The greater attributes of Man were once thought to be visible in warfare. Courage, community, cohesion were what men thought of when they thought of war, along with the blood of their enemies. Men learned to hate losing with twice as much fervor as we felt satisfaction in victory.
Once men adorned the Temples of their gods with artifacts of war. They made their gods powerful in fertility and in strength at war.
Once, as you can see, war was virtue and religion. This time passed but men did not notice right away.
In ancient Jewish lore the Son of God was the King, a mighty War Leader. He was the annointed one. Holy oil poured over his head marked him as the adopted Son of God. He could not be God or God's biological Son but he could be God's adopted Son.
Saul and David were the adopted Sons of God, mighty in battle, claimed out of the larger family as Sons by Adonai. Adonai, He is a Man of War, the Lord of Hosts. Saul and David were mighty adopted Sons of battle but their particular character flaws meant neither one could build the Temple of God. Even then, Man was evolving out of his love for war, even in those perilous times.
Before hstory was even recorded, Israel began to sing:
Oseh Shalom bim romav
Hu ya'esh shalom aleinu
V'al kol yisrael
V'imru, imru amen.
Ya'aseh shalom, ya'aseh shalom
V'al kol yisrael. Amen.
May He Who gives peace in the heavenlies
grant peace to us and to all our people,
and let us say
In the 21st century, total warfare is unthinkable but probably inevitable. Unevolved religiosity combined with frustrated nationalism may ultimately make the cradle of civilization its extinction point. Edom, a frenetic warrior meets head on with Adonai, the Lord of Hosts. Human history meets its fiery climax.
Or does it? My commenter, Biff, wants to demonstrate how history is cyclical, determined by hard physical principles, immutable through the ages and so, dare we say, god-like. There are no variables in the physical system except there are and then there are more and finally there are the end variables.
Peace is the human variable. If man can prove his courage, tighten global cohesion, develop and maintain community in peace as he once did in war general esteem of one's natural predators might work to save the world from generation to generation. Amen.
Free-Church (baptists included) Christians in Texas practice a peculiar form of Christianity. Ours is part Jewish Jesus, part Roman Christianity and part superstitious Folk Religion, the inevitable result of translating Scripture from the Koine to the Vulgar English (common Greek to common English). One need not think very long before he realizes Jesus would walk into one of our churches today, look around and ask, "What?"
(Jesus died within walking distance of the Temple. He will see it again.)
The codified portions of our Folk Religion keep us men of war. We are restless, anxious, unsettled when we rethink the Jewish Jesus. He seems more pure than the Man of War who stands in front of us with a guitar and a slick media presentation.
The codified presentations of our Folk Religion keep us at war. We are empty when we consider ourselves next to the Roman Christian with his deep history, his marvelous survival instincts and his missionary zeal. We find his rituals laborious but he understands man is visual, tactile, able to hear and smell, so able to know as he engages all his senses.
Our codified Folk Religion, with its bitter-sweet salvationism, spurs our warrior urges. Imaginary foes ring us on every side. It is us against the world, we think, not realizing it is us against the world quite because we most closely associate ourselves and our God with our warrior past.
Is there a way to peace? Well, we could get excited about peace. In our war(s) we have made our God versatile by manipulation. We move with great facility from the Jewish Jesus to the Roman Christ to our Folk Religion according to felt needs of the moment. When God does not meet our need of the hour, we have very little trouble leaving off God for the moment. We bring God the severed head of our foe and ask His blessing on our war-making.
In fact, God has very little chance with us.
We should not be astonished when God seems to look away from us.
The leaders of our recent past, deeply flawed, were at least consistent, thoughtful, reticent to use power, careful for life. We replaced them with the ossified, sissified, vain, polemical, the self-aggrandizing and the faction-ridden.
Our Versatile God makes us a Camp of People where the good are not strong and the strong are not good.
We could find peace if we could rediscover God, the immutable God, unchanging from age to age. If not peace, we could at least proceed in Truth. As it is we have none of the one and little of the other.
We should remember peace is usually irreconcilable with secular-style ambition. For this reason secular ambition must not be the driving force of our cultic experience. When we strive for peace as sheep among wolves we are likely to be dominated by our most merciless peers.
Ambition itself is an amoral sire. The seedlings of ambition mutate to the immoral if one is willing to sacrifice personal integrity for power. When persons in trust seek private affluence and public prominence the result is naturally immoral, first, then scandalous and finally catastrophic. Once one gives up dutyand honor for expediency the end cannot be far down the road.
Peace is possible even among the carnivores if we first experience peace as a meditative rite. The part of our brain most likely to respond to art is the part of our brain most likely to react to religion as well. Little wonder, King David is a music maker and Saul a beast who required music to calm his demons.
Opinions expressed here are mine alone.