JOHN’S COLUMN 4/20/02

Theological disagreements complicate views of Mideast crisis

Sappho gave an azalea party the other afternoon. Her azaleas have reached their zenith, and she wanted everyone to enjoy the beauty with her before the blossoms begin to fall. She led us all around the grounds to see the various banks of colorful blooms.

“A thing of beauty is a joy forever,’” said Nemo.

“Isn’t it gorgeous outside now?” asked Sissy.

“My grandson Will loves to be outside,” I said. “He’ll stand at the back door in his house and say Side, side, hoping someone will let him out.”

“This all was virtually a desert when I moved in after the house was built,” Sappho said, waving her arm to indicate the entire yard.

“The desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose,’” said the Rev. Bubba Voltaire, quoting Isaiah. “And that prophesy has been literally fulfilled in what the settlers have done in Israel. I can’t wait to make another trip to the Holy Land and see what else they’ve done.”

“It seems to me you can get a pretty good look at what they’re doing with every day’s news updates,” said Anne Hathaway. “The Israeli armies are blitzkrieging Palestinian towns and villages and reducing them to rubble.”

“What I don’t understand is who these Palestinians are and what they’re doing there anyways,” said Pharis Aical. “After all, God gave that land to Israel, and God never goes back on his word.”

“Funny the Jews should have abandoned the land for almost 2,000 years if they were so proud of God’s gift,” said Lit Turgy. “For centuries the Arab peoples, the so-called Palestinians, had made their homes in that land.”

“It doesn’t matter whether the Jews lived there or not,” said Voltaire. “They held the title deed to the property because God gave it to them in the Old Testament covenant.”

“They took the title deed of most of that property by force from the Palestinians,” said Anne.

“I think everyone agreed, especially after World War II and the Holocaust, that there had to be a place for Jews to live where they could be safe,” said Gertrude Stein.

“By everyone,’ I assume, you don’t mean the Arabs living in Palestine whose land the U.N. gave to the Jews,” said Dio Genes.

“I keep trying to tell you that, according to the Bible, it was already the Jews’ land,” said Voltaire. “The prophets had spoken of the people one day exercising their right to return to their ancestral land and establish a nation.”

“You are basing that on the covenant in the Old Testament,” said Lit. “What about Jeremiah? He prophesied that, because the people had repeatedly broken that old covenant, God would one day establish a new covenant. And the Book of Hebrews says that Christ has now established that new covenant, and that he has made the old covenant obsolete. If it’s obsolete, then its conditions and terms, including a promise of a land, are null and void.”

“Isn’t it a shame,” said Sappho, gently holding her hand under a large pink blossom. “Nothing really lovely lasts very long.”

John Armistead is the Daily Journal religion editor.