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From Chapter 15
KEEP HOPE ALIVE
A Confrontational Conversation
"Father Paul, you cannot possibly be telling me that an Episcopal priest has been taken in by fundamentalist theology?" Terese incredulously asked the new Assistant to the Rector at St. Mary's Episcopal Church in Orlando who also served at the noon mass every Wednesday.
Father Paul Hendricks was a passionate evangelist on a mission to convert every Jew he encountered to become a Christian. Terese had kept her silence for the first six months she had been listening to his Wednesday noon sermons but finally broke her silence after the rest of the parishioners had departed.
Paul sighed and shook his head, "Look, Mrs. Hunter, I read your Op/Ed in the newspaper about Israel Palestine and we both agree we want peace, we just go about it differently."
"Father, let me say that the fastest growing cult in the U.S.A. is the cult of Christian Zionism. Approximately 25 million USA Christians believe as you do and I am most depressed to see that the simple answers of fundamentalism has reached its tentacles into the Thinking Man's Church. You just preached for thirteen minutes on Genesis 12:3, "I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse: and in you all the families of the world are blessed," as if God meant blessings to be political power and military might. Father, surely you understand that the ancient Israelites who held that they were chosen as if they were somehow special from others, as if God esteemed them above others, is just basic primitive nationalism. Come on Father, looking down on one's enemies to foster one's own tribal interest and praying to God to smite one's enemies is what the ancients did. Isn't it about time we moved beyond that limited thinking?"
Father Paul clenched his fists and held them behind his back as he suppressed a simmering rage. He stood nine inches above Terese's upturned head, and with a slick smile and condescending tone told her, "Mrs. Hunter, you are very misled. The text is understood to mean a blessing to Abraham's lineage...
Terese cut in. "Agreed! And Genesis 12:3 was promised even before Ishmael, the father of the Arab nation and Isaac, the Jew were born! And what about the very first mention of Israel? Jacob was renamed Israel for having wrestled and struggled with God. That is how I understand Israel; everyone who struggles and wrestles with God is Israel too. Israel means more than a geographical location Father Paul."
"Mrs. Hunter, the modern state of Israel is the fulfillment of the prophetic scriptures and Gods covenant with Israel is eternal, exclusive and will not be abrogated. I refer you to Genesis 12:1-7, 15:4-7, 17:1-8, Leviticus 26:44-45 and Deuteronomy 7:7:8." [http://www.sabeel.org/old/news/cstone31/wagner_pt_2.htm]
"And Father, I refer you to Matthew 5:43-45 which not only critiques Genesis 12:3, it blows it apart, for Christ commanded, "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you, that you maybe children of your Father."
The two had reached Paul's SUV and he silently prayed he could make a swift escape but Terese had positioned herself at the drivers door and if he were to open it swiftly, she could be easily moved aside. Father Paul entertained the thought for more than a moment but remained mute and still as the tiny woman exploded with a torrent of words.
"Look, blind allegiance to the Israeli government has allowed them to become a big bully and isn't God always on the side of the oppressed? My sense is that you Zionists see the political state of Israel as a replacement for Christ at the center of the Christian faith and that certainly is not Christianity. How do you take literally Genesis 12:3 to mean blessings equal land and political power yet ignore Gods promise in Genesis 21:17-20 to "make a great nation out of Ishmael's descendents" and that "God was with the boy." Yet your way of thinking allows the growing apartheid wall to continue and supports occupation and oppression of people that God also made promises to."
"Mrs. Hunter, why don't you make an appointment and we can discuss this further? I really have to go."
"Okay I can take a hint but let me leave you with this; when religion and politics are in bed together, everybody gets screwed! The Israeli government is using you Zionists as apologists in support of their agenda of illegal occupation and settlements in the West bank, Golan and Gaza on literal biblical grounds taken out of context. Your blind allegiance to every act of Israel as being orchestrated by God and therefore should be condoned, supported and even praised makes me want to puke! And I wonder about the true motives of Christians who actually relish the idea of Armageddon and love to speculate on who gets 'left behind.' Christ was very clear that there will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth by those who were so sure they were in, but they get left out. God has always been on the side of the oppressed and your uncritical endorsement and justification for Israel's racist and apartheid policies is an abomination."
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