God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

Reflections / Gedanken

Only those who live the Torah… observations from a sommer study

Summer academy in Tabgha and Jerusalem – refresher course on bible history, Islam and Judaism and as always something new to learn.

To speak about Israel is a minefield, especially for a German. The Holocaust lingers constantly over all discussions, and the trauma somehow continues. To criticise Israel, whose politicians have cleverly conjoined the State of Israel and the Jewish faith, is consequently made difficult. How easy is it to be called an antisemite while criticising Israel’s politics towards the Palestinians.

The wilful ignorance towards the original plan to keep Jerusalem under UN administration has added to the woes. The trauma of the Holocaust has obviously also caused Israel to use massive force against Palestinians in a way which clearly hinders any political solution and kills also innocent bystanders. The violence on the part of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other groups does not help either. It is a poisonous circle of violence, madness pure and not leading to any solution.

Visiting a Jewish service in a synagogue to welcome the Sabbath is touching, observing the ritual joy of welcoming the day of rest. It is admirable to see how traditions are kept and hopes are lived while having endured so many changes in their history from the deportation to Babylonia, the destruction of their sacred temple via the murderous crusades till the Holocaust and all the Antisemitism growing again in our days.

Having Jewish lecturers for the topic of Judaism, it was interesting to be reminded, that ultra-orthodox Jews oppose the State of Israel. A man-made state is not acceptable because at the end only God can establish the new Israel.

Besides this, we learned that the promised land is from a religious point of view only for those who live the Torah – and looking at the modern Israel on a Sabbath shows that Israelis are not per se living according to their holy books.

Another observation is that obviously the stretch of land has a history before the promised land was occupied by Jewish clans – and there are historians indicating that the people led by Moses originally have been from the same background as the Canaanites they battled.

Living in South Africa, there comes the same thoughts: What a beautiful country, and how magnificent could it be if only the people living there would keep peace. My stay here has reminded me how intertwined the problems of trauma on both sites of the fence are. Judging becomes a difficult task, but there is something I believe in:

Jerusalem, the holy place for the three major monotheistic religions, should be an open city under the UN, belonging to nobody than human mankind – to be a witness for the peacefulness, all three religions somehow claim. It is a failure of the UN not to have followed the original plan; and it is a failure of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faithful not to create a location where love, hope, tolerance, goodwill and peace are liveable and touchable in this space and place.

Shalom, Salam and Peace

Filed under: General, Politics and Society, Reflection, Religion and Ethics, Society and living environment, , , , , , , , , ,

14.3.2010 Thailand or never peace?

Once again politics in Thailand brings the country on the brink to chaos, this time the so-called “red shirts” on the streets of Bangkok trying to bring down the government. Sometimes I wonder about a lot of things: About how people perceive their political view as the only valid once. About how people think their doing is so important for the development of this world. About how people perceive the  state of affairs as static. People murder for their political views, people die for their country, politicians negotiate in a way one could think the nation has exist since the beginning of the world.

I advise to go somewhere in the desert or in the bush where there is no artificial light and have a look at night at the stars, at the milky way and all its unlimited extensions… And then feel how small and tiny we are… A bit more being humble would help in most situations.

I also think that by the way when I observe religious leaders and gurus – how they insist to know the truth and only the truth. People of the cloth have killed for their conviction in the past, wars have been ignited by religious views, so-called witches burned, Jews hunted, crusaders send en mass to Jerusalem.

I advise to go somewhere in the desert or in the bush where there is no artificial light and have a look at night at the stars… and you suddenly realise how little you know about this world and its existence and where we are coming from and going to. We believe, but there are so many things we still have to learn about the meaning of life – even the holiest man is still far away from knowing it all. If he is wise, he knows that he doesn’t know – and he is humble. We need a lot of wise men in our days..

All this reflection does not prevent from preparing for the week. After 2 weeks with limited internet I spent this Sunday in answering emails and preparing for the coming week. A Bavarian delegation is arriving and visiting HOPE Cape Town, the Austrian TV wants to have an interview, there are several meetings with representatives of the health sector of the province and much more. Hope there is time to live in between.

Filed under: General, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, Reflection, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

06.09.2009 Ecumenical matters

This morning our German speaking Catholic Community will join the Lutheran St. Martini community by being a guest during their service. I have the honor to preach during the service and it is always a bit tricky. What really to say? That it is a scandal being separated since that long time? Everybody knows? That we would need each other and all our diversity to become the people of God? Also known. That it is in theological terms sinful to live separate church lives? That is does not help if Vatican documents describe the Lutheran church as a not complete church?

Times have been rough in the last years and the tendency to segregate instead to unify was leading us people on the grounds into a situation, where nobody with some knowledge about ecumenical questions would like to be. Being scared of each other is surely not the right base for understanding. And all the unctuous sermons of the church elite pasting over the cracks and gaps do not help either.

I am sure that God in his grace does not mind to hear Lutheran or Catholic prayers and that for him, it does not matter whether a man with stole or without is standing in front of the congregation. If rather matters to the so called church discipline, but not to God at all. If we would prevent the temptation to form a picture of God as a “super human” but leave him (even that is a presumption – him, her.. it all does not match – the Jews are right, not to name God) his (again the same problem) mystery.

For me ,such an encounter with the Lutheran brothers and sisters feels like a thorn in the flesh of our churches – and it is more than time to pull out this thorn.

Filed under: Reflection, , , , , , , , , , ,

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