Wednesday, October 29, 2014


If from stardust you come and to stardust you return,
the very elements of your being,
in the cosmic solution, 
micro and macro,
to that within you, 
from which you become, 
what you already are,
extraterrestrial and infinite, 
and kind of angelic, 
like a star in the sky,
or in the mind-eye, 
If from that which is,
before the beginning,
which holds the seed, 
that imagines you,  
as you are and will be, 
like a seed of a universe,
spilled in the womb
of the initial situation,
and from this unconditioned condition,
I guess,
of that which is,

Thou Art That?
That Thou Art?
That Art Thou?
Art That Thou?
Art Thou That?
Thou That Art?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

this week, so far

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Jesus against the Pharisees, continued

                                                             Model of Herod's Temple


"Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place."
If Jesus was referring to the his disciples' generation in this prophecy, is it after the end of the world? Are we now living in a different world? This is a question I'm asking as I look at the last chapters of Matthew's gospel.
Let our eyes be opened.

Since last week I have come upon some other  interpretations of last week's material relating to taxes: yeshuajesus. Jesus' response to the question about the tax may have been a trap to expose the hypocrisy of the inquisitors. Since they were in the temple precincts, the presence of a coin bearing the god/emperor's image was an abomination. Waddaya doing with this pagan coin, hypocrite? Jesus' earlier questions to Peter about whether a king would tax his own sons, imply that he doesn't owe the tax, being the son of God, or that his followers, also being children of god - and his brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers, as he had declared - also did not owe the tax, at least not in the kingdom of heaven where they are all family.

The nature of this kingdom is shown in his statements on the greatest commandments. I have read that his position here has precedents in rabbinical thought - Hillel, for example - but you wouldn't know that from this gospel. Compare Matthew's version Matthew's version of the question about the greatest commandment and note the difference from Mark's. Matthew said "the lawyer" asked the question to tempt him and left out this exchange: 

"Then the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that ‘he is one, and besides him there is no other’; 33 and ‘to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength,’ and ‘to love one’s neighbor as oneself,’—this is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”
The wise scribe's commentary sums up the teaching of the biblical prophets. For me the gospel is inspiring when someone expresses this prophetic message. It is remarkable that Matthew cuts it out so it won't dilute Jesus denunciation of the Pharisees which he pasted in right after Jesus' puzzler about Psalm 110.

Read the Wikipedia article on the Siege of Jerusalem and also read Psalm 110, a psalm assuring victory to a priest king. This "Psalm of David" was believed to be about the Messiah and believed to have been written by David the king. So if the messiah is a son of David why would David call him Lord? I think Jesus'  argument is that the messiah is not a nationalist hero, but a universal messiah for all nations, although the last few verses of Psalm 110 are disturbing: 
"The Lord is at your right hand;
    he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath.
He will execute judgment among the nations,
    filling them with corpses;
he will shatter heads
    over the wide earth."

I am sure that this kind of conquering warrior king is what many of the nationalists had in mind, and its what many have in mind today, but the Second Temple wasn't destroyed by the messiah, and it wasn't destroyed by the Pharisees. It was destroyed by Titus' army, probably by mistake. According to Josephus, I think, Titus wanted to turn it into a temple to Jupiter and thought that he was God's instrument in the war with the Jews, but God used pagan conquerors to strike Israel in the past and I'm sure popular as well as rabbinical debate after the temple's destruction was centered on What is God telling us, or Why has God abandoned us, or Who is to blame? The scenes in the temple are largely anti-rabbinical propaganda. So much of this gospel is uninspiring, and even depressing, because of it anti-  Pharisee propaganda, but it reflects the situation of Matthew's community soon after the destruction of the temple, and decades after Jesus' crucifiction, when his followers were accused of heresy and spreading propaganda about their dead messiah. I wonder if the real point of Matthew's attacks on the Pharisees is to discredit their claim that Jesus' disciples had stolen Jesus' body and lied about the resurrection. The Jesus movement was based on a small group of followers  who claimed to have witnessed the resurrected Jesus and to have been called by him to spread his message until the messiah returns and the messianic age is realized, utopia now. The scribe in Mark's gospel wasn't far from the kingdom of God, because Jesus' teaching of that kingdom comes out of the scriptures held sacred by the rabbinical tradition. For two thousand years  Christians have spent too much time preaching that Jewish scriptures are "fulfilled" in the canonical Christian texts, when they should have been learning what Jesus was talking about by studying the texts he studied.

As I said before, many of us don't see the historical Pharisees when we read this, we see the hypocrite celebrities of our own time, who con money out of the faithful, and demand conformity to bizarre beliefs.
Matthew created a rhetorical masterpiece when he edited this. Jesus' "O, Jerusalem" speech concludes with an echo of his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, when the crowd thought their conquering messiah had arrived.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

torn board

Sunday, October 12, 2014


"Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the scriptures: 'The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord's doing, and it is amazing in our eyes'?"

This was how Jesus concluded his parable of the wicked tenants, told in last week's reading: Jesus takes Jerusalem. This quote takes us to Psalm 118 where we also find the poetic source for Jesus' entrance through a gate in a festal procession that is "bound" with branches brought by people shouting "Hosanna!" -- "Save us!" and the announcement "Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord."
"Hosanna," or "Hoshianna" is etymologically related to the name of the mythical warrior and national hero "Yehoshua," which means "Yahweh is salvation."
One of the most significant things the Gentiles did in their goyification of the new Jewish sect was to change "Yeshua" -  the Aramaic form of Joshua - to "Iesous" - a Greek approximation - and eventually to the Brit "Jesus".

Here is the Wikipedia article on Joshua. Joshua was Moses's successor who led the Israelites through a miraculous parting of the Jordan River (Where Yeshua called the Messiah was baptized), winning the miraculous battle of Jericho and bringing the Israelites to the Promised Land. When first century Yeshua led his followers from Galilee to Judea beyond the Jordan he engaged with debate against the Pharisees and opened the eyes of a blind man in Jericho. JesusYeshua's cultural/political warfare was a teaching that  emphasized the ethical, rather than the ritual, interpretation of the Law and called for a redistribution of the wealth that was held by the ruling class. This is what I believe is an essential part of his good news of the kingdom or community of heaven, as it is also an essential part of the teaching of the Jewish prophets Yeshua and his followers cited over and over.
When JesusYeshua led his army of children, prostitutes, fishermen, and tax collectors into Jerusalem, he cleared the money changers and sellers of cheap sacrificial doves out of the temple and confronted the priests and rabbis, arguing with them about the purpose and meaning of the Law and telling parables about the fall of their established order.

Parable of the Wedding Banquet

If the bridegroom is the Messiah, is the king God? And who is the inappropriately attired guest? In Luke's version of this story it is a dinner, but not for a wedding, and the part about the guest who didn't wear the right clothes isn't there. A footnote in one of the Bibles I read suggests that at least two parables were combined in the Matthew version.

Paying taxes to the emperor

Yeshua's response to the Pharisees about paying taxes to Caesar is often read as having a deeper significance, since humans are created in Yahweh's image we are to give ourselves to the creator. Compare this exchange with that between Yeshua and Peter concerning the temple tax, which was instituted in Exodus 30:13. Every male, rich and poor, were to pay a half shekel each year for upkeep of the temple. Yeshua agrees to pay to not give offense to "them," but suggests those in the kingdom of heaven do not owe it. He has Peter find a shekel that will cover both of them in the mouth of a fish. Since Exodus 30:16 says this offering is for atonement: "You shall take the atonement money from the Israelites and shall designate it for the service of the tent  of meeting: before the Lord it will be a reminder to the Israelites of the ransom given for your lives." So, the coin in the fish might be some reference to Jonah, whose story is traditionally read on the Day of Atonement, and whose "sign" is the only one given to this generation. Still obscure to me now, but interesting.

Question about resurrection from some Sadducees, who did not believe in resurrection. His argument that in the resurrection they would be like angels in heaven is to show that human relations will not obtain. The rest of his answer might seem sophistical in its reading of scripture, but "I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob" was how Yahweh identified himself to Moses from the burning bush and it is the eternal nature of "I AM" that was considered essential in that revelation. This was enough to amaze the crowds.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Autumn notes

Tuesday, October 07, 2014


A few weeks ago David Victor Feldman told me about some early science fiction short stories written by the poet John Ciardi. I took a poetry seminar taught by Ciardi in 1973. David sent me a link to a pdf of the story by "John Anthony" called The Hypnoglyph. I said that will be the title of my next drawing and suggested I should make the drawing before I read the story. David said I should draw, read, and draw again. The story turned out to be about an object used to hypnotize through touch. Kind of a Borgesian idea with an Outer Limits ending.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

torn paper

Went to a cafe to draw. I brought paper, but forgot my pen. Maybe I draw better without a pen.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

4 small faces