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Sunday, March 26, 2017

Lent / Tarot / Generations: The Ten of Coins

The ten of coins speaks of generations. It depicts a grandfather, his children, grandchildren, and dog, seated at the gate of a city. I look at this card and I think, generations, patriarch, inheritance, the consequences of the past on the future, the role of a person as a member of a family and a wider society, and a civilization.

The word "patriarch" immediately puts me in mind of the Old Testament and my stream-of-consciousness takes me to Jewish survival.

There's a few questions I like to ask my students semester after semester.

"Which nationality is stupid?"

Semester after semester, they know Poles, or Polaks, are stupid. The Polak joke is not yet dead.

"Whom did the Nazis mass murder first and last, as part of an organized killing program?"

I have never had a student who knew the correct answer: handicapped people. My students, like most people, are stunningly ignorant on this major historical reality. And their left-leaning, Christophobic professors have successfully brainwashed them to believe that Nazism was a Christian project that victimized only Jews.

And I ask, "What percent of the world's population is Jewish?"

They always give inflated numbers. Fifty percent. Thirty percent. When I tell them that Jews make up less than one percent of the world's population, and that that's all they've ever made up, their eyes open wide. Muslim students are especially dubious. They just can't believe it.

As is obvious from my blog posts and Save Send Delete, I doubt God a lot. And I wrestle with equally powerful faith. Sometimes my faith springs from concrete, real world realities, and one of those realities is Jewish survival. More than once I have sat across the table from a Jewish atheist double daring me to convince him (always a him) that there is a God. I just look at him and think, "Is not your mere existence proof enough?"

Jews are a tiny portion of the world's population, they have been repeatedly targeted for annihilation, with their enemies coming close to wiping them off the face of the earth. The three-thousand-year-old Merneptah Stele includes the earliest recorded mention of Jews. That mention is a brag that Egyptian King Merneptah has wiped Jews off the face of the earth: "Israel is laid waste and his seed is not."

In 722 BC the Assyrians eliminated ten of the twelve tribes of Israel. Rome destroyed the temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD, and changed the name of the province from Judea to Palestine in an act of cultural genocide. Later Romans banned Jews from entering the city. Josephus says that the Romans killed a million Jews. The Jewish population plummeted in the first century and it took centuries for that population to rebound.

The list goes on and on. Jews driven out of England and Spain. Hitler. Muslim persecutions, exiles, and terrorism.

And yet, after thousands of years, this tiny population has survived, as has its language. I can't think of any parallels of a small, ancient people, its book and its language, surviving for so long. If you can, please let me know.

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