21. 5 September 1986


Dear Nancy,

I'm really in no state to offer any comments on your sprightly pages: but I promised a few, so here goes.

1. I'm all for substituting 'liberation' for 'salvation': but doesn't that mean substituting something else (what?) in place of Christianity. And I still want to know what I'm being liberated from.

2. It won't do, for me at least, to say that it wasn't God but the Israelites who have this weird obsession with blood. It's just generally Israeli. Jesus has it too, in overflowing measure. No doubt it has something to do with the tribal rituals of nomadic herdsmen: their slaughtering laws are still in force. It's Jesus as well as Jehovah who finds religion unthinkable without slaughtering and sacrifice and the sacramental symbolism of blood-drinking and torment. The Blood of the Lamb is actually what it's all about. It's not to my taste.

3. I don't understand how we're supposed to have been redeemed by Christianity from Auschwitz. Wasn't it, on the contrary, Christianity that brought Auschwitz about? My Jewish friends find the Cross just as terrifying as the swastika.


   The notion that we are all somehow sinners in need of redemption seems to me not only obvious nonsense but the opposite of what Jesus actually said (admittedly from memory, on my way back from a solitary journey to and from my seaside homeland) "I come not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance". The prayer 'deliver us from evil' is surely not a request to be delivered from our own natures? Evil is an external force, throughout the New Testament, personified by Satan, in whose personal incarnation Jesus manifestly believes. It would never have occurred to Jesus, would it, that humankind was inherently wicked? If it is, and if Jesus was truly human, why wasn't Jesus wicked?


4. Liberation theology seems to me to have its own share of asserting the opposite of what Jesus said, namely "the poor you have with you always". That seems sensible enough. The reason isn't capitalism, or communism (where things are much the same): the reason is the inherent inequality of genetic endowment for which humanity as such is certainly not to blame. It's really very perverse of God to blame us for the readily forseeable results of his own decrees.

5. I think a very useful exercise would be simply to write down what Jesus's system of values actually was, both as explicit in his own recorded words and actions and as inferable therefrom. I think anyone who dispassionately undertook such an exercise and objectively recorded its results would certainly bring close a revolution in theology. Liberation, in fact!


   Sorry to be so negative and restricted. I'll try to do better after publication day.

Love as ever, E.