Monday, November 21, 2016

Psalm 50 - You made friends with every crook you met, and you liked people who break their wedding vows.

You talked only about violence and told nothing but lies; you sat around gossiping, ruining the reputation of your own relatives.

50 From east to west,
    the powerful Lord God
    has been calling together
    everyone on earth.
2 God shines brightly from Zion,
    the most beautiful city.
3 Our God approaches,
    but not silently;
    a flaming fire comes first,
    and a storm surrounds him.
4 God comes to judge his people.
    He shouts to the heavens
    and to the earth,
5 “Call my followers together!
They offered me a sacrifice,
    and we made an agreement.”
6 The heavens announce,
“God is the judge,
    and he is always honest.”
7 My people, I am God!
    Israel, I am your God.
    Listen to my charges
    against you.
8 Although you offer sacrifices
    and always bring gifts,
9     I won’t accept your offerings
    of bulls and goats.
10 Every animal in the forest
    belongs to me,
    and so do the cattle
    on a thousand hills.
11 I know all the birds
    in the mountains,
    and every wild creature
    is in my care.
12 If I were hungry,
    I wouldn’t tell you,
    because I own the world
    and everything in it.
13 I don’t eat the meat of bulls
    or drink the blood of goats.
14 I am God Most High!
    The only sacrifice I want
    is for you to be thankful
    and to keep your word.
15 Pray to me in time of trouble.
    I will rescue you,
    and you will honor me.
16 But to the wicked I say:
    “You don’t have the right
to mention my laws
    or claim to keep our agreement!
17 You refused correction
    and rejected my commands.
18 You made friends
    with every crook you met,
    and you liked people who break 
their wedding vows.
19 You talked only about violence
    and told nothing but lies;
20 you sat around gossiping,
    ruining the reputation
    of your own relatives.”
21 When you did all of this,
I didn’t say a word,
    and you thought,
“God is just like us!”
    But now I will accuse you.
22 You have ignored me!
    So pay close attention
    or I will tear you apart,
    and no one can help you.
23 The sacrifice that honors me
    is a thankful heart.
Obey me,
    and I, your God,
    will show my power to save.

Even with my naive, unsophisticated method of going through the Psalms, it doesn't take a day or two to find one which is full of relevance to what's going on right now.   This Psalm is one that seems to be associated with Advent in some churches, it is certainly full of relevance for where we find ourselves.   From the accusations of hypocrisy among those who make a show of praise worship but who break one after another of the commandments and who voted Trump, for the champion and huckster of Mammon and on to that icon of corruption and princeling  among liars, himself.   In the ritualized Thanksgiving of the United States,  the sacrifice isn't burned in a naive belief that God somehow needed or wanted in murdered, burned form what was already hers, it is eaten by a nation full of people who are in no need of such a big meal.

I'm not much in a mood for American style holidays with their sales opportunities.  Trump has put me right off the desire to buy much of anything.  I'm in no mood to worship Comus on Thursday.  I'll work on setting this Psalm, instead.

Will God tear the United States apart, will there be no one to help us?   Well, if you consider the nature of things, God made it so a country like ours can't last forever.   Which is probably good news, with the way we are now.  It will, though, be a consequence of our own choices not God's fault.  God didn't give us an exemption from the way things happen when you act in certain ways.

and you thought,
“God is just like us!”

What an exact and succinct description of how people imagine God.  I'm struck by many of the insights the Psalmists had into how people think, the mistaken thoughts of people, the consequences of their wrong thinking but that is one of the most striking of all, to me, so far.   The fundamentalists idea of God is a god I can't believe in and it is pretty much the same god as the atheists seem to be limited in imagining.  The anthropomorphic god and gods of various other varieties of paganisms Pagan and pesudo-Jewish-Christian pagans of various kinds, the material gods of classical religion, etc. are all covered in that accusation.   In fact, it is a description that, to some extent, covers anyone who maintains any kind of fixed idea of God.  We're always having to call ourself up short on doing that, of setting up an intellectual idol.  If Donald Trump has a conception of God other than a line in his con game that he uses to con his marks, I'm sure his ego driven imagination thinks of God in terms of himself.  Trump seems to be his own golden mooncalf, and so many are the chumps who worship it.  If you want an example, listen to the news on NPR or TV or other radio venues, read the papers and you'll find that idol worship/cargo cult.

As to God having the power to save us.  I'd say it would take nothing less to get us out of what we've gotten ourselves in.   Our secular gods didn't save us.

The Constitution certainly didn't prevent Trump, as I railed all yesterday the high free speechiness and other previsions of that most idolized part of it, the First Amendment didn't do it, with its potential to enable and protect liars, it enabled it.

The Press?  The media?  Give me a friggin' break.  From the New York Times and NPR down to the sewer of FOX and the even lower levels they're as corrupt as the oligarchics that control and own that media and the people whose words you get the lies through.

Academia?  Which part, the part that impotently tells the truth or the part that enabled the media to outshout that with lies or the part that really only cares about promoting its own elite form of Mammonism, materialism or the others which have either failed to save us or which are in on the imperial decadence we have descended into?

You have to go to those few institutions that haven't played a part in producing the conditions that caused us to allow and accept a Donald Trump and they are few and far between.  Even many of what get called "Churches" were thick as thieves with it.  Notice that in this Psalm as in so much of the Bible, IT IS A MASSIVE CRITIQUE OF THE RELIGIOUS ESTABLISHMENT AND RELIGIOUS PEOPLE AS IT IS SECULAR SOCIETY.   That is one of the biggest lies of the atheists and their insipid repetition bots, the Jewish Scriptures, both testaments, are full to the top of self-criticism and criticism of the religious authorities, they don't get off with a carte blanche.  Only religious people and institutions which continue that rigorous self-examination have much of a chance of escaping this judgment, this indictment.

Living up to that covenant is both simple and hard.  Doing to others what we want them to do to us- which, by the way, would make Trump's entire career and way of life disappear and end pretty much all of human evil doing.  It's easy to codify like Hillel did, citing Leviticus,  doing it is hard, not least of which because it depends on other people to fulfill their part of the covenant which it is.  Though their failure hardly excuses not trying to keep up your side.   The best people like me can hope to achieve is trying and when, inevitably, falling short, to try again.  Maybe you get better if you keep trying.  Our country has stopped trying.  It got talked out of that by TV and the movies presenting people who look out for #1 as the smart guys.  Or how else do you think they created Donald Trump?

1 comment:

  1. "Only religious people and institutions which continue that rigorous self-examination have much of a chance of escaping this judgment, this indictment."

    "In those days [the 4th century C.E.] men had become keenly conscious of the strictly individual character of "salvation." Society--which meant pagan society, limited by the horizons and prospects of "this world"--was regarded by them [the Desert Fathers, living as hermits in the Egyptian desert] as a shipwreck from which each single individual man had to swim for his life. We need not stop here to discuss the fairness of this view: what matters is to remember that it was a fact."

    Thomas Merton, The Wisdom of the Desert (New York: New Directions 1970), p. 3