Term Paper: Cults and Establishments Regina M

Pages: 7 (2227 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Mythology - Religion  ·  Buy This Paper

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[. . .] The outcome of stories like that of Cain and Abel and Jacob and Esau is violence. The scarcity of divine love creates jealousy, jealousy modeled on the jealousy of the one God who demands allegiance but refuses to accept all people under his divine wing.

All of this scarcity is punctuated by violence," (164). Limited resources of food, land, and love lead to a policy of strict divisiveness. If there is not enough of something to go around, the only means of determining who is privy to the resource is violence, not sharing. Only one group can enjoy divine favoritism, which is ironically construed as limited even in light of the immense power conferred onto the divine. Because human society has been historically modeled on theology, at least the societies of ancient Israel, this philosophy of scarcity extends into human relations. Just as each group must fight to the death over land, food, or other natural resources, they must also fight over divine resources of love.

Patriarchy exacerbates and perpetuates the myths of exclusionism and mandatory violence. Schwartz shows how, if power is conferred from father to son in kinship groups, how divine love is also inherited and expressed only through those favored kinship groups. Not only were Cain and Esau excluded from the limited bounty of God's love: their sons were also thus excluded. Whole races of people become seen as Others, enemies of the one God. It therefore becomes impossible to promote inclusiveness and honor diversity. If God has deemed one race or lineage as superior to another, then humans must also practice exclusionism in their earthly affairs. Violence toward other groups of people is essentially mandated by God.

The Biblical concept of ownership is also shown to be intimately linked to the proscription of violence. "Rather than the peaceful exchange of intermarriage to forge cohesive communities, the impulse to define, to delimit, and to possess propels violence." Linked to the concept of scarcity, the concept of ownership is theoretically similar to monotheism and henotheism. God "owns" one group of people, a group that he defines as his own. That group of people is thus owned by God; they are God's property. Any threat to the integrity of this relationship of ownership must be met with violence. Any threat to one's rightful claim to property can and should be met with violence. If divine blessings are construed as a type of property, then wars can be fought over the favoritism of a God. Like the defending of territorial boundaries, the defending of theistic boundaries is fundamental. Schwartz also links the concept of exclusive ownership to monogamy. Ironically, however, Schwartz notes that Biblical narratives "suggest that Israel cannot be possessed," (73). Violence, therefore, comes not only from the defense of territory but also from the frustration inherent in the concept of ownership: "It seems we kill in order to own and we kill because we cannot own," (72).

Possessiveness and jealousy are psychologically linked to violence, so it can be stated that the Bible is an extension of human psychological and sociological realities. In other words, the Bible does not inform human relations so much as human relations formed the Bible. However, Schwartz's examination of the impact of Biblical teachings on history proves that the stories and myths contained in the Hebrew Bible have emphasized and promoted the innate human tendency toward violence. By creating a sense of "us" versus "them" in human relations, the Biblical teachings encourage the formation of the hostile, inferior foreigner. This foreigner is thereby viewed as a competitor for scarce resources of divine love. If divine love is scarce and limited, people must fight over access to it. In The Curse of Cain, Regina Schwarz shows that Biblical allegory supports a theory of divine scarcity which leads to violent defensiveness. Moreover, rather than encourage universalism and diversity, monotheism "is entangled with particularism," (33). One God, one people, one set of truths is valued to the exclusion of all others. This particularism entails superiority, which also leads to violence between groups of people. The Bible teaches that amid diversity, one thing must be chosen over others. Whether this exclusionism expresses itself in monogamous marriage ties or henotheistic worship, Biblical monotheism permits and even encourages violence.

Works Cited

Schwartz,… [END OF PREVIEW]

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