To ask the question ‘Which came first; the chicken or the egg?’ is like asking the question; ‘Do mothers make children or do children make mothers?’ Biologically mothers make children; but psychologically children make mothers (which is why most adoptions work).
The answer to both questions is that relationships are ongoing, interactive, mutually beneficial, emotional experiences that evolve over time. In the same way that miracles and believers as well as religions and holiness evolves. So if you ask if Gods make religions, or if religions make Gods the answer is both statements are true.
For example, Elie Wiesel, a Noble Pease Prize Laureate states: “God made human beings because God loves stories.” and Isabel Allende states “There are all kinds of stories. Some are taken from reality and processed through inspiration, other rise up from an instant of inspiration; and become real after being told again and again.” (Isabel Allende)
Some stories are true because they accurately describe a unique event that happened at a certain time and place. Other stories are events that once happened and have subsequently been dramatized by creative minds or faithful hearts. Archetypical stories that have been retold over the course of thousands of years are true; not because they actually occurred once; but because they continually reoccur in many places and times.
This narration which was transmitted orally in both Arabic and Hebrew for many centuries, and finally written down in several versions in the 19th century; explains how a pair of spiritual lungs came to be. Some say this happened in the generation when Abraham was born.
Two brothers who inherited a ‘valley to hilltop’ farm from their father, divided the land in half so each one could farm his own section. Over time, the older brother married and had four children, while the younger brother was still not married.
One year there was very little rain, and the crop was very meager. This was at the beginning of a long term draught that would turn the whole valley into an arid, treeless, desert where even grain did not grow, and all the springs dried up.
The younger brother lay awake one night praying and thought. “My brother has a wife and four children to feed and I have no children. He needs more grain than I do; especially now when grain is scarce.”
So that night the younger brother went to his barn, gathered a large sack of wheat, and left his wheat in his brother’s barn. Then he returned home.
Earlier that very same night, the older brother was also lying awake praying for rain when he thought: “In my old age my wife and I will have our grown children to take care of us, as well as grandchildren to enjoy, while my brother may have no children. He should at least sell more grain from his fields now, so he can provide for himself in his old age.”
So that night, the older brother also gathered a large sack of wheat, and left it in his brother’s barn, and returned home.
The next morning, the younger brother, surprised to see the amount of grain in his barn seemed unchanged said “I did not take as much wheat as I thought. Tonight I’ll take more.” That same morning, the older brother standing in his barn, was thinking the same thoughts.
After night fell, each brother gathered a greater amount of wheat from his barn and in the dark, secretly delivered it to his brother’s barn. The next morning, the brothers were again puzzled and perplexed. “How can I be mistaken?” each one thought. “There’s the same amount of grain here as there was before. This is impossible! Tonight I’ll make no mistake – I’ll take two large sacks.”
The third night, more determined than ever, each brother gathered two large sacks of wheat from his barn, loaded them onto a cart, and slowly pulled his cart toward his brother’s barn. In the moonlight, each brother noticed a figure in the distance. When the two brothers got closer, each recognized the form of the other and the load he was pulling, and they both realized what had happened.
Without a word, they dropped the ropes of their carts, ran to each other and embraced.
God loved the two brothers for their exemplary love and concern for each other, but a place is never holy just through the choice of mankind, but because it has been chosen in Heaven. Thus God’s prophets made the two brothers’ descendants worthy to worship in a holy House rebuilt in that valley; and a holy House built later on that hill.
When all those, both near and far, who revere this place of spiritual lungs as a standard, share it in love with everyone else who reveres it, then God will do as Abraham requested, and “Make this (place) a land of Peace, and provide its people with the produce of of the land”. (Qur’an 2:126).
Then will the children Abraham live in Holiness, Peace and Prosperity.
Jews and Christians believe the hill is Jerusalem. Muslims believe the valley is Mecca.
I believe that all three are correct.
Christian, Islamic and Jewish traditions all teach that their holy sanctuary is at the center of the world. But how can the world possibly have more than one religious center?
Because religious centers are not the same as geometric centers. All astronomers know that the Sun is the center of our entire solar system, but the center of each planet’s individual orbit is a slightly different point within the Sun called the barycenter, which lies close to the Sun’s central core. The Earth’s orbit around the Sun’s barycentre is an ellipse and not a perfect circle with only a one point center.
If you have only a limited human view of the surface of our planet as a two dimensional plane like a circle; there can be only one center. But if you share God’s view of the surface of Planet Earth as a three dimensional sphere; then more than one center is possible. And one pair of lungs are much more central in the human body than one heart.
When we all see it through God’s view then the 2500 year old vision of Prophet Isaiah will be fulfilled: “In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria. The Assyrians will go to Egypt, and the Egyptians to Assyria. The Egyptians and Assyrians will worship together. In that day Israel will join a three-party alliance with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing upon the heart. The LORD of Hosts will bless them saying, “Blessed be Egypt My people, Assyria My handiwork, and Israel My inheritance.” (Isaiah 19:23-5)