Saturday, February 01, 2014

California's Drought and Baptism

I keep looking for something from the past to relate to California's impending water crisis.  The following remark from the witty church father Tertullian (160-220AD) stands out in this regard:

"We enter, then, the font once: once are sins washed away, because they ought never to be repeated.  But the Jewish Israel bathes daily, because he is daily being defiled."  - Tertullian, On Baptism

If I understand this correctly, Christians only need to bathe once, but others need to bathe daily.  Clearly this is something the California government should keep in mind as it looks for ways to conserve water.


Delirious said...

We have an event in our church history that relates to this drought problem. In the early days of our church, the state of Utah was experiencing a drought. The Prophet prayed about this and received an answer that it was because the people were not paying their tithing. So he urged the people to pay their tithing, which at that time was most often paid in goods. The people did, and the rains then came. I do not doubt that God has a hand in droughts.

Looney said...

Certainly all disasters are related to God's overall plan. It is rare, however, for people to repent.

Max Coutinho said...

Hi Looney, diplomatic of Tertullian. Why would he relate the mikveh with sins only? The mikveh is done for several reasons, including being purified before appearing before God.


Inklings said...

If California falls to letting Christians only bathe once, then I am glad I live in Utah. :) However, Utah too is in a drought, and the LDS church asked for a state-wide fast today and prayers for moisture. I will remind myself when I am shoveling it that we prayed to receive it. :)

Looney said...

@Max, the main target of the tract seems to have been purification rites done to Isis and other deities, although the Jews were mentioned in passing.

I am curious what your criteria is/are for who is to be categorized as a Jew. For example, in parts of the US people claim to be Jews because they were circumcised or had a Jewish parent. They may or may not follow some Jewish traditions, and they are probably atheists in terms of actual theology, even if they are systematically following the traditions.

Looney said...

@Inklings, we just had a surprise rain today, given that it wasn't in the forecast. It was nice to have rain drops falling on my head.

Max Coutinho said...


Yes, and I wonder about the purpose of mentioning the Jews in passing...

The eternal Jewish debate: who is a Jew?
The הלכה says that Jews are those born of Jewish parents, Jewish mother and the converted. This is the official orthodox position.
In my personal opinion, a Jew is anyone who either has Jewish blood/DNA and follows the Jewish traditions or is a convert.
I don't understand the communist/socialist concept of following traditions and being an atheist though: every tradition starts with ברוך אתה יהוה so how can you be an atheist while invoking the name of God? Unless you follow the tradition without the prayers, but then again: what's the point of that? Judaism and Jewish traditions are intimately related to God and religion; it is fruitless to try and separate the two.

Another curious detail about some in the American Jewry: many who attend the Synagogue every week, and are active in the community, will eat pork in violation of one of the main Jewish commandments.

I will add another interesting aspect: you have the secular Jews who will observe the קדוש, the שבת, go to the Temple at least twice a year (Yom Kippur and Pesach) but do not consider themselves religious. So, Judaism is a beautiful and diverse universe with all its complexities.

Rummuser said...

"All living bodies subsist on food grains, which are produced from rains. Rains are produced by performance of yajña [sacrifice], and yajña is born of prescribed duties."


Ursula said...

Interesting light being thrown on discussion in your comment section.

I call myself a Christian. As that is the culture I stem from.Martin Luther and all that.Protestant.And like many pagans I do observe with great fondness the tradition of Christmas and hide Easter eggs. I even remember and know the trinity, not least "Pfingsten" which, in England, is just another 'bank holiday'. I know few people who do know what Pfingsten was about. Yet, the only reason I ever set foot into a church is because I love churches. The architecture, the sound, the grandeur.

Yes, Jews. I do have Jewish blood in me. Not least witnessed by my nose. But what does it mean? What does it mean? Zilch.

I once walked into a mosque. I think it was in Cairo. Naturally, all worshipers being men. On their knees. Never have I been ushered out more quickly. Innocent mistake. No, actually, I take that back: It wasn't a mistake. I took an interest and entered.


Looney said...

@Max, Thanks for your explanation. Regarding the atheists, I would note that they would view יהוה not as a real entity, but rather a socially unifying idea which only had a reality based in the human psyche.

Your remark of someone being born to a Jewish mother being considered Jewish is of some interest to me. I had a grandmother who spoke Yiddish growing up. The story I have heard is that this would make my father Jewish, but I would not be? Is that the correct way to view it?

Being raised on Bible stories and told that I was Jewish enough to not have survived the holocaust, there is a considerable empathy that I have for the Jewish cause.

Looney said...

@Rummuser, now I am going to be wondering for some time regarding my "prescribed duties".

Looney said...

@Ursula, From that description, should I characterize you as a secular Christian? The counterpart to the secular Jew?

I had to look up "Pfingsten", but am familiar with it under other names. Perhaps we are more paganized here because we have no such holiday. Even Easter has been switched to "Spring holiday".

Max Coutinho said...


You are welcome. Well, atheists are also a "socially unifying idea" among those who have little understanding of the spiritual world.

It depends on whom you ask. Reform Judaism (for example) will consider you a Jew from the get go; Orthodox Judaism will consider your father Jewish (and if your mother has Jewish blood as well, you are automatically a Jew; if not, you would have to undergo the whole process of conversion to be considered one, in terms of the הלכה). However, if - God forbid - we experience a Nazi/anti-Semitic regime in power again, I can guarantee you that you will be considered a Jew as well; they won't care whether you profess Christianity or not. They will only focus on your blood.

"Being raised on Bible stories and told that I was Jewish enough to not have survived the holocaust, there is a considerable empathy that I have for the Jewish cause."

True. Ask Hungarian Jews who converted to Catholicism (my father's family was one of them): most of them went to the camps and to the oven.
And God knows the Jewish cause needs all the help it can get.

Max Coutinho said...

Hi Ursula,

I love churches and temples too. I visit any whenever I have the opportunity.
LOL LOL your nose betrays your origin? Unfortunately, you would be the first to go under a Nazi regime - those guys had a problem with Jewish noses and any one who had Jewish blood (they went to the extreme of testing people's blood, sick).

Why didn't you go to the women's side of the Mosque? I give up on making comments about our Muslim fellows and their attitude towards women.

Always a pleasure, U.