What I want to describe here on Israel Outlook, is a book written by the subject of the email, Richard Maybury. The name of the book is The Thousand Year War in the Mideast – How It Affects You Today.
I have lived in the Middle East for a decade and a half, analyzing everything I could find about the place, and I can truthfully say that the book is unusually accurate – while being subtly flawed.
Let me get into the flaws of the book, first. Actually, it’s pretty much one flaw that propagates itself throughout. And, it’s not really a flaw. It’s a misrepresentation of a tiny, tiny minority.
He claims that all religion is based on two fundamental laws:
Do all you have agreed to do.
Do not encroach on other persons or their property.
To put it more succinctly, the two fundamental laws can be summarized in four words:
Integrity and Property Rights
If you say that I’m ignoring ‘encroachment on persons’, I can tell you that I’m not. Under his paradigm, you own yourself, so anything encroaching on you is an issue of property right. If you touch me, you are touching my property. Don’t touch me.
He characterizes Christianity and Judaism this way, and that is an incorrect characterization for true Christians, and for that matter, true Jews. Let me take Judaism first because it feeds into Christianity.
Rabbi Hillel, one of the greatest authors of modern Judaism is famous for “The Golden Rule”. As it is recounted to us, one day, a non-Jewish man went to Rabbi Hillel and challenged the Rabbi to explain the Torah, while the man stood on one foot. Rabbi Hillel answered:
That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.
That, is classic Judaism.
When Jesus began to preach, Hillel had been dead for something close to twenty years. One day, a rabbi went up to Jesus, and like the non-Jew, challenged Jesus to tell him how to earn eternal life:
American Standard Version (ASV)
25 And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and made trial of him, saying, Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?
26 And he said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?
27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.
28 And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.
29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbor?
30 Jesus made answer and said, A certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho; and he fell among robbers, who both stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
31 And by chance a certain priest was going down that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
32 And in like manner a Levite also, when he came to the place, and saw him, passed by on the other side.
33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he was moved with compassion,
34 and came to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring on them oil and wine; and he set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
35 And on the morrow he took out two shillings, and gave them to the host, and said, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, I, when I come back again, will repay thee.
36 Which of these three, thinkest thou, proved neighbor unto him that fell among the robbers?
37 And he said, He that showed mercy on him. And Jesus said unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.
Let me summarize what Jesus said above:
Love your neighbor
That is pretty much echoed by Rabbi Hillel, right? In fact, Hillel would have absolutely and completely agreed with Jesus.
Well, Jesus adds something else:
Everyone is your neighbor
(And I have experienced many, many Israelis attempting to live that third rule as well.)
There is nothing about integrity or property rights here. Or, maybe I should say that integrity and property rights are not mentioned anywhere here – but logic should show you that they are contained within the laws that Jesus mentioned. The laws of Jesus and Hillel encompass far, far more than the laws of Richard Maybury.
Let me restate my point.
Maybury’s flaw rests in the characterization that all religions are based on integrity and property rights, when he is missing the point that some religions encompass something greater.
However, let me add a point here. Most Christians and most Jews would agree (if they were honest with themselves) with Richard Maybury. Most religious people DO hold Maybury’s fundamental principles as the fundamental principles of their religion, and that’s why Maybury’s analysis is generally so good. Think of it as an analysis that encompasses 99.9% of the world, and 99.9% is generally astoundingly good accuracy.
It is just not the rule that governs myself, or this website.
Actually, now would be a good time to mention the ‘mission statement’ that governs everything that I do, and everything that this website represents:
Love God. Love your neighbor. Everyone is your neighbor.
If you are a true Jew, or a true Christian, you: love God, love your neighbor and consider everyone to be your neighbor – and of course, you feel bad about the fact that you fail every single day in the implementation of these true characteristics.
Oh, and there’s another flaw. Richard Maybury also doesn’t really understand Islam, but then again, almost no one does.
But, enough about what is wrong with the book. Let me go on to talk about the rest that is right. Here it is:
The book is accurate, easy and quick to read, and completely true – except for the above errors (and the errors that flow from that).
Everyone needs to read it.
That is actually all anyone needs in a review on such a book.
So, I encourage you to pick up the book and read it. It is insightful and accurate.
No, it’s chillingly accurate. When you read the book, remember that it was written in 1998 – three years BEFORE 9/11. And, it pretty much predicts that 9/11, or something like it, would happen.
Just remember the fatal flaws in a small portion of his assumptions when it comes to Christians and Jews (and the errors that stem from those flaws), everything else is pretty much correct. And yes, the Arabs do still remember the Crusades.
Really, they do.