Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Pt. 2 - Culture Wars - An Often Unnoticed Accomp.of the Modernists

As for poetry, the real poet's intention is always centered or focused entirely upon the construction or the structure of words that he is making. Milton's Paradise Lost is a good example, because even though Milton himself announces his purpose to be "to justify the ways of God to men", what actually happens in reading the poem is almost magical. One is carried along and away by the powerful rhythms of the blank verse - into a world where ancient Greek and Roman gods and goddesses are so intertwined with the biblical characters as to form an incredibly coherent structure of sounds and meanings. (See this writer's paper on the real hero of Paradise Lost.) The Psalms, often thought of as poems, are really prayers - a most sublime rhetoric directed to God's Heart.

But to get around finally to why Hanukkah confuses the Jews - Mr. Cunningham does a fairly good job of telling us. It is because of those embarrasing Maccabees! Hanukkah is not one of the big three Jewish Holy Days. There are Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles. Hanukkah commemorates the re-dedication of the temple in Jerusalem in 165 B.C. as a result of the fidelity and courage of the Maccabees as warriors. In the time of Antiochus IV, a true type of the Anti-Christ yet to come, the priestly (though non-Davidic) family of Mattathias bar Johannon took to the hills. This father had five sons, the most famous of whom was Judas - called "The Hammer". Resisting the decrees of Antiochus made the Maccabees outlaws. Ultimately, this "rag-tag band", under Judas Maccabeus, defeated the Syrians - freed Jerusalem and re-dedicated the Temple with a new altar. When the lamps were relit, there was enough oil for only one day, but the lamps continued to burn for eight days! This gave rise to the annual celebration or festival of lights. The typology is inescapable foreshadowing Jesus Christ, the Light of the World, of the True Davidic line - though thought to be one of those contemptible Nazarenes! The article by Mr. Cunningham is full of missed typologies like this one - but he does make his point.  However, embedded in his point is the most embarrassing analogy of all:

"According to the scholarly rabbi; Leonardi Bitran, a Jew...the books of the Maccabees are excluded from Tanakh - (the complete Hebrew bible), and their exploits are ignored by the Talmud. Bitran, like many Jews, downplays or ignores the lessons of fidelity and courage shown by the Maccabees and valued by Catholics.... (particularly the story of the mother and her seven sons gruesomely murdered for their faith by Antiochus (2 Mc 7)... (Rabbi Bitran) explains that the Maccabees revolt was an internecine conflict, that the "common Judean citizen was caught between pagan, secular Hellenism and fanatic Jewish fundamentalism...) Hanukkah should inspire all people to seek a sensible middle ground between the extremes of religious fundamentalism and total surrender to the surrounding culture. As someone has said of Pope Benedict's visits to synagogues, "How nice!" "How ecumenical!"

A holy priest exiled from Gethsemane here in Kentucky - to be replaced by Thomas Merton, once told me that a very holy priest told him (I suspect it was Dominican Father Garigou-Lagrange) that the Church must undergo the very same trials of up and down, glory and persecution, that the Chosen People are recorded as having experienced. This is because typology is also Prophecy! It is interesting also in this connection that the Protestant clergymen who composed the King James version of the Bible in the 17th century, also followed the Jewish exclusion of 1 and 2 Maccabees along with Tobias, Judith, Wisdom, Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) and Baruch.
December 19th - 2012 --- "O Radix Jesse"

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