Life of Loving Deeds #1

This series is about practical teachings from Jewish and Christian sources for living out the way of love, justice, and goodness. I am particularly interested in texts that correlate to Yeshua’s (Jesus’) teaching for his disciples.

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks (To Heal a Fractured World) says faith is protest. Karl Marx had famously said the opposite: faith is the tool of the oppressors to make the oppressed content with their lot.

Religious faith, Marx believed, was what reconciled people to their condition — their poverty, their disease and death, their ‘station in life’, their subjection to tyrannical rulers, the sheer bleakness of existence for most people most of the time. . . .

Marx’s family background was Jewish: his grandfather had been a rabbi. His relationship to Judaism was, however, hostile, and his description of religion fails as a description of the Hebrew Bible. Judaism is not a religion that reconciles us to the world. It was born as an act of defiance against the great empires of the ancient world, Mesopotamia and Egypt, which did what he accused all religions of doing — sanctifying hierarchy, justifying the rule of the strong over the weak’ glorifying kings and Pharaohs and keeping the masses in their place. In the Bible God removes the chains of slavery from his people; he does not impose them.

-To Heal a Fractured World, Chapter 2, “Faith as Protest,” 17-18.

Instead of being content with the suffering, loneliness, dejection, and bleakness around us, we are to protest it. We are responsible to act against such things. Especially in little things, we can often oppose the bleakness, inserting some joy and goodness into a bleak world.

The Son of Man came . . . to give his life as a ransom (Mark 10:45).

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3 Responses to Life of Loving Deeds #1

  1. Wouter says:

    Interesting post, sound like a good book. Good article, didn’t know much about the background of Carl Marx. I guess the statement about egypt is interesting, and one not often thought of in modern thought. That God in the Old in the as the displayed in the Exodus was always standing for freedom and the helping of the poor and the once who suffer. Something quite important to remember, I guess as a popular view in society and sometimes Christianity is that Only Yeshua preached help to the poor and suffering however this isn’t quite true.


  2. James says:

    I saw this book at the library over lunch and almost checked it out. I stopped myself because I’m already reading another book, I sometimes get tired of reading a book on a schedule (you can only keep a library book so long), and I’ve got enough books at home to read.

    It’s no secret that I vacillate between wanting to take on the world to change it for the better and sinking under the weight of adversity; a would-be Atlas mashed flat by the earth’s mass (or my own emotional mass, I’m still deciding which). We live in a broken world and this side of the Messiah, no one person can fix it (although arguably, if people are considered to be junior partners with God in managing Creation, then perhaps we are even “needed” as part of the “fixing” process). Yes, we should be the change we want to see in the world and the answer to our prayers to God, but truly changing the world will take more than religious platitudes and a pep talk from the pulpit, so to speak.

    We tend to look at the external world when we consider tikkun olam, but I think the first and most necessary repair job is the person you look at in the mirror each morning.

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