TWO PATHS (Review of Pardes by Israel Shamir) By Owen Owens

Anyone who opposes (U.S. permanent war-on-world) must work together with everyone else who also opposes, no matter how much ideological or personal disagreement may exist. The other side is united and monolithic. One mantra blared thru speakers of TV and newspapers and government briefings. If any of us survive we can work out our differences then."

A beautiful essay on Mammonites by an American thinker ‘Owen Owens’. Critical, but not unsympathetic review of the Pardes. MORE REVIEWS

"Kennedy could bring Frost out(1) that doesn't mean anything really, I mean its a nice gesture, but Robert Frost didn't speak to the masses. Robert Frost as all of the other poets of the past spoke to the intelligentsia, spoke to a small minority of the country. Some poets want to, yes, want to reach everybody. But you see, Dylan has in fact done this. This is one of the incredible things about Dylan. He's the first poet to speak to everybody... And it has been through the vehicle of music—Phil Ochs

You're going to have to serve somebody; it may be the devil, it may be the lord, but you're going to have to serve somebody –Robert Zimmerman (Bob Dylan) quoted in Israel Adam Shamir's "Pardes."

These quotations provide a long way around path or road for myself from the title to the subject, Israel Shamir and his first major theoretical piece in a long time(2), Pardes (3).

In this piece Shamir suggests the two paths from which we must choose are the church of Christ (the church of God)--or the church of "the Jews" (Yisrael)-the church of no God. I would like to suggest that while it is perfectly understandable how Shamir, in the fervour of evangelical enthusiasm (4), would come to this view that the real battle is between the true church of God in Christ and the forces of mammon. And my authority here is ultimately my own "master" who in a piece from which my title comes, "The Two Paths", concluded his preface with these words: "..the way divides itself, one way leading to the Olive mountains--one to the vale of the Salt Sea. There are few crossroads that I know of from one to the other. Let him pause at the parting of the Two Paths."

Israel/Palestine

Just a few years ago I knew nothing more of the Middle East than that it was a place of "violence". I had no opinions on the subject in spite of my historic "radical" views. And indeed this omission was understandable for the roots of those radical views and those radical times were intermingled with Jewish leftists. And the subject of Palestine normally (then, now and in-between) found the "left" strangely silent. I began to come to some very little understanding of the situation with the events of the 2nd intifada and the brutal and escalated savagery of the state of Israel against the native peoples (already essentially prisoners, though I did not yet know this). I was sufficiently well versed in the situation to have remarked immediately after Sept. 11 2001 that what we would be seeing would be the "Israelization of America”.(5) But it was only thru the accidental (and later determined effort to pursue) access to the writings of the prophetic and eloquent Jewish dissident Israel Shamir that I learned the deep, true and historically connected story of Palestine. And why in the words of John Pilger: Palestine Is Still the Issue.

Why that is so may be summed up in this quote (which will be one of many) from Shamir: "Israel/Palestine is the model of the world Americans want to achieve. It has peasants and their flocks dying of thirst, and on the hilltop there are villas and swimming pools for the chosen folk. It has a huge army and it has many labourers without any rights. In order to turn all the world into Palestine they began now World War 3 against the Third World."

 Note that at this point Shamir refers to the "world Americans want to achieve". Later in his evolution Shamir would progress to Karl Marx's definition of America as a "Jewish State". (6)Eventually he would expand beyond and before the current Judea-American juggernaut to postulate a perpetual Yisrael, excreted from the true church seeking to set itself up on the Opposite Hill (7)and turn all the world to darkness (that is world without God)--with only the Chosen Folk as God and the Wild Beasts (despiritualized goyim))as mere background noise.

Secular World, Spiritual People

At a dismal academic discussion I had the misfortune to be attendant upon recently a nominal representative of religious scholarship thru a fog of institutionally acceptable abstruse academic discourse seemed to be suggesting to the other roundtable members that in spite of the intellectual's dismissal of religion the population seems determined to pursue its promises and demands however conceived. To which the representative "market enthusiast" of the panel replied: of course historically religion was only one of the "externalities" to economists. He suggested for religion and "the humanities" generally to bring themselves into the market. At this point a no doubt naive and honest audience member asked the obvious question: well what do you mean by the market? Obvious because to this point one word, one term had been repeated endlessly by all the panellists over all others. "The market" (or just "Markets"). That definition was considered unnecessary was taken as much a given as would the term God or "The Gods" before a panel of theologians. The anti-globalization spokesperson, Doug Henwood, self described "Unreconstructed Marxist" jokingly suggested in response to the religious scholars line of questioning (8)that he would like to see a return to secular government in the U.S. because it was in the hands of "right wing religious nuts." To the leftist's assignment of Christian ideology as the pervading force behind current aggressive Americans military policy and to the general intellectuals' rejection of religious content as anything but "external" to reality, Shamir poses a widely divergent alternative scenario.

End of the World or Aberration Ending?

Commenting on Immanuel Wallerstein’s "The End of The World As We Know It" Shamir writes:(9)"He came to the conclusion that a very long period of human history has reached now an unpredictable end. Wallerstein thinks the 'world as we know it' came into being some 500 years ago in Western Europe and has come to its crescendo in the United States of America. It is characterized by a specific aberration of human development called "Progress". And Shamir concludes: "Wallerstein made a heroic effort, not altogether successful, to describe the end of the world in materialistic terms. I am not sure whether it is possible. Our world in general evades such description. Moreover, I do not think it desirable. We are conditioned to accept materialist reasoning only, and reject explanations that defer to forces of a different plane. It is an important part of the aberration that people came to reject the spiritual component of the world. Until the Aberration the very idea of a totally materialistic world, explainable by sheer materialist laws, would have been an oddity."

The Mammonites...

Elsewhere in this same piece Shamir writes: "In the beginning of the 20th century a new social and spiritual force came into being. In an article of mine I called it "The Mammonites": the worshippers of Mammon". Note the date Shamir gives for its origins. Yet a few years before that another eloquent prophetic speaker with whom I happen to have some acquaintance was also noticing (already) this same phenomenon. Returning to and expanding on our earlier note: "Adam Smith formally, in the name of the philosophers of Scotland and England, set up this opposite God on the hill of cursing against blessing, Ebal against Gerizim and declared that all men naturally desired their neighbours goods and that in the name of covetousness all the nations of the earth should be blessed..." John Ruskin urged his companions of St. George to have no concourse with "such idolatry".

Britannia of the Market, Goddess of Getting On

John Ruskin was once asked to speak to the citizens of Yorkshire on the occasion of the building of a new "Exchange". Ruskin spoke but declined to tell them how to build their exchange (their purpose in inviting him) because, as he said: he did "not care about this Exchange of yours." You see said Ruskin: "You cannot have good architecture merely by asking peoples advice on occasion". After giving a brief history of styles of architecture of the past in Europe and the various "faiths" on which they were founded, Ruskin then asked his audience, "what we worship and what we build?" His answer: "the ruling Goddess may be best generally described as the Goddess of Getting On or Britannia of the Market". "And all your great architectural works are, of course built to her."

It would be convenient for my purposes if Ruskin had here or in the previous reference to Adam Smith used the term mammonite; or at least mammon. He does not; but we shall find it present not infrequently I am confident in future references and these predating its appropriation by Shamir.

...Or The Jews

"The short interregnum of civil society built on the ruins of the Bastille came to its end with the establishment of the Jews as the new Priestly caste. The alternative Church of our society, the Jews, survived in abeyance for hundreds of years. As long as the Christian Church attended to the discourse, the Jews plainly had no chance to compete; but when its power was broken by liberty-seekers, the alternative arrangement came forward." --Israel Shamir, Pardes

Thus Shamir spells out the theoretical framework whose gradual evolution we briefly traced previously [10) He follows the historic biblical path from Hebrew prophet calling on his people to repentance to a new St. Paul calling everyone but especially the unconverted Jew to free themselves from Yisrael.

Shamir distinguishes between individual Jews and "The Jews". He states: "...there is no subjective personal guilt associated with individual Jews unless their specific actions or inaction are criminal or sinful per se." In fact, he states, his primary purpose is to "help an individual to decide whether he wants to be a Jew or not, in the same way one may choose whether one wants to be a communist or a Quaker".

From Prophet to Apostle

Clearly his choice of material is selected to convince the individual to disengage themselves from the sway of the "Judaic tendency". To join "St Paul, St. Teresa, Karl Marx, Trotsky" and Edith Stein, Alexander Men and Neta Golan in breaking with "The Jews". In fact in most of his recent work and short commentaries Shamir seems to adapt a more benign Anne Coulter approach focused in another direction. While Ms. Coulter wished to conquer the Muslims by force and convert them to Christianity Shamir calls on the Jews to come to church and convert themselves from the "poisonous ideas of Judaism."(11) We will attempt to, albeit briefly, examine just what Shamir sees as the "poisonous ideas of Judaism" and how they have existed historically in later sections discussing St. George's fight with the Mammonites. The question for me at this point in regard to Shamir's recommended stratagem is: what church does he seek the renegades from Yisrael to enter into.

What church/Who's God

I don't know if Shamir is personally acquainted with the peace activist Kathy Kelly. But I believe the type of church he would like to bring the Jews into would include the one I heard Ms. Kelly speak at recently. In a piece written in response to that event I note the makeup of the crowd as "female, old and short". Hence, the title of the article: "Little Old Ladies for Peace". 75% of the audience were women, 90% were old (as old or older than I am and I, as Shamir, have been around about half a century). And I wrote): "interestingly enough , short, as...When the audience (incrementally the first time) began to stand for singing I realized I could see clearly out over the entire congregation without ever meeting anyone eye-to-eye (and I'm only a little over six feet)!" The service honouring "the victims of war" at which Ms Kelly was the featured speaker reminded me of an old bible-school song from my childhood: "Jesus Loves the Little Children". And, (again I wrote): "And that's where the old bible-school song I remember from my childhood came into my head. For as these people took it as God's word and their mission to save the little children and love the little children. George Bush and his followers (and leaders) took it as the same God's word and their mission to bomb the little children. And poison the little children with uranium. And shoot them at roadblocks. And kick in their houses. And scatter their possessions. And strip their fathers on the roadside. And occupy their lands. And my question was: how could these two groups of people come to such different conclusions about the desires and requirements of the same God. The God of George Bush and of the Little Old Ladies for Peace.

The God of George Bush appears to be the more prominent one in a cursory examination of American surface reality. The angry "anti-American" American patriot John Kaminiski mocks this God/Church in his Easter message: "Happy Easter, 2004 everybody. Praise the Lord. And as you sit in your proper pew this Sunday morning, blubbering out your favourite version of He is risen, ...Americans, just like the Israelis, are now known for killing innocent people as they worship their God in Church. Raise your eyes to the heavens you prize so highly. And imagine an American B-52 dropping a 500 pound bomb right on your head... splattering you and your beloved family all over your sacred altar". Quite a different Easter Vision of He is Risen than Shamir presents in his description of the Holy Week activities in Jerusalem(12).

The Diary of Expiring Delirium

Which brings us back to our panel (13). And Doug Henwood's comment on the "right wing religious nuts leading America." Shamir would, I believe, see these neo-con Christian-Zionists as a minor element in the over -all ecclesiastical field and actually only a part of the greater Yisrael. Shamir seems to suggest in recent works outside as well as within Pardes that these ones can be segregated out from Yisrael and returned to the better parts of their Christian Heritage. (14)

"God was a poor theologian", so said to me an "individual Jew", Hebrew scholar, and admirer of Thomas Friedman recently. What he meant was that the "sacred texts" could be interpreted in many different and often antagonists ways. (15) I don't really feel Shamir as well is at his best when he delves into theology; though that seems to make up a large part of Pardes.(16) It is not my intention to follow that theological discussion in this paper, but only to attempt to present Shamir's conceptual understanding of the "poisonous ideas of Judaism," its historic being and its current dominant (thus sayeth Shamir) status. First, however I wish to examine somewhat more John Ruskin's views on Shamir's other construct: the Mammonites. It might be appropriate to restate at this time that where Shamir sees the dominant false path as being the Jews, Yisrael, Ruskin and I see the worship of Mammon generally as the dominant false path with the "poisonous ideas of Judaism" being only one example of the larger darkness. (17)

Saint George and the Dragon

"We begin today another group of ten years, not in happy circumstances... in much bodily fear; that is to say afraid of the Russians, afraid of the Prussians, afraid of the Americans, afraid of the Hindoos, afraid of the Chinese, afraid of the Japanese, afraid of the New Zealanders, and afraid of the Kaffirs: and very justly so, being conscious that our only real desire respecting any of these nations has been to get as much out of them as we could." Thus John Ruskin began his long series of letters known as Fors Clavigera. (Can we say that anything has changed in the 130 some years since then?) I use Fors as the main source for presenting some understanding of Ruskin's views on Mammon because it is the most convenient for me; though we will probably reach other works as well in our search for an understanding of the enemy (18)

We have here the essence of the matter right in the beginning. Ruskin elaborates: They have no right to complain of us, notwithstanding, since we have lately, lived ourselves in the daily endeavour to get as much out of our neighbours and friends as we could and having by this means, indeed, got a good deal out of each other, and put nothing into each other, the actually obtained result, this day, is a state of emptiness in purse and stomach ."

To respond to this circumstance Ruskin proposed the St. George's Guild. An effort to (ultimately) create a national store instead of a national debt. But in the meantime to "do good work whether you live or die" and to engage in a series of philanthropic, educational and agricultural acts consistent with his vision of what was necessary in St. George's war with the Dragon; the "very real" symbol of malignant forces elsewhere described as Mammon. And our treasure hunt has yielded a fortunate end because on the 325th page of volume one of Fors (19) I find: "..if pious people would understand… that, if there be indeed any other God than Mammon, He likes to see people comfortable and nicely dressed, as much as Mammon likes to see them fasting and in rags..".. In the preceding paragraph Mammon is described as the "nativity of an adverse god." And we are fortunate to have found this reference to Mammon so soon because, as Ruskin interprets Victor Carpaccio "...the real difficulty in dragon-fights… is not so much to kill your dragon, as to see him; at lest to see him in time, it being too probable that he will see you first."

Ruskin was less optimistic than Shamir on the possibilities of "orthodox" religion; the existing church providing an alternative. In volume two; he writes: "after experience of no fewer than one thousand fives hundred sermons, most of them by scholars and many of them by earnest men… I now solemnly state I never heard one preacher deal faithfully with the quarrel between God and Mammon, or explain the need of choice between the service of those two masters. And all vices are indeed summed, and all their forces consummated, in that simple acceptance of the authority of gold instead of the authority of God; and preference of gain, or the increase of gold, to Godliness, or the peace of God."

St George In Palestine

I am ashamed to say that I just recently discovered (20) that St. George 's remains reside in Palestine. If this is so, the Palestinians are sure to win with St. George's help; though our 19th century master of his guild (21) would be more likely to cite the reason Shamir gives in "The Green Rain of Yassouf".

"The Palestinians can't imagine themselves without the land and its unique way of life. Thousands of years ago, after the Great Mycenaean Drought was over, their ancestors formed a symbiosis with the olive, and the vine and the donkey and small mountain spring and their shrines on the hilltops. This single complex of the landscape, the people and the Divine spirit was the great achievement of Palestinians..." Hence the Palestinians are bound to win because, the story of Solomon's (or Sheikh Abu Zarad's) judgment is "but a parable of Divine judgment".

The death of a Palestinian normally occasions no notice in the U.S. unless they contrive to take an Israeli Jew with them in the process (22) The relatively recent death of an American in Palestine did not receive much better results; but on the fringes of opinion outside the two party matrix some individuals perhaps with some personal stakes in the matter did notice and do try to keep alive the memory of Rachel Corrie. Shamir wrote an article about her, "The Maid and the Ogre" --and I happened recently to have had some contacts with someone who was there at the time and who as part of his pathway to peace spends considerable amount of his time speaking to Americans about Rachel's death and the situation in Palestine/Israel. I attended one of his presentations recently and he described the occupation of Palestine as a U.S. occupation. His perspective was the exact opposite of Shamir's. (23)

Greater Israel/Historic Yisrael

Many commentators have noted the plans for a greater Israel laid out rather explicitly by an Israeli strategist sometime before the invasion of Iraq. That invasion being one of the steps to the remaking of the map of the Middle East in the interests of an expanded Israeli "Security State". For Shamir this is only one incident in the dreamed implementation of historic Yisrael. A force that has come close to extinction on more than one occasion, remained "in abeyance" now upon the ruins of the "failed revolution of 1968" manifesting itself in the "Rise of the Jew's to positions of near dictatorial prominence in several key areas: media, finance, government. At the very least to a degree of influence altogether inconsistent with their numbers. To speak of such things was evidently offensive to Rachel Corries friend (and many others) as he quickly dismissed as unsavoury my attempt to broach the issue (24). Shamir anticipates that response and so quotes prominent Jewish officials themselves such as Stephen Steinlight (25): "Our present privilege, success and power," says Steinlight must be maintained. He (Steinlight) suggests using "The Jewish power disproportionately concentrated in Hollywood, TV and news industry" to that purpose. Of course the present power, success and privilege of the Jews is amply documented even though it remains the "elephant in the living room" to the general American and (to a lesser extent) European public. What is more contentious is Shamir's historic analysis of the "poisonous influence of the Jews" as presented in Pardes.

"Touched by God, forged by his Covenant, Israel was a super-reality in the pre-Christian world. With the coming of Christ, this super-soul experienced catharsis and its bigger and better part was baptized into the super-soul of the Church. But the excreted part did not die. It remained partly in the spiritual world, partly in the material world" "It vaguely remembers what it was chosen for and tries to act, but without Christ, its efforts (Call it Yisrael) create mischief. From the Christian point of view, Yisrael is in the state of rebellion against God..." The "sacred texts" of Yisrael were established after the time of Christ and as a response to Christ. The church for some time did not understand this and thought in "The Jews" they were still dealing with the prophetic Judaism but eventually understood and various church leaders warned against the dangers of the "Judaic tendency". Shamir sites multiple historic examples where Yisrael almost disappeared (through persecution, assimilation in the church, or intermarriage)--but with the establishment of the tangible fact on the ground of Israel the modern nation state and especially with "rise of the Jews" since the "failed revolution of 1968" organized Jewry (Yisrael) the church of the chosen folk has risen to new heights of danger and possibility. "Yisrael wants to profane the world--save Jerusalem. The Jews want to re-enact on the global scale the feat of King Josiah, who destroyed every holy place in the country in order to establish uniqueness of the Jerusalem Temple." Shamir quotes Simone Weil: "If the Jews of their better days were to come back to life and be armed, they would exterminate all of us…" "It is commonplace that the Jews wish to dominate the world. But they do not seek the dominion of a King, but that of a church, in the very end a theocratic church-state. The Jews do not want to convert Gentiles ...for Jews, it is as easy as for a cat to become a man as for a Goy to become a Jew. The demands of the Jewish church on its Gentile laity are not very strenuous, they may do what they want they may amass riches and power, provided they give up their soul... "In the Jewish universe, the Gentile should submit to the Jews."

 For Shamir (In Pardes at least) Mammon is just a sort of 2nd Class Judaism For Gentiles. "Mammon is the Gentile turned face of Yisrael". "It’s a Judaic attitude for the model relationship outside of the Jewish community, developed for dealing with the Goyim." "In plain words, neo-liberalism is a Godless Judaism."

Ordinary Jews don't necessarily "...understand the plans of Yisrael. They are obedient--and this is sufficient." What are the "plans of Yisrael?"

"In short, Yisrael like Israel before her wants to unite the world under her spiritual guidance. The Temple of the God of Israel is to be located in Jerusalem, the center of this Jewish-ordered universe and all Nations will bring tribute to it. The Nations will worship God by serving Yisrael."

"In 1962, Look magazine invited the founder of the Jewish state David Ben-Gurion to picture the world 25 years into the future. He (mis)-predicted that World Government would already be in place by 1987, with the Supreme Court for Mankind (the higher ecclesiastic body) to be established in Jerusalem, as well as a shrine there, commemorating the Jewish role in the bringing together of mankind."

The Jewish Theologian Saadiya Grama sums the larger theoretical (racist) explanation for why this can and must be: "The difference between the people of Israel and the nations of the world is an essential one. The Jew by his source and in his very essence is entirely good. The goy, by his source and in his very essence is completely evil. This is not simply a matter of religious distinction, but rather of two completely different species". (26)

The Two Paths

For Shamir, Israel Adam Shamir, of the Padres, these are the 2 paths: the path of the church of God in Christ and the path of Yisrael, the church of No God by itself. His path to this view importantly runs thru his conversion which I spoke of early. Here is Shamir's own description of this (I believe) clearly defining personal event:

I would like to share with you my elation: today, on Tuesday, 8 October 2002, ... I was received into the Mother Church of the Holy Land, and became a Palestinian Christian. The baptism was a happy, joyous and festive occasion, and it took place in the wonderful ancient cathedral of Mar Yakoub, the old see of St James, the brother of Lord and the first Bishop of Jerusalem. It is adjacent to the Golgotha and to the great Church of Resurrection, and it is the home church of local Arab-speaking Palestinian community. I was baptized in the old deep octagonal Byzantine font so many saints and bishops of the Holy City were baptized in. My skin still feels the touch of olive oil and myrrh, soft, supple, fragrant. I was anointed before the full immersion, and the water in the font also felt like precious olive oil, this main substance of the Holy Land. I was brought into the church by the Archimandrite Attalla Hanna, Father Theodosius, the highest-ranking native Palestinian priest of the Mother Church, who was released from his captivity. Instead of Israel, the father of Jews, I was given the name of Adam, the father of all men. It was midday when I stepped out into the atrium, feeling like a groom in his wedding day, and was met by the bells of the Holy Redeemer. It reminded me of this dream of Theodore Herzl, to bring the Jews into Church on midday with all bells a-ringing. The monks and parish folk blessed me 'mabruk' and indeed I feel myself much blessed to join my Palestinian brothers and sisters in their church. I share my witness with you, and make it known to my brothers the Jews: there is no joy greater than to be in communion with God and with the people of the land. Now, I can repeat after John, 'for the Law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ'.

 For John Ruskin and myself; the two paths are the word of God and the way of Mammon.(27) A Forscorrespondent describes the incarnation of Mammon in Ruskin's time:

"It is no use to be more polite, if we are less honest. No use to treat women with more respect outwardly, and with more shameless, brutal systematic degradations secretly. Worse than no use to build hospitals, and kill people to put into them; and churches, and insult God by pretending to worship Him. Oh dear! what is it all coming to? Are we going like Rome, like France, like Greece, or is there time to stop? Can St. George fight such a Dragon? You know I am a coward, and it does frighten me. Of course I don't mean to run away, but is God on our side? Why does He not arise and scatter His enemies? If you could see what I see here! This used to be quite a peaceful little country village; now the chemical manufacturers have built works, a crowd of them, along the river...The place where this hideous colony has planted itself is, I am sure the ugliest, most loathsome spot on the earth."

"The works themselves, with their chimneys and building make up the most horrible picture of progress you can imagine. The land, now every blade of grass and every tree is dead... There is a forest of chimneys visible, to make up I suppose for the trees that are dying. We can hardly ever now see the farther bank of our river that used to be so pretty, for the thick smoke that hangs over it. And worse than all, the very air poisoned with their gases. Often the vilest smells fill the house.

It nearly maddens me to see the trees, the poor trees, standing bare and naked, or slowly dying, the top branches dead, the few leaves withered and limp. The other evening I went to a farm that used to be (how sad that used to be sounds) so pretty, surrounded by woods. Now half the trees are dead, and they are cutting down the rest as fast as possible, so that they can at least make use of the wood. The gas makes them useless." "...I came away wondering, if this goes on, what will become of England. The tide is so strong--they will try to make money, at any price. And it is no use trying to remedy one evil, or another, unless the root is rooted out, is it?--the love of money." (28)

Ruskin's "sermon" in reply was on the 14th psalm: "...the fourth verse of the Psalm declares that all the workers of iniquity eat up Gods people as they eat bread. Which appears to me a very serious state of things, and to be put an end to, if possible...."

Yet here again Ruskin finds a different assessment of the capacity of the "orthodox" church to differentiate: "...but evangelical persons conclude thereupon that the works of iniquity and the Lord's people are one and the same. Nor have I ever heard in the course of my life any single evangelical clergyman so much as put the practical inquiry: Who is eating and who is being eaten?"

"Again the first verse of the Psalm declares that the fool hath said in his heart there is no God; but the sixth verse declares; of the poor that he not only knows there is a God, but finds him to be a refuge. Whereupon evangelical persons conclude that the fool and the poor mean the same people; and make all the haste they can to be rich. Putting them and their interpretations out of our way the Psalm becomes entirely explicit. There have been in all ages children of God and of man; the one born of the Sprit and obeying it; the other born of the flesh and obeying it. (29)I don't know how that entirely unintelligible sentence "There were they in great fear" got into our English Psalm; in both the Greek and Latin versions it is: "God hath broken the bones of those that please men". And it is here said of the entire body of the children of men, at a particular time, that they had at that time all gone astray beyond hope; that none were left who so much as sought God, much less who were likely to find Him; and that these wretches and vagabonds were eating up Gods own people as they ate bread. Which has indeed been generally so in all ages; but beyond all recorded history is so in ours. Just and godly people can't live; and every clever rogue and industrious fool is making his fortune out of them, and producing abominable works of all sorts...material gasometers, furnaces, chemical works...with spiritual lies ...unheard of till now in Christendom."

Make no mistake it is "the Mammon devil" that is the source of this mischief for when he "gets his bellow put in men's' ears" (30) the ear is deafened with its own murmuring till: "He that stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself and shall not be heard."

Ruskin and Shamir are in agreement on the inadvisability of eliminating the spiritual from our analysis of the world: "Now, whatever chemical or anatomical facts may appear to our present scientific intelligences, inconsistent with the Life of God, the historical fact is that no happiness nor power has ever been attained by human creatures unless in that thirst for that presence of a divine King and that nothing but weakness, misery and death have ever resulted from the desire to destroy their King and to have thieves and murders released to them instead."

"And now--but one word more--either for you, or any other readers who may be startled at what I have been saying as to the peculiar stress laid by the Founder of our religion on right dealing with wealth. Let them be assured that it is with no fortuitous choice among the attributes or powers of evil that "Mammon" is assigned for the direct adversary of the Master whom they are bound to serve. You cannot, by any artifice of reconciliation be Gods solider and his. Nor while the desire of gain is within your heart, can any true knowledge of the Kingdom of God come there."(31)

 Ruskin learned about Mammon from his master, Thomas Carlyle: "Oh it is frightful when a whole Nation… has forgotten God, has remembered only Mammon and what Mammon leads to." "Laissez-faire, supply and demand--one begins to be weary of all that. Leave all to egoism, to ravenous greed of money, of pleasure, of applause--it is the Gospel of Despair. Man is a Patent-Digester then; only give him Free Trade, Free digesting room; and each of us digest what he can come at, leaving the rest to Fate. My unhappy brethren of the working Mammon, my unhappier brethren of the Idle Dilettantism, no world was ever held together in that way for long." "…truly it is beautiful to see the brutish empire of Mammon cracking everywhere; giving sure promise of dying, or of being changed."(32)

 Why spend so much time on an obscure Englishman that no living persons besides myself probably cares about? Well, Shamir acknowledges Tolstoy. (33) Therefore, we will let Tolstoy answer: ""Ruskin was one of the most remarkable men, not only of England and our time, but of all countries and all time; he was one of those rare men who think with their hearts …and so he thought and said not only what he himself had seen and felt, but what everyone will think and say in future."

Tolstoy thought so, also; Ghandi, and Berdyaev, William Morris and Burne-Jones and (20 some odd years after Ruskin's death) the members of the British parliament who in their annual survey voted Ruskin the most influence individual on their own lives.

So as Ruskin's words are as true today as yesterday; so Mammon is as virulent an opponent, a false path "strewn with leaves of another kind" today as ever. The individual actors (such as "the Jews"…) come and go but the "Powers and Principalities" remain the same.

It is not only in defining the "false path" that I disagree with the Shamir of Pardes. On the true path, I tend more to Tolstoy's (and Ruskin's ) (34)definition of the Church than Shamir’s more "orthodox" or mainstream one. "Only deeds of truth, by introducing light into the conscience of each individual can dissolve the cohesion of error and detach men one by one from the mass united together by the cohesion of error. This work has been going on for 1800 years. It began when Christ's commands were first given to Humanity and it will not cease till, As Christ said, all things be accomplished. The Church composed of those that sought to unite men in unity by the solemn affirmation that it alone was the truth, has long since fallen into decay. But the church composed of men united not by promises or consecrations but by deeds of truth and love, has always lived and will live forever. " -Tolstoy

I must admit I miss Israel Shamir the wonderful Hebrew Prophet and care not so much for the rather ordinary occasional and uninspiring proclamations of Adam Shamir the orthodox Christian evangelical. I hope again for some more lovely Galilee Flowers along my own path. But I don't begrudge him his own perspective much less his own happiness in the "Peace that passeth all understanding." As I wrote in my own Easter message two years ago: "It’s not a matter of politics. .... It’s really quite simple: Anyone who opposes (U.S. permanent war) must work together with everyone else who also opposes no matter how much ideological or personal disagreement may exist. The other side is united and monolithic. One mantra blared thru speakers of TV and newspapers and government briefings. If any of us survive we can work out our differences then."(35)

There are many individual ways to that dominant fork in the road. There is room equally for the "anti-semite" Shamir and the anti-communist Lew Rockwell. For the lamenting patriot Diane Harvey and, the "Anti American" American John Kaminiski .... For the New Age Jean Hudson and the civil servant Scott Ritter. For the Indian Goddess Ahrundhati Roy standing in the way of the rivers of water of Mammon's making and the Argentinean women banging their pans in the street. For the Palestinian and Iraqi resistance, the true religious person of any faith, the Great Concourse of the Dead, and certainly for: : "the rural people whose huts they pillage, whose farms they ravage and over whose art they reign (who) must still be diligently silently and with no time for lamentation, ploughing, sowing, cattlebreeding. Else how could Frank or Hun, Visigoth or Roman live for a month or fight for a day". (36) For: "The two ignored powers, the Providence of Heaven, and the virtue of man--have ruled and rule the world, not invisibly, and they are the only powers of which history has ever to tell any profitable truth. Under all sorrow there is the force of virtue; over all ruin, the restoring charity of God, to these alone we have to look, in these alone we may understand, the past and predict the future destiny of the ages." (37)

 

Notes:

1. At his inauguration.

2. Really since his "conversion" or the full effects of it manifest.

3. Sometimes listed as The Pardes, alternatively as Pardes: an etude in cabbala  It is available from the author – just write to Shamir@home.se with subject Pardes.

4. Not unlike that of Bob Dylan (Robert Zimmerman) after his similar experience in the 1980s. I owe this suggestion to my son Lee Allen.

5. "Think of it as the Israelization of America. With the U.S. A....as Israel. And the rest of the world as Palestine" (Sealing the Crack in History).

6. "Marx concluded: 'The practical domination of Jewish spirit over the Christian world has achieved in North America its unambiguous complete expression."--Israel Shamir quoting Karl Marx in "Cornerstone of Violence"

7. "...Adam Smith formally in the name of the philosophers of Scotland and England, set up the opposite God, on the hill of cursing against blessing, Ebal against Gerizim..."--John Ruskin, Fors Clavigera

8. Religious Scholar was attempting to suggest globalization as a form of secularization.

9.  In "Apocalypse Now".

10. See section Israel/ Palestine; final paragraph.

11. It is interesting to note that while Ms. Coulter's violent views receive best seller status in the west; Shamir’s books are banned or forced to marginal publishers--perhaps he could try a blonde wig and mini-dress.

12. Three incredible days passed in Jerusalem. On Friday night, burial processions carried out the shroud of the Lord from the small ancient church of St James into the parvis of the Holy Sepulchre. Yesterday, tens of thousands of native Christians and pilgrims flocked into the great edifice of the Holy Sepulchre to celebrate the annual but always new and surprising miracle of Holy Fire coming of the Tomb of Christ. It is a beautiful and colourful feast, when processions of various denominations march in and out, while young Syrian and Armenian boys throw wild and inspiring dances.... And with sunrise on Easter Sunday came a beautiful day, a day of new hope and new promise

13. The panel in general being in the sum of their speech a prime example of the title of this section borrowed from Ruskin.

14. One of the more curious things to me is how Shamir seems to place great positive value on the Mel Gibson film as returning (perhaps these) Christian -Zionists to "the church".

15 As the little old ladies for peace vs. George Bush above.

16.In his second "book" collection (unpublished but available on the internet: Our Lady of Sorrows)--Shamir actually tears apart some of his earlier works to inject additional theological comment which I feel is a direct consequence of his conversion, and do not feel adds to but rather detracts from the quality of the work.

17.Ruskin himself barely mentions the Jews; obviously because as Shamir would be the first to point out the "Rise of the Jews" is a recent phenomena.

18. It may prove something of a treasure hunt to see if that term actually is used anywhere.

19. What I suppose is a quite unusual modern printing from the same year curiously as the "failed revolution of 1968".

20. I can't off hand find the reference to confirm this.

21. Sometimes himself referred to as Saint Crumpet.

22. See "If Americans Knew" website for comparison of coverage of Israeli and Palestinian deaths in U.S. Press.

23. For my part I tried to argue Shamir's perspective as I felt the "U.S. imperialism" analysis given to be too far in the opposite direction from reality.

24. And (of course) anti-Semitic--worse "Conspiracy" focused.

25. This in "The Sparrow and the Beetle" from Galilee Flowers.

26. Quoted by Shamir in Pardes

27. Of course Yisrael was in "abeyance", to use Shamir's phrase at this time, yet no one is a more thorough and knowledgeable historian of classical and Christian i.e. European history and basically "the Jews" do not enter into Ruskin's analysis there either.

28. Fors Clavigera volume two Sept. 18/ 1873

29. Here Shamir and Ruskin are in agreement.

30. Comment here on Holbeins Dance of Death.

31. Time and Tide, John Ruskin.

32. Past and Present, Thomas Carlyle.

33."..the tragedy of Leo Tolstoy's last days."--Pardes.

34. Ruskin expressed a similar view tho, by fors appointment no doubt, I can't find it at the moment it. It will have to be trusted to my assertion that it does exist.

35.Palestine and Beyond, Apr. 2002.

36. John Ruskin.

37. John Ruskin.