A most Complex, Complex

by Steve Lancaster10/19/18
The psychology glossary defines an inferiority complex as: “Inferiority Complex is a term used to describe people who compensate for feelings of inferiority (feeling like they’re less than other people, not as good as others, worthless, etc.) by acting ways that make them appear superior. They do this because controlling others may help them feel less personally inadequate.”

Ever since the 7th century the West has had to deal with Islam in its many forms. For a brief period during the dark ages in the West, Islam teetered on the edge of transforming itself into a modernizing consensual culture. However, the Western Renaissance beginning in the 12th century could not take root in Arab lands.  The West progressed into consensual government, a new continent, new social ideas, expanding trade and communication. Islam brooded and grew enraged over imagined insults. They remained dangerous, almost taking Vienna in 1529 and threatening international trade at Lepanto in 1571, but decline was the trend.

The aggressiveness of free market economies and technological development began to drain the dynamism out of Arab Islamic states. Instead of embracing new ideas Arabs retreated into themselves. Where there was opportunity to go to the West and thrive, young Arabs left. They converted, mostly to Christianity, a few to Judaism, but it was always the brightest and most stable. This brain drain continues to this day. There are fewer conversions, more likely, they just leave the faith. Not to say the Moslem population is diminishing, CIA fact book puts the world population of Moslems at 1.3-1.5 billion.  It is a population whose Arab members are suffering from a massive form of insanity called Inferiority.

Other nations and peoples have suffered catastrophic defeats and economic crisis and recovered. There is no doubt that Germany and Japan were humiliated in the WWII. The Soviets were on the verge of collapse, rebounded and experienced millions of dead to defeat the Nazi. Even the US suffered a crushing defeat at Pearl Harbor. The British were defeated at almost every stage of the first two years of war, Tobruk, Singapore, and most of all Dunkirk.  It is not defeat that destroys a nation, but the refusal to learn from those defeats that saps the vitality.

It is a population whose Arab members are suffering from a massive form of insanity called Inferiority.

We Jews have a laundry list of defeats, diaspora, disenfranchisement, and systemized murder. Yet, the very same Jews who wriggled out of the camps in 1945, became the warriors who defeated six Arab armies in 1948. We restored our historic language and our singular state after 2000 years of oppression. We continually extend the hand of friendship to Arabs, only to have it spat on. In every military action since 1948, the Arabs have lost, yet they return for further embarrassment at the hands of the IDF. It has been said that doing the same thing over and over, failing and expecting different results is a sign of insanity. It is also the sign of a massive inferiority complex.

The Arab world has made the inferiority complex a cultural model. If you believe a lie long enough, in the case of the Arabs about 800 years, it becomes a part of the psyche. There are no indications that the Arab world is going to adapt or change. We can only keep handing them defeat, for even a modest victory will engender extremes of violence.

In America we also have our version of this problem. We call it leftist, democrat, or progressive. However, the complex is still new to our shores. The first signs were in the 60s and 70s, but the Reagan years and the victory in the Cold War stifled its growth. The election drama of George W. Bush v. Al Gore triggered another generation of the complex, and the election of Barack Obama gave them a voice, but instead of wisdom it fed into their basic feelings of inferiority.

Obama and the minions who follow his world view knew they were imposters on the world stage. Unfortunately, the eight years of Obama proved a failure at governing and fed the inferiority complex. It could hardly be otherwise as their policies are based on lies. Lies not only to the people, and other countries, but worst of all lies to themselves. Somewhere down deep in their minds is the thought, “you didn’t build that, you’re not worthy or deserving, you’re a fraud”.

I fear that a very vocal but aggressive minority has grown in our great country to think like Arabs. Perhaps it is a failure of education, religion or Western culture. I don’t know the answer, and the cause is obfuscated. What we sometimes refer to as the lunatic left, really is deranged and dangerous, and like Israel we can only defeat them. Appeasement or electoral victory will not stop the violence or cure their group inferiority complex. • (242 views)

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55 Responses to A most Complex, Complex

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Thanks, Steve. I enjoyed reading this. This is a broad framework for a discussion that could go on forever. So let’s start:

    I read a mediocre article this morning at Townhall by Suzanne Field: Coddling the Closed American Mind. I say “mediocre” because it didn’t get to the point. And once it did bring up its main subject — a book by Greg Lukianoff, The Coddling of the American Mind — it didn’t have much to say about it.

    But the subject in general intersects on your topic. I define it as this: The opposite of humility is a personal fascism wherein every idea, whim, and belief is so closely associated with one’s identity that disturbing them can cause a violent reaction (or at least an emotional apoplectic one).

    Anyone who has dealt with a committed liberal knows this to be true. No, none of us like being called idiots or having our ideas trashed. But it is the hallmark of true “liberal” civilization that we can do so and suffer no harsher reaction than a vigorous counter-argument.

    Coddling people — as our education system does, for instance, from top to bottom — does not build character let alone educate anyone. It was a core principle of the West — and one certainly consistent with (if not also derived from) Judaism and Christianity — that there were some core things about ourselves that had to be tested, battled, and conquered. Rather than accept every whim, thought, or desire as sacrosanct, there was the religious/metaphysical/philosophical idea that maybe the sun doesn’t always shine out of our own asses.

    Only be knocking down a rickety structure can you build something better. It’s an often uncomfortable exercise, but a necessary one. But if one comes to believe that a dilapidated house is the Taj Mahal — as liberals and Moslems do — then one has insulated oneself from improvement.

    All this must, of course, be compared and contrasted to the Left’s core strategy of shitting on everything they didn’t create, called “deconstructionism.” A typical liberally would say, “Brad, you idiot. We Progressives are always ready and willing to tear something inferior down and build something better.” But that “tearing down” is not a rational commitment but a zealous one connected to a narrow political and social ideology. These same people are hardened against any kind of evidence that is contrary to their own beliefs. Progressives are little different from Moslems in this regard.

    Still, regarding beliefs and identity, it’s not wrong to have one. It just should be a good one and one that inherently allows for questioning but at the same time does not make an idol of it. When one puts the idea of “questioning” as a good in its own right, it is corrosive, for questioning is only useful so far as we have an answer that concludes that one thing is true or false or one thing is better than another.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I believe this idea of tying one’s identity to one’s political beliefs is the basis of the term “professional liberal”, made famous by Allen Drury in the later books of the Advise and Consent series.

      I think Steve might want to check out The Haj, which I believe I reviewed here previously. It fits in well with his thesis.

      Muslim memories go back a long way. The dispute between Sunni and Shiah involves who became caliph in the 7th Century.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        I’m not Jonah Goldberg, so I won’t deal in cliches of thinking or splitting meaningless hairs. I don’t make a living keeping up a word count.

        So regarding identity, I certainly don’t denounce the idea. I doubt we can live without one. And there are various kinds of identity: husband, father, boss, employee, American, etc. Perhaps identities become problematic if only because they are not broad and multi-faceted but are instead inflexible monoliths. (And that’s not to miss the essential point that identities, at core, are about ideas…and ideas can be good, bad, or indifferent.)

        And for those deep thinkers who keep saying we are too polarized, we sure as hell ought not to identify with the Left — including not being inflexible monoliths (of the right, in this case). Sorry, again, I’m not Jonah Goldberg so I won’t pretend that the antidote is some stupid cliche. We ought to vigorously oppose the Left without becoming just like them. It can be done. But it isn’t done by pretending that opposing the bad makes us the same.

        One of the core identities of Progressives is based on the myth that Muslims were victims of the West. Having accepted this erroneous premise, it is much easier to allow them to flood our borders under the guise of setting things straight. But Muslims have a bad identity. Jews and Christians have a good one. Period. If you deny this and pretend otherwise, you’re heading for trouble. And Europe, in particular, because of its insane Progressive identity, is heading for trouble.

        Here’s the Kindle edition of The Haj. Maybe Titus Welliver can play the lead character in the series.

        • Steve Lancaster says:

          Early this year when I reviewed Exodus by Leon Uris. I considered following up with a review of The Haj. I believe the average man-on-the-street, Arab just desires to be left alone to raise a family and prosper in his own fashion.

          The BIG HOWEVER,

          For reasons passing understanding, that is never going to happen. Islam does not encourage introspection or peace. The Koran and its supporting texts create the very inferiority complex that I am talking about. Its one of the reasons why Islam is not a Abrahamic religion, but pagan to the core.

          Islam teaches that if your neighbor has more than you; then he cheated you and you’re morally justified in taking his wealth. If he is not Moslem the justification is codified in the faith. I think everyone can see the parallel to Marx. These skulls full of mush, young and old, here and in Europe. Suffer from the same horrific inability to self-examine.

          In the 60s the hippies and the like sought to change our culture with drugs, sex and rock. It did not work, in major part because it takes a lot of money to be a hippy and when the money ran out, or daddy cut it off, reality crept in and a bath, haircut and job were in order.

          The grandchildren and great grandchildren of the hippies have gone beyond hippy philosophy, if you want to call it that. Today they are coming from the same philosophical base as the Arab. Thats why Obama’s statement in 2012 is so revealing. Deep down in his tormented psyche he knows he couldn’t build anything, nor can his followers.

          They resent the idea of individual responsibility and individual freedom because to be responsible and free challenges their inferiority complex. They cannot say it to anyone, last of all themselves.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            My review of The Haj is in the Books section of the Forum.

            Back in the old hippie days, MAD had a piece in which a hippie and a non-hippie were discussing things. The non-hippie asked how much certain parts of the hippie costume cost. The hippie made his best estimate while protesting his uninterest in such material things. So the non-hippie noted that he wasn’t a hippie because that was too expensive.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            Thats why Obama’s statement in 2012 is so revealing. Deep down in his tormented psyche he knows he couldn’t build anything, nor can his followers.

            One must always be careful of psychobabble and psychologizing an opponent. But I know government types fairly well….certainly beyond the average voter. There is a general attitude of disdaining those in the private sector. Why? Because those in the private sector are not sucking off the government teat. Those in government are acutely aware that this is exactly what they are doing.

            Short answer: You nailed it. Government officials are inherently parasitic. I’m not saying we don’t need government. We do. But I’m perplexed and disheartened by this squishy attitude many people have toward their government. The only correct attitude can be found in the maxim: Government officials are like diapers. They both must be changed often and for the same reason.

            • Timothy Lane says:

              Or George Washington’s comparison of government to fire: a dangerous servant and a really deadly master.

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                It’s ironic that George Washington wasn’t someone who had to be looked after like a spreading fire (unless you were the British, of course). But then the reason he could say such an honest and revealing thing is that he was basically an honest and decent man.

                I’ve gone through various stages regarding politics and politicians. You can’t help but be awed when meeting governors and Senators, especially when you are young.

                But now I look upon politicians as I would a pickpocket. These people need to be watched and kept at arm’s length. I was going to say that a certain amount of respect for the office is the decent thing to do. But so many of these politicians are so slimy or ideologically loony, it is an offense to the common man to assume respect for this second oldest profession.

              • Steve Lancaster says:

                Ah Brad, the number of prostitutes who give positive value for money offered is much higher than that of almost all politicians and infinitely more than that of lawyers.

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                Hard to argue with that, Steve.

            • Steve Lancaster says:

              Back in the Stone Age, 1970s, I spent a lot of time in DC and I know some bureaucrats and politiations here in Arkansas. I don’t have any problem with changing the diapers on a regular basis. But, in order to be effective we have to change the professional bureaucrats from the bottom to the top also. One of the good things of the old spoils system was it encouraged the deadwood to move on.

              The current civil service system encourages career bureaucrats. Perhaps the cure would be mandatory retirement, regardless of age, after 20 years in government. Perhaps something a convention of states could take up.

              • Timothy Lane says:

                There are many good aspects to professional bureaucrats. At least they usually know their jobs, which wasn’t always the case in the era of the spoils system.

                But, as you note, back then it was possible to throw out the rascals. Today we can’t, because so much of the rascality comes from these unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats. One doesn’t have to watch Yes, Minister to find out the problem with this.

              • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

                Governmental tyranny is, to a very large extent, shaped around bureaucracies. A country doesn’t need to call in the Red Army to impose its will. Your friendly EPA, OSHA or Health and Human Services official will do quite nicely thank you.

                People should understand the Soviet Union and DDR were bureaucratic tyrannies.

                Our own country has increasingly become a tyrannical bureaucratic state in which the bureaucracy, not the legislature, writes most of the laws. The Federal Register is an abomination.

                It is good to see the Trump administration cutting the bureaucracy, but it will take much more than what has been done to make a dent in the corrupt system.

              • Timothy Lane says:

                Even more than merely cutting the number of bureaucrats, Trump has tried to cut the number of federal regulations. But the real goal must be to eliminate bureaucratic rule-making. The justification offered is that they’re only explaining how (intentionally) vague bills should be interpreted.

                But in reality they’re writing rules. SCOTUS came close to rejecting this sort of thing in the Schechter Brothers case back in 1935. It’s long past time that they revisited the case.

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                we have to change the professional bureaucrats from the bottom to the top also

                This is a solid point. The reality is that we can change the politicians but the vast bureaucracies remain. In Europe (and certainly to a great extent in America), the politicians are figureheads. Parties change with public passions. But the bureaucracies remain.

                What seemed an irrelevant joke when portrayed by career civil servant Sir Humphrey Appleby in Yes, Minister was ahead of its time.

  2. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    One thing Leftists, Progressives, atheists, and materialists are correct about is that humans are just another animal. Given our history, and even the present day, we’re often worse than animals.

    We can’t understand the full workings of creation. We can only know that God is necessary. It takes far less reasonable faith to believe this than to believe in nihilism, particularly given the wonders of creation (matter, energy, galaxies, stars) and the wonders inside creation (the living cell, for example).

    We can’t understand the plan or the blueprints. But we can engage in reasonable and informed speculation. We can believe that if there is God, then God can communicate with us, however deaf we usually are. But then think of it as sitting in front of a blackboard while Einstein explains his theory of general relativity. We have no hope of following the equations and his line of reasoning. God is Einstein times a billion billion billion.

    But we can assume we can have, or obtain, a general sense of direction, a sense of right and wrong, and even a sense of destiny (where we are going). We can combine this with history, logic, and what we can suppose is a reasonable take on revelation.

    Humans are an animal like any other. Auschwitz, Stalin, and countless others have shown this. We need not dispute that humans so easily gravitate to a base level.

    We need not debate the specifics of evolution, creation, or whatever force or method populated the world with life. It happened. And nature is remarkable. And humans, as a part of base nature, are remarkably cruel, selfish, vulgar, and ignorant. But this was the clay from which the Creator would further His creation (or return us back to a state before the corruption took over).

    Enter the Jews. It’s not hard to imagine why they are so hated. If a normal person today walks into any institution in American and spouts common sense, he could well be struck down by the mob, if not also jailed. The majority are animals. I don’t mean unclean or even violent (although some are). But when the human is centered completely on the worldly, he cannot help being outraged by common sense and decency.

    This is the world the Jews inhabited when a great and noble burden was placed upon them. They were given the law. Imagine walking into any place today and giving them the law: There are only male and female. Thou shalt not murder the unborn. Thou shalt not give preference (or penalty) to people because of the color of their skin. The poor should work, not sponge off of people. Etc. The rabble would respond as they did to the Jews then and now.

    One of the problems of trying to envision Jews is that they are now an almost thoroughly corrupt people. When we think of Jews, the immediate history is Karl Marx and academic hardcore Leftists. For every Moses-like Dennis Prager (and I use that analogy broadly) there are a million Jews who are forgetful of their legacy and their task.

    And Christians have long dismissed Jews as “Christ killers.” It is difficult to envision who the Jews are and who they are meant to be. But, trust me, they are not meant to be George Soros. But his kind are extremely common in one form or another.

    Jews got the ball of civilization rolling. Mankind was being called by the Creator to move beyond the animal and resemble that connection portrayed exquisitely by Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel. This was both a great privilege for the Jews and a terrible burden as history has shown.

    Humans resist being ennobled. They resist restraints being put on their will. They resist it so much that, indeed (as the atheists often say), humans will invent their own god so they can have their cake and eat it too. This is the god of Islam, a pure invention out of the heart of a savage leader. The violent and fascistic instincts of the worst of human proclivities was deified.

    False gods are a dime a dozen. Of course, it’s possible that an angel (the dark one) is behind Islam. It is an intrinsically evil religion so you never know. And when you have aligned with the lesser (much lesser), the sense of enraged inferiority is inevitable, even if the ideology of Islam didn’t already specifically indoctrinate that.

    I’m not picking on Jews when I say that most of them are corrupt. Most Catholics are corrupt as well, having long lost the word of God and given it over to a dull and often completely corrupt bureaucracy as we witness today. Protestants have fed their share of frauds and tele-evangelists. But God is said to be a loving and forgiving God. You can see why this must be so.

    In this world, for whatever reason, it is hard not to be corrupt, if only halfway so. Today’s answer (Christian, Jew, Muslim, Progressive) has been to revel in the corruption and call evil good and good evil. People are only people and it’s very difficult for them to steer their way past and through the corruption even if they have a good heart and a willing soul to do so. Confusion runs amok.

    And then the story continues. The Law was rooted in mankind (no longer being merely human, no longer necessarily only an animal). The law (the same God, the same Jews) was then universalized. I suppose this growth is fitting in a world that started with single-celled creatures and ended with complex life such as human beings. Again, we can’t know the plan or blueprint in fine detail but we can see the overall, a sort of logic in the progression.

    Although my own faith is shallow, I instinctively cringe at the corruption and comic-book shallowness of the Progressive pseudo-religion (and clearly see the inherent evil of Islam). We are meant for better things.

    But first the biggest and most widespread false god must be let go: the inflated ego. As a Catholic friend often reminded me, when we first pick up the yardstick to measure ourselves against others, we have made our mistake. The ego demands that we always measure ourselves as better or worse than others, always keeping score. Inferiority complexes are built on such things and can only be reduced or put into perspective by worship of a real God (not the fascistic one of human creation or the politically correct Leftist version).

    The rabid beast can be tamed only with a perspective other than the lust for worldly power, fame, and conquest. The inherent nastiness of Islam is self-evident. The “nice” nastiness of Leftism derives from its inherent atheism which acknowledges no power, will, or skill higher than the human mind. Atheists make an idol of the ego and from that come all the fragile aspects of continually trying to feed that ego. Our consumer culture feeds right into it as well. To think that there could be something larger in life than comfort seems a strange thought to those who can choose from two dozen brands of toothpaste on the supermarket shelves.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I see modern civilization as resulting from a combination of Greek culture, Roman engineering, and the Jewish religious tradition. All 3 were essential in making our modern world. Of course, other cultures contributed aspects.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        I think you’re right, Timothy. I guess we could divide our known reality into The Divine Story, The Story of Creation, The Story of Life on Earth, and The Human Story. I guess you could arrange that around Aristotle’s material, formal, efficient, and final causes. You have more immediate causes and more absolute causes, and perhaps some nuances in between.

        It’s certainly not wrong to say that we are heavily influenced by Greek and Roman culture, particularly including Jewish religious beliefs (Christ or Moses).

        And you have the bigger questions of “Why is there a star in the sky at all?” Atheism (or liberal Christians and Jews) dispense with (or re-engineer) The Big Questions and spend their time with immediate fine-grained causes. It’s not wrong, for instance, to help a starving man. But the liberal mindset never asks whether it is doing good or harm by simply offering meals. A higher and necessary perspective is to teach the starving man how to earn his own bread (and/or provide the moral fortitude to do so). One might also wonder if parasitism and living in a state of perpetual degradation is good for their soul.

        Liberals are blind. They don’t look at Stalin and see evil. They don’t see the larger picture of the inherent totalitarianism and parasitism of communism. They just somehow think on the fine-grained level that it’s not been done right (because, of course, their motives are good).

        Who can really say what God’s opinion is on any of this? But when man intentionally blinds himself by restricting his view (basically overlooking the moral or larger structural elements), he tends to wreak havoc.

    • Steve Lancaster says:

      “Although my own faith is shallow, I instinctively cringe at the corruption and comic-book shallowness of the Progressive pseudo-religion (and clearly see the inherent evil of Islam). We are meant for better things.”

      Indeed we are meant for better things. There is a story from the Talmud. G-d had the Commandments and took them to every people. They all said no, it is too difficult, too restrictive, too legalistic. In desperation he brought the Commandments to the Jews, and after much argument, discussion and debate they said Ok. History has it wrong, Jews are not the chosen people, but we are the choosing people.

      There are numbers of Jews who have lost their Jewishness to money, fame, and power. However, there are millions more who in spite of leftist propaganda and ideology maintain the spark that G-d handed to us in the desert almost 6000 years ago. I have witnessed that spark on the slopes of Golan in 73, and the markets of Tel Aviv just a few years ago. It lives in odd places and profound places, Vad Yashem for example. Even in Katz Deli on the lower east side. More importantly, in the heart of every Jew, and Christian who cares to discern the question of, “how can I live a good life”.

      I believe, as Franz Rosenzweig wrote, that the future of Western Civilization is the reconciliation of Christian and Jew. Americans have the great advantage of also being a choosing people. Our shared Puritan heritage even for the newest immigrant reaches into the heart to turn the poorest into an American. The great disservice done to new Americans is not encouraging them to drop the habits of the culture left behind. We do not have room for more hyphened Americans any more than Israel has room for hyphened Jews.

      It was American philanthropy that supported the Jewish resettlement in Palestine in the late 19th and 20th century, and it was an American President who first recognized the return of the State of Israel in 1948. It is shared technology that keeps Israel and the US at the leading edge of every field of human endeavor. You can count on the fingers of one hand the number of Arab Nobel prizes.

      Every Trump rally I have seen in the last 3 years. He has mentioned his support for Israel, and without exception it produces louder and longer cheers. Yes, there are many Jews, in name only, JINO ? that support progressive causes, but they are not reproducing and in 30 years the Reform and Reconstructionist movements will be similar to the mainstream Christians, lots of white hair and empty pews.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        I mentioned Judaism as one of the three main pillars of modern civilization, along with ancient Greece and Rome. One of the most important events is the confrontation between King David and the prophet Nathan over the former’s affair with Bathsheba. Nathan not only denounced David’s behavior, but made him see by example why it was wrong. In doing so, he implicitly said that David faced the same moral standards as everyone else. And he then punished the recreant king, though naturally his country paid the highest price as David’s son Absalom initiated a civil war.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        History has it wrong, Jews are not the chosen people, but we are the choosing people.

        What an interesting perspective (or reality). I’d never heard that.

        I have witnessed that spark on the slopes of Golan in 73, and the markets of Tel Aviv just a few years ago.

        A favorite biblical passage of a Catholic friend of mine is “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

        in the heart of every Jew, and Christian who cares to discern the question of, “how can I live a good life”.

        I agree. Even many misguided liberal Christians and Jews ask this question. Clearly there is more to doing good than just good intentions. But a good intention is no small thing.

        This subject brings to mind the often spontaneous social research that Dennis Prager has done. He notes that many of today’s parents are amorally success-oriented regarding their children. He notes that he says parents tell him that it would bother them more if their son smoked than if he cheated on a test. We see a grander morality being replaced by a facile Leftist/materialist one.

        Grand moralities are hard. But they make life worth living. And many would say this is a duty we owe the Creator, first and foremost. It’s not just a pose to look good to one’s same-thinking friends. I think this is a prime difference between libtards and authentic Christians and Jews. For the former, what is moral is never further than what the crowd believes at the moment. For the latter, there are timeless principles of right and wrong.

        Let’s hope for reconciliation indeed.

        • Steve Lancaster says:

          I think one of the challenges we face as Jews is a question of identity. A Jew can be defined in several different and some time contradictory classifications.
          1. Ethnic
          2. Religious
          3. Racial
          4. Secular
          5. Cultural
          Multiple combinations of any two or more. Most self identify in several areas to greater or lesser degrees.
          A Haredi Jew will identify as religious, ethnic and cultural with a smattering of race, but will be quite offended if you refer to them as ultra-orthodox. A standard Orthodox Jew, much the same but a stronger stress on the cultural. Conservative Jews tend to be stronger on the cultural and less focused on religion, but not in any way tending to atheism, and almost no focus on race.

          Modern DNA testing has revealed that there are DNA markers that tend to identify Ashkenazi traits. So a claim of a Jewish race is not necessarly that far fetched. So it’s possible to be racially Jewish and religiously something else. A joke that went around in 1964; Goldwater, I always knew America’s first Jewish president would be an Episcopalian.

          If you think this must be confusing for Jews, imagine how confusing it is for gentiles. It’s a big tent with lots of side shows going on all at the same time. Often it divides families, friends and neighbors. Jewish history is rich with conflict, sometimes violent. In Israel it is not advisable to drive through a Haredi neighborhood on Shabbos, Jewish or not your car will be stoned.

          We are not even united on the subject of Israel. You would think so but no. Some Haredi refuse to accept Israel as a Jewish state unless it conforms to their singular definition of what is Jewish and who is a Jew. In Israel they have considerable political power. I believe that may the cause of some American Jews anti Israel political positions.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            As best I can tell, Judaism is more an ethnicity than a religion in Europe. (Ayn Rand was an atheist Jew, for example. So was Isaac Asimov.) This increasingly also seems to be the case in America, no doubt largely due to Reform Jews and skeptics who no longer practice the religion but still identify as Jews. Orthodox Jews are relatively scarce, especially outside New York (I think there are still some Hasidic communities in Brooklyn).

            • Steve Lancaster says:

              Tim, you are wrong. It is the reform and revisionists who are on the decline. One of the fastest growing is Chabad-Lubavitch orthodox communities in every state, even Mormon Utah. They are growing in real terms and having more children.

              Not surprisingly, they tend to be politically conservative and supporters of Israel, with some reservations. Liberals get in the news, but conservatives gets the Jews.

              • Timothy Lane says:

                That’s good to hear. Of course, religious conservatives tend to have larger families, partly because they actually bear children instead of preventing or aborting them. Much of my knowledge came from the Almanac of American Politics, especially in New York City, plus scattered reading elsewhere.

              • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

                I know of two or three Chabad-Lubavitch organizations within 5 miles of my house. But Plano and Collin County have long been conservative places.

                I only hope that all the SOBs coming here from California (Toyota) and the North don’t infect us with their disease and start turning the county blue.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            Conservative Jews tend to be stronger on the cultural and less focused on religion, but not in any way tending to atheism, and almost no focus on race.

            My favorite Jew (or as he says, many call him “Their second favorite Jew”), Dennis Prager, I think considers himself a conservative Jew. He’s heavily focused on the religious aspect but doesn’t abide by all the fine-grained laws. Certainly a confusing subject with so many different labels and definitions. He’s a breath of fresh air not because he waters down his message in order to placate Christian sensibilities. It’s because he emphasizes the ideas and morals of the Old Testament (Torah…yeah…I get it).

            He’s thoroughly American (not a touch of anti-Americanism), pro-Western Civilization, pro-Israel, and is thoughtful and reasonable rather than irrational and zealous. He’s not a Jew via heavy cultural affectations or overt and rampant identities.

            To me, being Jewish is about the physical, historical Ten Commandments — stone tablets that were tangible. Beyond that (as with any religion) you get various cultural offshoots that have little to do with the beliefs, per se, and more to do with cliques, factions, and identities. I would say most of Judaism is some version of what went on behind when Moses went up to receive the tablets.

            I’m sure I would have loved Moses. But I doubt I can find much affection for most Jews today who are so touch-sensitive about their identities that the ideas are secondary. They are looking for offense. I’m sure there are tons of Protestants and Catholics who just don’t like Jews no matter what. But Dennis Prager is such a wonderful example of what we have in common if people pull their heads out of their asses.

            • Steve Lancaster says:

              Conversion to Judaism is not encouraged and converts are often not treated in an accepting manner. Mostly by liberal congregations.

              Here is an article that might bring some enlightenment. https:

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                That’s a nice article, Steve. Given that Jesus was a Jew and that he overturned nothing in the Torah, including The Ten Commandments, it’s not at all out of bounds to live much as an authentic Jew by living as an authentic Christian.

                Obviously there are some key differences in regards to belief. But there’s no reason a Christian shouldn’t be adhering to the Sabbath (whether on Saturday or Sunday). FYI, I have a sister-in-law who attends an old-style Jewish-influenced Christian sect (I have no more details than that) that has their services on Saturday, not Sunday. To be fair, she’s a bit of a religious zealot so I don’t know if this is a good or bad thing in this case.

                I guess the bottom line regarding this stuff is going to be whether one needs acceptance from other people or from God. Frankly, a person shouldn’t give a flying fig what liberal Jews (or Christians) think.

                One of the funniest Seinfeld episodes, “The Yada Yada,” is about Jerry’s Dentist, Tim Whatley (Bryan Cranston), converting to Judaism. He then starts telling Jewish-themed jokes (under the idea that “Only people belonging to a group can tell jokes about that group”). Seinfeld suspects that Whatley has converted just for the jokes.

                Eventually this gets turned around into Jerry supposedly persecuting Whatley and his dentistry. The culminating line is when Robert Wagner leans back in the pew during the ceremony and says to Jerry: “Tim Whatley was one of my students, and if this wasn’t my son’s wedding day, I’d knock your teeth out, you anti-dentite bastard.”

                I don’t know what that has to do with the price of tea in China. But I think there is room enough to make these things one’s own. Certainly if one is a Christian in today’s climate, and wants to be reasonably true to the Bible, you can’t obsess over what the Presbyterians consider gospel.

                And if I was converting to Judaism, the question would be is one doing so for the jokes (that is, for the culture) or for God?

              • Timothy Lane says:

                When I attended the catechism classes at Ursuline, they certainly considered the Sabbath as something to be respected. This is why we used to have Blue Laws banning various employments on Sunday. St. Paul was the first to start converting gentiles, and this led to a decision as to what standards of Judaism they had to follow. Asimov covered this in his guide to the Bible, but I don’t remember what 3 they decided on.

                Gordon R. Dickson, in his comic story “Zeepsday”, had a court scene in which an alien observer is upset and has to be taken out of court when a character mentions brushing his teeth. The judge is annoyed, pointing out that the alien should have seen that he was from a dentate species (i.e., humans) and that the subject might come up. He didn’t like interruptions.

          • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

            In one course I took at college, the question was whether the Jews were a nation, i.e. an ethnic group, or a religious group. The question was of interest because the “Jews” had maintained a group identity for over 4,000 years.

            Until the mid to late 1700’s I believe Jews were pretty much both. Ethnic Jews were generally observant Jews. I think from the late 1700’s onward, this unity began to crumble rapidly, whereby from the 1830’s latest, many Jews dropped their religion and became complete secularists. A good percentage of these types have been a bane of Western Civilization. Marx is only the most well known of this group.

            On the other hand, the religious Jews generally wanted nothing more than to be left to practice their religion as they wished.

            There are groups of Orthodox Jews in Zurich and, I believe, still in Vienna. At least, Vienna is where I first saw Hasidic Jews. The Jews I grew up around were secular or religious in a non-fundamentalist way. They would celebrate Passover with a Seder and Hanukkah in December. Sometimes they would remember Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, but I do not recall much of a to-do about this. Perhaps Texas Jews, at least those I grew up with, were not as observant as many of the NYC Jews I ran into.

            People I worked with in NYC sublet office space to a Hasidic Jew in the jewelry business.

            Mornings, one would see a yellow school bus driving on the streets around 47th, full of Hasidic men being brought to work each morning.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      The link is to an article by Dennis Prager about the damage leftist Jews do to Jews and the world. I am a bit surprised Prager wrote this article as it is generally taboo to point out the obvious in this regard and not be called an anti-Semite. I believe it was Norman Podhoritz who wrote that the reason Jews in America are so liberal is because the majority came from imperial Russia and they were radicalized through the numerous pogroms waged against them. They brought their infection with them.


      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        I am a bit surprised Prager wrote this article as it is generally taboo to point out the obvious in this regard and not be called an anti-Semite.

        This is why you can forgive Dennis Prager a lot. He’s one of the few people — Jew or otherwise — critical of the Leftist Jewish Movement.

        What an admirable and tragic quote from Rabbi Mazeh:

        That’s the tragedy. It’s the Trotskys who make revolutions, and it’s the Bronsteins who pay the price.”

        Leftism has made many Jews as crazy as anyone else who has swallowed that religion.

        One reasonable commenter to this articles states:

        I’ve never understood how truly religious Jews, Catholics, or Protestants could reconcile far-left political affiliation – they are completely anathema to one another, and yet I know several Christians and Catholics who are also leftists (not liberals), which leads to me the question – which religion do they ultimately serve? Leftism and belief in God are mutually exclusive IMHO.

        It’s interesting that we see these things driven by faddish culture rather than longer-term ideas. This is consistent with the general idea of Prager that today people value feelings over standards. The idea of “inclusiveness” ends any thought of holding to standards because that would mean excluding someone. (Hell, you can’t even make a chocolate cake without excluding something….such as beef, or instance.)

        Once this doctrine is swallowed it leads to all sorts of inevitable things such as welcoming illegal aliens.

        A fair and robust debate could ensue regarding “What would Jesus do” regarding the poor, illegal aliens, the homeless, the environment, war, business, government, etc. But such a fair and reasoned debate is not possible to have with The Golden Children. If you disagree with them, you have just marked yourself as a racist, sexist, homophobe — basically the whole Pragerian “sixhirb” thing. (Sexist Intolerant Xenophobic Homophobic Islamophobic Racist Bigot.)

        This is the self-esteem movement gone nuts. It’s about how you look to others. It’s not about how you are. Jesus had some pretty good words about this in his Sermon on the Mount:

        And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

        Leftist ideology is all about making a show. Hopefully we here are better than that.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          Ostentatious piety. It’s like leftist celebrities showing solidarity with the poor by sleeping on a heating grate one night, before going back to their cozy, luxurious homes. Most likely some homeless person is forced to find another grate because of it, and they don’t actually do or learn anything — but it allows them to preen, which is what really matters.

          I seem to recall Eugene Lyons in Worker’s Paradise Lost citing Trotsky (and Tukhachevsky) defending Soviet state violence — justifying in advance their own deaths at the hands of Stalin.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            Preening is all that matters. If they actually cared for the poor and homeless, they would do more than preen. They would do more than just give them a fish. They would teach them how to fish. And necessary to that, of course, is staying off drugs, staying out of jail, and actually showing up to do a day’s fishing.

        • Steve Lancaster says:

          “Leftist ideology is all about making a show. Hopefully we here are better than that.”

          It is not just ideology, but making a show that is important. It seems to be a part of the human psyche that we must demonstrate how much more virtuous we are than our neighbors. This crosses religious and cultural boundaries. Even staunch atheists, many of whom have taken up the religion of environmentalism, or some other ism believe they must show how much more they care than you.

          I believe that this is at the core of most conflicts in history

  3. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I can see at StubbornThings we need to introduce a Jew Appreciation Month so that we can feel better about ourselves and to hell with the actual state and condition of Jews. 😀

    But we’re not a Democrat site so we’ll dispense with the virtue signaling. But I will say that my second favorite Jew is Rabbi Daniel Lapin. He likely still does host a radio show somewhere. But I think he started out in Seattle. Wiki notes that in 1991 his family re-located to Washington State, in part to host a nationally syndicated weekly radio show. If memory serves, he was on Michael Medved’s show frequently as well. He may have started locally (at KVI) and/or was broadcasting locally from KVI.

    In 1995, Lapin began to broadcast a weekly radio talk show on KVI in Seattle.[12][13] The show ended in 2006 when he began hosting a Sunday afternoon radio show on KSFO in San Francisco.[14] He is frequently interviewed on the Mike Gallagher Show, the Michael Medved Show, and the Wallbuilders radio show. Lapin and his wife, Susan Lapin, also appear in the daily television program “Ancient Jewish Wisdom with Rabbi Daniel Lapin” produced by the TCT Television Network.[15] Lapin has also been a frequent guest of Dave Ramsey on The Dave Ramsey Show on radio and television[16] and on the Glenn Beck Program on Fox News Channel and TheBlaze.

    Looking at his list of books on Amazon, I had no idea that there was a Jewish equivalent of the Prosperity Gospel. His most popular book there is “Thou Shall Prosper: Ten Commandments for Making Money”. But that is a common message. God seems to exist primarily to further our financial prosperity. Maybe this book is a little less worldly (and it’s in Kindle format as well).

    Maybe Prager’s The Rational Bible: Exodus would be a better choice. One reviewer writes:

    Last August, our congregation and I began studying the second book of the Torah together…the fascinating book of Exodus. I have always had a deep love for the Old Testament, and have lamented the fact that Christians by and large are ignorant of it’s content, focusing at times almost exclusively on the New Testament. When I heard that Dennis Prager was writing a commentary on the Torah starting with Exodus, my ears perked up. I bought the book the day it came it. I have read the first half (which brings me up to where we are studying in our Wednesday night Bible study) and intend to finish it as we continue studying Exodus. But why would a Christian pastor buy a Jewish commentary and recommend other Christians read it?

    Here are two reasons:

    1. Dennis has devoted over fifty years of his life to the study and teaching of the Torah. He speaks Hebrew as well as he speaks English (which is very well, I might add!), and has immersed himself in the Hebrew of the Bible – both its grammar and its vocabulary. As one who doesn’t have that linguistic background, I appreciate his willingness to share this skill with others like myself.

    2. We are living in an age of unprecedented dialogue between Jews and Christians like none other in history. For me to participate in this God-honoring dialogue, I need to understand where my Jewish brothers and sisters are coming from. In addition, I have a great desire to share the good news of the gospel as found in the New Testament with my Jewish neighbors, as do millions of others Christians. Yet, how can I share my perspective with them if I don’t understand and respect their perspective?

    Here are excerpts from my review of this book on my blog (which you can find at waynenalljr.blogspot.com):

    This book is like no commentary I have ever read…and I have read from many of them. It is not stuffy at all. Dennis chose to write it in the first person and to include personal anecdotes where appropriate. What other commentary would quote Maimonides, Abraham Lincoln,…and Woody Allen?
    …Here are a few quotes from this book which caught my attention:
    …The central message of the Torah is “that God is good and demands we be good…is the only belief that will enable us to make a good world.”
    …“People (today) greatly value knowledge and intelligence, but not wisdom. And the lack of wisdom—-certainly in America and the rest of the West – is directly related to the decline in biblical literacy. In the American past, virtually every home, no matter how poor, owned a Bible. It was the primary vehicle by which parents passed wisdom on to their children.”
    …“The Torah is so different – morally, theologically, and in terms of wisdom – from anything else preceding it and, for that matter, from anything written since, that a reasonable person would have to conclude either moral supermen or God was responsible for it.” (I would put the entire Bible in this category, including the New Testament.)

    I supposed my snark should add that many of our Jewish neighbors need to read this as well to see where they are coming from. Given how many Jews (in the words of Dennis Prager) have replaced Judaism with Leftism, this might be a good book for them as well. Similarly, as I understand it, many Catholics are completely ignorant of the Bible (new or old testament), relying on the Catholic Catechism alone. And as far as I can tell, a majority of Protestant churches engage mostly in entertainment, teaching how to financially prosper, and flattering the egos of their parishioners rather than teaching right and wrong.

    I sent myself of free Kindle sample of this one.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I was certainly brought up on the Bible. In fact, I can remember a discussion of different versions (I think it was in the Boy Scouts, since they did include reverence as a Boy Scout quality). The teacher discussed different versions of John 3:16, and asked which was the better version. I naturally liked the familiar KJV, but he then asked if this was actually more understandable than more modern versions. A very good question, and in fact Elizabeth’s father (a missionary, after all) thought the RSV was the best version (at least among those then available — I think he died around 1970 or so).

      We also had some Bible study in the catechism classes at Ursuline, which I attended for 2 years. Non-Catholics weren’t required to participate, but we did get the booklets and attended the classes. They brought up important points, such as noting the hostile relations between Samaritans and Jews in discussing the Parable of the Good Samaritan.

      Later, as I went from deism to agnosticism and the family split (and no doubt either my brother or my mother claimed whatever family Bible we had), I didn’t own one. But back around 1991 (and perhaps influenced by Southern Baptist Elizabeth joining our group), I decided to get a Bible and, after looking them over at the local bookstore, chose a Jerusalem Bible. (Elizabeth also had a copy, I think of the same edition, as well as the KJV and RSV. I guess people who tithe do that sort of thing.)

      As for commentaries on books of the Bible, I only recall having two. One was William Safire’s discussion of Job, and another (picked up at a local Orthodox church during one of their ethnic fairs) was an Orthodox study of Revelation. We had a lot of books about the Bible and related studies when I was young, and I picked up a few of my own as an adult (including Asimov’s Guide to the Bible, which includes the Apocrypha).

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Later, as I went from deism to agnosticism and the family split (and no doubt either my brother or my mother claimed whatever family Bible we had), I didn’t own one.

        I read this article over the weekend which I found as clarifying as I’ve ever read from the mind of Stephen Hawking regarding God and his unbelief (or at least a summation of it). Particularly telling are the comments from the obsequious writer of the article.

        Hawking believed the Big Bang gave us our universe, not a god toying with the idea of creation. He believed that quantum mechanics ignited a spark that caused our universe to blossom from a subatomic particle into an infinite expanse whose corners we’ll never find. It could have “popped into existence without violating the known laws of nature,” he wrote, LiveScience reports.

        . . . “We have finally found something that doesn’t have a cause, because there was no time for a cause to exist in,” Hawking wrote. “For me this means that there is no possibility of a creator, because there is no time for a creator to have existed in.”

        There you have it, from one of the smartest minds to ever study the stars. Honestly, is the scientific explanation for our universe any less astounding than the religious one?

        Note that “quantum mechanics” is formulated as an everlasting entity capable of enormous creative power that itself needs no cause. This is the basic definition of God. Again, I find atheists to be almost without exception dishonest.

        Agnostics, on the other hand, are (sometimes) simply dealing with more issues on their plate. Granted, I would say most “agnostics” are just atheists who think that title is too harsh or unflattering. But I do believe there are those, such as yourself (or me), who are on the fence but partially because each side of the fence is so clearly populated by rubbish. It’s not just a matter of un- or partial-belief.

        No one can blame Hawking for his distaste for the idea of that eternal power being personal and loving. We all know his disease and saw his condition. Like many atheists, his is not a philosophical or metaphysical disagreement (for he seems to agree exactly with the standard definition of God). It’s an emotional one. He’s angry at God…or at least the idea of a loving and benevolent God.

        Indeed, there is ample circumstantial evidence that deism is a more logical position. This world seems to be a clock that has been wound up and things play out as they do without intervention, no matter how horrible. And deism sides with the idea of God leaning toward the impersonal. We can call God an everlasting quantum field or God Almighty. Which of us is capable of understanding the full extent of the reality (that surely includes both and so much more)?

        It’s our emotions and personal circumstances (and aspirations) that tend to constrain our metaphysics one way or another. We can be like the blind men who have come across an elephant for the first time. One feels the trunk and imagines the creature is a huge snake. The other feels the leg and thinks it is an enormous tree.

        Atheism is inherently cowardly because it forgoes the search. It’s also arrogant because it says it has all the answers when any dime-store deist or agnostic (if he is honest) can see that no one has all the answers and that there are many answers still to be had. Although there may be no virtue in deism or agnosticism, there is virtue is being honest about the limits of our knowledge. There’s nothing wrong with faith. But you can have faith in most anything. That doesn’t make it true. Balancing these issues fairly and honestly is a Herculean task.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          A good indication that my own agnosticism/deism is not just hidden atheism is that I don’t rule out the possibility that the divinity of Jesus Christ could be proven. If it can be shown by non-Christian sources that the earliest apostles were given the choice of abjuration or martyrdom and chose the latter, then we would have significant evidence of the divinity of Jesus. So far, we know some were martyred but we don’t know if they ever actually faced that choice.

    • Stephen Lancaster says:

      Rather than Exodus I suggest Deuteronomy and I suggest you read it several times.

      Start with the classic KJV. It is a wonderful, if not literal, translation. Read it as literature. Let the language of the Shakespearian era enfold you as it must have 500 years ago to the Puritans. Move on to other translations. Try the Catholic Dulay translation, don’t be too shocked to discover additions and subtractions. The language is not as flowery but still it reads well.

      Go back to the KJV and read it as history or perhaps a report from a CEO on the manner of a going concern and a future forecast of operations.

      Lastly, get yourself a good Torah published by Jewish Publication Society, most libraries have at least one. The Hebrew/English translation is very good and reads in English the way it does it Hebrew. This time read as if you were listening to an elder tell a story. The flowery language and the legalisms are gone. It’s just uncle Moshe and his story.

      Every educated Jew in the world, and many who are not, can live this story every spring at Passover. It is not some distant ancestor, but our mothers and fathers who made that walk. You can taste the dust of the desert, feel the overseers whip, fear the Pharaohs army, and the sweet taste of freedom.

      I know it is a lot of reading, but in the end you can answer, as every Jew can. “why is this night different from all other nights.”

      • Timothy Lane says:

        I was thinking Deuteronomy might be better than Exodus, since it’s basically a summary of the whole Torah after Genesis.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Go back to the KJV and read it as history or perhaps a report from a CEO on the manner of a going concern and a future forecast of operations.

        That’s a very interesting perspective, Steve, the kind Dennis Prager is known for. That’s one reason I’d like to read his commentaries. It’s hard for me to read the Old Testament (or new) and not have my eyes glaze over. But I’ll give it some thought.

        Here’s the Kindle version of The Torah by the Jewish Publication Society. I’ve sent myself the free sample. You make it sound as if it would be interesting to read.

  4. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I was talking in this thread with Steve and others about Prager, Judaism, the Torah (the Old Testament), and etc. Last night I read the free Kindle sample of Prager’s The Rational Bible: Exodus. There’s a good introduction by Prager then a list of thank-you’s by him and then there’s an introduction by someone else, and then more thank-you’s by him. (Prager’s introduction is superb.)

    Then you finally get the to start of the book and there’s still a significant enough of a free sample left to get the gist of the book. You can damn me for my honest remarks, but Prager being a thorough Jew (everything is for sale), I was surprised there was as much of a free sample as there was.

    What I read is extremely provocative and interesting. But it’s by no means a polemic. This is written for the gentle reader (of any persuasion) by a man who admits there is nothing in the Torah that commands Jews to convert others to being a Jew. But there is the commandment “to bring humanity to the God of the Torah, to His basic moral rules, and to the Torah’s values and insights.”

    He first makes a case (just part of his entire case, I’m sure) for why the Torah is the revealed word of God and not just some nice, thoughtful writing by men. His case is two-part: One, nearly all of the concepts go so far against the way man had always lived and thought that either a whole bunch of perfect moral geniuses just happened to write this or there was indeed input from the Almighty; Two, the story of the Jews as contained in the Torah is often so unflattering to them, no mere tribal account meant to flatter and energize a certain group of people would ever have included these things.

    Another astonishing component of this book verifies a vague inkling I had always had. Prager writes:

    Throughout history, blood beliefs have been a great source of cruelty: Those who are not part of the right group are deemed worthy of persecution. The Torah, in contrast, did not place much value on blood ties. As Joseph Telushkin points out, Jacob is regarded as the third patriarch of the Jewish people, but his twin brother, Esau, who did not share Jacob’s religious beliefs, is not even regarded as a Jew. In Exodus (19:6), God tells the Jews to be a holy goy (national unit), not a holy am (blood group or ethnicity).

    The Hebrew Bible holds, and later Judaism held, that anyone of any blood can become a Jew—just like the first Jew, Abraham, who was not born a Jew but became one late in life. Likewise, centuries later, Ruth, a Moabite woman, becomes a Jew, and subsequently becomes the ancestor of Israel’s great king, David (Ruth 4:13-22), the man from whom, according to Jewish (and Christian) tradition, the Messiah will descend.

    I mentioned to a Catholic friend once that, if I ever converted to any religion, I think being a Jew was my natural fit. And I wonder if far too many Jews have forgotten the meaning (and spirit) of the law and lean wildly toward a severe in-group am rather than a more idea-based goy.

    Here’s a another good quote:

    To Christian Readers: One cannot be a serious Christian without being familiar with the Hebrew Bible (or Old Testament, as the Christian world named it). Nor can one understand Jesus, a Jew who was not only observant of Torah law, but asserted he came not to change “a jot or a tittle” of it.

    This is not a book that is likely going to be a piece of cake for either lazy, presumptuous Jews or lazy, presumptuous Christians. Nor do I think that Prager’s interpretation is some out-of-left-field (or even right field) gadgety interpretation of the Torah. He’s spent his life at this with access to some of the best thinkers as well as the writing of the best thinkers of old.

    It’s a common fact that many Catholics have never actually read much if any of the Bible and the many Protestants have little if any familiarity with the Old Testament. Given Prager’s repeated statements on his radio show that the vast majority of Jews practice various forms of Leftism, not Judaism, it seems likely that there are a large number of Jews who are just as ignorant of what the words actually say and mean.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      The Hebrew Bible holds, and later Judaism held, that anyone of any blood can become a Jew

      This is theoretically correct, but does not hold up so well in modern practice. Judaism is not a very proselytizing religion. And it is certainly not a “universal religion” in the sense that Christianity is. I think one of the reasons for this is the desire to remain “exclusive” among the nations.

      You may recall that several years back we had a conversation on ST with a very religious Jew from the Northeast, as I recall. There was a lot of discussion on the beauty of the law and other parts of Judaism. At some point, I believe I asked the man why he didn’t go out and try to spread the word on this to the rest of the world.

      He gave some wishy-washy answer the details of which I cannot recall, but basically it was he thought it was better to keep it among the Jews. This was a dead giveaway to me, had I needed one, that in one way or another many Jews still consider themselves special and God’s chosen people. I say had I needed one as I already knew this from growing up among many Jews. Some are not shy about letting you know how special they are. I have sometimes told them that going around telling people how much better you are than others does not “make friends and influence people.” Pride is a hard habit to break.

      The Bible has a lot to say about this pride. For example;

      “The Lord also said to Moses, ‘I have seen this people and they are indeed a stiff-necked people.'”

      Exodus 32:9

      To Christian Readers: One cannot be a serious Christian without being familiar with the Hebrew Bible (or Old Testament, as the Christian world named it).

      It was the Protestant reformers, like Luther, who stressed knowledge of the Old Testament as being necessary for Christians. In fact, the Old Testament is so much a part of Evangelical Christianity that I sometimes tell people that such conservative Christians are Jews without knowing it.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        one way or another many Jews still consider themselves special and God’s chosen people

        Steve characterized it as the people who chose God. There’s likely some truth both ways.

        One of the best Chesterton quotes is:

        “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.”

        Prager notes that essential to Judaism is remembering the past, of knowing where you come from. He cites a medical case of a man who had permanent amnesia. The man himself said it was as if he had died.

        You and I know that the Left is trying to erase the memory of America and Western Civilization, and Prager laments in this book that they’ve done such a good job of it.

        It just seems to my untrained eye that both Judaism and Christianity are the most precious of pearls. But they are frequently stomped on, even by their own adherents. I get the distinct feeling that after reading this book (should I go on to purchase it beyond the free Kindle sample), I’ll know as much about the Torah (or at least that part of the book that Prager covers) as most Jews, and perhaps better than most. I have the advantage of not having first been indoctrinated with nonsense.

        I know that Pat and his wife make a practice to study the Old Testament. And one of the most shocking and pivotal things about the Torah is that this may actually be the revealed word of God. That’s it in a nutshell. If you believe it, this is an entirely different project and situation. If not, well, Prager mentions in this that there are many difficult passages in the Torah. He’s had friendly debates with many people, including Alan Dershowitz. Prager writes, “I think I can sum up our basic differences this way: When Professor Dershowitz differs with the Torah, he thinks the Torah is wrong and he is right. When I differ with the Torah, I think the Torah is right and I am wrong.”

        Prager notes that Dershowitz agrees with this summation. “Once one says that [some parts are divine, others are man-made], the Torah not only ceases to be divine, it cease to be authoritative.” Early in this, Prager discusses the idea of how a benevolent, all-knowing God would basically have to start out humanity at least 3 times: (Adam and Eve, Noah, and now the Torah….throw in four if you count Jesus).

        This is really one of my problems, although it’s not one I think I’ve stated, or do I waste too much sleep over it. But creation seems more of a cobbled-together thing. It’s not hard to see why Darwinists think in terms of a meaningless “survival of the fittest” paradigm. Although Neo-Darwinism provides no plausible mechanism for the creation of biological information, it is a rather good construct that expresses the Law of the Jungle which is such a huge part of our existence.

        The Torah is one gigantic beg-to-differ article of faith that represents a stunning possible alternative. (We fucked up and we keep fucking up. Still, God keeps offering up solutions for us, including things like The Ten Commandments.) Still the problems of a cobbled-together creation in which the Creator has to hit “reset” at least once don’t go away. As I said (and don’t think this aspect is one of them for Prager), there are some things in the Torah that give people problems.

        Regarding Jews being special, if the Torah is true, they are indeed special, although that’s not to give some kind of mystical standing to the Jewish blood. But if, like they would say about the Knights Templar, you were the keepers of some important flame, you are indeed special.

        The story of Moses and their Exodus shows just how quickly any people, including the Hebrews, could run off the rails. (Aaron, the golden calf, etc.) Things have advanced so far, it’s doubtful that many Jews are even aware of how much of their ideology stems not from the Torah but from Karl Marx and his ideological descendants.

        Prager is not one of those. However one may differ with him on the fine points (not that I could ever differ with him on a point, fine or otherwise, regarding the Torah), his views are not tinged by unconscious Leftism. He’s struggled with that small-g god already and has told some amazing and quite revealing stories about that. Suffice it to say, it’s very very hard for Jews indoctrinated into Leftism to even think about other ideas.

        I wonder regarding Luther if part of his problem with the Church was its lack of emphasis on the Old Testament.

        But….I think Dennis makes a great point (about which perhaps few Jews or Christians would totally agree): This stuff is not just a Jewish thing. It’s meant to apply to all of us. Jesus was most certainly and thoroughly a Jew. It was not meant for any small tribe or in-bred group of ideological monoliths.

        It probably bugs the hell out of many Jews to see half-baked Christians celebrate a whole bunch of watered-down things that are ultimately derived from Judaism or at least the Torah. You can certainly sit back and say you’re doing it purely and perfectly and are the real keepers of the flame (which, I think, most Jews are certainly not, in practice), or you can unpucker you ass cheeks a little and realize God (and the Torah) are meant for all (and, as a Christian would say, so is Christ).

        Some of these divisions have no super-neat resolution, I suppose. But mere tribalism and overblown identity can’t be what this is about. And to the extent that any Jewish or Christian group has done so, I think they missed the spirit of the thing and — probably according to Prager — the very letter of the law as well.

        • Steve Lancaster says:

          It is not just the Torah, The Midrash and The Talmud make up a whole world of tradition, and definition of what tradition should be. People spend their entire lives studying these and other texts and I think never come to a conclusion. I can respect their dedication to G-d without agreeing with their method.

          Tradition among the Rabbis is to discourage anyone who wants to convert. It’s not because of exclusiveness, at least not in most cases since 72 CE. It is more of an inner sense of “you have got to be kidding, why would anyone want to subject themselves to discrimination, exclusion, murder, and genocide?” Thus, the conversion process is not easy on purpose. Among the Hasidic groups conversions are mostly women marring Hasidic men; conservative and reform can go either way but my perception is that it is non-Jewish men marring Jewish girls.

          One additional thought going back to Torah. Jews live and love life in all it essence. The best example is again from scripture. Moses is watching the tribes pass into the promised land. Here he is the lawgiver, war leader, charismatic leader, beloved of G-d and what is the last thing said of him.

          So Moses the servant of the LORD died there, in the land of Moab, at the command of the LORD. He buried him in the valley in the land of Moab, near Beth-peor; and no one knows his burial place to this day. Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died; his eyes were undimmed and his vigor unabated.

          His eyes were undimmed and his natural vigor unabated

          In other words he could still see the girls and get it up at 120 !

          • Timothy Lane says:

            That’s one way of looking at it. Did the Torah ever cite any non-wives that Moses “knew”?

            Hmm, Ivanka was a woman marrying an Orthodox Jew.

            I’ve long had a suspicion that the Talmud, in essence, was written to deal with the problem that the Jews had no hope of their own state at this point, and needed a moral code for when they were subjects. The Torah was written for a theocracy, and they needed a non-theocratic moral code.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            Gotta love those biblical euphemisms.

            I think the train has sailed in regards to what makes a Jew and Jew. In theory, Judaism is open to all. It’s not a race or blood thing, nor just a consequence of a tight in-group based on shared rituals. In practice, anyone like me who wants to convert to Judaism is going to be an island alone amongst himself. He’ll be a Jew in theory (perhaps even in the eyes of God), but not in any way that matters in this world.

            There’s already, of course, another Jew to follow in this regard which is surely why its impractical for most to become Jewish — and not because they like the food but because they like the ideas. Jesus universalized this stuff (which, according to Prager, was intended to apply to all people anyway). And if Jesus didn’t universalize the ideas, per se, certainly Paul did.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      This sounds very good, and I hope to remember it when next I meet Elizabeth — she would definitely be interested. In fact, I plan to mention it to her siblings, since I do have e-mail contact with them.

      Isaac Asimov, discussing Ruth in his Guide to the Bible, argued that there was a dispute between those who favored inclusive vs. exclusive visions of Judaism. Ruth was written to support one side of the dispute, arguing that their greatest king was a descendant not only of a foreigner, but of a hated Moabite.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Let us know if you or Elizabeth buy the book.

        Jewishness is now so thoroughly understood as a cultural-ethnic identity (now with a strong Leftist moral base), the idea that Jewishness is completely secondary to, if not totally irrelevant to, the Torah is lost.

  5. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    St. Paul was the first to start converting gentiles, and this led to a decision as to what standards of Judaism they had to follow. Asimov covered this in his guide to the Bible, but I don’t remember what 3 they decided on.

    Timothy, I think Paul was being pragmatic. Others in the early movement were hard against the liberalization of Judaism in order to accommodate the Jesus Movement. Can’t say that I blame them.

    Appealing to the needs of popular tastes goes back a long way. It’s a fair question, though, regarding whether all of these rituals (such as circumcision) were meant only for the Jews who had their own covenant with God.

    Without the threat of punishment or social ostracism, religion can’t help but become a “do your own thing” thing. And in our present culture that values mainly self-fulfillment, not self-denial, it’s a one-way ticket to “do your own thing.” Self-flattery is easy. Doing good, as no doubt Dennis Prager would agree, is hard.

    Interesting cosmic dental joke.

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