Hannah and Papa J

Hannah and Papa J

Monday, October 13, 2014

How to safely be a heretic

Dear Hannah,

The other day I was accosted by the first militant Jew I've ever met.  I've heard of militant Jews for years now; the ones in wide-brimmed hats and ridiculous curls who go around "shaming" people for turning on light switches and spitting on the Sabbath.  I've lived long enough now to know that it's always better to meet religious people before making judgments about them: I heard terrible things about the Mormons for years, and then I found out they were some of the greatest neighbors in the world (at least, they are in Seattle).  But anyone who thinks he's morally superior for not eating shrimp or wearing polyester is already too unbearable for my taste. Thankfully, I'm not alone.  Jesus seems to have agreed with me. 


Anyhow, this short, stocky, middle-aged woman didn't have the stereotypical hat or the curls to give her away, but the first words I heard from her were a complaint about "holiday stamps."  She wanted them to have pictures of menorahs for Yom Kippur instead, which she swore was the most important holiday in the entire world.  I can see how it could be; the Day of Atonement is the confession of national sins and the day God is supposed to wipe our slate clean.  In a sense, it's a Christmas where people actually confess how horrible they've been instead of getting trashed and going broke.  In this aspect, The Day of Atonement is a superior holiday.  In the other aspect, that Jews take their sins out on some poor goat, it is decidedly inferior.  In the final aspect, that they take the metaphor of scapegoating in a non-metaphorical sense, and missed the arrival of the Messiah, it is a complete failure.

Of course, I'm not Jewish.  The cashier she was speaking to was not Jewish.  None of the people around us (so far as I could tell) were Jewish.   Throughout my life, I've only met a handful of people who claimed to be Jews, who've publicly confessed and proved their ignorance of the religion.  I know one Messianic Jew, who's an entertainingly strange Christian.  Why this woman saw fit to replace even our bungled and commercialized holiday with a foreign religious holiday is bizarre, at best -- but at least I know how it feels when non-Christians are told they should be singing hymns instead of Frosty the Snowman.  If nobody is Jewish, then we shouldn't try to force them to celebrate Judaism.  If nobody is Christian, I figure we should tell them about Jesus, and leave them alone about the rest -- even if this was once a Christian nation.  It is a man's personal decision to reject the finest things and people in life, so long as he isn't doing anything like spraypainting on our Synagogues or sacrificing babies to Molech. 

The uncomfortable truth about Judaism, however, is that if the situation were reversed, and I was in Israel, and Israel kept Mosaic Law like the Orthodox prefer, and I tried to tell someone at a grocery store that they should be carrying Jesus stamps for Christmas, I would be executed -- as all Christians would be (Deut 13:6-18).  How Christians have missed this is a mystery to me.  The fundamental teachings of Judaism, if they do not accept Jesus as The Messiah, are fiercely anti-Christian -- in addition to being brutal to women, and about as anti-classically-liberal as you can get.  Many of the laws are fair, and well-suited to a difficult environment; but then there are the rest of them: the chopping off of women's hands; the selling of daughters to rich men; the slave-trading and brutalizing; the killing of apostates and adulterers; the killing of enemy men within a city, and carrying off all the virgins.  If you skip all the just and reasonable aspects of the other Laws (of which I admit there are many), in some ways it almost feels like you're talking about ISIS.

Of course, nobody mentions that Judaism and ISIS are extremely similar in many of the most uncomfortable aspects; most probably for two reasons.  The first is that whatever the Torah says, we don't have a Jewish terrorism problem.  However fanatical some New Yorkers get, no Rabbis are going around asking anyone to kill infidels, and none of our tourists are getting beheaded by men named Shelomo. A man in a yarmulke is no more a threat than a man in an orange Buddhist toga: we might even say that his presence means we're probably safer than without him.  But the second reason is even more useful.  The truth of the matter is that Judaism, for all its fundamental barbarity, is a geographically specific kind of barbarism -- at least for the moment.  There are of course passages in the Old Testament that say Jewish Law will pour out of Zion (Isaiah 2:3; Isaiah 2:3); but so far as I can tell, this refers to the coming of the Messiah, a Man whose first coming they unfortunately missed. 

Islam, on the other hand, has no boundaries.  Like Christianity, it is international.  Like Judaism, it is a legal system.  Moses and Abraham were given the Promised Land to dominate militarily; Mohammed was given the world.  Christians were given the whole world, but were never commanded in their Scriptures to conquer anything by the sword or put anyone of another faith to death, which means that above all the other religions, we respect a legitimate and willful conversion.  When Jesus' hometown rejected Him, He simply stated that a prophet is not known in his own country, and then let His Father do the dirty work.  The Hadiths, on the other hand (like the Pentateuch), depict Islam's founder committing many of what we would call "war crimes."  I will leave it to you to decide which precedent is preferable.

The Jew can remain our friend, because some of them trouble only Palestine; but Islam will never be peaceful, because its founding documents and historical nature make it intrinsically and internationally aggressive.  Mohammed lived and died a conqueror.  If some Muslims are peaceful now, they may always be incited to violence and illiberal projects by a few faithful reformers.  If the liberal Islamist won't make you a second-class citizen or cut your head off, a revival amongst his children may.  Christianity, on the other hand, is more likely to be the victim of both Judaism and Islam, unless Christians think about liberty more like the high-minded ancient pagans -- like the American patriots did during the Age of Reason.  Paul commands Christians to remain under the authority of Nero.  Peter does practically the same.  Neither makes any mention of an impending earthly deliverance, or a rebellion, or any benefits other than an eternal and heavenly inheritance.  The most menacing and valiant Christians around are the ones who ignore Christian teaching.  The most dangerous Jews and Muslims are the ones who take theirs seriously.

It's a fairly popular practice, these days, to say that Jews don't currently follow Mosaic Law or Muslims in these countries act differently -- and all a load of propaganda.  There is only one thing that is Jewish or Islamic, and that is the foundational scripture for each religion respectively.  Statistics are a distraction.  Moderates are a distraction.  When talking about religion, we must always know and keep to the fundamentals -- our lives depends upon it, especially for women, because Islam is on the march (my advice to a woman is to always remember Surah 4:34).  The Qur'an should be on every educated American's shelf.  We need to read the Hadiths.  The liberalized Muslims who talk to us only about the liberalized portions of their religion are protecting the most dangerous men of the most dangerous portions of their religion: it is our duty, as reasonable people, to speak of core ideas and foundational principles.  All the rest is hypocrisy and sophistry.  If you're going to be a heretic of any kind, be an educated heretic and know who's been ordered to kill or subject you.

Your father,
-J

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