Perfected Jews

I’m not one to stick up for Ann Coulter, but I’m disturbed to see folks piling on her, specifically, for calling Christians perfected Jews.

I mean, yes, it’s insulting and bigoted, but a lot of Christians believe it.  I mean, it was just last week that Ned Williams was asserting to NM that “Evangelical Christians typically believe more of the Hebrew faith’s assertions than most Jews believe” and just not getting why that would be offensive to Jews, even after he admitted that he doesn’t know a whole lot of Jews or a whole lot about Judaism (I suspect, based on his positive reaction to Sharon Cobb, that Ned thought he would just spout some nonsense and that NM would take it as a teaching moment and, instead, like Coulter, he was blindsided by the fact that said nonsense is actually hurtful to people, which, in a way, explains why I cannot agree with dear Sarcastro.  There are plenty of times when it doesn’t matter whether the person intended to be an asshat; they still are asshats.  Also, Christian friends, I kind of went a little crazy asshat in the comments of that post, just to warn you ahead of time–Ned’s, not Sarcastro’s).

There are a shit-ton of Christians who support Isreal, not out of some great love for the Jewish people, but because they believe there have to be Jews on that land and the Temple rebuilt before Jesus comes back and, once Jesus comes back, the Jews will eather be converted or sent to Hell.  And those Christians are trying to force Jesus’ hand.  They don’t give a shit about Jewish people as people.  The Jews are just props in their grand effort to stage a large-scale production of “The Passion: Part II” in hopes that Jesus will be contractually bound to show up and read his lines.

So, I mean, it’s fine to be mad at Coulter, but let’s not overlook that we need not only be laughing at her, we need to be addressing with her fellow believers why this is offensive.

Argh, yeah, what KTK says over at Lean Left.

78 thoughts on “Perfected Jews

  1. The difference is that one is using the Jews in order to back their god into a corner in order to force his hand.

    Nobody puts Baby Jesus in a corner!

    My poorly expressed point is that SOME words don’t always have a racially offensive, despite having a dubious provenance.

    Also, I’m paving the way for the return of Don Imus to the airwaves on December 1.

  2. Many Christian doctrines can be considered offensive. They are, after all, very radical. Jesus told us that it would be so. There are far more important things than not offending someone (that probably sounds ridiculous, coming from me, Mr Touchy-Feely)

    As for me, I consider Christianity to be a breakaway Jewish sect. Modern Jews are my co-religionists. This is a point of argumentation in the Christian world, but I think that any reasonable reading of the Book of Acts will tell you that we (Christians) are, indeed, followers of Judaism who happen to believe the promised Messiah has already come.

    So, for many of us, Jews are not a prop, but are members of our team. Kind of like on a football team: the offense and defense are two independent units, with different goals, but they win or lose as a team.

  3. I agree with how Jay Voorhees put it over at his place:

    We may disagree on our revelations from God, but you are still our cousins and deserve our respect.

    If that makes me an asshat, then so be it.

  4. This is going to sound a lot worse than I intend it to, but my feeling is that fundamentalist Jews and fundamentalist Christians only superficially tolerate each other to get what they want but secretly have nothing but disdain for the other. Christians support Israel in order to accommodate the second coming and Jews let the Christians help them keep the land. But God help any of them who want to inter-marry and switch faiths. When it comes right down to it, both believe they are superior to the other. And fundamentalist Muslims think they’re superior to both and want to convert or destroy them all.

    Note that I use the term fundamentalist for each. Certainly, there are less fundamentalist practitioners of each faith and its those people who keep the world from blowing up. But it’s the fundamentalists we all need to be frightened of. And Coulter is one of the mouthpieces of the fundamentalist Christians. Fortunately, she sounds like an idiot and is becoming less and less relevant on a daily basis.

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  6. I don’t know how the discussion at Ned’s progressed after my second post there. I did not check back, and will not. Ned’s problem goes deeper than claiming that Jews don’t believe most of the Hebrew faith. His problem (Slarti’s, too, with all respect, although Slarti doesn’t run around proclaiming this all the time and Ned does) is that by “the Hebrew faith” he means “what Christians say that Judaism is and means,” which in fact is nothing like what Judaism is now and nothing like what Judaism was when Jesus was around. His response when challenged on this inaccuracy is to say “see, you don’t believe in the Hebrew faith, which was clearly inferior anyway because Jesus had to come to change it.” And when faced with stuff like that, I tend to point out that the person making the statement is being insulting and then leave.

  7. calling Christians perfected Jews.

    I mean, yes, it’s insulting and bigoted, but a lot of Christians believe it.

    I always wonder what the folks who use that term think of Galatians 3:28

    There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

    and 1 Cor. 3:4

    When some of you say, “I follow Paul” and others say, “I follow Apollos,” aren’t you acting like sinful humans?

    and

    Matthew 8:22

    But Jesus said to him, ” Follow Me, and allow the dead to bury their own dead.”

    All of these verses–and dozens more from both Gospels and Epistles are talking about how Christians are supposed to see themselves as entirely separate from any earthly appellations, ties or conventions.

    The ties and traditions which used to matter to us (familial, employment relationships, nationalism) are not supposed to be part of the equation once we surrender our hearts, minds and bodies to following Jesus.

    For a Christian to refer to himself as a “Completed Jew” is to miss one of the central tenets of the faith.

    We call ourselves Christians because that is all we are supposed to be.

    Followers of the Christ.

  8. Kat, I don’t disagree with you. However, B. assigned motivations as a form of argumentation again, and I wanted to show her that there are other motivations a Christian can have for supporting Israel.

    But apparently, I am ignorant in these matters, or so I’ve been told. That’s a lot of wasted years of study, I can tell you.

    Although, I must say, I’ve never been dismissed so nicely before.

  9. Kat, I don’t disagree with you. However, B. assigned motivations as a form of argumentation again, and I wanted to show her that there are other motivations a Christian can have for supporting Israel.

    Sure. We have lots of motivations for supporting Israel. I support Israel because I am a philosophical Zionist. It has nothing to do with wanting the bridegroom to return any sooner. I figure He can do according to His timetable.

    But apparently, I am ignorant in these matters, or so I’ve been told. That’s a lot of wasted years of study, I can tell you.

    Although, I must say, I’ve never been dismissed so nicely before.

    From where I sit, personally, the possible offence could come from statements such as this….

    So, for many of us, Jews are not a prop, but are members of our team. Kind of like on a football team: the offense and defense are two independent units, with different goals, but they win or lose as a team.

    To me I read that and I see you saying “Jews are sort of Christians and are playing on the Christian side of things, even though they may not know or admit it.”

  10. Kat, no, not at all. I am saying quite the opposite. “We” are Jews, IMHO. I believe we’ve been adopted into the Family. We may be the wacky cousin, but that’s beside the point.

    Paul and Peter had a little dustup about this – should we let the Gentiles in? I’m one of the Gentiles who has been let in.

    Once again – the first Christians saw themselves as Jews. The whole book of Acts bears this out.

  11. Slarti, the thing that makes me a little crazy about you is that I suspect you think I’m kind of stupider than you. I mean, please, yes, I know Christians have lots of good reasons for supporting Israel. I am talking about the folks who believe like Coulter, of which there are quite a few (as you well know), and limiting my comments to them specifically. Why do you always assume you know more about Christianity than I do? Because you stayed and I left?

  12. “We” are Jews, IMHO. I believe we’ve been adopted into the Family.

    Except that we’re not.

    Again, I point you to Galatians 3:28

    And we haven’t been “adopted into the family” of JUDAISM. We’ve been adopted into the family of GOD.

    For that I point you to Romans 1:16

    I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.

    That to me sounds like Christianity as a faith being open to both Jews and Gentiles.

    That does not sound to me like Judaism being morphed into some three-eyed fish.

    To support my thesis I would also point you to the Circumcision Argument in 1 Cor 7:19-20

    Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God’s commands is what counts. 20Each one should remain in the situation which he was in when God called him.

    As much as I love Judaism, I’m sorry to say that I just don’t see Christianity as a retrofit of that faith but as an entirely new faith tradition.

  13. Slarti, I respect many Christian beliefs a lot. Even many of those that I disagree with obviously provide spiritual satisfaction to their believers, promote good conduct, lead to harmony, etc., etc. So please believe that I mean no disrespect when I say that a religion that holds that humans are stained with original sin is fundamaentally different from a religion that holds that humans are not stained with original sin. With two such different interpretations of human nature and the human condition, those belief systems can’t just be lumped together: everything that follows from those basics is going to be different, interpreted differently. (Let alone the question of what “messiah” means, which is shockingly different in the two religions as well. And one could go on from there.) So, to me, saying that Jews and Christians are co-religionists insists that Jews really secretly believe what Christians do; otherwise it’s meaningless to say it.*

    Now, you stated this in the form, “I believe that …” which is a formulation clearly intended not to offend, and not to impose your own beliefs on others. And I take such statements very differently than statements like “you’re inferior.” I try to balance the evident intention to speak for yourself without attacking others with the problem that you won’t let Jews define Judaism themselves. On balance, you come out OK, but that doesn’t mean that I like being told that I believe things I don’t.

    *If you simply mean that Jews and Christians are both pursuing the good, that’s nice, but then there’s no need to limit the statement to those two religions, is there?

  14. Oh, and I forgot to address this:

    Once again – the first Christians saw themselves as Jews. The whole book of Acts bears this out.

    Well, yes it does. Because those people were born genetically and culturally and geopolitically into the Jewish faith/system of thought.

    The First Christians were Jews in a way similar to the fact that I am a Midwestern American. Whether they practiced the faith of Judaism or not, they were geopolitcally and culturally Jews. They would retain that cultural identity no matter what faith they switched to. (Or so I understand. But I could be wrong about how Judaic scholars feel about the retention of culture.)

    That’s why the Acts Of The Apostles is an historical book. It’s giving context for the modern church.

    But you and I are no more Jews than we are Mancunian.

  15. Now, wait a minute B – I was indignant about being intellecutally dismissed first! (by nm) Only one per thread! :) Otherwise, we can’t keep up, ;)

    Anyway, wow! What you say blows my mind! I have a kind of intellectual inferiority complex about you, and nm, and magni – haven’t you figured that out yet? My lack of education is something I always carry with me, I’m oversensitive about it.

    But, no – I worry that I can’t keep up with you, not the other way around.

    My strongest intelligence is emotional, and that’s where I tend to get conescending, and for that I’m sorry. I assumed you were assigning motivations as a shortcut, and was giving another point of view. However, because my emot-o-meter is overloaded, sometimes I forget that I’m not the only person who understands human interactions. That was really sucky, sorry about that.

    So, you were right about me – but had pegged the wrong kind of arrogance.

  16. Oh, and WRT Coulter, a lot of Christians share this particular belief of hers, but she’s the only one responsible for her own words.

  17. Oh, Slarti. I’m not dissing your intelligence. I am telling you, however, that what Christians teach each other about Jewish beliefs has only the most tangential relationship to Jewish beliefs. It doesn’t matter how intelligent you are; if you are given misinformation that is what you learn.

  18. Ha, Slarti, fair enough. I need to be better about remembering that probably everyone feels slightly intimidated around here from time to time and not react from a place of insecurity. Sorry about that.

  19. From Kat: As much as I love Judaism, I’m sorry to say that I just don’t see Christianity as a retrofit of that faith but as an entirely new faith tradition.

    I don’t think you could be more wrong here Kat. Christ, according to the Catholic tradition, expanded the covenant. Learning about Christianity means investigating Abraham, Isaac, then the Israelites, then the Davidic Kingdom. The New Testament is hidden in the Old and the Old Testament is fufilled in the New. Jesus was a righteous Jew. He kept the Law. Matthew 23 – Do what the Pharisees tell you. They sit on the chair of Moses. Christianity didn’t just appear out of thin air.

    Coulter should be careful when discussing theology – she was clumsy – but she was asked. The basic point – that Christians should want all to become Christian – is not bigotted. For a Christian to not want someone, anyone, to become a Christian would be bizarre and contrary to the Gospel… make disciples of all nations.

    The “how” is the thing.

    “Preach the Gospel always. When necessary use words.” St. Francis of Assissi

  20. Sorry, Martin, for Jews there is no “Old Testament.” Jewish scriptures are fulfilled in themselves; they end with redemption (return to the land of Israel) and no further revelation is needed. Now, unless this is also what you believe, which from your post it clearly isn’t, you are practicing a different religion. You also are defining Judaism to be something that it isn’t, in order to claim that it is the same as what you believe.

  21. For a Christian to not want someone, anyone, to become a Christian would be bizarre and contrary to the Gospel… make disciples of all nations.

    And thus begins the inexorable march into the Land of Circular Logic.

  22. Yup. There’s a difference between ‘this is the right way’ and ‘this is the right way for absolutely everyone and it’s my job to make sure that they see that.’ The very concept of which seems to toss conversations into weird contortions.

  23. Christ, according to the Catholic tradition, expanded the covenant.

    I fully understand that Christianity has its roots in various forms of Judaic thought and tradition.

    But historically and contextually speaking, Christianity is no more a form of Judaism than Islam is.

    While both Christianity and Islam revere selected texts holy to the Jewish faith, neither Christianity nor Islam embraces the entirety of Judaica and therefore cannot claim to be a form of that religion.

  24. No, Martin, she was not asked about her faith. She was asked about her politics — what her dream of a good America looked like. She responded that her dream would be a country without Jews. Or, to be complete about it, anyone except Christians who believe as she does, which would let you right out too, I’m afraid. It’s a big Protestant tent that she’s envisioning.

    That’s not just clumsy theology; that really is contrary to the First Amendment’s establishment clause. So much for her defense of “American values” and the Constitution against irreligious disruptive forces like me.

    And nm is, of course, correct. “What Jews Believe” according to Catholic theologians is way different that Judaism as a religious or social practice.

  25. Actually, it’s a pretty narrow Protestant tent she’s envisioning. While a great many protestants share her, ah, views… a great(er?) many don’t, and I’ve a sneaking suspicion we’d be little more welcome than the rest of you lot.

    At least it would cause property values to even out a bit. After all, if the whole country up and emigrates, the couple thousand people left have all the room in the world to spread out and take up all the good houses.

  26. In an effort to be charitable I will not dismiss the responses here. A lesser man would dismiss them.

    nm, no duh. I was writing explicitly from the Christian perspective responding to another Christian.

    Mag, Not quite sure what you mean. Again the “how” of evangelization is the key. In fact if others do not follow me I should first inquire what it is that I am doing wrong, how I am not providing a good Christian witness. I think we agree on this.

    Kat, We agree that Christianity is not a “form” of Judaism.

    Bridgett, All I said is that she was asked. I added that she should be more precise when getting into theology. Sure she would prefer that people, including me, believed as she did. That is no First Amendment issue for the love of Pete. I think her theology is wrong. She thinks Catholocism is wrong. Great. Free country and all that. I don’t see that as a threat.

    Finally, what Jews believe varies widely across the Jewish people. It is just silly to say that Catholic theologians view Judaism “way different.” How in the world can we communicate at all unless we try to understand one another? Some efforts are better than others. What about the Jews who have become Catholic? Are you suggesting that they don’t understand Judaism?

  27. In fact if others do not follow me I should first inquire what it is that I am doing wrong, how I am not providing a good Christian witness. I think we agree on this.

    They’re not supposed to be following YOU, Martin.

  28. Martin, two Christians talking to each other as Christians still don’t get to decide what Judaism is. I would suggest that if you want to understand what Judaism is, you study it as taught by Jews to Jews, just as when I wanted to understand Catholicism better I studied it as taught by Catholics to other Catholics, rather than relying on what formerly Catholic converts have to say about it.

  29. How in the world can we communicate at all unless we try to understand one another? Some efforts are better than others.

    Wouldn’t those attempts to understand each other work a lot better if there was some, ah, understanding going on? If I’m a purple people eater and I say I have one eye, one horn, and I fly, which is pretty standard purple people eater biology and you counter with ‘well, the green crumple-horned snorkracks I know say they evolved out of one-eyed two-horned hopping green people eaters, which proves we’re all some shade of green,’ there’s something a little weird about that.

    (Okay, admittedly, the analogy is a bit off. Much like the rest of my day. The point being that in order to understand someone else, one generally ought do as nm says, and go see it firsthand and actually listen, rather than trying to define it from afar.)

  30. would suggest that if you want to understand what Judaism is, you study it as taught by Jews to Jews, just as when I wanted to understand Catholicism better I studied it as taught by Catholics to other Catholics, rather than relying on what formerly Catholic converts have to say about it.

    I did study Judaism with several Judaica scholars. For a LONG time. (Like 15 years off and on.)

    And I still don’t understand it all.

  31. I know you did, Kat. The way you talk about religions shows that you are deeply acquainted with more belief systems than your own. And anyone who claims to understand all of any religion, including his/her own, is probably underinformed. The “you” in that sentence was addressed more generally. It should, I suppose, be replaced by “one.”

  32. Oh, I didn’t think you were directing it at me.

    I just am expressing my frustration/overwhelmedness with what I normally love.

    I feel about religious and philosophy studies the same way I feel about family members. Sometimes I love their depth and complexity….other times it frustrates me.

  33. You’d hate them if they lacked the depth and complexity, though. Using “you” in the sense of “me,” of course. But really, any system of thought and/or belief that has satisfied the intellectual and spiritual longings of large numbers of people over large periods of time is gonna be complex. The accretion of human experience can’t have any other result.

  34. They’re not supposed to be following YOU, Martin….

    That was a necessary clarification Kat. Feel better now? If I am following Christ they should be following me.

  35. Martin, two Christians talking to each other as Christians still don’t get to decide what Judaism is. I would suggest that if you want to understand what Judaism is, you study it as taught by Jews to Jews…

    Didn’t say they did nm. How do you know I haven’t studied under Jews? And which Jews should one study under. There are a couple distinct branches?

  36. I know you did, Kat. The way you talk about religions shows that you are deeply acquainted with more belief systems than your own…

    Boy you are annoying nm. If I didn’t love my fellow man so much I’d have to ignore you.

  37. If I am following Christ they should be following me.
    I’d still dispute that assertion. ;-p

    If you are following Christ, you should all be walking in the same general direction. I don’t know if that counts as “following you” thought.

    Hmmm. Perhaps they’re all following ME!

    (I kid. God knows if they follow me they’d end up in some quagmires along t he way.)

  38. I love it over here. Dammit it all I had a crappy day at work dealing with, you know, bullshit, when I could have just drowned in this thread.
    Woot. I am not lying. I do think this is great. I love it when people are talking.

    Man, B., you are the master. Please call me grasshopper. I dig that. ;)
    I so love this.

  39. I’ve had a crappy week at work.

    What would Jesus say to Anne Coulter?

    “Get thee hence, gormless cow!”

    After you’re dead and get a chance to talk to god, ask what religion (s)he practices. The answer will surprise! Guaranteed.

  40. No, Martin, she was not asked about her faith. She was asked about her politics — what her dream of a good America looked like. She responded that her dream would be a country without Jews.

    I don’t know Bridgett. She said what she said, and I don’t think it contradicts allowing believing Jews to remain believing Jews, unbelievers to remain unbelievers, and so on and so on. Christianity and the Bible make exclusive truth claims. That doesn’t mean that persons who don’t accept those truths aren’t worthy of respect, consideration, kindness, etc. That being said, I don’t look to Ann Coulter for Christian guidance, and I think that her actions are very often not Christ-like. But, who are we to judge, right?

    AuntB,
    I support Israel for a host of reasons, and I have stated them elsewhere . . . no secrets. They’re a shining example of a democracy surrounded by autocracies is the biggest one. They aren’t perfect or above criticism, but they didn’t “steal” the land they’re occupying and they aren’t a world menace. And I can’t speak for others, but you’re wrong if you’re asserting that I “don’t give a s**t about them.” It doesn’t take a “great love” for a country or its people to be willing to defend or stand by them when they are illegitimately threatened.

    nm, you may have felt insulted by me, but I will assert again that it is ironic to me that some persons who would be considered “practicing Jews” pooh-pooh the supernatural aspects of their religion. No, I haven’t “studied” Judaism from a Jewish scholar, but I am able to read the Pentateuch, and I am able to ascertain whether a person accepts or rejects the claims and assertions therein.

    As several people have pointed out, there is no single view of Judaism . . . I’m guessing your view excludes the supernatural stuff? Is all the stuff in the Pentateuch allegorical? Does every (practicing) Jew or a majority of practicing Jews agree with your view? If so, how is that inconsistent with my assertion?

  41. assuming you good folks ever find any agreement on the religions of these angels, will you then finally proceed to counting how many of them are dancing on Coulter’s pinheaded skull?

    (it’s not considered socially acceptable for us atheists to point out that the pontiff is buck naked, even in this modern day. times like this, i actually have to consciously remind myself of that, it’s so hard to keep the blasphemy in. obviously, i’m not entirely successful — blasphemy is just such a fun victimless crime!)

  42. I hate to burst peoples’ bubbles, but Christianity is not some form of “revised Judaism”, and any such notion that it is, is the result of a lack of understanding about Judaism.

    ‘Tis because of such logic, that Evangelicals have created “‘Jews’ for Jesus” and other such organisations…and for some stupid reason, many of the Christian masses support such pathetic conversion attempts…because they do not understand the differences between Judaism and Christianity.

  43. Martin, two Christians talking to each other as Christians still don’t get to decide what Judaism is. I would suggest that if you want to understand what Judaism is, you study it as taught by Jews to Jews…

    Didn’t say they did nm. How do you know I haven’t studied under Jews? And which Jews should one study under. There are a couple distinct branches?

    Well, if you say that for purposes of deciding whether Judaism and Christianity are “the same faith tradition” you can ignore what Judaism is as defined by Jews as irrelevant, then I’d say that, yes, you are saying that Judaism is what you, a Christian, say it is.

    And I don’t know for sure that you haven’t studied Judaism as taught by Jews to each other, but you give every indication of not knowing what it is that Jews teach. As for which Jews to study with (not under; study is a cooperative activity for Jews, and the same verb is used to describe what both teacher and student do), I’d bet you can find a Jewish congregation not a hundred miles from your own doorstep (keeping in mind that I don’t actually know where you are, and I suppose that might not be true), with a rabbi part of whose job is to study holy texts with others. Yes, we’ve got different branches; Christianity does, too, and yet as I understand it all Christians have certain beliefs and behaviors in common, so you’re surely not surprised that this might be true of other religions as well?

    I know you did, Kat. The way you talk about religions shows that you are deeply acquainted with more belief systems than your own…

    Boy you are annoying nm. If I didn’t love my fellow man so much I’d have to ignore you.

    Aw, Martin, and I was about to give you a reading list! I don’t know why it irritates you that I acknowledge Kat’s years of study, but that’s OK. Go ahead and ignore me if you want to. I won’t consider you any less a lover of your fellow humans, and since you’re already ignoring the content of what I say you really might as well just ignore the fact that I’m saying it.

  44. nm, you may have felt insulted by me, but I will assert again that it is ironic to me that some persons who would be considered “practicing Jews” pooh-pooh the supernatural aspects of their religion. No, I haven’t “studied” Judaism from a Jewish scholar, but I am able to read the Pentateuch, and I am able to ascertain whether a person accepts or rejects the claims and assertions therein.

    As several people have pointed out, there is no single view of Judaism . . . I’m guessing your view excludes the supernatural stuff? Is all the stuff in the Pentateuch allegorical? Does every (practicing) Jew or a majority of practicing Jews agree with your view? If so, how is that inconsistent with my assertion?

    Ned, do you really not consider it insulting to say “nm, there’s something about Hillel and Jesus posted on my blog that you might find interesting, come on over and look at it,” when what you have posted is not about Hillel, and not about Jesus, but is a blanket statement, based on a single anecdote told by a guy who didn’t understand the Passover Seder he was invited to, that Jews don’t believe their own religion? I cannot believe that. Surely your mother taught you better than that. I can’t believe that you would make a point of inviting a particular guest to your house and welcome her/him with “hey, a friend of mine told me that he visited one of your cousins once and, boy, did he not understand what they were all going on about, so, tell me, why do you and your family all just talk nonsense all the time? That, in effect, is what you did to me. It’s not as if you made a post that I just happened to stumble across, you know. And I suppose, to some people, “isn’t it awful how awful you are?” is a request for information and dialogue, but I think it’s understandable why not everyone might interpret it that way.

    BTW, you have already demanded to know, in another context, whether I believe in divine revelation, and I have told you that I do. But you are evidently unaware that even those Jews who believe that not only the Torah, but the Prophets and the Mishnah as well, are word for word literal divine revelation believe that parts of that divine revelation are allegorical. And so did the Jews of the time of Jesus. You simply do not get to tell us that we don’t believe in our own religion simply because you have been taught that the Jews of Jesus’s day were literalists; it wasn’t so.

  45. assuming you good folks ever find any agreement on the religions of these angels, will you then finally proceed to counting how many of them are dancing on Coulter’s pinheaded skull?

    Well, that’s more a Christian sort of question, but I bet you’d love it that in some Passover Haggadas there are debates on whether there were merely ten plagues in Egypt, or ten plagues for each finger of the divine hand, or whether they get doubled beyond that for each divine hand, not to mention the outstretched divine arm. Let me point out that these discussions are included as, umm, jokes, which I guess just goes to prove that Ned is right and Jews don’t believe anything.

  46. nm,
    I never said, “Jews don’t believe anything.” I never said, “Jews don’t believe in [their] own religion.” I haven’t been taught nor have I asserted that Jews of Jesus’ day were literalists.

    And I don’t recall you ever acknowledging that you believe in divine revelation (frankly, you tend to have a chip on your shoulder regarding religion, so conversations don’t go very far). But the issue of “literalism” gets to the core of the post about Hillel and Jesus (which, incidentally included a link to an extended post about . . . Hillel and Jesus, as I had referenced). My post quoted the author of the Hillel and Jesus post as saying how un-literal (which is generally translated to mean something like non-supernaturalist) his Jewish friends were who had invited him to celebrate a Jewish religious ceremony.

    Which led me to say how ironic it is that Evangelical Christians seem to believe in the literal/i> truth of various foundational Jewish events while most Jews don’t.

    Lastly, you’ve translated this to me saying how awful you are, and I can understand why such an assertion would be insulting, but that isn’t what I was asserting or meant to assert. I apologize for that.

    But I do believe it is relevant–when discussing “truth claims” or “authority,” (as we have been in the context of considering what the sacred texts of Judaism and Christianity say about homosexual conduct) to consider whether someone who is asserting things about said sacred texts views them as allegorical or “true” or “absolute” or “authoritative,” don’t you?

    And, wouldn’t you agree that Jews who do believe that the sacred texts are literal and constitute authoritative truth claims would not consider a fellow Jew who held a “relativist” or “allegorical” view to be an authority on what those texts mean?

  47. Ha, well, wow, this has turned into an interesting but painful conversation, huh? Thanks to everyone for sticking with it. I’m going to interject and make some broader points that I think we fail to keep in mind.

    One, is that for a lot of people having this conversation, history is always with us and the past echoes forth lessons and obligations from those lessons. It is nearly impossible to have a conversation in which Christians say “I understand Judaism. I know what it is and I know how to recognize ‘good Jews’ as opposed to ‘bad Jews’ ” that is merely obnoxious. These conversations ALWAYS carry with them the long history of Christians having these conversations about Jews and the shameful, shameful results of those conversations.

    I would ask that some of you consider that. We can have a debate about whether you lost the right to nm’s participating in this conversation without suspicion back in 325 or 1096 or whether 1492 was the final straw. Or, you know, fifty years ago. I mean, come on, folks. When you’re talking about a discussion that can and has lead to our people’s complicity in real evil that directly affects a friend of ours here, I’d expect a lot more god damn caution and care and thoughtfulness.

    I mean, the fact that NM is just being prickly as opposed to telling y’all to fuck off is a testament to her generosity. So, let’s be respectful of that, folks.

    Two is that some of you, I think, seem to have an unspoken belief that the Old Testament that Christians have (except, of course, that Catholics and Protestants have two different Old Testaments) is exactly the same as the Jewish holy text and so, therefore, if you understand the Old Testament, you understand Judaism. Please keep in mind that Judaism didn’t get stuck on pause 2000 years ago, but has had a living and vibrant tradion and theology separate and distinct from Christianity that is ongoing. Jews have been living with Christians since the start of Christianity. If there were some irrefutable proof that Jewish texts necessarily point to Jesus as the messiah, they might have noticed in the intervening millenia.

    Oh, hold on to your horses for just five seconds. We are not talking about irrefutable fact. We’re talking about deeply held beliefs about correct ways of interpreting texts, and the ways we interpret those texts are shaped by who we are culturally and Western Christian culture is different and has different experiences and expectations with and from the Divine than Western Jewish culture.

    Which brings me to point number four (assuming the last paragraph was point three, but unnumbered). Folks, you cannot assert that fact and truth are the same thing. No. No. No. You cannot. Fact is a form of truth, sure. But fact is not the only truth.

    If you don’t understand this, and I do mean this with all sincerity and love in my heart, you have been done a deep, deep wrong by your school system and/or your minister.

    Take for example the prodigal son. Where did his father and older brother live?

    Answer?

    Nowhere. They aren’t real people. Jesus made them up in order to illustrate something about God’s relationship to humanity.

    Does that mean the story is not true?

    That depends. But it doesn’t depend on whether the prodigal son and his family actually existed. They did not. It depends on whether you think Jesus is telling a story that honestly illustrates his point.

    Therefore, though it is your business if you want to believe in the factual truth of things depicted in the Old Testament, more importantly, it doesn’t give you an inside line on the Truth of things depicted in the Old Testament.

    I dare say that, if you believe in the Truth of a book and believe that a great Storyteller is the Son of God, you’d be much better off to take some time to understand how stories work.

    I think that’s everything. If not, more hectoring later.

  48. Ned, you quoted: “Here I am, the only non-Jew at the seder, and I might also be the only one around this table who actually believes most of this stuff.” and continued, agreeing, in your own words, “This is an irony that has struck me before in a couple conversations with nm.” So, first, you make assumptions about what I believe, second, you make assumptios about what Jews in general believe, and third, since you are making these assumptions without ever having discussed the Exodus with me, you clearly are making a generalization about my beliefs and Jews’ beliefs in general. And I’m amazed that you would claim that I believe that Biblical texts about “homosexuality” are allegorical. What I said is that if you read them in their original, literal context, they are clearly not about “homosexuality” but about Canaanite religious practices. Interpreting that as an appeal to allegory is a little disingenuous, don’t you think? And, of course, the sweet little comment you made abut Jewish beliefs came in response to my reference to Hillel in a discussion about versions of the Golden Rule in various religions, not in the context of a discussion of homsexuality.

    BTW, Ned, the chip I have on my shoulder is not about religion. It is, specifically, about Christians making statements about Jewish scriptures that contradict what Jews take those scriptures to mean. I don’t care what you think they mean, you understand, but I think it’s worthwhile that when conversations start to suggest that this is Jewish belief, that mistake gets corrected. Because your “Old Testament” is not our Bible, and was not our Bible 2000 years ago.

    And B, I appreciate your coming to my defense, but let’s be clear: I’m not reacting to old persecutions, and I’m also not claiming that Ned or anyone else is persecuting me today. I’m reacting to the constant spouting of misinformation about my religion, my beliefs. I don’t like other people thinking that they get to tell me who I am, right now.

  49. I’m reacting to the constant spouting of misinformation about my religion, my beliefs.

    When I first started studying Judaism in earnest, I was flat-out surprised to learn that the Jewish people had more holy books than the non-Catholic Old Testament.

    (While we’re making distinctions, allow me to announce my pet peeve of Anabaptists being referred to as “Protestants”…we aren’t. We are a completely different branch of non-Roman Catholic Christianity. Just had to throw that out there because, well, because.)

    I do think there is much validity in Christians exploring Jewish traditions and ritual obseravations (like Passover for instance) and reflecting upon what meaning those rituals can have within the Christian faith.

    But I have been to more than one Christianised Seder where the smug attitude of “The Jews don’t believe but we do!” is the overriding message. There is one speaker that I’ve asked to not have invited back to my church for this very reason.

    Simply because the practice of a Christianised Seder views certain aspects of the rituals as a support of the Christian faith and teaching doesn’t mean that Jews at a Seder “don’t believe it”.

    I have this issue within Christianity, too. Speaking directly to Ned, I’m sure that you would take great offence at being told “you don’t believe” in communion simply because you reject the doctrine of transubstantiation. (Or, I’m assuming you do because you are Evangelicals, and transubstantiation is primarily a Roman Catholic/Mainline Protestant belief.)

    I guess that’s why I sort of absented myself from that rumoured-to-be-about-Hillel-but-actually-only-tangentially-referenced-Hillel thread over at WiV. I respect both of you, and I was kind of taken aback at the notion of writing off an entire faith system. Which is how I personally inferred that post.

  50. Wow, I’m now one inference away from kristallnacht(sp)? And you mean to tell me that parables weren’t “based on a true story” or “torn from the headlines”?!

    But nm, I can see your point, and I have apologized for a sweeping generalization. But there are Jews who don’t eschew the supernatural (about which you have been largely silent) and would disagree with interpretations of Judaism’s sacred texts which amounted to cherry picking or watering down truths. I don’t know whether you cherry pick or water down, but it is hardly possible to determine your credibility if I can’t even broach the subject or not wholly defer to what you say about an issue without being cast as a bigoted know-it-all. And I admit having an absolutist view on “belief.”

    You have repeatedly made assertions about Jesus and what He said/taught in the Christian New Testament. That’s fine, and it is interesting to learn more about His Judaic context and references/allusions. Is that you tell me what I believe or what the “founder” of my religion taught? I would say no, and I am free to disagree with you and make my arguments. As I remember, you had little patience for my interpretation of my religion–about why and how Jesus referenced Jewish teaching/tradition, but that’s fine, too. In sum, I just can’t see how you can speak for “what Jews take . . . scriptures to mean” or what “Jewish belief” is–certainly you are the authority on what you believe and have a much better vantage point of what your brethren (of all stripes) believe, but there is a point at which your pronouncements are only slightly less “sweeping” or presumptuous than were mine.

    Lastly, I’m skeptical re. your pronouncements about Canaanite religious practices v. homosexuality, but that is an insignificant disagreement in light of the conflict over respecting one another’s religious views, so that debate can and should wait for another day. Hopefully reconciliation and better understanding is possible and will make future discussions about particular issues more edifying.

    I know that many (maybe every single one) of my ideas and views are anathema to you and AuntB, but I don’t hold or express those views intending to offend; rather, I believe they’re right, but I aspire to always remain open to persuasion about they’re “rightness” going forward.

  51. Kat,
    Good points, and I would say/echo that arrogance (e.g., as you mentioned about Christianized observances of Jewish rituals) is never a godly act or attitude.

    And I never intended to “write off an entire faith system”; though I will concede that I am inclined to right off persons who pretend or pose as “believers” in a given system–faith or otherwise. I had great respect for Paul Wellstone, for example, even though I thought he was sincerely wrong. And, to be clear, I am not making these points in reference to nm–even the post in question wasn’t intended to be about nm, but was a statement about what I perceive to be persons who for whatever reason may simply go through the motions of religion. That seems like a waste of time.

  52. am not making these points in reference to nm–even the post in question wasn’t intended to be about nm, but was a statement about what I perceive to be persons who for whatever reason may simply go through the motions of religion. That seems like a waste of time.

    I would agree wholeheartedly. For instance…why pray before a meal if you don’t believe in God?

    But where I see the difference–and it is subtle–is in religiocultural ritual practices.

    There are millions of people who celebrate Christmas after their own fashion regardless of whether or not they consider it an observance of Christ’s birthday. For them it has a cultural significance beyond the religious. There are several non-Christians who celebrate Easter with chocolate bunnies, eggs and other assorted cultural and areligious overtones.

    Likewise I’m sure there are several thousand Jewish people who consider themselves Jews on a cultural level but just don’t go in for religion much. They observe Seders on the same cultural level that some non-Christian Gentiles observe Christmas.

    It is entirely plausible that the anecdote you recounted was one of a religious Christian at a non-observant Jewish Seder.

    The whole topic of Christians at Seder is a really touchy one for a lot of Jewish people, just as I imagine there were many practitioners of the Old Ways in the British Isles who found Christian Christmas to be a bit of a touchy subject.

    Here’s this holiday which has been sacred to a group of people in a religious way and has grown to serve a cultural function beyond the faith-based origins.

    And along we come who follow Christ. Jesus didn’t leave us any new rituals. That really wasn’t what he was about. In one of the Gospels it is specifically mentioned that the veil in the Temple was rent top to bottom. To me that signifies a lot of things–God is now directly approachable without a mediary–but it sort of is like Jesus saying there is no further need for sacrifice. For ritual. For festival.

    So we incorporate the rituals of other faiths to meet our human need to act out our relationship with the Divine in a shadow play. We turned the Jewish Mikvah and the Mithras Bull Blooding into our Baptism. We turned the Jewish Seder into our Communion. And of course, Yule becomes Christmas, Samhain becomes Halloween, etc.

    But lately–the last 20 years or so–many of us Christians have been real assmonkeys about Passover. We’ve reinterpreted the ritual from a Christian standpoint in a way that I happen to find poetic. But then for some reason, many of us sort of go on and on about how the Jews (who’ve been doing the Seder thing for a handful of millennia now) just don’t “really get” Passover.

    It’s sort of like going out to dinner with another man’s wife of 40 years and then looking at the husband and telling him he doesn’t know his wife.

    Our experience of the Christianised Seder in no way negates the impact of the Jewish Seder from a religious standpoint.

    And from a cultural standpoint if you are comparing a Christianised view of Seder (which by its nature is almost wholly religious given that it is not a common practice in the majority of Christian homes) to a secular Jewish Seder you are looking at apples and pomegranates.

  53. And I admit having an absolutist view on “belief.”

    What the hell is the point of continuing conversation, then? Absolutism certainly doesn’t lend itself to any sort of discussion beyond “oh yeah” and “no way!”

  54. Sorry, Ned. You’re not going to get a statement of my beliefs that you can analyze through Christian goggles to decide whether you find me credible or not. You have no right to demand any such statement; I have no right to demand any such statement from you before I decide whether statements you make about your religion generally are credible (in the sense of being an honest representation of the consensus of beliefs within your religion). I don’t think that you need to believe in everything you tell me about your religion in order to represent it fairly, though from the zeal that you display I assume that you do. I do believe that you do need to know it, intimately, from inside its traditions, to give me insights that I, as an outsider, can not have in approaching it from outside.

    Now, I have discussed my personal religous outlook with a number of the individuals participating in this thread, and with others who hang out here at TCP and elsewhere in Nashville’s World o’ Blogs. I will not discuss it with you, because it is clear that you approach the whole topic not in a spirit of wishing to learn about other beleif systems or other people, but in a spirit of competition and combat. And, while I will point out factual mistakes that you make, I will not get into this competition with you, or with anyone. If you want to talk religion with me rather than fight, you have a heap of trust-winning to do.

  55. What the hell is the point of continuing conversation, then? Absolutism certainly doesn’t lend itself to any sort of discussion beyond “oh yeah” and “no way!”

    Because I think it is valuable to have conversations with people even they don’t agree with me or are squishy or don’t believe anything.

    Kat,
    All that sounds about right, though I need to point out that I have no involvement in any “movement” to celebrate or claim or Christianize various Jewish religious ceremonies.

    nm,
    As far as discussing religion, It’s not a competition or combat, but I do think that what a person believes has consequences. “Belief” in and of itself is worthless (aside from some cultural benefits as alluded to by Kat above), in my opinion; the object of one’s belief is all-important. I will concede that I believe Christianity is true in a way no other religion is, and I didn’t arrive at that conclusion in the manner, for example, a person might choose an NFL team to support or choose which Fraternity to join.

    That being said, when religion or worldview crosses over into the public policy arena, it does convert somewhat to a competition for the hearts and minds of the populace.

    Lastly, no, you don’t owe me any answers, and you are welcome to point out what you perceive to be factual mistakes in anything I say, but how is a person (me or anyone) to know whether your perspective of Judaism or interpretation of sacred texts is worth accepting?

  56. how is a person (me or anyone) to know whether your perspective of Judaism or interpretation of sacred texts is worth accepting?

    keep asking that question. of every believer out there, concerning every religion they hold to. ask it of yourself, if you can. ask it every day; it’s one of the ways one can lose one’s faith.

  57. Well, Ned, one could accept that I am educated, and that I had the experience of growing up as a Jew. As I, for example, accept that Bridgett is educated and has the experience of growing up as a Catholic. Do you demand that she give you a statement of faith before you pay attention to what she has to say?

  58. That being said, when religion or worldview crosses over into the public policy arena, it does convert somewhat to a competition for the hearts and minds of the populace.

    Am I alone in thinking that this entire scenario is a bit of a disservice to the central tenets of most faiths?

    I can’t speak for other religions so much, but as a somewhat-flawed practitioner of Christianity I still maintain that our teachings just can’t be legislated.

  59. Why do you always assume you know more about Christianity than I do? Because you stayed and I left?

    I run into this all the time (not with Slarti, but many Christians in general). I find Christian theology fascinating now, which probably stems from my extensive study of it during and prior to my 6 years as a Christian missionary. Yet because I’m perceived as not being a Christian any longer, so many Christians (many of whom haven’t even read their Bible) assume I must know nothing of their religion.

    no duh

    I just have to say thanks for bringing a smile to my face martin. I hadn’t heard the term “no duh” probably since middle school.

    After you’re dead and get a chance to talk to god, ask what religion (s)he practices. The answer will surprise! Guaranteed.

    Ain’t it the truth!

    Because I think it is valuable to have conversations with people even they don’t agree with me or are squishy or don’t believe anything.

    What value can come from a conversation between to absolutists with opposing viewpoints. If either person has already decided that they are not even interested in considering where the other is coming from, what is the value?

    Ok, nobody try to push some Godwin’s law crap at me because I understand this wasn’t what Ann Coulter meant, but am I the only one who bristled at her statement because hearing that Jews need to be “perfected” brings to mind the notion of eugenics and ethnic cleansing (making the “perfect” race). I’m not saying that is what she was saying because even Ann Coulter would probably keep that kind of thought to herself, but candidly that is the first thing that pops into my mind whenever I read what she said. And while there’s plenty else wrong with what she said, it’s THAT association that makes me shudder everytime.

  60. Yet because I’m perceived as not being a Christian any longer, so many Christians (many of whom haven’t even read their Bible) assume I must know nothing of their religion.

    This is another can of worms I’m opening, and I should probably open it on my own blog.

    I wanted to make clear, though, that when I do I’m not talking directly about YOU, Dolphin, or indeed about any of the participants of this thread. It’s just that this statement inspired me to write something.

  61. Ok, nobody try to push some Godwin’s law crap at me because I understand this wasn’t what Ann Coulter meant, but am I the only one who bristled at her statement because hearing that Jews need to be “perfected” brings to mind the notion of eugenics and ethnic cleansing (making the “perfect” race). I’m not saying that is what she was saying because even Ann Coulter would probably keep that kind of thought to herself, but candidly that is the first thing that pops into my mind whenever I read what she said. And while there’s plenty else wrong with what she said, it’s THAT association that makes me shudder everytime.

    Actually, that was my first thought too. But then nobody seemed to be mentioning it, so I thought perhaps it was just me.

  62. Actually, that was my first thought too. But then nobody seemed to be mentioning it, so I thought perhaps it was just me.

    I’ve just heard the phrase so much in and around various churches–including a “Jews for Jesus” church I went to for three sundays before they kicked me out–that I’ve stopped considering the basic offence and gone onto the larger implications and inferrences.

  63. Do you demand that [Bridgett] give you a statement of faith before you pay attention to what she has to say?

    It’s hard to say, because she has never said to me, “Catholics believe this, so you’re wrong in asserting otherwise,” but I would certainly be interested to know how even-handedly or fairly she was representing the views of Catholics (esp. the ones who didn’t agree with her take on things) before concluding, “that settles it.” Doesn’t that seem logical?

    And this goes not just to the question of whether a person is fairly representing all the views within a religion (because there are always minority views within a group that don’t need to be included in a discussion) but I am interested in the larger issues of literalism, naturalism, relativism, etc. On those issues, I am certainly going to give more credence to a view that is not dismissive of my guiding philosophies or whatever they should be called. It related to bias, I’d say, and not necessarily in the pejorative sense. The “reporter” of a fact’s presumptions are certainly pertinent to whether the reported facts are “the whole story.” At least the way I see it.

    Re. the eugenics issue. Despite what nefarious views you think are lurking in the mind of Coulter or Evangelical Christians, please don’t look for a bigot/anti-semite behind every tree.

    That is NOT what the term means. The term is from the New Testament and it relates to “perfect” as in “completed” . . . it refers to Jews/Israelites who have stopped rejecting the person that some Jews (and Gentiles) began to believe was the promised Messiah. And I think it is important to say, it is only an “offense” if you conclude that thinking someone’s beliefs are wrong is “offensive.” Is intellectual “tolerance” now the only absolute principle?

    dolphin,
    What value can come from a conversation between to absolutists with opposing viewpoints. If either person has already decided that they are not even interested in considering where the other is coming from, what is the value? Good question; I sometimes wonder the same thing when I get into trading blows with you in a thread.

    But I’m concerned about being right–or about not being wrong and therefore I want my views and ideas to be tested. As I stated in that entire comment, I’m not a Christian out of convenience or heritage or popularity . . . at least I don’t think that’s why. If it’s wrong, why believe it?

    Kat,
    You wrote, Am I alone in thinking that this entire scenario is a bit of a disservice to the central tenets of most faiths?

    I can’t speak for other religions so much, but as a somewhat-flawed practitioner of Christianity I still maintain that our teachings just can’t be legislated. Good point, and it is somewhat related to some misgivings I’ve been having lately about everyone online looking at me and only seeing the narrow, public policy part of my life that I disclose online (partly by intent to this point in my online life). And this is true for everyone, though some people reveal more “personal” stuff as part of their blog or online identity.

    Though I clearly am more interested in public policy than most people I know, to include most Christian friends, it is only a sliver of my life, and I regret that many of these debates/discussions turn into sterile or clinical discussions. Public policy has real impact in people’s lives (and that’s why I care about it), and it is difficult to be opinionated about it without heaps of qualifiers to hopefully assure someone that you aren’t indifferent to the impact of a given policy on a given person.

    But re. the substance of what you said, I’m not trying to legislate my religion’s teachings, as far as I’m concerned (I know some would disagree, go for it). I am–like every other American, responsible to govern myself and my fellow Americans. And I, like every other American, have a worldview that influences the values, conclusions, premises, etc. that translate into policy. I believe that all of us have a duty to care about our fellow man and to–as members of a democratic republic, to govern responsibly.

  64. I am certainly going to give more credence to a view that is not dismissive of my guiding philosophies or whatever they should be called. It related to bias, I’d say, and not necessarily in the pejorative sense. The “reporter” of a fact’s presumptions are certainly pertinent to whether the reported facts are “the whole story.” At least the way I see it.

    There’s no real need to take this farther, since you have just completely proven my point: you, as a Christian, will decide what credible Judaism is based on how closely it conforms to what you think Judaism ought to be. Because, frankly, any Jew who tells you that your view of Judaism (gleaned from the statements I’ve seen you make) is reflective of the consensus of Jewish belief, or even the consensus of any steam of Judaism, is leaving out most of that “whole story” you’re so concerned about, but you’ll accept that bias because it doesn’t challenge what you already believed. Which, um, is what I’ve been saying.

    And while, as I’ve said above, I don’t consider Coulter (or anyone else in or under discussion here) to be involved in persecuting Jews, I find it odd that you find her use of the term “perfected Jews” (as you define it) only an “offense” if you conclude that thinking someone’s beliefs are wrong is “offensive.” Thinking that I (or anyone else) would be perfect if I were just like you is rather offensive if I happen to think that your beliefs are rather imperfect themselves. Coulter is entitled to her opinion, of course, as are you, but she’s not exactly a shining example of someone I want to emulate.

    And I don’t think that Dolphin is asking you to give up your views; but what’s the point of talking to you if you don’t want to know anyone else’s? Or rather, if you’re so afraid of hearing other views until you can predetermine where they fit along a hierarchy of what you have already decided to accept/reject that you never get around to listening? That is, after all, the result of the position you stake out.

  65. Frankly, that’s a bunch of baloney, nm.

    When does a person get to press you on your views? Is it ever legitimate to do so? Is the freedom to disagree with you limited to those who are of your religion?

    And I can’t believe you say: what’s the point of talking to you if you don’t want to know anyone else’s [views]? I’ve been trying to pull your opinion about your religion out of you for weeks in different forums . . . if it is right or fair or reasonable or irrefutable surely it can speak for itself.

    And just because you purport to be the authority on what Judaism is or Jews believe DOESN’T MAKE IT SO. There may be Jews who disagree with you; there may be interpretive flaws in your logic; there may all kinds of reasons not to deem your view “authoritative.” You certainly have more expertise about your religion than someone who isn’t an adherent or student of your religion, but do concede there are rational limits to your authority. “Challenge” away at my (mis)perceptions of Judaism, and I may be different than you, but I’ll change my views if your challenges are meritorious.

    And this thin-skinned religious stuff is so ironic coming from Liberals (Deutsch was a classic example). Do you think my beliefs are right? Is anybody allowed to believe one belief system is right and another system wrong? Are you smitten that Conservatives believe as they do or do you think the world would be a better place if everyone shared your political views? It isn’t “perfect” as in morals or behavior that is being referenced, anyway. AS I SAID ABOVE, it is “perfect” in the sense of “completed.” Haven’t you ever seen the bumper sticker, “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven”? I guess some people view it as a cop out or something, but it is intended to communicate that noone is perfect and we all need forgiveness.

    In case there is confusion on the point: I believe that there are some things that are true–whether anyone believes them or not or whether the majority of people believes them. I aspire to comprehend and live consistently with truth, and I believe that anyone who hasn’t reached the religious conclusions I’ve reached is in error, religiously speaking. Perhaps I could think that I am better than someone who refuses to reach the same conclusions or who has for whatever reason not reached the same conclusions, but that would be “sin” and would reflect a misunderstanding on my part of how undeserving I am.

    I don’t think it impossible to be civil or respectful or non-violent toward someone you believe to be wrong. I don’t think it is impossible to find truth. I don’t think it is impossible to reason in good faith with others and change minds or have my mind changed.

  66. I don’t think it impossible to be civil or respectful or non-violent toward someone you believe to be wrong. I don’t think it is impossible to find truth. I don’t think it is impossible to reason in good faith with others and change minds or have my mind changed.

    Funny, you don’t seem to be doing a very good job with either “civil” or “respectful” in this forum, particularly with respect to nm. Certainly, “reasoning in good faith” and “[having your] mind changed” seem to be out. I’d ask what the point was again, but at this point metaphors involving goats and low-hanging bridges seem rather more appropriate.

  67. Come on, Ned. You can’t sit here and tell me that you’ve made a good faith effort to really understand what others’ worldviews are like. I mean you’re arguing that an integral part of religion in general is about converting others (when you ask how you’re supposed to be able to decide if another religion might be right for you if members of those other religions won’t make their personal beliefs available to you for study) and that an integral part of religion in general is the belief that the religion one holds is the only right belief.

    But neither of these things are integral. Not all religions are about gaining converts and not all religions believe that theirs is the only right way.

    I, for instance, don’t care what you believe as long as it doesn’t negatively impact me or the people I care about. I assume that it is right for you and respect your right to believe what you want, again, as long as it doesn’t negatively impact me or the people I care about.

    Once it does begin to negatively impact me or the people I care about, your religious choices are not above scrutiny.

    If you cannot understand how saying to someone, “I think what you believe is a lie and what you do is a sin, but, it’s not as bad as it sounds, because I believe everyone is a sinner” is deeply insulting, I just don’t know how to help you understand.

  68. Come on, Ned. You can’t sit here and tell me that you’ve made a good faith effort to really understand what others’ worldviews are like.

    Well, yes, I can. I don’t want to belabor the points that I’ve made repeatedly above, but in this particular situation, understanding Judaism isn’t what was at issue, in my opinion. nm asserted that Jews believe certain things (re. the golden rule, re. homosexuality). I think that is a specious assertion considering that not all Jews agree with his/her perspectives about supernatural acts, absolute truth, etc.

    I agree that proselytizing and exclusivity (?) aren’t integral for religions or devoutness, but I think that Judaism was clearly absolutist or exclusive. (Note: I could be wrong about what Jews believed way back when, or some would say that Jews–and adherents to any religion prior to the Enlightenment–were absolutist or exclusivist due to ignorance; I’m open to persuasion). As a result, someone who interprets Jewish sacred texts with a different premise will likely reach different conclusions than those who interpret the same texts with the premise that there is absolute truth and not all beliefs are equally true.

    Re. your last paragraph, if one believes in divine revelation, then ascertaining what “is a lie” or “sin” can be a fairly objective process. Not to say that it is always a simple or obvious process, but we’re not groping in some subjective darkness. And most important for this discussion, it isn’t a matter of whether I want to criticize someone or their beliefs. If someone believes that absolute truth is real, and that failing to believe that truth has consequences, it seems that s/he would feel an obligation to help others get reconciled to the truth.

    I probably should just let you/y’all have the last word. Hopefully this controversy will serve a useful purpose for everyone involved.

  69. I see what your problem is, Ned. You don’t read all that carefully. In this thread I have made the following statements about the beliefs of Jews: we don’t believe in original sin, we have a very different idea of what Messiah is than Christians do, we regard teaching as a cooperative activity, and we regard our scriptures as complete and not requiring subsequent revelation. I made all of these statements in the form “Jews believe” because all Jews believe them. If one really wanted to quibble, one could point out that the Orthodox and some Conservatives consider the Mishnah to be part of scripture, but since they are held to have been revealed at the same time as Torah, they are not a later addition.

    I have referred back to a statement in another thread about the Golden Rule, pointing out that the version formulated by Jesus clearly quotes the version formulated by Hillel (“this is the whole law”). Now, that’s not a statement about Jewish belief (although obviously that is something all Jews do believe), and I didn’t express it that way, but, yes, it’s true. All you have to do is read the list linked to by Dolphin (? I think it was Dolphin but can’t remember now for sure) and you will see the parallel structure. It’s so easy to check I’m not sure why you didn’t bother. I’m not sure what claims I’m supposed to have made about this, other than noting that Jesus quoted Hillel approvingly; since New Testament scholars generally note this as well, I’m hardly making an innovation.

    I also referred to a statement from an earlier thread in which I claimed that Jews know that the specific prohibition of homosexuality that Christians read into Leviticus was actually a prohibition of ritual sex in the Temple. Again, all you have to do is read the thing: “do not do as the Canaanites.” Again, all Jews are aware of this framing. Now, we don’t all agree on how to interpret it, or what conclusions to draw from it. But I didn’t say that we did. I didn’t make any claims or statements about ‘what Jews believe about homosexuality.’ You didn’t ask me about that, though. You first stated that my very limited claim was false, then that it was a later reinterpretation of the text, and then that it was an allegory. If you had read what I said carefully in the first place, maybe we could have moved on from it, but instead you chose to make all sorts of assertions about what I was saying that were just plain wrong.

    Now, in all of this discussion there is one point at which I made an assertion about a thing that some, but not all, Jews believe. And, whaddaya know? I didn’t present it in the form of “Jews believe.” I didn’t mislead. I referred, instead, to “those Jews who” believe that Torah and Mishnah, in the texts we have today, are word for word the text of divine revelation. (“Those Jews,” BTW, would be the Orthodox.) I claimed that they understand parts of the revelation to be allegorical. That’s true.

    So give me a break. I’m very careful about how I present information about Judaism. I don’t confuse personal idiosyncracies with a wider consensus, and I don’t confuse the teaching of one branch of Judaism with what’s normative for all of us. But I’m not responsible for your lack of reading comprehension, Ned. But I’ll repeat one thing, in case you get it this time around: you personally do not ever get an explanation of my beliefs from me. I do not choose to engage in that kind of combat with you.

  70. Aside from the reading comprehension issues, there also seems to be a confusion about the locus of belief. You are talking about tenets of faith and general teachings – things that make the religion the way it is – while Ned insists on conflating that with individual-level belief.

    It’s like be talking about “what United Methodists believe,” and citing the Book of Discipline, our last Charge Conference, and the writings of John Wesley, and being ‘contradicted’ by someone insisting on using my personal individual beliefs, my sister’s personal individual beliefs, and what that one church over there that hasn’t been listed on the rolls in decades but continues to self-identify as some sort of Methodist does on Sundays. They’re entirely different phenomena, on entirely different social, psychological, and structural levels.

    Yes, it’s possible on a purely semantic level to point out that if one person who self-identifies as a particular thing doesn’t hold to all of the listed tenets, then it isn’t quite right to say “all X believe Y,” but it’s disingenuous at best to consider that an actual rebuttal to doctrinal statements. That’s a matter of individual faith and religio-structural politics, not a matter of what the religion teaches, preaches, or believes.

    (And, mixed in with this particular confusion seems to be an inability to decenter enough to get that no, people don’t always think the same ‘deep down’, and that just because a thing makes almost intuitive sense to one person doesn’t mean that thing is logical or easy for other people to grasp, let alone ‘right’ in any sort of greater sense of the word.)

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