According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for
this world to recreate, reclaim, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of
explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. - anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. - anon
... Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument.
There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is
irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a
power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table
to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace,
reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants
us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. - anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The City of Jerusalem - Its Archaeology, History, and Pictorial Maps, Part 1


Jerusalem Within These Walls
(an hour long documentary of Jerusalem's History)



Beginning about a year and a half ago I began taking "half-semester" classes at a local Christian college to help me remember subjects from my deep past or to fill in those areas I've always wanted to know about but have had little time to study or investigate since my university days long years ago. Hence, I've taken diverse classes on Economic Monetary Supply and the Modern American Banking System; The Science and Politics of Albert Einstein during the rise of Nazism; Michigan Regiments in the Civil War; read and discussed the very, very long Roman Classic poem The Aeneid by the poet Virgil (phenom!); studied ancient Athenian Greece (my fav city-state!) through the eyes of Greek/Persian historian Herodotus, the Father of Ancient History; read and discussed William Shakespeare's Hamlet (phenom!); undertaken a study of 1&2 Samuel (since religious America seems so interested in modern day Kings and Empires); studied the interconnectivity of Michigan's Environmental Watersheds; and even taken a World Christianity course (so I might hear from non-American Christians of their theology, worship, and convictions from around the world).

One of the classes I'm currently taking is an archaeological course on the City of Jerusalem. Here is a very short history of the city through its historical eras:

  • beginning as a religious city under the reign of Melchizedek's time (Genesis 14.18-20) to Abraham's time where God prevented the sacrifice of his son Isaac on Mt. Moriah (the very same place where today's modern Islamic Mosque now rests along with Ishmael's bones);
  • later becoming known as "Jerusalem" to serve as the capital city of Israel beginning in King David's reign through to the later occupations of Assyria, Babylon, Persia, and Rome;
  • into the InterTestamental period between the Old and New Testaments (539 BC - 69/70 AD) when Jewish exiles to Jerusalem undertook a second rebuilding of the temple under Ezra and Nehemiah until its later destruction nearly 600 years later by Rome;
  • through to its brief Christianized period after serving as a Jewish citadel of religious importance for much of its ancient history;
  • then into the Byzantine period of Turkish domination of the Ottoman empire as it swayed between Christianity and the nascent Islamic religion developing during this time;
  • into the early and middle medieval periods of the "Christian" Crusades and Muslim defense of their lands from Westernizing influences;
  • and finally, as a deeply segregated city housing all three of the world's major religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) within its modernized borders brought about by the  wicked holocausts of World Wars 1&2.

Topography of Israel





Maps and Pictures of Jerusalem


Aerial View of Jerusalem

French Map of Old Jerusalem


Landmarks layout of Old Jerusalem


Synopsis of Old Jerusalem

Jerusalem may be considered the fountainhead of three major world religions housed within its city walls offering to the visitor a kaleidoscopic view of the city and its people as they are today - a remarkable outcome of 3,000 years of history, hope, and faith.

Model representation of Ur David

Model representation of Ur David

Model representation of Ur David and Ur Solomon (further up the hill)

Model representation of Ur Solomon with the Temple of Jerusalem within

Jerusalem's Jewish Period

Starting with Ur Jerusalem (the City of Jerusalem) during the reign of King David. There is a large model representation in Jerusalem of Ur David, Ur Solomon (further up the hill), and Mt. Moriah (further up still, where God stayed Abraham from sacrificing his son Isaac). It was on Mt. Moriah where the Temple of Solomon was built (after 970 BCE) to be later destroyed by Babylon (587-6 BCE). Fifty years later (539 BCE) Nehemiah and Ezra rebuilt the walls and temple of Jerusalem (it was a much poorer version to the original) which was destroyed 600 years later in 69/70 CE by Rome. Since the Christian church had no use for the temple site, and the Jews held no power under Rome, it slowly transformed to become the city garbage dump over the next 500 years until Persia came in to rule Jerusalem (638 CE). At which point the site was cleared of refuse and the Muslim Mosque built and dedicated to Muhammad's (570-632 CE) resurrection from this spot until its present day's use:

"Although the Qur'an does not mention the name "Jerusalem", the hadith assert that it was from Jerusalem that Muhammad ascended to heaven in the Night Journey, or Isra and Miraj.[citation needed] The city was one of the Arab Caliphate's first conquests in 638 AD; according to Arab historians of the time, the Rashidun Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab personally went to the city to receive its submission, cleaning out and praying at the Temple Mount in the process. Sixty years later the Dome of the Rock was built, a structure enshrining a stone from which Muhammad is said to have ascended to heaven during the Isra. (The octagonal and gold-sheeted Dome is not the Al-Aqsa Mosque to the south, the latest version of which was built more than three centuries later). Umar ibn al-Khattab also allowed the Jews back into the city and freedom to live and worship after four hundred years.
"Under the early centuries of Muslim rule, especially during the Umayyad (650–750) and Abbasid (750–969) dynasties, the city prospered; geographers Ibn Hawqal and al-Istakhri (10th century) describe it as "the most fertile province of Palestine",[citation needed] while its native son, the geographer al-Muqaddasi (born 946) devoted many pages to its praises in his most famous work, The Best Divisions in the Knowledge of the Climes. Under Muslim rule Jerusalem did not achieve the political or cultural status enjoyed by the capitals Damascus, Baghdad, Cairo etc. Interestingly, al-Muqaddasi derives his name from the Arabic name for Jerusalem, Bayt al-Muqaddas, which is linguistically equivalent to the Hebrew Beit Ha-Mikdash, the Holy House."
- Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Jerusalem)

Did you know?

The Ark of the Covenant of Israel came as an adaptive type from Egypt? The Egyptian's used "processional arks" to honor their gods, culture, and Pharaohs. Having left Egypt from bondage, and being well acquainted with Egyptian culture after many years of servitude, Israel established a "processional ark" for their God, Yahweh. Here are some drawings showing the similarities (Israel's ark is the last picture typically seen in the movie, "Indiana Jones").



Egyptian hieroglyphic of a ceremonial ark in processional

Egyptian ceremonial processional of  Pharoah

Egyptian ceremonial processional using on ark to carry one of their gods or goddesses

Egpytian processional of an ark in ceremonial usage

A depiction of the Ark of the Covenant


Kwok Pui Lan - Chinese PostColonolism and the Need for Theological Innovation


Kwok Pui Lan with Professor John Cobb

On postcolonialism, theology, and everything she cares about
http://kwokpuilan.blogspot.com/2017/03/a-rich-past-for-positive-future-for.html

March 5, 2017

*Presented at the “New Frontiers in Theology” Conference
at Claremont School of Theology on February 17, 2017

A Rich Past for a Positive Future for Theology

As an Asian postcolonial feminist theologian, my relationship to the Christian past is multifaceted and ambivalent. My reading of the Bible and the long theological tradition is never a “natural” reading, arising out of a living tradition that shaped my culture. For example, I wondered how the termsousia and hypostases in the debates on Trinity could be translated into Chinese and whether there would be equivalent concepts in Chinese philosophy.

So why do we have to study the Christian past? Sometimes my students put this even more bluntly, “Why do we have to study the dead white guys?”

We study the past because we want to learn different models of how theologians addressed social, political, and ecclesiastical issues of their time. Take for instance, this year we are commemorating the 500th anniversary of Luther’s posting of the 95 theses. The questions that Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, and Münster raised for the church and wider public remain with us to this day, such as, the source of authority, the shape of liturgy and the meaning of sacraments, the visible and invisible church, the relation between the two kingdoms, and the relation between the established church and radical reform impulses.

Kwok Pui Lan teaches theology and spirituality
at the Episcopal Divinity School and is the author
of Postcolonial Imagination and Feminist Theology
A highly relevant question for today might be “How can the Church be reformed so that it might respond to the challenges of the Trump era?” Although the Chinese may not have an event equivalent to the Reformation, the Reformation provided a mirror through which to look at the relation between religion, politics, and power at a watershed moment of the early development of capitalism and modernity.

Without learning from the past, we impoverish ourselves because we are left with the tyranny of the present. We can easily lose hope and fall prey to cynicism and despair. This is especially important in the United States because historical literacy is low and people seek immediate relevance. Facebook and social media outlets can make us obsessed with the immediate present. Learning from history allows us to maintain a certain distance and to have a broader perspective when examining our present time.

Given that we have such a long and rich theological tradition and so many theological giants before us, there is also the danger of the tyranny of the past. We might become so immersed and inculturated into certain modes of theological thinking, patterns of argument, and the common vocabularies of a certain theological tradition and our minds be so colonized that we are unable to see the horizon beyond or dare to take the road less traveled.

Theological innovations often begin by posting radical questions to the past. The feminist theological movement wrestled with the validity of past tradition. Mary Daly argued that the Christian tradition is so sexist that it is irredeemable, while Letty Russell spoke of a usable past. Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza offered a revisionist history of Christian origin, and Rosemary Radford Ruether recovered the lost voices of Christian women in history.

Many theologians who have found their cultures and traditions left out from the dominant theological tradition have recovered their histories through the use of slave narratives, alternative archives, oral history, literature, and myths and stories to create a colorful tapestry of theologies. Today, theology is a global enterprise and we must pay attention to the global contexts shaping human lives and our theological imagination. Theology is contextual, but our contexts are deeply intertwined today. We need to find ways to educate ourselves about how others are developing theologies to respond to common concerns of our time. This must be a sustained and deliberate effort and not something to do only when we have time.

I wish I knew when I began to study theology that this would be a life-long vocation with many twists and no easy answers. Our work is harder because, unlike Luther and the reformers who stood in the vanguard of the intellectuals of their time, we as contemporary theologians have to defend our existence in the academy and larger society. When Christian theology is in a defensive posture, the marginal voices within it could be even more marginalized or suppressed. A danger for theological movements is that they become reactionary or ossified over time and fail to respond to new challenges. There is often much excitement when a theological movement begins, but as it becomes institutionalized or domesticated, it needs new reformers and discussants to keep it alive and on the cutting-edge.

Facing the future, theologians have important roles to play in the Trump era. Latin American theologians reminded us that we must distinguish between the worship of God and the worship of idols. When people are mesmerized by populist claims such as “Make America Great Again” and the representation of the President as pseudo-Messiah, theologians must challenge idolatry and alternative facts. In the battle for truth, we stand on the shoulders of giants such as Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King, Jr., Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Y. T. Wu, Oscar Romero, Mercy Oduyoye, Tissa Balasuriya, Desmond Tutu, Gustavo Gutiérrez, Ivone Gebara, and others. When the country begins to look inward, we need theologians and leaders of faith communities who are cosmopolitan in theological outlook, astute about world politics, and have a deep sense of American multiracial and multicultural history.

We must develop a culture of resistance in the churches and rid ourselves of Constantinian Christianity in order to see clearly the life and ministry of a postcolonial Jesus. Americans have not been comfortable seeing the connections between empire and Christianity. Middle-class American Christianity has so successfully adapted to the individualistic culture that religion has often become a private affair.

The Christian message of sin, atonement, justification, and salvation has been thoroughly individualized, if not psychologized, such that they have relatively little social import. We look at Jesus as primarily a religious figure, separated from the highly politicized and volatile situation of his time, an era filled with periodic popular revolts and protests against Roman colonial rule. We must recover that the Jesus movement was a resistance movement against Pax Romana. Jesus was not a passive religious leader, but took an uncompromising stance against the Roman Empire and its client Judean and Galilean rulers. Jesus’ revolutionary message is relevant to our time more than ever as we struggle against pax Americana.

Do I think theology will have a positive future? My answer is yes. When I began to study theology in the early 1970s, Gustavo Gutierrez had published A Theology for Liberation Theology for a few years. [But] Mary Daly had not published Beyond God the Father. As a doctoral student, I witnessed the development of Womanist theology, Mujerista and Latina theology, Asian American feminist theology, and gay and lesbian theology. Today we have [a great] such a plurality of voices arising from racial and ethnic communities in the U.S. and from faith communities around the world.

In the 1960s, some of the avant garde theologians launched a series of books with the title “New Frontiers in Theology” and their aim was to facilitate “discussions among Continental and American theologians” and the discussants were all male. Here at this conference, we have such diversity of theological voices, and this should give us hope for a positive and more inclusive future.

- KPL