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12 Signs You’ve Sought Redemption Through the Religion of Pop

Sunday, July 20th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Pop culture has become as much of a religious powerhouse as Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism or any other faith. Don’t believe me? Sit in a college classroom. Better yet, attend a fan convention or simply rent the film Trekkies. Films, shows, bands, comic books and their like have become, for some, sources of spiritual nourishment. Do you feel the power?

12. What was once DVR-able is now weekly appointment television.

“Appointment TV” doesn’t begin to describe your weekly ritual. All pressing engagements are pushed aside, phones are silenced, and ritual food is laid out on the coffee table to be partaken in as the ceremony commences. You still DVR the show for good measure, being sure to re-watch at least once, if not multiple times in deep study so that you may discuss the meanings of both text and subtext with fellow fans.

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Why Was Jesus Born Jewish?

Sunday, June 1st, 2014 - by Myra Adams

Jesus was Jewish and that is a fact – NOT my opinion.

About a decade ago at a friend’s party I began chatting with another guest who, in the course of our conversation, informed me that he was an Orthodox Jew.

This information gave me an opening to ask my favorite question, “Why was Jesus born Jewish?”

His answer was memorable, “Jesus wasn’t Jewish,” he replied.

My jaw dropped and I was almost speechless. Initially I thought he was kidding until realizing he was not.

Then, after a short conversation volley he said, “Well, that’s your opinion.”

Years later I have never forgotten that incident because the fact (not opinion) that Jesus was born, lived and died a Jew is one of the few universally accepted Biblical “facts.”

As one who was born and raised a Jew — but since 1975 has believed that Jesus was and is the Messiah — I have made a hobby out of asking traditional Jews, “Why was Jesus born Jewish?” The reason I continue asking this question is because the answers or I should say non-answers are always so intriguing.

Here are three examples (but you will have to read to the end for the most recent and intriguing example of all.)

A fews months ago, I posed “the question” to an old friend who is a secular Jew, not religious, but very proud of his heritage. His replied, “I don’t know. I guess Jesus had to be born of some religion so it just happened to be Judaism.”

My husband loves to tell this true story he calls, “How Myra Accosted a Rabbi at a Bar Mitzvah.”  A few years back we attended a Bar Mitzvah of a friend’s son. Afterwards at the reception, using my sweet, inquisitive voice I asked the Rabbi, “Why was Jesus born Jewish?”  My husband describes the Rabbi’s face as looking like he had just encountered Satan. After gaining his composure the Rabbi answered, “No one has ever asked me that question,” as he quickly excused himself and dashed to the opposite side of the room.

Then there was the time I was having a heated argument with my non-religious Jewish father (now deceased) about Jesus and my conversion to Christianity. My father had great disdain for ALL religion because he strongly believed that religion was the root cause of every war in human history. During the course of our discussion I asked him, “What was the religion of Jesus?” He replied confidently,  “Jesus was Catholic.”

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Altruism in Religion’s Free Market

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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My colleague Walter Hudson recently concluded that altruism has no place in Christian life:

Christian giving promotes life and health. Altruism promotes starvation and death. Altruism redistributes. Christian giving transacts. Christ’s own words assure us of greater blessing in giving than receiving. Christian giving leaves us better off, not worse. Altruism therefore proves atheistic, as Piper declares. We will never give more to others than God will give to us.

Walter’s basic conclusion is capitalist in nature: A Christian should be rewarded in kind (or over and above) for giving of their money, their time, or their talent. On the face of it, his argument makes sense, especially in light of congregational membership. My Christian friends often complain about the concept of “tithing,” a Torah teaching that is grossly abused by the religious establishment. Far too often, “tithing” translates into religious leadership putting pressure on church members to “donate” up to 10% of their annual income to their church. Synagogue membership, on the other hand, is rather simple: The same flat fee is charged to everyone on a yearly basis. No weekly passing of plates, no feeling ashamed; most synagogues have provision to assist members who may not be able to meet the annual sum. Programming fees are charged for additional events, like holiday services and Hebrew school. This model best fits Walter’s description of being rewarded in kind for monies given.

In the era where religious establishments have become places to fulfill business networking and social needs, it makes sense that you’d pay a fee for the religious service as you would any other mode through which these things would be accomplished. You pay for drinks at bars, JDate and Christian Mingle memberships, and head hunters; someone’s got to pay the electric bill so the lights are on when you’re shaking hands. The only question is, where is God in all of this? If the Bible is right, and we were put on earth to walk with Him in a personal relationship, what is He getting for His services rendered? That is, besides a corrupt priesthood on both sides of the aisle, pressuring congregants for cash and willing to let God take the back seat to a business deal?

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Noah: A Good Jewish Boy’s Cinematic Drash

Monday, March 31st, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Darren Aronofsky’s take on the classic tale of Noah is the Jewish guy’s Bible movie. The narrative, which does remain true to the textual account of Genesis, is crafted in the style akin to a scholarly drash. In another lifetime you might imagine this story to have been generated by a minyan of Talmud scholars poring over the story in their classes. Perhaps that is why the Christian audience has reacted so poorly to the film; it is not, in the words of Walter Hudson, told “from a Christian theological standpoint.” The audience is treated to a wrestling, not recounting, of the text for two very good reasons: A four-chapter story would make for a very short film and Aronofsky, for however religious he may or may not be at the moment, is most definitely 100% a Jew.

Aronofsky’s Noah remains, first and foremost, a story of redemption as it was interpreted thousands of years ago when paired with Haftarah portions in Isaiah (42-43 and 54-55) for the weekly Torah reading. Like the patriarch Jacob, Noah wrestles with God: the battle is a question of original sin and free will. Redemption, Aronofsky illustrates, is a choice entered into by covenant with God. It is not simply a no-strings-attached gift granted to perfectly bad people by a perfectly good looking guy who tests well with focus groups.

Contrary to most Bible epics, a faceless, voiceless God communicates His redemptive plan to Noah through the Biblically prophetic device of a metaphoric dream. “You must trust that He speaks to you in a way you understand,” Noah’s grandfather Methuselah advises. Reminiscent of the Tanakh prophecy “your old men will see visions, your young men will dream dreams,” Aronofsky engages Noah with his aged, wise grandfather, who advises him of Enoch’s prophecy that God would, one day, annihilate the world by fire.

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A Jew’s Take on Jesus Movies

Sunday, March 30th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

BiblememeAcculturated‘s R.J. Moeller has penned an excellent commentary on faith-based films in light of the Christian controversy surrounding Noah:

…no one who doesn’t already believe in God will go see Son of God. And many who do believe in God and who do go see it are, like me, plopping down $14 or $15 purely from a sense of solidarity with the well-intentioned creators of such projects. There are other, better “Jesus movies.” A dramatic reading of some of the more risqué and exciting parts of the Bible by the likes of Morgan Freeman would interest me more than sitting through Son of God again.

And while neither option likely interests your secular, non-religious co-worker, neighbor, or relative, all of them will go see something like Darren Aronofsky’s Noah. This is why I, as a Christian, am infinitely more excited about Noah than any other “faith-based” film in a long time – regardless of the theology or worldview found in it. I can actually talk to my non-Christian friends about it because they will actually pay U.S. currency (or BitCoin) to go see it.

…what I am suggesting is that while we work to inspire and equip new generations of artists who share our values to boldly venture into the pop-culture fray, we must not miss opportunities to introduce our worldview into the cultural conversation. … Art has the power to transcend and speak to the soul. But it must be able to meet people on their level before pointing them upward.

Upon first read I knew Moeller went out on a limb with his commentary, precisely because what he says is the truth. And truth doesn’t always gel with religious dogma; I’m a Jew, I should know. One advantage I do have over my Christian brothers when it comes to faith is that my Jewish culture encourages — and is built on — wrestling with God’s word. These matches stray far from the polite scenarios common to gentile Christian faith. However, they have resulted in a similarity between us, in that they have developed and sustained a religious culture that reveres commentary as much as the actual Word of God.

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Glenn Beck, The Church & the Real Secret to Disney’s Success

Monday, March 24th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Last week, alternative media mogul Glenn Beck announced that he was going to focus on “taking back” American culture through the power of nostalgia:

In the future, Glenn Beck’s focus is going to be more on influencing culture and less on politics and news. After all, news is only “what the culture allows,” he said in a recent interview with National Review’s Eliana Johnson.

…“Beck is nostalgic for an America of decades past, and his cultural projects will aim to resurrect and revive it,” Johnson writes. “It’s an America where duty trumped desire and Americans were bound together by a sort of civic religion created by that sense of duty. ‘I want to impact the culture in the way that people see good again,’ [Glenn] says.”

Beck’s goal is admirable, to a fault. The period he seeks to resurrect was one in which concepts like “good” and “duty” were defined by a Biblical religion, not a civic one. Any history student will tell you that Marx had his own take on the American Revolution; you can show someone Frank Capra movies until you’re blue in the face and they’re still going to see Mr. Smith as the ultimate community organizer if that’s their moral outlook.

As Amy Kenyon notes, there are pitfalls to what passes for nostalgia these days:

…the historical meanings and usages associated with nostalgia were finally mangled beyond recognition until its chief purpose became the performance of sentimentalism, the parceling out of discount memory via television, advertising, heritage theme parks, and souvenir markets, all aspects of what we might call the “nostalgia industry.” As such, nostalgia became kitsch, trivial and reactionary: hardly the stuff of a meaningful engagement with the past or the workings of memory.

Simply put: Glenn Beck needs to do more than embrace the facade of America, circa 1940. Beck needs to dig deeper, to America’s Biblical heritage, to understand what re-taking the culture truly means.

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Latest Shroud of Turin News with an Exclusive Message from A Renowned Scientist

Sunday, March 23rd, 2014 - by Myra Adams

Professor Giulio Fanti, famous Shroud of Turin scientist and research author

In the next few weeks leading up to Easter Sunday you can expect to hear more news about the Shroud of Turin — a mysterious piece of linen that millions of Catholics and other Christians believe is the actual burial cloth of Jesus Christ.

It was during Holy Week last year when the Shroud of Turin generated headlines around the globe. That was a result of Italian scientist and renowned Shroud researcher Giulio Fanti releasing his book, The Mystery of the Shroud.

Fanti is an Associate Professor in the Department of Industrial Engineering at the University of Padua in Italy. His 2013 research book scientifically debunked the infamous and controversial 1988 carbon-14 dating that supposedly “proved” the cloth only dated back to the Middle Ages — more specifically between the years 1260 and 1390.

Headlines such as: “Shroud of Turin is not a medieval forgery” were typical of what appeared across all media platforms especially on Good Friday, 2013.

Now in 2014, Professor Fanti has a new book (only in Italian at this moment) and the title translates into English as, Turin Shroud: First Century A.D.

According to the book’s press release, “The new dating methods are published in prestigious international journals and no one has yet pointed out methodological errors.”

This Shroud dating research project costing $75,000 (54,000 Euro) was funded by Padua University. The funding made it possible to “develop alternative methods of dating the Shroud based on mechanical and opto-chemical analyses after obvious calibration.”

Here is a more simple explanation of the dating methods if you are not a scientist.

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Noah Flooded with Potential for Interfaith Battle

Sunday, February 23rd, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

All week I’ve been seeing anti-Noah posts popping up on Facebook from Christian friends who are convinced that the not-yet-released Darren Aronofsky epic must be a liberal, secularist perversion of the biblical story, morphing Noah into a drunk and spouting an anti-human, pro-environmentalist message. Where’d the controversy come from? According to Jordan Hoffman at the Times of Israel, entertainment trade mag Variety needed to drum up readership on a slow news day:

A strange agenda group for “faith driven consumers” sent out a push-poll asking if people who hadn’t yet seen the film if they were “satisfied with a biblically themed film… which replaces the Bible’s core message with one created by Hollywood?”

In other words, a bunch of opt-in Christians were asked if they were ready to see what some scarf-wearing artiste from Jew York City had cooked up with his liberal and probably homosexual friends when, you know, they weren’t drinking blood and hoarding gold. Some 98% of respondents said that, no, they were not satisfied.

It would have been a nothing story had the press release not been picked up by Variety (one of the main entertainment trade publications) on a particularly slow news day. The Internet ran with headlines that basically read “98% of Christian audiences are enraged by ‘Noah!’” forcing Paramount, which has already had plenty of tsuris with this film, to issue an explanatory press release of their own.

The stereotypes Hoffman plays with in his commentary entertainingly highlight the unspoken rift between Jews and Christians when it comes to biblical epics. We, for the most part, stand back while Christians re-interpret our history, our people, our nation, and our sacred text in light of their own slightly Aryan (why are ancient Israelis consistently blue-eyed Brits?) Sunday School memories. This time, however, a Jewish writer/director has paired with a Jewish writer to bring a Torah story to the silver screen. That interpretation has caused Christian uproar, something the filmmakers prepared for when they sought out production partner Rob Moore, who is both a vice chair at Paramount and a devout Christian who supports the film.

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Why Jesus Was Not a Christian

Sunday, December 15th, 2013 - by Rhonda Robinson

JewishChristian

Does it seem odd to you that the hottest debate within the early Church was whether or not a Gentile could become a Christian without a complete conversion to Judaism?

This week’s reading of David H. Stern’s Restoring the Jewishness of the Gospel A Message for Christians has brought to mind the obvious, yet seldom acknowledged as important: Christianity is Jewish at its very core.

Stern reminds us that the atonement of sin, the need for a sacrifice to God, is rooted in the Jewish sacrificial system. He goes on to point out how other aspects we typically consider uniquely Christian are rooted in Judaism. For example, the Lord’s Supper is rooted in the Jewish Passover.

Did you know that baptism is a Jewish practice? When it comes down to it the entire New Testament is built on the Hebrew Bible’s prophecies and promises of a New Covenant.

None of this may be new or shocking revelations to most Christians. We understand on a cursory level that these are our roots in general but we have little interest in understanding the culture and heritage of the one we call our Savior.

It has cost us.

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Why The Division Between Christians And Jews Is Completely Out of God’s Will

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013 - by Rhonda Robinson

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In Kosher Jesus, author Shmuley Boteach writes to both Jews and Christians alike. However, as I mentioned before in What Has Christianity Lost?, his complete dismissal of the New Testament (while understandable) leaves his argument for unity of the faiths a bit one-sided and more than a little disheartening. At least, it does on the Christian side of the family tree.

In our new series Restoring the Jewishness of the Gospel: A Message For Christians, the author David H. Stern, Ph.D is Jewish. He is also a follower of Christ or a Messianic Jew. If your first thought to that statement is, “Doesn’t that make him a Christian?” you might find his book a worthwhile read as we explore this, and many other aspects of our Judeo-Christian heritage.

It’s important to emphasize Restoring the Jewishness of the Gospel: A Message For Christians is intended, as the name implies, primarily for non-Jewish Christians and for Jewish believers in Yeshua (Jesus). The author begins with three presuppositions:

  1. Christianity is Jewish
  2. Antisemitism is un-Christian
  3. Refusing or neglecting to evangelize Jews is antisemitic

The author further assumes,”Yeshua is indeed Israel’s Messiah, and that the New Testament and the Tanakh (Old Testament) constitute God’s word to humanity.”

“Yeshua’s “Great Commission” to the Church was to make disciples from every nation. But as soon as the early Messianic Jews began reaching out to Gentiles, it was necessary to separate the Gospel from its cultural context, so that its essential message would not be encumbered with cultural baggage unnecessary for salvation.

Learning that the New Covenant did not require Gentiles to become Jews in order to be saved was a traumatic process for the Jewish believers in Yeshua.”

Paul spent much of his ministry bringing Gentile believers into the faith, without compelling them to adopt Jewish culture. Doesn’t it seem odd, or just plain wrong, that now that we Gentile believers/Christians are the majority within the church, that we have insisted that Jewish believers do the very same that Paul preached against–adopting Christian culture and leaving Judaism as a condition of salvation?

No wonder, it doesn’t look like God’s plan to either side.

So what is?

That all of Israel be saved.

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What Is Behind Martin Bashir’s Sincere-Sounding Apology to Sarah Palin?

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013 - by Paula Bolyard
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Recently, in response to Martin Bashir’s segment on Sarah Palin, I wrote that the MSNBC host had “taken Palin Derangement Syndrome to a new level of hysteria” and called the attack vile and despicable.

This week, Bashir issued an apology that many found shocking because of its apparent stark sincerity and lack of caveats or blame-shifting. The oft-heard “if I offended anyone” was absent, as Bashir simply said, “I wanted to take this opportunity to say ‘sorry’ to Mrs. Palin and to also offer an unreserved apology to her friends and family, her supporters, our viewers, and anyone who may have heard what I said. My words were wholly unacceptable. They were neither accurate nor fair.” He said he was deeply sorry and added,  “I deeply regret what I said.”

Whatever you think of Bashir and his often liberal political posturing, this is the blueprint for an excellent apology. When I heard it, my first thought was: “This is how you apologize.”

In many ways this does not seem like the same man who viciously attacked Palin and regularly attacks and mocks conservatives on his show, which is why it caught many off guard and engendred accusations of less-than-honorable motives on Bashir’s part, despite the forthrightness of his apology.

While I will not presume to ascribe motives to Bashir, I would like to add a bit of context that may perhaps shed some light on how it’s both plausible and possible that he may have gone from harsh, ugly vitriol on Friday to humility and repentance just a few days later.

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A Model of Interfaith Dialogue: A Southern Baptist at Brigham Young University

Sunday, October 27th, 2013 - by Paula Bolyard

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These days, interfaith dialogue is often reduced to a slogan — a Coexist bumper sticker, perhaps, or a vow to embrace diversity. The words “brutal honesty” are perhaps not the first that come to mind when we think of interfaith dialogue because our culture has trained us to avoid offending people at all costs. Disagreeing with others or speaking too forthrightly — particularly about religion — is not considered to be virtuous. Americans in the 21st century are so sensitive and so fragile that they must be shielded from uncomfortable truths, we are told.

And then there is Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, who demonstrates how intellectual and spiritual honesty can be noble and even preferable to false unity.

Dr. Mohler recently gave an address at Brigham Young University, showing how we can share an interfaith dialogue that is both respectful and honest. Oftentimes those with substantive theological differences will seek to find common ground while truth is sacrificed in the process. Mohler managed to accomplish both in his address to almost 400 students and faculty at the nearly packed auditorium at BYU.

Mohler expressed that he respected his audience enough to acknowledge their differences:

I come as a Christian theologian to speak explicitly and respectfully as a Christian—a Christian who defines Christianity only within the historic creeds and confessions of the Christian church and who comes as one committed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to the ancient and eternal Trinitarian faith of the Christian church. I have not come as less, and you know whom you have invited. I come knowing who you are—to an institution that stands as the most powerful intellectual center of the Latter-Day Saints, the most visible academic institution of Mormonism. You know who I am and what I believe. I know who you are and what you believe.

In a world where conflict and disagreement are often seen as the enemies of the common good, Mohler walked to the podium and gave truth its rightful place of honor in his dialogue with those in attendance. While it might have been tempting in that situation to exude a more conciliatory tone, emphasizing only areas of agreement, Mohler made it clear from the start that he recognized the differences and wanted to begin a dialogue coming from a place of truth.

Mohler, who had met earlier in the day with members of the religious studies faculty at BYU, talked about his warm friendship with several leaders of the LDS church, saying the relationships are richer because they are based in truth:

It has been my great privilege to know friendship and share conversation with leaders of the LDS church. … We do not enjoy such friendship and constructive conversation in spite of our theological differences, but in light of them. This does not eliminate the possibility of conversation. To the contrary, this kind of convictional difference at the deepest level makes for the most important kind of conversation. This is why I am so thankful for your gracious invitation.

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4 Blood Moons On Jewish Holy Days: A Sign for Israel or Christians?

Saturday, October 26th, 2013 - by Rhonda Robinson

And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs, to mark seasons and days and years…” Genesis 1:14 (NIV)

Having a real aversion to doomsday predictions, I’ve never paid any attention to people claiming to know when the end is near–and I still don’t.

Frankly, or maybe shamefully, I’ve never explored the book of Revelation much either. As a mother of nine natural born children, I filed it under the same category as giving birth: nobody gets to sleep through it–you’ll know when it happens.

However, as a Christian who believes in the God of Israel, it’s becoming glaringly obvious we need to understand how the Creator of the universe records timenin the heavens. The “expanse of the sky” is a mathematical clock by which all creation keeps time.

Apparently, that’s why our Jewish friends keep a separate calendar. Good to know, right?

In 2008 Mark Biltz saw an image circulating on the Internet of a blood-moon over the Dome of the Rock. It struck him. As a pastor, his first thoughts went to scripture that describes the moon turning to blood.

Joel 2:30-31:

“I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of  the Lord.

So he did what any man of faith would do–checked NASA’s website. What he discovered has Christians around the world checking their calendar–and looking over Jewish shoulders at theirs’.

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Secular Political Ideology Vs. Biblical Moral Values: Continuing a Debate with Michael Lumish

Sunday, October 20th, 2013 - by Dave Swindle

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My position: with Judeo-Christian values as one’s base then all of the world’s religions become de-fanged and their practices and ideas of potential value can be utilized in conjunction with traditional Jewish and Christian religious practices. For those of a more secular lifestyle, the founders’ philosophy of classical liberalism that forms the foundation of our government is just the political expression of Biblical values.

This is my response — part 2 — of a debate with my friend Mike Lumish about political ideology, the Left-Right contest, Biblical values, and the battle of Good vs Evil. Read his thoughtful Part I here.

Dear Mike,

I’d like to thank you so much for accepting my challenge for us to engage on these issues in a public forum. You’re someone whose work I continue to appreciate and who has earned my respect even though we hold some strong disagreements.

That’s the realization I came to after reading your opening to this debate. It turns out that our differences are much deeper than I initially anticipated. This is all the better — hopefully by the end of our discussion we’ll have both moved closer to at, the very least, perhaps not agreeing but understanding each other better.

I think we have five substantive disagreements in my critique of your writer/blogger/activist approach. I’m going to frame each as a question, quote you, summarize our disagreement, and then explain my position.

1. Whom should pro-Israel and counter-Jihad activists try to reach?

Quoting now from your response, as each block quote will be:

I am a member of that list despite the fact that I am not a political conservative.

Not long ago David offered his criticism of my concerns. In a nutshell, David took me to task for encouraging my fellow liberals to understand that the rise of political Islam is dangerous to women and to gay people and to Jewish people and to all non-Muslims throughout the Middle East, if not the Islamic world, more generally.

[DS: the following is a quotation of me of from our listserv debate. By "old family" I mean the family I grew up in who do not share my politics but who still love and support me. My new family is the one I'm in now -- and my wife and our Siberian Husky Maura are too independent-minded to align with any political ideology.]

“It would be as if I decided that my primary goal in life was just to convert the postmodern secularist progressive pop culture polytheists of my friends and old family into conservatives.”

Just why he makes this strange claim is beyond me.

My critique of you first began as a tactical one: you have stated that your primary mission as an activist in life is to bring the messages of counter-Jihad and pro-Israel policies to your fellow liberal and progressive Jews.

Our disagreement: I believe it’s important to try and reach all human beings across the planet with the broad spectrum of arguments and ideas commonly understood as center-right, conservative-libertarian, Tea Party, classical liberal, the American/British Enlightenment, and especially Judeo-Christian and Biblical. With my new media activism I hope to influence 100% of the population, and not just the United States. According to US Demographics, in 2007 Jews made up 1.7% of the population. The percentage you are targeting — those who are politically engaged and progressive — couldn’t make up more than a fourth or a third of that.

I guess my initial critique of you was somewhat inaccurate. I thought that by now, after all these years of Obama you would have finally moved out of the hybrid, trying-to-pick-and-choose-what-you-want-from-both-sides position. I’m too familiar with this ideological middle ground, as I passed through it too. So you can better understand why I have grown disillusioned with framing activism in secular ideological terms (Left vs Right) I’ll describe my journey across the political spectrum over the last decade, which in some ways is similar to others who have shifted.

    • Start leftist/progressive (generally disillusioned with the Democratic Party or sitting at the Al Sharpton/Dennis Kucinich children’s table while the quasi-grown ups run the party) and naively believing some combination of: a belief in socialim, government regulation, dovish foreign policy, the United Nations, and above all else, the malevolence of conservatives who are the primary enemy of all progress and whose ideas are responsible for both unnecessary casualties of war all over the world and the health-related deaths of hard-working Americans who can’t afford health insurance because of greedy corporations. We should primarily stop terrorism by just extending an olive branch to the Muslim world and admitting our century’s worth of American, capitalist, globalist imperialism. And we should stop supporting Israel since they’re the ones most responsible for all the problems in the Middle East since they’re just too extreme with the Palestinians. And single-payer healthcare is the Holy Grail. I had a position comparable to this from 2003, freshman year of college, through about the end of 2007. Before going to college my political views were poorly defined and just the general, squishy baby boomer Clintonian liberalism of my parents.
    • Gradually drift to the nebulous territory between progressive “liberal” and centrist “liberal” who is at least sane enough to try and implement their goals through the Democratic Party. (I always put the term in quotes when used in this context because I regard it as having been hijacked in order to deceive do-gooders.) Here one recognizes that full-blown socialism couldn’t work in America and that we really do have to fight terrorists but that we have to do it better than the nuts on the Right who are “racist against Muslims.” The difference between the progressive wing of the Democratic Party and the more centrist, Third Way, New Democrats of the 1990s has largely disappeared now. But it still existed some back in 2008 when I attached the “centrist liberal” label. I swam in these ideological seas and ended up voting for Obama because A) Andrew Sullivan convinced me he was a genuine centrist compromiser who was boing to end the baby boomer culture war, and B) I thought Sarah Palin was an idiot and “Christianist” radical who was just picked solely because she was an attractive woman. Mike, if you’re still calling yourself a progressive it sounds like you’re in territory similar to this.
    • To the naive No Labels centrists (David Frum) — those still resisting becoming conservatives and instead pursuing a utopian solution of ending political conflicts through checking the “extremists” supposedly on both sides who they ignorantly believe are morally equivalent. They especially delight in attacking Tea Partiers and all variety of “extremist” conservatives more than their Marxist Nation editor friends who praise their work. I wobbled around in this territory during 2009 (the year I started editing full time), stumbling out into the next category by the beginning of 2010. Slightly to the Right of this contingent is the wimpy Right that wants progressive friendship and approval (Joe Scarborough, David Brooks, John McCain above all others), and basically anyone that had anything substantive to do with the Bush administration and is still defending its entire agenda.
    • A Libertarian-conservative Tea Partier – Usually Tea Party/libertarian in economics and hawkish and pro-Israel, but still a “social liberal” indifferent to abortion, largely secular, and not really caring how coarsened mainstream culture has become. I was inspired into a Tea Party position — as many Americans were — by the horrific push for Obamacare. I was here for about 20 months and still retain Tea Party sympathies.
    • Finally onto Reaganite conservative policies across the board, including social conservatism, which usually coincides with a conversion to serious Judaism, Christianity, or in my oddball case what I’ve described as Judeo-Christian Hermeticism. With the job switch to PJM in Fall 2011 came the opportunity to hit the reset button on how I organized my life. The realization came that I needed to return to a more diligent religious practice to be better equipped in the future when there were other life challenges like necessary job changes. See my piece in response to Walter Hudson, expressing my disagreement with Evangelical Christian theology and explaining the difference between individual Bible-based theologies, and universal Judeo-Christian values that can — and should — be embraced by peoples of all faiths. As I’ve returned to religious life, gradually much of my social “liberalism” has collapsed further. I’m pro-life and support the overturn of Roe v. Wade, not that I expect that alone to make much of a difference in the number of abortions that take place each year. This is more of a cultural battle to confront the truth about how unplanned pregnancies actually happen and the myriad of better options than abortion. But the most major shift that happened to me personally as my views changed is what David P. Goldman explains in the macro-context in How Civilizations Die (And Why Islam is Dying Too). People who do not believe in God do not reproduce. What’s the point? The birthrates remain highest among seriously Jewish and Christian communities. Thus I’ve finally come to know for certain that I need to be a father someday and I must raise as many children as possible. It may be a dozen years or more before The Wife and I are ready but how long isn’t important — children being biologically ours is not a priority. So the war between Left and Right, Secular and Believer is thus much deeper than just economic and foreign policies. It goes to the structure and purpose of the family. (See James C. Bennett and Michael Lotus’s America 3.0 to see the evidence that the nuclear family is the central engine that powered the triumph of the United States.) The cultural conflicts are between two different sets of morals. One that values creating nurturing families of strong individuals. The other that believes that “it takes a village.” (When Hillary said that it takes a village was she also talking about the number of other women she would permit her husband to enjoy in what’s really starting to become clear to everyone as an open marriage?) To secular liberals and even many libertarians these issues of values and character are irrelevant. (And even to so-called conservatives too who supported Newt Gingrich.) So what if the first family and the most influential couple in the Democratic Party are just in a career marriage? As long as they’re “doing their job” then their personal lives are their own. No. Are you going to be OK if that’s your daughter that Bill or Hillary picks as their next plaything?

So yes, bottom line: it doesn’t have to take long to make these various shifts. It just depends on what experiences one has, how certain political and cultural stories impact you, and which thinkers and books cross your path that inspire you to see the world in whole new ways. But I wrote an article last summer explaining why we can’t really provoke people to shift from one category to another. Trying to convert people from one stage to another is just impractical on so many levels: 7 Reasons Why The Right Should Not Seek to Convert The Left. The first item on that list basically summarizes my position: “7. There are More Than Enough Apolitical People Out There Whose Minds Remain Unconquered by the Left.”

So Mike, while I remain mystified that you still regard yourself as in any way progressive/”liberal,” we’ll address this in more substance in a moment in the context of your other arguments. There are still a number of steps along the journey that you have yet to confront. And I hope you do, though perhaps you won’t. Often times whether we do or not is largely outside our hands. Life has to give us each a kick in the ass to wake up and do the right thing.

While my quarrel with you now that I understand your position better is slightly different, the meat of it is still the same. I remain passionately engaged in Counter-Jihad and Pro-Israel new media activism — more so than when we first crossed paths in 2010. Earlier this month I argued that Robert Spencer-style Counter-Jihad should form the basis of the next evolution into a Conservatism 3.0 that overcomes the errors of the naive corporatist baby-boomer professional conservatives.

But if I sought only to try to persuade those who came from the secular, culture-obsessed “liberal” ideology as me then I would be dramatically limiting the amount of potential readers I had to just one small slice of progressives. I don’t think you got this point:

The fact of the matter is that the rise of political Islam throughout the Middle East is of the foremost geo-political significance since the demise of the Soviet Union.  The rise of the Brotherhood and political Islam, despite Morsi’s defeat in Egypt, is something that we must discuss and address and oppose. Much of my writings center upon the fact that my fellow liberals absolutely refuse to even discuss this issue and it is an issue that is greatly in need of discussion.

David suggests that, in contrast to my work, his “writing and editing activism is aimed at EVERYONE, not just one small group.”

I fail to see how the progressive-left, as a political movement, represents “one small group.”  It doesn’t. David is a good man, but he is simply wrong. The progressive-left is a huge political movement that dominates politics and political discourse throughout Europe and the United States and I, in fact, am a member of that political inclination.

I suppose if you decided to focus on ALL progressives and leftists, that would be somewhat of an improvement over what you’re doing now, though for the 7 reasons listed in that previous piece, I wouldn’t condone it. My point was that you direct your activism at members of the group that you previously identified with, a smaller, particular niche of the Left — center-Left Jews. How many people are there actually in the country who identify that way? Sure, the Democratic Party and so-called “liberalism”  are more dominant among many people who identify as Jewish. But that doesn’t mean that most of such Jews really care about either their politics or their religion all that much.

The activist core of engaged progressive/left Jews who you seek to reach with your writings are actually small in number — just as, in the sentence you quoted, I emphasized that me choosing to exclusively focus on the postmodern, pop culture-obsessed community I came out of would similarly be a waste of time, if only on the numbers alone. To build a large enough political/cultural coalition to actually elect effective leaders to make things happen in the real world we have to reach out much more broadly than just our own neighborhoods.

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Politics Vs Theology: Beginning A Debate With David Swindle

Sunday, October 13th, 2013 - by Michael Lumish

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Editor’s Introduction: I’ve known Mike Lumish since the summer of 2010 when he began starting a shift toward the pro-Israel and counter-Jihad movements. He submitted several strong, thoughtful blog posts during my tenure as managing editor of a media criticism and ideological activism new media publication. He primarily wrote from the position of a liberal Jew seeks to advocate for his fellow Jews to recognize the great threat of the global Jihad. After the closing of the publication I began a small email listserv — only a few dozen alumni — and now still continue more than two years after joining PJM. They’re my friends and it’s great to keep track of what they’re all doing and to debate political and cultural issues. (We’re an oddball assortment across ages, cultures, religions and the ideological spectrum.)

A few weeks ago I was wearing my New Media Troublemaker hat and decided to provoke a discussion when Mike submitted another of his posts for the group’s consideration. I responded, critiquing his whole approach in fundamental ways and explaining how I had continued to change in both my ideas and tactics while he seemed to still be repeating the same stuff over and over. And we went back and forth for a bit and finally it occurred that the discussion might be appreciated and perhaps even joined by others. So I invited Mike to submit a post to PJ Lifestyle. And I am so delighted that he accepted! Though we may have important disagreements, I think Mike’s got a good heart, is moving in the right direction, and on the important fight of the day — Radical Islam’s war against the West and its oppression of fellow Muslims — he’s an ally. Check out his blog Israel Thrives here. So I look forward to an engaging discussion soon.

- DMS

David Swindle is an editor and writer for PJ Media and my former editor at NewsReal Blog, once the blog of FrontPageMag. The alumni of NRB maintain an email list in which we keep one another current on our activities and writings and interests and in which people hash out policy differences. I am a member of that list despite the fact that I am not a political conservative.

Not long ago David offered his criticism of my concerns. In a nutshell, David took me to task for encouraging my fellow liberals to understand that the rise of political Islam is dangerous to women and to gay people and to Jewish people and to all non-Muslims throughout the Middle East, if not the Islamic world, more generally.

He writes:

When you describe yourself as an activist in these words: “I am actually non-partisan and want the progressive-left, including the Jewish left, to stand up against political Islam and to recognize that the Obama administration has supported the rise of political Islam throughout the Middle East via supporting the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, among other places” then you are defining your primary priorities as a writer-activist.

But David objects to this.

He responded by telling me that I am a “blind, childish fool” in making this my “crusade.”

He claims,

“It would be as if I decided that my primary goal in life was just to convert the postmodern secularist progressive pop culture polytheists of my friends and old family into conservatives.”

Just why he makes this strange claim is beyond me.

The fact of the matter is that the rise of political Islam throughout the Middle East is of the foremost geo-political significance since the demise of the Soviet Union.  The rise of the Brotherhood and political Islam, despite Morsi’s defeat in Egypt, is something that we must discuss and address and oppose. Much of my writings center upon the fact that my fellow liberals absolutely refuse to even discuss this issue and it is an issue that is greatly in need of discussion.

David suggests that, in contrast to my work, his “writing and editing activism is aimed at EVERYONE, not just one small group.”

I fail to see how the progressive-left, as a political movement, represents “one small group.”  It doesn’t. David is a good man, but he is simply wrong. The progressive-left is a huge political movement that dominates politics and political discourse throughout Europe and the United States and I, in fact, am a member of that political inclination.

It is because that I am an American liberal, and someone who marched against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, that I feel some responsibility for standing up against the Obama administration’s embrace of the Muslim Brotherhood and the rise of political Islam.

David, however, feels that this is simply insufficient. He tells me that my,

“focus on politics doesn’t go deep enough. Left, Right, progressive, conservative — none of these ideologies matter if the person holding them does not really choose to believe in a transcendent God and thus Good and Evil.”

It is at this point, not surprisingly, that the conversation comes immediately to a grinding halt. I do not write about theology, although the history of religion is part of my academic background. When someone tells me that there is “Good” and there is “Evil” and that they stand for “Good” then there is nothing further to discuss, which is why it took me so long to finally respond to David.

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Religion Ought to Be Divisive

Sunday, October 13th, 2013 - by Walter Hudson

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Last week, I took exception to the assertion by my PJM colleague Rhonda Robinson that “Christians Should Agree with Jews’ Disinterest in Heaven and Hell.” I pointed out that the blessed hope of eternal life in heaven alongside our glorious Lord fulfills the purpose of our lives. We exist to bring Him glory, and will do so either as examples of his undeserved grace or convicts under his perfect justice. That is the Gospel. That is the Good News. That is Christianity. So how could we Christians ever allow ourselves to become disinterested in it?

Robinson wrapped up her consideration of Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s Kosher Jesus asking “Could We Restore America If Jews and Christians Accepted a Hyphenated Jesus?” She concluded:

The author has gone to great lengths to point out that Jesus was in fact an observant Jew, one whose life of walking in righteousness (whether you believe him to be the son of God or not) is worth emulating. Jesus of Nazareth will forever bind us together.

We can spend a lot of time arguing about differences, using that hyphen to divide us. Or we can choose to embrace it, to forgive the hurts of the past and face the future united. As Americans we face real enemies, both cultural and physical.

Isn’t it time we stopped trying so hard to simply make a point, and give our lives as Jesus did, to make a difference?

I’m not even sure what that means. Clearly, the Gospel purpose of Christ’s death cannot be what Robinson here references. Aside from atoning for the sin of mankind so that believers could be credited with His righteous life and avoid the eternal judgment of Holy God, what difference did Christ’s death make worth talking about? Why would Christians want to unite in spiritual congress with those who deny the foundational tenant of Christianity? Even if such ecumenical union could somehow restore America (whatever that means), why would we sideline the truth of salvation for a temporal end?

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Why Christians, Jews, and Everyone Else Better Take an Interest in Heaven and Hell

Sunday, October 6th, 2013 - by Walter Hudson

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In her ongoing reflection upon Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s Kosher Jesus, my PJM colleague Rhonda Robinson asserts that “Christians Should Agree with Jews’ Disinterest in Heaven and Hell.” In her quest for inter-faith unity, she drags Christianity back down to Earth.

Boteach explains that “Jews do not follow Judaism for the purpose of reward in the afterlife.” Honestly, neither should Christians. And I would venture to say, most don’t.

It’s easy to see where that is the perception. That’s what most evangelists preach: the infamous knock on the door, followed by “if you die tonight where would you go?” style of evangelism.

Those who honestly seek to follow Christ, do in fact live out what Boteach is trying to say that true Judaism is, by bringing more light into the world. Some of the best schools, hospitals and outreaches have been started and flourished by Christians living out this very principle.

When asked by Christians “Do you know where you’re going?” Boteach’s response is worth noting,

My worship of God is not about me. It’s not about saving myself from hell. I’m not here on this earth to spend my life accruing virtue so I get some divine reward. I don’t worship God so it ultimately benefits me. I do it because I want to be in a relationship with Him. I do it because it’s right. And I do it to make this world a better place. I love God unconditionally and unequivocally. Not because I expect anything in return.

Most Christians I know could have said the very same thing.

How wonderfully pious.

Let us dare to ask some essential questions. Why should anyone worship God? Why should anyone love Him? Why should anyone want to “be in a relationship with Him”? What’s the point? Boteach asserts that he loves God “because it’s right.” But where’s he getting that from? Why is it right? Why would not loving God be wrong?

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Could We Restore America if Jews and Christians Accepted a Hyphenated Jesus?

Sunday, September 29th, 2013 - by Rhonda Robinson
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Although I’m not a fan, it’s not hard to see the truth behind Teddy Roosevelt’s warning about hyphenated Americanism.
The one absolutely certain way of bringing this nation to ruin, of preventing all possibility of its continuing to be a nation at all, would be to permit it to become a tangle of squabbling nationalities, an intricate knot of German-Americans, Irish-Americans, English- Americans, French-Americans, Scandinavian- Americans, or Italian-Americans, each preserving its separate nationality, each at heart feeling more sympathy with Europeans of that nationality than with the other citizens of the American Republic.
I would venture to say that many of us, if not most, could look over his list of hyphenated Americans and see our own family linage. However, as generations successfully assimilate, few continue to identify themselves as anything other than American.

No one is arguing that legitimate immigrants who come to America for its ideals and opportunities are unwelcome. However, the exhausting list of differences between the legal migration of the Roosevelt era and the illegal infiltration we are experiencing today makes his sentiments all the more relevant.

However, there are hyphens that bring division and there are hyphens that bind us together.

In spite of popular belief, America was founded on principles. All men are “created” equal. The God that created us in His image, the Judeo-Christian God, gave us what we call our American values. Is it any wonder those very values are under attack from evil on all sides?

In the closing chapter of Shmuley Boteach’s Kosher Jesusthe author suggests that a Jewish Jesus is the hyphen that binds the two faiths together. Two separate and distinct religions united by Jesus of Nazareth. These two faiths ever locked together are the genesis of American values.

Here’s how following Jesus can unite rather than divide us.

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The Spiritual Journey Of Billy Corgan

Thursday, September 19th, 2013 - by Chris Queen

Billy Corgan then and now

When you put together a list of the most influential and interesting bands of the ’90s, you have to put Smashing Pumpkins near the top of the list. The band and its charismatic leader, Billy Corgan, took a flair for the grandiose, a generation’s angst, and Corgan’s distinctive voice and parlayed them into a successful career, selling 25 million albums.

Smashing Pumpkin’s songs spoke to certain members of my generation in ways that no other band could. Lyrics like, “The killer in me is the killer in you,” “In spite of my rage, I’m still just a rat in a cage,” and “We don’t even care” reflected a particular spiritual emptiness in Generation X. Whether fans were drawn to that brand of nihilism (remember the Zero T-shirt?) or, like me, just enjoyed the music, there was no denying the darkness at the core of Corgan’s music.

Corgan admits that he had a definite reason for such darkness – he struggled with depression and often harbored suicidal thoughts during the band’s heyday:

“I think I had to hit rock-bottom to even be open to ask for help,” he says of his state of mind during much of the 1990s.

“There were days, months and years where I just stared out the window and felt miserable…”

[...]

Corgan’s music was always hailed for its raw honesty but overt spirituality didn’t seem to be part of his earlier life. In 1993, while their second album, “Siamese Dream,” catapulted The Pumpkins to nationwide popular success, Corgan says he felt suicidal.

Throughout that period, Corgan’s maniacally creative genius helped him suppress the unhappiness and emptiness he felt inside as the world seemed to simultaneously hand him the best and worst of everything. Band members’ drug addictions, messy personal relationships and the pressure of living up to expectations of becoming the new Nirvana locked Corgan into a deep depression while record sales soared.

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Sushmita Banerjee Told the Truth about Radical Islam and Got Shot

Friday, September 6th, 2013 - by Sarah Hoyt

Sushmita-Banerjee_2662814b

All the western feminists who keep talking about how they speak truth to power but who never talk about the real abuses against women that take place far, far away from their safe upscale enclaves and their safe upscale universities could take lessons in courage from Sushmita Banerjee.

The Indian woman wrote about escaping from the Taliban and her story was made into a Bollywood movie.  It is impossible that she didn’t know the potential for paying with her life for telling the truth. Now, the Telegraph reports:

Sushmita Banerjee, who only recently moved back to the country to be with her husband, was killed by Taliban gunmen outside her home, according to police in Paktika province.

Her body was riddled with more than 20 bullets and some of her hair had been ripped from her head, they said.

It is the latest in a string of attacks on prominent woman. The Taliban and other militant groups have kidnapped high-profile politicians, murdered female police officers and killed campaigners as they try to enforce their brutal form of Islam.

Western feminists need to speak up for women like Sushmita Banerjee instead of idolizing the barbarians who killed her, trying to rewrite the English language so the masculine form is banned, and engaging in ever-more-pointless attacks on males and masculinity.

If you want a future of equality for women, then the future must not belong to barbarians who kill women for telling the truth about militant Islam.

Photo: SEBASTIAN D’SOUZA/AFP

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Dietary Laws: Outdated Legalism or The Father’s Hand of Protection?

Monday, August 26th, 2013 - by Rhonda Robinson

FathersHands

Nothing gave me a better glimpse of the Father’s love for me than looking into the face of my newborn. Only then did I understand what it meant to love someone else more than myself.

The first time my boy got sick it broke my heart. Lying in my arms his limp little body radiated heat. His eyes seemed glazed over with a sheet of pink glass. I thought to myself, “I wish it were me and not him.” At that moment, I realized I would gladly give my life for his. Almost instantly, I understood why God described Himself to us as our Father, and why Christ would die for us — unconditional love.

Then came the toddler years. Although my love never changed, how I expressed it sure did. I made rules. Most of the time, he really couldn’t understand why I said no. That’s perfectly fine with me. I didn’t need him to understand that the big brown “boat” swirling in the water was not put there for him to play with. He’ll get it later when he discovers the meaning of gross, and eventually he’ll understand the concept of germs. Until then, I just expected obedience.

He’s 35 now. It’s not an issue. Although he’s never thanked me, I’m pretty sure he’s glad I never let him splash in the toilet, or eat everything he found on the floor.

In The Maker’s Diet the author Jordan S.Rubin, makes a strong case that the dietary laws given to God’s chosen people, is His hand of protection. Apparently God knew that with enough barbecue sauce we would happily lick a toilet.

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Dietary Laws: Did Jesus Model or Dismiss Them?

Sunday, July 28th, 2013 - by Rhonda Robinson

Guy-and-his-Dog

When my oldest son moved out of the house, he called to brag about his newfound freedom. ”Hey, mom, I’m just standing here with the refrigerator door wide open. This morning I got up, with all the lights still on, and ran down the hall with scissors in my hand yelling — it was awesome.”

To this day, I can only assume that he just wanted to give me a laugh — which he did. But the truth is he could have done all those things. He lived under his own roof, not mine. He could have, but I don’t believe he did. Although he still loved to push his mother’s buttons, he knew the wisdom behind those house rules. He no longer followed them because I made him; he willingly acted accordingly because he understood it prudent and beneficial.

In reading the New Testament and attempting to see it through author Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s eyes in Kosher JesusI’m trying to discern whether Jesus really was a Jewish rebel who dismissed dietary laws, or if that is merely an uninformed perception of the Christian church.

If in fact our God is a good Father, and I believe He is, and He gave His people laws to live by including dietary laws for their benefit, not His — why would Jesus rescind them?

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Jesus a Pharisee?

Sunday, July 21st, 2013 - by Rhonda Robinson

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Turns out he was both.

In Rabbi Boteach’s Kosher Jesus, the author points to the fact that Jesus was a carpenter by trade, which only adds to the evidence that he was indeed a classically trained scholar — a Pharisaic rabbi.

Boteach goes on to explain that the title of rabbi, in those days, was a form of respect, not a formal ordination as we understand it today. Jesus working as a humble carpenter was in direct keeping with the custom of the time. Teaching was considered a sacred duty. Jews thought it exploitive to profit from people’s desire to hear and understand God’s instructions for living a prosperous, peaceful life.

It’s my experience that the fundamentals of Sunday school teach Christian children early on that the Pharisees and Sadducees are equally bad. They are two sides of the same coin — a spiritual wooden nickel. Two faces representing an imitation of the real goodness of God. So much so, that when Jesus came on the scene teaching with his parables, he stood in direct contrast to their teaching. Which, in turn, provoked them to hate him.

Boteach claims that everything from Jesus’s teaching style to his vocation points to indisputable evidence that he was indeed a Pharisaic rabbi.

But isn’t that a bad thing?

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Don’t Forget to Ask a Jew This Sunday

Friday, June 28th, 2013 - by Dave Swindle

Click here to purchase tickets for the third “Ask a Jew” event with Dennis Prager and Hugh Hewitt From Brown Paper Tickets.

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Dear R.J. Moeller,

You’re going to have to forgive me but I’m still writing away at another of my epic, interfaith list posts. “Judeo-Christian Values For Secularists And Space Travelers: 7 Key Ideas For Understanding the Bible Like a Grown-Up,” recounting some of the key points from the first of your “Ask a Jew” events with Dennis Prager and Hugh Hewitt, still needs more time in the writing oven. I’m at a little over 3000 words, and it’s about 80% of the way there but I’m not sure that I’ll have the time to finish before the event this Sunday.

So I thought just in case I don’t finish before the event I’d do this post here, insisting that anyone on the fence about whether they should attend the event on Sunday  should stop wallowing in doubt and just go ahead and go. The debut back in March was a tremendously enlightening, entertaining event that people of all faith traditions should find engaging. You, Hugh, and Dennis are doing such important work bringing people together across religious traditions.

Good luck with #3,

David

P.S. Have you seen this week’s Prager University video that explains how Europeans learned the wrong lesson from World War II, resulting in an ideological rejection of nationalism, and therefore an antipathy to the Jewish state? I embedded above. Prager U is really on a roll — this is another one I’ll definitely be laying on my Democrat friends and family who don’t understand why a non-Jew should be concerned about Israel.

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