Global Studies 2A:Comparative Political and Religious Systems
Friday, March 26, 2004
 
Buy Some Cleaning Fluid, and Use It!

A man is in a room with one window. Although it is daytime, the light in the room is awful and it’s rather damp, for no light can get in because the window is so dirty. The man wants to know what is outside, but can’t because of the dirtiness of the window. After touching the window and realizing it is the inside that is dirty, rather than the outside, he uses environmentally just cleaning fluids to clean the window. He is suddenly hit by intense rays of light which illuminate the room. A smile spreads across his face, for he is now much warmer, and able to see the entire room and everything outside of the window.
While the true substance of truth, God, and Krishna can not be attained by reading a book, the Bhagavad-Gita provides the reader with a way to understand the relationship between these three principles to a higher degree. Previously, after reading sections of the Bible and a combination of other texts, I had concluded that God was an eternal spirit synonymous with nature. And that nature, which is pure, acts in a just manner. Reading the Gita originally threw my understanding of God and truth into a whirlwind. Yet, I realized the God I observed and followed was the same as the one described in the poem, just with a different name.
Plato’s Republic, The Torah, as well as the Gita use light to symbolize truth, God, and Krishna. In the allegory of the cave, Plato describes the light outside of the cave which the prisoner aspires to as “the good,” or the source of all. In The Torah, The Lord is displayed as a burning bush. Krishna is so bright, that Arjuna struggles to see him: “ I see you blazing through the fiery rays oh your crown, mace, and discus, hard to behold in the burning light of fire and sun that surrounds your measureless presence” (100).
If these three texts, use the same symbols to illustrate three different things, does this mean that truth, god, and Krishna are all the same? No. Words cannot accurately describe this relationship, and inevitably fail, yet is apparent that they are all interrelated. Krishna is described as being: “The god of all gods” (99). Thus, it is apparent that Krishna is the amalgamation of all of the gods, and himself is a “god.” It is fair to say that God, and Krishna are the same thing. Krishna says that once one has reached his state, he truly sees reality: “When lucidity prevails, the self who body dies enters the untainted worlds of those who know reality” (123). Yet, to achieve this lucidity one must act in a judicious manner.
Krishna directs Arjuna: “Keep your mind on me, be my devotee, sacrificing, bow to me—you will come to me, I promise, for you are dear to me” (152). Krishna tells Arjuna that by being devoted to him, that he will be able to reach him. This has two levels of understanding. The first one is that by praying to Krishna one is able to reach a state of happiness. But this is not enough, and does not get at the true meaning of the text. Only by acting in the ways that Krishna does, rather than just worshipping him, one is able to reach a state of Krishna-like joy. In other words, the man who is able to act in a truthful manner is able to reach Krishna, or God. Krishna takes another step by pointing the way to this ability to act like him. Through devotion to Krishna and acting upon that conviction, one is able to see reality.
The man will finally be able to feel the joyous rays of Krishna and God if he uses the cleaning fluid produced by Krishna.

Sunday, March 14, 2004
 
Tobi S. Drori
March 14, 2004
Global Studies IIA
Krishna and Truth

The walls, which block us from receiving a better understanding of concepts related to metaphysics questions, hinder our capability of grasping the meanings of terms such as justice, action, discipline, and truth. These limitations derive from our use of language as well as knowledge of these convoluted notions. Our inability to describe the significance of truth, or God, causes incongruent perceptions of the ultimate reality, and produces varying ways in which to interpret “definitions” for one ultimate truth. Though there are numerous understandings of this truth or reality, there is only one central truth.
The different insights that the many may uses to understand this concept of truth all derive from a theory, which humans cannot perceive because of our imperfect intelligence and perspectives. Therefore, men and women will find themselves in a binding situation when trying to take hold of an image of truth. Some may act without reason or knowledge, but rather only for themselves, therefore getting nowhere nearer to a better awareness of truth. Others will entirely not take part in action even if they feel they may understand the connotation of reality. What good may it be to be theoretical, but not to put that knowledge to actuality? By not taking action, our understanding of what the ultimate reality is fades. In the Bhagavad-Gita, Krishna describes three qualities that a man can encompass, lucidity, passion, and dark inertia. Each of these qualities either incorporates action or inaction, and a degree of discipline. “From lucidity knowledge is born; from passion comes greed; from dark inertia come negligence, delusion, and ignorance.” (Gita, page 132:17). It is important to have action with knowledge, to understand the purpose of your act in order to find a path or process that will lead you to a truth.
The Bhagavad-Gita illustrates a method of discovering the meaning of truth, or rather Krishna, by a process. This manner of discovering what is truth eliminates misapprehension and delusions about reality while enhancing one’s understanding and discipline in order to connect and become one with everything and nothing, with Krishna. Arjuna, the archer, is a warrior who becomes perplexed with his emotions, and whether or not his action is just or not. Lord Krishna sees Arjuna’s confusion and conflicting reaction. He realizes that he must clear Arjuna’s thoughts by telling him that he is being taken over by his reactions and emotions while letting his mind be manipulated. Instead of understanding why he feels the need to stop in the mist of a battle, he proceeds with action only. Lord Krishna recognizes Arjuna’s misunderstanding, and takes the initiative to clear his mind, and to provide him with a path so that he may find the meaning of reality in it’s totality.
“Keep me in your mind and devotion, sacrifice to me, bow to me, discipline your self toward me, and you will reach me!” (Gita page 87:34). As Krishna continues to explain the difference between action and knowledge we see a connection between truth and Krishna, the God of all Gods. When Krishna says, “discipline your self toward me,” he is instructing Arjuna to look towards knowledge and understanding before acting. In other words, Krishna is instructing Arjuna to look towards the “light,” knowledge in order to find truth, find Krishna. For example, in The Republic of Plato the allegory of the cave resembles what Krishna is trying to teach Arjuna through out the Bhagavad-Gita. Krishna keeps reinforcing the concept of discipline and knowledge instead of delusions such as the shadows that are described in the allegory of the cave. Krishna enlightens Arjuna by informing him why it is important to have knowledge and an understanding of why one performs an action, for what purpose. The cave was a metaphor to present the same intention for the importance of knowledge before action. In the allegory of the cave the concept of truth is described as the light at the end of the cave to signify the difference between deception and faulty reasoning. Socrates realizes that those who have lived in the cave for their whole lives have no understanding of the truth, and they wouldn’t be able to accept the light as the truth. “Don’t you’d suppose he’d be at a loss and believe that what was seen before is truer than what is now shown?” ( The Republic of Plato, 515 d).
Krishna is a representation of the truth. He is everything and nothing, he guides people on a path towards the origin of action. Where as the connotation of truth does the same. They are both some form of reality. A way to understand questions that cannot be answered by ourselves. Krishna, the God of Gods, as well as the concept of truth have set us on a path in which we must follow our duty to create order, as well as gain knowledge for the reasons that we perform action. “These bright and dark pathways are deemed constant for the universe; by one, a man escapes rebirth; by the other, he is born again.” (Gita page 80:25-26).

 
Will Meyer
3/7/04
SS5
How are Krishna/god and truth similar/or different?

“Krishna, the great lord of discipline, revealed to Arjuna the true majesty of his form. It was a multiform, wondrous vison, with countless mouths and eyes and celestial ornaments, brandishing many divine weapons. Everywhere was boundless divinity containing all astonishing things, wearing divine garlands and garments, anointed with divine perfume. If the light of a thousand suns were to rise in the sky at once, it would be like the light of that great spirit. Arjuna saw all the universe in its many ways and parts, standing as one in the body of the god of gods” (Gita 98-99).

It is in this quote that all is explained about Krishna to the reader. It is an important quote to look at because in this quote it is explained what Krishna represents that is, god, and truth. Arjuna after meeting with Krishna for some time gets to see what Krishna’s true form is. The end of this quote represents what Arjuna thinks of this divine spirit. Arjuna views Krishna as truth because he sees in Krishna all of the universe in its many ways and parts. The part of this quote that represents Krishna meaning god is this, “standing as one body of the god of gods” (see above). Thus Krishna represents truth.

“I see your boundless form everywhere, the countless arms, bellies, mouths, and eyes; Lord of All, I see no end, or middle or beginning to your totality” (Gita 99). This quote represents Arjuna describing how he views the god of all gods in his truest form. Arjuna sees everything within Krishna’s true form, therefore we as readers can conclude that Krishna in his truest form represents truth.


Tuesday, March 09, 2004
 
Andy Howe
Reflection Paper: How is Krishna and God similar?
3/9/04

“Our bodies are known to end, but the embodied self is enduring, indestructible, and immeasurable; therefore, Arjuna, fight the battle! He who thinks this self a killer and he who thinks it killed, both fail to understand; it does not kill, nor is it killed. It is not born, it does not die; having been, it will never not be; unborn, enduring, constant, and primordial, it is not killed when the body is killed… As a man discards worn-out clothes to put new and different ones, so the embodied self discards its worn-out bodies to take on other new ones” (Gita, page 32:18-22). Through this quote Krishna explains the divinity of the soul and its sacred duty.
Krishna has knowledge of concepts and subjects of such significance and beyond of the example of the quote previously expressed. Such knowledge and connection with the divine level, associates Krishna with a more of an elite level consciousness and being than most people in any universe.
“Arjuna, see my forms in hundreds and thousands; diverse, divine, of many colors and shapes. See the sun gods, gods of light, howling storm gods, twin gods of dawn, and gods of wind, Arjuna, wondrous forms not seen before. Arjuna, see all the universe, animate and inanimate, and whatever else you wish to see; all stands here as one in my body. But you cannot see with your own eye: I will give you a divine eye to see the majesty of my discipline” (Gita, page 98, 5-8). It is learned in this quote, that Krishna in fact is physically, mentally, etc. from a higher dimension. It is apparent that Krishna and his state of being is too powerful for the common conscious eye to see. “By devotion alone can I, as I really am, be known and seen and entered into, Arjuna. Acting only for me, intent on me, free from attachment, hostile to no creature, Arjuna, a man of devotion comes to me” (Gita, pages 108-109, 54-55). One must have and know devotion and self discipline to know and see Krishna. Krishna hints at other Buddhist concepts such as the worlds and universes being one unified being, such as when he says “know and seen and entered into (me, Krishna)… hostile to no creature.” Krishna means that once Arjuna (or anyone, knows and has seen the ultimate truth, justice, and has achieved this ultimate state of consciousness and enlightenment, they will become one with Krishna, or conscious of their role and purpose in the unified body or universe.
These concepts dealing with Krishna can be paralleled to the commonly preconceived ‘God.’ God, can be understood or represented as truth/justice and the ultimate truth (which may have very much to do with truth/justice yet thou does not know the ultimate truth), few know the ultimate truth/truth/justice meaning they do not know ’God,’ but still God is present.
Simply because no one or not many people know the ultimate truth (encompassing justice) does mean it does not exist. For example, people who do not take action or are practice many inactions concerning their well being, undesirable things are not going to avoid them simply because they believe ’God’ is good and he/it would not let something bad happen to them because they are good and ‘God’ is good.
So, understanding that ’God’ exists whether or not people recognize it or not, parallels extremely well with Krishna. Like the ultimate truth, no one or very few people know the ultimate truth (which can be understood as God), no one or very few people know Krishna. A good example of this is when Krishna states that everything is apart of him but he is not in everything, many do not know him, yet nothing would exist without him because he is everything even though very few know him; yet he does not cease to exist and he does not cease to have life and everything else exist.
Knowing Krishna and the ultimate truth is the journey of enlightenment. Realizing that Krishna is the ultimate truth is only one connection of millions that needs to be made because one still has to make the long journey. This journey demands intense devotion and self discipline. Through immense actions and inactions Krishna/God can be known.




Wednesday, February 11, 2004
 
Tobi Drori
Laws in Society
Why must society establish laws, which they then must follow and abide by? Can the populous live in a place where rules and regulations do not apply, therefore living freely by ones own judgment and decrees? Ideally, through education and culture these guidelines, which are established for a purpose, would have no need of being written down as a decree for they would already be known by the many. If ethics could be taught from childhood through adulthood, and all the individuals applied those principles to their lives, there would be no need to write down laws for society. However, society does not function without “back-up.” In other terms, civilization, as well as individuals, are not independent, but rather dependent on other entities to guide them towards what is morally correct for the individual, the mass, and the environment. Consequently, laws are not simply instituted for the sake of one fraction of our entire public.
Laws are set down for the common good of all of humanity. They are here in our lives for us to use, not simply to follow. They teach common man the essentials and principles of our morals and rights. Laws and guidelines stand behind the weak to catch them before they fall. Fundamentally, regulations steer us towards a better understanding of society as well as a healthier and superior existence. Without laws there is no control in society. Nothing would be articulated to the individuals to tell them, and reassure them of our own morals. In the movie of Soylent Green, starting Charlton Heston, a message is sent out through the corruption and chaos of the film. Soylent Green illustrates how corruption in society, due to disregarding laws, can create a world where the individual, the society, and the environment are all affected in a negative conduct.
The association of laws in a nation is critical to all living beings in that civilization. Laws are abstract concepts, which are established by our own beings in order to create justice in society. Nevertheless, morality continues to move in a forward motion resembling the movement of time. This change happens without question, and we as a whole can not stop altering the ways in which we live. Therefore, as time surpasses our way of living, we must as well modify the way we approach matters. However, what methodology must society look towards in order to interpret, which decrees must be transformed, and which ones to keep continuous? More specifically, how does one know, which mandates are ethically just for an individual to receive?
Human beings, individuals, are the creators of laws, the laws, which are articulated to us everyday, and which we must follow. Yet, these guidelines are not utterly just, for humans who encompass errors, prepared them. However, laws that are questioned are changed for the better of society. These decrees are altered because they do not provide justice for a nation at that point in time. Nonetheless, who advises us what to and what not to change, or rather how do we know what to alter and when to alter? In other terms, a question of which methodology must one use to interpret the meaning and significance is at the stand.
The bible, the stories of humanity’s beginning, is a way for individuals to construe what is right and what is morally wrong in life. It is the word of God, the laws for society. However, the bible is not concrete in that there is more than one interpretation of the stories that are told. For instance, the creation story, which reveals the beginning of our human race, is told in two different means. One differs from the other by alluding to God in a diverse fashion. Hypothetically, how must one determine which account of the event is correct? On the other hand, is humankind responsible for translating these two different descriptions into one significant meaning?
The laws in the bible are decrees spoken by God, and delivered to the people of Israel by prophets who are appointed by the divine being. Prophets such as Moses and Joshua, who have heard the voice of God, give these words to Israel to forever be held true amongst the nation. These words spoken by God are the tests of judgment for Israel. They link the covenant that was established between God and the nation of Israel together. “Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid; for god had come only to test you and to put the fear of him upon you so that you do not sin.’ ”(Exodus 20:20). They generate a sense of reassurance for God and as well as Israel. They are there to remind the populace of the rules, which God commanded them to follow. However, these guidelines are also to provide the nation of Israel a sense of morality, a way to find justice within society, and to better their nation.
The reason that these regulations were formed for Israel and the later generations was to, and still is, to institute justice in a society. When we look to the bible for answers we find more than one, and each give a different meaning. For instance, the bible holds the Ten Commandments, the laws declared by God in order to recognize the covenant that was formed between the divine and the nation. Yet, both Exodus and Deuteronomy give recollection to the commandments. Each has different ways of interpreting the laws, and the way in which they were told. Nonetheless, how does one decipher the meanings of each account in order to interpret which one is morally correct? Are we presumably supposed to give credit to one rather than the other because it was written earlier or later? Or by chance must we choose between the two depending on how they are told; who or what is providing the illustration of the event?
“Then God spoke all these words: I am the Lord your God, who brought you our of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:1-3). The first acknowledgment of the Ten Commandments is expressed in the book of Exodus, which explains the legend of Moses and how this great prophet lead the people of Israel out of Egypt with the voice of God.
God rehearses the Ten Commandments that are depicted in the book of Exodus to the nation of Israel without an interpretation from humankind. Word for word God conveys the laws of the Ten Commandments, thus commanding Israel to follow them. “You shall not make for yourself an idol…You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God…Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy…Honor you father and your mother…You shall not murder.”(Exodus 20:1-13). In this fashion, the Ten Commandments are seen as the divine words of God. Therefore these laws are just, making them true for humanity. In view of the fact that God is reciting these words, individuals will perceive these to be the truth without question, without considering if in fact these guidelines are morally correct, or the validity is not improbable. “When all the people witnessed the thunder and lighting, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking, they were afraid and trembled and stood at a distance, and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, or we will die.” (Exodus 20:18-20). God is seen here as all mighty and powerful without fault. Therefore, why would one question God’s commandments? However, what if these laws are in fact unjust, how will one know if they do not question the words of God?
In the book of Deuteronomy, the last of the five books of the Torah, we are given a different analysis of the Ten Commandments. Instead of hearing the laws of God spoken by the divine being we are revealed to them by humankind, by Moses. In this account of the Ten Commandments we are told of our mistakes, of our rebellions, and how the people of Israel questioned the righteousness of God. Moreover, we are shown how the people depended on God without acknowledging their covenant. Moses reveals to them all of their wrong doings and their stubbornness because of their disbelief in God.
During their travels through the desert for forty years God was testing the nation of Israel, but because of their “suffering” they lost faith in God. “Remember the long way that the Lord your god has led you these forty years in the wilderness, in order to humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commandments.”(Deuteronomy 8:2). In this sense, the people of Israel are not being commanded to do specific things without contemplation, but are instead put on a path so that they might learn for themselves. Moses enlightens Israel on why they went through all of their “obstacles,” “so that Lord your God disciplines you.”(Deuteronomy 8:5). Furthermore, by illuminating the situation Israel begins to learn the purpose of the Ten Commandments.
In Deuteronomy, the Ten Commandments are expressed to the people of Israel through Moses, not by God. We may look at the Ten Commandments with a different mind set in this way. For instance, because the laws are not told to use by a divine being we can question their liability, therefore teaching ourselves the difference between wrong and right. Moreover, Moses communicates the commandments with more depth to what they apply to. For example, the commandment of keeping the Sabbath day is articulated differently. In Exodus God Says, “you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns.”(Exodus 20:8). Where as Moses explains why the alien residents are to be included during the Sabbath day. “Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt…”(Deuteronomy 5:15).
Both descriptions of the event are significant to the bible. One exclaims the importance of following the words of God, and yet the other shows how obstacles are tests in our lives, which guide us to a better understanding of law. To say that one is superior over the other is incorrect for they both have a purpose. We as individuals should not depend on laws and regulations to tell us how to live. There is more to the purpose of laws. They are there to make us think about morality and ourselves. What is the meaning of our laws, why did God command us to abide by these Ten Commandments? We must test ourselves and think logically about the purposes of laws in order to understand their existence.
“But to this day the Lord has not given you a mind to understand, or eyes to see, or ears to hear.”(Deuteronomy 29:4). We must be tested through hardships to understand.


 
SS 5a
Erica Boudette
2/10/04
Reflection on Commandments

“Are the Commandments of God contradictory? And how do we choose which we rules we have to follow and which we don’t?”

Throughout the Bible God is setting down rules about how humans have to behave with each other and with God. The people of Moses back when God gave them these rules were expected to follow every single rule in order to be worthy of receiving the Promised Land from God. Should we still be following the rules that God laid out over 2,000 years ago? Or should we be making our own rules and ignoring what God said? Is it even possible to follow everything God says?
The answer to the last of these questions is no, because Gods message and Gods rules are always changing as humanity itself is changing. The rules and guidelines that God lays down often contradict themselves, for example one of the Ten Commandments is “You shall not murder.” (Deuteronomy 5:17), but then later on God says “Then you shall bring out to your gates that man or woman who has committed that wicked thing, and shall stone to death that man or woman with stones.” (Deuteronomy 17:5) So does this mean it is all right to kill people if they deserve it? You can murder people if they do something wrong? Because there are so many of God’s laws in the Bible, and they cover some of the same topics, often overlapping, the rules in the Bible are very much open to interpretation. And interpretation varies from person to person. It is impossible to know or to follow exactly what God said in the Bible.
So how do we know which rules we do have to follow as opposed to the ones we can disregard? How do we decide which rules are important to us? This question is hard to answer because in this day and age we basically only look at the Bible as a behavioral guide if it is agreeing with how we want to act anyway. The world and society is always changing, while the word of God in the Bible is presumably remaining the same. Because of this humans cannot be expected to hang onto old, unchanging rules that don’t apply or make sense anymore. Today we rely on our own culture to tell us what is appropriate behavior and what is not. Today we make laws based on our ideologies, the fundamental beliefs systems that affect everyone even though we don’t even realize they are there. Our culture tells us that it is wrong to kill people, period, and any kind of murder is against the law, yet our government is allowed to kill convicted criminals. We have to balance our ideology, which says it is wrong to kill people, and human life is sacred, with the reality of being practical in the world today. We can no longer depend on what God has told us to do a long time ago because since society is so different now we are going to come up with situations that couldn’t have possibly happened back then. We have to take what we believe is right, and balance it with what we know or think will work to keep the society functioning well.
The laws in the Bible are often contradictory to themselves and therefore it is impossible to follow the laws exactly. It is also impractical because society is always changing and it is impossible for one book to be able to cover everything that could happen in the future. The Bible is a guide we can use to show one way or two ways of handling a situation, but ultimately we will have to decide for ourselves, based on our culture and our beliefs, what laws still work and what new laws we need today.

 
SS 5a
Erica Boudette
2/10/04
Reflection on Commandments

“Are the Commandments of God contradictory? And how do we choose which we rules we have to follow and which we don’t?”

Throughout the Bible God is setting down rules about how humans have to behave with each other and with God. The people of Moses back when God gave them these rules were expected to follow every single rule in order to be worthy of receiving the Promised Land from God. Should we still be following the rules that God laid out over 2,000 years ago? Or should we be making our own rules and ignoring what God said? Is it even possible to follow everything God says?
The answer to the last of these questions is no, because Gods message and Gods rules are always changing as humanity itself is changing. The rules and guidelines that God lays down often contradict themselves, for example one of the Ten Commandments is “You shall not murder.” (Deuteronomy 5:17), but then later on God says “Then you shall bring out to your gates that man or woman who has committed that wicked thing, and shall stone to death that man or woman with stones.” (Deuteronomy 17:5) So does this mean it is all right to kill people if they deserve it? You can murder people if they do something wrong? Because there are so many of God’s laws in the Bible, and they cover some of the same topics, often overlapping, the rules in the Bible are very much open to interpretation. And interpretation varies from person to person. It is impossible to know or to follow exactly what God said in the Bible.
So how do we know which rules we do have to follow as opposed to the ones we can disregard? How do we decide which rules are important to us? This question is hard to answer because in this day and age we basically only look at the Bible as a behavioral guide if it is agreeing with how we want to act anyway. The world and society is always changing, while the word of God in the Bible is presumably remaining the same. Because of this humans cannot be expected to hang onto old, unchanging rules that don’t apply or make sense anymore. Today we rely on our own culture to tell us what is appropriate behavior and what is not. Today we make laws based on our ideologies, the fundamental beliefs systems that affect everyone even though we don’t even realize they are there. Our culture tells us that it is wrong to kill people, period, and any kind of murder is against the law, yet our government is allowed to kill convicted criminals. We have to balance our ideology, which says it is wrong to kill people, and human life is sacred, with the reality of being practical in the world today. We can no longer depend on what God has told us to do a long time ago because since society is so different now we are going to come up with situations that couldn’t have possibly happened back then. We have to take what we believe is right, and balance it with what we know or think will work to keep the society functioning well.
The laws in the Bible are often contradictory to themselves and therefore it is impossible to follow the laws exactly. It is also impractical because society is always changing and it is impossible for one book to be able to cover everything that could happen in the future. The Bible is a guide we can use to show one way or two ways of handling a situation, but ultimately we will have to decide for ourselves, based on our culture and our beliefs, what laws still work and what new laws we need today.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004
 
Sam
February 10, 2004
Global Studies 2A
Reflection question 2

How do we decide which rules to follow in our society, and which to set aside? This is a tough question to solve. Although we should take the bible and find out what is truly just and what isn’t, but our emotional and cultural values come into play.

One of the laws says “And this is the law of the meat-offering: the sons of Aaron shall offer it before the Lord, before the altar. And he shall take of it his handful, of the flour of the meat-offering, and of the oil thereof, and all the frannkincence which is upon the meat offering, and shall burn it upon the altar for a sweet savour, even the memorial of it, unto the Lord.” (Leviticus 6, 7-8) This law that is in the bible, the book that we found to hold some of the important ideals to live our lives has a law like that. In my opinion (and yes I know is shouldn’t be saying that, but theres a reason), that doesn’t make sense or seem right at all.

It says a little further down that the meat shouldn’t even be cooked and eaten by all of the males of the children of Aaron. By today’s standards, I think that a lot of people would agree with me, even of the Jewish community. But we also have to look at the idea that I could be wrong and all of the males who are sons of Aaron should be eating the raw meat of the sacrifice. When deciding what laws to follow and which ones not to follow, using in my opinion would be the wrong way to go about things.

When cultural norms are used in deciding which laws to use and which ones to get rid of, some of the laws will only be used in that time. The above law was written with the idea that women aren’t equal. It is probably likely that this is not so, and saying that only the males have eat the uncooked animal would be wrong.

In conclusion, the best way to decide which rules to use, and which to set aside is to use only the timeless rules. Some rules that were written with the cultural values and ideas of the time also must be rewritten. If emotion is left out when deciding which rules to use, those rules could potentially define a long lasting society. But if we incorporate our modern culture into the laws, they will be changed and corrupted after our culture of today fades into all of the other cultures of the past.

 
Andy Howe
Are the two sets of the 10 commandments contradictory? How do we know which ones to follow and which ones not to?
2/10/04

If one were to examine God’s actions and decisions from the time the first time the Ten Commandments were given and the second time they were given, one would find God to be very contradictory. God has ordered the people of Israel to abide by a certain list of laws, but at the same time God allows some of the laws to be broken under certain conditions?
God orders, “You shall not murder” (Deuteronomy 5:17) yet he supplies Moses with a staff in Exodus that enables Moses to make a path through the water and to drown all of the Egyptian troops behind him. Here, God is lets Moses murder numerous people. What justifies Moses killing all of those people? Is it because God said it was all right? Or is it allowed because God will let you break the laws if the situation is noble through the eyes of a certain group?
Using the example of ‘You shall not murder’ one could argue that God has made humans in his image and through God breaking that rule, thus humans should be then free from its chain. Providing evidence saying that there are times where killing someone or peoples is appropriate. Backing this statement, God approves of holy war, in fact he participates when he himself kills the officers and army of Egypt.
“In the greatness of your majesty you threw down those who opposed you. You unleashed your burning anger; it consumed them like stubble. By the blast of your nostrils the waters piled up. The surging waters stood firm like a wall; the deep waters congealed in the heart of the sea” (Exodus 15:7 – 15:8). Written evidence such as this in the Bible causes great confusion and arguments throughout the world today. Certain groups of people, who believe that the word of God is with them and that they hold the covenant with God, will act upon it. They participate in ‘holy war’ in an effort to suppress all those who oppose them just as God himself had done in the story of Moses, the staff and the Egyptian army in the Red Sea.
People with this type of mindset, usually fundamentalists, are not able to alter their beliefs for they proclaim something powerful such as that they believe that they walk in the name of the Lord. People like this are very dangerous and difficult to deal with because the ‘holy war’ comes into effect and these people will go to virtually any length to achieve victory, for they ‘come with God.’
This speaks on a large nation scale where laws such as murder can have exceptions, but what about on an everyday human-to-human situation? People, usually fundamentalists, who partake in ‘holy war’, commonly believe it is okay to violate the laws against all individuals who oppose their beliefs (those being indirectly those of God assuming the people think that they have the covenant with God and find favor through his eyes). When issues concerning specifics, labeling something right or not becomes a very ‘hairy’ situation. Certain arguments using analogies and outlines such as the one with the ox (property) and the owner cannot be made because exceptions are being accepted. At the same time no one can make any real definite argument justifying murder because there is solid evidence supporting both sides of the argument.
Problems arise when people are unable to think objectively and put aside their fundamentalist views for the sake of true justice through reason and logic. Unfortunately, people chose which laws to follow and solely based on faith. Which usually means that they try to aim to be following them all. Yet some are chosen to have exceptions, the group’s views on religion/faith and their situation and how it does and does not parallel with those of the Bible/Torah all influence their decisions.



 
Will Meyer
2/10/04
SS5
How do we Determine which rules we should fallow and which we should disregard?

It is a very tricky question to answer. There are many rules in society that we must look at in order to answer this question. In order to answer this question we must look back at the basis of laws in society. This basis is called The Bible.

We must look back at The Bible because without that one book we would have no way to look at which rules are important and which rules are not so important. I believe that some of the laws in the Bible are not as important as other laws. I think some very important rules, and regulations appear in the book of Exodus. Particularly in the personal injuries section. “Anyone who strikes a man and kills him shall surely be put to death. However, if he does not do it intentionally, but god lets it happen, he is to flee to a place I will designate. But if a man schemes and kills another man deliberately, take him away from my altar and put him to death” (Exodus 21:12). I would keep this rule because it is important for a wrong doer to serve the same penalty as he gave his victim. However, I would modify the law slightly. I believe that every person on this earth should have the right to a fair trial. After this trial is over, and said person is found guilty then I believe that they should serve the same sentence that they gave to their victims. Now, we can not say that God did not figure this out. In the quote above God dishes out the punishments, however he also dishes out the trials and tribulations that go with that wrong doer.

Another law that I think is important to keep is the law about the protection of property. “If a man steals an ox or a sheep and slaughters it or sells it, he must pay back five head of cattle for the ox and four sheep for the sheep” (Exodus 22:1). This law does not need to be taken literally, meaning when it was written they were not just talking about animals. In fact this law is meant to be interpreted to all forms of physical property. I believe that it is a good law because it means when u borrow something you are responsible for it. It is important to have laws like this because without them people would be borowing stuff and breaking it without any consequences.

There are some rules that I would throw out however if I had control over them. One law in particular is the whole idol thing. “You shall not make yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or in the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them ; for I, the lord your god, am a jealous god, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments” (Exodus 20:4). Personally I do not agree with this law because god is saying that you cannot create an idol to bow down to yet, as long as its of him, or his son its ok. Here we see one of the many times that god is contradictory to what he was saying in the first place. He says, “you shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). He is saying here that as long as you have me as your number one god its ok to build me an idol, such as the ark, but also at the same time don’t build any alters that worship anything in heaven but its ok if its of me. Take the ancient Greeks for example, they had idols of all their gods which they bowed down to regularly, so why in the world cant we?

It is indeed a very hard question to think about, and answer at the same time. But we can use the Bible and what we know about world history, in order to determine which laws are just, and which laws are unjust.
 
Contradictory Laws
-rachel wrote this on a very bad night and don’t say you understand, because you won’t until your faced with the fact that college is a __ to get into. Next year my dear juniors, next year... GOOD LUCK.
In society today, it is hard to determine which rules we follow and which ones we do not. In the bible, the ten commandments are listed as rules that God delivered to Moses, to tell the people. However in reading those laws we find ourselves reading laws that contradict themselves. It makes us question Gods sense of justice.
In Exodus, God is telling Moses to hurt the people he encounters during the Exodus. He says “and I blot them out, you shall not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do according to their work, but you shall utterly overthrow them and break their pillars in pieces.” (23:24) However right before this, God had said to Moses “You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. You shall not afflict any widow or orphan.” (22:21)
Even though in the earlier statement God says to not hurt strangers, he sends his angel in the later section to “blot out” the rest of the city. He does this to make way for Moses and he thinks he is justified because he is not Christians. They are not people who follow God, and they are not followers of Moses. An interesting observation though is that Moses people only come up to about a few thousands and God favors them better than anybody else. So what about the other huge chunk of the population? The one rule that seems to be the least contradicting is to worship no other God, but himself. For example, when Moses comes from getting the commandments God tells him to kill everyone that had ever worshiped the golden calf. God is the only one who can have a higher power.
As today's society gets harder and harder to deal with, we all must make conscious choices and understand our laws. However we have no contact with God since the Bible, so we must ask ourselves, would God rather us follow his ancient laws or would he rather we use our own good judgment using him as a guide. When some authorities are trying to solve a problem, they go to the Bible for the word of God. But times have changed, and how can we determine what is right and what is wrong?
We can assume that God would want us to go by his laws. THe problem is, is that his laws as far as we know are 2000 years old (or more)
Considering their are so many contradictories in the Bible, I think we in society today should be trusted to make our own good judgement, and not follow a book that is so outdated.
Monday, February 02, 2004
 
How does Moses help create Israel? What is the definition of a nation/people? by Rachel

Moses goal was to release the Jews from Egyptian oppression. Why? Because God startled him from the bushes and cried, “And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring forth my people , the sons of Israel, out of Egypt.” (3:9) After that God uses Moses as a tool of holy smiting as the Pharaoh denies the sons of Israel their freedom over and over again. Moses goes to the Pharaoh, is denied, and there starts the seven plagues. Moses acts as the hand of God, like his messenger and therefor does whatever God tells him to do. After the last plague, the people of Egypt chased the sons of Israel out of Egypt. “And the Egyptians were urgent with the people, to send them out of the land in haste; for they said “we are all dead men” (12:33)
In asking the question “Does Moses help create Israel?” Most people would say yes. However, if you examine it more closely you would see that Moses himself does nearly nothing to create Israel. He only acts as a puppet of God. Moses organizes his people by heads of the family, however only by Gods orders. This helps give the people an identity, along with their shared of blood, and sharing of experience.
Once they get out of Egypt, Moses still plays the same role, although now he acts more of the guardian and leader of the sons of Israel instead of the liberator. He drowns the pursuing Egyptian army in the Red Sea, he brings forth water in the desert, and he tells his people of the foods that God shall provide. Exodus even quotes that the Lord did all of this and not Moses (who they call his servant.) “Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the seashore. And Israel saw the great work which the Lord did against the Egyptians, and the people feared the Lord; and they believed in the Lord and his servant Moses.” (14:30) None of these things are a result of Moses’ own virtue, however. Moses establishes many of the critical aspects of a state (rather, god does these things through moses). He provides a code of law (the Ten Commandments) he establishes a few social guidelines: the three feasts of passover, new year, and other various rituals.
People have something in common, or many things in common. In the case of Exodus, it is bloodlines (the sons of Israel), and shared experiences (oppression of the Egyptians, escape from Egypt). Their religion and belief in God, is the most important thing in common, however. In Exodus, Moses decides to kill 3,000 people who had worshiped a false idol. “And when Moses saw that the people had broken loose, then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said “Who is on the Lords side? Come to me.” (32:25) “And he said to them, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘Put every man his sword on his side, and go to and fro from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbor.” (32:27)
A nation is people bound under the same habits: law, customs, language, ideology, etc. They have common interests, are protected by the same armies, and benefit from the same trade. While a nation may have many different groups of people in it, they all follow the same laws. However, the nation that Moses and God make, is a nation of the sons of Israel, which is more of a settling in, rather than a rebirth.
 
SS 5a
Erica Boudette
1/27/04
Reflection on Moses

“How did Moses help create Israel? What are the definitions of a nation/people?”

The book of Exodus is about Moses freeing the people of Israel from the Egyptians. The Israelites are the descendents of Jacob, Isaac and Abraham who have the covenant with God that God will one day give their descendents the Promised Land. In Exodus, God works through Moses to make this happen.
Moses does not really create Israel, God does, but Moses is important because he is God’s human vessel on earth. God chooses Moses to be the figure that does start the creation of Israel. God starts by giving Moses the tools he will need to make the slaves of Egypt follow him, signs that God is with Moses, like the rod that can become a snake. He also tells Moses to use his brother Aaron as the public speaker because Moses is “…Not eloquent [and] slow of speech and slow of tongue.” (Exodus 4:10) Basically God forces Moses to do what he wants, which is to free the Israelites in Egypt and give them Israel. So Moses and his family and his brother go to Egypt where the talk to the Pharaoh, who isn’t willing to negotiate with Moses for the freedom of all his slaves, and he actually makes things harder for the slaves. But eventually the Pharaoh is willing to agree with Moses, after he sees some of the signs of God, but God doesn’t want him to agree. “And I will harden the Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt. But Pharaoh will not heed you, so that I may lay My hand on Egypt and bring My armies and My people, the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments.” (Exodus 7:3-4) So God is not only helping Moses and his people, but he is using them as a way to destroy much of Egypt for his own reasons, that don’t affect Moses and the Israelites. He is taking what they want, which is to be free, a step further and actually punishing the Egyptians for keeping these people as slaves. But really it is not the Egyptians fault because how could they know that these people had a covenant with God before Moses told them? The people for Israel themselves didn’t even know anymore. God is basically manipulating both parties so that he can do what he wants. If it was just Moses and the Pharaoh they would have come to an agreement in the beginning, as soon as the Pharaoh sees God’s power, but God doesn’t want that because then he doesn’t get a chance to show off his power. So “the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart” (Exodus 10:20) so that “I may show these signs of Mine before him.” (Exodus 10:1) Moses basically becomes a pawn for God; God uses him on his quest to get power over the Egyptians. But by following God’s instructions Moses frees the Israelites, and brings them through the red sea towards the Promised Land. He also not only gets the people to the land they are promised but starts to create them as a nation, by getting their laws from God and starting to set up their society, and they way it will run in the future.
Moses helps the Israelites to start a nation. In the bible, a nation is very much based on ancestry. It starts with the heads of the household, and then goes down through their children. The nation originally builds up because it is not just the descendents of a particular family, but also everyone that they bring into their household, their wives and some of the closer relatives of their wives, and also any slaves or servants. But it isn’t just people that make up a nation. As civilizations in the Bible become more and more advanced, more and more makes up a nation. Firstly you have to have had land, have land currently or be getting land in the future. A nation without land will never progress because they have no way to promote and enforce their own culture and social values because technically they are under the jurisdiction of whatever nation’s land they are on. So in order to become a nation you also need to have you own rules, laws and culture that differs from your neighbors. In the Bible both Israel and Egypt are a nation, but originally Israel is just another part of Egypt because they are under Egypt’s rule, and they don’t get to practice their own culture. But after they have been freed from Egypt they get their own laws and their own ways of doings things that are different then what they had to do in Egypt. Each nation has to have at least slightly different rules and a different culture then the rest of the nations because then there would be no point to being separate nations. The Bible emphasizes this by showing the importance of the Israelites separating them from the Egyptians in order to be a nation that has the covenant of God. A nation or a people needs there own land, and culture in order to survive.


Wednesday, January 28, 2004
 
Andy Howe

Reflection Paper: How does Moses help create Israel? What is the definition of a nation/people?

1/27/04



Throughout the book of Exodus Moses leads the Israelites out of Egypt and across great distances in order to establish a new city. Moses plays such an important role throughout the makings of Israel. Without Moses, the future Israelites would never have organized an escape from Egypt without being brought back by the Egyptian Army, let alone having the courage to survive in the wilderness until the city had been established.

From the beginning, the king of Egypt declared, “the Israelites have become much too numerous for us. Come, we must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous and, if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country” (Exodus 1:9-10). On this hauntingly bad note for the Hebrews’ fortune in Egypt, all of the male infants were to be drowned in the Nile. One Hebrew mother sent her child, Moses, down the river in a basket. The daughter of the king of Egypt later raised him. When Moses was grown up and fled Egypt from fear of punishment for killing an Egyptian slave overseer, God came to him saying that Moses must be God’s messenger in setting the Hebrews free from Egyptian cruelty.

“And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt” (Exodus 3:9-10). After being sent by God to retrieve all of the Israelites (Hebrews) out of Egypt, Moses found that the Pharaoh refused to release the Israelites from Egypt forcing Moses to plan the Israelite’s escape. Once the plan was executed, the army of Egypt followed them to a great body of water. Moses uses the staff God gave him in order to clear a path in the water for himself and the Israelites to pass through while flooding the army behind them.

After this courageous act, Moses led the celebrating Israelites into the wilderness to the mountain of Sinai. There, the people camped out and Moses went up the mountain and obtained the Ten Commandments from God for the Israelites. Overall, through Moses, the messenger of God, the people of the new civilization of Israel have been lead out of Egypt making their new civilization possible. In addition, the law structure, order, and foundation of the civilization had been given through Moses from God: the Ten Commandments, establishing the Israelites as a nation.

It is amazing how Moses brought a group of people, the Hebrews/Israelites, who all had life values and religion in common with each other, which set them aside from all of the other peoples of Egypt, and made them into a nation. “…they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites and worked them ruthlessly… The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, ‘When you help the Hebrew women in childbirth and observe them on the delivery stool, if it is a boy, kill him but if it is a girl, let her live. The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live’” (Exodus 1:12-16). Through this quote it is evident that the Egyptian king singles out the Hebrews as a separate group of people from the Egyptians, due to their customs and religion. Clearly a group of people alone can be distinguished from a nation in that they are bound together by their morals, beliefs, lifestyles, and the like.

In contrast a nation is a group or groups of people living together and governed by the same body. Here, the Egyptian king threatened when this group of people becomes impressively numerous and he worsens their work and living conditions. Eventually the king resorted to ordering the midwives to kill all of the male infants of the Israelites at birth. When they did not follow the king’s infanticide orders, sparks of the need for rebellion and an establishment of a separate and new nation ignited.

 
Tim Aikey
How does Moses help create Israel? What is the definition of Nation/people?

Moses is sent by God to rescue the Israelites from Egypt. He is then to bring them far away from the pharaoh to Israel.

Exodus basically starts out with the pharaoh’s wrath in which Moses is stuck in the middle of. He is sent downstream by his family and is meet by pharaoh’s daughter. She takes care of him until he is older. Moses sees a man beating up a Jew and kills this man, and then Moses disappears from the city.

God tells Moses that he is the son of Abraham. God then gives Moses a stick that is powerful and can do the work of God. God tells Moses that he is to free the people of Israel who are in Egypt. Moses does many things through God with his stick to make the pharaoh let the people go, but the pharaoh keeps saying no, eventually after the pharaohs own son dies he lets the people go. “At midnight the Lord slew every first-born in the land of Egypt, from the first-born of Pharaoh on the throne to the first-born of the prisoner in the dungeon”(Exodus,12 ch12 29). With God on Moses side he is safely guided to Israel. Even with the pharaoh’s troops sent after him. Moses simply parts the river for his people and then lets it go crashing down for the pharaoh’s troops. After this there isn’t any more trouble.

Through Moses’s faith to God, and God’s power, Moses’s desire of helping the people out of slavery that he himself was almost in, was immense. Moses was able to create Israel with these motivations. I do not believe that Moses could have done this without God, and God couldn’t have done this without Moses or else he would have. I believe that the people were too frightened of God, so God sent a similar being to these enslaved people to do his work. “’Thus shall you say to the Israelites: The Lord, the God of your father…has sent me to you”’(Exodus,3,ch3 15). Moses is more Gods message deliverer.


There are many definitions for nation. One I found interesting was “a tribe or federation of tribes”. I would think that a small group of people that oppose a different nation could be a nation.



 
Nora Hickson
Global Studies 2a
January 27, 2004
How did Moses help create Israel?
And how did Israel change from a tribe to a nation?
There are many definitions of a nation, each created from looking at its different functions. Here is a definition of a nation looking at it from the perspective of its affect on an individual. A nation has one leader, a common history, and language. Members work towards a common goal, its prosperity as a whole, as well as, their own happiness. A nation also creates a sense of belonging, purpose and identity to the Nation.
When Moses gathered the Israelites to leave Egypt the assembled Israelites wandered under God’s command. Though the group had the numbers to form a nation the qualities of a nation did not yet exist among them. The members of the group didn’t trust others or God and Moses nor did they feel united, key elements that would allow the group to feel as though a nation. When traveling to their settling point the Israelites did not trust in God to bring prosperity, they weren’t comfortable relying on God. They were used to receiving regular meals. Though they used to be enslaved the common routine of their former lives was more comfortable to them than freedom and risk. “ ‘If only we had died at the LORD’s hand in Egypt, where we sat round the fleshpots and had plenty of bread to eat! But you have brought us out into this wilderness to let this whole assembly starve to death.’ ” (Exodus 15:23) The people were uncomfortable not belonging to an area. They felt as though they had little identity; no homeland, little faith in their God, and their new hardship encouraged them to fend for themselves rather than to work together.
Slowly, as God proved his power through Moses, the Israelites’ trust grew for Moses and their God. The increase in trust and admiration allowed for a new nation to begin to form. The trust in God gave the people faith in religion something they all began to feel. This commonality along with their shared history created a sense of unity among the Israelites, a key component of forming a nation; working together towards a common goal. Settling also helped the Israelites feel more secure and at home. Their comfort level allowed them to pay attention to exterior issues like their neighbors and the contracts with God rather than survival.
Moses helped create the nation of Israel by slowly gaining their trust. He convinced the people of Gods power so that they became God fearing. Moses acted as an intermediary between God and the Israelites. He was a leader to the people and he carryed out the will of God. The trust the Israelites had for Moses and God united the people together with purpose and a sense of identity. And Moses teaches Israel how to live prosperously and abide by gods rules.
One of the ways God proved his power to the Israelites was by giving Moses the power to separate the Red Sea. “For my part I will make the Egyptians obstinate and they will come after you; thus will I win glory for myself at the expense of Pharaoh and his army, chariots and cavalry all together.” (Exodus 14:16) Though God never made him self present to the people his commands and power was mostly shown by Moses, who played as an intermediary between God and the people. This role is best shown when the Israelites make a statue of a bull-calf in representation of God while they wait for Moses to descend the Mountain. God becomes infuriated. “Now, let me alone to vent my anger upon them, so that I may put an end to them and make a great nation spring from you.” (Exodus 32:10) Moses calmly negotiates with God asking him to remember his contract with Abraham. And Moses argues that God should not kill the people he spent so much time freeing from Egypt.
Why shouldst thou vent thy anger upon thy people, whom thou didst bring out of Egypt with great power and a strong hand? … Turn from thy anger, and think better of the evil thou dost intend against thy people. Remember Abraham, Isaac and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou didst swear by thy own self… So the lord relented. (Exodus 32:11)
Another way in which Moses helps to build the nation of Israel is by teaching the people, what God has told him, how to live under God’s his rules, abide by them and live prosperously. Here is an example of Moses instructing the people. “ ‘ ‘Each of you is to gather as much a he can eat: let every man take an omer a head for every person in his tent.’ ’ ‘No one may keep any of it till morning.’ Some however, did not listen to moses; they kept part of it till morning, and it became full of maggots and stank, and Moses was angry with them.” (Exodus 16:16-21)
Though Moses may not be the obvious leader for the Israelites, he certainly accomplishes his tasks with much success and honor. Moses even is able to negotiate with God when he becomes irrational. Moses really didn’t want to be leader but he turned into an excellent, selfless leader, putting his nation and servitude to god before all else. “No, Lord, send whom thou wilt.” (Exodus 4:14) Perhaps Plato was right that the best leaders are those who wish never to be one.



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