Saturday, April 07, 2007

Franciscan Friars Martyred for the Sanctity of Marriage

Five Franciscan friars, killed in 1597 on what is now the Georgia coast, are on their way to receiving sainthood for having died defending "traditional" marriage. According to the 500-page historical report, which was delivered to the Vatican in late March, the Spanish missionaries were slain by Guale Indians in a dispute over polygamy.
Friar Pedro de Corpa had spent a decade before his death in the late 16th century as a missionary converting Indians to Christianity in Spanish Florida, which then included the 100-mile Georgia coast.

De Corpa was assigned to a mission near present-day Darien, Georgia, when he infuriated the nephew of a Guale chieftain who planned to take a second wife. The friar admonished the nephew, a baptized Christian named Juanillo, and told him polygamy violated God's law.

On Sept. 14, 1597, Juanillo led warriors smeared in war paint to de Corpa's hut, where he was preparing for morning Mass. They killed the friar with stone clubs, severed his head and displayed it on a pike by a nearby river landing.

The warriors killed the other four friars over the next few days.

Bishop J. Kevin Boland, the head of the Savanna Diocese considers the friars true martyrs "because of their unwillingness to water down the teaching of the faith. . . It's very timely in today's culture, where marriage is under horrendous attacks." In fact, the martyrs have their own website.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Envisioning a God with a body

A regional newspaper out of Ontario, Canada, The Record, published an article which presents the views of Jewish biblical scholar, James Kugel regarding what the Bible says about the nature of God.
Contrary to popular opinion, God in the earliest books of the Bible didn't know all things.

Nor did He exist everywhere, all at once . . . . The Book of Genesis describes God walking through the Garden of Eden, Kugel said.

"Walking is not something you do when you're omnipresent," he quipped.

And at one point, God asks Cain the whereabouts of his brother Abel.

The verse implies that God didn't know Cain had killed his brother, Kugel said.

God also says, in Genesis 18, that He heard rumours about things happening in Sodom and Gomorrah and that He must go and see if they are true.

"That not only implies that He's not everywhere all at once, but He doesn't necessarily know everything -- he's going to go down and check," Kugel said.

This viewpoint will not come as "news" to the average Latter-day Saint. But it is interesting to note the comments of Rabbi Yosil Rosenzweig of the Beth Jacob Congregation in Kitchener:
"[Kugel's observations] really shook me up . . . But I think that's very, very good and very healthy because we get complacent in our beliefs."

Rosenzweig said that it never dawned on him that early biblical references to God's human physical features might not have simply been metaphors.

If those descriptions were not in the Bible, the notion of a God with physical form would be heretical, he said.

"That would be idolatry."

The article briefly touches on the transition in thought regarding the corporeal God of the early biblical books up to the omniscient and omnipresent God, which is said to be the dominant Jewish view at the time of Jesus. Written for the lay person, it is a short, easy read. Of course, I've always appreciated James Kugel's tendency to point out the obvious in what is so often illusive.