Expectation and reality

by J. Sacks

The Jews have learned to see the world completely differently. The book of Genesis, the first book of Moses, starts with God, who creates man “in his image and likeness.”

This sentence has become so familiar to us that we forget how paradox it really is – in the Hebrew Bible God has no image or likeness. But in the following tale it quickly becomes clear what humans have in common with God: freedom and responsibility. This creates a difficult theological dilemma. How can we reconcile the great hopes that God puts in humanity with the shabby and thin file of our moral history? The answer is: forgiveness. God wrote forgiveness into the script. He always gives us a second chance, and then another and another. All we have to do is recognize our wrongdoing, ask for forgiveness, make up for it and decide to do better – and God forgives. We can uphold the highest expectations, if at the same time we honestly admit our most hidden weaknesses.


Translated from: Jonathan Sacks, Vom Schicksal zum Glauben, Jüdische Allgemeine, 9. September 2018

Not mission, but dialogue

by Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI

The task Christ left to his disciples is the mission among all peoples and cultures. The goal is to introduce people to the “unknown God” (Acts 17,23). Man has the right to know God because only he who knows God is able to live the human existence properly. That is why the missionary mandate is universal – with one exception:

Missionizing the Jews was simply not intended and not necessary because they alone among the peoples knew the “unknown God”. Therefore, it is not mission that applied and applies to Israel, but dialogue about whether Jesus of Nazareth is “the Son of God, the Logos” for whom, according to the promises made to his people, Israel and, without knowing it, humanity waits. Taking up this dialogue anew is the task set for us in this hour.


Translated from: Joseph Ratzinger/Benedikt XVI., Nicht Mission, sondern Dialog, Herder Korrespondenz 12/2018

Noble restraint

“The churches stand up for…”

– others to act.


“Waiting for God”, the noblest form of failure to do good.


Abandoning oneself to God often means abandoning God.



Safe distance

The bible could become a bestseller

because a method was found

to read and interpret it without doing it.

True: The official should take a back seat

to the cause. He represents it as a witness,

he does not produce it. – But today they step so far

into the background that the cause stands alone. luw

Today’s Creed:

I believe in the harmony within the universe and

That the Jew Jesus was an example of the new

Gentle man and

That the spirit blows everywhere (except in Rome)

And that therefore we don’t need a Church. Amen.


Struggles of the beginning

How Moses had to begin at the beginning and teach them beginnings, that is to be deduced from the simple precepts with which he started to work and chisel and blast. Not to their comfort, certainly, for the stone does not take sides with the master but against him; to the stone the first stroke struck to form it appears as a most unnatural action.

Moses was always in their midst, here, there, in this and that encampment. Shaking his broad-wristed fists, he jogged, censored, chided, and churned their existence; he reproved, chastised and cleansed, using as his touchstone the invisibility of the God JHWH who had led them out of Egypt in order to choose them as his people..

From: Thomas Mann, The Tables of the Law (1944)

The Church is searching ...

for a new language. For example in a current conference program:

“Varieties of Discursive Representation of the Absolute”

“Dissolution of Meaning – for an Auto-deconstructive Dynamic in Christianity and (Un-)Representability of the Absolute”

“Speaking through Depiction. Perspectives of Art History’s Reflective Dealing with the Absolute”

“Concreativity and ‘Analogical Imagination’ ­­– the Production of Reality in Art and Theology”

“Negativity and Transgression. About the Productivity of the Inaccessible”

“Wittgenstein and the Mystical: Can Nonsense Make Sense?”

Dear miss universe, behind such academic fogs you disappear. And if the fogs should lift someday – will you still be detectable? pez

Intertwined till the end of time

“I believe God himself intervened in the history of this insignificant planet, through a covenant with an even more obscure tribe, the Jews, through his son, a Jew who actually lived as a man on this earth, him and no other, through founding a church, the Catholic Church based on a very mediocre, intemperate Catholic, Peter, also a Jew; that he, God, is somehow inextricably and permanently, even hopelessly, involved with the two, the Jews and the Catholic Church, until the end of earth time. 

I am both Jew and Catholic, whether Jew or Catholic like it or not, and generally they do not, usually have no use for each other, in fact, and even less use for me.  The Jews think I have apostasized, and the Catholics think I am a Jew. They don't think of Jesus and Mary as Jewish. But me? I'm still a Jew. And they're right. I am. Catholics are a queer lot – I've never really gotten used to them.  But the two, Jew and Catholic, are inextricably attached to each other, like Siamese twins at the umbilicus, whether they like it or not, and they both detest it, until the end of earth time.”

From: Walker Percy, Lost In The Cosmos. The Last Self-Help Book (1983)

Wrong tracks – 500 years ago – and today?

What was true for the Church during Luther’s time is also true today: she is in need of reform. On November 25th, 1522, Pope Hadrian VI gave the following message to the papal diplomat Francesco Chieregati to be delivered to the Diet of Nuremberg, a confession of guilt for the deplorable state of affairs within the Church:

“Besides that, you shall also say that we confess with all our heart that the reason God is allowing this persecution of His Church lies in the sin of the people, especially of the priests and prelates [prelati] of the Church. We know that there have been many dreadful abuses in spiritual matters and offences against God’s commands at the Holy See for several years, yes, that really everything has been perverted. Thus, it is no wonder that the sickness has spread from the head to the members, meaning from the popes to the lower church leaders. All of us, meaning us church leaders and priests [prelati et ecclesiastici] have strayed; each of was following his own way (Is 53:6); and for a long time there has been no one, who does what is good, not even one (Ps 14:3). Hence we should all give God the glory and humble ourselves before him; each of us must understand his own case and discern himself before he is judged by God with the rod of His wrath (1Cor 11:31). Insofar as we are involved ourselves, you may promise that we will make every effort to first reform [reformetur] this curia, from which all this evil seems to have come, so that, as it led to the doom of all its subordinates, it can now also lead to their reconvalescence and reform [reformatio]. We feel all the more obliged to do so because we see that the entire world ardently longs for such a reform.”

Translated from: Heiko A. Oberman, Die Kirche im Zeitalter der Reformation (2004)

Worldly or Otherworldly

Only theology as the speaking about God could tell the world and the people what reality is. Theology preserved the memory. The world forgot that it was a world only due to God and it was happy to just be world.

The Church and theology knew a lot about their God, but soon forgot to link Him to reality: they hid Him in the other world. ars