Tower of Babel
June 17, 2004
And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter. And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech. So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.
"Some of these Old Testament stories really turn me off. They present God and man in a terrible light — falsifying reality and misleading people to see themselves separated from God and sunk in wickedness."
"Yes, but if we take the Bible as a whole, eventually there's redemption and harmony."
"Our readings show the mistake of the people at Babel — building towards heaven or harmony through material means. It is screwed up, however, because their material Lord God — virtually a pagan dualistic deity — rebukes and scatters them for their effort and it takes centuries before Christ Jesus presents God as the Principle of man."
"I guess the story of Pentecost is the answer for what happened at Babel."
"There's a lot going on in the Babel story that's not apparent on the surface. If you check out other mythologies all seem to include a sharp rebuke of arrogance or hubris. Like Icarus crashing into the sea or Etana falling to earth."
"Isn't the problem here more than arrogance. I mean the whole set up of Babel, with its Lord God noted for His bad moods and His sin-filled offspring yet again displeasing Him — this time without the warnings they got in Eden..."
"It does look unfair. They're just trying to reach heaven!"
"Yes, but it's up there rather than right here, at hand."
"There's a kind of universal feeling about mountain tops as the place we meet God. Moses went up the mountain to get the Ten Commandments. Jesus often went up there to pray. Even Martin Luther King talked of going to the mountain top. The Babylonian ziggurat, like Babel, was a man-made mountain where the earth goddess could consort with the sky god, with priestesses in attendance."
"The Babel story may be a put-down of paganism."
"And the matriarchy where mountains were sacred to the Great Mother."
"And here I thought Babel was phallic — like obelisks, pillars and bell towers."
"Aren't obelisks derived from solar imagery and thereby masculine? I think they're stylized sheddings of sun rays. Let's look at what Mrs. Eddy says about Babel. There's a quote in Miscellany (see Readings) where she implies the arrival of Christian Science has raked up all kinds of negative energy needing dissipation through Truth. And we have the quote above from the Glossary of Science and Health (see Focus statement above). What she says there doesn't jump out at me from reading the biblical text but seems to be based on her overall exegesis of the Lord God's kingdom, established in Genesis II and ever unfolding its dualism through most of the rest of the Bible."
"I have a more positive interpretation of Babel. Given the plight of these poor mortals, caught in a dualistic kingdom ruled by a psychopathic deity, why wouldn't they reach out for some relief in the direction of where they believe heaven is?"
"Let's be blunt — you're actually describing most of us in the world today."
"Yes, that's right. We're all desperately seeking relief. But the positive point I'm seeing is, that this desperate search is desire, and as we know desire is prayer!"
"Oh, that's wonderful. So instead of condemning myself or others for saying, 'I'll be in heaven when I get a lover or a million dollars,' I can let the desires 'be moulded and exalted before they take form in words and in deeds.'" (Science and Health, pg. 1:13-14)
"Jesus said we should seek first the Kingdom of Heaven and once that's achieved the good things of this life will be added. How is that different from what you're saying, or even from the traditional reading of Babel?"
"Basically I think they're all saying the same thing. If I think I'll be happy merely through an accumulation of goods or persons, I'm in for a sad awakening. But if I get the divine idea clear about the people, places and things — and live it — then I'll be in heaven or harmony."
"I see it this way — if I follow my inner voice, it'll guide me into the harmony I'm meant to experience. My deeper Self will always guide correctly."
"I love to go within and just be! There's nothing to do or achieve. That's heaven right here and now."
"All dualities of good and evil — all intellectual turmoil and casting about — they all fade and I know."
"Do you ever bring that divine knowing back through the matter belief and heal or transform it?"
"Sometimes, sure. But for me the goal, if there is one, is to become more heart-centered, more caring. I want to listen with and communicate from my heart. My Christian Science Teacher used to say we need to ask ourselves in every situation, What's the loving thing to do? The only thing I could add to that is we need to keep our love in line with divine Love — so it doesn't get stuck on a personal level. If I needed to exercise 'tough love' sometime, I might find it difficult and in conflict with my nice guy image unless I looked to God as the source of my loving thoughts and actions."
"There's a whole other level of love needed today — given the world's huge problems with life-threatening political and religious zeal, not to mention environmental challenges. I heard one of the 9/11 commissioners say we can't possibly protect everything every moment. Another said we seem pretty good on defense, but had done little on offense. He may have meant military or intelligence offensives, but I see the huge need for the most dedicated and infinite spiritual assessment of the situation. I believe those given to unselfed scientific prayer must fulfill their duty and help mankind get through this period."
"Everything since 9/11 can be seen as an angel entertained unawares — it's the oneness of being shouting: 'get over your hates and fears — your belief in a separation of God and man — and live the one I or Us. You have no choice!'"
"Well, that's pretty bald. Could it be the Lord God speaking?"
"Kind of sounds like Him I know — but compare the Truth being imparted here to that of the mathematics table. I could say it's screaming 'two plus two equals four!' Yes, I'm being dramatic and you might laugh, but try using some number other than 4 in daily practice and see how far you get."
"We need to close now. Our note-taker will be away for a week; so we'll need a two-week topic."
"What about something relating to Gay Pride?"
"We've done it several times in the past — but can always come up with new material."
"I'm more interested in Gay Sloth or Avarice."
"Where are you going?"
"What's the subject?"
"Let's do that — you'll have plenty to say and the rest of us can come up with something."
"OK. Are we agreed?"
"So notes covering the two meetings would go up on the net on July 2nd or so."
seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.
To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, to-day is big with blessings.
Through the wholesome chastisements of Love, we are helped onward in the march towards righteousness, peace, and purity, which are the landmarks of Science. Beholding the infinite tasks of truth, we pause,—wait on God. Then we push onward, until boundless thought walks enraptured, and conception unconfined is winged to reach the divine glory.
Human codes, scholastic theology, material medicine and hygiene, fetter faith and spiritual understanding. Divine Science rends asunder these fetters, and man's birthright of sole allegiance to his Maker asserts itself.
As mortals reach, through knowledge of Christian Science, a higher sense, they will seek to learn, not from matter, but from the divine Principle, God, how to demonstrate the Christ, Truth, as the healing and saving power.
The conceptions of mortal, erring thought must give way to the ideal of all that is perfect and eternal.
The growth of human inquiry and the increasing popularity of Christian Science, I regret to say, have called out of their hiding-places those poisonous reptiles and devouring beasts, superstition and jealousy. Towards the animal elements manifested in ignorance, persecution, and lean glory, and to their Babel of confusion worse confounded, let Christian Scientists be charitable. Let the voice of Truth and Love be heard above the dire din of mortal nothingness, and the majestic march of Christian Science go on ad infinitum, praising God, doing the works of primitive Christianity, and enlightening the world.