But since we are obliged to see the whole Bible, along with the classical inheritance, as fundamental to our civilization, and since the wholeness of heart that is peace is the subject of this laborious meditation of mine, it is necessary to quote Jesus’s comment in the Sermon on the Mount upon such interpretations of the sixth commandment:
“Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you. That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven; for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?”
That no doubt is the most unknown widely published statement and the best-kept secret in the history of the world. The Israelites themselves construed “kill” as “murder,” and at Jericho, Joshua and his invaders established a terrible precedent: Having received from God, as they believed, permission to do pretty much what they wanted to do, they “consecrated unto the Lord” that city’s precious metals and the metal pots and pans, and “utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword.” This granted in effect a powerful permission to humanity to follow its lowest instincts, and the “Christian nations” since Constantine have followed Joshua rather than Jesus–Joshua and Jesus being opposite biblical persons with oddly (in Hebrew) the same name.
Wendell Berry, The Need to Be Whole: Patriotism and the History or Prejudice, 142-143
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.