One of the things I often heard bandied about my entire life in church was how one of the things Jesus did was to come and “simplify” everything. They would explain how until Jesus came along, the Pharissees kept adding rule upon rule upon rule. Keep the Sabbath Holy wasn’t enough, they added and added rules to “clarify”…the end result being a law so complex and overflowing with rules it was absolutely impossible to follow.
And, in a way, Jesus did simplify things. He declared that the entirety of the law could be summed up in “Love the Lord Your God with all your heart, mind and soul” and love your neighbor as yourself. And yeah, that simplifies a lot. If that was our two laws? I suspect the culture wars would collapse in on themselves.
But as Depeche Mode sang, people are people. And Christians started to try and figure out where “the lines are drawn.” As the Church grew, so did the list of rules. An when the church would split, you would end up with a messy set of new rules for both sides.
And while Paul would say it did not matter if you said all days were the same or celebrated one above others, people would start to question the folks who saw everyday as the same-and then some of those people would make a rule that there should be no holidays. Jesus suggested prayer be a personal thing-done away from prying eyes, and the Church went right back to things from Judaism , making a big deal of the Hours (though, thanks probably to protestantism, most Protestants and Catholics are unaware of the Hours).
I suppose there is a bit of humor to it all. I mean, no matter how simple it starts out, you can always leave it to people to add and add until you are in the exact same mess you were trying to fix. It’s, oddly enough, a lot like comic book continuity. Every decade or so, the powers that be look back and see that their comic book universe is a complex mess…so they have a crisis or Flashpoint to fix the plot holes, adjust the errors and make everything new again. Only to find a few years later they are in the same situaton and contemplating a new Crisis.
Posted in: Religion