Margaret Lewis’s Blog

13 February 2013

PAUL’S INVENTION.

Filed under: Poems — Margaret Lewis @ 4:24 pm

O gentile-loving Jesus of our dreams,

Fruit of the brain of Paul, who somehow knew

Platonic truths afloat on the gentile air

Ideas and ideals more true than sense.

Your body is distributed among us

A flock of which we are constituent sheep.

You are its essense and its form, its soul

For crumbs contain the authentic soul of the loaf

Which, being shared, can feed five thousand men.

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9 November 2012

PETER AND PAUL 7.11.12.

Filed under: Thoughts — Margaret Lewis @ 4:04 pm

   

The idea of heaven which we all share nowadays comes from Plato and not from Judaism . A character in Plato’s Symposium (The Dinner Party) says that all our experiences of objects in this world are but poor copies of the ideal forms which exist in another dimension, (All trees are copies of an ideal Tree.)

So when St Paul taught that Jesus was in heaven, he was saying that the mortal Jesus had become an ideal form, the perfect form of a Man, of a son of God, and we are all poor copies, though with the possibility of becoming more like him. His death on a cross had to be seen in this light – a loving act on his part, of which only an ideal man would be capable, showing his love of mankind and of God, the supreme goodness or Idea of The Good, which we cannot see as long as we have our backs to the light, the Truth.

Asia Minor, among Greek-thinking gentiles, a long way from Jerusalem.

 

But St Peter was and remained Jewish to the core and could never have accepted Paul’s teaching. In the first chapters of Acts, we see him setting about, after the catastrophe of the crucifixion, establishing the Kingdom of Heaven, of which Jesus had spent his life recruiting members – a kingdom on earth, in ven , in which the Jewísh Law as taught by Moses would be kept in spirit and in truth, in the Sermon on the Mount. People were to give away their wealth to feed the widows and orphans, even if it meant becoming poor themselves, since the end of the world (The Day of Judgment, Doomsday) was near, and worldly goods would not help anyone then.

Matthew is the only gospel writer to have his Jesus congratulate Peter and not rebuke him for saying that crucifixion must not happen to Jesus, who seemed to accept it as his true role (Paul’s view of the question.) Mattew’s Jesus sas that Peter has been given the keys of the kingdom of heaven, where he was presumably in charge when the gospel was being written.

Peter remained Jewish and anti-gentile to the end. There is no reason to suppose that he ever went to Rome or was martyred there with Paul. So that the idea tat the church was founded by Peter (rather than Paul) is a distortion. As holder of the keys of the kingdom,, he granted Paul the right to preach, but to gentiles only, even if Luke, in Acts,does have him going first to the synagogue n every town he visits.

Legend has it that Peter andPaul were reconciled, and so , hopefully, they were, but not in this dimension.

16 July 2012

Platonic Paul.

Filed under: Poems — Margaret Lewis @ 5:13 pm

All our experience in the world of sense,
Is a copy, version, of its ideal Form
Existing, solid,in an eternal world.
The shadows seen in this poor fleeting life
Remind us of the ideal Forms we knew
Before our incarnation in this world
Of imperfectios, missings of the mark.
The Form of the Good in finite human guise
Exists as The Anointed in Paul’s heaven.
His Jesus is a pure Platonic Form.

2 May 2012

St John in Ephesus

Filed under: Thoughts — Margaret Lewis @ 4:07 pm
Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, near Ephesus, whose name means Fruitful (nothing to do with parrots) was one of our first martyrs, burnt at the stake when he was over 86, probably in about 155.
      Polycarp  had taught Irenaeus, who became Bishop of Lyons in Gaul in 180 and began trying to sort out the chaos that was the catholic church and to restrict the number of books that should be accorded inclusion in what would become the New Testament. So th e fact tha t hís teacher Pol ycarp remembered the Apostle John in Ephesus has always been seen as an important link between Chrurch History and the historical Jesus.So what Polycarp actually remembered come as rather a shock.
     Ephesus was a huge seaport, full ofnoble Roman architecture, including a temple to Cybele, the Great Mother, a theatre and a splendid Public Bath House, where citzens could go to relax and sweat, be oiled and scraped, be massaged and chat to friends. Polycarp saw the Apostle John go into the Bath House and immediately come rushing out again, shouting that Cerinthus the enemy of the truth was inside and God would surely bring the whole building crashing down to crush the blasphemer.
    So who was this terrible Cerinthus ? The record is terribly confused. He confounds Wikipedia. Alll we hear of him is written from the point ofview of the great Apostle. But it seems most likely that he was an Ebionite (one of the Poor Ones.) And we know from St Luke that in the earliest church, led by Sts Peter and James the Lord’s own brother, people tried to put into practice what jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount, keeping the full Jewish Law in thought, word and deed. And this meant circumcision, kosher food and having no truck with gentiles. The rich were to sell all their property to feed the poor, which they did, until they themselves became Poor Ones – the only way for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
    Then along came St Paul, born and brought up among gentiles, preaching a heavenly Jesus who told him that people of every race were as dear to God as the most righteous Jew. This was appalling – revolutionary ! Paul was branded an Apostate by such loyal Jews as Peter and James, who had known the historical Jesus so intimately.
     Asoon, especially after Paul died, his followers began trying to construct  life-stories for his heavenly Jesus – a thing Paul himself had taken no interest in, being concerned only with the manner and meaning of his death. Thet incorporated many of his unforgetable Sayings, but added suitable miracles to reinforce the idea of his divinity and giving hima lifestyle  very like Paul’s own. For did not Paul say, “To me, to live is Christ.”
       Polycarp’s story of John and Cerinthus illustrates the bitterness of the arguments that followed. Paul’s own Epistle to the Galations tells the same story. So the church wasborn argumentative. Irenaeus tried to stifle some of  this, cursing manyheretics and burning many books.But it still goes on. Inevitably.

16 April 2012

Goddesses.

Filed under: Poems — Margaret Lewis @ 12:43 pm
Cybele, milky Mother
Of Ishtar and Ashteroth
Goddesses in Canaan
And ancient Babylon,
Life-giver, shelterer,
Your self-castrated priests
Ecstatically devoted
To your all-giving love,
Your terrible discipline,
Cybele, supplanted
In Saint John’s Ephesus
By the Mother of God
Who made the universe,
Queen Mother of it all,
Should she not also have
Her celibate priesthood ?

9 April 2012

Key to the Eucharist

Filed under: Poems — Margaret Lewis @ 3:26 pm

Our savage, bizarre and cannibalistic rite
Evokes the horror and self-transformation
That once our hunting fathers found in caves
Where mighty archetypal animals
Were painted in their own life-blood and fat
On wall and roof, deep in the underworld,
To honour, thank, adore, apologise
To those that gave their lives to save mankind
From starving in a world of predators.

Our Eucharist takes us back to the mysteries
Of Grecian Eleusis. There the mighty Mother
Called her daughter Spring to return to life
In sunshine and green growth and daffodils.
Under her, men had learnt to exploit the earth’s
Wondrous fertility for bread and wine,
Freed from the need to kill for every bite.
Her ceremonies were darkness and burial,
The terror of death and then a great arising
Into the joy and beauty of the world.

And we too say that on Holy Saturday
Our God went down to Hell – and harrowed it,
Releasing souls condemned before his time
And speaking love, mercy and peace even there

7 April 2012

Who’s to Blame?

Filed under: Poems — Margaret Lewis @ 3:40 pm

In the unknown, in the unknowable,
Beyond, behind, all mere appearances,
Is total understanding, loving care
And utter absense of blame.
It is as if we had had no free will,
Were not responsible, had not consented
To all that came about,
The tragedy, the turmoil and the grief,
The rage against the way things have to be.
We do not make ourselves, nor do our parents.
History has produced us. We derive
From all that has gone on,
The centuries, the millennia, of undeserved
And disproportionate punishment,
Hunger for justice, all light and no dark,
When darkness is so necessary to light,
Testing for triumph, death for resurrection.

6 April 2012

Holy Week -Not all Good Friday.

Filed under: Poems — Margaret Lewis @ 2:32 pm

In Holy Week Jesus was riding high
Holding the crowds in the hollow of his hand.
They rocked and surged, a landlocked hilltop sea,
With longing and laughter responding to his voice –
Dreams of a kingdom of God and mockery
Of the hollowness of tyranny in God’s name.
Jerusalem was steep, with huddled housing
Along its contours, the Temple its only forum.
Under its colonnades the rabbis taught
And gathered followers. The Romans watched,
Policing the unpredictable Passover crowds
Drawn in from all the Roman commercial world,
Expats, more nationalist than the residents
And liable to riot and overflow
In thousands into the desert, dangerous, armed.
And anyone with a Galilean accent
Was under suspicion as a terrorist.
The Governor Pilate was down from Caerarea.
He knew by now the moodiness of the Jews,
So strange, so privileged under the Law.
So to cool things down, an example to the rest,
He crucified three Galileans, one the stirrer,
Preacher of their God’s will done on the ground
Not just in some dream place inside the mind.
How could he understand their impossible God ?
And how could he know what a touchpaper he’d lit ?

3 April 2012

SUNRISE

Filed under: Poems — Margaret Lewis @ 10:50 am

An hour before dawn.
The sun still underground
Waiting in all his crimson
Imperial majesty
To announce his resurrection.
I can sleep another hour,
But he is wide awake
Albeit deep in dark,
And soon will streak
The pale blue sky with bright
Scarlet and apricot and orange bars
Fit for his own bright feet
To tread as he climbs
The mountain of the sky,
Calling the world to rise
Out of its little tombs
To keep his unchanging laws
And endure what he endures.
The trees stand tall.
No bird, no leaf, no stir.
But every bud, I know,
Is ready with its own green silent ssong.

16 March 2012

Which Came First ?

Filed under: Thoughts — Margaret Lewis @ 3:43 pm

1. Jesus was crucified. The cause ? His popularity with the crowds at Passover in Jerusalem, when thousands of pilgrims were visiting for the feast, all more fanatically Jewish than the native population. The Romans expected trouble every year, and were looking for it. Galileans were paricularly suspect as robbers or bandits mixing with the crowds and t he Romans made an example of three, including Jesus.

2. The followers of Jesus saw him as a prophet. His theme was a “Kingdom of Heaven” which he intended to bring into being. And after losing him, they attempted to set up a community in which the Law of Moses would be kept more strictly than ever before. The Sermon on the Mount in Matthew’s gospel gives a taste of its spirit. The beneficiaries were the mourners (widows and orphans), the hungry and homeless, for the new community would feed and shelter them at its own expense. Peter and James, the intimate and the blood brother of Jesus, took charge of this.

3.Paul heard the voice of Jesus speaking to him inside his head and concluded that he must be in heaven. So, logically, he must have risen from the cross to the other world. Hence the stories of  the Resurrection. Paul reinterpreted the crucifixion in terms of its purpose rather than its cause. He himself was brought up among gentiles and felt that God cared for them as much as for the Jews. So he had sent Jesus to enable gentiles (despised as breakers of the Law of Moses) to have access to him and his forgiveness. Jesus preached the Law; Paul preached universal love.

4. After Paul’s death, probably around 64AD ( the Fire of Rome)  the  Gospels began to be written, developing the ideas contained in Paul’s preaching but also containing many of the Sayings of Jesus the Prophet – the Parables. The gospels attempt to imagine (as many preachers of Paul’s message would have done) what the mortal life of a Divine Person would have been like. These include much that is simply magical but also reflect the life of Paul himself, travelling from place to place, promoting the glory of someone other than himself, suffering insults, hardships, punishments,dangers – being killed all the day long.”

5. So I sugget  that Jesus the Prophet comes before Paul, but the idea of a Divine Jesus is entirely Paul’s. He is the true and only founder of Christianity as distinct from Judaism.

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