Blessings are conditional. However we think of them, and wherever we think they originate, blessings are gifts – special graces – which we can accept and discard. That is in our gift. We have the right of refusal. Blessed with love, we cannot take our lovers and loved ones for granted. We cannot take without giving in return. The gift of love is not a certificate of ownership. Likewise, the blessing and gift of life is conditional. Its continuation and renewal always and everywhere depend on our generous acceptance of the gift and our loving care for the blessing.
Theirs is the faith, when it is set out in plain words, of the zealot and the fanatic. By no means do I intend to suggest that they are zealots, fanatics, or indeed bad people. All that I will say is that their ideas – or some of their ideas – are fanatical and dangerous in the extreme, and in this assessment there is no exaggeration.
When the man in the pulpit says that Islam is satanic and the Bible teaches that homosexuals are wicked, how might a Christian fundamentalist respond to a Muslim man murdering innocent women and men in a gay nightclub?
Since 1948 the State of Israel has existed as a homeland for the Jewish people. On the basis of Zionism, as an ethno-nationalist ideology, this stake in a geographical territory, according to the colonialist conventions of the time, is arguably legitimate.
According to the Pew Research Centre some 52.8 million US white Evangelical Christians identify themselves as Christian Zionists, the most politically influential voter bloc in the United States.
All of this may sound farfetched, but often – especially in US politics – fact is stranger than fiction, and to understand the present behaviour of Israel one ought to pay careful and close attention to the beliefs and influence of Christian Zionism.
True, modern political Zionism, rather than being a Jewish nationalist aspiration, was first the product of English and American Protestantism. English Puritans, from the earliest colonisation of North America, conceptualised their new home as a new Israel, a ‘City on a hill;’ a New Jerusalem.
Many Jewish people and Zionists, in Israel and around the world, have found in this Christian movement an uncomfortable political expedience – “Israel’s most hate friend.” Jews and Zionists who reject it call it a new form Christian antisemitism, and it is.