There’s a Talmudic lesson that states, “The entire world revolves around on one axis.” That has been true for another 365 days, so I will add to the lesson that it revolves around one elliptical orbit centered upon a source of light. We begin a New Year, another time around our star. Indeed history does repeat itself. New characters, but a very similar script, like a Hallmark movie plot. We’ve seen old hatred and divisions amplified. We’ve seen resistance, like Star Wars rebels rising to combat empirical power grabs from destroying our republic. We’ve seen nonviolent resistance from media and populist movements across the social spectrum try to win the propaganda war of wits.
This teaching in the Talmud is not about the literal spinning we do everyday. It’s about human unity towards one spirit which Paul echoes in his letters to Ephesus and Corinth.
This statement subtly asks us to consider what it says about our human dilemma and the human soul that our politics, religions, and psychotherapies are so similar in goal, spirit, and structure. Yes, our methods of getting to human wholeness and well being are different across these milieus, but the objective, our end goal, our motivation, revolves around one axis, life. In general, most humans do what they do because they think it adds to life. Whether it only adds to their life or it more benevolently adds to other’s lives, the motivation is the same, securing life. In the language of the faith we use the term eternal to describe the unending nature of this pursuit. We want to exponentially maximize life. We want the most abundant life possible. Some think this is only accomplished by individual pursuit. “We’re all alone, everyone for themselves.” Others think that the maximized life of the community has a compounding effect on the individual. “We’re interdependent. When you are whole, I am whole, and vis a versa.”
Consider it this way, if you were to think of nationalisms, humanisms, science dogmatisms, or even our medical dogmatisms (both physical and psychological) as religions, who are the saints and heretics, and what are the holy works? In oncology, my wife would probably name The Emperor of All Maladies as one of the holy works. What are the sacred objects? Why are they sacred? What are the liturgies of this arena professing? Who are the priests? What are the temples of worship? Is Fox News your nationalism’s place of worship? MSNBC? What do you religiously follow in these areas and why?
I ask these questions to guide you in considering this profession of faith: Jesus is the Christ (the one who’s teaching is anointed with the spirit of the Divine) and your Lord (lead authority) and saviour (who’s way of living saves life). In what ways do the sacred values of your faith sync with the values of your nationalism, your humanism, and your other dogmatisms? In what ways do they depart?
I invite you to consider what this faith in Jesus as Christ teaches you about fear, and to what extent all systems that seek to save life move in more extreme, radical directions when they become fearful and anxious? You may find that things you once considered fundamental are actually radical departures from the axis we all revolve around.
What is truly fundamental to our lives and what do we need to weave more justice, serenity, and peace into in this coming year? May your 2018 move towards making all of us whole, full of the abundance of life.