Little Rant About Human Sacrifice and Christianity
Colleen "Coke" Nakamoto's questions about sacrifice stirred up a lot of dust for me. (Her performance piece will be part of a three-woman, Asian American triptych, called "Incarnate" that will show at the Noh theatre space in San Francisco, 2840 Mariposa, on October 28 at 8 p.m.)
Or rather, her question about "sacrificial love," combined with another Wing It! friend who is becoming ordained as a minister writing to ask my help in editing her sermon on women giving Communion, and my responses to Theresa's writing as artist-as-mystic, are all whirring around inside me.
Theresa first. Because a lot of the creative work I do is communal, I experience conflict when everything--almost everything, it feels like, happens on a Friday night or a Saturday. I do not even make half-assed attempts to celebrate Shabbat. Once in a blue moon it happens because a jewish friend has me over for dinner and we "do Shabbat"; i.e. candles and wine and singing and praying, but as for devoting the next day to God alone? Forget it.
To participate in every important organization in my life: California poets in the schools, SUN workshops, Interplay, New College, Writing Salon, and on and on and on, means that I violate observance of the Sabbath, not just once in a while, but every week. It would be very difficult to participate fully as a writer, a teacher, and a player in the communities in which I am a member and also to follow Jewish laws. And personally, I doubt very much that I would have the self-discipline (or the will, or the desire,) to refrain from writing, handling money, or driving on Saturday. I know I wouldn't. So my spiritual life is definitely affected by the busy and hectic pace of my "other" life, the life of activity with others.
Now to rant about sacrificial love; sacrifice is a beautiful and necessary thing. Imagine how horrible the world would be if no one made any sacrifices on behalf of anyone else. But I view the Christian theology of "Jesus died to save the world from sin" as a giant step backwards.
It seems to me that in the Old Testament, "God" stepped in to prevent Abraham from sacrificing his son Isaac. This is a primal story for us; the moral of the story is God doesn't want you to kill your children anymore. Stop. Historically, maybe it's the move away from worship based on violent bloody human sacrifice to a more agrarian worship of sacrificing measures of grain, or farm animals.
Then Christianity comes along with "This is my body you eat, this is my blood you drink," and we're back to worshipping human sacrifice again. Back to the blood and guts and scapegoating.
Not that Jews don't have our own mishegas. God knows we do. But the idea that there's virtue in being tortured and executed is not a precept I can get behind. Bring back the corn-god, who sacrificed himself at the height of summer so the community could eat! That was literal, that had meaning, that was free of political motives. Take and eat. The woman gives her breast to the child, the child literally feeds off her flesh and blood and the human race continues. But she doesn't have to die to do it, and her body isn't hung up on a bloody cross somewhere.
Okay, I'm done ranting for now. Now I've got to get myself together to give a presentation on Jewish Women in the Arts; Camoflage and Representation at University of San Francisco tomorrow.