Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. – Matthew 7:16-20

*   *   *

Actions speak louder than words.

Indeed, when an acquaintance described Judaism as a living agnosticism, I was not surprised: there is a broad trunk of agnosticism, even atheism, running through the Bible, including the New Testament, demolishing icons, asking how we can know what is true and how we can determine what isn’t, testing, probing, challenging. One branch encourages a healthy seeking after the Truth; the other limb, however, embodies mockery and contempt, and makes no effort to pursue social justice. Instead of providing comfortable answers, this trunk of scripture raises questions – like a Zen master relentlessly pushing the aspirant beyond the safety of orthodoxy into the belly of the fish itself.

*   *   *

Actions also speak more truly than words.

As I look back on the extended turmoil I encountered in dealing with a woman I loved deeply, I see how much my own reactions were built on the words she promised, even as I blinded myself to so much of her elusive conduct. They never dovetailed. Only when I admitted the behavior, wholly, into my awareness was I freed to move on.

I, who live so much in the realm of language!

*   *   *

For tho’ the Lord hath given his Spirit, yea, his Son, to be a Leader and a Commander to the People, yet many there are who do not follow his Guidance, saying in their Hearts …  We will not have this Man to reign over us. Now is there not Need that some should seek to convince such of the Evil of their Ways, and the Error of their Doings, (who instead of walking in the straight and narrow Way of Righteousness, which leads to everlasting Life, are going on in the broad Way of Sin and Wickedness, which leads down to the Chambers of Death) that so they may be persuaded to leave off the Weapons of their Rebellion, wherewith they fight against God, and wound their own Souls; and submit themselves unto his Ambassador of Peace, the Spirit of his Son in their Consciences, that true Balm of Gilead, with which they may be healed. (Elizabeth Bathurst, 1655?-1685)

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