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Stephanos
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100 posted 02-09-2009 10:12 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Bob:
quote:
Much of the tension between Jews and Christians has been at the Christian insistence that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah; and, by extension, the Messiah of all of mankind that would accept Him as their personal Savior.  It has generally been a sore point that The Jews have not gone along, and have in fact disagreed with the initial part of the statement.  The Jewish Messiah is for the Jews to recognize.  Nobody else has the requisite qualifications.


Yes, you are merely restating the current divide (temporary for many many Jews, in my belief).  And yet it is intractable to Christian belief, as I stated before.  My appeal to you has been to say that Jesus as Messiah makes fuller sense of the entirety of the Jewish body of prophetic scriptures, than views which do not acknowledge those passages about the suffering servant.  And your respose is not so much an argument from that data, but rather a charge of incourtesy ... that it is only for the Jews to decide.  The only problem with that idea is (as noble and democratic as it sounds) that it doesn't really coincide with Jewish thoughts about the truth in general, and prophecy in particular.  The Jewish faith is emphatically God-centered, even though there is human freedom and latitude.  Therefore, the Jews would even say themselves that they have minimal determining power in prophecy, that is not cooperatively rooted in God's own determination.  Surely that’s why the "remnant" theme is so prevalent and recurring in the Jewish scriptures.  They have documented time and again that the larger community is often wrong, and so enter the Prophets.  It is not the fifty-one-percent vote, or the social group / community consensus that determines the blessing.  If you say that it is still their choice, you only voice a truism about everyone.  But if you say that that there are Messianic beliefs more consistent with the Jewish Canon of scripture, you'll have to venture out of a general protest of "how dare a non-Jew tell a Jew what is right" (which misses the irony that both Jesus and Paul were thoroughgoing Jews), into the examination / comparison of scriptures and exegesis.  

quote:
Among other things I've learned in doing some reading of the Abraham and Isaac story has to do with the perspective placed on it.  In the Torah, the story is about Abraham's relationship with God, at least on the surface.  One of the commentators brought up the consequences of the whole thing in terms of Isaac.  It passes unremarked on in the text, but after Isaac's reprieve, no mention is ever made of his having contact with Abraham again.  That appears to have done it for the father-son connection.  Something was sacrificed on that pile of wood up there after all, and there is something to be learned about the nature of love and betrayal from the story, and what may be healed and what may not be healed, that seems to have evaded our scrutiny.


Maybe it has evaded our scrutiny precisely because it isn't there?  I usually don't mind a bit of speculative theology, but reading into textual silence can be dangerous.  It would be like saying that Joseph must have been a bad husband since he initially had his doubts about Mary, and was never mentioned again after the nativity.  Even having not read, I can be fairly certain this "commentator" you speak of is no Jew in a religious sense.  Perhaps not even a Theist?  You're worried about the Jews being upset at Christians who say Jesus is the Jewish Messiah?  How about suggesting to them that the Father of Their Faith committed an base and alienating act, leading to the estrangement of his son Isaac, just by being willing to sacrifice him at God's command?  

You may think you're being more humane than either myself or the Jews (though I think this misses the larger view of the whole story), but I can promise you that at least now you're as much of a blasphemer as I am.  

Stephen.
Bob K
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101 posted 02-10-2009 10:28 PM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K


I find everything I was going to say here, I've said better in the next post, so I've cut everything except this pathetic little note.

[This message has been edited by Bob K (02-11-2009 02:51 AM).]

Bob K
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102 posted 02-10-2009 10:32 PM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K

.

Dear Stephanos,

     This was the link to the source of the material on Isaac.  You might actually have to copy it into google to make the link work.  You will notice that the link is Rabbinic.

https://web2.securelytransact.com/~shabbats/site/1/docs/abraham_interview.pdf

     There is an interesting article following the Rabbinic article by a Christian scholar, also covering some of the same Abrahamic material from a slightly different perspective.  I thought the pairing of the two articles in the single link would prove useful.  This is a re-listing of a link I provided earlier that is more work to follow up on than I knew at the time.  I urge you to enter it into google manually if only for the Christian article, which is thoughtful.

     This doesn’t mean that I’m not a blasphemer, of course.  Though, alas, probably not about this.  I feel almost slightly diminished in my wickedness.  

     Jesus was a Jew, as you say.  Paul may have been.

     But you mistake me if you think that I am suggesting that it it is an argument due to discourtesy rather than data that I am making.  The various incarnations of the Christian religion have been taking it on themselves to say what is correct and what is incorrect Jewish theology now for quite a while.  The correct Jewish theology oddly enough is that theology that supports what Christians want to hear.  Incorrect Jewish theology is at variance.

     Telling somebody else what they believe and what they’re values are, to my mind, goes a bit beyond lack of courtesy.  When at times you burn their holy books  and those caught reading them for the crime of heresy (in their own religion), this seems somewhat more that a lack of courtesy as well.

     The term that I’ve heard used for this is supercessionism.  The fact is that Jews have a right to have their own silly interpretation of scripture, and that it doesn’t have to agree with Christian interpretation.  There were messiahs before Jesus, and there were messiahs after and there have been recent messiahs — or those that others have claimed to be the messiah.  

     As much as I tell you Menachem Schneerson, the late seventh generation Lubavitcher rebbe was the Jewish messiah — as indeed a fair number of ultra orthodox Jews today believe — you would not go along.  I would agree with you in this, should that be your belief, but I think that you have no right to tell them that you are right and they are wrong.  

     Jewish theology is for Jews to decide.  The question is not “How dare a non-Jew tell a Jew what is right?”  The question in this form is ambiguous and distorted.  The question is “How dare a non-Jew tell a Jew what Jews should think and feel and believe to be right?”  Two communities of faith can and often do have different thoughts about what may be right.  Right and wrong are matters of consensus; as I recently found out both Miamonides and Spinoza were clear about this, while they felt that true and false were matters open to scientific investigation.

     If Jews don’t believe that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah, they ought to know.  You can discourteously cut their throats, impolitely burn them alive and do all sorts of other things Emily Post might write a chilly note about, but the Jews have been mysteriously stubborn about it when it would have been so much easier for everybody concerned simply to gone along to get along.  

     The truth is, Stehaphanos, they actually don’t believe it.  They’re not being wrong headed.  I should say “we:”  I was born Jewish, and if they every start coming around with the armbands again, even though I think of myself as an agnostic/ taoist, I’ll still get shipped off to those places all Jewish people go, right?  We don’t believe it.


quote:
Stephanos:

Even having not read, I can be fairly certain this "commentator" you speak of is no Jew in a religious sense.  Perhaps not even a Theist?  You're worried about the Jews being upset at Christians who say Jesus is the Jewish Messiah?  How about suggesting to them that the Father of Their Faith committed an base and alienating act, leading to the estrangement of his son Isaac, just by being willing to sacrifice him at God's command?  




     The reference is below.  If you can’t get the link to come up by clicking on it, try feeding into Google by hand.  I think the Rabbi is a believer, but they’re tricky you know.  

     My understanding is that when Joseph didn’t have Mary stoned to death, his street creds as an understanding husband were pretty much established.  But perhaps you have some gossip I haven’t heard.  I know idle chatter is not so good for the sould, but I suspect I’d make an exception about this.  ‘fess up and come across; got some great new scoop from the National Inquirer?  Inquiring minds want to know.


Best wishes, Bob Kaven

[This message has been edited by Bob K (02-11-2009 02:49 AM).]

Stephanos
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103 posted 02-11-2009 10:07 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Bob:
quote:
Telling somebody else what they believe and what they’re values are, to my mind, goes a bit beyond lack of courtesy.  When at times you burn their holy books  and those caught reading them for the crime of heresy (in their own religion), this seems somewhat more that a lack of courtesy as well ...

If Jews don’t believe that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah, they ought to know.  You can discourteously cut their throats, impolitely burn them alive and do all sorts of other things Emily Post might write a chilly note about


Bob, if I only had a dollar for every time you bring up violence or hatred in connection with a Theological point this pacifist makes.

I heartily disapprove of whatever has been done against Jews in the past, and Christians who have felt or done otherwise have not acted in accordance with their Lord.

Still, that is more of a commentary on sinful human nature, than upon the subject we are discussing.  At least it has no bearing upon this pacifist Christian.  


quote:
The term that I’ve heard used for this is supercessionism.


A term, not derived from Christian Theology, but from the critical outside.  What was that you said about doing that, Bob?  Anyway ... Not to go too far into Christian Theology about the Jews, but supercession is not exactly true without some elements of dispensationalism thrown in.  The New Testament indicates quite clearly that Israel (as Israel, and not just the analogy of the Church) is not rejected by God.  Still, it has more to do with belief/unbelief (something that applies to both communities) than with quibbling about what supercession means.


quote:
The fact is that Jews have a right to have their own silly interpretation of scripture, and that it doesn’t have to agree with Christian interpretation ...


Jewish theology is for Jews to decide.


Again, Bob, you keep repeating a truism.  I never said otherwise.  They have a right to their own interpretation, when it happens to be right and when it happens to be wrong.  Just like you and me.


quote:
but I think that you have no right to tell them that you are right and they are wrong.


I have told you already, that belief that Jesus is THE Jewish Messiah is intractable to Christian belief.  I guess you're saying I'm wrong?

quote:
There were messiahs before Jesus, and there were messiahs after and there have been recent messiahs — or those that others have claimed to be the messiah.


Yes, I'm aware of this.

quote:
If Jews don’t believe that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah, they ought to know.


Yes, they ought to know.  And smugness is not necessary, in thinking so.  There's much that Christians should know concerning Christ too.

quote:
The truth is, Stephanos, they actually don’t believe it. ... We don’t believe it.


I already knew that too.

quote:
They’re not being wrong headed.


Unless of course, they're wrong about it.

quote:
Right and wrong are matters of consensus; as I recently found out both Miamonides and Spinoza were clear about this, while they felt that true and false were matters open to scientific investigation.


Whenever right/wrong is about what is true/false, it is not a matter of consensus.  Again, Bob, you didn't comment on the theme of the remnant in the Jewish scriptures.  There were times when consensus said something quite different than the Prophets.  Rather than arguing that you're not right from a philosophical standpoint (which could be done), I'm just telling you that it doesn't sound Jewish (at least regarding their traditional non-secular beliefs).  


quote:
I know idle chatter is not so good for the soul, but I suspect I’d make an exception about this.  ‘fess up and come across; got some great new scoop from the National Inquirer?  Inquiring minds want to know.


I've got no subscription, since I've tried to cut junkfood from the diet.  I guess you'll have to keep getting your 'scoop' from wherever you heard about that neurotic laughing kid and his abusive Dad.  

Stephen
Stephanos
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104 posted 02-11-2009 11:21 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

It is notable that Jewish attempts to untangle the theodicy surrounding the binding of Isaac are not quite convincing as long as there is no lamb in the stead of Isaac.  I’ve read apocryphal attempts stating that a challenge was posed by Satan to God (similar to what we read in Job), allowing us to imagine that God would have never asked for Isaac’s death of his own accord, but only in answer to a diabolical challenge concerning the devotion of Abraham.  Thus God is relieved of the charge of immediate responsibility.  Not complete absolution, but better than nothing I guess.  Nothing like "best-I-Can-muster" righteousness, for a Holy God.  Others tinker in a different way, and say that Abraham simply heard God wrong, bearing such textual difficulties as the troubling fact that the writer of Genesis clearly thought Abraham heard right, even to the point of ascribing merit not to his correction, but to his initial aural blunder.  To me, none of this makes good sense, or resolves much by way of Theodicy, unless there were to be a real historical fulfillment of Abraham's words about God providing himself a sacrificial lamb ... unless there were another scene coming that would involve the death of one wholly innocent (not just relatively innocent by accident of age), that would put God himself in the position of pain and loss.  Therefore, like a fleeting shadow, or small photo negative, Abraham's mock sacrifice is duly called off, shown to be not the real thing at all, nearly a Joke even, at which Isaacs everywhere may still laugh, because the cross is the punchline where injustice worked for our good.  Seeing the panorama, we can recall words of John the Baptist who said "behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world", and the words of Christ who said "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad."  Sounds like comedy runs in the family.

Stephen  
Bob K
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It is notable that Jewish attempts to untangle the theodicy surrounding the binding of Isaac are not quite convincing as long as there is no lamb in the stead of Isaac.


     Not quite convincing to . . .?  Would that be Animists, Buddhists, Bahai, Taoists, Jains, Hindus, agnostics, atheists or any of the rest of the majority of the population of the world?  Rationalists, perhaps?  Mystics in general?  Or are you perhaps using the passive voice to claim general authority for a minority viewpoint?  I'd suspect that most of the world could care less, frankly, and that you are trying to smuggle in cosmic authority for the Christian point of view and against a Jewish point of view.

     I suspect that you may have some nominees for lamb as well that would solve the problem that you say the Jews have very well indeed.  The Jews must be overwhelmed by your charity in solving the problem you are convinced they must have.  Have you considered asking any of them if they are as yet appropriately grateful?
I’ve read apocryphal attempts stating that a challenge was posed by Satan to God (similar to what we read in Job), allowing us to imagine that God would have never asked for Isaac’s death of his own accord, but only in answer to a diabolical challenge concerning the devotion of Abraham.  Thus God is relieved of the charge of immediate responsibility.  Not complete absolution, but better than nothing I guess.  Nothing like "best-I-Can-muster" righteousness, for a Holy God.  Others tinker in a different way, and say that Abraham simply heard God wrong, bearing such textual difficulties as the troubling fact that the writer of Genesis clearly thought Abraham heard right, even to the point of ascribing merit not to his correction, but to his initial aural blunder.  To me, none of this makes good sense, or resolves much by way of Theodicy,


     I must say that I agree with you here.  I think further, though, that the problem of evil — theodicy, if you want to get fancy — may be in some ways a problem of faith.  It assumes that man has a sufficient understanding of a by-definition-Unknowable-God to presume to judge God.  To me this would go against the first commandment, against idolatry.  If I recall my childhood bible study, in the Early books of the Bible the thing that brought down God's wrath was that thing specifically.  About most other things he was a bit lighter hearted — perhaps only a scourge or two.  Mayhap I've got that wrong, though.

     At any rate, to believe that one understands God enough to Judge him is probably missing the point.  His understanding of Good and Evil is apparently more complex than humans can follow.

     If I ever meet Him, though, I do plan to ask searching questions about George Bush.

     That's a joke, in case you doubted me.

     In reality, I suspect God will have some searching questions to ask me about George Bush.
unless there were to be a real historical fulfillment of Abraham's words about God providing himself a sacrificial lamb ... unless there were another scene coming that would involve the death of one wholly innocent (not just relatively innocent by accident of age), that would put God himself in the position of pain and loss.  

     You of course steer the discussion back to the Christian answer.

     I suggest to you that there are no "Isaacs everywhere."  Survivors, as a rule, may be grateful.  I will stress the word MAY.  You as a E.R. nurse will know that survivors are not always grateful and, as a rule, are seldom if ever a merry crowd.  Being brought close to the brink and then being allowed to live leads most often to shock and bewilderment, and frequently, depending on the circumstances, to life-long consequences.  It is not "nearly a joke even," and the Isaacs that I have known may laugh, but they usually don't.  

     I want salvation for those that want it for themselves, and I urge it on those who I think want to give Christianity a try.  I have a lot of respect for what the religion can offer and for the good it can and does do.  I have also seen chaplains and missionaries work on the psychiatric units where I have worked, and I know they do a great deal of good.  I also know that you are being disrespectful with an enormous amount of human suffering that is simply not a joke for the people going through it.

     Not all suffering is relieved by God saying a quick, last minute, "Just kidding!"  Even among seriously committed Christians, who are as capable of intense suffering as any of the rest of us.


Therefore, like a fleeting shadow, or small photo negative, Abraham's mock sacrifice is duly called off, shown to be not the real thing at all, nearly a Joke even, at which Isaacs everywhere may still laugh, because the cross is the punchline where injustice worked for our good.  Seeing the panorama, we can recall words of John the Baptist who said "behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world", and the words of Christ who said "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad."  Sounds like comedy runs in the family.


     I know this thread has been over for a while, but I have been thinking about it.

Hope all is well, Bob Kaven

Stephanos
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106 posted 02-23-2009 12:39 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Bob:
quote:
Not quite convincing to . . .?  Would that be Animists, Buddhists, Bahai, Taoists, Jains, Hindus, agnostics, atheists or any of the rest of the majority of the population of the world?  Rationalists, perhaps?  Mystics in general?  Or are you perhaps using the passive voice to claim general authority for a minority viewpoint?  I'd suspect that most of the world could care less, frankly, and that you are trying to smuggle in cosmic authority for the Christian point of view and against a Jewish point of view.


Lol.  Smuggle in cosmic authority for God?  The Sovereignty of God too, Bob, is as intractable to Christian belief, as anti-exclusivism (exclusivism = the doctrine that Truth will not vindicate all views) is to your absolute pluralism.

Also, it is simplistic to say that the Christian point of view is "against" the Jewish point of view.  Messiah Jesus, thoroughly Jewish, represents a completion and summation of the Jewish view.  Setting the Jewish past, and Old Testament Theology over and against the Christian Revelation is not truly Jewish (in the religious sense), any more than Christian agnostics are Christian in the religious sense.  And if you don't particularly like that assertion, it is still intractable to Christian belief, regardless of the amount of respect tolerance etc ...  Which I gladly extend.  Perhaps we'll agree to disagree at this point, else we beat the same burning bush over and over?

quote:
     I must say that I agree with you here.  I think further, though, that the problem of evil — theodicy, if you want to get fancy — may be in some ways a problem of faith.  It assumes that man has a sufficient understanding of a by-definition-Unknowable-God to presume to judge God.  To me this would go against the first commandment, against idolatry.  If I recall my childhood bible study, in the Early books of the Bible the thing that brought down God's wrath was that thing specifically.  About most other things he was a bit lighter hearted — perhaps only a scourge or two.  Mayhap I've got that wrong, though.


Yes Bob, I do think you have some of that wrong ... unless you want to say all accepted of God (in the Old Testament) who questioned God, were really idolaters.  I know of no examples in the Old Testament where questions stemming from a concern for goodness or justice, resulted in God's wrath.  All the examples of punishment that I'm aware of, stemmed from more selfish concerns.  I'd be willing to explore any examples you have in mind though.

I guess I would sum it up this way ... Theodicy does raise questions which may in turn be raised in defiance ... But it also affords an opportunity for trust and patience to grow within the sphere of tension ... and the realization that God could be even better than we thought he was before the questions assailed our hearts, being able to bring good out of ill.  From a Christian perspective, that's what the cross is all about.      


quote:
At any rate, to believe that one understands God enough to Judge him is probably missing the point.  His understanding of Good and Evil is apparently more complex than humans can follow.


On the other hand, believing that God is so completely "other" as to transcend good and evil misses the point too.  Since we are told by the Jews that God is revelatory, and that he HAS made himself known to his creatures; that he is good is a very real and humanly-meaningful way, the balance is probably somewhere in between the two polar options you are seeing.  To defy God is sinful indeed.  To question God is human.  When my own Children ask "Why?", there are two different hearts behind it which will often determine the kind of answer I give.  Sometimes it is totally rhetorical and defiant ... sometimes it is honest, curious, and needful.  

quote:
It is not "nearly a joke even," and the Isaacs that I have known may laugh, but they usually don't.  

... you are being disrespectful with an enormous amount of human suffering that is simply not a joke for the people going through it.

... Not all suffering is relieved by God saying a quick, last minute, "Just kidding!"  Even among seriously committed Christians, who are as capable of intense suffering as any of the rest of us.


I'm glad I can at least try to correct your misconception of what I'm saying.  When I speak of "Isaacs everywhere", I am alluding to the fact that being sinners, we all deserve death and things worse than death.  If Isaac is to be considered innocent, it was by accident of age only.  Jesus, the wholly innocent, takes our ultimate punishment, giving us immortality and redemption, and so finally we may laugh.

What I said was not a glib disrespectful remark about human suffering, but the point that even our deaths are naught in comparison to what Christ endured (the spiritual torment in addition to the physical) at Golgotha, where the sun itself hid in horror.  Kirkegaard once made a statement about Christianity being ultimately a "comedy", because it is the only end at which we may laugh and be at peace.  

Remember, Bob, that YOU are the one who tells me that theodicy is to be equated with idolatry.  The fact that I think theodicy to be not only acceptable (due to the reality of suffering in this world), but ultimately redemptive, ought to clue you in that I am not whisking away human suffering with a chortle.  The cross of Christ, ought to clue you in that God isn't either.  Yet, all is well that ends well.  When analyzing my remarks, you should consider the larger context of what I've already said.  Even though you made such a remark about Theodicy being idolatrous, I'll make a deal with you ... I won't accuse you of being glib about suffering (I never did), if you don't accuse me.  Agreed?  

BTW, to correct a trifle, I work in an ICU, not ER.  But for your argument's sake, either would have worked just as well.

thoughtfully,

Stephen
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Dear Stephanos,

          You have not addressed the point I raised here.  The point I raised is that through use of the Passive Voice, you have attempted to usurp a position of authority in this discussion that you believe you are entitled to by virtue of your beliefs only.  When you use the phrase "not quite convincing" you presume to be speaking from that place.

     I may not be in any real sense quite convincing in any ultimate sense.  That's open to discussion.

     That you have the right, by not specifying "convincing to whom," to suggest that my statement is ultimately false or misleading within the confines of a discussion of this sort is a position I need to have explained to me.  As near as I can tell, you have a right to speak for yourself here, but not to assume a general authority without a clear display of your bone-fides.  Call me wild.

     I do not pretend to absolute pluralism, though you seem to believe I do, and restate this point of view from time to time as though I did believe it, even though I remind you with at least some regularity it is not the case.  It is not the case.  While I ran into a very nice Satanist lady in a drug store the other day, whom I initially mistook for a Wiccan, and I had a short chat with her that seemed a small high point of my day, I do not believe that Satanism is as likely or as useful a religious avenue as Wicca.  Wicca offers much more to open the heart than I believe Satanism does.  The Aztec religion is one I find actively repellant, and it is not the only one.  Please don't force me into a pluralism that I don't practice of believe in.  

     I do try to be tolerant of most other religious beliefs, since I find that they seem to be helpful on the whole to the people who practice them with any sort of sincerity.
Oddly, many practices and insights from across religious lines are very close to each other when it comes time to talk about the actual experience of religious states.  Sufi transcendence doesn't seem much different that Yogic transcendence or the transcendence of Meister Eckhardt caught up in his reflections of light off the glinting of a spoon.  Any of these experiences would have something in common with San Juan de La Cruz or the Baal Shem Tov.  The actual straight pure draught of the pure "stuff" of religion seems to taste delicious and to come from a common spring.

     Why this is so, I've speculated about often.

     No, the Christian point of View, at its heart is not "against" the Jewish point of View.  The underlayment and the experience are, I think, much the same.  And yet, as far as you're concerned, I suspect, the Jews just won't be doing it right until they aren't Jews any more, but Christians, who believe in the Cross and the Christ and who do it your way.  Nor, I suspect, will anybody else.

     If I've got this wrong here, please forgive me, but there are an amazing number of Jews who are absolutely clear that this is exactly the way the world works.  Not to mention Buddhists and Muslims and you name it.  It's actually sort of offensive to be told that we can be forgiven for being the perfectly regular people we have pretty much always felt ourselves to be.  You'd be willing to do that kindness for us and maybe someday we can be as terrific as you are.

     So while the religious heart of things may be much the same, there's a lot that's simply not all that wonderful.  I find it offensive that you would think that Jesus represents a completion of the Jewish point of view.  First of all, I don't regard the Jewish point of view as anywhere near complete even today, and you can see that its direction is somewhat different than that of the Christian world view.  Secondly, the Christian interest is not in nurturing the Jewish world view, but in bringing it to an end as a precondition for The Second Coming.  How Jesus himself would feel about this, I am only too fascinated to hear from non-Jews, who would certainly be the first people to ask.

quote:
  Stephanos:

Setting the Jewish past, and Old Testament Theology over and against the Christian Revelation is not truly Jewish (in the religious sense)




     Excuse me?  Trying to subsume the Jewish past and a revisionist reading of the Jewish Bible against the Jewish past is truly Christian (in the religious sense) makes much more sense to me.

     Calling The Jewish Bible pejoratively, "The Old Testament,"  and calling the Christian Bible "The New Testament" even suggest that the one is better than the other.  The word "supercession," which I know you are not fond of, does come to mind here.

Grumbling all the way,

Bob Kaven

P.S.

I found some video of the Lubovitcher Rebbe, one of the recent nominees for messiah in this century giving a brief talk while he was still alive.  I can think of all sorts of reasons not to listen to it.  He doesn't in particular ring my chimes, but I do get something of the charismatic sense of the man coming through.  I thought you might like the option of access.  It really does have something of a biblical feel to it.


http://www.emet.blog-city.com/the_lubavitcher_rebbe_on_daas_torah.htm
  

pps.  In noticing the sentence structure above, I have to laugh at myself.  Among other things, if the Rebbe had given the talk while he was dead, our conversation would be having a whole different turn, wouldn't it?

BK
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Bob:
quote:
You have not addressed the point I raised here.  The point I raised is that through use of the Passive Voice, you have attempted to usurp a position of authority in this discussion that you believe you are entitled to by virtue of your beliefs only.  When you use the phrase "not quite convincing" you presume to be speaking from that place.

     I may not be in any real sense quite convincing in any ultimate sense.  That's open to discussion.

     That you have the right, by not specifying "convincing to whom" to suggest that my statement is ultimately false or misleading within the confines of a discussion of this sort is a position I need to have explained to me.  As near as I can tell, you have a right to speak for yourself here, but not to assume a general authority without a clear display of your bone-fides.  Call me wild.


It seems there's a bit of over-analysis going on.  The adjective "not convincing" (an estimation not made apart from an appeal to both reason and a body of scripture ) is not all that much different from the kind of statement you make when you say that the New Testament cannot be believed without smugness ... or in saying that insisting that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah amounts to something like anti-semitism.  

The only difference, it seems to me, is that your moral certitude has not been shown to be based upon any defense of traditional Judaism, or any such thing.  I have appealed to a number of things beyond my own beliefs, which you have not touched upon.  

The Theodicy of the incident between Abraham and Isaac (the very subject matter of this thread) is unremitted apart from this event preshadowing God's own gift.  You are right to say that Theodicy is only a problem within the context of faith ... and in contrasting/comparing Jewish Religion and Christianity, we are dealing with faith.

quote:
Please don't force me into a pluralism that I don't practice of believe in.


I need not force you into anything.  Hey, I didn't say "relativist" did I?  Wasn't the pluralism apparent when you earlier suggested that democratic ideals were to be the benchmark for interpreting Jewish scripture?  


quote:
The actual straight pure draught of the pure "stuff" of religion seems to taste delicious and to come from a common spring.


Can I at least call you a syncretist now?     You are arguing that most religions are fundamentally the same, and superficially different.  But it seems to me this might flow from your philosophy of metaphysical agnosticism (actually I see no other conclusion for a humanitarian agnostic such as yourself).  But if there is anything true in the metaphysical sense, the ontology of God, the historicity of the Christian Faith, etc ... etc ..., then religions are superficially the same, and fundamentally different.        


quote:
as far as you're concerned, I suspect, the Jews just won't be doing it right until they aren't Jews any more, but Christians, who believe in the Cross and the Christ and who do it your way.  Nor, I suspect, will anybody else.


Nice slip in of "do it your way".  Actually I believe many are saved and redeemed who don't do it my way.  I don't approve of much that is in Roman Catholic practice and theology, but if they love Jesus Christ and call him God's son, who am I to argue with God about their acceptance?  Those Reformed Calvinists are pesky in their beliefs too .. but same answer.  My definition of a Christian is still rooted in the sayings and teachings of Jesus Christ and the apostles.  I am only insisting upon a very basic tenet that he himself spoke "No one comes to the Father except through me".  That's a far cry from vaunting "my way", even if I choose to try and make his way mine.  


quote:
If I've got this wrong here, please forgive me, but there are an amazing number of Jews who are absolutely clear that this is exactly the way the world works.  Not to mention Buddhists and Muslims and you name it.


Okay, I already knew there is disagreement.  What was your point, if not pluralism/ syncretism in spiritual matters?

quote:
It's actually sort of offensive to be told that we can be forgiven for being the perfectly regular people we have pretty much always felt ourselves to be.


See, religions are fundamentally different!  Secular humanism generally flows with the idea that we're not sinners.  So you're okay in that camp.  But, you'd better check your Jewish Theology again if you think it asserts that we're all pretty good and decent fellows, not in need of sacrifice and atonement.

For any who think they're okay in this regard, Jesus did give the kind of answer they might find tasteful ... He only came for those who are in need of forgiveness, who feel themselves to be sinners.  Whether this bypassing is by lively choice and concurrence with said personal estimation, or one of patronizing in sad necessity, is another question entirely.  I personally think we all need redemption.

Before you keep going on about potential anti-semitism, you really should ask which precondition fits the Jewish record better, natural autonomous human goodness, or fallen human nature?  

Oh, don't misunderstand me Bob, I appreciate day-to-day common decency as much as anyone.  But if redemption has anything to do with something else (which it does in both Jewish and Christian Theology), to bring this up as a protest against a need for God's forgiveness is a misapplication.

quote:
I find it offensive that you would think that Jesus represents a completion of the Jewish point of view.


Unless you could fathom that animal sacrifice was a pre-figure, and anticipatory; Unless you can fathom that much that is given by God has been provisional and pro-tempore; unless you can imagine revelation as both regulative and progressive.  But if not, then we simply disagree.  No need to take too much offense, though some, I understand, is unavoidable.  I'm wondering though, if Christ as the fulfillment of atonement offends you, I wonder if your view of natural human goodness would offend an ordthodox Jew, since it essentially denies any need for atonement.        

quote:
Secondly, the Christian interest is not in nurturing the Jewish world view, but in bringing it to an end as a precondition for The Second Coming.


Hmmmm.  Be specific.  In what sense are Christians for the "bringing to an end" of the Jewish world view, as a precondition for the Second Coming?  I can't respond to a statement as ambiguous as this.  Maybe your explanation will make it easier.  

quote:
Calling The Jewish Bible pejoratively, "The Old Testament,"  and calling the Christian Bible "The New Testament" even suggest that the one is better than the other.  The word "supercession," which I know you are not fond of, does come to mind here.


Well, a statement of Chronology, or even a statement of consummation in one, and fulfillment in another, may be taken perjoratively.  But it need not be so.  From a Christian perspective, there is no Old without the New, and there is a deep reverence for the Jewish Scriptures in Christendom.  As Gentile believers, we are the ingrafted branches of a very precious tree.  You are welcome to use the term "supercession" if you acknowledge that it may be taken to mean something different than "God is through with the Jews".  A more dispensational view (which concords with Paul's teaching in the New Testament) tells us that God loves Israel, and is by no means done.  It is significant to me (a sign of divine grace) that they are the only scattered and banished people to ever have returned home again, and retain a national identity.


See, its about perspective here.  You can skew the Christian position to appear antagonistic to the Jewish people (though there's some legitimacy in that, whenever this has truly been the case).  But I can think someone is wrong, and still have a personal respect.  You're obviously wrong, and I respect you.   You obviously think I'm wrong, and you respect me.  I've only been pointing out to you that all your grumbling is groundless, if you consider how far afield your own theological views are from Orthodox Jewish.  If the truth be known YOU think they're wrong (in a religious sense) as much as I.  Having accused Abraham of dishonoring Isaac, suggested that God cannot be known by his creatures, suggested that truth is democratic in nature, and asserted that we're all pretty decent and not in need of atonement for sin ... these are all affronts to Jewish theology, every bit as much as calling Yeshua the only Jewish Messiah.  In defending the honor of Jewry, you have not been so willing to discuss or defend their own views of scripture in the process, exegetically.  Though this is understandable for a Taoist Agnostic, your pretense of neutrality is getting old, since you've shared your beliefs copiously (if subtly) throughout, even reprimanding me based upon their assumptions.


Why don't we let this one go for now, eh?  


I'll gladly discuss.  But the "quit telling the Jews they're not right about their own stuff (and in more reserved tones 'by the way they're not right and neither are you'), is wearying me a bit.  


To invoke a very Jewish phrase, which might have meant a metrical pause  ... "Selah".


Stephen

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (02-24-2009 12:56 AM).]

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Dear Stephanos,

quote:


But the "quit telling the Jews they're not right about their own stuff, is wearying me a bit.




     {i]You're[/i] a bit weary of it?

     When it get violent, it must be downright exhausting.  Think of all that energy expended!  

     As for the "They're not Right and neither are you," my feelings don't tend to go that way.  My feelings are that they're right and so are you.  This doesn't mean that I agree with everything that everybody says; clearly I don't.  I also tend to feel I'm right as well.

     When we have enough facts to give the issue some sort of factual evaluation, then I think I'll be able to give some sort of answer that goes beyond "I don't know."  In the meantime, The sort of information we have is not factual information, it is information based on belief and revelation and experience.  People can die to defend or kill to extend beliefs like this, but so far they haven't been able to supply hard data.

     Were I to say I disbelieve, I would have to make the same argument.

     There is an underlying something, near as I can tell, that makes me tend toward the Yeah, probably! side of things.  I find the Tao satisfying as an explanation for that.  Also "Ground of Being," if you want to get into Christian theology.  But I find any attempt to force explanation or doctrine on this diminishes the basic monotheism of it and has us paying attention to idols, phenomena of the world rather that The Nameless, which remains nameless for good reason.

     If you want my personal theology, there you have it in condensed form.  Though as I recall, you didn't ask.

     I'm not interested in converts, though.

     Should you wish to discuss Jewish theology with folks, most any Jew will do.  Should you wish to discuss exegesis and the movement of Jewish theology, you should chose somebody who has education in these things.  I do not hold you responsible for understanding the ins and outs of Calvinist or Reformation Catholic Church history or Theology and the distinct interpretations given the Old Testament by these organizations over their histories.  Jewish history is in fact much longer, has many more branches and many more veins of scholarly opinion dealing with interpretation of these texts, and with interpretation of the earlier interpretation.  Eight Hundred years ago it was a wonder that anybody was able to master enough of the various branches of the Talmud to be able to write a gloss on the high points and summations of them as pertaining to Jewish doctrine at that time. Maimonides had the text, likely, memorized, and he organized his text in a way that facilitated memorization.

     If you want to talk exigesis, you would need to talk to somebody who was probably at the least a student of the Torah with some mastery of these things.  You should write to somebody at a yeshiva who might be able to send you to a a student or a teacher who might really be able to talk with you about these questions, including giving you the sort of in depth answers you seem to feel you need.  I don't know if this would be satisfying for you or not.

     I did offer you access to a video clip of the late Lubavitcher Rebbe giving one of his talks.  This would be the wisdom of a lot of religious study distilled into a little time.  It's not loaded down with scriptural references, the Yiddish is translated on screen.

     The term "supercession" is one I take from the book Constantine's Sword by Paul Carroll, which I believe won the national book award or some such when it was published a few years back and which tells the Catholic Church's somewhat troubling story of its relationship with the Jews.  I happen to like his story of the early church in many ways, especially the parts of it that are sympathetic to the formation of the church.  The man is a good novelist and a former priest in the Church, though in my opinion it's a sad thing that they had to part directions.

Best to you and the family,

Bob Kaven
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Bob:
quote:
As for the "They're not Right and neither are you," my feelings don't tend to go that way.  

... If you want to talk exigesis, you would need to talk to somebody who was probably at the least a student of the Torah with some mastery of these things.

It is impossible for me to respond to your feelings.  I can only respond to what you have written.  My point, as of late, has been to show that even though you've been quite censorious of the expression of my Christian interpretation of Jewish Scripture, your own views are equally abhorrent to the Orthodox Jew ... and you are equally dogmatic as I, though I feel you would deny it.  For while your stance, by its nature, has the fall-back disclaimer "don't know", it is usually executed textually as "can't know".  Remember that the axioms of strict empiricism (the belief that things like history, revelation, and experience cannot constitute true knowledge) are accepted on non-empirical terms.  I should quote Hume on this if you like, though by Hume's own standards much of what he wrote on the matter should be tossed in the flames.  

When I make a claim that there is a better interpretation of data, than one being discussed, I usually expect that the strengths/ weaknesses of respective positions are brought up, as relating to the data accepted by both camps.  What I've been getting is continual disapprobation, based upon an insistence (overt or not) upon syncretism in religious questions.  Doubtless this is because of your views about what constitutes real knowledge or data.  But either way, for you these beliefs seem to be in the place of religion as your guiding suppositions.  Let's quit the scolding, as if either view is essentially different in the area of commitment.  (really, your oration on the dignity of democracy brings to mind a kind of veneration).  Rather, let's talk about the issues at hand.

You've been slow to get into exegetical discussion.  And your suggestion to go to the "experts" is reasonable.  But in keeping with a protestant principle (lay people need to know for themselves), and in the nature of a lay-forum such as this, I would rather hear what you think.  Well, if you're going to protest my view, its only natural to want to hear your explanation based upon the accepted data of both communities.  If not ... if you've got a whole different theory of knowledge, rooted in Pagan Philosophy, then it would be better not to point out too loudly my so-called disrespect of the Jews, since the Orthodox Jews would find your assertion that their God-given scriptures do not constitute good data quite offensive.  And I've got no problem with that either, as long as its clear that we're both heretical to the traditional Jewish religion.  And while it can rightly be said that your view is not concerned with "converts" (because such a word is religious by nature), it does not detract from the foundational nature of your beliefs nor from your (at least for now) advocacy and commitment to them.


I will check out the references you've given.


It's been a lively discussion, as always.


Stephen.  
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I'm answering for the original question.  Apologizing in advance if I offend anyone:

It depends on the God.  There have been evil gods in ancient times, and in special cases like Roman and Greek mythology, the Gods themselves have had human traits.

To me, though, I would look further into it.  I mean, it is quite impossible to prove one's godliness!
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Dear Stephanos,

     Depending on which strain of orthodoxy we speak of here in the Jewish community, their views may be as abhorrent to each other as mine are.  Possibly more so.  It doesn’t matter whose side you take, Christian or Jew, there’s no cide like fratricide, and there’s been enough of it an more through the history of both religions.  If you suggest that other more orthodox  jewish interpretations would find mine offensive, I’d be the first to say you’re right.

     My wife and I have friend who adopted a wonderful Korean baby around twenty years ago.  The husband came from a very Orthodox family.  He and his wife were on the more orthodox side of conservative.  In adopting the baby, they tried to make the baby’s adoption into the Jewish faith formally acceptable to the husbands parents and in the end were unable to do it after about a year of going through orthodox rabbinical courts and more hoops than could be counted the grandparents would not accept the validity of the child’s conversion.  It simply wasn’t “Kosher.”

     Some orthodox Jews will not eat grain that has not been  grown according to special regulation, and which must be ground either under their supervision or under rabbinic supervision.  Fields must be allowed to lie fallow at set intervals, and the grinding of grain  is a result of an offshoot  other rules I could be sure of.  It may have to do with interpretations of the rules about the unmuzzled ox who treadeth out the kine.  I’m not sure.

     Most modern Jews wouldn’t fit the definition of Jews laid out by Maimonides.  He laid out thirteen things that you must believe or follow.  One of these is the notion of bodily resurrection.  Most Jews today would not agree to that.  “And the dead will be raised incorruptible” does fit in the Hebrew bible for a reason, but most Jews today would not believe that.
In the same way, I suppose that there are Christian beliefs that have been laid aside.  There is no “the’ Orthodox Jew” any more than there is a the Protestant.

     Whether the orthodox like me and my point of view or not in general, in this specific they are pretty much in agreement with me, It takes a lot of gall for non-Jews to lecture Jews about what their faith is about and what their scripture says and what their scripture means.  If you want to do so, that’s not something we have much say in, but to tell us that our own views are wrong and that these other people know what the right thing is for us to believe, virtually all the orthodox would, I suspect, join me in saying, I don’t think so, thank you very much.  A lot of them might have rude things to say about me, mind you.  I have a lot of rude things to say about me.  But generally about this subject you won’t find much disagreement among Jews.

     Orthodox Jews pretty much keep to themselves.  For me to get an Orthodox Jew  steamed with me, I’d probably have to go looking for a debate.  I live in one of the few places in the country where one might be found, in the middle of an Orthodox neighborhood which includes a fair number of hassidic Jews.  We ignore each other.  When I lived in the south, the first thing that happened was that we were barraged by a welcome wagon from several different churches.  Each one of them wanted to know what our religion was and wanted to debate it.  At the least they pressed us to come to their church.  I appreciate this was neighborly.  You might appreciate that there was some outreach involved as well.

     No, I don’t know.

     I don’t know that I can’t know.  We all take our piece out of Hume.  Some of us larger than others.  I happen to believe that the trees do fall in the forests.  Bishop Berkley required God to be there; I don’t.  I guess I’ve got round heels that way.
I don’t believe that illusion catches us quite that simply.  As I said above, Ground of Being or the Tao make sense to me, especially where Lao Tsu says, “The Tao that can be talked about is not the real Tao.”  That to me gets at some of the same material that comes in the first commandment about idolatry and having no other gods before the Nameless.  Simply naming is a creation of an idol.

     I do have a wider spiritual belief system than you do.  You call it syncretism.  I suspect that you say it’s rooted in Pagan Philosophy.  I suspect that you aren’t aware of calling me names or of being patronizing.  I’d say that my belief system includes some of these things but isn’t limited to them.  You haven’t noticed the discounts directed at these particular religious points of view and more than you’ve noticed or taken substantive account of your dealings with Jewish theology.
You have on several occasions acknowledged that the Jews may have been poorly treated.  I don’t wish to suggest that you haven’t, and I want to acknowledge your willingness to do so here.  I thank you for that.

     There are any number of Jews who would find the notion that Scriptures contain good data in the sense of scientific data somewhat amusing.  Jews disagree among themselves about how literally to take the bible, just has do christians.  Lumping all Jews together in this fashion is like lumping all Christians together on the nature of many points of theology.  You’ve fought wars about these things, haven’t you?  

     I’m really unclear what it would mean to be a Jewish heretic.  Jews joke about the differences in practice — “Two Jews, Three Schules.”  There are splits all the time.

     I would be quite acceptable to a good number of Jewish temples across the country.  I could walk in and join and be an active member with no problem.  I’d be thought eccentric, I’d have conversations with people, I wouldn’t be thought of as non-Jewish if I wanted to identify myself as a Jew.  There’s quite an active give and take.  Perhaps not two hundred years ago, or even a hundred.  In Israel, I’d fit right in.  The Orthodox and the ultra Orthodox sometimes find each other heretical.

     My commitment to my beliefs is a function of my practice of them, which is daily.  I do not suggest them to others, at least not often, and in fact suggest Christianity to other far more frequently than any other religious point of view.  I believe is has a lot to offer those who can take part in its community of belief and community of faith.  I like your faith and commitment, and I think you’re a good man.  I simply don’t accept everything you assert about your faith and I don’t like everything that it does in its relationship with other faiths.
Were we talking about Muslim of Hindu practice, I might not be able to say so much because my familiarity with them is more limited, but my comments might well be similar.

     Thank you for being willing to check out the references.  Menachem Schneerson is a funny looking guy, isn’t he?  And Paul Carroll does have a knack for storytelling.

All my best,

Bob Kaven
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Dear Mr. Wolf,

                  The last couple of mortals probably had to fork over their money and credit cards.

     Any God who wants to kill two year olds would probably start out with cash first, as — simple observation will show you — they already have.

Sincerely,  Bob Kaven
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Bob:
quote:
Whether the orthodox like me and my point of view or not in general, in this specific they are pretty much in agreement with me, It takes a lot of gall for non-Jews to lecture Jews about what their faith is about and what their scripture says and what their scripture means.

... I’m really unclear what it would mean to be a Jewish heretic.  Jews joke about the differences in practice


A lot of words there.  Let me comment, using just two quotes.

The "Christian" (for lack of a better word at its inception) challenges that came to the interpretation of Jewish scriptures came initially from a Jew and subsequently his followers.  As a Gentile believer in Israel's YHWH, I am merely in agreement with this interpretation, as it makes the best and fullest sense of the prophetic texts, and what is anticipated therein.  Unless you are willing to go there with me in exegetical discussion, I'd rather not hear another flat denial of that.  In addition to flat denial, you keep charging me with being rude.  But interestingly enough I helped you to admit that it was the Christian view itself (a belief in the New Testament) that was the problem in this regard.  Which brings us to the same point over and over:  Messiah Yeshua is intractable to the Christian Faith.  

You want to make agnosticism and a disbelief in divine revelation (I'm not speaking of a nebulous pantheism here) sound more acceptable to Judaism, but I have my doubts.  Remember my argument has nothing to do with ethnicity, but only concerning the religious beliefs of Jews and Christians.  While you bring up endless household skirmishes about ceremonial laws and such, by "Orthodox" I was referring to the most basic rudimentary Theology of the Jewish Religion.  Just as there are scores of Christian variances about non-essentials, there is also a core of essentials amounting to Christian "Orthodoxy"; And the majority of Christians will extend the same title to others of differing denominations.  I would think that by the basic theology of Jewish Monotheism, you would be considered presently apostate.  But then again, I'm just a lowly Gentile, what do I know about that?  

(Note:  I get the feeling that what you're saying is, you could mingle somewhat comfortably in the Jewish religious life simply by not saying too much, rustling feathers, or caring at all about the metaphysics ... another accidental feature of your particular beliefs at the moment.)
  
The interpretation of the Old Testament as relating to Jesus of Nazareth, however, is not Gentile in origin.  And whether you think it boorish or not to mention it in this forum, I think we both agree that it is intrinsic to the New Covenant as set out by the New Testament.  And so you'll just have to excuse me for something I can't rightly apologize for.


If I still think your views are as chaffing to Jewish Monotheism as are mine (notwithstanding the accidental feature of your present philosophy in not passionately opposing or advocating anything Theological) ... and you still think I'm being an ass, I think we'll both be able to live with that.  


I have some more to comment on, Bob, but for now I will turn in for some shut-eye.  


blessings,

Stephen.        
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Bob,

I just wanted to clarify about my reference to "Pagan Philosophy".  In context, I was referring to your belief that revelation, scripture, and experience to not constitute "hard data".  In fact, you are echoing empiricism, a fairly recent philosophy, which from a Jewish (religious) perspective is Pagan insofar as it is of non-Jewish origin and outright denies Divine Revelation.  It was not name calling or patronizing in intent.  But to convince you that you're on my level regarding the Jewish Religion I've so offended.  


Later,

Stephen  
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Dear Stephanos,

          Can't and shouldn't.  It's what you believe.

     You could regard both the Christian and Muslims as Jewish splinter groups for that matter.  They certainly act like it.

     It would certainly account why all three groups are sure that Israel is theirs, and why they're all acting nuts.  Nothing quite like a family homecoming to bring out the worst in everybody.

     Of course that would mean that nobody's quite as special as they would have everybody else think, but when you have a real patriarchal family, what do you expect, everybody treats Dad like God.  Or I suppose you could turn that around, couldn't you, to get the full complexity of that patriarchal attitude in ?

     You do see this sort of thing in families all the time, you know.

Pax.

BK.

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quote:
You could regard both the Christian and Muslims as Jewish splinter groups for that matter.  They certainly act like it.


In a way, Bob, they are.  That doesn't make them all right ... Nor does it mean God can't / hasn't set his own parameters of salvation.  It does, I concede, create a sense of longing for these estranged brothers to somehow embrace, quite apart from an ecumenism that throws beliefs into the "not-important" category.  

quote:
It would certainly account why all three groups are sure that Israel is theirs


Given the universality of Christianity, Christians for the most part, recognize that the land/national issue has nothing or little to do with them ... other than a Eschatological belief that God himself will rule the nations beginning with Jerusalem.  The focus has mostly been more spiritual, having precedent in Jesus himself who rejected zealotism, nationalistic messiahism and any desire to be "King" of Israel in any worldly sense.

quote:
Of course that would mean that nobody's quite as special as they would have everybody else think


In one sense that's quite right.  No one is "special" based upon mere ethnicity or nationality ... and certainly not upon works.  And if Christians are "special", it is only in the sense of realizing that they are sinners and recipients of a gift that is available to all.  

As for the Jewish nation ... I would say that the fact that they are the only utterly dispersed nation to have ever returned home with such an identity, is an indicator that they might be more special than you think.


Good day,


Stephen
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118 posted 02-26-2009 04:30 PM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



Dear Stephanos,

quote:


I just wanted to clarify about my reference to "Pagan Philosophy".  In context, I was referring to your belief that revelation, scripture, and experience to not constitute "hard data".  In fact, you are echoing empiricism, a fairly recent philosophy, which from a Jewish (religious) perspective is Pagan insofar as it is of non-Jewish origin and outright denies Divine Revelation.  It was not name calling or patronizing in intent.  But to convince you that you're on my level regarding the Jewish Religion I've so offended.  





     Actually, I not only don't  (the italics are mine)

'believethat revelation, scripture, and experience to not constitute "hard data", I don't think it as well.  The exception I would hold in this case is to that person who has had the revelation, had the experience.  To that person, scripture may become the equivalent of hard data.  For the person who has actually had the experience, anomalous as it may appear to those who have not experienced it directly, these thing are hard data and in discussion with these people I must take into account their access to information I may not source myself.  I cannot discount that information and I will not discount that information.

     But for most matters of practicality, I do insist on a distinction between belief and thought or thinking, especially scientific sorts of thinking.  I will not say that all scientific thinking is true; but, over time, it does set out a body of facts whose significance must be tested in the same way in order to build up hard data about the nature of the world.  Until "revelation, scripture, and experience" have been subjected to that sort of examination — and there has been some of this — then that material cannot be thought of as "hard data."

     Among other things, science seeks new data and new information to transform man's understanding of nature and the world.  This is not the primary search for religion.  New revelation and new religion are not actively sought to transform our understanding of old spiritual positions.  When they come, they are often unwelcome.  Their appeal to the world is not on the basis of logic but on the basis of emotional response.

     Do you have much of an emotional response to teflon? or the transistor?

     What emotional response do you have to the prospect of a new religious faith coming out of asia that seems to be gathering enormous numbers of converts and that has beliefs that are radically different from your own?

     Two different impulses running in different directions much of the time, one a conservative impulse, the other an expansive impulse.  I wouldn't wish to give up either one; nor would I wish to confuse them.

     Any religion must find some way of navigating between these poles, even Marxism/Leninism.  Cast your mind back a few years to the time when the dictator, Stalin, grew enamored of the theories of Lysenko, who built his science to conform with Marxism/Leninism and not the data.  Thank the Lord for us.

     So too your suggestion that Judaism is against scientific thinking because it denies divine revelation.  Usually what I hear said is that God gave man a brain, and that failing to use it was the sin.  Follow the Torah, walk humbly, do justice and love mercy and don't be an idiot are all highly regarded precepts in the faith.  There's even a special sort of fool who follows the law when there are more important things at hand that take precedence.  I wish I could remember the word.  I think it's useful proportionately much more frequently than it should be.  Even as early as Jesus, in the Babylonian Talmud, if I'm not mistaken, there's a literature on this, though you'd have to go to a scholar to find out what and where.  You may even find some reference to it in Guide of The Perplexed.

     You're supposed to think and question in the Jewish tradition.  You're supposed to debate and argue.  I for one still feel humiliation about Spinoza's fate at the hands of his congregation, and I suspect I'm not alone.

     As for Hume, do you judge all philosophers by their most extreme positions?  Luther, perhaps, or Calvin or St Bernard?  I'd suspect not.  Most modern philosophers would leave the extreme positions and take what's useful from him.  Most modern readers of Freud don't insist that his theories about Thanatos be given the forward position that Freud wanted to give them.

Maybe we can get back to this at another time.  Hope all is well with all the folk there, affectionately,

Bob Kaven
Stephanos
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119 posted 02-26-2009 07:24 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Bob:

Another time, are you wanting to quit on me?     It's not like you have a life or anything.

quote:
So too your suggestion that Judaism is against scientific thinking because it denies divine revelation.

I suggested no such thing.  What I said is, your statement about their categories of history and revelation (both natural and special) not constituting "hard data" (in practical terms meaning, I'm not obligated to believe it) is something they would take issue with.  It's not that their monotheism discounts science; but rather that your science seems to discount other modes of knowledge besides what is repeatable and quantitative.  Or so it seemed in the course of our discussion.  You seem now to suggest otherwise.  

Thinking and questioning in the Jewish Tradition is different than disbelieving wouldn't you say?  I suspect that on that point, a truly religious Judaism differs very little from Christianity.  I think I already said that questioning is human, and not antithetical to faith.    

To answer you question about Hume, no I don't judge all thinkers by their extremes.  But sometimes still I think extremes are proliferated and become "not-so-extreme" as the culture acquiesces.  The belief that only "science" can claim to be true knowledge is not a fringe belief anymore.  We've all been influenced by that particular excess.

quote:
Among other things, science seeks new data and new information to transform man's understanding of nature and the world.  This is not the primary search for religion.  New revelation and new religion are not actively sought to transform our understanding of old spiritual positions.  When they come, they are often unwelcome.


This is true, inasmuch as human beings are generally resistant to change.  But if Divine Revelation has a progressive element as well as a static element (which scripture affirms), then faith is a seeking not so different from science, though its direction is different.  Practically speaking, the faithful have been slow and conservative in theological matters ... and at other-times new understanding and change has been sought out quite eagerly.  I'm reading a book right now by Alister McGrath called "Christianity's Dangerous Idea" which is about the Reformation; It illustrates this point very well.  In short, I think your portrayal of science as dynamic and faith as static, is not quite accurate.  


Stephen
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120 posted 02-27-2009 03:28 AM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



     Very interesting!

     And yet the counter-reformation didn't draw you in, nor did Islam nor did any number of some of the newer religions.  All of these religions claim to have a new revelation.  In fact they do have new revelations, truth be told, just as Christianity has new revelations that it offers.  Yet you do not look forward to hearing new revelations from Dr. Moon or from the Imam visiting from Bagdad.

     The religious point of view about new revelations is basically conservative, though certainly not entirely so.  Look at the speed, for example, with which The Prophet's message sped across the world in only the single lifetime after his death.  That was remarkable indeed.  But they certainly have not been very open to new revelation, even within the fold of their own religion in the fourteen hundred years since.  Christianity and Judaism have been much the same way.  Change is not often welcomed.  And it is often accompanied by violence simply over the nature of the ideas themselves.

     I do not, however, try to set religion and science against each other as you seem to imagine.  Science is one of the new revelations, one of the new religions that has cropped up over the last few hundred years from Natural Philosophy.  I believe that the quarrel between these two different ways of knowing is essentially a quarrel over the way God's word is to be made manifest to man, and the nature of the quarrel is such that each side at its most extreme tends to demonize the other.  This is another of those silly religious quarrels.

     For not only does science come from Natural Philosophy, but it also must be said to come from the church as well and the scholastic tradition that kept knowledge alive during the middle years of Feudal re-organization and contemplation.  It is a creation of the monks as much as it is of anybody else.  It's part of the hidden history, I think, that connects the deep religious intuitions that stir man's depths and the harnessing of the power of logic and systematic experiment into exploration of the world exterior to man.  They are two ends of a single stick.  The metaphor gets even more ridiculous and extended than that from this point on, so I won't belabor it further.

     Basically I'm saying science is another revelation from God.  Scientists would rather slit their throats than admit it, but it's probably true.  You're competing for the same constituents so everybody makes fun of everybody else's approach to dealing with the world.  If either side wins, it'll be a tragedy for the world; the more sources and types of information we have, the more options we are able to create for ourselves and our descendants.

     That's tonight's thinking in a hand-basket.  Yeah, I meant the bad joke.

Best to all of you Georgian Folk,  Affectionately, Bob Kaven
Stephanos
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121 posted 02-28-2009 10:03 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Bob:
quote:
And yet the counter-reformation didn't draw you in, nor did Islam nor did any number of some of the newer religions.  All of these religions claim to have a new revelation.  In fact they do have new revelations, truth be told, just as Christianity has new revelations that it offers.  Yet you do not look forward to hearing new revelations from Dr. Moon or from the Imam visiting from Bagdad.


And yet, all of this cannot be explained as "new revelation" ... lest you live in a world where mutually exclusive truths can marry.  Such as the Islamic "Jesus didn't really die at all" versus the Christian "Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate".  Me, I believe in a "Great Divorce".  Some things are simply mistaken or wrong.  In theory you understand this, even if in practice and epistemically you don't see (or accept) how such questions can be resolved.


We probably have a very similar view of how science and faith are related.  Not really enemies ... more like Jacob's boys, quarrelsome, but destined for some reunion near Goshen.


Your Joke was very bad indeed Bob, but I'm sure you had good intentions.  


Stephen
Stephanos
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122 posted 02-28-2009 10:18 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Uh, Bob.  I just realized we're the last ones in the auditorium.  I think even that Janitor who was sweeping up a while back left, muttering something about us turning out the lights.  


Stephen
 
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