Sunday, November 11, 2007

G-d's Intentions Gone Awry

Today's English Haaretz reported the following on the financial pages: "More than 70% of Ultra-Orthodox men and about 50% of women are not employed, and most of their families live below the poverty line...since most of the men in the Ultra-Orthodox community dedicate most of their time to religious studies and do not work, the burden of making a living falls on the woman. However, many of these woman cannot find work due to a lack of professional skills and training, as well as the heavy burden of child rearing."

The Ultra-Orthodox community passes on the the cycle of poverty to the next generation, by failing to provide their sons with a secular education past the eighth grade, and by perpetuating the role of the girl as future young mother, sole provider, and martyr to the cause. Furthermore, this community isolates themselves with their refusal to serve in the army in the country in which they live and take advantage of financially.

When G-d said, "Be fruitful and multiply, " the Supreme Being did not intend this scenario: One million and a half children living below the poverty line, emotionally and physically neglected, arrogantly taught that they are morally superior, thus promoting intolerance, hatred and civil war.

I am reading a book now called "God, A Biography" written by Jack Miles. Mr. Miles - a religious man who believes that the Old Testament is divinely inspired - uses the literal text of the Tanach (Hebrew Bible) to create a profile of G-d, as the Supreme Being evolves with the evolution of man into various nations. By Miles' account, G-d starts out as the Creator of Mankind, then becomes the Terminator. He begins by giving Man blessings and complete freedom ("in his own image"), has a brief run of trying to take back some of the privileges (you can't get the toothpaste back into the tube), and in the end, is co-opted by Man for their own manipulative purposes.

This view certainly would disturb the faithful, and yet, the text supports it. G-d creates Man without an apparent plan for leadership or discipline, looses his temper frequently, impulsively over-reacting with his punishments and then immediately falling into regret and backtracking. For many cultures he becomes a theoretical stick, the Ultimate Monster in the Closet, waved at the nation as a threat, or used to advance personal power.

There must be a Higher Power in the Universe, and there must be a larger plan; if we were not handed a template, I believe that Man would have to invent the idea, to make sense of the chaos of daily life. But for anyone to use ritual and religion to encourage war, terror, division and sloth, shame on humanity. And shame on our errant Prime Minister and the Israeli government for giving into the religious parties' political blackmail.

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