The dawn of wisdom

Before Easter, Botho Strauß published an article in DIE ZEIT entitled “Reform of the intelligence”, which flagellates the mentally lazy “kitsch of ideas" that is common today as a “flat relief made of thought-polyesters”. In his article, however, he is not only concerned with mocking the “maculated infertility” of ideological thinking, but also with “ways out of the decline of thought”:

“In cynicism there is a tremendous force that is completely satisfied with itself. The power of self-satisfaction shall therefore be used and turned into majestic humility, amazement, discovering and admiring. You have to be a strong transformer. That would be the beginning." This is his version of the insight into the fear of God as the beginning of wisdom. ses

Show-jumping course towards concerns of the heart

A Christian youth center promotes the project “Concerns of the heart—the game of life”: climbing through a birth canal as a fictional person together as a group; passing stations of the show-jumping course like the baptism, primary school, first communion, confirmation, school graduation.

Climbing, contemplating, hopping, asking, balancing ... thinking with teenage referees for over an hour about: how to make decisions, how to live a Christian life; and as a final gift you get a gingerbread heart with a Bible verse.

There is one single passage in the Bible about the 12-year-old Jesus. His training: He sat among the scribes and didn't give up to finally get answers. He was so determined—as a concern of the heart – that he had even forgotten his family, who had already moved on. pez

Jerusalem

The burial church and its tourist hype is something we want to avoid. That's why we ask our Israeli guide, a political scientist, to guide us to the Jewish quarter and to tell us this place's stories, especially from the 20th century. He vigorously declines.

We'll walk into the burial church, is what he says and guides us there. His explanation: You won't understand Jerusalem, if you don't understand this: This city is erected on the mountain Moria, the mountain that stands for Isaac's bond to Abraham's belief, and the mountain Golgotha. mas

New Devoutness

In Vienna a gym advertises with a big banner:

“We have the temple. You'll make the sacrifices.” dio

It's all so beautifully green here!

How a travel magazine interreligiously rows in the direction of Eden and at the same time manages to survive the cliff of Jerusalem.​

When an intellectually challenging medium such as DIE ZEIT surprises you with a pope interview, then it continues right in the travel part with discussing the question of where the Garden of Eden is to be found, inviting an imam, a pastor and a rabbi to talk about the paradise.

The small interreligious seminar on the horizons of salvation in Judaism, Christianity and Islam is pleasingly insightful if you read a little between the lines. The Jew and the Christian are not very precise in their remarks, but quite worldly. The imam exclusively speaks of the hereafter, but very concretely. The Muslim paradise only comes after the “annihilation of everything”, but it is great: “It has, for example, a hundred steps, between two steps there are a thousand years. And there is a tree so big, you have to walk in its shadow for forty years until you get to the trunk. You truly need an eternal life to see it all.” The female pastor is unimpressed by the imam's big numbers and has no better idea than to ask questions about the 72 maidens: “What do I get as a woman?” The answer of the imam, that the men in paradise are also virgins, does not directly answer the question of the pastor, but it sounds correct in gender-political terms. The rabbi is skeptical: “We Jews see ourselves as a community, private paradises are not intended.”

The numbers of Muslim mystics certainly have some meaning. If we add the time for the steps and the path in the shadow, we get 50,040 years, in proportion to eternity this is not even the academic quarter-hour. Perhaps the paradise of Muslims is somewhat closer than they think. Only the talking about the “annihilation of everything”, which must precede, sounds somewhat disturbing.

The editors of DIE ZEIT want a less speculative answer, so they ask the three for a concrete place, a personal Garden of Eden. Now the imam starts to rave about the taste of a juicy pomegranate in the dryness of Damascus, while the rabbi tells of Jerusalem, where he had studied and where his first two children were born. The pastor's paradise lies “in Mecklenburg or somewhere on the Baltic coast”, where she feels the “very great resonance”.

When the emotive term Jerusalem is mentioned, the ZEIT editors have to interrupt correctly and note that the city is sacred to all three religions. The imam and the pastor shall express themselves on Jerusalem too. Then there is “a brief silence, but you could hear the brains working”. The pastor looks at her water glass, the imam allows his coffee to become cold. “Both are professionals in the interreligious dialogue. They know how to avoid a difficult topic.” The tension is released because the imam has never been to Jerusalem and the pastor doesn't want to be “deeply moved on command” by holy places. The conversation becomes conciliatory, as the rabbi thinks that the idea of a paradise didn't come out of the desert by accident, it is “an expression of an existential deficiency”. The imam likes this because it explains why paradise is always green. His guests from Turkey can't stop being amazed in Germany: “So much green!”

At the end of the conversation, it's time to pray for the imam. The pastor tries in vain to convey a devotional space: the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church is at least “very reserved, optically”. However, for practical reasons, the imam rather goes to the rabbi's home: Before praying, he has to wash himself. ses

There's no cure for education

Course topics from the program booklet of an education center (February–September 2017): “Thinking of God—Painting academy—I, personally—The sound of words and colours—Zen meditation and Qi-Gong—Tracking down happiness—Waking words—Healthy by joy of life—Drumming—Thinking of God anew”.

More than 100 speakers, all well trained. For example, one person alone has the following expertise: “Educator, trainer for FamiliyTeam®, ProfiTeam® and ClassTeam®, systemic couple and family therapist”. Another: “Speaker for personality formation and family formation, adult educator, instructor in parent training, teacher in biography work (LebensMutig), organizational development and social management, in project management in the social therapeutic role playing”. A closer look at the envelope reveals: a Christian educational house. Do we, as a society in need of education, need an educational church? What therapy can help here? pez

Dislike

The first try to buy a jacket online, a good brand, from a renowned website. The parcel arrives, the jacket fits, the lapel features a bonus sticker made from metal—a skull.

Why a skull? The reason for returning it as featured on the return bill: „I don't like the item“. Additional remark: Ordered a jacket only. hak

Not to see the wood...

From an ecclesial flyer about the use of church taxes:

The church “cultivates its forests in a sustainable and nature-protecting way ... enough space is consciously left for animals … When a tree is damaged by a storm, it is often cut away at a height of a few metres … woodpeckers are the first to arrive … wild bees, squirrels, bats, etc. follow …”

Jesus, as written by Markus: The axe is applied to the tree's roots; every tree that fails to bring satisfying fruits is chopped down and thrown into the fire. luw

Al Naqba—the catastrophe?

The immigration of several hundred thousand Jews from Europe in the previous centuries is part of the past history of the “catastrophe”, which Arabs call “Naqba”—the foundation of the state Israel. An Israeli Arab is asked what he thinks about that time.

His mother, he says, is ninety-five years old today and experienced that time. She says: “Jews are intelligent people. They brought technology, agricultural improvement, revived economy. Before they came, we had no electricity, no running water, no streets. There was nothing, nothing at all. Palestine was a poor country. Our shoes were made of old car tires. Jews have changed this country—it's a Garden of Eden today.” mas

Two countries—problem solved?

When asked about which country he would prefer to live in in that case, a Palestine Arab in Israel answers:

Even if he could become the king of Jordan, he would like to live here, in Israel, the place where he can freely speak the way he thinks. He adds empathically: All of the Israeli Arabs think that way, some of them just don't dare to tell. We were going to test that by asking our Palestine cab driver a slightly modified question: Could there be two countries one time? Definitely not—it's stated by the Koran, the Torah and the Bible. There shall be one country only. And that country must be a Muslim one. ses

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