Sunday, April 02, 2006

The Ten Commandments

I have had a wonderful opportunity to think upon the Decalogue over the past several weeks, while discussing the Commandments in Kairos and our high school Bible study. How deep is God's wisdom, how searching his words! Here in these ancient instructions lie hidden deep truths about God, man, and our place in the creation. These commandments set themselves apart from the cultic and civil law of Israel by addressing the very foundations of our existence and our relatedness to God and other persons and things. They begin at the beginning, with the questions of who we are, where did we come from, and what is reality? Then, what is wrong with us, and how should we then live? They rough out a sketch of human life in a created world in which everything matters, and persons most of all. Without an understanding illuminated by this light, the world would seem dark indeed.

Then God spoke all these words, saying, "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy. Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you. You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor."
(Exo 20:1-17 NASB)

Fertile questions:
  1. What assumptions about the world in which we live underly the commandment?
  2. What is it about us that makes the commandment necessary?
  3. What would perfect compliance with the commandment look like?

Saturday, April 01, 2006

"Speaking of Faith"

I recently discovered this very interesting podcast site. (In fact, I only just discovered the convenience of podcasts!) The hostess, Krista Tippet, may or may not be a Christian; I cannot tell from my listening so far, and have not explored it. However, she is a very respectful and sympathetic interviewer, without any discernable agenda or running subtext so common in programs about "faith" per se. She seems to be exploring the interface of religion and culture. She asks good questions, does not attack her interviewees, and is not eager to insert her own views. I have listened to programs on the gods of business, Einstein's god and his ethics, the Mohammad cartoon controversy, and Israeli and Palestinian narratives of the middle East conflict. All quite interesting. Check it out. It's free - including the podcasts - at the site above.