Theological history begins with paganism. Yes, this is devil worship: it is the recognition of the gifts that Lucifer has given us, many of which are noble and joyous. It is true that, on occasion, when some particularly ugly part of his personality was drawn out, local conditions became rather grim. However, that was part of the process of isolating and controlling those less savory elements. At this time, we may find it worthy to thank the rather more rational and earth-centered adherents that remind us of the effort that was invested in getting us this far, and that may serve to help him keep it together. (For those that find this inconceivable: it is worth considering that the image of an angry God may reflect Christ's most emotionally difficult moments while on the cross.)

Once homo sapiens had become established, the first of God's contributions was the assurance of an escape clause. Those personalities (masculine and feminine) that sacrificed to the greater good would enter the realm of God. The second was prayer: the opportunity to consciously and intelligently practice the discipline of signaling with a party without ulterior motive (Lucifer being a problematical partner by reason of personal interest).

The third was the Law given to the nation of Israel. Ambiguous and incomplete, the Law stimulated a process of juridical analysis that has survived 3000 years, and underpins the survival of the Jewish tradition. Nearly undermined by the enlightenment, the tradition was renewed and reinvigorated by the sympathy generated by the genocidal actions of the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century. The state of Israel, a gift from the rational diplomats of the enlightenment, reciprocated the gifts of respectful rational inquiry that were transmitted through the Jewish tradition.

The significance of Judaism as a written tradition must not be underestimated. I have observed that knowledge comes to us through direct personal integration - but along with that knowledge comes the inevitable baggage of emotional and experiential context. In the written form, knowledge is abstracted from that context. It allows the learner greater facility to choose what to retain from that which is offered.

However, there were two problems with the Jewish tradition. The first was its nationalistic exclusivity. While that cohesion was essential to the survival of the tradition in its formative stages, it would ultimately prove an inescapable brake on its spread. The second was the natural tendency to compete in the giving of gifts, and to sacrifice life as the most precious of all. The story of Abraham includes a caution that certain sacrifices, while reflecting a possibly admirable devotion, are unreasonably dear.