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Old 09-28-2006, 09:18 PM   #91
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Your right but I don't literally mean I have only thought about for five seconds. I didn't mean to be so harsh.
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Old 09-28-2006, 09:23 PM   #92
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I'm often guilty of questioning Christianity and finding it extrememly flawed, but my argument is usually more with Christians that with Christianity.
Exactly. The people running it aren't always perfect, but the ideals behind it are OK. Same with Islam, Judaism, and many other faiths.
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Old 09-28-2006, 09:27 PM   #93
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Your right but I don't literally mean I have only thought about for five seconds. I didn't mean to be so harsh.
Ok.
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Old 09-28-2006, 09:58 PM   #94
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Anyways, back to conversion. For any of you that know, I understand you choose a hebrew name in the conversion process and I was wondering is that name only used in the jewish community or do you actually change your birth name?
No, you don't change your birth name, nor need you go by your Hebrew name when "in the Jewish community" either; if your birth name is Fintan O'Boyle, then folks at your synagogue are most likely going to keep right on calling you Fintan unless you wish otherwise. The purpose of this ritual, which is typically one of the very last steps in the conversion process, is to symbolize your joining the Jewish people (or being "reborn" into it, in the case of someone of nonreligious Jewish background). Often, in the case of converts with non-Jewish parentage, the title ben Avram Avinu (for a male; "son of Father Abraham") or bat Sarai Imenu (for a female; "daughter of Mother Sarah") will be "officially" tacked on to whatever name you choose as well, to further underline the point that you have just as strong a claim to belonging as anyone born Jewish.

I actually remember reading a (true) anecdote somewhere awhile back about a man with an Irish last name--O'Brien, I think--who had just completed the conversion process and mentioned to his rabbi that he'd been thinking maybe he should change his last name to "something more Jewish-sounding." The rabbi laughed and said, "What do you mean?" The man replied, "Well, O'Brien isn't much of a Jewish name, is it?" The rabbi shrugged and said, "It is now!"

As a footnote, in all seriousness there really are Irish Jews; there's been a small community in Ireland since the 13th century. Although I suppose probably not many of them have "typically Irish" names...
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Also, this may be a dumb question but it seems to me that jews have a much closer connection with israel than christians why is that?
For cultural and historic reasons, primarily. (I apologize for the length of what follows, but I don't know how to convey this particular point succinctly, lol!)

Obviously in ancient times, being a Jew and living in Israel went hand-in-hand for most; that changed beginning with the Babylonian exile (roughly 586-520 BC), from which the majority of Jews never returned, finding it safer and easier to simply remain in Babylon (or wherever else they might have moved to) instead. Although a substantial number of Jews did return, and remained until the final destruction by Rome around 70 AD, from Babylonian times on diaspora became a key theme in Jewish life, and the more adaptable system of synagogue-based, rabbinic Judaism as we know it today (as opposed to temple-based, priestly Judaism) slowly began to emerge: personal observance over priestly intermediaries; open-ended debate among the learned (rabbis) as a means to refining and clarifying the laws, as opposed to the edicts of priests; and so on.

Nonetheless, the idea of diaspora remained intertwined with the sense of mourning for a homeland forever lost, and it could likely hardly have been otherwise given the prominence of Israel in Jewish scripture. To this day, Jews in diaspora end the Passover Seder every year by singing L'Shana Ha'ba'a B'Yerushalayim--"Next Year in Jerusalem" (although some wags this side of the pond have been known to sing, "Next Year in Brooklyn" instead). And of course there always was a small community of Jews whose families lingered on there, as subsequent empires rose and fell across the region.

Modern Zionism emerged in Europe in the late 1800s, not as a religious revival but as a combination of two quite secular factors: reaction to increasingly violent waves of anti-Semitism, particularly in Tsarist Russia (the era of pogroms, which sometimes killed hundreds of thousands in short order); and the influence of European nationalist theory, which was at its height at the time (basically, the idea that the proper grounding and justification for a state's existence is the cultural commonality and shared traditions of its people). The early Zionist leaders were for the most part Russian secular socialists, very utopian in some ways, very pragmatic in others; and their major strategy was to petition the various major imperial powers of the time in hopes of securing a land of their own, where they would not have to live side-by-side with people who persecuted them. Although a homeland in Palestine was always the dream goal, they were quite willing to consider other options, and in fact very seriously considered a conditional offer from Britain of some "undeveloped" land in what is now Kenya at one point. I won't bore you with every major detail of this long "petitioning" stage, but at any rate, over time Britain emerged as the most receptive imperial party to Zionist interests--for an array of reasons, few if any of them altruistic: desire to stem the tide of Russian Jewish immigrants flooding into London's East End, without the bad PR of passing yet more "Aliens Acts" transparently aimed at keeping Jewish refugees out; Prime Minister Lloyd George's shrewd recognition of "the importance of not prejudicing the Zionist movement and the possibility of its development under British auspices" (from a directive to his Cabinet, 1917)--i.e., here's a golden opportunity to get a party beholden to us in place in Palestine and protect our interests in the region, since the Arabs aren't proving as compliant as we'd like; and, less importantly though still significant, an unrealistic hope that if they might coax Russian Jews to drop their support for the growing Russian anti-war movement (and imminent Bolshevik Revolution) by throwing them a bone so to speak, then perhaps the feared disaster of Russia abandoning WWI wouldn't happen.

Regardless, the number of Jews worldwide who supported the Zionists at this point was still very small. Devout, traditional Orthodox Jews considered the idea of a return to Israel under any conditions besides the arrival of the Messiah heretical (and a *small* number of ultra-Orthodox today remain fervently anti-Zionist for this reason); while more secularized Jews--really, most Western European Jews, period--considered it a waste of time, believing that as democracy and the ideals of the Enlightenment continued to progress, anti-Semitism would soon become a distant memory, and that the best future for Jews lay in simply continuing to be good citizens of whatever country they lived in.

The rise of the Nazis changed all that--that, and the refusal of the soon-to-be Allies of WWII to raise their immigration caps enough to absorb all the Jews who were trying to flee, as well as the White Paper (1939) in which Britain, trying to placate the Arabs after a series of revolts (and responding violence from Zionist paramilitaries) which they could not now afford the manpower to crush, sharply backtracked on their promises for the creation of a Jewish state, and simultaneously cut the Jewish immigration quotas to Palestine to a trickle. By the time the Nazis surrendered in 1945, the overwhelming majority of Jews everywhere had become firmly convinced that a Jewish state was needed to provide a safe home for the survivors, especially the well over a million Central and Eastern European Jews who could not be safely repatriated due to continuing pogroms and persecution. While the majority of Western European survivors returned to their home countries, once again the Allies were unwilling to raise immigration caps sufficiently to absorb any more than about a third of the refugees. Having taken over the mandate from Britain, the UN voted Israel into existence on November 29, 1947.

What's happened since then, pretty much everyone knows at least the general outlines of. Some Jews feel overall very positive about the way the state of Israel has unfolded, and some don't at all. But it's safe to say that--almost--all of us feel a strong emotional connection to the idea of Israel regardless.

I don't know whether this topic is covered in much depth in a typical convert's course of study or not, but anyhow I hope this answers your question.
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Old 09-28-2006, 10:09 PM   #95
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I think I understand this, but perhaps not. I get the bit about there being plenty of wise men in the world, and agree with that, however aren't the principles and tenets etc which Jesus promoted a bit more than all of that? Does he really have to be more than human for it to be worth dedicating your life and entire beliefs to?

I guess...it would mean that this whole caper is then built on false pretenses, but they aren't bad false pretenses. The beliefs you could still hold, right? Not about Jesus anymore, but the things he tried to teach and that religion has passed on.
Actually, if Jesus isn't who he claimed, but his principle and tenets are true, then I am up "you-know-what-creek" without a paddle, because then my redemption would be dependent on my own goodness and faithfulness in living up to those principles and tenets, and frankly I can't measure up. I can't ever be good enough to live up to those standards and principles. Christ lived up to those principles and tenets - he fulfilled the law by being perfect and sinless, and when he died he took the punishment that sin demands. He did it so that I wouldn't be judged guilty. If Christ is not who he claims to be, then I have no advocate before the Father; I have nothing but my own go works - which are nothing when compared to the perfection of God the Father.
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Old 09-29-2006, 12:07 AM   #96
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Thanks for all the info yolland.
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Old 09-29-2006, 01:27 AM   #97
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Originally posted by edgeboy
The jews have been talking about the coming messiah hundreds of years before christ exsisted. If the jews truly thought christ was the one why did only twelve disciples follow him and why did they wait like 60 years after jesus died or "floated into heavan" to write something down about him? They didn't seem to be enthusiastic about him.
The "official" stance of the majority of Jews was that Jesus was yet another imposter, a pretender to the throne, of which there were many at that time. Only a small minority bought into Jesus' claims to be the long awaited Messiah.

As to why they waited 60 years to write down the story of Jesus? I'm not sure. I know that this was a very different time and culture unlike today where every major event and person has a book and movie about it out within a year. It doesn't seem unreasonable that it might have taken awhile for the followers of Christ to decide "Hey, we should write this stuff down." One possibility is that they may have felt it unnecessary as they may have hoped that Jesus would be coming back to earth fairly quickly. Only after many years had passed might they have begun to think "Hey we might die soon, and we need to leave this story for those who will come after us."

Just speculating. Still, based on the book of Acts and early church history, I'd hardly think they "weren't that enthusiastic." Being willing to die for your faith is some kind of enthusiasm, I'd think.
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Old 09-29-2006, 01:30 AM   #98
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so is this a case for taking the bible literally? for taking jesus's words verbatum?

i don't see why it has to be an all-or-nothing argument. it seems to me that what Lewis is saying (and, to a lesser extent, Bono) is something that appears to be enlightened and wonderfully clarifying, but is really much more problematic than it initially seems.
I wasn't making a case for anything. I was asking what your take was. I'm not saying that it might not be "all or nothing" is inherently unreasonable. I was just wondering what you thought.
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Old 09-29-2006, 02:09 AM   #99
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I'd hardly think they "weren't that enthusiastic." Being willing to die for your faith is some kind of enthusiasm, I'd think.
if being willing to die for one's faith has value

then Chistianity is behind Islam
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Old 09-29-2006, 03:21 AM   #100
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i use reasoning and critical analysis skills i acquired in college, and i am suspicious of any sort of established doctrine. this doesn't mean it is "wrong," but more that notions of "right" or "wrong" (or, better, "true" or "false") aren't really meaningful when we're talking about this stuff. i think humans don't do well with ambiguity, we don't do well with nuance and shades of grey and determining what is and what isn't important, so we create absolutes for ourselves. either something is, or it isn't. either it's one way, or another. and i don't think reality is like that.

it seems logical, to me, to understand that Mark and John were starting a religion. it makes sense to me that they had a brand to sell. it makes sense to me that no one is going to remember someone's precise words, but rather the gist of what someone is saying. it makes sense to me that the message is more important than the messenger (and i think Jesus would agree, though it does make sense that the message means nothing if the messenger isn't who he says he is ... though i don't know if that's the only way it makes sense).

it simply doesn't seem logical that notions of an afterlife are exclusive to those who believe in Jesus, but not to those who don't who by no fault of their own could never be Christian, because of geography, culture, or their personal constitutions. Buddhism makes far, far more sense to me, for example, than Christianity. i think it's absurd for Christians to think that they are possessed of privileged knowledge that others don't see, or that they "get" something that others don't.

however, the idea that you "get" something that others don't goes back precisely to the branding of a religion -- how authoritative is an institution and thought system going to be if it doesn't proclaim exclusivity? if it says, "well, many paths to the same place"? how much Coke are you going to sell if you say, "Coke is good, but some people like Pepsi, and there's also Sprite if you don't feel like a Cola, and Fanta is great in the summer"?

and i also think that understanding religion -- all religions -- as very human thought systems doesn't necessarily destroy the message behind most religions. i had a discussion over the weekend with my friend's wife who was once very religious, but she got sick of people using Christianity to drive wedges between people. we had a great, deep conversation, and she though that what religion should do, and what all religions can do, is reveal -- through the mechanisms of culture, and religion is an expression of culture as much as anything else -- our common human condition. that you and i and the leper in Calcutta and Cameron Diaz and the Myan Indian are all made from the same stuff, and come from the same place, and will one day return to that same place, and that we are all connected. and how dare people use religion to separate us from each other, to use it as a tool of exclusivity, when it should be a way to culturally explore the glue that holds us all together -- the terrible, agonizing paradox of the human condition (we are born to die), and the possible way out of this paradox (where we all go when we die, back to the fabric from which we were originally cut in all our unique shapes and sizes).

and i think Christianity, and the "Jesus message," as i understand it, agree with this. i understand the claims of exclusivity. it does make logical sense. but it doesn't make any emotional sense, and to me, it smells of branding.

but that's just me.
Very articulate post, Irvine. I enjoyed reading it, and I see your points. Christianity is difficult, I admitt, because of it's exclusivisity (Did you read my journal entry from several months back titled "It'd be so much easier if I were Buddhist"? I wrote on essay addressing that very theme.), but that does not necessarily make it wrong.

As to the issue of branding, I think 80s addressed that. These people were willing to suffer and die for the Good News story they were "marketing." Generally people don't suffer and die for things they KNOW to be lies. That's the key thing. You could argue that the Christians who got "thrown to the lions" later in history were dying for something they had been led to believe was true (even if it wasn't). But you'd have a hard time convincing me that the founders of Christianity, those who knew Jesus, knew that he was dead and yet were willing to die for the idea that He'd been resurrected. It only makes sense that at the very least these early followers of Christ sincerely believed that Jesus had returned to life.
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Old 09-29-2006, 03:24 AM   #101
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if being willing to die for one's faith has value

then Chistianity is behind Islam
It was a question of enthusiasm not "value" per se.

Just to clarify where I stand on the issue of "dying for faith". Choosing to die for one's beliefs can be admirable. Choosing to kill for one beliefs, I have a serious problem with.

Adherents to both Christianity and Islam have died and killed for their faith over the course of history. It's neither here nor there.
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Old 09-29-2006, 07:53 AM   #102
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"Did he hide the rest of his life?" Exactly.
Gosh, I don't ever try to cause conflict with anyone but christianity is so obviously false to me. If you think about it logically and honestly for about five seconds you realize it's just not true. I wish it was but that doesn't mean I through away my brain and not think it through you know.
I know you said you should have rephrased this in a later post but I'm curious to hear you expand a little on this.

What is it about Christianity that is "obviously false". I would imagine that in the figurative five seconds you would think, "Hmm, people can't come back from the dead. It's impossible. Obviously this faith is a crcok." Is that the "obviously false" you were thinking of, because if so I could understand that. But if it's not that, what is it?

I'm also intrigued by your last statement "I wish that it was" because this could be getting towards what I have yet to find--someone who says "I love the idea of Christianity, I want it to be true, but logically I can't accept it." As I pointed out a few posts back with all of those who reject Christianity, it's never quite as basic as that. Usuallythere is also an active distaste for the faith.
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Old 09-29-2006, 08:00 AM   #103
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Originally posted by Angela Harlem


I think I understand this, but perhaps not. I get the bit about there being plenty of wise men in the world, and agree with that, however aren't the principles and tenets etc which Jesus promoted a bit more than all of that? Does he really have to be more than human for it to be worth dedicating your life and entire beliefs to?

I guess...it would mean that this whole caper is then built on false pretenses, but they aren't bad false pretenses. The beliefs you could still hold, right? Not about Jesus anymore, but the things he tried to teach and that religion has passed on.
For me, yes, He has to be more than human because I'm dedicated to the person of Jesus as much as I am to the more abstract concepts of ideals and teachings.

I also think you raise an interesting question. I found your post quite thought provokng actually. You raise the issue of what exactly are the things he tried to teach, that Christianity has passed on. What did Jesus teach? And could we hold those teachings without holding Jesus to be divine? I personally don't think so. Maybe some of what he taught--love one another, forgive, do not judge, turn the other cheek and so on--but there are other things that he taught that you could not accept unless you also accepted Jesus' claims of divinity.
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Old 09-29-2006, 08:04 AM   #104
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Yolland, thanks for the brief but cogent history of the Jewish faith and Israel. Very informative.

I have a question. What is the status of the Messiah among the various branches of modern Judaism today? Are faithful Jews generally expecting a Messiah to come or has that belief been abandoned over the years? And if they are expecting a Messiah what do they expect he will be like and what will he do?
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Old 09-29-2006, 10:40 AM   #105
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Actually, if Jesus isn't who he claimed, but his principle and tenets are true, then I am up "you-know-what-creek" without a paddle, because then my redemption would be dependent on my own goodness and faithfulness in living up to those principles and tenets, and frankly I can't measure up. I can't ever be good enough to live up to those standards and principles. Christ lived up to those principles and tenets - he fulfilled the law by being perfect and sinless, and when he died he took the punishment that sin demands. He did it so that I wouldn't be judged guilty. If Christ is not who he claims to be, then I have no advocate before the Father; I have nothing but my own go works - which are nothing when compared to the perfection of God the Father.


perhaps redemption isn't in the achievement of the goal, but in the effort and the process one undergoes while trying to achieve the goal? that it's the striving to be like Christ that is the path to redemption, that you've been set up to fail, since no one can ever be truly Christ like. a bit like Sisyphus.

[q]Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.

~Samuel Beckett[/q]
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