Mark 9:45

If your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It would be better for you to enter the life lame, than to have both your feet and be thrown into Gehenna.

a thousand cuts
of self-abuse

blame a part
and then another

one by one
we fade away

once started
there is no end


Helpful teachings bear repeating because, like vision, they leak away under the onslaught of time or are covered over with a multitude of ordinary habits. Warnings, horrible enough to last much longer with us than moments of bliss, can lose in their impact with new experiences, learnings, or practiced desensitization.

Scripture details, like this verse, that run contrary to a larger picture such as Love G*D/Love Neighb*r need wrestling with. Rabbi Donniel Hartman, in Putting God Second: How to Save Religion from Itself, helps us.

What is the meaning of a biblical commandment that was never meant to be implemented by anyone but simply studied? The rabbis are creating a new commandment, a new challenge of God to humankind: “Learn it, and therein is your reward.” I, God will give you a sacred scripture, to guide you in a life in accordance with my will. That guidance, however, is not meant to free you from the moral responsibility to walk in my ways by doing what is just and right. I love the good because it is good, and it is not good because I love it. Sacred scripture, however, could lull you into forgetting this, as you find religious comfort in passively following the simple and explicit meaning of the text. The sacred scripture I have given to you is, by definition, filled with hurdles, which challenge you to remain forever vigilant as you work to discern which parts obligate you, and which are not worthy of me, nor of you.129

This eventually leads to a different relationship with scripture:

To save religion from itself is to understand that I have a choice—though a different choice, perhaps, than the one I thought I had. It is not a choice between the sanctification of all that is given (despite its corruption) and the rejection of all that is given (despite its profound value). The choice is rather to walk within my tradition, with my God; to hear the word and be inspired and instructed by it; and, at all times to judge it. Sacred scripture is meant to create a relationship between god and humanity, a relationship in which the human partner is inherently challenged simultaneously to learn from, and critique the divine.135

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