Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Mutlu Kurban Bayramı, Türkçe arkadaşlarım !

İkinci Yuhanna'nın mektubu 1:5,7
Tanrı ışıktır ve O'nda hiç karanlık yoktur
Ama kendisi ışıkta olduğu gibi, biz de ışıkta yürürsek, birbirimizle paydaşlığımız olur ve O'nun Oğlu İsa'nın kanı bizi her günahtan arındırır.
I'd like to wish my Turkish friends a blessed and happy "feast of the sacrifice," one of the two holiest days of the Islamic calendar.

Key words today:
  • ışık -- light. Tanrı ışıktır -- God is light. ışıkta -- in the light.
  • karanlık -- darkness.
  • kan -- blood.
Kurban, sacrifice, is an integral part of every religion. Evil is present in this world. Evil must be dealt with, or the foundations of sanity and society are rattled. Roman Polanski, the movie director, is lionized in Europe and reviled in America for taking indecent liberties with a 13 year old girl. Those of us who endured his vile movie Chinatown were not surprised. At the conclusion of this paean to nihilism, the young girl who is a child of incest is taken into the tender care of her father/grandfather, while the protagonist watches in impotent rage. Those who embrace and celebrate nihilism are menaces to any society, Christian or Islamic.

Evil must be dealt with. In the Torah, one of the sacrifices involves a murdered stranger. If a body is found in the countryside, and there is no way of tracking down the murderer, then the elders from the nearest village sacrifice a cow at the scene of the crime, and ask God to do justice where they were unable to.

Even atheistic "religions" have sacrificial rituals. Communism and Naziism practiced human sacrifice on an industrial scale. When their lofty schemes to bring heaven and hell on earth are only half-successful, the coercive utopians resolve the tensions by finding some class of victims to blame. Jews. Kulaks. "The Rich."

Yet, as Aleksandr Soltszhenitsn wrote in The Gulag Archipelago, the line between good and evil runs through each of our hearts. And who wants to destroy a piece of his own heart?

Christians view the death of İsa as the ultimate kurban, a re-enactment of the heart-wrenching sacrifice that Abraham was ready to offer. (Leonard Cohen's bleak Song of Isaac portrays this event through the eyes of the victim.) No, we do not ascribe human modes of sexual propagation to The Almighty. We view the sonship of İsa as a metaphor for a deep and intimate relationship. Those who call a merchant the "son of a table," are not saying that a piece of furniture bonked his mommy. Christians do not assert similar preposterous things about the God we worship.

Yet, in some way, the death of İsa on the cross represents an atonement, a price paid for evil, that permits us to leave our own evil behind.

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