Saturday, January 31, 2009

Franz Kafka and Judaism

I have recently started to correspond with a devout Muslim American. I'll give him a proper introduction soon but he made me think about religion so that is why I am writing this post today. Since I am writing about religion one would expect me to quote Scripture, but I will not today. For my birthday a few years ago, my grandma gave me "Bartlett's Familiar Quotations" and I enjoy reading wise, clever, and insightful quotations. Some of the most memorable quotations which I have read thus far are by Franz Kafka (1883-1924) who is the author of "Metamorphosis" (which I have read) and other fiction books. Two of the quotations by Kafka in "Bartlett's" describe certain Judaic principles or ideas. I don't know if they are unique to Judaism but I know that they greatly differ with Christian interpretation of messiach and Judgment. So here are the two quotations:

"The Messiah will come only when he is no longer necessary; he will come only on the day after his arrival; he will come, not on the last day, but on the very last."
Parables. The Coming of the Messiah

"Only our concept of time makes it possible for us to speak of the Day of Judgment by that name; in reality it is a summary court in perpetual session."
The Great Wall of China. Reflections

I have always been uncomfortable with the idea of messiah. Even the Jewish interpretation of Messianic Age bothered me. But Kafka's interpretation describes something that I more or less believe in - an Age on Earth where all conflicts are resolved, when man no longer oppresses man, where world civilization finally learns from history. Do I think this will ever happen? Irrelevant. A world with no problems would make for very boring TV. How can you be creative in an Age where everybody is perfect? This is a dream which we can not understand.

You may have noticed that I haven't talked about God yet? It's a clue.

No comments: