The Pope and Islam: Let’s Stop Kidding Each Other

The Question: Pope Benedict’s recent baptism of a well-known Italian Muslim has prompted criticism in much of the Islamic world. … Continued

The Question: Pope Benedict’s recent baptism of a well-known Italian Muslim has prompted criticism in much of the Islamic world. Has Benedict done enough to build bridges to Islam?

So here we go again – a religious act that polarizes. The Pope, a leader of 1.1 billion people decides to officially convert to Catholicism a well known Italian Moslem journalist on Easter, one of the holiest days of the Christian calendar, in front of millions of people. While the Vatican proclaimed the innocence of this international act it is not surprising that the reactions were swift and harsh. On all sides opinions were predictable with every opinion containing a partial truth that ignored, either consciously or unconsciously, other truths.

First was the Catholic Church’s official truth. The Vatican claimed that converting a very popular journalist, who admittedly had long left Islam and embraced Catholicism, was a purely innocent act by the Pope with no ulterior motives except to bring a new person into the faith. This is naïve at best and Machiavellian at worst for there is no choice by the Pope to publicly convert anyone, on Easter Sunday no less, that is anything but a well calculated act saturated with meaning.

The Pope surely knew that his claim was at best a half truth. The other truth that is so obvious, whether admitted or not, is that the Church wanted to teach a sociological and spiritual truth to millions of people who are adherents of Islam, the world religion with a strand which is presently the most damaged, extremist, and violent in the world, that people’s freedom of choice regarding religion is the new reality. Religions now need to peacefully compete in the world religious and spiritual marketplace of ideas and Catholicism can compete and so has converted a popular journalist raised as a Moslem who decided to become a Catholic. The Vatican’s pretense that this was a neutral act above any political fray is less than one hundred percent truthful.

Second we have our secular fundamentalists. These are the people who have a visceral hate for anything having to do with religion and often have a particular animus for Catholicism in general and this Pope in particular. Besides seeing all religions as primitive superstition that dupe people and create division and hate, they see a Catholic Church whose absolutism drives it, in the midst of a very complex and difficult conflict with Islam, to rub the face of Islam into the ground by publicly converting a born Mulsim to Catholicism. Obviously, there is a partial truth here but the hostility and dismissiveness and reflexive repugnance toward all religion also misses a partial truth. The spiritual dimension is real and there is a science and technology of the spirit deeply embedded in every major religion, even if the technology is hidden behind creed, dogma, and wrong metaphysics, that provides meaning and purpose and that helps people develop psychologically, morally, and ethically.

And so we have Catholics defending an act that while perfectly legitimate is obviously sticking it to Islamic fascists and we have secular and liberal fundamentalists legitimately critiquing this act with a predictable fierceness and complete disrespect for anything religious.

And then of course we have the Islamic fascists (according to Pew less than seven percent of Muslims world wide) inciting the Islamic street who see the Pope’s converting a born Muslims as an affront worthy of riots and terrorism. Rather that reflect on how Islam, one of the historic wisdom traditions and practices, can actually compete in a globalized world this cancerous strand of Islam demonstrates its truth by killing those with whom it most deeply disagrees making no distinction between a cartoon illustrator, an individual conversion, a political resentment, or a fellow Muslims. Anyone who disagrees with the adherents of this murderous strand of Islam, whether a mother and child in a pizza parlor, riders in a train In Spain or Great Britain, or innocent workers in a business tower are fair game. And because of their power to murder and terrorize, the vast majority of Muslims who know better are afraid to criticize yet alone condemn them.

Each of these reactions embody a partial truth and no side either admits it own partialness or any partial truth of another side. The result increased polarization, conflict and hostility.

What we need is a genuine spiritual truth which is always the most inclusive truth. An authentic spiritual truth is one that understands that from an infinite, absolute, cosmic, or God perspective every voice has a partial truth. As one of my teachers taught there is no person so smart that they can be one hundred percent wrong. A genuine spiritual approach wrestles with, grapples with, and searches for the truth in every view. This is not an argument for relativism as I am not claiming every truth is equally true but rather an argument that even in the most repugnant view there is some partial truth that we need to reveal, understand, and embrace if we are to move ahead. The challenge for spiritual/religious people that intuit the infinite quality of reality and their own finitude is to try to include as many facets and aspects of the truth as possible. The more spiritually, psychologically, and morally evolved we are the more we understand that we are most often right about what we include and most often wrong about what we exclude.

And so we need to own all of these truths. The Pope had every right to baptize whomever he wanted to baptize but he also needed to acknowledge that it was not some neutral disinterested act but meant to teach a very serious truth about the freedom to choose one’s religious identity – something the Church knows well given the attrition rate in the American Catholic Church as shown in the recent Pew study on religion. Muslims have a legitimate right to feel dissed and express their dismay at the Pope’s act as the act was obviously purposeful, but rather than react violently to the conversion of one person on a planet of over six billion people they needed to reflect on what it means to peacefully compete for the attention of people around the world. Secular fundamentalists are also partially true that far too many traditionalist religious people think they have the absolute truth and feel that the only way they can be right is if everyone else is wrong. But by rejecting all spiritual and religious insight and promulgating an absolutely certain exhaustive materialist view of reality and a complete human self-sufficiency these secular fundamentalists flatten reality, disenchant the world, disqualify the universe and dismiss people’s deepest intuitions about reality.

So has the Pope done enough to reach out to Muslims? Absolutely not. It will not be enough until there is peace.

Have secular people and liberals done enough? Absolutely not. It will not be enough until there is peace.

Have Muslims done enough? Absolutely not. It will not be enough until there is peace.

The greatest hope we can have for the Pope’s visit to the US is that he embodies a most evolved spiritual and religious leader – one that embraces and integrates as many truths as possible – inviting all of us, whether Catholic or not, to celebrate our particularity while being deeply ecumenical. But once we hope that the Pope inspires us we might as well try to embody this way ourselves.

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  • Androgeneese

    How about:Everybody can have all the invisible friends they want – but their invisible friends rules only applies to themselves?

  • Ryan Haber

    Thanks, David, for your comment about the ordinariness of Easter Vigil baptisms. I’ll address the ordinariness of baptisms by the Pope.Ordinarily, persons entering the Church at the Easter Vigil receive the sacraments of initiation from the hand of their local pastor. That’s because the local bishop can’t be everywhere at once. Those who live close to the cathedral, the bishop’s “parish church” (as it were), will usually receive the sacraments from their bishop.Exceptionally notable persons are very often baptized by the local bishop in keeping with the dignity of their station. Remember, the Church is not egalitarian-democratic but hierarchical. Civil society, for that matter, only puts on a sham of egalitarianism. The simple fact is that the governor has a more important role in society than I do. If he were to seek entrance into the Church, it would be fitting for a roughly comparable figure in the Church to admit him.Mr. Allam is on the editorial staff of Corriere della Serra, a Rome-based paper. Presumably, Mr. Allam lives in or near Rome. Mr. Allam is also very famous and to some degree powerful because of his job. That alone would be enough to get him baptised by the Bishop of Rome, that is, the Pope.Was the Vatican aware of how the baptism would be perceived? Certainly. Was it concerned enough to depart from customary protocols? Apparently not. But there is a difference between willing an effect and tolerating it.

  • Thomas Baum

    TO PERSPECTIVE:You wrote, “As the Buddhists remind us: “those that say don’t know, and those that know don’t say”., and Jesus said to “Proclaim the Good News”.I have met God and God is a Being of Love.As far as the Buddhists saying that you wrote, well that does sound a little snobbish to keep such “Good News” to yourself, especially if God has let you know that you are to speak.It is like sharing, you offer it to others and it is their choice what they do with it.Take care, be ready, see you and the rest of humanity in the Kingdom [the new heavens and the new earth].Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • Mr Mark

    In a column raging about “half-truths,” the author unveils this absolute falsehood:”The spiritual dimension is real and there is a science and technology of the spirit deeply embedded in every major religion, even if the technology is hidden behind creed, dogma, and wrong metaphysics, that provides meaning and purpose and that helps people develop psychologically, morally, and ethically.”The spiritual dimension is “real?” Look up the world “real” in a dictionary.There “is a science and technology of the spirit?” What an inaccurate and cavalier display of contempt for the meaning of words, in this case, “science” and “technology.”If one needs to stoop to falsehoods to make one’s case, perhaps the case itself is false.

  • farouk

    The people who matter are the ones who shape opinion. They want a bogy man. We muslims are an easy target. They ignore that Muslims and Christians, Jews, Hindus and others have lived together for centuries, in our contries and yours the conflicts have been few and far between. The target of islamophobia is not Muslims we are the victims. The targets are secular people the Christians and Jews who live in the west. so their leaders can continue to violate their rights and deprive them of their due. Peace

  • perspective

    Having tried to post innumerable times, I’m done with this blog until they straighten it out. It’s FUBARED beyond all recognition.

  • Garyd

    I thought you were Jewish but you sound almost like a Ba’hai. Sorry every religion – once one gets beyond the statement that there is a God does not have even a thin sliver of the truth unless of course one wishes to accept the notion of a most schizophrenic God. That 7% you speak of is desparately trying to stave off the future and simultaneously retreat to a past that truly never was. They are atavists of the worst sort and must needs be fought with every last ounce of strength at our disposal and every means to hand.If, Mr. Kula, what you say was the Pope’s actual meaning, then one can do little but applaud it. And hope a good many of his followers take heed. For to my mind the average Catholic is as lost as the average Muslim and for much the same reason as 60 odd percent of those setting in church pews every Sunday are lost. They worship the God they think ought to be rather than the God that is.In truth everyone worships something and the meaner that something is the more detestable is that faith.

  • David

    Actually, you should look in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and find the real Catholic teaching on original sin. Nuff said.I disagree with the idea that baptizing this man on Easter Sunday was inflammatory. Most to all converts are baptized or confirmed on Easter Sunday. There are some cases where this is not the case, but they are the exception to the rule. What better time to baptize? Perhaps you are confused with the rite of confirmation for already-baptized Catholics, which happens throughout the liturgical year as the Bishop’s schedule permits? This is a non-issue. As for your other points, I don’t think that this man should have been brought in the back door of the Church just because he is a public persona. Honestly.

  • David

    That being said I liked the post as a whole!

  • Patricia

    “What we need is a genuine spiritual truth which is always the most inclusive truth. An authentic spiritual truth is one that understands that from an infinite, absolute, cosmic, or God perspective every voice has a partial truth.”Thank you, Rabbi Kula, thank you, thank you!’Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 32

  • Ash

    “The spiritual dimension is real and there is a science and technology of the spirit deeply embedded in every major religion…”Ha! The person you should stop kidding is yourself. The only thing embedded in our major religions are means of control and the collection of money.

  • Jacob

    I would argue that genuine spiritual truth is NOT always the most inclusive truth.Many religions preach many of the same life principles, which really we can call age old wisdom – The Best Way to Live. To this extent I agree with the author, to call this ‘spiritual truth’ though I think misses the mark.True spiritual truth tackles the weightiest of questions as to who is this God.Our unjustified warring against each other is really warring against the Creator of the people.Has anyone done enough? Will we ever do enough? Absolutley not. And of what account will we give to God?It will not be enough until there is peace. “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Rom. 5:1)”So search, become lowly, consider life worth nothing that we may attain to a right perspective of our God and make peace with God.

  • Patricia

    Gary D.–

  • perspective

    At least Jews and Buddhists are in agreement on one thing – God or Ultimate Reality cannot be spoken of, once discovered. There is no name for It – as That is beyond all descriptions, definitions, categories, or human concepts. The problem with Catholics, Prostestants, and Muslims (Sufis excepted) is that they think they know with certainty what That is – and they are reminding us almost constantly of their exclusive knowledge of the Supreme Reality. As the Buddhists remind us: “those that say don’t know, and those that know don’t say”.This deep truth leaves the individual as the final and exclusive arbiter of Thusness……..

  • Nazis?

    What is the “partial truth that we need to reveal, understand, and embrace” you see when you look at the moral views of the Nazis, Irwin? “Always dress your best?”

  • Baphomet

    Mr Mark:Was the quantum universe real before your scientists were equipped to observe it? Was the earth still round when they thought it was flat? How much faith do you have invested in your scientists? Did you ever consider that Science might just be yet another flawed and incomplete attempt to understand the ultimate reality?

  • speed123

    I guess Mr. Mark hasn’t read the French theories on post-modernism and deconstructionism…As for scientists who thought the world was flat, there were plenty of them and the same goes for the idea that the sun revolved around the earth.But I guess this would ruin your conception as science as an “all-seeing” and reasonable human enterprise (much of the time it is) and religion and transcendence as the opposite (although much of the time this is reasonable as well).Clearly, your bias limits your perspective. **Paradigm shifts are made in BOTH the fields of science and religion – this fact disproves neither of the two pursuits…**PS – Catholics and the pope have no trouble accepting scientific discovery in conjunction with faith…

  • perspective

    Not possible to post longer messages – many attempts.

  • Mr Mark

    Speedy sez:”Clearly, your bias limits your perspective.”I hear the same complaint when it comes to my taste in music, where I’m told that I’m “limiting” myself by listening almost exclusively to classical music – which encompasses a time frame from roughly 800CE to the present day, numerous musical eras, composers, forms and styles etc – by ignoring the high art of American popular music written in, oh, say, the last 3 months.There are limits and then there are limits.

  • speed123

    I wonder how much of that classical music was inspired by the transcendent and religious themes?Mozart wasn’t Catholic, was he? I suppose you limit yourself from listening to Mozart? ;)

  • speed123

    I sure hope you “limit yourself” from other irrational, faith inspired arts such as literature (Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Dante, Cervantes) and the master artists (in painting, sculpture, architecture) of all eras…

  • Mr Mark

    speed123 sez:”I wonder how much of that classical music was inspired by the transcendent and religious themes?”Quite a bit of it, though all music is to some extent crafted as much as it is inspired. Bach wrote almost every piece “to the glory of god,” yet I don’t find his purely instrumental music to have any “religious” theme to it. Verdi and Brahms were atheists who wrote religious-themed music. What’s your point?”Mozart wasn’t Catholic, was he? I suppose you limit yourself from listening to Mozart?”Actually, I happen to own the entire Philips Complete Mozart Edition on 180CDs. I like his operas, symphonies and concerti. His religious works seem formulaic and cold to me. I appreciate Mozart more than I “like” him. From the classical-era composers, I prefer Haydn.Handel wrote great sacred works, but I don’t think his Water Musik was inspired by god. Do you?

  • speed123

    “piece “to the glory of god,” yet I don’t find his purely instrumental music to have any “religious” theme to it.”Mark, you really are a materialist! Look a bit deeper (beyond mere structure or form) at the meaning of many (dare I say most) great works of music or literature and you will see the transcendent or an homage to God – and many times a direct repudiation of the materialism and utilitarianism that you so often argue for on these boards.Isn’t it interesting that you are moved by such beauty and don’t consider the substance of that beauty or where it comes from…I would call this very “limiting.”

  • SeTtOf

    A Jew’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing and a Moslem is an ass in a lion’s skin.

  • Anonymous

    Settoff:May I ask what your own religion/ethnicity is?

  • Serena

    Anon:You won’t get an answer from Setof because it doesn’t have a set of. I’d be surprised if it even had one.The thing crawled out from its pond scum dwelling, where with any luck, it will soon return.

  • Mr Mark

    Dear Speedy -Well, you just don’t get it, do you? I’m not surprised.Do you believe that Bach sat down with an empty mind and waited for god’s inspiration to alight upon him? Think again. Some of Bach’s most-famous “sacred works” availed themselves of purely instrumental works that were recycled into his church cantatas and masses. An “homage” cantata that he wrote for some royal big wig was later recycled into his Christmas Oratorio – remove Count What’s-His-Name?’s name and insert “Jesus” in its place. Viola! The secular celebration becomes a birth bash for Jesus!Bach was, in fact, an extremely worldly man, as worldly as he was religious. If you don’t believe that Bach was a worldly man, read his letters to various town councils wherein he complains vigorously – and to the penny! – over the money owed to him for his hard work of writing music for church services, for training and directing an under-manned choir and technically inept orchestra and other very banal and secular concerns.Even Handel’s famous “Messiah” which was “written” in a blazing 24 days (and upon which Handel himself remarked, “I do believe that I saw the great god himself revealed” after he finished composing) was – in reality – cobbled together from music he had written years before, including a few movements from concerti grosso he had written for, again, the royal classes.These men were above anything else, master musicians. That’s why their music – be it church-destined or not – all operates at such a high level of mastery and professionalism. Their much-ballyhooed “inspiration from god” was a simple convention of the time…like saying “bless you” when someone sneezes in 2008.In addition to being master artists, these men were great showmen and self promoters, and a little tale about god “inspiring” your recycled creations doesn’t hurt when filling the coffers with the coins of the willingly deceived.Of course, the ultimate proof that these men (“mere” humans, BTW) were great composers first and god-inspired vessels maybe 5 or 6 pegs down the pecking order is the clear fact that those who draw their musical talent exclusively “from god” WITHOUT possessing the brain or musical aptitude and TRAINING – as did the great composers – write hopelessly embarrassing “music” to the glory of their god.Ergo, Christian rock…or, as I like to call it, 20 minutes of inspiration WITHOUT music.;)

  • Mr Mark

    Dear Speedy -A few more things about Bach.He was once reprimanded for having a tryst with a woman up in the organ loft of his church. Of course, this raises the eternal musical question: what’s better? Roses on a piano, or tulips on an organ?Though he lived and died in the Baroque era, Bach was the first romantic, fathering 22 children (it’s true!). Apparently, all of these kids made quite a racket, and when Bach came home for his midday meal, he found that he couldn’t stand the noise. His wife solved this by sending him off to work in the morning with some bread and the leftovers from the previous evening’s dinner.And thus was born the first Bach’s lunch.Another true story – Bach married his second cousin.

  • speed123

    Impressive knowledge there, Mr. Mark; however, I still think you are discounting the transcendental themes involved in such great works of art by focusing on the more superficial/day-to-day aspects of the composer’s lives/religiosity.Was Dostoevsky simply a literary genius who wrote to pass time/collect a check or was there deeper meaning and inspiration found in his work?I think you are compartmentalizing to discount the influence of faith in such art.But, alas, we are ships passing in the night! ;)

  • speed123

    It seems that you are imposing your beliefs (non-beliefs) on art that originated via thoughts of or belief in the transcendental.Separating the art from it’s philosophical / theological moorings seems bogus to me and the work of a “monday morning quarterback” – so to speak.In any case, Mark, I need to brush up on my rhetoric and epistemology and get back to you on this…

  • speed123

    Nice chatting with you, bwt, Mark.Also I thought that the article by the Rabbi was the most thought-provoking in this series and very well written.

  • speed123

    “Using your logic, one could claim that in this instance, one cannot separate the later sacred music from its secular origins.”True, it is not a one-way street (although modernism/materialism has – for all intents and purposes – destroyed this exchange)

  • Anonymous

    “The whole secret of mysticism is this: that man can understand everything by the help of what he does not understand. The morbid logician seeks to make everything lucid, and succeeds in making everything mysterious. The mystic allows one thing to be mysterious, and everything else becomes lucid.”

  • Liora

    Mr. Mark,I hear you. I’ll leave Dostoyevsky aside for the moment, in favor of Flannery O’Connor, a self-proclaimed Catholic writer (“I am a Catholic writer”), who said, “Writing is an Incarnational art.” Now, I am not Catholic, but I am in awe of some of her work, most especially “Wise Blood.” Most of my Christian students are Catholics and Lutherans. MOst of my colleagues are Christians of one sort of another, the majority agnostics or atheists, at this point. At any rate, it is possible to teach one or two of her short stories, ignoring the Catholic imagery, her ongoing war with philosopy, etc., since colleagues do it, largely because they don’t want to be bothered and like the stories.Well, O’Connor grabbed me, a non-observant Jew, and I dug into her theology, got a handle on her Catholic iconography, her problems with Protestantism. It’s a funny thing, Saul Bellow, a Jewish writer, regardless of what he said, was also stunned by O’Connor. Now, do I think that the hand of Jesus Christ held hers as she composed? Well. No. Did she think so? Definitely not.But creative processes are mysterious, and Catholicism informed her universe. Would she have written anything of the quality of Wise Blood without it? Very, very difficult to say. But I think not, just as I think she could not have done so without her deep South culture. In fact, so sure am I of both that I teach her as a Southern Catholic writer. To do otherwise would be to do her an injustice. This also means that I can do much less of her work than I’d like, since her Catholicism is layered and my students’ is not.It is not a simple Catholicism, and she feared very little in her short life, battling priests, theologians, et al, all of whom engaged her enthusiastically. It’s quite interesting.I think, too, of Cynthia Ozick. Would she have been a writer without Judaism? No. Tovah Reich wrote a novel, The Master of the Return, which may be a masterpiece (also one of the funniest and learned books I’ve ever read).One simply can’t reduce the role religion played in these writers’ lives to inspiration anymore than one can elevate it emblems of the divine. Frankly, I don’t know how one would describe it. Isms, region, nation, language–all figure, all combine in different writers during different periods.How did communism figure in Brecht? Would he have produced his masterpieces without it?Just musing. . . .

  • Roy

    Of course this was “a purely innocent act by the Pope with no ulterior motives” After all, he is the Pope. What else would he do? This is a mean, punitive, vindictive Pope totally unlike his predecessor.

  • R.S.NEwark

    What you can’t understand is that religion is religion,not politics.

  • MaryCunningham

    Rabbi Kula’s article is well written. I don’t agree with much of it…Firstly converts are usually customarily received into the Church at Easter, admittedly not by the Pope, even if you live in Rome, even though Benedict is the Bishop of Rome. Thus, I don’t think Benedict wanted to “stick it to” Islamists, merely to assert Catholic practice unapologetically.Secondly, Rabbi Kula writes: “a genuine spiritual approach wrestles with, grapples with, and searches for the truth in every view” then declaims relativism. But–who are we kidding? It *is* relativism. A spiritual approach attempts to find and please God. There’s a difference between that and finding ‘truth’ in every view. Thirdly,Benedict obviously and sincerely believes in Jesus, who said “I am the Way, the Truth and the Light.” Now that statement’s pretty clear, isn’t it? You can’t find “some” truth in that statement. It’s either all wrong or all right, I mean you can’t say “OK, I’ll take the Light but easy on the Truth and hold the Way.” We’re not in a cafeteria.FWIW I think the Rabbi is correct in that Benedict wanted to make a point. (And he was right to do so.) But Rabbi Kula misunderstands Benedict’s actions in downplaying the act. There are a great number of innocent Catholics in countries who might suffer from Islamists’ vengeance should the Vatican emphasize the importance of the baptism. The act was the right one, but caution afterwards was also warranted.

  • Mr Mark

    Speedy writes:”It seems that you are imposing your beliefs (non-beliefs) on art that originated via thoughts of or belief in the transcendental.”Thats could well be. If so, then I admit to being human.Great art inspires us. The greatest art transports us. All art is the creation of men, no matter what his inspiration. We owe it to ourselves and to our species to explore art and to revel in what man hath wrought. We do that the best when we can leave our preconceptions at the door and enter fully into the world of the artist, but in truth, that’s a very difficult equilibrium to arrive at, at least for we humans.Still, as Oscar Wilde said: art should not strive to be popular, the populace should strive to be artistic.”Separating the art from it’s philosophical / theological moorings seems bogus to me and the work of a “monday morning quarterback” – so to speak.”However, in the examples of Bach and Handel that I provided, the art was written for a secular purpose and later, skillfully adapted for a sacred usage. Using your logic, one could claim that in this instance, one cannot separate the later sacred music from its secular origins.

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    Gideon,It is obvious you are suffering from the Three B syndrome i.e. Bred, Born and Brainwashed in your religion and in your case Judaism.I recommend giving the Conservative Jews views a thorough perusal.A synopsis of their conclusions:Abraham founder/father of three major religions was either the embellishment of the lives of three different men or a mythical character as was Moses, the “Tablet-Man” who talked to burning bushes and made much magic in Egypt. And 1.5 million Conservative Jews and their rabbis have relegated Abraham to the myth pile along with most if not all the OT.

  • Liora

    CCNL:Gideon did not say he was Jewish, and he cannot be. No Jew would ever use the phrase, “the only true and living God.” This is Christian vernacular, as is this:”[T]hey are in the unique position of being selectively chosen by God to fulfill his purpose in fulfilling his promise to Abraham. Ultimately, they will triumph.”Frankly, CCNL, with your continual citations, your Ph.D., etc., I cannot understand why you will not take the time to understand just a tad of Judaism. How can Christains see themselves in relation to another religion, and no nothing of it.Best,

  • Liora

    CCNL,I don’t know if you replied to my earlier post, since I can’t access the comments. (For that matter, I don’t know if my previous post is up.)I wanted to add this: To judge from your posts, you don’t know the first thing about Judaism, not even those fundamental precepts among which all agree. If you wish to debunk myths, fine, but frequently you attempt to debunk Judaic myths that no Jews have, using language no Jews have ever used.If you want to join the community of myth debunkers, well join. It’s a plural community, with many Jews in it. But know about that of which you speak.Serena recommended Rosemary Reuther, who still explains Judaism from a Christian perspective, but she gets the fundamental principles clear enougn.Best,

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    Liora,Hmmm, Gideon’s comments appear to be very Jewish in content. Maybe he is a Jew for Jesus? Or a Conservative Jew? The Conservative Jews are Jews are they not? And when they say the following, what does this mean to you?From simpletoremember.com/vitals/ConservativeTorah.htm”New Torah For Modern MindsAbraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.Such startling propositions — the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years — have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity — until now. The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called ”Etz Hayim” (”Tree of Life” in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine document. “

  • CCNL

    I just spent about twenty minutes writing a more detailed explanation, but I am being blocked.I’ll give it another try tomorrow. I’m trying to make clear the distinctions among Biblical anthropology, archaeology, history, etc., and fundamental Jewish precepts, which would prevent anyone from speaking as Gideon does, not because they would object, they (we) just don’t have that language.I’ll try to write just one sentence from my earlier blocked post. Any Conservative rabbi might note to a university class various evidence suggesting the fiction of Moses, in the next breath shifting to a theological point, using the phrase Moses Rabbino (Moses, our teacher). That wouldn’t mean he had changed his mind, and the point doesn’t go to paradox.Best,

  • CCNL

    One could think contrastively. Jews would not say “the living God” because we do not conceptualize the deity of having the attributes of life and death.Liora

  • Liora

    Last try:All that the new Conservative Torah does is include essays people like yours truly have read. (I would have included some others, myself, but no matter.) What remains to be seen is how they will actually use the material in services, if they can.The thing is that the traditional commentary surrounds the Chumash, as it must. The essays are at the end. Still, I think it’s a very interesting development. I’m trying not to depart too much from your agenda. Don’t know how successful I’m being. What interests me most in Judaism is the ethical dimension, but ethics don’t seem to be of concern to the blogggers here.LioraP.S. I doubt this will go through, but you never can tell.

  • Gideon

    Another brilliant exposition lacking logic. Peace at any price? Trash talk equals truth? Hardly. Would Abraham and Moses make the same argument, i.e., that all religions are basically equal? The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the only true and living God, would hardly concur.Jews are a slim percentage of the worldwide population, but they are in the unique position of being selectively chosen by God to fulfill his purpose in fulfilling his promise to Abraham. Ultimately, they will triumph.I find it rather sad that some Jews find it necessary to compromise with the devil. Catholicism is no less false than Islam, so the new convert is twice-fold the child of hell.Of course we don’t want to kill others simply because we disagree, but not killing them does not constitute agreement.

  • Gideon

    CCNL and Liora:Good deductions, spot on regarding my previous comments, but no one knows what all “Jews” believe, neither does anyone know what all “Christians” believe. There are far too many sects in both camps to make any sweeping pronouncements of any consequence.The fact is that most persons in the world do not believe in God; and if most “Jews” and most “Christians” do not believe in the Truth about God, neither invalidates the beliefs of those who have personally experienced God manifest. True believers have always been in the minority in both faiths. The Jews killed all of their prophets, but their voices yet cry out from beyond the grave, and all their prophecies ring true, even to this present generation.The science of aerodynamics can “prove” that bumblebees can’t fly, but that fact doesn’t seem to have any effect on the flight of bumblebees.Iconoclastic attacks are tantamount to pissing into the wind. They might influence the feeble-minded, the faint-hearted, and the quasi-religious, but those who know God are impervious to the endless diatribes spewed by unbelievers through the millenia.Your time would be better served finding your own path through life, rather than trying to dissuade others from their journey. You’ll be dead soon; all dressed up with no where to go.

  • Anonymous

    CCNL:Do you get it, now? Do you see my point? You suffer from the projection typical of many Christians: “the (sic) Jews think they’re the chosen people,” just like this apparent Protestant (?) (possibly psychopathic bigot).Only someone who knew nothing whatsoever about Judaism, and I mean nothing, could entertain the notion for a single second that Gideon “who sounded pretty Jewish” could possibly be. And, no, not a Jew for Jesus. Simply not a Jew.He doubtless expects to see us all ready to convert on the last day. That is why we must “fulfill the promise.” Yuk!Well, if you believe that, do you also believe “we’ll all be dead soon anyway”? (Gideon).Rosemary Ruether. You continue to see us from a Christian perspective, will not recognize that we have our own subjectivity, regardless of our denominations. If you want to debunk the myths, know the myths, my friend.Best,

  • harold

    “the only true and living God.” This is Christian vernacularAnd the Lord God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:Do you see “Eve; because she was the mother of all living” “make coats of skins” “unto the serpent” “dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life”I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of man, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts.Look, “the sons of man” “they themselves are beasts” “all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again” “unto the serpent” “dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life””the only true and living god.” “the mother of all living”Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head.I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if ye find my beloved, that ye tell him, that I am sick of love.Unto Adam the Lord God make coats of skinsif ye find my beloved, that ye tell him, that I am sick of love.This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, But wisdom is justified of her children.For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.“For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye”I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.for sinners also love those that love them.

  • harold

    As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the Lord is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him.“As for God, his way is perfect” It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect.“maketh my way perfect”The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.“The law of the Lord is perfect”I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way. O when wilt thou come unto me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.“I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.”Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me: he that walketh in a perfect way, he shall serve me.“he that walketh in a perfect way, he shall serve me.”Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace.“Mark the perfect man”

  • harold

    the secrets of wisdom, that they are doubleThe secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.Devise not evil against thy neighbour, seeing he dwelleth securely by thee.“For the froward is abomination to the Lord: but his secret is with the righteous.”Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace.There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.For thou hast said, My doctrine is pure, and I am clean in thine eyes.“And that he would shew thee the secrets of wisdom, that they are double to that which is!”Behold, God will not cast away a perfect man, neither will he help the evil doers:My glory was Fresh in me, and my bow was renewed in my hand.And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.behold, there stood other two, the one on this side of the bank of the river, and the other on that side of the bank of the river.one on this side of the bank of the riverAnd Moses went and spake these words unto all Israel.the other on that side of the bank of the riverHowbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard.“until I came, and mine eyes had seen it, the half was not told me””he would shew thee the secrets of wisdom, that they are double to that which is”She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, saying,

  • harold

    And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.“For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye”I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.“for sinners also love those that love them”Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.“nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.”“Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment”I ask you wise men, who does the LORD love, the righteous or the sinners.Where is the Kingdom of RighteousnessWhere is the Kingdom of SinnersSolomon wroteWhat is in your heart will come to your mouth“The heart of the righteous studieth to answer”“the mouth of the wicked poureth out evil things.”

  • harold

    Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:“Then Joseph being raised from sleep as the angel of the Lord”And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord.“Then Joseph being raised from sleep as the angel of the Lord”Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundredfold: and the Lord blessed him.“Then Isaac sowed in that land and the Lord blessed him.”And his father Isaac said unto him, Come near now, and kiss me, my son.“See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field which the Lord hath blessed:”“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.”“And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.”“he called his name JESUS””But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.”Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me.And Jacob lifted up his eyes, and looked, and, behold, Esau came, and with him four hundred men. And he divided the children unto Leah, and unto Rachel, and unto the two handmaids.“he divided the children unto Leah, and unto Rachel, and unto the two handmaids”“These are to find grace in the sight of my lord.”

  • harold

    Rabbi Arthur Schneier, the leader of the congregation, welcomed the pope, who was seated on a wooden chair to the left of the bimah, the raised platform, where the rabbi spoke from a lectern. “In our lifetime, your holiness, both of us have experienced the ravages of war, the Holocaust, man’s inhumanity to man — and also tasted the joy of freedom.” Rabbi, think how you addressed the pope as your holiness.

  • harold

    The WOE of IsaiahI will behave myself wisely in a perfect way. O when wilt thou come unto me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.“I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.”In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came unto him, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Set thine house in order: for thou shalt die, and not live.“Isaiah the prophet” “turned his face to the wall, and prayed unto the Lord”The shew of their countenance doth witness against them; and they declare their sin as Sodom, they hide it not. Woe unto their soul! for they have rewarded evil unto themselves.Woe unto the wicked! it shall be ill with him: for the reward of his hands shall be given him.Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth!Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them!Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope:Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink:Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees, and that write grievousness which they have prescribed;Woe to the multitude of many people, which make a noise like the noise of the seas; and to the rushing of nations, that make a rushing like the rushing of mighty waters!Woe to the land shadowing with wings, which is beyond the rivers of Ethiopia:From the uttermost part of the earth have we heard songs, even glory to the righteous. But I said, My leanness, my leanness, woe unto me! the treacherous dealers have dealt treacherously; yea, the treacherous dealers have dealt very treacherously.Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower, which are on the head of the fat valleys of them that are overcome with wine!Woe to Ariel, to Ariel, the city where David dwelt! add ye year to year; let them kill sacrifices.Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord, and their works are in the dark, and they say, Who seeth us? and who knoweth us?Woe to the rebellious children, saith the Lord, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin:Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the Lord!Woe to thee that spoilest, and thou wast not spoiled; and dealest treacherously, and they dealt not treacherously with thee! when thou shalt cease to spoil, thou shalt be spoiled; and when thou shalt make an end to deal treacherously, they shall deal treacherously with thee.Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?Woe unto him that saith unto his father, What begettest thou? or to the woman, What hast thou brought forth?

  • harold

    Therefore saith the Lord, the Lord of hosts, the mighty One of Israel, Ah, I will ease me of mine adversaries, and avenge me of mine enemies:And I will restore thy judges as at the firstMessianic Jews are entitled to Israeli citizenship according to the Law of Return if their father is Jewish, according to a precedent-setting ruling handed down last week by the High Court of Justice.Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness.The law defines a Jew as “a person who was born of a Jewish mother or has become converted to Judaism and who is not a member of another religion.” All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies.converted to Judaism and who is not a member of another religionThe city of righteousness, the faithful city.My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.The Spirit of the Lord spake by meThou leddest thy people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

  • harold

    O Lord my God, in thee do I put my trust: save me from all them that persecute me, and deliver me:Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill?The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion:“Judah shall walk with the house of Israel”The greatest secret has yet to be revealed. When it is revealed then you will know TRUTH. At that given time The Word of the LORD will be clearly proven.

  • harold

    Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure.To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.charity out of a pure heart – heartbut follow righteousness, faith, charity, peacePaul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother, unto Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellowlabourer,“a prisoner of Jesus Christ”And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hands of the Ishmeelites, which had brought him down thither.“Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian”

  • MOHAMMAD UMER AZIZ

    FIRST I WANT TO TELL YOU TAHT EVERY NON-MUSLIM WANT TO FALSIFY ISLAM BUT THEY CAN`T DO THIS BECAUSE ISLAM IS THE TRUE RELIGION OF THE WORLD,,,,NO ONE CAN COMPETE WITH ISLAM,