Prophets and Traditionalists

Dignified prophets and argumentative Traditionalists

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Prophets discover principles of how life works. More specifically, prophets communicate principles which may be crystallized or canonized into distinct traditions.

In other words, prophets do not require a prior tradition. Prophets originate traditions.

Cultural traditions of reverence and sanctity and ritual are diverse. For instance, some rituals that have been popular throughout human history are birth rituals, death rituals, and marriage rituals, as well as rituals like coronations and court proceedings.

Many traditions that begin as oral traditions may eventually be recorded or transcribed into particular codes of written languages. Many traditions (whether written or only oral) include parables. Parables are often used by prophets for telling several different stories to distinguish a single principle.

Even if focusing on a single principle, prophets tend to give several teachings. They tend not to focus on the specific form of a particular message.

For instance, prophets are not focused on particular parables as more sacred than all other parables. Further, prophets are not focused on assessing particular translations of ancient teachings in foreign languages because prophets rely on direct understanding rather than on the words of other prior traditions. Prophets give new forms of teaching, even if they are teaching the same principles as prior prophets… and even if they are giving oral teaching in the same languages used by prior prophets.

Traditionalists, as distinct from prophets, may focus on worshiping certain words or sequences as more sacred than other words or sequences. They may worship other symbols as well, in addition to certain sequences of sounds or shaped lettering.

Many traditionalists also worship a particular prophet who is specified as the primary founder of their favorite tradition. Ironically, prophets tend to openly acknowledge previous prophets, like Jesus saying that he is fulfilling, not rejecting, prior teachings.

Apparently, Jesus quoted from the Old Testament teachings of Isaiah:

“…They worship with their lips, but their hearts are far from me and are ignorant of me. They worship in vain, teaching the traditions of humans and neglecting divine authority.”
Mark 7:6-7, Matthew 15:8-9

The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.”

In contrast with prophets who clearly emphasize the spirit or heart or function of various messages rather than the specific form of a particular message, traditionalists tend to emphasize one prophet as more prophetic than all others. Traditionalists may also focus on particular words of a certain prophet and ignore other words of that prophet, such as ignoring the passages quoted above.

Traditionalists may focus on certain details of their favorite tradition and may neglect the spirit by which the tradition originates. The traditionalists may be adversarial, antagonistic, oppositional, argumentative, crusading, and militant.

So, traditionalists may also worship a particular tradition as better or “more traditional” than all other traditions. Such idolatry is distinct from simply studying or practicing a certain tradition. Traditionalists are focused on contrasting different traditions and finding the best one, the best translation, the best author, and the very best variation of the best tradition.

Traditionalists tend to associate with others who share the details of their own traditionalism as well as to magnetically focus on some other group of traditionalists as especially offensive. Pharisees and Sadducees may fiercely oppose each other. Protestants and Catholics may fiercely oppose each other. Sunnis and Shi’ites may fiercely oppose each other. Even Democrats and Republicans or Constitutionalists and Reformers may fiercely oppose each other.

By the way, most reformers are actually traditionalists. Reformers just promote certain traditional values over other traditional values.

One of the classic ironies of traditionalism is that all traditionalists not only worship their own tradition, but distinctively oppose all other forms of traditionalism, perhaps reserving special contempt for any tradition that they previously worshiped but later rejected. Traditionalists tend to ridicule and condemn other traditions and other traditionalists, again, often emphasizing certain targets of spite.

By the way, all prophets may be former traditionalists. Prophets alone do not condemn traditionalism or idolatry or vanity. Prophets alone honor all traditions equally, without being threatened by any of them. Prophets alone are so humble.

Prophets alone bless those who might accuse them, who might ridicule them, who might condemn them. Prophets alone are so grounded, so rooted, so radical. Prophets alone accept that traditions will form, reform, and dissolve. Prophets alone accept that other prophets will follow them, saying things like “another new messenger of divine authority in the future will come again.”

Prophets always predict later prophets. Traditionalists tend to interpret the references to a future prophet as “a second coming.” However, perhaps what the prophets have been referencing is that occasionally a traditionalist will develop or mature into a prophet. Perhaps prophets know that in the future a prophet will be born again, not in the way that traditionalists mean “born again,” but in the way that prophets mean.

The prophet’s rebirth is a spiritual rebirth, a rebirth of the heart. It is natural and thus common that traditionalists would ritualize the idea of spiritual rebirth into a ritualized rebirth. So, in addition to rituals for birth, death, and marriage, another form of ritual that is widespread throughout human cultures are initiation rituals that symbolize spiritual rebirth.

However, only authentic spiritual rebirth itself can produce a prophet from a traditionalist. Applying the label of butterfly to a caterpillar does not change the actual nature of the caterpillar. A prophet is not made into a prophet by being newly declared to be an officer of an existing institution, such as one who is ritually given a title, inducted and who swears an oath of office to conform to the traditions of the institution. A prophet is simply one who discovers directly- like alone for himself or herself- how life actually is working.

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4 Responses to “Prophets and Traditionalists”

  1. danijela Says:

    All religion comes from prophets, or they are based on their lives and teachings. But no one prophet found any religion. Prophets are above tradition. Religion is formed by traditionalists, first from disciples and folowers who started to write prophet˙s teachings from first or second hand. How they heard the words? How they understood the words? What they added? What they reduced? Who knows. The main goal of this was to preserve a memory of the prophet˙s life and his teachings. It is good. Thanks to this we saved memory about this special people, jewels of human kind, and preserved their words or parts of their words, what is better then nothing. In this scriptures we can find inspiration. But, yes, from this scriptures was built tradition or traditional religions. When teacher has no prophet˙s strenght and prophet˙s knowledge he recall himself to the scriptures, and more he is far away from spirit more he is relying to scripture and he even need more argument that his scripture is the best, and it means more scriptures which approve this. When spirit is weak there is no security and there is lot of things built for protection. We can say that it is kind of phobic tradition. Prophets were not against tradition, but every prophet broke a walls of tradition and broth a change.
    Whenever I am going in church I don˙t see much of Jesus but lot of church. I always have impression that people declare their fidelity to church not to Jesus. I even think: “Dear Jesus, if you come here now would they recognise you? Would they sing in your glory or they would crucifies you again? If you wouldn˙t come in white dress and wouldn˙t have blue eyes, long golden hear and barb, and if you don˙t show them your wounds, they will not believe. Even, if you would have all this attributes and would say something they don˙t want to hear, they will not accept you also. They know very well how you should look and what you should say. All is written in their scriptures most of them never read, but it is therefore said and interpreted by their priest in nice embroider dress who just now is distributing your body in form of host to save us.”
    I really don˙t understand how Jesus saved us with his body, but however. Who am I at all to tell anithing about this?

    • jrfibonacci Says:

      I could say a lot about your reply. First, I am focusing on a very broad range of human behavior, including the formation of all ritual behavior. I actually was not especially meaning to focus on the words of any prophet, but on their role as a distinctive leader, with a distinctive kind of influence. Prophets are often heretical and revolutionary and radical, but more than the contrast with any other patterns, they simply are innovative.

      However, there is a particular connotation of prophet that I am distinguishing. They see the value in all traditions without worshiping any particular tradition.

      When I say that all prophets are former traditionalists, that is somewhat of a logical conflict with my comment that prophets form traditions. Which came first: traditions or former traditionalists? It may actually be more precise to say that traditions form by the activity of masses of people spontaneously and prophets recognize the spirit of what is happening in their midst and communicate something about the spirit of what is happening and that something which prophets communicate “catches on.”

      As for the Eucharist and Jesus saving us with his body, that ritual is many times diluted. What Jesus is recorded to have said is “this is my body” before he ate some bread. In other words, he simply said that the thing he was about to eat was recognized as the content or component that would be digested and used as the material of his physical body.

      In the Eucharist ritual, the people participating are bonding. They are sharing food and recognizing the common physical components in their bodies as they eat the same food.

      Further, when we look back a few thousand years earlier than Christianity, if there are similar rituals, maybe that indicates that people who worship solar dieties are all recognizing the sun and stars as the source of certain factors in their lives. It makes a difference whether we are analyzing a tradition with contempt or as an anthropologist or what? Are we trying to assess the literal and historical precision of a ritual or are we noticing what the ritual demonstrates and how it functions? Are we condemning myths for being myths? Are we clear on what language is?

      I have often remarked that many people do not seem to get the simplicity of language. We can get distracted by language that does not fit certain specific patterns in language, like that is not easily understood. We may not get symbolic language or jokes or references. We may criticize language patterns that we do not understand easily: “ah, that person sounds like they are speaking Arabic and since I do not understand their language and cannot get their jokes or even tell when they are joking or not, I am afraid!”

      So, you may not understand what is going on with priests speaking symbolically or lying politicians or actors who are convincing frauds pretending to be someone else or someone speaking a foreign language. So what?

      Our issue is that we may expect prophets to speak in a way that is not symbolic. So, we get surprised. They are stretching the bounds of language as we know it. They are inviting us to think. We may not like that!

      Or, we may think that when politicians speak, they must be sincere and honest and so on. Again, we may get surprised if we focus on their language rather than their actions. “Oh my God, I think that lawyer may be trying to intentionally influence the jury. Did you notice that? That one government official is actually just interested in governing and influencing people! It’s so controversial! It’s so unprecedented! I am so surprised!”

      “Oh, this one Doctor is actually just suppressing the patient’s immune system. What a shock!”

      “Oh my heavens, the insurance company is selling people promises that they know they can’t keep! How unusual!”

      “Unbelievable! The media is advertising things and ways of thinking that favor some people over others! They are trying to get people to be dependent on government rescue programs and to buy gold and a new car and shop at Walmart. What a surprise!”

      “Oh my God, I just saw a different movie with that same actor and they talk totally different and act totally different and have different make-up and hair and personality and name! What a huge fraud! It’s a conspiracy! Those people are impersonating people who were probably never even real! They are taking a few historical details, twisting and adding and making mythical re-enactments loosely based on actual historical events! Those actors are actually actors! Those authors are actually authors! That photograph of a horse is not an actual horse! That five-letter word is not an actual horse either! It’s a five-letter word! Oh, the injustice! Oh, the scandal! Oh, the horror!”

      “Did you hear what the guy in the dress said about the thing about the ritual? He said that Santa Claus is going to reward us depending on how closely we adhere in our behavior to the standards mentioned in the sermon! You know what: I think he may actually be a politician disguised as a man wearing a dress!”

      “Oh my, that so-called Former Traditionalist is saying that my animosity towards 95% of the traditions in our midst might be approximately 95% more than is actually essential for my survival or happiness. I hate him! Let’s crucify him! Down with the Former Traditionalists! Politicians should NOT be manipulative. Governments should NOT be violent. Spies should NOT be secretive. Actors should NOT pretend. Grass should NOT be green! Insurance companies should NOT sell any more policies than they can actually afford already to pay in full! Summertime should NOT be hotter than winter! All seasons are equal! Summer being different is unjust! We must increase bureaucratic regulation to make the seasons less seasonal! Religious language is NOT symbolic, cannot be, should not be, and must not be. My sacred ANIMOSITY is closer to Godliness than cleanliness! Words are NOT words! Doctors should NOT suppress immune systems and curse people with doctrines of incurable illness! Dignity should NOT be so dignified! Animosity and argumentativeness and traditionalism and denial should NOT be animosity and argumentativeness and traditionalism and denial!”

  2. sachemspeaks Says:

    My learning and now teaching about people (Traditionalist)
    One must only Worship Creator (GOD)
    Never people!

  3. … no prophet arises from Galilee. « Inspirations Says:

    […] Prophets and Traditionalists ( […]

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