Masterful. Thanks so much.

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Thanks for this thoughtful essay, and your response to Meg Nakano.

I better understood how, with our fellow-Hebrews, Christians recall that JHVH asks for 'mercy not sacrifice'; and that, for those who accept the message of Jesus Christ, our re-orientation is (or is called to be) profound.

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"Through fasting, repentance, and ritual participation, we can learn that the only effigy we need to burn is the effigy of ourself. Only then can the real self rise from the inner flame." This is a resonant thought, in need of practical unpacking in our daily lives.

It is exceedingly difficult in a world where narcissism is richly rewarded, as well as in any setting that ignores our individual differences and capacities. (I can beat myself up endlessly in repentance, but there are limits to my capacity for ritual participation, for example.)

It also requires a rock-solid faith that there is a "real self" beyond our current existence that will be able to rise from "the inner flames" of a life crushed by the destruction of our life as we knew it: fasting, repentance, and ritual participation alone will not resurrect anything from the ashes of that destruction. It is by grace that we have been born and have survived to date: why must we assume that this existence is not our "real self" and in need of being destroyed so that the imagined "real self" can emerge? This question is going to hover over the great numbers of people whose lives have been destroyed in the current military conflicts, and will be in need of some form of grace-filled resurrection that does not negate the previous self as not being "real".

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