OUR OWN ERROR (2010)
Miriam is taken aback by the powerful babble of voices as she enters
the Martin Buber Center. She's still a sprightly woman, of medium height,
who walks, unlike most octogenarians, with a noticeably straight back. Of
course, there are lines and wrinkles in her face, but it's beautiful, and
her blue eyes shimmer as they've always done. She is accompanied to
the front of the main hall by Rabbi Klein. She admires this tall, lean,
and bespectacled man,
and envies his intellect.'What lovely roses,' says Miriam. The
dais is bedecked with four beautiful arrangements of white and red roses.
The Rabbi takes Miriam's red cashmere coat and hat and brings them into an
office nearby. Her dark navy trouser suit makes her look slightly taller
and slimmer. She has a bright pink scarf thrown over her shoulder.
Some months ago, he contacted the Jewish-Christian Council and
suggested that they invite Miriam to give a lecture in the light of her
forthcoming controversial novel. The Council was delighted, and invited
her to come and speak about herself and the ideas behind her latest book.
They asked Rabbi Klein to chair the event. Sitting down at the table
on the dais and taking a folder from her brief case, she sees many faces
looking at her: some are staring intently, some are smiling, and others
are reflective. Miriam notices quite a number of students, sitting in twos
and threes, whom she recognises from the synagogue. Dr Klein lectures on
human rights at their college. There are many people whom she does not know
at all among the four hundred or so present.
'After I've introduced you, I will go and sit with my wife in the
front row. I much prefer being able to see the speaker, rather than the
back of her head if I remain here.' 'You'll come back to chair the
questions after I finish, won't you?'
'Yes, of course.'
He heads off to talk to several people in the audience, and then returns
with two of them.
'Miriam, I'd like to introduce the chairman, Rabbi John Friedman, and
vice-chairman, Revd Sally Jones, of the Jewish-Christian Council.'
Miriam stands as they greet her.
'We're delighted that you accepted our invitation,' says Rabbi Friedman.
'I'm a great fan of your novels, I'm looking forward to reading your new
one,' says Revd Jones.
'I've addressed quite a number of writers' conferences over the years, but
never an audience as large as this. I hope I can hold their attention,'
'You will,' says Dr Klein.
The chairman and vice-chairman return to their seats and Rabbi Klein walks
over to the lectern. The cacophony ceases and everyone in the audience looks
'Ladies and gentlemen, you are very welcome to the Martin Buber Center at our
Reform Synagogue, here in the heart of the city. Some of you are members of
this synagogue, but most of you are not. Our city's Jewish-Christian Council
is hosting this evening's lecture and have asked me to chair it. For those
of you who donít know, I am Solomon Klein, the Rabbi here. It pleases me
to see such a wonderful
turnout on a winter's night. 'From the invitations and notices you
not only that our guest speaker this evening is Miriam Aron, but also the
titles of her ten published novels as well as that of her forthcoming book.
Since she wrote the first ten under various noms de plume, maybe you never
knew, until recently, that she is the author of this impressive list. I
guess quite a number of you have read at least one, if not more, of them.
Her latest novel is being launched this week in New York. I believe it will
be a great success.'
He tells the audience that Miriam asked him to explain that it was one of
his sermons which he preached in the synagogue next door, about two years
ago, which was the catalyst for her novel. He was speaking of how the
Israelites and the Philistines were at war and about those
warriors, David and Goliath, (whether historical or legendary),
and how each of them expected their nation's
god to fight alongside them, for people believed in those days that each
nation was chosen by a particular god to be specially protected by him. He
then proceeded to say that a time came when
Hebrew thinkers argued that it made better sense to think of there being
one Creator god, rather than a host of deities. In taking this step forward
reduce the divine population, did those thinkers believe it was Israel's
who was the Creator of the world and the god of all the other nations he
asked that Shabbat. It was a rhetorical question and he said that
orthodox answer was that they did. He concluded his sermon with another
probing question: were those thinkers of old correct to believe that the
one God of
all the earth continued to regard the people of Israel as his treasured
nation with whom he had made an everlasting covenant to protect and uphold
in fact did they think that he had ever viewed them in this way?
Then, thanking Miriam
for coming at the beginning of a busy few days, he asks her to address them.
The audience claps loudly, partly to acknowledge the Rabbi's introduction,
but more to show their pleasure that Miriam is here to speak to them. As the
clapping dies down, Miriam walks to the lectern and places her sheaf of
papers on it. She then looks up to acknowledge and smile at her audience,
conscious that she's also giving them a moment to take her in as she stands
before them. Her head moves from left to right. She includes everyone.
'Thank you for the way you have welcomed me. I feel touched and honoured to
be here. I remember very clearly that Shabbat Dr Klein has spoken about and
I recall driving home to the tree-lined avenue where I live in a house
that's too big for me; but I need an outdoor space for my dogs to play in,
otherwise I'd move to an apartment. They gave me their excited affectionate
welcome. As I started to prepare my lunch; my mind was going over the
Rabbi's questions. 'Might it be that our nation has lived under a
delusion in thinking of itself as divinely chosen? Shouldn't those thinkers
of old have
given up the idea of Israel being a favored nation and stated
categorically that no nation was special, since no nation had a tribal
protector god as was once believed? Shouldn't they have realised that
the so-called covenant between Israel and God was not entered into by God,
but was something they had invented themselves?
What would have been different if that
had been true? I began to see connections with the origins of Christianity
and that led me ominously towards a road I try to avoid. I opened the oven
and saw that the chicken needed another ten minutes; so pouring a glass of
sherry, I entered my bright book-lined living room.
'I took my Hebrew scriptures and sat down in my brown recliner armchair. I
turned to Hosea and read several verses: "when Israel was a child, I loved
him; my people are bent on turning away from me; how can I give you up, O
Ephraim! How can I hand you over, O Israel! How can I make you like Admah!
How can I treat you like Zeboiim! My heart recoils within me, my compassion
grows warm and tender. I will not execute my fierce anger, I will not again
destroy Ephraim; for I am God and not man, the Holy One in your midst, and I
will not come to destroy."
'Bonzo, my terrier, sensed my inner turmoil. Getting up from in front of the
log fire, he came over to me with his tail wagging. He jumped onto my lap. I
gently stroked him and, as I often do, started to talk to him.
'No, Bonzo, I said, I don't think Israel ever did have a special
relationship with God in which they were a favored nation. That's the grave
error we made. Yes, I'm afraid, Bonzo, it's a great error indeed. And,
because we saw ourselves in that way, we expected special treatment by God
as Hosea believed we'd receive. So, we had hopes of a Messiah being
appointed and of a messianic age. We were often the underdogs conquered by
the surrounding powers, and we looked to God to deliver us someday and to
restore our fortunes and independence. 'Those were the erroneous
fired the imaginations of Jesus and the group of his fellow-Jewish
followers. They all preached the coming of the messianic age; and after
Jesus' death, those disciples claimed he was the Messiah. That led in some
places to so much conflict in the synagogues that his followers were
banned from them and the movement over time became a separate organisation
and religion. Though I tried to resist it I began thinking of how
relationships between Christian and Jew got worse and worse.
'I closed my eyes and my face contorted with pain. Centuries of suffering
came before my mind and the persecution of my people, especially in
so-called Christian Europe. I gripped the sides of my armchair and took a
breath. I'm not going down that road I said to myself, but I see it now -
it stemmed from that error and we have suffered for it. 'Bonzo
then started to lick one of my hands. For seventy years, I've sought to
avoid dwelling on either my nation's suffering or my own and that means that
I rarely speak to anyone about my past and especially my childhood. My books
have noms de plume.
'I undercooked the vegetables in exactly the way I prefer them and the
chicken was delicious. I never rest after lunch. Come on, dogs, I said to
them, it's time I fed you and then we'll go for our walk. I hoped that the
exercise, in the afternoon's wintry sunshine, would get rid of the tension I
was feeling. My mind was a washing machine with the contents swishing round
inside. The following day I knew I had to embark on writing my next novel. I
even thought of a title for it. I would call it "Our own error" and I
would re-imagine the world as if it had been a different place.' '
Miriam explains that her publishers have been advertising her book as the
most controversial she has written. She expects they are correct in this
claim, because the world she describes in her novel covers the last two and
a half thousand years and Christianity has no place in it nor consequently
do the centuries of vicious hatred between Jews and Christians. This
because of a courageous prophet who persuades his generation of Hebrew
thinkers that it's preposterous to think of their nation as a treasured
favored people with a special covenant relationship with their God. He
convinces them that, though they are surrounded by more powerful nations who
constantly conquer them, it is false and futile for Jews to believe that
their God will one day restore their fortunes and re-establish their
independence in a messianic kingdom.
She tells her surprised and startled audience that in her novel
Christianity is not even stillborn. She says that she will not be surprised
if some people are too upset and angry to clap her at the end because the
ideas in her novel conflict with beliefs which are precious to them.
'I'm relieved that you don't look like the kind of people who have come
armed with raw eggs and tomatoes which would stain and spoil my new trouser
suit - bought, I might say, especially for this occasion,' she says.
A ripple of laughter goes through the audience and Miriam feels them relax.
She says the Council asked her to talk about her life story as well as the
background to her novel. She tells them that she has been writing now for
over forty years and in each novel she has tried to tackle a thorny subject.
She has addressed the temptations that come with holding political power and
in another novel the continuing abuse of women all over the world and their
unfinished struggle for their full place in societies they'll change beyond
recognition and for the better. Abortion is another human issue she
tried to handle, other topics are the use of torture to protect a nation's
security, then there's a novel concerned with aspects of religious ethics,
which she sees as conflicting with people's human rights, and more recently
she has engaged with the moral challenges of stem cell research in terms of
determining the kinds of children we would like in our families.
Pausing to drink some water because her throat feels dry, she says she spent
some time persuading her publishers that she wanted to keep her working
title; and is glad they agreed. It will be the first of her novels to carry
her name. Why she decided to do this she'll explain later.
Miriam has excellent diction and speaks in an unhurried manner. Her voice is
soft and while her accent is refined, there is no sense of snobbery or
arrogance in it. She constantly raises her eyes from her text and each time
moves her head to look at a different part of the audience. It's important
to her to try to communicate well. She lifts her right hand and takes hold
of the side of the lectern, and then she takes a deep breath and exhales
slowly before beginning.
She tells them that some of the audience know her background, because in the
Jewish community many people are aware that she was one of the fortunate
children under a Kindertransport scheme, who was able in 1938 to make a new
start outside Germany. They also know that her parents, her four
grandparents and at least twenty other relatives were all murdered in
Auschwitz. There are other people beyond Jewish circles who know about her
past. She lived during the war with a foster family in London, and then
after the war she began a new chapter living with relatives of her mother in
Miriam now grips the lectern with both hands and takes another deep breath.
She widens her stance. She explains that she was seven and a half when she
began living with her foster family and she felt like the flat tyre of a car
wheel which has just gone over some sharp nails. Her parents and her four
grandparents were her life. It was horrible to be separated from them,
though then she didn't know what an indescribable fate lay in store for
them. It was only in 1946, shortly after she'd arrived to live with her
mother's cousins, that she learned the awful facts from the Red Cross.
'That's sixty-five years ago now. It seems like another life and another
person,' she says. It's as if it wasn't me, but someone else who'd discovered then in
1946 that she'd been an orphan for the last three years without having any
inkling of it. But, of course, it's not another person or another life; it
happened to me, it's all part of my life story.
Looking up at her audience and pausing for a moment before carrying on
speaking, she then says that some of them may be like her and share a
fascination with the way a seed starts to grow in a tiny crevice in the
rocks and soon a wild flower is visible or over time a sapling amazingly
becomes a sturdy bush. She sometimes thinks of herself as one of those
determined seeds. As a seven year old, she had a strong spirit which carved
out a lung for itself under the overwhelming weight of a world of grief.
Even though she was so young, she sensed the personality that would have
developed if her only bread had been her tears. Like an alchemist, she turned
those tears into a well of courage - its waters transmuting into steel
Rabbi Klein looks up at Miriam. He's conscious that he's seen quite a hard
resolute look in her eyes on a number of occasions, but it's the gentlest of
expressions that he sees now. It's one of the features that make her
personality so appealing and attractive to him. He also notices how
beautiful the arrangements of white and red roses look. They are set back a
few feet from the lectern with two each side of her. He's tempted to take a
'Perhaps it's because of what I've had to face that when I see pictures of
the aftermath of earthquakes I feel a wordless bond with survivors, and
identify especially with children, rescued from under tons of rubble after
their world has crashed with innumerable fatalities,' says Miriam.
She distracts herself after watching such pictures, otherwise she finds
herself being drawn back to old wounds. There you have the reason, she
informs them, why her novels were written under various noms de plume. It was
an attempt at self-protection and, while not completely successful, did work
quite well in the early years. She didn't want her new fame to be linked
with her ordeal. She senses the mood of her audience changing. Many of them
are coming to a new appreciation of her. There's a softness, she notices, in
some of the faces in front of her, especially of the women. Those who have
never met her are warming to this silver haired author with her fringe half
way down her forehead and dark-framed spectacles adding gravity to her face.
She asks if some of them think of her as a courageous woman who had a hard
start in life and whose novels are praised for their bravery, and shares
with them that one of the enduring conflicts in her inner life has been
between this courage and feeling quite cowardly. She has just spoken about
adopting noms de plume and now tells them that when she left Germany, all those
years ago, she brought one photograph which was of her, her parents and
grandparents taken outside the house in which she spent the first seven
years of her life. She looked at it every day, but in her twenties she
became angry with the cards she'd been dealt in life and also developed a
phobia that someday she'd be exterminated. She felt it would be better if
that photo was not found among her possessions and so brought it to a bank
To their surprise, she tells them that for almost sixty years it has been in
a security box transferred from bank to bank as she has moved from one city
to another. Probably they think she should have it in a special place in her
home: maybe beside her bed or on her desk. Can she not deal with that phobia
once and for all?
During the Second World War, the perpetrators of evil in Germany, Miriam
says, acted in a historical context created by centuries of hostility
between Christians and Jews. She's now convinced history could have been
different, if it had not been for that one profound mistake in Jewish
thinking. That, as she's said already, is the error that lies at the heart of
her novel. As Rabbi Klein has explained it was one of his sermons which
triggered the thinking that led to her writing her book. She finds his
sermons both intellectually challenging as well as pastorally sensitive.
Rabbi Friedman is sitting beside Dr Klein and leans over to whisper in his
ear that no members of his synagogue ever give him feedback on his sermons.
If you'd a wife and children you'd certainly get it, Dr Klein responds with
Revd Sally Jones is sitting beside Mrs Klein, who is a dark-haired woman also in her
early forties. Sally knew nothing about Miriam's traumatic childhood and grief
or about the fate of her family. She feels that Miriam must be incredibly
angry now because she's come to think that all the suffering was so
unnecessary. She wonders how she feels about accepting it stemmed from
an error made by her forefathers.
Over the next ten minutes, Miriam relates how her imagination began to
picture a world different from the one which history books describe, but
without going into so much detail that it would spoil the reading of her
book. She says that at an early stage she gave an outline of her story to
her publishers and that they pressed her to complete it as soon as she
could. She talks about the extent of her research and the several drafts
that she wrote before sending her text to the publishing house about
eleven months ago. It was a relief she says to have finished it. It's the
first of her novels to have a dedication, and because of its subject matter
it is dedicated to all who were murdered in many places, because of
hostility towards the Jews and not just in the camps during the Shoah.
She asks Rabbi Klein to come to the dais as she would like to give time for
questions. An elderly man has his hand raised. He wants to know why Miriam
has turned her back on the fact that the God of Israel is Lord of history
and always takes the initiative. He saved Noah, called Abraham to leave his
home, had a special role for Joseph in Egypt and spoke to Moses on Mt Sinai.
He dealt with no other nation in this way. From time immemorial there's been
a special relationship between Israel and God. The dreams of a messianic age
were a testimony to their trust in him. Itís always been Israelís role as
the chosen people of God to bring all the nations to worship and serve him.
Miriam surprises him by referring to her four dogs.
'Three of them used to have other owners somewhat older than me. We used to
meet for coffee most days in the park. I agreed to take on their pets when
they died. When I only had my terrier, Bonzo, he was my favorite.
Gradually, as I inherited the other animals, my feelings changed. Now I love
them all equally. I can't imagine that a good and just God would ever select
a nation to be his specially treasured nation as the prophets described the
people of Israel as being. Such an idea is a left-over from the days when
each nation believed it had its own tribal god who protected it and favored
it. However, because I don't think any of us can get inside God's mind and
know for certain
God's thoughts and decisions, I allow it is theoretically possible that God
have chosen the Jews as his favoured people.'
Revd Sally Jones catches Rabbi Klein's eye with her hand held high and her arm
waving from side to side. She wants to know how Miriam can be so dismissive
of centuries of Christian spirituality. People accept Christ as their
Saviour and live in a daily relationship with him.
'When you read my novel, or if you do,' Miriam says not just to Sally but to
the audience at large, 'you will find that I place great emphasis on
mystery. If God exists, then God is the biggest mystery of all. How we
relate to the divine, if we believe we do, is impossible to properly
understand. However,' she continues, 'our religious experiences are partly
formed as a result of what we hold to be true. 'Someone who believes that the
Virgin Mary is the mother of the Son of God might experience an apparition
of her, but a Jew or a Muslim would not be likely to do so. Similarly,
because Christians hold a particular set of beliefs about Jesus, this
accounts for their type of spiritual experiences.'
She explains that she thinks that a person may hold what later they
recognise are erroneous ideas about Jesus, but at the time be convinced that
they have a living relationship with him. There's always the possibility of
delusion in religious experiences she tells them and of then recognising
the delusory state. However, she wants to stress, metaphorically speaking,
that the Christ figure has functioned as a window for many people onto the
hidden face of a God whom they believe exists.For her, she says, metaphor
and myth are the appropriate means in which to express divine mysteries of
faith. She says that many Christians
agree that the bread and wine taken in a Communion service are not literally
the body and blood of Jesus. What most of them fail to see is that the
Christ figure as a combination of the human and divine does not mean that
Jesus was literally both human and divine. The Christ figure is a symbol or
an icon for the divine if held to exist.
Rabbi Klein invites another woman to ask her question. She announces that her
name is Sarah Jacob and says that the Hebrew scriptures contain wonderful
visions of the messianic age in which there will be global peace and
justice, and the lion will lie down with the lamb. Could it not be, even
though human thinking is fraught with inadequacies, that God is able to use
even such beliefs as being a treasured and favored nation and inspire
leaders with wonderful visions such as those in the Scriptures?
Miriam says that she agrees that global peace, if it's based on justice,
mercy and compassion, is a noble ideal in any religion, but she rejects all
thinking about a messianic age that's founded on a belief that God took the
initiative to choose the people of Israel and give them a special role as a
favored nation. Those are just human claims.
A Rabbi from another Synagogue says to Miriam that he agrees with her that
both Judaism and Christianity contain many examples of poor theological
thinking. 'Ultimately, despite their deficiencies as living
traditions, aren't they both movements seeking to develop
spread the belief that all peoples are called to come before One who is
both a God of judgement as well as of grace?'
'I agree with you,' Miriam replies, 'though let's not forget the mystery.
We don't know for certain if God exists or if God does exist what God's
character is. We may have beliefs, but we don't know how sound or true
they are. There's a lot of not-knowing in the life of faith as I imagine
you would agree.'
It's a student who asks the next question. 'What good will a novel about a
fictional past covering the last two to three thousand years do?'
'I hope it will jolt the leaders of religious traditions, not just Jewish
and Christian, to examine the claims of their faiths in the light of modern
understandings.' Miriam replies. 'Some of the conservative values upheld by
religions still impede progress and support human rights abuses. And many
people have not lived up to the ethical code of their professed religion.'
'The contrast between my fictional world and the real history of the same
period is stark. There's obviously no Shoah in my novel nor the vicious
hatred between Jew and Christian. I once played Portia in University. I
know many of my lines still and some of the other speeches in the Merchant
of Venice. It was written as you know by William Shakespeare who considered
himself a Christian; he expressed in the play what he thought Jews and
Christians perceived to be their mutual animosities.'
'Here is Shylock speaking about Antonio,' she says. '"I hate him for he is a
Christian; he rails against our sacred nation." And again Shylock speaking
about Antonio: "He hath disgraced me and hindered me of half a million;
laughed at my losses, mocked at my gains, scorned my nation, thwarted my
bargains, cooled my friends, heated mine enemies! And what's his reason? I
am a Jew!" 'Here are some lines spoken by Antonio and Gratiano after Shylock
refuses to put his knife to Antonio's chest to extract his pound of flesh.
First Antonio, "Two things provided more, - that for this favour, he
presently become a Christian." And Gratiano says to Shylock, "In
christening, thou shalt have two godfathers: had I been judge, thou shouldst
have had ten more, to bring thee to the gallows, not the font."
'I long for Judaism as a whole to repudiate the out-dated thinking in its
scriptures and by doing so distance itself from the mistakes of ancient
times. However, at present, I don't see many signs of this happening. Nor do
I see evidence of Christian leaders coming out and saying that Jesus and his
followers were under a misapprehension in thinking in terms of Messiahs and
messianic ages, though I'm aware that some theologians do affirm this. Or to
put it bluntly I don't hear Christians saying that their religion should
never have come into being and that it all stemmed from the error we Jews
made. I accept that if the Jews had not made this error, historically there could
still have been some form of anti-Semitism, but it would have had a different source.'
Miriam surveys her audience, 'I sense from your faces and your body language
that there are, not surprisingly, mixed emotions among you. It can't be easy
for those of you here who are Christians to hear that I think your religion
should never have begun, but I am not denying that much good has been done in
the name of Christianity
as in my own Judaism. Remember I said nobody has to clap at the end.
Whatever you're thinking, I expect at the least I've challenged your minds.
I hope that leaders in the Jewish-Christian Council may begin to dream of a
'There are two lessons which many of you, I imagine, are learning better
than I am and practicing much more diligently than I do. One lesson I go on
learning from one decade to the next is that life is full of surprises. Two
years ago, I could not have known that I would be writing my book and then
delivering this lecture you are listening to. Another lesson which I go on
trying to put into practice is that, no matter how costly it is, it is worth
seeking out the truth wherever the journey may take me, though I know I can
never be certain I've found it. I still take sips from that well of courage.
'Perhaps you recall that there's one matter I have not dealt with. Why does
"Our own error" carry my real name? It's my eleventh novel and I've now
decided it's my last. I've dedicated a vast amount of time to researching
and writing my books. By nature, I'm something of a loner; over the years
I've become rather reclusive, but not totally withdrawn: remember the other
dog-walkers I used to have coffee with in the park and my attendance here each
Shabbat. 'However, it's still true that like a Trappist monk or an enclosed
Carmelite nun, I don't mix much with other people, but despite that my
novels show my attention has been focused on the world in which we all live,
as are the prayer-filled minds of those in religious orders.
' Now, I want to come out of my writer's den. There're many people whom I
want to meet and perhaps make friends with as well. So in this decade, which
may be my last, I want to live much more publicly. So I felt it was
appropriate that "Our own error" should be published under Miriam Aron's
name. I still feel angry and unhappy when I recall that the suffering of all
of us Jews stems from our error though was not caused directly by it. Yet
I'm also glad I now realise this so clearly. 'I fly to New York tomorrow.
Perhaps in the future, maybe after you have read my novel, some of you will
get in touch and we can talk together, whether we agree or disagree, it'll
be good to do so. I thank you all for your attention.'
Miriam takes her papers and sits down. After sustained applause, with most
people rising to their feet, the Rabbi says his words of thanks to Miriam
and the audience. Then to her alarm it's as if everyone starts talking at
the same time. It's like being near an aeroplane revving its engines on the
runway. By comparison with this noise level, the audience's applause was
like a whisper. Her talk clearly has excited many people as well as angered
'I doubt you want to battle your way to the door where you came in, would you
prefer to leave by a side door near the office where I left your coat?' asks
'Yes, I would. If you or the Council want, I don't mind coming back another
day for a panel discussion or something like that,' says Miriam, stepping
down from the dais with the Rabbi. Coming out of the Center, he walks with her
to her car.
'In the light of your address this evening, what do you think religious
leaders of my generation could be doing?'
'While I think of an answer, let's assume this is one of your rhetorical
questions, so why don't you answer it first?'
'The Islamic tradition traces its roots back to Abraham.'
'I'd like to see Jews, Christians and Muslims confess together that their
respective cumulative religious traditions show how our forebears claimed
to know too much, conceived and believed in a host of erroneous ideas, many
of which they claimed to be God's thoughts and Will, and they committed
innumerable iniquitous deeds. I wouldnít want to lose sight of the belief
shared in all those three traditions that their sense of the attractiveness
of a faithful God is something to be shared with the whole of humanity.'
'Then what would you want them to do, Rabbi?'
'That's the hard part; I'm not sure yet.'
'I've a feeling that the tectonic plates underlying all religious traditions
are shifting. Something new will emerge, but what it will be I do not know.
It'll be for future generations to make the discoveries,' says Miriam.
'All religious traditions show development,' replies Rabbi Klein.
'Yes, they all have held erroneous ideas and still do. If they survive and
go on developing, perhaps all of them will be changed by the context of a
globalised world of instant communication in which we live and by a greater
reticence in speaking about how God relates to us. So much is mystery. Does
the universe exhaust all of life's meaning, or might there be another
dimension to life that completes its meaning? Thatís what I feel drawn
'We can never be certain about the meaning of life or its purpose, but somehow
it must be based on promoting human capabilities and the good of our planet,'
They reach her car.
'Come and see me in a week or two if you can spare the time,' she says.
'I'll want to show you something you've never seen before.'
'May I ask what you mean?'
'You'll see it on my coffee table in my living room. I decided as I was
giving my lecture this evening that I would take that photo from the bank
and have it framed. It will be a tangible reminder to me of those invisible
spirits who watch over me. I guess they still look on me as their much loved
only child and treasured grand-daughter. My fond memories of them and my
love for them have never waned.'
A slightly modified version of this fictional story was submitted to the
2010 Moment Magazine - Karma Foundation Short Fiction Contest.