Thursday, August 03, 2006

Blogging the bible

I absolutely love Slate's "Blogging the Bible" feature. Its really well written and the author has lots of good things to say. Yesterday's entry was particularly thought provoking.

I assume the presence of the Tabernacle is what sanctifies the camp—right, Torah scholars? If so, how are Jews—scattered around the world, and with no surviving Temple or Tabernacle—supposed to create a sacred space today? Don't we now live in a world where everything is outside the camp?

This closing comment on Numbers chapter 15 touches on something that I struggle with. How is it we create a sacred space for us to meet with God. As a Christian, I have been taught that God is everywhere, but sometimes its nice to find a sacred space to meet with God.

An astonishing rebellion against Moses (and God). A Levite named Korah and a few sidekicks denounce Moses and Aaron: Moses has cut the people off from God and tried to hoard God's love for himself. The rebels declare: "For all the community are holy, all of them, and the Lord is in their midst. Why then do you raise yourself above the Lord's congregation?"

This may be the first recorded example of what has become the fundamental conflict in all religions: religious elite vs. the people. (See, for example, the pope vs. Martin Luther.) Korah asks an essential question: Why should the few priests and prophets monopolize God? What's so great about them that they control access to the divine? In the 3,500 years since, many religions have come down on Korah's side of this question, deciding that God belongs to the masses, not an anointed elite. But the Bible doesn't. It rules emphatically—smitingly—for Moses and Aaron, for the few rather than the many.

This is interesting. First off, I had no idea this was in the Bible. (Unfortunately I haven't read the whole bible thought I've always wanted to.) Secondly, I have always been taught that God is for the people not just for the religious elite. Is this something that changed because of Christ? That is something I have always thought was the case...



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