Archive for November, 2011

To heaven with Scribes and Pharisees

November 21, 2011
Ecce Homo - Tony Mujica

Ecce Homo - Tony Mujica

It was as a Galilean Jew that he befriended the poor and the despised. It was as a Galilean Jew that he thundered against the powerful and the haughty. — Howard Jacobson

Jesus was living like a good Jew, going to the synagaoge, praying and living according to the Law of Moses in his house. — Fr Eugenio Alliato, Studium Biblicum Franciscanum

Yeshua was a Jew and an observant one … He stressed Torah and love – but in this he drew upon the Jewish tradition. — Leonard Swidler, American Roman Catholic scholar

To heaven hell with Scribes and Pharisees: A priest and a rabbi take a fresh look at the Jewish religion and its leaders at the time of Jesus.


– Rev Marcus Braybrooke, author of Meeting Jews
– Rabbi Jackie Tabick, chair World Congress of Faiths

The Revd Marcus Braybrooke, a retired parish priest, was awarded a Lambeth Doctorate of Divinity by the Archbishop of Canterbury in recognition of his more than 40 years contribution to the development of inter-religious co-operation and understanding throughout the world. He is a former Executive Director of the Council of Christians and Jews and is a Co-Founder of the Three Faiths Forum and also President of the World Congress of Faiths, of which Jackie Tabick is the chair.

Jackie Tabick, rabbi at the North West Surrey Synagogue at Weybridge is also on the executive of the Interfaith Network. When Jackie studied medieval history at the University of London, her speciality was church history. She went on to study for the rabbinate at Leo Baeck College.

A Jewish-Christian double act.

Jesus was a Jew! He was a faithful Jew, brought up in a Jewish household, adhered to the Jewish faith.

Pharisees insisted on the letter of the law, legalism.

We need a historical reappraisal of Jesus as a Jew.

From a Christian perspective, Jewishness is seen as compliance with the law.

Was Jesus a Pharisee or an Essene? He was sufficiently conversant with the law to argue with the Pharisees on equal terms.

Jesus’ arguments with the Pharisees, as reported in the Gospels, were no greater than the arguments amongst the Pharisees themselves. There were sharp differences amongst the Rabbis, for example, between Hillel and Shammai, and their respective followers. It needs also to be remembered that the Gospels were written down at least thirty years after the death of Jesus and in part reflect the growing tension between the synagogue and early church, which is clearly illustrated in the Acts of the Apostles.

On the death of Jesus and the fall of Jerusalem and destruction of the Temple, there were two main religious groupings, the followers of Jesus a Jewish sect were one. These slowly draw apart until by 134 AD they could be seen as separate and distinct.

It is worth emphasizing that the split between church and synagogue took place over a long period and only in part for theological reasons. There was no sudden break. Rather, Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism are two developments, drawing on similar sources in first century Judaism, which gradually moved further and further apart, rather like a couple becoming estranged, who discover that in more and more ways their lives have drifted apart. By the end of the second Jewish revolt in 134 CE, despite some remaining links, ‘Christian and Jew were clearly distinct and separate.’ Over the centuries bitterness and hostility between the two communities increased and has only begun to be reversed in the twentieth century.

Jews were blamed for the death of Jesus. This is a bit like calling all Germans Nazis.

Pontius Pilate was a cruel Roman governor. He was recalled to Rome because of his cruelty. Judaea was a troublesome province. Any hint of insurrection, a leader of a revolt claiming to be the King of the Jews, would have attracted the death penalty. The Gospels, aiming at a Roman not Jewish audience, attempt to shift the blame onto the Jews.

It was not until 1965 that the Vatican issued a statement that the Jews were not responsible for the death of Jesus.

Did Jesus claim to be the Messiah, is that how his followers saw him? Later yes, but during his lifetime no. Son of God did not mean what we think today. It was a title.

The great Jewish New Testament scholar David Flusser was once asked after a talk to a group of clergy, ‘What do you pray for when you pray for Christians?’ He replied, ‘I pray that you will be more like your Master Jesus.’

Torah should be seen as teaching not the law.

Why did Pharisees get a bad press, and this was not only from the followers of Jesus, it was also in the eyes of other Jews?

It was a period of change and turmoil, out of which rose Judaism and Christianity. There were two other great Jewish teachers apart from Jesus, but these are unknown to Christians. The Jewish teachings did not end with the Old Testament, The Torah, to be replaced by the New Testament. Jews were developing their own scriptures in parallel with the New Testament.

What is known as The Torah came out of Babylon.

The High Priests were corrupt. An understanding of Jewishness was needed outside of the Temple which was central to what it was to be a Jew.

Jewishness had to be re-invented outside of the Temple. This became even more important after the Temple was destroyed.

Synagogues existed at the time of the Temple. They were centres of learning not prayer.

It is a Jewish tradition to argue for the sake of heaven. One does so with good heart, not enmity.

Jesus argued, he was following a Jewish tradition, he was a Jew!

Pharisees and Christians become the two main groups. Pharisees could exist outside of the Temple, the High Priests no longer existed. A whole new set of sacred literature was developed.

It is self-evident Jesus was a Jew. To understand his teachings one has to place them in their first century Jewish-Roman-Greek context. Many churches fail to understand this. Jesus behaved like a Jew. He nearly always answered a question with a question. That was the Jewish way. The Gospels were written for different groups, some more Jewish than others. Often the emphasis was on the difference to separate what were two competing religious groups, each claiming their Jewish heritage.

A common heritage, Jews, Christians and Muslims. For Jews the written word is the path to God, for Christians it is through Jesus, for Muslims it is the Koran.

The Bible speaks with many voices, often contradictory voices. What cannot be found in one source can often be found in another.

We hear a lot of Islamic fundamentalists, less of Christian fundamentalists. Those who lack doubt, who do not question, are bigots. We learn by talking to people of other faiths.

Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho is a devout Catholic, but he recognises there are many paths to God, no one person has a monopoly. As he describes in Aleph, he questioned his faith.

The Koran tells us that God made Man of many faiths and we should respect them.

Guildford Seeking Common Ground Lecture for Interfaith Week at Trinity Centre, Holy Trinity Church, top of Guildford High Street Monday 21 November 2011.

Behold! The Jewish Jesus
Christianity: A History – Episode 1: Jesus the Jew
Oneness of Humanity and the Unity of Religion
Choosing the best road
The Bible A Biography
What a Rabbi Learns from Muhammad
The Gospels
Where does the New Testament come from?
– Jesus Wars
Love Wins

Choosing the best road

November 21, 2011

When Abbot Antonio was asked if the road of sacrifice led to Heaven, he replied:

‘There are two such roads. The first is that of the man who mortifies his flesh and does penance because he believes that we are all damned.

‘This man feels guilty and unworthy to live a happy life.

‘He will never get anywhere because God does not inhabit guilt.

‘The second road is that of the man who knows that the world is not as perfect as we would all like it to be, but who nevertheless puts time and effort into improving the world around him.

‘In this case, the Divine Presence helps him all the time, and he will find Heaven.’

Posted by Paulo Coelho on his blog.

Love Wins

London to host Bejing-style Olympics for 2012

November 21, 2011

Not to be left out as an authoritarian regime, London is to ban protest during the 2012 Olympics.

Demonstrations’ to be banned during Olympics’

But this is not cricket old chap.

The brutal paramilitary policing we have seen in Portland, New York, Seattle and the UC Davis university campus is seen as the model for policing the London 2012 Olympics.

The roots of the UC-Davis pepper-spraying
Paramilitary policing and police brutality from Seattle to Occupy Wall Street
NYPD police brutality against Occupy Wall Street

Police have been given enhanced powers to act against protests at the 2012 Olympics since the Games were awarded to London six years ago, including the right to enter private homes and seize political posters.

New London Olympic sports: Water Cannon dodging. Rubber Bullet evasion. Pass the Truncheon. Team Water Boarding.

Speaking at St Paul’s in-the-Camp Dame Vivienne Westwood has called on young people to step off the “consumer treadmill” and “get a life”.

In Tahrir Square a second day of violence by the military junta against peaceful protesters. At least ten killed.

At UC Davis, the chancellor was given the silent treatment after she called in the police to pepper-spray students.

Oneness of Humanity and the Unity of Religion

November 20, 2011
candles one lit by each speaker

candles one lit by each speaker

Encourage knowledge understanding of and between faiths.

For many it would be a beginning to understand their own faith.

In the corner a table with various bits of literature.

Several speakers from different faiths. Talk about their faith, light a candle, play some music.

The Hindu religion is a very ancient religion. When India was strong spiritually, it was also strong culturally. The study of science encouraged.

The Old Testament is the Jewish Torah, it is a book of drama, for example the story of Joseph and his exile in Egypt. It is the Jewish tradition to chant these stories.

For Buddhists, we all have a common faith. It is better to live a single day in honour, than a hundred years in disgrace. Treasure in the body is more important than treasure in the storehouse, and most important of all is the treasure in our heart. If you lack faith it is like trying to light wet tinder. It is important to understand ourselves to help ourselves and others. Enlightenment.

There is no such thing as a typical Christian. Having faith helps to understand life, without faith life has no meaning. A Divine presence is in all Creation. God. The Psalms were written 3,500 years ago but still have relevance and meaning today. Psalm 139, the Lord is always near, you look into my heart and know everything.

No one from Islamic faith.

A Sikh is a seeker of truth. Only one God, who is in everything, who was there before and will be there after. God is unique, cannot be described.

Bahia, the son of the founder toured UK a century ago.

The meeting organised by Guildford and Godalming Interfaith Forum and hosted by St Nicolas Church marked the start of Inter Faith Week. It was opened by the Mayor of Guildford and closed by the Deputy Mayor of Godalming.

I had my hand up to ask a question, but was ignored. I wanted to ask had anyone been to St Paul’s in-the-Camp? If not, then please go, as you would find many faiths working together. When St Paul’s was closed, Flash Evensong performed evensong on the steps, Quakers have been holding services on the steps on Sunday afternoons, during Sermon on the Steps, two days after St Paul’s re-opened their doors, many from many different faiths spoke.

Flash Evensong at St Paul’s-in-the-Camp
Sermon on the Steps at St Paul’s in-the-Camp
Evensong at St Paul’s
Tom Hodgkinson: ‘Fundamentally this is a Christian protest’
Fundamentally Christian?

If you have not been to St Paul’s in-the-Camp, then please pay a visit. You will be rewarded and enriched.

Were I to choose a piece of music, I would choose The Sixteen performing the Lamentations of Job composed by Victoria set to visuals from inside St James Cathedral.

St James Cathedral – Victoria – The Sixteen

A special plea: Would St Nicolas please exercise better management of their notice board. Yes, this meeting was displayed on their notice board (which makes a pleasant change) but on the day had been taken down. As had notice of an interfaith meeting at Holy Trinity for the following day.

Top story ARISE and AWAKE! Daily (Monday 21 November 2011)!


To Heaven Hell with a Scribe and a Pharisee: A priest and a rabbi take a look at the Jewish religion at the time of Jesus. Trinity Centre, top of High Street next to Holy Trinity Church, Guildford. 7pm Monday 22 November 2011

Keystone Spirit with Eden People at Keystone Pub. 8pm Tuesday 29 November 2011

Art @ Costa. Swan Lane, Guildford. 7-30pm Tuesday 6 December 2011

Keystone Spirit with Eden People at Keystone Pub. 8pm Tuesday 13 December 2011

Arundhati Roy speaking at the heart of Empire

November 20, 2011

What they are doing becomes so important because it is in the heart of empire, or what used to be empire. And to criticize and to protest against the model that the rest of the world is aspiring to is a very important and a very serious business. So…it makes me very, very hopeful that after a long time you’re seeing some nascent political, real political anger here. — Arundhati Roy

Indian activist and writer Arundhati Roy speaking at the People’s University in Washington Square Park, held at Judson Memorial Church, in the heart of the Empire.

Arundhati Roy: Occupy Wall Street is “So Important Because It is in the Heart of Empire”

Paramilitary policing and police brutality from Seattle to Occupy Wall Street

November 20, 2011
A man sits in front of a police line at City Hall during an anti-Wall Street protest in Oakland, California, 25 October 2011. (REUTERS/Kim White)

A man sits in front of a police line at City Hall during an anti-Wall Street protest in Oakland, California, 25 October 2011. (REUTERS/Kim White)

Warning: Some may find the scenes of police brutality disturbing!

Today (Saturday) security thugs attacked peaceful protesters in Tahrir Square, many were injured, at least one killed. The tear gas used in Tahrir Square has Made in US stamped on it. Supply of security and torture equipment is big business.

But are they not getting a green light for this brutality from the US, a nod and a wink, watch what we do and follow our example?

Earlier in the week we saw the brutal police crack down on Occupy Wall Street, press were cleared from the area, news helicopters blocked from flying overhead, local residents locked in their apartments. The camp was trashed, books and and laptops trashed or stolen.

NYPD police brutality against Occupy Wall Street
Only Nazis destroy books

A couple of weeks before we saw the brutal crackdown in Portland. The irony is that Tahrir Square marched to the US Embassy to protest violence against peaceful protesters in the US.

The worse though has been the pepper-spraying of protesters. Not the use by police in self-defence when overwhelmed by an angry mob, but the police setting upon demonstrators, then pepper-spraying them,

In Seattle a 84-year old woman was pepper-sprayed in the face. She has still not recovered.

84-Year-Old Dorli Rainey, Pepper-Sprayed at Occupy Seattle, Denounces “Worsening” Police Crackdowns

I recall the Seattle WTO protests and the brutal police crackdown, out of which grew the global Indymedia network and the anti-globalisation network. Talking with a Bolivian activist some time later, she said she showed in Bolivia film footage of people being tear-gased on the street in Seattle. The locals in Bolivia had their eyes opened. They were used to violent supression of protest, but this was in the West.

84-Year-Old Dorli Rainey, pepper-sprayed at Occupy Seattle, was there during the Battle of Seattle a decade ago. She says the police brutality is now far worse.

Norm Stamper, the former police chief of Seattle, admits he was wrong then and as a retired chief of police is highly critical of police tactics and what he terms paramilitary policing.

Paramilitary Policing From Seattle to Occupy Wall Street
Paramilitary Policing of Occupy Wall Street: Excessive Use of Force amidst the New Military Urbanism

Remember Kent State and the killing of students in the 1960s? Has anything changed?

On UC Davis university campus the police were invited on campus by the chancellor. Students were held and pepper-sprayed into their eyes and down their throats.

Without any provocation whatsoever, other than the bodies of these students sitting where they were on the ground, with their arms linked, police pepper-sprayed students. Students remained on the ground, now writhing in pain, with their arms linked.

What happened next?

Police used batons to try to push the students apart. Those they could separate, they arrested, kneeling on their bodies and pushing their heads into the ground. Those they could not separate, they pepper-sprayed directly in the face, holding these students as they did so. When students covered their eyes with their clothing, police forced open their mouths and pepper-sprayed down their throats. Several of these students were hospitalized. Others are seriously injured. One of them, forty-five minutes after being pepper-sprayed down his throat, was still coughing up blood.

Peaceful students and faculty members attacked on their own campus at the behest of the chancellor. The chancellor should at least have the decency to resign.

Open Letter to Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi
Police Pepper Spraying UC Davis Students

Homeland Security was not formed to combat terrorism but to repress and brutalise US citizens!

Is this the democracy the houseboy in the White House is exporting to the world?

Higher Ground | Playing For Change

November 19, 2011

Stevie Wonder classic performed by Playing for Change.

Scorpions – Comeblack

November 19, 2011

German rock group Scorpions farewell tour.

Rock Your Life
Scorpions – Still loving you

St Paul’s in-the-Camp defies Eviction Notice

November 19, 2011
Bank of Ideas

Bank of Ideas

The 24-hour deadline passed Thursday evening and the camp was still there.

In serving the Notice, two people were injured, one requiring hospital treatment.

Occupy London responds to City of London Corporation notice; Alleged assault

Friday morning in what has to be seen as the most audacious action to date it was announced a bank office block had been repossessed. The former UBS building had been taken. A press conference was held in the conference room.

Occupy London ‘repossesses’ multi-million pound bank offices
Occupy London protesters take over empty UBS bank offices
Occupy London takes over empty offices owned by UBS bank – video
Occupy London protesters take over Hackney bank office
Occupy London campaigners take over derelict building
‘Bank of Ideas’ to open in Hackney as Occupy London seizes abandoned UBS office complex

The Bank of Ideas is open for business.

Is this what David Cameron meant by the Big Society?

One of the unexpected side effects of the camp has been to expose the City of London as a Rotten Borough, a state within a state. Where global corporations elect the councillors. It has its own police force, functions as a local council, and yet is exempt from Freedom of Information requests.

The Report – St Paul’s
Why the City of London Corporation supported Crossrail

Anyone who has any remaining doubts, see the front page headline story in The Times (Friday 18 November 2011). Under increasing pressure not to raise the fuel levy, a tax on fuel, the government will drop the increase and instead cut benefit payments to make up for the loss in revenue. The poorest in society are to pay the rich to drive around in their gas guzzling monsters.

The camp is not obstructing the highway, is not effecting local businesses, but when has facts got in the way of power and greed?

Defend the Right to Protest – Say No to eviction at St Paul’s
The revolution has started
Bankers love Boris
Why the Rich Are Getting Richer

Sittin’ On The Dock Of The Bay | Playing For Change

November 18, 2011

Otis Redding classic.