Northeastern Seminary Blog

Israel, Jordan and Virtues

Posted by John Heinike on Feb 10, 2017 9:03:18 AM

Israel,Jordan and Virtues_July 2016.jpg

In 1965 Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik wrote “The Lonely Man of Faith.” In this piece, Soloveitchik described the tension between the two biblical accounts of Adam's creation in Genesis chapters 1 and 2.

Soloveitchik's work came to my attention from the book by New York Times columnist, David Brooks, “The Road to Character.” Brooks built on Soloveitchik's work by asserting that “Adam one” exhibited “résumé virtues” (those virtues one lists on her or his résumé). In the case of Adam one (Genesis 1:26-31), he was created in God's image to rule over all the earth's creatures and plant life. On the other hand, Brooks asserted “Adam two” exhibited “eulogy virtues,” (those virtues that are talked about at one's funeral). In the case of Adam two, (Genesis 2:4-25), he was created from the dust of the earth to tend the garden where he would live with his wife and meet with God. The two Adams represent the tension between the human desire to achieve and the human desire to relate. In my recent trip to Israel and Jordan I encountered both résumé and eulogy virtues in the people and policies of Israel and Jordan.

Our Northeastern Seminary group traveled to Jordan during the last week of our trip and we found a stark difference between that country and Israel. Reflecting on the difference, I concluded that Israelis have two things lacked by Jordanians: water and an “over achiever” attitude. The Israelis exhibited Adam one/résumé virtues in the sense of “ruling over the earth” (in this case, the water supply) and making the most of the land in their possession. On the other hand, the Jordanians exhibited Adam two/eulogy virtues in the sense of relationship with their neighbors. As Adam two was to care for and share the Garden of Eden with Eve and as a meeting place with God, the Jordanians have opened their country up as a sanctuary for Syrian refugees. In his parable of the sheep and goats (Matthew 25:31-46), Jesus leaves little doubt that he’s found in the midst of the refugees. Although I must admit that I was relieved upon our reentry into Israel, I left Jordan with a profound respect for a people who have borne a heavy burden (Syrian refugees account for 21 percent of the people living in Jordan) to alleviate some of the suffering of their neighbors.

These tensions between résumé and eulogy virtues challenge me. Pastoring a small church, it's my desire to impact as many people for Christ as possible; but the question is, who are the people God would have our church impact? People of a higher socio-economic demographic certainly open résumé enhancing doors. However, God hasn't sent those people into our sphere of influence. Instead, God has sent us broken people who've lost the vision of “making America great again,” or never had it introduced to them in the first place. God has also sent us refugees from the Congo and Tanzania. These groups have strained our meager resources but have given our congregation an opportunity to exercise our eulogy virtues. I've found a role model in, and a new appreciation for, the people of Jordan.

John Heinike.jpgJohn Heinike M.Div. ’10 is pastor of Nash Road Free Methodist Church in located in North Tonawanda, N.Y.

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