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01 June 2011

A New Adventure

And I'm off...
I'm on my way to Jerusalem, a city that is larger than life, overburdened with hopes and dreams, fears and schemes. I'm going to live in Christian community, first a community of scholars, later an Anglican community. I'm going to write and read and reflect. (And hopefully eat well and exercise.)
I have some anxiety.
I am not afraid of terrorists or of falling prey to an act of violence. Although there is some risk. The risk is there, here, everywhere.
The anxiety I feel stems from my love for Israel as a theological space, my love for Judaism, my love for our shared scriptures and my real disappointment, frustration and sometimes anger with the Israeli government.
I am keenly aware of the calling to be a peacemaker. And I confess I do not know how to bring peace to even a small morsel of this deeply divided soil. I feel such outrage at the dignities heaped on the Palestinian people and such horror at the atrocities perpetuated by and against them.
I'm frustrated with the posture of those who reject any criticism of Israeli policies as anti-Semitic, yet I find myself choosing my words oh so carefully, trying to avoid the mines. In this regard it feels like a battering relationship. Israel has more power now that David could have ever dreamed of, and it is not enough.
The revenge-fantasies of desperately oppressed and abused people have become scripture and that is the heart of my anxiety. My beloved Hebrew Scriptures call for the establishment of ancient Israel in an inhabited land. And some texts call for the annihilation of its inhabitants. And we live in a world in which the tools of genocide have kept pace with those who have the will to wield them.
In some ways it doesn't matter what the archaeological record says, or what other portions of the scripture say, there is Exodus - Joshua calling for the dispossession and annihilation of non-Israelite peoples in God's name and voice. Today, the biblical scholar in me has been beaten, wrestled down and pinned by the text.
So I'm packing my bruises and anxieties and flying across to water. I do not seek an overly promised land. I seek peace, within and without. Wholeness and restoration. Wellbeing and security. שלם

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