Friday, July 31, 2009

Reading Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein of the Simon Wiesenthal Center

This article was originally lined to the VOW site which no longer exists. I have linked to the article on the Layman site. For the second part of Rabbi Adlerstein's article look under the Laymen's archives of VOW articles.  

For the weekend I am linking to an article that is relevant to the subject of Israel and Palestine. It is at the Voices of Orthodox Women's web site, and is a review of Dr. Mary Mikhael's "Joshua: A Journey of Faith," Horizon's Bible Study.

The article is by
Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. In speaking to the study he is also dealing with some of the issues I have been writing about here. In the body of the article he takes various statements from the study and explains how they are either insufficient in information or simply wrong. The article is "A Rabbi Reflects on the Horizons Study of Joshua Part I" it begins:

"The Book of Joshua is part of the Bible. To believers, every part of the Bible offers us some Divine instruction. In some cases, the message is instantly available and always uplifting. In other cases, the simple meaning of the text is obscure or even disturbing. In such cases, the true student will realize that he/she must work even harder to insure that what is learned is part of G-d’s teaching, and not our own agendas catching a ride on His words.

I read Joshua: A Journey of Faith by Mary Mikhael with sadness and pain. It does not at all read like a study guide, but as advocacy for a political position. I believe that the content is not only imbalanced, but full of distortion, error, and counter-factual material. I do not expect anyone to take my word for it, but I am honored to have the opportunity to present a very different narrative. It is my hope that people who are interested in the truth realize that it only emerges by listening with rapt attention to differing and often opposing perspectives. The truth usually emerges from the dialectic."

And a different part:

"Following the 1948 establishment of the state of Israel, approximately 750,000 indigenous Palestinian Arabs and Jews were displaced and forced from their homes. [From the Study]

"In 1948, after the UN Partition went into effect, five Arab armies attacked the fledgling State. Azzam Pasha, Secretary-General of the Arab League announced, 'This will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades.'

Israel had explicitly welcomed its Arab residents to become citizens. Some Arabs ran in fright. Others were told by their own to leave their homes, because Arab armies were going to wipe out the Jews, and they would be able to return when the battle was one. They were forced by their own leaders, not by Jews, with some notable exceptions that did occur. Benny Morris, long a leftist critic of Israel, did the definitive study and brought to light the exceptions – and then surprised the world by showing how they were a very minor part of the exodus from Israel."

So please, here is an opportunity to read the story from the point of view of a Jewish scholar. Do go to the
VOW site and read.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

My answer to the Israel/Palestine Mission Network's E-mail

For the e-mail see post below.

Dear Mr. Davis,

Thank you for replying in such a timely manner. You have written a great deal, but you have not understood or have simply ignored my very deep concerns about the booklet Steadfast Hope: The Palestinian Quest for Just Peace.

There are several issues in your letter I must address. First is the issue of racism and I will connect that with anti-Semitism. The second has to do with Jewish history; the third with Christianity and the biblical text. They will overlap. They all center on the quote I find so offensive, therefore I will also start my essay with it.

“The founding narrative of the State of Israel links the modern-day Jews’ claim to the land of Israel/Palestine to their direct genealogical descent from the ancient Israelites. Recent anthropological scholarship shows that this widespread belief is very likely a myth, not historical fact. Shlomo Sand, an expert on European history at the university of Tel Aviv, and author of When and How Was the Jewish People Invented? posits that the Jews were never exiled en masse from the Holy Land and that many European Jewish populations converted to the faith centuries later. Thus, he argues, many of today’s Israelis who emigrated from Europe after World War II have little or no genealogical connection to the ancient land of Israel.”

In your e-mail you bring up the issue of racism with this sentence. “Even so, it would be a mistake to reduce the vitally important ongoing conversation about Israel/Palestine to an argument about genetic purity and we assume your inquiry to Ms. Hylkema is not an attempt to so.”

Others who are reading your e-mail may not understand the significance of that statement. So I will explain. And this certainly has to do with Sand’s book and your use of the quote. In a review of Sand’s book, Jewish Professor, Israel Bartal, dean of the humanities faculty of the Hebrew University, explains some of the problems. They include Sand’s attempt to caricature the early Zionists and Zionist historians with a form of racism. Sand does this by contending that the Zionist historians covered up any story that connects converted Gentiles to the people of Israel.

Bartal refutes Sand in his article “Inventing an Invention.” For instance, while Sand insists that the early founders of the State of Israel tried to cover up any knowledge of the Khazars, an ancient people who converted to Judaism in the Middle Ages, Bartal has memories of reading about them in the 1950’s in “the Mikhlal Encyclopedia, an almost mythological reference text that nearly every Israeli high school student relied on in those years, the flagship of what is termed ‘mainstream Zionism,’ in the lean Hebrew of 21st-century Israel.”

Continuing, Bartal explains that Sand sees the Zionist insistence on the right of land for the Israelis resting on “on a biological-genetic ideology,” which “became the ‘narrative of the ruling group’ thanks to the fact that the ‘authorized scholars of the past’ have concealed the truth concerning the real, impure origin of the Jews.” But Bartal, as his article shows, has clearly refuted any such nonsense about early Zionist or Zionist historians.

Both Sand and the publication produced by the Israel/Palestine Mission Network are attempting to make the founders of the State of Israel as well as Zionist historians out to be racists, that is, those who insist on a genetically pure ethnic group. And this fits very well, not with true history, but with the constant insistence, in Steadfast Hope, that the Israelis have committed “ethnic cleansing.” Please see my post, More from the Presbyterian Israel/Palestine Mission Network's booklet Steadfast Hope, on this subject.

Instead the Jewish people were strengthened in their knowledge that their people and faith had converted Gentiles to the Jewish faith.

The claim that Zionist founders and historians are and were racist is anti-Semitic.

But even true stories of conversion, such as the Khazars or the stories in Esther, do not negate the truth that the Jewish people in Diaspora are linked genetically to ancient Israel. Sand’s theory, that most contemporary members of European Jewry are not genetically connected to ancient Israel, a theory also upheld by the authors of Steadfast Hope, is clearly refuted by genetic investigation.

Under the “Science” column, the New York Times published an article titled, Y Chromosome Bears Witness to Story of the Jewish Diaspora. The article written by Nicholas Wade begins:

“With a new technique based on the male or Y chromosome, biologists have traced the diaspora of Jewish populations from the dispersals that began in 586 B.C. to the modern communities of Europe and the Middle East.

The analysis provides genetic witness that these communities have, to a remarkable extent, retained their biological identity separate from their host populations, evidence of relatively little intermarriage or conversion into Judaism over the centuries.”

The article goes on to connect the Jewish people with the Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese and to “a common ancestral population that inhabited the Middle East some four thousand years ago.” This is a very interesting article and should be read by anyone interested in the subject.

Also for information on the Sephardic Jews and their relation to ancient Israel see The forgotten refugees": some film clips and scientific proof here.

To return to the e-mail nothing you write absolves you of using a quote which many radical Muslims and racist, anti-Semitic groups in the United States accept with glee. It does not absolve you of disconnecting the Jewish people from their own history. Both Christianity and Judaism are faiths whose history is of utmost importance. “The sacred books and prayers” are important because of the true Jewish connection to ancient Israel not because of a collective consciousness.

And, in fact, if the Jewish people’s connection to ancient Israel is less than historical, Christianity is grounded in nothing and may once again become the tale of the heroic or noble Aryan as it did in Nazi Germany.

Sand is a historian interested in historiography, and also in a one state solution to the Middle East problem. His words and ideas, which he intends for good, are open to misuse by all manner of anti-Semites and also those whose agenda is incessantly slanted against the Jewish people.

This brings me to my final issue, Christianity and the biblical text. The authors of Steadfast Hope have written for what is supposedly a Christian ministry in the Presbyterian (U.S.A.) And yet they chose to use a historian who is not only on the margins of Jewish historical thinking and one without a background in ancient history, but also one who is a minimalist historian as far as Israel is concerned, that is, he denies the existence of Moses and the exile of Israel as well as King David and Solomon. He denies the ancient Kingdom of Israel.

But the Israel/Palestinian Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) surely knows better than this. Hopefully they uphold the faith of the Church. It may be easy for a secularist, even when he is Jewish, to deny the connection between the Jewish people of today and ancient Israel; perhaps all he believes in are memories of collective communities. But Christians should be grounded in the Holy Scripture.

Christians should understand the connection between the Jewish people and their sacred texts, because part of our text belongs to the Jewish people. To deny the Hebrew Bible is to deny our faith.

I hope I do not offend my Jewish friends, but for a Christian to deny Moses and the Passover is to deny the shed blood of the Lamb. To deny King David is to deny the King of heaven, the coming Ruler. And, woefully, to deny the exile is to deny the sinfulness of humanity and the 'judgment' that eventually came to Rome. So why use a historian who denies all of the Hebrew Bible and bases his historical maneuverings on his denial?

You have suggested the use of Dr. Mary Mikhael’s “Joshua: a Journey of Faith,” the Presbyterian Women’s Bible Study. Its political slant is very much in agreement with yours. And in the study Mikhael, using Richard D. Nelson, refers to the text of Joshua as displaying “a folkloristic character.” With all of this I am reminded of a chapter in the book The German Church Struggle and the Holocaust, in which Franklin H. Littell complains about the state of liberal Christianity in the United States in regards to the Jewish people, likening it to what came before Hitler. (He is saying this in 1974) He writes:

“The irony of our recent decades as men of education is severe: those who have found the particularity of ‘Jewish folklore and fable’ too confining, too earthy, too finite have ended in the pitiful vulgarisms of Teutonic or Anglo-Saxon or other Gentile ethnicity infused by a vague piety.”

That is a warning. Too many in the Presbyterian Church and other denominations are, as I have stated before, descending into the murky waters of anti-Semitism. Your booklet is proof of it. I will be writing about it in further postings.

Viola Larson

Elder, Fremont Presbyterian Church,
Sacramento, Ca

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

An exchange of e-mails between myself and the Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A).

On July 27 I e-mailed Carol Hylkema the Moderator of the Israel/Palestine Mission Network for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A).

This is my e-mail:

Dear Carol,

I am writing in regards to the booklet, Steadfast Hope: The Palestinian Quest for Just Peace. I am both reading and blogging on this booklet. I am bothered by the history of Israel as it is portrayed in the booklet, but I must admit that I have not seen such a blatant statement of anti-Semitism in a Christian Church publication as this quote:

“The founding narrative of the State of Israel links the modern-day Jews’ claim to the land of Israel/Palestine to their direct genealogical descent from the ancient Israelites. Recent anthropological scholarship shows that this widespread belief is very likely a myth, not historical fact. Shlomo Sand, an expert on European history at the university of Tel Aviv, and author of When and How Was the Jewish People Invented? posits that the Jews were never exiled en masse from the Holy Land and that many European Jewish populations converted to the faith centuries later. Thus, he argues, many of today’s Israelis who emigrated from Europe after World War II have little or no genealogical connection to the ancient land of Israel.”

I must ask the question, who wrote that and why are you allowing it in a Presbyterian publication? Does it not bother you that you have cut the Jewish people away from their own Biblical history? This is not unlike statements made by racist anti-Semitic groups, who also wish to cut the Jewish people away from their history.

I am sincere in asking for information about who wrote that and why? Can you give an explanation for this? Will you please tell me you have done this unintentionally? Will you apologize? I have written on this here:

Were Holocaust victims linked genealogically to biblical Israel?

In the grace of God,
Viola Larson

(In case anyone wonders I used Ms Hylkema first name because we know each other and it seemed a bit more friendly)

Here is the e-mail that came today. I will be answering it in my next posting.

Dear Ms. Larson,

Carol Hylkema has asked me to respond to your email of July 27 and I am happy to do so. In your letter you say that you are "reading and blogging on [Steadfast Hope]." Your description indicates that you are commenting publicly about a document that you yourself may have misunderstood.

Your specific point of concern is the challenge posed by Professor Shlomo Sand's research on Jewish genealogy and demography to some of the common understandings about the connection between the Jews as a people and the modern-day state of Israel. Sand's fundamental assertion that the Jewish people have, like all populations, experienced dynamic historical forces including migration, conversion, and intermarriage is, on the face of it, not controversial. The world is and has always been a "melting pot." (A related historical issue not mentioned in the resource is whether some present-day Palestinian Muslims are the descendants of Jews who converted to Islam during the era of Islam's expansion who have, themselves, subsequently intermarried with Muslims of non-Jewish ancestry.) Future scholars will continue the fascinating project of uncovering centuries of Jewish history; those historians will continue the time-honored service of those in their profession: making important discoveries, challenging common assumptions, and disagreeing with each other.

Even so, it would be a mistake to reduce the vitally important ongoing conversation about Israel/Palestine to an argument about genetic purity and we assume your inquiry to Ms. Hylkema is not an attempt to do so. Sand's claim that many Jews in the modern-day global diaspora are not direct genealogical descendants of the ancient Israelites does not and cannot challenge the powerful collective identification among many Jews with Israel as the spiritual homeland referred to in their sacred scriptures and prayers.

Steadfast Hope makes the simple, factual observation that biblical/theological claims to the land are made by followers of all three of the Abrahamic religions. Such claims undermine peace because they pit Jewish, Muslim, and Christian traditions against each other and provide their followers with divine sanction for the harm they do to members of the other religions.

Historical examples include 1) the Christian use of biblical texts during the Crusades; 2) Christian use of New Testament texts to claim that in Christ God’s covenant with the children of Abraham has passed from Jews to Christians (the so-called supersessionist theology); 3) the use of the Quran to justify jihad against Christians and Jews; and 4) the Zionist claim to all the “Land of Israel” based on biblical texts in which God makes these promises to Abraham and his descendants. The book of Hebrews challenges this Zionist reading of the Old Testament by claiming that the “real” children of Israel are not genetic descendants but descendants by faith.

Steadfast Hope proposes that the use of these and other scriptural claims to land perpetuates the conflict and that a lasting, durable resolution to the conflict will be based on international law and respect for the humanity and aspirations of all who live in the Holy Land. This is the approach that the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) has taken in its statements about Israel/Palestine ever since 1948.

If you are interested in pursuing the issue of the role of the Bible in the Israel/Palestine conflict I would recommend to you the 2009-10 Horizons Bible study selection by Dr. Mary Mikhael, President of the Near East School of Theology in Beirut, entitled Joshua: A Journey of Faith.

As you surely understand, practical size limitations pose an enormous challenge in any treatment of a complex topic. We have not attempted the impossible task of covering all aspects of the conflict, but have chosen instead to highlight perspectives that are less well known to many Americans, including our fellow Presbyterians. As we explain in the booklet, "Even now, however, Americans are broadly familiar with the dominant Jewish narrative about Israel, but relatively few fully comprehend the Palestinian historical narrative.... This widespread imbalance in understanding is, itself, a barrier to peace.... It does not diminish the importance of the Jewish narrative on Israel to advocate an equivalent awareness of the Palestinian experience both past and present." (p. 4) It is our sincere hope that Steadfast Hope will be the beginning of a journey of discovery for concerned readers, not an end in itself.

Given your interest in Jewish history, tradition, and genealogy, you may wish to read Sand's work in its entirety before dismissing its conclusions. Evidently a large number of Israelis do not regard his scholarship as anti-Semitic because his book was on the best seller list in Israel for nineteen weeks when it first came out in Hebrew.

Best wishes to you and your congregation as you engage in these and other important issues related to peacemaking in Israel/Palestine.


Walt Davis,
Chair, IPMN Education Working Group

Monday, July 27, 2009

The forgotten refugees": some film clips

Some comments on my last posting were about the the Sephardic Jews. Dr. Robert Campbell, (Pastor Bob), wrote: "A forgotten piece of history: after Israel proclaimed independence and fought the following war Jews were expelled from all the countries of North Africa and the Middle East. Many if not all had their possessions taken from them when they were expelled."

Here are several film clips from, "The Forgotten Refugees" a film compiled by the the David Project. Most of these are stories about Jewish people whose families lived in these lands before the New Testament was written.

(I reposted this because Church and World had linked to it, hopefully they can relink.)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

More from the Presbyterian Israel/Palestine Mission Network's booklet Steadfast Hope

I have deleted my last posting in order to put this closer to my posting Were Holocaust victims linked genealogically to biblical Israel?. I have decided to simply place some quotes here from the booklet, "Steadfast Hope: The Palestinian Quest for Just Peace" published by the The Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

In my last posting I quoted this from the booklet:

“The founding narrative of the State of Israel links the modern-day Jews’ claim to the land of Israel/Palestine to their direct genealogical descent from the ancient Israelites. Recent anthropological scholarship shows that this widespread belief is very likely a myth, not historical fact. Shlomo Sand, an expert on European history at the university of Tel Aviv, and author of When and How Was the Jewish People Invented? posits that the Jews were never exiled en masse from the Holy Land and that many European Jewish populations converted to the faith centuries later. Thus, he argues, many of today’s Israelis who emigrated from Europe after World War II have little or no genealogical connection to the ancient land of Israel.”

This anti-Semitic statement makes the whole booklet suspect but there is more. I will write out a couple of quotes from Steadfast Hope and then show how the quotes are misleading by using other authors to counter them.

"On March 10, 1948, (Well before surrounding Arab nations joined the conflict), David Ben Gurion (Who later became Israel's first Prime Minister) and his advisors implemented Plan Dalet, a military operation to depopulate and destroy non-Jewish villages, The goal was the ethnic cleansing of Palestine's non-Jewish population." (p.9)

The term "ethnic cleansing" is used constantly in this booklet. In contrast, Walter Laqueur, who is not a conservative, but an excellent historian, in his comprehensive book "A History of Zionism: From the French Revolution to the Establishment of the State of Israel," writes about what happened shortly after The United Nations voted for the partition of Palestine:

"The next morning the Palestinian Arabs called a three day-protest strike, and Jews in all parts of the country were attacked. On that first day of rioting seven were killed and more injured; the fighting continued to the end of the mandate. The next months, as chaos engulfed Palestine, were a time of crisis for the Jewish community. ...The most pressing task facing the Jewish population was to strengthen its defenses, since the Arab countries had already announced that their armies would enter the country as soon as the British left. Syria was not willing to wait that long: an 'Arab Liberation Army" inside Palestine was established in February with the help of Syrian officers as well as irregulars." (p. 583-84)


"While Britain continued to supply arms to the neighboring Arab countries, and America had declared a general arms embargo, the Jewish forces had great great difficulty in obtaining supplies. By February the Arab forces were on the offensive throughout the country. While they did not succeed in capturing Jewish settlements, they all but paralysed the traffic among them, and even Jerusalem was about to become a besieged city. The Jewish relief force sent to the help of the Ezion settlements had been wiped out to the last man, a terrible loss by the standards of these days." (p583)

And writing of the horrible retaliations that happened on both sides, including the destruction of the Palestinian town Dir Yassin, Laqueur writes:

"Fighting became more intense and savage, as acts of reprisal followed one another. On 8 April, most of the inhabitants of the Arab village of Dir Yassin on the outskirts of Jerusalem, 254 in number, were killed by a combined IZL-Sternist force. Three days latter, a Jewish medical convoy on its way to the Hadasssa hospital on Mount Scopus was ambushed in the streets of Jerusalem with the loss of seventy-nine doctors, nurses and students. A British force stationed two hundred yards away did not intervene." (p 584)

Another statement from "Steadfest Hope."

"On June 5, 1967, Israel initiated a preemptive strike by bombing and then invading Egypt, Jordan, and Syria with the goal of expanding the boundaries of the state."

Not only had there been constant terrorist attacks against Israel but Egypt began to mass troops along its borders with Israel. Nasser ordered an international peace keeping force to leave. Egypt closed the Straits of Tiran to Israel stopping her flow of oil. Mitchell G. Bard in his book Myths and Facts: A guide to the Arab-Israeli Conflict writes that Israel was ringed by a massive troop build up from many Arab countries. Nasser announced :

'The armies of Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon are poised on the borders of face the challenge, while standing behind us are the armies of Iraq, Algeria, Kuwait, Sudan and the whole Arab nation. This act will astound the world. Today they will know that the Arabs are arranged for battle, the critical hour has arrived. We have reached the stage of serious action and not declarations.'

Syrian defense minister Hafez Assad stated that 'I, as a military man, believe that the time has come to enter into a battle of annihilation.'" (p 53-54)

While it is true that dialogue and understanding often being peace, lies, such as these above, bring discord and even persecution. I will continue in some further posts writing about the problems with this material.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Were Holocaust victims linked genealogically to biblical Israel?

If I was reading a booklet from some “Christian Identity” person like Pete Peters in Colorado or some anti-Semitic person like David Duke I would simply shake my head and say typical. But instead I am reading a new publication by “The Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).”

At least that is what it states on the booklet and it was recommended to me by them at their booth at the Presbyterian Women’s Gathering.

The booklet, a large booklet, is titled, “Steadfast Hope: the Palestinian Quest for a just peace.” I am troubled as I read; the information is slanted, terribly slanted. But although not finished with my reading or research I must write.

The “Identity” groups insist that the Jews of Israel and elsewhere are not Jewish but only people who converted to Judaism, probably Edomites or Khazars. They insist that the white European and British people are the “lost” tribes of Israel. But the Israel/Palestinian Mission Network have a new but old story to tell. It isn’t that the white races are the true Israel it is rather that only those Jewish people who have lived in Palestine for several thousand years belong, by ancestry, to ancient Israel.

So what about all of the other Jewish people who migrated to Palestine both before the Holocaust and after? Oh, they are just converts to Judaism. They supposedly have no link to ancient Israel. That would of course mean that those who died in the Holocaust were not genealogically linked to ancient Israel!

Under the subtitle, “The Genealogical Claim to Israel,” the authors write:

“The founding narrative of the State of Israel links the modern-day Jews’ claim to the land of Israel/Palestine to their direct genealogical descent from the ancient Israelites. Recent anthropological scholarship shows that this widespread belief is very likely a myth, not historical fact. Shlomo Sand, an expert on European history at the university of Tel Aviv, and author of When and How Was the Jewish People Invented? posits that the Jews were never exiled en masse from the Holy Land and that many European Jewish populations converted to the faith centuries later. Thus, he argues, many of today’s Israelis who emigrated from Europe after World War II have little or no genealogical connection to the ancient land of Israel.”

This lie about the Jewish people both inside of contemporary Israel and outside of Israel is undoubtedly the worst affront I have experienced concerning Israel and the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. At least a small group of people in the denomination, my denomination, are truly anti-Semitic- they are capable of using the worst kind of lies to bring about their own political agenda.

Since, evidently, Shlomo uses the Khazars as an example just as the neo-Nazi groups do I will copy part of my paper that dealt with that here:

“In 740 AD a group of people who were Tatars converted to the Jewish religion. This was the kingdom of Khazar, “on the western shore of the Caspian Sea between the Volga and Don rivers.” This kingdom was aggressive and existed until 969, when the Khazars were conquered by Russia. Henceforth, the people became Russian Orthodox under Vladimir. These people who were Jews by conversion, as many people are, are neither the Israelite descendants nor are they the Jews of today as many Identity teachers insist. They are simply a group of people who were converted to Judaism in the early Middle Ages and then converted to Orthodox Christianity.”

And then I should, from the same paper, explain the genealogical linkage of most of the Jewish people of today with ancient Israel.

“While the history of the Jews is complex and travels over many roads and centuries, it is very clear that the ancient Israelites are the Jews of today. Their language, religion and communities connect their centuries in an unbreakable line.

“Both from biblical texts and from historical sources it can be shown that at the time of Jesus, Jewish communities, (those who were Israelites), existed not only in Palestine but also in most of the known world. The Jews of the Diaspora, that is the Jews living outside of Palestine, were diverse but linked by “ethnicity,” “the local community,” “links with Jerusalem and other Diaspora Communities,” “the Torah” and “Jewish practices and beliefs.”7

Scholars consider the Jews in Diaspora to have been a large population. Although they do not know the exact amount they acknowledge, “that the total Jewish population of the Diaspora considerably exceeded the Jewish population in Palestine.”8 The Dictionary of New Testament Background gives information about many of those communities including the acknowledgement that, 'Literary and inscriptional sources indicate that some Jewish communities in the Diaspora continued to flourish until the end of antiquity.'9

The Jews of second century A.D., who existed without a central location, built into their Diaspora communities a means of connectedness that prevented them from being absorbed totally into the cultures where they existed. They held the Hebrew language and the liturgy of their worship in tact. Max Dimont, author of Jews, God and History, explains:

To prevent the Hebrew language from becoming fragmentized into hundreds of dialects, Jewish scholars set about writing the first Hebrew dictionary and grammars. Though modern Hebrew has grown in the number of words, anyone able to speak Hebrew today can read the Hebrew of the ancient Israelites, the Hebrew of the Jews in Islamic civilization, or the Hebrew of the Jews in the Middle Ages, without special guide books.10

The Jewish people and their culture, which connects with ancient Israel, are found in many cultures in many different ages culminating in contemporary Jewish communities and peoples including the state of Israel. By 1960 Israel had a population of two million people, “Jews from Yemen and Germany, Morocco and Russia, Turkey and Poland.”11

These many diverse peoples, who of course, include converts from many other races and people groups, are generally the physical children of Abraham through his son Isaac and his grandson Jacob; they are not Edomites. And they are not Khazars.”

At this point I believe it is time for many in leadership in the Presbyterian Church to rise up out of concern for the awful place we are descending to and confront those who are moving into the murky world of anti-Semitism.

7 For a detailed description of these links see, P.R. Trebilco, “Diaspora Judaism,” Dictionary of New Testament Background: A Compendium of Contemporary Biblical Scholarship, Editors, Craig A. Evans & Stanley E. Porter, (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press 2000), 291-93.
8 Ibid., 285.

9 Ibid., 295.

10 Max I. Dimont, Jews, God and History, (New York: Signet Books 1962) , 121.

11 Ibid., 410.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A cry from Georgia but first a smile

My Granddaughter Melissa and her husband Spencer are visiting my daughter Penny and her family in Georgia. Penny has taken some wonderful pictures of my great granddaughter Molly with their dog Carleigh.

This is my daughter Penny:

And here is Molly with her mom and the dog Carleigh

And now a cry from Georgia. My grand son-in-law, who by the way is a dancer, will not be dancing for a little while. A very daring person, also an actor, he was playing Tarzan. He will not be dancing for a while. All kidding aside this is in my daughter's back yard.

I forgot to add only a sprained leg no broken neck. Whew!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Tell us all about yourself?

Here are some thoughts going through my head this morning as I read a comment that I have not yet posted. (I might not) Anyone who reads my blog knows a great deal about me. They know I am a Presbyterian Elder. If they read carefully they know what my degrees are in and that I am a writer who writes about many subjects. They know I am a mother, grandmother and great grandmother. They know that I am married to a piano tuner and live in an aging hundred year old house. They know I write poetry and like gardens. They know that as a Christian I am orthodox, (with a small o), evangelical and Reformed.
Picture by Viola Larson

Some people who write comments on my blog, both those who disagree with me and those who agree, I know a great deal about. Most of that is because they also have blogs and I read their blogs. Some I have even met and we are brothers and sisters in Christ as well as friends.

But some people, a few, are always in disagreement with me on several subjects and eventually they become insulting when writing. All of this is made worse by the fact that although they give their names and cities/states I really do not know anything about them. They are not blogging themselves and even when they are listed with a blog name they have no profile.

So--here is your chance-- you know about me, now tell us all about yourself, it will help me to feel better about posting your comments--and besides I would really like to get to know you.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Three articles on Israel for those who care about Israel

Three articles in the Jerusalem Post I find are relevant to several discussions that have occurred concerning Israel and the Middle East on this blog. The first one is more than six months old but perhaps the most relevant. It is "Law professor: Hamas is a war crimes 'case study'" written by Haviv Rettig Gur. The law professor is "Irwin Cotler - a former Canadian justice minister, MP and law professor at Montreal's McGill University."

The article begins:

"The fighting tactics and ideology of Hamas are a "case study par excellence" of a systematic violation of international humanitarian law, according to a leading expert in international law who visited the Gaza periphery region on Tuesday.

There is "almost no comparable example" anywhere in today's world of a group that so systematically violates international agreements related to armed conflict, Irwin Cotler - a former Canadian justice minister, MP and law professor at Montreal's McGill University - told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.

Hamas is committing at least six violations of international law, Cotler explained.
"First, the deliberate targeting of civilians is in and of itself a war crime," he noted, referring to the Hamas rockets fired at southern towns for eight years. "

The second article is several days old and is titled "
Diplomacy: Israel vs. Human Rights Watch." It is written by Herb Keinon. The article begins:

"A group of Soviet dissidents gathered in a Moscow apartment nearly 35 years ago and courageously formed the Moscow Helsinki group, with the aim of monitoring how the Soviet Union was living up to the human rights component of the 1975 Helsinki Accords that dealt with ways to improve ties between the communist bloc and the West.

One of those involved was Natan Sharansky. Using this group as a model, Helsinki Watch, an NGO founded largely by Robert Bernstein, an American Jew concerned with human rights, was established soon after, also as a way to monitor Soviet compliance. In the intervening 31 years, Helsinki Watch has morphed into Human Rights Watch (HRW), a mammoth human rights NGO that went to Saudi Arabia in May and used its work castigating Israel as a way to solicit funds in one of the world's worst human rights violators.

That transformation, at least for Sharansky, is simply too much."

The third article was published today, July 19, and is very important if the writer's assessment is true. Barry Rubin has written an article explaining how events are causing the right and left in Israel to come to an agreement on exactly what Israel will and will not agree to concerning the Palestinians and peace in the Middle East.

The article, "
The Region: Israel's new national consensus," begins:

"This could be the most important article I write this year. Israel has entered a new era of thinking and policy in which old categories of Left or Right, hawk or dove are irrelevant under a national unity government bringing together the two main ruling parties.

How did this new paradigm arise? Between 1948 and 1992, the consensus was that the PLO and most Arab states want to destroy Israel. When - or if - the day comes that they're ready to negotiate seriously we'll see what happens.

Then came the Oslo agreement and a huge shift. The governing view was that maybe the Palestinians and Arab states learned the cost of their intransigence enough to make peace possible. The Left thought a deal could bring real peace; the Right thought it was a trick leading to another stage of conflict on terms less favorable to Israel. But both expected a deal to materialize.

The year 2000, the Camp David failure, the Syrian and Palestinian rejection of generous offers and the second intifada destroyed illusions.

Since then, the country has groped for a new paradigm. Prime minister Ariel Sharon offered unilateralism; prime minister Ehud Olmert and foreign minister Tzipi Livni constantly offered more in exchange for nothing. But the more they did so, the more international abuse Israel received.

NOW A NEW approach has finally emerged capable of reversing this situation. .."

If you are interested in the future of Israel these are important posts to read.

Friday, July 17, 2009

So Funny !

This is so funny..... Perhaps the ultimate way to keep out of controversy.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The reason I left Dr. Mikhael's workshop on's because of the Jewish people

How many times have the Jewish people had to deal with libel? From The Protocols of the Elders of Zion to stories of Jewish ritual murder of Christian children to false charges against Alfred Dreyfus, the French army officer falsely accused of treason in 1894, the Jewish people have had to live with the withering stories spread by both the malicious and the uninformed.[i]

That was the first thing that came to my mind, the libel of Jewish ritual murder, as I, hardly without thinking about what my body was doing, gathered my purse and bag and left the workshop, Horizon’s Bible study “Joshua: A Journey of Faith.”

Oh, the workshop leader, the author of the new Bible Study, did not mean to be malicious and she though she was informed when she told the story, but Dr. Mary Mikhael isn’t quite ready to admit she told a false story about Jewish people, soldiers in this case, when she responded to my comment.

My comment during the workshop had been that, Dr. Mikhael, who will also be part of a continuing interfaith dialogue with Muslim Dr. Muhammad Sammak, had simply stated that “war broke out” when Israel became a state in 1948. She failed to say that five Arab nations had attacked Israel.

Dr. Mikhael first responded by explaining that she was against all wars on either side but she went on to state that in the end the “root” of the violence was Israel’s fault since they had ejected 750, 000 Arabs from the new state. This in itself is simplistic but not the problem I am writing about. She enlarged on her subject to say a young woman who was Jewish, who stayed with her overnight in Lebanon on her way to Gaza, had e-mailed this horrific story about Israeli soldiers shooting Palestinian children.

Supposedly Jewish soldiers entered a Gaza home and insisted that the mother give five of her children to Israel. When she refused the soldiers shot five of the children. And as Dr. Mikhael explained you can find it all over the internet. (But you can’t, just in a few places mostly with a retraction.)

Here is the first statement, part of Barbara Lubin’s e-mail:

“Out of all the devastation I have seen so far, there is one story in particular that I think the world needs to hear. I met a mother who was at home with her ten children when Israeli soldiers entered the house. The soldiers told her she had to choose five of her children to “give as a gift to Israel.” As she screamed in horror they repeated the demand and told her she could choose or they would choose for her. Then these soldiers murdered five of her children in front of her. The concept of “Jewish morality” is truly dead. We can be fascists, terrorists, and Nazis just like everybody else.”

Here is the second statement by the Middle East Children’s Alliance:

"Barbara Lubin and all of us at the Middle East Children’s Alliance believe that we should have confirmed the story about the Gaza woman who was told by an Israeli soldier to choose which five of her ten children should die, and then witnessed their murder. We are doing everything we can now to verify the story, but have been unable to do so. We ask that you do not publish or post this story on the Internet. If you have already done so, please post this statement, as well.
Barbara Lubin went to Gaza to deliver four tons of medicine and other aid to the people there. When she arrived in the immediate aftermath of the Israeli assault the scene she encountered was chaotic and the people traumatized. She heard and retold many horrifying accounts, and saw for herself the devastation to homes, schools, businesses, land and lives.

In these catastrophic circumstances, it’s not difficult to see how Barbara would find this story credible. Unfortunately, we sent it out before taking the time to verify it.”

There is more in both comments you can read them here.

Here is the third statement which entails a second story when read carefully has nothing to do with the first and is itself suspect.

“ A massacre did happen, though not the one as originally outlined during the current assault by Lubin who has offered this to correct her account.

Excerpted from a letter to Barbara Lubin from Talal Abushawish

It’s not so far from from what you reported because the victims are the same…the story happened in Bourij Camp in the middle of the Gaza Strip. The Israelis called the woman, Manal Albatran, and told her that they wouldn’t kill her or her husband Hussein Albatran, instead they would make them die of sadness because they would kill her children. The next day they shot her house with a rocket killing her and 5 of her children.”

Remember this is by way of a fourth party.

Today I went to talk to Dr. Mikhael about my sadness that she would tell a story like this to a workshop of over a hundred women. She stated that someone had e-mailed her yesterday giving her the same link I have shown in this posting.

But she said that she still did not know if it was true or not because so many other atrocities had happened. She said she would not retract her statement in her next workshop because she didn’t want to deal with it again and besides she would never have told the story if I hadn’t made my comment.

Dr. Mikhael also stated that she was not anti-Semitic because she is herself a Semite. Interestingly, one of her editors, the day before had also explained that to me.

When I explained that the word anti-Semitic refers to someone who hates Jews she quickly insisted that she does not hate the Jewish people. And of course she does not, I know she does not. But when she, as a scholar and a Christian tells an unsubstantiated story such as this story to group of people who accept her authority she abets those who do hate the Jewish people.

This is how it begins, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the tales of Jewish ritual child murder the lies about individual Jewish people. As the people who belong to Jesus Christ may we not be guilty of that particular sin, slander.

[i] For the Dreyfus affair see W. Eugene March, God’s Land on Loan: Israel, Palestine, and the World, (WJK 2007), 31.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


Some good music....
Picture by Penny Juncker

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A letter to the Civil Union and Christian Marriage Committee

I have written my letter, (E-mail) and sent it the the Civil Union and Christian Marriage Committee. I know it is a bit preachy and does not address all that should be addressed, but it is what is on my heart.

Presbyterian Church USA
Civil Union and Christian Marriage Committee
Office of the General Assembly

Dear members of the PCUSA Civil Union and Christian Marriage Committee,

As I read the biblical text for my devotions this morning I was struck by the words of our Lord to Peter in his hunger for food. He with his Hebrew sense of obedience complains to the Lord that he cannot eat the unclean food that he has three times been offered.

The text tells us that in a trance Peter heard the Lord say, “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.” The food was made clean because the Lord declared it clean. Christ has fulfilled the law for us freeing us from food codes that set the Hebrew people apart in the Hebrew Bible. But like the food humanity cannot be declared clean unless God declares us clean. That is the reason Christ lived, died and was resurrected for us.

But in both food and humanity it is God who declares and cleanses. It is to his word that we must listen. It is to his word that I pray you will resort.

When the Pharisees attempted to draw Jesus into their contemporary arguments about divorce he reached all the way back to the beginning of creation. His reply was, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘for this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh?” (Matthew 19: 4b-5)

This is the Lord’s declaration that marriage is meant for a man and a woman. Although about divorce, the text also speaks to same sex marriage since the whole concept of marriage, for our Lord, is based on the creation account of a woman and man created for each other.

Going further God uses the relationship between a husband and a wife to picture the relationship of Jesus Christ to his Church. In both cases it is a holy union based on God’s words to his people. In fact, holiness is a part of both relationships; the one is a picture of the other because of the call to holiness. As Paul writes:

Husbands love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave himself up for her, so that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of the word that he might present to himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. (Eph 5:25-27)

So returning to Peter’s complaint about eating unclean food and the Lord’s words that what he has cleansed is clean, Jesus had already declared this when he made a distinction between what goes into the stomach and the actions that come from the heart. In the Gospel of Mark, of food he states “…there is nothing outside the man which can defile him if it goes into him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man.”

But of the things that come from the heart, the sins that come from the heart, Jesus states, “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness.” (Mark 7:21-22)

All of these are heart problems that need the compassionate love of the Savior to cleanse and turn us around. For this Christ died. He makes us holy with his holiness, he makes us holy in our longing to be holy and because he makes us holy with his holiness we continually repent and move with him.

For the leadership to throw up stumbling blocks while the Holy Spirit' works to sanctify the Church of Jesus Christ is unthinkable. Let us not call good what the Lord does not recognize or call good, adultery, fornication and same sex marriage. Please abide by the words of God and allow grace to continue in the lives of Christ’s people.

Viola Larson
Elder, Fremont Presbyterian Church Sacramento, California
Board member of Theology Matters
Board member of Voices of Orthodox Women

Monday, July 6, 2009

Some of my friends are women--pastors!

Some of my friends are women—and pastors!

When I was a member of the Assemblies of God, the denomination my husband grew up in, and also one that has always allowed women pastors, I never really liked the sermons the women preached although I didn’t hear that many of them. But I found that my dislike was simply because they, like many of the male pastors, only preached from their spiritual experiences, not really from God’s word.

But today I know better. The women of the Bible portray a wide range of ministries. There are the two Hebrew women, Shiphrah and Puah, who protected the Hebrew male babies in the land of their slavery.

There is Miriam the sister of Aaron and Moses who is referred to in the word of God as a prophetess. That is, one who proclaims the word of God. She led the women of Israel in dance and song because God had delivered the Hebrews. She proclaimed, “Sing to the Lord, for he is highly exalted; the horse and his rider he has hurled into the sea.”

There is Abigail who kept David from sinning and then proclaimed God’s promise to him. “Should anyone rise up to pursue you and to seek your life, then the life of my Lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living with the Lord your God: but the lives of your enemies he will sling out as from the hollow of a sling.” (1 Sam 25:29)

There is Rahab who sets the tenor for the book of Joshua with her faith in what God will do for his people Israel. Calvin writes much of her faith including this when she states that “He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath:”

“Here the image of Rahab’s faith appears, as if reflected in a mirror, when casting down all idols she ascribes the government of heaven and earth to the God of Israel alone. For it is perfectly clear that when heaven and earth are declared subject to the God of Israel, there is a repudiation of all the pagan fictions by which the majesty, and power, and glory of God are portioned out among different deities; and hence we see that it is not without cause that two Apostles have honored Rahab’s conduct with the title of faith.”

And I could go on, but instead will introduce you to some ladies who I think are great preachers and pastors.

The first is my friend the Rev. Tracee Hackel who writes the “Girl Preacher” column for the Voices of Orthodox News Letter. She is also on the board of Voices of Orthodox Women and her wonderful care for the word of God and Reformed theology can be seen in this article she wrote a few years ago “Monologue or Dialogue? The Relationship Between Reformed Theology and Contemporary Theologies of Women.”

Another friend is a pastor in Tennessee, The Rev. Terrye McAnally. She is on the board of VOW also, and recently we shared a wonderful lunch in Denver while I was waiting for my plane. We all wear a little white cross with a heart on it meaning we love the cross of Jesus Christ. As we sat talking about the Church, wearing our crosses, the waitress just couldn’t help but ask if we were “nuns.” Terrye said no we were Presbyterians that she was a Pastor and I was an Elder. Then the waitress wanted to know the difference. Terrye said “I preach and she rules” and then we both started laughing. What can you say about a lady who reads Calvin’s Institutes in the original language in which it was written.

When I first became a Presbyterian one of my pastors was a person that everyone will recognize if they were at the GA or know anything about last year’s GA. That is the Rev. Tammy Letts, she was running for Vice Moderator with Rev. Bill Teng. Tammy was instrumental in my husband becoming a Bible study leader. She is such an equipper and encourager. This last Sunday afternoon my husband taught his first class to a group of young men in a maximum Security Facility in Ione California. What a gift Tammy has been to Brad and I and the whole church.

And speaking of GA, I sat behind an amazing woman most of the time at General Assembly watching her pray with and encourage commissioners as the need arose. The Rev.Mary Holder Naegeli not only is a pastor but also teaches at Fuller Theological Seminary in Northern California. In the past, quite a few years ago, I read her sermons on line. And that is when I truly realized that women who preach from the Bible, using proper exegete, have a strong proclamation. They are God’s servants too!

A preacher I have not met face to face is the Rev. Kathy Horstman. When I read her sermons I understand her call and her complete absorption in Reformed theology. I am particularly overcome by the sermon she preached for Consistory member Toby Brown's installation at Jefferson Center Presbyterian Church, Saxonburg, Pennsylvania. That sermon is The Battle is the Lord’s. Which can be found at her blog Not exactly as Preached.

Here is part of her sermon:

"Fearlessly, constantly preach Christ and Him crucified. With all your skill, wield the double-edged sword of the word of God, so your people and your peers may see how it judges and reveals the thoughts and attitudes of man. And remember, you are in the world but not of it. Exercise godly discernment. Fight against the temptation to take sides for or against an issue according to human factions and understandings. Make war on our culture’s sinful tendency to identify Jesus Christ with any human cause or commonwealth, however noble or great. Struggle against the world for the world’s own sake, boldly proclaiming the Gospel of peace through the shed blood of our Lord Jesus Christ."

Finally a friend I use to see at Presbytery all the time. I think she knows our Book of Order by heart, but she is now a pastor in an Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Roseville Presbyterian Church. Rev. Nancy Duff's wisdom and faithfulness to the word of God is always missed in our meetings.

I would be happy to sit down and listen to any of these ladies as they preach. I would hear God’s word.


A letter written by Carmen Fowler

Carmen Fowler of the Layman has written a pastoral letter that is excellent, "'War,’ ‘Go Fish’ ‘Manipulation’ in the PCUSA." Here is an excerpt:

"A pastoral letter to congregations in presbyteries that switched their vote on ordination standards:

Greetings, my Presbyterian brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ. To the churches in Arkansas, Charlotte, Cimmaron, Detroit, Eastminster, East Tennessee, Grace, Great Rivers, Greater Atlanta, Lake Huron, Lehigh, Mackinac, Maumee Valley, Minnesota Valleys, Missouri River Valley, New Hope, Newark, Ohio Valley, Pacific, Philadelphia, Salem, Scioto Valley, Sheppards & Lapsley, Southeastern Illinois, Transylvania, Tres Rios, Utah, Wabash Valley, West Jersey, West Virginia, Western North Carolina, Western New York, Whitewater Valley and Yellowstone presbyteries: Grace and peace to you from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, to whom be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

Do you know how to play “Go Fish,” “Manipulation,” or “War?” In life, as in cards, in order to play the hand you’re dealt, you have to know what game is being played. This letter is to let you know how the game has changed in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and to help prepare you to play the hand we have been dealt."

Friday, July 3, 2009

Freedom in Jesus Christ

There is an ultimate freedom for those who belong to Jesus Christ. My husband and I both like this music so I will post it for Independence Day. "It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery." (Gal 5: 1)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

About God, homosexuality and animals!

Sometimes I read something that is meant to be serious but is so utterly nuts that I just have to say so. My husband pointed me to a piece in the SFGate titled “Confirmed God is slightly gay: Just ask the animals. As soon as they stop having all that sex.” It is by Mark Morford.

My husband hoped I would write about the article.

I really didn’t want to but then I read one of the articles Morford linked to. The linked article with one paragraph destroys Morford’s whole thought.

Starting with a book, And Tango Makes Three about two male penguins in the Central Park Zoo who mated and when given an egg successfully hatched and raised the chick, Morford writes insultingly awful about Christianity and is eloquent about homosexuality.

His thesis is that since there is homosexuality in most animal groups and since animals including humans are parts of nature and since God is by many understood to be nature then God insists on all kinds of sexuality. So the implication is get with it everyone!

Morford is honest to a certain degree. He admits that life is not only pleasurable but also bloody. Yet he also implies that animals are happy about being homosexual. Morford emphatically writes:

“This, then, is what science appears to be trying to tell us, has been telling us, over and over again: Nature abides no narrow, simplistic interpretation of her ways. Nature will defy your childish fears and laughable behavioral laws at nearly every turn. God does not do shrill homophobia.”

One of the two articles he links to is in Live Science and is entitled “
Same-Sex Behavior Found in Nearly All Animals,” The staff that wrote the piece comes to their conclusion by quoting Nathan Bailey “a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Riverside.” They write:

"'Like any other behavior that doesn't lead directly to reproduction — such as aggression or altruism — same-sex behavior can have evolutionary consequences that are just now beginning to be considered,' Bailey said. 'For example, male-male copulations in locusts can be costly for the mounted male' and this cost may put evolutionary pressure on the locusts, he said. As a result, a larger number of males may secrete a particular chemical that discourages the mounting behavior, he added.”

So—that really says it all.

But I will go further. Morford doesn’t think much of Christianity so this is not addressing his screed, but a Christian should know better. We answer to a different God. We don’t answer to a god that is sexually capricious as well as red in tooth and claw. Deviant sexually based in a morality that is itself based in nature will eventually come with all the other deviant behaviors found in a fallen world.

A society that bases its morality on nature will in the end surrender all to nature. That was the problem with ancient Israel’s neighbors. Their nature religion not only led them to religious prostitution, it required the throwing of children into the fiery arms of Moloch. If we look to nature for moral guidance we will cast away our true humanity which is found in Jesus Christ.
If the world wants to follow the animals in their sexuality, gently but fervently shout at them. Pray for them. Tell them of the transforming grace of Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Seductive lies and a Marsh-Wiggle

It is wonderful how creative writers are able to take biblical truths and using metaphor, images and stories delight our souls with the glorious truths of Christianity. And thinking in the reverse it is wonderful how God has given us the creative ability to use his gifts to explain the goodness, compassion and life giving work of Jesus Christ.

I have, in the past, used a scene out of the Narnia book, The Silver Chair, to write about the seductive nature of some lies and what it takes to counter such spiritual lies. C. S. Lewis in this story, as usual is so very clear about the need to insist on the reality of what is good. And the truly good is Jesus Christ who is both God and man.

The Queen of the Underworld, like many contemporary seducers, is attempting to seduce Aslan’s friends into believing that the world above them is unreal. The children, Jill and Scrubb, the captured Narnian prince who has been imprisoned in her underworld for many years, and the Marsh-Wiggle, Puddleglum, a very gloomy but faithful creature, are in danger of falling asleep and in the process believing the lie that Narnia and Aslan do not exist.

I posted this on Facebook yesterday but I will post it here because it is one of my favorite scenes. And it allows me to remember that even a very glum Marsh-Wiggle, sometimes only a Marsh-Wiggle, can stand up for the truth. (Or perhaps put their hand in the fire for the truth) You see burnt Marsh-Wiggle smells really bad and can wake anyone up.