Friday, July 21, 2006

Inheriting the Earth

It's still interesting to think about the phrase from Matthew 5: 5, "Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth." The war in Lebanon will soon be about whether anyone will be able to inherit the earth in South Lebanon. The Israelis are massing troops at the border and have warned the residents of South Lebanon to leave.

Matthew 5: 5 indirectly condemns such an exercise of power. If those who are meek are "blessed," those who aggressively broadcast their strength must be "condemned or damned." In this case, it would be the population of South Lebanon that is going to qualify as the meek as they flee their homes. To the contrary, the words of Jesus would seem to condemn the Israelis. They might condemn the United States as an even more powerful patron to the Israelis.

Perhaps there's an element in Matthew 5:5 that provides consolation to powerful figures like George Bush and the Israelis as well. In stating that the meek are "blessed," Jesus indicates that God (and himself as a god figure) have the power to bless people with eternal salvation and the complementary power to damn them to eternal punishment. It may be that the powerful identify with Christianity because they find the Christian image of the power in God to be extremely attractive. For the powerful, it is not a matter of doing what Jesus states in his various sermons and conversations; its a matter of giving out rewards and punishments like Jesus' monotheistic god.

Contrary to the words of Jesus, Christianity also seems to provide a powerful motivation for oppressing the meek, the feeling of being like the Christian God. It's not what Jesus says that matters; it's what God does.

But who will inherit the earth? Those who are meek and unwilling or unable to fight for what they have in the same way that Jesus was unwilling to fight for his life? Or the powerful who model their punishment of the weak on the Christian God's capacity for punishment.

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