“Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear.”
The Chief Rabbi
An article appeared in today's New York Times concerning the controversy over who will be the new chief Rabbi of Israel. One candidate, an ultra Orthodox and the other, a "moderate." The moderate rabbi seeks to create a dialog among the disparate secular Israeli Jews and the more orthodox that wishes to shutter the country on the Sabbath. There is a growing ultra Orthodox minority that seeks, as in most theocracies, to dominate political decisions in the running of the state. These are the same minions (excuse the pun) who wish not to serve in the army so they can study the Torah, a fourth century text, and as interpreted in the Talmud by various rabbinical authorities throughout the following centuries. The Torah, of course, written when people thought the world was flat and that if one approached the edge in a boat, they would plunge over the edge, sort of like going over Niagara falls in a barrel. This as a predicate for governing a modern state.
Really? Modern technocratic Israel in the throes of Ayatollah imitators? A chief Rabbi? A state based upon a burning bush and a staff turned into a serpent? The chief rabbi enjoys a ten year term. The article in the New York Times stated that the institution of the chief rabbi had its origins in the 17th century Ottoman empire, but that he is now paid $100,000 a year to dispense religious edicts and spiritual leadership, including who may marry in Israel, among which, the preposterous proposition of a woman's marital status being determined, among other things, by the husband granting a divorce if she were not a maiden.
Women’s equality under Orthodox Judaism? Hardly an issue at all.
Many Israelis are now demanding that the state wrench religion away from the rabbinate and from the authority granted by the government. The rabbis argue that in the Middle East, strong religious strictures are required to compete with the antipathetic nature (religious and otherwise) of nearby Arab governments. They argue that only religion provides the cohesiveness to do so. These are the same people who push for more settlements on "God given" land, when in fact, it was the British and French who gave the land to two peoples at the dissolution of the Ottoman empire at the conclusion of World War I. Thank you very much.
At the same time, another article appeared this week concerning an elder of the Mormon church who was disillusioned over the false teachings of the church, its doctrine providing convenient mythology concerning Brigham Young and Joseph Smith who were actually polygamists and hucksters. The Book of Mormon holding that Native Americans were descendents of the Jews (the lost tribe) and the translation of that good Book appearing upon golden plates which were buried in upstate New York. This church elder, after believing all the hokum for 30 years has just awakened from a drug induced slumber? See http://nyti.ms/16Rx7GE
In reality Joseph Smith, a Mormon founder, was killed by a mob in Missouri after trying to hide his polygamy. He had published many revelations regarded as scripture according to his followers, who regard him as a prophet of the stature of Moses or Elijah. To this extent he probably was, but he did not have the centuries to provide a foundation for his fantasies. Brigham Young, the other Mormon founder, was actually born in Vermont and became a successor to Smith two years after Smith's ignominious demise. Young, aside from his polygamy, believed that those mixing the seed of white people with the African race should be subject to death and banned all black people from the Mormon priesthood. He was also implicated in a massacre of immigrants (Mountain Meadow) passing through Utah.
He deserves credit for founding Salt Lake City, however.
Miracles and other fantasies (as pointed out by a Roman Catholic friend of mine)
The Catholic church requires a formulary of miracles to occur for the foundations of Sainthood, according to Wikipedia:
The steps for the recognition of the miracle follow the new rules laid down in 1983 by the apostolic constitution, Divinus Perfectionis Magister. The new legislation establishes two procedural stages: the diocesan one and that of what is known as the Roman Congregation. The first takes place within the diocese where the prodigious event happened. The bishop opens the enquiry on the presumed miracle in which the depositions of the eyewitnesses questioned by a duly constituted court are gathered, as well as the complete clinical and instrumental documentation inherent to the case. In the second, the Congregation examines the documents sent and eventual supplementary documentation, pronouncing its judgment on the matter.
The miracle may go beyond the possibilities of nature either in the substance of the fact or in the subject, or only in the way it occurs. So three degrees of miracle are to be distinguished. The first degree is represented by resurrection from the dead (quoad substantiam). The second concerns the subject (quoad subiectum): the sickness of a person is judged incurable, in its course it can even have destroyed bones or vital organs; in this case not only is complete recovery noticed, but even wholesale reconstitution of the organs (restitutio in integrum). There is then a third degree (quoad modum): recovery from an illness, that treatment could only have achieved after a long period, happens instantaneously.
Miracles as a precedent to becoming a saint speak volumes as to the rationality of religious belief. Pope Pius XII, about whom books were written concerning his German advisers, his not speaking out about loathsome, grotesque Nazi crimes against humanity, and his pardoning of German war criminals, might prove miraculous itself were he elevated to Sainthood. Under the Reichskonkordat, (the agreement between the Vatican and the Third Reich) Pius made a deal with von Ribbentrop and Hitler. And as Einstein said, “how can you make a deal with God and Satin at the same time?” See Hitler's Pope (1999) by John Cornwell.
Pius XII is still shrouded in controversy and Pope Benedict/Ratzinger, before resigning, and German himself, did not declare Pius had met the criteria. Ratzinger was too busy shuffling priests around from parish to parish and spending church money to defend itself against civil and criminal activities, and finally resigning to avoid the intense heat, which is where people go who have sinned, we are told.