Second Thought

Looking again at news and commentary

The Christian Century

"Not long ago a Reform Jewish rabbi in Israel took a group of us through a side entrance to Jerusalem's Jaffa Gate. The low-level door swings open to reveal a narrow passageway which leads to a blank wall. Only after a sharp turn is it possible for one to proceed into the city. This entrance was a security measure, designed to prevent enemy horsemen from riding straight through.

"The rabbi suggested that the New Testament parable regarding the camel passing through the 'eye of a needle' could have just such a city gate in mind. There is no way, it seems, that a camel could make it through that intricate passageway. Of course, biblical scholars assume that Jesus' metaphor is meant to be taken literally. For a camel to pass through the eye of a needle is a physical impossibility; hence, riches are a barrier to the kingdom.

"But I was rather drawn to the rabbi's version. One can imagine a camel believing that it could make its way through the little gate—if not now, maybe later. This camel metaphor comes to mind ... as the stock market roars up and down, leaving the general populace gripped with a deep sense of unease. Many observers have accused investors of greed and have used the crash to spin morality tales. But the camel metaphor points to something deeper than simple greed.

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The glue that makes us stick
June 6, 1988

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