed apocalypse.

Faith can be the future, but only if we recognize that it is human and imperfect and forgive ourselves for the mistakes of the past.


Una Malachica said...

I'm interested that you began your essay by referring to the choice that Abram was called to make but the photo you used was of a much-later event. To arrive at that event required another choice for Abram to make, I realize.

You express concern about the situation we now face--how to avoid using (allowing?) our different ways of being God's people to destroy us.

If you are proposing collapsing Judaism, Christianity, and Islam into one faith, I can see some difficulties ahead.

However, I am encouraged by going back to that story which is illustrated in your blog entry. Just as Abraham was getting ready to destroy his future, God said, "Look over there in the bushes." Abraham looked and saw a ram with its horns caught in the bushes. He caught on immediately, "God provided for me this day."

A. Boyd C. said...

Mainly I chose that painting because I love it, but also because that particular moment in the story represents something different for each of the three religions.

I don't know that a one-size-fits-all sort of universal religion would be desirable, if even possible, but I do think we can make real progress toward understanding that really we are all talking about the same thing.

The first step, I think, is to get rid of this idea that God prefers one of us over the other two and will one day smite the other two and put the preferred child in charge.